Saturday, 31 December 2016

From 2016 towards 2017

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As 2016 comes to a close and we head into 2017 I'm not going to write a long commentary on what's what about 2016 as the media will be plastered with such information over the next three days. So instead I have posted some of my favorite sayings that I have used and some that I have not, and hope you can carry one or two with you into the New Year.













































I know it's easier said than done to be positive and always loving. You will have read throughout the year as you followed my blog that I have my moments. Times when things are not going right for me and I don't feel in the most positive, or forgiving of moods. It is a daily battle in some cases, but like the character Mary in my Daniel Jones series of books who likes to say there is always a but; I do try my best to be positive and as humane as possible, and when I do let myself down I try to make amends as quickly as possible.

So with this in mind, I wish to thank all my readers around the world and hope that 2017 is a prosperous and peaceful time for you and your family.  

Regards

Mark

Monday, 12 December 2016

Withernsea (The Final Chapter)

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The sun held out for a couple of days as our family holiday quickly came to its end. We had saved a couple of things to do in case it rained, and when the clouds duly arrived we tried out our old favorite of the indoor pool. We paid a visit to The Pavilion Leisure Centre in town. It has a giant slide which the kids just loved, and after some badgering, I went down the slide too before seeking sanctuary in the sauna.







The holiday park had a pool as well. It was small, always packed and very noisy, but you could pay for a private session for half an hour to go tubing. So we booked one the children. We took great delight in standing on the sidelines, laughing at the little one's endeavors to keep upright in the inflatable ring while moving around the pool. They kept slip-sliding about and falling over, and onto each other. 





Then before we knew it the holiday was over and we were packing up the car for the journey home. I took away the temporary draft excluder I had placed around our bedroom window, and as we gave the caravan one last final check after making the beds, we were satisfied we were handing back the keys to it in the same condition in which we found it. As we drove off the site and headed back to Norfolk the children were already asking when they could return! 

The journey home did not quite take as long as the trip up to Withernsea, but it still took longer than it would if we flew from Norwich to Tenerife, and that's where we will be going in 2017. I've already booked it and next week will have made the final payment. But, and for the readers of my Daniel Jones series of books, you will know Mary, one of the lead characters, likes to say, "there is always a but." Because most of the holiday parks allow dogs to be kept on site, and the rest of the family (and eventually myself) did have a good time; we are thinking of booking another week away in a caravan, but this time with the Mother-in-law and her dog Pippen.

Now that should be interesting!

Regards

Mark 

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Withernsea ( part four)

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After the visit to #Scarborough, the weather began to improve and the family finally got to spend a sunny day on Withernsea  beach. It's a stony one until the tide goes out. Then there is a long stretch of sand. We took a picnic with us and it's only a five-minute walk from our holiday park. After a day on the relaxing on the beach, we booked at table at The Station Hotel in Patringham.




After we were all showered we drove to the nearby village and by the time we got there, we were all hungry. Inside to my delight, they were serving a good selection of real ales and ciders. I fancied a refreshing drink and they let me have a little taste of a couple, and I went for a pink cloudy cider. And what a good choice I made. It was one of the loveliest drinks I have enjoyed and was truly gutted when I went back for a second pint and was informed they were now at the bottom of the barrel, and had run out. I wish I had taken a note of the company that made it, but I was quickly called back to the table when our food arrived. The food was good value basic English fair which everyone enjoyed and I would recommend it if you are passing through, and fancy enjoying a traditional British pub with food.

That evening, like we had done every evening before, we went back to our caravan, then dressed into our jim-jams and settled down to watch the live events unfolding during the Rio Olympics. Team GB was in full stride and on the verge of being the first team ever to win more medals at an event after hosting the previous one. It was great family entertainment and a lovely way to unwind before bed.

Next day we woke up to bright sunshine and decided to head just up the coast to Hornsea Beach. We found a spot by the rocks and I settled down with a book to read why the children were soon off splashing about in the freezing cold North Sea as the wife and I took turns to keep a watchful eye on them.






