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"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."


Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The Dark and the Deep (part one)

'The dark days Tuppy....why can't we dig ourselves out?'
'Because we're getting older, Geoffrey, and as you get older it becomes more and more difficult.  And besides - sometimes, you go too deep......'
'Have we gone too deep, Tuppy?'
'I don't know.  Remember when we went to the centre of the earth, and right through to Australia, and waved to Doug McClure on the way back (please see Sea Penguin Part Four for details, if you're interested)? That was deep.  About as deep as deep can be. And we came back.  But that was a few years ago. I'm not sure if we could do it now.'
'Do you think that if we went on a health and fitness regime, that might help improve our energy levels?'
'No.  That kind of thing never helps.'
'We could ask Val Nark for some detox tips.'
'No we forking couldn't Geoffrey. Aren't you forgetting that she's gone over to the dark side?  What about the multiple bird roasts and the Spring lamb carry-on? (see yesterday's post for details, if you're interested).'
'Just because she's selling them it doesn't mean that she's partaking of them herself.  She could still be vegan.'
'Oh come off it.'
'She's got to keep body and soul together somehow, and you said yourself that the flapjack market has collapsed.  She's had to diversify in order to survive.'
'She didn't have to diversify into m-m-meat.  That's US Geoffrey.  I don't understand why you've any sympathy for her.'
'I s'pose you're right.'
'I AM right.  Now stick the kettle on.  My head hurts.'
'We can worry about the dark and the deep tomorrow?'
'Yes.  Preferably through a comforting blanket of mind-numbing psychotropics.'

More later........

Saturday, 27 December 2014

It's All Over.....thank goodness.....

Well, that's it over for another year.  The feasting, the merry-making, the false jollity, the hangovers, the upset stomachs, the heartburn, the angst, the self-hatred, the guilt, the disappointment, the loneliness, the boredom,  the ennui, the bad memories,  the regret, the overspending, the falling-comatose-on-the-sofa-at-all-hours-for-no-reason-that-you-can-think-of and so forth.
Not to mention the chucking-people-off-cliffs custom, which as any reader of Sea Penguins Parts One to Five will know, happens with stomach-churning regularity Hereabouts, and most especially at Yule, when the person voted Most Unpopular in the annual Yuletide poll, gets chucked 'over-the-top'.  But more of that later.
Or perhaps not.
Geoffrey and I are well-past-it, of course, in terms of forced jollity merry-making;  plus, we are sufficently self-aware to know that we're known locally as miserable and stingey 'old-git-style-personages', who dislike 'company', so we kept a fairly low profile.  Not entirely, therefore, but largely, through choice.  Tuppence usually turns up for Yuletide luncheon (extra-large sausages, marinated for three days in the cellar in our own absinthe-and-sage micksture, twenty-five apiece, all neatly threaded and roasted on a spit with M &S fish-fingers and windfall russet apples in between, just for the aesthetic appeal - we don't actually eat 'froot' Hereabouts, as regular readers will know).  But he's getting older now, and this year he decided not to join us. Instead, he borrowed my waterproof trousers, my tinderbox, a jar of beef paste, four loaves of bread, three tins of spaghetti hoops and the Tupfinder General's old army tent, and went off to have an adventure Out in the Wilds with some of his so-called friends - more of that later, if he returns.
Geoffrey has been feeling especially paranoid this year due to the current bizarre fetish for 'multiple bird roasts'.  And well he might.  The Narks have jumped on the bandwagon.  Back in November they turned one of their yurts into a 'farm shop' and started taking orders for an organic version, using 'locally-sourced, free-range meat', and stuffed with seaweed and hunza apricots.  They even put a blackboard outside, with prices. Fifty quid a pop,  apparently.  Yet they won't specify which 'locally-sourced' birds are involved.
'As long as it's not me I don't care Tuppy,' he sobbed. 'I don't want to end up in the middle of a Russian doll-style fowl-fest, rolled and frozen in a box with several of my friends. It doesn't bear thinking about.'
'So much for their so-called vegan lifestyle with their herbal tisanes and their aduki bean rissoles.  They've gone for the meat dollar Geoffrey - and that tells you all you need to know.  I'll never sample one of Val's goji berry and raw oat flapjacks again, not even if she gets down on her bended knees and begs.  So help me I won't.'
'I doubt if she'll have the brass neck to make flapjacks now Tuppy.  Not after soiling her hands with multiple bird roasts.'
'I wouldn't be too sure Geoffrey.  It's follow the money with those two.  You'd think butter wouldn't melt what with their Peruvian hats and their rustic hand-knits, but really they've no scruples.  For now the flapjack market has bottomed out, but who knows - in the Spring it could rise again and she'll be flogging them as fast as she can bake 'em. She'd probably start a flapjack sweat-shop if she could.'
'Brace yourself.  I've heard rumours that she plans to sell....I'm awfully sorry to have to say it, but... Spring the Spring, her farm shop...there will be a big special promotion on at Easter,  apparently.'  Geoffrey pressed his hankie to his mouth and cried a little.
'Well don't fret Geoffrey, because that won't affect me.  I'm well-past the lamb stage,'  I replied briskly, pulling the tartan knee rug tighter over my arthritic...knees. 'But we should plan ahead and warn Tuppence as soon as he returns.  He's an adolescent now but in her warped eyes he might just qualify as a lamb.  Luckily, he's very resourceful, and handy with his pistols ( see previous e-books for details , so he should be able to protect himself, if need be.'
'But that's the point Tuppy.  Why should he have to protect himself?  Why should he have to live in fear?  It's not right.'
'Of course it's not right Geoffrey.  Many things in life are not right.  But what can we do?'
'We must think of something Tuppy.  We can't just give in.'
'We'll never give in Geoffrey. But for now let's fortify ourselves with a snack and a nap, and perhaps a mug of that nice French brandy you got me for Yule.  We can think about life's trickier side after.'

