Saturday, 26 November 2016

Best of Café Lit 5

I was delighted to discover that three of my stories have been chosen to go in the latest anthology from the Creative Café Project. 

The book is available in paperback and Kindle version.

The Amazon link is HERE 


In the meantime, here are some photos loosely relevant to the three stories for your entertainment…


Hibiscus, Fiji






Great White Shark, South Africa



















Great White Shark, South Africa















Shark Cage Diving, South Africa



Entertainment, Fijian Style




























Fiji 

























Bangkok


















Patpong, Bangkok

Do let me know if these photos have whetted your appetite/curiosity.


I'm off in December to explore a European city that has been on my wishlist since I was a teenager. Can you guess where I'm going? 
All will be revealed in my next post. 
See you in three weeks!





Thursday, 10 November 2016

SWAN SONG - A Poem

Earlier this year we decided to get a puppy. She has been the perfect excuse to go for daily walks down to my local beach.



Every day is different. The light on the water changes all the time. Sometimes the bay looks dramatic and foreboding, sometimes soft and gentle. Whatever the season, it is always beautiful.




The swans are returning to spend the winter here and watching them on my dog walking escapades is a joy. 

Now, I would never describe myself as a poet, but I do occasionally dabble with poetry and enter the odd poem in a monthly online competition. 



How could I not feel inspired by these glorious birds?

Aren't they poetic?












My poem is not strictly a haiku, even though it follows the syllable 'rule'.









SWAN SONG


Day dawns pink, and clear
across the bay swans breakfast
on sedges and weeds



Do let me know if you've enjoyed this post and I'll see you in a couple of weeks.











Friday, 28 October 2016

BARCELONA - Part 2


In my last post about Barcelona, I focused on Gaudi's remarkable architecture. 

In this post I thought I'd focus on some of the sights that brought a smile to my face. 


In front of the cathedral we were delighted to find a brass band playing and circles of people dancing. 










The steps were sedate and I was somewhat surprised at the serious expressions of the dancers.





I learned that they were dancing La Sardana – the Catalan National Dance. This Barcelona Catalan dance is a symbol of Catalan unity and pride. Perhaps that was why the dancers looked so serious.


In one dancing circle, the ladies all wore traditional footwear.









In another group, this elderly man's deep concentration caught my attention.










On another visit to the cathedral we encountered some entertaining buskers. 




I'm a sucker for live street music and these guys were very talented.









I sat and people-watched in the Plaza Catalunya. The City Tour buses were busy with tourists queueing. 





Everywhere you look these days you see people taking Selfies. The manner in which some of them take their Selfies often give me a chuckle. 






So there you have it - a small snapshot of the wonderful Spanish city of Barcelona. Do let me know if you've enjoyed this post and I'll see you in a couple of week's time.
















Friday, 14 October 2016

BARCELONA - Part 1

What does the city of Barcelona conjure in your imagination? For me, Gaudi features high on my list.




The Sagrada Familia - Gaudi's unfinished masterpiece - attracts visitors in their thousands. The building is certainly extraordinary.




I was in Barcelona this week on a city break to enjoy a little sight-seeing. Whilst I knew that the Sagrada Familia is still a work in progress, I was slightly disappointed by the amount of scaffolding and builder's accoutrements which adorn the facade.

But there's no denying the complexity and uniqueness of Gaudi's imagination.













If you don't want to end up in a long queue, or even find the tickets are sold out, it's necessary to plan your visits to the big attractions in Barcelona in advance. This became a major obstacle for me. I didn't want to plan my visit that carefully. Spontaneity is very Spanish and something I prefer to embrace. Thus, I only saw the Sagrada Familia from the outside! 






I hope you'll join me in a couple of weeks for more Barcelona images.




Saturday, 1 October 2016

Insect Mini-Series - ARMOURED GROUND CRICKET

It had been an exceptionally busy night, spent in the company of a virgin.

He had gone in search of a mate the previous evening, working hard to attract female attention by rubbing his wings together – or stridulating if you want to get technical.

He rejected several plump females who responded to his calls, for the wily Armoured Ground Cricket knew that virgin crickets were slender little beauties. 

Morocco
Why a preference for a virgin? Because a first timer will mate once and lay her eggs, whereas the old pros mate and lay their eggs randomly. By sticking to the svelte virgins, he knew that a higher proportion of her offspring would be his.

