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By popular request - ok, so just Shalen asked - how Cake Wars came to be!  I debated long and hard about calling it Cake Wars IV: A New Gateau but didn't think I could keep the theme going, so it's plain old cake wars!

The setting is a (wait for it ...) coffee shop. Yes, I know, such a shock, me being in a coffee shop!  My habits had changed a little in the past few months; I used to walk back along the pedestrian precinct in town to swing by a coffee shop, but that shop had closed down. I still walked past it on the way in and it sat empty for quite a while.  Then, one day, it looked like it was re-emerging from it's somnulent state.  A few weeks passed and whilst the shop remained closed it was obvious things were afoot: a name change, change of frontage, etc.  Then, one day, it stood open!  What could a a poor boy do?  Instead of carrying on and coming back like usual I popped in there and then.

The young couple who run it seemed very nice and in conversation with them (I will say now I have asked if they mind me using their names and they are fine with it) found out that they hail from Mauritius and came to England via a stay in Italy.  Both Natacha (she) and Jansen (he) cook/bake, but it is mainly Jansen who is behind the grill and Natacha who is front of house. In passing, Natacha is not as you may think a traditional Mauritian name, her mother just liked the sound of it!  They bake their own cakes for the shop and we got talking about cakes (yes, I AM getting to the Cake Wars part ...!)

Natacha mentioned that she did a mean apple cake (also gluten free and vegan).  I said that sounded nice, even if it was vegan, etc., and she said she'd bake one so I could try it.  Off I went on my way, after having had a coffee and a brownie that Jansen had made (not normally a huge fan of them, but ... oh dear, it was very good!)

Next week and I was looking forward to trying the apple cake, but ... *sniff sniff* no apple cake, so I had t 'make do' with a slice of an orange marmalade tart (oh, the suffering, I am thinking of setting up a GoFundMe page to help pay for the psychological support ...!)  The week after and Natacha was not about, just Jansen, so again no apple cake.

The following week Natacha was profuse in her apology in forgetting to make the apple cake.  However, she was actually mixing one up and Jansen was mixing up a carrot cake - can you see where we may be going with this yet?  Some light banter over which one was going to be best went on, and I have to say both looked fine as they were being worked on in their respective bowls.  Sadly I did not have time to wait for the mixing and baking to be done so set off for home looking forward to tasting the fruits of their labour.

Next week dawned and ... no cake!!! Ok, yes, there WAS cake, I had to force myself to a slice of a gluten free chocolate cake, but no cake from, or for, the Cake Wars!  Solemn promises were made that a slice would have barbed wire fencing erected around it, signs saying 'Keep off, reserved for Simon" mounted, with guard dogs and machine gun posts and come hell or high water there's be a slice for me next time.

Next time dawned in just a week's time and ... lo, there was a slice of each available.  Of course I could have done the sane and healthy thing and just had a slice of one of them, but where'd be the fun in that?  And so it was that I had a slice of each, plus a coffee, on the table before me.  Being, partly, the culprit of all this, up first was the apple cake.  The fork dipped, cut off a piece and ... oh, yes, a nice bit of cake.  So far the apple cake was ahead and only partly by default.  Next up was a bit of the carrot cake and ... sorry apple cake, but carrot cake just, just topples your from the podium.  Then another bit of apple cake. Oh dear, back went apple cake to the podium, giving the carrot cake a gentle nudge to make room.  And so it went, alternating between the two it was the one I had just had a bit of which was my favourite.

All the while Natacha was leaning over the counter saying 'which one?' and 'mine is better, yes?' with Jansen a bit behind her, rolling his eyes a little and giving me small shakes of his head and pointing to himself.  I, naturally, was having none of this and just said I'd tell them once I had finished both.  Once I had finished both I, of course, dallied and theatrically pondered.  Now, up until the last bite of each it was as I had said, the last bit of cake I had eaten was my favourite.  But with the final bit of carrot cake there had been a small sprig of mint which I had removed  from the icing and that had ... 'tainted' the flavour of the icing and the two flavours, to me, clashed'.

