Day 4. Tuesday 9/8/22

An 8.15am start for the 309km journey to Ayres Rock. We stopped to view Uluru on the skyline, seeing the outline of its “toothbrush”, a distant range of hills providing the handle. Then we crossed the main road to walk up a sand dune and view the white mass of the Salt Lake Amadeus in the distance.

Things unraveled in the final two days of what should have been the highlight of our tour. Uluru, a double World Heritage site, is a jewel of a place. But we were crammed like helpless sheep into an unacceptably tight, often changing time schedule.

There was no overall Leader for this part of our trip, no continuity, no focus for queries or requests. Coach drivers changed frequently and struggled to keep to schedule. A disabled lady in our group was slow, and always last to board and leave the coach; she was not given a reserved seat at the front, except once on request.

We arrived at Sails in the Desert Hotel, grabbed our room keys, then hurried out for a 3.10pm helicopter flight. My ten-minute flight from take-off to landing in a tiny ‘copter was a complete waste of time. I guess it all depended on which seat you were in. I was sandwiched in the middle back seat with limited views and no opportunity to take a proper photo of Uluru squatting below us in the desert scrub. We flew once along its side, turned, and flew back again.

We were dropped back at the hotel, then hustled out again in a full coach at 5.15 prompt for the Sounds of Silence dinner.

Canapes and wine were served atop a dune followed by dinner in the hollow below. Wine and talk flowed freely, accompanied by the mellow notes of a didgeridoo. We tucked into a generous buffet offering many choices while attentive waiters hovered nearby. It was dark. Then, between courses, big drops splattered the tables… and the heavens opened.

Out came waterproof coats, some put damask napkins over their heads, bowing like praying nuns over the table. A Scotsman, who had served nine months in the British Army in Kenya forty years ago, kept us entertained with language sometimes bordering on the blasphemous. Mercifully, the cloudburst did not last long. Ours was the most hilarious table.

We slept well that night – once we had found our way along the maze of stairs and corridors to our room on the 3rd floor.

Day 5. Wednesday 10/8/22

Up at 5.30am for the Uluru Sunrise tour. The sky was beautiful beneath a layer of lowering clouds, but our schedule was tight, and we could not wait for the light to hit the rock.

Back for a hasty breakfast, then out again for Uluru, where we did the brief Mala walk past a series of fascinating caves – for men, women (no photos allowed), the elders and children. Our twenty-minute Cultural Centre visit included a toilet stop. There was so much to see and absorb, and we were disappointed.

After a hasty snack lunch, we left for the 45minute drive to Kata Tjuta. Even this was tightly scheduled, as our new coach driver was clearly required elsewhere.

It is a fascinating range of conglomerate rocks (Uluru is sandstone). The Walpa Gorge walk was mostly on haphazard rock surfaces, with well-constructed bridges over especially uneven places.

It started raining again, but we strode out with purpose, pausing now and again to take photos. A trickle appeared down the valley, but the rain stopped as the canyon walls closed into a cleavage between two enormous rocks pitted with cavities. We headed towards the V-shaped end, arriving in about 35 minutes.

Returning, heads down with dogged steps, we marched back, the wind increasing against us as we approached the opening mouth and a light rain washed down. I was grateful the weather was cool.

Day 6. Thursday 11/8/22

Our coach was the last of three to arrive for the Field of Light Sunrise, with no opportunity to view the pre-dawn lights on the crowded dune. Clouds filled the sky, and we walked down to the field in the morning gloom as others flashed their torches on the fading lights among myriads of tangled white cables.

Our return flight had been changed and changed again. It was a mad rush in Sydney to find the Qantus terminal for our connection to Perth. Going through security, I was stopped. The official indicated a red patch on my scanned body and asked me to take off my walking boots and put them through the x-ray again. I returned through the scanner which now showed several large patches of red on my arms and legs. She frisked me all over, then gave me the ‘all clear’.

Arriving home at midnight, I was happy to be back in one piece, and very much wiser. I will definitely return to Ayres Rock, which deserves a better experience.

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It Could Only get Better

4.30 pm on Day 1.

My heart fell. I couldn’t believe it: we were part of a dreaded package tour … The enormous coach was full. Did I discern similar dismay on the faces of some other passengers? We packed ourselves in, and followed by a similar crowded vehicle, rumbled away onto a dirt road. Eyes squinting against the sun, we disembarked.

