My Amazon Author Page

Find my Amazon author page via this link

"A Scottish Wind in the Willows on high end skunk."

"I enjoy Kate's stories..."
"A fun and spooky read..."

"The characters are so involving and
loveable that you do want them to really exist. It does read like you've
stumbled across someone's long lost diary from and alternate timeline/universe.
I quickly got into the story and loved every second of reading it...
total gem of a read by an author who deserves a lot more recognition."


Tuesday, 28 October 2014

If anyone's looking for Christmas slash Yuletide presents, please have a look at the stuff in our online shop .  Prices range from £2 for a Sea Penguin postcard right through to £300 for a full scale painting - all by Scottish artist Barry Nicol who kindly did the e-book covers.  Do please have a browse - you might as well.  A lot of the stuff is painted on pieces of wood that we've sourced close to home in Perthshire or found on beaches elsewhere in Scotland.  For example, the pine marten (£15) is painted on driftwood we found on Mull back in May this year, and the fieldmice  (£30 for the one on wood, £3 for A5 printed postcards) are on wood found washed up on a local lochside, then left to dry out in our shed.  There's only so much of it that we can contain in our tiny wizened little cottage so I'll be much obliged if you'll take it off our hands.
I'm also planning a Christmas slash Yuletide e-book promotion at some point, for anyone who's not already got them.

Ardalanish Bay, Isle of Mull
Uisken from the cairn,  Isle of Mull

Monday, 27 October 2014

Geoffrey and Tuppy talk about defibrillators and biscuits and Death and university.

'People are so boring nowadays.  By people I mean poets.  Not that I know any poets, but...'
'I know what you mean.  I've been dying to talk to you about this all week only it slipped my mind. We were only saying at DebSoc the other night...Tuppy? TUPPY!'
'Yes?  Oh sorry.  It's just when you say 'DebSoc' it knocks me out cold.  I'll just have a quick whiff of sal volatile, and run some silver foil over my fillings, and I should be able to resume my normal level of consciousness - without having to charge up the defibrillator.'
'Oh yes.  Last time we did that, it fused the lights.  And the Fulmars' jacoozy stopped pumping. The rats* strapped to the bikes down at the power station just couldn't cope Tuppy.  They've still not forgiven you for showing them up like that.  Revealing their weaknesses and all.  They like to pretend they're invincible.'
'I know all that and I don't want reminding.  Now please continue with your dreadful tale, if you must.  The sooner you start, the sooner it's over with, and I can go back to thinking about the inevitability of Death, and whether it might be a  good or bad idea to speed its relentless, grinding approach with an over-ingestion of Fox's double chocolate chunk cookies at tea-time - only don't say 'DebSoc' out loud.'
Geoffrey and I were sitting by the fire digesting our lunches.   I'd had three pint mugs of tea and a five-sausage sandwich with butter, pepper, and brown sauce, and he'd had a thimbleful of buttonberry and ox blood daisy-honey tisane and an aduki bean burger with half a dozen alf-alfa sprouts.
Outside the wind howled and raged like a snarling devil-dog lashed to the gates of Hell and straining at the leash.
'The wind sounds remarkably like a snarling devil-dog lashed to the gates of Hell and straining at its leash Tuppy,' said Geoffrey, picking an alf-alfa sprout out of his upper right pre-molar.
'Yes indeed.  And those flecks of rain could even be hideous slobbers flung from its vast ravening jaws.  Ah well.  Let's put the kettle on again and continue our discussion about Dylan Thomas.  In fact - let's go one better and crack open a fresh bottle of Madeira in his honour.  The sun's well over the yard-arm, I think. Not that I've any idea when or where or indeed what the yard-arm actually is.'
'Me neither.  I'm trying to lay off the drink Tuppy.  Val Nark says...'
'Val Nark can naff off.  Last time I saw her she tried to sell me a blueberry e-pipe.  Ten quid it was Geoffrey. Ten quid!  Think of all the baccy I could get for that.  If I had to buy it instead of steal it, of course.'
'Val Nark wants me to go to university Tuppy.  There, I said it.'  Geoffrey blushed and gulped and looked generally incredibly uncomfortable.  I stared at him over my eye-glasses and tried my best to make him feel even worse.
'Yes.  She says I've got potential Tuppy.  She says I can go far.  She wants me to study book-learning,' he blurted.
'You've already BEEN far.  You've gone right round the naffing world**.'
'I suppose so...'
'And who needs book-learning?  We've got a pile of books over there, and we never open them.  Why?  Because we don't need to.  We've got all the knowledge we need right here.'  I tapped my forehead with the leg of my specs. and tried to look convincing.
'She says I could get a degree Tuppy.  In literature or philosophy maybe.  She says I'm bright.'
'Has she got a degree?'
'No.  But sometimes she listens to Radio 4 Tuppy, and that's almost as good,  if not better.'
'Who says that?'
'She does.'

