Good bear news

Good bear news

I’ve always had a soft spot for bears, so it’s not surprising that this story: Bear dens and ancient trees face onslaught of logging in Poland, caught my attention. Bears are a protected species in the wilds of Poland, and loggers have started to encroach on the habitat of the remaining 110 bears in the country. The article tells how dependant the bears are on the trees and the ones that have fallen, scraping the many grubs that hang around the bark into their paws for a tasty snack. Also, the bears use the fallen trees as a bench to sit on for meals, and so they should! If the loggers continue their onslaught, the dwindling population of these unique European bears will rapidly become extinct. 

Luckily sense has prevailed: ‘For the first time, a regional court in Krosno has temporarily suspended felling based on the evidence. ‘This decision has no precedent in Polish judicial history, despite this EU law being in place since Poland joined the bloc 18 years ago. Campaigners say it could signal changes in the legal protection for wild animals threatened by human activity.’ Guardian

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My recent publications

Otto and Frankie, my latest novel, about a dying man’s fight against injustice, his wife’s unusual affair, and the love from his long-lost daughter.

Otto and his daughter Frankie could not be more different. He’s rich, an acclaimed author, human rights activist, and lives in England. She lives in New York, just about survives from one pay cheque to the next and hasn’t seen or spoken to her father for twenty years. Dutifully reunited by his impending death, she’s amazed to find him a kind and noble man who, while grappling with his wife’s bizarre affair, champions for the world’s forgotten and dispossessed to his last. After Otto’s death, Frankie’s admiration for her father leads her into a dangerous and life changing pursuit. 

amazon.co.uk. amazon.com.

Life in four stories 

Four shorts: two about life, love, and death; one a poignant and disturbing memory that dangles a question unanswered; and one a wild fantasy – plus the first chapter of my latest book, Otto and Frankie.

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Good news in abundance

I’ve been given a subscription to Positive News, a quarterly magazine that describes itself as The Uplifting Current Affairs Magazine, and it certainly does that. If you’ve given up on the news, try Positive News. It tells of all the positive and inspiring things that are happening around the world, and there are many.

As well as an article on how Mark Rylance (cover) deals with the blues, this month’s copy includes amongst others:

  • The wildest ponies in Britain. How wild ponies that roam the Carneddau plateau in Wales have been living there for 375 years and are gathered in once a year by members of the local community for a health check.
  • Heat or eat. How a plumber from Burnley has set up an organisation to help disabled and elderly people with the plumbing and heating problems for free.
  • The man reviving Iraq’s date industry.  After 20 years of war and destruction, a farmer has taken it on himself to revive Iraq’s once world-leading date industry. He’s having success, and aiming to ‘become one of the biggest date producers in the world,’ once again.
  • Tigers make a roaring comeback. How tigers, once facing extinction, are increasing their numbers. Tigers’ global population is now believed to be nearly 5000, according to a recent census, up 40% from the last census in 2015.

 More good news stories.

~

My recent publications

Otto and Frankie, my latest novel, about a dying man’s fight against injustice, his wife’s unusual affair, and the love from his long-lost daughter.

Otto and his daughter Frankie could not be more different. He’s rich, an acclaimed author, human rights activist, and lives in England. She lives in New York, just about survives from one pay cheque to the next and hasn’t seen or spoken to her father for twenty years. Dutifully reunited by his impending death, she’s amazed to find him a kind and noble man who, while grappling with his wife’s bizarre affair, champions for the world’s forgotten and dispossessed to his last. After Otto’s death, Frankie’s admiration for her father leads her into a dangerous and life changing pursuit. 

amazon.co.uk. amazon.com.

Life in four stories 

Four shorts: two about life, love, and death; one a poignant and disturbing memory that dangles a question unanswered; and one a wild fantasy – plus the first chapter of my latest book, Otto and Frankie.Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

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More than a walk in the woods

A few leaves dot around the old flagstones that form the path leading up to the small gate at the end. The overhanging trees, laden with leaves, their colours changing, and a harbinger for heavy leaf-falls to come, bend and sway with the gusty wind. I approach the gate and sense it’s seen better days, but the lichen on the gate’s weather-darkened wood, partly broken and split, and the rusty metal hinges bestow a sense of time passed when the world was less troubled. I fear the new, inevitable replacement will not offer that comfort. 

