Wednesday 12 December 2018

The Break


The long summer school holidays are over and for most parents, it could not have ended quickly enough. One disadvantage as a writer working from home is that you can easily get distracted by day to day family life and writing goes out the window, but during the summer break I turn this into a luxury by just admitting defeat, and give up completely on writing for the six and half weeks.
In the early days of writing my first award-winning book, FRENZY a Daniel Jones Story, I tried to work through this holiday period, and felt very guilty if I was not beavering all day on my keyboard, then felt frustrated when I had to take time to look after the children, and either keep them entertained, or have to ferry them about. By the time I came to write the sequel, Daniel Jones DOOM, I realised how lucky I was to be able to spend this time with them and how special it is because they are growing up fast, and one day they will have flown the next.

Now I’m writing the third manuscript in the Daniel Jones series of books I just stopped typing for the whole summer holidays, and I am very thankful for being in such a position to be able to do this. I did not feel any quilt and with the glorious sunshine, and balmy warm weather this country enjoyed this year, I could not have wished for more.

This continued as we flew off to Bulgaria for two weeks holiday from Norwich Airport, but like the holidays, the dreamy weather came to a shuddering halt and now we’re back to the wind, rain, grey and miserable conditions we normally expect in the U.K. The children are back at school and I’m now back writing, and as the rain keeps falling outside, I find my thoughts drifting off to sunnier times and my concentration on Daniel Jones faltering.

Hopefully, too you have just as many happy memories of this glorious summer to keep you going through to next year? 



Wednesday 15 August 2018

Thirty degree heat


July was an absolutely stunning month weather-wise for our area and as it carried on into early August, I must admit it was glorious, but beginning to take its toll on me. Don’t get me wrong, if I could I would decamp to the hotter climates of the Mediterranean during our colder, darker winter months. But there is always a but in life and during these long and very hot days, and nights, I have been training hard for the Run Norwich 10K road race, and the heat began to become my enemy number one.

It would have been mad to take long runs between the hours of 10.00 and 18.00 during this heatwave (although I did see some crazy people running at midday as the temperature were hitting thirty plus) and for me it meant having to get up earlier and earlier with every increase in degree of heat.  I tried running later in the day, but found it still very hot and I would get home sweating and looking as if I had been for a swim in the river Yare. I found the best time to run was at seven in the morning, so I would set the alarm for five forty-five to give me time to wake up with a large cup of coffee, and complete my stretching exercises.

Leading up to Run Norwich 2018 I kept checking the advanced weather forecast and found for the first time in my life getting a little bit despondent with the constant wall to wall sunshine that was forecast for the Sunday of the race.

I have completed the Run Norwich 10K before so I knew I could do it, but not in such heat. It absolutely zaps your strength when you run in anything above twenty-one degrees, and can be very dangerous, even a killer, when it hits thirty and above. It was a struggle once you had reached the five-kilometre marker due to the heat, and lots of runners were already having to take walking breaks, but I kept on going because of the simple reason I had my family there watching and cheering, me on at different points along the route and I just did not want to fail in front of them. 

I managed to shave a minute off my previous race time and maybe would have completed it in an even quicker time if  I did not have to stop twice to get loose road chippings out of my running shoes from various roads that the contractors for the County Council have been re-laying recently.

Now I’ve signed up for the Marriott's Way 10k race held in October and I do hope with the cooler climate in Autumn I will be able to beat my personal best. I must admit I have once again got caught with the running bug and at this rate, I might even go doing as crazy as signing up for the Norwich Half Marathon in 2019? 

Watch this space!!!!!!



Wednesday 25 July 2018

Percy the dog


June started off with a bang and ended with plenty of licks and in-between it was just as hectic. The new Northern Distributor Road snaking around the north of Norwich has not been open for long and already it is causing quite a stir when it comes to its design, and more specifically the safety of the roundabouts along its route. I know the N.D.R has been given a new name, but to date, I haven’t heard anyone call it by this new name, and I think for many years to come its original name will stick.  So there I was driving around one of these said roundabouts when another car came crashing into the side of my car. We both pulled over and once we had established that we were both psychically ok we dully swapped names, numbers, and addresses. It took me totally by the surprise the lady was very apologetic about causing the accident.

Before this incident, I had read many different views about the design and safety of this new road with roughly half thinking it’s badly thought out, and the other half saying its fine and it’s all down to the drivers. Well, I was only in second gear and my speed had not even reached twenty miles an hour so I know it was not down to my driving. I must admit it did shake me up for the next week and I was very cautious whenever I had to go around a roundabout, which there are plenty of in Norwich.

