Blathering on about everything and nothing and what makes me sad.


Hello, it’s me …

How are you all? Okay I hope.

I’m hiding upstairs. Well, not hiding exactly. The Doctor has a meeting of the book group he’s in. So I’ve come upstairs with my crochet, except I decided to write a blog post instead.

It’s been a funny week. Well, it’s been a funny few weeks actually. I’ve not been entirely myself. I’ve not been anyone else, obviously. I’ve just felt a bit sad. Now, I wasn’t going to write about this, so I don’t know why I am now. I figure people want to read happy blog postings don’t they? Not that this is going to be a miserable one. I’m just digging a hole here aren’t I? I’m generally a happy person. Anyway … more on that later.

Did I tell you I’ve got builders next door? I probably have. I’ve become quite anal talking about builders. I’m going insane with them. They only seem able to bash things with a hammer and they’ve been seven months banging away with a hammer.  I’m sure they are doing a lot more than just bashing around with a hammer but from my perspective, it doesn’t seem so. Honestly, I’m really surprised more builders aren’t murdered by the neighbours. The owners of the house are coming over from America next week, so that will be fun, especially as they are supposedly going to camp in the garden. That’s what one of the builders told us. The house isn’t finished. How unfinished can a house be that you can’t actually camp in it, as opposed to the garden. Quite honestly our house has been unfinished for years but I can’t see us camping out in the garden.  Anyway, how can it not be finished after seven months of hammering?  I could have done loads in our house if I’d done all that hammering.

So, I’ve finished a novel as opposed to hammering about the house. I’ve probably rabbited on about this ad nausea. But I’m so excited because yesterday it went to number 2 in the Amazon chart in Canada. In case you don’t know about it, I’ve put all the details below. I’d like to celebrate with a glass of wine but I’m on another diet and that of course means no wine. Well, you can have wine but not if you want chocolate and if I have to choose then chocolate comes first every time. What would you choose? I need to diet. It’s unhealthy being overweight isn’t it and I hate it when I can’t squeeze into my clothes. I can’t keep buying a size larger as tempting as that is. I’ll be as big as a house soon. No, it’s time to take action. Otherwise I will outgrow everything they sell in ‘Evans’

Anyway, back to writing. It’s hard work writing. You spend all day, every day, alone, stuck in a little room having a weird relationship with people who don’t exist, at least not outside your head. Then you get confused and start calling people by your character’s name. I spent most of last year calling Andrew, Adam. If you’ve read ‘Secrets and Lies’ then you’ll know what character I’m talking about. Then your book is published and you spend days biting your nails worrying that no one will buy it and then when they do, you spend more days biting your nails worrying if they will like it. Then you spend more time worrying that your book won’t climb the charts and that you’ll be a total failure. Then it doesn’t sell as you’d hoped and you spend days crying in the loo.  It’s hellish and if that wasn’t enough, members of your own family don’t seem interested in your work. Hence the sadness I mentioned earlier. It’s odd how they just seem to make out that the books don’t exist. My own brother unfriended me on Facebook, I mean who unfriends their own family? I did think hard about writing about this on my blog. But I always seem to be hiding my feelings from everyone and I am human and it does hurt, especially when they turn their eyes away when someone else mentions your books, almost like it’s something to be ashamed of. This happened only the other day. It’s not just close family but extended family too. Am I tapping into something? Friends are very supportive but I’m cautious about people on Facebook who suddenly turn around out of the blue and accuse you of all sorts and then block you on Twitter. This happened shortly after my mum died and it was quite devastating. Their accusations were extremely hurtful. I’ve worked hard for my success, as little as it is, and I’m happy for anyone else who has success. Especially if they have huge success because it shows what is possible and that inspires me. But, just recently, I’ve wondered if it was worth all the work and the disappointment when certain people disregard it. Still, I’ll mull this one over. Meanwhile I’ve almost finished a romantic comedy. It’s an unexpected love story. I’ve really enjoyed writing about these characters and can’t wait to share the book with you. It’s a romance with a difference.

