Tag Archives: #MondayBlog

Measures of Spring

Those who follow this blog will already know that I like to escape from the salt mine during my lunch hour and go for a wander.

Some days it is a leisurely stroll, with gentle music and a mind full of daydreams (NO, I’m not sharing them with you  hee hee)

Some days its is a stomp, with loud heavy metal  music on full blast and a mind full of the frustrations of the morning. (No, I’m not sharing those either.)

Being a creature of habit, I have a tendency to walk the same route most days. Very quickly you become aware of the surroundings and the changes in them. You can track the changes in the season by them.

Spring sees one of the most dramatic changes over quite a short period of time. For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to capture one photo per week from roughly the same spot (bit of a hit or miss with that) to try to highlight this.

Last week I was on holiday from work and in my absence  a dramatic transformation took place!

Wondering what on earth I’m talking about now?  I’m talking daffodils!

Here, see for yourself.

spring 1spring 2spring 3

Next stop summer!!  🙂

 

 

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And Why’s He Still There, Mummy?…….

This story technically starts back on 18th March after I returned from my trip to Birmingham. Stupidly, I commented to my Moana-loving Girl Child that I’d seen a toy Hei Hei (the dopey chicken from the film) reduced in the Disney Store in the Bull Ring shopping centre. With a petted lip she asked why Hei Hei was still there. Calmly, I explained in my best mummy voice that Hei Hei wouldn’t have fitted in my overnight bag.

hei hei

She sulked….

 

Move forward in time to last Saturday. The Big Green Gummi Bear and I were preparing to leave for an overnight trip to Manchester and were saying our goodbyes to Girl Child and her Dotty Gran in Tesco’s café. Girl Child tried to pick her blue fluffy bunny up by the ear and the poor creature’s ear came off in her hand. Her wee face crumpled. She loves that blue fluffy bunny! I did wonder for a split second if she was about to cry. The Big Green Gummi bear swiftly snatched the ear from her little hand, declared it to be his “lucky bunny ear” for his race (yes, I know that it should be lucky rabbit’s foot) and stuffed it into his jacket pocket.

 

A couple of hours later and many miles down the motorway, we stopped at a service station in the Lake District for lunch. As is my want, we had a wander through the shop before getting back in the car. In the toy section, we found a display of over priced and overly fluffy toy chickens and birds and critters. The Big Green Gummi Bear quickly pulled the bunny ear from his pocket and posed it on top of one of pink fluffy chicken things, suggesting I take a photo and send it to Girl Child. I did.

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Her response a while later was “Hope you bought that.”

When I replied that we hadn’t, her immediate disappointment was expressed.

It was Hei Hei all over again….

The mummy in me knew we had to find one of those pink fluffy birds on the return journey or I’d never hear the end of this, especially so soon after not buying Hei Hei!

 On the way back north on Sunday afternoon we delayed our potty stop/coffee stop by 22 miles to reach the service station on the M6 where we hoped we stood the best chance of sourcing a pink fluffy chicken.

At Tebay services, we were in luck. They had one. He was duly purchased and carried unceremoniously by the legs out to the car. (Turns out it’s a female ostrich and not a chicken)

And so Not Hei Hei came to stay.

 

When we arrived home a couple of hours later, Girl Child was thrilled to meet Not Hei Hei and promptly sat at the dinner table with him beside her.

The blue fluffy bunny ear, which turned out to be quite a lucky bunny ear as the The Big Green Gummi Bear survived his marathon debut and ran a time he is content with, was returned to our baby girl.

With her big blue eyes wide and pleading, she asked me to fix her bunny.

So, for the first time in many years, I have just performed toy surgery and re-attached her blue bunny’s long floppy ear.

20180409_190356

 

Cue one happy Girl Child….. one 18year old happy Girl Child!

 

 

And the moral of this story is…. Never lose sight of your inner child 😉

20180409_190835

 

I’ll Take That As A Parenting Success….

I ventured into Boy Child’s bedroom earlier to collect his laundry basket. The sun was shining in and the wall above his desk caught my eye.