Beyond the gate, I see a large empty field, at least an acre, its crop harvested, the soil waiting to be ploughed and seeded, and bordered by green hedges. Every one hundred metres or so tall oak trees reach up from within the hedges, pointing to the blustery, grey sky where clouds race across it.  

I release Tom, my black Labrador puppy, and watch him bounder with glee across the stubble, chasing rabbits, sending birds into flight, and stopping often to scratch and dig the soil, no doubt having seen a rodent or some small animal burrow away to escape his jaws. I take this walk often, nearly always at the end of the day, to find peace and solace from this mad world.

 I’m grateful I have this getaway. Many do not, living in a world of violence and oppression, drought, unbearable heat, dreadful cold, storms, floods, disease, hunger and no running water. 

How lucky I am? 

~

My recent publications

Otto and Frankie, my latest novel, about a dying man’s fight against injustice, his wife’s unusual affair, and the love from his long-lost daughter.

Otto and his daughter Frankie could not be more different. He’s rich, an acclaimed author, human rights activist, and lives in England. She lives in New York, just about survives from one pay cheque to the next and hasn’t seen or spoken to her father for twenty years. Dutifully reunited by his impending death, she’s amazed to find him a kind and noble man who, while grappling with his wife’s bizarre affair, champions for the world’s forgotten and dispossessed to his last. After Otto’s death, Frankie’s admiration for her father leads her into a dangerous and life changing pursuit. 

amazon.co.uk. amazon.com.

Life in four stories 

Four shorts: two about life, love, and death; one a poignant and disturbing memory that dangles a question unanswered; and one a wild fantasy – plus the first chapter of my latest book, Otto and Frankie.

Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

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When words fail you

Really, this week’s political shenanigans are beyond a sane person’s belief, and I’m not going to add to the millions of commentators who discuss them hourly, well that is apart from saying, words fail me, surely they can’t be serious? They are. Are they all having massive brain disorders that affect rational thinking at the same time, yes, they are, and maybe madness is a virus and they’ve all caught it from each other. My oh my. I thought not listening to experts over Brexit was the highest arrogance; this week’s unapologetic dismissal of any counselling that was cautious and contrary to our exalted leaders’ ideology surpassed even the stupidity of leaving the European Union. But I said I’m not going to discuss it, I’m not being political, and I don’t favour any political party. I vote for whoever is putting forward the best solutions to the nation’s problems. This bunch of screw-head politicians seem to be going in the other direction. 

For some cheer, read about the reintroduction of bears, beavers, and wolves into Europe. Man’s actions over the years have brought the population of these magnificent creatures close to extinction. Now by carefully letting them loose in wild areas they can rebuild their stock and avert dying out. Bravo. And good news also for humpback whales, bearded vultures, and white-tailed eagles. Their numbers are growing again after almost becoming extinct.

On a flippant note, did you know ‘Sperm whales have the biggest brains on Earth.’ (The Guardian) ? Perhaps our brainless leaders might like to invite some sperm whales into the cabinet to help them.

~

New book: Revelations – how tragedy and a man’s search for his unknown father reveal the sad truth about his parents. Available soon.

My recent publications

Otto and Frankie, my latest novel, about a dying man’s fight against injustice, his wife’s unusual affair, and the love from his long-lost daughter.

Otto and his daughter Frankie could not be more different. He’s rich, an acclaimed author, human rights activist, and lives in England. She lives in New York, just about survives from one pay cheque to the next and hasn’t seen or spoken to her father for twenty years. Dutifully reunited by his impending death, she’s amazed to find him a kind and noble man who, while grappling with his wife’s bizarre affair, champions for the world’s forgotten and dispossessed to his last. After Otto’s death, Frankie’s admiration for her father leads her into a dangerous and life changing pursuit. 

amazon.co.uk. amazon.com.

Life in four stories 

Four shorts: two about life, love, and death; one a poignant and disturbing memory that dangles a question unanswered; and one a wild fantasy – plus the first chapter of my latest book, Otto and Frankie.

Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

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Think beyond the present – thoughts on a troubled world

No more than anyone can I say with any certainty when the many current crises that envelop the world will pass. Even though our leaders and politicians try to tell us things will get better, they don’t know when that will be. Looking back at history, all crises have passed; wars have ended, pandemics have faded, and famines, floods, and other natural disasters have been alleviated to a more or lesser degree. Today’s many crises may seem apocalyptic, but I believe man, our ingenuity and instinct for self-survival will win out, and things will get better. History’s on our side, and man’s intelligence, knowledge, and problem solving just get better. Gloom hides out the positive, but pain is always followed by better times, like sun follows the rain. 

On the climate crises I’m less optimistic, but believe today’s climate catastrophes all around the world – intense heat, extreme floods, severe draught, and water shortages will drive leaders and politicians to act, the result of inaction basically untenable. We’re not too late.  Taking action, however unpalatable, will mitigate and slow down the effects of climate change.         

~

New book: I’m just finished writing Revelations – how tragedy and a man’s search for his unknown father reveal the sad truth about his parents. Available soon.

My recent publications

Otto and Frankie, my latest novel, about a dying man’s fight against injustice, his wife’s unusual affair, and the love from his long-lost daughter.

Otto and his daughter Frankie could not be more different. He’s rich, an acclaimed author, human rights activist, and lives in England. She lives in New York, just about survives from one pay cheque to the next and hasn’t seen or spoken to her father for twenty years. Dutifully reunited by his impending death, she’s amazed to find him a kind and noble man who, while grappling with his wife’s bizarre affair, champions for the world’s forgotten and dispossessed to his last. After Otto’s death, Frankie’s admiration for her father leads her into a dangerous and life changing pursuit. 

amazon.co.uk. amazon.com.

Life in four stories 

Four shorts: two about life, love, and death; one a poignant and disturbing memory that dangles a question unanswered; and one a wild fantasy – plus the first chapter of my latest book, Otto and Frankie.

All proceeds of this book go the INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS (ICRC), who help the most vulnerable communities fight COVID – 19. Thank you to all who have bought it.

Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

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Dreams like this

A white seagull and a brown seagull compete to drink from the pond, a butterfly flits gracefully from plant to plant, many bees labour to collect pollen from the two big lavender bushes, a bird splashes in the stone bird bath, and I think all is well.

I’m falling through the blue sky, dropping at speed, the raging sea crashing against the jagged rocks many feet beneath me. I’ve seconds to live, I realise. Will I splash into the water to be dashed against the rocks, torn to shreds by their sharp and dense mass, drowned seconds later by the pounding waves, or will the waves drag my battered body back and forth, prolonging the agony. No mercy shown? Did I fall or was I pushed? I’d been walking along the cliff top. 

I wake in a hot sweat, my heart pounding, unsure of where I am until I sense a body lying asleep next to me. It’s Flick, I think, and I’m lying in my own bed. 

Recently, I’ve often had dreams like this, first the good stuff, then the chilling, then the waking. I guess it’s all to do with the scary world we’re living in. I’m not sure, how to stop these dreams, but I’ve listed a few things I’ve tried that’ve worked some of the time.

Don’t read any news before you go to sleep, that’s unless Putin falls from power and the war stops, energy prices dive, it rains seriously, the dire problems of the NHS are resolved, a magic solution to the climate crisis is announced, shops don’t look empty anymore, and the present government fall, giving someone else a chance to sort out the deep poo we’re in – and for sure we’re up to our ears in it, but there’s always hope!

Think of a few good things that happened today, there’ll always be some, however small, like a few good cups of tea, a cold glass of wine, a great meal. Many in the world have nothing. Be grateful for what we have.

Then there’s the maths trick. Think of a puzzle involving numbers and try to solve it. One that I did was adding up the population of countries in the world, west to east, until I reached the world’s total: 8bn. Wow. Most times, I never get beyond India.

Try imagining a circle of cotton wool around your head, like a perpendicular halo, and gradually draw it close in until it’s almost touching your skull. I find it has a sort of soporific effect, helping me drift off. 

There are alphabet games. Run through the alphabet, A-Z, choosing a name for an animal for each letter, or food items, plants and trees, countries, towns, books, movies, anything you fancy. Again, with this I often don’t reach Z, falling to sleep along the way.

