A couple of things

A couple of things today.

First, an old friend of mine, Gordon Brown, is taking part in The Frontline Walk. It’s a charity event over 100 kms walking across the WW1 battlefields of the Somme and Passchendaele. He’s raising funds for the Soldier’s Charity, the Army Benevolent Fund. The charity was set up in 1944 and reaches 70,000 soldiers, ex-soldiers and their families annually. They are the ‘poppy people’.

If you wish to contribute please visit his Just Giving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/gordons100kwalk, or, simpler: TEXT to 70070 the words GBFL99£X – the X being the amount you wish to contribute.

Good luck Gordon!

Second, on the same theme, a note about Jen – our younger. As I type she has just completed the Cardiff half-marathon – also for charity. Well done her!

And us? A good couple of days pottering about doing this and that. Friday night, having dropped B&S off at a party, C and I went onto the Cricket Club (you know the one – the Bahamian international oval that needs a good groundsman). We went because the food is both excellent and inexpensive. And they have live music at 8pm. Which was fab. Three older men (apparently I’m not allowed to call them old), two guitars, a Korg keyboard  and a pair of bongos. They didn’t always start at the same time, nor did they finish at the same time. But they were fabulous – the white guy in the middle had a voice of a 60-year-old Sting. We’re going next week for an encore. If, of course, they are there. This is The Bahamas, after all.

IMG_20170929_203148797

some tuneful older men…

And book 4 (Money for Something; Good Men do Nothing?) is motoring along. I’m now 63/120k and have a plan to finish. At 1,500 words a day I should have a draft by the end of October, which in my yearly cycle is 6 weeks ahead of schedule. This is because I started early and ploughed on. There is no substitute for setting a daily target and then sticking with it.

IMG_20171001_070852_922

words are from in progress book 4. Sam meets up with an old friend…

What next for us? Well, we fly home via NY (not stopping) next Monday, back in the UK on the Tuesday. We are staying with Mary to begin with before picking up Doris on the following Monday. And then it’s a week in the West Country whilst we work out what I need to do to finish the book. It’s likely we shall head for the south of France and come back for Christmas, but we shall see. Whilst we procrastinate, my parallel job is to take Unsuspecting Hero’s screenplay and get it out there. I have a couple of ideas up my sleeve…

$400? You’ve got to be kidding?

I have a couple of things to report. Both of them good, despite the title.

First, after two days of pottering about, we went on a boat trip. A $400 boat trip. For those of you unsure of the exchange rate, that’s about £300 – or the price of a decent road bike. Or Doris’s insurance renewal. You’re getting the picture?

P1650062

quicker than it looks

Our Jen, who with James, visited B&S earlier in the year, went on this day-long boat trip from Nassau out to one of the cays that make up The Bahamas. It’s $200 each and worth every cent – so she told us. To add treacle to the tart, both Bex and Jen said they would pay for C as it was a senior birthday this year. Bless them.

Even so, $400?

Well I have to say that $400 was cheap. What a day. Let me explain. 24 of us, including two loud, elderly Trump supporters, got on a fibreglass rocketship, which was fitted with four Yamaha 250hp outboards (that’s 1,000hp, the same as a Bugatti Veron). Then, across a sea which was like glass, we spent an hour speeding at 40 mph – that’s unecessarily quick -making our way towards West Africa. I could smell the fuel being burnt. Fabulous.

On a small beach the captain – we had four ushers and they were all great – just ran the boat aground on the sand. We were then given large cocktail sticks and handfuls of grapes (that must have cost $100, knowing Bahamian prices) and let lose on feeding a bunch of iguanas. Iguanas are like small dragons, but more scary. They have teeth and are blind, so can easily mistake a big toe for a grape. This was the first of our brushes with nature’s predators. Brill.

P1650079

I must check my toes

We then drove (at a million miles an hour) to another beach which had a couple of shacks on it. This would be our home for the next 5 hours. Food was provided; sandwiches and dips on arrival and a lovely fish and beef BBQ for lunch. And all the drink was free. Pretty much anything. As many times as you like, which I think is brave of them as, with some of the team quickly under the weather, we were about to swim with sharks.