Now, I’ve been in the room countless times but I hadn’t really given this spot on the wall much thought before today. I paused to look and to read.

It made me smile.

This is what I was looking at.

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Every ticket, except his Alter Bridge ticket from SSE Hydro in Glasgow on 1 Dec 2016 as the venue staff insisted on collecting them in, for every show he’s been to. There are three up there that I wasn’t with him for – I’ll not point them out.

As I read though them I could remember highlights from each of them.

From nudging him and telling him it was ok to laugh out loud at comedian Daniel Sloss’ risqué jokes to the first rock show we attended on 23 May 2009. The very first band to take to the stage that night in the SECC were Black Stone Cherry and so began his love (and mine) of those boys from Kentucky.

There’s the ticket from the first rock show he stood at – Iron Maiden on 20 July 2011. I remember vividly keeping a close eye on him in the densely packed crowd. (He was only 13 at the time) There’s the tiny ticket stub from 16 May 2017 when we saw Iron Maiden again. I remember all too clearly Boy Child keeping an eye on me in one of the roughest crowds I’ve been in. We’d come full circle.

There’s the MTV EMA World Stage show with Slash and Biffy Clyro from 7 Nov 2014. Still can’t believe we got those tickets. It was a fan only event. Best value for £10 ever!

Then, less than a month later, we saw Slash live again and, thanks to Miss Janette, got after show passes to meet The Conspirators and were lucky enough to meet Myles Kennedy for the first time. The kind of night that dreams are made of.

A ticket from the Black Stone Cherry Nordoff Robbins charity show in The Cathouse (tiny venue) on 18 Nov 2016 also holds precious memories. That was an incredible show!

There are wrist bands from Tremonti shows where we’ve been lucky enough to enjoy a quick meet and greet after the set. They really are lovely guys.

A few picks don the wall too including a Myles Kennedy pick.

There are even some Ghost dollars.

Parenting is never an easy task. Kids don’t come with a rule book or a user guide. I wish they had!

What struck me in the sunlit room was that this wall represented parenting successes…lots of them! The simple fact that each of these tickets has earned a place on the wall is evidence of that.

I left the room with the laundry basket, a smile on my face and a warm fuzzy feeling inside.

 

A short while later there was a cry of “Mum, where’s the Blu Tack?”

As I handed over a small blue/gray cube of sticky stuff, I asked what he needed it for.

“To stick my Brian Fallon ticket up.”

Another moment of parenting success.

Ticket collage

What’s Your Trademark Scent?

perfume

The array of bottle sits on the shelf- which one to choose? Do you choose by label? By colour? By aroma?

No, I’m not talking wine bottles! I’m talking perfume bottles.

I’m not a “girlie” girl by any stretch of the imagination. Can’t really be bothered with all the fuss and faffing with hair, nails and make-up but I do like to wear perfume.

The only issue with this is that I’m allergic to the vast majority of them. I may love the scent but sadly most of them don’t love me.

Through trial and error over the years and a lot of sneezing and irritated patches of skin, I’ve found a core suite of fragrances by Philosophy that I stick with.

So, how do you decide which one to wear for the day?

Me? I tend to choose based on my emotions and mood.

The logic of this is as follows-

Pure Grace – for the days when you want to feel fresh and clean all day. A simple uncluttered day.

Amazing Grace – for those rare days when I’m feeling confident (A bottle lasts quite a long time)

Summer Grace – for when it’s a gorgeous day out and the world around you feels good or, at least, you want it to.

Pure Summer Grace – for the days when you need a reminder of a summer beach day (this bottle never lasts long!)

Baby Grace- my favourite – A scent for when you need to feel reassured. The one that whispers “Everything’s going to be ok.” A hug in a bottle.

 

So what kind of day are you having today?

 

 

Introducing PF Gregory

TEFAY cover

I’ve said before, the world of social media is an incredible thing. It opens up so many avenues to explore.  As an indie author myself, social media is a great way to connect to other authors and to obtain book recommendations (hint…hint…). There is also a strong network of support out there for writers who are keen to support and help others. So, in the ethos of “pay it forward” please allow me to introduce you to P F Gregory, fellow indie author.

