Symi Dream

Living on a Greek island

A Greek island blog from Symi in the Dodecanese islands of Greece. "James’s great talent lies in his careful observation of the absurd and the amusing, the dramas and the difficulties..." Anne Zouroudi.

Symi Dream - Living on a Greek island

The Needling

The Needling

At times, it’s hard to believe this is October. It’s warm enough for me to sit on the balcony in a t-shirt at 4.00 in the morning, the harbour on Friday was not only warm but packed with day-trippers, and the late afternoons have been busy up in the village square. The sea is warm too, or so I’ve been told. I remember one mid-October when I was playing at a cèilidh at was Mandeos (now Scena), the original night was cancelled due to a storm and the replacement night saw me in fingerless gloves and a woollen jumper. We did have a rainy day last Tuesday, complete with kali strata waterfalls but, so far, that’s it for changeable this month. I hope I haven’t jinxed anything by saying that.


While the good weather persists, I shall persist in my walks up the hill when I can (be bothered), and the rest of the daytime, continue to start work early and plough on through writing the fourth Saddling book, ‘The Needling.’ For those who don’t know, a ‘needing’ is an orphaned newling, and a newling is a newborn lamb. Actually, I’d be surprised if anyone other than me did know that as I only invented the meaning of those words last week. It’s one of the things I like about writing the Saddling series, inventing words and meanings for the local dialect. Some of what I use is real Kentish dialect: An aquabob is an icicle, a Peggy Washdish is a water wagtail, and a bufffle-head is someone daft. (Some of these are still in use; all were in use in 1888.) On top of that I invent my own, like whitebacks and blackbacks for sheep, and spoketale, an unwritten story from the past.


Also unwritten is the rest of this story. I only started last week, so there’s a long way to go, but all being well, I aim to have ‘The Needling’ out early in the new year. That gives you plenty of time to start the series if you want to, and if you do, you need to start with The Saddling. The books should, by now, be grouped as a series on Amazon, but they are easy to find from my author page. ‘The Needling’ is set in spring at the equinox and will bring the series to a close, drawing together events from the other three books and more, tying up loose ends and, I hope, making sense of the whole story. Looks like I have a busy winter ahead.

[Btw. Links are to which should redirect you to your own country’s store for paperbacks, Kindle and KU.]

The Saddling, full cover design

The Saddling, full cover design



I love it when inappropriate spam comes in one directly after the other. ‘Meet a woman for a private date.’ ‘Get a drone as a free gift.’ Two separate emails, neither appropriate for me, or anyone I suspect, and yet they made me smile. I get so many spam message each day that I have a special programme to weed them out, but I do get to read the headlines before I bounce them back or delete them from the server. The programme, and I can recommend it, is called Mailwasher. It lets you check your mail before downloading it to your computer, reducing the risk of bugs. Recently I’ve been getting about 50 per day from one insistent bot who claims to have my password and has recorded my online activity. Unless I send a huge sum to an unidentified source, my online browsing will be made public. Spam-scam, of course, but some people do fall for it. Still, it made me think what fun they could have (if there was a ‘they’) if they had found my recent online browsing history. Then I thought I’d save them the trouble…

october 5th_10

The thing with being a writer is research, it’s one of my favourite parts but then I like everything about creating stories, writing them up, editing them, working with a designer to create the cover, laying them out and then sending them to the great Zon in the cloud (Amazon) and letting people enjoy them, or not – that bit isn’t up to me. But research is also fun, and I do it in a couple of ways. Sometimes I buy and read a book, or go to the shelf and take down one my several reference tomes, and other times, I order a Kindle copy of a book because I want it there and then. Or I use the internet because it’s right there and saves time, though, for specifics, I don’t just take the Wiki-word for it, try and delve into specialist sites. If all else fails, I fall back on asking friends in the know, but, like asking a doctor at a party if she can look at this thing you’ve got, asking friends who are also experts in a field seems like taking advantage at times. So, back to the internet and my recent history. Looking at my research folder in my bookmarks, I find…

October 7th_15

Inside the dark reality of Victorian slums. Sunrise and sunset times. Black white photo beautiful man business. (No idea, to do with a cover I think.) A dictionary of Victorian slang. Hats. (?) 550 alternative words for “said”. Backstage in theatres and music halls. Internet anagram server. Fencing terminology. (As in swords, not barbed wire.) Communication breakdown – the Pirate Omnibus. (No idea.) How to commit the perfect murder. — And there I think we should leave it. Oh, another spam just came in, this one to do with a certain blue pill, so I won’t go into detail.

July mix_12