Last Cruise ∼ Turkey

Blog1blog5

Blog3blog7blog4blog6

After the stunning Santorini our next port of call on The Thompson Spirit was Marmaris in Turkey.  I hadn’t been there before and I must admit that my expectations were not that high. I had imagined a pleasant enough seaside resort, filled with budget bars, and shops in which you were hassled to buy stuff you had merely taken a passing glance at (my experience of Turkey years ago when every second shop sold handbags and if you dared to venture into a shop you would be lucky to get back out without buying anything).But I was in fact, very surprised at what I found.

The resort itself is gorgeous. There is a cosmopolitan feel to the place, with upmarket shops restaurants and very nice bars with clean toilets (another of my personal gripes from previous years). The area of the Datça Peninsula has a distinct lakes and mountain feel to it, which I had not expected, and it was really beautiful!

The town was quite vibrant, even for this early in the season, and had we had more time we would have visited the recently restored castle of Suleyman the Magnificent, which was only short bus ride away. I was on a bit of a shopping mission as the textiles in Turkey are amazing and the prices unbelievably low, and I bought a wonderful silk scarf a and cashmere pashmina; both of which are lovely.

Turkey is only a short flight away from us in Cyprus, so yes, I would definitely visit Marmaris or our second Turkish port, Alanya, which was also a very attractive seaside resort, with one of those cute miniature trains that transport you around areas of interest in the resort(for two euros amazingly!)

I would definitely recommend a boat trip from Alanya; ours cost only ten euros and for just over an hour on a very smart boat and it was wonderful experience in the sunshine, viewing the smugglers caves and a special “love cave” (heavens you would have to be desperate!) set deep into the cliff face, which a local young boy climbed up to, doing an extremely high dive back into the sea: to the delight of the tourists on board various sized boats, many of whom were having on board barbeques and having fun dancing.

It’s really sad that the Thompson Spirit will no longer be docking in Limassol, Cyprus, after the end of this season. The companies docking rites are due to expire. There have been rumours that the ship will dock at my own nearby town of Larnaca; but that was more of a case of wishful thinking on our part, unfortunately…∼∼∼

The last cruise from Limassol

P1000779
Haifer
P1000793
Haifer

P1000805

P1000810
Santorini

P1000841
Santorini

P1000834P1000827P1000904

Come this time of year the population of my Cypriot village, Oroklini, tends to diminish due to the Thompson cruise liner which lands for a day in the nearby port of Limassol. With no flights to buy, no weight restrictions on luggage (hurray!) and a mere 40 minute drive from the village this cruise is a definite favourite with many friends and village residents – some of whom manage to get really good last minute deals!

Me and my family climbed aboard for many years as the cruise fitted in with my daughters school holidays and it had great kids and teenager clubs, which seem to work brilliantly until your child decides they are far too cool for such organised activities…

The itinerary changes slightly from year to year, often depending on what is considered safe at the time. This year Egypt is off the menu, although we have had some really amazing trips out there the past. Israel is always interesting and this time we stopped at Haifer, before visiting the gorgeous Greek island of Santorini.

I had been to Mykonos many times before, but Santorini proved to be a real treat with its stunning cliff top views, sensational white washed stone buildings and cobbled alleyways of enticing little shops containing art, bronze sculpture and traditional handicrafts. We were lucky in having a beautiful day, the sun was shining, the views were amazing and we had lunch in a lovely little place with excellent Greek food and wine.

There was more fun to come, but this was certainly the highlight of the cruise for me!

 

Kylemore Abbey, Connemara ~ A Doomed Romance

p1000635

It all began with a romantic honeymoon visit to the beautiful lakeside at Connemara in Ireland in 1850. This area of natural outstanding beauty captured the hearts of Mitchel Henry and his new bride Margaret Vaughan. Margaret fell in love with place and so Henry, in an incredibly romantic gesture, purchased the 15,000 acre estate as gift for her and went on to create one of the Republic of Ireland’s most treasured and iconic castles in her honor.

