It was another dark, rainy, early morning in the Offices of the Building Works Department of Lineford Council in London. The cleaning lady, in her early sixties had just about finished for the day.

“Morning” she said happily to the Manager of the Department as he banged his office door behind him and just about managed to grunt at her.

“Nice to see he doesn’t change then” she laughed to herself as another member of the Building Works team arrived. A happy, smiling Caribbean man in his early fifties this time known as Clyde. The kind of man who has a permanent smile on his face, regardless of whatever life throws at him.

“Morning – you gorgeous hunk of cuddle” he said giving her a squeeze before he sat down, opened his brief case and found a packet of ‘something or other’ that his wife had lovingly made for him and consigned straight to the waste bin with a look of distaste on his face.

“Now, now Romeo” she laughed “What would your Bella say if she knew what you just did?”

“Well” he whispered trying not to laugh. “What my Bella doesn’t know, my Bella won’t worry about. Watch out – here comes laughing boy passing through. Stand to attention”.

An Irish Man somewhere in his fifties suddenly appeared. Rather fond of himself by his attitude would have been an understatement, but then the rest of the Department all knew that and normally doubled up with laughter behind his back, but – they all knew he could be ‘a nasty piece of work’ as his Secretary described him if he was crossed.

“Better not to poke the Bulldog with a stick” was how one member of the staff described him.

Next to arrive was a the Finance Expert. Perculiar kind of man was what they all thought. Kept himself to himself. Made a lot of excuses such as where his car was parked during the day. He hardly ever spoke to anyone else in the office, but on the other hand he was excellent at his job, so no one could complain about him.

Staff shortages mean’t an Agency Worker had to be employed. As people said when you employed someone from an Agency you never knew quite what kind of person was going to arrive and in this case that was true. This particular person as definitely what people born in the 1940’s would have said was ‘three ‘appence short of a shilling’. He sang songs all day long, didn’t have the power of concentration, and used to insult people without knowing he was doing it. Somehow though he kept his job, probably because no-one else was available.

Finally, the Admin as they called her. An Eastern European lady, who didn’t speak much English, and seemed at war with herself and the world.

And so another day in the Office as the saying went began.

Tenders had to be arranged so that they could reach their target date. Telephone calls were taken from tenants who were experiencing problems in their accommodation and the appropriate workmen sent out to deal with them as soon as possible. The Admin person was fussing that they had to arrange a collection for someone who was leaving and everyone was expected to donate something to the leaving present regardless of whether they liked the person or not.

As the cleaner said – Just another day in the Office.

Except that today was the day it wasn’t going to be just another day in the Office.

It all changed at around 11am when it was time to make the morning tea for everyone. Normally everyone made their own tea, when they fancied a cup. It didn’t matter what time it was. You just went into the tea room and made yourself a cup of tea or coffee or whatever you wanted.

Suddenly the Cleaning Lady appeared completely out of nowhere, dressed in her cleaning overalls still.

“Hello” said the Departmental Manager smiling “You still here?”

“I’ve been doing a bit of extra work in another part of the building. I thought I’d pop back and see my favourite lot and make them all some tea instead of letting them do it themselves” she winked. “Not only did I do that the Admin Department over at the Town Hall had a Councillor’s Meeting complete with cakes so I borrowed a few on permanent loan and brought you lot a few to have with your tea”

“Special treatment everyone!” shouted Clyde as everyone just cheered.

Within no time, tea was made and their ‘marvel of a cleaning lady’ as they all called her as they waved her off saying they would all see her in the morning.

Later that afternoon, no-one from any other Department had been able to get through to the Building Works Team by telephone and were getting more and more frustrated by the minute. Eventually a more Senior Officer went down to find out where they all were. If the Department were left totally un-manned, he would want to know why and someone had better tell him. The site that greeted him, made him vomit straight onto the regulation green Council carpet.

Every Officer from the Building Works Team was face down on their desks, eyes and mouth open, and were dead. He spoke to a young lady, smiling as not to cause a fuss and asked her to bring the Director immediately as there was a slight problem with a Contract that needed to be addressed immediately. When she came back, she said that the Director was out for the afternoon, but the Deputy Director was on his way.