Falling asleep and staying asleep is not easy in these troubled times. I hope my suggestions may help. I’d be happy to hear yours.

I wish for you good sleep and happy dreams. 

New book: I’ve just finished writing Revelations – How tragedy and a man’s search for his unknown father reveals the truth about his parents. It should be available toward the end of the year or early next. Revelations

My recent publications

Otto and Frankie, my latest novel, is about a dying man’s fight against injustice, his wife’s unusual affair, and the love from his long-lost daughter. 

Otto and his daughter Frankie could not be more different. He’s rich, an acclaimed author, human rights activist, and lives in England. She lives in New York, just about survives from one pay cheque to the next and hasn’t seen or spoken to her father for twenty years. Dutifully reunited by his impending death, she’s amazed to find him a kind and noble man who, while grappling with his wife’s bizarre affair, champions for the world’s forgotten and dispossessed to his last. After Otto’s death, Frankie’s admiration for her father leads her into a dangerous and life changing pursuit. 

amazon.co.uk. amazon.com.

Life in four stories 

Four shorts: two about life, love, and death; one a poignant and disturbing memory that dangles a question unanswered; and one a wild fantasy – plus the first chapter of my latest book, Otto and Frankie.

All proceeds of this book go the INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS (ICRC), who help the most vulnerable communities fight COVID – 19. Thank you to all who have bought it.

Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

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To love or not

Revelations, my latest book is coming soon.

How tragedy and a man’s search for his unknown father reveal the truth about his parents. 

A short piece from the book follows. It’s taken from early in the story, when Max Langstone, a thirty-year-old journalist who’s had a rough beginning in life, finds a meeting with an ex-girlfriend to be a significant moment.  

After Anna had left for Gabriella’s, I started to clear up and I wondered where our relationship was heading. Today, I’d spent the most time with Anna since we’d been a pair, back when I lived with her in Bologna, and a day I’ll remember. Like before, there seemed to be a friendship between us that ebbed and flowed but never broke, and this day it seemed in full spate, like a spring tide flooding in and up the beach, almost breaching the sea wall. Conversation came easy, our likes almost identical, both interested in the same, and both finding solace with the other.

We started seeing more and more of each other, but it was a strange sort of relationship, neither saying we loved the other but both eager to spend time together and fix our next date before we said goodbye. We kept our weekly business meetings formal, talking mainly about Italian politics and current affairs and not outwardly expressing our fondness for the other. We met after work at least once a week, and one day, most weekends. We slept together often, each staying over one night at the others, but never spending a whole weekend together. It seemed, at the time, we were both holding back, not pushing the relationship, letting it take its course, and almost as though we were frightened it might explode and we’d destroy something beautiful. For my part, and I think for Anna’s, we knew we were in love but couldn’t get round to saying it, for fear of the consequence. And so for ten months, both were part of a smouldering love affair that we tried to deny.

Coming soon.

For more: https://nickwastnage.net/a-life-turned/

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January: newness and revival

The sky may be grey, even snowy, it’s cold, but January is a month of freshness, and new ideas.  Here’s ten to look out for. 

1: Snowdrops pushing up through the cold earth, a week or two away from busting open to reveal their delicate white flowers, bringing joy and inspiration and signalling mid-winter and a corner turned heading toward warmer days.

2: If you can get to a beach on a cold sunny day, take a walk and be uplifted by the emptiness and the cold, icy-looking surging sea. It’s good for the soul.

3: Wear any new clothes you received for Christmas and check older items to give to charity shops.

4: Try out a new recipe or two; maybe passed on from a friend or found in a new, gifted cookery book.

5: If you have a garden, plan new projects, or if you don’t, consider an indoor one, there’s plenty of ideas and advice out there. Also consider joining a friendly, community garden scheme where you’ll work with others on various schemes that bring beauty and tranquillity to your neighbourhood.     

6: Search your freezer. You might find a few mince pies!

7: If you were given a new book for Christmas, start reading it.

8: Try making marmalade, there are plenty of recipes around, and, although time-consuming, it’s easy. Seville oranges, essential for good marmalade, are around in the supermarkets from late December until early February.

9: Watch a new movie or box set. There’s quite a few around this year.