First we fed the stingrays. Was this the best experience of my life? Close to it. Before we were given strips of fish for the rays to suck off our upturned hands, they swum among us. Between us. Bashing into our legs. Letting us stroke them. They can and do sting, but only if you really piss them off. Which we tried very hard not to.

P1650097

fabulous

Then the sharks. We’re talking human sized sharks (more C sized than me, to be fair). The staff fed them with dead fish on pieces on nylon rope. We all stood in the water as the sharks were hauled towards us and lifted out of the water. They chomped through the thick nylon rope – three times. Which made the snorkelling bit of the day which followed, extra interesting. The sharks had been fed, but they hadn’t gone anywhere. So as we snorkelled out to the rip tide, the sharks (sort of, but not on purpose) swam among us. One came within a couple of feet of my face. One swam below C. The guys shooed them away with the safety boat, but by then we’d already had our close encounter of the shark kind.  Then we swam down the rip tide like the turtles in Finding Nemo. I saw a turtle! It was another great experience.

P1650107

our home for 5 hours

Lunch, then more drink (our v loud Trump supporters had stopped being quite so Texan at that point, because they were struggling to string a couple of words together) and time to relax as the chef knocked up a conch salad. Mmmm, not my idea of a fun dish.

And then back on the rocket ship and home for tea and medals! Hurrah. So, my advice. If you come to the Bahamas – bring an extra $400 with you and go on #powerboatadventures. Fab.

P1650105

A quick update on book stuff. Loving book 4 (Money for Something?), now 42/120k words in and having no problem with 1,500 words a day. And Amazon UK have at last started marketing Fuelling the Fire. Have a guess what? As a result the books are selling. Hurrah!

Screenshot 2017-09-20 at 17.59.18 - Edited

hurrah!

All-in-all, a couple of very good days.

Into the eye of the storm…

We made it. Into the eye of the storm. And that’s mostly thanks to Rebecca. If she hadn’t phoned us in NY on Wednesday night, telling us that Nassau was closing its airport late Thursday, we would have been oblivious to it all and arrived at JFK on Friday with no wings to take us to The Bahamas. After some tooing and froing with Delta, we brought our itinerary forward by a day, boarded a 220-seat 777 with only 7 other passengers and enjoyed the most luxurious 3-hour flight we ever have had the pleasure of taking.

IMG-20170908-WA0001

So, we’re here. What’s it like (other than very windy at the moment)? It’s a second-world country inhabited by a whole load of first-world people. There’s money aplenty – hotel rooms are expensive to extortionate. Basic provisions – for everyone – are 2/3 times what you’d pay in the UK. But there’s also a lot of poverty, swathes of uneducated people and more gun crime (I heard that there’s already been 90 murders this year) than is comfortable. Although, it seems that they leave tourists well alone and much of the heavy crime is gang related – however, Bex and Steven have moved into a gated community after they were robbed of everything last year.

And Irma? We were expecting very high winds, lots of rain and a tide surge that would sink the bottom floor of B&S’s house.

Our first job on Friday was to sandbag the front and rear doors, and then help B&S take anything precious up a floor. In the end, the preparation was unnecessary. Yes it has been (and still is) windy, but the tide-surge didn’t breach the seawall and we have remained high and dry. It’s worth noting that Bahamian properties are mostly built to withstand hurricanes. Those on the less prestigious islands, and most of Florida, are not. We’ll see how that pans out.IMG_20170909_085420_764

IMG_20170910_073602_599

C and Bex as the storm thrashed about

So, all’s well here. I’ve not much more to add, save I’ve finished my article entitled ‘How I became a reasonably unsuccessful author.’ I will put that up later in the week. And I’ve restarted Chapter 4 of book 4 (I must find a name). Marketing via FB, Instagram and Twitter continue.

I am a writing machine!