“Cheese” by Carla Buckley – September 2011

Your Honour, my defence I have prepared
Please understand, may I be spared?
Story in my own words I’ll tell
From beginning to end of this present hell

Policeman’s hat through the door I see
No longer if caught, will I be free
“Open up Police” I hear him shout
Enforcer hit’s hard with solid clout

Through the lounge, with haste I run
Accomplice I curse “You said it’d be fun”
First out the window, the waif she’s gone
Over the hill, reaching the path that’s long

Laughing I’m not, through the window I squeeze
“Was not me” I cry, who stole the cheese
With a mighty hand, my leg he pulls
From my jacket the cheddar, it loudly falls

Then Brie, Wensleydale and Laughing Cow
No wonder I got stuck in the bloody window!
Red handed caught he has me so
Read my rights and away I must go

Before you, Your Honour, I humbly stand
Judge and peoples of this land
All witnesses here I’ll make my pleas
“I just couldn’t I swear, resist the cheese!”

By Carla Kovach

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My Veggie/Vegan Diary

Mission:
Vegetarianism for the whole of April and veganism for the whole of May.

Why do this to myself?
I want to explore a healthier, more ethical way of living. Experimenting in this way will enable me to do that without fully committing to a huge lifestyle change. I’m also hoping it will kick start me into a healthier way of life and I’ll finally ditch the excess stone of weight that loves me so much. I’ll keep you posted on any weight loss.

Where am I at?
Today is day five without meat. I can honestly say I’m not missing it at all. I’m not a huge meat eater or fan and I have a love of soya protein anyway. I was also vegetarian for ten years so vegetarian month will be a doddle for me. The difficulty is going to be Vegan May. Milk and butter are easy to replace, I already have almond milk and oil based margarine. The problems I have are trace elements. There’s even lactose in my artificial sweeteners. I’m not going to lie, this is going to be a mega challenge! I will become a label expert, retrain myself in the art of cookery as I know it and eating out is going to be tedious.

What will I miss?
Eggs. I love omelettes, poached eggs, boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, any eggs. They are a fabulous form of protein and in my opinion one of the most versatile items on the grocery list. I will also miss cheese as an ingredient. Will my pasta be quite the same without a shaving of parmesan? Will pizza be the same without mozzarella? Will I master making an egg free cake? I don’t have to answer these questions quite yet. I have the rest of April to slowly come up with a plan to replace these much-loved foods. As far as meat goes, I will miss salmon. I love a salmon fillet. I’ll also miss minced beef as it’s so versatile. Watching my husband Nigel tuck into salmon while I eat a bean burger is going to be difficult but hey, I need to commit to this. Bring on the soya. One thing I won’t do is fail – will I soon be eating my words?

Major concerns:
Cost. I’d be lying if I didn’t bring this up. On a whole I think soya meat products are cheaper than meat so vegetarianism isn’t worrying me. Veganism however is slightly more concerning. The cost of vegan approved produce like chocolate for example is stacks higher than its dairy counterpart and I do like a fair bit of chocolate. Plant based milk and margarines are a little dearer. I prefer almond milk to soya and the cheapest I’ve found it is £1 a bottle at Aldi. Making everything from scratch is going to put a dent in my pocket. I’ve prided myself on cooking highly nutritious meals for next to nothing for years, but now I will have to start thinking savvier. Can I become a vegan but still spend the same on food? That’s a question I’ll hopefully answer in full at the end of May.

What’s for tea?
I bought a tin of edamame beans from Delivegan (details below) and I’m determined to turn them into a smashing meal tonight. I’m going to play Ready Steady Cook (like the cookery program). I have brown rice, a pepper, an onion, a good collection of herbs and spices and a jar of lime curd I bought from a vegan fair last weekend. Who knows how it will all end but I’ll certainly take a photo and let you know. Now is my time to get creative in the kitchen.

Replacement of favourites.
I adore chilli-con-carne but I have been making and enjoying a veggie version on and off for years. I’m going to reveal my recipe below for all who wish to give it a go. I often cook it up when I have to feed a lot of people with varying dietary needs and it goes down extremely well.

Veggie Chilli

Ingredients:
1 bag of Sainsbury’s own soya mince.
3 large red onions.
3 peppers including a green one.
3 mild chillies.
1 small punnet of chestnut mushrooms.
1 tin of kidney beans.
1 tin of mixed beans.
2 x tins of tomatoes.
4 vegetable stock cubes/heaps of stock powder. (Check trace elements if vegan, Marigold vegan stock powder is a safe choice).
1 tin of sweetcorn.
3 tablespoons of olive oil. (Use a cooking spray is watching your fat intake).
4 tablespoons of tomato puree.
3 tablespoons of cumin powder.
1 tablespoon of cumin seeds (if you have them).
2 tablespoons of chilli powder.
1 tablespoon of sugar.
A few splashes of tabasco.
Salt and pepper to taste.

(I also add tins of ratatouille, left over veggies such as carrots, courgettes and anything else I fancy or that is about to go off).

The above will easily make 6-8 main portions (depending on size of appetite) and freezes brilliantly.

Method:
Chop the onions and peppers and fry in the oil until they start to go soft. Add the cumin seeds and lightly fry. Slice and add the mushrooms and chillies. Add the soya meat. At this point the mixture will feel quite thick. Add the spices and mix. Add the tinned tomatoes and stock, then stir. Then, add everything else. If it feels too thick, just add a little water. Bring the pan to a simmer and leave to cook on low for about twenty minutes – easy peasy. Taste the chilli and season to your preference. I normally add salt at this point as stock cubes can be salty. If the tomatoes were a little unripe, add a bit more sugar until you’re happy with the flavour. I also add more chilli as I like it hot.