More news! ‘The Dog’s Bollocks’ has just had its cover reveal in Brazil. I love the cover. The title has changed to ‘Harriet’s Misadventures.’ It was difficult to translate ‘The Dog’s Bollocks’ apparently 🙂 I can well imagine it was!

Anyway back to the psychological thriller ‘WATCHING YOU’ Here’s the blurb.

‘When Libby receives a friend request from her dead uncle she knows it’s time to be afraid.’

Here’s what one reviewer said.

‘The book alternates between present day – after Ewan Galbraith’s release from prison, focusing on his promise that he will take revenge on everyone involved in his murder conviction – and the build up to the carnage of Millennium Eve, and the structure works really well. The writing is taut and just wonderfully edgy, and the characterisation is excellent: as well as the main characters, I particularly liked the police team – involved in the investigation of the earlier events, again handling Libby’s protection – and the light focus on their personal lives as the main story twists and turns around them. Doubts that you’re getting the full story start to creep in as the pages turn faster, the threat increasing and getting ever closer with every new text message and photo. But the “stunning twist” of the Amazon description took me totally by surprise – convincing, credible and a suitably shocking climax to a book that had me on the edge of my seat from its opening pages.’

I hope you’ll like this. Do let me know what you think. It’s currently 99p/99c to download. You can get it here

 Aw, this is so annoying. My laptop is doing the weirdest thing. It’s like it’s been taken over by a weird entity. It’s just doing its own thing and jumping all over the document. I think the cat is responsible for this. He sat on it earlier. That cat is so much trouble. Yesterday he forced himself into a hole at the back of the cupboard under the sink. He never goes into cupboards. I was quite calm at first and then when he didn’t return, well you can imagine.   He just disappeared. I was frantic and getting ready to call the fire brigade when the Doctor, all calm and collected said.

‘Shake his treats.’

Well, I thought that would get him more worked up. I mean, can you imagine being trapped somewhere and hearing your favourite sweet jar being rattled? How upsetting would that be? Anyway, in this case, it worked and he squeezed himself back through the hole much to my relief. This cat! When I was writing my thrillers I would play really scary music to get me into a tense mood. I’d be really into the novel. The music would get scarier and scarier and then suddenly the door would open and in walks the cat. I’d jump out of my skin which in turn caused him to jump out of his skin. What a pair!

Anyway I’ve been ‘blathering on’ as the character from my new comedy would say. I think you will like her. I hope you do anyway. There I go worrying again.

I’m going to make a cup of tea. I’m crazy about Angel Grey tea at the moment by The Tea Experience. They make fab teas. What’s your favourite? I’m a touch obsessed with tea. I have lots of teacups and boxes and boxes of tea. Right now I’m addicted to ‘Fikka’ by The Tea Experience.

I’ll say bye for now, until next time. I will put the links below to the books.

Much love

Lynda

x

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I’m a Racist (apparently)

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Yesterday I found myself wondering why I write novels and put them out there for anyone and everyone to scrutinise. I then realised I did it because I can’t not do it and I write to entertain and make people happy. I don’t expect perfect reviews. That would be idealistic. I’m used to getting good reviews and although I’ll never get used to them, I get bad reviews too. I accept my books aren’t everyone’s cup of tea and that if someone spends money on my book- although I still think £1.99 and 99p isn’t exactly spending a fortune – then they are entitled to leave a review. I think it’s a bit off when reviewers leave a bad review for a free book, however, but that is something else.

Just what constitutes a review and what constitutes  spiteful? And should companies such as Amazon argue the rights and wrongs about a review that is clearly suspicious?

The definition of a review is ‘A form of literary criticism in which a book is analysed based on content, style, and merit. A book review can be a primary source opinion piece, summary review or scholarly review. Books can be reviewed for printed periodicals, magazines and newspapers, as school work, or for book web sites on the Internet. A book review’s length may vary from a single paragraph to substantial essays. Such a review may evaluate the book on the basis of personal taste. Reviewers may use the occasion of a book review for a display of learning or to promulgate their own ideas on the topic of a fiction or non-fiction work.’

