Tag Archives: vacation

Check out Lazy Days

Anita and Jaye are two super supportive authors and bloggers. They’re here to present their new book, Lazy Days.

Blurb:

This novella is the true story of our family’s first proper holiday back in the Seventies. Looking back, I wonder what made us think it was a good idea, but despite all the things that could have gone wrong, we had a fantastic time. I was the Skipper most of the time, and for some reason decided to record our adventures in a small notebook. We were young and without husbands, Anita was a widow, and I was glad to be rid of mine. (and that is another story) Money was precious and scarce back then, but all the saving and sacrifice turned out to be worth every single memory we all cherish.

This notebook has been treasured and kept safe, despite numerous house moves and family disasters, as a symbol of our courage and determination. Renting a boat on the Norfolk Broads could so easily have been one of the stupidest things we had ever done, but even after 40 years, we have such good memories of that time.

Over the years, we often thought of making it into a proper book, but along with everything else in our often-complicated family life, it was something we never got around to. Until just recently, when we were looking for some old photographs, found the now fragile notebook and knew it was time.

It wasn’t as easy as we imagined it would be either, for our logbook writing skills leave a lot to be desired, but there was just enough information entered on those pages to get us started.

Enjoy this excerpt:

Saturday

We had waited a long time for this day to arrive, and now the time had arrived, we could have flown to the Norfolk Broads powered by our excitement. The tension coming from all of us made the air crackle with electricity as we prepared to leave. Going anywhere with the kids is never easy, but we had planned this holiday with far more skill than our usual days out, and researched everything of interest and planned our route to ensure plenty of happy days. For the first time in our lives, we would be miles from home on a boat for two weeks. There would be six of us on this holiday, two women, four kids and two small dogs. There was the possibility of enough trouble there to last us a lifetime!

I wasn’t expecting much trouble from the teenage girls, Anita Jr and Heidi; but the two younger boys, Stephen, ten and Darren, eight would be a challenge, for they have the knack of finding trouble anywhere.  Added to the mix were our two small dogs.  Lady, a cross between a Pekinese and a Yorkie, blessed with sharp teeth and a ferocious dislike of strangers, and Katy, an adorable chocolate coloured toy poodle pup.

Getting them all in our car proved a bit tricky. A big Ford Granada, normally a comfortable fit for all of us, but this time we had Heidi, our younger step-sister to fit in too. She had been staying with us while her mother was in the hospital.

I sensed an air of resentment as the kids tried hard to fit themselves into the back seat. Various elbows were used to show disapproval, prompting a chorus of complaints. For a moment, it looked as if we wouldn’t be going anywhere. The situation looked hopeless. Anita finished packing our luggage into the boot of the car and appeared at my side.

‘Is there a problem here? Do we want to go on this holiday or not?’

No one spoke, but as I watched, a subtle relaxing of tightly packed bodies occurred as they all thought about it. They knew their mother well. She would cancel everything if they didn’t accept their fate and settle down, and if the holiday was cancelled because of them, they would never hear the end of it.

I am always amazed by the way Anita handles her brood. It must come with practice, although I doubted I would ever learn how to do it! You probably need to be a parent first.

Looking at them, resignation on all their faces, I prayed the boat would be bigger than it looked in the brochure. I also prayed I would get us all the way to Norfolk without incident. I hadn’t been driving long, and my nerves were already stretched to breaking point.

We had been up since before dawn and ready to leave by 7.15. As we drove through the dark and empty streets of London, everyone is unusually silent.  Probably wondering, like me, if this could be the biggest mistake of our lives. After several wrong turns and a massive frustration overload that nearly has me screaming, I finally find the A12, the road that will take us all the way up the south-east coast to Norfolk.

The sun had come up, so at least the weather looks like being a lovely day. The dogs are asleep, snuggled around Anita’s feet on a blanket. There is no fighting on the back seat, and I wonder if they feel as scared as I did. The plan is to go as far as we can before making any pit stops for refreshments and/or toilet breaks, so we pass swiftly through Chelmsford and Colchester without stopping. The traffic begins to build up as we approach Ipswich, so we decide to stop for a well-deserved break.

We pass several roadside cafes, but most of them looked small and unappealing but when we spot a Little Chef, we decide to take a chance. Several bladders were screaming, including mine, so we have to stop somewhere. Anita walks the dogs to a patch of grass in the car park, while I escort everyone else to the nearest toilets.

The Little Chef is very American and modern. I have a quick look at the menu, hoping there will be enough suitable food for our fussy lot. They have a selection of burgers, chips, pasta and sandwiches, both toasted and ordinary, so there should be something there for everyone. It would be cheaper to take away, but the thought of everyone trying to eat in the car didn’t bear thinking about, so I don’t mention it.

