Maria’s – A Muddled Fairy Tale

(Written with illustrations in mind)

One upon a very long time ago, there was a day when every knight in the kingdom of Dragons-breath met to discuss who was top knight in the kingdom.

For the last five years the top of the poll was a very noble shining knight by the name of  ‘Always-Right-Knight’. He irritated most of the other knights because he was always right. And because he won every tournament.

Of all the knights in the stadium the three who stood out were the most terrible.

Yes, I said terrible. They would have been members of Snow White’s group but they weren’t good enough. They were called, Grouchy, Sleazy and Lazy.

 

Grouchy was the most bad tempered knight on the planet. When he wasn’t shouting abuse at children and old ladies he was prodding small animals with his sharp sword.

Sleazy loved to sneeze and drool, everything near him was covered in green slime or snot.

Lazy had one bad point. He was allergic to doing anything.

 

*************************************

Our tale begins when Scrumptious, the top witch in the village, overheard our three non-heroes.

Grouchy was hopping up and down, on his armor, to get the dents out.The air around him frizzled with his curses.

“Not a fashionable thing for a knight to do. I hope.” Sleezy muttered as he walked past nursing his sore leg and arm having lost another jousting match.

“You can’t talk. You lost as well.” Grouchy said in a breathless manner. He decided to have a rest and sat on his amour.

Lazy meandered up to them. He was squeezing his arm to stop the blood flowing from another injury, “We need to do something we are losing our fans. At this rate we will be jobless.”

Sneezy sneered at him, “what else can we do? We have tried everything from boot shiner to loo cleaners and we were rubbish at every thing we tried. We are useless.”

Grouchy’s language became so foul the other two got up and left him alone.

Scrumptious who delighted in the nasty and wicked decided to help. “I will make them useful,” she promised with a toss of her blonde hair.

So that night while the three knights snored and snorted in their sleep she paid them a visit.

Next morning when the residents woke there was a new great bridge crossing the madly flowing river in Dragons-breath. The three knights had vanished never to be seen again. However it was noticed that the pillars holding up the bridge were an odd shape and it was often joked one of the pillars looked as though it was resting.

*********************************

 

The earth trundled along and the years sped by. Times changed horses and carts no longer trotted across the bridge. Instead it vibrates under the weight of  the huge lorries and roaring cars who race across it.

In the year of 2014, a dark storm hit the countryside. The bridge was zapped by a bolt of lightning. The bridge crumbled. The stone pillars fell revealing those who were cursed were free to be themselves once again.

The moaning started instantly. None of the knights were impressed by the fact they were very wet.

“Where is our armour?’ Roared Grouchy as he looked at Lazy running about in some very odd looking underwear made from mud and reeds.

That as it turns out was the least of their troubles.

Next morning, having stolen some washing from a clothes line behind a cottage they walked towards Dragons-breath town to find it was no longer there.

“What now?” Sleazy asked. Lazy didn’t answer he was snoring. With a toss of his head Sleazy declared, “I have a horrid bad thirst on me lets find a tavern.”

 

 

Bob’s Diary: The reason why…

The reason why I want to be a bird is simple:

Look at these images and draw your own conclusion, please.

bird in bath male

 

 

 

 

 

 

washing bob

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I'm wet, humiliated, broke,  how did this happen?

I’m wet, humiliated, broke,
how did this happen?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baths make me feel like a hedgehog on stilts.

 

Bob’s Diary: Peace is sought.

I have a hard life and here is the evidence.Bob with hat one

I was settling down for a pleasant snooze in the afternoon sunshine when she appeared.

fun one

 

 

 

I knew she had a plan

She had it went like this:

fun 2

 

 

You need to play;

 

 

 

 

fun 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

fun 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

fun 9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I thought it was safe but…she nicked my hat!

nicking hat

running with hat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eventually there was peace.

Game over

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until next time.

 

Bob’s Diary: I am in this chapter: Moving On. Chapter 2

2. The Meeting

A shout of delight announced the arrival of the third place team across the finish line. Ally noted his happiness and could appreciate how well he had done. She suspected he would have preferred to finish in first place. Taking a deep breath she walked forward in her usual energetic bouncy manner towards Steve. She decided to disregard her stinging hand. She couldn’t prove he had intended to hit her.

Hand outstretched she congratulated him. He ignored her offered hand, saying, “You were lucky this time.”

Ally nodded at him and turned away. She had expected no more from him. She could see the third prize winner breathless and smiling making a fuss of his dogs. He was new to racing but she had the odd sensation that they had met before.

