Review of Notes from a Small Dog: Four Legs on Two by Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent:

That dog gets all the attention…

A lovely review of Ani’s book

Originally posted on new2writing:

Notes from a Small Dog: Four Legs on TwoNotes from a Small Dog: Four Legs on Two by Sue Vincent
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book came to my attention after discovering this writer contributed to a regular blog, Daily Echo (, I had been lucky enough to read some of the excerpts and when I discovered these tales (no pun intended) had become a book I had to buy it.
Sue Vincents writing is beautiful and the variety of work she creates is astounding. Ani instantly captures the minds (and hearts) of all those who read her stories. Ani’s interpretation of the world is hilarious (and true) and her journey from pup to pen-pusher is magical. An endearing collection that will brighten anyone’s day. Along with a fabulous collection that would make any heart melt.
My only complaint is that I think my henry will now forever be known as the hoover monster!…

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Dear Wen XXII

Originally posted on Stuart France:

scotland trip jan 15 318Dear Wen…

Yeah, yeah… …Romans!

Can’t get overly enthused myself despite the copious lectures I have had to endure…

It was quite good seeing the recycled roman columns at Chester Cathedral…

…and of course the floor tiles at Little Missenden…

…but they were never the main event just side-shows.

10 Blakey Topping (6)The thought of setting out specifically for something Roman seems anathema especially since the elusive yet copiously signed ‘road’ over the Moors…

Quite happy to trip up North again…the ‘Loki bound’ stone is interesting… his head bindings could be snakes or a jester’s cap…

scotland trip jan 15 012
And we always were going to get into Middleton, possibly on the way back to Whitby…

Maiden Castle (112)
Wasn’t there a ruined Roman Temple in the precincts of Maiden Castle?

Fan Mail… who needs it?ani 002

You have my permission to instruct the Beast in two new words.

‘Art’ and ‘Prostitution’…


Don x

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Works in Progress Blog Hop

Barb Taub, author of the quirky Tales from Null City, decided to add my name to her list for the WIP Blog Tour. As refusing any excuse to talk about the books is not in a writer’s nature, and as Barb is the only other writer I have come across to include the barghest amongst her characters, I can only accept graciously and say thank you Barb!

Tales_from_Null_City-Barb_Taub-1563x2500 (3)

There are a number of things in progress on this desk at the moment, including a cheese and pickle sandwich, but other than that and the rituals for the upcoming workshop, the most important is Scions of Albion, the third book in the Doomsday series, written with Stuart France.

hollow tree“Once in your life you will hear a story that you know to be untrue but will believe in your heart to be the most truthful story you have ever heard.”

Scions charts the continuing adventures of Don and Wen as they wander the highways and sacred sites of Albion in search of answers to age-old riddles. Except this time Wen appears to be up to something… something that requires a balaclava, a crow bar and assorted weaponry… And Don is already confused… which isn’t at all surprising given the appearance of a Black Shade in the ice-cream van.


““A black bird you say…” Wen and I have finally regained the relative safety of the Silver Bullet after our overlong sojourn on the tops of the High Moor. Our encounter at the ice cream van has finally been allowed to slowly percolate back into my consciousness.
“Well it was black and it appeared to be flying,” says Wen.
“Did you see a beak?” say I.
“I did not see a beak.”
“Did you see an eye?”
“I did not see an eye.”
“…A head…?”
“There was no head, either…””


I saw, buildings all around…
Everywhere… huge, grey blocks, piled one on top of the other, and lawns, neatly cut and shaped, square, and very green.
Two sapling trees had been planted in the middle of a small circle of freshly turned soil. They had been carefully positioned to grow straight and symmetrical.
The Guardians of Euclid…
Yet still they danced.
A slow, twisting, freedom dance across the years…


“Say what?”
“That’s the key to it,” says Wen.
“Oh,” say I, “I thought you were going to say something interesting.”
“Like what?”
“Like evolution; that dog don’t hunt.”
Wen smiles, “Shouldn’t that be dawg…?”
I think she might finally be grasping my cunningly cryptic film references which should make things a little easier and much more fun of course.


With a little luck this is an opportunity to see what worlds our fellow writers are wandering and the idea is a simple one:

Link back to the person who nominated you.

Write a little about and give the first few lines of your first three chapters from your WIP.

Nominate some other writers to do the same.

So, my nominees, should they choose to accept, are:

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

Nicholas C. Rossis, author of the bestselling Pearseus series.


Alienora Taylor, whose books include Riding at the Gates of Sixty and the hilarious Long Leggety Beasties.

compass-key-coverCharles E. Yallowitz, creator of the Legends of Windemere.

And finally… Gary M. Vasey, who will, I hope sayLO Cover he is currently working on the sequel/prequel to The Last Observer.

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beyond all sorrow a silent golden morning harvests emotion

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More Than Best Friends – Anthology in aid of Guide Dogs For the Blind

Sue Vincent:

Sally Cronin shares her contribution to ‘More Than Best Friends’ an anthology …tales of tails … in support of Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

Originally posted on Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life:


I am delighted today to showcase an anthology of stories for dog lovers that is also released to support one of the most incredible charities. We all know that dogs are loving, loyal and intelligent but for millions around the world they are also a life-line. The Guide Dogs for the Blind has made a life changing difference to both those completely blind and those who are partially sighted. Not only do they train companion dogs but they also fund ophthalmic research and campaign for Equal Rights within our community for those who have impaired sight.

