Long-term followers of my blog will know that I am part of the testing group for products supplied by Amazon UK. Members are known as ‘Vine Voices’, and are allowed to choose from a variety of free stuff which they get to keep, in exchange for a fair review.

Over the years, I have had my share of books and DVD films. Also electrical items like kettles, power tools, vacuum claners, lawn mowers, and various kitchen implements. Useful things like backpacks and holdalls, as well as numerous toys that have benefited my grandson when he visits. Ollie has received various different varieties of dog food, and some dog-related accessories too, like chew toys.

Some items are quite large and expensive, like a multi-function child car seat, and a modern buggy-style pram that converts into a carry-cot. Then there were hair driers and straighteners for Julie, and a plethora of make-up and cosmetic items. The only proviso is that you must review them within a certain time period, and that they cannot be sold or given away as gifts. After six months, they are mine to keep, and should they become faulty or defective this is dealt with by updating the review, as they are not eligible for return.

I have a profile as a member, and that includes a list of preferences. One item on my list is ‘photography’, but so far I had never been offered any photographic equipment.
Until recently.

I was delighted to see the new Sony ZV-1 appear on my offers, and requested it immediately. This small camera is dedicated to the ‘Vlogging’ market (video blogging) but also takes stills. I was even more pleased when it arrived complete with the expensive accessory handle/grip/tripod too.

Then imagine my delight when following my review of that camera, another was offered. A full-frame, mirrorless digital SLR, a new model launched by Nikon. The Z5 is an enthusiast’s camera offering a great deal of options in a small package. Mine came complete with the standard zoom lens, which is rather limited at 24-50 MM and only f/4.
But still, it was completely free!

I charged it up today, and ordered a memory card. Hopefully soon, I will be shooting full-frame 24 megapixel stills from a camera with a great pedigree. Sadly, if I put them on the blog, I will have to reduce them down in size to save space.

I get nothing from Amazon, Nikon, or Sony for mentioning this on a blog post, just so you know.

This will only be of interest to camera enthusiasts and photographers out there, I appreciate that.

A Short History Of British Coinage

Here is something for you to watch and digest while I am away. My friend Antony sent me this 10-minute You Tube film that gives an easy to understand history of British currency since the time of Queen Victoria, to the modern day. It covers the change to decimal currency in 1971, and explains very clearly why all our coins are the size, shape, and colour they are.

If you are writing historical fiction, you may well find this to be a valuable resource.

And it also explains why I still use terms like ‘A quid’, ‘Ten bob’, and ‘Three half-crowns’.

And if you ever intend to visit Britain as a tourist, it will help you understand the coins in your pocket.

Royal News Blackout

*** UPDATE***

Please see Fraggle’s comment below. This clip is supposedly from 2018, according to the people who posted it, and not from yesterday

I am reblogging this from my other site, as I feel it is very important.


Unless you have seen it featured on Twitter, you will be unaware of a loud protest by a fair-sized crowd outside Buckingham Palace in London today.

This is a protest against Prince Andrew’s involvement in the trafficking of underage girls for sex, part of the Epstein scandal in America. The Prince has also declined to appear in court in America, where he might face charges of sex with underage girls at the Epstein mansion.

Not that Andrew is in the palace. The Queen isn’t there either, and has decided ‘not to return for some time’. I doubt anyone is in there, except the poorly-paid staff, and royal lackeys who keep the whole thing going at the taxpayer’s expense.

That in itself is disturbing enough, the fact that Royal privilege means he is exempt from being extradited to America to give evidence. He cannot be arrested by US Federal agents in…

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This 101-Year-Old Tattoo Artist Is the Last of Her Kind

I should state from the outset that I am not a fan of tattoos and body piercings. In most cases, they are permanent things that cannot be undone, so should not be taken lightly. I have never had one, and never would, but I respect the fact that it is everyone’s right to choose what to do with their own body.

However, I do admire tradition, and my friend Antony sent me the link to this short film about a remarkable lady in The Philippines who is doing her best to ensure that her own ancient ways are continued on through her family.

So if you ever fancy having a coal tattoo hammered onto your body using a thorn from a plant, you now know where to go.

Ollie Cools Down

Well, not just Ollie. Me too.

After many days of uncomfortable heat and sleepless nights, the weather broke down in many parts of Britain yesterday. For some people that ended in disaster, after torrential rain caused a landslide near Aberdeen that derailed a train. Three people sadly lost their lives, and others were injured.