Okay, so I don’t think It didn’t arrive on time constitutes as a review does it? And yet many authors on Amazon have to contend with these stupid, idiotic reviews which pull their rankings down. When you look at a book’s ranking and it has five stars this indicates the book has more 4 and 5 star reviews than any other. If the stars drop to 4 and a half or lower then there are clearly some low marked reviews. Sometimes these can simply be someone saying ‘I didn’t like it’ I mean, seriously, is that a review? Is that justification for dragging that author’s work down?

But worse is what happened to me yesterday. This is where a review is not only slanderous but clearly looks suspicious and the only review that the reviewer has penned. The profile is hidden and the purchase is not Amazon verified which means it wasn’t even bought from the site.

Here it is

2 of 300 people found the following review helpful

Very racist., 30 May 2016

By

Sandra

This review is from: Fifty Shades of Roxie Brown (Comedy Romance) (Kindle Edition)

Amazon are refusing to remove the review which is for ‘Fifty Shades of Roxie Brown’

I write romantic comedy. I write with realism in my stories, yes, but not with racism. There is a Mrs Patel in my book who runs the corner shop but the main character has only good things to say about her. Is that racist? It’s just realistic. The book has 300 unhelpful clicks and ten comments from readers who have read the book and claim it isn’t racist.

This is not the first time I have heard that Amazon have refused to remove a review. But if someone called someone racist on Facebook or Twitter, would it be tolerated? Why is it so easy to call names and bully in a book review? For an author to have to worry that they may get a one star review because of someone’s jealousy or someone with a gripe seems wrong.

So, Sandra, or whatever your real name is, thanks for the review and the publicity. After all, you know what they say, there is no such thing as bad publicity. You certainly highlighted me for the day. Of course, this may not have been your aim but you know there is something called karma. Look it up! You can buy my racist book here

You’re Invited to Perfect Weddings

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Hi everyone,

I thought I would never get over here. Things were manic on my Facebook and Twitter page yesterday because … hurrah it was the launch day for my new novel ‘Perfect Weddings’

I’m so excited about this book as everyone is saying they think it is my best one yet.

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I love the cover thanks to Katie Grace Klumpp, who is so talented, you have to agree. Click her name to check out her work.

 

I hope you enjoy ‘Perfect Weddings’ If you like weddings then you are bound to.

Do you remember Amy Perfect who wrote ‘A Christmas Romance?’ Well, my bit of fun was to name the main character in ‘Perfect Weddings’ Amy Perfect too 🙂

A Christmas Romance Design!

 

And by the way, while we are talking about ‘A Christmas Romance’ it is now 99p. It is the first in the Little Perran series and it doesn’t have to be Christmas to enjoy it. So why not treat yourself to both. That’s only £2.98 for two books. What can you buy for that these days? Go here for ‘A Christmas Romance’

So what is ‘Perfect Weddings’ about?

‘Every bride wants a perfect wedding and that includes Georgina Winters. Amy Perfect is the crème de la crème of wedding planners so who best to plan Georgina s wedding… except the man Georgina plans to marry is the same man who jilted Amy three years ago. Will her plan to give Georgina the most imperfect wedding backfire on her? Is this the chance for Amy to win back the love of her life, or will insufferable Ben Garret put a spanner in the works? Arab princes, spoilt brides and wedding catastrophes make Perfect Weddings a page-turning romantic comedy that will keep you guessing until the very last page.’

I do hope you enjoy it. You can get yours here

http://goo.gl/Vp78vS

Much love as always

Lynda

x

Scones and Sherry with Natalie Love (and Anouska)

 

Today I’m welcoming the lovely Natalie Love to my blog. You will know of her, of course. Natalie runs the fabulous Raven Street Theatre in Soho.

I love this place and have seen some really cool plays there.  My favourite has been the comedy musicals.  And I’m thrilled, in fact I’m that excited I could pee my pants. Of course I didn’t. That may have put Natalie off me forever. I’m delighted because Natalie Love has expressed an interest in staging ‘The Dog’s Bollocks’ at The Raven Street Theater, how cool is that?

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Natalie has just arrived. Ooh, my excitement overflows. Although I am rather worried that the title may offend her. Ooh it looks like she has brought a friend or associate. This bodes well.

