29 November 2012

The Thursday (Fun) Thought

Stolen from my friend Vara on Facebook - who no doubt stole it from someone else... who stole it from....

well, you get the picture! :-)




27 November 2012

Reviewing the Reviewers’ Reviews. (Tuesday Talk)


The subject of “reviews” or rather, Amazon Comments, came up the other day. (I think on Facebook, can’t remember where.) The gist was: how useful are these Amazon reviews?

I personally take little notice of the 5 star and 1 star comments, the 5’s can often be “friends and family”, the 1’s are usually troll-ish rants. I look at the 4 stars first, and I  usually only award 4 stars for my own comments – the 5’s, as far as I’m concerned, are the outstanding novels that I will want to read again and again, my favourites, while the 4 stars are the darn good reads.

I will also state here that I am more than happy to get 4 star reviews for my books (though I do like the 5 stars! LOL)

Out of curiosity I decided to look at the reviews for my first novel The Kingmaking which I originally had accepted for publication nearly twenty years ago. Partly, I wish I hadn’t as the one star rants from the US “reviewers” are a bit hurtful, but I swallowed that down and read through objectively.


On Amazon.com  for this novel I’ve got (at time of writing this article) six 1 star comments and twenty-six 5 stars. In the UK I have seven 5’s  and one 4 – that’s all. (Hmm no trolls in the UK?) What struck me, though - outside of the fact that these people obviously did not like the book (fair enough, each to their own) -  was the uselessness of these lower star rants because most of these reviewers had completely missed the point about the novel: I deliberately set out to portray King Arthur as a non-Christian goody-goody, and to not stick to the more familiar traditional tales.

This seems to have been less understood in the US than the UK – perhaps UK readers are more open to change? I do also think that UK readers are not so squeamish about violence in historical fiction, be it on the battlefield or towards women. I have had American readers’ comments that state, “The battles were too realistic and descriptive.” While another comment could proclaim, “Hollick knows nothing of battles, she has no sense of what a real battle was like.” (Er… has anyone got a real idea of what battles in the Dark Ages were like?)

I have also found that American readers are not too keen on scenes of rape or the fact that women in the past were often wedded (and bedded) at twelve or thirteen years of age. Perhaps a UK reader’s perspective of history is more ingrained in us then some American readers?
UK readers also do not seem so bothered about the pedantics of whether a comma is in the right place or not, nor do we seem too affected by Point of View Changes. Is this because our use of English English is somewhat different from American English I wonder?

Here are a few examples of the differences of opinion:

“…We learn that Arthur isn't a great military leader, doesn't have much of a sense of honor, drinks a lot, and is a horrible womanizer.”

And

“Most frustrating for the reader with some knowledge of the Arthurian tradition is the way in which this tradition has been utterly abandoned, then replaced with nothing of real value. The spiritual Arthur, the chivalric Arthur, the noble Arthur, the sleeping Arthur whose legend inspires hope for the British people are all gone. In their place is a greedy warlord who aspires to little more than women, power, booze, and, did I mention, women?
The only saving grace in this story is that this Arthur is probably closer to the historical figure (if he actually existed) than most of the fictions we enjoy today. But beyond supposition, there's little evidence that establishes this version over those it seeks to replace. There's nothing gained by supplanting an inspiring fictional character with one who may be closer to the texture of the warlords who lived in fifth and sixth century Britain without, at least, some evidence that the new version is reasonably accurate.”

Or

“There is no legend here, no vision. Power and money alone don't last. Hollicks' Arthur is nothing but another petty warlord, no different from any of history's other petty, brutal, unremembered warlords. The kind of lord no person in their right mind would follow once the gold runs out. Of course it's the author's right to spin such a tale - however, it rather misses the point of the Arthurian legends altogether.”

These reviewers /commenters have missed the point that
a) I researched and used the early Welsh legends of Arthur – which depict him as a rough, tough, not very likeable warlord (yes, complete with hitting women!)
b) Have missed the point that the Dark Ages were not nice times. Women got raped. Men went drinking and whoring. That’s the nitty-gritty truth of history folks.



Other readers thought the complete opposite of the above. As in:

“I much prefer this "real" Arthur to the "fairy tale" Arthur. What I like about historical fiction is that the people you read about were actually living, breathing human beings and that makes it so much easier to relate to their shortcomings or concerns or emotions. The Kingmaking was a fabulous novel, hard to put down and now on my list of all-time favorites! Helen Hollick's writing is fantastic and I am very much looking forward to reading the next two in the series!”

