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Postcard from the Edge, from The Provence Post

An introduction from Julie Mautner at The Provence Post:
Every now and then I ask foodie friends in France . . . or just back from France…to write about one restaurant in Provence they love. When my chef pal Andy Floyd mentioned he had just been to the Le Château de Sormiou, I was all over it–I’ve wanted to go there for years.  
As the GM of KitchenTable Cooking School and the Academic Director of the Professional Culinary Arts Program at Colorado Culinary Academy (Denver), Andy has been teaching budding chefs for more than 20 years.  For 10 of them, he directed professional programs at Culinary School of the Rockies (Boulder) and took groups of students for month-long trips to cook and to stage in some Provence’s finest restaurants.
As a result, he remains intimately connected to the food world in the South of France.
After a few years away, Andy recently returned for vacation with his wife Lucy and their three kids. Here’s his report about their day at the Le Château . . . not just a restaurant but a true adventure…

No trip to Provence would be complete without a visit to the Calanques between Marseille

On the Edge: Sormiou is one of the lesser known calanques, considered something of a locals' secret.

On the Edge: Sormiou is one of the lesser known calanques, considered something of a locals’ secret.

and Cassis. The white limestone cliffs and inlets that begin in the heart of Marseille and follow the coast to the picturesque port town of Cassis are the summer playground of the Marseillais.

The approach to the Calanque de Sormiou, where chef Andy Floyd and his family had a great afternoon at the restaurant Le Chateau.

The approach to the Calanque de Sormiou, where chef Andy Floyd and his family had a great afternoon at the restaurant Le Chateau.

Over the years, I’d visited Cassis many times with my culinary students.  A bouillabaisse in the port followed by a boat trip to the awesome Calanque d’En-Vau is de rigueur for anyone visiting the area. But I’d often heard of another very special Calanque, a well-guarded secret of the locals called the Calanque de Sormiou and I was determined to explore this little gem on my recent family trip. But–understatement here–it’s not easy to get to. If you want to avoid the hour-long hike in, your only choice is to rent one of the tiny seaside bungalows or to make reservations at the Le Château Sormiou, the little restaurant with a “to die for” view of the Sormiou Calanque and a fresh-out-of-the-water seafood menu. It’s open from the first weekend in April to the last weekend in September and has been serving customers since 1948.

If you plan to go by car, make sure you reserve way ahead, as you’re vying for access to this amazing spot

After a somewhat tense 4 kilometer drive down a narrow, winding'll arrive wanting wine quickly. Note, the parking lot is filled mostly with small cars.

After a somewhat tense 4 kilometer drive down a narrow, winding road…you’ll arrive wanting wine quickly. Note, the parking lot is filled mostly with small cars.

with quite few others. When you call Le Château for reservations they’ll ask for your car’s license plate number; this is mandatory or “le gardien” won’t let you through the gate that takes you up and over the limestone mountain into the tight, steep descent into the Calanque.  If you don’t know your rental car’s license plate number when you make the reservation, just explain that you’ll provide it closer to your arrival date. (Need I point out that good command of the French language, as well as being able to decipher the subtleties of the Marseillais patois, are a pre-requisite to making your reservation?). Once you’ve booked your table, you’ve overcome the major obstacle to getting to this little gem. Well, one of them at least.

I’ve been to Marseille many times and though I can easily find my way to the main landmarks, I could never have navigated my way to the entrance of this Calanque without a GPS. I felt like I was in a scene from the The French Connection as I exited from a major highway onto an elevated single lane that led me into a construction area and then into an eight-lane boulevard. Then finally, after many disorienting directional changes, I began to see signs for the Calanque de Sormiou. Much relief! We began to leave the bustle of the city into a forested area and then finally the GPS said we had reached our destination…even though we were still 4 km from the entrance.
The entrance to a private little cabanon, off the beach

The entrance to a private little cabanon, off the beach

Once we arrived at the gate, the gardien looked from our car to his clipboard and back. No match, he proclaimed. We weren’t on the list!

Actually, we had planned to come with a friend in her car and when that plan fell through, I called to make the change….but I guess the gardien didn’t get the updated license number.  We managed to convince him that we were legit restaurant customers with a reservation and eventually he relented and lifted the gate.
Now we started to question what kind of drive we were about to have, if such a careful selection process was required…and then a few clicks in we began to understand. But we really got the picture once we arrived at the top of Calanque and began to make our way down a one-lane road with pot holes and certain-death drop offs.  We prayed that no vehicles would be coming in the other direction and I surveyed the options ahead for any slight widening of the road. We made it down to the parking area (4€ charge) in a state of high stress and in desperate need of a glass or two of rosé.  We gathered our beach bags and gear and headed to the restaurant.
Chef Andy and his wife Lucy both had fish soup followed by grilled dorade. The kids ate shrimp and pasta. The meal was excellent...and expensive.

Chef Andy and his wife Lucy both had fish soup followed by grilled dorade. The kids ate shrimp and pasta. The meal was excellent…and expensive.

We sat outside on the covered terrace with a gorgeous view of the sea and the Calanque.  Within minutes the empty terrace filled with clients.  It’s very important to note this is a strictly cash restaurant and there are no ATMs or electricity or running water for that matter. Be prepared! We ordered up a bottle of rosé which came in a cute little plastic bag filled with ice. Lucy and I both settled in on soupe de poisson and a grilled whole dorade with vegetables and potatoes. The kids chose shrimp and pasta but there were a few

The cove and beach that beckon you before and after lunch. Andy says the kids didn't want to leave.

The cove and beach that beckon you before and after lunch. Andy says the kids didn’t want to leave.

meat dishes offered as well.  If you call ahead, you can order bouillabaisse, the local specialty, priced at 45€ per person, minimum two people. The food was excellent and unquestionably fresh though clearly priced with the captive audience in mind. Our lunch for five, with one bottle of wine, came to around 250€.  We changed in their restroom and after giving them a big wad of cash, headed to the beach.  Pleasantly, it was a real beach with sand (not rocky, like many coastal beaches here), and the water was perfect.  This day was without a doubt the highlight of our trip and the kids really didn’t want to leave.

On the way home, Marseille (and civilization) loom in the distance.

On the way home, Marseille (and civilization) loom in the distance.

The drive back up the Calanque was little less stressful though a lot busier and we did have to negotiate cars coming down at the same time. As we crested the top of the entrance to the Calanque we were presented with a stunning view of downtown Marseille and reluctantly we drove toward it, tucking away the experience of the special gem we had just uncovered. And yes, we would absolutely do it again!

Le Château Sormiou
Tel: +33 (0) 4 91 25 08 69
GPS: 226 Chemin de Sormiou, 13009 Marseille
Open seven days, first weekend in April to last weekend in Sept.
Lunch served 12 to 3; dinner 7:30 to 9:30.

Reservations required, no email, no credit cards.

The Floyd Family's Excellent Provence Adventure included this photo opp in the hills facing Les Baux de Provence. Clockwise: Lucy, Paris, Andy, Sophia and Soleil.

The Floyd Family’s Excellent Provence Adventure included this photo opp in the hills facing Les Baux de Provence. Clockwise: Lucy, Paris, Andy, Sophia and Soleil.