More Later....

Meanwhile, please help yourself to Sea Penguins One and Two for free today and tomorrow (27th and 28th) via this link to my Amazon page.


Friday, 26 December 2014

Today's Walk.....Christmas Day

We had our Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, and went for a long-ish walk on Christmas day, taking coffee, sandwiches made from leftovers, gingerbread, and oranges for a picnic by a loch a few miles away.  Cold, clear blue skies - red kites and buzzards displaying high above, roe deer grazing in the woods, hosts of small birds in the lower trees. Right on top of a pine tree I think I saw a crossbill. The loch was half-frozen over, and two whooper swans swam slowly to and fro in the open water, accompanied by a group of mallards.  The drakes' feathers were iridescent on the sunshine and had I a better camera I could have got some terrific photos.  The path alongside was icy with puddles that crunched and snapped satisfyingly underfoot and feeling invigorated (much to our surprise, because we felt like a pair of wrecks before we started) we walked on to a second loch.  It was bone-chillingly cold so we didn't linger.   As the sun began to sink and we followed the path home through the darkening woods we got that eery, slightly spooked feeling that one associates with Christmas, and we felt deeply thankful for our health, which allows us to enjoy such walks, and for our home.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

A Merry Yuletide to All

A hasty post to let you know that Sea Penguins One and Two are available for free over Christmas - unfortunately, I haven't managed to write a single fresh word for the past few days, mainly due to feeling paralysed by a weird kind of 'festive stress'.  I hope that wears off very soon.

Here's the link to my Amazon page, with the free downloads. 

Friday, 19 December 2014

Working on a new Sea Penguin Christmas story at the moment - hope to have it done by Christmas Eve.  Not sure what format to use - whether simply to publish it in my usual way on here, or to Kindle it - maybe I'll do both.  I'll see how the time goes, and how pleased I am with it.

Meanwhile,  while most are now in an ordinary shop, a few wooden painted things and pictures by Barry Nicol are still for sale online in the Etsy shop,  and all the old Sea Penguin books can be found for sale here  .
If you're interested in a piece of artwork that isn't available online, please get in touch with me (Twitter is best @Sea_Penguin5 ) and I'll do my best to help.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Can't see the wood for the trees sometimes.
Solstice approaches, it's all but dark by mid-afternoon and everything's quiet, as it should be.  There's an unsettling when it's mild, as it is today, and you sense an underlying restlessness - flutterings, rustlings, new growth pushing through.  Spring is not far away, really, the wheel of life is turning and you know that nothing ever really dies.
There are lots of woods nearby.  A few are especially popular with dog-walkers, so Sundays are best avoided if you want to see wildlife.  On a week day you might see roe deer, red squirrels, occasionally a fox.  Certainly you'll hear , if not see, jays. Buzzards fly out from the trees to the fields, scouting for food.  Looking up through a break in the trees you're likely to see a skein of geese, although you'll hear them first.  Once I saw a goshawk.
Lots of little birds in the undergrowth and smaller trees at the edge - wrens, robins, tits and the like. Plenty of rabbit holes.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Two Walks - to the woods

An icy afternoon walk along a farm track by a loch, which shelters a good range of ducks,  geese and swans, and onwards to a large wood.
We saw several wild whooper swans flying low over the fields, and then another one followed;  we hoped it managed to catch up.
I forgot to take my binoculars so couldn't identify any other wildfowl on the loch.  No geese, I think, which is unusual, and only a couple of flights of small ducks.  No other birds apparent on land apart from some very subdued tweeting sounds from the bushes, long tailed tits possibly. And two robins by the gate.
We didn't walk into the woods - it felt very Little Red Riding Hood.  Everything cold and dank and silent and still.  Waiting...