Lynda: Hello Natalie, what an absolute thrill to have you here and your friend also, of course.

Natalie: Hello Lynda, its lovely to meet you (lowering voice) I’m sorry, this is very unprofessional but I had to bring my Gran, Anouska, with me… She’s a big fan of The Dog’s Bollocks and wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Anouska: Lynda. My darlink!

Lynda: Welcome Anouska.

Natalie: I promise she’ll be no trouble…

Lynda: Of course, come in, the more the merrier. What can I offer you to drink? I’ve herbal teas, coffee, fruit juice and I’ve made some scones, which we can have with jam and clotted cream. I hope you’re not watching your weight? I’m always on a diet. I have to say I wish I looked as glamorous as you two.

Anouska: Lynda, men like somethink to hold on to! I share the same diet philosophy as Miss Piggy: never eat more than you can lift. I vill take a scone piled high vith jam, and have you any sherry?

Natalie: I think tea, for me…

Lynda: *Thinks frantically* Oh dear, what did we do with that sherry from Christmas?

Lynda: Coming right up! So Natalie, what do you have in mind for The Dog’s Bollocks?

Natalie: We’d love to produce it as a musical, for our autumn season so that…

Anouska: (interrupting) Lynda darlink, vill you sign my copy of The Doggies Bollocks, before we get too drunk…

Lynda: Certainly. I have to say Anouska , I love your Jewellery. Where did you get it?

Anouska: Ah, this vas the jewellery my mother vore when she escaped the Nazis…

Lynda: Oh dear, that must have been a harrowing experience.

Natalie: She says they escaped. They actually got a lift with an SS Officer on his way to the shops to buy bratwurst.

Anouska: Say vat you like about the Nazis, but they knew how to dress…

Natalie: Look, Gran, I need to talk to Lynda about her book. Why don’t you…

Lynda: You could go and look at my garden Anouska?

Anouska: Ah yes, that vould be nice. I vill take my sherry… can I take the bottle too?

Lynda: Yes, of course… careful on those heels Anouska…

Natalie: Thank goodness she’s gone. Sorry again, Lynda.

Lynda: That’s okay. Tell us Natalie, how are things at The Raven Street Theatre? I’m excited you want to feature ‘The Dog’s Bollocks’ You must meet some interesting people?

Natalie: Yes, and we’re getting a lot of press interest in our plays. I think we might be able to get some big names for The Dog’s Bollocks: The Musical. Now for the lead character of Harriet, there’s a chance we could get Lindsay Lohan? We have to just check if she’s still tagged and on house arrest… and if she can sing…

Lynda: She would need to time a comic line too… Harriet is a very funny character.

Natalie: Yes, she is. Okay maybe not Lohan. We could go the more traditional route, someone British with good acting chops. We’d love you to write the script… Can you write music? I see there’s a piano in the corner of the room!

Anouska: (comes back inside) Bloody vooman!

Natalie: What is it Gran?

Anouska: Your vindow cleaner is very rude, he said I vas too old for him!

Natalie: what are you doing with the window cleaner?

Anouska: Nothing – yet. But I am single and, how do you say, free to mingle. There is nothing wrong with dating a vindow cleaner.

Lynda: That’s not the vindow, I mean window cleaner, that’s my husband!

Anouska:  Ah. My darlink Lynda, you hev a nice husband if he cleans the vindows for you… I may hev tried to climb his ladder and kiss him… If I knew he vas your husband I vould never have done that… Although must say he is very handsome, and he has a very nice chamois leather…

Natalie: I’m so sorry… Look Lynda, maybe you could come up to London? I could take you to a lovely restaurant and we could talk more about The Dog’s Bollocks: The Musical?

Lynda: Yes, of course…

To experience more of Natalie’s world and of course Anouska’s, pop to Amazon to purchase a copy of Robert Bryndza’a brilliant new novel ‘Miss Wrong and Mr Right’ here at Amazon.co.uk and at Amazon.com And even better you’re in time to enter the ‘Miss Wrong and Mr Right’ giveaway here

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Miss Wrong and Mr Right

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Natalie Love has worked hard to have it all: she runs a successful theatre in Soho that’s about to host one of Hollywood’s leading stars. Her biggest supporter is her eccentric Hungarian Gran, and she even has the ‘perfect’ yoga teacher boyfriend – Namaste!