Every now and then they would come running back pestering me to come into the sea until finally I gave in, and joined them. At first, I just went in up to my knees, and boy was it cold, but eventually I took the plunge after both my children took great delight in drenching me with water. It was just a fleeting swim before I returned shivering to the wife. I dried myself out like a lizard in the morning sun as I laid on my towel while voices called out to her to join them in the sea. Finally, she too decided to have a go and for a glorious hour, I had tranquility. No one was pestering me and I could feel my body drain of tension as my head slowly nodded to the side. My breathing deepened and I drifted off into a contented dream world where there were no worries, stress or headaches.

I was awoken by the approaching sound of the family returning, and when I lifted off the baseball cap that had been shielding my face I was presented with a gift. Icecream! A good old fashioned 99 Icecream that had me scrambling to my feet as quickly as it melted in the midday sun.  Once again we had brought a picnic with us and by mid-afternoon, after it had long gone, and the breeze began to gather strength we decided to pack up and walk back to the car. We had booked a table at an Indian restaurant in Withernsea and headed back to our caravan to shower and dress.

It had been a glorious day, but then a storm hit just as we were ready to go out that evening. I ordered a taxi. The restaurant was within walking distance, but it was one of those nasty rain showers that would soak you through to the skin, no matter what coat you're wearing, and no one fancied sitting down to a meal in wet clothes.





We arrived at The Bengal Lancer and ran inside from the taxi as the water poured from the strange mix of grey swirling clouds as the sunshine shot through them in a mega battle for supremacy. It was already busy and we must have booked the last table, which is always a good sign if the locals like it. The decor was modern and the staff friendly. But there was a problem! I don't know if it's because of their religious views, or because they just didn't have a drinks license, but the restaurant did not serve alcohol! They had non-alcohol drinks, but that was it. Then a couple sitting on the next table gently leaned over and said, "They do allow you to bring in your own drinks if you like." I saw someone walk in to join a large table of people while carrying a case of beers. I confirmed with the waiter that it was ok to do this and he seemed happy, so there I was again outside in the rain; running up the high street to the nearest off-licence. When I came outside the sun had won its tussle with the clouds and in the near distance, a rainbow shielded Withernsea from end to end. The first course arrived as the head waiter poured the Rose wine I had purchased into our glasses with perfect timing, and just like his timing the food was perfect. I'm not a great lover of spicy food so normally stick to the lighter stuff like Korma, and my son is the same, but the waiter had suggested some different dishes, and we all really enjoyed the lot.

The rain clouds had disappeared when we left the Bengal lancer so we decided to walk off our meal and when we got back to our caravan we settled into our holiday evening routine of Jim-jams and Rio Olympics. In the months leading up to our holiday, I had been running every day preparing myself for The Norwich 10k Run which I successfully completed. During that time I lost two stone in weight. As I collapsed onto my bed that night with my belly full of delicious Indian food it felt like I had put all the weight back on again, in just five days!

But who cared! I didn't, because I was and holiday, and that's what they're all about.

Regards

Mark



Monday, 7 November 2016

Withernsea (part three)

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The wind farm operators had picked the right spot to build their towering turbines because as we came to find out in the first three days of our holiday, the Humber estuary is a windy part of the country. Not only that but it rains a lot too. Although Norfolk is not too far south it felt like a different part of the country, and when I opened the curtains on Monday morning to see the tents flapping in the wind, and people packing them up to go home, my heart began to sink. I am on holiday and all I want when I'm on holiday is sunshine. I don't mind the odd shower of rain like you get in the Caribbean, but I want the sun to follow behind quite quickly to dry things out, and cheer up my bedraggled soul.







The wife had suggested driving to #Scarborough . It didn't look too far on the map and as a traditional seaside holiday town, it should have a lot more to offer the family for entertainment than #Withernsea. The great sixties singing duet Simon and Garfunkel had a worldwide hit with their song Scarborough Fair. We estimated it would take about forty-five minutes to get there taking the coast road. How wrong was I? Vey wrong! We got lost twice and eventually arrived after nearly two and half hours. The rain was pouring, the wife and I weren't speaking to each other, and the kids just wanted to go back to the amusement arcade on our holiday camp, plus everyone needed the loo. But we persevered. We arrived in the rain, parked up and then nipped into the local McDonalds to use the toilet. Then we decided to head to the beach and took the famous cliff top railway to the seafront.




