Saturday, December 30, 2006
We're already missing Africa. The first thing we did, after visiting our families, was to hit a camping store in Sydney and buy a new tent - a future replacement for the circus tent (so named because it has a big top and, according to Mrs B, a clown inhabits it).
Anyway, there may or may not be much blogging from now on. Australia means home, but it also means work - the day job, that is. We'll see how it goes.
In the meantime, we made a good new friend in Hannelie, from Perth, who's been posting on this blog, and has agreed to help me with my appalling Afrikaans spelling.
So, until the near future, happy New Year.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Monday, December 11, 2006
As dedicated readers may recall, we've had a few little mechanical challenges with Tonka, the mighty Series III short wheelbase Land Rover. These have included: leaky fuel tank, broken gear lever (or is that stick?); and ongoing problems with banjo bolts (please don't ask) and the gear box, as a whole.
Being back in the land of Land Rover (the UK) has been nice, though. Amazingly, we picked up a copy of a land rover magazine (Land Rover Owner International) and were astonished (I believe Mrs B squealed) to see a picture of Tonka in it. The magazine's editor had been in the Kruger National Park on a junket and happened to see our distinctive (aka battered and dirty) baby parked up by the fence at Punda Maria camp. He snapped a pic for the pages of his mag dedicated to unusual sightings of land rovers around the world (no snide remarks, please - it is an excellent magazine).
Here are a couple of our pictures of Tonka, his improvised African gear lever (refer to earlier posts about shifting spanners and multi grips) and me attempting to repair the leaky fuel tank on a roadside in Mozambique.
Testing, testing... with thanks to Bec and all her legion of fans - and to those of your unsolicited commentators... here is a pic of one of the pirates. This is Broken-Hand, one of the ring leaders. Awww... isn't he cute? (little b@stard).
Here's a couple of very nice (if we do say so ourselves) pics of leopards. The one of the leopard in the tree with the poor little baby impala was taken by Mrs B, and is all the more impressive given that she (and I) were hammered at the time, having enjoyed a four-hour lunch with our friends from Capte Town, who were visiting Kruger and invited us to have a meal with them at the luxury private game lode - Tinga Narina - of which they are part owners. I will be giving lots of shameless plugs in the future to Tinga, as it's going to feature in Book 5.
We decided to break the Africa trip with a week in the UK to get some research done for book five. A good mate of mine is a police protection officer (don't call him a bodyguard or he might shoot you) and, as the lead character of book five happens to be an English protection officer, a trip to interview him (aka spend five nights on the booze) was always on the cards.
Of course, coming to England in December I knew it would be cold. I'm not that stupid, but why is it that I am always completely unprepared for just how miserable it will be over here in t'old country. Landing at Heathrow at five in the morning the captain told the flight "It's quite warm on the ground at Heathrow- 15 degrees centigrade". I strained to hear the faint chuckle, or note of sarcasm, but there was neither. He was serious - going on to add, however; "it may feel a bit cooler, though, thanks to the 40 knot wind - that's 43 miles per hour".
OMG (oh, my God), as the youth of today might say.
It was cold and it just got colder and colder. However, it was a profitable week and I got to meet a bunch of very nice people from Pan Macmillan UK, who will be publishing African Sky next week. Of course, I said nothing about cricket.
As I am in the British Airways lounge right now I will attempt to post some long over due pictures. Here goes.
(Please note, legion of fans, the above mention was not a shameless plug. I am very, very dissatisfied with British Airways right now. They have decided to allow all seats to be available for early reservation online - even the highly prized emergency exit row seats. This would be OK if we knew we could get online and try and book them in advance, but we were told in Joburg that the policy was to hold back exit row seats so that check-in staff could asses whether the passenger was fit and well enough to operate the exits in an emergency or - in my case - allocate them to exceptionally tall people. One thing my online bio does not mention is that I am abnormally tall - 6'6" or pretty close to 2 metres.
I hope I get deep vein thrombosis as a result of being cramped in my cattle class seat, and cause lots of headaches for the BA PR people. You deserve it).
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Saturday, November 25, 2006
She thought the sealant smelled like nail polish, while to me it smelt more like Airfix model glue.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Monday, November 20, 2006
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Friday, November 10, 2006
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Sunday, August 06, 2006
It's by Frank Walker, of the Sydney Sun-Herald. Frank did a profile on me last year and was one of a number of journos who visited Afghanistan while I was there with the Army.
The review ran on August 6, on Page 62. Here's an excerpt (I'll leave out the bit where he gives the plot away, but trust me, it's all good. I haven't censored anything about how lame my writing is).
