Monday, August 27, 2012

Free Signed Copy of Vic's Big Book

There is a chance to win a free signed copy of my book at the Goodreads website. The opportunity will expire on September 3rd, so strike now.

Two copies of the book are available. Look to the right of this item and you will see a box saying "Enter to win". Click on that and it will take you to the Goodreads page where you can enter the draw. The selection is made on September 3rd by Goodreads and they will inform me. I will then dispatch 2 copies of "Vic's Big Walk" to wherever in the world the lucky winners are.

Go For It! And please Tweet, Facebook and email this offer to your friends.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

870 Miles of Bad Road

This is Linda Stratigou and her dog Kim. They will be walking the Wales Coast Path together, to raise funds  for Raystede Centre For Animal Welfare Limited because they give succour to so many unwanted animal.

Linda is a pensioner and grandmother of two. Kim is her beloved terrier cross who was abandoned by his previous owner who never took him out for a walk and left him alone in a flat for nine hours a day. He had to use newspapers for his toilet. When he got so frustrated that he started chewing things he was sent to Raystede to be rehomed. Linda says he is a wonderful and loving companion who goes everywhere with her and loves to run free and play ball!

They are going to attempt to walk the Wales Coast Path, camping on route, and expect it to take about six weeks. Kim has his own little backpack so he can carry his food, water and sleeping bag! They can't wait to get started!

You can support Lin and Kim by making a small (or large) donation at:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Other Authors Reviewing My Book

I have just been reviewing the reviews on Amazon of my book. I had not realised that 6 or my reviews are from people who are authors themselves. And I know another author is just about to read it during his flight from Australia to Europe.

I don't think I have mentioned this review from R J Askew, who is the writer of "Watching Swift", an excellent book. Ron is also the author of The Million Dollar Poem mentioned in the last post on this blog

 5.0 out of 5 stars A TRULY INSPIRING READ, 3 Aug 2012
By ron - See all my reviews
This review is from: Vic's Big Walk (Kindle Edition)

Vic's Big Walk is an excellent read because of the author's motivation for writing his story and the inspirational nature of the achievment it chronicles, especially, but not exclusively, for anyone approaching their 60s or 70s. VBW is not overtly a self-help book as at no point does it promise to change the reader's life in some wonderful way. Yet this may actually be one of it's secret benefits for some readers because it shows how someone may set themselves an adventurous and difficult goal and then actually knuckle down to work out how to do it and then get on with the achieving of said goal with minimal fuss.

I could not walk some 30 kilometres a day for 70 days on the trot. Something would give, be it physical or mental. The more I got into the read the more I was astonished - a couple of black nails and one or two other wobbles apart - at the author's sheer resilience.

But Vic had a very strong motivation for his feat: charity. The onset of his 70th birthday seemed to become secondary to this more selfless motive. I am sure that Vic's singlemind dedermination to 'do something' for others must have given him great energy on the way.

While VBW chronicles the 70 days of the walk, it also reveals the depth of planning needed over a much longer time, and the indispensible help of Vic's wife Gay at every step. So while the book was about Vic's walk, it is very much the story of a well organised team getting it right. The intelligence and patience required are inspiring.

Vic says himself he did not have any great thoughts on his walk as he was too busy doing the actual walking. As one prone to wallow in sentiment and metaphysical specualtion, this pragmatic approach to a long-term task is very appealing. Vic set out to do something and did it. Simple enough you might say. But in this age of instant pleasures and absurd rush, we often lose sight of the value of taking our time over something worth doing

That said, as Vic's walk neared its conclusion VBW does offer some touching insights into the author's young life in less frantic times. How different we all were then. Life is materially richer for most of us now, but are we the happier for it? Vic the walker notices how fast we drive around, how difficult it is to get away from the sound of traffic, constant traffic in much of England.

And a thousand kilometers back -- the cuckoos of France, endless cuckoos. One of the joys of VBW is the often witty insights into Vic's surroundings. His quest for coffee and blueberry muffins was eternal. His musings on the physical advantage of trees to the walker, on the attitude of the French to their trees, on the vagaries of way often had me chuckling. So, too, his encounters with hostile dogs and coincidental meetings with people were always engaging as were his insights into French history, eepecially in the region in which he now lives.