It was still raining as we huddled in a concrete shelter with a whiff of urine under our nostrils and with other sodden holiday-makers as we ate our cheese sandwiches and crisps. We brought a jar of olives with us to give a fleeting moment of foreign luxury. But to be truthful by then I could have driven all the way back to Norwich Airport with the family, handed over my bank card and said, "put us on the first flight to somewhere sunny, and hang the cost."

We then crossed the main road and headed towards the harbour. There we found a small Fun Fair and the kids were suddenly happy. 






They wanted to go on the bumper cars, so the two of them and the wife had a car each as I looked on while keeping an eye on our travel bags. It was at that precious moment as I took pictures on my phone that something clicked. My mood, that up to that point had not been in holiday mode, suddenly thought, "fuck the weather, the family are happy which means I'm happy, and I've got nothing to worry about for the rest of week because I'm on holiday."   







By the time we left the funfair the rain had stopped, the wind had died down and the sun was threatening to come out. We popped into a souvenir shop to get my customary fridge magnet which has become a tradition for me when I travel to somewhere new, plus a newspaper. By the time we sat in a seafront cafe for afternoon tea with cake and I had settled down in a comfortable chair wth my newspaper, the sun was shining and it was warm enough for me to take off my jacket. We then headed for the beach. The children got into their swimmers and dived into the sea as I kept a watchful eye on them while paddling along the shoreline.






It was lovely. The sun was beating against my face, the grey clouds had been replaced by blue skies and light puffy clouds, and when you closed your eyes you could imagine being anywhere in the world. As the sun began to set I decided to treat the family to a fish supper. We headed to The Famous Fish Pan  and what a good choice we made. A traditional fish and chip shop with a restaurant next door. All the food is cooked fresh and very good value for money. Just good old fashion British fair.






I had Haddock and chips with mushy peas plus two slices of bread and butter. Landed that day in the fish market just a stone-throw away and cooked fresh as you wait. What more can a man ask for? It was lovely and the rest of the family tucked into the same. Afterward, we decided to walk off the fantastic meal and pay a visit to the fish market. As we looked around the fishing boats bobbing in the harbour it brought back powerful memories of my youth. In my late teens and early twenties I was a fish auctioneer on Lowestoft Fish Market (until the European Common Agriculture and Fisheries Policy destroyed a thriving and world-beating industry). I took some more pictures and I just had to text one to my old boss, mentor and friend Andrew Bagshaw. Even though we may only see each other once a year now, he is a person that still to this day I am truly grateful that came into my life, and I will always hold him to my heart as a friend.






As we drove home we passed around the outskirts of #Bridlington which was once home to my mother-in-law and everyone had enjoyed themselves, and glad we had made the effect to go for a day out in Scarborough.

Regards

Mark




Monday, 24 October 2016

Withernsea (part two)

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The next morning after breakfast we decided to walk into town. The skies were a dull grey, but at least it had stopped raining. As I stood on the caravan steps I looked over to my left and there in the near distance were a host of wind turbines turning in the breeze. I joked to the wife that maybe it was a bit windy around here! Withernsea is not a big place and to be truthful it has seen better days. This is a case for a lot of our seaside towns in the U.K, but it has what I would like to call an innocence about it. There's a high street that runs through the town populated by mostly small independent  businesses. If you want to go shopping in Marks and Spencers, or John Lewis then do not go to Withernsea, but what it has got is plenty of old fashion cafes. I have never seen so many in such a small area and to me, it can only show one thing, the locals like to get out and socialise. And this is what we found.

