Monday #393

It’s October and that means the schools are off where I am – I now have to actually know and care about these things as it means Brodie is off nursery. They came off last week actually but I’ve only now thought to share this fascinating information with you. Da

How to store Enid Blyton’s magazines

and

Cunningham and Petrov: The Mystery of the Missing Agent chapter 14

Dada parked the car. “Are you ready to go in, sweetheart?”

Marietta couldn’t reply. It felt like the wind blowing off the sea was jiggling her words into nonsense. She imagined he Mighty Miss Hummingbird from Dada’s circus swooping down on the trapeze to pick the words back up again. Then maybe Marietta would be able to reply.

These are the opening lines of the first story in New Class at Malory Towers – just one of many, many books sitting on my shelves and waiting to be read and reviewed.

 

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Cunningham and Petrov: The Mystery of the Missing Agent chapter 13

Last time the search and rescue team ignored the fisherman’s warning and ran into a bit of trouble.


cunningham and petrov

Chapter 13

It took Anatoly a long time to get to sleep, he kept wondering where Bill was and how he was coping. He hoped that he was safe and they were being jumpy over nothing. Anatoly didn’t think he could lose a second father figure in his life. He would do everything he could do make sure that Bill was found, alive and well. Eventually he fell asleep on his pillow of straw, quite comfortable with his service blanket over himself even as the storm raged overhead.

It must have blown itself out at some point as when he woke in the early hours – thanks to one of the chickens mistaking his shoelaces for worms or something else edible – it seemed calm apart from a light rain. He shooed the chicken off and it retreated with a huffy-sounding squawk which made Thompson and Bentley stir slightly and then everyone settled back to sleep.

The next time he woke the sun coming in the grubby windows told him that it was morning and he rolled over in his sleeping bag and yawned. His back was a little tense from bracing against the waves the day before and then sleeping on the floor. He looked at his watch and groaned at the early hour, wondering if he should try and get some sleep but the sound of the sea birds was so loud that he wasn’t sure he could. He got up, stretched and decided to go for a swim in the cove where they had moored the boat. Grabbing his trunks and a blanket as a towel, he strode off to wake himself up in the cold Scottish waters.

An hour later Anatoly made his way back to the cottage, towelling his wet hair. He started on getting the fire back alive to start breakfast for the three of them. Soon the smell and noise of frying bacon and eggs wafted through the cottage. “Are those real eggs I smell?” asked Thompson as he sat up.

“Courtesy of our hosts,” he grinned, indicating the chickens which were scratching around the straw floor.

“Well, I’m glad we have such accommodating ones!” yawned Bentley. “How long have you been up?”

“I’ve shared accommodation with worse,” Thompson said, picking straw from his dark hair.

“About an hour,” Anatoly said, keeping an eye on the breakfast. He had stopped at the fisherman’s house on his way back and, while the fisherman was already out on his boat, his wife had insisted that he take the bacon, butter, bread and frying pan with him if he wouldn’t let her make them breakfast. The discovery of eggs amongst the straw had been an unexpected extra.

“Is there anywhere to wash?” Bentley asked, eyeing Anatoly’s wet hair. “Or have you been foolhardy enough to go swimming?”

“I had a very refreshing swim,” Anatoly said. “What is so foolhardy about that?”

“You will catch your death!” Bentley chuckled. “Honestly, how cold was it?”

“It is May,” Anatoly said, rolling his eyes, “hardly the middle of winter. It was a perfectly fine temperature.”

“We are in the middle of the sea here,” Thompson laughed. “Anyway, we’d better get moving soon, we have a large area to cover today!”

Anatoly portioned the bacon and eggs into their mess tins and along with the bread it made a fine breakfast. “You can come along with us every time if you’re going to feed us like that,” Thompson joked as they packed up their sleeping bags and headed out of the cottage, the frying pan tucked under Anatoly’s arm to be returned to the fisherman’s wife on his way past.

The fisherman’s wife was very pleased to see them and when they thanked her for the pan and the breakfast, she blushed and told them not to worry. She also pressed a heavy cake into Anatoly’s hands and wouldn’t accept any payment for it. The men thanked her and went off to their boat. Bentley took them out of the cove and headed the boat in the same direction they had gone the previous evening before the storm had forced them to turn back.

After around five hours of sailing they finally spotted some islands on the horizon, just little green and brown blobs at that distance. The number of birds in the air and the water increased dramatically as the islands slowly grew larger and Anatoly felt sure that Bill and the children must have headed for one of these islands as they were after birds.

They headed for the first bird-packed island and Bentley took the boat as close as he could, as they couldn’t find a place to dock. “You two might need to jump ashore, because I don’t think we can tie up,” he said to Anatoly and Thompson.

They had a brief discussion. None of them thought it likely that Bill and the children had camped on an island that appeared to have nowhere to dock a boat, but it wasn’t impossible and they felt they ought to at least make a cursory exploration just to rule it out. So Thompson and Anatoly stripped to the waist and, holding a small waterproof bag containing a few essentials like weapons and first-aid supplies, they slipped from the boat into the water.

“Refreshing, as I told you,” Anatoly said with a laugh as Thompson swore at the feeling of the cold water, and they made their way ashore.

Soon they were scrambling ashore, the rocks jagged against their hands. Here and there seaweed made their path slippery and they had to make sure they didn’t put their hands and feet into various birds nests that littered the cliffs. “If they camped here, then they are crazy!” Thompson grunted as they finally reached the grass top of the island.

“Agreed.” Anatoly said, saving his breath. They surveyed the rest of the island, which was as rocky and inhospitable as the part they had already crossed. It was, at least, not a very large island and so if they headed back down and to the shore on the opposite side with a little bit of meandering they felt that they would be able to see enough of it to be sure that Bill or the children were not there. He checked that plan with Thompson and then they communicated with Bentley by waving and pointing.

“How many more islands have we got?” Thompson groaned as they started down the rocks again to the boat. “I already feel like I’m lost on a maze!”

Anatoly laughed. “In our section? Thirty-seven. So only thirty-six to go!”

Thompson grumbled under his breath and shook his head. “Smugs needs to be more careful,” he added, annoyed at his colleague.

“Could happen to any one of us,” Anatoly said diplomatically, heading a little to his left to check behind a rocky area with a couple of scrubby trees which might have provided a little shelter. He wanted to defend Bill, but also didn’t want to alienate his current partners.

“Aye, true,” Thompson conceded. “Just it does appear to always happen to Smugs.”

“Adventures always come to the adventurous, there is no doubt about that*,” Anatoly quipped.

Thompson’s only response was to grunt again as they scrambled over more rocks and returned to the sea, and then their boat.

To be continued…

*This is actually a quote from Five Go to Smuggler’s Top (this is where it all becomes a bit Inception-like, as although Julian and the rest of the Five will have had this adventure already, in our particular universe it hasn’t been written yet, and won’t be written until Julian is in his early thirties).

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If you like Blyton: The New Bobbsey Twins #1 The Secret of Jungle Park

This is a review from Sean, and it contains some spoilers including the identity of the villain.


Now, we are going to start my favourite series of Bobbsey Twins mystery series. As I mentioned earlier, the Bobbseys’ first book came out in 1904 (before Blyton, and even before the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew!) Those were chapter books with (usually) non-mystery adventures. In 1980, Wanderer books started a 2nd series of Bobbsey Books which were in the flavour of Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew. They were still kind of old-fashioned (indeed, 3 of the series were re-writes of a series made in the 1960s), but were a step in the right direction. However, the third series (called The New Bobbsey Twins) jumped into the 1980s (which was then contemporary times) with both feet!  Older twins Nan and Bert were in a rock band, and Freddie (the youngest boy) even had a computer! Mrs Bobbsey worked part-time, and whilst Mr Bobbsey still owned his lumberyard, Dinah and Sam Johnson were no longer their Black live-in servants. Instead, Sam was the foreman at the yard, and Dinah was his wife (and they owned their own home). Ok, enough backstory-on with the review of Book #1!

The book opens with Nan being helped with her makeup for a rock band she is in by her younger sister Flossie. We are right away introduced to town bully and general bad guy Danny Rugg, who is in a rival rock band. A local amusement park (named Jungle Park) is hosting a battle of the bands contest where youths compete with their rock bands for a prize.

Before things can really begin, there is an emergency which panics the crowd of spectators. It is shown that the emergency was a prank – a smoke bomb – but the police treat the matter seriously. Lieutenant Pike of the police force (he was first introduced in the latter few Wanderer titles, and is a friend of the Bobbseys, but sometimes gets exasperated that they butt in on cases) knows that it’s no joke when a crowd is panicked. The Bobbseys ask him if they can investigate afterwards, and he grudgingly agrees. The contest goes on, and the Bobbseys’ band (the Aliens) tie for first place with Danny Rugg’s band (the Skulls). Both will play again in an elimination heat at a later date.

The Bobbseys do their thing and search for clues afterwards finding an eye patch and a swizzle stick (I always thought this was a bendable straw, or maybe a coffee cup stirrer. If anyone has any other ideas, please tell me.)

The eye patch might be Danny’s (his pirate band gear has one). Bert thinks that with Danny’s history, he’s the likely prankster. Freddie has more confidence in the clue of the swizzle stick. It has the logo for the Sunset Grill on it. Fortunately for him, the Bobbsey family goes out to eat once a week, and it’s his turn to pick the restaurant. Sunset Grill it is!

This place turns out to be a cheap one-star dive where the food is all but inedible. But Freddie and Nan are able to eavesdrop at the door of an office where a deep-voiced man is growling on the phone “The problem is Tiny!”

The next morning, the Bobbseys hear a radio report of strange accidents happening at Jungle Park. Simon Harris-co-owner (who also owns restaurants and real estate all over town) is interviewed. Freddie recognises the voice as the deep-voiced man at Sunset Grill, and Nan and the younger twins go to investigate.