Author Profile

Paul and I “met” through a more business related social media platform as we both work for the same parent salt mine in our real worlds.

I’ll be honest, I don’t read a lot of crime novels (not my genre of choice generally) but I grew up on a healthy TV diet of Miss Marple, Bergerac, Taggart and Morse so I’m not averse to the occasional murder.

Paul recently published his second novel, The Evil From Among You, and having devoured it within a few days I was proud to leave a 5* review for him on Amazon and Good Reads.

Just in case you missed it, here’s what I had to say:

Great Second Innings

 Fantastic second crimebuster from P F Gregory. Really enjoyed reconnecting with Chief Inspector Kent and crime reporting journalist Merv Davieson. Both have really developed their personalities in this tale.

Throughout the book the reader is introduced to various interesting characters who could all have had a motive for murder but Mr Gregory succeeds in keeping the reader guessing “who dunnit” right to the final pages. Even, if like me you have no interest in cricket, this is an entertaining read. Check it out for yourself today and see if you guess the murderer quicker than I did!

Look forward to reading about Kent and Davieson’s next case!

 I invited Paul along recently for a “virtual chat”. Here’s what he had to say.

Congratulations on your second crime novel.   What was the inspiration behind the cricketing theme here

A- Without divulging any spoilers, I had an old idea banked of a retribution motive and needed some awful (but plausible) injury to take place. A couple of options were considered but cricket worked and it also lends itself to the enduring English image found on so many male greetings cards to this day – timeless, traditional and a perfect setting for the rural/nostalgic atmosphere I am looking for.

 

We first met Davieson and Kent in your first novel. Was a family wedding the inspiration behind your debut Kindly Invited To Murder

A – Certainly not lol! I’d like to the think the family wedding’s I’ve attended went off with a lot less mayhem, but a local church (Breedon-on-the-Hill) – which is quite a landmark here in Leicestershire, was certainly the inspiration for the setting, becoming the fictional St. Catherine’s Church. The wedding setting did allow me to bring the various characters together in the same place though.

The Evil Among You really develops the characters of Kent and Davieson. Will we see any more of them?

A- Yes, I am keen to retain both my Chief Crime reporter, Davieson, and Chief Inspector Kent. Davieson will always be after local comment and interview when a crime takes place and will have a business reason to be there in the heart of the developing investigation. They will certainly both appear in my next novel and then I maybe need to reverse chronology and temporarily retire Kent for one novel as I write the mystery that made Davieson famous – and for which he boasts about in my first two novels. Davieson had assisted others in the police force, back then, before he met Kent – although Kent had heard of his assistance.

Do you have plans for book number three?

A -Yes, plot devised, characters created and I am currently 36,000 words into writing the first draft with a fairly detailed chapter/scene plan to work through as my road map.

Your Amazon author bio says you’ve been inspired by Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Have you always wanted to write whodunnits? What inspired you to take the plunge and write a novel?

A –I had been entertained by the genre for years (since childhood really) and progressed from reading the Enid Blyton children’s mysteries such as ‘The Five Find-Outers & Dog’ series – to my parents’ Agatha Christie paperbacks. I read literally hundreds of classic detective fiction stories, heard audio books and saw a handful of plays such as The Mousetrap in the West End a couple of times. Additionally, when not reading, there was nothing I enjoyed watching more than the latest Poirot, Marple, Morse, Midsomer Murders, Sherlock Holmes on primetime weekend television. Eventually, this all rubbed off on me and I wondered if I could devise a crime myself, create a bunch of probable and possible suspects and tie it all together by the end of the book. This was the inspiration and driving force to attempt a whodunnit.

We all struggle with our creative work from time to time. What motivates you to keep writing?

A -Nice feedback, a steadily increasing word count – and a continually topped-up bank of ideas for current and future work (characters, scenes, great words, lines of dialogue). I am finding writing a great release too and very therapeutic/rewarding.

Do you have a favourite author and/or book? (I know, cruel question!)

A – So…no longer with us, but for me Agatha Christie and as a prize specimen I’d chose her ‘ Evil Under The Sun’ which is heavily-clued. For me, she delivered so many firsts in the genre and broke many conventions.

