• Christmas Time

    Merry Christmas!

    I’m looking forward to some tasty food, some classy grape based beverages and the company of friends and family – including the little fellow above, Nero the dog.

    The world’s media and thousands of talented bloggers will produce long, detailed and weighty reviews of 2016. I daresay there will be much talk of war, terrorism, politics and death. It really has been quite some year.

    Nero’s year has been altogether simpler.

    Food has been plentiful. Walks too. He has been particularly pleased with the variety of armchairs, couches and beds provided for his comfort. Most satisfactory.

    Every time Margaret and I return, Nero jumps up and down at the back door, waiting to hear the key in the lock. When he does, he speeds across the room to his toys, selecting one as a welcome home present. Whether we have been gone five minutes or a few hours, his enthusiasm is entire and unlimited.

    He loves curling up on a couch in front of the fire, even more if he can share the couch with us.

    Each morning, I awake to Nero tip-tapping across the wooden floor in the bedroom. In between long yoga-like stretches, he has taken to ‘huffing’, ensuring that I’m awake.

    Together we head out in the early light for a walk around the village. We take the same route each morning, yet every day is a brand new adventure, full of exciting scents, animals to chase and people to deafen with barks.

    We make the world very complicated.

    Be more Nero.

    Merry Christmas everyone!

  • A great read.

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    What Ho everybody!

    Gratuitous photo of the Christmas tree and Nero the Schnauzer at his devastating cutest.

    Mrs L has decided that the tree should be in a new spot this year. Mostly, I think that she enjoys watching me move furniture about. In fairness, the tree does look great next to the fireplace and the move has created a little nook, ideal for my armchair.

    This morning I sat in that chair and read. A book. A real one. You know, with pages and everything.

    I spent three hours finishing off an excellent novel with the dog at my feet. I suspect it is only a matter of time before Radio 4 becomes the soundtrack to my life.

    The novel was ‘Rather be the Devil’ by Ian Rankin. It is the latest in the immensely successful Rebus series. I should disclose that I am a massive Rankin fan. I’m not quite stalking the man, but I did attend a book signing in Guildford recently and whenever in Edinburgh I accidentally fall into a pub from one of the stories.

    In this latest instalment, Rebus and his old adversary Cafferty prove useless at being retired and skirmish again across Edinburgh.

    For hardcore fans like me, this novel is bittersweet. Rebus is showing signs of mortality, reminding me that he is getting a bit long in the tooth and has not exactly lived ‘clean’. Still, he’s off the cigarettes and has cut down the booze and takeaways, so perhaps he is going to get a second wind. Gloriously, he remains maverick with a determined, pathological distaste for authority.

    A great read.

    I know that I have read a great novel when I feel sad that I must leave the world of the book. In my head, the last few days I have been hanging out in Edinburgh pubs, trying to piece together clues to the mystery. Now, the mystery is solved and I must return to the real world with sulky regret.

  • The Camino

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    Been a bit quiet here.

    Mostly because I have been blogging here.

    I’m off on a walk. In memory of the man in the collage above, Terry Anderson.

    I’m not alone, I will be walking with friends. Laurent Gauduchau, Jean-Christophe Poussou and Stuart Smith. We all knew Terry through the Prague Barbarians Rugby Club. Last year, after a punch-up with cancer, Terry passed away at Our Lady’s Hospice in Blackrock, Dublin. If you have a pound or two spare, then I know those people would put it to incredibly good use. You can donate here.

    Keen to show their support (or possibly to laugh at us) two more Prague Barbarians are coming to walk the first day with us. Franck Neel and Germain Gouranton.

    The Camino, particularly the route that we are walking, the ‘Frances’, is a well-trodden route. We will be far from alone. The route is 500 miles give or take, and I intend to walk it all, but in stages.

    This year, the four are starting in Saint Jean Pied de Port in France and walking hard for six days, staying in hostels along the way. With luck, we may get as far as Logrono; a hundred miles. We may not. We shall see what we shall see.

    I set off on Saturday, less than 48 hours from now. I’m flying to Bilbao, where I’ll meet Stuart, who is coming in from Dublin. We will then transfer to SJPDP where the French contingent await us.

