Some cleaning hints and tips, and an offer

Image by ds_30 from Pixabay

Some years ago, I was trying to clean a very greasy surface. I tried all the things on offer in the supermarket that said they ‘cuts through grease’. They made it a bit better, but didn’t get it off properly.

Then I tried a liquid detergent. That which we more commonly call ‘washing-up liquid’. It worked like a charm.

It got me to thinking that perhaps we are being conned by the large companies that make these products.

Why should we need a different product for bathrooms and kitchens? People buy ‘bathroom cleaner’, and ‘kitchen cleaner’. Weird. They do exactly the same job.

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

I find that ‘washing-up liquid’ (aka liquid detergent) is often the best thing for cleaning. Yes, we might occasionally need a scouring powder if something is ground in or dried up, but why do we need all these different products that are essentially the same thing?

If your sink gets blocked up, use washing soda (sodium carbonate). It’s excellent for dissolving grease. Forget the stuff called ‘sink unblocker.’

Image by sandid from Pixabay

Use a scrunched up newspaper for drying windows (or mirrors) after cleaning. Hey presto! Streak-free glass.

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Lemon and vinegar are excellent cleaning things. Lemon mixed with a bit of salt is excellent for cleaning chopping boards.

In Viv’s Family Recipes, there are some more tips. These are ones gathered from my Aunt’s old recipe book that I inherited. Our parents and grandparents didn’t have all the ‘modern’ cleaning products we have now.

From today until Monday, the ebook version of Viv’s Family Recipes is FREE on Amazon. So if you would like some more old-fashioned tips click here to go to Amazon where you are. Or click on the book cover in the side bar.

The book also contains recipes gathered from Viv’s family and friends over a century. Some date back to 1909. It is interesting to see the kind of things that people ate over 100 years ago.

Here are the current ratings for this 5* book. (February 20th)

13 in Culinary Arts & Techniques (Kindle Store)

15 in Weight Loss Food Counters

11 in Low Budget Cooking

I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment in the comments box.

How Green is a Vegan diet?

There has been an upsurge in veganism recently. I have no objection to that. People are entitled to choose their diet to suit themselves.

That last sentence, though, is something that vegans do not seem to agree with. They seem to be constantly trying to foist their choice onto everyone else, saying “It will help to limit Climate Change.”

Do vegans take everything into consideration, though. As well as the growth of the plant, there are other factors, like transport.

After the plant has grown, it is removed (except for fruit grown on trees, of course). In nature, the remains of the plant would go back into the soil, but if it’s removed, all that goodness is removed with it, hence making the use of fertilisers essential. Things like soya are mainly grown abroad and are flown in. Tomatoes are grown in Spain, to a large extent, and are brought in on lorries.

Here are some vegan-friendly foods. The emissions quoted are for 2.2lb (1kg)Lentils:2.0lb, 59% of which comes from transport, cooking and waste disposal.

Tomatoes: 2.4lb CO2, emitted, most of which is from transport as tomatoes are often eaten raw.

Cauliflower: 4.4 CO2 emitted. Transport and waste. The stems are maily thrown away.

Tofu: 4,4lb emitted. Mainly processing, Transport needed, it also leads to mass deforestation.
5: Dry beans: 4.4lb emitted. Post farmgate emissions are 65%.

Nuts: 5.1lb emitted. Almonds use a lot of water and pesticides in their production. Peanuts are a better option.
Peanut butter: 5.5lb emitted. Priduction and transport.

Rice: 6.0 emitted Rice farming is responsible for 12% of all methane emissions. (More potent than CO2) Also, Rice from Bangladesh and West Bengal in particular can be contaminated with arsenic as there is a lot of arsenic in the water there. It is often used as irrigation water for the paddy fields.

Potatoes: 6.4lb emitted. 90% of emissions are from cooking. Baked potatoes are worse than other types because of the length of cooking time.

