Two posts in one day!!

So that’s that then. Unsuspecting Hero published on Amazon here [Unsuspecting Hero] in about twenty countries. The UK price is £1.99. Let’s run through a bit of the history.

imageI think I wrote about a chapter a number of years ago when we up in Scotland in our previous van. I don’t know where the original draft is. Then last December we were on Sicily and met up with Ned and his wife. They were in a camper, but were mostly based on their yacht, which was moored on the south coast of the island for the winter. He foolishly said ‘come and pop round’, so we did. Ex-Navy but with some other interesting talents, he told me he had written and published a book on Amazon. I bought it and read it (I advertised it here – v good it was too) and then, with not a great deal to do other than ‘tourist’, I put pen to paper.

UH is twenty four chapters long and at 84,000 words fits in the bracket of ‘novel’, although to be fair, it is at the short end of the bracket (80-120,000 words is the unwritten – no pun intended – rule). Each chapter took me about four hours to write. Then our Jen read it, I re-read it, C and I read it together, Jen read it again and I re-read it twice more. That makes it about ten hours a chapter, around 240 hours of writing and editing. The front cover, signing in to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and then actually pulling the book together in e-format and publishing probably took another ten hours. Overall, 250 hours of work. At the minimum wage of about £6 I’d need to sell 1200 books to break even (I make £1.13 for every £1.99 book sold) – by the way e-books attract VAT; did you know that?

Actually it’s more than that because I bought the chromebook so I could write easily (£250) and I paid our Jen a stipend. So more like 1700 books to make it all worth while.

I don’t mean that of course. Pressing ‘upload’ this morning was a fabulous feeling. I am now a published author and, as at 10pm this evening, I have sold ten books. One of which I bought myself! 1690 to go!

If you do happen to buy it, please write a review. Good or bad, I don’t care. If I do decide to put pen to paper again, it would be helpful to have feedback.

Thanks. And have a great week.


Unususpecting Hero – almost there…

A short post with some big news.

That’s Wells done then. It was great to go back and meet up with, what seemed like, millions of people. The place (that is the school) has moved on a little and with the huge building project underway – a new concert hall – it won’t be long before we don’t recognise it all. I think we both agreed that the longer we spend away the more likely it is to feel like our home town and maybe a place we could settle. That may sound counterintuitive, but that what it feels like.

Wells Cathedral, mmmm

Wells Cathedral, mmmm

We did doctors and dentists and, in one way or another, both of us need follow ups to get us through our MOTs. As a result we are back down at Wells at the end of the week where we are also attending the school’s symphonic finale – which is just like going to hear the Halle play, they are that good. So that’s something to look forward to.

We stayed with Nicky C on the Levels (thanks Nicky), a night at the Hunters Inn meeting up with Jane W, and also had another evening at Deer Leap, the stop where we spent our first night of freedom almost a year ago. After Wells we had a day of shopping at Street, Cribbs and then onto Jen’s. As usual I got everything I needed including a v smart Norwegian fleece from TK Maxx (£40 down from £120), but alas C couldn’t find anything. She’ll be wearing sacks next, bless her. I also got my new camera, more about which later. So I’m alright then…

Deer Leap, a bit of a fave

Deer Leap, a bit of a fave

And finally, at Jen’s I put together UH after its seventh draft and, not without a bit of rigmarole, have uploaded it onto Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). I was up at 5.30 this morning finishing it off, the most scary bit was completing the U.S. IRS form. As a degree educated man I just about understood it….no wonder so many people get their tax affairs wrong in the U.S. I don’t want to make a big thing about the book just yet. I need to see that it’s actually available on Amazon. But then, bear with me, I will go into advertising mode just for a bit.

And, as a result of all this, I have taken UH off of the website as it is soon to be available on Amazon for the princely sum of £1.99.

Have a good Sunday.

Explosion at a Petal Factory

Well there’s a thing. I’m writing this at a local (to Wells) nature reserve where C and I used to come running when I was still at work. It’s based on some old peat pits and we both enjoyed running off the stresses and strains of work on this lovely site in the middle of the Levels. It is almost exactly one year since I gave up work and, without a pay packet in sight, it is still great to be loose and free. We’re here to visit our old pals at the school whilst also doing doctors and dentists.

an explosion at a petal factory

an explosion at a petal factory

It’s been a frantic couple of days. We finished off with Mary and then bumped into her at Mottisfont House and Gardens – NT and with the best collection of roses in the country. I’m not a rose fan, I find them scruffy flowers, but the walled gardens at Mottisfont are fabulous especially at this time of year. It’s like visiting after an explosion at a petal factory – there are so many flowers and so many colours it’s difficult to know where to look. The house is interesting (there’s a paint pot on a shelf where Whistler purportedly left it whilst he was painting some of the wallpaper) but it’s the gardens that are worth a trip – certainly in June when the flowers are at their most explosive.