Assuming that most of us have a few herbs and spices in the cupboard, this normally costs around £7.50 for a pan but makes about 8 main meals if accompanied by baked potatoes, pasta or rice. I buy the soya mince from Sainsbury’s as I think it’s the best tasting mince and the rest of the ingredients come from Aldi which keeps the cost down.

Toodle pip,
Carla Kovach

Author of Whispers Beneath the Pines, To Let, Flame and Meet Me at Marmaris Castle. 

http://delivegan.co.uk/

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More photos of the derelict hotel buildings in Iҫmeler

First things first. This trek is a tad dangerous and I wouldn’t advise you to attempt it. There are barriers for a reason. If like me you decide to climb the fence or go up the steps on the other side, proceed with caution and wear good footwear. After all, I can’t tell you to stay away if curiosity got the better of me and I took the trek upwards myself. 

The first collection of abandoned villa type buildings made up the bulk of my previous blog post. I will post a few photos for all those who haven’t got time to go looking. 

As you can see, had this building been completed, the views from the rooms would have been stunning. It seems from the last photo and photos yet to come that their only use now is for people to hang around making fires, applying graffiti to the walls and trashing the place. There is still much beauty in the decay.


There is a small stone pathway at the back of these villas that leads up to a small cube like building that I presume might be some sort of boiler room. I’m not entirely sure what the building is but take a look and see if you can tell. Beware if you walk up, there are no handrails. It’s a treacherous entrance. 

On a positive note, if you get to the top of the hill, the views are absolutely stunning.

And check out this out …

I took this trek with my husband. When you reach the top, there is an eerie silence about the place until the goats interrupted the moment. Within a short space of time, a load of goats mobbed the place. We watched as they flooded the buildings, jumping through windows, chewing on the flowers and foliage. 

All in a good day out and this day out was free of charge (bonus) and certainly one with a difference. Remember if you do go up there, wear sensible footwear and take a camera. 

My latest Icmeler based story ‘Ludicro’ is set in these buildings. It is part of a holiday horror collection of 5 novelettes (perfect length for an afternoon on the beach) called ‘Dyzturbya – volume 1 – Should Have Stayed Home.’

I’ll leave a sample below should you wish to check it out.

Toddle pip,
Carla Kovach 
Author of Meet Me at Marmaris Castle, Dyzturbya – Should Have Stayed Home (Ludicro) and Whispers Beneath the Pines.

Ludicro by C Kovach

I am a lie,
But you see truth.
I need your soul,
But you’ll not gift.
I’m your desire,
But you’ll not see.
I’m ludicrous,
For your soul, I’m he.

*****

Lydia leaned back in her seat, eyes closed, with one hand on her head whilst intricately weaving a strand of hair around her index finger. The coach went over a bump in the road, then the toddler kicked the back of her seat, again. The driver braked and pipped his horn, forcing everyone to thrust forward. She swallowed, forcing the nausea back, then she pulled the hair out at the root and dropped the black strand to the floor. She wiped her sweaty brow and looked back, catching a glimpse of the child. The sweaty, red-faced menace began to wail. “It’s just down the road Jake, stop playing up. The lady in front will tell you off and you won’t like that,” the mother shouted. That was the first time the woman had spoken and the brat had been kicking her seat since they had left Dalaman Airport. Little Jake responded by climbing over his mother and running up and down the aisle. The coach started to move again.

“That looks like a mini piece of The Colosseum and look at the fountains. I can’t wait to get out of this sweat box and explore,” Imogen said. The small village square looked busy. People were reading papers while sitting in cafes eating lunch. A group of children pointed at the dolphin statues in the fountains. Lydia stared out of the window as she was about to extract another hair. Imogen gently took her hand and guided it back to her lap.

“Why did I agree to come away with you?”

Imogen slipped down her sunglasses and peered over them. “Because it’s been a long time and you’ve missed me,” Imogen replied.

“There is that.”

Screaming boy yelled again as his mother dragged him out of the coach aisle and forced him back into his seat whereupon he continued kicking and screaming. They pulled up outside The Chateau, their hotel for the holiday. Its beautiful boutique image sported a small turret on the top of the building. Behind it, tree covered mountains reached heights she couldn’t fathom. Out the front were some tables and chairs that were set for dinner. She looked through the gap in the people sitting to her left and momentarily had a clear view of the sea. She pictured herself sitting at those tables, enjoying a meal while gazing out at the sea, taking time to reflect on her life, losing Oscar, and her newly resumed friendship with Imogen. Never again would she allow family to come between them. It had been too long and her life hadn’t been the same when they’d gone their separate ways. Imogen had forgiven her and now it was time to start afresh.

“I think this week is going to be one to remember. Welcome to Iҫmeler,” Imogen said as she stood and threw her bag over her shoulder. “Come on lazy, get up. We have a holiday to enjoy and it starts now.” Lydia looked back and noticed that the mother and screaming boy were still seated. At least they weren’t staying in the same hotel. She followed Imogen off the coach.

They waited at reception and a man in his mid-twenties welcomed them in. Lydia removed the booking details from her bag and passed them to him. “I see, you want a room on the top floor, with a sea view. We have keeping just the room for you,” he said in broken English with a smile. “I am Firat. Anything you need, just ask.” He took Lydia’s case, placed it on a trolley and walked towards the lift.

“What about Imogen’s case?” Lydia asked, staring at the man. The man stared back, smiled and continued into the lift. “Wait, my friend-”

“It’s okay Lyd, he doesn’t understand. I’ll get my own.” Imogen wheeled her case into the lift.

