Domestic stuff: Apologies

I am in the middle of the process of trying to get my kitchen brought into the 21st century.
This has involved a huge amount of cleaning, as well as discarding numerous things that I had kept, ‘just in case’.

As a result, I am absolutley exhausted tonight, and unable to keep up with all your posts.

I am sorry, but I assure you that ‘normal service’ will be resumed soon. Meanwhile, if I have not read your post, or liked and commented, now you know why.

Best wishes, Pete.

Blog Feature: Usual Muttwits

Some readers may recall a blog started by one of my oldest friends, Julian. It was full of amusing stories about the doggy residents of an imaginary town, and their feline arch-enemy. Well that blog has been revamped, and now has great new illustrations by Zozo alongside the amusing stories.

Each character now has their own feature too, with the drawings summing them up perfectly.

Whether lamenting about the lack of available food, or investigating new canine arrivals, the antics of the Muttwits gang reads like a wonderful soap opera of the activities of all the pets in the town of Westley Piddle. If you own a dog, have ever owned one, or just love them, I am sure you will find this blog a delight. There is also a book in the works.
Dogs tails from Westley Piddle

So check out this new blog, treat yourself to some great illustrations, and a good laugh at the stories. Perfect Lockdown relief!

Guest Post. Megha Gupta

I am pleased to present a guest post from Indian writer and blogger, Megha Gupta.

Here is her own short bio.

Hello, I am Megha. I come from India and I’ve been living in the Netherlands since last four years. I am 31 – not too old, energetic and optimistic. Reading, writing and Travelling are my top three likes. So far, I’ve travelled across 23 countries and I aim to reach the 50 mark by the time I am 35 years old. By profession, I am risk Consultant but by heart I am a writer. I’ve been writing (old style) since last seven years but have only published a blog this year. My blog (link at the bottom) is my collection of experiences and opinions about life & things & places & people.
In this post, I share my experience of visiting Auschwitz. Even if you haven’t heard of Auschwitz, I’m sure you would see it (& know it), through my eyes as you read this.

And this is her unedited guest post.

WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO VISIT AUSCHWITZ?

If you haven’t heard of Auschwitz, Imagine a slaughter house (not for animals, but for humans). Imagine a place where millions of Jews were confined for years, tortured to death by hard labour, thirst, extreme hunger and suffocation. The reason for death being- neither Crime nor War but the belief in a superior race. Imagine how humans could be responsible for more than a million deaths in a place this small. (in the name of saving humanity from other humans – Jews). Auschwitz is not old history but very much a part of recent century. Nazi Germany master minded this extermination camp (and many others) during world war ii with the sole aim of systematically eradicating the race of Jews.
So last year, when I planned my visit to Auschwitz, it was not unusual for people to ask why I would choose to go there? Wouldn’t it be depressing? In my defence, not visiting this place, merely excuses us from reality, hoping we forget it someday. There is No history book that can convey the happenings of this place to a degree that it instils your memory.
Somewhere inside Auschwitz, I found this quote that sums up the reason why people need to see this place.

I cannot deny the fact that this place is downright melancholy. You would be standing in the site of holocaust witnessing Exhibits of the dead (millions) piled on top of one another. It has a room full of belongings that were stripped off from the inmates before they entered the camp. A room full of gas canisters that were used to suffocate them to death. A room full of human hair that were shaved off from their dead bodies before being burned by the Nazis.
A guide will take you around the camp and tell you how a typical day looked like for these prisoners. You will see the laboratory that was used to experiment on prisoners, inducing them with deadly diseases. You will see the kitchen that has some paintings that the prisoners drew to keep themselves hopeful. You will also see the punishment cells, gas chambers, the shooting wall and a room fitted with body sized ovens. If this does not melt your heart, a thousand photo frames mounted in a large corridor showing the victims, their age and survival span in the camp, definitely would.
By the end of this visit, you are loaded emotionally. Some cry, some hold back tears. Some ponder how humans could be capable of this act. How could some still hope to live in this situation. How strong were the people who survived the camp? Does the trauma impact their free lives later on?
This wasn’t over for me yet. I was feeling restless. A visit to Auschwitz raised some very fundamental questions about human nature, survival and our relative mental strengths. I slept on these questions for days following. Later, I learned about an Auschwitz survivor, a psychologist – Viktor Frankl. Viktor was one of the fortunate ones to have survived this place. He says, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any how “. For Viktor, the why was a hope to finish his book about logotherapy. He wrote this book after he was released from the camp. What was supposed to be psychology theory, turned out to be a truly personal account of his survival in Auschwitz detailing how the camp impacted the inmates psychologically, why some survived while others didn’t.

