Hello’s and Goodbye’s

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It’s been a bit of an up and down week for me, reader wise. A while ago, I was looking at Free Book Dude. I love his daily lists of freebies on Amazon because they are all author submitted, and sometimes a little out of the box. I like out of the box. He really is a cool dude too, by the way, for those indie friends who would like another cool place to announce their freebies. Contact him a couple of days in advance, and he’ll add you with pleasure – a really lovely man all in all. Anyway.

I spotted a competition for a book giveaway. I’ve never entered any before – if I want a book, I generally just buy it. I haven’t been all that keen on standing in the queue at the bank lately to top up my pay as you go Visa card though, and I’m too much of a coward to see if there’s still anything in it after my latest epic Amazon shops. But I read the author’s bio Taona Dumisani Chiveneko’s Author Page on Amazon – read it – seriously – I bet you you’ll really want to buy the book afterwards. I had to have it, so I entered the competition, knowing that I wouldn’t get the book. Competitions never work for me. And then!

This week I got an email from the author telling me that I’d won! Starstruck – a bit! And there was another lovely guy. Not only do I now have the e-book nestled on my Kindle, he’s sending me the paperback all the way from Canada. It’s as brilliant as it looks, by the way, expect my review soon.

And now I see that my beloved Tom Sharpe has died. This is indeed a huge blow. He was the first really, tears down your face and have to try and cross your legs as you run down the passage to pee author that I’ve read. (Interesting sentence – I know). Thing is – I was pretty serious and radical when I was young. I hated apartheid and the terrible things I saw every day, growing up in South Africa. And being who I was, I had quite a lot to say about it. It really is a miracle that I wasn’t ever arrested by the regime. Then I read Indecent Exposure. It’s rude, offensive, hilarious, and brilliant. But at a deeper level, it helped me to see both sides of what was going on around me. It taught me to shut up, and just quietly do what I could. It’s a grand view of the loony that somehow takes you to the real. I know it’s a bit pricey, but still, if you like irreverent, funny, and yet still somehow real – buy it. Cheers Tom Sharpe – I’ll miss you.

Till next time friends. Xxx

Author Spotlight – Jennie Orbell

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Today with me, in celebration of her novel Mulligan’s Reach, is my lovely friend and author Jennie Orbell. I read and reviewed this book a while ago, and now I want to share it with you. It appealed to me on many levels, and is one of those books that you really don’t want to put down no matter how many jobs you have on your to do list. Apart from getting totally involved with the human characters, I especially loved the horses in this story. Jennie writes as many of my favourite authors do, and pulls you right in to her tales. So, wanting to introduce this talented author to you, I invited her to join me here today to answer a few questions, and she graciously accepted.
Jennie Orbell
By way of a short introduction I can tell you that Jennie Orbell lives in the United Kingdom, writes romantic suspense, short fiction, contemporary fiction, and romance. Her likes and loves include positive people, cats with attitude, sponge cakes that rise, snails that stay in other people’s gardens and being a Scorpio extremist. She dislikes self-important/pessimistic people, broken promises and all forms of cruelty to animals. Her hobbies include; Tarot card reading, making home-made wine (although she rarely drinks it! No, really!) gardening, baking, and caring for the important things in her life. She shares her life with her partner, Richard, whom for some strange reason appears to accept all of the above.

Her life quotes are:

What doesn’t destroy you makes you stronger.
I will lay me down a while and bleed, then rise and fight again.
And, It is better to say nothing and appear stupid than to speak and remove all doubt.

And now straight in to the questions.

1. Why did you pick Australia as the locale for Mulligan’s Reach
For some inexplicable reason Australia was the natural choice. It gave me permission to delve into a land mystical and wondrous. I probably have to blame Paul Hogan a bit. His portrayal of Crocodile Dundee and that sound track appealed so much. I love the Australian accent and the words they use. I find it addictive and actually quite sexy. Opps. Probably shouldn’t have said that?