We stopped at the Pavilion Leisure Centre as the forthcoming weather reports stated more rain was on the way and as we asked questions about its facilities a total stranger patiently queuing behind us politely joined in, and gave us some recommendations. One of which was to visit a fund-raising fate being held on the local sports field by the church that very day. We duly went along and paid our two-pound adult entry fee (kids were free) so I handed over a five-pound note and said, "keep the change." Like Withernsea itself, it was a simple affair, but the kids loved it. First of all, I got everyone a burger as lunchtime had crept upon us, and then I handed out some pocket money for the little ones to spend. There were various displays going on like dancing and karate and small rides to be enjoyed. The funniest thing we saw was the sumo wrestling suits our two put on, and then bounced off each other. My son got the hang of it quicker than my daughter and he took great delight in getting his revenge on his older sister by continuously making her submit to him as he clambered all over her. My daughter then got her hair braided at a small stall and as I stood around waiting I got talking to the stalls boss. He was very camp and obviously gay, but deep down he was a business man. He had his own hair salon and in the evening ran his own D.J set through the local pubs and at weddings, and at weekends he had people running stalls at events like the one we were attending that day. He had dreams of expanding in other areas like bouncy castles. He was quite refreshing and the type of person that will help to make Withernsea grow once again. Finally, as the wind once again returned and the first drops of rain began to hit my face we left the fate and walked back to our caravan.


When we got back we all showered and got into our jim-jams. I noticed a cold breeze rushing through that should not have been rushing through, and found the culprit.





Our bedroom window had a gap so big in the frame your could put your finger through it. I used my D.I.Y skills to plug it with a whole roll of kitchen paper, and then as day turned into night and the curtains were closed the decision was made to order a Chinese takeaway for delivery from one of the leaflets we had picked up on our walk down the high street. By the time the delivery driver turned up the storm was in full force and I gave him a generous tip for his time. It was getting cold so I tried to turn on the only heater in the caravan, but it didn't work.

So there we were, with a belly full of Chinese as we sat in front of the television with only the B.B.C to watch. The family on the sofa snuggled under a bed quilt to keep us warm as the North Sea raged, the rain pounding, and our caravan rocking more vigorously than Elvis Presley swinging his hips while singing, as we watched the ladies GB hockey team battle it out at the Rio Olympics with the tournament favourites. They put up a fight as hard as the storm raging outside, and they gave their blood and guts. It was nailing biting and went to the wire, but they won.

It was a moment in time I will cherish forever.

Regards

Mark

  

Monday, 26 September 2016

Withernsea

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We packed the car and set off half an hour later than planned, but by midday we were on the road. The online route service stated it would take three hours and forty minutes to drive all the way to Withernsea just north of the Humber on the east coast. When we hit the first patch of slow traffic just fifteen minutes into our journey on the A47 I did not know it was a warning that worse was to come. When we then got stuck behind a large digger on a single lane stretch of the road whose driver refused to pull over and let the massive tailback of cars that had built up behind to overtake; I started to think that maybe it would take more than the time allowed. As soon as we got onto the A17 we hit a wall of traffic and crawled most of the way to Lincoln. As we stop-started our way through that cities rush hour traffic five hours had already passed.

I had kept my cool so far during this arduous drive, although for four and half hours my lower back and left leg just ached continuously with drivers' cramp. But like I say there is always a but in life. After six hours in the car with all the family crammed in with our holiday bags, and attires, we had left the sunshine behind in Norfolk as the rain started to fall when we headed over the Humber Bridge. I asked my navigator sitting next to me, for the first on the journey, my wife's advice on what exit I needed to take as we approached a roundabout. She had the road map on her lap and the pages I had printed off from the online route planner.

She looked at me and said, "I don't know. Just keep going around the roundabout."

I was in the wrong lane to do this without putting the family in serious danger. I took the only exit I could, and was confident I had made the right decision, but then we hit another roundabout, and when I asked my navigator her advice again she looked at me and said.

"I don't know."

Around and around the second roundabout we went until she made up her mind. As we headed along the motorway I was looking for a sign-post stating how many miles to Hull, and when I saw one with the mileage to Leeds I knew instantly I had been sent in the wrong direction. When I asked for the third time the advice of my navigator, her response was not what I wanted to hear to my question.

'I don't think we should be heading towards Leeds, should we?'

She looked at me with a blank expression and said, "I don't know."

Well, that was it, I exploded with frustration. The wife exploded back, and my youngest started to cry.