His book “Man’s search for meaning” was published in 1946 and became an instant bestseller. I read it a month after my visit and regard this as a closure to my quest for Auschwitz.
P.S – The photo at the top, shows the gate of Auschwitz inscripted as ARBEIT MACHT FREI” meaning work makes you free.
Paradoxically, It was death that made these inmates free.

Here is a link to Megha’s blog.
https://myhandwrites.com/

Please visit her blog to see what else she is writing about, and welcome this new blogger to our great community.

Bad News From WordPress

In case you haven’t seen the notifications, WordPress will shortly be doing away with the ‘Old Editor’, and forcing us to use the ‘New’ Block Editor. This supposedly improved Gutenberg editor will replace even the original block editor, so everyone on this platform will have to bite the bullet and try to cope with it.

I have written before about how I consider it TOTALLY UNNECESSARY for WordPress to do this. People who are not good with technology -like me- are dreading this all over the bloging community. As with so many things in the modern world, WordPress is choosing to ignore the ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ commonsense maxim, and I have yet to read any reasonable excuse as to why they consider the change is worthwhile.

If ‘business users’ find the new system better, then let it just be an option for them. That should be easy enough for WP to arrange.

Paying to blog won’t help. I pay for a plan, but that will still not allow me to keep my cherished ‘Original Editor’. Many current bloggers struggle to get the best out of the basic system, and they will now be forced to try to adapt to a change that seemes to me to offer no discernible improvement for the average blogger.

June the first is the big day, so brace yourselves!

I am very serious about this, and worried that I may get so frustrated with trying to cope, I might have to give up my one real joy in life, blogging.

If any of you very tech-savvy bloggers have an ‘idiots guide’ to the new system, or even screenshot tutorials, I for one would be grateful to see them.

**UPDATE** Video guide from Fraggle, via this link.

https://fragglesotherplace.com/2020/05/22/the-new-editor-for-wp/

 

Otherwise, I might be saying a sad ‘Farewell’ to you all, on June 1st.

If that happens, it’s been fun, and I send you all my best wishes.

Guest Post: Carol Ann Taylor

I am very pleased to feature British blogger and cookery writer Carol Taylor, who now lives in Thailand. This is her story of how she came to live there.
Carol is a great member of our blogging community, and is always fully engaged with blog posts.

This is her own bio.

My Bio
Born in the Fifties which makes me?.mmm I will let you do the math. I was the eldest of three girls and the tomboy….my sisters loved dolls and pushing other peoples babies up and down the street…I still ask myself why?? I much preferred climbing trees, camping out and spending all my school holidays on my granddad’s farm…My grandmother taught me how to cook on her aga and I suppose that was where my love of cooking started…Singing in the church choir was also a passion of mine as is playing the piano.

I was an avid reader and writer even then, my school teachers must have really cringed as I used to write pages and pages…I sometimes wish I still had my school books but I think they must have just got thrown away at some point …As I grew older my aunt suggested I keep a diary and I still do to this day …Leaving school for college but I never really settled or found anything that I really wanted to do except write and my father did not consider that to be a job. He really just thought girls got married and had babies so I did.

In between bringing up our children my husband passed away and also some close family members and I lost two very dear friends who I still miss terribly, I completed a marathon all 26.2 miles with two of my daughters. Learning beckoned again and back to college I went to do Law…I just love learning and researching and of course, writing. I also met my second husband who humours me …He has always been very supportive of anything I have done and is a great dad to my kids. The children grew up and took their own very successful paths in life and now have families of their own…Life has a habit of just carrying on, doesn’t it?

Retirement then beckoned for my hubby and of course, I was getting pretty disillusioned with the rat race so decided I would take early retirement.
That was when we decided to not only think outside the box but throw it away and now we are enjoying life in the Land Of Smiles.

I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them. I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I am using have which may improve our health and well-being.