2. The horses in this book are very real characters in their own rights. Are any of the things that they did, or happened to them based on fact?
Ha ha – yes. I guess Alex sitting astride a bolting Holly is quite near to home. I was carted along a three-foot wide grass verge at the side of a dual carriageway on a friend’s racehorse. The horse was stabled across the dual carriageway, over the central reservation and across the opposite dual carriageway. I knew if I didn’t stop the horse it would reach the point opposite its stable and cart me straight across four lanes of heavy traffic. Fortunately I managed to haul it in or I certainly wouldn’t be here to tell this particular tale! I haven’t rescued a horse from the Pacific Ocean like Alex did – but I never rule anything out in this life?

3. What was the inspiration for the story?
I’m not sure I was ‘inspired’ in the true sense of the word. It was more like a manic interest to discover what might happen if I threw together an Australian boat captain, two American cowboys, two English women, a few mad-cap horses and an island paradise that became an island hell? I simply introduced the cast and they all played their parts.

4. Did you have to do a lot of research?
There was a certain amount of research regarding the Aboriginal content in the book. And it was also vital that I put the ‘imaginary’ island in the right area of the Pacific Ocean – a few miles in the wrong direction and I would have had an island nearer to New Zealand than Australia! Also the flora and fauna required a little checking up on.

5. Do you think you’ll ever revisit Mulligan’s Reach in another book?
I would love to revisit Mulligan’s Reach but I seriously doubt that I will. The story line was pretty conclusive, although I will admit that the idea has crossed my mind. And my mind is a dangerous place!

6. Can you tell us a little about your loves and interests?
Most of the things I love are very simple things. I love nature, or the kinder, softer side of nature. I’m not delirious about lions bringing down newly-born zebra or cats ripping birds to shreds but I do love dragonflies flitting over ponds, mist hanging low over fields, horses galloping, fruit ripening, the smell of warm soil and spring rain. I could never imagine not growing things. The garden with its seasons and its constant challenges appeals greatly. I love God’s flora and fauna and feel blessed that I have realised this in my lifetime.
I love country music above all other because each song is usually a story. Country songs, to me, are like shortened books or films and many an idea for a short story has been born from a country song. The fact that the odd song has wrist-slitting lyrics is just par for the course.
I read tarot cards and believe in ghosts and angels. I’m sure you are, at this point, laughing or tuning out but that doesn’t matter because I know these things to be true – and I have reached that knowing stage of my life where I feel that I don’t have to justify my beliefs. I have seen a ghost. I have felt the presence of an angel.
I think I actually enjoy being a little weird! It keeps the old Christmas card list to a minimum!

7. Tell us about your work in progress, The Sleeping Field.
Marrakesh Madder sees dead people – children mainly. Although many doubt her ability, D.I.Bart doesn’t and has, in the past, called on Mari to help. While some may call it a gift Mari calls it a curse and after finding a small child, Rosie Tucker, decides that she can no longer do it. Mari leaves London and the family home, bequeathed to her by her parents, and travels to Devonshire, to the home of her elderly aunts, Grace and Vi Madder.
The Madder sisters own and run Mill Cottage, a sanctuary for old and neglected donkeys. It is Mari’s intention to stay at Mill Cottage, to make it her home and help her elderly aunts, ploughing the money from her London house into the sanctuary.
Mari adores her aunts but swears to keep her secret from them. Little does she know that she has arrived at a place which has many secrets of its own – including the place that her aunt Grace lovingly calls the Sleeping Field.

Thank you for being here today Jennie, and for sharing your time with us. I can tell you that I’m really looking forward to reading your book number four. Now, hurry up and finish writing it!

