Category: Beaufort Scales

Two Years of Blogging & an Escaped Octopus

Two Years of Blogging & an Escaped Octopus

Happy blogiversary to meeeeee!

Actually, no. Not really. I was just looking at my blogging files and suddenly realised that they go all the way back 2016. 2016, you guys.

Okay, it’s not that long. But really – who knew I had that many words in my head? Well, coherent ones, anyway. I did not.

two years blogging
This is still much tidier than my mental desk, people. Much, MUCH tidier.

So, I’m not sure when I actually started my blog. Ahem. I started it on Weebly, because it was just so easy, before realising that I was going to have to switch to WordPress if I wanted to be able to do anything fancy with it. I’m still not sure I’ll ever actually do anything fancy with it, but, you know. I could if I wanted. Anyhow, when I switched I just got really fed up with the whole importing blog posts and re-jigging images and everything, so not all my blog posts made it across. And the old website’s long gone. And because I can be very organised, but often choose not to be, I appear not to have saved any of my original blog posts. Which means the oldest blog post I have is from when I started using Novlr writing software to write them, which was in April of 2016. I actually discovered that I have a load of blogs and short stories over on Novlr, and I don’t use that any more either – I couldn’t even remember the password to get into it. I feel like a small child, scattering debris behind me and not picking it up again, even though the odds are I’m going to want it again.

Adventures in blogging with a cat
Of course I’m more popular than you, human. Look at me.

So, my blogiversary was actually sometime before April 2016, but it’s close enough. Plus, I like that first blog post I found, so I’m going to inflict it on you below. It’s about an octopus.

And what have I learnt in two years of blogging (ignoring the few months where I ignored the blog entirely)?

  • The blogs you like the least always seem to be the ones everyone else likes the most.
  • It’s okay to be personal. In fact, it’s necessary.
  • No matter how many times you spell and grammar check, you won’t catch everything – particularly really blindingly obvious mistakes.
  • The cat is more popular than I am.
  • Dragons are more popular than anyone else.
  • Bloggers are, by and large, wonderful people.
  • Save your damn blog posts somewhere you can find them again.
  • If all else fails, interview the cat or the dragon.

 

two years blogging and Beaufort Scales birthday
There really will need to be a most lovely tea party for Beauforts anniversary…

I think that’s pretty good going for two years of blogging. And it’s also reminded me that later on this year it’ll be two years since Beaufort made his grand, barbecue-festooned entrance. I did manage to find his first story hidden on Novlr, but I can’t find the date. It may have been November. Or maybe October. Either way – I’m going to have to think of something special for his birthday. As befits the High Lord of the Cloverly Dragons.

But for now – a blog about an octopus escapologist.


Two years of blogging and octopus escapologistsOctopus Escapologists

(April 17th, 2016)

There was a fantastic story that popped up this week, about Inky the octopus’ great escape from a New Zealand aquarium. I cheered him on – I mean, who wouldn’t? It’s not like he’s a large, hungry polar bear, or an enraged banker, is he? He’s not likely to wreak havoc on the local chippie, or with your grandmother’s pension plan. He’s just a small, multi-limbed being who had had enough of being pointed at by small children and manhandled by aquarium workers. Or octopus-handled. I’m not sure of the exact terminology, here. Person-handled? Be that as it may, I love – love – the fact that he didn’t make a break for it during the day, but instead waited until the middle of the night to clamber out of his tank, sneak across the floor, and head for the outside world.

Two years of blogging and octopus escapologists
FREEDOM!

But those poor other fish, though. They would have all been shouting: “Inky, Inky, come on! Just open the tank? Please! We won’t slow you down…” Then again, they’re fish, so opening the tanks probably wouldn’t have been any help at all, except to the other octopus in residence, who goes by the unfortunate name of Blotchy, and apparently wasn’t as intelligent or as personable as our hero. That I can see: “No, Blotchy, you’ll only slow me down. Besides, I never liked you much anyway.” And then our brave cephalopod vanishes down the drain and is away for the cool green waters of Hawkes’ Bay.