Steve’s next words brought her attention hurtling back to him.”Racing is no place for a woman, but if you were looking for attention to get your dogs noticed. It worked. I’ll take your lead dog off your hands. She is the best of an okay lot. “

She acknowledged his words with a cool tone in her reply. “I’m not asking for anyone to take any one of my dogs, off my hands, as you so sweetly put it. And they are much better than okay.”

His next words put a chill racing through her, “I’ll wait, you will be glad of the money soon enough but I won’t make as generous an offer the next time. It was a lucky win. You and I know that.”

With his comment swirling in her head Ally said, “Hmm. I suppose it was down to luck that I walked the route earlier and got thoroughly soaked. You should know conditions can change in a few minutes depending on weather and how many races are run before ours.”

His expression became sterner. He moved closer. He towered over her as he began, “now look here.”

He got no further because a smooth warm voice interrupted Steve saying, “I didn’t realise this was a contact sport. If you are looking for an opponent, next time please make an appointment with me. I’d be happy to knock some sense and manners into you, Steve.”

Ally watching Steve’s face recognised the dangerous gleam in his eyes. She looked at the newcomer. She wasn’t prepared for the cold calculating look in his eyes. Turning to Ally he said with a warm smile, “She’s one smart, fast dog and you handled your team like a professional. I, on the other hand, made a mess of the last kilometre especially that bend.”

Steve looked at him and grunted, “Great Tom. You know nothing. Just you remember what we talked about before.” He turned on his heel and left them.

Shoving his sunglasses to the top of his head the man before her said, ‘Now the oaf has left let’s start again. Thanks for a great race. I’m Tom Lynch and I really enjoyed that. It was exhilarating.’

Her cold hand was enfolded in his large warm hand. As they shook hands a ripple of energy coursed through her causing her to let her hand drop from his. Looking up at him Ally discovered she was being watched by the darkest pair of eyes she had ever seen.

“I look forward to racing you again and I hope it will be soon.” Tom said leaning towards her.

Ally felt she might be swallowed up by those eyes. She opened her mouth but didn’t get a chance to reply because the moment was lost as she was surrounded by a group of older men who were loudly congratulating her on her win.

She was aware of Tom standing to one side listening to the murmurs of, ‘well done Ally love,’ and “you have done Sam proud. Good girl.”  Then she forgot everything. The mention of Sam’s name brought tears to her eyes. Ally noticed some of the men wiping their own eyes as they turned away. Ally’s dad, Sam, had been respected and loved in this racing world. She missed him, but racing brought his memory closer to her.

“May I offer my sincerest sympathy?” Tom’s voice was soft but she jumped when he spoke, for a moment she had forgotten him.

The warmth and sincerity in his voice got to her. Ally blinking furiously to dispel the further rush of tears, nodded her head. “Thanks. He got me into this mess in the first place.” All about them people were busy, shouting instructions to others or to barking dogs.

Tom kicked at a tuft of grass at his feet as he said, “Me too. I came to watch a race and met Sam. His enthusiasm encouraged me to pull Mac off the sidelines. He gave me a lot. Tips, advice and his time.”

As he spoke his team had her attention. Ally chewed on her bottom lip waiting for a break in conversation to give him the bad news. She managed to suppress a grin when she saw two of them chewing through their shiny new harness. Her words sharper than she intended, “I think you should rescue your gear. They appear to like the taste.”

Tom glanced behind him and groaned. He was moving towards them as he said, “Thank you and again, I’m sorry about Sam. Watch out for us next time. I’ll be looking for you.”

Ally dripping mud and water looked towards her team who were in a mucky but happy state.  She walked over to them. After giving each dog a hug and praising them Ally became aware that one was missing: Bob.

She hadn’t seen him sitting at the finish line with Bill, her father’s best friend. Puzzled, Ally went in search of her team cheerleader. She discovered he had ditched Bill. Bob was sitting under a golf umbrella, with a lady. Ally noting her grey hair and twinkling eyes and gentle way of speaking to the dog, groaned. He had gained another fan.

The lady was enjoying a drink and a sandwich. Bob, Ally noticed, was being very attentive and appreciative. A sandwich was placed before him. He carefully inspected it, nudging aside the top layer of bread. Thin slices of cucumber and ham were swallowed in a hurry when he saw Ally thundering his way.

“I told you not to go around begging. Bob, what am I going to do with you? Can’t I leave you for a moment? Bill was minding you, what happened?” Ally paused to glance at Bob’s hostess.

