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Monday 24 December 2012

Best Wishes from Quirky Tales

Wishing you all 
a very Merry Christmas

and a Happy and
Prosperous New Year!

Thanks for your support in 2012.

Friday 21 December 2012

New Story!

There's a new story on the QT website today. I couldn't let a day like today pass without some sort of mention, so I've written a story called 'Apocalypse Delayed', which gives a pretty good clue to the plot.
Hope you enjoy it. Stay safe out there and watch out for spaceships!

Thursday 20 December 2012

CGI and Santa

Well, that's a relief! It wasn't real folks, you can step outside without fear now. Both eagle and child were fakes! Apparently the video on the Telegraph's site yesterday was a CGI student project. I hope they get an A, because it looked scarily real.
Perhaps more troubling news is that NORAD will be using Bing rather than Google for this year's Santa Tracker. I'm worried. I like Bing as a search engine, but its maps are rubbish. Fingers crossed it'll be alright because, I have to say, Christmas Eve would not be Christmas Eve without up to the second data on Santa's whereabouts.
Ooh, I just looked at the website! Three days and twenty one hours before he sets off! I must go and find my 'Santa, please stop here' sign. I'd hate for him to miss me!

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Monsters Everywhere

There is a story on the Telegraph's site today that brings to mind fantastical stories by the likes of Roald Dahl. It's a story that takes me back to childhood nightmares of monsters and great slathering beasts all of whom saw me as an easy snack, inspired no doubt by the fact that I was small and nearly everything else seemed to be huge.
That's certainly true for the child in the video in the Telegraph's article. The toddler is quietly minding its own business, sitting in a field wondering where all the toys are, when out of a clear blue sky comes an eagle at top speed. It picks the toddler up by its coat and makes to fly off with it. Thankfully, it dropped the poor child after a second and, though understandably rattled, he or she was unharmed, but may go on to develop a lasting mistrust of birds.
I can feel the first whisps of a fantasy story wafting around in my head: giant bird, small child, amazing/ terrifying new world accessible only through the eagle's eyrie ...

Tuesday 18 December 2012

And Now for the Mews (Vacancy notice: new headline writer required)

The news is despicably gloomy. Apparently the media magnates and hacks of the world are completely oblivious to the fact that this is supposed to be the time of good will, which gives me precious little to blog about, other than to say I have almost finished the second story for the third QT Anthology (as yet to be named).
So, feeling the need for a little light relief, I'm turning today to a dependable source: Simon's Cat. There's a festive compilation of four cartoons of the mischievous cat's adventures on offer. If he can't put a smile on your face, I stand no chance!

Saturday 15 December 2012

Hidden Treasures

Lookout! Make way! Coming through! I knew it! I knew it all along! I mean, I was joking when I suggested that I might find a couple of million down the back of the sofa to buy Spitbank Fort, but clearly, deep in my psyche, I knew I was on to something. Well, at least I did if the story of Norman Hore is anything to go by. He found eighty five quid down the back of his, and all he was looking for was a lost plectrum! The best of it is, he only bought the sofa secondhand two years ago for £250, so most of it probably wasn't even his!
So far down ours, I've found an old tissue, a sweet wrapper and a small mountain of crumbs. I wonder what they'd fetch on Ebay.

Wednesday 12 December 2012


There's a video on YouTube of a badly signed junction. I know, sounds really boring. What it shows is a time lapse of the approach to the Rosslare ferry port and it's a pretty funny account of what happens when road layouts aren't properly signed. The approach splits into four lanes, one to the terminal, the other three to the ferry, but one of the lanes is, unaccountably, closed. To say it causes confusion is an understatement. In fact, several drivers appear so bewildered by it all that they give up entirely and go back the way they came. Whether they ever made it to the ferry or instead decided to cancel their holidays and stay at home is unclear.

Tuesday 11 December 2012


Ahem! Not that I'm preening or anything so vulgar, but I managed it! QT now has a Christmas Library! I didn't break it. Okay, it was a near thing, and there might have been a puzzled call to he who fixes the computer on a minor issue, but I got there! I now have a migraine forming thanks to too much studying of lines of HTML code, but it was worth it!
If you want to admire my handiwork (please don't get too excited) take a look at the Stories page on the QT website. So, now if you're feeling festive, or maybe if you're struggling to get into the spirit, all the Christmas quirkies are in one place.
Now, where did I put the ibuprofen?

New Story!