The couple went on to have an impressive nine children and enjoyed a carefree, charmed existence in their amazing home. Unfortunately tragedy stuck on a holiday to Egypt in 1874 when Margaret contracted dysentery on a train journey to Cairo. She died a mere 16 days later, having never reached her holiday destination.

Margaret’s body was returned to the castle in Connemara and entombed in a specially built mausoleum, which still stands in the castle grounds. An impressive Neo–Gothic Church described as “a cathedral in miniature” was built on the state by Henry as a heartfelt, lasting memorial to his beloved wife.

Kylemore Abbey is currently home to a community of Benedictine nuns who arrived after the destruction of their own Abbey in Ypres, Belgium, which was destroyed in WW1. The Benedictine Community opened a boarding school for girls and began restoration work on the Abbey, Neo-Gothic Church and stunning formal gardens, which have been beautifully restored and are currently open to visitors.

p1000643

 

p1000655p1000660

p1000650p1000673

Paranoid

It’s so good to be back at Pulp Metal Magazine with my new short story Paranoid!

This one is about a man suffering from paranoia who believes he has been targeted by a religious cult. I have always found cults to be fascinating, and when I grew up as a teenager in the late seventies, cults seemed – if the newspapers were to be believed – to be proliferating everywhere!

Just like my character Frank one of these organisations had, for some reason, decided I might be worth pursuing. It went on for months, but it began one innocent Saturday afternoon while I was out shopping by myself.  This incredibly handsome young man opened a shop door for me; I was very surprised and smiled back. His eyes were mesmerising and it literally took me several seconds to notice his shaved head and orange robes…

When I came out of the shop he and several of his ‘gang’ were waiting for me. They began calling after me and following me down the high street. At the time I thought it was funny, like something from a bad Monty Python sketch … until it happened every time I went to town. The stupid thing was that I was the least likely person I knew to be indoctrinated, as I hated conformity of any sort and I would have looked really sickly in orange.

shutterstock_233455516

It is true that we all have our individual perceptions  which are coloured by our memories, past hurts and special recollections. It is completely unrealistic to assume that others experience the world in exactly the same way as we do, as individuals. I imagine that given the right circumstances, everyone can experience a feeling paranoia to some degree…

 

“They would lay in wait outside of the shops at the mall in the afternoons. I would catch threatening glimpses of their vivid orange robes as they lingered in shady doorways, waiting for an opportunity to lure me away. I was already on their radar and I’m not sure how I got there. Maybe it was something to do with the weird phone calls; disembodied voices would ask for me using my name, Frank, and then refuse to speak. It felt as though they were trying to bait me, waiting for me to reveal myself to them, through my fear.

I became anxious and stopped enjoying going to the mall, or talking to anyone on the phone, in case they were listening in. I didn’t know what powers they had or what they wanted from me.” Read more at Pulp Metal Magazine

 

 

A Cypriot Wedding ~ Andreas and Angelique

On the hottest day in June Andreas Christou and Angelique  Eleftheriades were married in a traditional Cypriot ceremony at Holy Church Agias Paraskevis in Livadia village, Larnaca, Cyprus. It was a lovely traditional Greek Orthodox ceremony lasting around forty minutes. The very enjoyable Reception and Dinner were held at the Nautical Club on Dhekelia Road, which is a lovely location by the sea.

The bride was so beautiful and the groom very handsome as you can see from my photos from that wonderful day!

Many thanks for the invitation – it was a lovely experience to be part of your very special day!

couple
Andreas & Angelique
flowers
Who caught the bouquet?
anna
Anna & Andy
anna2
A very proud mum!
bride2
The beautiful bride

The Last Laugh by Paul D. Brazill

If you enjoy a bit of tasty crime, but have never read Paul D. Brazill, then this collection of short stories is an excellent opportunity to do a little covert exploration into the dark underbelly of his seedy, but seductive world. Guns, gangsters, old geezers with grudges and whores without hearts proliferate his pages; luring you in, before taking you down. With twenty mouth-wateringly delicious crime stories to choose from – how could you possibly lose?

