Finally Festive – Featured Photos for December, 2023

Finally Festive – Featured Photos for December, 2023

I’m behind with my Christmas preparations, as usual, but I finally got my mincemeat made for the pies. No real recipe this year – I just used whatever dried fruit and spices I had. The white pieces are toasted cashews. I don’t use suet and never have – I don’t see why anyone would add fat to a sweet preserve. There are chopped dates, nice big raisins, the zest and juice from a couple of oranges and a lemon, cinnamon, soft brown sugar and candied ginger. I didn’t have port, but there was a bottle of whisky lying around so I used that and added a glug of red wine, which I figure amounts to the same thing. Boil it up, simmer and place in a sterilised jar. There should’ve been mixed spice or at least nutmeg, but it still tasted good, so I don’t think anyone will notice.

A trip to Winchester. the city was very attractive with its Christmas decorations. Above are a small contingent of a brass band playing festive songs by the tree. It took me back to my childhood, watching Kirkbymoorside Brass Band playing Silent Night, one of my mum’s favourites, in the glow of a streetlight.

I wish I had photos of the lights at night, but it was bitterly cold so I wasn’t hanging around to take pictures. Sorry about that.

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Another Snippet from the New Devonshire Mystery – A Must-Have Murder

Another Snippet from the New Devonshire Mystery – A Must-Have Murder

The new Devonshire Mystery, A Must-Have Murder, is currently available to pre-order.

The next adventure for Dan and Alan is finally here, so as it makes its way into the world, here’s another snippet to give you a flavour of the book.

A Must-Have Murder – Snippet 2

If you’d like to see an excerpt from the previous chapter, the first snippet is here.

Note: At this point in the story, Dan and Alan have arrived at the house of a potential client, Zadie Barrington, where they were met by Zadie’s assistant, Natalya. Natalya was a favourite with early readers of the book. From Ukraine, Natalya is decidedly feisty, and I hope you enjoy meeting her.

Excerpt From Chapter 2

“Zadie is in her studio. Upstairs is much better, it has been…” Natalya gestured impatiently at the uncarpeted staircase.

“Renovated?” Alan suggested, and Natalya nodded gratefully.

“Yes. Renovated. Exactly.” Natalya sighed and her expression softened. “Forgive me, gentlemen. It has been a hard day, but please, come up, and everything will be explained. Do not stand on the fifth stair. It isn’t safe. The man was supposed to fix it, but…” she shrugged.

“We’ll mind our step,” Alan said with a smile.

Natalya gazed at him. “You’re making a joke.”

“Sort of,” Alan admitted. “Sorry.”

“No need to apologise. Follow me.”

Dan and Alan did as they were told, making their way up the stairs in silence. The fifth tread was badly split, and Dan stepped over it with exaggerated care. When he reached the landing, Dan said, “I see what you mean about that step. It can be hard to find good tradespeople. We met your decorator outside. How are you finding him? Is he reliable?”

Natalya grunted in disapproval. “Very slow, I think. He drinks tea instead of working. I tell him this, but he doesn’t listen.” Natalya drew a long breath, flaring her nostrils, then she added, “You should know that Zadie does not like to be kept waiting. She has a livestream at four, and we must fix her hair and make-up before then. She cannot be late. Do you understand?”

“Yes. We’ll be as quick as we can,” Dan replied. “We also have a schedule to keep.”

“Okay,” Natalya intoned. “Follow me.”

Sign in to keep reading or dive right in and grab the book:

book cover of A Must-Have Murder by Michael Campling

Find it online at: books2read.com/amusthavemurder  

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Cool Runnings – Featured Photos for November, 2023

Cool Runnings – Featured Photos for November, 2023

This was after the Park Run in Winchester. Minus 2 degrees Celsius, so my hands were in my pockets with good reason. Still, I followed a pacer (a volunteer who sticks to a certain pace) and managed to keep up with him, covering the 5K in under 24 minutes. This was a personal best for me, so I had the warm glow from a sense of achievement.