Mulligan's Reach

Here’s where you can find Mulligan’s Reach. Kindle Book Kindle Book Paperback Paperback

My Review:

Riveting!, March 22, 2013
By Jo Robinson
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: Mulligan’s Reach (Kindle Edition)
I laughed. I cried. I fell in love. This is the third book I’ve read by this author, and even though I expected to love it on the strength of my enjoyment of the first two, the power of this story took me by surprise. It’s a wild and brilliant ride all the way through. It is unexpected and intense from the first page to the last, and hard not to gush about and give the game away. There is murder, intrigue, and unexpected passion. Alex Mc Bride has been so deeply hurt that she doesn’t ever want a man again. Her life is wrapped up in her stud farm on an island off the coast of Australia. The arrival of Kane Mitchell seems to be the trigger of a chain of terrifying events, and Alex can’t figure out who is to blame for them. I loved the people in this book. I loved the horses in this book. They are the kind of heroic that makes you cry a little – sometimes quite a lot. I especially loved Aussie boat captain Arthur “Plug” Towers. I highly recommend this book. Once you start reading it you won’t be able to stop.

You can find all Jennie’s books on her Amazon author page.
Jennie Orbell on Amazon

Or look her up on:

Jennie Orbell on Facebook
Jennie Orbell on Twitter
Jennie Orbell’s Blog

Marian Allen Shows Me The Way

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Marian Allen rose to the occasion and flexed some of the most buff, ripped, author muscle I have ever seen. Cool!!


Figuring It Out

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Completely ignored by constabulary at roadblocks from here to Harare and back again, I was unable to test my willpower in the spitting department, although the long trip did give rise to several new thoughts of other things I could try that are a little out of the ordinary, and possibly fineable. At this rate I’m sure to be arrested at some point. I got back late enough for the feathered horde to have taken themselves off to bed in a huff, and have been properly chastised this morning. I’m thinking that whoever made doves the spokescreatures for peace obviously never had any angelic looking birds as pets. Two inches of feathered rage can have a seriously painful effect on your earlobes. Having a big sleep doesn’t make them forget either. Little buggers.

One thing that I especially love about my monthly trips to Harare are all the new shops that always spring up around and about during my four week absences. Remembering the hunger and the sadness on the faces of the people so few years ago, now I get a real kick out of seeing those same faces laughing, munching down on fast food, and generally embracing and enjoying the new pleasures available. I hate seeing suffering. I always want to take hurt or broken people home with me and fix them. Yesterday, although I know that there really still is a lot of suffering in this country, I didn’t see a bit of it.

What I did find though, was a brand new book shop. Full of brand new books. I haven’t seen such a shop here in years, so I wandered around like an utter dork, mouth hanging open and drooling for far too long. This was also the first time that I’ve been into a bookshop since I started writing, so knowing what I now know, it was the most amazing feeling to pick up an actual paper copy of Hugh Howey’s Wool and flick through the pages. I check out his blog, watch his trip, and read his advice and opinions. He is one of those guys that makes a real effort to answer comments, no matter how busy he really must be. It was sorely tempting to buy piles of paper books because to me they were reasonably priced at $12, but I showed great restraint for once. I wondered if these authors even knew that their books were being avidly read by so many people in Zimbabwe, for many of whom a $12 outlay would be quite a big deal. Here these books will be treasures to be read, re-read, and passed around to many others who can’t afford the outlay at all. The unfairness of it all kind of hit me right between the eyes then. Us indies frantically trying to give our books away for free to people who don’t really want them, and then all of the thousands of less fortunate people around the world with three or four treasured books to last them a lifetime of reading, who would really love to have our books, but never will.

This writing trip has kicked up a notch for me in the excitement department after that. Now I realise just how very fortunate us indies really are, to be given the opportunity to be part of this great game. The joyful side of publishing has suddenly became real to me, regardless of the actual work involved in getting to your destination. African Me will be available in paperback at the same time that it goes live on Amazon, with a bit of luck, the fates being what they are, and all that. The very possibility of some reader guy sitting on a park bench in London, or Tennessee, or any other spot in the world, holding something in his hands that I made, reading words that I wrote, just blows me away.

