Book review: The Covenant by Thorne Moore (@ThorneMoore) “#RBRT #historical fiction


The Covenant is a powerful novel, which gobsmacked me with the fierce emotions of its characters and the immutable future of unending work and forced acceptance of their fate by women in the period of this story. This is a prequel to the author’s best-selling A Time for Silence and is a must-read.

Written in first person, the author has created in Leah Owen, the middle daughter of a farmer in Wales at the close of the 19th century, a woman burdened by both love and duty. Her father, Tom Owen, is a tenant farmer on twenty-four acres, one rood and eight perches of stony, hilly land, and together with his oldest son, barely ekes out a subsistence for his family. The farm – Cwmderwen (and I wish I could pronounce it!) – and its house are very real characters in the story, setting a grim, rundown background as the result of debt and poor harvest.

Leah has hopes. As the middle daughter, she will be able to marry and leave Cwmderwen to lead her own life. Her oldest sister, a strangely quiet and dour woman, will remain behind to care for her parents. When the oldest son Tom dies, largely because of the ignorance of his father, the father, always pious, becomes a religious zealot. He drives his lazy youngest son, Frank, away. When both the oldest and youngest daughter marry and her mother dies, Leah is left to take care of her increasingly maniacal father, even when love comes her way. She is forced to follow a path of servitude and disappointments to a grim future. Tom Owen’s grandson, John – son of the wastrel Frank – becomes a miniature of his grandfather, claiming his covenant with God in keeping the farm and determined to keep the increasingly unproductive farm.

What possible future does Leah have? Can she remain dutiful, even to Frank and her nephew, bound as she is by the community, church and custom? And how can she survive when her every dream is crushed by her family.

The author does an impressive job creating a background of isolated and rural Pembrokeshire, the changing seasons and vicissitudes of farming. The detail never becomes heavy but is integral to the story. Her ability to create depth in her characters, their beliefs and piety, and the changes and occasional joys in their lives is exceptional. The reader lives in Leah’s being and the feelings are at times overwhelming.

This is a book with a wallop, and I recommend it as an exceptional read.

About the author:

Thorne Moore grew up in Luton, near London, but has lived in Pembrokeshire in West Wales for the last 35 years. She writes psychological crime, or domestic noir, with a historical twist, focusing on the cause and consequences of crimes rather than on the details of the crimes themselves. A Time For Silence, set in Pembrokeshire, was published by Honno in 2012. It was followed by Motherlove and The Unravelling, set partly in a fictional version of Luton. Shadows, published by Endeavour in 2017, is set in an old house in Pembrokeshire, and is paired with Long Shadows, which explained the history and mysteries of the same house from Medieval times to the late Victorian period.

She belongs to a group of female Welsh writers who founded Honno Welsh Women’s Press with a goal of seeing see that women in Wales have a wider opportunity to see their writing in print.

You can find Thorne Moore:

On Twitter: @ThorneMoore

On her website:

On Facebook videos:

And on Facebook:

You can find The Covenant on Amazon:



Book Review: Miss Tavistock’s Mistake by Linore Rose Burkard (@LinoreRBurkard) #RBRT #Regency romance


I am not a fan of romance novels but decided to challenge myself and read this one for Rosie’s Book Reviews. I did enjoy this book.

Miss Tavistock’s Mistake reminds me strongly of a Restoration play by William Congreve – The Way of the World – in that it is an examination of the social conventions of love and marriage at the time, with wit, banter and disguises, seasoned by delicate impropriety – in other words, a comedy of manners. This book is perhaps more light and frothy.

The story takes place a century later than Congreve’s plays, during the Regency Period, the decade between 1811 and 1820, a time of particular manners and fashions and of authors such as Jane Austin and Sir Walter Scott.

Dramatis personae:

Feodora Margaret Tavistock, an orphan from America who comes at age nine to live with her uncle, the Duke of Trent. At age nineteen, she wants nothing more than to live in London for the ‘Season’, the time when unmarried young women meet prospective husbands at a series of social events.

Gabriel Rempeare, the Duke’s nephew, who comes to little Miss Tavistock’s rescue when she first arrives. He becomes a captain in his Majesty’s Navy and is betrothed to his cousin Margaret, as she wishes to be called now, by the wishes of both their deceased parents.

Mrs. Filbert, Miss Tavistock’s older lady companion.

The Duke of Trent, a widower who loves his niece and with the right incentive will give refuse her nothing.