“I’m sorry. It’s my fault, I fed him. You look tired and wet. Would you like some tea?” Bob’s new friend sounded concerned.

“No, thank you.” Ally gritted her teeth and reminded herself to be polite. After all, this lady knew nothing about her wayward dog’s love of begging.

“Bill had a job to do. He asked us to keep each other company. I do think you are being a bit hard on Bob.  He has been great fun while my son deserted me to chase some woman or dogs. You know what men are like, always chasing something.” She smiled at Ally. With a flick of her thin wrist she apologized, “Bob reminds me of him. So handsome that you can’t refuse anything he asks. Please don’t scold Bob. He’s a child; look at those soulful sad eyes.”

Ally remembered her manners. “Thank you for minding him. However he’s a bold child. We must go. Come on Bob, up and at ‘em.” She didn’t have to say another word, the dog got to his feet with difficulty and lumbered after her. Ally turned to him and said, “I hope the cucumber gives you trouble. You deserve it.”

His loud belch ended the conversation.

Bob’s Diary: Three Wishes.

copy-bob-for-heading.jpgIf I were granted three wishes I would have to ask for:

 

1.  I would have a food/treat dispensing machine installed in my kennel.

2.   I could sleep through anything, i.e. Ellie throwing her balls on my body as I sleep, Maria shouting time for a walk, (every day, it’s a bit much you will have to agree.)

3.  I would have my own personal groomers. I love having my back scratched, behind my ears, under my chin and on my belly.

I would also plead for a fourth wish, to stop Maria dressing me up for photo’s. (And she didn’t even put me on the cover of her book!)

Remembering these makes me think maybe it is best not to ask to be on her next cover.

ballsbobs discoveryhelp pleasedetective bob 1wear a silly hat

Moving On – Sample – First Chapter.

E-Book Cover

 

 

 

 

 

1. The Race

 

 

 

“Hike on,” Ally shouted, leaning forward against the blast of wind as her team of four Irish sled dogs bounced into top speed pulling her around the steep bend.  Their waving tails declared, to those watching the race, their love for doing this work.

She wondered if they would run well across snow. It would make a welcome change from sludge and muck. Running on snow was a dream. Ally wondered about it for a second while noting the amount of muck on the track. In comparison the countryside around her looked green and beautiful but Ally hadn’t time for artistic appreciation. She was here to win.

Shouts of encouragement mingled with the barking of chasing teams reminded her every competitor wanted to win. Once more she asked her team to accelerate. With their thick double coats gleaming in weak Irish sunlight, they obeyed her shout.

“We are all in this together. I won’t let you down,” she promised.

Despite cold air and dirt being kicked up in her face Ally smiled. Luna was lead dog today. Excited noisy barking behind alerted them, another team was getting closer. Luna turned her head to peep back, her dark eyes gleaming. She didn’t need encouragement from Ally to pull harder.

The last hill loomed ahead, a mere pimple in the distance. The wheels of her rig slid all over the track, Ally knew what to do. She jumped off and ran hard, pushing the rig with all her strength.  The thin wheels of the rig bounced about making it difficult to keep a grip on the bar. It was tough to keep up with the dogs. Far behind she could hear a male voice roaring abuse at his dogs. She flinched, recognising the voice but also remembering how John, her ex husband loved to shout. Ally treated her dogs like most things in her life, with gentleness and persuasion.

“Focus Ally.” she whispered knowing this was not the time to dwell on anything but what she had to do.

It was tough not to think of a portion of her past while she was racing. Sam, her father, had introduced her to this sport when she was a feisty teenager. Moving home, because of his illness, was the best decision of her life. She owed everything to Sam. In contrast, she owed John, nothing. Sam’s death had left her feeling isolated and alone.

The biting wind caused her to shiver and pulled her back to the present. Chewing on her bottom lip, she lifted her head. ‘We need to get up and over this damn hill if we are to win.’  With a roar of encouragement she pushed even harder. Like her dogs, she was prepared to put every last ounce of energy into the race.  Once they gave their best, Ally was happy. Hands firmly on the bar before her, she pushed as though her life depended on it. Her feet slid about on the wet heavy ground, making her feel as though she were carrying two buckets of sludge. Her breath came in gasps leaving her ribs aching as she continued to push.

She reached the top, took a deep breath to help prepare her for the treacherous down slope. Jumping back on, she applied light pressure to the brake with her right foot. Ally encouraged them to hold back. “Slow up, Luna,” she shouted.