They reached their floor. Firat walked ahead with the trolley. “I can’t believe he didn’t take your case. I’m going to say something.”

Imogen yanked Lydia’s arm and pulled her back. “Lydia no. It’s our first day. We don’t want to make a scene.” Firat looked back as he opened the door to their room. Lydia released herself from Imogen’s grip and walked ahead into the room.

“Are you okay Madam?” Lydia ignored him. Her eyes were drawn to the view through the patio doors. The blue tones of the sea blended in with the sky, making the horizon invisible. Mountains jutted out from the sea, and the bay of Marmaris could be seen in the distance. The man continued to stand.

“I think he wants a tip,” Imogen whispered.

“I’m not giving him anything,” Lydia replied as she ignored him. He eventually left. “What a cheek. He really thought he was getting a tip after the way he treated you. I don’t believe it, and to top it off we’ve got a double bed. I asked for twin beds.” She began pacing the floor and biting her nails. “I’m going to have to say something.”

“Don’t. It doesn’t matter. It’ll be like when we were kids and I stayed at yours. Really, it doesn’t matter. Let’s just enjoy our holiday,” Imogen replied.

Lydia walked over to the patio doors and slid them open. As she stepped onto the balcony she felt a faint breeze cutting through the wall of heat. “You’re right. I’m going to put my feet up for a bit, check out the minibar and then unpack.”

“I’m going to explore the village a bit. Want to come?” Imogen asked.

“No. I’m exhausted. I’m just going to stay here and chill.”

Moments later, Lydia watched from the balcony as Imogen walked towards the fountains that they’d passed on the coach. She looked up and waved. Lydia waved back. Soon her friend had disappeared into the distance.

Lydia walked across the room to her bag, took out her camera and lenses, and placed them on the patio table on the balcony. She needed to get back to reality after the shock of losing Oscar. Her mother’s words rang through her head. “Well, he did ride a motorbike. I can’t believe you got on it with him after I told you how I felt. He’ll kill you one day. Thank goodness you weren’t with him that day, stupid boy. It was only a matter of time.” The woman had failed to realise that Oscar was a safe rider. It wasn’t his fault. He always made sure she’d worn leathers and a helmet, and he never even sped on the bike. No, the cow hadn’t realised that as she’d tried her hardest to tarnish his memory.

A tear rolled down her cheek as she remembered her long haired chef and his wide smile that had made her so happy. She wiped a trail of wet from her arm and held it up, blood. There was no way she was ever going to be able to stop picking at her arms. The scab fell off, leaving a tiny but angry red hole, in and around the blood pool. She wiped it away.

Taking her hair, she began to twist the under-layer around her finger until she pulled a few strands out. Her fingertip gently brushed her nape and felt the prickles of new strands poking out of the bald patch under her hair. “Stop it,” she heard her mother yell. That’s all her mother ever had to say. “Stop it, you’ll go bald, take up knitting or something.” Her mother just didn’t understand. Imogen understood, she always did. She picked up the camera and exchanged the standard lens for a telephoto lens and looked through it. From behind the camera she observed the beach below.

A couple of teenagers were playing a game that involved throwing each other in the sea. She smiled as she watched them. The girl in the blue bikini was being carried in a fireman’s lift by a hefty looking boy. He waded through the water, carrying the screaming girl until he was at waist height, then he threw her into the sea. She immediately came back up to the surface and began splashing him while laughing. Lydia’s focus went back to the beach and she watched a waiter carrying a tray of drinks over to a sun lounger. Every image that she focused on wasn’t worthy of snapping. Her inspiration had dried up. She leaned back on the patio chair and refocused on the tall man standing at the water’s edge. Shaking, she zoomed in closer. His long brown hair fell over his shoulders. “Oscar,” she whispered. The man turned. She trembled as another tear rolled down her cheek.

“Don’t be stupid. He’s gone,” her mother’s voice shouted in her head. She was right. He had the build, he had the hair, but he wasn’t Oscar.

A woman ran up to him and kissed him on the lips. Lydia looked away and wiped her teary eyes. She glanced back. Oscar’s gaze met hers through the camera. He let go of the woman and continued staring. Tears of blood began dripping down his face as he reached up to her. She pulled the camera away and rubbed her aching eyes before looking back. The man was still kissing the woman. “Stupid, stupid,” she said as she placed the camera down on the table and put her feet up on another chair. She grabbed her sunglasses and leaned her head against the patio doors. “Too much sun and no sleep last night,” she whispered as she took a deep breath and closed her eyes.

*****

Cold, why was she so cold? She took one step after another but she wasn’t getting any closer. “Babe, I’m here,” Oscar called. She gazed up at him, his head was perfectly framed by the moon, giving him a milky halo. She reached around her neck for her camera but she didn’t have it. Great, she’d tried hard to get the perfect photo for so long, now was her chance, but she didn’t have her camera. His smile beamed back at her. She ran, longing for his embrace, his warmth. She tripped and shivered. Why was she so cold when Oscar was wearing nothing but swimming shorts while standing at the sea’s edge? Like a pond, the sea was still. Oscar took another step into the water. “It’s beautiful. Kick your shoes off and come in.”

“I’ll get my clothes wet,” she said as she pushed each foot forward though the pebbly beach until she reached him. “How did you get here?”

“I’ve been waiting for you. I knew you’d come.”

She held her breath and stroked his face. An image of him in hospital, hooked up to a life support machine, shot through her thoughts. “You’re not real.”

“You’re touching me.” He leaned in and kissed her hard on the lips. “I’ve missed you so much.” Tears flooded her face. She gasped between cries as she gripped him hard, taking in his smell and running her hands through his knotty hair.