I’m not sure what the shopkeeper thought, having some odd woman fondling Hugh Howey’s book, drooling a bit, and staring off into space, but people here are mostly gentle, kind souls, so she left me to my epiphany. I have nothing to complain about being an indie writer. I’m lucky to have the opportunity to even access Amazon, and plonk any bit of writing I want to on there. I’m lucky to have the opportunity to be able to market my book. Lucky to be able to even open Twitter – although that’s got more to do with the bastard internet signal. I’m lucky to have the time to write, without worrying about what I’ll eat for dinner. I’m lucky to have a computer to type my scribbles on. In the same vein, I’m lucky to be able to download hundreds of books, paid or free, and then leave them lounging unread, when so many would do so much to be able to read just one of them now and then, but will never have a chance to.

I won’t be complaining about any part of my trip. I now see it for the real gift that it is. Whether my book sells millions, or just one – to me, all the work getting it produced and marketed will be worth every minute spent. I will have published a book. And what a fantastic thing to have done that will be. Because somewhere, everywhere, there is another soul, more creative than me, sitting in some shabby, sad place, trying very hard to squish the silly dream he has of writing down the stories clamouring to get out of his head, because he knows that that’s a dream too high, and all that will ever be on his daily to do list will be survival. Gratitude, not whingeing, will be the order of my trip to the end. So indie guys, so.

Till next time friends. xxx

Cold But Exciting

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I hardly ever wear shoes when I’m at home. I’m quite fond of the feel of the grass under my feet, so I don’t wear them outside either, unless I’m planning on heading off to the wilder reaches of the yard where there’s long grass or thorns. In a very good mood this morning, because we finally have the power back on, and being able to resume my usual zooming around in the middle of the night, I went out to let the chickens out at six. By the time I got there though, I was deeply regretting this habit, and had ten well frost-bitten toes. I’m guessing that if it’s this chilly now, with us still officially in autumn, we’re in for a very cold winter. Speedily sprinting back to the house to warm up my tootsies had me thinking of books – or more particularly – winter and books, back in the days when Kindles had never been heard of yet.

My fondest reading memories all seem to have been in winter. Curled up on the couch, fire blazing, with hot chocolate, a mug of soup, or these days, a nice warming glass of Pinotage clutched firmly in hand. And there was nothing to beat the feeling of turning to page one of an eagerly awaited new release by a favourite author or new instalment in a series. By the time I could feel my toes again, I’d convinced myself that that was all dead and gone now. Why get excited when you could download a book in an instant, and why pay for a favourite author anyway with all the freebies about? Good mood well squelched, I turned on my computer and looked at the top hundred free bestsellers to test my theory. Glumly getting to the final book without finding any that I wanted to download or read, I went to Terry Pratchett’s page to commiserate and mourn all that lost excitement. Then I spotted three of his that I haven’t read yet and bought them. So happy was I to open the first pages of all of them, that it took quite a bit of strength not to just dive in and read on. I managed though, and they’ve now joined my pile of other virtual books waiting for me to get my nose into. Not a bit of the excitement is lost, and readers will never stop paying for the books they want to read in favour of others just because they’re free. Faith restored. Books will always be the place we go to for the love of the story, to escape the troubles of the world, or just for a laugh, even if they do cost a few bucks, and whether they’re old loves or new. Or sometimes just plain silly.

This last week we haven’t been running the generator much, so not being able to go online often, I’ve been having a look through my pile of unread e-books. I’m nearly finished reading My Alien Mind by Amanda Green now, but just having a random look around yesterday, I came across one of my impulse buys, popped it open, and spent the next hour laughing till I cried, and later leaving it a five star review. It’s a very small book called Epic Text Fails! by Marcus Rainey, and certainly not for underage readers. And that’s all it is – predictive text message mix-ups. They’re mainly seriously rude and offensive, but that’s just what makes them so funny. There were one or two that I didn’t find funny, to be honest, merely offensive, but the other ninety nine percent were cringingly hilarious, and got my day off to a very happy start, regardless of being in the dark. Even though it’s a bit silly and isn’t a “book” in the true sense of the word, I’ll keep my eye peeled for anything else Marcus Rainey publishes purely on the strength of his sense of humour, more than happily pay for it, and open the first page with eager anticipation. If something gives you a good vibe, you’re going to want more. Isn’t it amazing what revelations cold feet can bring? Then again, could be that I’m just a bit odd.

