The January update…

So, where am I in the greater scheme of things?

Still scribbling frantically.  January is usually the time of the year we go jetting off to somewhere exotic, or, rather, somewhere very cold because here it is usually 36 degrees centigrade plus 100 percent humidity, day after day after day.

Well, this is me, stuck in the endless heat, slowly melting away.

And writing.

I have had a few great ideas springing out of the void, while I’m trying very hard not to think about how hot it is, or how recalcitrant Chester can be when he is hot.  What I don’t get is that in winter he will sit on top of the fire where it is about 2000 degrees and yet in 34-degree heat, he complains.

But enough about the cat…

With one of my stories, back in WW2, I’ve finally got to the back story of the man on the run from the Reich, a rocket scientist seeking a better life.  He is heading for the castle in southern Italy, not knowing that there’s a bunch of Nazi’s waiting for him to send him back home.

Of course, there is a hero, but he’s with the resistance and doesn’t know who the high-value target is that he’s supposed to save.

Where it is now, the scientist is stuck at Brenner Pass in the forest freezing and waiting for the Germans to find him.  Or not.

It’s still a work in progress, but the last episode is here:

On another front, there is the Treasure story, one that I’ve been meaning to write ever since I read Stevenson’s Treasure Island.  My characters are not quite as colorful, but…

Our intrepid searchers are now up to the part where they’re trying to work out which part of the Florida coastline matches their map, and that’s no mean feat.

Especially when there are others, two groups in fact, who are also trying to find it.

This will all play out over the next few episodes but for the latest:

Yes, there are two other stories, but I’ll let you know about them later.


Searching for locations: Toronto, Canada

The touristy things

On the way to the Hall of Fame, we found an ice skating rink

The Hockey hall of fame

The hockey hall of fame is a very large exhibition which would take a whole day to see everything.  We sat through a very informative history of the game and the origins of the NHL, which for people who do not have hockey as a sport in their country, is saying something.

We follow the Maple Leafs, coincidentally Toronto’s franchise in the NHL, and we have been here before for a game, which they lost.  It didn’t matter, I was staggered by the energy and enthusiasm both the players and the fans put into making it a memorable experience.

I’m hoping for a repeat experience.
St Lawrence Market

We walked 1.8 km to the market and it was closed which is about right for us as we have a knack for turning up and the place is closed, for instance, the Canadian club distillery in Windsor, Canada.

Perhaps tomorrow, before or after the game.
Red Lobster

Ok, we’ve been here before and it was beyond any expectations anyone could have for a restaurant chain.

This was no different from the last.

What more could you want, scallops, shrimp, and a fried lobster tail all drowned in a superb garlic butter sauce.

Add a side of mash potatoes, and a 20oz glass of beer, and there is the definition of heaven on a plate.
St Lawrence Market, again

Snowing, but not heavily

St Lawrence market, everything is very expensive, crab legs $120 per kg, lobster, $50 to $80 per kg.  Oddly everything is quoted per pound, and it’s a good thing that we can convert lbs to kg.

It is, to say the least, a disappointment.
Ice Hockey at the Scotiabank Arena

There was a definite buzz in the air, and heading towards the stadium was both us, and many other Toronto supporters.  Blue Maple Leaf jerseys were in abundance.

We’ve been before, and the last time the Leafs lost.

What else is new?

They have had a very good season so far, and are second on the ladder overall, so it was not without the expectation that they might win this one.


Never have an expectation.

They lost.


It was an incredible game that was none stop action.  It seems to me that you require a lot of skill and skating talent to play this game.  I certainly couldn’t, and freely admit that I’d probably last about five minutes.

The score didn’t reflect the play, but in the end, the Leafs lost 4 – 3, at the end of the three periods.
Souvenir hunting and other stuff

I woke tired and exhausted, not looking forward to walking around Toronto.

Got up early to do the walking.

Oh, did I tell you, this hotel has a laundry and it is the bugbear of staying in major hotels, not being able to wash clothes?

Breakfast is included, but it is the main meal of the day so we feast.  The selection is incredible.

We had to go back to the Maple Leafs franchise shop to exchange a Maple Leafs Jersey, which was no trouble.