more of this later...............

*the rats power all the electricity Hereabouts, by bicycling on vast numbers of exercise bikes in the tunnels below the cliffs.
**Geoffrey circumnambulated the globe on more than one occasion.
Details of all this and much much more, of course, in the e-books to be found via this link to Amazon  here

Friday, 24 October 2014

Today's walk, near home. Autumn.

the lade 24.10.14

field 24.10.14

Now Reading....A Female Genius (Ada Lovelace)

Just a quick update on my latest reading material.  I appreciate that this will be of no interest whatever to anyone, not even to me actually, but having mentioned my most recent library loans a few weeks ago (yes, it's taken me that long to plough through (two of) them) I feel I need to at least make a gesture towards continuity.
I finished Tony Benn's last Diaries - A Blaze of Autumn Sunshine, and I did enjoy them but with some reservations, previously noted.
I returned the William Burroughs unread - unopened actually.  I just was not in the mood.
I am now nearly halfway through the book about Ada Lovelace and am really enjoying it.  I love a good biography.  I know quite a lot about the Romantic era as I went through a 'phase' in the early 90s, and so some of the background was familiar to me.  The book (by James Essinger) is written in an entertaining style but I must say the editing isn't impressive and the writing feels quite sloppy at times, which I find annoying.  It also makes me wonder about its historical accuracy - if they're careless about one aspect perhaps they've let other things slide.  Publishers should at least take the trouble to tidy these things up, surely?  I'm hazarding a guess that Essinger is probably quite young (I haven't Googled) and that his editor is too.  Anyway, the book is an entertaining read and I'll 'romp' through it within the next few days.
Due to me forgetting when my books were due to be renewed, I now owe the library £4.50, by the way.  Anyone wishing to help me out with this dreadful sum can donate via the tea and biscuits Paypal button on the right hand side of the page.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Today's Conundrum. How Do I Become a Self-realised Soul?


Geoffrey's been attending Val Nark's Mindfulness and Self-realisation Training, every Monday at 7pm up at the new Community Centre.
Between that and his DebSoc and his Weekly Whingers Anonymous Group he's never in.  I keep forgetting that he's out. And then when he returns I forget that he's come back in, and I totter to the kitchen to put the kettle on.  I never put the kettle on!  For the past millenium I've always shouted through to Geoffrey to do it, quick as he likes.  I've even made my own tea, on occasion, due to this ghastly, new-fangled and disruptive routine.
It's not only that.  When he returns - and for days after - he insists on telling me All About It.  A blow-by-blow account of who brought the best biscuits,  who said what,  and endless theories about why they might have done so.
I don't mind the debating and the whingeing but mindfulness sounds like the biggest pile of - 
'I asked you to ping the finger cymbals after twenty minutes.'
'It's only been five, Geoffrey.'
'Oh.  It must just feel like twenty I suppose.' 
He's learning to meditate.  
Me,   I prefer to stare blankly out of the living-room window,  and smoke my pipe.  Preferably after a fry-up, four opium tabloids,  and two schooners of best Madeira.
Geoffrey used to do the same,  but he's fallen under the spell of Val Nark and her organic vegan lifestyle.
I doubt it will last.
Next Saturday at DebSoc, by the way, Val is debating naturopathy with the Ghastly Wilson.  Geoffrey's going along, of course, and he's so keen to impress his new so-called friends that he's baking his own biscuits and manning the 'Jackson' tea urn.  