Lady X, a mysterious woman who is reputed to be the Duke’s mistress.

Captain Rempear has not seen Margaret in ten years when he returns after being decommissioned from the Navy due to an injury and the loss of his ship. An unfortunate confrontational meeting between them before being re-introduced causes Miss Tavistock to identify herself as Lady X, a woman identified in the newspapers as the lover of her uncle. She finds the Captain infuriating and vows not to marry him.

The plot only becomes more twisted from there, as Miss Tavistock is allowed by her uncle to go with Mrs. Filbert to London, where she herself up in an independent household, maintaining her identity as Lady X. Captain Rempear, unable to find his cousin but nevertheless determined keep his word to marry her, also goes to London, where he finds himself increasingly drawn to Lady X.  Secrets, lies, misdirection and misunderstandings created by Miss Tavistock make the reader wonder whether Captain Rempear, with whom she falls in love, can ever forgive her – if he finally figures out who she really is.

The author must have done a god job creating Miss Tavistock because I became infuriated with her continuing lies and deceptions and wanted to whack her upside the head, as they say here in the South. Captain Rempear is suitably handsome and charismatic and I was compelled to feel sorry for the way our heroine toyed with him.

The author’s command of Regency vernacular (which sent me to a computer!) and the period manners, dress and furnishings is excellent and give the story a historical richness.

This book will appeal to historical fiction aficionados and especially to readers who enjoy wholesome, romantic stories laced with comedy.

About the author:

Linore Rose Burkard is a serious watcher of period films, a Janeite, and hopeless romantic. An award-winning author best known for Inspirational Regency Romance, her first novel (Before the Season Ends) opened the genre for the CBA. Besides historical romance, Linore writes contemporary suspense (The Pulse Effex Series, as L.R. Burkard), contemporary romance (Falling In), and romantic short stories (ie., Three French Hens). Linore has a magna cum laude English Lit. degree from CUNY which she earned while taking herself far too seriously. She now resides in Ohio with her husband and family, where she turns her youthful angst into character or humor-driven plots.

You can find the author

On Twitter: @LinoreRBurkard

On Facebook:
And on her blog:


Miss Tavistock’s Mistake can be found on Amazon:


Selling a house during the pandemic or how to make your life even more miserable


I don’t know about you, but as a writer, the initial quarantine during the corona virus was no sweat. My husband and I just continued our lives as usual – I have my writing and he works in the yard. We managed to see my daughter and her family occasionally because they also quarantined, working from home. We were virus-less.

We had decided very early this year that it was time to sell our beloved home. It is too expensive for us on retirees’ salaries and we rattle around in it with the kids gone. Covid arrived in March, but we decided to plow ahead, especially since we had found another house that suited us well.

Thus toward the end of the second month, we started shoveling 35 years of accumulated ‘stuff’ from our house. I lost 12 pounds of winter fat winnowing every drawer, cabinet and closet to near emptiness. The local landfill may have to be named for us, because there is nowhere open to donate, not even libraries.

We had an inspector come to let us know of any problems and got back a 67 page report. Most of it was photos, but the suggested changes cost thousands of dollars, with men possibly carrying those nasty little virus particles coming in and out of the house.  We instituted rules: masks, gloves and keep you distance and we survived. Whew!

Then the house went on the market, and now we have what I like to call fire drills several times a week: we run around like chickens with their heads cut off (now that’s a visual!) making sure the house is dusted and vacuumed and wiped down and all personal things are cleared away from the counters (into those previously empty drawers) before each showing. My poor cat thinks his food bowl lives in a cabinet (it does). We did have to leave his litter box out, though, to avoid accidents while we are away, but we load it with new litter each time for that nice, fresh smell.  I’ve noticed he spends more time digging in it…

Our generally optimistic natures and confidence that the house was perfect

took some hits when the comments from the showings came rolling in, all to them sure to drive a stake into a seller’s hearts:

  • The windows are old and leak. They’re old but they don’t leak. There’s no glass.

  • The upstairs floors creak and are uneven. They’re dirt but we ran around with marbles anyway trying to figure out where they were uneven. You’d think the inspector would have caught that.

  • The floor plan is awkward. Whatever floats your boat. It’s only one room.

  • And the best one of all: UPGRADES NEEDED THROUGHOUT.