How do you approach your writing? Are you a meticulous planner or a pantser?

A – I am a meticulous planner so I love a detailed chapter plan. In writing crime fiction I want to know who did it, why and how before I even start – I then want a bunch of interesting characters and a detailed flow of how the novel will run. I had at least 40 scenes planned out before I even started to type up a sentence of my current project. 

What advice would you give to any budding crime writers reading this?

A – I would say, read widely in the genre and find the style of sub-genre you believe in. Write primarily for yourself unless you absolutely need your work to try and put food on the table – if you do, then pay close attention to conventions and expectations in the genre (everything from word-count, to cover design, to typeface – to procedural accuracy). Accept no barriers – there is plenty of help out there, both in books and on the net, to help you achieve and realise your dreams. Be prepared to put the work in – unless you are a self-made man, or have a cast of thousands, then consider that you will likely have to wear several hats (author, typist, researcher, editor, proof-reader, type-setter, cover designer, marketing, social media/Comms.)

 Publishing one never mind two books in a short space of time is quite an achievement. How did it feel when you held a copy of your novel in your hands for the first time and saw your name on Amazon?

A – I actually plotted my debut novel in my late 20’s and wrote half of the book way back then. For whatever reason, I parked that half-finished book for over 13 years and only picked it up again in my early 40’s when I felt suitably inspired at re-read to finish the job. My output, therefore, appears a little more industrious than it has actually been this last 18 months or so. I am glad I did finish the debut and proved to myself that I could write a detective novel  – the feeling of holding my own book in my hands was incredibly exciting and I had copies printed to wrap up as family Christmas presents last year. I could barely contain myself watching the recipients open them – hugely, hugely rewarding. Similarly, seeing my book on Amazon was surreal and I couldn’t stop looking at the screenshots I took for some time afterwards and enjoyed sharing a hyperlink to my page/product.

 

I also asked Paul for a bit of background on the man behind these novels and was pleasantly surprised to find a musical connection there. Paul revealed that in his late teens/early twenties he played bass for a band called Exit Laughing. Want a listen? https://youtu.be/RQuUkqRGKRM

I was mildly surprised that cricket wasn’t listed as one of his “likes” but Paul is also a keen runner and fell walker, enjoying exploring the summits around the Lake District. Maybe these or his early musical adventures will provide inspiration for future murders. (hint….)

 

I’d like to thank Paul for taking the time out of his busy world to chat to me  and I wish him every success with his books.

PF gregory

 

Please spare a moment to check out him out on Amazon. Here’s the link to Paul’s author page:

Amazon.co.uk link –  https://www.amazon.co.uk/P.F.-GREGORY/e/B01N4LYL4V/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1515094781&sr=8-1

Amazon.com link – https://www.amazon.com/P.F.-GREGORY/e/B01N4LYL4V/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

 

 

A Pre-Christmas Coffee Catch Up With……Jake Power

coffee catch up

It was a chilly Saturday afternoon when I finally managed to catch up with Jake Power, front man with Silver Lake.  The band were in Glasgow a day early for the final show of their hugely successful Bonded Souls tour. Many of the arena shows in the UK have been sold out weeks in advance and Sunday’s show in the SSE Hydro is no exception. (I bought my ticket pre-sale over six months ago)

As we sat in a city centre coffee shop, I asked Jake how the recent run of shows had gone.

“They’ve been incredible! British audiences are so much more passionate than American crowds. And louder! You guys really know how to rock!” he enthused. “I don’t mean any disrespect to our American fan base but shows at home tend to be in smaller venues, security can be strict and things seem a little more reserved. In these 10 000 seater arenas here, we’ve seen mosh pits every night.”

Before reaching the UK, Silver Lake toured through mainland Europe so I asked how those shows had measured up.

“They were all great. Some countries are more passionate than others. Italy was insane. We played shows in Milan and Rome. Those crowds were crazy! Cologne in Germany was a good show too. We played in Amsterdam just before we came over here. That one didn’t pan out so well. There were a few glitches. The fire alarm went off and we had to evacuate the venue twenty minutes into our set. I feel we owe those fans another show. We only had time to play three or four songs after they let us back into the building.”