“Thank you so much my Dear” he smiled trying his hardest not to vomit.

Eventually the Deputy Director did arrive looking angry that he had been called away from his Chicken and Salad Sandwich which he was going to follow up with two jam doughnuts from the local supermarket.

“I think – I think -” he mumbled

“Well we know they’re dead for goodness sake man. Let’s call the Police very quietly and let them deal with it. We’re standing here like a pair of idiots in a room full of dead bodies and no idea how they got here. Use your mobile for goodness sake”

The Police were called and came almost immediately, sirens blazing, which alerted the rest of the Depot, which no-one really needed or wanted.

Their first question annoyed the Deputy Director no end.

“Don’t most Directors work out of the Town Hall?”

“I wouldn’t know” the Deputy almost hissed. “You’d have to ask the Councillor’s why they saddled us with the prat of a Director we have to put up with”

An inquest into the deaths concluded that the members of the Building Works team had been murdered by poison that had been added to their tea by person or persons unknown because nothing could ever be proved and no-one was ever caught.

The Director of the Building Works Department was never seen again. Nor was the Cleaning Lady. The only two people who knew where they had gone were each other. They had been lovers for a very long time, and had fulfilled their own dream of running away together to start a new life together in Thailand.





On 3rd September this year my son and I left Southampton for a back to back cruise on the Sky Princess Cruise ship. Back to back means two weeks around the Baltic first and then one day back into Southampton where we didn’t have to get off the ship and then one week around Western Europe, which you could ‘tag’ onto your two weeks or come onto the ship and count as one. This is my personal review and others may not agree with me but I’ve had permission to speak for my son as well who, I know does agree with me because I’ve already talked to him.

We arrived at Southampton, checked in almost immediately and from check in until we were actually in our cabin took somewhere in the region of twenty minutes. Our cabin was beautiful. When I say it was nothing special it was just the normal standard cabin with balcony but beautiful all the same. We had a mini bar which contained whisky, vodka, gin, beer in the fridge, everything we could have wanted and it’s true what they say. We have been lucky. This was our thirty second cruise and the beds were the most comfortable we have ever slept in. In fact, we had trouble waking up in the morning and definitely didn’t want to get up some mornings. We did have a shower curtain rather than a door, but that didn’t bother me in the the slightest. Everyone has their own opinion. My son would have liked a door but I would have found a door a bit claustrophobic.

Dinner that night, certainly wasn’t that great. I had what I would say was pie and chips, staff were rushed, but in all fairness this was the first night so we just put it down to that and took no notice.

First sea day was great. One of those getting to find your way around days. We were Elite and had the Captains get together to look forward to, which was ‘nice’ but you could tell the Officers didn’t really want to be there and I suppose at the end of the day who could blame them.

The Muster Drill. It has changed beyond everything. It’s not brilliant. No more finding your way to the Theatre with your life jacket tucked under your arm praying that you don’t have the cords dangling around your legs and fall over and break your neck on your way. Now you watch the talk while your’e in your cabin and them go to your Muster station and just click your Medallion on their App and that’s it – done.

You have choices of where you can go for breakfast. You have the International Cafe and what was known as the buffet is the World food something or other – forgive my memory here. The International Cafe was another world which we loved. I don’t like melted cheese so I became Mrs. No Cheese to the staff and I couldn’t praise them or the food in the International Cafe enough. What we know as the Buffet – once again – incredible choice of foods, even to the point of Chinese, Indian Curries, for breakfast. It’s a whole new world and wonderful staff. As far as the food is concerned, I’m a diabetic and I’ve never seen such a wonderful range of sugar free foods available.

That brings me to the staff, and this is where I tend to kick off about the staff. Well, not the staff more a lot of the passengers. Every member of staff both my son and I came across were worked off their feet trying to make our cruise wonderful for us. There was nothing those people wouldn’t do for us if we asked. We heard nothing but abuse from a lot of those passengers toward those staff and at one point we both wanted to say These people are staff – not slaves!

One example was a woman who put in a formal complaint against a waiter who didn’t bring her a glass of water quickly enough. Another was on a table next to us who screamed “Where’s my fruit?” straight across the dining room to the waiter who should have brought it quicker.

Maybe I notice things like this because I was brought up by a man who taught me not to behave like that.