All photos by Andy Floyd. To reach him:

Your reading for March

Stories of Music Volume 2

by Holly E Tripp

The powerful effect of music on us is universally recognized, just a few notes from a certain peace can instantly evoke memories which transport us back to another time, event, or place.

Raised in a musical family, the author, Holly Tripp has fond memories of listening to her grandmother’s reminiscences of a childhood dancing to fiddlers’ music. However, it was the tragic death of her brother Brandon, and their shared love of music, which reawakened her love of song writing, and subsequently, the realization of the special place in our lives, and memories, certain pieces of music hold.

I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s first book, ‘Stories of Music’ Volume 1, and have been looking forward to Volume 2. As with its predecessor, this book enables you to, by visiting the free companion web edition, use the QR and short URLs throughout the book, to enjoy the original music and videos which accompany some of the stories.

The book is divided into sections, Origins, Interconnection, Exploration, Against All Odds, Transcendence, and Ghosts. The stories, poems, and essays within each section are personal accounts, from authors, and artists, throughout the world. All wanted to share with others how music has changed and affected their lives.

There are so many wonderful recollections to enjoy, however one I particularly like is called “The Magic of the Mouth.” In this story, newly arrived in Goa, India, Mukta Patil recalls being invited to a curtain raiser for World Mouth Harp Festival of India.
He recounts his confusion, as he imagines a full sized harp, and cannot see how one will fit in a mouth. However, as the story progresses all is revealed, and we learn about this fascinating musical instrument, thought to be one of the earliest known to man. There are wonderful pictures included, and the opportunity to listen to one being played by Neptune Chapotin.

They say that music breeches all boundaries and this book does just that, demonstrating clearly how music can inspire, create and heal. The icing on the cake for me, however are the QR’s and URL’s which provided me with the opportunity to enjoy the full sensory experience.

As a foot note I would like to add, that following through with her belief that music heals, the author is donating 10% of all of the proceeds to the non-profit organisations, Hungry for Music, and Music & Memory.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Available from Amazon

Tricycle and Friends: True-Life Adventures of a Three-Legged Golden Retriever and His Rescued Farm anima Friends

 by Lester Aradi

This wonderful children’s books is about a three legged retriever called Tricycle who is adopted by a family, and goes to live at their farm.

Once there, he meets Buckaroo, the miniature donkey. The two quickly become friends, and Buckaroo introduces Tricycle to some of the other animals. Many are adopted too. He soon discovers that there are all sorts, not only other dogs, but horses, llamas, chickens, and honey bees.

They go to meet Cantara and Pink, the llamas, and discover fascinating things about these lovely animals. However, the icing on the cake is when they learn that there will be another new arrival at the farm the following day, a little baby alpaca! Everyone is excited! But what is an alpaca, and what will it be called?

The author teaches in a very gentle way, through the experiences of Tricycle and his friends, how being different is okay. And, as the book progresses we learn about bullying, the importance of adopting animals, and many other things.

I loved the way the reader gets to meet lots of the animals through delightful illustrations and lovely pictures. I thing they are so important in children’s books, and bring the farm wonderfully to life, adding so much to this enchanting tale.

I can’t wait to read more adventures from Tricycles and his friends.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Available from Amazon

Tau Bada: The Quest and Memoir of a Vulnerable Man

by John E Quinlan

Product Details

Ever dreamed of doing something different, going to exotic places, stepping right out of your safety zone and taking the bull by the horns?

Do you wonder if people really do just change direction, start new businesses in different countries, juggle their lives, just like that? Is it possible?

Well, in this incredible biography the author takes the reader on his remarkable journey. After the end of his marriage he gets on his motorbike, leaves Grosse Point (a suburb of Detroit) and begins an adventure which takes him from the American West, through to Australia/Papua New Guinea.

An established CEO- entrepreneur, the author is not afraid of taking risks, and going with the flow. This bravery takes him on travels to amazing places, where he forges forward with the courage of a true entrepreneur.

On his odyssey, he finds new love and is never afraid to go with the moment, something I truly admire.

The book is beautifully descriptive and I especially loved his account of his life whilst he was running his South Pacific fishing business, which gave some fascinating insights into what life is really about living on-board ship. His first impressions and dealings with the South Pacific island natives and his business dealings with them are interesting, and the great thing is, that whatever the outcome he brushes himself off and starts again.

Juggling life between his business interests in Grosse Point and other part of the world is difficult at times, emotionally and financially draining, however, he copes with everything and is an inspiration to those of us who would love (or imagine they would love) to walk in his shoes.

He was known as Tau Bada, ‘big white man’ by the native farmers of Papua New Guinea where he worked hard to build them a sustainable living through the selling of coffee and chilies.

Travel lovers will thoroughly enjoy his accounts of his visits to different places, and wish they were a fly on the wall watching him meet people from many nations. It is an exciting way to really learn what it is like to live amongst various peoples and learn their customs.

This book is truly an awe-inspiring quest of discovery for one man, re-evaluating his life, taking on challenges, dealing with the consequences and all the time living life to the full. Whatever your dreams and ambitions, I would highly recommend this book, it is inspirational, informative and very thought provoking.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Available from Amazon


by Terry John Barto


Product Details

This is a simply wonderful story about a dragon called Nickerbacher, whose job is to guard the Princess Gwendolyn who lives in a tall, tall tower. However the princess and Nickerbacher are friends and their favorite thing is staying up watching the live performances on The Late Knight Show every evening.
Soon we discover that Nickerbacher isn’t your ordinary dragon, oh he knows his job is to guard the princess, fight the knights who try to rescue her and generally be a big bad dragon, but that’s not what he wants to do the rest of his life – he has a dream. Nickerbacher wants to become a stand-up comedian! He hates the stereotyping of dragons and wants to show the world a different side, a caring, funny dragon, so dragons can be acceptable members of the community, not third rate citizens.

So, when Prince Happenstance arrives, fresh from the Prince Guild, with a mission to rescue the princess, he soon discovers that Gwendolyn is no ordinary princess, and Nickerbacher no ordinary dragon. Before he knows it he finds himself agreeing to take part in a plan cooked up between them to get Nickerbacher to La La Land so he can audition for The Late Knight Show, and make his impact on the world!

La La Land they discover is quite amazing, full of many sorts of wonderful creatures, all living with the humans, but there are no dragons, so Nicerbacher arrival causes quite a stir, and everyone wants to know why he is there.

However being there is only the beginning, can he get an audition with Johnny Kingston, and if he does, how will it go?

Find out if Nickerbacher’s dreams come true, will he star on The Late Knight Show?

Can he wow the audience with his jokes, and change their perception of dragons?

Discover the answer to these questions, and much more in this exciting children’s story full of magic and surprises, written by Terry John Barto, and beautifully illustrated by Kim Sponaugle.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Available from Amazon

Fearne Fairy and the Landing Lesson

by Sarah Hill

Product Details

In this delightful children’s book we join Fearne Fairy as she is wakened by the dawn chorus in Whimsy Wood on a marvellous May morning.

Fearne is a lovely kind fairy, but she has a terrible voice, so when she asks to join in the chorus the woodland birds don’t want to hurt her feelings, after all why make someone unhappy if it isn’t necessary? Instead, they divert her thoughts by asking how her best friend Mustard the Magpie Moth Caterpillar is.