Six and half hours in the car without a break, in the rain, why traveling down the wrong way of a motorway is not a good way start to a holiday. I had managed to make it ninety percent of the way without having to ask the wife for any help with directions, and now in just a few short minutes we were lost. I made an executive decision and pulled into the first petrol station we came across to ask for directions. The staff reassured me and once I called the family in and bought them some refreshments everyone's mood improved. By the time we were traveling in the right direction we were all friends again, and we could see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Eventually, after seven and a half hours of traveling, we arrived at our Park Resorts caravan in Withernsea after spending what seemed an eternity crammed in our small car.






It was gray, damp and by the time we had booked in, and then unpacked our bags, the family was hungry as an easterly wind whistled its way around our caravan and through any gap it could find. We headed over the bar to have a drink and order some pizza's to take back and enjoy in our new home for the next week. The bar was packed with northern families and very noisy. The camp children's entertainer was whipping them into a frenzy as music boomed across the room. It was too much for us in our tired state and we were glad to get back to the caravan, and stuck into our meal.

That evening we watched the highlights of the Olympics in Rio, although we didn't have much of a choice as the television only showed channels from the BBC. Finally, as we all went to bed we were exhausted, and as the caravan rocked from side to side with the ever increasing power of the storm as it whipped in from the Sea, I did lay there wondering if we had only started badly, or would it be like this all week?

Stay tuned to find out.

Regards

Mark   

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The Norwich 10K Run #RN16

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It started as a suggestion. My son's football manager said he was entering a road race. I mentioned it, off the cuff, to the wife and she seemed interested in trying it out too.

'It would be a good way to get fit and lose some weight,' throwing the hint my way. I agreed and before I had a chance to back out she was on the internet, and checking out some details.

'Shall we do it together?' She asked and I replied with a silent smile.

'How long is it?' I then replied, and I swear to this day she told me it was only five kilometers.

That distance seemed achievable so in a fit of unity I agreed, and with that, she duly filled out the online application form for both of us. Later on, I put a posting on Facebook tagging Jim proudly announcing we would both be running the Norwich 5K. My wife replied, rather cheekily, that it was acutely the Norwich 10K run, over six miles!

Then it hit me like a slap across the face. 10K is a proper run, not just a walk around the block and because I had made it public on my personal Facebook page, there was no way of getting out of it without losing face. We were some of the last to register which meant I only had four months to get fit, and try and lose some weight as well. Every Monday would come along and every Monday I would say to myself that this is the week I will start training. Then I got an email from the event organisers to say I had to sign a fitness disclaimer and then I looked at the #RN16 race date. There were only ten weeks to go, and I had not run a single mile!

Boy o boy what a shock to my system that was. Next day I went out and started to pound the streets every day, for seven days a week I kept on running further, and faster, with the fear of failure always pushing me on. When the wife picked up the race pack on the Friday before the event I was just able to complete 10K.










The Norwich 10K was on the Sunday with a start time of 9.30 and that weekend was a sobering experience. Not a drop of beer, or any other alcohol, had passed my lips for the previous seven days as my nerves took a pounding. Family and friends were going to be watching on the day, and with my public announcement on Facebook, so were hundreds of other people taking an interest in what I was attempting to do. We were up at 6.30 am on Sunday morning and by 8.30 am we were in the city centre at The Forum waiting for the toilets (along with many others) as last minute nerves kicked in for both the wife and me.









Thousands of race goers were milling about outside City Hall and around The Guild Hall to the bottom of Norwich Market There were thousands of spectators lining the route. I kissed the children good bye and we made our way to our starting position. Various friends I had spoken to that have run road races told me the first one is always the most nervous one, and as the runners moved along to the start line as the race began I was not sure if the adrenaline rushing through my vanes was nerves or just plain old excitement. Whatever it was I was soon running with my head down as the large crowds cheered everyone on.

The first two kilometers were the hardest for me because everyone seemed to be over taking me, but I had made my mind up to keep to my own  pace. I had three goals to reach. The first was to finish, the second was not to be the last person over the line, and the third was not to be the last man running. As we were one of the last to register, and put down it was our first race, we were placed near to the back of the running pack as the faster runners were placed in the front.