10: Try a new exercise routine.

A happy new year to you all and thank you for reading this blog.

~

New book: I’m just finishing The parents I didn’t know, about a man who looks back at his life and discovers poignant and disturbing events about his past. If all goes to plan, it should be available toward the end of the year.

My recent publications

Otto and Frankie, my latest novel, is about a dying man’s fight against injustice, his wife’s unusual affair, and the love from his long-lost daughter. 

Otto and his daughter Frankie could not be more different. He’s rich, an acclaimed author, human rights activist, and lives in England. She lives in New York, just about survives from one pay cheque to the next and hasn’t seen or spoken to her father for twenty years. Dutifully reunited by his impending death, she’s amazed to find him a kind and noble man who, while grappling with his wife’s bizarre affair, champions for the world’s forgotten and dispossessed to his last. After Otto’s death, Frankie’s admiration for her father leads her into a dangerous and life changing pursuit. 

amazon.co.uk. amazon.com.

Life in four stories 

Four shorts: two about life, love, and death; one a poignant and disturbing memory that dangles a question unanswered; and one a wild fantasy – plus the first chapter of my latest book, Otto and Frankie.

All proceeds of this book go the INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS (ICRC), who help the most vulnerable communities fight COVID – 19. Thank you to all who have bought it.

Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

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The stretched optimist

Often, I write about being an optimist. These days, with gloom all around us, being a pessimist must be be an easy ride. From the moment you wake up and look at the news, you’ll get more than your daily fix of pessimism and will not bother to step out of bed.

I look at it from another angle. There are problems to solve and we’ll solve them. Human kind has a history of making the world a better place, and I don’t think that’s going to change. Look at Covid. Yes it’s still with us, but it hasn’t destroyed us. We have several effective vaccines against it, and next year will see a push to spread the jabs throughout the world. Also, we’ve developed drugs that cure the disease and stop it in its tracks once someone has been infected.

The scientific and medical world’s achievements in fighting Covid have been nothing short of magnificent. Never has a vaccine or treatment for a life-threatening disease been accomplished in such a short time span. But that’s not the only medical advance. A vaccine for malaria has been found, and anyone with HIV will shortly be able to have a monthly injection instead of taking a daily pill, which patients often forget.

Treatment for cancer and many other medical conditions improve, but medicine is not alone in advancement. Space research is reaching new horizons, clean methods of travel, not using fossil fuels, are coming on stream by the day, technology that improves our lives is all around us, dietary information to help us lead healthier lives is everywhere, and in most areas of life we look, they’ll be something that has improved.

On the climate crisis we’ve seen some progress at the COP26 in Glasgow – see my comments on my Climate Crisis page – but more action is needed. Only a super-optimist would believe all is going to be well after the COP, but at least it received a big media splash, and hopefully much more will be delivered.

I know in the UK we’re led by a bunch of donkeys, but it’ll change. Either their own party will change its leader, who’ll bring in a new, more enlightened bunch, or they’ll be an election and that will shake things up.

Stay hopeful, healthy, and optimistic. There’s much to be grateful for.

~

My recent publications

Otto and Frankie, my latest novel, is about a dying man’s fight against injustice, his wife’s unusual affair, and the love from his long-lost daughter. 

Otto and his daughter Frankie could not be more different. He’s rich, an acclaimed author, human rights activist, and lives in England. She lives in New York, just about survives from one pay cheque to the next and hasn’t seen or spoken to her father for twenty years. Dutifully reunited by his impending death, she’s amazed to find him a kind and noble man who, while grappling with his wife’s bizarre affair, champions for the world’s forgotten and dispossessed to his last. After Otto’s death, Frankie’s admiration for her father leads her into a dangerous and life changing pursuit. 

amazon.co.uk. amazon.com.

Life in four stories 

Recently I donated a substantial sum to the INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS (ICRC) from the proceeds of this little book of shorts. ICRC help the most vulnerable communities fight COVID – 19. Thank you to all who bought it.

Four shorts: two about life, love, and death; one a poignant and disturbing memory that dangles a question unanswered; and one a wild fantasy – plus the first chapter of my latest book, Otto and Frankie.

Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

By buying this book you are helping fund ICRC in its valuable work. Thank you. 

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