We’ve been upgrading the house for 35 years – baths and kitchen remodeled, the interior painted, a new roof and a new HVC system installed, windows sealed. I’m thinking a huge, walk-in closet… we lowered the price.

Last night, after the latest ‘Upgrades…,” I hit a wine bottle and went to bed at 9:30.

I miss my friends, I miss eating out, and if it weren’t for a frequent infusion of cuteness from my grandson, I’d be drinking whisky for breakfast and wouldn’t bathe. Or brush my teeth. Or comb my hair. Just don’t mention any upgrades.

A Conversation with Geoffrey Gudgion, author of Draca


My guest today is Geoffrey Gudgion, author of Draca, a sailing adventure and family epic I reviewed last week. We both love to sail so I chose Lymington, Hampshire for our meeting – a lovely harbor from which to sail – and the Mayflower pub (an homage to the Pilgrims) for a drink. Mine is a Guinness, of course.






Welcome, Geoff, to SaylingAway. I’d like to start with a general question: Tell me something about yourself and your background.

I spent over 10 years in the Royal Navy, and made my first attempts at writing a book while on deployment. Fortunately those efforts don’t survive. A subsequent business career was fairly successful, though I never truly fitted with Corporate America; I was the quiet Brit amidst colleagues punching the air and shouting “Awesome!” After a blistering row with my CEO I left, funded my way with consultancy, and wrote in the gaps. Now I just write. I’ve found what I should have been doing all along.

So where do you get the ideas for your books?

Wall-Mart? But seriously, ideas can come from anywhere. I once wrote a whole novel after staring at a 14th Century wall painting in an old English chapel. I like history, the interplay of characters, (particularly strong female characters,) and a hint of ‘otherworldliness’ – that whiff of sulphur among the roses.

The idea for Draca came watching the sun go down over an isolated, atmospheric anchorage, a place of screaming seagulls where the ebbing tide revealed the bones of dead ships poking through the mud. I wondered what stories those timbers could tell. What if they were really old? After all, the Vikings raided that harbour in 876AD. The idea took hold.

One of the major themes in Draca is sailing, something I’ve been doing since I was a preteen, and one of the reasons I enjoyed Draca so much. Tell me about your sailing experiences and how you plotted out the sailing sequences in the book.

I learned to sail as a fumbling 17 year old cadet off Dartmouth, though the only advice I remember now is being told by a bearded Petty Officer ‘always remember lad, when you see the seagulls walking it’s time to go about’.  Years later a friend asked me to crew for him in a voyage around Brittany into Biscay. It became an annual event, either in the English Channel or the Baltic. It only stopped being fun once, when gale-force winds blew against a 5-knot tide off Alderney, and the sea went from moderate to brutal before we found shelter. The waves get higher every time I tell the story, but it was useful background for Draca.

I found the sailing sequences pretty breath-taking, reminding me all too well of my own death grip on the gunwales in some pretty high seas. I think a movie of Draca would be spectacular visually, especially with all the CGI effects possible now. Who would you cast to play the characters in Draca in a movie?

Charlotte is cool, sophisticated, and sexy. Natalie Dormer (Ann Boleyn in The Tudors).

Georgia, ‘George’, is innocent, even naïve, but strong as steel underneath. Maisie Williams (Arya Stark from Game of Thrones).

Jack I see as a younger Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn in Lord of the Rings); strong, brooding, Nordic. My wife thinks he’s hunky and calls him Viagra Mortensen.

I hate to cast an actor I admire as Harry, but Sean Bean could do the job, if he asked me nicely.

I love all those actors, especially Sean Bean. He’s been a favorite of mine for a long time.

Changing the topic – rather abruptly – are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you plot the entire novel and know who did it before you start, or can that change?

I once heard an author quote Michelangelo ‘I saw the angel within the marble and I carved until I set him free’, but anyone who claims to envision an entire novel at the outset is either extraordinarily talented, and pretentious, or blowing smoke. I usually have an end-point in mind but my angels start with three legs and ears for wings, and take a lot of re-crafting before they can fly. Eventually the characters become so real that they take over and shape their own destinies. Then I begin to think I might have a winner.

What are you working on now, Geoff? 

I’ve finished a ‘historical fantasy’ novel, more Guy Gavriel Kay than George RR Martin, loosely based on 14th century France and with a female protagonist. My agent is wonderfully enthusiastic about it, but says that publishers are currently making very few acquisitions while so many releases have been delayed. Meanwhile he’s encouraging me to crack on with a sequel. I think there will be a third book in the series, possibly more.