    As the day draws nearer, I’m nervous. I have the gear, I have done some training, but I have never tried to walk 100 miles before. Will the knees hold up? Will I hold up the others? Will we grate on each other’s nerves in hours?

    Truth is, I don’t know.

    Along with the nerves, comes anticipation. It is something that I have never done before. It is challenging. It is different.

    That’s kind of cool.

    Maybe I’ll write about it.

    On camino, I’ll be updating www.stuartlennon.com and @frontrowcamino

     

  • Distraction

    Don’t get me wrong. I am extremely lucky to have so many distractions.

    I write this post from a beautiful spot in Cyprus, where I have been swimming every day and playing golf, watching my wife get better and better at the game. It’s only a matter of time until she beats me.

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    This photo was taken on a rare dry moment in a practice walk around Howth, near Dublin.

    At stuartlennon.comI have been posting about another distraction. I’m looking forward to a week walking in some gorgeous countryside with friends old and new. We are hoping to raise some money for a hospice. If you can spare a couple of euro, then please donatePlaces like Our Lady’s Hospice are very special. As my friend and co-walker, Stuart Smith (in the featured photo) wrote “he passed away in a loving, caring, pain-free environment.” Read the rest of his post here.

    In order to bring some sort of order to my days, I am experimenting with both the Best Self Journal and Bullet Journal, two systems that I will write posts on soon.

    Writing is getting done around all these brilliant distractions. It’s all about editing at the moment, getting feedback from my writing buddy and tightening the prose. Methodical, detailed work…all the things that do not come naturally to me. So, short concentrated bursts work well.

    My long-suffering Writing Buddy is doing her level-best to keep me on task, but frankly, it’s a bit like herding cats.

    Nevertheless – I’m confident that a book will get published.

     

  • Writing Tools

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    Writing, at least for me, involves quite a lot of sitting around doing all manner of things that are not writing.

    At times, I can be a world-class procrastinator. Yes, I can do ‘the gazing at a blank page’ thing. I’m even getting better at the tortured artist look, although Margaret still regards me suspiciously and asks whether I am about to fart.

    However – in addition to these basic techniques, there are more advanced methods. My latest is a deep need to make sure that I have the right tools.

    I have always had a bit of a thing for stationery, my inner geek has always been lurking just below the surface.

    This geek has been encouraged into the open by my new writing buddy Amanda.

    We ‘met’ on Twitter (how hip am I?) at #writingchat.

    A writing buddy is an essential aid to the aspiring writer. More importantly, a writing buddy saves the friends and family of the aspiring writer an enormous amount of boredom. I can now ask “Do you think the three act structure will work here?” or “How do you feel about third person limited?” without being greeted by the electronic equivalent of tumbleweed.

    Amanda is on the cusp of releasing a book. In fact, you can pre-order the physical paperback version right now. Just click HEREFollow the instructions and you can even get a discount on the cover price. Go! Have a look right now. Go on. I’ll wait…

    Welcome back. I hope that you have ordered the book. If you are electronically inclined, you will be able to pick it up soon on Amazon, Kobo and all those good places.

    Amanda also keeps a very nice BLOG where you can find some proper writing. While you are there, sign up for updates. Come to think of it, while you are here – sign up for updates too. It really means a lot to us writer-types to know that people are reading.

    Recently, Amanda and I got chatting about pocket notebooks. I daresay that one day, I’ll tell you all about my notebooks – but to cut a long story short, Amanda took it upon herself to make me the notebook cover that features in the picture. It’s a beautiful soft leather.

    Isn’t it gorgeous?

  • Happy New Year!

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    2016 is here.

    At midnight, I had a wee Scotch in memory of my Dad, and later today, we will celebrate my Mum’s birthday.

    As always, my gorgeous wife will magically, just make everything happen. How she does it is a mystery to me.

    Off all of the feast days and holidays, New Year is my favourite.

    As the clock strikes midnight, I am filled with a surge of optimism. The old year is gone and done. The new one is, as yet, a blank page, full of opportunity and possibilities.

    Today is all about my Mum’s birthday, but this evening, I will crystallise my goals, hopes and aspirations for 2016. I will start a brand new notebook and start jotting. Writing things down gives them power, doesn’t it?