With three critically acclaimed albums under their belts, I asked Jake what the Scottish fans could expect for the final show of the tour.

“A full two hour set, that’s for sure,” was Jake’s immediate reply. I was rewarded with one of those “Power” smiles! “We were talking about the set at lunch earlier. Grey has it written on the back of a napkin. I think we were up to nineteen or twenty songs. If we can work them all in before the curfew then we’ll play them.”

“Jake, you’ve been on the road for the last six weeks and have already commented on stage that it’s the longest that you’ve been away from your wife. How tough has that been?”

“Very,” admitted Jake, running his hand through his long blonde hair. “Usually Lori would travel with us for part of a tour. We had planned that she’d come over and spend a week or so here and travel back home with us but, when we really thought it through, it just wasn’t going to be practical. Both of us felt it would be too much for Miss Melody and would trash her routine.”

This is a rare mention by Jake of his baby daughter and seizing the moment I asked how she was.

“She’s incredible. I can’t wait to get home to my girls. Melody’s at the stage she’s changing every day. I’ve missed so much in six weeks. Her personality is developing. If only she slept a bit better at night!”

Almost shyly, Jake showed me a photo on his phone of his wife Lori holding their baby girl. So far, they’ve shielded their daughter from the media but trust me, she’s adorable.

Now that the Bonded Souls tour cycle is winding up, I asked Jake about his and Silver Lake’s plans for the coming year.

“We’re all taking a break over the holidays then I head into the studio late January with Weigh Station. Those guys plan to have a new album out in the spring and to do a few of the summer festivals. Maybe a few side shows too. My diary has a few dates both here in Europe and in the US pencilled in from May through till August. Silver Lake are planning to hit the studio again in the fall. The schedule is filling up for next year and the year after. There’s talk of a full Weigh Station tour and a Silver Lake tour.”

“So, what’s first on your agenda when you get home, Jake?”

“Laundry! I’m running out of clean shorts,” laughed the charismatic front man, his hazel brown eyes twinkling with mischief. “No, seriously, laundry and some quality time with my li’l ladies. A quiet family Christmas.”

“At the beach?”

“No. Actually we’re heading off to the Poconos on Dec 23rd. Lori and I spent a short honeymoon there last Christmas, thanks to our manager Jethro. We stayed in an amazing log cabin near a huge frozen lake. It was so quiet. So peaceful. Both of us loved it so much we decided to go back this year. We’ll head back to New York for New Year’s then home to Rehoboth a few days later. Both of us have some business commitments in the city the first week in January. We’ll bring in the New Year with Maddy, our manager. She throws these huge New Year’s parties every year at her apartment. I’m under strict orders to be there with my guitars.”

As Jake stretched out his long denim clad legs and settled back in his seat, we ordered another coffee then I asked if he found it hard to slip back into “normal” life after a tour.

“It takes a few days to adjust,” he confessed. “On tour we are ruled by the clock constantly. Jethro and Maddy run a tight ship. We stick to the published itinerary. Doing as the boss tells us..well, most of the time.” He paused then continued. “The first day or so, Lori usually gives me a bit of space to do my own thing. Come down time. Time to go for a couple of long runs. Time to sort out my guitars after the tour. Time to do my laundry! I suspect things might be a little different this time. It’s the first time I’ve been away from my daughter for so long.  I just want to spend time with her and with Lori. Family time. That has to come first.”

As our coffees arrived, I asked Jake how his bandmates chilled out after a tour. He laughed then revealed, “They’ll kill me for saying this. Grey needs to get his hands dirty. He’s a mechanic and his yard is full of “projects”. He’ll be under the hood of one of his wreckers before the jet lag hits him.  Paul needs a day to go fishing. He also needs to get past Maddison and that can be a challenge. She’s a scary lady! I’d put money on it though that Paul has a boat trip booked for the end of next week already. Rich is the only one who takes a proper vacation every time. He heads to Florida to his sister and her family. I guess he likes to thaw out in the sun after this cold winter weather. He’ll be back in Rehoboth mid-January as we have teaching workshops booked in.”

