Wednesday, July 31, 2013

It's Ours!

Video of Beacon Point development

We had a bit of a heart-stopping moment today. It is the day for exchange of contracts on our Lytham apartment. We sent the documents by registered post a week ago. When I e-mailed  the solicitor, she told me they had not arrived. If they did not arrive today of course it meant the builder could renege or whack the price up (they are very much in demand). 

Fortunately, an hour later a second e-mail told us the docs arrived in the second post. Exchange of contracts was effected some time later.

So the apartment is ours, as long as we can come up with the rest of the money. And there is no sign of our house here in France selling anytime soon!

Click on the video link above (where it says "Video of Beacon Point development") to see details of the development

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Interviewed Again

Jacqui Brown has recently instituted a series of interviews on her blog "French Village Diaries". These interviews are called "France et Moi", where she asks lots of interesting people a few questions about what France means to them and to talk about their favourite French things.

It seems I am an interesting person because Jacqui has today posted an interview with me, which can be found on her website by clicking here

Thursday, July 25, 2013

What Is There Left To Believe In?

Concerted Effort

 Great Mark Knopfler concert in the stone arena inside the mediaeval walled Cite of Carcassonne last night.

Just as well it was not the previous night, when we had a big lightning storm and torrential rain. The concert would have had to be halted while that passed over, which took quite a while. The recent storms, by the way, accompanied in many cases by huge hailstones, have devastated vine-growing areas and will presumably have an effect next year on the availability and price of some wines.

The lighting effects were particularly good as they played over the ancient stonework.

Sorry the photographs are not too good. They would have been better without flash - in fact the security guards were telling people to "extinguish" their flash, but in the dark I could not see how to switch it off so had to put my camera away.

Somehow or other, we ended up in one of the several photographs of the concert in this morning's newspapers.

Monday, July 22, 2013

High On A Hill Without A Lonely Goatherd

Some more images from our recent trip to Switzerland. The drive was over 2,300 kms. On the way back we stopped off in Uriage and had a few days - including a hike up an Alp which once hosted the Winter Olympics - with Andy Greene, Big Walker of New Zealand.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Vic's Big Author Spotlight

I and my writing have been spotlighted today by Morgen Bailey on her website. I don't know how Morgen finds time to do all she does.

See the article by clicking on the link below.

Or you can read it here:

Author Spotlight no.294 – Vic Heaney

Complementing my interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the two hundred and ninety-fourth, is of travel and article writer, short story author and interviewee Vic Heaney. If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at author-spotlights.
VicVic lives with his wife Gay in the Pyrenean foothills in France, not far from the Spanish border. He was born in northern England and attended grammar school but insisted on leaving at the age of 15 because a life at sea beckoned.
Despite that bit of foolishness he has not done too badly. His five subsequent careers included that first job as a Merchant Navy Radio Officer, a 7-year stint working for GCHQ, 14 years with Britain’s major computer manufacturer, largely as a regional manager, and another 10 years founding and running his own highly successful computer services company.
He retired at age 50 and has spent much time since then travelling the world. He is a reader and writer, a guitar player and a music listener, an ex-runner, now a prolific walker. He has many other interests including US politics and has been in the States to experience the excitement of the last two Presidential elections.
Vic's big walk with straplineTo celebrate his 70th birthday, Vic walked from his home in the French Pyrenees to the house where he was born, in Blackpool, Northern England. He deliberately took 70 days for the walk – at an average of 30 kms per day – so that he would arrive on the significant date. The whole project covered more than two years and he walked 14,500 kms, seventeen and a half million steps, most of that in training. His objective was to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer and also to raise funds for research into a cure. Vic’s first wife died from this dreadful illness.
He is now aged 73 and until recently his 3 daughters were living in 3 different continents. This has now reduced to 2 (continents, not daughters). His four grandchildren are now all living in UK, as will the imminently expected great-granddaughter, due in September.
Despite their love for the beautiful area in which they have lived for so many years, Vic and Gay are considering a move back to UK, mainly for family reasons.

And now from the author himself:
I have always loved to write. Not daunted by the embarrassment of having one of my essays published in my school magazine, throughout my life I have had articles published in various magazines. The pinnacle of this success was a short piece about computing, in The Observer Magazine.
For most of my life I thought I did not have the imagination to write fiction, but for several years now I have written stories to enter the monthly competitions in Writers’ News. I have not yet won first prize but have, frustratingly, been shortlisted six times. My major writing ambition, apart from writing the series of books described below, is to win first prize in that competition.
Vic posterMy first book to be openly published was “Vic’s Big Walk”, about the massive walking project mentioned above. This included a significant amount of autobiographical information and not a little humour. It has been very well received and reviewed. It is available in paperback and also as an e-book on all the major platforms.
Here is one review on Amazon:
Vic’s Big Walk is an awe-inspiring tale of bravery, determination and stamina, written by a truly remarkable man. Anyone capable of walking almost 1900 kilometres from SW France to NW England is a hero in my book (although I know Vic finds this term rather embarrassing), but to take on such a task at the age of seventy to raise money for such a worthwhile cause is just extraordinary. I loved ‘Vic’s Big Walk’ – it was inspirational, thought-provoking and beautifully written.
Cyprus e-book cover low resMy second book was “Living In The Real Cyprus”, about the 8 years Gay and I spent there, with an emphasis on how different many things are from what the casual tourist sees. This is also available in paperback and e-book form.
Gay and I have together in the past ghost-written several autobiographies for private circulation. To document my own life to date at the age of 60, I wrote and published – for my family – an autobiography. My next book will be a memoir of my life to date – but this one will be available to the wider public.
I also have other books planned, including a collection of short stories.
My work has been published in “A Splendid Salmagundi” – an anthology of stories, poems and other writing pieces from authors who are members of the Goodreads UK Amazon Kindle Forum. The “Salmagundi” won the “Best Anthology Award” from Indie Book Bargains website. Having written two of the items in the Salmagundi I am able to claim two fragments of the award and call myself an award-winning author.
All proceeds from all of my books go direct to pancreatic cancer research.  And now I seem to have a new career doing presentations of my books. The talks mainly involves readings from one of the books, with humorous links. This is followed by a sale of personally dedicated and signed books at a slightly enhanced price (compared with, say, buying the book on Amazon), with all the proceeds once again being sent to the same charity.
You can find more about Vic and his writing via…

Sunday, July 14, 2013


We are visiting Karen and Kenny in Beckenried, which is on the shore of Lake Luzern in Switzerland. The lake can be seen from the window of their apartment.

We drove here. The journey is about 1,000 kms, which seems a very long way, although clearly I once walked double that distance. We stayed overnight in Chambery, with is a very forgettable place.

Ferries link the various towns which border the lake. Yesterday we took one such to Luzern, calling in at a number of other towns on the way. The pictures are from Luzern.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Leaving France

This is the view we will have from the window or balcony of our new home, except that we will be further to the left of the camera's viewpoint, and much nearer to the boats.

That statement will take many people by surprise. But yes, after 20 years of living overseas, next year Gay and I will be taking possession of a brand new apartment in Lytham, Lancashire, England.

As the following pictures show, the apartments are currently under construction. Ours runs the full depth of the building. on the second floor (excluding the ground floor) and is currently fronted by the big white panel in the photographs.

We shall be very sad to leave our lovely home in a beautiful part of France, but for various reasons we feel it is time to move on (and up).

Click on any one of the pics to get a gallery of enlargements.