The Outback Barbecue took place against a backdrop of red cliffs as we sat in a large amphitheatre facing a crude “Toilet block” of tin with haphazard signs. Inside were the most spacious, luxurious toilet-booths I have ever come across in the bush. No matter that the signs were confusing, and I wasn’t sure which were for sheilas and which for blokes, or even if there was no discrimination.

Enormous slabs of steak done to perfection as ordered, lashings of sauces, butter, sour cream, gigantic baked potatoes, mouth-watering salads. Our crude wooden knives cut through the meat like butter as we licked our lips under a vast awning “in case the non-existent rains interrupt us.”

Our platters licked clean, we return to our chairs set beside blackened upended logs to listen to slapstick tales of sheep-shearing, histories of brumbies and camels. Then a man with a guitar had us singing the choruses of “Waltzing Matilda” and suchlike while the storyteller slaved again in the kitchen, finally carrying out a soot-blackened container of “damper” – turning out the ashy concoction onto the sand, brushing it clean with his hands and serving it with cardboard cups of hot tea.

What a wonderful, jolly party – complete with “free” wine and beer. Nicely mellow, forgetting all our woes, we returned to our hotel and tumbled into bed, before an early Sunday start.

Day 2. Sunday 7/8/22

We had a hasty breakfast in the restaurant and boarded the coach at 8 o’clock sharp for a full day. We walked in Simpsons Gap and Stanleys Chasm and had lunch at Alice Springs market before doing a whistle-stop tour of the Royal Flying Doctors, the Old Telegraph Station, the ASP School of the Air, and finally the War Memorial viewpoint overlooking the town.

My feet were aching, my limbs stiffening. We faced a 7am start in the morning. How everything went wrong at the beginning was still not entirely understood, as our driver said we were meant to have been on the 10.30 am flight, which had been cancelled. But our minds were focused on the morrow and the fabled Kings Canyon walks.

Singlehanded, he turned out to be a brilliant, hard-working driver/dogs’ body/raconteur who slaved for 30-40 of us in the gigantic coach, which covered a total of 783km in two consecutive days. When we said goodbye, he admitted that he’d dreaded the prospect.

If I’d known we’d be so many for so long, I would never have booked…

Day 3. Monday 8/8/22

A 305 km drive, with a stop for lunch, to Kings Canyon. Our driver chatted as he drove, punctuated by his mantra “… you know – that sort of thing.” He pointed out the desert oak trees (of casuarina family) which send down tap roots to support and water the larger canopies up to 500 years old. Fire and lightning often destroy the mature trees, but there are plenty of 90-year-old younger “shoots” in evidence.

Uluru with the desert oaks in the foreground

We saw some brumbies on the roadside. After the horses had floundered in the salty mud of Lake Amadeus, Dromedary camels were imported as beasts of burden to lay the cables for the telegraph line from South Australia to Darwin in the 1870’s. The camels have since thrived and multiplied in the bush.

We were fully prepared for what to expect of the alternative walks in Kings Canyon. An amazing eucalyptus trunk grew round its charred inner core. We saw walkers on the rim far above us crossing a small bridge.

On to the luxurious Kings Canyon Resort. Rooms with spas (which none of us used) faced the scrub.

A fabulous two-course dinner (chicken or beef then trifle). Wine flowed and loosened our tongues as we got to know more of our fellow travellers. We fumbled back to our rooms along semi-lit pathways.

Then things began to unravel…

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How could I have been so stupid?

Ratings: Imagine – 2; Tour partners – 7; Overall Impression – 3

They are not on Trip Adviser, but I found them afterwards on Trustpilot. The reviews (including mine) are there for all to see.

They reply to all negative reviews with a standard spiel of obfuscation and invitation to contact them individually. But it is virtually impossible to speak to anybody on the phone or get a timely response by email.

There are good reviews too – mainly referring to the easy booking experience.

They have small print in their “door-to-door” contract. They have few overheads as they operate through various “tour partners,” whose people on the ground strive hard to achieve the tightest of schedules but love their work. As tourists, we were determined to enjoy what we could and make the best of it. Life is too short to dwell on our mistakes.