Life in the bright lights of London has always been Natalie’s escape from her chaotic country family in rural Devon and Jamie, the childhood sweetheart she left at the altar 15 years ago. And then he turns up at her theatre door…

With rivalry clouding old feelings, events in Soho bring Jamie and Natalie together in hilarious ways. Gran is loose in the city once more, it seems to be raining sandwiches and records are broken for Burlesque flash mobs. If she can keep her world together, will Natalie discover who is really Mr Right, and that perhaps she isn’t Miss Wrong?

A delightful new romantic comedy, from the author of the best-selling Coco Pinchard series.

You can make contact with Robert by following any of the links below

www.robertbryndza.comhttps://

www.facebook.com/bryndzarobert

Goodreads

 

 

 

Kippers and Marzipan

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Holiday breaks are odd things aren’t they? Or maybe they are just odd for me.

Off we go on Thursday evening for an Easter break in Ross on Wye. I’m very excited. Of course this may have something to do with the fact that I have it in my head that we are going to Hay On Wye, where I know there are lots of book shops. This is, of course, completely wrong, as Hay on Wye is an hour away from Ross on Wye and only has two bookshops. Well, that’s all I managed to find. I’m sure it has more, if you feel inclined to look, but not as many as Hay On Wye, and seeing as I thought that’s where we were going you can understand why I felt a bit let down.  Not that it’s anyone’s fault and after all I was the one who booked the break.

The doctor arrives home from work and I’m packed and ready to go. I’ve packed enough books for two weeks in Mauritius. I’m determined to have a break. It is then little Matthew (my grandson) realises we are not joking and that we are really going away for a few days and leaving him. He’s having none of it and races to the car before we do and dives in. Now, there is nothing worse than an upset child, except an upset child who refuses to budge from the back seat of your car demanding to go on a weekend break with you. I had planned a lot of things happening on this break but babysitting a child was not one of them. I check my phone aware we had booked our table for dinner at the B&B for 8 pm. We still had the rush hour traffic to fight through. Twenty minutes later we have wrestled said child from the car, handed him back to his parents and are waving goodbye. I start to fret about Bendy (the cat) Did I leave enough cat milk for him? Will my stepson and his wife remember to pull the blinds at night so he doesn’t see the bully cat? Is this whole break thing a bit extravagant?  I tell myself I deserve it and the doctor tells me so too, so it must be true.

We arrive at Ross on Wye and the little B&B I had been expecting is nothing short of Ross On Wye’s own Shangri La. Our room looks like one out of the Shangri la that Andrew stayed in while in Hong Kong (okay slight exaggeration) but it feels as hot as bloody Hong Kong. I struggle to turn down the radiators and have already drunk my way through their two bottles of  complimentary water when I realise it is the towel rail that has turned the place into a sauna.

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After freshening up we go down to the bar for dinner where we’re invited to sit in the library and peruse the menu. I’m not sure if my eyes pop out before the doctor’s or vice versa. £36 per person for a three course meal? I check I’m wearing the right glasses.

‘Was dinner included with our booking,’ I whisper, thinking of the little pub just up the road and how pie and chips would be just as good as the Garlic and thyme rump of Herefordshire lamb, saffron potatoes chantenay carrots, peas, and broad beans offered on the menu in front of me.

‘What was that?’ asks Andrew, who never hears me at the best of times but at present has an ear infection so is basically only hearing me with one ear.

I whisper again, a little louder this time.

‘I think so,’ he whispers back.

Before we know it, drinks have been ordered and we’re being led like lambs to the slaughter into the dining room, a waitress carrying our tray of two glasses, which we could easily have carried for ourselves.

‘Would you like me to pour water into your glasses?’ asks the waitress.

I shake my head. I think I am still capable of lifting a jug.  Dinner turns out to be quite superb and we both make a mental note to check that the evening meal is included in our booking.