When they get there, they find Lieutenant Pike also doing an investigation. They sweet talk their way into joining him as he interviews some of the employees. First, is co-owner Mr. Loomis. He mentions that his partner Mr. Harris and he are upset that business is slow because of the accidents and strange happenings. Mr. Harris is even hiring a fix-it man from his own pocket to save expenses. He’s a redhead with an eye patch! (Dum, dum, dum!)

Next they speak to the animal trainer, Beverly Baku. She’s kind of a hippie black woman. She manages to annoy Lt. Pike, and the Bobbseys decide to take their leave (Lt. Pike only tolerated them being there by a narrow margin, and they feel that if he’s annoyed, they don’t want to upset the apple cart).

At home, they meet up with Bert who was tailing Danny put didn’t find out anything. The older twins decide to search the park after hours. They don’t get far because someone let the animals loose and they almost get trampled by a stampeding elephant! Shaken from their narrow escape, they beat a hasty retreat back home.

The next day, the kids go to Jungle Park to rehearse with the rest of the Aliens. After this, they break away to do more detecting. It seems Beverly Baku left town suddenly, and as the twins talk to Mr. Loomis, the eye patched fix-it man comes into the office and is frightening.

Mr. Loomis gives the handyman instructions and he leaves. After this, he chats with the twins for a bit, mentioning such things as how ironic it is that a big man like him has the nickname of “Tiny”, and then offers to let them ride a roller coaster for free.

The coaster ride is fun, and they even see Mr. Eye patch waving at them from the ground far below, but then terror strikes! During the ride, the cars come loose! Realising something has gone wrong, Mr. Loomis is able to shut down the ride before the kids get hurt.

When they recover from their shock, the twins determine that the coaster cars were sabotaged – this was no accident! Since the handyman supposedly worked on the roller coaster, the twins and Mr Loomis search for him. He was seen heading to the fun house, so they go there, only to find a redhead wig and an eye patch. It was a disguise!

Brainstorming back home, they realise that Mr. Harris was saying that Mr. Loomis (aka “Tiny”) was the problem on the phone, not the size of the issue.

Next day, the twins follow Mr. Harris and see him talking to members of a construction company. Mr. Bobbsey owns a lumberyard, and he later explained that Peabody construction wants to build a mall where the amusement park stands. The twins figure out that Mr. Harris wants to sell it, but Mr Loomis/Tiny won’t agree. As co-owners, they both need to sign off on it, so “the problem is Tiny”. Nan sketches Mr. Harris, and then adds a red wig and eye patch. It’s the handyman! They’re one and the same person!

Now, the twins call Lt. Pike, who lets them ride in the police car for the final showdown. They find a man in a gorilla suit (who blends in since the park has many people in costume), but wait! He’s jimming the lights! After a funny chase, they capture the gorilla, aka the redhead handyman, aka Mr. Harris.

And the final band competition? Despite a dirty trick, Danny Rugg tried to pull, the Aliens win! A nice wrap up to the case!

My thoughts: What can I say? I loved these books as a tween (this came out in ’87 making me about 11 or 12 years old), and they still hold a place in my heart. Maybe some of that is nostalgia, but I really think the adventure is just right for young kids, and would recommend this to any parent with young children.

Every detective has a policeman who has a love-hate relationship with them all the way down from Sherlock Holmes and Inspector Lestrade. Lt. Pike is such a policeman for our young detectives. But despite a bit of gruffness, he is kind, and really does value the twins’ thoughts as can be seen by the way he does allow them to tag along.

Each book has about 10 illustrations in them. (Here’s a little secret I love the books so much that a few years ago, I bought prints of the pictures used by the artist as a basis for his artwork! As a photographer, I find these especially interesting) These illustrations were by George Tsui in the first few books, and then by Paul Jennis until book #18. This along with the “ghostwriters” for the first half of the series marked the heyday of the series for me. Book #1 is 5 stars in my opinion, and the series has new life breathed into it!


Having introduced us to this new Bobbsey series Sean is then going to review his top five books from the series for us (there are 30 books in total).

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Monday #392

It’s October, the days are getting noticeably shorter and the heating will probably be going on soon. Here’s what’s coming up on the blog this week.

If You Like Blyton: The New Bobbsey Twins #1, The Secret of Jungle Park

and

Cunningham and Petrov: The Mystery of the Missing Agent chapter 13

“Are you a good dog today, or not? Angela says we’re not to shake paws with you unless you’ve been good.”

“He has been fairly good, for him,” said Angela, so Peter shook hands with Barker. “He’s only shewed up two things – my white socks and a bit of my bedroom carpet.”

“Well, I shall only shake one paw with you, not two,” said Peter as Barker held up the other paw to shake. “You’re fairly good, but not very good, Barker.”

Peter creates a system for paw-shakes based on behaviour in Hollow Tree House.

 

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September 2020 Round Up

I can hardly believe that it is autumn already, even though it has felt quite wintry the past week. Not ideal when we are currently not allowed to meet anyone else indoors! I am still on furlough, though what will happen when that runs out on October 31 I don’t know.


What I have read

After a poor two months I made a concerted effort to read more. It lasted at least the first half of the month, then it tailed off again. I still managed 11 books, which brings me to 128 for the year so far.

  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Anne Shaffer
  • Hey, Seymour! – Walter Wick
  • The Bermondsey Bookshop – Mary Gibson
  • Abby’s Twin (The Baby-Sitters Club #104) – Ann M. Martin
  • Claudia, Queen of the Seventh Grade (The Baby-Sitters Club #106) – Ann M. Martin
  • The Bookshop Girl – Sylvia Bishop
  • The Adventurers and the Temple of Treasure (Adventurers #2) – Jemma Hatt, reviewed here
  • Five Have a Wonderful Time – reviewed here and here
  • The Flat Share – Beth O’Leary
  • The Island of Adventure (audiobook) – reviewed here
  • The Nothing Girl (Frogmorton Farm #1) – Jodi Taylor

I’ve still to finish:

  • The 1950s Scrapbook – Robert Opie
  • Undead and Uneasy (Undead #13) – MaryJanice Davidson
  • Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts (The Factory Girls #1) – Mary Gibson

What I have watched

  • I can finally put Hollyoaks back on this list! I watched about 14 episodes in the last week of September as I somehow completely missed its return to TV!
  • 42 – This is classed as a biographical sports film which does not sound like something I would watch or enjoy but it was actually very good. I didn’t understand some (well, most) of the baseball stuff but it didn’t matter too much.
  • Murder She Wrote seasons 10 and 11
  • More House of Games, this was on Dave but suddenly disappeared from the schedule. Luckily we found it on the BBC iPlayer!
  • Mythbusters – I’ve watched this all before but it’s easy to have on in the background
  • Princess and the Frog – the only Disney Princess film I hadn’t yet seen. It was OK, but I didn’t feel like it lived up to some of the hype it gets.
  • Something I did think was great was Enola Holmes. Milly Bobby Brown was great in Stranger Things and she’s possibly even better here. I’ve not yet watched Enid with Helena Bonham Carter and yet Enid was who I was thinking of when watching HBC play Enola’s mother.

What I have done

  • Reorganised Brodie’s bedroom including putting a new flatpack unit together (all by myself!) when he decided he was going to sleep in his ‘big boy’ bed all of a sudden. So no more cot!
  • I made a little more progress on my Tigger cross stitch, but I suspect Covid may be a thing of the past before I ever finish it.
  • I ate out twice, first time(s) since early March.
  • We took a ride on Kerr’s Miniature railway which has been around for 85 years but is sadly about to close due to diminished visitor numbers.
  • I started the TOMM Christmas plan and bought my first Christmas present as well as advent calendars. It still feels a bit early but the goal is to be finished with everything by December first so I can enjoy the festive season.
  • I met my new nephew – outside of course – and had a cuddle. I now have one niece and two nephews.
  • We had days out to Crail which is seaside village with a historic harbour, and Kirriemuir, the birthplace of J.M. Barrie, which has Peter Pan themed play park.
  • We’ve visited a few parks and the beach and gone for a few walks as well. Brodie has discovered the joys of stepping on crunchy leaves, one of the few good things about autumn.

Brodie has been at nursery 4 days a week, so I’ve taken a lot less photos than usual!


What has your month looked like?

 

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Fan fic Friday: Cunningham and Petrov: The Mystery of the Missing Agent chapter 12

Last time Anatoly and his colleagues reached their first Scottish island and met the same fisherman that Bill and the children did on their first day at sea.


cunningham and petrov

Chapter 12

Bentley skirted the east side of the fisherman’s island for a short time then they headed out into the open sea. At first the going was pleasant, but slowly the wind was picking up and causing little white tips on the increasingly choppy seas.

Anatoly glanced at the sky doubtfully, noting the dark, ominous clouds that were gathering above them, and as far as he could see in all directions. He opened his mouth to suggest that just maybe the fisherman had got it right and felt the patter of raindrops beginning to fall.

Bentley grunted and swore to himself. “I really believed that old man would be wrong! Can someone chuck me my raincoat?”

“Maybe it will pass?” Anatoly suggested as he moved to pass over the navy coat.

“Maybe,” said Thompson, pulling on his own rain jacket as the rain came down more heavily.

It didn’t take long before they were starting to worry. The wind, and the waves had increased dramatically in just a quarter hour and the boat was now being lifted up at the front and then dropping down.

“I think we ought to find land and hunker down,” Anatoly suggested, having to speak loudly over the wind and crashing waves. “I do not think we will get the tents up this wind.”

Thompson and Bentley glanced at each other. “Think you’re right,” agreed Bentley. “Have a look at that map and see how far the next island is!”

They were grateful for the tiny cabin of the boat as it gave them some protection from the elements as they spread the map out. “I hate to say it,” said Thompson, staggering as the boat lurched again, “but I think the nearest land was back where we’ve just come from.”