By the four-kilometer mark I started to over take my first runners who had shot off in front of me earlier and now the pace was starting to hit them. By the halfway mark with 3 miles behind us, it was a long slog up Rose Lane, and we started to over take people who had to walk up it, and others who were in need of medical first aid. It was a hot sunny morning and by 10.30 am the heat was quite intense. I was determined to run the whole way, and not take the easy option of taking a walking rest before rejoining in the run.

With just one kilometer to go there were some runners who looked a lot slimmer than me, and who I presumed must also be a lot fitter, who were in a serious way and needing medical attention as the ambulance sirens could be herd in the distance heading towards the city centre. I kept to my plan and as the crowds got bigger, the wife and I ran across the finishing line hand in hand as our family stood there cheering us on.








As we collected our medals I must admit a tear of joy mingled with the sweat that was dripping down my face. We were given a goody bag and I could not resist taking a selfie of the triumphant couple. Once we had cooled down and rejoined the family we all headed to Chapel Field Gardens to the runner's village for a well-earned rest, and refreshments.

The buzz that I felt as thousands of people cheered me through the final last steps is something I will treasure for a log time. Both Daniel Jones Frenzy and Daniel Jones Doom have won awards so I have tasted success before, but I' hoping, just like with my first book in the Daniel Jones series, this is just the beginning.









Because next year I would like to add another medal to my collection, and that's the Norwich half marathon. And now I've made my attention public with my readers here on Always-hanging-around I better get my training shoes on again, and make sure I start preparing a  lot earlier because I have a feeling I will need more than ten weeks practice to get over that finishing line.

Regards

Mark 



Friday, 29 July 2016

The Black Rock Grill

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The last week of the school term is finished and the summer holidays have begun, well for the children at least. That six and a half week period is a frantic time for parents trying to juggle child care, work, and keeping their little ones active. If you're lucky there might be a weeks, or hopefully two weeks, holiday away somewhere were all your cares are taken away as your pay a holiday company to do it all for you. Still even if you are lying by the pool in the sun in some hot foreign country you still have the little ones under your feet.

It was with this in mind that the wife and I decided to take the opportunity to get away for twenty-four hours of child free bliss when we received an invite for my niece's thirtieth birthday party being held at the  The Black Rock Grill at Potters Resort in the small seaside resort of Hopton. The grandparents were happy for the children to stay with them for the night, and as I have family in Lowestoft we booked in the Travel Lodge in the north part of town.





The eating experience at the Black rock is just that, an experience both off us have never encountered before. As the name suggests you are served with platters of different uncooked meats, and fish, and then a stunningly hot square slab of Black Rock is placed in-front of every individual. You then pick your meat, and cook it yourself on your hot rock. There is a constant supply of side orders and for just three pound fifty you can order an extra platter of exotic meats. This is what I did and was duly served a plate of sliced Kangaroo, Shark and Wild Boar. The restaurant itself has large windows over looking the surrounding countryside, and in the far distance you can see the bright lights of Great Yarmouth.

We both truly enjoyed ourselves and afterwards we all headed towards South Lowestoft to finish the night at The King Alfred Pub. I do not know what time we made it back to our hotel room, but it was late that is all I can say. The next day we took the sort walk to the Potter Kiln for an all you can eat English Breakfast, and once we had checked I drove to the coastal village of Corton, where we sat on top of the cliffs as the sun blazed down while a slight sea breeze cooled our sweaty brows.

The grandparents brought the children back to ours about five thirty on Sunday evening, and we all sat in the garden enjoying the setting sun, while drinking iced drinks, under the protective cover of the parasol. The children had had a wonderful time, that only grand parents can provide, visiting my brother and his girl friend in Framlingham, plus their collection of pets, and they were all stuffed on barbecue he had cooked. We all went to bed happily nice and early, but more importantly, nice and relaxed.

I think there can't be a truer saying than, "absent makes the heart grow fonder." because sometimes everyone needs time away to recharge the batteries.