We stayed with Hilary and Steven, the couple we met last year in Italy and then again in Greece. They have a lovely country cottage with a quite fabulous garden with views over rolling fields and woods. It was a perfect night for a BBQ and we sat and chewed over the meaning of everything, the plusses and minuses of narrowboating over caravaning, and generally relaxed until we were horizontal. Thanks to Hilary and Steven!

Hilary and Steven's view

Hilary and Steven’s view


On the way to the Levels we stopped off in Wool to visit C’s middle sister and her husband. We haven’t seen them for a while and it was good to catch up, chat and have a ride on Malcolm’s mobility scooter… We must see more of them.

the Queenly wave

the Queenly wave

Finally I am five chapters away from publishing. I even had a go at a front cover using an App called Canva. It’s not perfect and requires seven minutes more work, but it’ll do. I read a couple of days ago that Amazon are changing their royalties system so that e-publishers only get paid for the number of pages people read, rather than

unsuspecting failure...

unsuspecting failure…

for the whole book. I’m not sure how that works…but the process seems to be still free to use, so a published author I will be by the time I next post the blog. I hope…

Have a great Glastonbury weekend. Don’t smoke too much funny stuff.

Bigger than it looks

So this is for the record really. And that’s important as I’ve already forgotten what happened yesterday. It was only looking at our photos I’ve taken over the past few months with a pal of Mary’s (who came round for Sunday lunch) that we began to remember what we’ve done and where we’ve been. It is when you do that that you realise what a breeze it has been and how lucky we are. Along those lines, the three of us out Sunday shopping in John Lewis (I watched the Murray match on one of their fabulous curved TVs so it wasn’t really shopping) got talking about what we’d do if we won a million on the Premium Bonds. After some discussion I said to Mary that I would buy a motorhome and persuade C to come away with me round Europe for a couple of years. Fabulous, can’t wait.

Runnymede - an American celebration of an English institution

Runnymede – an American celebration of an English institution

So I am determined to keep scribbling this drivel as it is our on-line diary and without it we would be living without coherent memories. More so the older we get.

a selection from Mary's front garden

a selection from Mary’s front garden

So what have we done? In some sort of chronological order – we left my parents on the Thursday and since then with Mary have visited Runnymede and Polesden Lacey as well as doing some shopping and some other stuff. We have continued our running – still six days a week – and have relaxed considerably after the frets of being with Mum and Dad. (Not their fault, just the issues with people well into the Third Age of Man.)



Runnymede was great. It has recently been revamped to help it celebrate the Magna Carta’s 800th. In short, and I didn’t know this, the document was a fait accompli delivered by the Barons to King John returning from some war or other against the French. They were fed up and didn’t want the King lording it unnecessarily over them so wrote down some stuff about the rule of law and told him to sign it. Which he did. The interesting thing is the Americans are v fond of the place as the centre of the rule of law and they have their own memorial and an area dedicated to JFK.

The new sculpture, which is twelve engraved metal chairs (representing a jury), needs some time more to bed in, but it worth a look. And sitting beautifully by a delightful twist in the Thames, the whole place is well worth a visit.

Polesden Lacey

Polesden Lacey

Polesden Lacey is also worth the trip. I forget much of the detail, except that it’s a big house with a delightful garden; apparently some turn of the last century lady entertained the great and the good in the house and it has been kept pretty much as it was.

bigger than it looks

bigger than it looks

Oh, and I got a new watch. It’s a long story, but the fact is it’s bigger than I thought it was going to be when I ordered it. Now if you own a Rolex or similar you will be v proud of your watch and rightly so. However I bet you haven’t had a member of PC World’s staff come up to you and say ‘nice watch mate!’ I am, therefore, prouder than you are…and don’t ask me how much it cost. It is exclusive and expensive. That’s all you need to know.

So a couple more days here and then back on our tour of Southern England. All is well with the Ladleys. Unsuspecting Hero has had its ending revamped and is now half way though edit seven. It will be ready for publishing on 30 June, I just need to do something about the front cover. Wish me luck.

Have a great week,

Essex by the sea

We stayed at Mum and Dad’s for two days longer than we anticipated. The finale was inviting a couple of their friends around for supper which went well. Our stay has not been without stresses and strains for too many reasons to illuminate here, but C and I did manage two purple patches: a run down the beach at Point Clear on Tuesday and yesterday shopping in Colchester followed by a picnic at Brightlingsea and a walk down the beach. Both of these with Mrs Sun doing her damnedest to brown our knees. Fab.



If you don’t know Essex it’s worth a trip – certainly the seaside bit. Lots of half timbered houses, most of which look like they’re about to fall into the sea. Yes it’s the tourist centre for the East End and there are more caravan sites that you can shake an awning pole at. And the sand is that browny green colour that invites you to put on your wellies and dig for worms rather than don your bathing suit and surf the waves. But it’s rustic and unpretentious.