“It’s at least somewhere we know we can dock and tie up,” Bentley said wryly from outside the door where he was still handing the boat’s wheel. “That old fellow is going to be cackling that we didn’t listen to him in the first place.”

“Better our tails between our legs than at the bottom of the sea,” Anatoly said. When the other two laughed he at first thought that he had gotten his metaphors muddled up again, but then he realised that they were simply amused and he grinned.

The amusement didn’t last long as Bentley piloted the boat in a wide circle and they began retracing their route. The weather only got worse as they went, leaving the two not piloting the boat to bail out the water that kept flooding in with each crashing wave.

Through some miracle, Bentley controlled the boat through the choppy waves towards the island they had just visited. The waves next to the island were crashing against the rocks. “Take it steady, Bentley,” Thompson warned. “I don’t want the boat to end up as driftwood.”

“I have no intention of that,” Bentley replied grimly. “They’d take it out of my bloody wages, no doubt.”

A good way away from where the agents were struggling with the elements, Bill wasn’t having much of a better time. The shack he was in was dreadfully drafty, and the rain and spray from the waves were able to get in. He felt his clothes starting to get wet and cold. He shivered as another wave broke over the shack and wetted his clothes again. He was so cold he was struggling to try and form a plan. He wondered if, with the help of the wind, buffeting against the wood, he could rock the small shack over so he could facilitate an escape. He struggled to his feet and threw himself against the side of the shack when the waves broke and the wind blew. After fifteen minutes or so, weak from hunger and cold, Bill gave up and began to pace to keep himself warm.

By the time Bentley was steering the boat towards the jetty they had left mere hours before the three men were cold, tired and hungry. They ached from being battered against the sides of the boat as it rocked and yawed on the waves. He had to be very careful but succeeded in getting alongside the jetty with only a couple of scrapes and Anatoly and Thompson worked quickly to get their ropes tied up so the boat was secured. The jetty was in a sheltered cove so the sea was not quite so rough there.

The men pulled their packs and kit out of the boat. “Do we go to the fisherman or shall we just find shelter?” Anatoly asked. “The fisherman might know a place of shelter to save us looking,” he added.

The fisherman looked annoyingly smug when they knocked on his door, dripping wet, though he didn’t say anything. “My bit cottage won’t tak sae mony, and that’s what I told yon other fowk, but you can come in an’ dry off a bit. I’ll put the kettle on, and you can hae a cup o’ tea.”

The men graciously accepted and moved into the house. “Is there anywhere around here to shelter?” Anatoly asked when the fisherman’s wife had put their cups of tea on the table in front of them.

“Weel,” he rubbed his whiskered chin. “There used tae be a few mair families living here, I suppose you might shelter in one o’ the auld cottages down that way,” he pointed with his pipe. “They’re a bit tumble-doon but one or two o’ them might hae dry bits inside.”

“I am happy to try some old houses,” Anatoly said with a smile, glancing at his companions.

Bentley shrugged. “Sounds like our only option. Better than being on the boat, anyway.”

They had a second cup of tea, pressed on them by the fisherman’s wife, along with hot buttered scones, and then headed back out into the storm. It was only early evening but it was nearly dark already and they were bent almost double as they went down the rutted track, the wind and rain stinging their faces nonetheless. The first cottage they came to had almost no roof, the tiles either blown off or scavenged for one of the few remaining buildings with people still living in them. A quick look inside with a torch showed it was almost as wet inside as out.

The moved on quickly to the second building they could see, and faired slightly better, the roof was at least still on this building but it had been utilised to house some chickens which were clucking in alarm at the storm and then the three men invading their space.

“Call this one a maybe,” Bentley said, backing off as a brave chicken attempted to peck at his ankles.

The third cottage was missing an entire wall, and unfortunately it was the one facing the wind, and the fourth was missing substantial chunks of both wall and roof. “Looks like we’re in with the chickens,” said Thompson, and the others agreed they’d rather face the hens rather than continuing the search for a cottage both whole and empty.

They returned to the second cottage and, giving the chickens a firm glare, spread out their sleeping bags in the driest corner. There was a fireplace still intact, and enough bits of scrap wood and straw inside the cottage to get a reasonable fire going, the warmth of which seemed to settle the chickens who were soon roosting comfortably and, as far as they could tell, sleeping.

To be continued…

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If you like Blyton: The Adventurers and the Temple of Treasure by Jemma Hatt

I recently read, or should I say listened to the first Adventurers book; The Cursed Castle and reviewed it. I was sent audiobooks of the first three titles in the series on audiobook by Jemma Hatt herself, in exchange for honest reviews. So here’s the second one!


The cast

We are back with Lara, Rufus, Barney and Tom who has come to stay for the holidays.

Mrs Jacobs is neatly gotten rid of in the first few minutes – she’s back off to Egypt due to a work situation. Just before she gets the call summoning her to Egypt she has told the children that there’s a visitor on their way. The visitor turns out to be Lara’s Uncle Logan, who becomes responsible for the children (and Barney).

Logan is hard to describe. I can tell you what he is not – responsible, sensible, punctual, honest… He gets his own niece’s name muddled up and falls for Rufus’ joke that his name is Joe King. He was a TV star, with his own Bear Grylls-style show but it’s made clear that he’s actually rubbish at survival skills.

Also in the story is Dee, who is a sort of girlfriend of Logan. She’s quite a bit more sensible than Logan but somehow lets him drag her into all sorts of trouble.

Later we meet Karim’s sister Maye as well, and she’s very feisty.


Off to Cairo

In the last story they found an Egyptian treasure under Kexley Castle in England. This time, after looking through some of Lara’s father’s belongings which Logan had, they discover clues to a treasure in Egypt and very quickly are off on Dee’s private plane.

I admit I found this part rather hard to believe, but it’s probably very hard to have three children and a dog fly to Egypt on a whim and have it come across as realistic. Firstly Tom, who has travelled from Cornwall to London handily has his passport with him (why? other than the plot demanding it of course). And secondly Rufus tells the airport staff that they submitted Barney’s travel documents on the online portal which is a lie (who knows if there even is an online portal as he made it up), and they are just allowed to travel. What is far more believable is them bribing the authorities at the other end. I’m not sure authors can win in these situations, though. If no mention had been made of needing passports or that dogs need documentation to travel I’d have been asking ‘what about’, but raising the issues and solving them with solutions like these also rankles. I don’t expect it will bother child readers, though.

Blyton regularly got away with ignoring problems like these as she was writing in the 1930s-60s and although she perhaps exaggerates the laxness, air travel was nowhere near as regulated as it is now.

Anyway, they arrive in Egypt and talk to Lara’s father’s contact in a museum. He warns them that a gang is also after the treasure and they immediately find themselves being followed.

They are followed all the way through the book as they move from place to place following the clues to the treasure. At one point they are saved by Maye (Kareem’s sister), I found that a bit too coincidental. There are 98 million people in Egypt and they just happened to be rescued by a sister of a friend?

Maye follows them onboard an overnight train and although Dee isn’t happy Logan is too laid-back to send her away.

They hire a boat – we get quite into River of Adventure territory for a while (with the addition of a scene with a crocodile!) – and they find the person they’ve been hunting for. I love that it turns out to be a woman when they assumed it’d be a man. Unfortunately ala River of Adventure the adults are all kidnapped by the baddies and the children are left to fend for themselves.

Having seen the map belonging to the woman (I have completely blanked on her name – this is the one problem with audiobooks, it’s not so easy to make notes!) they decide to continue searching for the treasure and find themselves in another National Treasure worthy underground adventure. If these books were ever adapted for TV or film these chapters would make excellent viewing.

The final chapters are very tense as they uncover the treasure but realise that the baddies are not far behind them.


My thoughts

I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as the first one. I found the contrivances of their travel plans and running into Maye drew me out of the story, and I felt Dee and Logan were present for too long. I much prefer it when they get rid of all the adults! (Neither Dee nor Logan were particularly likeable, actually, though Logan redeemed himself rather a lot at the end.)

The baddies are a bit vague, a nameless, faceless gang, but they are fairly sinister too as they are always just a step or two behind the children.

I said for the last book that Barney seemed to be forgotten sometimes and was an after-thought at others, but he’s far more present in this book and much more of a character.

I felt this book got better as it went on. The beginning was fine if unbelievable at times. I liked that we got a bit more information about Lara’s father. Then their travels through Egypt were good despite Logan and Dee. The strongest part of the book was definitely the last chapters – Jemma Hatt seems to have a real strength for writing and describing clues and puzzles, she makes it all very tense then just keeps ratcheting it up as the baddies descend and make it all ten times more dangerous.

As before the narrator was Ciaran Saward and so it was a pleasant listen at normal speed for me.

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Monday #391

This is going up a bit later than usual as I procrastinated so long last night over choosing a quote to feature that I forgot to do it in the end and went to bed…

If you like Blyton: The Adventurers and the Temple of Treasure,

Cunningham and Petrov: The Mystery of the Missing Agent chapter 12

and

September Round up

He soon came to the woods. There were sturdy old oak-trees everywhere! Derek looked beneath them. Yes 0 they had begun to drop their acorns all over the place.

“It’s a good year for acorns and chestnuts,” thought Derek, as he bent to gather up handfuls of the smooth yellow-brown acorns.

This is from They Both Wanted the Acorns, from Enid Blyton’s magazine vol4, issue 18, published 64 years ago this week. I chose it because we picked up some acorns in the park yesterday (Brodie was not that impressed and threw most of them into the stream).

In the story Derek goes acorn hunting for his uncle, to feed his pigs. In the woods he finds a brownie who wants the acorn cups to turn into little tobacco pipes, whilst Derek only wants the acorns themselves. They share the work and gather lots of acorns and cups and Derek also takes home an acorn-cup pipe complete with tobacco for his sailor doll. I assumed this story wouldn’t have been reprinted recently but in fact it has never been reprinted – but you can read it in full here.