So we’re just going to have to wait! What do you do when you aren’t writing?

I love horses. Last year I bought a competition show jumper who is forcing me to up my game. She is so highly trained that when I climb on she behaves rather like a princess trying to understand a yokel. Riding is the antidote for lots of time staring at a computer screen. Outdoors. Physical. And just a little dangerous.

I also rode, but with my parents when I was little. My daughter used to compete in the Hunter-Jumper class. I spent so much time grooming horses, I became allergic. I have to load up on antihistamines. 

Here’s something off the wall: What makes you laugh?

The richest laughter comes from the chemistry with another person. It begins with eye contact that promises mischief, and erupts through a shared sense of the ridiculous. I like dry, British humour best.

That’s why I watch the BBC a lot!

Geoff, if you could invite anyone past or present to have dinner with you, who would you ask?

Only one? Joan of Arc would be interesting, (did she really hear angel voices?) but possibly too pious to be amusing. Ann Boleyn, the witty flirt who captivated a king, would be fun especially if she arrived in her Natalie Dormer persona.

I’ve really enjoyed our conversation, even though I did jump around a bit with the questions. I think my followers will get a good sense of who you are!

Noelle, thank you so much for inviting me. I’ve enjoyed the beer, and it’s been a breeze!

Don’t forget to let me know when your next book is out.


You can find Draca on Amazon (see my review, too):

Followers, here are Geoff’s previous books:

Corn GoddessShort stories with a subtle, other-worldly twist

Saxon’s Bane –  mixes ancient legends and wisdom with a modern adventure, romance and supernatural elements.



Book Review: The Lost Blackbird by Liza Perrat (@LizaPerrat) #RBRT #Australian drama #English orphan diaspora


The Lost Blackbird is the third book by Liza Perrat that I’ve read, the others being The Silent Kookaburra and The Swooping Magpie.  This is my favorite.

Ms. Perrat is an Australian author and she creates the world of that country with wonderful detail and ambience. Here she pays homage to the children brought to Australia from England’s orphanages and care centers in the 1960s, purportedly for a better life. These children were a costly burden to England, and the government’s solution was to ship them off to populate various other countries in its former Empire, often without any documentation of where they came from and whether they were in fact orphans. In Australia they became prisoners, working in slave labor camps with little food, clothing, or education and often beaten, degraded and subject to abuse. This is something I knew nothing about, but it is a story that has to be told.

Five year old Charly and her ten year old sister Lucy are sent to Easthaven Home for Girls in England when their mother is accused of killing their father by pushing him down the stairs and then is sent to prison for her crime. In fact, drunk and in a rage at Charly, he tripped and fell down the stairs, but Charly is too young to understand what had happened.

Easthaven is run in a brutal fashion by unforgiving women, and Lucy considers it a stroke of luck when she and her sister are chosen to go to Australia, freeing them from their awful fate in that institution. After a magical six week trip aboard an ocean liner to Australia, with new clothes, good food, games to play with their fellow migrants, and two women who care for them, Lucy are Charly are wrenched apart on the Sydney docks. Charly is adopted by a privileged family and her new parents do everything in their power to erase her past. Lucy is sent to live at Seabreeze Farm in the interior of the country, where she and some friends she made on the boat live in inhuman conditions, working as slaves, and suffering from lack of food, heat, flies, and the bullying of the sadistic owner of the farm.

As Charly begins to suspect her parents are hiding a secret, Lucy descends into despair and cynicism, although never ceasing to think about Charly and how to find her. How does Lucy survive and will Charly ever learn the truth of her beginnings and the fact she has a sister?

Liza Perrat paints a harsh picture of the orphans’ lives against the brilliant background of Australia. As a reader, my emotions meshed with those of Lucy and I also despaired of her survival, but I read on! I’m glad I did. The story is heart-breaking but told with enormous compassion. The author not only does a wonderful job of presenting the country but also creates well-rounded, real characters whose emotions are easily felt: Charly and Lucy, of course, but also the hate-filled farmer Yates, his beaten wife Bonnie, and the Ashwoods who adopt Charly, both so desperate to replace their dead daughter.

I read the book in two sittings, and it flowed so well and was engrossing that I overlooked the very few places needing line edits. I recommend The Lost Blackbird to everyone with a heart, so everyone!