So near to the CN tower, we go in to shop for souvenirs, of which there were plenty.  I liked the stuffed mooses and beavers.

We’ve been up the tower so it’s back to the Union Station and a short stay at upstairs, a little bar overlooking the Toronto Pearson train line.

Time for tasting some Canadian ales, the first a Mill Street tank house ale, the second a Mill Street hopped and confused.  Seriously, that’s what they were called.

The drinking mood music was old hits like Queen and a little bit of country and western.

good view of the trains, too.

Union Station

Like all main stations very large very tall ceilings and openings that lead to the tracks of which there are about 24, and an underground system

Much the same as all large railway terminals and probably far busier in times gone by.
Dining, but not necessarily dinner

Not far from the station, and opposite to clock tower belonging to the old city hall was a restaurant called Bannock.

There I had a Moosehead Cracked Canoe lager, a light ale, and a house special since 1929, a chicken pot pie, and it was very good.

Conversations with my cat – 80


This is Chester. We’re back watching the Maple Leafs.

This isn’t going to be pretty. While they have won a few in the last week or so they have also lost, and by large numbers.

I know this is a mistake watching it with Chester, the eternal pessimist, because his initial statement, ‘You know Anderson’s going to let you down again’ even before the match started, is a sign of things to come.

Yep. There it is 21 seconds into the game the other side scores.


He turns his head and gives me the look, “I told you so.”

Double damn.

Nothing worse than a smart-ass cat is there, and especially when he’s right.

The game progresses, and then the internet dies on me, leaving a frozen screen. Bigger fish to fry now, with the internet provider, where we are, the NBN, which is little more than a joke. Try streaming anything…

It’s the same result.

Pixellation, blank screens, endless loading signs and then a seized screen.


For once I don’t mind because I don’t have to listen to the negativity.

Yes, they score again. And again. And yes, once again we’re looking down the barrel of another huge loss.

“Just what is wrong with your goalie,” Chester asks.

“Too many games and not enough faith in the backup, I guess.”

It’s hard to explain wat’s going wrong. I don’t know the ins and outs of the Toronto team because we’re not there. It’s the lot of a supporter whose 12,000 miles away.

Perhaps our year will be next year.

Chester doesn’t think so. Halfway through the third period, he walks off, the internet giving up the ghost. We all know how this end, don’t we, he says.

Yes. We do. The food you hate the most is in your tray.

Revenge doesn’t sound as good as it did in my head a few minutes ago.

Triple Damn.

Conversations with my cat – 68


This is Chester.  We’re both a little tired this morning.

I spent a little too much time on the next few chapters of my NaNoWriMo project and lost track of time.  It was going so well, I thought it best not to interrupt the flow of words.


This morning, after getting to bed about 2:30 am, I found it hard to get out of bed.

Fortunately, as usual, I had the cat alarm clock wake me out of deep sleep to be informed that it was breakfast.

I looked at the clock and saw it was 6:30 am.

I mean to say, Chester was with me at 2:30 when I was writing, and he didn’t tell me that it was time to go to bed, much earlier than I did.

I think he enjoys torturing me like this.


I get up, get him breakfast, some smelly fish food that even he turns his nose up at, and go out to the writing room with the intention of getting on with the story.

Next thing I know, there’s a gentle tapping on my forehead,

I wake up and it’s Chester.

What? I ask.  You can’t possibly want more food.

No.  I thought you were dead.

That’s amusing, he sees me asleep in bed and doesn’t think I’m dead.

How could you think that?

There are only two reasons why people become inanimate in their chair, they have suffered a heart attack or stroke, or they’re dead.

What about simply falling asleep because they’re too tired, and their faithful assistant didn’t tell them to go to bed earlier?

Look, let’s not make a beak deal out of this.  I was concerned.  Perhaps I won’t be next time.  A final glare and he jumps down off the keyboard, which left a page of endless d’s on the page I had been working on.

Perhaps he’s getting old and forgetful, or, suddenly he realises I mean more to him than just giving him food and cleaning the litter.  No, stop deluding yourself.  You’re his friend, he’s not your friend.

Oh, well, for a moment there…

Looking for locations: Hohensalzburg Castle, Salzburg, Austria

Hohensalzburg Castle sits atop the Festungsberg, accessed by a cable car.