And

“Helen Hollick has refused to be constrained by the stereotypical Arthur we all know through legend - and of course TV! She has created a very different man and we get to know him, his life and loves, warts and all. This Arthur is very human and not always the good guy. This is a fascinating book. I'm now reading the second one of the trilogy. It's great fun getting to know all the characters and learn about their lives in 5th Century Britain. Thanks Helen!”

And

“Personally I found the book very refreshing and forward looking, if that can be said about a book that covers a period of time well over a thousand years ago. It coincided closely with my own feelings on what the Arthurian period may have been like. The book was certainly a million miles away from the Hollywood image of the period.”


So  are these reviews a balanced blend of differing opinions, or biased rants bordering on being nasty because I have dared to depict Arthur in a different light than the more normal Christian almost saint-like king? Are the opposing views useful or not? I suppose it depends on how you personally think of Arthur, and the content of my novel. If you prefer the chivalric king who would shudder at even a mild swear-word – and a reader who abhors even a hint of violence against women, then no, my books are not for you.

I have actually received hate-mail from American readers who have been less than pleasant with their choice of (very rude) words because my Arthur is not a Christian. (Mail from Good Christian People, I might add. As a Pagan I don’t particularly mind being assigned to Hell or threatened by the wrath of God though; I don’t believe in Hell or God.)

As interesting are the opposing views of my writing. These vary from:

“…. the tortured prose that suffuses most of Ms. Hollick's narrative …. prose that leaves the battlefield strewn with thousands of innocent and irrelevant descriptive phrases where simple and direct depictions of action could better help the reader to understand what is happening and why it's important.

And

"The Kingmaking is boring. It's like watching mediocre actors in a familiar story; we know the archetypes and the basic plot, but it's all written in a way that Hollick seems to think it should be written rather than with any actual effort behind it.”

Well yes, I did write it as I thought it should be written… isn’t that what individual authors do? It would be boring if we all wrote the same way wouldn’t it?



And on my accuracy of history, apparently I have no knowledge of the period:

“Without sufficient knowledge of the historical period, very little awareness of the warrior culture of which she would write, possessing unrefined writing skills, but with an apparently strong desire to explore the love story of Arthur and Gwenhwyfar (that's Guinevere to most of the rest of us), an inexperienced author bit off more than she was ready to chew. The result, unfortunately, was "The Kingmaking".

On the other hand:

“It was a rather fast read because it was action packed. I felt like this Arthur and Guinevere could really have existed. It's a novel set in the Dark Ages and remains faithful to the times, not the romanticized idea of King Arthur's Camelot. I recommend this book to anyone interested in Arthurian literature or historical fiction. It's not really a romance novel, as it has more battle and action than historical romance does. It's a highly enjoyable read.”

And

“Don't read this book (or any of the trilogy) expecting a tale of mystery, magic and Merlin. Rather a historian's view of what the real Arthur and Britain in the post-Roman, pre-Saxon age might have been like. This is a time when Rome has deserted the British and the English are only just arriving from 'Germany' bringing with them upheaval and a constant struggle for power. A time when 1000 soldiers is considered a major force and tribal and ethnic loyalties are constantly shifting. As in real life many people are looking to the past and the glory of Rome while others want to look to the future. Not as clear a distinction as it sounds. Dirt, death, tragedy and a nicely dispassionate view of life and death keeps the books rocking along even though they are quite substantial. I did manage to put it down but it did certainly keep me popping back as often as possible.”

A historian well versed in this period praised me in a review for the Historical Novel Society for my historical detail being superbly accurate, so I suppose the consensus of opinion is – reviews are not necessarily useful or helpful, because different readers have vastly different perspectives. Which is a good thing, because it would disastrous for Imaginative Fiction if all books - and the subsequent opinions of them - were all the same!



Meanwhile – if you’d like to add a comment about the Kingmaking (or any of my novels) onto Amazon, please do… as long as it’s a nice one LOL

My Amazon Author Page 

The Kingmaking available at an Amazon store near you: 
(US publisher Sourcebooks Inc)
(UK publisher Silverwood Books)
Originally published by William Heinemann. 



