As book 4 will be released very soon, I will be posting extracts of the first three books as a reminder of the journey so far beginning with the first novel which was released in 2007: The Dragon Realm Chronicles ‘Stefan Lowe’ The Devil, the Angel and the Carpenter’s Son. Please visit the Books and Art page to purchase the entire book.

Chapter 5 (partial chapter)

That evening on the walk home Stefan engrossed himself in a magazine article about a Van Gogh painting which had recently been purchased for $100m. “That has got to be nice!” he muttered.
He reached the steps of St John’s Tower and pulled the door towards him, quickly glancing up to see if someone was walking through. However the glance was not long enough as if it had been, then he would have seen the young lady on the other side of the glass that was doing exactly the same. They unavoidably collided, but there was no collision of heads or loss of contents from a dropped bag, which often happened in such situations. The young lady had also been reading an article which, after their impact, had dropped onto a bronze dragon statue sat at the entrance of the tower’s doorway.  They both stood staring at each other then Stefan remembered his manners and stood to one side to let her pass. She smiled and thanked him but then paused in the doorway giving him an interrogatory stare. Stefan realised that she was the woman he had seen the night before in the tower opposite his. It was clear she was thinking the same as he. 

“You live in this building, don’t you, opposite my flat?” she asked.

“Err…yes” he replied. He felt hesitant wondering what she was thinking of him, how could he convince her that he hadn’t intentionally been staring at her the evening before, they were just there at the same time. 

“My name is Sarah,” she said confidently holding out her hand.

“Stefan,” he said taking it to complete the gesture.

“Pleased to meet you Stefan,” the instant their hands touched it was like trepidation of force pulling him back. Stefan felt like he was descending at great velocity and when it slowed his mind was filled with inexplicable images. In that split second Stefan was shown visions of a man being dragged away by two others dressed in some sort of armour or battle uniform. Their uniforms and swords displayed a red cross. Their capture was yelling, trying to resist their vigour by dropping to his knees. Stefan could feel the man’s terror and anguish.  

His apparition was broken when Sarah uncomfortably took her hand away. She paused for a moment assessing his reaction, but then interrupted. Stefan was slightly arched over trying to catch his breath.

“My landlord said I should pass these documents to you. I was just coming from your office,” she held out a large brown envelope. Stefan regained composure and took the papers. “Also here is six weeks rent money. I am hoping to be moving on after that.” She passed him a smaller envelope.

“Thanks.” He felt unexpectedly disappointed, happy that he was being paid but sad that she would not be staying longer. 

“I’m new to this area, I was wondering if you could tell me what’s good here?”

“I could show you around if you like?”

“Yes, if it’s not too much trouble?”

“It is no trouble at all…in fact it would be my pleasure,” he slightly smiled.

“Brilliant, is tomorrow night too soon?”

“No…not at all, shall we meet out here say 8 o’clock?”

“Ok see you then.” She started to walk towards her building when Stefan noticed her magazine still draped over the head of the dragon statue. 

“Sarah, you dropped this,” he picked it up and noticed the article she had been reading was about modern dream studies. He flipped the front page over to see it was a psychology magazine. She quickly took it from him. 

“Thanks…interesting statue,” she said gesturing to the dragon.

“Yes, it used to be on top of this building; there were three more as well one for each building.”

“Were they all dragons?”

“No, one was a serpent; another was Christ on the cross; and one was a variation of the devil, I think.” “Interesting, where are they now?”

“My mother distributed them to museums and auction houses when I was very young. I always liked the dragon so she kept it.” Sarah smiled and then looked at her watch. 

“Oh is that the time, I’m sorry Stefan I have to be at work in half an hour. I will see you tomorrow. Have a good evening.” 

“You too. Bye.” She briskly walked back to her apartment tower glancing over her shoulder to wave goodbye. He reciprocated until he saw his reflection in the glass of the door, he tutted and rolled his eyes at himself. 

“Look at me, acting like some bloody high school geek who just got his first date…” he muttered.


A mixed bag post this time. In the office, October was security awareness month. Even though the processes and procedures should be practiced on a daily basis, it is always good to remind ourselves why we do this. Of course when you are trying to gain access to your phone quickly, and you have a 2-step passcode set up, I wont lie, it becomes very frustrating!

My issue is not with the complexity or elongated process of inputting the password, it is using a touchscreen to do it with. I may have said this once or twice, but I hate touchscreens! They are so unbelievably counter-productive. I need to be sending quick email responses in seconds, not minutes and the differences between a hard keyboard and a touchscreen when typing are severe in comparison. With a hard keyboard my proofing tome is minimal. A few years ago, some colleagues and I worked out when they changed our phones from Blackberry to iPhone, it took six times longer to respond to emails Six times! This is significant when we receive 50+ plus emails per hour that have to be actioned. Decreasing productivity, means the tool is inefficient.