The one place Princess should look at was their Shore Excursions Team and maybe think of giving them some extra training. We had booked a Tour before we got on the ship which was a easy Tour. No walking at all which mean’t we didn’t even have to leave the coach. When we got our tickets they were for a walk that included three hours walking across un-even ground. When my son went to the Shore Excursions Desk they told him the Tour we wanted never existed. Here’s where the problem began. The Tour we wanted did existed because we had booked and paid for it back in London and they refused to believe us. So? Where was our money? Thankfully my son had the proof on his phone and they had to find out. Oh sorry they said – we just didn’t update our website. Then it seems other people had the same problem.

The shows in the Theatre were very good. Like everything it depended on your taste and you can’t please everyone but we enjoyed them all. We went to one film shown in the Cinema which was brilliant but only eight people went but the ship was only running at half capacity still. Then you come to the films beamed into your Cabin. An amazing selection of every kind of film you could have wished for. OK you had repeats of Musicals like Mama Mia and The Sound of Music but I’d always be happy to watch those over and over. You could have music beamed in. I think you would have been hard to please if you complained about that one.

We’re not great ones for ships tours. We like to do Private Tours I do admit that and that’s where we found that the Ship was a slight pain and we felt they don’t like Cruisers doing Private Tours because they lose money. We arranged our Private Tours with Companies before we went from here. We knew exactly what to do, where to meet our Drivers and what was happening until the ship decided they had to get involved and the word Mandatory was used. This one particular incident took place in France where we had booked to go to two Private Vineyards in Bordeaux. We knew how and where to meet our Driver Cedric. Everything was fine. Or so we thought – until we tried to get off the ship. We came face to face with an Officer who wouldn’t let us off the ship. You have to have two tickets and go into the village on the shuttle bus – it’s mandatory she said.

“Pardon” we both said We actually have no intention of getting on a shuttle bus and going into the village because it suits your ship. Then this argument started about you can’t get off the ship otherwise. So in the end my Son took the two tickets, stuck them in his pocket, we walked outside found our Driver and went on our way and had the most fantastic day around the Vineyards and Wine Production Units.

We went to a Wine Tasting on the ship, which was no end of fun. My son has a Wine Accreditation when it comes to Wines so knows a lot more about wine than I ever will. I just know the wines that I like and the wines that I don’t so I’d say that he enjoyed it a lot more than me. We went to an Art Auction, which was fun. There was a Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones original for sale which sold for thousands – it could only be my son who had won a Ronnie Wood original at the Rolling Stones Concert recently in London for nothing !

Then we came onto the weeks Cruise. In other words this was a new Cruise and new Cruisers came on board. This is what I suggest Princess Cruises look at very seriously because a lot of Cruises that my son and I spoke to were more than unhappy and Princess couldn’t understand why so I’m going to try to explain via my blog exactly why.

Firstly we were Elite, which means we had special privileges because we had a right to them. Other people had Suites that came with Concierges and everything they could wish for. They had paid a vast amount of money for them and both my son and I respected that. No problem at all. One of the things that we had was a drinks package. Complimentary which mean’t we could have up to fifteen Alcoholic drinks or Cocktails, or soft drinks a day. I think one day I made it up to five Alcoholic drinks. No more, but fifteen is a lot of drinks and there were people on that Cruise who made a point of making sure they got their fifteen Alcoholic drinks in. We know that because we watched them in the bars. We heard them say That’s my fifteen done. That’s fine – until they stand up – drunk – fall into people, fall on the floor and the staff have to run and try to help them up. This was women as well as men. I’ts not a good look Princess. Maybe take it down to ten?

A lot of people stayed on the ship for the second week and that’s where we felt let down. We know that because we talked to each other. We had paid the full price for that week. Suddenly people coming on started to boast about how they had ‘got’ this Cruise for free. It seems that they had ‘won’ it in a Princess Competition. So in effect we had paid the full price for this Cruise and these people had come on for a weeks Cruise for nothing and Princess couldn’t see why people were complaining.

We know nothing about any Competition said the smug little Deputy Hotel Manager until my Son who is no-one’s fool found the date and the place where the Competition had been run. What really annoyed us was that people came onto this lovely ship for a weeks free Cruise and turned it into nothing more than a Booze Cruise, which it wasn’t and it didn’t deserve to be.