I can’t believe we have this luxury for three nights. The following morning we toddle down to breakfast (also included, in case you were getting anxious for us) we’re shown to our table where we consume a pot of lemon and ginger tea, cereal with yogurt, followed by kippers for Andrew, full English for me and toast to finish.  We then toddle off to Ross on Wye for me to look in the two bookshops and countless charity shops. I’m at my happiest. The doctor then encourages me to do some sightseeing away from the shops.

The churchyard
The churchyard

We wander into the local church yard and I take a few photos before we walk towards the church where a vicar stands to welcome us.

‘Hello,’ he whispers ‘are you visiting?’

Oh dear. Andrew inclines his head, obviously wondering how his hearing could have deteriorated so quickly. I lean forward in an effort to hear the vicar thinking he must have a sore throat.

‘We’re having a service of silence for six hours. But if you’d like to come back.’

Andrew inclines his head.

‘Come again?’ he asks.

‘If you would,’ whispers the vicar. ‘Tomorrow would be fine.’

‘That’s good,’ says Andrew. ‘The weather is not so good today.’

Meanwhile I’m standing there wondering why the vow of silence seems to have included us on the outskirts of the church. But God moves in mysterious ways, so they say.

We leave the vicar to his silence and when he is out of earshot, Andrew says,

‘I can barely hear you at the best of times and that’s with both ears. How am I supposed to hear him?

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We make our way back to the town, discussing what great food it is at the hotel. How the breakfast is so vast that guests can’t possibly want lunch.

‘It’s nearly two and I couldn’t possibly eat lunch,’ I say.

‘People do though,’ says Andrew. ‘I’d never want to be a glutton like that though, would you?’ he asks as we both glance in the local bakery window.

Ten minutes later we exit the bakery after buying two marzipan cakes, a hot cross bun, and a large custard tart.

Well, it’s a long time before dinner.

Hope you all had a fun Easter.

The Well Showered Cockroach. (Holiday Part One.)

There is something about holidaying in Asia that always makes me feel a little like Karen Blixen, you know, the woman depicted in the film ‘Out of Africa.’ Different continent I know but you get my drift.

It is rather romantic to think of myself as like her of course, aside from the syphilis, hers that is not mine. Let’s clarify that before rumours start and as lovely as Andrew is, he isn’t Robert Redford.

Anyway, back to holidaying in Asia. I always transgress as you know. So, let me tell you a little about the romance of our holiday shall I? Be prepared. It isn’t anywhere as romantic as ‘Out of Africa’ I mean, really, did you expect it to be? This is me we’re talking about. Let’s face it starting a holiday with your other half sniffling and coughing is no fun. The Doctor (aka Andrew) decided to catch the flu before we left. Okay, he didn’t exactly decide to. That would be a bit silly wouldn’t it? The point is we became those passengers from hell. You know the ones? The passengers everyone avoids. The passengers you dread will be your seating companions. That was us. Of course, you try to hide it. But it is a little impossible when Andrew had a choking fit and I’m doing my first aid bit in an attempt not to have him die on the plane.  We finally arrive in Bangkok where we have a seven hour stop over and I get my first update on Bendy from my stepson James.

 ‘Hello, just to say Bendy is well and enjoyed the biscuits, treats and milk earlier, as you can see in the photo here. He spent most the day sleeping in the lounge, although is always welcome to go upstairs for quiet time.’

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I feel a little better knowing Bendy the cat is okay but by now I’m feeling a bit rough myself and the Doctor is barely able to speak for the pain in his ear and sinus and I start wondering if he’s perforated an eardrum. That’s just wonderful. He claims never to hear me half the time as it is. Now he’ll have a really good excuse to claim he doesn’t hear my nagging. We trudge to the departure gate for our next flight. It’s now pm and we have six hours to wait for the flight to Laos in South East Asia. I’m so tired but the air conditioning is so fierce that all I can do is shiver. The Doctor lays himself out on three seats and tries to sleep. Everyone avoids us which is good in a way because at least we have plenty of seats to ourselves. If only it weren’t so cold.  Seven hours later (the flight is delayed. I bet Karen Blixen never had these problems) we finally board our flight to Laos. It will take one hour and the time there is pm. We’ve lost a whole night’s sleep and feel crap to boot. But at least the Doctor is out of pain. He can’t hear a thing mind you but he’s out of pain. We both just want to get to Laos, to our hotel and to crash out. Well, that’s simple, I hear you say. You’ve no idea. This is us we’re talking about Lynda and the Doctor remember, not Meryl Streep and Robert Redford.