“I’ve missed you so much too. I thought you … you-” she pulled away and stared at his unshaven face.

He smiled and took her hand, placing it close to his heart. “You can feel my heart beating. What does that tell you?”

“But-”

“Come swim with me,” he said as he waded deeper into the gentle water.

Lydia shook her head. “Don’t leave me.”

“Come with me.”

“I can’t, I’m so cold,” she replied through chattering teeth. Oscar dived underneath the water’s surface. “Oscar,” she called. He didn’t reappear. “Oscar. Stop playing games.” He bobbed back up and beckoned her to enter. She kicked off her shoes and stepped into the sea. Oscar swam further out and called her. She shook her head and shivered. “It’s too cold. Come back.” She watched as he ignored her calls and swam away. He reached the safety rope and lifted it up. “Oscar, please come back.” Her heart raced as she hugged herself to keep warm.

She heard a rumble in the distance. The water’s edge receded, revealing a seabed of shale, stones, weed and sand. Oscar was gone. The glint of the moon bounced off his shoulders as he swam away. Another rumble filled the air followed by a whooshing, like a tornado gathering momentum around her head. “Oscar,” she yelled as she took a step back. She could no longer see him. Her heart hammered and she began to hyperventilate as she saw the enormous wall of water coming over the mountain that jutted out of the sea. Holding her ears, she ran backwards, screaming and trembling as the approaching tsunami blocked the moon’s light and whooshed forward. There was no way she could outrun a wall of water that was the height of a tower block. She kneeled before it, begging it to take her. She could go with Oscar into the sea and they could be together once again. “I’m coming Oscar,” she yelled as she sobbed into her gritty hands.

“Miss. Are you okay?” asked a large man, who was walking with a woman. Lydia looked around. How had she got onto the beach? She remembered falling asleep on the balcony. A tsunami flashed through her mind. She trembled. “Are you okay?” the woman asked.

“What?” She wiped the sweat off her nose and lifted her tee-shirt away from her clammy skin.

“Do you need a doctor?”

“I’m okay. Where’s the tsunami?”

The man turned and whispered to the woman. She heard the word drugs in their conversation. As she stood, she brushed the pebbles embedded in her knees onto the ground and turned to walk back to the hotel. “Drugs,” she said as she shook her head and crossed the road by the mini supermarket.

As she entered the hotel, Firat ran over to her. “Are you okay?”

She grabbed a flyer off the front desk and began fanning her face. “Why wouldn’t I be?” As she went to speak again, she caught her reflection in a mirror behind the reception desk. Dried blood streaked her arm. Her hair was all matted and stuck around her face revealing her bald area, her knees were raw from kneeling on the beach, and she didn’t have her shoes on. A flashback to her kicking them off as she stepped into the sea came back to her.

“Okay. If you need any assistance, just call down from your room.”

She continued into the lift and to her room. Maybe Imogen had returned. She entered the dark room and called her friend’s name but there was no reply. Maybe she had returned, found the place empty so went back out. Lydia peeled her sticky clothes off and dropped them to the floor then climbed into bed. Tomorrow was another day. She curled up on her side, in the dark, under the crisp sheet and thought of her moment on the beach. The whole episode, dream or whatever it was, slowly came back to her and she sobbed. Being so close to Oscar had felt real, so real she had smelt him and felt the warmness of his breath on her face. She had lost him all over again. She brought her knees up and cried into the pillow, hugging it until she fell asleep.

*****

Lydia had awoken early and left Imogen sleeping. She hadn’t heard her return in the night. As she walked along the seafront towards the marina, she passed a lovely restaurant, serving people breakfast on a small jetty. She smiled as she watched a girl throwing bread in the sea and shouting at her parents, telling them that the fish were eating it. As she neared a bend in the path she reached an ornate water fountain. She placed her camera down and splashed a bit of cold water onto her face before continuing up the steeper hill, away from the marina. Everyone would be snapping away at the boats, she needed something more unusual, a different perspective, so she headed up the hill and followed the road.

She lifted her camera and looked through the lens. That was what she was after, a rusting old mesh with the beauty of the bay captured in every gap. As she continued walking it became quieter. She heard a bell ringing in the distance. Moments later she reached what she had come to see, the derelict hotel. Shrubs and bushes had partially taken over the crumbling steps that led to the main building and apartments. Pushing the branches aside, she climbed the steps, one by one, until she reached the top. She grabbed her camera and snapped away. A clunky bell sound came from the hills. She squinted in the direction of the noise, and what sounded like a crying child pierced her thoughts. “Hello,” she called. The sound was met by the wailing of many. She crept towards the main building and called again. There was no reply. The wailing subsided. “Don’t lose it Lydia,” she said. She shook her head and continued walking.

Standing in front of the chipped white building, she began taking more photos. She needed to explore properly, set up a few shots. She stepped through the door frame and took one step into the empty stone hallway and listened for any sign of life. A rustling drew her eyes to the room on the left. Her heart began to pound. She held her camera up towards the room and took a silent snap. A loud shriek echoed through the building. She stepped back and tripped over a piece of debris. Shuffling backwards on her bottom, she crouched under a flight of stairs and waited, hoping that whatever was making the noise would leave the building. She lifted her camera up and flicked to the last photo she’d taken. She exhaled and laughed as she saw a photo of a small bird entangled in an old bit of mattress that was stuck to a piece of bed frame.

She smiled as she released the bird’s wing allowing it to fly out of the window. Ambling around the rest of the building, she took more photos. Upstairs were more rooms and balconies. Rubble, broken sinks, toilets and door frames, all covered the floors. She stopped at the top of the building and stared at the sea through the torn window mesh. A jet ski skimmed the water and trip boats left the marina for the day. With other buildings to explore, she left.