But as Mary likes to say in my Daniel Jones series of books, there is always a but in life, but this extra stress was soon relieved when we had a new member join the King family. We received a call from a lady that helps to rehome dogs. She knew we were looking to give a loving home for our first dog after our family cat, Sunny, passed away after nearly seventeen happy years. She knew of a dog just over a year old that needed immediately rehoming because of family health issues. We said yes and that day he joined us. Within a day or two, it’s as if he has been part of the family since he was a puppy, and everyone loves him to bits, but more importantly, we know he loves us just as much.

Where there’s food, there’s a Percy! That’s a new saying that I came up with over the last four weeks since we got our new member of the King family, Percy the dog. I’ve already thought of using this sentence in my third book of the Daniel Jones series somewhere in the final quarter of the manuscript I am nearly finishing. Percy knows just the right technique to pull at your heartstrings and can hear the rustle of a food wrapper or the fridge door opening wherever he is in the house, and even when he is apparently asleep.

Sunny our cat that passed away earlier in the year was quite refined when food was about. She would sit proudly on the floor near to the kitchen table with her back straight with a regal look on her face which said, “I won’t belittle myself by begging, but if you wish to spare a small piece of your meal with me, I might just think about.”  

Percy the dog though has no qualms. He will get as close as possible to you and plonk his chin on your leg, then look up to you with his gorgeous brown eyes through his bushy white eyebrows and just beg, “please, please, please share your meal with me, I haven’t eaten for so long I can’t remember when last it was.”

You look at his empty food bowl that only five minutes earlier had been placed on the floor brimming with the best pet food money can buy, and you just feel yourself giving in. My wife has more self-control than me and will not give in to Percy’s charm, and the children get a warful look if they too try to give him a morsel, and even I will get a warning shot across the table if I look like waving as well. But, I find a way of dropping the odd piece accidentally on the floor that Percy will vacuum up quicker than a brand new Dyson!   



Monday 2 July 2018

Lazy evening on the beach


The first bank holiday of the year was a surprise. Monday evening sitting on Eccles Beach with the sun beating down as it gently settled in the distance with the shore-line to ourselves except for the occasional dog walker, and it was just heavenly. We had a small barbecue firing away with a mixture of sausages and burgers sizzling on top while a small trail of smoke wafted into the air. My daughter’s friend had stayed the Sunday for a sleepover and as the two of them soaked up the sun my boy splashed into the water with his mini surfboard. I took control of the cooking like a caveman standing guard over the fire while keeping a watchful eye on any beast that might dare to snatch my hard fought for meal.

A beautiful looking dog with long brown shaggy hair that had sniffed the delights carried on the wind came closer and closer hoping to gain a treat. It immediately caught the attention of all the children who came over, and gave it plenty of fuss which it gladly enjoyed. Its owner joined us and we chatted. Once they had left the requests by the kids for us to get our own family dog got louder and louder. Since our cat Sunny passed away after fifteen happy years the children would now love to get a family dog as a replacement.

I soon distracted them with some delicious barbecued food. We sat on towels with our toes in the sand. We also enjoyed a good old fashioned 99 Ice-cream from a van parked on top of the cliff. It was a glorious bank holiday weekend weather wise and a real treat. Most years you can expect wind, rain, grey skies and generally a washout for the early May Day weekend, but not this year. If only our weather could be more predictable, but then again it’s such an influence on the British mentality It’s probably one of the reasons us Brits are so unpredictable, and something the politicians should have taken into account before calling the E.U Referendum, and expecting to automatically get the result they wanted!   



Monday 4 June 2018

The Season Ends


As one grows up you start to look for more of a consistency in life. The constant roller coaster of youth with its magnificent highs followed by the headlong surge to the lows become less appealing once you’ve battered the hell of out of life. Three days of non-stop parting over most weekends followed by the slog of work that takes you to Wednesday evening to fully recover from doesn’t seem so appealing after a decade or three; although for me as the author of the Daniel Jones series of books, thankfully my work/life balance is quite good now. Be it work, pleasure, your finances, family or friendships you generally like things to be more level, consistent, and even predictable as you mature.

But, and as Mary likes to say in my books, “there is always a but in life!” There is one big thing that you still want those highs even if they are followed by crashing lows, and were predictability is not always positive, and that is football! One of my great passions in life is my team Norwich City and for the first time in many seasons, they have neither been fighting for promotion or relegation. Since the first week in February they have been level mid-table in the Championship, consistent in their inconsistency with a predictable outcome of neither making the play-offs or being relegated. The only high moment achieved was the late equalising goal against our local rivals from Suffolk, Ipswich Town, at Carrow Road.