It looks like a win/win situation. The financial winners of course are the perpetrators at the top. But the victims (tourists, and the “Tour partner” drivers and guides) can also be winners. I am a seasoned traveller. Now an octogenarian, I tend to let others do the work – and pay for the consequences…

Day 1. Sat 6th August 2022

After a year of frequent changes of schedule, we eventually chose the shortest of three alternatives and left Perth on a Qantus evening flight to Adelaide on 5/8/22. Contrary to contract, we were required to pay for our four-hour stay at the airport hotel and caught the 6am flight to Alice Springs. A wonderful wash of crimson sunrise splashed the horizon behind the plane’s dramatic wingtip riding over a rippled sea of soft clouds. But my photo didn’t come out. Bright crimson sun crinkled the skyline, rising quickly to glare at us through the windows. Breakfast was a tasteless frittata, but the Lindors choc made up for it.

We touched down smoothly at 8.15am and then our troubles started… We bypassed the stragglers at the luggage carousel to look for a guy with an “Imagine” placard. Nothing. Nobody outside on the road either. An enormous coach with its back to us sporting the name KINGS in large letters had an open door, but no placard. It couldn’t be ours. One or two passengers were boarding. A shuttle bus hovered by the pavement. $18 each for the ride. The coach left. We tried phoning the Imagine office – closed. The place was deserted. We called our hotel – they did not do transfers. There was nothing for it but to fork out the money and hope for an eventual refund. Our spirits drooped and we were tired.

The rooms weren’t ready – they wouldn’t be free until the rest of our tour group arrived at 10.30am and we could check in together. We lodged our bags behind the counter and drooped uncomfortably onto the seats in the lounge area.

Other people slowly joined us – all too tired to talk, eyelids drooping. Long walks to the loos locked behind the doors of a members’ only gym. We walked to the restaurant and picked out the cheapest refreshment on a pricey menu. A lady spoke to us, attractively dressed. We discovered she was on our tour, and she told us we were to be at Reception at 4.30pm for our BBQ outback experience. Why hadn’t we been informed?

We learned that six people from our flight were met with a placard, and they had boarded that gigantic coach which departed just after we saw it. We simmered, determined to accost the tour guide when we met him finally.

It was nearly noon. In frustration I went back to the desk.

“How much longer do we have to wait?” I whined.

“What’s your name?” I gave her my friend’s name as the “lead” person. Despite a written request, the Company had not dealt directly with me through the previous 12 months of changes and re-changes of schedule. The girl shuffled through a pile of envelopes.

“Is this yours?”


“Your room is 2118 – ground floor, section 2. Here’s a map.”

My blood boiled. How long had those envelopes been waiting for us? What incompetency – what bad communication. They could see us in the lounge. A couple who’d been sitting near us stood up – then another… were these Imagine customers too? I couldn’t believe what was happening. Fuming, we entered our room and I flopped onto the bed, closing my eyes for three hours.

It could only get better … Episode 2 next week!

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Life in Kenya

LIFE IN KENYA – Then and Now

Am I beginning to come out of my shell – or is this just a flash in the pan – Who knows?


to the North Coast branch of the U3A, Perth, WA

in August 2021

Here’s a post from way back in 2016 which broadly covers what I said:

It went well, and I had gratifying feedback. Many thanks to all my well-wishers!

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Smudge was a little man. He inspected his new surroundings curiously and not without suspicion. But he found he had nothing to complain about. This was quite unprecedented, and for a minute he was at a loss.

His room was large, light and airy, and they had even provided him with a door to suit his stature. He looked out onto a rolling green orchard, sloping down to a tinkling stream on the right, and bound on the far side by a forest. It was a pleasant prospect altogether.

This was too good, he thought, there must be a catch somewhere. No doubt he would be worked until he dropped, and no thanks for it either. He was no chicken, he knew all about people and their foibles and it made him sick to be dependent on them. He coughed disagreeably. Then he cocked his head.

Three children were approaching across the orchard. Smudge liked children but was surprised to see only three. They crowded round him, jumping up and down, waving their arms.

‘Oh, aren’t you small!’

‘Isn’t he sweet – and so smart!’

Then the little boy came and stood in front of him. He stood there, gazing right into his face.

‘I like you,’ he said. Just that. Smudge grunted and touched the boy on the shoulder.

When they had gone, Smudge turned his attention to his neighbour, an ugly man twice his size, who, after a first curious glance, took no further notice of him. This annoyed Smudge, although he was well used to being slighted.

‘Just you an’ me, eh?’

‘Yeah – that’s it,’ Copper grunted back.