More about that,  later....

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Fyfe Robertson, the great TV reporter

I remember Fyfe Robertson from childhood and I used to do a fairly good impression of him (when I was nine or something).  Here he is on his way to interview Barbara Cartland.  You don't get to see the actual interview, sadly.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

copyright barry nicol all rights reserved

There are a couple of new pieces of Barry's art work in our Etsy shop with a range of prices - £2 to £300. Do have a look.  Unless sales take off significantly (or indeed at all) we'll probably take it down at Christmas.  It's really dispiriting not selling anything, but that is the way of things.
Here's the link.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Robert Plant Quote of the Day

"Is there a time when you're not in full Robert Plant-ness? Because right now, I'm still getting the full Robert Plant," Colbert asks the rock god. "Is there a casual Robert Plant in sweatpants and flip-flops walking his dog, maybe with a handful of poop in a plastic bag? Does that exist?" Plant responds, "Backstage at the Fillmore in 1970, I think."

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World Mental Health Day

Geoffrey and I were sitting by the fire enjoying a bacon sandwich and a read of The Bugle.
'Anything interesting today,  Geoffrey?'  I wasn't expecting anything beyond Val Nark's health-food cookery column (hedgerow jam last week), letters to the editor written by the usual whingers, and a review of Grudge Match written by my nephew Tuppence.  Grudge Match is his favourite film.  He says it bears several repeat viewings to bring out the subtle nuances and he's written nine different reviews, or 'exegeses' as he calls them.
I thought there might be a few seasonal used items for sale in the small ads., such as fire irons, fleece dressing-gowns and slippers.   Cherry Fulmar tried to sell Apsley (her husband) last week. Clearly there's desperate trouble brewing in the Old Rectory...
But more of that later.
'There's a feature on World Mental Health Day.' Geoffrey was peering through his pince nez.
'How dull.  Move on. What's for sale?  Any sentient beings this week?  Has Val Nark got another vile recipe in?'
'Not this week.  It's her who's written the feature on World Mental Health Day.'
'Really?  Bore me senseless.
'She does therapy and everything.  And it isn't just the hot stones and the sweat yurt.  She does proper talking therapy as well now. She does counselling Tuppy.  It's only forty pounds an hour. I think you should go.'
'Why?  There's nothing wrong with my mental health.'
'That's because you mask everything behind a cloud of self-medication.  The drugs and pipe tobacco and that.  You're numbing yourself Tuppy.  You're not in touch with your inner self.'
'Opium and laudanum and Madeira and whatever else I can lay my hands on, are not drugs.  They're simple comestibles, like bacon and tea.'
'Val says you're an addict.  She says you need locking up for your own safety.  She says you're a fool to yourself Tuppy, and a bad example to Tuppence and the younger generation.'
'But it's Tuppence who supplies me!  Ooops I mean...'
'Aha!  So you've turned into a grass Uncle Tuppy!   I expected as much.  Fortunately,  I'm clever enough to evade capture - plus, I'm prepared for any eventuality.'
It was my nefarious nephew, and 'supplier', Tuppence.  He stood in the doorway armed to the teeth with a brace of pistols and a bandolier.  Behind him stood two rats, glowering and smoking roll-up cigarettes made with brown papers.
'Are those liquorice papers?' I asked. 'I haven't been able to get those for ages.'
'Don't try to distract our attention from your loose lips Uncle Tuppy.  You've let me down and in a Big Way.  AGAIN, might I add.  No wonder I've had to go to Val Nark for regression therapy.  I've learned loads.  Did you know, for example, that that cup of tea that you're holding is a quarter full, not three quarters empty?  Isn't that a marvellous insight?'
'But it's cold, and I don't want it. Besides, I don't give a flying *insert rude word of choice*.  Put the kettle on Geoffrey, and bring the thumbscrews.  I want to know when and why you were discussing my comestible consumption with Val *insert rude word of choice* Nark.'