One product I failed to find any statistics for is soya. But most soya is transported from where it is grown by aircraft, so any production carbon dioxide is added to by this.
Again, like Tofu, the farming of this product is responsible for much deforestation.
Who knows how much carbon dioxide is retained in our atmosphere because of the deforestation, and even added to, because much of this deforestation is done by burning?

While I admit meat production does produce higher yields of carbon dioxide. Many vegans, I suspect, don’t realise that their ‘green’ foods contribute to more carbon in the atmosphere than they think.
We must always think of the deforestation when considering our food. We are not only adding to the carbon dioxide in the air, but removing one of the carbon sinks at the same time. A vicious circle.

Now to human biology.
We are not designed to be vegan. Cellulose in plant cells is not easy to digest. Herbivores have a variety of ways in which they overcome this.
Rumanants (cattle, goats, sheep etc) have several ‘compartments’ to help digest grass. They eat the stuff, which then lies in a large ‘stomach’ called the rumen. Here, bacteria help to breakdown the cell walls The food then passes into a part called the reticulum where the liquid passes on, and the solids remain. The animal then regurgitates the food that remains and re-chews it. The next part, the liquid is digested by enzymes that also digest the bacteria and the food is absorbed.

Rabbits, during the night, pass green pellets that they eat again in the morning, thus the plants pass twice through the gut.

Horses are what is known as ‘trickle feeders’. This means they are designed to eat a small amount of food frequently.
They have a very large part of the large intestine, called the caecum. Here there are bacteria that help digest the cellulose.

Humans have none of these adaptations. We cannot digest this cellulose. Our guts are not adapted to do so. Cooking helps, but think about how some foods produce a lot of wind, and sometimes even diarrhoea if we eat too much. These are always plant foods.

Our dentition, too, is that of an omnivore. Herbivores do not have canine teeth. They have incisors for cutting off the grass or other plants, a gap, then premolars and molars, flat teeth for grinding.
Carnivores have incisors, like herbivores, then canines–sharp teeth for gripping the food. Finally, they have teeth known as carnassials. They are sharp and are for tearing flesh, unlike the flat molars of herbivores.

Humans have the incisors and flat molars and premolars of herbivores, but also canines. We do not have a long gut, nor the special parts for help in digesting cellulose, not do we eat our poo to give it a second go at being digested! (Yuk.)
These things indicate we should eat a mixed diet, including meat and fish as well as vegetable matter.

It is important for women, especially young girls, during their menstrual years, to eat meat, as it is the best way to get iron, essential for blood production. And we must be very careful what we feed our growing children. A vegan diet can mean that the child is not getting enough of vitamin B12, vitamin D, zinc, protein, calcium and iron.
I will admit that most humans eat too much meat. Our early ancestors would not have had meat every day, as many of us do. We should all cut it, but not cut it out. I also acknowledge that some meat eaters are short of other vitamins that can only be got from plants, as well as fibre. And speaking of fibre, vegan diets can be excessively high in fibre. This is not a nutrient, and too much can rob the body of nutrients.

And many products that are sold as meat substitutes to vegans are very high in salt, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.

But, in spite of this, if people wish to pursue a vegan diet, it’s up to them, The main thing I have against them is the way many of them try to make out they are so much better than the rest of us, and try to make us into vegans, too.

I accept that this might make some of you a bit unhappy. It is controversial. But please accept that I am not trying to change anyone. That would make me as bad as the people I’m criticising. It is just my point of view, with a bit of scientific evidence to back it up.


When I was at school, many, many moons ago, we learned about homonyms. These are words that sound the same, but have different spellings and meanings. We were given lists of hthem and told to write a sentence containing each and showing what it means. Some of them are very tricky, and often catch people out. Yes, even writers!

A recent spate of these in a variety of places has prompted me to write this little post to try to help. So here we go!

