Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Real-life PokemonGo

I don't think PokemonGo is in the UK yet (or is it?) but I've been hearing lots about it and to be honest... I just don't get it. Don't get me wrong, I love Pokemon. I used to watch it on SMTV every Saturday back in the 90s (was it the 90s?) and cracked up at Ant & Dec's Pokerap and Pokefight sketches (Watch!). I even painted Pokemon onto my bedroom wall, and of course I played Pokemon (I had the red version) on my original GameBoy.

But wandering around outside, staring at your phone while looking for wild Pokemon? Erm... I've been doing that for the past two years. But what I do is real. Only it's not Pokemon I'm looking for, it's butterflies. And it's not my phone in my hand, it's my camera.

And it's not just me doing this. Along with my fellow lepidoterists, there's the Twitchers and the odonata...erm...ites, and the ladybirders...

There's 59 species of butterfly in the UK, and okay, that may not be as exciting as the 150 (or however many there is nowadays!) Pokemon, but I've gotta catch 'em all too. Although instead of catching them in a Pokeball, I catch them with my camera.

It gets you outside. It gets you interacting with other people (I can always spot a fellow butterfly-nerd - they'll be the ones staring into the undergrowth with a camera in hand). It takes skill - certain species are only found in certain areas, at certain times of the year, and they only eat certain things. Some are common. Some are rare. Even if you do have your camera on you, you're not guaranteed a shot. There may involve running and scrambling through undergrowth and close encounters with spiders.

It can lead to good things - I now volunteer for the Butterfly Conservation. Is there a Pokemon Conservation?

Getting outside is good. Interacting with other people is good (I suppose!). Getting involved in conservation is brilliant. Surely real-life wildlife is more rewarding than pixels? You can even do both, why not? Play PokemonGo and gain an interest in the real world. We have some fascinating creatures on this planet. They really exist. And you can really see them with your own eyes.

Hell, butterflies even evolve.
Peacock caterpillar

Wild Caterpie appeared!

Look! A Butterfree!

Friday, 15 April 2016

Favourite Couples

I write romance, and as I'm currently having a bit of a confidence crisis with my latest WiP I've been thinking about my favourite couples.

Now, I can't think of any in books that I like that much. You know, the couple that you route for. The one you "ship". Apart from maybe Darian and Ash from Glitterland. And there are definitely none in films. But TV shows... TV does good with the couples. I guess it's because it can be stretched out more than in films, explored more, unless of course the film is a romance (which, to be honest, I don't tend to watch). A good couple has a will they/won't they on/off thing going on. I also have to like both characters. But there has to be something more. Some chemistry. Something that'll suddenly get me on board that ship.

So, here are my faves.

1. Ste and Brendan from Hollyoaks. Hollyoaks is pretty good at having couples I like - Darren & Nancy, Dennis & Blessing (that moleman speech?), Paul & Mercedes, Carmel & Jim, Grace & Esther... But Stendan are the best. Ok, I'm not good with the whole domestic violence thing, but Brendan's tragic past and Ste's acceptance... I just love them. They were tragic and romantic and funny. Stendan in Dublin still makes me blub. The couple had a tragic ending with Brendan taking the wrap for his sister's murder of their nasty peodophile dad and ending up in prison, but the ride was great.

I'm going to link to music vids in case you're not familiar with the couples. Watch them. Even if you are familiar.


2. John and Aeryn from Farscape. He's a human. She's an alien. He's a scientist. She's a soldier. Farscape is probably my favourite TV show of all time anyway - it's full of strong female characters and I absolutely adore Aeryn. They were on and off. Lots of tragic little moments and will they/won't they. But they get a happy ending. Complete with baby.

John & Aeryn

3. Seth and Summer from The O.C. AKA Summereth or Sethummer (according to Seth!) He's a nerd. She's one of the popular kids. It's classic. The O.C., like Farscape, is chock full of strong women and Summer is one of the best. She has brilliant character growth throughout the series, and she's also hilarious. They will they/won't they throughout but end up married and have baby bunnies. It's all good.

Seth & Summer

4. Percival and Gwaine from Merlin. AKA Perwaine. I'm cheating with this one because they weren't shown as being a couple, but we all knew they were totally doing it. I watched the whole series of Merlin for that one forehead touch moment, I swear. Tragic end, poor Percival was brokenhearted.


5. The newest one! Sienna and Trevor from Hollyoaks. I said Hollyoaks did good couples didn't I? They get two in my top five. Their story is still ongoing, but already we've had on/off will they/won't they moments, and lots of chemistry. He's a bad boy with PTSD. She's posh, with a tragic backstory and mental health issues. I don't know how their story's going to end. But I'm onboard the ship for the ride.



A good couple has to be worthy of a montage. I can just about envisage one for Rowan and Daniel from my own Shuttered. I can definitely imagine one for Liam and Jimmy from mine and Liz Powell's Otherworld - they have all the hallmarks - on/off, will they/won't they, chemistry and tragedy. I'm not sure about my current WiP, but I'm working on it.

(You can buy both Shuttered and Otherworld from Amazon, plus various other online bookstores, or direct from the publishers.)

Friday, 11 March 2016


I was chatting to a friend of mine about her paintings and she convinced me to have a go. I'd not painted anything before (other than walls!) so had a quick Google of what's a good medium for a beginner to get started with. I even did a little quiz. (This one) Which told me I should try acrylics.

I bought a 20 piece painting set of acrylics from The Works for a fiver. Bargain. I figured, if it turns out I'm crap, I've not really lost anything. I bought a sketchpad and waited for it all to arrive.

Now, I hate being crap at stuff, and it turns out... I'm actually alright at this painting lark.

Here are some of my paintings.

This is my first attempt. I love butterflies and figured they'd be fairly easy to do. It's a common blue. The colours aren't right, but it's ok.

Um... so this is my dog Beau. As a farmer. Just because.

A lovely lady I know crocheted me a gorgeous moomin as a house warming present, and some excellent ninja snails for Christmas. I know she likes long tailed tits, so I painted one for her. (Check out her Facebook page)

Watching too much 'The Secret Life of the Zoo'...

I bought a couple of teeny tiny canvases from The Works for £1 each. What else to paint on a teeny canvas than a teeny bird? This is a wren. Painting on canvas is quite hard because the canvas soaks up the paint. 

I love hares. This is actually a gift for someone. I think he's probably my best one so far. The more I do, the better I should get, right? I'm currently working on a commission (if anybody wants to commission me, feel free to drop me a line via my website) I can only do animals though.