 

 

 

 

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Fan fic Friday: Cunningham and Petrov: The Mystery of the Missing Agent chapter 11

Last time Bill had his first interrogation and Anatoly, Pete Bentley and Thompson set off on a search and rescue mission.


cunningham and petrov

Chapter 11

On the harbour Henty stood by Bennett. “Interesting choice to send into the lion’s den,” he remarked, watching the three boats on their differing trajectories, already growing further and further apart.

“Are you criticizing my decision?” Bennett asked, also staring out to sea.

“No, sir. I’m just intrigued. That boy can’t be more than nineteen,” Henty said respectfully. “He must have some special skills that aren’t immediately apparent?”

Bennett smiled grimly. “He’s got the makings of a good agent, but I let him go out because he knows Cunningham probably better than anyone else I’ve got. They’ve been friends for several years. Besides, as you say, he’s young. He might understand those kids, what they might do if they’ve been separated from Cunningham.”

“Risky move, though,” said Henty.

“Undoubtedly,” Bennett responded.

Anatoly gripped the side of the boat with one hand as it bobbed over the waves, binoculars at the ready to be able to scout out islands and look for any signs of Bill’s boat, the children, or that damned parrot of Jack’s.

“You don’t get seasick, do you?” Bentley shouted to him over the sound of the engine.

He shook his head. He hadn’t been on boats all that often but he wasn’t the type to be car-sick or plane-sick so he didn’t think a boat would trouble him too much.

The boat sped on for what seemed like forever until they reached the first of their dedicated islands to check, one of the very few inhabited ones. “Petrov, be a good chap and jump out with the mooring rope and tie us up,” Bentley instructed him as they neared a simple stone jetty.

Praying he didn’t make a fool of himself Anatoly grasped the rope in one hand, put one foot on the edge of the boat and stepped across to the rough jetty steps. He grinned at his success and bounded up, mindful of the seaweed which was draped over some parts of the steps, and tied the rope around a rusted wooden hoop.

A fisherman in a long blue jersey was repairing a fishing net on the beach and he walked over to meet them as Bentley and Thompson joined Anatoly on the jetty. “So what are you after?” he asked, getting straight to the point. “The first lot wanted bairds, the second lot were after the first lot… and now you turn up. Never seen sae many visitors to this wee island in my life!”

“Whoa, whoa there,” said Thompson, holding his hands up. “Let’s take this from the top, old chap. Were the first lot a man and some kids?”

“And who’d be wantin’ tae know?” the fisherman asked.

“The man and the kids, they are friends of ours,” Anatoly said honestly. “We are worried about them. We think they might have gotten lost or perhaps had an accident.” The second part was only half true, but there was enough truth along with his youthful charm to appease the old man.

“Aye, well. It was a man, and four kids. Off to do some baird watching. Waste o’ a fine boat, if you ask me. But I’d wish them nae harm, so I hope you find them.”

“What about these men who came after them?” Bentley queried, offering the man a cigarette, hoping that the man would talk. “They might be other friends of ours trying to catch up with the first party,” he half truthed.

“Och, that was just Henty, I ken him fae the mainland,” the fisherman said, accepting a cigarette and letting Bentley light it for him.

Having gained his trust they questioned him as much as they felt able, without rousing his suspicions. He didn’t know anything more than the direction Bill had taken the boat in when he had left the island, and they’d already learned that from Henty. They asked him about likely island for bird-watching and he had scoffed. “I dinnae pay much attention to the bairds,” he said. “Not unless they’re after my fish! I go right out tae sea, you want deep waters for fishing.” When pressed, he pointed to a few islands on their map but wouldn’t make any promises.

Anatoly was surprised that no one else had come up on the fisherman, even though Bill had hinted at someone possibly being around. He wondered if they had missed this island all together, and whether that had been on purpose. After sharing a flask of tea with the fisherman, they said they ought to be going.

“There’s nae land for hours in any direction, and there’s a storm headin’ this way,” the fisherman said knowingly.

“A storm?” Thompson looked out at the clear skies and smooth sea. “The forecast said it would stay fine.”

“Aye, well. These forecasters with a’ their new-fangled equipment dinnae know it all,” said the fisherman dismissively. “I’m telling you, there’ll be a storm this evening.”

“How can you tell?” Anatoly asked out of interest.

“Practice. I’ve been on this island nigh on seventy years, I ken how it looks when a storm’s coming. Besides, my rheumatism’s flared up something chronic!”

Anatoly smirked a little. “Well I am glad we ran into you,” he added as he went to rinse the tea mugs in the salt water of the ocean. “Thank you for the information, and good luck with your fishing!”

“We’re not taking his word for it, are we?” Thompson asked the other two once they were out of earshot of the fisherman who had gone back to his net. “There’s no sign of a storm coming and we can see for miles here. I want to head on to the nearest island before dark.”

“It’s always an interesting concept,” Bentley chipped in. “However I think the old chap might just be feeling his age today. The forecast said it would be fine. When we call later we can ask for a report if you are really worried, Thompson!”

Thomson thumped him on the arm. “Let’s get going, then.”

Bill woke up, his body stiff, head heavy and he was beginning to feel unwashed and grimy. He had no idea what time it was as his watch hadn’t been wound. He took a few moments to recall where he was and what was going on, and he groaned when he remembered his previous encounter with one of the men who had captured him, annoyed at himself for not doing a better job of pumping him for information.

A tray of food was brought in some time later, after he’d had time to go over his shack again inch by inch. One man held a gun on him while the other went to untie his hands. He grunted in surprise as he found Bill’s hands were already unbound. “You’re a slippery one, ain’t you?” he remarked, giving him a kick in the side before both men retreated.

Despite being desperately hungry not to mention thirsty, Bill made no move towards the tray. That voice. Where had he heard that voice before? No, it just couldn’t be. He thought about it over and over, placing the voice in a shabby warehouse some two weeks earlier. He slapped a hand against his face.

No wonder these people were jumpy about his presence. They were the same damn people he’d been tracing for the past two months! The very people he had been trying to get away from!

He had sailed straight into the lions’ den, and grimly, he thought they would never believe it had been a complete accident.

To be continued…

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The Island of Adventure: An audio review

As I’ve mentioned a few times I’m a big fan of audiobooks. They mean I can take in a book while doing other mundane tasks like hanging washing or cooking a meal. I can also listen while out walking – it’s very hard to read a physical book and walk at the same time. Not impossible, but definitely challenging.

Audible often has deals on so at some point in the past I bought The Island of Adventure but had never got around to listening to it. Then I had a visual migraine the other week while waiting for my Covid results (which eventually came back negative) so I went to lie down for a while and decided to start listening!


The book

I have already reviewed the book in a fair amount of detail so I won’t go over all that again.

The audiobook isn’t exactly the same as the book I reviewed though, as it has used an edited/updated text. You can tell as it features Joe rather than Jo-Jo.

I have compared an early text with a later one in a series of posts and from what I can tell this is a very similar if not identical edition as it also has Kiki as white and yellow instead of scarlet and grey, and other changes I recognise too.

I am not a big fan of updates to Blyton’s works – some I accept are necessary and don’t greatly spoil the books but many are silly and some are downright idiotic – but as her works are in UK copyright until 2038 there won’t be an un-updated audiobooks here until then. Not legally, anyway.

The cover is an audiobook (ie square) version from the latest paperback and although I’m not a huge fan, it’s not the worst cover if you don’t look too closely at the children. Somehow it seem to matter less when it’s an audiobook (or ebook) even though I see the cover every time I press play/pause/skip back.


The narrating

The narrator sounds a bit like the one from The Young Adventurers and The Cursed Castle, but is in fact Thomas Judd (and not Ciaran Saward.) Maybe there’s a school for audiobook narrators, or  maybe Judd and Saward come from the same region.

Anyway, Judd has a pleasant, easy to listen to voice. Like Saward and Stephen Fry he reads at a pace I can comfortably listen to without speeding it up – and that doesn’t happen often.

His voices are not the best I have heard, but neither are they the worst. Uncle Jocelyn, Mr Roy and Bill are quite good, and you can tell them apart, but Joe unfortunately sounds like a Comic Strip Presents character played by Robbie Coltrane. As in the modern paperbacks he retains the speech patterns of someone who does not have English as their first language (I’ve seen it referred to as a Caribbean patois) but he speaks with a broad Cornish accent which is a little jarring.

Bill is quite jolly-sounding for the most part which works well, but on a couple of occasions he is supposed to be sharp and stern and that doesn’t really come across in his tone of voice.

Dinah and Lucy-Ann aren’t particularly distinguishable from each other, in fact Dinah sounds extremely insipid for her fiery nature, and neither Philip or Jack sounds noticeably different. Instead of sounding like a girl in a temper who is hitting her brother mercilessly, Dinah often sounds as if she’s about to burst into tears. Thomas Judd seems to think that all girls speak in quite high-pitched voices all the time unfortunately, which got a bit distracting at times. It wasn’t bad enough to make me stop listening, but I winced quite a few times. The Audible sample for this book is from the start and so doesn’t feature Dinah but the one for The Castle of Adventure does, so you can get an idea.

Kiki isn’t bad – I suppose it’s hard to voice a somewhat unrealistically skilled-at-human-speech parrot, but she doesn’t sounds very parrot-like. The Audible sample has Kiki’s first lines if you want to hear them for yourself.

It’s interesting to see (or hear) how differently parts of the book can be interpreted. In chapter three, Jack says Uncle doesn’t want us back… And Mr Roy doesn’t want us here. So it looks as if nobody loves us at the moment Lucy-Ann. I know the text says that he was looking so dismayed, and he’s dreading staying the rest of the holidays with Mr Roy, but it sounds like he’s about to burst into tears. Given the sort of stiff-upper-lip attitudes of the time I always read him as saying it a bit more matter-of-factly.