"Park is an Aussie who loves Africa and spends half his year there among wild animals writing thrillers. This is his third. Set during World War II on an Allied pilot training base in Rhodesia it's as much a whodunnit as Boy's Own adventure yarn with a hint of kinky sex thrown in... (and here he gives a run down of the plot)... it all culminates in a dogfight with dastardly Nazis. Rootin' tootin' reading, ideal for long flights."
Got to be happy with that. Fighter planes and kinky sex. What else could you ask for in a book?
One of the good things about writing books is that it gives you an excuse to do lots of fun things that you might otherwise have no reasonable excuse to do.
As part of my research for the new book, African Sky I was able to track down the owners of two vintage WWII Harvard training aircraft - a type used to train pilots for the allied air forces in Australia, Rhodesia (modern Zimbabwe) and Canada.
Jeff Mueller showed me around his Harvard at Bankstown Airport and answered a whole host of research questions, including how to go about sabotaging an aeroplane such as his. I think Jeff enjoyed that bit, in a strange sort of way. He was also able to tell me how to crash land a Harvard - something he's had to do himself (not by choice).
Afterwards, Jeff took Mrs Blog up for a joyflight, during which he did some rolls (upside down stuff) and pretended to straff some enemy bunkers around Blacktown and shoot down a Japanese Zero over Prospect Reservoir (Mrs Blog enjoyed that bit, immensely). All this was for a good cause, as Pip Lovejoy, plucky, sexy heroin of African Sky gets involved in a dog fight in a Harvard during her first every flight in an aeroplane, so Mrs Blog relayed her breathless feelings about the flight and I got to take notes.
When the book came out, I thought it would be good to get some PR pictures taken with a Harvard. Jeff had sold his by then (he's upgrading to an ex Russian air force jet and practising his emergcency landing drills!) but he put me on to Norm Longfield, who owns a Harvard at Hoxton Park Airport in Western Sydney.
So it was, that I got to do some more serious plane spotting and have my picture taken with Norm's magnificent, shiny specimen of a Harvard (above). I can't fly, but I like to hang out with guys who can, and live out my Biggles fantasies.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Well, here it is. Book 3, which now has a name (as opposed to "book 3", which the publishers, Pan Macmillan, convinced me wasn't commercially viable) - "African Sky". My third novel is due out in shops in Australia in the first week of August, and in the UK and Germany in early 2007.
Here's the back cover blurb:
Paul Bryant hasn't been able to get back in a plane since a fatal bombing mission over Germany.
So, instead, the Squadron Leader is flying a desk at a pilot training school at Kumalo air base.
But one of his trainees has just been reported missing.
Pip Lovejoy, a volunteer policewoman, is also trying to suppress painful memories. When Felicity Langham, a high profile WAAF from the air base, is found raped and murdered, Pip and Bryant's paths cross.
Suspicion immediately falls on the local black community, but Pip's investigations unearth a link between the Squadron Leader, the controversial heiress Catherine De Beers and the dead woman, which throws the case in a new, disturbing direction.
What Pip thinks is a singular crime of passion soon escalates into a crisis that could change the course of the war.
Why I spend my life and most of what I earn trying to get back to Africa... and on:
Watching animals... like this elephant on the banks of the Zambezi, upriver from the Chirundu bridge, maybe 300-400 metres from the nearest houses and less than a kilometre from a busy border crossing.
Here's a pic of the Zambezi River, taken from the verandah of a fishing shack where I've stayed a few times on the Zimbabwe side of the river, at Chirundu.
If you've read Far Horizon (my first book) this is where Mike Williams (the lead character) retires to lick his wounds and think about the girl he thinks he's lost.
It's one of my favourite places in Africa to sit. And the fishing and game spotting are pretty good, too.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
In the spirit of the FIFA World Cup and in acknowledgement of the fact that I have absolutely no interest in soccer (apparently it's now called football) here's a pic of something interesting that I saw on a soccer field in South Africa.
We were on a morning game drive out of Umlani Bush Camp (www.umlani.com) on the border of the Kruger National Park and came across a pack of about a dozen African wild dogs (Africa's most efficient predator and most endangered mammal).
Unfortunately we'd just missed them gobbling up (more like ripping apart) an impala for breakfast, but a pack of hyena showed up and cleaned up what remained. The dogs took off into the bush, but were soon followed by the hyenas. Hyenas often follow wild dogs because they know the of the dogs' killer reputation.
When we caught sight of the dogs again it was on the football field at the back of neighbouring Tanda Thula lodge (where the staff from the various lodges in the area chase a ball around and hug each other, in true soccer, errr 'football' style). We watched the hyenas and dogs chasing each other back and forth across the pitch for about half an hour. Occasionally there would be a stand-off, like the one above, where fangs were barred and snarls exchanged, but it was all pretty harmless.
You can't teach an old dog like me to like soccer/football, but clear patches of ground do come in handy in the African bush sometimes.