Giving my summation I led to believe it was going to be a tie with each being my favourite. But, I had to say that when I got to that final bit of carrot cake, the mint was just not quite right and for that alone the apple cake would have to be a winner.  Natacha beamed hugely and Jansen looked a bit confused and then Natacha admitted that it had been she who had added the sprig of mint to Jansen's carrot cake!  Sabotage!  The judges (well ok,just me but I HAD just had two slices of cake so feel the plural was fitting) deliberated and on reconsideration declared the carrot cake to be the victor!

Not much of a tale, but what is not mentioned is all the smiles, fun and laughing that these small moments in time of a Monday have included.  Even if your local coffee shop is not called 'Coffee Me' or run by Natacha and Jansen, go visit, have a slice of (hopefully!) home-made cake and a coffee and have a chat - you may be pleasantly surprised!
There I was, sitting in a coffee shop (yes, I know, a rare thing, but I do from time to time ...) when the opening of the door caught my peripheral vision so I turned my head a bit and saw a gentleman in a blue uniform enter (and no, NOT the police finally catching up with me ..!) and it became very obvious he was Royal Navy, much like his colleague who I then saw hard on his heels.  My first thought was "they must have badly mis-parked their ship", even if we were within a long stone's throw from the sea).  A thought that was quickly dashed as they walked past to the counter and their shoulder patches saying, "bomb disposal" became visible. The second thought (hardly worth even calling it that for the brief amount of time it existed for) was "um, oh dear ...?". The 'real' second thought was, to a degree naturally, I wonder if they had been on a real call or not or were en route to one.  As they ordered food I guessed that it was more the former.  Speaking to them it turned out that yes, they had been on a job, it was a real job (actually involving something that could go bang), and that something was a 3" projectile.
Being puckish (I know, who'd have thunk it?!) I asked them, "so how hard did you laugh at 'The Hurt Locker'?" The answer, unsurprisingly, was 'quite a lot' and also, 'we do almost everything exactly unlike portrayed in the film'
Fire up deviantART in Chromium and it hangs on 'waiting for google-analytics.com'.  Do the same in Opera and it goes through without worry.
Is that a rat I smell or just a case of the bizarre?
I was ambling through the town centre, about to schlep homeward when I remembered a decision I had made yesterday.  I had decided to get my beautiful niece some flowers, semi inspired by Valentine's Day, but mainly as she has recently managed to break her wrist.  The gentle schlep stuttered to a halt as the brain cell got redirected to work out where there was a florist.  A quick mental review of the nearby shops failed to unearth any I knew of and I was beginning to make muttering sounds when I noticed some police knocking down a PR-type display and so I decided to do what we have all been told to do, "when in trouble, ask a policeman".
I strode toward them and one, a young PCSO (Police Community Support Officer) as it turned out turned toward me and let out a hearty "hello, sir!"  After a quick look behind me in case I asked him, "how's your local knowledge?"
He broke into a broad smile and replied, "excellent, sir!"  I nodded in appreciation and asked, "where's the nearest florist?"
He then broke into a set of stuttered "um it's, er, well, it's ..." sounds of confusion whilst his colleagues, some PCSOs and also some real police broke into guffaws of laughter and half of them combined that with pointing at the hapless chap.