More on (most of) this later.

Read more about Tuppy, Tuppence,  Geoffrey, and Val Nark here

Find more of my stuff here

Woods near home, today.  Full of deer and birdsong, and from beyond the restless cries of migrating geese seeking shelter.
Creatures that know so much more about the world than we do. 

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Mrs T-G Attempts a Croquembouche

Last evening Geoffrey and I huddled by the stone urn on the Fulmars' patio, watching the final of the Great British Bake-off on their 93 inch curved flat screen 3D TV, via their French windows.   It's lucky for us that they never close their curtains - aping people in the movies I suppose.  Take Sean Connery in The Untouchables for example.  Why, for pity's sake, if you knew that the henchmen of Al Capone were after you, would you.....


Geoffrey shook me awake and handed me a steaming cup of T-G Tips.

'Insufficient today Geoffrey.  It'll have to be the adrenalin shot to the heart.'
'Okey-doke.  I'll just give the syringe a flush through under the tap.  I was using it to baste the...'
'No you weren't.  Just get on with it.'

50cc of industrial-strenf 'aortic adrenalin' and three mugs of T-G Tips and four bacon sandwiches and five slices of toast and Val Nark's 'hedgerow marmalade' later....

'What did you make of that then?'
'I thought it was awful.  Anyone can bake a cake.'
'Can you bake a cake?'
'No.  But did you see the state of them?''
'That's not nice.'
'I'm only being honest.'
'All right.  What about the croquembouches'?'
'Excuse me?'
'Precisely.  Mrs T-G is making one At This Very Moment.'
'How do you know that?'
'I can sense it.  Not only that, I can smell it.'
'You can't.'
'That's right,  I can't.  But I've got a fair idea.  And it's the type of fair idea that makes me Very Afraid and Keeps Me Awake at Night.  Remember the black sausage rolls?'
'Oooh yes.  I do.   Everyone got...'
'Quite.   I'll raise you those and give you the Croquembouche.   Croquembouche translates as 'break in mouth'.  Need I say more, in this context?  Probably not, but I will anyway.  She's erecting a vast choux tower covered with toffee hard enough to crack your eye teeth on, right at this very minute, and she's seeking ways of insisting that we eat it, fuelled by rage and resentment relating to her Paris persona.  She's beaten that choux mixture and spun that sugar until it can take no more, and she's brooding until she's scared she bursts with the power of sheer hatred.  I'll even bet that she thinks she's bilingual because she can say 'Croquembouche' with a cigarette in her mouth and an air of 1950s Gallic aplomb.'
'Well! If she IS bilingual I dare say that's her own business; the T-G hasn't mentioned that before.  I suppose her Paris days must have broadened her horizons....'
'You're being disingenuous again.  Stop it, and start focusing on what really matters.'
'All right.  What does really matter, when all's said and done though Tuppy?  I've always wondered about that, but I've thought perhaps it's best to not know.  A little knowledge is a dangerous thing Tuppy.'
'What do you mean?'
'I don't know what I mean.  Let's talk about Mrs T-G again.  It stops my head from spinning.'
'Well, one French word and she thinks she's Jean Paul Sartre.  Next she'll be contributing a weekly philosophy column to the Bugle.'
'Oh yes - the Bugle.  Our new local free at the point of delivery newspaper. But shouldn't she be thinking she's Simone de Beauvoir rather than Jean Paul Sartre?'
'She's bilingual, remember, silly?'
'Oh of course.....I'd forgotten already..........'

More on the Bugle later.  More on Mrs T-G's Croquembouche later.  More on the rights and wrongs of calling people 'silly', later.....