Regards

Mark





Thursday, 30 June 2016

Good-bye European Union

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For my readers around the world you may be aware, or maybe not, but the United Kingdom has been through two months of electioneering about if the U.K should stay in the European Union, or if the country should leave. It came as a bit of a shock to say the least that the winners were the people who wanted to leave the union.

It came as such a shock because every organ within the new world order was used to try and get the British public to vote to stay. And that's were I think the revolt came, and a revolt it was. Please let me explain.

I have grown up being part of the union. I've never had a chance before to have a say if I think It's a good thing, or a bad thing, I just excepted we were part of it and there was nothing I could do about it. I was quite pro European, even if some of its faults effected me personally, and not always for the best. I personally think that immigration is a good thing for all societies, and that working together as friends is a lot more positive than being enemies with someone. But like I say there is always a but in life. As the elite at the top who control all our lives, and all their cronies carried out a campaign of fear, threats and intimidation I slowly began to think that maybe I don't want to be part of any political organisation whose sole purpose is justified by these three elements.

There were two incidents that I found deeply insulting about the In camp's ploy to stay part of the status quo.

My first career after leaving school in Lowestoft was working in the fishing industry that was a major part of the area, and had been for generations. My grandfather was a fisherman, and my dad's early career was connected to the industry, so when I got a apprenticeship as an auctioneer on Lowestoft Fish Market for The Colne Shipping Company it just felt as natural as fish in water (excuse the pun). I loved the job, becoming the youngest in my profession, and could have happily spent the rest of my days working in the industry. It was one of the world's most efficient fishing operations, without the need for financial support from any government, and without the industrial strife that effected most other U.K sectors during the 70's and 80's.

Then the British Prime Minister at the time, Margaret Thatcher, signed the United Kingdom into the European Union's Common Agriculture and Fisheries Policy. Within fifteenth years after this the fishing industry had collapsed because of it. Ten thousand people who relied directly, or indirectly, on the industry had lost their lively hoods. Now just a handful of people eek out a living from it.

What what was the first thing that I found deeply insulting with the In camp?

Well the first thing was seeing Sir Bob Geldolf, a multi-millionaire from the Republic of  Ireland, and supporter of the In camp, high-jacking a demonstration of the remaining fisherman who had sailed up the Thames to support the Out camp. He was on a rival boat sticking two fingers up to the fisherman and calling them wankers for trying to save what little remained of a once thriving, and proud community.

The second was when I read an article in the Easter Daily Press  just a day or so before the vote, about George Osborne the British Chancellor, a leading figure in the In camp, warning the local fisherman that if they didn't want to see their lives destroyed they should vote to stay within the European Union. It was not only a blatant lie, because the industry had already been destroyed, but it was an open threat to the brave remaining souls who put their lives at risk on a daily bases to put fish on George Osborne's privileged plate.

I've told no one which way I voted, but I know one thing. The metro-elite got what they deserved, a vote to leave, because the little people of this country were brave enough to tell them to get lost.

Regards

Mark

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Earlham Cemetery

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I have attended many funerals and cremations over the years, and by its very nature these events are not something you look forward to going to on a regular bases. This week I went to the service of lady I got to know only quite recently, but who with her husband David I became friends with. Her name was Megan and her cremation was held at Earlham Cemetery.







For some reason I have never been there for a service although I have driven past it on hundreds of occasions as I've used the outer ring road in Norwich. Then again we are all guilty of never taking any notice of things that are on our very own door step. I arrived early and although I knew some of the family members, and we chatted, I decided to take a walk around the memorial garden. There were lines of roses that had been planted to mark the burial spot of loved ones ashes.






What I did notice was the quietness. The area was developed in the Victorian period on farmland, but over the years the city of Norwich has grown up around it, and now it's in the heart of the area with a four lane road running around the top end of its boundary. The chapel for the cremation service is a newer structure built in the mid sixties and although it is used by people of all faiths, and in today's age people of no faith, it has a vaulted roof that is so reminiscent of a church.






