Saturday, 30 June 2018

Alien Secrets Blog the Book 12

If you missed the start of Alien Secrets, Flight of the Kestrel book 2, here is the link. To help your imagination, my idea of First Officer Nathaniel Parks is a blond Vigo Mortensen.

Parks (Vigo Mortensen)

Chapter 12

Parks looked up from Tanu. 'Get him to sick bay and then report for duty. We’re going to have the Casparans on our tail.'

Within minutes battle stations sounded. Everyone scrambled for their breathers and tethers, in case of a hull breach. The bridge crew, Darrow, Parks, and Chambers all strapped in. Reuel arrived at a run and strapped in.

'Tanu is in sick bay, sir,' he reported.

As Reuel took over the scanner station Chambers told him two Casparan pursuit ships had been detected. Immediately a third ship registered.

'Captain, the Bokans have found us again,' Reuel said. 'One ship coming on screen now.'

'Damn!' Darrow said and opened the comm channel. 'Commander Blackwell, can you give us any more speed?'

'Negative, Captain, we’re flat out.'

Darrow closed the comm and turned to Reuel. 'Ensign, any PACT vessels in the vicinity?'

'Negative, Captain, and the nearest base is ten hours away.'

Monday, 25 June 2018

Outrage at Llanbadarn (Gerald’s Journey Through Wales 1188)

This is a series about the journey that Archbishop Baldwin and Gerald of Wales took in 1188 to preach the crusade throughout Wales. Gerald kept a detailed account of the journey and their surroundings, which he later published. The series began with some background posts about Gerald. If you want to read the series from the beginning, go here.

We saw last week that according to Gerald the party travelled south-west from Strata Florida Abbey to visit Llanddewi Brefi before turning north to Llanbadarn Fawr (the great church of St Padarn). In centuries to come the town of Aberystwyth would grow up on the coast nearby, but in Gerald’s time Llanbadarn Fawr was the key place. Or we might say, had been the key place. Gerald was outraged at what he found.
Llanbadarn Fawr Church (near Llandrindod Wells) geograph org uk 681133

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Alien Secrets Blog the Book 11

If you missed the start of Alien Secrets, Flight of the Kestrel book 2, here is the link. Just to remind you, my idea of Tanu is like Legolas, played by Orlando Bloom in the Lord of the Ring films. Except Tanu’s hair is dark.

Tanu (Orlando Bloom as Legolas in LotR)

Chapter 11

Hoy waited outside the hospital while Reuel went inside. After what he'd learned about the colour green, Reuel felt awkward in his dark green uniform, but this visit was official so he had no choice.

Reuel's hope of charming the nurse he had spoken to before fell when he entered the hospital reception and she wasn't on the desk. He approached and began asking the nurse on duty, when “his” nurse came out of a corridor wearing a coat and headed for the door. Excusing himself, Reuel rushed over and attracted her attention with a cough being careful not to touch her.

'My dear sister,' he said, with a bow. 'I hope you remember me, Shom, named like the hero Shomestry. You were so helpful to me earlier.'

She stopped and smiled. 'Yes, I remember. I have been looking for your friend in our records.'

'I have news!' Reuel said. 'When I left, my friend Tanu was outside being helped into a brown van. He waved to me. I was so glad he was all right. But now I cannot find him. Can you help me?'

Monday, 18 June 2018

Strata Florida and Llanddewi Brefi (Gerald’s Journey Through Wales 1188)

This is a series about the journey that Archbishop Baldwin and Gerald of Wales took in 1188 to preach the crusade throughout Wales. Gerald kept a detailed account of the journey and their surroundings, which he later published. The series began with some background posts about Gerald. If you want to read the series from the beginning, go here.

The country north of Lampeter was much wilder than the party were used to, and made their journey hard going. After skirting the Red Bog of Tregaron they stopped for the night at the isolated Strata Florida Abbey. The monks here were Cistercians, known as ‘white monks’, and they kept sheep on vast tracts of mountain pasture. This was very much a Welsh monastery, patronised by Prince Rhys ap Gruffudd himself. He was keen to show the visitors the new church he was building there.
Strata Florida Abbey
Strata Florida was an important centre for Welsh culture. The Welsh national chronicles were compiled there, and Welsh princes were buried there. Indeed, rows of ancient tomb-slabs can still be seen and two of Prince Rhys’s sons are buried there.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Alien Secrets: Blog the Book 10

If you missed the start of Alien Secrets, Flight of the Kestrel book 2, here is the link. I can’t show you a picture of Reuel, because there isn’t one, but he’s tall and slim, bright pink, and has spines down the centre of his head instead of hair.