Find more Tuppy & Geoffrey tales on Amazon

Friday, 3 October 2014

Peter Gabriel - Solsbury Hill

Nice video.

KING CRIMSON - Starless - Live 1974 -

Poetry, and Psychogenic Osmosis

It was National Poetry Day yesterday.  I love poetry. But there's nothing worse than looking at your Twitter timeline and seeing folk banging on about it.  I dislike the feeling of being churlish and sour of spirit (where's the harm in tweeting poetry?), while at the same time I think it's quite a sane reaction; Twitter is no place to be, if you want to 'create' anything other than kitten pictures, puns and one-liners. The inner disquiet produced by all this, is enough to put me off writing, completely.  Well, for about five minutes.  Almost!
It's not really that though.  For me, the whole literary thing feels a bit distasteful and uncomfortable.  There are a couple of exceptions though.  There's a John Betjeman account I like, and a Richard Jefferies.
My favourite poet is probably Coleridge.  I'm fondest of him anyway.  It's probably the opium.  I've most likely absorbed quantities of it via his poems, through some form of psychogenic osmosis.
Frost at Midnight is probably my favourite Coleridge poem.  'The Frost performs its secret ministry,  Unhelped by any wind*.' 
I'm unlikely to have discovered it had I not bought a small second hand edition of a selection of his poems after browsing in a second hand bookshop about twenty years ago.  The bookshop closed ten years ago, at least, and now there is nowhere to browse, unless I go to a city.
Don't start me off complaining again, but you can't browse books on the internet.  You just can't.

There once was a girl with a plan
To cook with an old frying pan
She fried up some bread
And stood on her head
In a market in Uzbekhistan.

S.T. Coleridge (after)

*titters at the word wind

Sea Penguin Part Five still available for Free Download

...till the end of today, I think - Amazon is always a bit off with their timing so it's hard to be precise.
Find it via this link - if you would like to know what it's all about - here's a review by Oscar McCloud.

Mrs Tuppfinder discovers that Tuppy and Geoffrey have been reading her secret diary recording her youth in |Paris. Like any woman whose privacy has been invaded she goes quite insane. Our heroes are chained up and locked in the Towers dungeon that is flooded with each tide, they have to escape or drown. Geoffrey decides to be come a stand up comedian and tries his talent in the Puff Inn where Mrs Tupfinder reeks revenge by serving up her Black Sausage rolls and renders everyone with the dreaded turmoil of diarrhoea
Tuppfinder General experiments with giant South American Wasps to breed a garden variety that can produce a highly psychoactive venom. Tuppy gets trapped in ivy up a 330ft wall and suffers hallucinations about twirly wirlys and Killer Twins dressed in kilts.
Mrs Tuppfinder’s revenge with food continues with a giant Easter Egg made from sausage meat, in fact this whole episode is obsessed and you can get quite obese just reading about it. Tuppence continues his musical career with a solar powered guitar and although underage, he is drinking tequila mixed with Vimto. The community of the Rocky Outcrop are concerned that the Vimto might rot his teeth. His smuggling and illegal guns as leader of a gang of criminal rats are the least of their worries, it seems.
A new arrival in the form of Melaena Slovelbum Steele makes an appearance, Mrs Tuppfinder’s neice. She brings politix and introduces a fast day along with a routine of healthy living. This goes against the hard and fast culture of salty snaxs and lashings of Medeira and she has to be dealt with! Tuppfinder General points out that people go missing all the time, hereabouts.
Dave and Valerie Nark the eco campers have returned from their travels wearing Peruvian hats. They take over the tourist car park with their Yurts, and invite their vegan friends to holiday around the Rocky Outcrop. This causes mayhem with the locals burning out the Yurts…
Part five is just as weird and as confused as the previous adventures and with the use of laudanum and opiates and extravagant binging on food I can understand why. I am not sure I can continue observing the madness from the Rocky Outcrop and still eat sensibly.

Thanks Oscar - very much appreciated.  I might have to do a Part Six.....