That said, he plucked victory out of the fires of defeat with great aplomb.  Not only did he decide to consult PC Google, he also inquired which way I was walking home so he got a shop in the right direction, and came up with a good solution, even to taking me to a map and walking me through the roads needed to get there.
As is usually the case, my parents were right, "in case of trouble, find a policeman".  The police and PCSOs are often derided but as and when they can actually put warm bodies out and about I have ever found them to be decent people - apart from, maybe, the git who did me for speeding many, many years ago!
On my way home from getting some cold meds (or rather, anti-cold meds, as I already had a stinking cold ... not looking at you, :iconrafellin:!) as the ones I had a best before date of 2011.  I get the odd sniffle, usually gone within the day, for which I do not bother taking anything, but this has been a good handful of days now. so some Lemsip or equivalent was called for.  Any way, on my way home I decided (remembered through the slight mental fug of the head cold) that I needed to book the car in for a service and MoT and as I'd be passing the garage in question, I ducked in.
All was good, walked in, was guided to the service department, introduced myself and gave details of car and mentioned I had a service plan with them (but could not prove it for various reasons to do with dodgy mobile phones).  A flurry of typing later the man agrees that I do, indeed, have a service plan.  And that is nice as it was beyond time to get the cam-belt replaced (a £400 task) and air conditioning serviced, which I get a 10% discount on (service and MoT come free). It was going swimmingly.  Then I asked, or rather checked confirmation, that I was due a courtesy car.  Yes indeed I was.  Automatic or manual?  Nice to have the choice as I hate automatics.  If something is too good to be true it usually is, and this is where it all fell flat.  No fault to Caffyn's or their staff but, as things apparently stood (and please understand I am paraphrasing out of a mood of being stuffed full of cold and annoyance at the time!) they believed I was me enough to rake my money for the service plan but not enough to let me have a courtesy car.
It seems that because I do not have any photo-id I cannot prove to the satisfaction of the insurance company that I am me, so Caffyn's were unable to supply me an (uninsured) courtesy car.
Gritting teeth and trying not to vent over the nice man in the service department I completed the arrangements for the service, just changing the courtesy car to a 'drop off home lift'.
After getting home I called Caffyn's and was passed to the service manager to whom I explained the position again, stressing that nowhere did it say anything about needing photo-id, nor was it ever stated and I have only been a loyal customer of their for my past 4 cars, etc., etc.  It seems this requirement is relatively recent and post-dates me taking out the service agreement ... so Chris, the service manager (I hope he does not mind being mentioned) said he'd phone the insurance company and see what he could do.  Right, I thought, and he said he'd call back.  Right, I thought.  I think I had managed to sit down in an almighty sniffly, head-fogged harrumph of irritation when the phone went.  It was Chris.  He had talked to the insurance company and they had agreed that if I provided some basic details they'd be ok with the insurance, so all will be fine when I take the car in for its service and MoT.
Thus, the hats off to Caffyn's, for doing the decent thing and being so darned swift about it! :)
Juliana, aka :icon0snow-white0: has tagged me, so here we go ... I dpn't really do these things, so I'll respond but not tag others :)
Which means I seem to have broken the main (only?) rule ...!