Till next time friends. xxx


Free Books On Amazon

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To celebrate the fact that it’s always Spring – somewhere, I’ve decided to put all my tales on Amazon up for free today and tomorrow (12 – 13 April). I’ll pop the links on here if you’d like to download them. I hope you enjoy them! They will go free at around 12 CMT, so in around two hours from now. African Me & Satellite TV will be published next, and then on to the second book in the Shadow People series.

And join us today and tomorrow at the Spring Fever Reads Giveaway, and stand a chance to win more books and a Kindle Fire!

Till next time friends. xxx


Book Worlds

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Reading has to be one of the best stress relievers there are. I haven’t had much time to read for pleasure lately, but after finishing up a couple of projects by the end of next week, I intend to make some. Reading a lovely review of one of my favourite historical writers today (Philippa Gregory – born in Kenya by the way – another notch in our African belt of great ones) brought on a terrible urge to grab one of her books, curl up somewhere comfy, and get reading.

Books take you away from everyday life to other worlds, times, and places. Movies are good, but with a book, you translate the script into what you see with your mind’s eye. I’m sure that every reader sees the world in a book differently to the way the author visualised it.

I read Stephen King’s, The Shining before I saw the movie, and my visuals of those spooks had been a lot scarier than depicted on the big screen.

Reading isn’t only entertainment, it’s creativity. I don’t know if Anne McCaffrey’s Pern dragon series (the best dragon books ever written in my opinion) were ever turned into movies, but if they were, I don’t want to see them. The cover art was more than enough to start me off, and Pern and its dragonriders have very distinct lives in my mind. I don’t want to change that.

Apart from zooming off to distant planets, or times long gone, sometimes when real life gets a bit tedious or generally not much fun, I’ve headed off to the worlds of my favourite funny guys. Not many of my friends love Terry Pratchett quite as much as I do, but his Discworld series has to be one of the cleverest, funniest ever written. It’s not just the humour, which has had me in half an hour, jaw aching, unstoppable laughathons, it’s the sweet little digs at everyone and everything on this planet. These are not children’s books at all by the way – this author can wield sexual innuendo better than most.

Douglas Adams Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy series is another pick me up go to place,

as are all of Robert Rankin’s brilliant books,

but I have to say that the funniest books I’ve ever read have been by Tom Sharpe. Definitely not for under eighteens, but as far as I’m concerned, his books are some of the rudest, most hilarious ever written.

So… If you are not having the best day ever, and things all just seem a little too much, whether it’s tedious relatives having partaken of too much gin after the Easter Sunday lunch, or life just getting you down in general, I suggest you zoom on over to Amazon, or your book supplier of choice, and find a lovely little place elsewhere to spend the rest of your day. Also, find some lovely friends, readers, bloggers, and authors on Google+ – I’d love to see you there. And as a P.S. – any of my African friends (or friends from anywhere really), who might have trouble buying books online, give me a shout, and I will be more than happy to send you any of my scribbles that you might want to read for free.

Till next time friends. xxx


Chinua Achebe

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One of my favourite writers and source of much inspiration, Nigerian, Chinua Achebe, author of the 1958 novel “Things Fall Apart,” has died at the age of eighty two. He was teaching at Brown University in Rhode Island, as professor of Africana Studies, and Bard College in New York. He wrote a couple of dozen books in his time and received honours and awards in his country as well as the rest of the world. “Things Fall Apart” has sold millions of copies world wide, and interests me not only because it is a fantastic story, but also because it is set in pre-colonial times. The lost culture and history of Africa are very important, and have to be searched for and revived to help with the healing of the people of this continent.