Full details of the Pendragon's Banner Trilogy HERE

soon to be published in German by Sadwolf

22 November 2012

Thanksgiving Day USA (the Thursday Thought)




With all best wishes to the 
United States of America 
for a 
Happy and Peaceful 
Thanksgiving




we do not celebrate Thanksgiving here in the UK - but everyone, everywhere in the world should find the time for a quiet moment of thought and be thankful for something, no matter how small, how apparently unimportant.

Even when things seem at their bleakest there is still something to be thankful for - your health, your friends, the sun that shines, the plants that grow...


Thank you, Great Spirit for all the wonderful people in my life; 
those I have met, and those I have yet to meet.



15 November 2012

To writers everywhere.... (The Thursday Thought)



Notice to all writers .....



(OK yes, I know...
                this includes me.... :)

13 November 2012

For Those In Peril On The Sea - Tuesday Talk

The Tragedy of the Bounty

There are, probably, three Tall Ships that are the most well known: The Cutty Sark, the Victory, and the Bounty - famed for the Mutiny on the Bounty.

Tragically, Bounty was lost at sea during the onslaught of hurricane Sandy. Bounty began taking on water on Sunday 28th October and lost power about 90 miles off the N.C. coast. Apparently the ship was taking on two feet of water an hour, when the crew abandoned her she had about ten feet of water on board.
The Captain remains missing. 

I wanted to write something as a tribute to Bounty's loss and for the members of her crew who drowned - not especially for the ship, as so much tragedy, destruction and death occurred because of the hurricane, but because my thoughts kept turning, again and again, to the hundreds (thousands perhaps?) of sailors who were lost at sea during the age of sail.

We do not know who most of them were - nor do we know how, when, why, or where they died. I assume somewhere there are logbooks of ships that set sail never to return, and there have been occasional wrecks found.

UK TV didn't seem to think the matter of the Bounty's loss  important enough for our news bulletins, and I do not read newspapers and so I discovered the loss somewhat late in the history of the Storm. 

This may be fanciful, but when I read of the Bounty on Facebook, my soul wept for all the widows of past sailors. I heard a joint cry of grief from all those voices from the past. I do not know why, but I have an affinity with the sea - for my own novels the Sea Witch Voyages I just seem to "know" a lot of the nautical information. My paternal ancestors came from  the English shipping port of Bristol (genealogy traced back to the mid 1600's) and maybe a previous incarnation has connections with the sea, who knows the reason - I love Tall Ships, end of story. 

Today, we owe a lot to those intrepid men who set out to discover the world, to carry goods for trade, to fight for their Country's freedom - not just the known names; Drake, Columbus, Dampier, Cook, Darwin et al, but the unknown captains and crew who never came back.
My respect to you all, and may your souls rest at peace in the realm of the sea.

Possibly a unique picture of a Tall Ship's last moments.
 the tragic sinking: photo taken by the US Coast Guard 

This article was written by my good friend John F. Millar of Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, he has kindly granted me permission to reproduce it here. Thank you John.


BOUNTY Reminiscences   

                                           by John Fitzhugh Millar


   Many Hampton Roads residents will remember fondly the jaunty blue Tall Ship Bounty, which was present here for many Harborfests and for last summer’s Operation Sail. She will now never return, but local artist Bob Holland painted a lovely portrait of her, from which prints are available.
   Bounty was built for MGM Films in 1960 at Lunenburg, Nova Scotia in the same shipyard that built my own ship, the 24-gun Revolutionary War frigate Rose, in 1969 – another frequent participant in Harborfest until she moved to San Diego in 2002 to star in the Russell Crowe film Master & Commander: to the Far Side of the World. By amazing coincidence, the original Rose (built 1756) and the original Bounty (built 1784) were produced by the same shipbuilder, Hugh Blaydes, at Hull, Yorkshire.