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The plane lands and we depart with throbbing ears and sinuses and queue for our visa. We then collect our suitcase and It looks less bulky to me and I say as much to the Doctor.

‘Don’t be silly, it’s your memory. It looks the same.’

It doesn’t you know but who am I to argue with the doctor. We get a taxi to the centre and tell the driver where our hotel is. We’re dropped off and walk up a short hill and Andrew says,

‘This is it.’

I’ve never felt more relieved in my life. I trip over a stray cat and follow him to reception where a young girl greets us. She doesn’t speak English and just looks curiously at us. After trying to make her understand that we have booked a room for three nights she finally makes a call from her mobile. A man talks to Andrew in broken English. Andrew gives his name and the man says,

‘Ah yes, Andrew. No problem.’

The phone is handed back to the girl, who takes a key and leads us through a dingy kitchen, out to the back and then into the tiniest room I have ever seen. She closes the door and I look around me. The bed linen looks like it hasn’t been changed in weeks and there is a strange musty smell about the place.

‘We’re paying thirty dollars a night for this,’ I say, struggling to keep my eyes open.

The doctor looks like he couldn’t care less.

‘I’m too tired to care,’ he mumbles.

I trundle to the loo and stare at the dingy shower. Oh God, is that a cockroach making itself at home. I don’t believe this. I’m feeling decidedly jet lagged now not to mention shivery and achy. Now my stomach feels dickey. I’ve been here two minutes and I’ve already got deli belly. I lift the lid of the toilet seat only to have it come away in my hand. What the…

‘Andrew,’ I begin angrily, ‘the toilet seat …’

At that point I sit on the loo only to have it break underneath me. I’m halfway between the floor and the loo when the doctor walks in.

‘What are you doing?’ he asks to a chorus of wailing cats from outside.

What does he think I’m doing?  Toilet seat yoga? Honestly men!

I burst into tears.

‘The toilet seat broke and don’t say it is because I’m overweight. I’m not staying here,’ I blurt out. ‘It’s a dump. I want to go home.’

I want to go home? Have I gone mad? It’s nearly killed me to get this far. If I have to do a return journey now it will be in the body bag our insurance agreed to pay for. Can things get any worse? Andrew sneezes loudly.

‘Let’s go and explore and if we see another hotel that is nicer then we’ll check out of this one.’

If we seriously don’t see another hotel nicer than this one I’m likely to slash my wrists. I swallow my malaria tablet, dash to the useless loo one more time and tiredly follow him out for a walk.

To be continued.

Part 2 A new hotel and a promise of chocolate pancakes with a twist.

 

Car and the Stepson Having a Breakdown

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We’ve never been conventional in our house. Although I expect you’ve gathered that already. So, you won’t be surprised to read that we both drive old bangers. Peugeot 206 bangers to be exact and the exact same colour bangers come to that. That wasn’t intentional, it just kind of happened, you know, like things do. We have talked about buying a new car and we have glanced at some. But that’s as far as we’ve got. Cars are just not important to us somehow. But it was only recently that I realised just how unimportant material things are to us and how eccentric we are. Of course, if the doctor’s AKA as my husband Andrew) son hadn’t come to live with us I wonder if we would ever have realised. But he has come to live with us and I’m not sure how he is finding it but he and his wife and four year old son seem to laugh a lot which frankly if you’re around us you have to and they are getting adjusted to our odd way of living. So, when stepson (James) asked about going onto our car insurance we thought nothing of it. So imagine James when he first used Andrew’s car to find he couldn’t push the driver’s seat forward to get his son in the back.

