Quarter Acre Blog

The first time Australia was mentioned was at breakfast on a school day. I was astonished when Mum said

‘How would you like to go to another country?’

Where had this idea come from? The furthest we had ever been was a hundred miles to visit my aunt in Cheltenham.

I replied instantly ‘If I can have a horse.’

I had always wanted a horse and what other reason could there be for going to another country? I would need no help caring for it due to my extensive reading of the Kit Hunter Show Jumper series and all the other pony books I could lay my hands on.



I returned from my reverie to hear what Mum was saying. A new picture presented itself; warm weather, living by the seaside and swimming every day. I couldn’t actually swim, but had been up to my chest at Frensham Ponds and in the sea, while Mum and Dad sat in deck chairs huddled in coats and rugs.

But my most vivid image of what our Australian life would be like came from my favourite television programme, The Adventures of the Terrible Ten. Ten children living in rural Victoria, who all had ponies, discovered some old packing cases and built Ten Town. They never went to school or saw their parents.

Mum said I might get a horse, would probably get a dog and would definitely go swimming. But for now the whole adventure must be kept deathly secret; until we knew for sure we had been accepted for migration. This meant absolutely no one, not even my best friend or my younger brother and sister. I kept the secret.



It was spring now and by autumn we would be ready to go, not on the dangerous voyage of the early settlers, but Mum and Dad would be burning their boats. Cheap flights at ten pounds each for Mum and Dad and free for children; but it was a one way ticket. My parents expected never to see England or their relatives again.

In the meantime a momentous year lay ahead. It was our last year at junior school; the first year Top Of The Pops was broadcast and in the garden shed our pet white mice were multiplying rapidly. As top years we went on school holiday for the first time to the Isle of Wight. It was a very pleasant holiday, but two strange things happened. As a Church of England school we knew several of our classmates were Roman Catholics, it made no difference to them or us. But on the Sunday of the holiday, one poor catholic boy was to be marked out as different. All of us were to attend morning service at the local church, but Eric’s mother had decreed that Eric must go to the catholic church. As a relatively new boy he was already slightly different; now as his lone figure trudged off in the opposite direction, to the mysteries of candles and incense, he had become an outcast. Later that day, as we ran around in the grounds of the hotel, some primeval, sectarian instinct took over and we all chased Eric; convinced in that moment that we were going to lynch him. Luckily the teacher came out blowing her whistle and normality was restored.

Peter was another unfortunate boy. For some reason he was the only child of our class of forty who didn’t come on the holiday. As we ate dinner one evening, the headmaster came into the dining room looking very distraught. Peter had run away from home and managed to reach the island before being caught by the police. We all thought him very clever to have got that far and very sad that he still wasn’t allowed to join us.


Back at school our summer term was nearing its end; we practised maypole dancing ready for our centenary celebrations and Mum and Dad visited the headmaster. Later that day he entered the classroom to chat to us; a common occurrence, but this time I realised with horror he was talking about me. I had kept my promise and not told a soul and now was mortified the headmaster was telling everyone I was going to Australia! Having spent four years mostly unnoticed, I was now the centre of attention as everyone turned to look at me.


As autumn arrived life became surreal. The date was set for our departure. I had passed my eleven plus, but it would make little difference to my future, the Australian schools were comprehensive. Our little school gang had been split in half, four of us were going to grammar school; one mother didn’t come out of the house for a week with shame that her daughter had failed. For a few weeks I experienced a glimpse of what my life might have been at a girls’ grammar school, dressed in bottle green uniform with the excitement of Bunsen burners.

Soon our house was sold and we had reached the point of no return. As the taxi collected us for the airport my grandparents stood stoically waving and my school friend Wendy skipped up the road after us; she would be the only person from those days to stay a lifelong friend.


The taxi had been late, very stressful for my parents. As we arrived at London Airport     (now Heathrow) our friends and relatives were waiting, wondering if we had changed our minds. We rushed through with hardly time to say goodbye. The airport was much smaller then; as we climbed the steps to the plane we could see our loved ones gathered on the balcony waving. Except for Dad, it was the first time we had been on an aeroplane. I was really excited until I noticed the big card in the seat pocket. How to put on your lifejacket! Until that moment I had not considered the possibility that planes could crash. I wondered if we would reach Australia.


