Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Call to Action: Can you help Ms Amber Sprunt find her relatives?

As many of you will know I have connections with Malta and Australia. A story in today's Times of Malta caught my eye.
It concerns an Australian lady Ms Amber Sprunt who is currently in Malta searching for her relatives. This is a sad story. Amber's grandmother was one of only a handful of survivors when the family home in Stuart St. Gzira was bombed in 1942. Eight family members were killed by one Axis bomb that night but her grandmother, Jane/Joan Spiteri, survived. She had married a British submariner, Reginald Thompson, in Malta in 1940. Reg was 'missing in action' for three years but survived.

If you think you can help Amber trace her family please email her on asprunster@gmail.com

She will be pleased to hear from you I'm sure. Good luck Amber!

I'm heading for Malta myself on Saturday. I can't wait to return to 'My Island' – my spiritual home for ever.

Until next time....

Mark AKA The Sunburnt Pom

10th July 2018

Friday, 15 June 2018

Hull - Zeebrugge on P&O Ferries, 62 times!

I am a big fan of the P & O Ferries service between Hull, East Yorkshire and Zeebrugge in Belgium. I think I have done this trip 62 times but, to be honest, I lost count a while ago.
Daily, a ferry leaves Hull at 6:30 in the evening and transiting the North Sea overnight arrives at Zeebrugge the biggest port in Flanders around breakfast time the next morning. Supper on board is always followed by some entertainment usually in the shape of a duo, one a singer the other a guitarist or keyboards player. My trip last week was very different.
Within seconds you could tell that this thirty something vocalist was more than a few cuts above average. She performed alone apart from the computerised backing track. This girl was amazing. We tried to guess her accent and thus her background to no avail and during the interval we struck up a conversation with her. She was easy to talk to and very laid back.
'I don't think you're British' was the only comment or guess I could make.
'You're right, I'm Australian! Born and raised in Brisbane.'
This was the first time in fifteen years and over sixty trips that we had ever had an entertainer from overseas. The lady is an absolute diamond and is an Elizabeth Debicki ('Jed' in the Night Manager) double. I kid you not. Her name is Karenina Angelique. Google Karenina for yourself and you'll see what I mean. Karenina will be singing on the mv Pride of Bruges until the end of July. I can sense another trip coming up before then. Well I need an excuse to give her a signed copy of Sunburnt Poms Tales of Oz don't I? 

Until next time....

15th June 2018

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Connections are everywhere

A while since my last blog and a fair bit's happened, got a call from Keri Jones who produces the Great Destinations Radio Show. Keri skype interviewed me about my book 'Sunburnt Pom's Tales of Oz' which he had chosen to promote on his show. The ten minute clip went out over 86 radio stations, mostly in the UK but also on UKWA 88FM in Perth, Western Australia. I was chuffed I can tell you!
Depending on which figures you read then 40% of Brits have relatives Down Under. That seems high but this was brought home to me recently in two entirely separate circumstances.
I was on a coach recently between Bristol and Taunton (yes you've guessed it there were engineering works on the train line). Striking up a conversation with the lady sat next to me she was about to return to Melbourne to finish off a forestry study as part of her degree course. Unbeknown to us two students in front of us were earwigging and turned round to say that they were both visiting Australia within the next few months. A gentleman on the other side of the aisle chirped up that he had a son in Perth. That's four people all within six feet of me with Australian connections. 
A fortnight later I was visiting a sick cousin, Peter, in York District Hospital. When Peter chirped up 'I'm half-way through your Australian book' the Staff Nurse who was pushing a medicines trolley announced 'what book is that? I've got a brother in Perth, he's an anaesthetist! A lady visiting her husband in the bed opposite exclaimed that they had two daughters and three grandchildren, also in Perth. When the third bloke in the ward told us he had two sons in Fremantle we all just looked at each other!
Suddenly that figure of 40% started to feel like an underestimate.

Until next time....

Mark AKA The Sunburnt Pom

11th June 2018

Monday, 5 February 2018

February already!