From what she’d read, there was still a long building and some sort of pump room to find. She headed through a stone arch and up some more steps to reach the long building. She peered in one of the rooms and sniggered at the graffiti picture of a vagina that greeted her. Her heart beat faster as she photographed the decay, the debris and the beer bottles; evidence of current human activity and evidence that her inspiration was returning. Her smile vanished as her ears tuned in again to the child-like wailing that filled the air. The wailing was followed by a rumbling of hooves. “Go away,” she yelled as she ran out of the building.

Clunking bells were all around her along with the goats that they were attached to. The brown and white horned goat stopped wailing and stood in front of her, staring directly at her with its devilish rectangular pupils. The other goats stopped. They remained still and silent behind their leader. The sound of birds, jet skis and boats also stopped. It was her and the silent goats. Her heart hammered as she took a slight step back. She felt a trail of sweat dripping down her neck, tickling her skin. She wanted to scratch, she needed to wipe it away. The goat bleated as it leaned down to chew a flower. The others joined in and began to bleat and wail like babies. She stepped back and kicked a stone which chipped the wall of the building. The horned goat scarpered, followed by the rest. She exhaled and smiled as they ran away. It was goats, just goats. She began the trek uphill towards the pump room where she wanted to take a few more photos before heading back to meet Imogen.
End of sample.

To read the rest of Ludicro and 4 other holiday based horror stories, please follow the link below. If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for free as part of your subscription.

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8 office offenders you could do without

I know the following are first world problems and I know they aren’t particularly important, but have you ever had a small niggle, one that has fermented over time into something huge to the point where you feel a breakdown coming on? Yes, these issues are trivial but to someone, somewhere, they are an everyday verbal explosion awaiting to happen. Please note that the following list was compiled in good humour. Rant beginning …

The Paper Licker
You ask for the batch of signed purchase orders and just in case one was missed, Lizzie wants to check the signatures one more time. Doom washes over your face. She’s been saying all morning that her two under-fives have had norovirus over the weekend. In fact, she looks a bit peaky as she licks her fingers while flicking through the pile. She stops to hack phlegm into a tissue and you remember her saying that her husband was just getting over some flu bug. She smiles and carries on. One last lick and she deems them acceptable to be passed on – to you! This person is the spreader of all office borne illness, sharing infected spores via saliva on the corner of paper. What is wrong with using a rubber thimblette? Please don’t lick paper – ever. There really is no need for it. Lizzie, keep your bugs to yourself.

The Empty Tray Deserter
Bill doesn’t usually use the main office. He works upstairs but he has to venture out of his natural habitat occasionally to photocopy some of his marketing material – and you blooming well know when he’s been. You know when he’s used the copier, you know when he’s used the franking machine and you even know when he’s used the loo – how? Because the copier is flashing an angry red light and needs filling, the franking machine is out of funds and the loo roll needs replacing. ‘It’s no big deal’ he thinks. Bill is an annoying t***. Mommy and Daddy did everything for him when he was a kid and he still doesn’t have to lift a finger at home. If you have a Bill in the office, call him back to fill the paper tray and make him do the walk of shame – he can change, he’s just full of his own self-importance. It’s never too late to develop new skills – like exchanging an empty loo roll tube for a full one.

The Unnecessary Delegator
How many people does it take to change a light bulb? We’ve all heard this saying before, whether it be to open a joke or mock a group of people all doing the same job at once, when one person would suffice. 

Sue in accounts wants to get hold of a brochure from a company she regularly uses. She has the email address of the contact and she knows their name, but Sue thinks that requesting a brochure is beneath her. Sue sends Alan in admin an email asking him to request the brochure. Alan requests the brochure from a lady called Betty on Sue’s behalf. Betty emails Alan, to ask which brochure he wants. Alan then emails Sue to ask which brochure she was after. Sue replies and leaves Alan to relay that information back to Betty. Why on earth is Alan involved? Sue, you are a pain in the arse. Alan, you need to tell her to order her own brochure and stop wasting company human resources. 

The Birthday Collection
Can’t we all just keep our fivers? I know with ten of us in the office, we each get a birthday gift worth fifty pounds but please … our fifty-pound, year-long investment, has turned into some vouchers for a shop we barely use – and this is the best-case scenario. Did no one ever tell these people that cash is King? We may get some expensive perfume or leisure tickets, maybe a round of golf. Great. Again – cash is King – stuff golf. Sam the clerk hates golf and he’s allergic to all scents but he will force a grateful smile as he receives the gift. 

Max on reception thinks a raw insect, ‘Protein of the Future,’ tasting session would be a brill present for Jenny. Max? the names I want to call you are a bit obscene for this post and none of them are Max. Just do away with the collection gift thing. We want our money. We join in to be polite, we join in so that we’re not ostracised by our team. Jenny, you must hate showing everyone the photos of you vomiting while chewing on a mealworm slider – but they also insisted on a selfie to prove you did it.

People come to work to earn money not to plough it back into birthday collections to buy gifts that their colleagues don’t even want. Give Jenny and Sam a break.