My novel Quarter Acre Block was inspired by our family’s experience. It is not autobiographical, but people who have read it ask which things were ‘true’. Find out more at my website.   https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-six-fiction-focus




Succinct words abour Mother Nature – so true.


By Scott Bailey © 2018

Claws back its realm
Over many ages
Verdant fingers prying apart
The strongest of our creations
With persistence of growth
Old and fertile

Car Reclaimed by Nature Image by Scott Bailey

In response to the daily prompt Patience

#DailyPrompt, #amwriting, #postaday


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Sunrise Movement: Young people unite to stop climate change and make it an urgent priority in the US

We all have to save the planet and that requires countries to cooperate. But most countries are tied up with their own issues. American young people have two big fights on their hands; against the gun lobby and this post explains their fight for democracy. Politicians and big business have little interest in the environment and the lives of ordinary people.

Life & Soul Magazine

Sunrise Movement is building an army of young people to make climate change an urgent priority across the USA.

Uniting young people to stop the climate crisis, Sunrise Movement is calling for a transition​ ​to​ ​a​ ​100%​ ​renewable​ ​energy​ ​economy​ ​that​ ​leaves​ ​no​ ​one​ ​behind, an​ ​immediate​ ​halt​ ​on​ ​all​ ​new​ ​fossil​ ​fuel​ ​projects, and the​ ​break-up​ ​of​ ​the​ ​large​ ​energy​ ​monopolies​ ​and​ ​a​ ​transition​ ​to​ ​local,​ ​democratic control​ ​over​ ​the energy​ ​system.​

Sunrise Movement say: “We are ordinary young people who are scared about what the climate crisis means for the people and places we love. We are gathering in classrooms, living rooms, and worship halls across the country.

“Everyone has a role to play. Public opinion is already with us – if we unite by the millions we can turn this into political power and reclaim our democracy.”

From May through to November, Sunrise Movement’s “nonviolent army” of more than 100 young people…

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Friday Flash Fiction Fantasy on Earthwatch

Theelma put down the Andromeda Advertiser and folded her legs in disgust. ‘Nothing on telly tonight.’

‘What about Earthwatch?’ said Xoxes.

‘Precisely, a whole rotation devoted to a hidden webcam on some obscure planet.’

‘But that’s why it’s so interesting, it was only a few revolutions ago they were telling us life could not possibly exist on a planet covered with water… and now folks even go there on holiday.’ Xoxes laughed ‘You wouldn’t catch me going there mind, but I am going to watch the programme… creatures so different from every other species in the universe.’

‘Revolting, did you see the pictures in the Andromeda Times?’



Later that rotation Xoxes settled himself up to watch the cabinet. Reluctantly Zeelma climbed up beside him.

‘Is it Xis Zackam? Oh good, I like him.’

‘Welcome to Earthwatch, the first of ten live episodes beaming down from the blue planet. Episode One we’ve called ‘Poeplewatch’ as we take a view of the crowded settlements where the dominant land beings cling to dry outcrops. Professor Zawk calls them Poeples after the strange sounds they utter. Professor, what are we seeing now?’

‘The bizarre nesting structures they create are a great achievement for creatures with only four limbs.’


‘Is it correct that all the species have only four limbs?’

‘As far as we know. This is what is so exciting, a planet that has more diverse species than we could imagine, more diversity than any other planet we have discovered. It is as if evolving creatures had to make a choice how to use their limbs: to swim, to fly, to run fast or to make things. Now watch these Poeples managing to balance on only two legs, their shrunken second pair of legs are used for carrying food supplies.’

‘A lot of activity, why are they scurrying around so fast?’

‘We think they must always need to get back to their tall nests quickly, in constant fear of the water, do you see how water is surging near their nests?’

‘Oh, what’s going on now Professor?’