Racing down stairs she finds Mustard happily sleeping soundly in his little leaf basket by the stove. Fearne loves her friend so much that she decides to make him a special breakfast, and sets off for the Woodland Store. However, although like other fairies Fearne can fly, her landings are not so good, and on her return she crashes. Startled awake, Mustard suggests that she needs to get some help perfecting her landings, and she agrees.

Thus begins a magical adventure, as we join Fearne and Mustard in their search for Bristle Bumblebee and Dewberry Dragonfly, flying experts who Mustard thinks will be able to help her.

After breakfast, with picnic packed, they set off on their quest to find Bristle and Dewberry.

The woods are wonderful, and most of the creatures are having fun, and enjoying the lovely May weather, but then they come across Bromley the Badger, and his friend, who is a very sad Hedgehog called Humbug.

However, when Fearne discovers the cause of Humbugs unhappiness she realises that it is within her powers to make him happy again, and so she waves her magic wand, and says a special spell, making things right.

Pleased to see his friend happy again, Bromley tells them that Bristle and Dewberry have opened a Flying School down by the purple orchid patch, to help the May bugs and stag beetles who are having problems learning to fly. So off Fearne and Mustard go in search of Bristle and Dewberry’s Flying School.

But will they find it?

And, if they do, will Bristle and Dewberry be able to help Fearne improve her landing, after all, she isn’t a May bug or stag beetle?

Well you will have to read the story to find out the answers to these questions, but the only thing I can say is that practice really does make perfect…

The wonderful way this magical children’s story is told, and the way its beautiful illustrations compliment the story makes this not just a book, but a prized possession, the type of book which will be handed down from child to child, through generation.

I would liken it to the famous The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, and think it definitely deserves a place on every child’s bookshelf.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Available from Amazon

Warrior of Light (Adventures of the Mind Traveller Book 3)

by James McKenna

Product Details

In this third book in the Mind Traveller series we join a 16 year old Rosie as she, having just finished her GCSE’s, is looking forward to the summer holidays.

Laying under the ancient oak tree at Haston Manor, she is dreaming of Oliver, one of the local boys and one of her partners in adventures, when an Inca boy called Titu suddenly arrives. He has been sent by his brother Apo, who is an Inca prince from Vilabamba with news especially for her. A piece of the Dove of Peace is in the Huacas.

So Rosie and her SAS Angel Elissa travel into Mind Space, and asks Grubalot what they should do. He reveals that the dark angels are rising again, they are becoming very strong, amassing a large army, and he has another mission for her. She must finds her parents, and the last pieces of the Dove of Peace, because, when the dove of peace is whole again, love will spread across Mind Space, and together with the white angels they will win the war against the Dark Angel, and his forces.

And so begins the adventure for Rosie and her friends Oliver, Charlie and Dan. However her discussions in Mind Space have been cunningly overheard by the despicable Skreg, a slimy creature who works for the dark forces, and he is prepared to do anything to stop Rosie from completing her quest.

Thwarted at every turn, bravely fighting terrible creatures, dark forces, creppins, and the hideous Skreg, the friends desperately seek Rosie’s parents. However, they are being kept prisoner, and with deception and lies at every turn, and things not being what they appear to be, will the friends be able to find them?

Then, if they do, will they really hold the key to the location of the final pieces of the dove?

Who will win the war?

Calling on allies of old, Rosie’s mothers secret diaries, and discovering some amazing new things about themselves and others, they courageously undertake the mission.

In this marvellous fantasy adventure, the reader not only joins in an amazing escapade, but also discovers through the adventure that, united, despite the dangers, true friendship and perseverance can achieve wonderful things.

Although the third book in this Mind Traveller series, it is not necessary to have read the others to enjoy this great story.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Available from Amazon

Driving in France? What to do if you’re involved in a car accident

If you’re unfortunate enough to be involved in a car accident (accident d’auto), you must do the following in addition to the standard procedures that apply in all countries.

1. Stop immediately. Switch on your hazard warning lights and put on your high-viz jacket which you should have inside the car so it can be easily reached.

Place a warning triangle at the edge of cy27hc_0the road 30m (100ft) behind your car, ensuring that it can be seen from at least 100m (325ft).

2. If anyone is injured, immediately call the fire service (sapeurs-pompiers) by dialling 18.

Emergency phones (orange pillars with SOS written on them) are positioned at 2km (1.2mi) intervals on motorways and every 4km (2.5mi) on other roads.

To use them press and release the button marked pour demander au secours (‘to summon help’) and speak into the metal grille.

Give the number of the telephone and as many other details as possible. The mobile (cellular) phone emergency number is 112.

If you take an injured person to hospital yourself and he dies in your car, you could be sued for a great deal of money! If there are no injuries and if damage to vehicles or property isn’t serious, it’s unneces­sary to call the police, unless another driver has obviously been drinking or appears incapable of driving.

You must never leave the scene of an accident, however minor, before completing this procedure, as this is a serious offence.

3. If either you or the other driver(s) involved decides to call the police, don’t move your vehicle or allow other vehicles to be moved unless this is necessary to unblock the road.

Front form4. In the case of an accident involving two or more vehicles, it’s standard practice for drivers to complete an accident report form ( constat amiable) provided by insurance companies (keep one in your car).

As the name implies, this is an ‘amicable statement’, where drivers agree (more or less) on what happened.

It isn’t obligatory to complete a constat, although an insurance claim made out in any other form can take longer to process.

If your French isn’t good, you may complete a constat in another language.Open Form

At the bottom of the form there are a number of statements describing the circumstances of the accident. You should tick the boxes that apply, add up the number of ticks and enter the number in the box at the bottom.

This prevents the form from being altered later.

It’s important to check the details included on forms completed by other drivers against official documents, particularly those relating to a driver’s identity, driving licence, car registration and insurance details.

It’s a good idea to photograph the other driver’s documentation, his vehicle and the scene of the accident. Look out for ‘dirt drop’ from wheel arches which indicate the exact position of vehicles. Take as many as you need to ‘tell the story’.

If anyone is injured you must indicate this at the foot and centre of the form.

Drivers must sign each other’s forms. Always check exactly what the other driver has written before signing.

It’s a NCR (self-copying form) so you both have an identical copy of what you each wrote. DO NOT change anything once you have exchanged forms. Then make further comments on the reverse at leisure and send it to your insurers within 5 days.

Don’t sign a statement, particularly one written in French, unless you’re certain you understand and agree with every word. It’s a very good idea to get the Google App on your phone which translates automatically from the camera lens.

In the event of a dispute, a local bailiff (huissier de justice) should be called to prepare an independent report (constat d’huissier).

If the police attend the scene of an accident, they will also make their own report.

If you witness an accident or its aftermath, it’s a criminal offence not to try to assist anyone in danger, at least by calling for help, and you can be fined up to €75,000 and imprisoned for up to five years for failing to do so.

France has a national fund, the Fonds de Garantie Automobile (FGA, that pays compensation to people injured and vehicles damaged by hit-and-run drivers.

