Friday 30 September 2011

Jade is a Flower Child

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Hills Pet Nutrition for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

We've been experimenting with food for Jade. At the moment, and for the next four months she has to have puppy food. After that, we need to find out what is the best adult diet for her. The vet told me she doesn't have a heart murmur, which is quite common among King Charles Cavalier spaniels. Her heartbeat is normal when she is still, although she does have a slight abnormality in it when she moves. Hopefully that won't interfere with her quality or quantity of life.

Another common problem with the breed is with their legs, and Ted, the dog my daughter sometimes looks after who has also featured in my posts here, has had to have operations on his. Fortunately they were successful and he is fine now. And again, fortunately, the vet said Jade's legs are fine at the moment. But, of course, you never know what is around the corner. I'd prefer to avoid any mobility problems for her when she's older if I can.

Anyway, I checked out the Hill's Pet Nutrition site. It's well worth a visit and clicking around for lots of good advice about diet for dogs and managing your dog to keep the animal healthy and happy.

When I found their Healthy Mobility Challenge page, I decided to register and was given access to money off vouchers for their Science Diet Healthy Mobility dog food. They are offering up to $30 in vouchers. You should check it out. Everyone who registers gets the Hill's Healthy Mobility Coupon offers and is entered in a draw that will have 30 winners who will all get free pet food for a year.

I also went to the page for Hill's Pet Nutrition on Facebook, clicked on Little Dog House, took a little quiz about Jade's personality and discovered she's a 'flower child'. Why not go and find out what your dog is? It's a fun way to take a break from your work and pass a few minutes online.

Yesterday I realised just how strong my flower child's passion for feathers is. We took her to Baiter Park on the shore of Poole harbour and let her run free for a while. It was littered with seagull's feathers and she had a ball with them. I'd rather she played with them than her choice of chomping and tasting the pony droppings in the New Forest. There I had to keep her on lead all the time so I could control what she picked up as we walked.
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Hidden Gems by David Robinson

We are all lucky today because I have a guest post for you.  I get an excellent blog post without the pain of drafting it. (Didn't you know writing can be painful?) And you get a great writing tip from a successful author.

David Robinson is a pal of mine who has been active on the Writelink site even longer than I have. He is one of the most prolific successful authors I know, turning out several novels a year.  He also has a cracking sense of humour and writes side-splitting blog posts.

David has said he's less comfortable writing non-fiction, but today's post proves that he is just as good at it. Enjoy it, and then please go and visit him. And while you're at it, why not buy one of his e-books advertised in my side bar.  If you click there and buy, we'll all be even happier.  You'll get a spiffing yarn at a reasonable price (or the very useful how to tome), David will get a sale and I'll get a commission.

For a preview of his writing style. read on.  I know you'll enjoy this.

Hidden Gems

Like Jean, I’m a much travelled man. Leaving aside the rest of the world, there is no part of Great Britain that I haven’t visited, whether on business or holiday.

Wherever I go, if I have a little free time, I always head for the second hand bookshops, and I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up a few treasures here and there. A first Penguin Edition of Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass & The Pit dated 1960, a first hardback edition copy of a little-known novel by Keith Waterhouse, Office Life.

I was scouring the shelves of one shop in (I think) Whitby when I picked up a book entitled Hypnotism & Crime by Dr H. E. Hammerschlag.

I trained as a hypnotherapist in the early 90s. I was also writing crime fiction and I’d had this idea for a detective who was a ‘forensic hypnotist’. I bought Dr Hammerschlag’s book sometime around 2003, with the feeling that it would more than repay the £5 I paid for it.

Understatement! Hypnotism & Crime contained a hidden gem.

The book details a series of cases where hypnosis has been used in the committing of crimes, and within its pages there was an account of The Heidelberg Case.

Without going into great detail, this case, which happened in Germany from 1927-1934 blew away the notion that a hypnotised subject cannot be made to do something which would be against his/her moral standards. The subject, only ever identified as Mrs E, made six attempts to murder her husband and when they failed, the criminal hypnotist persuaded her to commit suicide. It was only good fortune that prevented her doing so.

