MarySmith’sPlace – On the road still Afghanistan Adventures #28


Another of Mary Smith’s riveting adventures in Afghanistan.. and in this one, apart from the perils of being a passenger in a truck on the bumpy roads, there is a pressing need that is not helped by time not bumps….as someone who needs to know where the nearest loo is, this would be nightmare for me…This post demonstrates yet again that Mary is a woman to be reckoned with!

MarySmith’sPlace – On the road still Afghanistan Adventures #28

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It was still dark when I heard the urgent whisper, ‘Sister, sister, it is time to go.’  I crawled out of my warm nest, pulling my chaddar on straight. Khudadad had already rolled up his bedding. Under his impatient gaze I fumbled clumsily trying to roll my sleeping bag to a size small enough to squeeze back into its ridiculously tiny nylon bag. Finally he took over and somehow stuffed it in, picked up our bags and headed for the door. ‘Come. Sayed is waiting.’

‘But, I have to go outside first,’ I whispered.

‘Now?’ Khudadad’s voice rose to a hysterical pitch, provoking mutters and grumbles from the sleeping bodies scattered about the room. ‘Sayed will be angry if we are late. We will stop soon.’

I trotted along the deserted street, trying to keep up with Khudadad’s hurried stride, hearing the thrum of the trucks’ engines warming up. One look at Sayed, fingers drumming on the steering wheel, was enough for me to climb into my place and keep my mouth shut about needing to pee. He was obviously not back on home ground yet.


Head over and read the rest of the post….#recommended

via MarySmith’sPlace – On the road still Afghanistan Adventures #28

Everything stops for tea…



Another very entertaining post from raconteur Joy Lennick, this time on the subject of Tea….. and the special moments she has enjoyed in up market establishments…

Everything stops for tea…


TEA: such a small word, the sound of which sums up just one letter of the English alphabet. And yet…what thoughts it ignites at certain times…For tea ‘aficionados’ shopping in the rain, they can’t wait for a cup of the reviving drink, or conversely, after gardening in the hot sun and, for the passionate, it is almost the elixir of life! My late dad was an avid consumer, always eager for a second cup. (Hope there’s a generous tea urn up there, Pop!)

As for the folk lore of the humble leaf, it is said that the Chinese emperor, around 2,737 BC, was drinking boiled water when leaves from a nearby tree fell into his drinking vessel. It was, thereafter, consumed by the Chinese and recorded in the Shang dynasty. The popular drink has since been linked, now and then, to a rich, sometimes macabre, heritage of superstition and stories. But they’re tales for another time. (Eerie sounds coming from the wings…)

488px-Cutty_Sark_(ship,_1869)Tea first appeared in Coffee Houses in London in the late 17th century via its introduction by the Dutch and Portuguese sailors; it was often smuggled from Amsterdam. The first tea shop opened in 1657 and gathered popularity when Charles II married Portuguese Catherine of Braganza and it was introduced to the Court. After the formation of The British East India Trade Company in Macao, tea became more accessible to the hoi poloi, and was accepted as the national drink in 1750.





Head over and enjoy the rest of this entertaining post from Joy.


via Everything stops for tea…

Chatting with Author Victoria Benchley


It is always great to meet new authors and find out about their books…especially if we have more time on our hands than usual.. Here is an interview by Amy Reade with Victoria Benchley and her mysteries sound intriguing.

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Chatting with Author Victoria Benchley

Today I welcome mystery and thriller author Victoria Benchley to Reade and Write. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read the post and get to know Victoria and learn more about her books. She’s here to discuss her most recent release, The Marsden Murder Club: Swiss Revenge. 

Welcome, Victoria! With all that’s going on in the world right now, an escape to Switzerland in the pages of a great book sounds perfect.

Give us an overview of your new release, The Marsden Murder Club: Swiss Revenge.

Abandoned by her father at a young age and sheltered by an overprotective mother, Charlie Swain developed a unique skill set to ensure her emotional survival.  As an adult, she’s given the opportunity to learn about her deceased dad in exchange for employing her unusual talents within a secretive organization. But facing a serial killer was never part of the bargain, and she’ll learn that sometimes, it’s kill or be killed.

For years, the Marsden Murder Club quietly solved cold case murders.  After the public becomes aware of their success, members begin to drop like flies.  Putting their faith in new recruits could be their salvation or their demise.  Set against the world-famous Montreux Jazz Festival and the Swiss Alps, The Marsden Murder Club is a gripping mystery suspense thriller that will keep you guessing until the end. Because when the hunters become the hunted, who can you trust?


Head over to read the rest of the interview and find out more about Victoria’s books.

via Chatting with Author Victoria Benchley

#Bookreviews #Shortstories – No Pedigree, A Perilous Thirst and The Shirt


Three reviews in one post from Robbie Cheadle as she shares her opinion of some shortstories from Nonnie Jules, Rhani D’Chae and Richard Dees.. definitely can recommend The Shirt by Richard Dee and the other two look very interesting too. Head over to enjoy.

