magnum opus

Most of you will already be aware that my husband is a talented musician, artist and author. I am proud to announce the publication of Michael’s magnum opus, Floor Thirteen.

Although it is a mere five months since the release of the short story compilation, Old Ned’s Secret, this latest tome has had a lengthy gestation from an initial idea conceived around seven years ago. The premise is one we would all be familiar with. How many times have we seen a news story involving an obviously guilty perpetrator walking away from their crime without punishment? I shan’t say any more but here is the copy from the back cover,

“What happens to ex-Special Forces personnel once they retire from careers addressing the failures of the justice system?

Raymond and Elizabeth do what is right for them. They marry, relocate to Tasmania and take on a commercial flower business — all the while striving to keep their past lives from everyone including, and especially, their children.

Fast forward thirty years when circumstances draw them back into the lives they’d left behind a generation ago. The challenge for Raymond and Elizabeth is adapting to the expectations of their earlier vocations, coupled with the greater angst of confessing to their now adult children.

Trixie and Joseph must overcome their incredulity and cooperate with their parents or risk a catastrophic mission failure.”

Floor Thirteen is available as paperback or Kindle through Amazon in your country or, for a signed copy, you can contact Michael through tigerdreaming.com.au.

merry mischief

I wasn’t sure if we would see the Elf again this Christmas, I had heard there were staff shortages in Santa’s workshop and it might be difficult for him to get away. Sure enough, there he was on 1st December waiting for Michael to make his early morning cuppa.

The next morning, he had hitched a ride in the Tibetan singing bowl but then got a bit carried away with his mischief and ended up caught in a booby trap.

He created his own friends in the fruit bowl and found a willing participant in Poppy’s hippo to share a dram or two.

A close shave with a razor was a reminder for me to hide sharp implements. I think he was missing Santa while keeping an eye on us.

I don’t know where he found the bubble gum but this could have ended badly.

Just when we thought he was too busy at the North Pole, he was found hiding in the cereal box munching on Weet-Bix. We forgot to warn him against playing with snakes.

We were both surprised by his artistic talent with his impressive (s)elf portrait.

Seeking companionship, he spied a mouse atop a picture frame. Sadly, conversation was limited and the next night he resorted to the booze once again.

I doubt Poppy’s breakfast was as tasty as he hoped, he decided to try his hand at music instead.

The crafty little fella brought stilts in an attempt to steal one of Poppy’s Schmakos.

A quiet game of solitaire made for a pleasant change. Even elves get caught short sometimes.

He couldn’t quite get the hang of the coffee machine and the peg basket proved equally as perplexing.

It’s the thought that counts and this gesture was much appreciated.

Fortunately, a Friendship Ball doesn’t do as much damage as a wrecking ball but I think that was his inspiration. We were starting to worry about his proclivity for alcohol

when he left us on Christmas Eve after bidding farewell to his festive friends.

riveting read

Following the success of his first novel, The Tramp, I am pleased to announce the publication of Michael’s second tome. Those who have read The Tramp will recall the enigmatic (deceased) character, Ned Brandscombe, or Uncle Ned as he was known to Samantha and Nicky. (Those who haven’t read it really should). Old Ned’s Secret turns back the clock to share the moment of revelation of a long held secret to 16 year old Samantha.

A further ten short stories, arising from the fecund imagination of the author, fill the pages between the covers. Each tale, plumbed from the depths of memories, dreams and personal experiences, is a tantalising fusion of suspense and humour. The lyrics of Michael’s musical composition, The Transit of Venus, complete the book with a thought provoking epilogue.

Old Ned’s Secret: AND OTHER TALL TALES is available in paperback or Kindle through Amazon in your country.

Wētā Workshop

Having experienced the spectacle of Hobbiton, as well as myriad locations featured in The Lord of the Rings movie, our trip to new Zealand wouldn’t have been complete without a tour of Wētā Workshop. The company, based in Wellington, is the creative home of special effects and props, and they have been producing sets, costumes, armour, weapons and creatures for television and film since 1987. Sneaking past the huge stone trolls cavorting on the lawns

we made it through the Hobbit door entrance.

There was no shortage of memorabilia in the gift shop

and I wondered what was lurking under the loincloth of Lurtz.

The first part of the tour led us on a discovery of miniature effects including real television shooting stages for Thunderbirds Are Go! I remember the original TV series in the 1960s and couldn’t pass up the chance to ride up front with Virgil Tracy in Thunderbird 2.

We were then taken on a fascinating journey through the creation of props, costumes and creatures for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Photography was only allowed in designated areas throughout the tour, hence the absence thereof. At the end of the tour, we were ushered into a room, seemingly guarded by a life size figure of Orc-lord, Azog.

Here we met special effects artist, Warren Beaton, his appearance the epitome of a mad professor.

Various heads kept watch from above

as he demonstrated his expertise of making prototypes using tin foil and a spoon.

I’m sure it’s not as easy as he made it look, the results are remarkable.

With a fond farewell to Bert (stone trolls need love, too) we headed off in search of sustenance before our next adventure.

Advent antics

Last year, I shared the escapades of a friend’s ‘Elf on the Shelf’, and while searching through my meagre collection of Christmas decorations, I found a little smiling face waiting patiently to come out and play. With no children in the household, I decided to have some fun surprising Michael each morning. Elf’s initial attempt to stowaway to a business breakfast meeting was met with much mirth and, in case there was a misunderstanding that this was an isolated incident, he appeared the next day in Michael’s cereal bowl.

He became trapped when the toilet lid came down on him unexpectedly and, on a particularly cold morning, tried to warm up on the toaster.

More strife in the bathroom as he messed about with the toilet roll, so he sought solace with KitKat in the pantry.

He just couldn’t stay away from the bathroom, though, finding dental floss doesn’t make a great yo-yo, and his exploits in the office didn’t end well (kids, don’t try this at home).

The kitchen enticed him back to help with the morning cuppa, and he found the dog biscuits to be a very tasty treat.

Venturing further afield, he got stuck in the chook food dispenser before returning to the safety of the lounge to watch an early soccer game.

Exhausted by his nocturnal shenanigans, Elf found a couple of options to take it easy and recuperate.

There was another failed bid to join the business breakfast meeting by hiding in the car, so he returned to the pantry to await the next days porridge.

He put all his strength into squeezing the toothpaste tube, and enjoyed some gymnastics on the towel rail.

Hoping to go for a walk with Michael & Poppy, he waited in the gumboots for the right moment. The dining room light was easier to get into than out of.

A rather uncomfortable night in the wardrobe, and back to the kitchen to, once again, help with breakfast.

It was almost time for Elf to leave again, but not before a few tunes on the cigar-box guitar. Finally, on Christmas Eve morning, he prematurely pulled a cracker to celebrate his time with us.

I hope you all enjoyed your silly season and wish you good times and good health in 2022. Hopefully, fun will replace fear in the not too distant future, perhaps it could be made mandatory?