‘This is strange, all going in one direction past the nests, towards the water, evidence of organisational abilities?’

‘So many, makes you dizzy to watch.’



‘Can’t we turn it off now?’ complained Zeelma ‘my serial’s on soon.’

‘Wait, look they’re going in for a close up.’

‘Some viewers may find the following scenes disturbing… yes, the camera is zooming in to focus on individuals, yes this is fantastic, for the first time viewers at home can see a close up of the visages of Poeples. Their visages are singularly lacking in features, a large opening, a protuberance and two sunken hollows.’

‘And no antennae,’ added the Professor ‘no wonder they’re always bumping into each other.’


Covert Coves and Continuity


We once stayed for a week at a secluded Scottish cove where I was glad to discover there was no reception for mobile phones, nor was there a landline in the cottage. At the very top of the cliff, if you held your phone high in the air you could be lucky and get reception. A peaceful place for a holiday and proof for authors that there are still settings where mobile phones cannot be used; where characters can escape without being traced or where persons in peril cannot call for help.



The plots of crime fiction, spy thrillers and romances changed for ever when mobile phones became ubiquitous. No running along dark lonely roads or knocking on strange doors to fetch help, a quick call on your mobile and an air ambulance or armed response unit could be with you in minutes. No wonder authors enjoy putting their heroes and villains in spots where there is no mobile reception.


But you can’t always trust your characters. Reading through the third draft of one of the novels in the Brief Encounters Trilogy  I realised several of my leading characters, in several scenes, had casually used their mobile phones when they knew perfectly well there was no mobile phone reception at Holly Tree Farm. Some minor plot changes were needed for the fourth draft.

Proof reading and editing the manuscript of a novel is not just about lost commas, the wrong ‘their, there and they’re’ and ‘from’ turning to ‘form’ when you’re not looking. Continuity is just as important as on a film set.

Holly Tree Farm nestles in the quiet Wiltshire countryside; when Nathanial inherits the house it offers a refuge for his new friends and their secrets, but they never could have guessed the rambling old farm house had secrets of its own.

Read the first book in the trilogy for 99 pence.

What not to Eat [clue: anything]

Grace is one of my local writer friends and I always enjoy her Sunday morning blogs. Today she sums up the latest advice on eating…


OK. New government health advice. We eat too much [we know this]. We must restrict our intake to 1,800 calories per day. The recommendation is 400 at breakfast, 600 at lunch and 600 at dinner. Great.
I watched the ‘experts’ on a daytime news programme showing us how this looks in terms of meals. Breakfast was a child’s bowl with porridge and a few blueberries. Lunch was two miniscule ‘spinach’ muffins and some tiny, doll’s house dishes with miniature tomatoes and a strawberry. Dinner was another child’s bowl with some chicken risotto. The expert generously suggested that the risotto could be accompanied by a small side salad. There, readers. Don’t eat it all at once.
Here at Lessageing Manor we don’t actually do breakfast, which leaves us a whole 400 extra calories to have at lunch! Whoopee!
It is certainly true that Husband and I have consumed too much during…

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Silly Saturday

I have loved taking photographs since I was eight, though I have never been interested in the technical side; merely pointing and shooting my way through black and white, colour slides, Polaroid and back to colour prints until digital changed photography for all of us. Suddenly we could take lots and lots of pictures and I became addicted. When I finally succumbed to a smart phone I was even more obsessed; joining those I had previously sneered at as they gave everyone a pictorial commentary on their meals or child’s tantrums. 29026303_2009414072421706_3591610815813255168_o(1)

Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, my Website… all waiting to be filled with pictures. Here are this week’s silly selection. A week of all weathers made it especially fun.28584870_2000526599977120_2006830012_o

The phenomenum of freezing rain created real frosted windows.28641119_2000128503350263_185788723_o28642842_1996678273695286_74645765_oAll Fired Up Cafe provided a winter retreat.



Then suddenly the snow melted and the sun shone.

Boscombe Pier is full of musical instruments.