Book reviews

March is short story month. These are three that I have read to date.

No Pedigree by Nonnie Jules

My review

It is an irony that I read this book the week after I finished reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald with its two central themes of the wealthy in American not being accountable for their actions and how the America dream of equality for all and an ability for people who have ability and who work hard to attain social status regardless of their backgrounds.

This short story, No Pedigree, explores these same two themes but in a modern setting rather than Fizgerald’s setting of the 1920’s. I could help thinking, as I read this book, how tragic it is that 100 years later these same themes of prejudice, abuse and unfairness are still prevalent in some parts our society.

Baylee Pierre is a young girl of extraordinary beauty and sound intellectual ability who ends up attending a high school in a wealthy area populated by privileged youngsters and their families. Baylee is different from her peer group in that she is the child of a black native American mother and a white father and also, her mother is the housekeeper of a one of the wealthy residents of the school’s feeder area who allows Baylee’s mother to use her home address to register her daughter at the local school. Baylee’s mother thinks she is doing the best for her daughter by giving her this educational opportunity, but her spoiled rich school school associates don’t give her an opportunity to become part of their world and Baylee is ostracised in the most cruel way right from the start.

There is one girl, Carson Beckett, who is different and who becomes best friends with Baylee. Carson puts herself out on a limb to support Baylee against the majority. I enjoyed this touch in the book because it made it even more real and possible, as there is good out there and it was nice to have the bit of positiveness which gives the story some good balance.


Head over to read the rest of this review and the other two…

via #Bookreviews #Shortstories – No Pedigree, A Perilous Thirst and The Shirt

MarySmith’sPlace – Afghan Adventures #26 Truck travel


As always a brilliantly descriptive post from Mary Smith about her adventures during the years she worked in Afghanistan.. wow.. she has serious fortitude…

MarySmith’sPlace – Afghan Adventures #26 Truck travel

By the time we reached Naoor the landscape had changed. Gone were the jagged rocks and boulders and rugged mountains of Jaghoray, replaced by sandy desert. Sayed drove along tracks made by other trucks; tracks which zigzagged across the plain in a bewildering manner. Everything was bleached and dry, the only patch of colour the hazy blue of a lake, at the foot of a distant line of mountains on the far horizon.

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Bellowing to make myself heard above the noise of the music I asked the name of the lake.  Sayed gave a chuckle, the only sound of humour I had heard from him so far, and bellowed back, ‘No water there.’

Did he mean it was a mirage? Not having the vocabulary to ask, I gazed at the strip of blue, wondering if I was being teased. Sayed suddenly, with a surprised exclamation, pulled the truck to a stop. When the dirty, dusty, bleeding face of Khudadad rose to the level of the cab door and grinned toothily at me I wondered briefly if this was another mirage. He launched into voluble explanations in Dari, occasionally interrupting himself to say, in English, ‘I am sorry sister, very sorry.’


Please head over and enjoy the rest of this post…

via MarySmith’sPlace – Afghan Adventures #26 Truck travel

St. Patrick’s Day and being Irish in the time of COVID-19


I wanted to share a post for St. Patrick’s Day that reflected that warmth and extent of the Irish community around the world. Millions have their family roots in small villages that lost most of their residents to either the famine or to emigration, and yet we are all proud of our heritage even when it might just be a quarter of our DNA or less. This is a lovely post from Audrey Nickel on The Geeky Gaeilgeoir which says all of that far better than I could.

So, a chairde, this is not the post I thought I would be sharing today.

For the past several weeks I’ve been working on a post on what it means to say “I’m Irish.” It’s something several friends on both sides of the question have asked me to address — why it is that Irish-Americans insist on referring to themselves as “Irish.”

It’s something that really bothers some people, and a culture clash that seemed ripe for the sharing near St. Patrick’s Day. I get it. I’ve been working on it with the goal of publishing today, and I have to say that, as of yesterday morning, I was no more than three paragraphs short of giving it a final proof and hitting “publish.”

But in the end I couldn’t do it. Because, while there are valid arguments on both sides (“My grandfather came from Ireland!” “You’re not Irish, you’re American! Deal with it!”), right now, I can’t make myself focus on things that divide us.

So much has changed

Please head over and enjoy this post, whether you are Irish or not, you will still get a warm welcome I am sure.


via St. Patrick’s Day and being Irish in the time of COVID-19

Guide to Guides PLUS #BookReview of MARRIAGE UNARRANGED by @RituBhathal #humor #travel #India


If you are planning on a trip to India then this is a must read by Barb Taub.. and also another wonderful review of Ritu Bhathal’s new book Marriage Unarranged that I have just read and enjoyed… here is a snippet and I recommend that you head over and enjoy the entire posts and read the review.

Guide to Guides PLUS #BookReview of MARRIAGE UNARRANGED by @RituBhathal #humor #travel #India


Three different sets of friends asked me recently about visiting India. A neighbor asked for recommendations for an upcoming trip. And a blog-friend published her debut novel, a romcom set in India. Coincidence? Or the Universe reminding me that I’d promised to write up the trip I take in India each year with travel buddies Janine and Jaya, and I’m five books behind schedule? Here’s an excerpt from our (upcoming?) travel memoir, Do Not Ask For Extra Glass. (And no, Terry Tyler, I haven’t actually finished it yet. But I’m getting close!)