From the moment we walk into the restaurant, I sense everyone staring at us. They probably expect trouble, or at least, noise. This is always possible, of course, but today I hope not.

Anita Jr and Heidi settle for toasted sandwiches, but the boys insist on chips. I want a decent cup of coffee, which I knew was unlikely. These places call it coffee, but this is usually where the similarity ends. It is hardly ever drinkable. Anita returns from walking the dogs and with a quick glance, appraised my parenting skills. ‘What are we supposed to be having then, Jaye?’

‘I wasn’t sure what you would like, but I was thinking of toast and coffee. What about you?’ I resented the implication I should have already ordered for her. As if I would presume, or even guess what to get.

She nods, so I leave the table to order the toast and while I wait, I watch them from a distance, amazed to see them talking normally to their mother and each other. I had yet to reach that level of acceptance, still regarded as a bit of a visitor by the kids. I hoped this holiday would go some way to making me feel more at home.

Back at the car, the elbowing starts again until they notice their mother watching. It’s amazing how fast kids can behave when they want to! I could tell by their faces that they think this holiday is a big mistake. But we are committed now, halfway there, whether we like it or not!

Six hours and 130 miles after leaving London, we arrive at the boatyard at Oulton Broad. To say we were all glad to get out of the car would be an understatement. The tension hadn’t eased at all and the muscles in my neck felt like rocks. Anita pats me on the back, probably for a job well done and I knew we could both do with several cups of decent coffee if we were ever to feel normal again. Our boat isn’t ready for us, adding to our growing sense of doom, so we pile back into the car to go shopping for a few essentials.

Back at the boat yard, I have trouble reversing the car into the tight parking spot. The wheels skidding on the gravel slope, unable to get a grip is a terrifying sound. For one horrible moment, I could see us in the water, car and all. I wonder if this could be an omen of what might happen to us on this holiday.

There were boats of varying sizes in the boatyard. Some of them were small, and I was getting nervous. What if our boat turned out to be the size of a sardine tin?

We needn’t have worried. Our cruiser was a huge boat, more like a floating dock. Called ‘Sovereign’ and supposed to sleep, 6/7 people.  That remains to be seen, I thought.  The boat is painted a pretty blue and white, with a large cabin area up front with a sliding canopy. This can be closed at night, creating the bigger of the bedrooms. We didn’t understand how at first, but after some investigation, we discover a double bed neatly hidden in the wall. What with all the seating for everyone, we were beginning to relax a little. There were two further bedrooms, sorry, cabins! A chemical toilet and shower room, and a long narrow galley kitchen. How I could cook anything on the tiny cooker was anyone’s guess, so sandwiches and salad might have to be the order of the day.

We finally manage to unpack our clothes and try to get organised, but the storage on the boat is so compact, it’s a bit like squeezing a gallon into a pint pot. This boat might be big but it’s still a floating dolls house!  There is no room for the empty suitcases, so they go back to the car. Before we could cast off, the owner of the boatyard arrives to show us how to steer the boat and maintain the engine. The engine is huge, so much bigger than a car engine; looking as if it came from a boat the size of the Queen Mary! I have the mandatory driving lesson and didn’t disgrace myself too much, but the thought of being in charge of such a powerful craft was beginning to intimidate me. We would be alone, in the middle of nowhere. Masters of our own fate – were we ready for this?

We all agree the chemical toilet will take some getting used to. When you flush it, the pump squirts water everywhere and the kids tell me the chemicals smell awful. I can’t tell if this is true as I am getting over a cold and can’t smell anything. The toilet cubicle doubles as a shower room, so everything will get soaked in the process.

When we open the canopy/roof of the main cabin area, we immediately realise that the dogs will have to spend the holiday on their leads. Understandably, they are not happy about this, and neither are we, but there is nothing to stop them jumping over the side to get to the ducks!

I didn’t think being on their leads would work well either, as Katy leapt at a passing duck and ended up dangling over the edge of the boat, almost strangling herself which kind of proved the point. After being rescued, she tried to throw herself in again. My heart sank, thinking we had made a big mistake in bringing the dogs on this holiday. At this rate someone would have to spend the holiday dog watching, just to ensure we could take them home again. We couldn’t risk letting them off the lead either, as that would probably be the last time we saw either of them.

After a few frustrating minutes, Anita solves the problem by tying their leads further away from the edge of the boat. They could still see everything, but couldn’t jump over the edge!

We cast off from Oulton Broad and make for a place called Geldeston. We need a short trip to get the feel of things and get us out of the boatyard. I keep the speed down while I search for some confidence, but I found the Sovereign hard to control, even at a slow speed. No matter how hard I try to relax, it still feels like being the biggest mistake of my life.