Alien Secrets front cover

Chapter 10

The following day it was Reuel's turn for shore leave. He'd been to Caspar once before. He could walk unhindered, since the gravity was similar to Altair. The Casparan spaceport looked like spaceports everywhere, except for the predominance of green. The control tower in particular was highlighted by a lurid lime green paint.

The spaceport concessions were generic and expensive, so Reuel headed towards the city centre. There were one or two things he wanted to buy. The overcast sky was a good thing, as the presence of the two suns could be overpowering. The weather was pleasantly warm and dry, so he rejected the spaceport shuttle bus and chose to walk. He remembered it took him less than an hour on his previous visit.

There was no open countryside: businesses and houses stretched all the way from the city to the spaceport, although those nearer the spaceport were at a disadvantage. They endured all the noise and smell without getting the benefit from the passengers. Most people jumped straight on the shuttle bus when they disembarked.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Cardigan to Lampeter (Gerald’s Journey Through Wales 1188)

This is a series about the journey that Archbishop Baldwin and Gerald of Wales took in 1188 to preach the crusade throughout Wales. Gerald kept a detailed account of the journey and their surroundings, which he later published. The series began with some background posts about Gerald. If you want to read the series from the beginning, go here.
Cardigan_Bridge_and_Castle.jpeg
The party of Gerald and Archbishop Baldwin reached the bridge over the River Teifi into Cardigan and were met by Prince Rhys ap Gruffudd, his sons and a great crowd of people.  The preaching there met with great success. The response was so great that the townspeople decided to build a chapel on the exact spot where Baldwin stood to preach. Perhaps they had heard of the miracle of healing at Haverfordwest by Baldwin’s footprint.

Gerald tells the story of a woman so determined that her husband should not go on crusade that she dragged him backwards by his cloak and belt. She was divinely punished three days later when she accidentally smothered her new baby in the bed beside her. She made no more objections to him going on crusade, and even sewed the cloth cross on his cloak herself.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Alien Secrets: Blog the Book 9

If you missed the start of Alien Secrets, Flight of the Kestrel book 2, here is the link. To help your imagination, my idea of Roy Stubbs is a young Nicholas Lyndhurst:

Stubbs (young Nicholas Lyndhurst)

Chapter 9

Stubbs and Tomos were both given the first shore leave shift.  Sick of Tomos seeming to know everything because on his cargo ship he’d been everywhere and knew most cultures, Stubbs decided to separate from his ship mate.  His wrist itched in its brace as it healed.  He hadn’t been everywhere and didn’t know Casparan, but Caspar was part of the Planetary Alliance and most people spoke Standard.  Stubbs figured he’d be fine on his own.

The overcast sky reduced the tinge of Caspar's two red suns, and he was glad of his thick jacket. If not for the orange leaves on the trees and the oddly sharp scents, he could almost be at home in Ireland on Earth.

He wandered into the town and strolled past little houses and big shops, not in width - in height, which seemed incongruous. Casparans were shorter than humans, so that would explain low ceilings in the houses, but why the higher ceilings in the shops, when they didn't encourage visitors?

Thursday, 7 June 2018

St Davids to St Dogmaels Abbey (Gerald’s Journey Through Wales 1188)

This is a series about the journey that Archbishop Baldwin and Gerald of Wales took in 1188 to preach the crusade throughout Wales. Gerald kept a detailed account of the journey and their surroundings, which he later published. The series began with some background posts about Gerald. If you want to read the series from the beginning, go here.

As the party set off from St Davids, the nature of the country through which the mission journeyed changed once again. As it gradually grew more hilly, so it also became more Welsh – as it still does today, when west Wales remains a stronghold of the Welsh language.

In Gerald’s time the politics and the culture changed too. Coastal south Wales was dominated by the Normans and known as the March of Wales. West Wales was still firmly under the control of the Welsh and known as pura Wallia – ‘pure Wales’ or ‘Welsh Wales’. It was ruled by Prince Rhys ap Gruffudd and he waited to meet them in Cardigan Castle.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Alien Secrets: Blog the Book 8


If you missed the start of Alien Secrets, Flight of the Kestrel book 2, here is the link. To help your imagination, my idea of Captain Darrow is a curly-haired Michael Sheen (without the beard):
Darrow (Michael Sheen)
Chapter 8

When the Kestrel reached Caspar, Darrow said nothing about their needs. He simply asked to land. A landing beam guided them to a berth.

The Casparans were small, green-skinned people living on a small orange planet with lighter gravity than Earth and slightly less oxygen in the atmosphere. Fully grown, they stood a metre and a half tall, and looked like children. They had also been in subjection to the Ochrans, human-sized copies of the Casparans, until only a few decades ago. Consequently, they were very careful about dignity and respect.

'Everyone sit tight until I return,' said Darrow. 'I might be several hours.'

'Aye aye, Captain,' Parks saluted.