‘Ah yes,’ we say. ‘That seat is broken. You need to watch that. You may also notice the seat moves forward slightly when you’re driving,’ adds Andrew, ‘It’s quite safe though.’

James gives him an odd look.

‘So we have to use the passenger side to get into the back do we?’ he asks.

We nod.

Off they go to return a few hours later looking a little strained. We’d totally forgotten to mention that the indicator has a mind of its own too and when you indicate one way and take the turn, instead of clicking itself off it clicks to indicate the opposite way. If you don’t hear it you could be indicating for miles. God knows we have done this many a time on a motorway only to be flashed numerous times. Then, of course, there is the door that swings wide open. So when you park and open it you have to be careful else it smashes into the parked car next to it. We also forgot to mention that it struggles a bit when going up hills.

‘The seat is a bit low too,’ says James.

‘Oh is it,’ says Andrew. ‘I like it that way.’

‘Hard to see the mirror,’ says James tactfully.

‘You can use mine if you like.’ I say.

His face lights up.

‘If that’s okay?’

If he thought Andrew’s car was bad …But of course, I don’t think to tell him because I’m not aware there is anything to tell him. But on reflection I suppose I should have mentioned that the clock is always an hour fast. I’m not sure why but I’ve got used to it now and always work backwards when telling the time. A light tends to come on and flashes the words ‘air bag’ too. Andrew jokingly says it is referring to me. Then of course there is the radio which doesn’t work anymore after I had a battery change. However I worked out if you press the on button and programme number 6 button it will play … for all of 5 minutes and then you push the buttons again and so on. I’ve been known to do a three hour journey playing the radio like that. The CD player doesn’t work at all. Then there is the passenger seat in my car which is broken. So to get a child seat in the back you have to do it via the driver’s side. Not to mention the state of the boot which houses Andrew’s tool box, his flying suits (bearing in mind we no longer fly as we don’t have a microlight anymore) plus his helmets and other boxes of stuff. I have to be honest and say I have no idea what the stuff is. The car is full of sweet wrappers which are proof of my guilty chocolate feasts. I do vaguely mention the radio before they go.

‘Just keep pushing the buttons,’ I say.

Off they go and off we go to visit my mum in Essex. We return to a white faced James.

‘Everything okay,’ I ask.

‘Your car flashes an airbag sign all the time. I didn’t know what to do at first but then thought maybe it always does it. That seems to be the way with your cars.’

He’s getting the hang of it.

‘I did try pushing all the buttons for the radio but nothing happened.’

Ah yes, I probably should have said which buttons.

‘I did think about doing some shopping but there was no room in the boot.’

‘Yes, sorry about that,’ I say.

‘I think it may be best if I stick to Dad’s car.’

Famous last words. For two days later he broke down with a flat tyre and was late picking up his wife from work. Oh well, at least we were there to babysit Matthew.

‘Are you sure you don’t want mine?’ I offer.

‘No, Dad’s will be fine.’

Second lot of famous last words if you can have a second lot of last words.

For as I write James has just text me to say he has broken down in the doctor’s car. It seems the clutch gave up. Poor James was convinced it was something he’d done and he asked the breakdown man for reassurance.

‘Wear and tear mate, this car has had it.’

Well, we always said we would drive them into the ground. The cars that is, not the sons.

James walks in ashen faced and exhausted.

‘What a nightmare. How do you cope?’ he asks.

‘With what?’ I reply.

I’m greeted by my daughter in law who is also ashen.

‘Oh Lynda,’ she says nervously. ‘I’ve broken something.’

I quickly look for Bendy and relax when I see him sleeping happily on the couch.

She holds out my BITCH mug.

‘James said it was expensive,’ she says tearfully.

I look at the other mugs hanging on the rack and shrug.

‘It’s just a mug. When you kill Bendy you need to think about leaving.’

I think they’re laying down in a darkened room now. I suppose this means I’ll have to collect Matthew from school. Good job the school is next door. Not sure what we’ll do about the Christmas shopping, or my appointment for my holiday vaccinations or my daughter in law’s journey to work. Oh well, we’ll think about that tomorrow.

Oh yes, and a Merry Christmas from us.

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xx