 Rules: Tag 8+ people you'd like to get to know better using this meme!

 Name: Simon

☆ Star sign: not sure - Saggitarius or Capricorn, I think 

☆ Average hours of sleep: varies from 5 to 8 or so 

☆ Lucky number:  none in particular, they are all evil ... ;)

☆ Last thing googled:  I was trying to find the lyrics of a spoof of Yesterday that deals with computer backups (or lack thereof)

☆ Favorite fictional character(s):  in no order: Ingold Inglorion, John Watson MD, Megaera

☆ Current attire: Jeans and t-shirt (as usual).

☆ When did you start this account?: 5 years ago 

☆ Number of watchers: 265

☆ What do you post?: Mostly 3D, some tutorials.

☆ Other blogs:  none

☆ Do you get a lot of comments: Not as much as I'd like. 

☆ Why did you choose this username?: Apart from it being based on my name? :)
Some years ago I read a book called 'Between Silk and Cyanide' by Leo Marks.  It was quite mind boggling in many respects as it seemed to amount to a very young man being placed into an extremely responsible job: code creation for the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in WW2.  The strange thing is that despite a mild interest in this sort of thing I have never, knowingly, come across any other mention of him.  Then a few days ago I picked up a book in a charity shop and he (Leo Marks) cropped up in a few mentions.
Faith very adequately restored, as I had been, sort of, wondering if it had been one of those faux memoirs type books that purport to be 'based on real events'.  The slightest niggle of doubt that I had has well and truly been kicked into touch.  If you ever get the chance to read the book, do so - it is astounding and will have you both laughing and crying.
One of the things Leo Marks did was create poems for the SOE agents, as a backup to more secure coding methods he introduced; coding based on poems was standard at the start - with well-known poems being used and being dangerous as if guessed they could/would enable all traffic of that agent to be read.
The main reason I am writing this, however, is that toward the end of the 2nd hand book there was another mention of Leo Marks and him returning to his old offices after the war - the building was up for sale - and despite a promise he had made to himself about 'no more poems' he felt driven to write just one more, and chalked it up on a blackboard that was in his old office and (much like his famous 'The Love That I Have' poem) it just hit a spot - we live in turbulent times, bombs and shootings all over the place ...

We listen round the clock
For a code called peacetime
But will it ever come
And shall we know when it does
And break it once it's here
This code called peacetime.

Or is its message such
That it cannot be absorbed
Unless its text is daubed
In letters made of lives
From an alphabet of death
Each consonant a breath
Expired before its time.

Signalmaster, Signalmaster
Whose Commandments were in clear
Must you speak to us in code
Once peacetime is here?
Ahhh, it's good to get things back to normal ....

There I was, wandering home, walking down an alley; laptop bag slung over shoulder, jacket draped on shoulder (it was getting warm after a rainy start to the day).  Plus ça change ... A lady of more years than I entered the far end of the alley, took 5 or 6 paces in and stopped, just off centre and pretty much blocking the way.  I was curious after I'd taken a few more paces, wondering if/when she was going to metaphorically slap her forehead and dash back home to turn off the gas/lock the door.  She stood her ground and just watched me get closer.  Another ten or so strides and I was stepping onto the narrow band of grass at the side of the path to walk around her when, in a very matter-of-fact, sotto voce tone she says, "funny man".
A few more steps were taken and a couple of blinks were undertaken until I stopped and turned to look at her, but she had started to walk on and she just cast a look over her shoulder and then continued on her way.
Welcome to my world ;)
So anyway, as I was saying ...

For various reasons, I've not been around on deviantART for a while.  I hope that will change over time, as the 'habit' of dropping in here reasserts itself.  One of the things that will change, however, is that I will be stepping down from the admin of #DAZCreativeContests, and my thanks go to those who stepped in to fill the vacuum and apologies to all the members of the group for me just 'walking away'.

My thanks to :iconrafellin: for applying a few swift, metaphorical, kicks to the fundament - I really did, and do, want to get back into the swing of things.
Whilst at Wyntercon I finally met the 'man behind the mask'.  Last year I had only seen him in costume; which I have to say was impressive.  Not sure of all of what he did last year, I know he did Sheikh Sulieman from the 2010 film "The Clash of the Titans", but it was a year ago and memory being what it is ... :)  This year he did Darth Vader and reprised the Sheikh on the Sunday.  Both very good (if somewhat warm to wear!) costumes he has made himself.
He is also in the process of making a Lycan (yes, you know, from the Underworld series of films?  Big, shaggy and sphincter-openingly scary?).  I've seen photos and ... well, I can see why Len Wiseman (www.imdb.com/name/nm0936482/) re-tweeted it.  It is going to be absolutely bloody stunning when done.
And all this from a guy who is genuinely humble and bordering on self-effacing.  He came up to our pitch at Wyntercon after a full day of being in the Darth Vader outfit and was surprised by the simple offer of a can of drink, almost stunned that anyone would do such a thing.  His work is amazing.  He really would appreciate words of support.  If I 'did' twitter of facebook I'd be all over it.  But I don't.  So, please, go take a look.  And if you think what he does is any good, drop him a tweet or a facebook like (or whatever the hell you have to do!) and just let him know that 'people' think 'the boy done well'.
You can find him at: www.facebook.com/people/Paul-M… and his Lycan at: www.facebook.com/The-Rise-of-t… and on twitter at:
twitter.com/paulmacleod6
... at Wyntercon!  Set up yesterday, and we are now sat behind the tables awaiting the doors to open and the punters to flood in!  If you want to come and see us, just look for the Batmobile (yes, really!) and we are just behind it - if they spark it up, we're toast! ;)