5665081_948ae0e6-f43d-11e5-8a4d-9d182ae8b405-1_1000x625However, you can claim for damage to your vehicle only if the person responsible can be identified and is uninsured or insolvent.

To make a claim, those in the south-east of France should contact the Marseille office at 39 boulevard Vincent Delpuech, 13255 Marseille Cedex 06 ( 04 91 83 27 27); those in all other parts of France should contact the Paris office at 64 rue de France, 94682 Vincennes Cedex (01 43 98 77 00).

Accident prevention is promoted by Prévention Routière (01 44 15 27 00, Other useful contacts are the Fondation Anne-Cellier Contre l’Insécurité Routière (01 45 00 95 35) and the Ligue Contre la Violence Routière (01 45 32 91 00).

But please drive safely, be careful, and if anything happens – take a deep breath, keep calm and don’t miss a trick!

Edited from original article from Living and working in France

Flights three times a week from Stansted to Lorient – from £19.99

Ryanair announced a new summer route from London Stansted to Lorient, with a three times weekly service beginning in July, one of 140London Stansted summer 2017 routes now on sale.

ryanair-aircraft-(10) (1)Ryanair celebrated its new London-Stansted-Lorient by releasing seats for sale across its European network from just £19.99 for travel in February and March.

Ryanair’s Robin Kiely said:

“Ryanair is pleased to announce a new three times weekly London Stansted service to Lorient, beginning in July, one of 140 London Stansted summer 2017 routes. 

UK customers and visitors can look forward to even lower fares when they make advance bookings for summer 2017, so there’s never been a better time to book a low fare flight on Ryanair and we urge all customers who wish to book their summer 2017 holidays to do so now on the website, where they can avail of the lowest fare air travel to and from London.

To celebrate our new summer route from London Stansted to Lorient, we are releasing seats from just £19.99 for travel until 31March Lorient.82017,which are available for booking until midnight, Monday February 6th. Since these amazing low fares will be snapped up quickly, customers should log onto and avoid missing out.”

Route Frequency Start Date  Fare
London STN – Lorient  3 x weekly 4th July 2017 £19.99
Ryanair, Europe’s No.1 airline, today (2 Feb)

Manish’s Zodiac Predictions for March 2017

pisces-zodiac-symbols-20-1Pisces ( 19 February – 20 March ) - You will organize yourself in a way that allows you to expand with much more success than other times. You can push out from what has been restrictive. People can come into your life who add balance and the sense their presence is meant-to-be.  Being flexible with and responsive to others would be the key to success. You gain a new sense of stability for many reasons; ultimately lightening your nature so a much more flexible, sensitive, porous you gets ready for new instructions. Eliminate the old tapes playing in your head, and dive into dreams to make them a reality. Favorable Dates March 3, 6, 15, 19, 22, 27 Favorable Colors : Blue & White

Aries ( 21 March – 19 April ) – A new venture can be in the works that builds on what you’ve done but represents a new way of communicating or a new service or format  You had been gathering your forces, working with your talents in the past, but not presenting things, only developing and practicing them. You will relish the excitement of every hindrance now. You will speak with eloquence and insight and guide others in the process.  Follow your heart too  on every plane as you’ll need to use both your intellect and your heart, in order to be truly successful. Favorable Dates : March 2, 7, 11, 16, 20, 25 Favorable Colors : Red & Green

Taurus ( 20 April – 20 May )  – You will want to spruce up, innovate, remodel, and remake whatever is foundational in your life. You might be changing location, if not just moving things around. You’re all about what’s new. You will organize yourself in a way that allows you to expand with much more success than other times. You can push out from what has been restrictive. You’re betting on new creativity and it looks like a good bet. People can come into your life that add balance and the sense their presence is meant-to-be. Favorable Dates : March 1, 2, 10, 11,19, 20 Favorable Colors : Yellow & GreenGemini ( 21 May – 20 June ) – You might have a very big project that begins later in the month and there might be a lot of build-up to it where you have to get ready for it with concrete steps. You’re freer, and you’re better organized financially and more physically able to be expressive. It’s looking like a very creative time. If you are a married girl and if you wanted to, you could get pregnant and the timing would be good. You have recently disengaged or left situations that allow you to do more of what you want. Favorable Dates : March 3, 8, 12, 17, 21, 26 Favorable Colors : Red & White


Cancer  ( 21 June – 22 July ) –  Keeping your head above water, pay attention to what you want to grow in your life, not your emotional reactions to things.  Do this for the sake of the inner world you want to be in and the operating state of consciousness you aspire to. Whatever revolutionary thing you’ve been thinking about and wanting to bring into your life for a long time, now has a greater chance to materialize. The new life you create gets easier because you’re more willing to participate in it.  So go for it if it brings a smile to your heart. Favorable Dates : March 3, 5, 12, 14,21, 23 Favorable Colors : Red & Blue


Leo  ( 23 July – 22 August ) – It’s a good month to straighten things out so your life is easier to move around in. It’s a time of creating better personal order so business and life becomes more pleasant. It can have a positive impact on you. Armed with an understanding of what you want and how to get it, you will be empowered with table-flipping energy to break through your limitations. It’s a fortunate time to begin health improvement campaigns and develop habits your body will appreciate. It’s also a wild time with so many new beginnings and changes. Favorable Dates : March 1, 5, 10, 14,19, 23 Favorable Colors : Red & Green


Virgo ( 23 August – 22 September ) – With strong determination you’re getting somewhere  on your way to a new vision. Expect a huge boost of self-confidence this month. There’s a tremendous elation you can feel being on your own, doing whatever represents independence. You feel much better about yourself and are more at peace. This is a month of increase, with positive events occurring on both inner and outer levels. Investing in your career will pay off now, as powerful people step up to assist you in your efforts. It feels to you like going further and higher than you’ve ever gone before. Favorable Dates: March 3, 8, 12, 17,21, 26 Favorable Colors : White & Blue


Libra  ( 23 September – 22 October ) – Grass roots movements should gain strength. Life will give you dramatic lessons about self-responsibility, and that you are responsible for the success of your dreams. The period gives you inspiration and visions about what will fulfill you.  The desire to escape will also be strong if you get complacent or you might choose to come to your own rescue instead of denying what needs to be done.  You can get more self awareness and implement new systems and solutions for your lives. Let your internal voice be your guide Favorable Dates :  March 2, 5, 11, 14, 20, 23 Favorable Colors : Purple & Yellow


Scorpio ( 23 October – 21 November ) – You’re processing your own life. Work deals are being made and steps towards career goals are moving forward, A new venture can be in the works that builds on what you’ve done but represents a new way of communicating or a new service or format However, your approach to your own progress is wavering and complacency creeps in between. You may deal with resistance and what enables you to move through resistance is a more strongly felt love for life. You’re going to keep on making those important choices that lead to your own fulfillment. Favorable Dates: March 2, 4, 13, 14, 21, 23 Favorable Colors : Red & Yellow


Sagittarius ( 22 November -21 December ) – This is a time of inner gains – your greater emotional and psychological strength allows you to move on. Trust your instincts, they lead you to the truth.. You may not have yet articulated to yourself where things are going, but you feel much brighter about the future, and you’ll have the space and time to think anew and develop a project that, as it turns out, can have a big impact on your fate and is something that’s destined.  Your ability to find a work-around, no matter what the roadblock, would be the key to success. Favorable Dates March 4, 9, 11, 16, 22, 26 Favorable Colors : Red & Yellow