It is beautiful here on the water, the scenery is amazing with loads of ducks and swans, and several horses grazing by the water. The sense of peace and freedom is mind-blowing. There are no houses on this stretch of the river and no noise, apart from the ducks. When we get in their way, they get annoyed and complain something fierce. Despite all my misgivings, I start to relax and enjoy steering the Sovereign. I am beginning to think it would impossible not to relax here in Norfolk.

The sun is beginning to set as we moor up for the night, a huge red ball shining on the water, painting everything with a rosy pink glow. Anita washes the decks, something we are supposed to do every day, and then we go for a walk. To discover we are on the wrong side of the river for the chip shop. Being on water and not a road will take some getting used to. Darren falls over a mooring rope, literally five minutes after being warned about them, so no change there.

In the absence of chips, we go back to the boat for beans on toast. The television is the size of a postage stamp, but the picture is good. While we eat supper, I study my family and can tell we will all sleep well tonight, as everyone looks exhausted. As adventures go, I think this one has the makings of being a good one. Lady looks ancient, straining to stay awake, her little head nodding. Katy, the younger dog, wouldn’t be far behind.

Bedtime is a riot, as the kids discover it’s not a bit like being at home. The girls carry on like a pair of nuns when they discover the sheets and blankets are not to their liking. Funny how fussy they can be when normally such slobs at home. Anita takes charge of the situation, and within minutes everyone is comfortably sorted out.

It seemed like only five minutes later, all the kids are asleep and we could finally relax for the first time today. It is chilly now the sun has gone down. We are moored near a church with a clock that chimes the hours. We discovered this after putting the kitchen clock in a cupboard because we couldn’t stand the ticking. It is so quiet here.

So, we had made it through day one. All things considered, it hadn’t been bad at all, no big arguments and no major disasters. Heidi managed to be seasick for all of twenty minutes, so this was all right too.

About Jaye

I had no intention of becoming a writer. I loved to read, and for most of my life, that was enough for me. More than enough really, for I am a compulsive reader and will read anything I can lay my hands on. Give me a bookshelf full of books and I will start at one end and read my way to the other.

Then I offered to edit my sister Anita’s books. She hates computers, so I offered to type them up too. Before I knew it, my brain began to explore what other things I could be doing.

I tried to ignore that inner voice, for I was busy enough already. Anita was writing faster than I could format, and there were all my other interests too. Gardening, DIY, dressmaking and a host of craft projects. I love to be busy, but it came to the point where something had to give, never mind add something else to the list.

I considered myself a writer when I held my first paperback copy of my book Nine Lives in my hand for the first time. Up until that magic moment, I doubted I would ever feel like a writer. But holding that paperback copy finally convinced me.

My favourite character didn’t really appear until book two, The Last Life, and his name is Detective Inspector David Snow. The fact that my detective looks a lot like Tom Selleck should indicate how fond I am of him. I just love writing about him.

That was then, and I have now finished writing The Broken Life, the third book in my mystery thriller series.  The characters just turned up in my head, one by one, nagged me for weeks until I gave in, and listened. So you can never say never.

This genre came as a surprise, for I lean towards the supernatural, spooky kind of book, so I have no idea where the idea came from. If anything, I should have expected to write medical stories, as I always wanted to be a doctor, and these are some of my favourite television programmes.

My favourite fiction book just happens to be The Scarlet Ribbon, Anita’s supernatural mystery romance. I was the editor for this one and fell in love with it. And no, she didn’t have to pay me to say this!

My life has not been easy by anyone’s standards, and now I am growing old, I sometimes look back and wonder how I managed to get through it all. So, the perfect epitaph for me would be… “She did her best…” Even though I made a pigs ear out of most of it!

About Anita

Hi, my name is Anita and although I am 71, I am by no means a ‘silver surfer’. I have been writing fiction novels for a while now, but never managed to be picked up by any of the mainstream publishers. They all said they loved what I wrote, but found it hard to slot them into a category!  It came tantalisingly close, but no cigar, as they say.

I realised I would have to try something else. I saved all of the rejection letters, because most of them had very encouraging comments. If my mother had slapped me as gently when I was a child, it wouldn’t have hurt half as much!

I even wrote to James Herbert once in desperation and he was so kind and supportive, it gave me the inspiration to continue writing.

Now I am retired and with the help of my sister-in-law Jaye, (who has learnt to be a ‘surfer’) we decided to dust off some of my manuscripts and try to achieve the impossible with a second chance to find out if anyone out there likes the kind of books I write…

How do I write?

I am a paper and pencil girl. You could chain me to a computer for years and nothing would happen! Jaye, on the other hand is managing to cope with all the editing and marketing, but then she has far more patience than I do.  (And she is as stubborn as a mule which helps a lot!)