“Workshops?”

Jake nodded. “We’re both music teachers at heart still. Every chance we get, we run a workshop or two at the high school where we both taught. As we’re home for a few weeks, Rich has worked out a four week course. Grey and Paul are involved here too this time. I think it’s two workshops per week after school and two all-day Saturday sessions. The aim is to pull a band or maybe even two bands together in time for the Valentine’s Day Ball.”

It struck me that home really is at the heart of Silver Lake. All four members live in and around the same small town, Rehoboth, Delaware, and all seem keen to give something back to their local community.

“We owe a lot to the local fans,” Jake acknowledged. “They’ve been behind us for a long time and it’s a pity we don’t get to play more shows closer to home. The closest we get to Rehoboth is either Baltimore or Philly. We talked about doing some small local shows like we used to. You know, Friday night set in a local bar. Something impromptu and low key. Hopefully we’ll make it happen in the spring next year.”

I asked Jake if he had any plans for any solo shows.

“No but never say never,” he replied with a grin. “I’ve only ever done one. That was couple of years back at the air force base in Dover. My brothers are both air force. Peter called in a favour at the last minute. The band he had booked to play had missed their flight or something and were stuck in Canada. I only had a few hours’ notice but I didn’t want to let him down. It’s the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done! I felt like I was stripped naked in front of two hundred airmen.”

Now, there’s a thought, ladies….

I pointed out that Jake had appeared half naked several times with Weigh Station, prompting a fit of laughter.

“You can blame the late Dan Crow for that,” said Jake grinning. “And before you ask, I intend to keep all my clothes on in the Hydro tomorrow night. Too damn cold here to do anything else!”

Checking the time, Jake apologised that he would need to go, explaining that he had a call to make back at his hotel. I had time to squeeze in one last quick question so, as Christmas is only a couple of weeks off, I asked what he hoped Santa Claus would bring him this year.

“Actually, I’m hoping for a new laptop,” Jake said as he reached for his leather jacket. “I dropped mine in London the other night. It fell off the table in the dressing room. Smashed the screen. Split the casing. I haven’t confessed this to my wife yet though. I only got it just before we left for this tour. Maybe I’ll be on the naughty list for that and end up getting underwear and socks on Christmas morning.”

As I watched Jake leave the coffee  shop, flashing a smile at the waitresses behind the counter, I couldn’t help but wonder if he’ll get that laptop or not….

 

 

The Silver Lake series is available via Amazon both in  Kindle and paperback formats

Amazon.com link   https://www.amazon.com/Coral-McCallum/e/B00VYU1SZ6/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Amazon.co.uk link    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Coral-McCallum/e/B00VYU1SZ6/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Book 4 in the series is planned for  2019

 

(image sourced via Google – credits to the owner)

 

 

 

 

 

The End Is In Sight…..of my tether that is!

end-of-the-tether

It’s Monday and this isn’t a good sign….. I’ve reached the end of my tether!

Anyone who knows me will appreciate that I generally quite a patient person. Some of you might even say too patient but occasionally even I reach the end of my rope.

So where does the phrase come from and what does it really mean?

A little research ( not got the patience for extensive research this evening) revealed it’s a phrase used mainly in the USA and UK. It means to have reached the end of your patience, to be completely worn out, exasperated or exhausted.

So. What’s a tether in this context? Cue more Googling – a rope used to restrict the freedom of grazing animals by tying one end around their neck and the other to a stake in the ground.

tethered pony

 

Hmmmm…….

 

Pass me the scissors or a knife….this tether is being cut!

Normally to soothe me frayed nerves I would head out for a walk along the beach but its kind of cold and dark out there right now.

Virtual beach walk required before I settle down to continue the tale that’s shaping up to be Book Baby 4.

 http://livebeaches.com/rehoboth-beach-de/webcams/rehoboth-beach-boardwalk/

 I can almost feel the sand between my toes…..

 

(images sourced via Google – credits to the owners)