When a slim young thing eventually turned up, he stridulated ardently and offered her his nuptial gift of a food sack together with his sperm pouch. She proved receptive and he carefully attached the spermatophore close to her genital opening. Job done.

However, having lost around 20% of his body weight, he needed to replenish his energy levels. It was sunrise. He staggered off in search of a meal. His appetite was eclectic, but he was partial to bird nestlings and headed across the desert scrub towards some likely looking shrubs.

In his weakened state, progress was slow, making him vulnerable. At almost 3 inches long, detection by predators was difficult to avoid. 

Gecko, Morocco
When the gecko attacked and grabbed him, the cricket mobilised his defences and autohaemorrhaged, squirting pale green, acrid smelling blood into the gecko’s face. The predator immediately dropped him and scurried off in disgust.

The cricket climbed wearily onto a black rubber car tyre, perhaps in a bid to camouflage itself.

Armoured Ground Cricket, Morocco


When the humans began to show an interest in him, he watched and waited. He didn’t have it in him to autohaemorrhage again, but if that finger moved any closer he would unleash his final defence mechanism and vomit up his last meal all over it.




I hope you enjoyed this latest offering - do leave a comment me. See you in a couple of weeks.



Friday, 16 September 2016

Insect Mini-Series: GIANT RED BULL ANT

Sometimes nest guarding was positively boring. He patrolled the area around the mound: turning this way and that, scuffing through the loose dirt and dry vegetation which disguised the nest entrance. Nothing. Nada. Not so much as a whiff of an intruder for him to ward off.


Jervis Bay, NSW, Australia
He wished he was a hunting ant instead of a guard ant. Whilst 20mm long was substantial for an ant – indeed Giant Red Bull Ants were one of the largest ant species in the world - he simply wasn’t large enough to hunt. At an impressive 25mm long, his fellow hunting ants surpassed him.

He itched for a bit of action to liven up his day.

There.

With his excellent vision, he spotted something approaching the nest. It didn’t occur to him that the intruder might be too big for him to take on.

Jervis Bay, NSW, Australia


A foraging Purple Swamphen searched the ground for snails and frogs, flicking its tail up and down as it walked. Fast and aggressive, the guard ant raced towards it. He raised his mandibles in readiness to attack with his highly developed sting. As the bird moved towards the nest he closed in.

Unfortunately the attacked swiftly became the attacker in a lighting strike that cost him a leg and mangled one of his antennae. He managed to retreat to the safety of the nest before the bird finished what he had started.



Moments later he emerged again. Injured or not, he was hard wired to guard his Queen. But the Purple Swamphen had moved on. He resumed his patrol and found that five legs worked almost as well as six.


This fiesty fella ran out onto the track I was walking on in the beautiful Jervis Bay National Park and tried to see me off. I took his photo instead.

I look forward to your comments - see you in a couple of weeks.





Friday, 2 September 2016

Insect mini-series: SMALL TORTOISESHELL BUTTERFLY

It was all a bit much. Bad enough that he had to endure all the other Small Tortoiseshells muscling in on his chosen Buddleia, but the Peacock interloper was one lepidoptera too far.


West Cork, Ireland


He watched the activity from his solitary perch with a jaundiced compound eye. The other Tortoiseshells were feeding close together, probing the flowers for nectar with their long proboscises. When the Peacock arrived they had merely budged up a bit. 

He, on the other hand, had flown off to an upper level.



It didn’t take him long to realise the advantages of his elevated position: he could observe the females and spot likely candidates to lure into his territory close to the nettle patch.

The nettles played an important role in the mating business because female Small Tortoiseshells preferred to lay their eggs on the underside of nettle leaves. The territory he had already scouted out beside the nettles was surely irresistible.

Etiquette dictated that he should wait in his territory until a female entered it before he started wooing her. However, if he spotted a potential mate, perhaps he could make an early start at the courtship procedure on the Buddleia itself. He hadn’t tried this strategy before. It was risky. Courtship entailed approaching a female from behind and drumming his antennae on her hindwings. She wouldn’t be expecting it while she was feeding and might react as if she’d been goosed. Still… he who dares…



A fetching looking female alighted to feed on a flower below him. He landed beside her. Now he just had to summon his courage.




Do let me know if you're enjoying my insect series. See you in a couple of weeks.