Whilst we were setting up we were talking to one the oganisers of the event and she mentioned that she had read one of :iconrafellin:s books, and also read some of it out loud.  No big deal you may think, but (with an obvious catch of emotion in her throat) she explained that this was the first time she had been able to do so.  The reason she could do this was she was reading a print of one of Rafe's books done in the Open Dyslexic font - www.opendyslexic.org  Anything that can help people read is good in my book (pardon the pun) but to actually hear someone say it, with such an obvious feeling of wonder and delight means I really have to bang on about it!  It may not suit everyone, there are different forms of dyslexia, but it's a free font.  Go check it out and support it - see if you can bring joy to someone!
Most of it was sitting down in either a hot car or a hot shop.  There was some mooching about but I waited for the car to stop before doing that!
:iconrafellin: (who very nicely did the driving) and I headed off to participate in the opening of a new fantasy and comic emporium in Eastbourne owned by a couple of his friends.  It was a good, if HOT!!!!, day out, with a rather bad downside which I found out when I slipped next door to grab a coffee and the coffee shop's wifi key; I over-heard someone say that there had been an incident and the main road was closed.  A bit of checking showed that the local airshow had had a rather bad accident, just an hour or so since we had crawled in nose-to-tail traffic past the site where the Hawker Hunter crashed.
The only upside was that we knew to take an alternate route back home, but it did mean a four hour journey in the still very hot day!
Did I mention hot? ;)
I had a suspicion from an email I was sent, but it is indeed sad to see that Lil-Razzle-Dazzles and her aerie of harpies have departed from these shores.  I know the odds of any of them returning 'just for a look' are less than my chance of winning the lottery (and I don't buy tickets ... ;)) but, as I cannot reply to the Notes they sent during my absence I shall say it here:
Thank you for accepting me as a friend.  It was a joy exchanging Notes with you all and I delighted to see your submissions of artwork.
You, and your family are amazing and despite the travails of the past I know you will pull through and accomplish great things.
Go well, dear harpies; clear skies and warm winds to you! :hug: :tighthug: :glomp:
Ok, I'm back.
Sorry for just dropping off the face of the known deviantART universe but what (the management of #DAZCreativeContests) had been a joyful and pleasant thing suddenly became a job and one that I started not looking forward to doing.  I thought that I would be able to 'bull my way through' to the other side but it would seem not.  So instead of doing the right and proper thing of announcing a short hiatus I just 'walked away' without a word.  Hours became days which somehow became weeks.
It was not just here that 'suffered', but it being a general malaise another site I haunt (365tomorrows.com), or should I say haunted, did not recieve the bension of my presence.  I did pop in there once, thinking it had just been a couple of days and found a week or mores worth of stories (they publish a story a day) unread.  Little flsshes like that brought it home how long it had been but if I was to just sit and wonder I'd think it was only 'just yesterday' I had been ...
I don't think it was anything 'formal' such as depression, though I think that some of it was close to a very, very mild form, it was that old chestnut, my get up and go had got up and gone - presumably off in search of my muse; I think I have done 3, maybe 4, renders in all that time (thanks to LlolaLane and her monthly word challenge!).
I may not frequent here as much as I once did (on and off many times a day), but I do intend to make a full and proper, permanent return.
Thanks to those who contacted me outside of deviantART to check on my well-being and apologies, again, to anyone on dA who I may have made worried by my absence.  I'll be getting things here on dA straightened out over the next day or so, so if anyone has sent me a Note or anything I will be replying soon!
... that the nice young lass in the chocolate shop is no longer being called a succubus by her boyfriend.  I mentioned this episode to some friends over a birthday dinner and there was general hilarity along with a little disbelief that someone would do that!  What I cannot quite follow is why he (the boyfriend) was not asked about where he picked up the word from as she is also doing a journalism course at a local college.