Football is the only thing now where I’m prepared to put up with the highs and lows, and where I’m prepared to have something in my life that I have no psychical control over that can still dictate the mood of my weekend, and where mid-table predictability is just not good enough. But there is always that hope that next season will be better, and in this world where human madness rains down on us with the daily news, I’m glad there is still something in life that inspires some hope. 



Thursday 5 April 2018

Sunny the cat

It was quick, very quick and a painful eye-opener to how fragile life is, and how quickly a loved one can be taken from your life. It was just a normal Thursday evening as my wife went into our bedroom to change. She called out to me with a concerned voice. I shot up-stairs. I knew instantly when I entered the room and saw our distressed family cat Sunny sitting on her hind legs on the floor, with her tongue hanging out and, the fear in her eyes, that she was not long for this life. Only an hour earlier she had been curled peacefully on our bed as she normally does looking content, relaxed and gently purring with delight. Half an hour later we’re standing in the vets, but she had already passed away. We were heart broken, and the tears were flowing.

She was nearly sixteen years old and had been part of our loving family since we brought her to our first house as a kitten. In fact, she was the first member of our new family. She was there during our engagement, there for our wedding day, there for the birth and christening of both our children plus their first day at school, and always there on our return from the many holidays we enjoyed. She was there for every high and low we have experienced with never a word of complaint, just the occasional annoyed swish of the tail if her food bowl was empty.

“There was nothing that could be done,” said the vet as he explained that she had succumbed to a condition that was common in cats of her great age, “but at least it was quick.” Mary, one of the lead characters in my Daniel Jones series of books always likes to say, “There is always a but in life,” and this was a ruddy great big but for all of us with how quick it was.

Sunny now rests in our garden alongside the children’s two hamsters. Our home was definitely a one cat house as she would not put up with any other cat, or dog, being around. Now she has gone, the children’s pleas for a dog get louder by the day, and my resolve to say no weakens with every sunset!



Thursday 8 March 2018

Parents Evening


Parents evening had me sitting down on a small chair designed for a child as my knees ached while waiting anxiously outside the classroom like a naughty child ready to be called into the headmaster's office. Next to me was a diddy table which on top had laid out on it, neat rows of different coloured books representing a different subject, and each with the child’s name on it. I looked through my son’s textbooks and the wife and I both made compliments about various aspects of his work. Other parents from different classes, and year groups, passed us in the hallway after coming out from their encounter with their child’s teachers. Some parents came passed smiling, one or two had frowns on their faces while one lone parent came out cussing under their breath. The closer they got to the wife and I the louder their objections became. I put my head down pretending I was checking out my son’s maths work, which I had already done, as I got the distinct feeling this parent was heading towards me seeking some type of moral support.

“What a ruddy cheek!” I looked up, but said nothing. “How dare the teachers try to push the blame onto my child for being bottom of the class?” I tried to give a comforting smile, but really just wanted to keep out of their own personal argument. “The teachers said that maybe if my child spent less time playing the X-Box and spent more time trying to finish homework plus spent less time disrupting the class, and put a bit more effect in while here, they were confident better progress could be made!” I silently shrugged my shoulders, smiled again and then luckily we were called in for our turn, so leaving the disgruntled parent to themselves.

We consider our children’s school to be excellent, and both our children have done exceedingly well in it, which was borne out by the very good review our son’s teachers gave us of his progress. It's not just the academic side of the teaching, but the extra's those hard-working teachers within the school do in their spare time. Music is something the school tries it's best to excel at, and has a twenty strong ukulele group plus a thirty piece orchestra with a forty-strong choir. I doubt there are many primary schools in the U.K that can boast of that! My daughter has become an excellent flute player and my son is learning the trumpet. They have both achieved something I have always wished to be able to do, but have never done, and that is to have the ability to read music. I have always thought that although it's not one of life's essentials, just like you can go through life without being able to swim, or have a driving licence; but, and just like Mary always says in my Daniel Jones series of books, "there's always a but in life", but I believe being able to play a musical instrument adds to the quality of life, just like going for a swim, or having the freedom to drive where you like, does the same.

We never had to encourage the children to take up music, in fact we knew nothing about it until the school informed us on both occasions that they had shown an interest, after taking some taster sessions, and with the right support could take it further. So we took the teachers advise and as they say, the rest is history.    

Maybe if some parents, like their children, spent less time talking and a little bit more time listening, then maybe they would learn a thing or two as well?