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Pic’n’Post n° 36: Where was the picture taken?

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Where was the picture taken?

Unless you were an expert botanist, last week’s picture was decidedly tricky. Nonetheless, brave contestants Matt, Rosa, Thumbup and JoHanna are to be thanked for trying their best. And this is another occasion when the award can only be split. Thumbup wins for her dedicated research which turned up the Coastal Witch-alder, for which she even provided photographic evidence. And JoHanna wins for her beautifully creative answer involving the orchid underground, a container full of dog ceramics and a writer of bodice-ripping novels (check it out here ).

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Actually, it’s a coffee plant, photographed during a walk in Mayotte. If it’s hard to guess from the picture, smelling it would leave you none the wiser, since although the scent is delightful, it’s not at all like coffee.

Congratulations, Thumbup and JoHanna!

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This week it’s back to Where? at the top of this page. Happy guessing!

As it’s a bit difficult, a couple of clues: (i) It’s not Mars. (ii) Big in 2007

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Thursday Interview: Grand Old Duke of York

Grand Old Duke of York Curtis Bausse blog

Now, you have 10,000 men, Grand Old Duke, and you’ve been marching them about a lot recently. Can you tell me about it?

Certainly. It was the hill behind the barracks that first drew my attention. An excellent place to march the men, I thought, make a change from the square-bashing. Up to the top and down again. Apart from a few minor incidents, it was a great success.

But a bit pointless, surely? Not much different from square-bashing.

Which itself isn’t pointless at all. Keeps ’em fit and disciplined, for a start. But going up the hill is even better – gives ’em a sense of achievement when they get to the top. And there was also a specific purpose behind it. You see, we knew very well that when they were down, they were down, and we had a strong suspicion that when they were up, they were up. But no one knew where they’d be when they were only half way up. Thanks to my expedition, we now know they were neither up nor down.

Well, that’s quite a discovery! Will it have any practical application?

Indeed it will. The nature of warfare is changing. We have good reason to believe that the enemy is neither here nor there, but until now we had no way to counter that. Being neither up nor down will give us a huge advantage.

I see. And what does that mean in concrete terms?

An intermediary position between lying down and standing up. In other words, we waddle. The enemy will be utterly confused.

Sounds… original, shall we say? And your men are with you on this?

There’s been a bit of insubordination. A few of them saying that if they waddle, they’ll be sitting ducks. But one has to expect any innovative idea to meet resistance at first. It’s nothing a decent flogging won’t sort out.

Hmm… Now, I don’t want to appear disrespectful, Old Duke – after all, you’re the second son of King George III – but it’s been whispered that your military tactics are totally up the chute. Your Flanders campaign was pretty disastrous and –

Why, you impudent little scallywag, how dare you? Lucky for you you’re not in the army! Out of my sight forthwith!

The interview thus came to a premature end as the Prince chased me round the room, sword drawn, before tripping over the carpet and skewering his butler as he fell. 

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Flash Fiction: One day like this

Hawk_hangglider_Pilcher

‘Will he really, Daddy?’ The boys jostled to get a better view.

‘Well, that’s what he says. We’ll see.’

Up on the tower, the man was a speck, but they heard him loud and clear through the megaphone. ‘I open the way! After years of research and frustration, the moment has come!’

Mr. Wright did his best to hide the sight of the plummeting contraption from his sons’ eyes. Shocked and dejected, they walked away in silence.

Eventually, Wilbur said, ‘I bet you it’s possible, though.’

‘One day.’ Orville spread his arms and raced across the grass. ‘Like this!’


In response to Matt’s Flash Fiction Foray, where this week’s prompt was the song One Day Like This, by Elbow. I have to confess: historical accuracy is somewhat ignored in my story, as the Wright brothers’ inspiration didn’t come from the scene described but a toy helicopter (far less gruesome) brought home by their father. I did try pointing this out to the guys over at Warner Bros, but they threw up their arms in disdain. ‘Accuracy? Who cares about that? We need a dramatic hook, Curtis. Get to it!’ On the other hand, several pioneers did die testing their machines, including Percy Pilcher, whose hang glider, The Hawk, is in the picture.

 

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Pic’n’Post n° 35: What is the picture of?