However, she seems to now be being called 'limpet', so she's gone from being a sexy, soul-sucking creature of the night to something small, clinging and annoying ... well, whatever works, right? ;)
It really made my day!

There I was, in the chocolate shop chatting away as usual when the conversation took a distinct and very unexpected swerve to the left.  Personally I blame :icontiffany-windsong: for it! Somehow it came to pass that the natural flow of the conversation took us to a point where me thinking about the recent picture I had done, and in particular the 'woohoo' one.  As the nice young lady has a smart-ish phone I asked if she'd like to see it.  So, I burbled out the URL but as happens the wi-fi did not oblige - mainly as it comes from the adjacent shop's free wi-fi.

So I started verbally explaining: the purple, the princess, the wheelchair, the 'formal' picture followed by the fun one with the succubus, the motion blur and ...

At this point the young lass interrupted and a at cross-purposes conversation ensued for a brief while whilst we batted about the word 'succubus', with me being a bit bemused by what she seemed to think and suggesting maybe she meant succulent as she was thinking plant-like.  We went round the clingy, sucker-y, but not venus fly trap route, until I told her what the word actually meant.

There was one of those conversational lacunas ... then she said, "my boyfriend calls me that.  You're kidding about it, right?"  Protestations of veracity ensued and the wi-fi decided to oblige as she 'googled' and found that, yes indeed she had been called a soul-sucking sex demon.

Followed by her texting said boyfriend with a "do you know what it means?" which got, apparently a response of "no, is it bad?"

At which point we were holding back tears of mirth. By we, I mean :iconnightmancometh: the manager and myself.
After seeing Deviant SpotlightAfter seeing  by SharonAgathon, I thought it would be fun to do the same on my page.
For those of you too lazy to click on links, it goes like this:
(Copy and pasted...cause I'm lazy too :P)
1. For each of the 20 first people answering this journal, I will put their avatar and the three deviations I like most from their gallery on the list!
2. If you answer, you have to do the same in your journal, putting the tagger (ME!) on the first place.
The idea of this is not to get a free feature, it is to spread art around for everyone!
:iconSharonAgathon: = 
:iconSimonJM: =
:iconDJMartynov: =
 by Hellish-Abaddon, I thought it maybe fun to do likewise.
For those of you too lazy to click on links, it goes like this:

(Copy and pasted the copy and pasted...cause I'm even lazier :lmao:)

1. For each of the 20 first people answering this journal, I will put their avatar and the three deviations I like most from their gallery on the list!

2. If you answer, you have to do the same in your journal, putting the tagger (ME!) on the first place.

The idea of this is not to get a free feature, it is to spread art around for everyone!

:iconhellish-abaddon: -

Mature Content

Rippers by Hellish-Abaddon
Lost Innocence - Captured by Hellish-Abaddon Lost Innocence Chaos by Hellish-Abaddon

:iconkittenwylde: - Dragonrider by kittenwylde

Mature Content

The First Horse by kittenwylde
Move Out by kittenwylde

:icontora-no-shi1369: - Z's Survival by tora-no-shi1369 Game Changers by tora-no-shi1369 Bazze's P-38 Lightning by tora-no-shi1369

:iconhoz3dart: - <da:thumb id="499766234"/> <da:thumb id="491793705"/> <da:thumb id="481449867"/>

:iconthorn-publications:   Monk Tattoo by Thorn-Publications

:iconiantp: - Dragon wants to have fun by IanTP Marrakesh Fog by IanTP
It all started off so well!

Walking off into town to visit a friend on Friday evening.  The weather had been iffy of late so I was wearing a shirt over my normal t-shirt and had a jacket with me in case it decided to rain again.  Great evening; good chat, good films (in the form of a TV series (Almost Human)), good food, and, of course (the excuse for the pun) I picked up my copies of "Stars of Black" Stars of Black - Limited Edition Hardback by Rafellin :)

The evening was going well, up until around about 10 or 11 when I started wheezing a little.  I was hoping it was just a case of the cold air and 'exertion' of walking (I take no prisoners when walking and unless I actually concentrate I tend to walk quite quickly).  The wheezing got a little worse and a slight cough was added with the lower part of my throat (somewhere near the bronchia I think) feeling a bit sore, especially after a cough.