The whole story was wonderful – not least the description of Inky as being a bit of a “surprise octopus”, which had me imagining him hiding behind coral heads to shoot ink at aquarium workers, while yelling “Gotcha!” Well, it must get boring in a fish tank. But it also got me thinking about freedom, and captivity, and about how we carry our own prisons with us. Some of us inherit them, some of us are given them, some of us build them for ourselves, and we’ve become so accustomed to them that we barely notice they’re there. Often, we’ve been carrying them since childhood.

two years blogging and life in captivity
I’m fine. This is fine. *sigh*

They come in lots of forms, some of them so cleverly constructed that they’re like safari parks – we think we’re free even when we’re not. We even look free to other people. But there are limits to our freedom. And I don’t mean big limits – don’t do this because you’ll get arrested/die/be disowned by your great-aunt Alda. (Assuming you like your great-aunt Alda, and that this is an undesirable outcome). These are smaller, more insidious confines – if those are the zoo walls, these are our artfully designed enclosures. Beautiful, looking like freedom, but prisons nonetheless. And, unlike Inky, we don’t set ourselves the task of testing the limits of our enclosures on a regular basis. If we notice them, we accept them. Hey, we think, they keep us safe. They keep all the other stuff out (and the other stuff is always scary). They’ve always been there. Everyone’s got them.

All of which, of course, are pretty rubbish reasons for staying in a fish tank when there’s an ocean at the other end of the drainpipe.

two years blogging and freedom
Testing those limits.

Maybe we should be channelling a little octopus bravery and testing the limits of our captivity. Maybe it’s as simple as talking to the neighbour we only nod at but think we might become friends with, given the chance; or as complex as packing the job in, selling our stuff and stepping out on the road to somewhere else. Maybe it’s saying no when you’d normally say yes, or having hot sauce instead of mayonnaise. Maybe it’s joining a sports team or going to a restaurant on your own or reading a book you wouldn’t normally read. Little things, right? (Well, other than the quitting your job and heading off into the sunset one. If you do that, I absolve myself of all responsibility. This is a blog post inspired by an octopus. Don’t get your life advice from a blog that takes inspiration from such dubious sources.) Our confines are so often created by our fears and reinforced by our behaviour, and sometimes it doesn’t hurt to shake the bars a little. Maybe you’ll decide that actually, no, this is more than enough room, like a reef fish cruising his own little domain, with all the clean water and good food and reef fish nookie he needs. But maybe you’ll find you need to expand things a little more, a moray eel that has her home but roams the reef at night.

Or you might just go, bollocks to it. I’m an octopus.


I may need to rethink my previous statement regarding coherent ideas. It has only the loosest relationship to the facts. Although I do stand by my directions not to take life advice from a blog that gets its inspiration from escaped cephalopods.

two years blogging
Ribbons and things, because blogiversary.

How about you, lovely people? What were you writing and reading at this time two years ago? (Or, you know, what other stuff were you doing? I do realise that some people have a life outside writing and reading. Understand, no, but realise yes. 😉 ) Let me know below!

Beaufort Scales & Characters That Are More Than They Seem

Beaufort Scales & Characters That Are More Than They Seem

Here’s a thing that happened to me the other day.

I’d been having a lot of trouble with my shoulder, and attributed it to overdoing things on the weights, even though the problem appeared (weirdly) on a day off, while I was sat on the couch (conclusion: sitting on the couch is dangerous, kids. Don’t do it). I put up with it for a bit, popped some ibuprofen, did some stretches, but eventually decided enough was enough and that I should get it looked at. I’m marginally sensible in my old age.

My lovely friend, who’s a body psychotherapist, poked my back in a few places, laughed (laughed harder when I told her I’d done a one-armed workout that same morning, so now the other shoulder hurt too), and told me she’d fix it.

This consisted less of massage, and more of finding out what was stressing me enough to make my shoulder try and turn itself inside out.

She found it, and the exact details aren’t as important as the bit I want to talk about. I had to articulate some things about myself that were difficult for me to say, and it took me a while to get to it. And while I was struggling, she said, “You don’t have to say it to me. Say it to anyone that makes you feel comfortable. Say it to one of your characters.”

So I did.

I said this thing that was so hard for me to say to Beaufort Scales, High Lord of the Cloverly dragons and tea-drinking barbecue fan.

Because I could. I couldn’t say it before, but once I thought of Beaufort, I could. Which was awesome, and my shoulder’s been fine since then (not so much the other one that I did the one-armed workout on – that one took longer to clear up). But isn’t that a strange thing? That I could say something to a dragon that I couldn’t say to my friend? (That whole sentence is probably a little strange, but let’s just go with it and move on.)

And it made me look a little closer at Beaufort, an odd character who appeared out of nowhere, helped himself to a scone, created a little friendly disruption, and appears to be here to stay. My friend said that we don’t create our characters for no reason, and while I’m not sure this is always the case (hello zombie mice), I think she has a point with Beaufort.