The depiction of Africa as the “Third World” has always bothered me, and authors and activists like Chinua Achebe will always inspire me. Africa was the “First World” to begin with, and the cradle of civilization. The amazing ruins and history slowly surfacing, show that Africa’s people were culturally, architecturally, and intellectually much more advanced at the time of their building than many other cultures around the globe. The incredible damage inflicted by the years of colonialism and oppression is not going to be fixed overnight, and it has to be recognised for what it is. Even though this generation isn’t guilty of it, it’s important that they understand it, because Africans can’t be expected to forget it. The results of colonisation = the mess that is Africa today. Africa should not be expected to follow current “First World” rules. They will have to stumble forward and find their own way, according to their own rules and beliefs. People like Chinua Achebe have helped people all over understand this a little better. He coined a lot of proverbs in his books which succinctly point out the some of the problems of post colonial African identity as well as being generally wise or witty.

“There is that great proverb — that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. … Once I realized that, I had to be a writer. I had to be that historian,” he said. “It’s not one man’s job. It’s not one person’s job. But it is something we have to do, so that the story of the hunt will also reflect the agony, the travail — the bravery, even, of the lions.” Chinua Achebe

He famously criticized Joseph Conrad (author of Heart of Darkness), referring to him as a “bloody racist”, which if you read some of Conrad’s passages seems fairly plausible. He was outspoken on many issues, including poor governance in Africa and often turned down awards given to him by his own country in protest.

Corey D. B. Walker, an associate professor and chair of the department of Africana Studies at Brown University, said Achebe’s loss was a great one. “He was more than just a colleague, faculty member, and teacher at Brown. He was a gift to the world. At a time like this we could draw many words of wisdom and comfort from the deep wells of various African cultures and traditions to honour him. The most fitting is the simple and elegant phrase – A great tree has fallen.”

Here are some of my favourite Chinua Achebe quotes:

“I would be quite satisfied if my novels (especially the ones I set in the past) did no more than teach my readers that their past – with all its imperfections – was not one long night of savagery from which the first Europeans acting on God’s behalf delivered them”

“I believe in the complexity of the human story and that there’s no way you can tell that story in one way and say, This is it. Always there will be someone who can tell it differently depending on where they are standing; the same person telling the story will tell it differently. I think of that masquerade in Igbo festivals that dances in the public arena. The Igbo people say, If you want to see it well, you must not stand in one place. The masquerade is moving through this big arena. Dancing. If you’re rooted to a spot, you miss a lot of the grace. So you keep moving, and this is the way I think the world’s stories should be told—from many different perspectives.”

“While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary.”

“If you don’t like someone’s story, write your own.”

“That we are surrounded by deep mysteries is known to all but the incurably ignorant.”

“The triumph of the written word is often attained when the writer achieves union and trust with the reader, who then becomes ready to be drawn into unfamiliar territory, walking in borrowed literary shoes so to speak, toward a deeper understanding of self or society, or of foreign peoples, cultures, and situations.”

“We cannot trample upon the humanity of others without devaluing our own. The Igbo, always practical, put it concretely in their proverb Onye ji onye n’ani ji onwe ya: “He who will hold another down in the mud must stay in the mud to keep him down.”

“There is no story that is not true, […] The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others.”

Hamba kahle Chinua Achebe.


Hell In The Kitchen by Ian Little

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Why recommend a book that I’m not finished reading, you ask? Well. Firstly because the part of it that I’ve read so far is really brilliant, and the author is giving it away for free today and tomorrow also. Secondly because I’m really slow. And thirdly because the next up for review in my pile is Mulligans Reach by Jennie Orbell. I’m not quite finished reading that one either and I wouldn’t want to steal its well deserved thunder.

I bought Hell In The Kitchen some time ago for real money and it’s worth every penny. I love the cooking programmes, and I also love the funny. This book is hilarious and I know my friends will enjoy reading it. When my review for it goes live, I plan on forcing Ian Little to answer lots of impertinent questions, the answers to which I’ll definitely share with you. So – without further ado.