What’s also interesting, though I suspect this can apply whether you’re reading the same edition for the umpteenth time or on a new one, is how a re-read can suddenly throw up brand-new things. This time I had an epiphany about Jo-Jo (or indeed, Joe). He is not skulking around following the children just to annoy them, he wants to know who took them out fishing and into town, specifically because if there’s someone new around especially with a boat they could be a danger to the counterfeiting operation. How daft of me to never really think of that before!

Usually audiobooks either have special sound effects or they don’t. The Bad Beginning (the first A Series of Unfortunate Events book) had a great narrator in the form of Tim Curry along with a full cast of voice actors for the characters. Unfortunately it was almost un-listenable due to the constant background effect such as crashing waves and squawking seagulls etc, which almost drowned out all the dialogue. A sample is on the Audible site and has the sea sounds in the background.

Anyway, this one is odd as the only effect is that the phone call between Mr Roy and Aunt Polly has Mr Roy’s voice sounds as if it’s coming from far-away, or indeed down a 1940s phone line. It’s very well done – just a little unexpected as there are no other effects.

There is also some opening music that is, thank goodness not repeated every chapter as I find that incredibly tedious. It’s also terrible for people who like to fall asleep listening to audiobooks as it’s guaranteed to wake me up every time!

All in all this was an OK listen. Obviously the story gets five stars but the narration is probably only 3.5 stars. I don’t think I would spend another credit on others in this series as they are all narrated by Thomas Judd.

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Monday #390

Recent visitors to the Fan fiction page at the top of the blog might have noticed a new heading: External fan fiction links. There is only one such link at the moment and it is to the story Watergate Bay by Kieran Wyatt. Due to some of the more mature themes in the story I decided against hosting it here but I’m happy to link to it as it was a very good read.

The Island of Adventure: An audio review

and

Cunningham and Petrov: The Mystery of the Missing Agent chapter 11

Miss Polly shouldn’t use this room. No, that she shouldn’t, and I’ve telled her so. It’s a bad room. And you can see the Isle of Gloom from it too, when the mists lift and it’s bad to look on the Isle of Gloom… Well, you take my word. Master Philip, and don’t you go looking at the Isle of Gloom more than you can help. This is the only room you can see it from, and that’s why it’s a bad room. No good ever came from the Isle of Gloom. Bad men lived there, and bad deeds were done there, and wickedness came from that isle as long as anyone remembers.

Jo-Jo warns the children from so much as looking at the Isle of Gloom in The Island of Adventure.

island of adventure. jack looks at the isle of gloom

 

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Fan fic Friday: Cunningham and Petrov: The Mystery of the Missing Agent chapter 10

Last time Bill got to grips with his captivity and Anatoly paired up with a couple of familiar faces from their adventure in the Austrian valley the year before.


cunningham and petrov

Chapter 10

Some time later the door to the shack was opened and Bill found himself blinking at the sudden light. He quickly hid his unbound hands behind his back as a figure stepped forward, silhouetted in the sunlight and Bill could make out the glint of a gun pointed at him. “Who are you? Why are you holding me here?” he asked with a not entirely feigned sense of indigence.

“I must apologise for the accommodation,” the man said, waving a hand negligently at the interior of the shack before he crouched down to look Bill in the face. “It’s so hard to get a decent hotel room around these parts.”

Bill considered lunging, the man was off balance crouched as he was but he could tell from the shadows outside that there were at least two other men, perhaps more so he wouldn’t get far.

He also didn’t want to risk the gun going off and striking him in the struggle. He grunted at the comment and tried to stare down the man in front of him, not that he could see him very well because of the light framing him. “What do you want?”

“Why don’t we start with a nice easy question. Who are you?”

“Doctor Walker, Robert Walker. I’m a tutor on a bird watching holiday,” Bill croaked, his brain searching for and finding his alias from the train for this trip.

“I see. And what are you a doctor of, exactly?”

“Ornithology, that is to say the study of birds,” Bill bluffed, trying play up the part of the bumbling doctor on a bird watching holiday. “I came to study the puffins.”

The man stood up. “I know that you have followed us here, Dr Walker. I want to know who you are and what you know. The next time I come to speak with you perhaps you might consider telling me the truth, otherwise things could get quite… unpleasant.”

He backed out and the door was shut and bolted once more.

“But I am on a bird watching holiday!” Bill tried to convince the man through the locked door. He sat back as the man moved away from the shack and let out a long breath. He closed his eyes, and lent his head back against the wood of the shack and tried to start formulating a plan of what to say when the man came back.

“I know that you have followed us here.”

“I want to know what you know.”

Bill pondered these statements. Why did they think he had followed them when in reality he had no idea who they were or what they were up to beyond flying planes in an unusual location. It was they who had approached and attacked him, after all!

As soon as they were out of the briefing the agents grabbed their kit bags and then were bundled into cars and driven to Croydon Airport where the planes were waiting to get them to Scotland in the quickest time possible. Anatoly settled in his seat on the plane and intended to catch some sleep to try and be as sharp as possible when they landed.

The journey by air was far quicker than the one Bill had taken by train, as speed was the goal rather than subterfuge. They landed not too far from where Bill and the children had alighted from their train five days earlier, and travelled to the same harbour where they had been met by Henty. Henty was there again, looking worried.

“I’ve got three boats as requested,” he said. “Plenty of fuel on board, food and water too.”

“Thank you, Henty. Weather report?” asked the leader, Bennett.

“Clear and dry for the next few days, with mild winds,” Henty replied. “Visibility should be good.”

“We will need to be stealthy,” Bennett said with a nod.

“There are maps in each boat too,” Henty added, “I’ve taken the liberty of marking out a few routes you might want to take. I’ve been out since the storm but there’s only so much sea I can cover by myself. I’ve marked one island, one of the first you’ll come to. It’s one of the very few inhabited islands, the couple living there said Cunningham and the kids visited the day they set off and had a meal, then headed north-west.”

Bennett nodded and turned to his team. “Who is piloting each boat? I want you to split up to cover as much ground as possible today, then check in this evening once you’ve holed up.”

Pete Bentley from Anatoly’s team had already volunteered to be the pilot for their boat as he had a boat of his own and was an experienced seaman. Robson would pilot team one’s boat and Smith team two’s.

Anatoly took out one of the maps and scanned the area, wondering which part of the island make up he, Thompson and Bentley would be given to search. He hoped he would be the one to find the children and Bill as that would be a real feather in his cap with the chief. He really wanted to prove himself and prove that even with being younger than the other men around him, he was a good solid agent.

“Spread that out, Petrov,” Bennett said, and he laid it out on the thick sea wall. Everyone gathered around, including Henty, as the chief took a thick marker pen and divided the islands into three roughly equal areas. When he was done the map resembled the world map with its time zones, some straight lines but also various zig-zags where landmasses remained unbroken. “Got that?”

Other maps rustled as the agents unfolded them and made their own dividing maps, using Anatoly’s as a guide. Then they started hashing out where to start, how long it would take to sail to each island and so forth.

Henty looked at his watch, “You’d better get a move on if you want to get much done today, the islands may look close from land but they are a good way out!” The maps were folded up again and Henty added, “Them children were looking for puffins. Find islands with puffins on and you probably won’t be far off.”

The three boats bobbed and knocked together as seven pairs of feet jumped down into them, bodies busy checking the petrol cans, maps, food supplies, the wireless and everything else Henty had packed. You never took anyone’s word for it that things were fully stocked, you’d be an idiot if you did and then discovered something had been forgotten.

Anatoly, Thompson and Bentley checked everything between them, and were mostly happy with what they had. “Not a single pack of smokes,” Thompson said with a sigh, though he had a fresh box in his shirt pocket and probably more in his bag.

“Could do with some booze as well, but what we’ve got will do,” Bentley said with a grin, moving to start the engine.

Anatoly smiled slightly. “I have some vodka in my bag. Keeps the chill of the night and water off.”

“Better than nothing!” laughed Bentley. Henty had his rowing boat in the harbour and had offered to pilot their crafts out but nobody had taken him up on the offer, considering themselves more than up to the job. Bentley took the wheel of their boat and smoothly guided it out of the harbour, and Anatoly looked back as the other two boats slowly receded along with the harbour and Bennett. As per the map they were heading north-west, heading for Bill’s last known location.

To be continued…

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Five Have a Wonderful Time part 2

It’s been a while since part 1 of my review. I had intended to have part two done a week or two ago on a Sunday and then entirely forgot about it – I hadn’t even read the rest of the book let alone written anything about it! I’d like to say I was busy having a wild time but I was probably watching Murder She Wrote

Anyway, last time the Five began their holiday by Faynights Castle, with George and Timmy arriving a bit late, and then ran into rather a lot of bother with the fair-folk and got rescued by none other than Jo.


The part I (mostly) remember

After all the excitement there’s a bit of a calmer interlude. They have dinner with the fair folk who are about falling over themselves to be friendly with the Five, and the next day they go off to visit the castle.

It reads very much like visiting Kirrin Castle, with the one remaining tower with its staircase fallen in and the jackdaws. Only Kirrin doesn’t have a toothless woman at the gate taking money. Timmy isn’t allowed in but suddenly appears in a manner reminiscent of Button the fox cub in The Castle of Adventure. There must be another way in!

Having heard that some men from The Society for the Preservation of Old Buildings have visited that week Julian telephones the society to find out more about the castle. Only, nobody from the society has been to the castle in years. So an unintentional bit of detective work there!

At first I thought the society was a makey-upper as it sounds a bit silly (I found references to The Society for the Preservation of Historic Buildings and The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings easily, but it turns out that there were some smaller, local organisations that called themselves The Society for the Preservation of Old Buildings (usually limited to a particular area), so Blyton’s one may have been real or at least based on the truth!

Anyway, they make a middle-of-the-night trip and have Timmy show them the way into the castle. Luckily it is not a narrow underground stream, instead it is a passage in the middle of the eight foot wide castle walls which takes them underground then up into the tower. There they discover Derek Terry-Kane being held prisoner, and then that’s where it all goes wrong.