The Mischievous Filer
You needs an invoice – urgently. Jackie had the invoice on her desk for two weeks but the invoice has suddenly gone. Jackie says she filed the invoice back in its original place. You go to get the invoice and, to your shock and horror, it is no longer there. You ask where the invoice is but Jackie maintains she put it back where it came from. It wouldn’t be so bad but HMRC are conducting a tax inspection and the five invoices that they’ve requested to see are the last five Jackie has been using, and none of them are filed where they should be. This isn’t the first time it’s happened either. It’s easy to forgive the occasional genuine mistake. Sweat beads roll down your forehead as the tax inspector peers up. You plead with Jackie to think where she put these invoices but she insists that you’ve since moved them as she always puts things back in their rightful places. As your heart pounds, you feel a darkness coming over you. Just as you are about to self-implode, you find the missing purchase invoices filed with the sales invoices. Jackie believes she put them back in the correct place, or does she? She looks at you. You can’t work out whether it’s a look of guilt or a sneer – she’s far too subtle for you to be sure. For now, you have been saved. The tax inspector stops throwing you judgemental looks. Jackie, you are a liability and need a less responsible job. Either that or you’re a sadist who needs reporting to HR. I hope you lose her at some point before you lose your sanity to her absent-mindedness or gas lighting – which ever one of these behaviours she’s displaying.

Omega 3 in all its Glory
We know Sid has started a new healthy eating plan and we know it’s good for him. Ultimately his work performance will improve, after all, the inclusion of more oily fish in his diet can only be a good thing. Salmon on Mondays, mackerel on Wednesdays – it’s all on his diet chart. Problem is, he cooks the stuff in the office microwave. The smell travels through the corridors into the communal office. It’s on his clothes, in his hair, in fact it’s in everyone’s hair, especially those who dared to venture into the kitchen to make a cup of tea while Sid’s fish was cooking. Great, now everyone smells of mackerel. The next day, the kitchen will still smell of mackerel. We applaud Sid’s commitment to his new diet but we don’t applaud the smell he’s forced upon us. Extremely smelly food – no way should it be cooked at work. Sid, eat your salmon cold, in a lunchbox, sealed. Same with your mackerel. Don’t cook extremely smelly food at work. I include sausages on this list too.

Workflow Woe
Joe’s role is central to the paperwork movement function. Everything that needs a paper trail lands on Joe’s desk. It normally takes him seconds to deal it into piles and pop it in the internal post. Most people in the company rely on Joe to distribute their work, which means they can sit idle until Joe does his bit. Joe however states that he’s too busy as he clips his nails and chews gum. Joe will do lunch first or he’ll even clean up the stationery cupboard that didn’t needed cleaning in the first place before he dishes out the damn paperwork. Joe knows he holds the power. Joe knows people are waiting but Joe will put his mixed-up pile into little piles when Joe is ready. Joe really isn’t popular but we seem to be stuck with Joes wherever we go. Joe, your retirement can’t come too soon … what you’re only twenty-five?

Go away, I’m packing up!
It’s 16.58. The traffic is diabolical unless you get out on the stroke of 17.00. You are called into John’s office just as you are watching your clock turn 16.59. John is in a senior position in the company so you can’t ask him to wait until tomorrow. That’s ruined your evening. It will cost you more money on childcare as you’ll inevitably catch the traffic and be late collecting your kids. Forget home cooked food, you’ve already decided to grab a pizza as your kids will be grouchy because of the late dinner – factor that cost in too. Maybe you’ll be late attending Bridge Club. Whatever your passion/responsibilities outside work, they are now scuppered. You will now spend another thirty minutes in traffic all because someone else couldn’t manage their time during working hours – or could they? Are they sick of seeing that you have a life and that you look forward to going home? Was it deliberate or just thoughtless? As you enter, you sit there while they talk about nothing for exactly three minutes and end the meaningless conversation with, ‘oh look at the time, I suppose we should go. This can wait until tomorrow,’ – no s***!

Officially – rant over. I hope you don’t have a Sue or a Joe or even a Max to contend with. I hope your workplace is as joyous as spring and you’re as happy as a five-year-old playing in a large cardboard box. Most of all, I hope you enjoyed my list of office offenders. We all have our bugbears, feel free to add your offices offenders in the comments section.

Toodle pip,
Carla Kovach
Follow me on Facebook. ❤️
https://www.facebook.com/CarlaKovachAuthor/

Meet Me at Marmaris Castle

Kindle download is available for a tiny 99p.

‘With the help of best friend Beverley, forty-five-year-old primary school teacher Annie Henderson, is hanging up her beloved cardigans and rediscovering her sexy inner-siren. Why? Because of a proposition made ten years ago. Jason’s words have never left her. ‘Meet me at Marmaris Castle, ten years from now, seven in the evening.’ 
As she battles with killer heels, bikini waxes and ill-fitting underwear, she toils with the doubts that swim through her head. ‘Will he turn up? If he does turn up, will he like me? Will I like him?’ After all, her only dream is for a happy ever after. Corny, yes – but it’s true. She wants her dream man, she wants him to fulfil all her desires and most of all she wants him to be the one. Is ten years too much of a gap though?’
Meet me at Marmaris Castle is a romantic comedy full of mishap, awkwardness and severe problems with fashion.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1539961443/

 

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Meet me at Marmaris Castle – Chapter 1

Leopard print shoes.

I love the shoes. He will love the shoes, that’s if he turns up. I hope he loves me more than the shoes but the shoes would be a start. Do I want him to love me? A decade is a long time and now I have stretch marks. I know people make promises but sometimes circumstances dictate whether a person is able to fulfil those promises. “Meet me at Marmaris Castle,” he’d said. That was almost ten years ago. Had he since married like I had? Maybe he’s divorced like me. I trembled at the thought. I don’t have a plan if he doesn’t show. I suppose at the very least I’ll get a holiday. I haven’t really had much time to myself since having the girls so a holiday sounds okay, just not as okay as seeing Jason again. I stare at the shoes, admiring the heel and the leopard print pattern, and I grin. He will definitely love the shoes. I pack them in my case. I fly the day after tomorrow. Take me to Marmaris.

Florida, the children and her.