In some areas of the UK, rainfall was so severe that streets flooded, and cars were floating around like boats. Houses were struck by lightning, power lost, and damage done to buildings. Where I live in the East, we were spared the spectacular storms, but they are due to arrive here over the next few days.

Although we didn’t get the storms, what we did get in Beetley was a 10 C drop in temperature compared to this time yesterday. With today’s maximum set to be an unremarkable 25 C, it was a relief to see Ollie enjoying his walk without panting, and limiting himself to one trip into the river for a drink.

I am hoping that the storms don’t keep me awake tonight if they arrive, as I could do with a very big sleep.

But if they do, it might be preferable to being kept awake by stifling and unusual heat.

Cheryl Oreglia: Too Much Time On Our Hands

I featured American blogger and writer Cheryl in a guest post late last year, and now I am very pleased to once again bring her to the attention of everyone in our great community.

Here is what she has to say about herself.

Living in the Gap is a lifestyle blog which appears randomly as I corral the time to write and reflect on the mundane. I do have a life outside of my head and it squeezes between me and my keyboard like a frightened child. What can you do? On the surface my life is common, I’m married with children, a high school teacher who lives for weekends at the lake, but just below the surface is a unique voice, one that I hope will resonate with you. Living in the Gap, customized, over the hill, gritty, complicated life. Wouldn’t have it any other way. Join me. Living in the Gap has over 100,000 views and is syndicated by The Good Men Project. Contact me at cheryloreglia@aol.com

Here is a link to her blog.

This recent post from her own blog gives a flavour of what you can expect to find.


Is there such a thing as too much time on your hands?

Yes, I believe so.

And there is also a thing about balancing how you spend your precious time.

Larry and I have been spending just about every waking hour together, and I’m discovering things about this man that I never knew, and believe me when I say you can’t unknow what you’ve come to know.

For example, I discovered Larry has a morbid fear of dishwashers (he can get a dish to the sink but no further), he’s taken to wearing a headband out to dinner (and people compliment him?), and oddly enough he can not resist a worthy challenge.

I found this old photo of Larry and me, I believe it was premarriage, but you can’t be sure. Clearly, we were in our early twenties, obviously tired of backgammon, and forced to discover new forms of entertainment.

The impetus for getting ourselves in such a pose had not been fully established but what I do know is Larry is looking down my shirt!

How rude.

We were staying with his parents at their Kono Tayee estate, I assume one of them snapped this photo, and it’s been sitting in a basket up at the lake ever since. I glance at it ever now and then, shake my head, and return it to the basket.

Recently I decided to make a copy of the image, thinking I’d frame it, and hang it up at our lake house. You know, for posterity and all, a reminder that we were young once, and remarkably agile.

I don’t know why, but the image always makes me smile, and sort of sigh as if nostalgic for the good old days.

So we’re sitting around the house, thumbing through the plethora of programs now available on Netflix, and I said something banal like, “I wonder if we could pull that off at our age?”

What was I thinking?

Larry says, “I’m certainly strong enough”

“Really honey? Are you insinuating there has been a shift in my anatomy? And besides, we don’t have a beanbag!” Not to mention I’m a total fail at balancing and have a minor fear of heights?

“A beanbag?”

“You know when you recreate an old image by wearing the same clothes, getting in the same position, with a similar background, except you’re decades older? It’s a thing.”

“Never heard of it.”

“I’m shocked, hey, do you still have that shirt?”

“That shirt – No”

“I definitely don’t have my shirt, which you are looking down by the way.”

“I’m focusing on keeping you airborne.”

“And smirking?”

He looks me up and down, “I think I could hold you?”

“Not reassuring.”

“Yeah, I could do it.”

“Well, I guess we’ll never know, will we?”

It’s the “will we” that got me into trouble. Before I know what’s happening he’s on the floor balancing a pillow with his feet.

“If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”
–Bruce Lee

He says, “nothing to it.”

I don’t have the heart to tell him I weigh slightly more than a pillow, as he kicks the fluffy square into the air, narrowly missing my plant!

I muddled something under my breath about the status of our health insurance but Looney ignores me.

“Come on we have nothing to lose.”

“Only my dignity, and my ability to walk, and breath, other than that, we’re all good.”

“Can I just advise, if you feel like you’re falling, lean to the left.”

Famous last words…

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” Maya Angelou

I’m Living in the Gap, practicing Acro Yoga, with Looney as my partner.

What are you all doing with your spare time?