   MGM was worried about the comfort of Marlon Brando and the other stars involved in filming Mutiny on the Bounty on location off Tahiti. The only way they could incorporate all the air-conditioning equipment they felt they needed was to make Bounty over a third again as big as the original ship – so much for authenticity! Bounty also appeared in other movies, including Treasure Island, the Monty Python pirate film Yellowbeard, and Pirates of the Caribbean II.
   Bounty spent many profitable years after the Brando movie open to the public at Saint Petersburg, Florida. After Ted Turner had purchased MGM, he decided to use the then deteriorating Bounty as a giant tax write-off by donating her to the city of Fall River, Massachusetts.
   Early in 1994, Richard Bailey, captain of the Rose, received a telephone call from an official at Warner Brothers, wanting to know if Rose would be available for filming a re-make of the Errol Flynn film Captain Blood, and whether Bailey could recommend a second ship representing the same period. Rose would be available, but Bounty was in such rotten condition that she could not safely cross the harbor, let alone go to sea. “We’re sending you by Fedex a certified check for $750, 000,” said the official. “Get her repaired.” Bounty had been built of seasoned New Jersey oak, which explains how she had lasted so long. Several months later, Bailey telephoned the official in California to report that the work (mostly replacing the topsides) had been completed, and to ask where and when the company needed the two ships. “Oh, you spent all that money, huh?” said the official. “We were unable to find an actor who could match Errol Flynn, so the movie is cancelled.”


   Therefore, because of Bailey’s quick thinking, Bounty received a complete rebuilding at no charge that enabled her to start sailing again. Her first voyage was to accompany Rose in the summer of 1995 to historic Louisbourg, Nova Scotia (Canada’s counterpart to Colonial Williamsburg), where thousands of re-enactors had arrived to mark the 250th anniversary of the 1745 capture of Louisbourg by amateur New England soldiers. The two ships contributed greatly to the colorful event there.
    A few years afterwards, businessman Robert Hansen, a wealthy sail-trainee, told Bailey that his week-long experience cruising aboard Rose was the most fun thing he had ever done. Could he buy the Rose? Bailey replied that Rose was not for sale, but he thought that Bounty might be available. Hansen then bought Bounty in 2001, and found that she was leaking badly and that her entire bottom needed to be replaced. With difficulty, she was towed to Maine and the work was done. Hansen founded a non-profit foundation to manage the ship, and developed an educational program out of Greenport, Long Island that took her to many ports over the next few years.
   Historic wooden ships, unless they are built of exotic tropical hardwoods or of epoxy-saturated wood laminates, have a finite life-span of about 10 – 20 years, and then they have to be rebuilt. Bounty eventually faced rebuilding again, so she went to Maine in 2006 for a multi-million-dollar refit. Following that, Bounty was sent on an exciting tour completely around the world, during which she faced periods of intensely fierce weather. Not long after completing her circumnavigation with a crew of about 18, Bounty came to Norfolk and Portsmouth for Operation Sail, and many people saw her depart afterwards under full sail – an impressive sight. She visited nearly all the Operation Sail ports on the East Coast. It was planned to take her on another European tour in 2014.
   With the approach of winter, it was decided to take Bounty to Florida. Robin Walbridge, aged 63, had been Bounty’s captain since her Fall River days. He had taken the ship through many storms over the years, and he thought that skirting hurricane Sandy on a passage to Florida was preferable to facing the storm in Long Island Sound. He reckoned without the huge, confused seas off Cape Hatteras as the hurricane passed the area. The typical waves there were over 20 feet high, and because the hurricane winds had switched around three-quarters of the compass some of the waves combined with others to make monsters as high as 50 feet. The crew, mostly inexperienced, did an admirable job of lowering the upper masts and yards down to the deck to reduce windage, but the ship took on massive amounts of water due to the enormous waves, and soon the two large diesels failed about 90 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras. Walbridge requested a Coast Guard rescue just before daybreak on 29 October, got the crew into survival suits, and launched two large life-rafts. Walbridge and two other crewmembers were swept into the water, and only one of them was recovered alive. The ship herself sank minutes after Coast Guard helicopters arrived.
   Claudene Christian, aged 42, ironically the 5-greats-granddaughter of Fletcher Christian, who had led the mutiny on the original Bounty in April, 1789, was not so fortunate. Her body was recovered by the Coast Guard, and Walbridge remains missing.
   Another copy of Bounty (this time the correct size and correct pumpkin color, not blue) was built in New Zealand in 1979 for the Dino de Laurentiis film. After many years of being based in Sydney, Australia, she is now based in Hong Kong.
   Many Tall Ships will continue to visit Hampton Roads in the coming years, but it will take a long time to erase the positive memory of Bounty’s colorful visits here.

Photo: Cathy Millar, John's wife
  Bounty sailing out of Norfolk at the end of Operation Sail.




11 November 2012

In Honour of those who died...


On September 7th 1920, in strictest secrecy four unidentified British bodies were exhumed from temporary battlefield cemeteries at Ypres, Arras, the Asine and the Somme. None of the soldiers who did the digging were told why. 