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What is the picture of?

I missed last week due to Santa dropping in, so your patience in holding out two whole weeks to get the answer is much appreciated. Thanks go to regulars Matt, Rosa and Thumbup, as well as (relative) newcomers Mitch and Pots of Tea (welcome, both!) for their guesses.

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Morocco quickly emerged as the front runner, but the question was where? A bit of luck was involved this time, since the picture, as Rosa said, could be of pretty much any street in the country. In fact it was Meknes, which makes Rosa the winner (with Rabat) by about 300 kms over runner-up, Pots of Tea (with Marrakesh).

Congratulations, Rosa!

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This week it’s back to What? at the top of this page. Happy guessing – and Happy New year!!

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Flash Fiction: The Bridge Over

‘What’ll you do?’ you said. ‘You’ll be all right, won’t you? Promise me.’ I didn’t want to think about it. I said I’d cross that bridge if I came to it. We both knew it wasn’t if but when.

The Clifton Suspension. Where everyone goes. If I make it across, I’ll get over you. But when I looked down, I wanted so much to be with you, I felt dizzy. Then a gull perched near, and your voice in the wind said you’d never forgive me.

I still haven’t got over you. But I’ve been crossing bridges ever since.


 

In response to Matt’s Flash Fiction Foray, which had the song Bridge Over You as the prompt. I wasn’t sure I’d have time to do it, what with Christmas and all, but once I’d seen the prompt, I knew it would be hard to resist!

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Thursday Interview: Rudolph Reindeer

Pleased to meet you, Rudolph. You know, you’re possibly the most popular reindeer ever. But that wasn’t always the case, was it?

No, I had an unhappy calfhood. I wasn’t exactly bullied, but I felt very unwanted. The others wouldn’t let me play their reindeer games.

And all because of your nose?

I was the laughing stock. And it made me terribly self-conscious. You know how teenagers feel when they have a zit on their nose? It was a thousand times worse!

How did you cope?

You develop a thick skin in the end. I said to myself I didn’t want to play their stupid games anyway. It was actually untrue – I was dying to play. But being a loner means you mature a lot quicker, I think. You know what their favourite game was? Sardines. So silly! Besides, reindeer are useless at sardines. I took up golf instead. But that was a bit of a disaster too. The very first day I crashed the buggy so I had to get off and hoof it. Then they accused me of wreaking havoc with the green and told me not to come back.

But it all changed one day. What happened?

I was out walking on my own one night, feeling sorry for myself, when a man came up and said, ‘That’s just what I need! A nose that glows!’ He was so excited I thought he was going to cut it off there and then. But he asked if I wanted to join his team to guide them. So instead of following their nose, they’d follow mine. Then he introduced himself – Santa Claus! Well, I thought I was dreaming. A miserable outcast one minute, Santa’s head reindeer the next!

A life-changing opportunity indeed. But you took it in your stride?

It was nerve-wracking to begin with. It’s a huge responsibility. I was terrified I’d screw up. I imagined children everywhere howling, ‘That’s not what I asked for!’ Smashing Barbie dolls to bits, stamping on Darth Vader. But it all went OK and now I’ve got used to it, I find it much less stressful.

And what advice would you give to other reindeer?

Remember it’s no big deal if they won’t let you play sardines. However hostile the world might seem, one day your fortunes will look up. So don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. And above all, join me now in wishing everyone a

 xmas


A short while ago, my interviewee, Red Velvet Cake, so impressed me that I just had to try it myself. Unlike Lili’s original, mine wouldn’t win a beauty pageant but everyone agreed it was scrumptious. Putting on the topping reminded me why I never became a plasterer, and nor would I be much use with shop letters. As soon as the C went on, I realised I should have gone for Xmas instead. M complained vigorously in its best Judi Dench accent: ‘Call this a cake? More like the Piccadilly Line at rush hour.’ To which the second S retorted, ‘Consider yourself lucky! What about me, clinging on for dear life?’ In short, everyone got a bit irritable, but in the end the Christmas spirit prevailed, and the main thing is that you get the message, sincerely sent from Red Velvet Cake and me to all of you!