 


The part I barely remember

I’ve read this book just as many times as all the others as I’m not the type to pick up a random book from mid series and read it without reading all the others. I never skipped any lesser-favourites. And yet my memories of the final chapters inside the castle are extremely vague.

I did remember that Jo and Beauty went along the secret passage and caused mayhem, but that’s about it.

What actually happens is that the Five get locked in with Terry-Kane as Pottersham has come back unexpectedly. This surprised me, as I didn’t remember it at all, and was wondering why they’d bring the fair-folk in as it looked like they were all about to just walk out.

Jo, having been outside the room at the time, hides. I assumed that she would then go fetch the fair-folk, but I had forgotten that she ends up being caught and tied up herself for a while, getting loose having remembered the hints and tips from the rope-man. Then she goes off to fetch the fair-folk.

At this point I began thinking maybe my brain chooses not to remember the latter parts of the book as the Five rather fail to shine! They’ve been captured before but this time just seems a bit worse, somehow.

Jo finds out that the fair-folk have locked up a bad scientist who came asking after them – and I realised it was Uncle Quentin as that sparked a vague memory. Of course Jo thinks it’s Pottersham as she’s never met Quentin.

My notes at this point read:

this is kind of novel, reviewing a 5 book without a clue what’s going on!

Anyway, the fair-folk, or at least the fair-men take over the rescue as it’s men’s work, but Jo being Jo follows them anyway. It’s just as well she does as she’s the only one who realises the men are arriving to take the prisoners away and heads inside to help while the men carry on their work in the courtyard with the peg rope.

Much like The Secret of Spiggy Holes the plan is for Bufflo to throw something (a blunt knife rather than a rock) in through the window, taking with it some string which will then pull up a peg rope. Also like Spiggy Holes he climbs up to see why no-one has come down, and discovers it is because the kidnappers are there. He is more able to deal with this than Mike was as he has his whip and neatly removes the gun from Pottersham’s hand. Pottersham and his men vacate the room at top speed and shut them in, but they’ve got their escape route ready at least.

Meanwhile Beauty is tripping up the men over and over and scaring the life out of them, delaying them long enough for the fair-folk to ensure they don’t get out of the passage. Jo and the Five go back to the camp and then telephone the police who, with Jo, go back to apprehend the men.

Oh – and they realise Uncle Quentin who is remarkably affable having been locked up overnight.


The nitpicks, comments and other observations

I’ll break it down into a few categories again, otherwise it will get a bit unwieldy!

Quentin

Quentin is at his forgetful best at the start and has never heard of Faynights Castle. Of course he has, Fanny has already told him at least three times. He is relieved to know they are not staying IN the castle itself.

George accidentally slams a door and Quentin goes wild. The biggest slammer-of-doors was her father but he only heard the slams made by other people. The two are very alike though they’d never admit it.

He also has a row with Timmy – That dog has no sense… how am I supposed to remember he’s there? Well, you had spoken to him under the table and prodded him not five minutes earlier. And to prove the above quote, he slams the door on his way out.

Signs of the past

The post is super speedy – so fast postcards sent after breakfast arrive later that morning and not some time in the next week after the person has returned home. The post man also delivers to the rented caravans which are unlikely to have an ‘official’ address.

Julian Kirrin
The Red Caravan
Third field on the left
Angry farmer’s farm
Faynights

The fair-women go into town to doing their marketing which does not have the same meaning today.

Dick’s uses 

It’s a running joke that Dick is terrible in the kitchen. In this one he picks up an egg which has come straight out of boiling water and drops it as it is so hot. Anne says he is not good with crockery, which is probably true but gives him a convenient excuse not to do the washing up.

He can, however, light a fire efficiently so he’s not entirely useless.

George/Jo as a boy 

I don’t expect boys to tidy up and cook and do things like that – but George ought to because she’s a girl. Good old Anne, propping up the patriarchy there! Interestingly George doesn’t even argue with her.

The boys are typical boys and ‘make’ their bunks by bundling the bedding onto a shelf untidily and folding the bunks away, I suspect George would do the same if Anne wasn’t watching her.

Jo has a nice foster family (no mention if it’s Joan’s cousin still) but they won’t let her wear shorts or be a boy. She still prefers sleeping outside but admits most parts of living in a house are good.

Fanciful food 

They have a tea at a farm-house and buy jam, fruit cake, ham and pickled onions.
Dick has a ham and picked onion sandwich (I prefer cheese with my pickled onions)

Lunch one day is two hard-boiled eggs each, fresh lettuce, tomatoes, mustard and cress, and potatoes baked in the fire in their jackets – followed by… slices of tinned pineapple, very sweet and juicy.

They eat a lot of doughnuts which sounds jarringly anachronistic but obviously aren’t – with bread, butter and honey and a sponge cake so more of a massive dessert course than a meal!

Nitpicks 

They watch jackdaws and comment on their habits without referencing the exact same situation on Kirrin island.

Timmy waits for them to go upstairs to bed in the caravan which is sweet but he’s slept in a caravan with them before!

They call at the post office to check for post, even though the postie brought the postcard the day before and would presumably have done the same again if there had been anything.

On page 67 there is an illustration of Jo rescuing the caravans,  which doesn’t happen until page 78 so it’s a bit of a spoiler!

The farmer is obviously supposed to be difficult but surely any adult could see it would be impossible to move two caravans without horses.

Dick gives a little speech when Jo turns up It’s Jo! The gypsy girl who once got mixed up with us in an adventure! Now it’s a nice little reminder for the readers but doesn’t sound too natural when he’s supposed to be speaking to Julian.

Bufflo looks like Tiger Dan in the illustrations including the dark hair but is described as yellow-haired in the text.

Beauty the snake is once called Beau, in the narrative not in someone’s speech.

I can’t work out how Timmy got into the courtyard. He climbed into a hole in the outer wall, which the Five and Jo then explore and it leads them up into the tower. At no point is there any mention of a small hole or other tunnel which could have led Timmy into the courtyard. Also, this very secret passage which they suspect was used by people hiding in the old days simply comes out via a standard door in the tower, so not very well hidden at all. I expect the tunnel may have continued on past the hole they climbed in at, as that obviously was never an original entrance so I wonder where it did lead.

And lastly, why is Julian so adamant that Jo not try to escape the castle in the dark? As she points out it’s not going to be any lighter in the middle of the day. Oddly she agrees to wait, which isn’t like her!

Other observations

Fanny says that Faynights has good strong air which is what George needs to get over her cold. As opposed to Kirrin’s sea air?

George says that Mother didn’t give me very much to spend so has all the ingot money gone then?

We have a lashings in the book but is is of poisonous snakes, and not ginger-beer.

There are half a dozen gays in the book, all on the same 2-3 pages describing the caravans (Julian uses it twice and George uses it twice), the curtains and the rugs.

The thrush says mind how you do it which had me Googling Thrush sounds, I just can’t hear it at all.

Old Joseph the sailor is rather wasted as he could have been another Jeramiah Boogle or Old Grandad but instead only tells recent stories of the fair-folk.

Dick says we’re in a bit of a fix which Blyton must have remembered as she used Fix later for a book title.

What happened to the fair-folk previously is never made quite clear. There was an incident with someone letting their canaries go free and one where the police were set on them without reason. Its not clear if these were related.

Following on from that, the Five try to talk to the fair-folk about the canaries at at different points it’s supposed that all the canaries must have died, or that half the canaries must have died, but then Julian tells the girls that half the canaries died as if it was a fact.

I can understand that the fair-folk want to keep themselves to themselves but don’t seem to realise that by being rude, aggressive and difficult is likely to attract bad feeling and cause them more trouble. There are three modern caravans in the same field yet it doesn’t seem like the families in those get any bother from the fair-folk. At first the fair-folk say they don’t want anyone in their field but later they say they don’t want any children in the field.

There must be many fair-folk that don’t get mentioned. Beyond the main cast which I listed in the last review there are Dacca the tap dancer who appears briefly twice and Pearl the acrobat.

I found it interesting that Jo has family in the fair and wonder if she has ever thought of running off to live with Alfredo. She does like the foster family but it seems like the fair would suit her better. Perhaps she knows Alfredo wouldn’t have her, as she clearly knows how to find them.

I liked the fact that the baddies dropped a chocolate wrapper in the tunnel as in Blyton’s mind littering was a sign of badness in a person.

And lastly, I found the end a bit disappointing as none of the Five went back to help capture the men, which is something they almost always do!


So there you have it, another 2000+ words on a 192 page book. I’m surprised how little I remembered of the final chapters as they are fairly exciting. I suspect the lack of involvement from the Five themselves is why it ranks lower than several other books in the series for me. I’m used to reading about the Five daringly rescuing people, not Jo!

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Monday #389

Five Have a Wonderful Time part 2

and

Cunningham and Petrov: The Mystery of the Missing Agent chapter 10

During their quarantine time the twins could not go out to tea, and could have no one in to play with them, so they felt rather dull.

At the beginning of Summer Term at St Clare’s the twins have to quarantine as they’ve been playing tennis with Winnie who has come down with the mumps. There was no trace and protect then, but Winnie’s mother phoned Katie’s mother and Katie’s mother called the twins’ mother.

Dull is just one of many words I could use for quarantine!

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Fan fic Friday: Cunningham and Petrov: The Mystery of the Missing Agent chapter 9

Last time the SIS put together a search team and Bill woke up in a shack.


cunningham and petrov

Chapter 9

Bill felt his consciousness drifting away like a boat on the sea as the energy he had pulled together left him. He slumped against the wall and his head dropped down to his chest. He had no idea for how long he was like that for, but later he jerked awake, groaned and stretched the best he could.