About the author (from Goodreads)

Liza Perrat grew up in Australia, where she worked as a general nurse and midwife for fifteen years.

When she met her French husband on a Bangkok bus, she moved to France, where she has been living with her family for twenty years. She works part-time as a French-English medical translator, and as a novelist.Since completing a creative writing course ten years ago, several of her short stories have won awards, notably the Writers Bureau annual competition of 2004 and her stories have been published widely in anthologies and small press magazines. Her articles on French culture and tradition have been published in international magazines such as France Magazine, France Today and The Good Life France.

I highly recommend her other books set in Australia: The Silent Kookaburra, and The Swooping Magpie.  Friends, Family and Other Strangers also beckons.

Liza Perrat can be found:

On twitter: @LizaPerrat

On Facebook:

On her website:

The Lost Blackbird can be found on Amazon:




I have fallen in love with Usual Muttwits. Here is a description of the blog by Zozo & Jules.


Usual Muttwits follows the misadventures of a diverse community of dogs inhabiting the fictitious Thameside town of Westley Piddle.  The blog features stories on the various muttwit characters and is experienced through their own particular dogs’-eye point of view.

Each story (which is serialized weekly) focuses on one particular muttwit from the pack, forced off his furry butt to do something extraordinary to help out his best mates. What should be a simple enough ask mostly ends up in pure doggerel, lots of ear-flapping, and a quick bite or two of both friend and foe.

The blog is presented in the style of a graphic diary with the manga-inspired illustrations drawn or doodled beside the text which [‘”wot’] is written in a colloquial London voice.

We have created a universe for the muttwits to live and breath. Accompanying the stories the site also features a detailed map of Westley Piddle, an A-Z of illustrated muttwit characters, and a snifz colour chart on how they use their snouts to understand the world around them, and the emotions of humans (called hindlegs throughout). We even have a pub-chat corner (Quick Pint down the Pig&Ferret) where the human companions can vent their frustrations over a pint or two of best bitter.

A brief word about Zozo&Jools:

Zeynep Arpaözü (Zozo) is a blogger cartoonist from Istanbul in her early twenties who currently attends university studying languages; Julian Boyce (Jools) is a copywriter from South London in his early sixties. Collectively, we call ourselves Zozo&Jools. We are two people from different generations, cultures, religions and political ideologies who agree on almost nothing, except for one thing: creating ridiculous doggy stories stuffed with insane characters. It helps that we have both grown up surrounded by a motley crew of dogs and cats. We speak their language – they speak ours!

Why a blog and not a book?

They had just started submitting to literary agents when Covid-19 hit.  It seemed pointless to continue (as unknown writers) in present circumstances, so they converted the first three completed books into serialised stories online.

Thems Usual Muttwits’ is their singular take on the 4x leg vs. 2x leg modern world, as experienced through the sights, sounds and sniffs of a right tight pack of muttwits.


Here is Part I, their first story of Them Muttwits!

Donuts : Part 1

Scratch are on the rise.  A nightmarish cross between furry little doggies and sharp-clawed killing machines.  They’re invading Westley Piddle and something’s gotta be done.  Donuts, the rugby-loving Welsh Terrier, decides enough is enough – at the infamous battle of the Tesco Extra 5 bins.

A particularly fresh-sniffing day in Westley Piddle, that inconsequential town on the Thameslick between Bisham and Cock Marsh. Winter snowlick is melting away as daffodils and croci burst from the ground in Herdwick pooping park, waving about and begging fourlegs to squirtz ‘ems. And wot can be better than that? When a squirtz is all that really matters to a fourlegs, apart from solid noshing, corss.

Trouble is, changing weather is making the bright hot ball in the sky brighter and attracting a lot of unwanted scratch.  It’s no longer safe for a decent fourlegs to go sniffing ‘round abouts the undergrowth and marker posts in the woods, cocking a leg.  Scratch just sit there, watching, waiting. An unspeakable contempt in their malign presence.  Wotz worse, more scratch are appearing in Westley Piddle. The opening of a scratch sanctuary down the far end of Nelson Avenue, close by Tesco Extra, may have something to do with it.

A particularly troublesome snifz is hanging over town and fours are in a tiswas. Ain’t natural!



Wotz that snifz?

Snifz lyk bacon at Greggs all day brekkers

Nah, snifz heavy legs to me over on the farms

Muttwits, the loada yuz…that snifz scratch snifz!