Check out Electa Graham’s post and interview. Their chat is just as funny as the book!

You can keep up with Ian via his blog; or by following him on twitter by searching for @iantweetz .

Here it is – the very, very funny Hell In The Kitchen by Ian Little.

Welcome to the high pressure world of the professional kitchen. Gary Pansey has become the face of the culinary world. He’s everywhere with his TV shows, cookbooks and A list celebrity events. He’s sexier than Nigella, looks better naked than Jamie Oliver, and can still teach Delia a thing or two about cooking eggs.

Read about his journey from shy schoolboy (‘Can’t you cook something that goes with this Scotch?’ his Mam asks) and how he was whipped up into shape by sadistic, brooding mentor Jake (‘In Dedbridge you have to drive the wrong way up one-way streets, you get pulled over if you don’t’).

Long hours in hot kitchens lead to steamy sessions in the bedroom, it all pays off for young Gary. Why is he one of the lucky ones? It’s difficult to get out of Dedbridge with a police escort, how did he manage it with just a spatula?

Hell in the Kitchen is a satirical peek into the restaurant world and its celebrity chefs.

Contains adult language and cake. Food is love, after all.

Check out his other two books while you’re there.

Till next time friends. xxx


Let Them Eat Cake

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We’re off to a big birthday bash tonight. Apart from the torrential rain, and slippery mud roads, I’m quite looking forward to a party. With everyone living in their own far flung spot of the African bush, it’s great to get together and just have a blast. Because there are so many of us bush babies around it’s considered fair for everyone to bring along a dessert or salad. This is also brilliant for those sweet-toothed souls among us who could very easily end up with twenty different puds on their plates. Bliss!

For me though, things tend to be a little more complicated with my Celiac disease. This is a severe allergy to gluten in all of its forms. If someone with Celiac ingests gluten they get very sick. The body’s immune system attacks itself, and the damage to the gut each time you slip up takes about a year to repair. You could also find yourself pushing up daisies if your inner bits rupture. Always a possibility. Anyway. Enough of the internal organ talk.

People are always lovely about this odd illness, and go out of their way to ply you with gluten free goodies. Considering that this particular nasty lurks in everything from whisky, soy sauce, malt vinegar, to liquorice allsorts, the chances of the old belly getting away unscathed are pretty unlikely. After too many of these slips, I generally cart my own food to parties, unless I’m pretty sure that the hostess is properly clued up on the gluten front. Not eating meat in general doesn’t help matters. I don’t usually eat at all after three in the afternoon either, so the requisite salad is normally the way to go. A bit of interesting salad and lots of sweets, and I’ve done my duty, and can nibble on something so as to not make people uncomfortable with me not munching away with them. It really is true that people don’t like eating when someone’s lurking around not doing the same. So the salad scam usually works out fairly well.

Today though, I thought I would toss Nigella’s advice about sticking to what you know, and try something really original in the salad department. After a couple of hours of painstakingly preparing each element, I tossed everything together, safe in the knowledge that any sort of veg has to be great with a bit of olive oil and balsamic. Well. I have to encourage those more adventurous of my friends never to mix together beetroot, wilted spinach and frizzled baby aubergine. Unless you have people coming around that you really don’t want ever to return. The oil and vinegar only made it worse. As did the pile of pepper, and seven cloves of crushed garlic, that I was pretty sure would not only save it, but elevate it to Gordon Ramsay heights. It is a truly terrible thing. There’s no time now to start again now, so I’ll just take it along in a bowl I don’t mind losing, furtively place it somewhere out of the way, and waffle a lot about my gluten free almond cake, pineapple and coconut trifle. Another experiment, but not too bad at all. I just hope I can keep a straight face if some poor unsuspecting guy fancies a bit of the salad from hell.

If you haven’t already, do join our social community of readers, authors, poets, and bloggers, even if you just fancy somewhere to go for a chat. You are all most welcome.

Till next time friends. xxx