Capricorn ( 22 December – 19 January ) – This is a month where there are not big moves on your part, but your work is to just keep things humming along.  An even pace is best as you put the work into what you want to achieve. Finding more enjoyable ways to make money; getting physical and being in nature; laughing with people, having fun, and taking care of your health would be the key to success. You’ve got the luxury of being quite involved in your dreams and your potential and not so worried about instability, but focused on the hopeful future. Favorable Dates March 2, 7, 13, 18, 22, 28  Favorable Colors : Purple & White


Aquarius ( 20 January – 18 February ) – Your new ideas are the ones you want to try, the ones you’re going to be rewarded for, the ones that expand you, and the ones that are coming to you through new insight. You can connect with a lot more people or a larger world. Stay the course on your personal journey towards happiness, because the potential is high for the next phase to be a more complete and magnetic and inspired version of yourselves. Look at everything as a work in progress: your health, your relationships, and your financial goals. Favorable Dates March 4, 7, 15, 18, 24, 27 Favorable Colors : Blue & White

 Manish Ad Nov16





Masonry in Literature

by Shirley Brieger

People who know very little about Freemasonry often refer to it as a ‘secret society’.

However, there has been so much spoken and written about the subject it is actually a very open society. References to Freemasonry in literature occur in many works of fiction. For instance, way back in the year 2BC in Rome, Titus tells a good friend that his wife Vipsanias joined a women’s masonic lodge called the ‘Good Goddess’.

His friend comments, “That damned female masonic cult again. I hope it never spreads to our sex, Titus.”

Oh, how wrong he was…

This reference occurred in Quadrantus Rex by Norbert Coulehan.

Buchan, Capote, Eco, le Carre, Dan Brown, Tolstoy, and many more  have made references to masonry, so Norbert Coulehan was in good company.

Dan Brown, for instance, in his novels The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, uses and manipulates the symbols of masonry to produce a best seller. But it actually has no real relevance to masonry as we understand it. His ideas about the Rosslyn Chapel with its many masonic symbols in its carved stonework,  and the legends and beliefs about Rennes-le-Chateau being the place where the Holy Grail was said to be hidden and Jesus is buried, are a mixture of fact and fiction. However, non masons are all too ready to accept all these references as the truth.

In Leo Tolstoy’s novel War and Peace, Freemasonry is a thread that runs throughout the story. Count Pierre Bezukhov struggles with his understanding of masonry.  And this could be Tolstoy revealing his own struggle, as many people believe he actually based the character of Pierre on himself.

References to Freemasonry in popular culture range from the vitriolic to the innocuous. Far more often they are merely misinformed allusions from which Freemasonry faces a far more insidious threat – that of being marginalised, trivialised and fictionalised. Most of the references are harmless, simply pointing out that Freemasonry has played a role in our society.

However, I must return to the the author Dan Brown. Love or loathe his books, he wrote a letter to the  Guests of the Southern Jurisdiction, and it reads as follows . . .

Screen Shot 2017-02-15 at 08.39.02

In my humble opinion, this is probably the best explanation of Masonry I have heard, and one we should perhaps all remember when so often we are asked: What is Freemasonry all about? Freemasonry is worldwide, with the first Lodge being founded in London, England in 1717. To celebrate the anniversary of this event, Lodges throughout France and the UK – and many other countries – are opening their doors to the general public on 24th June.

If any Mason would like more information about the Supreme Council, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, more commonly known as the Mother Supreme Council of the World, simply Google any of these titles to find a fascinating history of Masonry in the USA.

652 Masons in France March17

Brexit, VAT and property values

by David Anderson, Sykes Anderson Perry Limited Solicitors London

This article is for general information only. You should only act or refrain from acting after receiving full professional advice on the facts of your particular case. This article does not constitute investment advice.

There has been a lot of speculation about how London residential property prices will be affected post Brexit, which seems to turn on whether an exodus of highly paid people in the financial services sector materialises. A far less discussed area, but one with much more importance, is the effect on UK property of the inevitable post Brexit VAT changes.

This article discusses the Brexit VAT implications on residential property where the outlook seems positive and commercial property where it appears negative. As an example the impact on warehouse property is given.

Rates of VAT

At the moment the UK has almost no power to decide the VAT rates to be charged on different supplies. The EU decides what can be zero rated. This is likely to change and the construction industry could be affected.

Effect on prices of residential property

Most repair work on houses by builders is charged at 20%. There are anomalies here and opportunities for sharp practice by some contractors. There is a lot of pressure on the government from the construction industry for reform. Expect this VAT rate to be reduced, possibly zero rated to bring it into line with renovating long term vacant properties. This will make “tired” residential properties more attractive to buyers who are currently not able to recover the 20% VAT in most cases.

Buy to let investors facing punitive Stamp Duty Land Tax Charges may decide it is better to buy cheaper properties requiring works rather than newer properties as the definite savings on SDLT and the possible VAT savings on building works will make these cheaper overall to buy.

Effect on prices of commercial property

Occupiers of commercial properties may be affected by VAT rate changes post Brexit which will have an effect on the value of their covenant and accordingly the value of the rented property. Zero rating of goods sold by a tenant to consumers will reduce the cost of their sales by 20% and boost their turnover and profits. This is more likely than the reverse situation of a VAT increase.

Conversely landlords and managing agents may want to start thinking now about whether tenants are likely to be adversely affected by Brexit VAT changes. Companies involved in international trade are most likely to be affected. This is a very complex area affecting sales of goods and services and each situation needs to be considered carefully in the light of possible Brexit changes. As an example the sale of goods from a warehouse is given below.

Warehousing as an example

At the moment sales by UK companies to businesses in the EU are zero rated for UK VAT purposes. The customer in the other EU country accounts for the VAT there in its VAT return and generally recovers the VAT as input tax so there is no cash flow issue. After Brexit the UK will no longer be in the UK. The sale of goods to the EU will still be zero rated in the UK but the customer in the other EU country will in most cases have to pay the local VAT in cash on delivery. This will be recoverable by the customer as input tax in due course but there will be a significant cash flow issue for the customer as the VAT on arrival of the goods will have to be paid up front. If the position stays like this post Brexit, companies in the UK are likely to move their warehousing to within the EU affecting the value of UK warehouses. Tenants negotiating warehouse deals at the moment should be asking for tenant only break clauses say 6 months after Brexit in case they need to relocate to within the EU.

If you sell to consumers (not VAT registered customers) in the EU you charge VAT in the UK just like sales to UK customers. However if you go over a certain threshold of “distance sales” in an EU country you have to register for VAT in that country and pay VAT there at their rates. Any substantial UK company will fall into this category and have to register for VAT in their principal EU markets. Post Brexit this option of registering locally for VAT will not apply and UK based distance sellers will have to tell their customers to pay the local VAT when the goods are delivered to them. This will be very unattractive to UK based distance sellers who are likely to move their warehouse operations within the EU.