“oi,yerlittleWelshbugga” Wynn scritches, holding up a bowl of sausage and scrambled egg

‘yourmomsays,yougottadiet…butafterthis, mate” and drops it down in front of Donuts, the rather large and pudgy Welsh Terrier.

His wet snout is deep into it before the bowl touches the ground.

That’s wot I’m talking about snout vacuums up the breakfast, today’s second breakfast, cleaning the bottom of the bowl before methodically sweeping ‘round the edges all thorough and professional, lyk.

Pork, burnt down one side, just the way I lyk ’ems

He eyeballs Wynn in further expectation of more, his trusted hindlegs companion and food provider. “don’ttellyermom,butI’malsogivingyoumine”

Corss. And Wyn, would be good if brekkers can be a bit, erh, brekkers-faster, next time, right boyo?

Donuts snifz all over the immediate eating area, disappointed to find nothing further except a crumb of sausage stuck in the mat.  He licks over the spot for good measure until noshed.

Right, brekkers ticked off, walkies up next

Handpaws touching the power harness catches his attention.

Gotta get out! Gotta get out! thick curly-haired paws scrabbling for purchase on the tiled floor as he bolts out the kitchen and into the hallway, lassoing himself into the power harness Wynn is holding ready. Unable to check his forward momentum his snout crumples into glass front door.

“easymate” Wynn tugs him back “let’sgetthedooropen,first”

Donuts is into the hall of the apartment block, scrabbling full on towards the lifts.

“..andmakesureyoutakethestairs,Wynn” scritches out Dona packmom from the apartment “he’stoofat!”

I don’t do stairs! Donuts reminds Wynn, waiting at the lift, giving him the eyeball.

Wynn shakes his head and quietly presses the lift call.


“whatdidIjustsay?” Dona’s faint scritch, making Wynn cringe.

Pooper-scooper at the ready, Wynn wobbles up the path between the communal gardens of the once shabby council tenements, now a spanking renovation project thanks to London’s sprawling hegemony.  This don’t mean a thing to Donuts who’s forever happy to grace the flowerbeds with his poop – and walkways, stairwells or renovated lift, given half the chance.

Keep up, bach he admonishes Wynn who’s wobbling along behind. Wynn stops to sprinkle some monkeynuts under the trees, enjoying feeding the grey furrylegs who scurry all over the place.

Waste of good peanuts and if they weren’t husked, Donuts would nosh thems himself.

A healthy poop later, just on the paving edge and not in the flowerbeds – to keep Wyn sharp, Donuts pulls his companion into Birch Street, down to Nelson Avenue, across the road, and into Herdwick pooping park.

Snifz yu, fat Welsh bast’ad

Snifz yu, One Ear growls Donuts at One Ear, who’s better known as Tuffy, beforenows, but hates to be called One Ear since it was bit off by Big Knickers ‘enry. Who used to be called just plain Henry beforenows, but –

They bump snoutz and wag end bits.

Name’s Tuffy, by the way One Ear replies, hurt.

Ear today, gone tomorra Donut shrugs.

Anyways, watcha doin’ Dog nuts?

Walking Wynn here he flicks his head back, indicating the morose hindlegs at back.

Tuffy sits and idly rubs his belly with all the time in the world.

Catch a load of that scratch snifz he says, snout quivering, one leg daintily cocked.

Donuts snifz the air.  Closest is Tuffy, then a few fourlegs, followed by flaplegs up in the marker posts, and lastly, ad hoc hindlegs wobbling ‘round abouts the park, obviously lost. Even snifz the sap squirting its way up all the marker posts as they prepare to pump leaves out into the spring air. And scratch?

Dog-damnit!!  Tuffy’s right.  A whole pooper-scooper load of scratch snifz!

Up at five bins Tuffy keeps belly rubbing, one paw stuck straight up taking it over, lock, stock and bin, can yu believe?

Thems Tesco Extra five bins? Donuts knows Tuffy is simple. Partly coz he’s a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Mostly coz he only half-hears anything these days.

Yes, Tesco Extra.  Who else got five bins, mate?

Yu havin’ a laugh?

I ain’t.  But they are!

Donuts is aghast. Scratch ‘round thems five bins!

I’ll drag Wyn over and snifz ‘ems

Careful up there Dog nuts.  Scratch’re nasty bas’tads, the load of’ems

Scratch? Donuts scoffs, hauling on Wynn’s lead and leaving Tuffy to sort out his belly rubbing.