I love writing his stories. I love seeing the world through his eyes. I love that he’s endlessly curious, and full of wonder and joy and compassion. And I love – I love – that he speaks to others. But I never really thought about it that much. He was just a lucky accident, a product of a misread tweet and a bizarre-as-normal conversation with my dad.

But people relate to him, somehow. People like him, not in a ‘he’s a cool character’ kind of way, but in an ‘I’d like to know him’ kind of way. More than one person has drawn him, in full detective mode or attempting to build a snowman before his breath melts it away, and it makes my heart terribly full with the sheer amazing-ness of it. That he’s alive for someone other than just me. One person said that he knew he could draw him because it was Beaufort, and it wouldn’t matter if it wasn’t good. Even I drew him, and I’d believed since school that I couldn’t draw anything. And all of that was okay, because it didn’t have to be good. Because Beaufort would think all of it was wonderful. He would think all of you – all of us – are wonderful.

So maybe he’s more than just another character. Maybe he’s exactly who I needed, someone loyal and dragonish and amused and supportive. He was certainly who I needed to be talking to when I had to say something that challenged long-held beliefs about myself. Only he is me, too, so I guess that in a manner of speaking, I’ve found a way to talk to that part of me that sees the best in everything. In everyone.

Which is both wonderful, because I like to think that maybe I have the ability to do that, and disappointing, because I’d really like to have a cuppa and some cake with Beaufort, in front of a warm fire while the snow falls outside. Boo for not being able to jump into other worlds.

But there’s always the stories.

And that’s okay, too.

This is how I imagine it going.

So, lovely readers – what characters have you found over the years that you’ve particularly connected with, that have talked so clearly to you that you can’t forget them? And, lovely writers – what about you? What characters have you created that show you a different way to see the world? What characters have you learnt from? Let me know below!

And if you’ve missed the Beaufort stories – there’s only one to be found on the website menu at the mo, but you can find the rest through this link, because some days we all need a little Beaufort in our lives 🙂

A Dragonish Q&A with Beaufort Scales

A Dragonish Q&A with Beaufort Scales

Introducing Beaufort Scales, High Lord of the Cloverly Dragons and lover of tea, cakes and barbecues, if you haven’t met before.

Beaufort: So, what are we doing, Miriam? Lovely scone, by the way.

Miriam: Thank you, Beaufort. And we’re going to do a blog.

B: Which is neither a bog nor a log, or any combination of those?

Mm: No. It’s just an article, really, but it goes on my website instead of in a newspaper.

B: And the website is in the twitter machine?

*Mortimer sighs loudly in the background*

B: Alright, lad. No need to get sniffy. Old dragons will learn new tricks, we just take a little while to do it.

Mm: Okay. So – are you ready?

B: Fire away!

Mm: Okay, so – can you explain to the readers who the Cloverly dragons are?

B: Of course. We are a very ancient clan, and have been living in the area ever since that whole St George incident made us decide we were best to move to less populated places. I saw that, you know. High Lord Catherine was sleeping, and he just –

Typical. Making High Lord Catherine look ten times the size of that ‘knight’, rather than her true size- that of a Shetland pony.

Mm: Oh dear. Maybe we should move on…?

B: There’s a whole day devoted to him! Where’s High Lord Catherine’s day?

Mm: Well, that does seem unfair –

B: And a flag! St George’s cross! Cowardly monster. And did we take revenge? No! We just moved away and left the humans to it! Some days I’m not sure that was the right choice. Maybe we should have taken a stand against such vulgarity, then and there!

Mm, hissing: Mortimer, what do I do? He’s going to scorch the tablecloth!

Mortimer: Beaufort, sir? Would you like some more tea?

B: I – ooh. Are there more scones too?

 

…a little later…

 

Mm: So, what made you decide to, um, visit with humans again?

B: Well, that’s all down to Mortimer, really.

Mort: What?

B: Yes, lad. First that clever idea of changing our definition of treasure, then those wonderful baubles you created to enable us to actually start trading – wonderful!

Mort, spluttering: I didn’t – I never – it was meant to be all anonymous!

B: Nonsense. And then you made friends with Miriam here, and she introduced us to all her Women’s Institute friends –

Mort, faintly: I think that was called you gate crashing a meeting, not being introduced.

B: And then it became very clear that the WI needed our help when the vicar was poisoned last summer, and you were ready to help straight away.

Mort, fainter still: I really wasn’t…

Mm: Mortimer, are you alright? Your tail’s gone blue.

