Travel n Ravel post: Barging in…

Here’s another repurposed post that I’ve tweaked for Ian Cochrane and his eclectic travel blog. (see link below)

There’s nothing like a nice country pub when you want to relax and unwind, especially when you can meet interesting people, explore the local history and hear a few amusing stories whilst sampling the delicacies of the region.


But whatever you do, make sure you know the geography of the area, otherwise you might find yourself…

Barging in.


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Stream of Consciousness Saturday: The wrong stuff…


I just had stuff to do, ok?

Anyway, it’s finally time for Stream of Consciousness Saturday, this week hosted by Pavowski in Linda’s absence.

The prompt was very detailed;

” “stuff.” Simple, right? Ehh, maybe, maybe not. You could go direct: literal, basic. Stuff as a thing is pretty ubiquitous. Or you could go all metaphorical, even symbolic. You might even, if you’re feeling saucy, use “stuff” as a root and wander into the wild realms of the participle (stuffed) or the progressive (stuffing) or even the gerund (also stuffing, sorry for the English Teacher wheelies). One request: whether you feel saucy or not, please don’t actually mention sauce. Or do, but be prepared that I might hork all over your blog if you do.”

So, aside from “hork” becoming my new favourite word, this is what oozed out of my brain today…

The Wrong Stuff.

Ever since her husband had died five years before, leaving her a considerable but not exorbitant inheritance, Hannah Meredith had loved going to blind auctions, just the thought of digging through the piles of assorted junk and miscellany made her heart race. There was something almost magical about buying a mysterious, sealed box for a few quid and then tearing it open to see if there were unrecognized treasures inside.

It wasn’t usually the case of course, mostly you just found third-rate silverware or cracked and faded crockery, old electrical components and obscure mechanical spare parts or, if you were really lucky, maybe some half-decent antique jewellery or a not-totally-dreadful painting.

She was never going to make a living from her lucky-dip bidding, but Hannah wasn’t giving up hope just yet. The Big Score might be the very next lot that went under the hammer, then how bad would she feel?
No, she felt perfectly justified in spending a hundred pounds or so every couple of months, it was hardly an extravagance after all, and she sold most of the items she had no use for online and at the garage sales she held twice a year, to make way for new purchases.

The latest Aladdin’s cave of dubious delights was an auction that had only recently opened in the upstairs room of a pub in a nearby village. She had already been to three others this month, (usually her limit) so she initially resisted the temptation, but the closer the time came to the sale, the greater the feeling grew that she would be missing out on something special.

By the time auction day arrived, there was no question of her not going, so convinced was she that her fortune awaited her, under the taped-down flaps of some anonymous cardboard box.

Hannah arrived early at the pub; a quaint, low-ceilinged place with a roaring fire in the hearth and walls covered in hunting paraphernalia and old black and white photographs of country life in days gone by. She bought herself a drink and wandered around the two small bars, inspecting the memorabilia of a community that had probably not changed all that much in two hundred years.

After a while she noticed people beginning to arrive and head for the stairs in the back corner of the pub, so she drifted over that way until she could hear muted conversations in the room on the floor above…

“…some interesting items…”

“…going to raise serious money with those…”

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen one as fine as this…”

Hannah casually strolled over to the bar, finished her drink and placed the empty glass on the oak counter, then turned and followed two more new arrivals up the stairs.
The atmosphere in the large open room was a strange mix of restrained excitement and almost spiritual reverence; voices barely raised above a whisper, small groups of people gathered in tight circles around the half a dozen tables that were the room’s only furniture.

Nobody even registered Hannah’s existence, let alone approached or spoke to her, so she made for the largest, least crowded table in the centre of the room, which seemed to attract only the merest glance from most of the punters as they drifted around, eyeing the sale items and whispering to each other.

“Oh, this is more like it,” Hannah thought as she saw the battered selection of boxes on the table, with things like Bureau, Misc and Basement written on them in marker pen, “there might be some surprises in those.”

Then she saw the box she immediately, shockingly knew with absolute certainty she was going to buy.