‘The Guide Dogs story started in 1931 with two amazing British pioneers, Muriel Crooke and Rosamund Bond. These remarkable women organised the training of the first four British guide dogs from a humble lock up garage in Wallasey, Merseyside.’

Today this charity, that does not receive any government funding, supports nearly 5,000 blind…

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“More than Best Friends”

Author Kevin Morris has just announced that “More than Best Friends” is now available for download. The book is an anthology of stories and poems from more than a dozen writers designed to help raise both funds and awareness for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Kevin writes: “The purpose of this anthology is to raise much needed funds for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, (, the UK charity which provides highly trained working dogs enabling visually impaired people to live and work independently. As someone who is now working with my fourth guide dog, Trigger (you can see Trigger and I on the front cover) I am acutely aware of the vital role dogs like my four-legged friend Trigger play in enhancing the independence of blind and partially sighted people. All monies donated go directly to the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association so do please give whatever you can afford. I and other guide dog owners greatly appreciate your generosity.”

You can download a copy of the book by following the link on the campaign page by clicking HERE.

Please support Kevin and Trigger in any way you can… read, donate… and share!

Thank you!

Contributing authors:
Sally Georgina Cronin Valerie Ormond Kev Cooper Kevin Morris Gary S. Watkins Anju Lavina Alienora Taylor Shaun Dickinson Denise Buckley Sue Vincent Robin Leigh Morgan Meredith Dixon Hayes Tim Baker
Cover art by Chris Graham
Editor David Higgins

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Candles-in-the-wind805Today would have been my great grandmother’s 246th birthday and her cake would be a fire hazard. She would have been 123 years old… and if that seems to make little sense there is a simple explanation. Like the Queen, she had two birthdays. Unlike the Queen, my great grandmother’s situation was due to a clerical error, her birth having been recorded as ‘the 30th, the last day of March.’

She didn’t quite make her century, thus missing out on the royal greetings. She had always regretted my great grandfather’s death for that reason too… he had quite inconsiderately chosen to shuffle off this mortal coil shortly before their 60th wedding anniversary, thus denying her the privilege of a message from the monarch.

We were talking over the weekend about the whole process of growing older. It was agreed that while the body appears to age, the inner being has a mind of its own and doesn’t necessarily age beyond whatever is its personal optimum. Great Grandma always said that even at 99 she still felt 18 inside. Somehow the ageing process seems shaped less by the passing of years and more by our own attitude so that we see people who are old by the time they hit thirty and youngsters of ninety still up for all kinds of mischief… like Great Aunt Annie-Beatrice who still wore heels and shocking pink as an octogenarian. Because she could.

If you had asked me thirty years or so ago I would have probably imagined myself by now being very much like my Great Aunt Gwen… a ramrod backed, well-upholstered Yorkshirewoman, wielding Methodist severity like a sergeant-major with a rolling pin. Yet instead I am, it seems, developing a penchant for mischief and a desire to ‘misbehave’; to act, should I so choose, against the accepted convention that requires older generations to become more staid and less flamboyant. And I think of Great Aunt Annie-Beatrice in her shocking pink coat. Or my Grandma who, in her 60s, wanted to learn to water-ski, but was forbidden because she would ‘look ridiculous’.

I have noticed the body language changing… instead of holding myself primly upright it has become more expansive over the years. I hug more, open to that exchange of warmth and energy… more ready to let people in that I once was. My gestures are wider; there is a physical freedom I lacked when I was younger.

It is not that I lacked the desire to defy convention before… it is just that I would have simply wanted to do things and lacked the courage fearing disapprobation. Now, I don’t really care a jot whether I am looked upon with disapproving eyes or whether those eyes choose to slide off my unruly presence, dismissing me from consciousness as if I were “Somebody Else’s Problem.”

“An SEP is something we can’t see, or don’t see, or our brain doesn’t let us see, because we think that it’s somebody else’s problem…. The brain just edits it out, it’s like a blind spot. If you look at it directly you won’t see it unless you know precisely what it is. Your only hope is to catch it by surprise out of the corner of your eye……This is because it relies on people’s natural predisposition not to see anything they don’t want to, weren’t expecting, or can’t explain”. Douglas Adams. “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”.

The ageing process appears to bring an inner confidence and relaxing of the constraints that held us, tied to the apron strings of our own reflection in the eyes of the world. Our need for approval changes and perhaps we let go of the fears that have held us back and find approval, instead, in our own eyes. They say that age brings wisdom… I don’t think that is a coincidence somehow. Nor do I think it coincidence that as we work with the levels of Being in the Silent Eye, I am growing into my own. There is something in what we do that feeds the soul in a curious manner and opens many doors within. Life has taken on vivid hues and while there is undoubtedly both a need and a time for silence and for dignity, the inner bubble of joy seldom subsides and little by little I am learning to let go and just surf the tide of life … and hope I can find the freedom to grow old disgracefully.