Mort: Am I stress-shedding again? Again? We’re not even doing anything! Just talking about it! Just talking about it upsets me!

B: Mortimer, I think you could use another cup of tea. Sit down and leave your tail alone. You’re not helping, worrying at it like that.

*Mortimer mumbles indistinctly but furiously*

B: Miriam, do you have any cream? It goes terribly well with scones, and it always seems to calm him.

Mort, indistinctly: I shall be fat and bald. Fat and bald and stressed.

 

 

…a little later again…

 

Mm: Does everyone have enough scones and tea? Okay, let’s talk about something else. Beaufort, you’ve been High Lord for centuries-

B: Ever since High Lord Catherine was slaughtered.

Mm: Um, okay, yes. What are the greatest changes you’ve seen?

B: Oh, what a terribly exciting question! It’s been wonderful. Humans are so interesting. You never rest, do you? Always something. Trains, and cars, and airplanes, and rockets. Satellites up among the stars, and people on them. People! Such clever things, you humans. But at the same time you don’t change a lot. Still fighting with each other over everything, and never looking up from all the clever things you’re doing to really appreciate everything. What else? *pauses thoughtfully* Vegetarianism. Yes. Vegetarianism in dragons. I mean, humans are always a little odd, but dragons? I consider myself very tolerant, but that is strange.

Mm: I – okay. Yes, I can see how that’s a really big change.

B: And village fetes. The standard of cake has really gone up in the last millenia.

Mm: So, the biggest changes since the days of St George are vegetarianism in dragons and cake?

B: Well. We notice the small stuff, don’t we? The big things are wonderful, but it’s the small things we really live, don’t you think?

Mm: I guess so.

B: And there’s no point dwelling on the changes that help no one. This is a positive glob, isn’t it?

Mort: Blog.

B: That’s what I said.

Mm, quickly: Absolutely.

B: Anyway, I think there’s more positive than negative. All species have their funny little scuffles and problems. But, individually, you’re all quite lovely. And you do all these things to connect to each other, like the twitter. All these little people living in the machine and chatting to each other and supporting each other. It’s wonderful!

Mort: That’s not-

Mm, talking over Mort: You’re right, Beaufort. It is kind of wonderful, isn’t it?

B: And having human friends again is a beautiful thing. It teaches an old dragon all sorts of new tricks.

*Mortimer sighs heavily and picks at his tail*

B: What else do you want to talk about?

Mm: I think that’s perfect. Unless you have anything else to say?

B: Hmm. Only that too many humans think they are very small and unimportant, and it makes them sad, or angry, and sometimes hurtful. But every one of you is beautiful and wonderful and fascinating, with the most astonishing thoughts and ideas and potential. You should all remember that, and tell each other the same every chance you get. *pause* Mortimer, do stop picking your scales. You are far too young a dragon to be having a bald tail.

Mm: Mortimer, do you want some more cream?

Mort: No.

B: Come on, lad. A scone, some cream – maybe a little something stronger?

Mort: Noo…

Mm: How about hot chocolate?

Mort: I’m not sure.

Mm: With Baileys and cream?

B: Well, I certainly want one. Come on, lad.

Mort: I guess I could.

B: There we go. Hot chocolate. Chocolate in general! That’s another wonderful advance!

Mort, whispering: He’s so enthusiastic. It hurts my head.

Mm, patting him on the back: I know. I’ll make you that hot chocolate now.

 

…and later still…

 

B: How’re you feeling, Mortimer?

Mort: Mush – much better.

B: There we are, then. Life should always be contemplated with plenty of tea and cake. And spiked hot chocolate, when necessary.

Mm: And that is a universal truth.

 

 


 

Do you have any questions for Beaufort? Ask away in the comments, or you can find him on twitter here. Well, when Mortimer lets him use the twitter machine, anyway…

 


 

If you enjoyed that little insight into the world of Beaufort, you might want to jump over here and read one of his short stories – or ask me about his others! Don’t forget that most of the short stories will be coming down from the website at the end of the month, but if you sign up to the newsletter below you’ll get a link to a new story every month (and yes, this month it’s a Beaufort story!)

 

 

Dragon Soup

Dragon Soup

You need big pumpkins to feed hungry dragons.

Beaufort Scales, High Lord of the Cloverly dragons and aficionado of well-built barbecues, would like to offer his recommendations for the best way to cook rabbits.

Unfortunately, we seem to be missing some rabbits.