I am also very much into the environment and am concerned about our Oceans and fisheries and about all the preservatives and processed foods and am an advocate about cooking from scratch and growing our own food where or when we can even a few pots or a window box for herbs is a start.
Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Link to my Blog https://carolcooks2.com

And here is her unedited guest post.

Retired In Sunny Thailand.

How did I end up In sunny Thailand?…all my life I lived mainly in the same house in the same town and did what was expected of me working in a bank and then for local government…I was good at what I did we holidayed in some lovely places for quite a few years it was Spain until sadly my best friend passed away…we then spread our wings a little and travelled to a few far away climes all very nice but not home… We thought about retirement on and off but never made any great plans… Maybe a nice little cottage with roses around the door… My youngest son then announced he was off to Thailand…why Thailand it was all to do with the world cup…Football… He came back full of his trip and announced he would be returning as he had met a young lady… The photos he showed us were of beautiful beaches and golden Buddhas…It looked exotic and very beautiful.

The relationship progressed and visas sorted and out he went again with the aim of returning to England with his lady and to get married the next year…The Thai Embassy had other ideas and advised them it would be much easier to get a visa if they married…Which is exactly what they did …The visa followed… They returned to the UK and settled down it was then that I got my first taste of authentic Thai food and discovered how many Thai girls also lived locally …I was also taught how to cook Thai food and became very good at it…I also loved it!

It was that year we travelled to Thailand with our son and his wife, two of our young grandsons to meet the Thai family…It was love from the minute I landed on Thai soil…

We loved every minute …that holiday was followed by a few more and then Aston arrived…That changed everything as my son and his wife decided they were going to make their home in Thailand so that Aston could both learn the language and all of his heritage… It was then that we decided we would up sticks and also follow them…Hubby had just retired and I took early retirement… I went from being …well I can never say I was the quiet retiring type …haha…but a whole new world opened up and we have moved more times within Thailand than I have ever moved in my whole life and I daresay we will move again at some point.

I joined a writers group quite by chance…I have always been an avid reader and loved to write mainly letters and in my diaries…but blog and write …no…In the words of one of my new friends in the group “Oh my Buddha what have we released”

I started my blog as a way of recording our travels for family and friends and the writing followed on with some short stories in two anthologies…
Initially we lived in Phuket for 5 years and ran a restaurant and bar with my son…we met people from all over the world and made some friends for life…Phuket is beautiful we lived in three different houses around the island but it is a holiday destination. People come and go it is very transient and apart from immediate neighbours you are always treated like a tourist.

This was one of reasons why we decided to relocate to the North of Thailand also it is where our Thai family live…Of course I miss the beaches but we can pop on a plane and be on the beach in just over an hour… Here there are mountains and waterfalls lots of tradition and we are accepted as part of the community. The local tuk tuk drivers know where I live and know where I stop on my way back from the shops to get my fresh coconut juice and SomTam(papaya salad)…I feel safe and at home…

We all share the produce which we grow… it is a real community…They give me mangoes I make the mango jam …They love my bread pudding hot from the oven…They bring me food to try much of which I have never seen or heard of before…I make them Christmas cake we share our different food and culture it is lovely to see and feel the welcome.

I have always cooked from scratch taught by my mother and grandmother and now because of necessity, I also have more time and the fact I object to eating a cocktail of chemicals with every mouthful of food… I have been introduced to food I never dreamed I would eat or had never heard of it is definitely nose to tail eating here nothing is wasted…some even I do not have the stomach for …

I love the fierce tropical storms which blow out very quickly and then the sun shines but everything grows so quickly and is lush and green…Thais forage every day and I am amazed at how much they eat picked from the trees and the jungle…

Every time even after 8 years of living here I invariably find something I haven’t seen before at the local markets and the market traders are happy to let me try…so friendly just adorable people always smiling.

Down on the farm we have chooks and turkeys , grow rice and vegetables we have Durian, banana and other trees…I have learnt how to make charcoal, coconut cream, many of the houses have wooden looms underneath where the art of weaving is passed down through the generations. Family is strong here and many families live together in the same house or the same area…old people are cherished and looked after and willingly the families stay together.

If I had been asked when I was 30 to write about how I thought my life would be when we retired I would have been way off base…I never ever thought I would be lucky enough to live here…I doubt that I would be blogging and writing, I wouldn’t have friends from all the corners of the world and I most certainly wouldn’t have all the lovely recipes I have been taught and gifted with…Living the dream…

I cannot envisage living anywhere else , Thailand is my home…
Thank you, Pete for letting me tell my story of how I found myself here in Thailand.