Once he had gotten his bearings again, he recalled his desire to escape. He tried to move around and find a nail with which he would work his bond loose. His fingers scrabbled against the dirt floor and the rough strips of wood which formed the walls, searching for something sharp. There was nothing in the immediate vicinity so he had to shuffle along on his behind, to reach fresh areas. He knew he’d had a small folding knife in his pocket before, but that would have been taken from him when he was captured.

A bread of sweat trickled down his forehead and he grunted as he shifted another few inches along, still searching. He grasped and discarded a cigarette stub, a smooth pebble, a frond of some sort of weed. “Oh for a damned nail,” he thought to himself, and then his fingers touched another stone. This one was not worn smooth by the sea, rather it was rough and triangular shaped.

With a strange twisting motion in his wrist, he got the stone in his fingers and tried to angle the rock towards his bonds and force it up between his wrists and against the ropes, trying to find a weaker spot. A sharp gasp escaped his mouth as he grazed the flesh of his wrists, but he kept hold of the stone. He drew it back and forth repeatedly, creating a slight notch in the rope, and then had to stop to rest his cramping, aching fingers.

Bill had no frame of reference for time as he worked at his bonds. He had to break several times as his wrists and fingers cramped. Eventually he broke through the final part of the bond and slumped tiredly to one side, trying to move his wrists to stop them from aching and cramping as he found his energy leaving him once more and drifting off to sleep again.

Anatoly stood in the locker room at in the London office and swapped out his real life cards and identification papers for a service identity. He stuffed them into his bag he was taking on the journey to Scotland, closed his locker, and went out to join the rest of the team in the briefing room.

He got a brief nod of acknowledgement from Bennett who was heading up the team, which turned out to be comprised of six agents, two of whom he recognised from his trip to an Austrian valley to rescue the Mannering and Trent children. He went to stand beside those two, knowing them to be reasonably friendly.

“You along for this one, then?” Thompson asked him, stretching his thick arms above his head.

“Yes, I have been Bill’s contact from the start,” he replied. He and Thompson had once scaled a cliff in that Austrian valley, not knowing whether or not a gun would be pointed at them when they reached the top, so there was a certain respect between them.

“You’re Bill’s right hand man these days, ain’t you,” said Bentley in a teasing tone of voice.

“He trusts me,” was all that Anatoly could trust himself to say. He didn’t have an answer that was suitable apart from that. He stood and listened to Bennett as be began the briefing, giving an overview of the situation, the timeline and where they were going to start looking.

All the information about Bill’s trip he already knew, having been the one to pass it on in the first place, but he listened respectfully all the same. “It may be that Cunningham gets in touch as or before we even arrive at the coast,” Bennett was saying. “It could be a simple case of malfunctioning equipment. But given the aeroplane sightings, it could be more than that.”

“He does attract trouble,” came a voice from the other side of room. Anatoly bit his lip to stop himself retaliating and starting a fight. He was only here on Roscoe’s grace, he didn’t want Bennett to reporting him and taking him off the mission.

“Pipe down,” Bennett said mildly. “If he does get in touch, we’ll move straight to phase two which is looking into the aeroplane sightings. Either way, we should arrive before dawn at the airstrip, then we’ll take cars to the harbour where we will pick up our boats. There will be three, so two men to a boat and I’ll be staying on the main land to coordinate things.” He paused and looked at Anatoly and frowned. “Two men to two boats, and three on the last,” he amended. “I’ll let you sort yourselves out into teams.”

Anatoly glanced at Thompson who gave him a nod. “You stick with us, lad. If you’re even half as good as Cunningham makes out, you’ll do.”

Anatoly nodded, glad to be with agents he could get along with, and secretly pleased to hear that he was being praised by Bill. He was ready to get going now, because at the moment all the time they weren’t looking for Bill the more chance they had of losing him all together.

“You all know Bill but here’s a recent photograph nonetheless,” Bennett continued, pointing to a cork pin board where there were several photographs, maps and other bits of paper. “I want you to familiarise yourselves with the faces of the four children, too. Their boat is called Lucky Star…” He went on to describe the type of boat it was and pointed out a rough sketch.

Back in his shack Bill woke from his fitful doze and after stretching out the kinks the best he could, began systematically testing his prison. The door was strong and firmly bolted, the walls contained no windows. Although a few of the narrow timber strips forming the walls had started to rot at the bottom that created no more than an inch or so of space. Enough for a mouse to get in, but not for him to get out. He could put his fingers through and get a hold of the wood, but no amount of pushing or pulling made any difference. The planks held.

There was nothing in the shack but himself, a few loose stones and the odd weed which had grown through the rotten gaps at floor level. Not even any water, and as he noticed that he also noticed how thirsty he was. Perhaps they would come to interrogate him soon. Then he could assess his situation better and perhaps make his escape.

To be continued…

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The Naughtiest Girl continued: The Naughtiest Girl Saves the Day

My library has partially reopened now, so I thought I should probably get around to reading some of the dozen books I still have out! I haven’t thought much of these Anne Digby continuations hence my lack of enthusiasm over reading any more.

This one is book seven if you go by the new numbering which includes the short story Here’s the Naughtiest Girl as book number 4. It is the third Anne Digby book coming after The Naughtiest Girl Keeps a Secret and The Naughtiest Girl Helps a Friend.


Where do I even start?

I honestly don’t know where to begin with this one other than to say it’s quite possibly even worse than the previous two which is saying something.

It has the same format, a main mystery and a secondary connected plot, as the first continuation.

The mystery is who pulled up the strawberry plants and dropped a silver blazer button as they did so. The connected plot is that the first form are to put on a play.


The play

I’ll start with the play as that’s the slightly more believable part of the book. The play is A Woodland Adventure and Elizabeth immediately wants to play the main character, Fay. She thinks Julian will be perfect as Jonkin the goblin but he’s not too bothered.

Unsurprisingly she and Julian get the parts but both lose them to their understudies (Arabella and Daniel) in separate incidents. Elizabeth gets in a fight with Arabella about the role and – for some reason known only to Anne Digby – climbs up on a desk to shout at her. This doesn’t lose her the part, however, but as she is defending herself to Miss Ranger someone shouts COR!. Everyone thinks it is Elizabeth but she is adamant it was not her. Julian comes to her rescue by making one of his noises and lets everyone believe the COR was him, and loses his part in the play.

Elizabeth and Julian then fall out because they both think the other made the noise and neither will admit it.

Elizabeth loses her part later when she rings the fire bell at night having heard someone shouting fire, fire. There is no fire and Miss Ranger thinks it was a silly prank.

In the end Elizabeth gets her part back and the play goes ahead with her and Daniel in the main roles.


The mystery

Some strawberry plants have been pulled up, presumably by someone looking for ripe fruit too early. A silver blazer button was found by the plants and Rita and William ask the culprit to come forward but no-one does.

Elizabeth and Julian decide they must investigate and go round checking everyone has the requisite three buttons still on their blazer.

At the next meeting William and Rita then ask the rest of the school to investigate the issue. There’s no way this would have happened if it was Blyton writing. William and Rita are supposed to be very wise and clever and would not pit the whole school against one another, asking them to point blame and so on. Plus, it’s a few strawberry plants, hardly the crime of the century.

As it just so happens, assistant matron then talks to Elizabeth about the blazer button she needs to hand in to her. All of a sudden, at this exclusive and presumably expensive school, there is a second-hand uniform sale at the end of the year.

Somehow Elizabeth entirely forgot that she had a loose button on her chest of drawers. Even when that button is then missing she doesn’t put two and two together. She doesn’t ever work it out for herself, Arabella presents her with the button and tells her it was found by the plants.

She speaks with William and Rita who think she must have dropped the button at some other time, but isn’t responsible for pulling up the plants, but Julian thinks someone has it in for Elizabeth what with the COR and the button.

By this time Elizabeth is also in trouble for the false fire alarm so she and Julian investigate that too. She thinks the shouts came from the floor above her dorm so they interrogate everyone who sleeps up there but come up with nothing other than Daniel being a bit shifty.


The ‘big’ reveal

Obviously this will contain spoilers, but I feel like I’m doing a public service by warning people off these books. Notice they don’t come under the If you like Blyton category!

Everything ties together near the end as Elizabeth hears someone shouting fire in the night again and goes to investigate. There is a small fire in Daniel’s room and she rescues him.

And the reveal, hold onto your hats guys because this is something else. Everything has been done by Daniel’s pet crow. Yes. A PET CROW.

At another meeting William and Rita tell us a long story about a boy who rescued an injured crow and took care of it. A crow which then flew all the way to Whyteleaf following the boy’s car. A crow which stole a button from Elizabeth’s room and then dropped it by the strawberry plants it pulled up. A crow which shouted COR outside Elizabeth’s classroom at just the right, or for her wrong, time. A crow which shouted fire so that only Elizabeth heard it, not once but on two separate nights.

Now crows can mimic human speech quite convincingly, and are also known to steal shiny things (while it’s a misnomer that magpies do that). It’s just a huge string of coincidences. A crow could shout COR, but why would everyone think Elizabeth said it when it came from outside the window and presumably her mouth wasn’t moving at the time?

I feel like a lot of people might be thinking so that’s not believable but Kiki is? And yes, Kiki is obviously fictional and not that realistic but she is written so well that it becomes believable just like in stories where there are vampires or Hobbits which we all know are fictional. Rookie (the crow) is barely in this book apart from as a back story.

The later editions of the book give away the fact there’s a crow involved!


Who is Daniel again?

I’ve mentioned Daniel a few times here and realise you might be wondering who the heck he is. He’s not a new boy (first I’ve ever heard of him, though!) but he’s suddenly prominently featured. The book goes to great pains to express how strange Daniel is behaving suddenly.

Normally he is quiet and has his nose stuck in a book, but also tells silly tales at meetings. He is not popular, as he doesn’t do any sports or activities and doesn’t mix with the other children.

