Not often I recommend Facebook groups because they can be rather curate’s egg like, but this is a corker. Quiltbag historicals has a nice mixture of promo, information and intelligent chat.
And, for no other reason than this local WWII graffiti really moves me and must be relevant to the post…
The last bit of picspam takes us to last Sunday, when the weather had at last changed from Arctic to tropical.
Crazy golf happened. Watching model boat races happened.
And then something even more exciting happened!
So, filled with trepidation (because the last time I saw my team Saracens in the European Cup final they lost) we filled up with breakfast and set off for Newcastle to sample matchday fanzones, a huge Tapas lunch, followed by the match itself.
Friday turned out to be a typical Brit spring day – roasting if you were in the sun and perishing cold if you were out of it. Coat, hat and gloves on and off like the proverbial tart’s knickers. Still, we intrepid travellers set off to Newcastle, which was full of French people who’d come over for the Challenge cup final between La Rochelle and Clermont. Allez les bleus!
Fabulous fanzones, although we didn’t try the zip wire.
Back to the hotel via the Roman Fort (this bit’s repro.)
Apologies again for yet another the gap in normal newsletter production. Those of you who are retired will know how busy a time old crumblies like us have. I can only plead a big rugby weekend in Newcastle and another seeing Sheku Kaneh-Mason playing his cello. I must try harder to report for duty when I’m supposed to.
This week’s special offers on Charlie books include the audio version of Promises Made Under Fire and the paperback version of Undeath and the Detective.
Looking at the year ahead, I’m planning a reissue on 22nd July of four of my stories – Tumble Turn, Horns and Heroes, Sand and What you Will – under the title “Seasons of Love”. More news of that when it’s up for pre-order. And the next Cambridge Fellows novella is at edits stage and should be out around the end of August/start of September.
The excerpt this week comes from Secrets, my story in the Undeath and the Detective anthology.
Aboard the frigate Hecuba, two bells in the last dog watch.
Only a fool would barge into Stephen Hopkins’s great cabin unannounced, especially when he was in conference with his first Lieutenant. So when Midshipman Rogerson burst through the door, he got the reception he deserved. “Are we beating to quarters?” Captain Hopkins demanded, dark eyes glowering below a mass of dark hair, which seemed reluctant to stay tied back.
“No, sir.” Rogerson was a sensible lad of fifteen, two years now at sea and utterly absorbed with serving King and country, so why he’d taken such leave of his senses as to come in unannounced was an utter mystery.
“Then, Mr. Rogerson, you are forgetting yourself. What is the meaning of this?” The lantern shadows on the captain’s face gave it an unnaturally solemn appearance. Barely more than ten years older than the midshipman, but with all those years’ experience in his pocket, Hopkins seated at his own table in his own well-furnished cabin was a formidable man
“It’s a monster, sir. Two points off the larboard beam and very close. Mr Douglas said you were to be notified immediately, sir.” Rogerson was usually a bundle of nerves when in the presence of his superior officers but on this occasion he was strangely animated.
First Lieutenant Simon Paget smiled. Despite being the same age as the captain, he gave the illusion of being younger, less careworn, if no less a sailor. “I’ve always heard about other people seeing sea serpents but I never believed it could be true. You’re not attempting to fool us, are you?”
The young man looked horrified. “Of course not, sir. It’s there all right, come and see.”
Lieutenant Paget caught Hopkins’s eye and managed by another smile to defuse the anger brewing there. He picked up his hat and placed it over his tawny, short cut locks. “There’s not a moment to lose, captain.”
The scene on deck was like a tableau. From Douglas, the ship’s master, down to the meanest foremast jack, men were frozen in their places, eyes fixed on the object in the water. The sun had set early, being only weeks from the shortest day, but the steady stream of moonlight made observation easy—this was no optical illusion. This was indeed a monster: huge, menacing and slowly approaching the frigate.
A long neck rose from the water like a sinuous mast, with a head that seemed too small to grace the body carrying it. That body could be seen just breaking the water—a massive bulk, as big as a finner—shining sleekly. There was the impression of a long, strong tail following behind, making Douglas mumble about Behemoth and whether this beast also ate grass like the ox, or if its preferred food was jack tars.
“Ye Gods,” Hopkins muttered, and gripped the rail.
Even Paget was speechless; his boyish enthusiasm had disappeared at the terror which permeated the crew. The beast made several more passes of the ship—very close this time, its foul breath flooding the air—and then was gone, diving like a dolphin into the waves and creating a swell which rocked Hecuba like a toy.
And finally – a suitably framed photo from the weekend. Not just rugby – see those ruins? That’s near where my dad was stationed during the war on the anti-aircraft batteries.
Just back from sunny Newcastle – which wasn’t sunny when we arrived on Thursday. In fact it felt more like the Arctic. But interesting sites more than made up for the weather.
Also, why is this ship following me? I can understand me seeing it when it’s lurking in Southampton but it kept popping up in the Canaries/Spain. I assumed I’d be safe in South Shields, but no…
More picspam to follow