A.J. Walker


Port Amlwch and Parys Mountain

Was delivering in Llanfairfechan and a few drops in Bangor, Caernarfon and Holyhead today. Finished at a decent time so thought I'd take a wee detour on the way home and turned to the north east of Anglesey to go to Port Amlwch. I'd seen the port on an episode of Coast and thought it looked pretty interesting. It's actually the northern most town in Wales and damn interesting historically too. The town of Amlwch was at one stage the second biggest town in Wales when the adjacent Parys Mountain was at its peak. Parys Mountain stands out like a blister on the countryside scarred by the mining of copper there in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was once the biggest copper mine in the world, which is pretty impressive for a little ole Anglesey.

The port was pretty. Looks very tidal. Didn't seem that full of boats but then again it's very narrow over much of its length. I don't know nothing about boats so I can say nothing about them - though I'm pretty sure some were fishing boats. On the port side there was a museum on the 'Copper Kingdom' which is the kinda place I'd like to have visited as an enthusiastic geology loving kid. But it wasn't for today.

There were two nice looking pubs by the car park for the port both of which had nice Liverpool connotations with the Adelphi Vaults opposite to the Liverpool Arms. Apparently the former does real ale but the latter does not. The Adelphi also had a nice paint job.

Anyway here are a few photos.

Parys Mountain

Amlwch Port

Amlwch Port

Amlwch Port

Amlwch Port

Amlwch Port

Amlwch Port

Liverpool Arms, Amlwch Port

Adelphi Vaults, Amlwch Port


Liverpool Arms and Adelphi Vaults, Amlwch Port


Maybe, Just Maybe

Thanks to Scrivener I managed to quickly and easily convert a document into Kindle format. Woo hoo! I had chosen the NaNoWriMo effort from 2016, 'Fergie Time' for no particular reason other than it was formatted in chapters and pretty substantial (50k+). It certainly wasn't the aim to do anything with it. I hadn't looked at it for ages, but seeing in on the Kindle it looked better than I expected and reading the first couple of chapters at it with fresh eyes after so much time made me think that maybe, just maybe, there is something there.

Talking of fresh eyes I made a shout out to several Flash Dogs to see if anyone would read the first few chapters and feedback whether it was worth working on to finish it. Within about an hour each said they'd look at it and almost as quickly - these Flash Dog types are super fast and super friendly - I've already got feedback and far from disheartening too. It wouldn't have been the end of the world if it had been all negative given it was effectively written over a single month. I'd really enjoyed writing it, but with the time gone since looking at it I don't feel overly invested in it at this point. Perhaps that is about to change.

Each Dog has carried on reading beyond the first two or three chapters, which must be a good sign. The humour seems to be okay. Though some of the pointed barbs maybe need to be less pointy. And I probably need to make it less blokey. I know everyone says writing humour is hard and I get that, getting the level right for the story and not putting in funny line after funny line or throwing things out there just for a punchline to come along, or then again not having enough fun in it so you forget it is supposed to be funny... well it's not something I've really tried before.

I wrote it back in 2016 and maybe I didn't think about it enough before hand, for my story is chock full of real people i.e. named football players, managers and pundits (as well as Mary Berry and Sue Perkins). Let's face it the clue is in the name of the book. But I hadn't considered any legal issues of having real people in a fiction story. It could kill it dead in the water in terms of publishing it.

So I was in a bit of a quandary as to whether to finish it anyway, whether or not it could ever get published. Or I could spend that time on a fiction with all fictional people in it. Bearing in mind it's 50,000 words long and I reckon it'll take another 10-20 to finish it I'm minded to finish it for my own sake. Maybe I'll end up with a book that can't be used but I'd have a complete novel length story and know that I can do it. And there may well be lines, passages and ideas I can use in other projects.

The genesis of Fergie Time goes back beyond 2016 to an idea I had years before which I presented at the Writing on the Wall 'Dragon's Pen' event at the Bluecoat in 2013. The panel consisted of AL Kennedy (writer), Kate Haldane (agent), Esther Wilson (playwright) and Gordon Wise (literary agent) and it was one of the scariest things I've ever done in public. I got good feedback from them and from the audience despite my wobbly legs, but never progressed it until NaNo.