Yesterday I walked round another nearby field, and saw a flock of reed warblers, and two roe deer running through a snowstorm.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Art work news

The original Seapenguin painting, by Barry Nicol
Printed postcards with the original Sea Penguin image are available to buy for £1 via our Etsy shop.  Here is the link Find other items in the shop via the Etsy badge on the right hand side of the page also.  Some pieces are now in a 'real' shop and one or two have sold, but please get in touch if you're interested in buying something that's currently listed as unavailable and we'll do our best to help.
Barry Nicol has done all the art work for the Sea Penguin series and is currently working on a new version of the original painting, which I'm really looking forward to seeing.  If I get a new Sea Penguin book written, it'll most likely be the cover.
I hope to have a Christmas Tuppy and Geoffrey story ready sometime over the next few days.

Free Download just now

 the tupfinder general by barry nicol all rights reserved
The Tupfinder General by Barry Nicol
Here is the link to Sea Penguin Part Four - the Soul Extractor, which as I mentioned the other day is free to download for the next couple of days.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Blog and Writing Update

A very brief update on my latest...whatever.
1.  re. my Book Week pledge - I kept this, much to my own astonishment.  And not without a modicum of difficulty;  my local Cancer Research usually has a fairly reasonable selection of books, but when I went in on my book week quest the shelves were filled with dreadful, smelly old cookery books and Maeve Binchy.  Almost as bad as the local library!  '1599 - A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare', by James Shapiro, and 'Rat Pack Confidential' by Shawn Levy were the best I could find.  Two for a pound, so I won't complain.  Rat Pack Confidential was the only showbiz book they had by the way - and it's disappointing.  I'm almost a third of the way through it and it isn't really telling me anything I don't already know.
2. The Novel Progress Chart is somewhere underneath a vast pile of stuff that needs filing, i.e. putting in the box under the bed where everything boring but which probably shouldn't be thrown out, goes. Which gives you an idea of how well THAT'S going.
3.  I've got another free download starting later today (11th).  This time it's Sea Penguin Part 4 - The Soul Extractor.  I'll post a link later.  I feel bad about punting this again - I really need to write some new material.

More later - hopefully.  Now I must sleep. 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Today's Walk - nowhere in particular....

...except on planet Earth, of course, somewhere between the Moon and the Sun.
There was a huge, almost Full Moon rising at our backs, and the winter sun setting behind the horizon in front of us, and there we were, the two of us,  walking on the Earth between.  It felt quite extraordinary.
Lucky to get a great sighting of a male merlin hunting along ditches by a frosty field before the sun got too low, and four swans, flying.

Monday, 1 December 2014

The Scrying Pool

 scrying pool

Today,  Geoffrey and I took a trip to the scrying pool (pictured), which is located By the Big Rock, high on the moors.
Why?  Well, Apsley Fulmar lost a Euromillions ticket yesterday, and word has it that it's a winner.  He and Cherry are frantic - they've combed all the obvious places, beginning with the top of the fridge, the mantlepiece, the bathroom shelf, their coat and trouser pockets, and then widening it out to everyone's coat and trouser pockets, the cliffs, the tourist car park, and the Puff Inn toylits - nothing, apparently, except a few bent coppers, a 1962 edition of the Bunty 'bumper' summer special, five milk chews, a packet of Smith's cheese and onion crisps, two empty Kestrel lager tins (squashed), Shergar (alive and kicking),  'Lucky' Lucan (likewise), and enough fluff to stuff the giant of Brogdingnag's sofa.
As they're incomers, Apsley and Cherry don't know about the scrying pool.  We, however, do.
So, we thought we'd see if it might offer up some information.
It didn't.
Hard though we tried  scried, we could see nothing but the reflection of a clear blue sky and some trees and weeds and such-like.
Strange, because it was pouring with rain, the wind was howling like a pack of deranged wolves, and we have no trees, Hereabouts....
We tottered homewards through the foul weather, sustained by thoughts of toasting vast sausages over a roaring fire, basting them with a mixture of their own fat, wholegrain mustard and red AND brown sauces, and then napping on the settee after washing them down with several pewter mugfuls of Madeira, heated of course, using the rather devil-may-care but tried and tested method of plunging a red hot poker in.
The Euromillions ticket remains at large...for now........

more about that, later.

Sea Penguin Part Five will be free to download for five days starting tomorrow (2nd).  Here's the link*Version*=1&*entries*=0

Here's a link to my Amazon page, with details of all five Tuppy and Geoffrey e-books