They say you are never too old to learn, but in my case never is another word for infinity!

What made me want to write?

I love music, especially country music. It always seems to take me to where my own hurt lives. Songs about heartache help my pen run along the paper, almost as though the pain writes the words.

How do I find my characters?

They tend to find me. I was listening to ‘Ruby, don’t take your love to town’ sung by Kenny Rogers and a few days later the characters for Bad Moon popped into my head and just took over. I seem to have an affinity with West Virginia and the people who live there. Just hearing the way they talk makes a connection in my head, maybe I lived there once in another life.

It was the same with The Scarlet Ribbon. The words of that song put the characters in my head and they pulled me in.

Not so sure where the idea for Simple came from, even though it is a similar story to Bad Moon, but there was a girl at school when I was eleven who had a bad stammer, and I often wonder what became of her.

The books I like to read…

I love the stories of Merlin and Arthur, but my reading list covers a wide range of genres. One of my all-time favourites is ‘River God’ by Wilbur Smith, the character of Taita really spoke to me.

***

Pick up your copy of Lazy Days right here, link.

You can catch up with Anita and Jaye at the following locations:

Website:     http://jenanita01.com

Twitter:      https://twitter.com/jaydawes2/media

Facebook:  http://facebook.com/anita.dawes.37

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8638857.Jaye_Marie

Anita’s Author Page/Amazon Link :    https://Author.to/AnitaLink

Jaye’s Author Page/Amazon Link:       https://Author.to/JayeLink

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Updating from Big Sky

I’m at the convention for my paycheck job. Lot’s of chatting and politicking going on this week. Enough about work. Tonight includes an event I always skip, and I have an evening to myself.

Big Sky is a ski resort area, and it’s not terribly far from Yellowstone. I intended to grab some pictures for this update, but today was the day a huge thunderstorm decided to strike. This resort has multiple hotels, and the business events are spread all over the place. I got soaked a couple of times walking from venue to venue. A couple of the people I’m with wanted to ride the chair lifts to the top of the mountain, but they got closed due to lightning.

I have some interior shots I can share. My room is really nice, even though it has a Murphy bed. The bed is comfortable, so it’s no big deal really.

Looking the other direction, I even get a mini kitchen. Too bad I don’t have any food to prepare.

No really, it’s too bad I don’t have food. A simple breakfast here is eighteen dollars, and my hamburger lunch came to twenty-five with a drink. It’s pretty typical resort pricing, unfortunately. I get a meal per deum, and it doesn’t even begin to cover the actual cost.
I waited out the worst part of the thunderstorm in the tiny lobby. It looks cool though, and I snapped a shot or two for you.

I really like the carved base of that couch. My iPad Pro would work very well on this antique desk too. I don’t think my rear end would get along with that chair for long though. If this desk were in my room, instead of the lobby, I would try writing at least a micro-fiction piece just for the ambiance.
There is a cowhide on the wall of my room. I know this would look awesome on the new grey flooring we just installed at home. I’m pretty sure Old What’s Her Face would never go for it, but I like it. I’m also sure Otto and Frankie would find it tasty in some way. (Leather = rawhide toy.)


I’m trying to keep up with all my various social media. I caught Facebook a couple of times, but Twitter is off the radar while I’m here. I just don’t have enough time for all of that. I am a guest at the Storyreading Ape’s site today, and I’ve been trying to keep up with the comments over there. Drop in if you haven’t already and I’ll surf through for a couple more days. Hold down the fort while I’m away.

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Release the pressure, be calm

It's fairly well documented that I put pressure on myself, then I stress when things don't go according to plan. Today I did something about it.

I asked for vacation time all next week, and it got approved. I feel like the clouds have parted, and the pressures all disappeared. Of course, I set the stage for a good week by finishing my beta edits over the weekend. After a couple of read throughs, I can send The Enhanced League to the formatter. I'm toying with the idea of including all the Lisa Burton posters at the end. Maybe someone will like them as cool freebies.

Once I get Enhanced League to the formatter, I need to start on edits for The Yak Guy Project. I also need to write tour posts for Enhanced League. Once I have everything, I'll put out a call for hosts, and try to figure out if they want me or Lisa to visit their sites.

If I can do all that, and get Yak Guy ready for beta readers, it will have been a good vacation. I don't feel like it's a huge, unreasonable goal. I don't have to go back until July third, and then I get the fourth off.

I have my critique group in there somewhere, so I'll have to work up their pages. I sent my own submission off this evening… while enjoying a glass of Talisker.

For those who are waiting, we took Otto back to the vet this afternoon. This whole pain thing has nothing to do with pecans. It's a neurological thing, involving his spine somewhere around his tail. He is in incredible pain, and we now have even more medication to try.