It was a medium sized box, the cardboard visibly older than most of the other boxes Hannah could see, but otherwise not remarkable in any way.

And on the top, in the same scrawl that marked the rest, one word; Stuff.

That was all.
Not very descriptive, but then that was the thrill wasn’t it? The not knowing was what made it exciting.

She suddenly became aware of a change in the room. The whispered conversations had tailed off, all movement had stilled and everyone had turned to face the man who had just entered through the room’s only other door.

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the sale by auction of the estate of Marvin Calderwood. Please prepare to place your bids on any items that may have piqued your interest…”

Hannah half-listened to the rest of the auctioneer’s spiel, whilst keeping a close eye on “her” box, to make sure nobody else was paying it too much attention. It appeared however, that she was the only one drawn to that particular lot and she relaxed, content to observe the bidding and wait her turn.

“And now we come to lot number 37, a box, presumably containing miscellaneous items and simply labelled “Stuff”. I’ll start the bidding at fifteen, will somebody give me fifteen pounds?”

Hannah looked around nervously, about to raise her hand to bid, when she noticed that nobody seemed remotely interested. She looked back at the auctioneer, who looked around the room and said, “Ok, who’ll start me off at ten pounds? Ten pounds, anyone? No? Five, will anyone offer me five?”

Hannah couldn’t bear it any longer and nearly jumped up in the air in her eagerness to secure the box.
“Yes!” she said, louder than she’d intended, “I’ll have it. I mean, yes, five pounds, I’ll bid five pounds.”

“Five pounds I’m bid, any further bids? No, alright, at five pounds, lot 37 goes to the lady at the back.”


To be continued (using next week’s prompt)…


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Deconstructing the selfie…


Latest post from my photography blog, Photo Sans Frontiers.
This time I’m attempting a bit of artistic portraiture…

Originally posted on Photo Sans Frontiers:

Selfies, the ubiquitous personal identifier for millions of people all over the world.
Never really been one for them myself, but I thought I’d try a few and see if I could “art them up” a bit.

Here are six of my favourites…







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Posted by on November 26, 2015 in Photo Sans Frontiers, Photography


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One liner Wednesday: First drafts…

“How many roads must a man walk down, before you’ll call him a cab?”

– Blowin’ In The Wind, Bob Dylan, 1963.


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Posted by on November 25, 2015 in Guest spots., Humour, Music, One liner Wednesday


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New Starship Gypsies post – 11. In the beginning.


Here’s the next installment of the collaborative space opera that is Starship Gypsies. This episode is one of Jerry’s, in which we learn more about the start of Captain Toes’ adventure…

Originally posted on Starship Gypsies:


Zachery hated flying, but he hated crashing more.
He was also tired of running.

This time his little band of fellow anarchists stole a plane but were hit multiple times by a machine gun as they took off. Alice Marie, his wife and their best pilot was hit. She died quickly, and the plane was his to control. It was dying too, spraying oil on the windshield and coughing fire.
Oh, and there was the small matter of them being wanted in 15 countries for a multitude of so-called “robin hood” crimes, and the bounty hunters were getting closer.
The engine coughed. And died.

“This is it, we’re going down. Hopefully we won’t break up…too bad.”
Zachery quickly assessed his landing options. The moon didn’t offer much light and, as luck would have it, he didn’t see a road or anything looking like a town. He banked right, aiming for…

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Posted by on November 24, 2015 in Uncategorized


Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Two to Little, too late…

image Yeah yeah, I know, alright? It’s another Sunday edition of Stream of Consciousness Saturday, but I’m sure Helen Espinosa (who is hosting Linda’s blog while she jets off to a gig in Japan) won’t mind.

This weekend’s prompt was;

“ “to/too/two.” Use one, use them all.”

Two to Little, too late.

Jimmy “Big Jim” Little was starting to go an alarming shade of apoplectic red, which was complemented nicely by the deathly and terrified pallor of his left-hand man, Travis, (Big Jim had lost his right arm in a nasty revolving door accident some years before) who was cowering under the ferocity of his master’s furious stare.