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sunrise 007Ronovan’s haiku challenge


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…. And relax. Or perhaps not…

great hucklow and langsett 008So another weekend in the north passed quietly, mainly as rain stopped play for most of the time I was there. Not, of course, that it is any less beautiful. It simply meant that instead of tramping the moors, getting wind-battered and soaked, we stayed largely undercover and worked. Which means talking. With, perhaps, the occasional glass of wine.

great hucklow and langsett 007The drive up on Thursday had been a drive through springtime, leaving the cold and wintry weather behind and following the sun. Sheltered banks of daffodils gilded the roadside and carpets of celandine opened their shiny yellow petals to embrace the day. England’s incredible palette glowed green… and I had to leave it for the motorway as time was getting on. Even so, I managed to lose myself temporarily in the hills, just for a short while… the loss being of no great account in face of such beauty and life.

land of the exiles great hucklow  devils rock  001 (34)Friday, of course, we had our monthly meeting, with lunch first at the Queen Anne in Great Hucklow, where spring is beginning to unfurl, with perfect timing for April. We called in at the Nightingale Centre where the event will be held in just a few weeks’ time, armed with tape measures and questions in preparation for the upcoming workshop. We have to get it right, of course… and once again we have people flying in from as far away as Europe and America to attend this unique event. We had to smile at the Green Man who hangs on the wall in the corridor there… a half-forgotten friend who winked back at us as if sharing the secret of next year’s adventure, which is already being planned.

great hucklow and langsett 061The sun decided to oblige and graced the occasion with its presence as we walked up the hill that has become so much a part of our ritual working. We were seeking this year’s landscape, wondering what would unfold for us here. The land itself seems to welcome us and offer whatever we need for the hillside rituals. This year our needs are simple and there was no argument about where we would go when the moment arrived. A few sheep looked on from the field where the lamb had greeted our silent procession with its cries one morning as we brought the School into being. I had to wonder if it was the same one. It is, after all, a very special place.

great hucklow and langsett 075I recalled the first workshops I myself had attended here, with every room filled with people. Would we want so many? The laughter seems to bubble away throughout our workshops, the intimacy allows old friends to meet and new friendships to be forged. No, I think we have it about right… although there are a couple of  possible places still available, should anyone care to join us at the last minute…

great hucklow and langsett 071We were talking about the workshop most of the day of course. The rituals are written, props organised, our guest speaker ready… and now the final push begins to make sure we have everything right. We do it all ourselves, of course, as we operate on a not-for-profit basis, keeping expenses low so the workshop can be offered for no more than the cost of a weekend in a bed and breakfast, yet is fully catered and has all the ritual drama, the knowledge sessions and companionship thrown in… and it is set in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales. The vague memory of an old advertising campaign flickered through my mind; the word the company had used for their services was ‘priceless’. It seemed appropriate as I looked across the counterpane of beauty that spreads out around that little Derbyshire village.

April in Great Hucklow

April in Great Hucklow

river-of-sun-banner-in-corelBrochure, price list and Booking Form for River of the Sun 2015

For equiries bout the School or the workshop please email the Silent Eye at

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Dear Don XXII

scotland trip jan 15 247Dear Don,

Seems a bit daft writing when I will probably see you before you get this, but you know what my memory is like… except for ‘useless’ information.

We really are going to have to go back up north… and this time via Hadrian’s Wall. If it hadn’t been for the snow we could have gone that way on the Scottish trip. Still, I’d like to show you the Mithraeum up there. Miles from nowhere and very little to actually see, of course… but you will feel it. The landscape wraps around it somehow.

Carrawburgh: image source

Carrawburgh: image source

There are other Roman remains all the way along… now, now… we are going to have to look at some Roman stuff at some point, you know. Just to put everything else in context. But I promise we won’t go looking for non-existent roads again like we did in North Yorkshire.

It’s weird really. The Romans, just like the Normans, the Saxons… all invaders, yet there seems to be a separateness about the Legions. They marked the land by imposition, cutting through it rather than embracing it, I suppose. Even though the others imposed their will on the people, they do seem to have been more in sympathy with the land itself. Perhaps that is why we don’t ‘feel’ their relevance in the same way as we feel the ghosts of the others. They came, they saw, they conquered… then left again. And that’s without the whole Anglesey massacre, of course…

Anyway, if we do go up to the Temple of Mithras, we could always call at a few of the other sites we have mentioned… there are a couple more crosses we need to see, including the one with Loki. And that’s not so far… only at Kirkby Stephen… And of course there is the Loki at Middleton too. You know, the church that was closed outside Pickering?

Image: Geograph

Kirkby Stephen – Image: Geograph

I keep getting the urge to go to the British Museum too… though I’m not sure why. I keep finding good reasons to visit, but what is really pulling me I’m not sure. But it is ages since I was there…

By the way, the Beast hopes you enjoyed the copy of the new book anyway. Whether you liked it or not.

The Beast further asks me to mention who amongst us gets all theani 001 fan mail…

The Beast, of course, may be in big trouble… ( even if it is perfectly true…)


Wen and Anu x

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