We all know the first of these. It’s what happens in the rain. We get WET. But the second? WHET is to sharpen something. Hence a WHETSTONE, which is something used to sharpen knives, daggers, swords scissors, etc. It does not need to be wetted before use as it’s not a WETSTONE. When I was little, I thought that’s what it was and pictured people sharpening their knives with a bucket of water by their sides to keep the stone wet.
So we WHET our appetite, we don’t WET it.


Davrael sat by his horse WHETTING his knife before the battle.

As we sat down to our meal, the waiter brought a small savoury to WHET our appetites.

When the dragonet plunged into the water, they all got WET.


This is one I’ve mentioned before, but I make no excuse for doing it again. I see it spelled wrongly far too often.

Peek. This is a quick, or sometimes sneaky look at something. Many authors will give a sneak PEEK at a chapter of their new book.

Peak. The top of something, often a mountain.


Thadora PEEKED around the corner to make sure there were no guards visible before venturing into the alley.

The climbers were exhausted by the time they reached the PEAK of the mountain.

I think that the fact that Peek is often written after Sneak that causes the problem.


Pour. To run in a steady stream, or, of rain, to fall heavily.

Pore (verb). To be absorbed in reading or studying something.


When we went to catch the bus it was POURING with rain.
The barman POURED a measure of whisky into the glass.

In order to pass the test to leave his apprenticeship behind, Carthinal PORED over the magic texts.

Pore (noun) a small hole, often in tissue, such as skin or plant tissues, or even in rock.

Poor Needy, destitute, penniless, lacking money.


He had runs so hard he was sweating through every PORE.

Under the leaves, plant have small PORES called stomata.

The woman was so POOR that she could barely afford to eat, and her clothes were ragged.

And one I had never thought about, but I came across only the other day on a notice for a lost cat.


Spade An implement for digging.

Spayed the neutering of a female animal (usually cat or dog) by surgically removing the ovaries.

(the sign said ‘Lost Cat, Black and white, called Shadow, spade…’ I had a picture of said cat digging the garden!


The ground was so hard after so little rain that I nearly broke my SPADE when trying to dig it.

There are so many unwanted cats in the district that all cat owners are requested to have their animals SPAYED.

I hope this has made it a bit clearer.

Please leave your comments in the comments box. I like to hear what you think.

A catch up on my #writing and an #offer.

I’ve been working on both the next book of The Wolves of Vimar series. It’s book 4, and will be called Immortal’s Death.

It will follow on after the friends, who call themselves Wolf, have discovered disquieting things about the Master of Erian and his designs on the land of Grosmer.

Duke Larrin of Sendolina has been missing, and all contact with Sendolina lost. The friends, who call themselves Wolf, send the little dragonet, Muldee, to find out what has happened.

When he returns with the news that Duke Larrin has been imprisoned in his own castle, five of them set off to rescue him.

Meanwhile, there have been riots in Hambara, and Thadora is dispached to find out what is happening. She finds the populace starving because there are no jobs, the richer people, who, by and large provide the jobs, having left in the riots.

I am about half-way through at the moment, and hope to get it finished in the next few months, Then I need to submit it to Next Chapter. It will be some time before it’s released.

In the meantime, I’ve submitted a prequel to the publisher, and am waiting for the next step. It’s the story of the parents of Carthinal, the protagonist in The Wolves of Vimar. I am looking forward to that being released, but as yet have no idea when that will be. I’ve also finished the story of Carthinal’s early life. Just a bit more editing, then I’ll submit that to Next Chapter.

Wolf Moon, Book 3, will be FREE in ebook format from tomorrow, 8th February until Wednesday 12th February. Get your copy soon or you’ll miss the opportunity. If you’ve not read the first two books, you can buy them at the same time by clicking on the covers in the sidebar.

Thank you for reading. Please add a comment in the comments box.

Carthinal's Story 10

Carthinal came out of the study in Mabryl’s house. He heard voices coming from the living room.

“I think you’re mad, Mabryl. He’s a wild kid from the streets.”

“He’s learning, Danu. He’s stayed in at night for the last two months.”