german-rings-with-skull  aA stealthy aside, about the writer himself: The tremendously talented jazz musician, Miles Davis, once said “If you are going to tell a story, man, you’ve got to give it some attitude; don’t be coy with that shit.” And if this is the type of commitment you demand from your own personal reading material; then Paul D. Brazill is your man. In this exceptionally exciting crime collection, being coy is the last thing you could ever accuse him of. Not that I would like to try…

2015-Whole-Body-Blood-Scared-Others-Halloween-Cosplay-Lace-And-Polyester-White-And-Red-Blood-MiserableBut on a more serious note, there are plenty of things happening here, that Paul D. Brazill should be held accountable for: a blood spattered bride, vicious vendettas and a dead pimp in a trunk, to name but a few. And not only these – the list of his serious literary crimes increases rapidly with each twisted tale. But you don’t need to take my unreliable word for it – you can check out this superior collection for yourself.

Interested? Then let’s seal the deal, and if my female persuasion and covert manipulation have not seduced you into downloading a copy right now, then with all due respect, stop wasting my time, as The Last Laugh is most definitely on you!

 

pdb
Amazon.com     Amazon.co.uk

 

The Death Of Three Colours by Jason Michel

Jason Michel’s unique writing speciality is the character on the verge of mental meltdown. In his latest novella, The Death Of Three Colours, Jonah is a man existing at the brittle edge of rapidly disintegrating economic and cultural system. His interactions with the rest of humanity consist almost entirely of an allegiance to a tightly-knit group of petty criminals, drug dealers, and their associated wives and girlfriends. The normally independent Jonah, who has enough existential angst to fuel an entire John Paul Sartre novel, becomes drawn into the groups’ ambitious new plans to expand their drugs empire internationally using the internet, from the relative comfort of the run down pub where they all, regularly meet.

Jonah is a closet internet entrepreneur, who can envisage a somewhat frightening future with new currencies on the Dark Web, and his skills prove to be invaluable to the business. With his help, the band of the disparate petty criminals can foresee a future in which their careers are about to progress to the big time. Unfortunately, given their ages, average intelligence level, and the clashing of overblown male egos, this isn’t necessarily a good thing.

As mentioned earlier, Michel’s characters are never entirely, psychologically sound. Jonah’s psyche is fragmented and he wrestles daily with his wicked alter ego Milton, whom he is barely able to control. Milton is a violent, vicious, misogynist and the nearest this guy is ever going to get to paradise is in the acts of fulfilling his own monstrous needs.

Don’t be fooled into believing that this is a simplistic Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde type of situation, as Jonah/Milton is fully aware of his psychological condition –  so, don’t expect a shocking reveal moment of the type found in Fight Club. At times Milton can be useful, and Jonah is prepared to acknowledge this, although the idea of dependence on the caged monster inside of his head fills him with shame.

Jonah is no angel either, when he is not dabbling in the Dark Web his world is ruled by his two overriding obsessions. The first of which, and predictably male, is sex, but his character has matured enough by now, to welcome a relationship into which he can ‘share his inner world’, without the need of painful medical intervention. So along comes Sally and he is looking pretty set. Unfortunately Sally has enough historical baggage to comprise everything he has been working towards: is she a dangerous femme fatale?

His second obsession is of the mystical goddess variety. No, he isn’t trying to upgrade his girlfriend; this Mexican folklore saint literally rules his world. Not only does he worship her but he fantasizes about sleeping with her too. (I know, I know, typical male behaviour).  But the scene in which this happens is far from ordinary as Jonah is seeking sexual perfection in the form of a transcendent, ethereal and orgasmic state in which he can reside forever. That might not seem too shabby for a year or two, you might think, even if his chosen goddess is skeletal and not traditionally attractive by most peoples standards –But a word to the wise – passion between the gods, saints and humans rarely ends well and Santa Muerte, also known as the goddess of death, is a demanding and vengeful mistress…

Captura de pantalla 2012-10-16 a la(s) 18.03.13 (1)

I don’t often do book reviews, and this one is the first on my site, so why now and why this particular novella, you may be wondering? I chose this book as it a terrific read! I loved the dark, poetic prose, the Mexican mythology (or alternate religion), and the exciting plot with plenty of twists and turns, with characters I could emotionally invest in. Best of all though, was the cruel undercurrent of deliciously dark humor that runs stealthily all of the way through it.