Please visit Carol’s site to see photos of her new life, and some mouth-watering recipes too.
You will be glad that you connected with such a warm and friendly lady, living life her way in a new land.

Guest Post: Lucinda Clarke

Lucinda is a writer and blogger, as well as a published author who currently resides in Spain. She is a great follower of blogs, and is always fully engaged with every post I publish, especially fiction.

I am very pleased to present her guest post, and to feature some of her books, including her latest novel. That’s her, in the middle. 🙂

Here is her unedited guest post, which includes a short bio too.

Thank you, Pete, for giving me this opportunity to appear on your blog. I am one of your most avid followers and especially enjoy your stories.

I hate writing about myself, but if I go to the big library desk in the sky tomorrow, I shall have no regrets, life has been a roller coaster ride. Born in Dublin, dragged up in the Cotswolds (a pretty part of England), and finished off in Liverpool (not as pretty). Taught in Bath (children), crofted in Scotland (disaster, bred small animals and Cairn Terriers), survived in Kenya (abandoned in the bush with 9 week old baby, no resources and tear gas riots), Libya (teaching, witness to public hanging, radio announcer, husband imprisoned, crawled through a hail of bullets to save dogs, deported), Botswana (teaching, ran very worst riding school in the world), South Africa (made legal history, teaching – fired – scriptwriter of the year award, wrote dramas and some acting, scribbled thousands of radio and TV scripts, all other forms of writing, set up own video production company, plus major concerts planning, lecturing on scriptwriting). Eventual retirement in Spain. I lie, I’m only pretending to be retired. Since 2013 independently (by choice) published 14 books.

For almost 4 decades I scribbled hundreds of diverse topics for the media eg climbing ladders; health; tourism for international conferences; educational programmes; banks; insurance companies; police and fire departments; city councils; international corporates; mayoral speechwriter; ads for radio and TV; – I could go on but I’d bore you to tears (I’m starting to yawn). I had my own newspaper column and still write for a local publication here in Spain.

I am was a freelance prostitute who wrote for anyone who would pay me and I excelled in propaganda and was wildly successful. I still don’t believe this, but the awards looked good on my study walls – when I had a study. They are now in a box under the bed. I’ve received lots more for my books, but shrank them down to fit in a couple of picture frames.

So, what genre am I unknown for? I began with memoirs, then an action-adventure series set in Africa – I was there for 35 years – a satire set in Fairyland and now I’m into psychological thrillers.

Can I scream about my latest masterpiece book, please? It’s the second in the “A Year in the Life of …” series. The first starring Leah Brand is a psychological thriller as a second time around housewife with a prosthetic leg, driven to the edge of madness by the irrational behaviour of everyday objects in the house.

mybook.to/LeahBrand

Book 2 “A Year in the Life of Andrea Coe” follows on – the nightmare is not over, as life for Leah escalates into chaos. The only person she can cling to is her best friend Andrea. But everyone has secrets and what was the attraction between a quiet, insecure housewife and an outrageous, confident, outspoken woman who lived life to the full. Was she all she seemed to be?

mybook.to/AndCoe

If the lockdown has depleted your cash reserves, you can grab a free book here – the true account of my very Worst Riding School in the World.

https://amzn.to/2TKwL55

You can find me at all these places and I’m very good at replying to virtual friends who contact me if you don’t mind chatting to an ancient wrinkly who has never grown up and who spends days torturing, killing, amputating, scaring and committing all kinds of nefarious deeds on paper. The most wonderful career in the world and I cried when I sold the company, left my team behind, and boarded the plane to fly to retirement in Spain. I love it here now but I’m just as busy.

Web page – https://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com

Blog link https://lucindaeclarke.wordpress.com

Amazon author page author.to/Lucinda

twitter @LucindaEClarke https://twitter.com/LucindaEClarke

Facebook Readers page https://www.facebook.com/groups/226303738779560/

sign up URL for mailing list for my exciting monthly newsletter http://eepurl.com/cz-Mpv

Please check out her blog, and her books. Lucinda is a great part of this community, so please show her you care. Share on any social media platform you are a part of, and feel free to reblog this post if you are so inclined.