Droplets of water splashed her as she brushed against coniferous branches lining the steep path. She ignored the wet patch spreading between her shoulder blades. Ally focused on the track ahead, aware of the mix of human voice and dogs barking behind them as they edged closer to her team. She wondered who was catching them. She smiled, ‘doesn’t matter, we will win.’

Arriving at the bottom of the hill in one piece, she had time to notice grey clouds lifting marginally, the sun attempting once again to shine. Her spirits soared until she glanced behind her.

It was Steve, a rival, who didn’t like being beaten especially by a woman. Behind him she saw a sparkling new rig with a shiny new competitor on board. Though his dogs were big and gaining on her, Ally hoped her experience would gain her the upper hand.

The track was level. The outside of it was hard while the inside track, looked to be in a similar state, but was wet and boggy. Ally knew what to do.  In a minute she would discover if Steve knew the course.

He closed up on her. As his dogs came alongside hers, Ally pulled further right. She was as far to the outside as she could get.

He saw her move and grinned taking the inside track. His grin became a smug leer.

Ally acknowledged his mistake with a small smile of her own. She had just beaten him by her knowledge of the track. Steve didn’t know it yet. He believed she was pulling back, letting the stronger team pull ahead.

She grinned and chuckled. ‘If you think I quit that easily you are a mug Steve. You have a lot to learn.’

His mistake surprised her. She knew he was rough with his dogs, now she added arrogant to the list. Her guess was he had not bothered to walk the track as she had earlier. ‘Well, sometimes the best way to learn is the hard way.’ It was harsh but it was the truth. It reminded her of how awful she had been at making life-changing decisions.

To her surprise the new team were close behind them. They, too, attempted to pull to the inside.   As he drew level with her team, he shouted above the wind and howling dogs. “Thank you, honey. We appreciate being let through.” His deep husky voice carried easily in the wind. She ignored the comment. His sunglasses, she noted were as trendy as his flash clothes.

‘I’m not your honey,’ she thought.  Ally bent her head, rounded her shoulders and dug deep as she encouraged her dogs to give chase.

“Hike on Luna. Hike on.” Luna responded swiftly, as did her team. Ally smiled, thinking to herself, ‘you may be small but you sure can sprint! And he is about to find out how fast we can go.’

In comparison her companion’s dogs were sinking in the soft mud hidden on the inside of the track. It slowed them sufficiently. Ally recognized that the newcomer’s team were fighting each other rather than working together.  Luna sped by her eyes focused on the prize ahead.

Steve’s dogs were tired and sliding on the downhill run. He urged them on with a crack of a whip. Then, as she drew level with him, there was another strong crack followed by a moment of stabbing pain. The whip hit Ally’s right hand.  Tears flowed but she kept her hand stuck to the bar.  The roar of protest from the man behind her drifted away in the wind as Ally continued on.

She raced by Steve hoping he wouldn’t take her victory out on his dogs later. Luna stretched out her thin frame as did the others and both men’s teams were left floundering in the soft sticky ground.

Ally passed the finishing line thinking, ‘we did it, Dad. I hope you were watching.’

She wondered what her other competitors would think about her win. They had been quick to dismiss her chances earlier. At the starting line two of them had looked scathingly at her team of two Siberian Huskies and two crossbred dogs.

A particular comment had hit her squarely between the shoulders. “Aren’t your dogs a bit small, love? Maybe you should go home and leave this to the professionals.”

Ally had ignored them. Eyes fixed ahead of her she focused on listening for the starting horn.

It hadn’t helped her popularity when she crossed the finish line in second place in her last race. The prizes today were vouchers for dog supply shops. Keeping four racing dogs and one chunky one didn’t come cheap. In Ally’s world, every cent counted.

She smiled. It would be interesting to hear what those competitors who dismissed her earlier would say about her now.

 

 

Bob’s Diary: Baby sitting

Maria left early this morning. We suspected something was happening as Sara was with her.They returned with these two,

Pepper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and his sister Daisy or as I call her Crazy Daisy. She likes to jump at my ears and tail.

daisy

I did my best at getting them to stay still for a picture but it wasn’t easy.

bob with pups

 

 

 

 

Finally I gave up and went for a rest.

bob in shade

Ellie had trouble with them. There was a mountain of balls lying about but the only one they wanted was the one she had in her mouth.

ellie and pepper

So eventually, she went for a rest.

ellie in shadeWe missed them when they went home.