The service was emotional. Megan was once a Country and Western singer, and when they brought in her coffin they were playing one of her songs. She seemed so alive when you could hear her lovely voice. The chapel was packed and afterwards as we all stood outside in the sunshine I was introduced to various family members, and friends. As people began to make their way back to their cars to head onto the wake being held at the Brickmakers pub in Horsford, I decided to take a walk around the old Victorian grave yard. The area is slowly becoming a nature reserve with trees, bushes, tall grass and wild flowers, and is looked after by The Friends of Earlham Cemetery. It's a quite, peaceful place, and as I looked at all the different shaped grave stones I noted some of the dates and ages of their occupants. When I came across children the same age as my own, my heart really felt for the parents that must have once stood by that grave grieving for their beloved child.

It made me think about the emotions I try to portray with the various characters in my books, FRENZY a Daniel Jones Story and it's sequel Daniel Jones DOOM. I wondered if they truly show, through words, the emotions that I want to try and write about.

By the time I had walked through what felt like a wooded glade to return to my car, my soul was well and truly yearning to be with my own children. I had to leave the wake to pick up my son from his school, and when he came out I just had to hug him, and give him a big kiss ( although he didn't seem too keen with my actions). When my daughter arrived home I did the same to her, and that night when I drifted off to sleep I said a short prey of thanks for two such wonderful gifts that I have in my life.

Regards

Mark

Monday, 23 May 2016

Taking a break

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I try to post most weeks on my blog, but every now and then I take a break. It can be for various reasons, but for me recently as you will know from my last post I've been suffering from a nasty little bug, along with my son, that just seemed to knock the stuffing out of me for nearly six weeks. For the first three weeks I couldn't complete any writing on Revenge my third book in the Daniel Jones series as I felt more like the title of the second book Daniel Jones Doom, than I did like Mark King.

Youth does have a certain vigour that can spur them on. Although my young son was going through the same symptoms as myself he just had so much more energy when he needed it. Those mad moments of frenzy when your rushing about in life. With this bug it left me exhausted after just a few minutes, but with my boy it only seemed to take hold after he had been running about like the lead character in my books, Daniel Jones, after one of his near death experiences.

As an example the family visited Sea Palling beach in Norfolk on a sunny Sunday, and while I laid there on the sand lapping up the sun's rays like a lizard, he was splashing about like a dolphin in the sea with his sister. Every so often he would rush back asking me to join him in the freezing cold water which did quite excite me as much as it did him.






Sea Palling is a lovely place with a Blue Flag beach. It's a small village on the East Coast of Norfolk which has a wonderful 1950's innocence about it; while at the same time it has all the modern fun that you would find in resorts like Miami, Rio, or Bondi beach. Speed-boats, jet skis and something out of a bond movie, jet packs, but powered with water. People flying in the air as water thrusts out of their back pack sending them in any direction they wish! I laid there with one eye open thinking to myself, ' I wonder if I could get one of the characters in one of my next books using one of them?' 






We bought the kids a small surf board from the beach shop, which was a great investment because it kept them both occupied without me needing to get wet. Now don't get me wrong. I do like going into the sea, but generally when it's warmer. Unfortunately the North Sea is seasonal in that in winter the water is bloody cold, and it will only slowly warm up in the summer months, so that by late August the temperature is just about manageable. So you can guess what it was like that day at the beginning of spring! Yes, cold, very cold.

Then again when I was a kid growing up in Lowestoft all I needed to get onto the beach, and into the sea, was a couple of hours of sunshine, no matter what the temperature, or month. They eventually came out shivering when we spread out the picnic we had taken. It was a simple fair of crusty rolls and soft cheese, olives, crisps and fruit, but was just perfect for the occasion. Dessert was a traditional 99 ice cream in a cone, with a chocolate flake, from the small beach side cafe, and we had plenty of sugar free fizzy drink to go around.

Some people brought down barbecues with them and as the sun started to drop behind the sand dunes a younger crowd began to appear on the beach ready to watch the evening sun set while perched high up on the dunes.

But by then we were already home and showered. My worn out kids put themselves to bed without a whimper, exhausted from all the fun, and ready for the start of a new school week.

Regards

Mark