I felt as if I was on a journey as I read VBW. Perhaps I was measuring myself against Vic, perhaps I was thinking, could I do that, how would I be in that situation. All of which is good. Vic may have strayed from his path a few kilometres here and there, but his moral and compass gave him a true bearing from start to finish from which he did not deviate.

Ron Askew
- author Watching Swifts

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Million Dollar Poem

Is this the Million Dollar Poet?

I quote R. J Askew - like me a native of Lancashire - an author and poet

"This is it, the million dollar poem, I will take some pics of the original, handwritten with a Montblanc understoody in blue-black ink, at some point. The poem was inspirced by Vic's Big Walk: From SW France to NW England . Vic walked 2000 km for a charity to fight a particularly virulent cancer. So I will try and see if I can do a bit, too. The original of this poem is hereby officially priced at $1 mln. You've got to laugh. But... Let's see. "


Each one who gives will goodness win
For all who give and give a gain
Create again this universe
This art alive in which we are
A vein of love alive in this
Eternity of love surrounds
A love within a love without
Each breath, each beat, each mote of life
A gain! a gain! in beauty's vein
We pulse in goodness given free
To give a gain to fully be
We give again a gain to win

This art is at the heart of life
We love .. to give new hope a way

Vic's Big Walk: From SW France to NW England

Ron's intends to produce a handsome manuscript version of this poem, complete with an audio version and supporting material about why he was inspired  (by reading my book) to write it, and to offer it on eBay with a reserve price of One Million Dollars.

He believes that somewhere out there is a wealthy person, who has been affected in his life by pancreatic cancer striking a friend or relative, and who would be willing to make a huge donation towards finding a cure for this most dreadful, sudden and savage of all cancers.

What do you think of this idea? Will it work? It is certainly worth trying.

And at last I am officially a muse, having inspired the poem.

Good Stuff Happens

If you think the world is a terrible place - that every time you switch on the news there is nothing but death, destruction, war and crime, you should watch this.

If you can believe that out of terrible natural disasters, good can come, people can shine, friendship can bloom, get this little gem about how the people of Japan, and their friends around the world, responded to the terrible earthquake and tsunami of 2011.

Click this

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Beavering On Cyprus

Since we came back from Paris I have been beavering away in the garret, trying to get my book about Cyprus finished. This will be published in September, both in paperback and as an e-book, although the paperback will not reach Amazon until 6 to 8 weeks later. I have two chapters left to complete, then a round of proofreading and corrections and amendments and polishing.

The book, with working title "Living In An Island" (but I am looking for a better title) will be about the 8 years Gay and I spent living in Cyprus. It is about the thorns among the roses, the aspects of Cyprus which would not normally be seen by a tourist staying for one or two weeks in a holiday resort. The Cyprus behind the smiles, as it were. I may not be very popular in Cyprus after the book has appeared.

As well as a title, I am still seeking a suitable picture for the cover.

Chapter headings are:

Why Are We Here?
Akamas - The Real Cyprus
Sky Walking
Sun in Winter!
A Trip To The Post Office
It’s A Dog’s Life
Paradise Lost
A Winter Break In UK (and worse, the journey back!)
Dogs Of War
A Trip Into The Occupied Area
What’s Afoot?
It Was Not Always Like This
Show Us Another Way To Go Home

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Brake In Chalabre, A Break In Paris

This is a nostalgia shot. Just before we went to Paris, we were showing our Kiwi friends Lyn and Selwyn around Chalabre, a small town (but much bigger than Puivert) 8 kms from our home. I spotted this car, a Renault 12 Estate or Station Wagon - what used to be known as a Shooting Brake, depending upon where you live. My old friend Jim Gregson in Canada will remember going with me to Harry Marsh's garage in Wilmslow, Cheshire, to collect a car exactly the same as this - even the same pale blue colour - in the very early 70s. The car you see pictured was probably bought at about the same time, which makes it about 40 years of age. Bring back any memories, Jim? I wonder if mine is still going strong?

We returned from Paris on Sunday, a very easy trip by TGV. Lyn and Selwyn took off for Kuala Lumpur en route to Kaka Point Here are a few pictures from Paris.

We have all heard of those street toilets in Paris, haven't we?