Crikey, it's February already. Where the heck did January go? 
Down Under I suppose that Australia Day marks the end of the long summer holidays for most which started just before Christmas.
I have spent one Australia Day actually in Oz – in Brisbane along the famous River of the same name. The RAAF F111 bomber screamed low, so low that Jap tourists on the Ferris wheel probably looked down on it! Brissie is a fine city and I will go back one day for sure
You can tell it's winter here and summer Down Under by the plethora of airline ads on the TV with Qantas, Emirates and Qatar all trying to shift hordes of frozen Poms to warmer climes. I wouldn't mind myself but I'm going to have to wait until later in the year. 
My first flight to Oz was memorable and is covered in the first of my short stories which I called 'What kind of biscuits?' What an odd title you might think and you'd be right!
If you read my Tales of Oz then please give me your thoughts – good, bad or indifferent. I've got a thick skin and all feedback is welcome. Let me know which of the twenty stories you liked best and which you think best sums up the Australian character.

Until next time....

Mark AKA The Sunburnt Pom
2nd February 2018

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Happy New Year!

A happy new year to everyone – except England's cricketers. The Poms were fried and not just by the Aussie sun. Well done Australia. Our mob just seem to treat an Ashes Tour Down Under as winter practice in the sun. Perhaps we could ask Canberra if we could resurrect an old Penal Colony for failed Pommy cricketers. Now there's an idea! Richmond Prison in Tassie would be ideal and just think how many extra thousands of visitors it would get if they could see sunburnt English cricketers breaking stones in the mid-day sun – without those silly sponsors caps on of course.

Well, the release of my 'Tales of Oz'  paperback is only a couple of weeks away now. I can't wait to see it 'in the flesh' as it were. Containing just twenty short tales it is a slim enough volume to make it 'airmail friendly' from the Old Country.

I am already looking ahead to a sequel but it will have to be after my next trip, maybe later this year. The new Qantas non-stop flight from London to Perth looks a winner to me so I am saving up my pennies.

Until next time....

Mark AKA The Sunburnt Pom
10 January 2018

Monday, 18 December 2017

Season's Greetings

Well Christmas is almost upon us once again and I am pleased to say that the cards I posted from England to Oz have arrived – well most of them anyway! Cards to friends 'across the ocean' are the only ones I really worry about.

The other good news is that I have signed off the proof copy of 'Sunburnt Pom's Tales of Oz' which I am happy to say is on target for release on 26th January – Australia Day.

The recent vote on Gay Marriage in the Oz Parliament made me chuckle as it reminded me of an anecdote in the second story in the book which I called Boutique Beer. You'll have to read it for yourself.

For the moment you can get it only from YPDBooks

Have a great festive season and see you again in the New Year.

Mark AKA The Sunburnt Pom
16th December 2017

Friday, 1 December 2017

Countdown to Christmas

Well, as usual we Poms got stuffed by the Aussies in Brissie. How predictable is that? I wish I was there – or maybe not!
Cricket or no cricket the State Capital of Queensland is a truly beautiful city and I have made two separate trips there.
Sufficient anecdotes stuck in mind from places and people to make me write several 'Queensland stories' for my forthcoming book 'Sunburnt Pom's Tales of Oz.' 
The day on Fraser Island which I called 'Jurassic Park Oz Style' will stay in my memory forever. I am sorry this book has only been on Amazon Kindle thus far but it will be launched as a slimline paperback in time for Australia Day next month. It will be lightweight to make it 'airmail friendly' and I am hoping to emulate the success of possibly my favourite  Oz book of all time – Let Stalk Strine!
Initially it will only be available from ypdbooks.com – checkout the website to pre-order.
Back to cricket, moving house recently I unearthed a photograph of the Aussie Touring Team to England in 1961 which my grandfather had bought for me and posted to Malta where we lived at the time. Some of the names are now icons....Bill Lawry...Richie Benaud...I could go on.
Can any other sporting contest, anywhere in the world, ever equal the Ashes? I very much doubt it!

Have a great festive season and see you again in the New Year.

Mark AKA The Sunburnt Pom 
1st December 2017