So I decided to call it a day earlier than we normally do and headed back home.  Tumbled straight into bed and ... failed to sleep more than about 20 or 30 minutes at a stretch.  And still haven't up until now.  The wheezing has, I am glad to say, gone, but I have turned into a 'snot monster' - and I am glad I bought a couple of boxes of tissues on my way out that evening - prescient or what? :)

Yesterday, Saturday, I was supposed to be heading out to a folk music event with another friend but feeling like I did there was no way I wanted to go.  The really bad thing about that was I was supposed to go to anotehr folk even with him about a month or so back and ... I came over 'all weird' when visiting my dad (dizzy, feeling nauseous, sweats - I was genuinely wondering how I was going to get home as I would not be safe to drive, but the main effects passed) so had to pass on that.  I think I must be allergic to folk music! ;)

Back to the good news, I should be fine tomorrow to do my usual shamble into town to pick up my usual chocolate supply and drop some of them off to my ex-work colleague who is undergoing chemo.  She was the lucky(?) recipient of a t-shirt last Monday as I had ordered a couple of Sydney Padua's designed t-shirts with Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage on and, somehow, had arranged it such that one of them was a ladies t-shirt (yay, me :lmao:!)
Let's start at the end, and then work backward to the beginning ...

I have just received a text message from an ex-work colleague reading (and I quote): "Bloody hell Simon, only you."

That was in response to quite a long text I sent her in answer to an earlier exchange of texts.  I had passed by where she lives and dropped off some chocolates for her (some Sicilian Lemon Mousse in white chocolate, which she very correctly likes) and had sent her a text to say I had done so.  The reasons for that are that she is undergoing chemotherapy and is not that avid for company (fear not, she is not alone, her mother is staying with her).  So, as I pass by her place when I go to and from town on a Monday and as I get my refill of chokky on a Monday it just so happens that some gets dropped off on her doorstep.

Thus my text announced the delivery by 'the chocolate elf' and the hope she was ok.

Her reply came a bit later and after I had undertaken a little task (explained in a minute), saying she was not feeling too good after the last bout of chemo and asked how I was.  Me, being me, replied with a slightly puckish "Not arrested! More in a moment :-)"  Since it was raining and I was heading home I did not want to have to concentrate too much on typing out an explanation.  A bit later I did send an explanatory text which said, paraphrasing, 'just been to a middle school, asking for two girls ...'  Of course there is more to it than that, and I went on to explain that I was dropping off a gift to a pair of sisters and that via their school was the only way I knew to contact them.  In these days of rampant paranoia and such-like it was a slightly dubious, even if wholly innocent thing to do, and I was, I have to admit, apprehensive of the reaction.  As it happens rationality and sanity prevailed and the gift, a book token to be shared between them, will be passed on to them.  I aimed to arrive at the school after the children had left but before the staff had gone for the day.  I may be stupid and I may know that what I was doing was alright, but I also know how it could be seen by others.

So, back another step into the past in this reverse journey ...

Many moons ago I used to frequent a coffee shop just round the corner from me (I have mentioned it before), until events dictated that I would no longer frequent it.  In it's early days of being open it used to stay open until 5pm, and thus it was that I met two sisters and their mother.  As often happens got talking to all three and, I have to say the two girls were an absolute delight - bright, cheerful, polite, intelligent.  I found out that they enjoyed reading (which is always a way to get on my good side) and mentioned that as i have a lot of books I'd have a look and let them have some.  Of course, even the 'young adult' books I had were not really suitable and from their stated likes the ones I did have were not really their cup of tea.  So, having made the 'promise' I felt a bit bad that I would not be able to follow through.  So I developed a cunning plan!  I went into town and bought them a book token each, so that they could choose what they wanted.