‘No girls to worry us?’

Mr. Copper’s silence told Smudge all he wished to know.

Work started the next day. ‘Can’t they even wait for a fella to settle in properly?’ Smudge grumbled to his neighbour as he went out.

However, the children were keen to start and were quite nice to him, so he got down to business willingly enough. He enjoyed their attentions. Although he knew he was a fine specimen of a man, it was nice being told this so often.

As time passed it became quite obvious that he was fast becoming ‘Someone of Importance’. Then he began to forget himself and would behave a bit rudely towards them out of sheer boredom.

One day, when he was peacefully eating his meal, and his mouth was full, the boy came bursting in on him. Smudge never liked being disturbed when eating, and without thinking, he turned his back in a menacing way.

It could have been nasty. The boy burst into tears and ran away. Smudge was immediately sorry, but it was too late.

Then a lady arrived.

At the best of times, females were the bane of Smudge’ life. He loved them, and was, deep down, a very friendly soul. But they always ignored him utterly.

He was curious and friendly towards the newcomer, Ms Fandango. He quivered with excited anticipation at meeting her. But, apart from a first cursory glance, his overtures were blatantly ignored. She took an instant liking to Mr. Copper, and Smudge brooded miserably.

However, one day, he had to escort Fandango to an important function while Copper stayed behind. His little heart pulsated with pleasure. When they left home, she was nervous, and he enjoyed soothing her fears. His heart thrilled when she lost him in the crowd and frantically called for him. She really did need him, and was not afraid of admitting it, either. She wasn’t a bad looking lady either.

Then she won a prize, and everybody was overjoyed, including Smudge who offered his sincere congratulations.

‘Oh – thank you.’ She stared over his shoulder, and then she turned her back on him. Smudge seethed with indignation and hurt pride.

Soon afterwards the boy approached and began making preparation for a competition, but Smudge refused to concentrate. When the boy tried to make him do something, Smudge dug his toes in. The onlookers gasped in dismay and the boy broke into tears of frustration.

Alone, later, he brooded miserably. Of all the homes he had been to, this was the happiest; but he had been discarded for lesser sins before, and he feared the worst.

‘I don’t know what’s happened to Smudge,’ he overheard the little boy complain, ‘why doesn’t he want to co-operate anymore?’

                    ‘He may get over it, but we’ll have to do something about it if he doesn’t.’ The words sounded ominous to Smudge, who suddenly realised the harm he was doing. He tried to improve his behaviour, but the boy was now frightened of him.

Then, to his surprise, he was given another chance. It was the Open Championship on the final day of the show. Tentatively, he co-operated, although at one point in the proceedings he almost rebelled. Then came his turn to show off.

Resplendent in his gleaming skewbald coat, Smudge trotted forward. With neck arched and tail proudly flowing, he glided round the arena bearing the boy carefully on his back. Faultlessly he performed numerous intricate movements, and then came to a proud halt before the judges. There was no question about the result. The multi-coloured rosette was produced and tied onto Smudge’ bridle and a Challenge Cup presented to the boy.

The crescendo of clapping from the crowd deafened them. It was a memorable moment … and then Smudge forgot himself. Carried away by the glory of the occasion, he lowered his head and gave a buck of triumph; and then another one … and another. The trophy clanged noisily to the ground, its black base rolling separately away. The crowd hushed into a hiccough of silence.

Then through the air the little boy’s voice rang thinly, “Come on Smudge – let’s go!”

With one final buck, and the boy clinging to his mane, Smudge galloped the length and breadth of the arena. He slithered to a stop, fearing the worst. But the boy rolled off laughing tears, and smothered him with pats.

Back home, Fandango’s eyes widened with admiration when she saw his enormous trophy and nickered an adoring welcome over her stable door.

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Christmas with a Difference

Blue Gum Lake

Like many people this year I am tired. I don’t feel like doing new things. I just want to stay quiet, take a breather and sparsely spread my activities among the days so that I have at least one thing to look forward to every 24 hours; keeping in touch with the outside world.

Thankfully the new covid-normal here in West Australia is almost as it was only a year ago. I have yet to wear a mask. I feel so blessed.

In a flurry of near-panic I left the UK on the day my home was sold, arriving in the nick of time before covid lock-down on one of the last one-way business class (economy was sold out) tickets available on the nonstop Dreamliner to Perth. My worldly possessions were contained in three suitcases – in retrospect, a most liberating experience.