    By the end of the week, I will be full of energy, raring to go. Eager to tick things off my list, get stuff done. A whole new year to fill.

    Fantastic.

    Will I get them all done? I doubt it. But hey, I might.

    Check back in next year and I’ll let you know if I am four stone lighter, playing golf off a single figure handicap and preparing to publish my third best selling novel.

    Whatever you are doing this year, I wish you every success.

    Do it with enthusiasm, do it with joy.

    Happy New Year.

  • Perspective

    Battleback

    “More Golf?”

    Now, now, dear reader. Relax.

    You sound like the wife.

    This post is only tangentially about golf.

    Yesterday I took part in a golf day at my home club Tidworth Garrison Golf Club.

    It was a match between BattleBack Golf and Rugby’s Golf Club. I slipped in with a few other club members to even out the numbers.

    Please do check out the links above, a great golf club and two superb sports initiatives. All the links will open in separate pages.

    Back with me? Good.

    I was playing with the two people in the picture. They were playing for the BattleBack team.  – That makes them injured service people.

    On the left we have Fiona, who was injured while training and has had and continues to have multiple operations on her shoulder and knee. On the right is Jimmy who managed to get himself shot five times in the leg on Operations.

    Both people that might have some justification in feeling a bit hard done by as well as not a little bit sore.

    Not a bit of it. They were both bundles of energy, out to have fun. Out to get recovered.

    It’s all a matter of perspective apparently.

    Jimmy has not yet got a handicap, and was predictably a bit erratic. When he got it going the right way, you can take my word for it, that ball stayed hit. As his leg recovery continues, and he continues to play (he has just started) he will comfortably pass me in golfing prowess.

    Fiona is an accomplished golfer. To demonstrate the point, she knocked in a hole in one on the thirteenth. (That is the green that you can see on the left of this page.) A beautiful shot and her first hole in one.

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    The purists will of course need to know that Yes, poor Fiona was hit for a very large round of drinks!

    Quite apart from sharing in the delight of that rare thing, the hole in one, the whole day was brilliant.

    Dinner was hosted at Tedworth House.

    Here food was eaten, some jokes were told, some wine was drunk and there was even a little auction action.

    A gentleman called Mark was asked to say a few words about Help 4 Heroes and what it had meant and continues to mean for him.

    I cannot recreate what he said or how he said it. I am not sure that I can adequately express how much sincerity weighed down each and every one of his words.

    I can write that BattleBack and Help 4 Heroes are important. Like life and death important.

    Days like this are about perspective, and understanding what things really matter in life.

    My perspective? How lucky am I to have the chance to write what I want, do what I want – because brave Men and Women go out and serve.

     

  • G is for Gratitude

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    Look. I could not bring myself to hit you with another golf picture or post.

    The sea is nice though isn’t it?

    I don’t want you thinking that I do nothing but play golf, watch golf or talk about golf. Admittedly, today, I did a lot of all three.

    I was lucky enough to be invited to make up a four-ball at the Wentworth Club, one of the foremost golfing venues in England.

    I got an invite because a senior executive of a sporting apparel and equipment company is a member of the same club where I play and he has ‘connections’.

    We met because I am involved in promoting junior golf at the club. He has a daughter that plays.

    “Stuart – thanks for your help with the juniors. Would you like to come and play at Wentworth?” There is no golfer in England that would turn down an invite here.

    That was the first invite. Since then, we have played a few times.

    Today was the finest day of the year so far. Despite wearing sun screen, there is a definite rosy hue to my face this evening.

    As I walked the famous fairways in the sunlight playing atrocious golf, I was grateful.

    I was positively brimming with gratitude. Internally, I was composing an acceptance speech of Oscar-esque proportions, complete with breaking voice and suppressed sobs.

    I was grateful to Drew – the friend that invited me. To Nigel and Adam who were playing. To my darling wife who was working while I swanned about on the golf course, to the Chief Weather God, responsible for laying on such excellent conditions.

    Above all else, I was grateful I had offered to help out the junior section, setting in train a sequence of gratitude that resulted in me having a cracking day out in Surrey.

    A good deed should be its own reward but gratitude has a way of going all the way around in a virtuous circle.

    Thanks for reading.

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    A to Z Challenge Blog list here.