Seeing stars

Last Friday evening the sun was shinging and the birds were singing as I pulled into the NLO carpark for the Friday Astroscouts session. The group arrived, full of excitement and anticipation as usual. They were not disappointed. We went outside to view the sun – a bright disc with a hairy surround – through a member’s telescope. It was a special telescope designed to view the sun carefully and safelly through solar lenses. Everyone, children and adults, were entralled. I was even more thrilled to see a tiny dot or two and helped the group locate them. I had taught them about sun spots last week and this week told them some interesting pieces of information about the sun. It is so nice when the weather plays ball with my sessions! The group drew diagrams of the sun and were able to include the ‘hair’ just as they had seen.

The Bird Watcher

The Bird Watcher

“It’s there again”, her daughter shouted through from her vantage point at the front room window.
She joined her and watched as a seagull cocked its head on one side, looking to the left and right as it did so.
“I’m scared, Mum.”
“Don’t be silly, it’s just scavenging for food, that’s all.”
“Then why is it just looking at the rubbish and not pecking at it like usual?”
Elaine was just glad not to have to go around after the dustmen had been with a plastic bag picking up all the detritus after the birds had pecked open the well-wrapped rubbish in the black plastic sacks.
“It does look as though it’s listening and looking straight at us and…”, she stopped as a council van pulled up and a smartly dressed official got out, looked at the seagull before proceeding to walk up to their front door. Even so, the sudden sharp knock made them jump. She opened the door and was handed an envelope by the suited man.
“A warning letter”, he said, “next time it’s a £1000 fine and then jail.”
“But what for?” she managed to ask.
“Too many bags out, luv. New regs, didn’t you read the notice? Only allowed one black sack per week per household.”
The seagull put back his head and let out an almighty screech.
“Well, I must be off,” said the official suddenly, before running down the path and across the road to a nice old couple who had just moved in.
Closing the door she rejoined her daughter at the window.
“Look”, her daughter pointed at the bird, head cocked on one side, definitely eyeing up the rubbish outside their next door neighbour’s house. Meanwhile the old couple had opened their door to the council official who was handing them a brown envelope too.
“Oh, but that’s so not fair”, she muttered, “there’s always a lot of rubbish when you move.”
Eeeoooweeeow screeched the seagull as it was now outside their house again and eyeing the house unblinkingly. Head cocked again, listening – or was it reporting what it saw to the council. How else would the official have arrived so swiftly?

Help is at hand…

Just waiting for a picture of a scary squid to go on the front cover and the manuscript is ready to send out to agents. A friend has offered to forward it to someone they know in the publishing world. Someone from the Short Stories Facebook group has sent me a database of agents currently seeking new work. Here goes!

Preview of brand new story…

Extract 1

His eyes kept being drawn to the terrible eyeball at the window…what a size the creature must be to have an eye that size.  He prepared himself for the long slow haul up to the surface.  Hopefully, he would see other, less terrible, creatures on the way back up.  He had no wish to go any further down – it was claustrophobic apart from him not wishing to be a meal for some odd creature who relished the dark depths of this mysterious abyss.  He had no wish to return empty handed though and prepared his camera for the work ahead.

Extract 2

The silence hit Lucy as she stepped outside the little Research Station.  Total silence.  Total whiteness.  Total isolation.  There was nowhere to go outside of the comfort zone of the confines of the base for the research scientists.  Nowhere that is except for more snow covered land.  Lucy hugged herself in excitement as she caught a glimpse of movement in the distance.  Penguins!   All sorts of types and shapes and sizes.  There were thousands of them.  Peter shouted over to her to join them on the sled.  There was no sound of huskies barking excitedly in these days of motorised sleds.  She trudged as quickly as she could in her thick boots over to where Peter was waiting.  Grinning in excitement, Peter helped her onto the sled and they sped over the lumpy snow towards the penguins.  Slowing down as they neared them, they stopped the machines and edged their way forward on foot scarcely daring to breathe.  Peter slowly and carefully lifted his camera to his eyes and took a long distance view of the spectacular scene in front of them.  He then adjusted the lens and continued moving towards the incredibly noisy, increasingly smelly, and unbelievably exciting crowd of creatures huddled in groups ahead of them.  It was just before the time when the young ones would waddle to the sea, arms akimbo for balance, and swim for their lives.  They had enjoyed a precious few weeks being fed before it was time for them to fend for themselves.

Giant Squid

Looking forward to completing my third book tomorrow and inserting all sorts of pictures – some of my photos, some from the internet and, best of all, the picture my daughter has painted of the giant creature Peter encounters in the Deep Marianas Trench!

Local library wants to know more about my talk…aargh. Panic. Not ready yet. Will respond tomorrow…

Planet stories

‘Beyond the Horizon’ is available in hard copy as well as AmazonKindle thanks to my publisher Peglets in Honiton.   Please contact me if you would like one  (£4.99 plus £1.50 pp).   Window to the Stars is a little story about my favourite historic telescope, the Lockyer, which has been well received by a group of adult literacy learners.

Planet Earth

Tim Peake’s glorious photographs of Planet Earth are being lapped up by everyone who sees them. My next book ‘Meet the Aliens’ is due out this Summer and takes the characters to Earth in the same manner that they visited the other planets in the Solar System.

Oh to be a child again…

What lucky schoolchildren to be able to present their projects to a science conference and, possibly, Tim Peake.  How different my life would have been had I had such opportunities.  Our careers advice was to visit the local job centre!  And as for Tim operating a prototype Mars rover from the ISS, well, I am beside myself with excitement.

Never mind, today is Friday and off to the young observers’ group after a busy day at work.   Today the Police Commissioner is holding fort in one of the rooms while the Society for the Blind are having a handbell ringing concert…