Before that, an antique family chest was freighted off bearing hastily de-framed pictures, photos, a few precious crystal glasses and some books. It had a bumpier ride by sea. The package looked intact on arrival but on opening, the chest was splintered and the lid askew. Thankfully the contents were unharmed, and it won’t be too expensive to mend the chest.

My new abode with a little garden is only two blocks away from family in a lovely suburb of Perth on the Swan River. I am learning the hard way which flowers like sun or shade, but my pocket-handkerchief lawn sends me into despair and I’m fighting a losing battle against bugs.

Hitherto I’ve had no interest in plants, but I harvested my first home-grown lettuce leaves the other day and have sampled some juicy lemons. As you can see, the rickety metal arch I inherited is a work in progress; but the reticulation system we are allowed to use twice a week is a godsend.

Tiny Blue Gum lake sometimes fringed with birds lies round the corner. The village where I play tennis on pristine grass courts is a short walk through a nature reserve. My bridge club – fifteen minutes’ drive southwards – is where for the first time in my life I am having lessons; the Aussies are sticklers for keeping to the rules and I can no longer get by on luck or intuition. And at last I’m beginning to feel I belong – with a Certificate as an Equestrian Australia Dressage Judge (bottom rung).

When I have nothing better to do, I collate and edit my ancestors’ copious diaries and memoires.

Saffer Worldwide is a new free on-line magazine initiated by an old “Authonomy” friend. It will, if all goes well, start serialising my first novel, Breath of Africa in the New Year. You can read a taster on the last page of the November issue.

Mine will be a quiet Christmas with family. All are – thankfully – well and gainfully occupied in various places in Australia, Kenya and the UK.

May you all have a peaceful Christmas.


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A Whole Year has Passed

So much has happened since my last blog, but now maybe the muse is beginning to return. Almost everything has come true, but not without considerable stress, anxiety, heartbreak and finally unbelievable “luck” – which I prefer to consider as ‘meant to be’.

I arrived in the nick of time before lock-down in Australia, and served my fourteen days of splendid isolation on the upper floor of my son’s home, bird-watching from the balcony and waited on by family, always at the prescribed distance with plenty of hand-washing.  It was a period of winding-down, peace and quiet relaxation. I feel truly blessed.

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A paperbark tree by the Swan River

Today is Mothers’ Day in Australia. I stroll along the Swan River in Perth after a delicious late breakfast with family, then walk to my little villa on the border of a nature reserve ten minutes away.

The sun is shining, and it’s warm outside. But we’re approaching winter, and last night for the first time since moving in three weeks ago, I turned on the heater in my sitting-room. The contraption was noisy, my hearing aids magnifying the sound, so I read instead of watching the telly; and I repositioned my chair in order to catch the warmth, most of which blew over my head, so I had to snuggle under a blanket anyway. The Aussies need to learn a thing or two regarding heating… or maybe it was me not able to figure out how to aim it downwards.

I love my well-designed home with its inevitable quirks and challenges, and I’m looking forward to developing a skill new to me – gardening. I have already successfully transplanted three herbs which are flourishing in a large pot outside my kitchen door. And it’s literally decades since I made drop scones; I’ll have to do something to attract the grandchildren through my doors now that the Covid19 lock-down is gradually easing.

There is so much to think about. Starting from scratch is exciting and challenging, and there’s no hurry. When I’ve got the sitting-room more or less as I want it, I’ll share a picture or two. Meanwhile here is one of the open plan kitchen area. The picture is a photo taken in a Vietnam cemetery by a talented grandson, and the tablecloth came from Zimbabwe many years ago.


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Dear Friends

It is over four months since I last wrote to you, and six weeks since I returned from my visit to family in Australia.

last picnic

Such a rich, special time; experiencing the highs and lows of ordinary family life and often spending hours on end by myself as they went to work or studied. I got to know their dogs well. I spent whole days indoors. In temperatures reaching the high 30’s, the blessings of air-conditioning won over the severity of the scorching heat outside. But I got used even to that.

The warmth of the land, the welcoming optimistic outlook of this vast, young country – despite the frustrations of politics and red tape which happens everywhere – this was where I wanted to be. It was not only the place that attracted me, with its prospect of living in my own space with a bit of nature at my very doorstep.