Carthinal realised that Mabryl was talking to Duke Danu, the ruler of the Duchy of Bluehaven. The duke had once been learning to be a mage, but his elder brother net with a fatal accident. This meant Danu had to leave his studies as he was now the heir to the dukedom.

He met Mabryl when they were both apprentices, and kept an interest in magic. The two men were close friends.

“I thought it was a madcap idea when you took him on as an apprentice, but to consider adopting him…”

Carthinal knew he should not be listening to a private conversation, but he could not resist. It concerned him. And what was Mabryl saying about adopting him? Carthinal crept quietly to the door in order to hear more.

“—potential. I felt it when I saw him teach himself to do a simple cantrip. He could be a great mage one day.”

“Maybe, but do you have to adopt him? He could get you into a lot of trouble.”

“Danu, I have no wife, no children. What’s going to happen to this when I leave this world?” He swept his hand around the room. “I don’t want just anyone coming in and going through my magic stuff. It could be dangerous.”

Carthinal crept away to his room. He needed to think. Do I want to be adopted? I’ve lived quite well up to now on my own.

After he heard Danu leave, Mabryl called up the stairs. “Carthinal, come down here, please. Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble—for once.”

Carthinal entered the living room and Mabryl told him to sit down.
“I’ve been talking to Duke Danu. I put an idea I had in front of him. I don’t think he thought it a good one, but I still do, in spite of his arguments against it.”

Carthinal shifted in his seat and kept his eyes downcast.

Mabryl told Carthinal about his plans to adopt him. “If I die without an heir, then all my things will revert to the Crown.” He ran his hands through his hair. “You are a orphan, Carthinal. You have no one and nothing, so I thought of adopting you. This would be a help to us both. What do you think?”

Carthinal looked up. “Please may I think about this? It’s a big step.” His thoughts were in turmoil. What exactly would his adoption entail?

Mabryl nodded. “Of course. I wouldn’t expect you to decide right away, but you do need to be fully in agreement. Now, you can go and think. I need to see some people who want their boy to become my apprentice, and I need to see what kind of potential he has.”

Carthinal returned to his room. Mabryl’s words span in his head.
He wants to adopt me. That means he’ll be my father. Do I want to replace my real father? But then he’s been dead for years. I can only just remember him. And what about the gang? If I become his son, then I can hardly go around with a criminal gang, can I.

Then he remembered other words Mabryl had said.
Mabryl said I’d inherit everything he has. This house and all that’s in it. That’s worth a lot. Could we move the gang’s HQ to here? No, that’d be no good. Can’t have the Beasts in this district.

Mabryl told Duke Danu I have great potential. He said I could be a great mage. Did he mean that?

These thoughts, and many others went round and round in his head until he thought he would go mad. It was a big decision. He dropped off to sleep to dream of an important quest where he used his magic to fend off many dangers.

A Review of Rags of Time by Michael Ward.


This historical mystery is set in the turbulent times just before the English Civil War.
Michael Ward has plunged us into a violent and unpredictable world where King Charles I is pitted against Parliament. The king wants money to pursue a war with Scotland over what the Protestant Scots see as an attempt to re-establish Catholicism. Many English also think the king is going too far with his ‘reforms’ of the Church and accuse him of being overly influenced by his queen and her mother, both Catholics.
Pamphlets against the king abound, and violence can flare up anywhere at any time.
Michael Ward takes us into this hot-bed and makes it real. His discussion of the politics of the time fits in beautifully with the plot, and doesn’t seem like a history lesson, even though I have come away with a clearer picture of the times.


Thomas Tallant is the son of a spice merchant based in London. He has just returned from a trip to India when he is asked for his expertise with falcons, which he has gained on his travels.
An illustrious wool merchant has died in mysterious circumstances and falcon feathers have been found nearby. Soon, though, Thomas finds himself accused of the murder.
He must try to prove his innocence through many turns of the plot to the twist at the end.