To Guide or Not to Guide?

When people ask me about traveling to India, our conversation often goes something like this:

Person: Could I come on your next trip?

Me: We only travel with people who saw us in our underwear 40 years ago.

Person: Then could you recommend a good tour guide?

Me: Um… What were you doing 40 years ago and what underwear did you do it in?

If you hire a car and driver in India, one of the unspoken-but-expected givens is that your driver will supplement his relatively-tiny wage with under the table gifts from the restaurants, shops, and attractions he steers you toward. Since your driver most likely knows good places and is also looking for your recommendations and repeat business, this actually works out quite well. Most of the time. Unless we’re talking about hiring guides.


Head over to enjoy this informative and colourful post as the review for Ritu Bhathal’s book.

via Guide to Guides PLUS #BookReview of MARRIAGE UNARRANGED by @RituBhathal #humor #travel #India

Why to avoid “ing” words in fiction


An opportunity to improve our writing by avoiding the use of ‘ing’ words in fiction. There are a number of reasons why the use of ‘ing’ words can interrupt the flow and meaning of your text.. here is a snippet from D.Wallace Peach and I suggest that you head over to read the rest of the post.

A few weeks ago, I had a blog-conversation with Jacqui Murray of Worddreams about editing out gerunds (those “ing” words). I’ve heard many times that these words should be avoided when writing fiction but never understood why. While some writing no-nos stab me in the eye every time I read them (such as filter words), gerunds never really bothered me.

So, a little research later, here’s the scoop:

Gerunds do three things:

They express ongoing action when combined with auxiliary (helping) verbs:
She was washing her hands.
The snow will be piling up all night.

They act as nouns:
Vacuuming kept the dog hair to a minimum.
Walking helps me stay healthy.

They act as adjectives:
The falling apple bonked her on the head.
A failing grade won’t get me into college.


Head over and tighten up your writing where necessary…


via Why to avoid “ing” words in fiction

My experience of obtaining a balance with parental approval


Robbie Cheadle is a guest writer with her series Growing Booksworms on the blog of Kaye Lynne Booth and in her post this week she looks at obtaining a balance with parental approval for her two sons who have different  skill sets and approaches to work.. A very interesting post.

Growing bookworks Jan 2020

I have two sons, both of which are quite different in their abilities and attitudes to life in general.

My oldest, Gregory, is a scholar. At the age of five he could read music and played the piano with some aptitude. At six, I taught him to read as he was frustrated by this inability and the schools in South Africa only teach reading during the year children turn seven. By the end of his second year of schooling, Greg had read all the series of books for young children I could think of, including Horrid Henry, Astrosaurs, the Little Men and Little Miss books, Secret Seven and many more.

I moved him on to other books, the Classic Starts series for children and during his third year of school, he started delving into some of the original classics. He also read all of the Shakespeare Junior Classics. The school enrolled him in a mathematics extension programme and he finished the entire additional workbook in two afternoons.

From a learning perspective, my oldest son is a dream. He works hard, perseveres and is determined to succeed. He is a lot like me. He shares my failings too. He only applies himself to things he enjoys, gets bored quickly and needs to be continuously challenged and stimulated. These character traits do not always provide for a peaceful co-existence with peers and colleagues, many of whom do not share our obsessive approach to work and areas of interest. My colleagues often ask me how I know so much about a certain topic and I will say: “It’s an interest of mine.” Greg and I are peas in a pod, we have many interests which we are very passionate about. Greg is not interested particularly in sport or socializing and does these things only when it is necessary.

Please head over to read the rest of this excellent post

via My experience of obtaining a balance with parental approval

Guest author: N. A. Granger ~ Torrent…a #writephoto story and news of The Last Pilgrim


No blogger daily for a few days but instead a wonderful story from Noelle Granger as a guest on Sue Vincent’s blog today… and an update on Noelle’s new release due in April… The Last Pilgrim: The Life of Mary Allerton Cushman a must read.. please enjoy this short extract and head over to Sue’s to read the entire story.. you will love it. thanks Sally

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Eliza finally had to stop their mad flight, putting her arms around her little brother, both of them panting for breath.

When Indians had attacked their home in Kentucke, near Harrod’s Town, her parents dropped her and her four year old brother Elias heard into a deep dug-out space beneath the cabin. The Indians hadn’t found her, perhaps because of the bed placed over the floor, but she nearly suffocated Elias when he started to whimper. The noise of ransacking luckily covered his crying, and she heard a struggle, accompanied by her mother’s screams. After that, there were footsteps overhead, pacing here and there. Then silence, except for the noise of the flames consuming the house. They struggled to breathe, as the smoke filtered down, and Eliza covered her brother’s body with hers to keep him from burning. Her back stung where her dress had charred.

They remained in the…

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