The people who had paid couldn’t get a seat anywhere at night in a bar, to watch any of the musical groups, in the Jazz lounge. One night my son and I could only find two chairs outside the shops, and yes, we were annoyed but could Princess see why people were upset – no – people were being asked the same question “What’s it got to do with money?”

Well Princess – it’s not particularly money. It’s your reputation. You turned the beautiful Sky Princess into a Booze Cruise by doing what you did. Anyone who Cruises regularly knows that Cruise Ships have standards. We have Formal Nights, we have Special Restaurants, we do things nicely. You do not dress for a Formal Night or go into a Special Restaurant in your shorts and vest or t-shirt which people did!

The one thing I haven’t mentioned is the Entertainment in the evening. It was amazing. The Ian Bacon Trio were a Traditional Jazz Group and then a Group called Asian Soul. Young people from different parts of Asia but not as we know it. One member came from Timor another from Java. Ask them to play a song, they could do it. Any genre – they could do it.

As I made clear at the start these are my personal views. One of the things I did miss are the old fashioned quizzes where you could win a pen and there was a near fight because someone thought someone had cheated and before I went I said I wouldn’t miss that. Would I Cruise again? Definitely. My son and I are booked to see the Northern Lights with Cunard later this years. I just think that maybe Princess need to re-think a couple of things because there are other Cruise Lines out there, but on the other hand they’re not going to listen to a word I say!



There are many book groups on Facebook, but this one is new and especially good and definitely deserves a shout-out.

They go by the name of the Military Thriller Book Group and allow people to post books on their site.

So if your’e on Facebook, why not drop in and join them?

The point of this post though is to give a shout out to the many Authors and Books on that site. Dozens of books that I’ve never heard of and are definitely books that I would love to read and intend reading. My son jokes that I haven’t got enough life left to read all the book on my To Read list!

  1. Landslide. Adam Sikes debut espionage Thriller
  2. Born in the Borderlands – Gordon Doherty
  3. Shadow State by Andy McNab
  4. A Rock and a Hard Place by Gordon Clark.
  5. The Musicians Daughter by Ryan McGinnis

Hopefully you’ll read some of these books and if you are on Facebook drop in and join this group.



I never make any secret that my drink of choice is Gin and I’ve got many different kinds, but I’ve recently discovered a totally new one. Mainly because I was given it as a gift.

It’s called Porthleven Gin – and comes from Cornwall. You can’t buy it in any Supermarket. It comes from a very small village – funnily enough called Porthleven and is made in the large area behind someone’s house.

However, if you go online and type in Porthleven Gin it will take you to the link and show you exactly where it’s made and you can buy it from there.

So last night, I poured myself a glass, and tasted it, without the tonic at first and thought – yes……….this is different……and then added the tonic and thought…..I’m not sure….then……this is nice……this is really nice……I’ll have another one…….

You could tell it was Gin but not the gin that we’re used to. In fact it was really good. So if your’e looking for something different, why not go and take a look at Porthleven Gin? It might be more expensive than the kind you find in the Supermarket, but do we Gin loves worry that much? And it does come in a big bottle. It’s not as though you only get a couple of glasses out of it. It will last you a long time.



Sea and Coast is a worldwide monthly maritime magazine/journal published from New Delhi in India. Focused on Maritime News, including coverage of Naval, Ferry, sail, and Cruise Sectors. It is an on-line and Print Magazine also available on App Store. Sea and Coast if the Official Media Partner of the Indian Navy’s Think Tank. National Maritime Foundation and SAMES. Society for Aerospace Maritime and Defence Studies.

Founded in 2016 by an ex Mariner Amit Kumar.

The magazine is registered under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (India)

There is an Advisory Board and every member of the board works very hard to ensure the success of Sea and Coast but also to ensure that there is total honesty in the world of Naval, Ferry, Sail and Cruise Sectors. If Amit and the team hear of a Container Ship that needs help, then he will do his best to help. If there is a fight to be ‘fought’, then Sea and Coast are ready for the fight.