A sprinkling of snow, a rarity in Devon where wet and mild is the rule. This is the view from my writing room, out over the allotments and to the hills beyond, though the hills are partly lost in the mist.

Not gorillas in the mist but cows. I took this photo while I was out on a run, enjoying the solitude of the Devon lanes. I wasn’t so keen on the drizzle that came later, but it was still good to be out and about.

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Islands and Mist – Featured Photos for October, 2023

Islands and Mist – Featured Photos for October, 2023

Some more photos from the Pembrokeshire coast in Wales.

We took a boat trip around the islands off the coast, including Skomer, a haven for birds in the breeding season. The birds had mainly flown elsewhere for winter, but the islands were beautiful and we saw seals on the beaches with their pups, and some swam near the boat.

I hope you like the pictures.

The jetty disappearing into the water didn’t inspire confidence, and when the boat arrived, the chap in charge didn’t like the mist. He went to ponder the situation over a coffee, while the gaggle of potential passengers cooled our heels on the beach. Miraculously, the mist cleared, and we set off.

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A Snippet of the upcoming Devonshire Mystery

A Snippet of the upcoming Devonshire Mystery

Well, it’s taken me a long time to get the next Devonshire Mystery ready.

It’s been a long road, and it’s a long book. Very long.

Today, I’m sharing the first part of chapter 1. This is just between us, so you’ll need to be a member of the site and logged in to read it in full.

The woodland pictured is one of my own photos, taken on a local walk, and I think it gives you an idea of the setting for this chapter.

I hope it gives you a flavour of Dan and Alan’s next adventure, and maybe it will whet your appetite.

A Must-Have Murder – A Snippet

Chapter 1

Alan ran through the forest, his thigh muscles cramping, sweat slicking his back, his chest, his scalp. The crisp air of early spring did nothing to cool him, and his breath rasped in his throat, every exhalation a low moan of pain. But he couldn’t stop to get his breath back, couldn’t slow down.

Ahead, a shadowy figure raced into the distance, sometimes vanishing in the shadows or hidden by a curve in the trail. He was getting away, and Alan couldn’t allow that. He had to catch him.

Alan threw back his head and gasped for air, pouring everything he had into a headlong dash. Arms pumping, feet pounding the dirt, he urged his tortured body onward. I can do it, he thought. I’m gaining on him.

The trail was rougher here, the path littered with loose stones and fragments from broken branches. Alan scanned the ground as he ran, but the dappled shadows made it hard to see, and the sweat from his brow stung the corners of his eyes. He blinked, lifted a hand to wipe his eyes, and that was all it took.

In mid-step his left foot caught on something, and he almost fell, but he spread his arms and twisted his body, keeping his balance. His momentum carried him forward, but his next stride was clumsy, and his right foot hit the ground at an awkward angle. A jab of pain jolted through his calf. He ran on, but each time his right foot met the trail, the pain in his calf intensified as if the muscles were being torn apart.

“Oh hell!” Alan had no choice but to stagger to a halt, wincing with every step. He pressed his hand against the nearest tree trunk, and took the weight from his right leg, staring down at it, half expecting to see the signs of some terrible injury.

There were footsteps on the trail, growing closer, slowing as they approached, and Alan looked up to see the man he’d tried so hard to catch. This was it: the moment he’d been dreading. He’d failed, and now he’d pay the price.

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A Misty Morning in Wales – Featured Photos for September, 2023, part 2

A Misty Morning in Wales – Featured Photos for September, 2023, part 2

We had a holiday on the Pembrokeshire coast in Wales.

There were several days of lovely sunshine, warm enough to sunbathe on the beach and swim in the sea, but this being September, there were also some misty mornings.

On our first day, we went for a run along the coastal path, largely unaware of the cliff’s edge just a few feet to one side.

Thankfully, we stayed firmly on the path, and as the mists cleared, we started to see the lovely views.

I hope you like the pictures.