What really bothers me about this is that on Friday he was the happiest dog in the world. Today he can barely walk. We can't think of anything that happened to him, beyond the pecan debacle, and the vet says it has nothing to do with that. He didn't fall, nobody was physically abusive to him, the puppies certainly didn't hurt him. We're supposed to give him his medication and stand by. We were told to keep him calm for about ten days even after he starts feeling better. I guess in baseball terms, he's on the ten day DL list.

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A travel day

I'm writing this from aisle 28 on a Boeing 757. These are wonderful planes, but the difference between two identical twins is amazing.

This morning, we got onto a brand new plane. The seats were comfy and reasonably sized. The monitor in the seatback had a USB port to charge my cell phone. Even the seatbelt was too big, if you can imagine such a thing.

Our plan was simple enough. We are using our daughter's benefits to fly on standby. The idea was to fly from NOLA to Atlanta, then on to SLC and Boise. We chose this route because it put us home earlier.

When we got to Atlanta, others decided to fly on standby as well, and we were about a dozen people beyond those who would get a seat. Our daughter came to the rescue, routed us to Seattle, and said from there it's a breeze to get home. We will get home later, but that's the joy of standby.

This gave us a bit of airport time. Time to observe the old man in the funny hat, one that looks like a cross between a newsboy and a baseball cap. I've never seen anything like it before. There are the women with big hair. I've written about them before, but in Atlanta the black girls win the day. Huge heads of hair that actually look pretty darned good. If these things are weaves or extensions, don't tell me – I don't want to know. I'm basking in the illusion.

There was the lady with her little dog on a leash, and a mom with her child on a leash. All of this is minutia, but even small observations can help me create a character.

It wasn't until we met the second 757 that I realized I'd forgotten to look at the NOLA phone book. This may not seem like an attraction to most of you, but I struggle to name my characters. I am completely convinced that the NOLA phone book is the holy grail of names now, simply because I missed it.

Oh, this second 757 is the evil twin of the first plane. Our morning flight was all clean and comfy, with wifi that actually seemed to work. This plane has hard seats, archaic monitors without USB ports, and short seat belts. I had five inches of seat belt to spare this morning. Now I need a come-along to ratchet down my stomach just to buckle the damned thing. It's so tight my right leg died about five-hundred miles ago, and my wallet feels like a lump in my throat.

This 757 has an old three-pronged electrical plug for my devices. It's down by the seat of the guy in front of me. This requires me to fold in half like a jackknife to recharge my phone. Also what device in the history of devices ever had a three-pronged plug? I'll give credit though, my little lightning bolt lit right up to indicate my phone was actually charging… right before gravity took over and my cord fell to the floor. The female connection is so loose it won't hold my cable in place without holding it where it needs to be. I'll leave it at that before I get too metaphoric and say something too graphic for kids to read.

I wasn't supposed to start reading again so soon, but what do you do on a five hour flight? I had a children's book all downloaded, but can't get it off the cloud and onto my Kindle app. You see, this 757 has wifi, and it connects fast, you just can't do anything with it after you connect. It seems custom designed to make the spinny thing go around, but nothing else. This is a friend's book, and a short enough read to help me make my RRBC reading goals without more added stress.

Buuuut, the wifi won't let me read it, so I started a craft book that I've held onto for “Someday.” I managed about half of it so far, but my eyes are tired. (And my right leg, and my bladder, and my attitude, etc.) Right now, I'm watching the monitor while a graphic of a 757 moves across the country at the speed of a glacier. I'm typing this by only peripherally glancing at my fingers. Since I can't do anything with the wifi, I'll load this post to my blog later.

Our daughter warned us to take an extra day when flying standby. This sounded like good counsel to us, and we are both off tomorrow. In fact, with my flex day, and a federal holiday, I only had to take one day of vacation time for this mini-vacation. Even I get lucky sometimes.

One hour and five minutes before we get to Seattle. Oh how I miss that first 757.

***

Update: We're home. I wound up stashing my wallet in my suitcase so I didn't have to sit on it any longer. That helped, but what really helped was our first class accommodations for the last leg of our trip. It was a Delta flight, and since our daughter is a Delta employee we were ahead of everyone else on the list. Seats one A and B. It was only an hour flight, but I appreciated it. I even got to charge my phone back up along the way.

On our last day we wound up stopping at Lafitte's, and I had a drink there. There isn't much made of the place beyond the historical registry stuff. I kind of expected more of a pirate theme to everything, or even a blacksmith's theme. I suppose hammers on the walls isn't a good idea where alcohol is served.

We walked to Cafe Du Monde and had more beignets. These are the most famous ones, but weren't our favorites. We both preferred the Royal place where we started, and I even preferred the ones at the Hotel Monteleone, because of the praline sauce.