So it's gone from a Writing on the Wall project (2013), to a NaNoWriMo project (2016) to maybe just a reopened current project (2018).

Anyways, I now need to finish reading it all myself and get a notebook out whilst I do. Maybe my NaNo 2016 will bear more fruit than the 'Winner' sticker at the end of that month. Maybe I'll properly finish a whole book. Maybe just maybe.


Will It Ever Be Fergie Time?

Getting 'Fergie Time' on to my Kindle was great. Both in terms of seeing how to do it with Scrivener but also in revisiting the NaNoWriMo story from almost two years ago.

Scrivener makes it so easy to get a Kindle copy sorted anyway. Let's face it the last thing you want to do is spend lots of time messing about with formatting and importing and exporting and effing and blinding. Unless you are a sadist you want your time spent on the creative bit.

Fergie Time 300

Going to read the thing on the Kindle over the next few days and send to a couple of canny volunteers just to see if the story idea works and whether there is any mileage in revisiting and finishing it. Or whether I should just concentrate on one of my other projects and leave it as a NaNo experiment. Not expecting them to read the whole thing just the first two or three chapters.

Talking of NaNo who's doing it this year? Doubt I will. But we'll see.


Last night I finally got Kindlegen to work so that I could save something I've written in Scrivener direct to Kindle format and hence on to my Kindle. A few things of note here;

1) I'd downloaded the Kindlegen app to my Mac then spent a day wondering why I couldn't find the .zip file I needed. Schoolboy error; Safari automatically unpacks the files and so the folder I was looking in (for the zip file) was actually the folder of unzipped files! ('These are the files you're looking for')

Anyway then it was just a question of saving these files in the Applications folder then pointing Scrivener to where it was. Simples!

2) I saved the story to the Kindle format with a single press of a button. Huzzah!

3) Now it was a question of dragging the file into the Kindle. Well it would have been if I'd known where it was - I haven't been using it this year. Looking at Goodsread only one of the twenty one books I've read this year has been on the Kindle ('Heart of Darkness' back at the beginning of the year). Found it eventually and of course the battery was drained. So it's on charge now and once it's got some juice in it I can put the file on it.

Seeing how little I've used it made me look back on Goodreads to see how that's changed and the result was: not as much as I thought lately. I found that last year I only read two of forty eight on the Kindle, four of forty one in 2016, two of fifteen in 2015, and eight from twenty six in 2013 (I'm not sure where the records for 2014 have disappeared). Oh my, so much data there. Only read fifteen books in 2015? Clearly in 2013 I read a lot more on it with almost a third of my reading on the device. I'm surprised at how few books I've read on the Kindle overall in recent years I used to use it a lot more. Mind you I have targeted reading more books from my shelves, that have been hanging around for years, and I do keep popping into second-hand book shops both of which pushes back the requirement to read from the Kindle. The other thing is I've not been commuting on trains and buses or traveling much in the last few years. When I was the Kindle was ideal.

Anyway, now I'm ready to put my writing on it I can use it for reviewing something old and substantial I've written, rather than printing out 120 pages, carrying that weight around and requiring the consideration of carbon offset and chiropractor.

St. Mary's Church and Canovium, Conwy

In north Wales again today and was delivering around the Conwy valley between Conwy and Dolgarrog and Glad Conwy. Saw a sign for an 'Historic Church' when around the same route a week or two ago and today decided to go and have a gander - sounds familiar? Again it was very worth while. The church turned out to be the Parish Church for the Rowen district: St.Mary's Church.

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St.Mary's Church (with a few swallows in the air there)

It's in an isolated spot on the banks of the Conwy and is a thirteenth century church thought to have been built by Cistercian monks from Maenan Abbey. And whilst there are no other buildings currently within about half a kilometre of the church there used to be a lot going on here as the church was constructed on the north eastern corner of a Roman Fort constructed around 75AD. The settlement was known as Canovium a timber built fort which housed around 500 foot soldiers which were there to look after the river crossing at Tal-y-cafn. The site is thought to have been in use at least for the bulk of time from then until the fourth century.