Well it was inevitable, but I recently had to change from Blackberry to a Samsung S7 Edge. This is my morning commute:

Device: ‘Incorrect password’ 

Me: “poxy phone”

Device: ‘Incorrect password’ 

Me: “ffs”

Device: ‘Incorrect password’ 

Me: “I hate you, you stupid phone”.

If I’m really annoyed then I launch the phone across the room. Needless to say that by the time I get to work, I’m really in a pleasant mood. Therefore, I have reached the conclusion that touchscreens were not made for productivity, or those with severe dermatitis, because I can’t set up the fingerprint recognition to access my phone either.

Next stop is a clip on keyboard for the phone. Watch this space.

But I digress. 

Back to security, I have been subject to Hello Kitty desktop backgrounds before, normally without my authorisation, due to leaving my computer unlocked in my professional work environment. Many times my colleagues of the past have had emails sent on their behalf, when they have left their screens open, but in all of the gest, it does send a clear message, we need to keep our data private especially as many firms have chosen to go paperless. If a fraudster was trying to obtain details, their only option is to go for electronic devices.

On the topic of electronic devices, it is worth knowing your company procedures and what you should do in the event of your mobile devices being stolen or lost. This is not just the case with work data, but also personal. Everyone is at risk. If you need to do work on the move, make sure you use privacy screens and make sure your passwords are not set to briefly show as you type. With touchscreens (as – elegantly listed above), it can take several attempts to type in a password. If the characters are on preview while typing, someone only has to be standing over your shoulder paying attention on the train.

Also, while most office doors are card key locked, you can still get tailgaters and how many of us are really happy about shouting “stranger danger”, not many I’m guessing.

The GDPR (General Data Protection Rules) will be coming into place soon, and while many are not expected to know them off by heart, unless that is your job of course, a good understanding of data protection in general is good to know particularly if you are sharing every post and every picture you take online. Find out how accessible you are, keep your data safe as that can be used in identity left, and be careful of wi-fi devices and webcams as these can be used in reverse.

As book 4 will be released in the next month, I will be posting extracts of the first three books as a reminder of the journey so far beginning with the first novel which was released in 2007: The Dragon Realm Chronicles ‘Stefan Lowe’ The Devil, the Angel and the Carpenter’s Son. Please visit the Books and Art page to purchase the entire book.4

Chapter 4

Stefan awoke the next morning feeling the cold December weather. He wanted so desperately to stay in his warm bed, but after convincing himself that there was no real reason to justify it, he managed to get up and stumble sleepy-eyed towards the bathroom. 

Stefan was not a morning person, he could stay up and work through the night with flawless energy, but mornings were definitely not his thing, especially when the weather was this cold. 

He would have been much happier in his warm comfortable bed even though he reminded himself again that there was no real reason for him to stay there. Had there been that attractive blonde who just moved into the building opposite, then that would be another story, but the likelihood of that happening this morning was slim, so he might as well get ready for work.  

He stood at his bathroom sink brushing his teeth, eyes still half closed, fighting the morning grogginess and the chill he was receiving from the non-insulated floor. Even though the hot shower was bellowing steam around him he was still no warmer, but this was normal for Stefan; he was more of a cold-blooded mammal. While others were walking around in short sleeved shirts, he would still be wearing a jacket.  

The mirror on the bathroom cabinet was now fully covered by steam and he could barely see his reflection. He reached towards the left hand side of the sink, to the usual spot where his shaving foam stood, but all he was greeted with was air, as in his daze he missed the canister completely. He sighed and went to grab it again but instead knocked it into the sink. His morning fatigue had yet to fade, and now he also had to contend with the rattling sound of his shaving foam canister rolling up and down the bowl. The high pitch rattling was deafening. He tried again to reach for the canister but failed miserably.  

“Damn thing, what the hell is wrong with me!” he muttered. Then frustration took over, he assertively grabbed the canister successfully and replaced it on the side of the sink.  

He carried on brushing his teeth and then began to look for his razor. As the sound of the rolling canister had been extinguished all that was to be heard was the running water in the shower and Stefan’s slight movements. However, in the midst of this he kept turning around to look over his shoulder. He had the feeling that someone was watching him, or that he was not alone. 

He kept muttering to himself to make the atmosphere more comfortable. 

With no success in locating his razor he opened the cabinet door and picked out a disposable one, but when he closed it again he saw a dark figure in the reflection of the glass quickly flicker past the gap between the bathroom door and the frame. 