“Opportunities will come and go, but if you do nothing about them, so will you.” Richie Norton
“Live is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” Helen Keller
“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” E. E. Cummings
“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.” Unknown
Instructional video for you adventurous types, please drop your pics in the comments

Please take some time to check out the rest of Cheryl’s blog, say ‘Hello’, and welcome her to the community.

Pete the Softy

I come across as very grumpy at times, I know. I moan about the weather, complain about bogus comments and followers, as well as griping about problems around the house.

I am known for writing stories with dark themes or unhappy endings, and my outlook on life is often very pessimistic.

But the truth is, I am a big softy. When I am not writing horror serials, I sit around watching things like this 12-minute film.

A baby pig, and small calf. Rescued from an uncertain fate and taken to a happy life in a countryside sanctuary.

Proof that so many people have good hearts, and animals deserve better than we normally give them.

I can think of a lot worse ways to spend 12 minutes of my life.

Sir Tom Moore: Knight of the Realm

Not long after the news media began to tell us about the impact of the Coronavirus pressures on the staff of the NHS, there was a feature about an elderly man who was hoping to raise £1,000 to donate to NHS charities in their honour. Known as Captain Tom Moore, he was a 99 year-old retired man who had served as an Army Captain in WW2, with the famous ‘Forgotten Fourteenth’ Army in Burma. With limited mobility now, and using a wheeled walking frame, he was determined to walk one hundred circuits of his garden, before his 100th birthday.

Using a donation page set up by his family, he quickly raised that money, and much more besides. So much more, that he decided to keep on walking until the actual day of his 100th birthday.

By the time that day dawned, he had raised over £30 MILLION pounds!

That huge amount overloaded the system of the company managing the donations, and forced them to hire extra staff. It is the largest donation ever raised by one person in the history of the organisation, and the largest ever donation to one single charity.

Tom became an overnight celebrity. He made numerous TV appearances, topped every news headline, and received so many cards that his local post office could not cope with the deliveries. His story was taken up all around the world, with foreign TV crews making the trip to his home to report it. He even opened one of the new Nightingale Hospitals, by remote video link, and was made an Honorary Colonel of his old regiment, The Yorkshire Regiment. He also received a ‘Pride of Britain’ award, along with personal messages from the Queen, and other members of the Royal family

In every respect, he became the man whose face embodied the fighting spirit of Britain, as it faced this incurable pandemic. People began to clamour for him to receive official recognition. A petition was started to urge the government to award him a Knighthood. Even I signed it, and I rarely sign such things.

On his 100th birthday, he also celebrated another achievement. A recording he had made with singer Michael Ball went to number one in the record charts, giving Tom the distinction of becoming the oldest person to ever top any record chart. The song was ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone”.

Today’s news is that he is to be awarded a knighthood.
He will now be Sir Thomas Moore.
Never has anyone deserved a title more than him.

There is an old old saying, “They don’t make them like him anymore”.
How true, in his case.

Congratulations, Sir Tom.

Ollie: Moving on video!

I took my newish smartphone out today, intending to try it out with photos of Ollie. However, the sunlight was reflecting off the screen, and I couldn’t see anything. So I pressed the video button instead, and these are the results. I couldn’t see any of the function buttons, so they are straight video captures in portrait format. But at long last you finally get to see Ollie moving! They are all very short clips, uploaded to You Tube.

**Select fullscreen for a better viewing experience**

Ollie on Beetley Meadows.

Ollie in the river, with old friends Maggie and Giggs.

Meeting up with Maggie and Giggs.

Over on Hoe Rough, encountering his friend Stanley.

The riverside path on Hoe Rough. He’s heard something!

Back in the river, this time from the other bank.

I was sitting on a fallen tree, and he came to find me.
Look at that stumpy tail wagging!

I hope you enjoyed these. I will try to get better at taking video.

Rise Up! : Sign Language Version

My step-daughter Emma works here in Norfolk in a school for children with special educational needs. Because of Coronavirus, she is currently working from home on teaching projects. She decided to use her sign language skills to help and inspire the kids at the school, many of whom have great problems with communication. She worked hard to create a sign language version of the popular and inspiring song, ‘Rise Up!’

I don’t normally make such requests, but on this occasion I am asking all of you, wherever you live, to share this blog post on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and on any other social media platform you are a member of.

Sign language is international. and so many people trapped at home during the current lockdown may be thrilled and inspired by Emma’s video. Let them know it will all be over soon, and that one day they will ‘Rise Up’ once again.