Old What's Her Face and I have been married for twenty four years, and lived together for two years prior to that. This trip is the first time we've flown out together anywhere. I hope we don't have to wait that long to do it again.

If you spot me a hundred miles or so, I was on three coasts today. NOLA to Atlanta to Seattle before we got home.

I'm going to catch my breath, then I need to get to work. I have a couple of critique group things to work up for our meeting on the 31st. I'm out of ink too, so I wonder if I can trick my printer into spitting out a couple of pages in navy blue.

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More vacation stuff, plus research

Vacation posts are kind of hit and miss in my experience. Since it's all I have right now, I'm going to go for it.

We went on the walking voodoo tour last night. Turns out this was a very PC kind of presentation. They drew the obvious connections to Catholicism, and discussed the ways it came from Africa and evolved after it arrived. Everyone worships the same god, and while the Catholics have saints, voodoo has other names for lesser deities that will sometimes intercede on our behalf.

All the shops seem to have two active altars, and shoppers are forbidden from photographing them. However; those on the tour are invited to photograph them. I have no idea about the difference, but I have a theory money is involved. I wanted to explain that, because of the sign in my photograph. I'm not one of those tourists who fails to follow the rules.

This altar is for a goddess who is also in charge of inspiration. Think of her like a Muse among her other responsibilities. She's also fond of very high quality things. Notice the champaign offerings.

Of course, everything is very benign even good. Questions from the crowd about voodoo dolls and zombies were casually poo pooed. Some dumb ass had to ask the difference between voodoo and hoodoo. (It was me.) They distanced themselves from hoodoo, explaining it isn't a religion but more of a practice. Then they explained all the things Hollywood comes up with make better fiction. (Kind of a please ask questions, but not you buddy response. I'm sure John Howell could make a ten things list about this.)

They noted that John Paul II held mass here, and met with a group of voodoo priests. Once he understood the similarities, he declared voodoo a companion religion to Catholicism. At least that's what our guide Daphne said. (My wife didn't like all my Scooby Doo jokes after learning the guide's name, so I'll keep them to myself.)

On the better fiction point we are in agreement. Voodoo, or hoodoo, are better when they're fantastic and dangerous. I will continue to step up my fictional game on this basis. In fact, Lorelei my Muse visited me and gave me an outstanding character. He is a supporting character in my mind, but I already have about six vignette ideas for him. I just need to find a hero and a plot to go with him. This is much more difficult than when the plot comes first. In fact, I'm already struggling with an old concept of how to keep magic from being the cure for everything. Any paranormal or fantasy authors will know what I mean.

We've eaten a ton, and that doesn't seem likely to stop. Last night we went to Acme Oyster Bar. (I expected Wile E. Coyote to make an appearance, but he didn't.) We did the old people thing and shared a couple of dishes. The charbroiled oysters were fantastic, and so were the red beans and rice, rounded out by fried stone crab claws and fried crawfish tails. (In Idaho we call them crawdads, but since we're here…)

Today we're being lazy. We had room service breakfast, with beignets (And praline sauce). Then Old What's Her Face booked a pedicure. I think I'll just hang here until she's ready to go out. I'm kind of tired, and we walked about a thousand miles in the last few days. New Orleans makes me glad I never rented a car.

Drivers here are aggressive and impatient. I've heard more car horns in a long weekend than in a year in Boise. Boise drivers are crazy too, but they don't ride on their horn like they do here.

This is a town for walkers, at least this part of town. The humidity and heat make this difficult, but we did it anyway. Since we were walking so much, I decided to play Pokemon Go while doing so. I missed the first one of these I saw, but the second one is mine.

This guy is regional, and does not appear in Idaho. I'm sure not everyone is into this game, but it's kind of fun to find something you just can't get everywhere.

It's a long ways, but I'd like to go to Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop today. It's a bar, and Lafitte is a genuine part of NOLA history, as well as American History. Again, we have no agenda and we may, or may not get there. Old What's Her Face refuses to try the bicycle rickshaw taxi things, and it's a long way to walk.

Tomorrow we fly out early, and it looks like we have three legs to get home. (The joys of flying on standby, but you can't argue with the price.)

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Some vacation snaps

While we're here, I snapped some photos. This is a fun place, and we only have a few days. It's kind of fun to bounce around without much of an agenda. I did book a walking voodoo tour tonight, but that's about all we have scheduled. The rest involves strolling around and taking it all in.

There is music everywhere.

The occasional feathered person shows up. Makes me wish I'd snapped the girl in the body stocking. They're either over dressed or underdressed.

The view out my dirty window this morning. A steamship along the shore, and a giant barge passing behind it.

So much wrought iron.

