Bestie Beasties


There is something to be said for internet friendships, and more specifically, Facebook friendships. Friends whom I have never met and probably never will, friends from other cultures who live thousands of kilometres away have enriched my life in more ways than I could possibly count. The internet has made it possible to stay in contact with these virtual friends of mine on a daily basis – friendships that would, in the past, before the internet, have been very difficult to nurture.

The internet has also made it possible for me these people and I feel immensely privileged to share their lives, their joys, their sorrows, they wisdom, their experience and their adventures. Henry David Thoreau said something that makes a lot of sense to me. He said, “Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.”

I can now even talk to and admire pictures of those of my friends who live within driving distance of us. The only things I miss are the hugs. For that reason, I have chosen to feature my most huggable friends in this post, my horses. (with apologies to Melchi and the cats, who are very huggable too.)

There is one thing I miss though. Not eye contact or facial expressions, when I miss those, we can always Skype. I miss the physical contact. The hugs, especially. For that reason, I have chosen to feature my most huggable friends in this post, my horses. (with apologies to Melchi and the cats, who are very huggable too.)

Luckily, some of my most huggable friends live on the same 8 hectares that we do. I only have to walk out the front door and whistle, and hey presto, 800 kilogrammes of huggable friendliness strolls up to the paddock gate.  Meet them below and if you are interested in exchanging a hug or two with these gentle giants, join us for an equine-guided workshop here in the south of France. (with apologies to Melchi and the cats, who are very huggable too.)

The theme of this week’s photo challenge is “friends.”

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If you prefer words to pictures, you can read more about friendship here: If you need a friend…

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Step out of the Shadows and Secure Your Future


Secure Your Future ebookBelow is an extract from my new book, Secure Your Future, due for publication on the 3rd of March. It is available from Amazon.

“Most people these days, when you tell them that their future is bright, will respond with a firm, “No, it is not!” Many of us feel that after what has happened in the last year, the future is by no means something to look forward too. On the contrary, we feel the future is dim at best, downright dark at worst. This is fully understandable.

I fully agree, the future looks bleak, but focusing all our attention on exactly how bleak is not advisable. Most of us feel overwhelmed by negativity when we think about our future, but dwelling on the impending potential disasters that may occur is not going to help us deal with the difficulties that we may be called to deal with.

That said, ignoring our current predicament is not going to help either. What is called for is an effective coping strategy. Or even better, a set of tools to help us cope with whatever challenges are coming our way in the next few years. A certain level of mental fitness will be required. This book proposes a simple strategy as well as a set of mental tools that will help us remain strong no matter what the future holds. These tools are highly effective stress management strategies. I think most of us can benefit from anything that will enable us to reduce the stress we are currently subjected to, following recent events.

In this book, we are first going to look at my all-time-most-effective coping strategy and then at ten mental tools that you can use to support this strategy. You do not have to use all ten. You can try them out and decide which ones work for you. You can use a combination of two, three or four tools or you can use one only. You can use one tool in one circumstance and another when faced with a different challenge.

You no longer need to fear the future. Whatever happens, you will be well-equipped to cope with all eventualities.

Take heart.

Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run, it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just take a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down.
Eleanor Roosevelt- You Learn By Living

The aim of this book is not just to empower you to dominate your fear of the future and handle your frustration with past events, but to enable you to cope effectively with stress and to help you fulfil your whole potential and work steadily towards the future of your dreams, a future brighter than your wildest imaginings and expectations.”

This post is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Shadows

Secure Your Future ebook

Saturday Photo from the south of France: Solitude


Morning Meditation

I am a writer. I need solitude to be able to write. Or maybe I am solitary by nature and I write to ensure my solitude?

Writing is a solitary experience. I’m extremely superstitious. If I talk about the book or name the title out loud before finishing, I feel the energy I need to write will be drained. It’s so intimate, I can’t even share it with my wife.
Paulo Coelho

Writing is a solitary occupation. Family, friends, and society are the natural enemies of the writer. He must be alone, uninterrupted, and slightly savage if he is to sustain and complete an undertaking.
Jessamyn West

Writing can be a very solitary business. It’s you sat at a desk typing words into a computer. It can get lonely sometimes and lots of writers live quite isolated lives.
Paul Kane

Writing is a solitary endeavour, but not a lonely one. When you write, your world is populated by the characters you invent, and you feel those people filling your life.
Danielle Steel

When I’m writing a book, I don’t have any responsibility to anyone. I’m solitary. I’m writing on my own. I write by hand. And I write every day. I mean, it’s part of my daily discipline.
Patti Smith

I regretted the solitary nature of the writer’s life – other people, normal working people, spent their days with co-workers, rode the subway home with a crowd, walked through thronged streets. I worked at home, all by myself.
Kate Christensen

Writing is a solitary profession; you are really alone when you write. Then the emotions become well shaped and distinct. But their transition into words must be done deliberately and with rigid artistry.
F. Sionil Jose

It’s true that it’s a solitary occupation, but you would be surprised at how much companionship a group of imaginary characters can offer once you get to know them.
Anne Tyler

Novelists in particular love to rhapsodise about the glory of the solitary mind; this is natural, because their job requires them to sit in a room by themselves for years on end. But for most of the rest of us, we think and remember socially.
Clive Thompson

To some extent, all authors are a little schizophrenic. We lead most of our lives in solitary confinement, living and breathing the books that we’re writing.
Sophie Kinsella

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Solitude of a Writer’s Life

Saturday Photo from the south of France



This is Merlin, the oak tree that stands right in front of our house. It has been standing there for at least 200 years, probably much longer. It is under this tree that we serve breakfast, lunch and dinner during our summer stress management ‘Connect with Horses’ workshops.

Once it stood surrounded by a forest of family members. Now they are all gone. Merlin alone has endured, the embodiment of determination and resilience.

The moment we believe that success is determined by an ingrained level of ability as opposed to resilience and hard work, we will be brittle in the face of adversity.
Joshua Waitzkin


This is our house, with Merlin in the foreground. It has been standing here for at least 200 years, but we have found references to it in literature dating from the 17th century.

In order to succeed, people need a sense of self-efficacy, to struggle together with resilience to meet the inevitable obstacles and inequities of life.
Albert Bandura

In this house, people have had exactly that, a sense of self-efficacy expressed as self-sufficiency. Today we enjoy the fruits of their resilience, a beautifully preserved, sympathetically-restored authentic maison landaise, that has offered a safe haven to many generations while they struggled with the inevitable inequities of life.


Weekly Photo Challenge theme: resilience

Saturday Photo from the south of France


“When your footsteps and thoughts carry you down the same path your heart and soul are directing you, you will know without a doubt that you are headed in the right direction.” Molly Friedenfeld

As for me, I think I will continue to follow in the footsteps of the two above. I took this photo on Monday, the 19th, my birthday. It was a wonderfully sunny winters day and we had lunch at a restaurant right on the beach, at Arcachon, just south of Bordeaux. A day to remember!

It is Christmas Eve. I would like to leave you with a quote that complements the season’s mood and meaning: “As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” Henry David Thoreau

As well as a lasting gift that might re-direct your path:

You ARE Good Enough free e-book

Click on the picture to claim your free e-book

A very Joyeux Noel to you all
from the not-so-sunny south of France!

Prompt for this week’s photo challenge: “Path.”