This is a crime / horror novel and I must in all conscience include a mild warning for potential, psychologically unsound and emotionally unstable readers – prolonged reading usage may cause addiction, and in recommending this book, I am not prepared to take on any personal responsibility for that situation… You can read The Death Of Three Colours by Jason Michel, entirely your own risk! Links below…

Jason
The Death Of Three Colours at  Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk

 

 

 

Mykonos holiday photos

Long gone are the days when you had to endure an extended session of someones holiday snaps, when they whipped out the super sized photo album, after coffee or dinner. Now we can post them online, and friends can browse  at their own leisure without all of those tedious explanations and extra slow page turns!

In the spirit of not boring everyone to death – here are some of the photos of my recent holiday in Mykonos – and yes I did see Peter the pelican, but I didn’t get too close as he got mobbed by a busload of overexcited tourists off one of the cruise ships in the harbor…

Cry Baby at Pulp Metal Magazine

My new story, Cry Baby is at the marvelous Pulp Metal Magazine today! Considering some of the fantastic stories which have been up there recently, I’m feeling really chuffed!

Cry Baby is a story about a psychopath with a dark and frightening past; who is about to evolve from a stalker into a serial killer.

I wrote this story while on the Litreactor course, “Making a Monster” where the impressive horror writer, Ania Ahlborn, was as my tutor. I found the course to be a fun, interactive experience and I feel that I learnt a lot from it, especially about exploring character development and  also advance story planning; which has never been my strong point.

The photo above is from the Spanish horror/ghost film, “The Orphanage” (2007), which I felt fitted the theme quite appropriately, although my characters dis-figuration has occurred internally rather than externally, due to his childhood experiences at the orphanage.

As maybe you have already guessed, I borrowed the title of the story from that wonderful Janis Joplin song, Cry Baby. I love Janice for her unique style and fabulous voice, and I’m hoping that she won’t mind too much, what I have done with  the title of her beautiful song.

 If you get there first, it’s very difficult for a woman to accuse you of stalking; anyway following women about, that’s for amateurs who haven’t done their homework. If you follow a women into a café or  restaurant or are seen loitering around her apartment, alarm bells will ring and she will eventually spot you, may confront you or even call the police, and this is the last thing that you need…

You can read my story, Cry Baby here at Pulp Metal Magazine

Skin Deep

I’m so happy to have a  new flash fiction out at Spelk  fiction today!

My story Skin Deep is based on my favourite song by The Stranglers. I have loved the haunting feel of that track for years. The lyrics are enigmatic but deal with the volatile and unpredictable nature of friendship.

I believe that all of  us, at some point, will have our friendships tested, especially in times of stress and trouble. People who you thought you could rely on, can simply disappear. Then strangers and others who you least suspect of caring; will sometimes step into their shoes…

Just to remind you -here are those great lyrics:

Many people tell you that they’re your friend
You believe them
You need them
For what’s round the river bend
Make sure that you’re receiving the signals they send
Cos better, you’ve only got two hands to lend

Maybe there’s someone who makes you weep
And some nights loom up ahead
When you’re asleep
Some days there’s things on your mind you should keep
Sometimes, it’s tougher to look than to leap

Better watch out for the skin deep
Better watch out for the skin deep
(better watch out) Watch out for the skin deep
(better watch out) Watch out for the skin deep
Better watch out for the skin deep

One day the track that you’re climbing gets steep
Your emotions are frayed
And your nerves are starting to creep
Just remember the days
As long as the time that you keep
Better, you better watch out for the skin deep

Better watch out for the skin deep
Better watch out for the skin deep
(better watch out) Watch out for the skin deep
(better watch out) Watch out for the skin deep
Better watch out for the skin deep

…and this is my story at Splek fiction today,

Skin Deep