Stefan caught a glimpse of three black pointed fingers release their grip from the side of the door frame. He spun around quickly, but there was nothing. 

A streak of terror surged through him. His heart fluttered and then began to beat faster. He listened for any foreign movements coming from outside the bathroom but the only sound he could hear was running water and his shallow breaths. In the split second sighting he had dropped his toothbrush and razor. He stepped over them and walked slowly over to the bathroom door. 

There was a tapping sound clipping his wooden panelled floor in the hallway; he then heard the creak of his bedroom door opening. Without thinking he hastily proceeded through the bathroom door to the direction of his bedroom. By now he had completely forgotten about being cold, the adrenaline coursing through his body and the speed at which his heart was pumping had superseded it.  He looked around his bedroom door before entering, there was no movement but the room’s temperature had fallen considerably. 

He walked in and saw an open window welcoming in the cold winter air. He knew it had been closed and locked all night so he cautiously walked around the bed to close it. Before doing so, he briefly looked out but there was nothing abnormal to be seen just a picturesque winter’s morning.  

Still sceptical that something might still be in his room he looked around as he shut the window. 

As he turned back to the window, he saw three narrow lines, around four to five inches in length, imprinted next to one another on the glass. Upon closer reflection the imprints showed detailed circular lines in the centre, which could only be attributed to the unmistakable characteristics of fingerprints. 

Stefan stared for a moment in disbelief then locked up the window. Feeling even more unsettled than before, he quickly went back into the bathroom, and carried on with his ablutions, before hastily exiting the apartment to go to work.

We (Jack, Monster and I), disappeared for nearly a week to Sherwood Forest for a well earned break. A lot of things have happened over the past year, and it is not just the appearance of Monster, there have been new jobs, new ventures and new publications. This all takes time and a lot of work is carried out in balancing two full time jobs and childcare. Anyone in the same position will tell you, that coordinating childcare can be a full tine job in itself, and Monster has a variation (i.e. the childminder Savannah, my mother Dana, Jack and I). So Monster even at 18 months deserved a holiday too.

Well as always, it didn’t go as swimmingly as it could have. I have been working long hours which meant minimal time to pack, and I am surprised we actually made it there with all necessities. Jack and I have always been of the mindset that anything we need can be picked up along the way, except when you have a Monster that means carrying twice the amount of items we would usually take. However, we are frugal packers, we don’t over-pack, but with regards to Monster, if we are staying somewhere for 5 days, we will pack 8 days worth of clothes.

This came in handy when Monster threw up their body weight in the car on the way to Lucky 6 (I will explain more about them in a moment). This meant a slight detour and pit stop while I changed Monster fully, and Jack cleaned the car seat, the back seats, some of the car’s exterior – I have no idea how it got there either, but the way I kook at it, the lining of the car seat needed to be taken out anyway because Monster had outgrown it, so two birds, one stone.

What didn’t help the situation, was that I was feeling a tad sorry for myself because I had got my contact lense stuck in my eye the night before, so as well as nursing a headache, I was also dealing with a rough stomach by the end of that. But of course Monster felt much better afterwards so all was well.

Children are so up and down.

We stopped off at Lucky6 who deal with van conversions. Those who remember the Rogue Run days will recall Jack and I owned a van that we used to drive around Europe a few times a year. The short story is that the van blew up in Italy and even after 2 years of trying to put it right, we had to call it a day. The van is still in circulation, and giving its new owner hell on occasion, but we have decided to go for something bigger, given that we have an additional passenger now. Watch this space more updates to come.

We reached the cabin that evening and watched Monster run up and down the long floor space for an hour or so. Then we did something that is a rarity, we relaxed. Though this was short lived as Monster had a stomach upset overnight, you can now see how the clothes were rapidly going down, and with Monster you have to get them settled and back to sleep quickly, otherwise they are up for the rest of the night.

Guess what happened.

We made sure the second day was quiet and had no driving involved, on the third day, we went trekking in Sherwood Forest, we got Monster out of their pushchair so they could run around and what looked to be a minor fall ended up with a rather large lump on the side of Monster’s head. Needless to say it hadn’t been their holiday up until that point. It also meant carry them back to the cabin because they were so distressed. My back wasn’t having a holiday either, and while Jack was taking pictures of Monster’s war wound, there was me considering whether I should cut them in a fringe to cover it.

With regards to tourist attractions, it really is slim picking around there. We actually stayed in Sherwood Forest which had incredible scenery, but we thought Nottingham castle would be a good place to go to find out the actual story of Robin Hood.