The effect of Brexit on VAT is complicated but is predictable. It is going to be very difficult for the UK within 2 years to get all the remaining EU countries to change their VAT rules and procedures to accommodate the UK as a special country outside the EU. There was no discussion about VAT in the government’s recent White Paper on Brexit which indicates everyone knows big problems lie ahead. Businesses are unlikely to wait very long and risk losing customers in the EU to other EU based competitors who will have an obvious commercial advantage. This is going to affect commercial property values in the UK.

Tenant companies involved in international supplies of goods or services should think carefully about how their operations could be affected by VAT post Brexit. Flexibility is the key here with tenant only break clauses after Brexit in case they need to relocate to within the EU.

February 2017

David Anderson    Sykes Anderson Perry Limited    + 44 203 794 5959


BA launches seven new routes from Manchester

British Airways is to launch seven new routes from Manchester Airport this summer and three new destinations from Manchester’s sister airport Stansted.

From May the airline will begin summer-only direct flights from Manchester to the popular Spanish sunspots of Alicante, Malaga, Ibiza and Palma, the Greek island of Mykonos, Nice in the South of France and a weekly service to London City Airport.

logoIn addition new flights from Stansted, part of the Manchester Airport Group, will launch to Florence, Geneva and Nice and there will be increased frequency on existing routes to Ibiza and Palma. Flights to Malaga and Faro will also resume for the summer.

All flights will operate on modern Embraer 190 jet aircraft, with spacious cabins and two abreast seating so every customer can have an aisle or window seat.

Club Europe and eligible Executive Club customers will also be able to use the rooftop British Airways Terraces Lounge at Manchester Airport. Club customers receive complimentary food and drinks on board, a generous free baggage allowance and free seat selection and  on-line check-in.

All the new return British Airways flights from Manchester will operate once a week at weekends, with the exception of the Ibiza route which will operate three times a week, and will provide more than 35,000 extra seats from the North West.

British Airways currently operates up to 10 return flights a day between Manchester and London Heathrow.

Alex Cruz, British Airways CEO and chairman, said: “We are very excited to be launching all these new routes from Manchester and Nice-Cote-d-Azur-International-Airport-aerial-2-wStansted, providing customers with flights to the sun direct from their doorstep with British Airways. These are the destinations that our customers tell us they want to fly to so we look forward to a busy summer.

“In addition the Thursday night flight from London City, in the heart of the capital’s commercial district, will provide commuters with a valuable air link back to Manchester, with the return flight to London City on a Sunday.”

Basic each way fares from Manchester to Alicante, Ibiza, Nice and Palma  from £49, to Malaga from and £59 and to Mykonos from £69 are available to book on


French Tax Agents fees paid when UK residents sold a French property – French Government announced it will refund the Tax Agents’ fees

by David Anderson,

This article is for general information only. Tax law is a highly specialised area and you should only act or refrain from acting after receiving full professional advice on the facts of your particular case. This article is for general information and does not constitute investment advice.


Before 1st January 2015 all non-French residents who sold a French property over €150.000 had to appoint a représentant fiscal (tax agent). The agent worked out the capital gains tax liability of the non-resident seller. This was abolished from 1st January 2015 following a successful European Court challenge involving Portugal, which had a similar system. This only applies to EU residents. Non EU resident sellers still have to appoint a tax agent.

The issue of tax agent’s fees has come out in connection with reclaims of social charges following the de Ruyter case. Most people have lodged claims with the French Tax Administration and successfully recovered French social charges illegally deducted by the notaires on completion, but many did not at the same time claim a refund for tax agents’ fees. This should have been done because of limitation periods, see below.

Tax agent’s fees

The tax agents are private accountants specially authorised by the French government and usually appointed by the notaire just before the sale completed. There are only a very small number of them and they have had a de facto monopoly. Notaires often did not explain to English sellers at the outset that a tax agent had to be appointed at the seller’s cost. The tax agent’s fees were deducted by the notaire from the sale proceeds and were usually at least 1% of the selling price of the property regardless of the amount of the gain. The fees could however be deducted as a cost against any capital gains tax liability.

French government will refund tax agent’s fees to UK sellers

Sykes Anderson Perry contended when reclaiming social charges that the tax agent fees were charged illegally and that the French government should refund them because French law was contrary to EU law. The French government has in February 2017 finally announced that the tax agents’ fees were collected illegally and that they will now refund them. There will however be a small deduction because of the deduction for French capital gains tax, see above.

Limitation period

However limitation periods will apply and anyone affected should take action immediately. It appears that you have to make your claim to the French Tax Office by the end of the second calendar year following the year you sold the property. Accordingly for any sale in 2015 (from 1st January 2015 to 31st December 2015) your claim must be made by 31st December 2017. Similarly for any sale in 2014 you must have claimed by 31st December 2016. Because there was no tax agent requirement from 1st January 2015 onwards all claims should have been made by 31st December 2016, in practice they should always have been made at the same time as the reclaim for social charges and then should always be in time. It may however still be possible to lodge claims though the circumstances of each case will need to be considered.

February 2017

Sykes Anderson Perry Limited    + 44 203 794 5959


Your reading for February

From the Western Front to Salonika – A French Soldier Writes Home (1914-1918)

by Catherine LaBaume-Howard

From the Western Front to Salonika - A French Soldier Writes Home (1914-1918)

Catherine Labaume-Howard the editor of this fascinating book was very fortunate to have been born in the house of her maternal grandfather, Pierre Suberviolle, and she knew him until he died, when she was 24.

Some time passed before she found the opportunity to read 300 of his letters, notes, and postcards, and see through the amazing photographs which had survived the years, what his life was like during his army service in WWI.

On the 7th August 1914, like many patriotic young men, the 17 year old Pierre joined the army, and was mobilized as a car and truck driver.

Through the publishing of his letters to his family, and their friends, Antonin Barthe, in this fascinating book, readers are treated to an insight into army life at that time. As many soldiers did, he appreciated the food parcel, and news of home which they send him, giving glimpses into how life was for those he had left behind. He, in return, tells them of his life behind the lines, the people he meets and landscapes he discovers (especially in Salonika), the food he has, and asks for money for the basic essentials he needs. Sometimes there are long gaps between letters but he never fails to reassure them that he writes when he can, and if letters are slow in coming through, it is just the war.

The maps, and especially the pictures, are the icing on the cake for me. There is something magical about seeing a snapshot in time of a person, or place, it is unique, and even more precious because it can never be recaptured.

Pierre’s war took him through France, into Belgium and down to Salonika, where he arrived by boat and recounts his very real fear at seeing a submarine on route.

At this time in his services he recounts having to survive extreme heat which exhausted the soldiers and made them susceptible to many diseases, such as dysentery. Then, they found themselves ‘living like savages’ and combatting freezing weather and snow, what experiences for a young man to endure.
As the war continued, he returned to France, and trained on tanks, rising through the ranks to Quartermaster-Sergeant. Then in October 1918 in Belgium, he was wounded….

This book gives the reader a wonderful opportunity of following one man’s journey through WWI. In it, we learn so much that traditional history books cannot tell us, because they are historical documents. This is different, it is personal, he was actually there.