When one reaches a certain age and cannot go for spritely long walks in the hills and dales, one needs at least to be able to sit on the doorstep and savour the beauties of nature. I do, anyway.

But living here would bring me within reaching distance of the bulk of my precious family. However much one wants not to be a burden, there comes a time when you cannot help it. You want to be as little a burden as possible, by putting yourself within reasonable reach when needed. Not halfway across the world.

So – you’ve guessed it – I’m going to try and emigrate. My chances on “balance of family”, I’m told, are good. The proceeds from my UK flat should get me a final abode with some private space around it – one thing I have sorely missed for the past twenty years.


You haven’t heard from me for a while; you may not for even longer. I have lost the desire – not so much to write, as to batter myself with the stress of marketing. But I will keep my blog and my Newsletter. You may have noticed my presence on social media has dwindled. But I do still jot things into my diary, and my mobile phone takes great pictures.

I am proud of the books I’ve written, and grateful to my lovely publishers for their support and faith in me. I’m gratified that proceeds from my books have made a difference to the charities they support. A couple of them are still in print and for sale on Amazon at a special price for the Easter weekend. A limited number of the others are available as signed copies if you contact me.

Finally thank you for all your feedback, support and friendship. We’ll keep in touch. Tu’onana! (until next time).


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A Happy Christmas!

What a year it’s been! I’ve been trying to settle into a new life on my own. Thought it would be easy, as I’m a loner by nature, but I was in for a shock.

In an effort to take my eyes off the past, I’d decided to set an objective. I would try and rise one step higher on the British Dressage judges list. I survived the initial one-to-one assessment and was considered a suitable candidate to embark on the prolonged journey of tests.

Next came the mock exam. There was a series of videos to assess – very different from previous experience. I thought I’d got the hang of it, so registered for two technical tests early in January. The first – a multiple choice paper on rules – was easy. But the second….. it wasn’t like me, I was stressed, I couldn’t see properly, I blinked an eye and missed vital clues flashing across the video clips.
What was I doing, trying to upgrade as a dressage judge? Why at my age did I want to put myself through such an ordeal? I’d been fairly content for the past 18 years on the bottom rung and had plenty of demands for my time. The results arrived: I’d passed the first paper with flying colours but failed the second by two marks. A hard lesson learned, especially as my mind was still acting erratically and even if I passed that test on a re-sit, the prospect of facing the final examination of judging while an adjudicator sat alongside filled me with dread. No.
Kenya beckoned. A whole month of escape from winter. It was wonderful setting foot on the tarmac of Nairobi airport for the first time in three whole years. Ten glorious days soaking up the sun on the pristine sands of Diani beach. A special night on the shores of Lake Naivasha, savouring familiar surroundings, spotting familiar birds. Then a taxi ride to Kajuki village in Embu/Meru District for a few days, experiencing how struggling villagers survive so cheerfully while operating their little businesses.

Back in Nairobi I treated myself to a bird walk at the racecourse with Fleur Ngweno. We had a hilarious trip to the Nairobi Game Park, when the roof of Dennis’s new car wouldn’t close in the middle of a thunderstorm. He popped an umbrella over us, which proved quite effective, but we didn’t see many animals. My final days were spent in a special place, Maanzoni, where we laid Roy’s ashes to rest under a thorn bush. Over them, Anthea had commissioned the map of Kenya in heavy slate, inscribed with the words: “Dad, this is your holiday camp…”

Back to earth in Eastbourne. Rounds of bridge, walks, dressage judging, and going through the agonies of editing my new book – Going It Alone – a handbook for those who want to start their own business; Mentoring new business start-ups at People Matter, my local charity, where I’m also Trustee; as well as marking IGCSE exam papers twice a year, a necessary top up to my income.

I started playing tennis again! My sciatica suddenly disappeared when on the suggestion of a physio, I stopped doing my early morning exercises. Amazing. I now rejoice in twice-weekly games with other geriatrics on the astra-turf of my local club. Just two sets, with a rest in between. Whenever the Masters tennis is on the telly, all else is abandoned.
And the climax to 2018: a wonderful five-day visit to Carcassonne, France, where my publishers live. I shared an Airbnb casa with one other author, while everyone else stayed in hotels. We got the better bargain. We enjoyed looking around this lovely place with its medieval city, including a day‘s conference at a lovely hotel in the Citadel. By the time we left, we felt really at home.