Long time readers will remember I used to keep an alligator snapping turtle. He passed away at about twelve years old. This shell is about three feet long and decorates a shelf where we had lunch. I like oysters, but only certain ways. Turns out a fried oyster poboy is pretty darned good. Bonus points for the bourbon milkshake thingie I washed it down with.

On a smaller scale this two inch cockroach was already stomped when I found him in the men's room. File it under, “Things we don't have in Idaho.”

We're about done drying out under the air conditioner. (Humidity is also something foreign to westerners.) I've been to humid places before, but it's kind of a new experience for my wife.

Before we head back out, I want to remind you to go visit my Sally Cronin post. It's the first peek at the new cover for The Yak Guy Project, and I'm sharing an excerpt.

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Silly Willie, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Welcome to this week’s edition of Lisa Burton Radio. The only show that interviews the characters from books you love. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and today, my special guest is Cautious Craig, who recently took a vacation to Cape Town, South Africa. “Welcome to the show, Craig. You look so smart in your suit and tie but what is that funny noise and what are you sitting on?”

“Hi Lisa, thank you for having me over for a visit. I chose this tie myself. Dad said I shouldn’t get the one with aeroplanes all over it but I really like aeroplanes, especially after our holiday to Cape Town. Mom made me bring Willy with me for the interview. Willy is only three years old and he is very naughty and spoils everything. I am sitting on him and have my hand over his mouth so that he can’t spoil this interview.”

“Maybe you should let him sit up. Our listeners won’t like that funny snuffling noise and Willy might suffocate.”

“Oh, I didn’t think of that. Willy has asthma so I better let him up. Mom is waiting outside the door and I don’t want her to come in and shout at me.”

“BWAAAAAA! Craig sat on me. BWAAAAAA!”

“Please don’t cry Willy. It makes terrible feedback over my microphone. I’ll give you a sweet if you stop.”

“Okay fanks. I have my own biscuits. Can I eat one on your chair?”

“Sure. Okay guys, let’s get on with this interview, shall we? You said you went on a vacation to Cape Town, Craig? Tell me about it.”

“We went on a holiday to Cape Town and it was wonderful. Cape Town is in South Africa.”

“We went to another country.”

“No, Willy, Cape Town is in South Africa. We live in Johannesburg. It isn’t another country.”

“It is too. We went on an aeroplane. So it must be another country. BWAAAAAA! Craig kicked me!”

“Craig, please don’t kick your brother. Willy, have another biscuit. So, you went on an airplane. Was that fun?”

“Oh yes, it was great. Do you know they have funny toilets with no water on an aeroplane? There are also little tiny basins with taps that you press to make the water come. We went to the toilet five times and Willy made a big mess.”

“Did not. I was just washing my hands.”

“He did too. He used up all the soap and lots of it went on the floor and all over the basin. He also splashed water everywhere. Mom got so cross that she made Dad take us to the toilet the last time. We also had lunch on the aeroplane. It was disgusting.”

“Yucky! I didn’t eat mine. I put it in Mom’s handbag.”

“Um, yeah, how did your mother like that little surprise?”

“Mom was very cross. The sandwich was all squashy and butter went all over her keys, hairbrush and make-up. She is never going to let us have the aeroplane lunch again. Luckily, Mom had packed biltong and biscuits so we didn’t starve. Willy, spilled his juice all over the place. Willy is so silly. Mom made me give him some of mine. It is so unfair. I always have to share.”

“It’s good to share, Craig. Willy is just a baby.”

“BWAAAAAA!!!! Lisa called me a baby!”

“Um, I mean a big boy of three years old. Have another biscuit. Right, let’s move this interview along. Where did you stay in Cape Town, Craig?”

“We stayed in an apartment in Camps Bay. Dad loves it there. It is very windy. The wind almost knocked Willy and me off our feet. I didn’t like that. It whistles all around the windows and the trees in the garden are all bent over. Granddad says that when you go to Cape Town you have to put extra lead in the car’s tyres so it doesn’t blow away. I looked at the tyres but they looked the same as the ones on our Joburg car.”

“That sounds really nice. Did the apartment have a nice view?”

“Oh yes, the view was lovely. We could see the ocean stretching right out to the sky. Did you know there is a dark line where they meet? We saw lots of huge ships waiting to go into the harbour and also paragliders and surfers. It was very nice at the apartment even if the pictures were weird blue and silver blobs. Dad says we can never go there again.”

“Never! You just said it was a nice apartment. Why won’t you go there again?”

“Dad said Willy and I are hooligans. He said that we damaged stuff in the apartment. It is very unfair. I get blamed for everything. Willy pulled the curtains down by trying to climb up them like a monkey. I did burst the cushions in the bedroom, but jumping onto them from the top bunk bed was so much fun. Oh, and we also broke the string on the blinds and Willy sawed a hole in the balcony wall. That wasn’t my fault though. It was Mom’s.”