View south along the top of the embankment used by the Roman Fort

The markings in the arable and sheep grazed fields have been very strong this year with the dry summer and there have been some great aerial photographs showing the layout of some of the Roman buildings such as the bath house. The most obvious evidence of the fort though is the rectangular platform of the fort which the church sits on the north east corner of.


The sky was alive with swallows and I saw hawfinches in and around the churchyard - but unfortunately I could not get any photos of them. They are elusive indeed.

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The church itself is a familiar shape and appearance in this area of Wales. It has a double bell cote though apparently there is no evidence that there has ever been more than the one bell which is currently there. There is an interesting medieval stone crucifix above the entrance to the church. The tidy church unlike the one at Celynnin is still in use - as I say it is the Parish Church. There is a lovely stained glass window on the the left as you come in. But with only small windows it was pretty dark in there.

Medieval cross

The churchyard is pretty and the setting with the River Conwy below the embankments of the old fort and the hills forming the valley make the spot very attractive. There are two ancient Yews in the churchyard. Unfortunately one has crashed some of its substantial branches on to some of the grave stones which were marked off with tape. The gravestones are well worth a wander around and it's amazing to see the longevity of some of the locals from the 1800s - forget the Mediterranean Diet, what were they eating in the Conwy Valley back then? And whilst you're looking at the inscriptions it's worth keeping an eye out for those hawfinches.


Reading, Writing, TV, Same Old

Finished 'The Honorary Consul' by Graham Greene this morning. I must say I really like all his stories they do evoke a time and place very effectively as well as involving some sad and interesting characters. Recommended. According to my GoodReads tally it was my 19th book of the year and I'm fully 6 books behind my 'schedule'. Ho hum.


I can't put my finger on why I'm so far behind where I was last year. I can only think I'm falling asleep quicker in the evening, not reading quite as much in the morning before work or maybe I'm watching more TV. Maybe it's the latter - I've spent far too much time blindly following the Trump presidency for a start. I need to turn the TV off and get an hour a day minimum reading. Doing that getting to the 40 books can still happen and it'll save my tired neck muscles from my regularly shaking head. Reading more rather than watching the news channels will have the happy side affect of making me feel better too; a little escapism rather than the sad realism of this last couple of years.


On top of that I didn't succeed in doing two blogs or more this week. But I did update the Class Song of the Day with all the Neil Young songs earlier on in the week and made significant formatting changes to the Publications page - which was worth doing more than a blog. The larger images are much better for this page than the previous version. Looking forward to getting the cover and link up for the DeadCades book in the next month or so.

So I'm going to give myself an hour a day to read, right? Well we'll see, but what about the writing? Is there another hour I can find for that? Maybe. Finding reading time is much easier as you can just take five minutes here or there whereas writing requires bigger, if fewer, blocks of time to get in the zone.

I'm still unsure whether it is best to set a target of 1000 words a day or maybe 5000 a week. I'm edging towards the latter, given inevitable constraints in time on certain days. It really is a question of getting in a groove and seeing what works. I was pleased to do 1450 words in a day the other day. On that basis do that three or four times a week 5000 is very hittable and surely you can fit an hour or two into three or four days a week? The other thing you need is the actual writing goal itself i.e. what will those words be for?


Slugs, Elvis and Instagram

Gutted today when I saw a massive slug on the pavement in Dolgarrog and I thought I better take a photo of it for Sal (who apparently really loves slugs), when I went to the camera I found the battery had been drained. It was an awful moment I tell you. I think I'd left the wi-fi on after when transferring photos from the camera to the phone yesterday. Doh! Anyway after that schoolboy error that meant that Sal hasn't got a photo of a slug from me today.

Still, I managed a few photos with my poor phone and a couple were good enough to make it on to my Instagram feed as part of my #DailyDeliveryPhoto

I didn't use Instagram for quite a while (i.e. when I was without my iPhone) but am back in to using it now. Feel free to click through and see lots of photos of Liverpool, pubs, Wales and random stuff (like me and Elvis).