To someone who writes crime fiction, mysteries, dark sci-fi and paranormal horror, The Heidelberg Case was a gift from the gods. From it, I developed a 100,000 word novel which, as I write, is with my editor, in preparation for publication.

My point here is not The Heidelberg Case, or the potential for abuse of hypnosis, or even the writing of such fiction. It’s research.

As writers, we all know the value of research, but people often say to me, “you write sci-fi and horror, you don’t need to research anything.”

Wrong. Many of my titles are set in the here and now, and at the very basic level, I have geographical research to carry out. Some of my sci-fi titles are set within the Solar System and I need to know the names of Jupiter’s moons or the orbital period of Saturn.

When it comes to more complex tales, such as the abuse of hypnosis, I’m up against a community which will swear that I have my facts wrong. Dr Hammerschlag disagrees with them, and so do I.

But it’s not simply establishing fact to mingle with the fiction. Having this research material to hand permits me to speculate. Why did Mrs E never remember a hypnotic induction? How did the hypnotist entrance her without saying a word? Why did Dr Ludwig Meyer’s original account of the case disappear?

These are questions to which there is no answer, but they’re questions upon which I can allow my fictitious forensic hypnotist to speculate.

And all this from a book that is almost 60 years old.

So the next time you’re wandering through the second hand bookshops and have your eye on a title, pause a moment and ask yourself what hidden gems you may find in those pages.

David Robinson is a freelance writer, novelist and humorist, who self-publishes his works on Smashwords and the Kindle. You can find him at and His titles are listed at and

Wednesday 28 September 2011

More Memories of Lanzarote

I can't believe it's five years since we were last in Lanzarote. The first picture above is of the cactus garden, one of the island's tourist attractions.  I've blogged about it before and you can see more of my photos here. 

The picture below is of a quiet beach on the island of La Graciosa which is just a short ferry ride from busy Lanzarote.

This shoreline of volcanic rock is on the quieter north western side of Lanzarote.

Finally here's an interesting mural placed on the garden wall of what I think was a private house.

Monday 26 September 2011

Getting Your Hands Dry

Don't you hate it when you've visited a restroom in a hotel or a cinema, an airport or a train station, you've washed your hands and find the only way to dry them is to stand for about five minutes waving them around in a warm slow air flow? I usually give up, flap them around a bit and let them dry naturally.

Some of the latest hand dryers actually work. They are more powerful and can really dry your hands quickly. But the crème de la crème must be the Dyson Air Blade, where you slide each hand down into a pocket and pull it out dry about 12 seconds later.

I wish I could remember where I first came across one of these airblade hand dryers. I'd definitely be going back there. I recall that it was one of those really pristine bathrooms that actually smelt clean. I was a bit wary of the hand dryer at first, but I watched someone else go first and then it was my turn and I was just amazed to have clean and dry hands in an instant. Dyson describes the process as being like a windscreen wiper scraping water off your hands. Apparently these dryers also use a lot less energy than the warm air dryers, so they are better for the environment too.

Dyson has always been famous for a revolutionary type of vacuum cleaner and I hadn't realised the company had diversified into Dyson hand dryers, but now that I know, I'm glad they did.

Monday 19 September 2011

Holiday Souvenirs

With the way our finances are right now, and the fact that we've reached the time of our lives when travel insurance goes sky high, I rather doubt we will be making any more overseas trips. I look over the photos of previous years holidays to remember those good times.

New York July 2005. Manhattan and over the East River, from the top of the Empire State Building

Lanzarote January 2006. A remarkable piece of residential architecture.
All buildings have to be painted white and not more than two storeys high.

Madeira October 2007. View from our hotel room.

I've  enjoyed trawling through my pics to select these.  It  brings back all the good times.  I'll post some more of these another day.

Friday 16 September 2011

Help for a Friend

The other day a friend of mine was talking about moving her website to Wordpress, and she was wondering how difficult it would be. I thought she'd probably need help and I found this new website with Wordpress theme designers. They are eager to help people to migrate to Wordpress and convert existing design into Wordpress theme and they promise that their solutions will be fast, effective and affordable. They will also design a custom Wordpress theme from scratch or tweak an existing theme to personalise it for you.