“What d’you mean there are only two? There were supposed to be four in here!”

“I know, Boss, but when we picked it up the box was sealed and the weight felt right. How were we to know..?”

“You mean you didn’t check!?” bellowed Jim, a vein beginning to throb at his temple now, “Didn’t I tell you it was important? DIDN’T I TELL YOU!!!?

“B-B-But Boss, you always told me not to ask any questions about the boxes we pick up for you, and you said if I ever opened any of them, you’d cut off my…”

“I don’t care what you think I said, you fucking imbecile, I want someone I can trust to drive a couple of miles, pick up a package for me and bring home what l fucking asked for!”

Travis wisely remained silent, guessing (correctly, for a change) that any response he gave would only serve to further inflame Big Jim’s already incandescent fury.

“Well you’re just going to have to go back and get the other two,” said Jim, “and if you know what’s good for you, you won’t come back without them.”

Travis scuttled across Jim’s “office”; an empty warehouse with a desk and two chairs, surrounded by boxes and filing cabinets in the middle of the open expanse of concrete floor, to where Neville waited by door. (In what passed for Neville’s mind, discretion was most certainly the better part of valour and he’d decided to let the senior partner in the henchman hierarchy do the talking)

“What d’you tell ‘im Travis?” he asked, as his visibly shaken mugger-superior approached.

“Shut up you bloody fool,” said Travis, glancing back over his shoulder at Big Jim Little, (who was sitting at his desk with his head in his hands, massaging his throbbing temples, cursing the ineptitude of his staff and bemoaning the low intelligence of the goons you got these days) “he’ll hear you, then we’re both in deep shit.”

“I only asked…,” began Neville, with a surly look on, for want of a more descriptive turn of phrase, we shall have to call his face.

“Well don’t, ok? Just don’t.”

They walked to the car, Travis muttering under his breath and rapidly smoking a foul-smelling handmade cigarette, Neville dragging his feet and sulking like the world’s least convincing, most terrifying schoolboy; hands thrust deep in his pockets, head down, bottom lip stuck out like a bunion in a lorry tyre and his low, protruding forehead knitted in a ferocious scowl that dared the brave, unwitting or suicidal to say something to provoke him.

“We’ll have to go back and see Boris the Frog, find out what happened to the other two in the box before he delivered it to the drop,” said Travis, once they were back in the dilapidated green Range Rover that they’d stolen that morning for the sole purpose of collecting Jim’s package, “maybe inflict a bit of gentle persuasion, just to jog his memory.”

The prospect of physical violence always seemed to cheer Neville up and this occasion was no exception. He immediately brightened up, fastened his seatbelt and pushed a tape into the ancient cassette player on the Rover’s dashboard.

He turned to Travis, idiot grin fully restored, said, “Oooh! I love this one!” and twisted the volume knob to maximum.

With a grinding of gears and clouds of black, oily smoke, the pair of criminal masterminds headed for Boris the Frog’s secure storage facility, barely two miles up the bypass, with Brittney Spears’ “Oops I Did It Again” blaring from the broken sunroof, accompanied by two part harmonies in the key of Duh!

While the dysfunctional duo were heading for his main competitor’s lockup, Jimmy Little was sitting at his desk, carefully inspecting the contents of the package Travis had given him.

If anyone ever finds out, thought Big Jim, I’ll never live it down. I’d be laughed out of town. He winced at the thought.

“But they’re so beautiful.” he said under his breath, as he stroked the smooth, silky mane of the blue My Little Pony figurine he cradled in his hand.

He placed it gently back in the tissue-lined box, next to the purple pony that nestled there already and replaced the lid.
He had expected this delivery to have been the final addition to his huge private collection, he just needed Fluttershy and Applejack to complete the whole set of first edition ponies.

And now that fucking Russian wannabe mobster had screwed him out of what was rightfully his.
Well he’d bloody show Boris the bloody Frog, Travis and Neville would sort him out and bring home his beautiful, silky little playmates and he could reunite them with all their friends.