A bit later they turned up at the coffee chop and gave me a (christmas) card apiece and a gift!  Wholly unexpected even with me thinking that they were such delightful children!  As you may gather that was about a year ago.  Since then the coffee shop started closing early and then closed entirely (still not re-opened!) so I have not seen the girls for a long time.

Hitting fast forward we ping back to last Monday.  I had decided I'd get them another book token, but had no way of tracking them down.  Apart from the fact I knew they went to the local school.  So last Monday I popped into the local primary school and asked after them.  The lady I spoke to knew them and said they had both moved to the local middle school.  So this Monday I bought the book token and went to the middle school.

The fact I am typing this and from the text message I mentioned above you may gather that it all worked out.  And indeed it did.  I explained what I wanted, handed over the card and explained that I had not sealed it so that they could, if they wanted, check that there was nothing untoward within.  What a world we live in to have to think of these things, but I understand why.  Any way, the card was taken and it will be passed on! :)
The dust has settled (mainly 'cos it was raining!) over Eastbourne and the good folk of that sleepy seaside town are no longer infested with zombies, steampunkers et al!

Overall I had a damned good time.  A couple of iffy moments which pale far into insignificance when held against the moments of good! :)

In all Rafellin's pitch was moved twice, once each night of the con!  But at least the second move was done for us as it was across the main hall!  Thus all we had to do was redress the table with posters and lay out the books once again.

The doors opened and we were all wondering just what sort of turn out we'd be getting.  I joked about the good people of Eastbourne popping in on the way to church.  I really should not make jokes ... it pretty much happened!  I was sat there in out new location which abutted one of the ways in from the outer foyer area when a couple came into view.  They were noticable for many reasons - no costume was one.  No t-shirt or other such paraphernalia worn.  They were older than 99.99% of everyone else in the hall.  They stopped by the pillar at one end of out pitch and we had a little chat and they were rather bemused by the whole thing and put forward the thought that members of a certain largish religion may not be wholly enthused with what was going on and with some of the clothing!  I suggested it's entirely possible that some members of the Holy Roman Catholic Church may be just as easily put out.  They, then, of course stated that was exactly what they were and that, pretty much, they had stuck their heads round the door to see what was going on.  To their question of "would it be for them?" I could only answer that if it was the sort of thing they enjoyed then yes, and more power to them.  They agreed that it was and toddled off on their merry way! :)  Very nice to meet understanding people.

In our new pitch we were sat next to a chap called Jonathan Glendening, to whom I had spoken briefly the previous day as one of our 'errant' authors as set up on the other side and I had stopped by to see how he was (simple answer ... Alan: 0 - Hangover: 3 ;))  Turns out Jonathan is not only an author (www.imdb.com/name/nm0322539/) but also a bit of a film buff, to say the least!  Also a very nice chap!  Not at all 'lovey' ;)

I mentioned the three people in Iron Man outfits - here is a picture of Ross in his (standing alongside Jonathan).  Ross took second prize in the cosplay costume contest Iron man saves film director ... by SimonJM

Not a bad turn out for a Sunday - more, quite a few more, than I would have expected.  In one of my perambulations I stopped off at the pitch of an artist named Ade Brown and had a good old chat with him about his work and stuff - he is a great artist, and his outline story-board for the comic he wants to produce had some stunning stuff in it - the site is being built still but keep an eye on www.whereangelsfall.co.uk/ as it should (will!) contain some good stuff when up and running!

The zombie clown manged to survive long enough to de-clown and leave in one piece, but it WAS VERY CLOSE!.  He was stunningly annoying as he walked about with an 'amusing' squeak at each step.  And no, not his shoes, he had something in his hand which he used everytime ... ev-er-y-ti-me, and  I mean every single pace ... he took a step.  I suspect he saw the look he got from us when he came close so never actually came that near ;)  There was a synchronous, un-planned little cheer from our corner when we saw him out of costume and leaving! ;)