I have known Amit and Sea and Coast for a very long time, as a friend. I know that both he, and Sea and Coast will work until they drop if they need to.

If you enjoy reading all things Maritime, you will really enjoy Sea and Coast.



As you know, or maybe you don’t my son is my Editor but as when he isn’t working at his day job and editing my books, he’s a London Tour Guide. He qualified years ago and is a Green badge Guide in London. I’d never really thought about the History of Guiding, so I thought I’d find out more about it. My personal gripe about Tour Guides for years has been at the speed they walk at. I’ve seen many people, including myself, who just can’t keep up with them. It’s fine if your’e completely fit but not fair if you need to walk slower. Sometimes I’ve found the Guide is halfway down the street before all the party are off the Coach even. Not much use if your’e in a foreign country and don’t know your way around. According to Jack a Guide should walk at the speed of the slowest person in their group.

Anyway, back to the History. The First Tour Operator went into business in England in 1758 and is still in business today. Pleasure Travel started in earnest in during the 1840s when Thomas Cook began conducting tours to Paris and then around Europe. By the 1850 Railroad tours were already in Operation.

Peregrinatio in Terram Sanctum (Pilgramage to the Holy Land) is said to be the Worlds first Written Tourist Guide. Written by Bernhard Von Breydenbach and illustrated by Reiwich it was published in 1486. The pair swiftly became the worlds first travel influencers.

Tour Guiding in the Renaissance and Grand Tour. A prescribed route through France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland to Italy was travelled by young men of the Upper Classes from Britain.

What are the Values of a Tour Guide?

  1. Knowledge of the Tour Area
  2. Ability to communicate
  3. Strong empathy and understanding
  4. Charismatic Personality
  5. Keen Ability to Improvise and Adapt#
  6. Focus of Building a raport
  7. Engaging Storyteller
  8. Flexibility

I am so proud to say that my son ticks every one of these boxes.

When we look back now at the way we travel so easily, we have so much to thank the Ancient Tour Guides for because they were the front runners of the Guides we have now. Yes the Guides now are different because information for their walks is easier. My family went on a Guided Walk many years ago to Pompei. It’s the only walk I’ve been on that made me shudder inside because we were given time to walk around. I swear some of the ghosts of those poor people were still here. Now you can go on Private Tours with a Driver and Guide which is a Guided Tour by any other name. Guides take school parties around. Funny story Jack knows believe me. He took a party around St. Johns Gate in London. Lovely young boy who wanted the ins an out of a poor man who had died by having a sword stuck up his rear end – if you don’t my the phrase – he keep on and one Bless his heart!

Then of course there was a time in Russia where I’d hurt my knee. Don’t go anywhere in Russia with a man in a car alone if you are a woman! Be aware! was the advice. So my husband and son went off with our Guide. Next thing I knew Alex our Driver, who I imagine might have shot a few people in the Military along the way. Starts the car, drives off at a speed, me – alone – in the back – thinking he’s going to kill me! Was he heck! We had a wonderful time driving around all the sights!. He didn’t speak English, I didn’t speak Russian, but there you go. Don’t judge people.

So when a Guide meets his Party now does he have a few rules? It seems he does. If you are taking medication, tell him. He gives a safety briefing before each walk. If you are going to drop out of the walk tell him. From what I gather, each Guide is different. One thing I do know that every London Guide I’ve every come across is brilliant. Different but brilliant. My son writes a lot of his own walks. He does public and private walks. You name the subject and he will be able to take you on a walk around London on it.



Do you love to crochet? Are you on Facebook? Then why not come along and join a friendly new crochet group that’s run by my friend Leo.

Firstly I hear you say why should I? There are dozens of crochet groups on Facebook. Well, yes your’e right but it’s Leo who makes it so special because Leo is a Crochet Designer. He designs all his own clothes as well as some spectacular other things. In fact, he’s becoming quite well known.

We chat away about crochet, put up pictures of things we’ve made. It doesn’t matter what standard you are. You can be an expert or a beginner. If you want some help, Leo will help or one of us will. We are all friends and one thing I do know is that age doesn’t matter.

Just go into Facebook and look for fashion clang which is the name of our group. I know it’s an unusual name, but that’s our Leo. A lovely young man with a heart of gold.