The bodies were taken by field ambulance to GHQ at St-Pol-sur-Ternoise. There the bodies were draped with the Union Flag. Sentries were posted and Brigadier-General Wyatt and a Colonel Gell selected one body at Random. A French honour guard was selected, who stood by the coffin overnight. In the morning of the 8th a specially designed coffin made of oak from the grounds of Hampton Court was brought and the Unknown Warrior placed inside. On top was placed a Crusaders Sword and a shield on which was inscribed 'A British Warrior who fell in the Great War 1914-1918 For King and Country'. On the 9th of November the Unknown Warrior was taken by horse drawn carriage through Guards of Honour and the sound of tolling bells and bugle calls to the Quayside. There it was saluted by Marechal Foche and loaded onto HMS Verdun bound for Dover.....The coffin stood on the deck covered in wreaths and surrounded by the French Honour Guard. On arrival at Dover the the Unknown Warrior was greeted with a 19 gun salute, normally only reserved for field marshals. He then traveled by special train to Victoria station London. He stayed there overnight and on the morning of the 11th of November he was taken to Westminster Abbey. 



The Idea of the Unknown Soldier was thought of by a Padre called David Railton who had served at the front during the Great War and it was the Union Flag he used as an altar cloth at the front, that had been draped over the coffin. The intention was that all relatives of the 517,773 combatants whose bodies had not been identified could believe that the Unknown Warrior could very well be their lost Husband, Father, Brother or Son.... 

Every year on the 11th of November remember the Unknown Warrior.


originally posted by Stuart MacAllister on his Facebook page (thank you Stuart)

6 November 2012

The Next Big Thing (Tuesday Talk)


I've been tagged. 
So what does that mean - and what's this "Next Big Thing" thingy all about?

The nitty gritty of The Next Big Thing Blog Hop is that I do a blog post answering the questions below and mentioning the person who tagged me, and at the end of it I mention the authors I’ve tagged in the chain.

I was tagged by fellow writer Isabelle Goddard who writes Regency Romances.  She has published three novels and a fourth is in the pipeline. Recently, she’s moved on to Victorian England with Walking Through Glass which tells the story of a forgotten tragedy and the way echoes from the past can powerfully influence the life of a modern day heroine. (Which is a very similar theme to my next novel ... read on...)

I'm instructed by Isabelle to tell you all about my next book by answering these ten set questions, so here I go!

What is the working title of your next book?
My next book due out is called Ripples In The Sand – the Fourth Sea Witch Voyage.



Where did the idea come from for the book?
As it is the fourth in a series I have a rough idea for the first six  – basically for Ripples, my Pirate, Jesamiah Acorne, sails to England with a cargo of tobacco which he wants to sell. Needless to say,  things don’t go as planned….



What genre does your book fall under?
Historical Adventure with a touch of fantasy.


Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Someone new and unknown for my pirate please, and I’d rather have the Sea Witch Voyages as a TV drama series, not a movie. 
The nautical equivalent of Bernard Cornwell/Sean Bean’s Sharpe.



What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
All Captain Jesamiah Acorne wants to do is sell his (legal) cargo of tobacco, but being captured by the Spanish, meeting with an old flame, and (illegally) breaking his wife’s brother out of jail – aided by the remnants of the notorious Doones of Exmoor – is not part of his plan. 
 (LOL - I cheated with a long sentence!)


Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Self-published with an assisted publishing company www.silverwoodbooks.co.uk


How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I had several unavoidable hold-ups from that annoying thing called Life, one of them being my previous UK publisher went bankrupt. This proved a good thing in the end, however, as the MD was, I discovered, not entirely reliable financially (that's being tactful), so I moved to the fabulous Indie company SilverWood Books UK. Best decision I’ve made in a long while.
This meant having to re-edit all my files as the finals were not returned to me by said bankrupt scoundrel – editing seven manuscripts in less than four months and writing a new novel were not compatible tasks, so Ripples In The Sand took a lot longer than I intended - my deepest apologies to all Jesamiah’s patient fans!



What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The Sea Witch Voyages are a blend of Hornblower, Sharpe, Flashman, Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones (OK I cheated on the last two as they are movies!)