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A Walk in the Park – Featured Photos for September, 2023

A Walk in the Park – Featured Photos for September, 2023

On a recent trip to Cheltenham (or Cheltenham Spa to give the town its proper name), we enjoyed an evening stroll in Pittville Park, taking in what would be one of the last light and bright evenings.

I moved to Cheltenham back in 88, and I remember sitting in this park, all alone. I’d moved to take up a job, and I didn’t know a soul. I hadn’t been paid yet, so I dined on a snack bar and a soft drink, but I didn’t mind. I was in my twenties and I could get by on more meagre sustenance than I’m used to now. Besides, it was sunny and the park was green and glorious and much prettier than the city streets of Leeds that I’d left behind.

Who could’ve guessed that in a couple of weeks I’d meet a young lady who, some years later, would become Mrs C?

Not me, that’s for sure, but that’s the way life works.

I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Pittville Pump Room with a wedding going on. In its Regency heyday, this was a place to sample the spa waters of Cheltenham, hence the name. I think you can still sample the water inside.

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Exeter Quay – Featured Photos for August 09, 2023

Exeter Quay – Featured Photos for August 09, 2023

The quay in Exeter features in the Devonshire Mystery, Accomplice to Murder, both in the present day story and in the past via a cold case. These days it’s a jolly place to spend a Sunday afternoon, especially when there’s a jazz band playing and people dancing in the street. Mrs C and I had a relaxing afternoon strolling along and checking out the cafes and eclectic shops, and I hope you enjoy the photos.

Stone setts make up the road here, and you can see a building was probably once a warehouse – more on that below.

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Behind the Scenes – Featured Photos for July 24, 2023

Behind the Scenes – Featured Photos for July 24, 2023

Trying to get back into a working routine after the loss of our lovely Labrador, Lottie, I tackled the mass of papers and folders and notebooks that were cluttering my desk and lurking in drawers.

A lot of them could safely be thrown out, but only after I’d checked them in case they held nuggets of wisdom. I came across a few good ideas that I’ve filed away in the bulging folder that’s unimaginatively  labelled ‘Ideas’, but I was more interested to find some early scribblings about characters and story elements that you might recognise.

Here’s the moment when a certain person came into being:

Inspector Trenchford, named after a local reservoir, didn’t make the cut because I thought I might refer to the reservoir, and I think the place is mentioned in the books.

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Exmouth – Featured Photos for June 27, 2023

Exmouth – Featured Photos for June 27, 2023

Like a lot of people, we tend to visit certain places near our home regularly, and we forget that there are so many parts of Devon we could explore.

I haven’t been to Exmouth often, but it was a perfect day to visit the coast, so we packed a picnic and off we went. I hadn’t realised that the beach was so long and the sand so soft. The sun was blazing, but I didn’t take my photos until later when it clouded over and the skies looked more dramatic.

I hope you enjoy the results.

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Writers Assemble – Featured Photos for June 21, 2023

Writers Assemble – Featured Photos for June 21, 2023

I don’t go to many writing conferences, partly because many of them are abroad, but the Self Publishing Show Live has become a fixture for me.

Run by bestselling author Mark Dawson, the conference is a great chance to learn more about writing and all that goes with it. Above all though, I value the chance to meet and talk with other writers. Much of my working life is a solitary affair, so it’s great to share experiences with like-minded friends old and new.

As always, I came away feeling inspired and motivated, but also slightly overwhelmed at all the possibilities. It was an enjoyable trip, and I shall miss the company of other writers, but it’s good to be back in the green spaces and quiet lanes of Devon. It’s good, too, to be back at my desk and working on the next Devonshire Mystery. The second draft is going well, and I think fans of the series will really enjoy it.

Me on the South Bank of the Thames, and once again I’ve managed to make it look as though I have a tiny antenna on my head.

I hope you like the pictures, and please note that you no longer have to sign in to see all the photos, but you do need to be registered and sign in to comment.

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