 


 

Beaufort: Mortimer, they were right here.

Mortimer: I know, I can’t quite imagine what’s happened. There were six of them, two each and two for, ah, trials.

B: Are you suggesting I might not cook the rabbits to perfection first time?

M: Ahem. Of course not. Just that we might, um, need a couple of goes to get the recipe to where the humans can follow it accurately.

B: Ah, I see. That makes sense. It must be quite tricky, using an oven rather than just a little puff of flame.

M: Exactly.

B: So where are the rabbits?

M: Umm. Is that Gilbert? Gilbert!

Gilbert (nervously, in far too bright a voice): Hi! Hello. Ah – what’re you two up to, then?

B: Oh, we were just about to do a lovely rabbit cooking demonstration.

G (faintly): How… lovely?

M: Gilbert, we seem to be missing some rabbits. Would you know anything about that?

G: Me? No. No! Why would I know anything about it?

M: Well, there was that incident with the turkeys at Christmas.

B: Mortimer, there’s no need to accuse the lad like that. He wouldn’t steal another dragon’s dinner, would you, Gibert?

G: Umm.

M: Dammit, Gilbert! We were going to take photos and everything!

G: But they’re cute! And fluffy! And their little paws are just so, so – little! And paw-y!

M: Gilbert!

B: See here, lad, you can’t be setting people’s dinner loose like that. What’re we going to eat now?

M: What’re we going to photograph now? I promised Alice we’d do this for the WI blog!

B: I’m slightly more concerned by how long it’s been since lunch, personally.

G: I can make something.

(Silence)

B: I don’t mean to be rude, Gilbert, but you are a, a vegetarian. We’re dragons.

G: So am I!

B: Well, of course you are, lad, but, well, I think I may be a little old to become a vegetarian dragon.

M: To be fair, sir, one meal won’t make us vegetarian dragons. We’ll just be dragons that ate a vegetarian meal.

G: Yes, exactly! Besides, I don’t think there’s any getting those bunnies back. They were running pretty fast.

(Beaufort growls. Gilbert looks alarmed.)

B: Alright. But if I start craving celery for breakfast I’ll be sending you out to get it.

 

 


 

Ingredients:

1 dragon-approved pumpkin

1 large onion

2 cloves garlic

1 large mild chilli, including seeds (or to taste)

Approx 1 cm ginger

Sesame oil

Turmeric

Ground cumin

Ground coriander

Whole cardamon

Soy sauce

Veggie stock (powder or liquid)

1 165mL can coconut milk (or more if you prefer a creamier soup)

3-4 lime leaves

1 lemon

Fresh coriander

 

Method:

Chop pumpkin into manageable pieces – Gilbert likes a small pumpkin that he can pull into quarters easily. Remove seeds (you can eat these while you’re cooking, if you’re as passionate about pumpkin as he is). Roughly chop (with a knife or claws) onion, garlic, chili and ginger.

Heat spices in dry saucepan – dragons have difficulties with fiddly things like measuring spoons, so just shake a generous amount of each ground spice out and add 6 or more cardamon pods. Let them heat until fragrant, then add a healthy glug of sesame oil.

Add chopped veg, give it a quick stir, then drop the pumpkin on top. Add a few shakes of soy sauce and the zest of the lemon (you can scrape it with dragon scales or a grater). Cover and cook on a low to moderate heat (this is much easier on a stove than with dragon flame, which runs terribly high to scorching), checking occasionally, until the pumpkin is so soft you can scrape it off the skin with a spoon. Remove the skin, and take the cardamon pods out at the same time (count them in and out – no one wants an unexpected cardamon pod in their teeth).

Add coconut milk, lime leaves, and enough stock to cover the veg. Cover and cook on low for 10 -15 minutes, then taste for seasoning. Remove the lime leaves before blending (blend with your claws if you want, but a stick blender tends to get it smoother). Add as much extra stock as you need to get the desired consistency, then add a healthy handful of chopped coriander and some lemon juice to taste.

Serve with lots of crusty bread, and a little creme fraiche and coriander scattered on top if you’re feeling posh. Gilbert prefers just to drink it straight from the pot with no messing around, but this may be frowned upon if you have company.

 


 

Beaufort: Well, lad. I’m not saying I could ever be a vegetarian dragon, but I see your point.

Gilbert: I’ll make you jambalaya next week. It’s got okra in it.

B: Okra? Are they hard to catch?

 


 

Do you eat much veggie food? What’s your favourite easy recipe, veggie or not? Feel free to share in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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