Scratch taking over Tesco Extra five bins!

Just ain’t natural!


Book Review: Draca by Geoffrey Gudgion #RBRT #sailing adventure #pychological thriller


The Draca is a vintage sailing cutter built in 1905. Her owner is Eddie Ahlquist, an old man dying of cancer. She lies beached at a marine, slowly falling into decay due to the ravages of time as her owner also fails. Eddie’s grandson, Jack, is a former Marine in his Her Majesty’s armed services, who has returned from service in the Middle East minus a foot and part of his leg, beset with PTSD, and carrying a load of guilt from the deaths of two of his fellow Marines, one who died with him and one who died trying to rescue him. Jack is the one member of the dysfunctional Alquist family who truly cares for Eddie and he tries to spend as much time with him as possible.

Eddie has earned the epithet ‘Mad Eddie” because of his wild sailing of Draca before he became too ill to continue. He had found a four-foot-long piece of ancient timber carved into the neck and head of a snarling dragon which he made into the figurehead for Draca. The figurehead now sits in his garden and Eddie talks to it when Jack is not around, thinking he sees the outline of a huge, looming figure coming through the trees toward his cottage.

When Eddie dies, Jack inherits Draca as well as his grandfather’s cottage, his diaries, and his library of Viking literature. Jack’s father, an overbearing and greedy man with whom Jack has an adversarial relationship for his entire life, does not understand why Eddie’s estate did not go to him and vows to fight Eddie’s will in court.

Jack moves into the cottage while the will is in probate and, with a suggestion that restoring the Draca might help him with his lasting emotional and physical problems, takes out loans against Eddie’s estate. He immediately dives into the difficult work of bringing Draca back to her original condition.  As he does, the serpent figurehead seems to capture his psyche as it had his grandfather’s, and he also sees the looming figure amongst the trees. He is drawn to the figurehead and Draca as if they both have a hold on him.

This is a terrific book on many levels: the struggles of a veteran with physical and emotional baggage for the time of his service; the warped interactions of a family with a bully for a father and husband; Jack’s own crumbling marriage; the exhilaration of sailing, especially on this old, restored schooner; a developing love between Jack and a young woman, George, who runs the boatyard where Draca is moored; and the growing hold of Draca and the figurehead on Jack. There is also interspersed between the chapters excerpts from a Viking story, the ‘saga of King Guthrum,’ with a strong indication that the figurehead derives from a Viking ship in the saga and that it is cursed. Will figurehead claim Jack’s life to satisfy the curse?

The characters are wonderfully created. Jack is a finely tuned rendering of a veteran with PTSD, old Eddie is both loveable and frightening in his final madness, and Harry, Jack’s father, is a villain – perhaps a little heavy-handed, but still believable. George is at the same time both incredibly naïve (she doesn’t recognize when Charlotte, Jack’s wife, tries to draw her into a lesbian affair and that left me scratching my head) and equally brave, as she tries to heal Jack and at the end risks her own life to save him in a horrific storm at sea.

As a sailor, all the descriptions of sailing and the rigging and sails of Draca, especially at sea and in the wind, were both familiar and exciting. This might not be so for someone who has never sailed, although I believe any reader can loosely follow the action.  Having the drawing of Draca for reference was a good help.

In short, this is a rollicking tale, both down to earth and also unearthly, combining many elements into a fine story. I strongly recommend it.

About the author

Geoffrey Gudgion served for over 10 years in the armed forces and made his first attempts at writing fiction during quiet moments on deployment. He later stepped off the corporate ladder, in the midst of a career in marketing and general management, specifically to release time to write. Freelance consultancy paid the bills. His first novel, Saxon’s Bane, reached #1 in Kindle’s ‘Ghost’ category, and he now writes full time. When not crafting words Gudgion is an enthusiastic amateur equestrian and a very bad pianist.

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Draca can be found on Amazon:





I’m still here!


I just realized I haven’t posted since early July. It’s been a tough time because we were getting our home of 35 years ready to sell. Shoveling out years of ‘stuff’ was exhausting and now we are yo-yo-ing in an out with showings.

We hate to leave this wonderful house, but we have another one being built, the new one on one level with a very small yard (we have four acres now).

Our grandson Eli has helped us keep smiling.

On top of this, marketing The Last Pilgrim has become impossible except virtually!

I will return to blogging regularly soon.