Below is a view down into Salzburg from the castle walls.

We had lunch at a café, the Salzburg Fortress Café, that overlooked the countryside.  This was where we were introduced to Mozart Gold Chocolate Cream added to our coffee.

The square below featured in the Sound of Music.


Among the more interesting objects to be seen, the gun below shows what some of the castle’s armaments might have been.  These cannons, in the ‘Firing Gallery’ date back to the thirty years war in the early 1600s.

I was never very good at doing two things at once


A NaNoWriMo journal supplemental

The Maple Leafs are playing and so I thought I would juggle watching them play and work on my NaNoWriMo project at the same time.

It seemed like a good way to get in 3 hours of work, and a little entertainment on the side.


First period down and the Maple Leafs are 2 goals down.

What I first thought was going to be easy, is now becoming mission impossible.

After the second Philadelphia goal, Chester, my stalwart anti-everything cat comes down to see what the commotion is.  By that I mean, almost yelling at the TV screen.

A lot of good that’s going to do when they’re 12,000 miles away on the other side of the world.

And by the look on Chester’s face, I think he thinks it’s a waste of time too.  Or maybe that’s his usual, I don’t give a $%^^%$ expression he has most of the time.

We have the Philadelphia feed so we’re getting the joy from the intermission analysts at their teams lead, but it does take me back to Philadephia when we were there last year when they cut to shots of the city.

And, of course, instead of having my eyes on the story, I’m now thinking of a subplot, yes, you guessed it, in Philadelphia, which is not very far from New York where the main action takes place.


We score.  It’s now a more respectable scoreline, but Anderson has his work cut out for him, and I’m thinking of turning off the sound because I don’t want to hear any more praise for their young stars.

The story proceeds, taking out the outline pages and looking to see where it can fit in.  Yes, I see a gap where I can fit in an interlude, and scribble a few notes.

End of the second period.  Still 2 goals to 1 down.

Start of the third period.  Chester decided to jump up on the table and, seeing the pencil sitting there, starts to push it around with his paw,  I snatch it away, and he gives me a chastising swipe.

Blast him, while my attention was diverted we score again, and I missed it.,  Thank heavens for the replay.  Over and over.

I finish the notes for the interlude, and the game ends a draw.  We now move to overtime.

I get the first few lines of the chapter I began working on at the start of the game, and just as the words are flowing, overtime ends with no score and we go into a shootout.  And before you know it, the game’s over and we’ve lost.

I swear Chester is smirking so I pick him up and put him on the floor with a very stern admonishment.

No, I’m not taking the loss badly, but there’s a few bad guys about to die horribly.

It’s been a good day for the Maple Leafs

It’s an unusual topic, but I was looking for a distraction from the rigours of NaNoWriMo, and this fitted the bill perfectly.

For someone who doesn’t really care about sport in general, and rarely able to find the time in between all the writing to actually sit down for several hours, and, in some cases, all day, today seems to have been an exception.

I got through my NaNoWriMo exercise earlier this morning, and since the Maple Leafs were playing today, I thought I’d fire up the computer and take a look at how they’re going.

By the time I’d found the streaming site the game had started but it was nil-all so it was much the same as not missing the start.

I thought it odd that an Australian would be interested in ice hockey, but it seems I’m not alone.  Nor that others barracked for Toronto, Ottowa, and Edmonton, and all seem to dislike with varying degrees of intensity, the New York Islanders.

Maybe because they’ve won ten straight games.

So, it takes a long time, almost halfway through the third period for the first goal, and its the opposition the Vegas Golden Knights.

Damn them.

And now I have this sinking feeling the game might slip away.  Their form can hardly be labelled stellar, and I thought I heard the home crowd booing them, but that must have been my imagination.

No, my dismay is misplaced, there it is, Mathews comes to life and evens up the scoreline.

And for the rest of the period, Anderson keeps the Golden Knights out.  As only Anderson can when he’s on his game.

Once again we’re in overtime, with more heart in mouth stuff, and, of course, the man we’ve been missing, Tavares finally pulls the rabbit out of the hat.

It’s a pity we couldn’t be there in person to see it.