“Ummm, I can see why your Dad was a bit upset. Why was it your Mom’s fault that Willy sawed a hole in the balcony wall? Actually, how on earth did a three year old manage to do that?”

“It was Mom’s fault because she let Willy bring his tools. He has a whole collection of plastic tools.”

“I have a saw and a hammer.”

“It was the saw that caused the damage. While Mom was unpacking, Willy sat the whole time sawing at the same place in the wall with his plastic saw. I was really surprised when I saw he had made a hole and Mom was horrified.”

“Yeah, I can believe you two causing a little trouble. We’re running out of time and you haven’t told me anything about your vacation yet. What did you enjoy the most in Cape Town?”

“I like the beach. It was really awesome but the water at Camps Bay is really cold. It is the Atlantic Ocean. I learned that at school. I did get dumped by the sea and I nearly drowned but I liked everything else. The sea in Cape Town is very powerful. Mom also helped us to build a pirate island in the sand. It was very good and the other children on the beach all came to help. Mom also showed us how to make an aeroplane out of sand. It was so big we could sit in it and pretend to fly it.”

“I love aeroplanes. My ice cream fell in the sand and I cried.”

“You know, I can believe that. What did you like about Cape Town, Willy?”

“There was a fire on the mountain… and a helicopter came… it had a big bucket underneath it… it dumped sea water on the fire.”

“That was amazing! There were lots of firemen all trying to stop the fire from spreading. We were traveling in the car when we saw the fire. It was a big fire and it was jumping from tree to tree and all the small plants and grass were burning.”

“I want a fireman’s hat!”

“You always want everything, Willy. You are so spoilt!”

“BWAAAAA! Craig called me spoilt!”

“Okay boys, that about wraps it up. I’ll call in your Mom to take you both away. Thanks for listening folks. I’m just going to start wiping up these cookie crumbs and fingerprints.

“If you’d like to read more about Cautious Craig and Willie, check out the books by Robbie Cheadle. I’ll post all the details on the website. Don’t forget, the books have recipes in them too.

“Don’t forget to hit those sharing buttons on your way out. Robbie and Craig will both appreciate it, and they’d do it for you when your character appears on the next Lisa burton Radio.”

***

Blurb: When the George family go on holiday to Cape Town, Cautious Craig cannot believe what he has to endure at the hands of his naughty and wilful younger brother, Silly Willy.

 

Willy throws tantrums at the most embarrassing and inappropriate times, causes a commotion on the aeroplane and tries to steal a chameleon from Butterfly World. What is a poor older brother expected to do in these situations?

 

Silly Willy goes to Cape Town – available in early July 2017

 

***

 

Robbie Cheadle was born in London in the United Kingdom. Her father died when she was three months old and her mother immigrated to South Africa with her tiny baby girl. Robbie has lived in Johannesburg, George and Cape Town in South Africa and attended fourteen different schools. This gave her lots of opportunities to meet new people and learn lots of social skills as she was frequently “the new girl”.

Robbie is a qualified Chartered Accountant and specialises in corporate finance with a specific interest in listed entities and stock markets. Robbie has written a number of publications on listing equities and debt instruments in Africa and foreign direct investment into Africa.

Robbie is married to Terence Cheadle and they have two lovely boys, Gregory and Michael. Michael (aged 11) is the co-author of the Sir Chocolate series of books and attends school in Johannesburg. Gregory (aged 14) is an avid reader and assists Robbie and Michael with filming and editing their YouTube videos and editing their books.

Robbie is also the author of the new Silly Willy series the first of which, Silly Willy goes to Cape Town, will be available in early July 2017.

You can connect with Robbie at the following locations:

Blog

Goodreads

Google+

Facebook

Twitter

Purchase Robbie and Michael Cheadle’s Books from:

https://www.amazon.com/author/robbiecheadle

***

Sir Chocolate and the strawberry cream berries story and cookbook:

Sir Chocolate and Lady Sweet live in Chocolate land where you can eat absolutely everything. Join them on a fantastic adventure to find the amazing strawberry cream berry and learn how to make some of their scrumptious recipes at the same time.

Sir Chocolate and the baby cookie monster story and cookbook:

Sir Chocolate and Lady Sweet find a lost baby cookie monster. Join them on an adventure to return the baby to its mother and learn how to make some of their delicious recipes at the same time.

Sir Chocolate and the sugar dough bees story and cookbook:

A greedy snail damages the flower fields and the fondant bees are in danger of starving. Join Sir Chocolate on an adventure to find the fruit drop fairies who have magic healing powers and discover how to make some of his favourite foods on the way.

Purchase Link The first three Sir Chocolate Books are currently available at a discounted price in hard copy and as ebooks.

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