Elizabeth is practically obsessed with how strange it is that Daniel has signed up for the play. How strange it is that he’s not that excited despite volunteering. How strange it is that he made a big deal about having something to ask at the meeting, but asks to help in the stables which isn’t an issue for a meeting. How strange it is that he then hangs around the stables but doesn’t really help or learn to ride, he mostly reads.

We are told that Daniel has his own single room in the attic – a point which I knew was going to become relevant later as these rooms are a new insert into the series.

It was obvious from the start that Daniel was going to be involved in the mystery somehow as he is a brand-new character whose only role was to do odd things.


This was a pretty rubbish book, if you hadn’t already picked up on that. Yet again the book was very short and filled with the same repetitive discussions about investigating things, and then discussing what they had investigated and their theories, and then discussing how the theory was right or wrong. Elizabeth didn’t do any lessons or play any music. She didn’t visit the town or go for a walk or have any arguments other than the ones that drove the main plot. There was no charm or humour, whatsoever. Elizabeth doesn’t grow as a person nor do any of the other characters, and while one or two of the crow elements were clever the rest was just silly.

 

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Monday #388

The Naughtiest Girl Saves the Day by Anne Digby

and

Cunningham and Petrov: The Mystery of the Missing Agent chapter 9

“They’re a’ daft. Wasting a fine boat like yon, looking for bairds. Bairds! When there’s good fish to be got! Well, they’ll soon see bairds in plenty. Och, they’re a’ dafties!”

A Scottish fisherman can’t get his head around Bill using the Lucky Star to look for birds when he could be fishing instead in The Sea of Adventure.

 

 

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Fan fic Friday: Cunningham and Petrov: The Mystery of the Missing Agent chapter 8

Last time Anatoly found himself getting worried about Bill when he didn’t reply to his radio messages…

cunningham and petrovChapter 8

Anatoly was to be on shift all night, and found himself growing more agitated as time went on and there was no response from Bill. He tried raising him every fifteen minutes, though he knew that Bill might have given up and gone back to wherever he and the kids were camping. He couldn’t leave the wireless room but he knew that a team would be amassing somewhere downstairs, kitting up and receiving orders. It would probably be a small team at this stage, perhaps half a dozen men, enough to look into these mysterious planes and provide Bill a bit of back up.

More than anything, he wanted to be on that team. He picked up his phone and called the commander again.

“No, sir, no word from Cunningham yet,” he said, and winced as the commander demanded to know why he was being disturbed in that case. “I want to be on the team heading for Scotland,” he said as firmly as he thought he could get away with.

“So, Petrov. Why do you think you should be on the team?” Roscoe asked Anatoly later, having heard about his request. He was a bit put out at Anatoly’s forthrightness, if he was honest. He had been debating about sending Anatoly and had decided he was to go, but given his tone, he could now prove himself as to why he should be sent to Scotland.

“Well, I have been the main contact for Bill’s trip so far, so I am up to speed on the wheres and whys of this case,” he replied. “I have already been looking over maps of the area. And besides, Bill would want me in on this.”

Roscoe drummed his fingers on the desk and wondered if that was a good enough excuse to send such a junior agent. After a moment of silence he said, “All right, Petrov. You can go, but you have to stay with the team unless the team leader says otherwise. Do you understand?”

Anatoly swallowed the urge to ask who the team leader was going to be. It wouldn’t matter as he would be expected to ask how high he ought to jump before the leader asked him to jump no matter who he was. “Yes, sir,” he said obediently.

“I’ll send someone to relieve you and you should go and get your kit together and report to Bennett,” Roscoe said, before putting down the phone with a snap.

“Yes, sir,” Anatoly repeated and almost saluted. He caught himself before his hand touched his forehead and dropped it as he put the receiver down. “Ty durak,*” he muttered to himself. He would have to wait for his replacement so he settled in his chair again. ‘Bennett,’ he said to himself, trying to think who that would be. Frank Bennett – usually known as Benny to his equals – probably. Well, he and Bill liked and respected each other so that should be all right.

It was half an hour before another agent came to relieve him, and although he didn’t know his name Anatoly knew it to be someone more senior than he was. He was pretty near the bottom of the heap, with only the new trainees below him, so that it didn’t take much to be senior to him.

“Anything come through yet?” the agent asked, taking the offered seat and adjusting things to his liking.

“No, nothing,” Anatoly said.

“Well, you’d better be off,” the agent said dismissively. “Don’t know who you’ve been sucking up to but it’s paid off and you’re getting to go out, again.”

He ignored the accusation there, it wasn’t worth starting an argument, though he felt his hands draw into fists. He knew how it looked. An agent as junior as he shouldn’t get to do the things he did. He left without another word and headed downstairs to find his team.

Bill groaned and tried to roll over. His head was throbbing and he couldn’t immediately place where he was, or why he was lying on the hard ground. He tried to open his eyes as he felt a slight breeze on his face but the slightest bit of light hurt his eyes.

The last thing he remembered was waiting for a message from HQ. Had he fallen and banged his head? The boat seemed to be pitching back and forth still, though there were no sounds of a storm. He hoped the children wouldn’t get too much of a fright if they found him lying on the boat with a lump on his head which must have been the size of an egg from the pain it was causing.

It took him a while, but eventually as the rocking lessened and he worked up to opening his eyes a bit further, he realised that he was not in fact on his boat. He wasn’t on a boat at all. He was in a small room with wooden planks for walls.

The wind whistled through the slats of the wooden room so Bill realised he must be in a shack, probably on another island. His head felt like it was splitting in two as he tried to sit up. He lent against the rough wood and tried to see where he was through the gaps in the walls.

He couldn’t see much, though it looked like he hadn’t travelled far from what he could see of the landscape. Focusing he could hear the familiar cries of seabirds and smell the tang of the sea. He could also smell cigarette smoke, telling him that there was someone else about, probably a guard. He knew he would need to think about escaping sooner rather than later as nothing good could come of him being held here, but he also knew he wasn’t up to staging any sort of attempt right now. He would just rest his eyes for a short while and try to regain some strength before he made a more thorough examination of his shack. He might just find a loose board or some sort of weapon. Once he could move that was.

*you fool

To be continued…

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August 2020 Round Up

My work was tentatively supposed to reopen the week beginning the 24th of August but it’s still closed. When it does open it will only be click and collect so I won’t be needed for a while…


What I have read

This felt like – and really was! – another not-so-good month for reading as I haven’t felt motivated to pick up anything new. Only eight books read!

  • Tales from the Folly (Rivers of London short stories) – Ben Aaronovitch
  • A Book of Book Lists – Alex Johnson
  • Undead and Unsure (Undead #12) – MaryJanice Davidson
  • Doing Time (The Time Police #1) – Jodi Taylor
  • The Girl With the Pearl in Her Nose (The Chronicles of St Mary’s #11.2) – Jodi Taylor
  • Little Stars (Hetty Feather #5) – Jacqueline Wilson
  • Mary Anne and the Little Princess (The Baby-Sitters Club #102) – Ann M Martin
  • The Naughtiest Girl Saves the Day – Anne Digby

As always I’ve got some on the go that I haven’t finished (way more than these three but I only list ones I’ve actually picked up in the past month!):

  • Five Have a Wonderful Time – part one of the review is here
  • The Bermondsey Bookshop – Mary Gibson
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

What I have watched

  • I finally finished Malory Towers on the iPlayer, which I have been reviewing two episodes at a time.
  • We have started watching Richard Osman’s House of Games every night as we eat tea and it’s a very good quiz show. After that has been repeats of Travel Man where Richard Ayoade spends 48 hours in a different city with a celebrity guest. I’ve ended up half-watching while I’m on my laptop as I can never be bothered getting up to change the channel. It’s quite a good show though!
  • Red Dwarf: The first 3,000 years. This was a three-part documentary about the making of the show and it makes me want to re-watch the whole show again – maybe we will as we haven’t picked a new thing since finishing Angel in July.
  • Murder She Wrote. I’ve gone back to this after a bit of a break, and having finished season 9 I’ve now started on 10, and there’s only 12!
  • Mary Poppins Returns. Not as good as the original, of course, as nobody can compare to Julie Andrews but this was actually very enjoyable.
  • Having had a few days at home we’ve let Brodie watch some movies and so we watched Monsters Inc, The Aristocats and Cars. We also watched Jurassic World (again) and found it wasn’t as bad as we remembered, and X:Men Dark Phoenix for the first time, which wasn’t as bad as we anticipated (the adverts made it look like it was just a repeat of X:Men The Last Stand).

What I have done

  • More parks and walks, some picnics and we’ve even braved an outdoor farm attraction – where we navigated a maze and Brodie rode the barrel train – and our local wildlife park.
  • Went to the beach and saw lots of jellyfish (even caught a few for a closer look) and collected a whole bucket of shells.
  • Celebrated Brodie’s third birthday with a small garden party.
  • Continued the 5 weekly workouts I’ve been doing which have included Tabata, Boxfit, HIIT, Body Balance, yoga, circuit training, aerobics, stretching and pilates. I’m actually really sad that the gyms are about to reopen as that means no more free online workouts!
  • Gone back to my sewing and made a bit of progress.
  • Dug out one of my jigsaws to do (it was this one if anyone’s interested).
  • Had a little bit of free time as Brodie started nursery, at first only three hours but last week he did four hours on the one day he went.
  • Went for a Covid test as I had the cold and then it turned into a cough, and had to isolate for three days waiting for the results, not a lot of fun!

What has your month looked like?

 

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Monday #387

My library opens this week! I already have a wish list so I hope I can get a click and collect appointment. Not that I don’t have a ton of my own books to read, and half a dozen unread library books still on my card!

August round up

and

Cunningham and Petrov: The Mystery of the Missing Agent, chapter 8

Amanda pegged up the curtains and looked at them with pride. She hadn’t liked the work, but now that it was done she liked seeing the result.

– The Put-Em-Rights

This is exactly how I feel about housework! There only enjoyable part is the end result.

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