Boris “The Frog” Ribbitri heard the gravel-in-a-washing-machine sound of the Range Rover pulling up outside and gingerly took the box from his small floor safe. He closed the heavy door and slid the rug back into place, hurrying for the door before those two morons came in and started poking around.
He met Travis just as he was climbing out of the driving seat and while offering one hand in friendly greeting, he held out the box in the other, all the time talking and grinning.

“Oh I’m so glad you came back, there was nearly an awful mistake. You were supposed to take both boxes but they were delivered separately and one had been temporarily misplaced. But you’re here now and everything is where it is supposed to be, thank goodness.”
Boris looked from Travis to Neville and back again, both hands still held out in front of him, “You will take to Big Jim, yes? With Boris’ apologies for the mix-up and my best wishes, naturally.”

Neville just growled, but Travis patted his partner on the arm in a conciliatory manner and said, “Now, now Nev, Mr Ribbitri is being respectful,” he looked up at the glowering giant of a man, “remember what we said about respect?”

Neville wrinkled a brow that already looked like a badly-ploughed field and said, as if reading off some internal autocue, “Yes Travis. We must show respect. We must be polite. We must…”

“Yes, yes, ok Neville, you got the idea,” said Travis and turned back to Boris, who was watching the exchange with some amusement and took the package from him “Thank you Mr Ribbitri, I’ll be sure Big Jim gets this right away. Come on Nev, let’s get moving before rush hour kicks in.”

Travis nodded a goodbye to Boris, who was already on his way back to his office, climbed into the Range Rover and turned the ignition.
Nothing happened.
He looked around for Boris, thinking he could ask the Russian for a jump start, but he’d vanished into the maze of storage units.

Boris the Frog closed his office door and leant back against it, suddenly out of breath and sweating.
This was it. This was the moment he’d been planning for months.

He went to his desk and opened the bottom drawer, taking out a small black plastic box with a stubby antenna on the top and a single red button on the front.
Boris looked at his watch, placed the detonator on his desk blotter and went to the small drinks trolley in the corner. He poured himself a generous measure of vodka, returned to the desk and sat sipping his drink for a few minutes whilst humming a happy tune.

Outside in the car park, Travis had spent nearly fifteen minutes trying to get the piece of shit car running, while Neville knelt in the passenger seat and sang along to Britney’s greatest hits in an enthusiastic but tuneless bellow, with his head poking out the sunroof.

“Right, fuck this for a game of soldiers, let’s go and find Boris, he’ll have to loan us some wheels.” Travis set off in the direction he’d seen the Russian heading earlier, carrying Jim’s precious package.
Grumbling, Neville turned off the music and ambled across the tarmac in the wake of his partner in crime.

Boris Ribbitri, small-time gangster and occasional hitman for the Russian mob, placed his empty glass on the blotter, picked up the small black box, pulled up the antenna and, with a triumphant laugh, said “Fuck you Little Jim!” and pushed the red button.

At the exact same moment, he heard a knock at the door and just had time to look up in horror as Travis and Neville walked in carrying Jim’s package.

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New Starship Gypsies post – 10. Hidden agendas.


The adventure continues on our sci-fi collaboration project…

Originally posted on Starship Gypsies:


As the IGV Alice Marie blasted her way across the vast interstellar void toward Earth, Carli and Diaz continued to quietly discuss the hatch failure that had so nearly caused a fatal incident on the trip out to NASA 6.

“If that pin had sheared off whilst still in orbit, there’s no telling what kind of damage the ship could have incurred,” said Carli as she sipped a coffee in Diaz’s cabin, “we were lucky you discovered it when you did. If you’re right that it wasn’t an accident, then there’s every chance that whoever tampered with the hatch may have other plans to cripple the ship, or worse.”

Diaz considered this, grateful that her friend hadn’t rejected her suspicions out of hand and yet cautious of how to proceed, knowing that making unfounded accusations about sabotage could alienate her from the crew and very well result in her becoming…

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