Feel free to tell him where you heard about his group and you’ll get a very warm welcome.



The Newberry Knitters are back in Book 3 of the series. Do things ever go right when the Knitters are involved. No is the easy answer and they don’t this time when the Knitters visit the Knitting and Stitching show in London, so why not join them?

Available now on Amazon Kindle for £1.99. If you do read it and enjoy it,

I’d love you to leave me a review.



Like millions of other people, I’m on a couple of Social Media Sites. I chat on them. I have friends there. I chat to people I went to school with. People who served in the Armed Forces I’m proud to be friends with. I push my books on there – so tell me an Author who doesn’t. So what’s gone wrong with the Social Media I used to know.

Where has all this hatred suddenly come from? Some of it is vile and I mean vile. People who were my friends have left because they can’t stand it any longer. Personally I’m frightened to answer some of the Tweets I see because I know that I’m going to get hatred spewed out at me. I was once called Lady Nazi because I had a different opinion to someone else over the wearing of masks.

This morning is was from a group of people who seemed to have a hatred of people who have money. Well, in my humble opinion, what’s it got to do with anyone else whether someone’s money is inherited or not. Are we going down the road of the days in France when we be-headed the Aristocracy???

Maybe the people who Police the Social Media sites should have a tighter control because from what I’ve seen if the ordinary people like us say one word out of place, we end up in prison or as my lovely American friends say In the Slammer !. On Facebook I’ve seen some of the most disgusting, near pornographic photographs on Author and Book Groups. The people who put them up there claim to be Authors. Somehow I don’t think any Author would do that. I know that’s true because I’ve blocked several.

Re-tweets? Fine I use them but not that often. Mainly for my friends, but I’m getting them by the dozen and about people I don’t even know or follow and even to the point of not in English and quite honestly I’m fed up with them.

Anyway I’d like to see a way of controlling it but somehow I doubt it.



My Editor has always had one dream. The see the cyclists in the Tour De France ride into Paris. One reason is that he loves watching the Tour De France and the other is because he loves Paris, so this is the time for him to live his dream. So you would think it would be easy wouldn’t you?

Well, think again. He booked his hotel, which was amazing to say the least. None of your bed and breakfast type places. View over the Eiffel Tower, but then he works hard, he’s my Editor and people tend to think that because he’s my son, he does it for nothing. Well, sorry, he doesn’t. He might well be my son by I pay him for Editing every one of my books. He booked his train. The 11.40am out of St. Pancras Station in London. A single table, complete with a meal and wine. Packed his case, had all the relevant papers, proof of vaccination and you would that was it? Well most people would think that wouldn’t they??

Bad mistake. That’s when it all crashed down on his head. He arrived at the station to complete and utter chaos. Well no. It was worse than chaos if there is such a thing. People were so crowded in, he contacted us and said they couldn’t even breath. It was worse than cattle being coralled together. (Excuse my spelling). Oh I digress. Late last night he received an e mail from the Rail Company saying that there had been a change of plan as far as the Rail Service were concerned. He wouldn’t be going on the same kind of train. Instead of a single table, he would be sharing a table of four – in other words close proximity with three strangers – no food.

Back to this station this morning. He was taken ill because of being in so many crowds and couldn’t breath. He found a member of staff at the station and explained that he was feeling ill and asked if she could help him and apparantly was refused in no uncertain terms. In other words almost laughed out. The crowd I gather were starting to push from being coralled. A bit later I received a Whats App saying I’ve found a seat.

I’m in the Gent’s Toilet. Put the seat down and am sitting on the toilet with the door locked but at least I’ve found a seat and can breath a bit. Now, I know I shouldn’t but part of me wanted to say Good for you and punch the air.

A while later I get another What’s App. I’m on the train Mum and on my way to Paris.

How are you getting on with the other people?

No, I’m on the train I was mean’t to be on. Here’s my lunch -look.

So you were on this train complete with wine, food and by yourself with luxury, then it was cancelled and you were having to sit with four people with nothing to eat, and now your back to a train with only yourself and food and wine???

Ehhhh – yes Mum……..just don’t worry about it. At least I’m going to make it to Paris.

And this is our brilliant Rail Service who want to come out on strike for more money ?????