Who or What inspired you to write this book?
Jack Sparrow. I loved the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, a Good Fun Yarn, not meant to be taken seriously, just enjoyed. To follow the fun I  looked for novels that were similar – nautical tales with a twist of fantasy and a dashing rogue of a pirate captain – but I could only find straight nautical fiction – C.S. Forrester, Patrick O’Brian, Alexander Kent, Julian Stockwin etc, all very good novels, but not remotely akin to  Jack Sparrow.
So I wrote my own. And fell n love with my character Jesamiah in the process.


What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
I have added a touch of fantasy to the  Sea Witch stories: Jesamiah's girlfriend/wife, Tiola (pronounce it as tee-o-la, short and quick,  not a long middle vowel: Tee-oh-la)  She is a healer. midwife - and a white witch. I wanted to create her to be believable, though. She can only use her Craft for good, and not in every circumstance. No waving magic wands to get Jesamiah out of trouble! I think of her ability as like the Force in Star Wars, not as in the magic of Harry Potter.


For more about the Sea Witch Voyagesexcerpts, book trailers - a few fun pirate quizzes - and lots more!  http://seawitchvoyages.blogspot.co.uk/  

For my other novles please visit my Main Website

Here are the authors I've tagged who 
will tell you about their 
Next Big Thing

Suzanne McLeod www.spellcrackers.com/ Brilliant fantasy author for adults - Murder and Mayhem at Spellcrackers.com!

Debbie YoungOff The Shelf and her website Her new book Sell Your Book - hints and tips for new writers on how to get your book noticed

David Ebsworthwebsite His novel Jacobites' Apprentice was nominated UK Indie Editor's Choice for the Historical Novel Society Indie Review 

Richard Denning website Historical Adventure and Fantasy writer for young adults

Beachy Bookswebsite excellent interactive books for young children - ideal Christmas Gifts!


Ripples In The Sand - publication date 
early December 
(in time to celebrate my pirate's birthday!

subscribe to additional content on my website for up to date information!

My thanks to  Isabelle for tagging me! 


1 November 2012

For those of us who are cat lovers...

Why do we put up with the apparent casual demands of Puss? (Rhetorical question. I don't think there's a sane answer.)

(not my cat - but a cute pic!)
Sitting watching TV: made myself comfy in the chair - within two minutes a series of "meows" and here is Sybil on my lap yamming away demanding attention. That's fine, I love her on my lap (better than any hot water bottle) but she doesn't seem to understand that I'm engrossed in Downton Abbey and really don't want half the screen obscured by her bum. As lovely as it is.

Sybil watching TV
Mab thinks I need  company. Well yes, I enjoy having her around - but does she really have to sleep on the mouse mat where I want to use the mouse? Or beneath the desk lamp where, of course, it is lovely and warm but which totally obscures the light from falling on my keyboard.

Does your cat bop you with his/her paw of a morning to wake you up? Light dabs on the tip of my nose. Open my sleepy eyes to stare straight into Sybil's, followed by an enthusiastic meow, which can only translate as, "Oh Good! You are awake!"

Sybil on my bed
Running the vacuum cleaner round the house this morning, twice I had to unblock the hose because furry cat toys had been sucked up - and a bit of a fright in the middle of the night. That mangled catnip mouse in the middle of the bathroom floor looked so real....

Mab as a kitten
And I must ask this: does anyone else have a puss who is addicted to the toilet roll? Sybil loves unrolling it. Once or twice a day we have loo roll all over the floor. If we're lucky its just unrolled,but on a "I've had a good time"day it is also shredded. Have you tried picking up shredded loo roll?

Sigh.

Windowsill Mab
I wonder also, am I the only one who sits at my desk, writing, with a blanket around my shoulders because my cat insists on having the window open?

Both Mab and Sybil are not too amused that the days are turning colder, though they are pleased that the central heating is on. Mab stretches out along the radiator in my bedroom and Sybil enjoys the window sill. I've given up putting the ornaments and picture frames straight; such unnecessary items are now removed so that Madam can stretch out.

Fat Cat Sybil
I wonder how they are going to enjoy the new house we have (hopefully) bought in Devon? Deep window recesses (a foot wide window sills) acres of pasture filled with creatures far more interesting than mere Town Mice. A choice of stretching out before the real log fire or the kitchen range; more bedrooms (and consequently, more beds).

Not surprising there are few bees and butterflies in my garden
The two of them are curled apparently asleep on the settee in my office - though I have a suspicion they have one eye open, watching me. It's tea-time .... I guess I'd better feed the two starving moggies before they waste away....