Except Clacton. I guess you can imagine what Clacton is like. It’s actually slightly more worn than the image in your mind and, as we were reminded of this week, full of the elderly. Which is fine – we are just a few years away from the dribbling stage – but pouring a load of old folk (a good number of whom come with an attached mobility scooter) into a single town slows the pace even further below the one we’ve been looking for. Add in twenty charity shops, a number of pawn brokers, betting shops and money lenders and it’s not an attractive place. Oh well…

picnic with friends

picnic with friends

Colchester on the other hand, a place where C and I grew up together, is far more impressive. It has a castle, the Essex look of olde worlde houses – none straight and a few close to toppling into the street, a good shopping centre and a vibrancy brought about by being a Garrison Town (I would say that, wouldn’t I) where the place has to keep up with the soldierly youth. Unfortunately C couldn’t find any clothes to buy and has now given up. For the moment…

Off to Mary’s today. And I know you all follow sport: well done to the English cricket team and the women’s football team. Soooo looking forward to the Ashes.

Today I’m getting my haircut!

My Dad cut my hair today. He’s on the wrong side of eighty and, it’s no secret, has dementia. It’s not yet debilitating, but his memory is very poor. Ask him what his illness is and he will tell you that ‘it’s, erm, you know….’. The best way to describe his memory issue is someone who doesn’t use nouns. He’ll talk about his day with a series of verbs and the odd adjective. And don’t ask him where he left his keys…

imageThe real sadness is he is fighting fit and has for all of his life been the the centre of something. Now he prefers to be down his allotment where his vegetables don’t ask questions that he can’t answer. But, he’s had a helluva life and has not been struck down with any major illness until now, so we have many blessings to count. And my Mum, bless her, is still functioning after major heart surgery and a stroke that would have killed a shire horse. Amazing.

Anyhow, I decided that as Dad used to cut hair in the Army, and as he used to cut my hair when I was a lad, he should give it a go. And a mighty fine job he did too! Well done him.

The last few days have been family focused (there’s a panel game in there somewhere) with a night at Kevin’s catching up with his daughters (the elder now a fully fledged soldier in the Logistic Corps). The two highlights were me pouring a whole takeaway curry down my new shorts – they’re in the bin. And the second was the Park Run which Kevin had signed us both in for. It was a good 5km race where my new found running fitness stood me in good stead. C did well as did Kevin. So that was a good thing.

I broke the umbrella, and then tried to fix it

I broke the umbrella, and then tried to fix it

We’re at Mum and Dad’s until probably Tuesday and then off via a stop to Mary’s again for a good slab of time. I do need to rewrite a couple of Chapters of UH and do the seventh and final edit before we go ‘public’. Any one got any ideas for a front cover?


Oh I forgot. We also visited Cliveden, Nancy Astor’s old pad (the first woman in Parliament and all round bit of a girl). The house is an hotel, so we couldn’t go in. But the gardens and views over the Thames were special and Mrs Sun came out all too briefly to keep us company.

Nancy Astor's pad

Nancy Astor’s pad

Agencies 1 – Author 0

I had my first rejection yesterday. It was a nice rejection, but I guess literary agents have a stock set of refusals which they pick depending upon who you are. Oh well it was nice of them to read the first three chapters and not include the word ‘delinquent’ in their response. Three others to go, but I don’t hold out any hope. Unsuspecting Hero remains full steam ahead for Amazon publication on 30 June, with our Jen on fifth edit and I have at least one more to go. My mate Pete, who read the book, gave me a bit of advice on the end, so there may be a little more work I need to do. And then there’s the additional complication of the front cover to design…

our latest farm stop

our latest farm stop

It’s been a couple of days where we have just started to find our rhythm. We finished off at Annie’s helping her clear out the roof. We popped into Newbury to speak to the bank (who are still friend of ours) and on the way to our current CL stopped off at a service station and planned the next couple of weeks – we now have some nice people to see and spend time with. Our CL is a farm field near Marlow (on the way to Mary’s), no electricity but only £8 a night. The weather has just started to improve again with Mrs Sun doing her English best, but the wind still battering us about a bit and, as a result, dropping temperatures accordingly. Food for thought for next summer certainly.

On a negative note (wot me?) C has had her purse stolen, I have been told to ‘f*** off’ by another driver, and C, likewise, has been given the finger by the passenger of another car. Now I could have left the purse on the counter at Costas, but you would have thought somebody behind me would have noticed, or the barista would have held it on lost property. Ehh, no such luck. No this country continues to disappoint in comparison to the continent. We may have been cut up in Naples and hooted at in Palermo, but we never felt threatened, especially with the venom that seems to affect our fellow countrymen (and women). It does us no service whatsoever.

Disareli's pad

Disraeli’s pad

On the plus side today we visited Hughendem House, Disraeli’s pad which was later used by the RAF mapping people in WW2. It’s a pleasant enough house with a great little garden, but what made it for us was the four mile NT signposted walk around and about which we really enjoyed. And, we’ve run pretty much everyday. My brother Kevin, who we are stopping with on Friday night, has booked both of in for a 5km Park Run on Saturday morning, so that will be a good benchmark.

new running shoes, mmmmm

new running shoes, mmmmm

Off to Mary’s today and my parents at the weekend. It’s all go!