On Friday we had torrential rain and more photo opportunities…

28872393_2010324878997292_623618002859851776_o…on the bus. What luck that the first bus to come along was…





Back into town to ‘All Fired Up’ to collect my fired camper van; a money box to save my author earnings and a reminder to get on with writing my camper van detective’s novel.


Every chapter of my website is full of photographs.


You can read two novellas and a short story featuring  Tobias Elliot Channing, the young camper van detective, in Someone Somewhere.

Friday Flash Fiction – Jack’s on a Mission.



‘Don’t let the cold air in Jack.’

‘Sorry, did I wake you?’

‘No, the three alarms woke me.’

‘I didn’t want to be late picking up the other three. I’ll creep out now and let you get back to sleep.’

‘Fat chance of that with you clumping around, anyway you know I’ll be worried till I hear you’ve arrived safely.’

‘No need to worry if you don’t hear, not likely to get reception up there.’

Jo yawned. ‘Is it foggy out there like the weatherman said?’

‘Yup can’t see a thing.’

‘Do be careful out on those winding lanes, thank goodness Phil’s not driving… have you got everything, flask, long johns on, all your gear?’

‘Yes… yes, look I’ve got to go, I want to be right clear of the city before the rush hour.’


Phil was waiting by his garden gate for Jack.

‘Hope this fog lifts or we’ll never see it. Did you remember to fill up the petrol this time?’

‘Yeah, ready to go, hope the other two set their alarms.’


‘You are now entering the Red Rose County…  at last’ said Phil.

‘Still a way to go yet, keep an eye out for the road signs, I don’t want to miss that turning this time.’

‘Sun’s up and I think that mist is clearing.’


Jack felt a thrill as the road climbed and the number of sheep multiplied. Once they were in the car park he jumped out and took in the cold damp air of the moors. After a quick sup from their flasks they started getting the camera gear out; it was time to split up. The four men had planned their positions several days ago, every vantage point had to be covered. Later there would be time to warm up at the inn, get a hot lunch, a few beers and most importantly have a debriefing. Jack strode away from the gritted car park and on to the spongy moor. The sheep took no notice of him, they were used to walkers and sightseers. After ten minutes he was happy with his spot and checked his watch, half an hour to go. He took out a sandwich and the flask and sat on a hillock taking in the silence; nothing but the occasional bleating of a sheep. He had a good team, but he needed to be alone for this part. It was quite a miracle when the sun came out, it didn’t happen often up here. Though the warmth and light was welcome, low in the sky, the sun could cause problems for his shots.


It was the same as before, he merely sensed it at first. Still out of sight when he heard it, like a heartbeat, like the blood pulsing in your ears at night. When he was a child he thought it was a train in his head.

Then he saw the white plumes of smoke, switched on the video camera and started clicking away with the camera, following the graceful curve of the rail. The sky was clear as the train crossed the viaduct, he was going to get his best shots ever.

All too soon it was out of sight, Phil would be getting a perfect view from Ribblehead Station platform. The sheep carried on grazing, oblivious to the marvels of Victorian engineering.




Read more flash fiction and longer stories in Someone Somewhere.

Young Mexican girl wins science award for solar water heater made from discarded objects

On Intenational Women’s Day, continuing the scientific theme, here is my environmental heroine of the week. We all need science, it’s about thinking up ideas and trying them out.

Life & Soul Magazine

An eight-year-old Mexican girl has constructed a solar water heater made entirely from discarded objects including hoses, glass panels from a former construction site, and logs.

Xóchitl Guadalupe Cruz López’s invention has been awarded a prestigious science prize from Mexico’s National Autonomous University (UNAM).

The young inventor says her project was aimed at slowing climate change by reducing the need for low-income people in her rural community to cut down trees for firewood.

In an interview for El Universal, Xóchitl Guadalupe Cruz López said: “These are low-income people who don’t have the possibility to buy these heaters, so what they do is cut the trees to get firewood, which affects the world through climate change. So, what I did is make this project, this heater, from recycled objects that don’t hurt the environment.”

The young entrepreneur from the southern Mexican state of Chiapas constructed the heater on her family’s rooftop, with a little bit…

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