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Flash fiction: To The Rescue

calvary riding to the rescue

After a while it was always the same – reporters, witnesses, police outside the hotel. Same words repeated, same pictures. He switched channels: a black and white, childhood world. He heard the murmur of Julia’s voice in the next room. The embassy hot line again. He squeezed his eyes.

Then she was with him, staring at the screen, trying to make sense of it. Hastily, he switched back to the hostage crisis. ‘Anything new?’

She shook her head and turned away, defeated. The knot of anguish tightened in his chest. Oh, for the bugles, the thundering hooves, unstoppable.


Many thanks to Matt for hosting the Flash Fiction Foray. This week’s prompt was Stop The Cavalry, by Jona Lewie.

 

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Pic’n’Post n° 34: Where was the picture taken?

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Where was the picture taken?

Last week’s picture was soon identified as something tech, with a couple of guesses mentioning solar. Thanks go to Matt, Rosa, Dookes, Charlie and Thumbup  for their guesses, and Charlie was the first to say solar panels.  Which indeed is what it is – a plain solar panel, taken outside an arboretum near Tulear, Madagascar. I was quite surprised myself when those weird but pretty reflections showed up in the photo – you don’t really notice them when you’re standing right in front of it.

Curtis Bausse Photography

Tulear, Madagascar. Solar panels at the arboretum.

 

Congratulations, Charlie!

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This week it’s back to Where? at the top of this page. No Pic’n’Post next week – I’ll be playing with my toys. Which gives you two weeks to mull over this one!Happy guessing!

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Thursday Interview: Wendy Wheelbarrow

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Wendy, you’ve kindly accepted to – Wendy? Are you all right?

Yes, I’ll manage, thank you. I’m just a bit tired. I’m on my last wheel, you know.

Which is why I’m very grateful for this interview. Just how old are you exactly?

I’m afraid I lost my birth certificate a long time ago. But I was here when you arrived and I was with the previous owners for about 30 years, so that puts me over 50, which isn’t bad for a barrow. Of course, if I’d been born into the bourgeoisie, sleeping indoors, hardly ever doing an honest day’s work, I dare say I’d still be in my prime. But I was never pampered. Slept outside, made to lug stones and earth and branches all day, with nary a word of encouragement. A tough life, it was, but in those days you didn’t complain. You just got on with the job.

You never thought of going on strike? Demanding better conditions?

I was all on my own. I’d never even heard of NUBGI so it wasn’t –

I’m sorry? NUBGI?

National Union of Barrows and Garden Implements. But I don’t know if I’d have joined in any case. Bunch of troublemakers as far as I can see. I’m not saying everything in the garden’s lovely, but we have to make do with our lot. If I’d been born with another wheel, I’d have been a bicycle, wouldn’t I? But I wasn’t, so there’s no point worrying. I wouldn’t have wanted to be one anyway. All those fancy gears and what not. More trouble than it’s worth. Down to earth, that’s me. Never led anyone up the garden path.

Well, that’s admirable, Wendy. But I still think you could have been better looked after in your old age. We have no photos of you younger, but in my research for this interview I came across a portrait which a visitor did of you in 2003. You were in quite good shape back then.

barrow2Yes, I remember posing for that picture. The artist was rather irritable, as I recall. Kept saying my features were too wooden. Heaven knows what he expected. For me to put on a steely expression, perhaps.

And how do you see the future? I don’t want to be too blunt but there’s not a lot of you left.

Do you think I don’t know? I’m all wheel and no barrow. I feel pretty rotten, to be honest. But I’m not ready to throw in the trowel just yet. Where there’s a wheel, there’s a way.

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Three new pages!

They’re all on my other blog, the one where I get to be a serious indie author posting about writing, promoting and… well, nothing else really, because that’s all indie authors do.

Aware that even the smallest exposure can help, I’ve added an Indie Books Page with bite-sized reviews of books I’ve read. Not many for the moment but I’ll add more as and when.

There’s a One Green Bottle audio page – the first four chapters recorded. If you who don’t like reading on screen, or want to be entertained as you cook, this is for you!

Finally, win a holiday break in Provence! That’s right – a short story competition, first prize being a long weekend in Provence as a guest of yours truly. Check it out!