And now I’m preparing for another treat – three months in Australia basking in the bosom of my family, spread from west to east. And we’re taking a trip to Tasmania as well.

I must say, it will be nice to get away from all mention of Brexit, as well as the British winter.
Very best wishes this festive season

The best way to keep in touch is by subscribing to my Newsletter HERE!


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The Wilds of Tribal Scotland

Once again, I’m delighted to welcome good friend Nancy Jardin who has exciting news. I can’t wait to get my hands on the latest of her stories set in the wilds of tribal Scotland – even though some of the names are unprounceable, let alone unspellable.  I’m also privileged to have met Nancy in the flesh, and her methodical  approach to promoting her books is an example to us all.

Hello Jane!

It seems a while since I last dropped into your lovely blog but I’m absolutely delighted that during this return visit I can share that Agricola’s Bane, the 4th book in my highly acclaimed historical fiction Celtic Fervour Series (published with Ocelot Press), is now available to Pre-Order from Amazon! Paperback versions will also be available in November from Amazon. The official online EBook launch will take place on the 15th of November 2018, with a physical paperback book launch event on November 22nd at a local Heritage Centre in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Agricola’s Bane continues the tales of my Celtic warrior clan from the Brigante hillfort of Garrigill (modern day Cumbria/Yorkshire border). As before in the earlier books of my series, my aim is always to tell the story of what happens to my relatively ordinary tribal folk who have been uprooted by the Ancient Roman invaders. My Garrigill clan’s refugee status persists since the Ancient Romans still dominate the landscape of the Taexali northern lands (Aberdeenshire), the Garrigill clan’s tough trek northwards in Book 3 sadly not leading to the freedom from the Roman yoke that they had hoped for.

Agricola’s Bane features second-generation Enya of Garrigill. The location is Caledon territory (Cairngorm Mountains, Aberdeenshire) where most of the tribal warriors, who have survived a recent battle, now take refuge. However, circumstances force some of them to venture forth from their relative safety at Ceann Druimin, the roundhouse village of Chief Lulach. Going anywhere near the Roman legions means risking a stabbing death under a Roman gladius but Enya and her warrior companions find the traitorous Vacomagi tribe can also be just as dangerous.

Roman General Agricola discovers that conquest of the Caledonian tribes isn’t as easy as he expected. The local warriors are very adept at guerrilla warfare and they behave in ways that both confuse and irritate him, much like his capricious Emperor Domitian. Time is running out for Agricola since he’s already on his seventh summer campaign season but he still wants to achieve so much more during his domination of Britannia.

Although my second generation Garrigill clan members are in their early to mid-teens, well-old-enough to be a trained warrior back in late first century A.D., Enya’s father and her uncles – Lorcan and Brennus – still have a small part to play in Agricola’s Bane as do the other female clan members of earlier books.

A reader new to the series can read Agricola’s Bane as a stand-alone novel, though they would most likely enjoy it even much more if they have read Books 1-3 of the series.



AD 84 Northern Roman Britain

Nith of Tarras aids Enya of Garrigill in the search for her kin, missing after the disastrous battle at Beinn na Ciche fought between the Caledon warriors and the mighty Legions of the Rome. Enya soon has a heartrending choice to make – should she tread Vacomagi territory that’s swarming with Roman auxiliaries to find her brother? Or head south in search of her cousin who has most likely been taken captive by the soldiers of Agricola? 

General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola – Commander of the Britannic Legions and Governor of Britannia – is determined to claim more barbarian territory for the Roman Empire, indeed plans to invade the whole island but finds not all decisions are his to make. It increasingly seems that the goddess, Fortuna, does not favour him.
The adventures of the Garrigill clan continue…

You can buy Agricola’s Bane via this Amazon Pre-Order Universal Link.


Nancy Jardine writes contemporary mysteries; historical fiction and time-travel historical adventure. Her current historical focus is Roman Scotland, an engrossing pre-history era because her research depends highly on keeping abreast of recent archaeological findings.

A member of the Romantic Novelists Association, the Scottish Association of Writers, the Federation of Writers Scotland and the Historical Novel Society, her work has achieved finalist status in UK competitions.

She lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, with her husband but life is never quiet or boring since her young grandchildren are her next-door neighbours. She regularly child minds them, those days being cherished and laughter filled.

You can find her at these places:

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Many thanks, Jane, for giving me the opportunity to visit you again. – Nancy

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