The castle was 45 minutes away and there was nowhere to park (well not unless you wanted to spend a fortune), so that didn’t happen. Given that is was a Wednesday, I was not expecting there to be a beer festival on, which didn’t help. That was rather disappointing, but at the same time I wasn’t too unhappy about not finding out about Robin Hood. Visiting Lockness ruined the Lockness Monster for me, so it could have been a good thing.

Overall, if you want a nice break away Sherwood Forest is an amazing and peaceful place, unless you take a toddler (only joking). It was great hearing Monster learn new words and run around the forest to explore. In the evening, Jack and I spent some time in the hot tub, mainly to get rid of our aches and pains from the day, and being a night swimmer I have always found it majestic being in the water and looking up at the stars at night. In the middle of a forest, well the sci-fi author in me couldn’t help but recall X-Files and some aliens in forests films I had seen. Then my mind wondered if there are wolves in the forest. But looking up through the tall narrow trees soon put that to ease. If I had seen something move, I cannot confirm or deny whether I would have run back into the cabin or not.

As if the night views weren’t magical enough, the sunsets and sunrises were also worth the camera and tripod setup.

You know it is a good holiday when you are sad to leave the place and go back home. Jack and I have always been of the mindset that we want to travel the world, which likely means only visiting a place once or twice, Sherwood Forest is definitely going to be on our revisit list.

As for teaching Monster about Robin Hood, well I bought the Disney DVD and went from there.

As book 4 will be released in the next month, I will be posting extracts of the first three books as a reminder of the journey so far beginning with the first novel which was released in 2007: The Dragon Realm Chronicles ‘Stefan Lowe’ The Devil, the Angel and the Carpenter’s Son. Please visit the Books and Art page to purchase the entire book.


Having failed to find a book, Stefan embraced the inevitable and sat with all of his financial papers spread out on the dining room table. 
“What to do…” he said aloud. He couldn’t afford to buy the other towers but of the same time he so desperately didn’t want to leave the Estate. He was content where he was, the crime rate was low, it was easy to get to work from, he had lived at the Estate all of this life. 
There had only been two temporary occasions when it wasn’t his home, and that was when he was at university, and the short time he was married. But most importantly, the Estate kept the memory of his mother alive. It had sentimental value above everything. 
Stefan’s mother died four years prior from what was described as ‘unexplained causes’. She had always been in good health but one day she collapsed and was rushed to hospital. The doctors could not determine her condition they concluded it was severe fatigue. Five days later she passed away.  
At the same time of her admittance into hospital, Stefan was submerged in a large case and had not been outside of the office in days. Then one evening he received a telephone call from one of the doctors at the hospital urging him to come quickly. His mother had taken a turn for the worse, and by the time he had got there it was too late.
“Stress can cause a lot of problems which may hide underlying illnesses…” one doctor said. ‘…It seems her body gave up’.  
Stefan recalled entering the room after the doctors gave him the bad news – her lifeless body laying on the hospital bed in complete tranquillity, her face supporting a slight smile like she was at peace.  Stefan could not understand why this had happened. 
After the first day of her admittance the doctors said her condition had improved and they were making arrangements for her to be moved to the hospice wing. Even though Stefan had been told by the doctors (and on numerous occasions by family and friends), that it was just one of those things, he still felt there was more to her death than met the eye.  
There was not a day that went by where he questioned the situation. He felt he could have done more or called someone. He could have received a second opinion, acted on his own initiative, and then maybe she would still be alive today. He refused to believe that the situation couldn’t have somehow been avoided, but back then he was a very different person. He was consumed with the prestige and the power of the corporate world. He was constantly working unsociable hours and took for granted things that he thought would be there forever – but this was not through will of his own. 

The legal world was competitive; if you only gave half of yourself to it, you may as well not have bothered.   
Stefan sat at his dining room table sifting through his papers not really paying much attention to the endless rows of figures. He knew it was hopeless; he did not have enough money to buy the rest of the towers and he knew the other landlords would sell if the price was right. Rumour had it the price was more than right however, he had an undying curiosity as to why there was a strong interest for the Estate. 
He guessed it was only a matter of time before reasoning revealed itself.

That was a long drawn out title of the current chaos my life happens to be.

With the completion of SwimFor2k and the final marathon swim of the year approaching, I am reminded of a swim I had to bail out of last month.

Overall, it sucks being a woman at times – there I said it. Normally I don’t begrudge destiny for dealing me with the, in my opinion, unlucky gender card, but there are other times I just find it so annoying.

I am sure you have heard this rant before, women being the stronger species because we can make life, and we have certain equipment, that is why we have the power (of Grayskull), well that’s poppy cock!