Through his granddaughter’s editing of the letters, and the publishing of this fascinating book, his experiences through the war, and his life after it, can be read by all.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe


The Witch’s Shadow (The Mind Traveller Book 2)

by James McKenna


Product Details

Rosie is a 15 year old orphan who lives with her Uncle Hugo at Haston Manor, however, she is also very special as she has inherited the ability to travel into Mind Space from her mother. Mind Space is a mysterious realm which can be reached by special people called Mind Traveller’s, and it is inhabited by strange and mythical creatures, angels, demons and more.

This story begins on Rosie’s end of term sports day, at St Monica’s Boarding School for Girls, and her new adventure is about to begin…

That night, lying on her bed in the dorm, she is transported by Elissa, her SAS Angel to the Ministry of Procedures building, a special place where everything in her world and other parallel ones are organised. There Rosie learns that she must go into Mind Space again. Apparently she has inherited from her mother a section there, however, is overrun with scrowlers, and their owners, the Dark Angels are beginning to win the angel wars.

The Rule Maker Grubalot has decreed that as a Mind Traveller, and Warrior of Light, she must free Prince Tiago and his main army of Cloud Riders from a terrible place, so they can fight the Dark Angels, kill the scowlers, and save the human race.

However, this is not all, she is told that she must continue her mother’s mission and collect the pieces of the Dove of Peace, however the next piece is in a place soon to disappear forever!

As Uncle Hugo sets off with Rosie to Larkin Cottage in Southwold, Suffolk, for their holidays, little does he know that he is fulfilling his role in the plan, for the cottage has stood there for hundreds of years, and it, and its inhabitants have their own special part to play.

Soon Rosie is travelling through Mind Space again with the aid of her magic talismans, advice from her mother’s diaries, and her Three Musketeers (Charlie, Oliver and French boy Jean-Paul). However on their quest Rosie soon discovers that the mission and the researching her school project about the Battle of Sale Bay have combined, and have become a terrifying real life adventure.

Can the brave explorers find Princess Lavinia, her baby, and a piece of the Dove of Peace?

Will they survive the dangers which lurks at every turn, as Gizeda, the Dark witch, and her minions try desperately to thwart their mission?

Find out the answers to these questions, and so many more in this exciting story where the war against good and evil rages and mysterious creatures roam the lands.

This book is the second book in this series by this talented author, its sequel is called The Mind Traveller, however it also stands alone.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Available from Amazon


Christmas for Joshua

by Avraham Arieli 

I loved the character of Rusty Dinwall from the very first page. He is a well-respected, compassionate man, a heart surgeon, and a loving husband and father.
Indeed, after falling in love with Rebecca, over twenty years before, he even renounced Christianity, embraced her Jewish faith, and is now president of his local Reform synagogue. A happy and contented man leading a devout life, and helping others.

This story begins on Thursday September 24th, it is Rosh Hashanah Eve (Jewish New Year). Rusty and his wife Rebecca are looking forward to a Skype call that evening from their daughter Deborah who is away at university, and cannot join them for the celebrations. However, Deborah is not alone when she makes the call, and introduces them to her future husband Mordechai, an Orthodox Jew.

Deborah and Mordechai announce that they will be marrying on 20th December in New York, and then coming back to her home in Arizona for their honeymoon.

Although initially surprised at the swiftness of the wedding, Rusty and Rebecca arrive in New York excited at the forthcoming celebrations.

With their daughter happy and radiant nothing, it would seem could possibly spoil such a perfect day, that is, until Rabbi Mintzberg arrives. When the elderly orthodox Rabbi announces Rusty is a shaygetz (not a full Jew), Rusty is shocked at his words, and dismayed at the ramifications they will have on such a special day.

Reeling from the repercussions, hurt, confused and surprised at the reactions of those around him, he suddenly discovers that religious intolerance is evident even within the same faith. Searching for answers, and pondering his past, Rusty decides that he is going to make the young couples celebration of their marriage in his local Reform synagogue, a night to remember, which it is, in more ways than one…

As a parent, it is easy to understand both Rusty and Rebecca’s reactions, and ways of coping to the news of Deborah’s rapid marriage, and her decision to become an Orthodox Jew. Their natural reaction is to protect her but as an adult does she need their protection?

This book highlights very clearly how hard things can be for mixed faith families at special occasions, specific times of the year, and at family celebrations, which should be happy. However it also celebrates the strength of marriage, and commitment couples should make to each other.

This book is very different to the other spy thrillers I have read by this talented author, however, I have to say it is simply a wonderful story which is uplifting, yet heart rendering at the same time, and I would highly recommend it, whatever religion you follow.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Available from Amazon


Making The Elephant Man: A Producer’s Memoir

By Jonathan Sanger

Who cannot remember watching the award winning film called The Elephant Man, and, if they are truthful, the horrific fascination, and strong emotions it evoked? This is quite simply an incredible film which chronicles the life and experiences of John (Joseph) Merrick, cruelly labelled ‘The Elephant Man’ because of deformities which started to materialise at about 5 years of age, and which he had to live with throughout his short life.

Written by the producer, Jonathon Sanger, this book tells the story of how this film, the first he ever produced, came to be.

From the moment he first read the script Jonathon immediately felt strongly that it was a story which had to be told on screen. With the backing of Mel Brooks who helped finance the film through his new company Brooksfilms, The Elephant Man got the green light and the search for production staff and actors began.

Jonathon’s enthusiasm for this story was infectious, and with the creative and artistic talents of David Lynch as Director, it is fascinating to discover how the film was shot and how they came to cast so many famous actors, and talented artists.

Anyone who has seen it cannot fail to be moved by it. Unusually, for the time it was filmed in black and white, which dramatically adds to the atmosphere. I can imagine anyone interested in the film industry will be fascinated to reading how, through diligent searching and an eye for detail, Jonathon and David managed to find the cobbled streets, and hospital buildings, needed as sets, and learn how with special clever photography they ensured the perfect ambience needed to recreate Victorian London at that time.

Jonathon has, throughout this book been extremely frank about the relationships between production staff, cast members, actors, and crew, in the making and filming of The Elephant Man which is refreshing, and this honesty gives the reader and any would-be member of the industry a glimpse into what life in this line of work is really like.

The impact of this film continues however, past its premier, in that not only has it received many awards, but it has also affected how people perceive disability, and has helped organisations which work with people suffering from disabilities.

Since this, his first production, Jonathon Sanger has produced and directed many films, and also given other film professionals the chance to direct their own films through the Chanticleer Film company.

The testament to this film, and why this book was written has been summed up by the man himself, as he says in the preface, when asked what his most challenging accomplishment had been as a film producer, “it was my first film as ‘producer, The Elephant Man, that set the bar high enough that I felt I could accomplish anything.” After reading this statement, who could resist such an amazing story?

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

The Time Traveler 7: The Time Traveler’s Son

by Joe Corso


 This book starts another chapter in the exciting Time Traveler series. It is spring in the 12th century and we find Lucky’s young 6 year old son Robert in the castle gardens, waiting for the chance to enjoy special time with his father. The bond between father and son is very close, and it is closer still when Robert reveal to his father that he can see sparkles, and Lucky realises that his son has inherited his father’s gift for seeing portals into other times in history.
Lucky recognises that it is important that Robert learns to respect the portals in due time, when he is old enough, however, for now, he needs to understand the danger they can put him in. Obediently Robert listens to his father’s words, and agrees never to go through one, until his father decides the time is right and takes him.