Phillip’s car pulled up on time. I paused and watched as he opened ‘her’ car door. Oh no, does she have to get out? My heart feels as though it’s pumping at the back of my throat, making me feel like I need to gag. She’s getting out of the car. Yes, Miss younger, slimmer, and now just to top it off, pregnant, has just stepped out. Why is it that she looks like she’s been kitted out in the best that John Lewis can offer? When I was pregnant with the twins, I had to make do with leggings and his oversized tee-shirts. Oh yes, my wide-fit trainers were really glamorous; bloody puffy ankles. That’s how it goes when you’re pregnant and a bit hard up. I checked my reflection as they walked up the path. Hair at its best – check, loving the honey hi-lights. Make-up, tidy if not slightly foxy – check. Clothes – best in my price range – check. You can’t go wrong with jeans and a fitted shirt. The doorbell rang. The girls ran down the stairs. “Daddy,” Emily shouted. Shelly followed closely, carrying her favourite teddy bear. I heard the door open.

“Hello my lovely ladies. Are you excited?” Phillip asked. The girls yelled at the same time.

At first I hadn’t been pleased about him taking them to Florida with ‘her.’ It’s a long way to go and I’ve never been apart from them for that long. Three weeks without their shrill voices and animated play was going to seem strange and then there’s ‘her.’ Her has a name. Her is called Mallory. What kind of a name is Mallory? Mallory works in management. Mallory’s American father is some sort of business tycoon, IT sector I think. Mallory obviously works for Daddy’s company. Mallory has the shiniest hair and the firmest behind ever thanks to her personal trainer at the gym. Her gym has a steam room. I imagine her visiting the nutritionist just before getting her weekly manicure. My hands shake. I can see the attraction, I really can. Phillip and I did nothing but argue and Mallory has a fabulous house, a trim bottom and she has a swimming pool. I know this because my children come back from their country retreat and ask me why we can’t have a swimming pool too. I have no idea why Mallory wanted to put my husband in that lovely house but hey, what Mallory seems to want, Mallory gets. It was no good delaying the inevitable. I had to face them.

I took a deep breath and walked down the stairs. Play it cool Annie. Take one step after another in the ridiculously high heels you’ve treated yourself to. Whatever you do, don’t stumble. Be elegant, walk tall and show them that air of confidence that you’ve been practising so well. They come into view and I notice that they both look so well preened. Had Phillip gotten a fake tan? I tut. I have to stop doing that. I’m allowing parts of Mallory to enter my mind. Mallory says gotten all the time. The children even come home saying gotten. I’m forever correcting them.

Phillip smiled at me as he took Shelly’s case from the hall. He’d had his teeth whitened. That had to be Mallory’s influence.

“Hello Sweetie,” Mallory said as she leaned in and kissed me on the cheek. I allowed her to hug me. “They are going to have such an awesome time. I don’t want you to worry about them for a single moment. You know I have an Aunt Ellie living in Miami, we’ll be staying at her beach house for one of the weeks. They will have such an amazing experience,” she said. I inhaled her perfume. I didn’t recognise the smell but it was no eau de toilette. It had a depth and a sweetness, which left me needing to inhale again. Her clothes felt soft to the touch. There was no colour fading or bobbling on her light shawl. It was then I realised that the size twelve high street jeans that were holding in my size fourteen stomach had nothing on her. I’ll get my own back when she reaches the third trimester.

Emily left the house and began walking down the path. “Do I get a hug Emily,” I called. She giggled and ran back.

“Sorry Mummy,” she said as she threw her arms around my waist. I kneeled and kissed her soft cheek.

“I think they’re just so excited to go and see Micky and Minnie, aren’t you girls?” Mallory shouted.

The twins yelled again. Big grins spread across their faces. “Even Ernie is looking forward to it,” Emily said as she held up her scruffy teddybear, the bear that Phillip and I had given her on her first birthday. The girls still looked so tiny. My heart missed a beat at the thought of them leaving me for a whole three weeks but despite our previous differences, Phillip is an excellent father. I just hoped in the meantime that Emily and Shelly would still think I was a good mother, after all, buying that swimming pool will never be on the cards.

“Mummy, I forgot Bertie,” Shelly said as she hugged me. Bertie is Emily’s first birthday bear. My girls rarely go anywhere without their special bears.

“That’s okay Love. I’ll go and get Bertie for you,” I said as I left her at the door and ran up the stairs. I ran into their room and started lifting the bedding and opening the cupboards. Bertie was nowhere to be seen. I’ve never known anything else get so lost, so many times. Shelly certainly was the forgetful one. I paced up and down as I tried to think back. She’d had Bertie at breakfast and then she’d taken Bertie upstairs when she was getting dressed.

“We have to get going soon. Can you hurry up?” Phillip called.

“I’m trying,” I said. I heard him murmuring to Mallory. The girls were giggling and running around on the drive, no doubt excited to be going to Disney World. I kneeled down and looked under the bed. How had Bertie ended up there, flush against the wall? I fell onto my front and reached as far as I could. I touched the bear’s arm. Just a bit further and I’d have the bear in my hand. I reached again and managed to grab it. “Ouch,” I yelled as I went to kneel up. My hair was stuck in a bed spring.

“Annie. I’m real sorry to hurry you but we have a flight to catch,” Mallory said.

I wrenched my hair from the spring and yelped as a few strands ripped out. Gripping Bertie, I hurried along the landing and ran down the stairs. That’s when time stopped; that’s how it seemed anyway. Halfway down, I missed the step in my ridiculous shoes. No longer did I feel hot, I felt steaming, stuffy, rushed and flustered. I remember slinging the bear and grabbing the bannister. I remember Phillip and Mallory staring at me as I slid on my bum, hair everywhere, arms flaying, grabbing anything. Then, I landed with my legs apart at the bottom of the stairs. Keep smiling, I thought. Don’t let them see your pain. As I went to stand, the top button on my jeans pinged and hit the front door, allowing my stomach to escape over my waistband.