I do not think we are stronger, I think we had a delayed reaction when volunteering for the good stuff, and we post empowering messages to try and make ourselves feel better. After all, there is nothing great about having a monthly inconvenience, particularly if you are athletic, and how can people say childbirth is beautiful? I honestly don’t know why, if you have been through it once, you voluntarily go through the process again. I mean, we are in the 21st century, why hasn’t anyone developed the technology to beam them out yet?

Did Gene Roddenberry ‘s endeavours not inspire anyone in the healthcare profession?

But alas the reason for my rant is because of certain monthly inconveniences, and post-childbirth recovery (yes one can take years to recover, do not pay attention to the internet), and it has cost me another swim, and one I was really really looking forward to.

It wasn’t a race, it was more of a leisure swim around Hever Castle and the first with the influence of Outdoor Swimmer.

Hopefully next year 😦

And for all those who are saying, if you suffer that bad why not get something done about it, well if there was something that could be done, I would have definitely done it by now.

I can’t complain overall though, even though I am doing a good job of it I know, I am nearly back up to my distances and speeds only 18 months after having Monster. Granted when I get to the lido, I feel like I have already carried out a marathon, and often look like I have been dragged through a hedge backwards with my kit (i.e. cap is on diagonally, I am fighting to detangle my underwater MP3 player, my straps on my goggles keep loosening), and the swim itself in the morning can normally only last up to 45 minutes. But without sounding like I want the moon on a stick, overall, I am lucky – like most humans, I just forget sometimes.

It is getting to that time of year when the pools are much less crowded, which means I get a lane and the lovely cold water to (virtually) myself, and in the mornings, I get to swim to the sun rising which I love.

I’m still very happy with my MP3 player, it is one of the best I have owned for years, but I am having trouble with earbuds, they tend to let water in, but that is easily rectified. Music for most is a stress relief and I couldn’t imagine swimming without it now.

On the subject of music, I am not sure if it was a reflex of perhaps drinking one night, or if I just missed it, but the relaunch of Lotus Magma Magazine is in place. The new site, with all new scripts and snazzy look has been launched and at present there are legacy articles from the old magazine on display.

In fact, I think it was due to drink because I remember pulling the old LM back up databases whilst drinking rum. Like most tech-people ‘in the zone’ I was drinking at my desk, coding and exporting/importing the old database and sipping my drink at the same time. I must have been doing a lot of sipping because when Jack came home from work that evening he found me laughing at the printer.

I don’t know what it did, but clearly, I found it funny.

More details regarding the relaunch of Lotus Magma will following shortly. In the meantime, the JustGiving page is still open for SwimFor2k for the Marine Conservation Society and look out for further details for my final swim of 2017.

.. insert bodily function of your choosing to finish the title.

In my infinite wisdom, and my increased hatred of glasses, I decided to move over to contact lenses a few weeks ago.

Since having Monster 18 months ago, I found that my sight has not only got worse, but as a result, I am more dependant upon my glasses, which give me a headache. The prescription is fine, what causes my discomfort are the frames, I don’t like anything on my face.

I had great delight in explaining to the optometrist that up until that point my use of contact lenses was strictly limited to Comicon (i.e. novelty lenses), so I had some experience of them, but not with daily use. Well it didn’t take long to realise that daily contact lenses come with their disadvantages.

Following the trials, I chose to go with monthly contacts instead of dailies, mainly due to the cost. I know I’m tight with money but that’s me.

With monthly contacts you receive 3 pairs just in case of accidents, they clearly had someone like me in mind when designing them, because in the first week I lost one on the train (it is probably still travelling to or from the city right now), I then broke another, luckily it was the opposing eye, then another one was damaged, I lost another one, again the opposing eye, the contact just jumped out while I was walking around my office, this left me with just one pair. I decided to stop using the plastic tweezers, and resided myself to the fact that I had to be careful for the rest of the month.

On that note, I purchased an awesome combined contact lens and glasses case, it has everything you need, albeit a little heavy, but works like a charm.

The contact drama was the week leading up to our break away in Sherwood Forest. It was to be a well deserved getaway as Jack and I were running on reserve fuel, what with full time work, marathon training, I was about to release another book, and of course Monster rearing. Jack was clearly feeling fatigued as well as while I was trying to negotiate my swim kit one morning, as it was fighting back, as well as the contact lenses that did not want to go in,  Jack returned home twice to pick up the items he had forgotten, luckily none of them were Monster, and the I had to call him back for a third time as I had left my purse and train ticket in Monster’s bag.

I keep telling Monster they are doomed.

More details on Sherwood Forest to come…