A year later, with the agreement of his wife, the Princess Krystina, Lucky is just about to take Robert on his first trip through the portal when there is an emergency at the palace, the King is ill. Lucky decides he has no choice but to take the King with them to the 21st century and seeking emergency help.

Well of course, young Robert is amazed at the 21st century the televisions, light, iphones, electricity and even has a ride in a car, everything is so magical to him. However soon the adventure takes a dark twist as Micky and Robert are kidnapped, by three men, trying to locate Lucky.

In fear of their lives, and needing to escape, Robert disobeys his father and takes Micky through a portal, and thus begins an amazing adventure. It leads them to the spot where the famous aviator brothers Wilber, and Orville Wright are trying out their flying machine, and Lucky catches up with them there.

Deciding not to go back through the same portal the trio start an amazing journey, leapfrogging through time and across continents, meeting famous people through history, like Alexander Dumas, and Queen Elizabeth I, and actually witnessing first hand world changing events like the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

A thrilling adventure for a young boy, certainly, however, sometimes he finds himself alone, facing real dangers, having to use his wits to survive, and needing his mother, as any young boy would.

I love the ‘Time Traveler’ series of stories, however, this book can stand alone. The bond between father and son is wonderful, and the clever links between time, events and historical figures make it not only an enjoyable book to read, but also very interesting.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Dynomike: Talent Show Time

by Frankie B Rabbit
Product Details

I loved reading Dynomike: Talent Show Time with my grandsons! It tells the story of what happens when a teacher puts up a poster for a talent show at school. It is asking for entrants who have all sort of talents, and it gets Dynomike and his friends thinking.

Each one ponders on what a great chance it is to show off their special talent, and win a prize! Out comes their competitive spirit, and they start working out what THEY can do, and how THEY can win. They are all very talented in their own special ways, and each is sure they are the best.

This sets Dynomike thinking, he takes himself off and is sad, it’s a pity that there has to losers for there to be winners. How much better it would be if they could all win!

So, he gets all his friends together, and tells them his plan.

But will his friends be interested?

Do they want to work together, and can they?

All is revealed on Talent Show night, when we find out what happens, and who steals the show.

This series of books is very special because it shows children, through wonderful rhyme, and beautifully eye-catching illustrations, using the lovable characters of Dynomike and his friends, the importance of friendship, support and team work, in many different situations.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Available from Amazon

Okay Okay

by Fred Krebsbach

Product Details

In November 1968, Fred Krebsbach had just turned twenty-one, he had finished his education with a tech degree in engineering, and was looking forward to a bright future. However the US military had other plans, the war in Vietnam needed soldiers and he was called up for draft.
Before leaving for basic training, his uncle Gene, a WWII veteran advised him to take something which would give him comfort, with him, and he chose his First Communion rosary, something which would sustain him through the months of conflict.

After he had completed his training, he left his homeland for the Tan Son Nhut Republic of South Vietnam. Thus began his tour of duty in that hell hole, where for nearly seven long months he served as an M-60 machine gunner.

The author freely admits that he was changed in irrevocable ways, and reading his story, how can he not have been. Fighting the Viet Cong, and the North Vietnamese Army under terrible conditions, losing many of his ammo bearers to booby traps, and for me, one of the saddest things was that they never said hello, because then they would never have to say goodbye…

The detailed descriptions of army life in Vietnam, and how he survived it, is absorbing reading. I was amazed to discover that captured, and rehabilitated Viet Cong, were used by the army as Tiger Scouts, and sent out in front of the soldiers to find the booby traps, punji pits, daisy chains and explosives set by their ex-comrades.

The author says that hearing WWII veterans say that they wish they had talked to their family more, has been an important factor in his decision to writing this book. I can understand this as my own Granddad was a WWII veteran who was lost, presumed dead. In fact my Grandmother was told he was dead by the British War Office. Then he turned up in Australia a couple of years after the war had ended. Apparently, he had been taken there, having been released, he had been tortured, and it was that long before they could discover his identity. I remember, he never, ever, talked about his experiences.

It must have taken a lot of courage for the author to put these words down on paper, to search is memories, trace people, and diagnose the effect on his life of those months.

Yes he came back alive, and despite sustaining injury, in one piece. However the man who returned was totally different from the ‘boy’ who left his home to fight for his country.

He married Marcia, has had children, and grandchildren, he was one of the lucky ones, thousands did not. Because of this, he wanted to put pen to paper to explain in real terms the true cost of war, both mentally and physically.

Thank you Fred.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Available from Amazon

My First Home

by Shashank Shekhar

Product Details

“There’s security in bricks and mortar,” my Dad said to me when I was buying my first house, many years ago, and the phrase is still as true today. As was pointed out to me, if you rent forever the place is never your own, and the owner of the property continues to be paid, however the money on a mortgage will decline, and seem easier as the years go by, until your home is 100% your own.

The author of this excellent book has a wealth of experience in this field and offers a tremendous amount of unbiased advice to the reader.

Not only does he take you through the whole process, from the moment you decide you might like to own your own home, till completion and even afterwards, but he also looks at each step objectively with you in mind.

Whether you are unsure as to if your credit score is good enough, if there are tax benefits, how much money you would have to put down, if any, the answers are there.

Are you even sure you are ready to take this huge step?

Or are you not sure, do you want to know more?

Do you need qualification of what will be involved, and how it will affect your life in the future?

Look no further, all the answers lie within these pages.

If your current status is not as you wish, there are plenty of options, on all steps of the path to home ownership, which will help you steer round the obstacles, or at least know what you have to do to overcome them.

Can you save easily, or do you have difficulty in putting money aside for one reason or the other, well advice is offered on how to do this, and where to put the money you are saving.

Then finally, when you are ready the author takes you through the whole process. The attention to detail, each step of the way can help you decide what to do. The author explains to you the pros and cons of working with a Realtor, Mortgage Broker, Bank Loan Officer, and if you chose to do so, how to choose one.

Then he takes you through the search for your dream home, pointing out that location, an urban or rural setting for example, is the prime thing, after all as he says “you can remodel the house and pretty much change everything; but you can’t change the location.”

You may have fixed ideas, but even if this is so, it is worth reading the comparisons between different types of homes and also consider as he says, the things which you would like to have versus the things you must have. This is perhaps especially important if you are buying a property with your partner/spouse, as you may find you have different ideas, such as, your wife may want secretly to have another baby and so that extra room which you think of as a ‘like to have,’ may be a ‘must have,’ to her.

Once you have found your perfect home the author will help you through the mine field of purchasing it, in detail, from making the offer to closing the transaction, explaining what things such as appraisals, home Inspections, insurance, and warranties are, why you should or should not have them.

Until, finally you are set to move into in your new home, where he advises you who you must tell you are moving in.

Of course, once settled, you will have other things to think about, perhaps you may be considering changing the style of décor, or even paying off the mortgage sooner…

I found My First Home incredibly comprehensive, and anyone looking to buy their first home would find it priceless.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Available from Amazon