We're nearly halfway through advent already, so it seems only right to add another Christmassy type of story to the website. This one is called 'Compliments of the Season' and is about two brothers discovering the magic of a toy shop at Christmas. Just the thing if you fancy a bit of nostalgia, a healthy slice of sentiment, with a just a little seasonal twist.
I seem to be accruing a few Christmas tales now, so I'm planning on creating a new area in the library just for the seasonal quirkies. You have been warned. Anything could happen to QT as I don't totally know what I'm doing with HTML yet. But fear not, if I break it, he who fixes the computer is also pretty handy at fixing websites!
Hope you enjoy the story.

Monday 10 December 2012

Anyone for Stollen?

There was a story in the news over the weekend that left he who fixes the computer drooling. I refer to the BBC coverage of the Stollenfest in Dresden, where a humungous stollen cake is wheeled through the town on a horse drawn carriage. I've got to be honest, it doesn't do it for me, I can't stand the taste of marzipan, but even so, it all looked very jolly and if the expression on the little boy's face at the end of the article is anything to go by, it certainly seems to have found an appreciative audience there.
It makes the Stollen bites I bought for the computer fixer look a bit pathetic really. Perhaps to make more of a deal of them I'll stick them all together with butter and sugar and wheel them through the house in the wheelbarrow. (I don't know about anyone else, but I feel ill at the thought!)

Friday 7 December 2012

Fantasy Fort Episode Three

Okay, so in my fantasy world, I've found a few million quid down the back of the sofa, convinced the owners of Spitbank Fort to sell it to me, and I've purchased my vital escape craft. Now I can turn my attention to the more interesting elements, such as sitting up top with the firepit roaring, a nice glass of wine, watching all the ships sailing gracefully by.
But one of the irritations with watching the ships is working out who they are, what they carry, where they're going etc. Marine Traffic Live Ships Map to the rescue! This website uses the ships' AIS transponders to track their position. Clicking on a ship brings up a window with information about the vessel, its speed and course, and usually a picture. One word of caution, it's pretty addictive if you have any interest at all in ships.
Hm, I wonder if they have cable internet on the fort.

Thursday 6 December 2012

Emergency Exit

Yesterday I was getting all excited by the idea of living of Spitbank Fort, today I've found vital safety equipment for it. See, I'm getting organised. The shopping list has started, now I just need to find some cash and convince the owners to sell. Anyway, today's item should warm the hearts of the health and safety types as it's all to do with emergency evacuation, in the form of a freefall lifeboat. I know, nothing new about that, but this one has been tested dropping from a record breaking 200 feet, so it should be more than able to cope with a launch from the fort.
I couldn't get the sound working on the video on the Mail's coverage of it, but the footage pretty much tells its own story. I particularly like the way the boat bounces back to the surface - I do like a boat that wants to float!

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Location is Everything

I love the south coast. One of my favourite places is Portsmouth, if for no other reason than I can see so many of my other favourite places from there. You also get some close-up views of the ships passing the Isle of Wight on their way to Southampton.
Located in the channel between the island and Portsmouth is Spitbank Fort, one of four built to defend the Solent against invasion. It's been privately owned for many years now and I've often pondered it, considering the merits and hazards of living in the middle of a busy shipping channel. On the plus side the views must be amazing, on the downside it must be a complete pain when you run out of milk.
The fort was sold a couple of years ago (sadly I couldn't afford it) and the current owners have turned it into a high class B&B. A night's stay sets you back £350 which is rather more than I typically pay (by around about £300!) but it looks stunning. Not that I'd spend much time looking at the interior, I'd be up top the whole time watching the ships.
I'm hoping it might be back on the market by the time I've made my fortune.

Monday 3 December 2012

Feeling Glum?

If you're feeling a bit glum today, take a look at the photos of Charlie the boxer dog on the Daily Mail's site.
You'd have to be seriously gloomy not to smile at that face.

The Return of the Bells

While writing the stories for the second QT anthology I happened across the story of a village forced to silence its much loved church bells after two new residents complained. The idea of someone moving to a house near a church and then grumbling about the bells was so absurd that it sparked a story called 'Outbreak of Bells'. I turned my take on the story to my own satisfaction, but often found myself wondering about the real Somerset village bereft of its bells. Well, I am happy to report that the abatement order has now been withdrawn, and the bells are now ringing hourly, less than before, but at least they're ringing.
On the subject of the anthology, it's been brought to my notice that there is an issue with giving ratings. It would seem that ratings prompted by your Kindle device at the end of the book are not making it to the Kindle store. I'm trying to establish why, but I suspect it's something to do with the UK site. So if you feel inclined to rate 'Unseen Stories', I'm afraid it has to be done online rather than from your device. If I ever get a definitive answer I will, of course, let you know.