Good things about them are that they'll give you a free consultation and quote before you have to commit to anything. Best of all, if you're not satisfied, they'll rework, and if you're still not happy they'll give you your money back. I'm going to suggest to my friend that she tries them out. She can't lose financially and at best, she'll get a great new website, at worst, she might learn from the experience.

I'm going to warn her, though, that she'll have to watch the content. These people are designers and I don't think they concern themselves much with words. I noticed quite a few typos on their site.

Monday 12 September 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

Boy, am I getting writer's cramp. Of course that is now a figurative expression. It used to apply to pen pushing, now it's more a case of RSI - repetitive strain injury - or Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.

Last week, in addition to my normal workload, I had to think up, and write up, topics for five articles for a customer's website. They had to be at least 400 words and had to be littered with keywords from supplied lists.  This week I have to write 5 blog posts on the same topics at around 300 words with different keywords from the same lists. Next week it's rewriting each of the original articles twice. Not terribly exciting, but fairly representative of a freelancers lot.

I'm not having much time for Constant Content these days, with all this going on.  But some exciting changes are happening over there.  They've introduced writer pools for specific categories, and I've got myself into several of these, which are throwing up some interesting requests.

It's not easy to write much for this blog either. But one of my pals at Writelink might do a guest post for me, which will take off some of the pressure. It will be a refreshing change for my readers, too, to have a view from someone else. He doesn't write non-fiction but has quite a few books for sale at Amazon and Smashwords, so here's hoping he'll follow through with his offer.  Watch this space.

Friday 9 September 2011

Upton Country Park and Holes Bay

We did a circular tour of Upton Country Park yesterday. This walk has quite a bit of variety and it can be exciting whichever way you decide to walk.  Yesterday we turned anti-clockwise to take the shoreline trail first along the edge of Holes Bay.  This bit of the bay is also a nature reserve and has a couple of  bird hides beside the trail.

Here we keep Jade on a long lead so that we can make sure she doesn't go off the trail or annoy people we meet coming in the opposite direction. 

She is such a friendly little soul and thinks everyone wants to make friends with her.  As soon as we see someone coming towards us she gets all excited and her tail is going nineteen to the dozen. If I don't get her under control she'll be jumping all over them. Most people like this and think she's adorable, but some just don't like dogs or are nervous of them, even a light weight puppy like Jade.

I am so busy with writing and other projects at the moment, that I don't have enough time to take her as far as I'd like, but we turned up towards the gardens of the house, getting a glimpse of the view I showed you yesterday, and went on through to a parallel path back homewards. But we don't stay on that path with Jade because a lot of people cycle that way. And when we we turn off and go into the woods, we don't meet many people, so we let her run off lead. She dashes around, nose to the ground like the spaniel she is, and sometimes we don't see her for a while, through the undergrowth beside the path, until she comes pelting towards us again. Yetserday at one point, we got quite worried as she was gone so long and we couldn't even hear her, but suddenly there she was behind us having doubled back and found the path again.

When we reach the gate at the end of this path, she sits down patiently and waits for the lead to be clipped on again.  And then it is just a short step back to the road where we parked the car.

Friday 2 September 2011

Ebay Failure

I couldn't think what to write about today, so I did the trick of what's in my ninth picture folder.  It didn't work.  It was full of pictures of people who might be upset if I put them in here. I counted through another nine, and found this pic of the last item I put up for sale on ebay.  It was also the only thing I have failed to sell on ebay and ended up going to a charity shop.

 I liked this skirt. I liked the shape, the black background, and the colourful decoration at the hem. I bought it to take on holiday to Egypt and I did wear it, once, on an evening. But I decided it was really a young person's skirt, not for senior citizen like me who shouldn't wear hems above the knee.  It had been a mistake to buy it.

Nevertheless I was surprised that noone wanted to bid for it at ebay.  Is my taste really so unusual?

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