The author has created varied and believable characters, from the somewhat naïve Tomas to the intelligent, pipe-smoking Elizabeth. He also brings in a few real historical characters, which adds interest.
Each character has his or her own voice as well as strengths and flaws.


There are a few slips in the writing—few typos and the odd grammar error. The version I read, an e-book, had some formatting errors as well. In one or two places a sentence broke off in the middle and a line space appeared before the sentence continued.
A bit

Like this.
But such was the excitement of the plot that it didn’t bother me.


In spite of those errors, mentioned above, this was a thoroughly engrossing book. I liked the characters I was supposed to like, and despised those I wasn’t supposed to like.
I found it to be an unputdownable (is that a word?) book that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys historical mysteries. I have given it 5 stars.

If you enjoyed this review, please leave a comment in the comments box.

Winter: A Poem

Everything dead.
Nothing moves.
The skies of lead
Press down on the roofs.

The icicles hang
Like teeth in the maw.
Each one a fang
In a wolf’s jaw.

The wind with his knife
Cuts through to the bone.
Soon snow will arrive
And the swallows have flown.

The trees that were green
Are now turned to white,
And everything’s seen
In a glowing bright light.

But look what I’ve found!
A tiny green shoot
Pushing up through the ground.
A snowdrop, no doubt.

It tells of the spring
Not so far away,
And how it will bring
All the flowers of May.

An update on my writing, and a special offer.

The Wolves of Vimar is a fantasy series. Book 1, The Wolf Pack, finds Carthinal setting off to take the tests to end his apprenticeship and make him a full mage.

Once in Hambara, where the tests are to take place, he, and some people he met on his journey are given the task of finding a lost artefact. It has been prophesied that it will be needed in the near future.

The book tells of their adventures in finding the artefact and returning with it.

Book 2, The Never-Dying Man, finds the friends settled into normal life in Hambara. That is until someone who helped them in the quest for the Sword turns up asking for their help. His child has been kidnapped.

Because they owe him a life debt, they agree to help find her. After rescuing her they are left with more questions. Who wants her, and why?

They stray into Erian, the next country and get recruited into the Erian Army where half the group are arrested and taken to Frelli, the capital.

Here they find that war against Grosmer is being prepared. Why, they do not know as there has been peace for generations. What they do find out is more dangerous, and surprising than they could have imagined.

The half of Wolf, who are prisoners must escape and take the news back to the authorities in Grosmer.

Book 3, Wolf Moon, follows the other half of Wolf, who managed to escape the arrest. They are chased into a cave system in the mountains where they find a people living entirely in the mountain.

These people want to have nothing to do with the outside world. In fact, they don’t want anyone to know they exist. To keep their secret, they refuse to show the friends the way out.

Eventually, though, they are persuaded to help and allow Wolf to leave. Unfortunately, though, the group of friends have to pass many dangers to get out, and also, once out, they need to dodge the Erian army which is on the lookout for them.

As they make their way past many dangers, they discover more secrets. Can they manage to get back to their homes and pass their discoveries on to the authorities in Grosmer?

I am currently writing Book 4, which is to be called Immortal’s Death. It is a slow process as I have been distracted by other writing projects, including Jealousy of a Viking, which is the sequel to Vengeance of a Slave, my very first historical novel, and I loved writing it. What I found out was fascinating. But you’ll have to wait for Jealousy, although Vengeance came out at Christmas.

But from today, The Never-Dying Man is available for a mere $0.99, £0.99. This offer is only available until 19th, so don’t waste time. Click here to get your copy, or click on the book’s image in the side-bar.

If you have read any of my books, please consider writing a review. Reviews are important to both writers and readers. Readers can see if they think a book is for them before they spend money on it, and writers rely on reviews to get their books noticed. With the millions of books on sale, this is a difficult process.

So please, Help a Writer and write a review.

There are dragons and magic in the world if only you look for them… V.M. Sang

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