“Are you okay Sweetie?” Mallory said as she ran over to me.

“I’m fine,” I replied, smiling as I tried to rake my fingers through my hair.

“Here, don’t try to lift her in your condition,” Phillip called as he ran over and offered me a hand up. The cheek of it. How heavy did he think I was? Did he think I would break little Mallory?

“I said I’m fine.” I grabbed the bannister and pulled myself up. My arm ached at the socket and my rear felt as though I’d taken a kicking but I wouldn’t show them my pain. “See, no damage done,” I said as I gasped for breath and placed a mass of tangled hair behind my ear.

The girls were still running around in the garden. Phillip bent down and picked Bertie up. Shelly ran up to him and he passed her the bear. “Thank you Daddy.” Thank Daddy why don’t you. I wanted to cry but I know that would be silly. It wasn’t Shelly’s fault I’d just fallen down the stars while trying to reunite her with her bear.

Phillip looked up at me and said, “Mummy found the bear.” At least he had some decency in there.

Mallory touched him on the arm, displaying her fiery red nails. “We have to go, really. Girls, say goodbye to your Mummy.”

Shelly and Emily ran up to me. I hugged them both at the same time. My girls were going away with their dad, without me, for the first time. I was going away without them for the first time since I’d had them too. I felt a tear welling up in the corner of my eye. Mallory looked at me. “We’ll take real good care of them, really we will,” she said as she hugged me. I hugged her back.

Phillip and Mallory have been together for two years. He had cheated on me with her, but we hadn’t been happy. I’d known for a long time he wasn’t the one but we’d planned to have a baby anyway. Foolish, I know, but neither of us were getting younger and we both saw children as being a part of our future. That baby had ended up being two babies. We made a go of it and it hadn’t worked. Our lack of love wasn’t Mallory’s fault. Her timing sucked but it wasn’t her fault. I felt like hitting myself for using another one of her words. Since when had I ever used the word sucked apart from in past tense when referring to how one consumed a popsicle? I blushed, there were other times. Anyway, moving on swiftly, I could slap myself again. It’s an ice-lolly. Why did the girls keep bringing these damn words home?

I watched as they all got in the car and buckled up. I waved to the girls. The car left the street and they were gone. A tear trickled down my face. I promised myself I wouldn’t cry and look at me now. I sobbed in the doorway, smearing all the make-up I’d spent ages applying. I closed the door and grabbed my phone from the side. What does a woman do when she’s sobbing her heart out like a baby? She calls her best friend and has a good natter. “Beverley, can you talk?” I said as I bawled down the phone.

I hope you enjoyed the first chapter of Meet me at Marmaris Castle. 

Romantic comedy novella, ‘Meet me at Marmaris Castle,’ is now available on Amazon. 

With the help of best friend Beverley, forty-five-year-old primary school teacher Annie Henderson, is hanging up her beloved cardigans and rediscovering her sexy inner-siren. Why? Because of a proposition made ten years ago. Jason’s words have never left her. ‘Meet me at Marmaris Castle, ten years from now, seven in the evening.’ 

As she battles with killer heels, bikini waxes and ill-fitting underwear, she toils with the doubts that swim through her head. ‘Will he turn up? If he does turn up, will he like me? Will I like him?’ After all, her only dream is for a happy ever after. Corny, yes – but it’s true. She wants her dream man, she wants him to fulfil all her desires and most of all she wants him to be the one. Is ten years too much of a gap though? 

Meet me at Marmaris Castle is a romantic comedy full of mishap, awkwardness and severe problems with fashion. 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Meet-me-at-Marmaris-Castle-ebook/dp/B01KL6RQCW/

https://www.facebook.com/CarlaKovachAuthor/?ref=bookmarks

Toodle pip,
Carla Kovach x

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To Let – 99p. This weekend only.

99p. 
For this weekend only on Kindle Countdown, psychological thriller ‘To Let’ is going cheap. 

To Let 

Then: 

Years ago there was a death in the village of Beoley, a teenage girl was found drowned in a well, murdered. No one was ever charged. 

Now: 

After leaving her long term partner, Libby moves into a new apartment in Canal House. To begin with everything seems fine, she is effectively avoiding all communications with her cheating ex Gary. Her new landlord Tim seems pleasant and she regularly pours her heart out to her sister Olly. Soon the cracks begin to widen, her job pressures build to an unmanageable level, Gary is becoming increasingly persistent with his texts and calls and her allusive neighbour Mr Bull is regularly causing disturbances amongst the block. On top of everything, the father of missing woman Bettina who once lived in her flat arrives and seeks her help in finding his daughter. 
Slowly, the stresses of her new life begin to perpetuate the darker aspects of her personality. Her depressive side slowly takes over and her delicate state of mind is carefully played by a dark mysterious personality. Can she come out of it with her life and sanity? 

Not for the easily scared…………

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Let-Carla-Kovach-ebook/dp/B00JD1JAWG/

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To Let – 99p special offer next weekend!!

If you enjoyed ‘Whispers Beneath the Pines,’ you may enjoy psychological thriller ‘To Let.’

‘To Let’ will be 99p next weekend on a Kindle Countdown promotion. If you enjoy a dark psychological thriller, don’t forget to bag a reduced price download. It’s not for the easily disturbed. 🔪
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Let-Carla-Kovach-ebook/dp/B00JD1JAWG/

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