In addition to the general Instagram above I also have one just for pubs and real ale to run alongside my @RealeLiverpool account, so if you're more into beer, pubs and Liverpool then you may find a couple of suitable pics there too to whet your whistle.


As for tomorrow, I have my camera on charge. So if I see any slugs I can sort, Sal.


Back to the Future

I realised today that I've been away from Facebook for over 5 months now, how that has flown. The only tenuous link I still had was my GoT avatar which I have grown used to, but I think it is time to go back to the pre-FB avatar; to my very own Liver bird with Pen which I so painstakingly created. So farewell Tyrion Lannister 'the Imp', hello again Liver bird 'the Pen Wielder'.


It's also a little nod to getting back to some more writing. That's the hope at any rate.

At the same time I've moved on from the artwork from Weird Ales (Vol.1) to a photo I took some time back in Snowdonia. So it's all change on Twitter but in a back to the future kind of way.

Twitter Banner

Unwanted: Dead (Questionnaire) Time

Today started badly. Up for work then get a text saying 'there's not enough routes, stay at home'. Been promised work for rest of week, so not the end of the world - just like to pick my weekend (today's my Sunday I guess (after last Sunday was my Saturday)). The damn gig economy.

On the positive side it's given me time to get my Infernal Clock Questionnaire finished and sent of to Steph ready for DeadCades. It'll probably need more editing than the actual story did - sorry Steph.

It'll also give me time to type up my edits from the weekend for Project: Jaipur - yes, Jaipur is still alive, write a blog or two (including this) and get stuck into more writing (probably on Jaipur) and yes, I will manage a bit of guitar strumming.

Last night I rushed out a quick Fantasy Footy team, naffly named the Anfield of Dreams. May have time to revisit it today to swop a few players - and maybe rename. Starting point anyway is:


Keeping faith in Salah and Firmino though think it'll be hard for them to repeat last year's heights. Not a Man Utd player in sight - which is nice.

Owl Canyon Press Hackathon

Owl Canyon Press ran a short story competition a couple of months ago which was due to be announced in August. It was an interesting idea with the first and last paragraph of the story supplied by them the writers had to write the story in-between. To make it harder still the entire story was to be exactly 50 paragraphs AND no direct speech was allowed. Ouch!

So I thought well hey, worth a go. Not many people will wanna take that on. And I've hardly seen anybody mentioning it on Twitter which kinda supported this.

Cue email from OCP yesterday with an update. Er, seems my second guessing wasn't exactly spot on. There were over 900 entries! Results therefore around the start of September with so many to read. Bloody hell, 900+ entries - there really are a lot of writerers out there.

DeadCades Anthology

Looking forward to the Deadcades Anthology which is due for release in just a couple of months. Such great authors in there and they've nearly all got website things where you can read about them and their writings.


Yep, I'm the future - that's never been said before! Then again it could be why the future doesn't look good.

There's plenty of class acts and familiar names within the drabblers and dribblers too:

* Christopher Stanley * Michael Carter * Andrea Allison * Sean Fraser * Pattyann McCarthy * Dominic Davis * Ewan Smith * Arthur Unk * Bart Van Goethem * Voima Oy * F.E. Clark * Marc Nash * Stella Turner * C.R. Smith * Catherine Connolly *

Keep an eye on the Infernal Clock website to see how it progresses. Though I dare say I may mention it a few times.

St. Celynnin Church, Conwy Valley

Back in June I saw a church on the top of a hill miles from anywhere which looked interesting but didn't go and see. As I said at the time I wish I had once I looked up a bit about it. It's a 12th Century church which is impressive in itself, but its location makes it doubly intriguing. Well today I was up there again and the weather was good so I took the opportunity to walk over to see it.

Glad I did. It's a pretty building and the location makes it look beautiful. Didn't have time to look over all the graveyard much but I saw gravestones dating back to 1717 (Stella would be impressed).


There's a holy well in the corner of the enclosure, which may be why the church is there in the first place. Apparently there used to other buildings around the vicinity including roundhouses and even Roman buildings. And an adjacent pub (probably not Roman).


I'll put up some more background to the church - and maybe St. Celynnin, when I get the chance. But in the meantime just look at the pretty pictures.