Book Review – Children of the Sun by Michael Andrews.

Children of the Sun is the fifth and final book in The Alex Hayden Chronicles, which follow the adventures of Alex, a thousand year-old teenage vampire who is caught between his past as a notorious vampire warrior and his present as a reformed character and adopted nephew of Harry, a modern day police officer in Blackpool.

Children of the Sun is a fitting end to the Alex Hayden Chronicles. The plot ties up all the loose ends in a satisfying way but still manages to introduce some surprising new developments and exciting twists and turns.

Everything that is in the other books in the series is there and more. Children of the Sun is an easy read and a great mix of fantasy and modern-day crime fiction. It contains well-developed and likable characters, an intricate and intriguing plot, fast-pace and excitement, humour and irreverence and a hint of romance.

In Children of the Sun, we are reunited with all our favourite characters and yet more aspects to their personalities and backstories are revealed. We physically meet some characters for the first time and come face to face with some new and terrifying monsters.

For those in the know, there is a nod to some locations that are, shall we say, very familiar to the author and his friends.

While we were introduced to the darker side of Alex in The Cauldron of Fire and Dragonfire, The Children of the Sun takes this to another level and it is by far the most violent and disturbing book in the series. But, if JK Rowling can do it, then why can’t Michael Andrews?

Every time I start one of these reviews by saying this is not my usual reading genre but I loved it, and Children of the Sun is no different. I romped through it in half a day and was left with a contented soul and a smile on my face. I thoroughly enjoyed getting lost in Alex’s world for a few hours and am more than a little sad to be saying a final farewell to him and his cronies!

Saturday, July 11th, 2020, Day 118, Week 17, Month 5 of our Covid-19 Experience.

We are definitely on our way out of this at last. Numbers are going down and lock-down is easing. It’s not “back to normal” but some semblance of normality is being restored.

The Numbers

48 new deaths in the past 24 hours. Total “official” deaths 44,650.

New Cases in the past 24 hours, 512.

So, it’s all getting close to the magic number of under 500 new cases a day. Only then, will we start to feel confident about the level of risk out there.

Globally, there have been over 12 million cases and 500,000 deaths.

The current hot-spots and countries that don’t seem to have the virus under control are the USA and Brazil. Sweden is also seen as a country on the “red” list with travel restricted to other countries, due to their “relaxed” approach.

The highest death rate per million population is still the good old UK though, at 658.

Spain is 607, Italy 578, Sweden 547, France 460, USA 413. It’s all related to testing, case definitions and accuracy of data. Belgium remains an outlying anomaly at 844 per million.

The News

Last Saturday, a week ago today, was dubbed “Super Saturday” as all the pubs, bars and restaurants opened again, albeit in a very restricted socially distances way.  Hairdressers and barbers opened too promoting a flood of people rushing to have their lock-down locks trimmed and their roots re-done.

Lots more things are permitted now, to be honest, but we’ve lost track of what’s allowed and what isn’t. People can meet outdoors in larger groups and a couple of households and meet indoors and even stay overnight. I’t a rapidly changing situation and its different in different countries in the UK, so is all got very confusing.

The New Way of Life

For us, its still a very cautious approach. I’m reluctant to do anything that involves being indoors. I’m happy to meet people outside. At the end of the day, current estimates suggest that only 1 in 4000 people currently have the virus in the community, so whatever we do, we know the risk is low.

Last Saturday, I went round to my daughter’s garden for the afternoon and early evening and spent time with her and my granddaughter. Such a precious few hours after so long apart.

I’ve booked a hair appointment for the end of the month. I walked up to one of my fellow writers’ houses yesterday with the other two members of the group and we had a lovely drink and a chat on her patio. Today we’re going round to another friends garden for a drink this afternoon.

The weather is better again at last.

The big news is that we are definitely going to Barbados!

We have booked and paid for the house and booked the flights. We fly out on the 26th of September from Heathrow.

We managed to use our Virgin air miles for the flights and paid less that half price, but the travel insurance was eye-wateringly expensive. It’s down to a combination of Covid-19, the length of the trip and our combined pre-existing medical conditions, including of course, M’s bronchiectasis. Lets just say it was more than three times the cost of the flights! Ouch!

My gallstone hospital appointment was pushed back again until the end of August so I’ve cancelled it altogether. It’ll have to wait until we get home next year. The last thing I needed was to add another £500 quid to the costs of the insurance because I was “waiting for surgery, or the results of tests or investigations”.  I’ve waited for years to get this seen to, so another 6 months wont make any difference.

We just need to book the car to get us to the airport, as we are planning to give our own (leased) car back to the garage. That’s proving problematic too though. Because we changed the car just over a year ago, we are only part-way into the agreement and may have to make a significant payment to get out of the contract. Depending on how much this turns out to be, we may just have to keep it and continue to pay the monthly payments while we are away.

We also have to get Covid-19 tests within 72 hours of when we fly. Not sure how that will happen yet – we’ll have to see what the process is at the time.

We’re such a pair of old crocks now that we’ll need to “stock up” on all our medications. I’m going to try and get another shoulder injection before we travel too. I had one before Christmas and its beginning to wear off now. If I get one before we go it should get me through till we come back.

In Barbados, we think we are going to try and manage without a car. Cars are really expensive out there and there is a good bus service. We are also thinking about buying bikes for local shopping and beach trips etc. We would still hire a car for a few days every month to do a big shop and go a bit further afield for beaches and to eat out. The other option would be to buy a second hand car and sell it back to the dealer when we leave. Hiring even a small car for the whole six months would cost about £4000-5000!

When we get there, M needs to get his Barbados passport processed and pick up his ID card that he sorted out when we were there in January. I’m going to apply for my citizenship by marriage as soon as I get there. We’re also going to open a Barbados bank account.

With regard to the other things I said I needed to check last time:

  • Council Tax – no reduction for house being unoccupied
  • House and contents insurance when the house is empty for 6 months – costs less as they remove some cover for things like valuables and bikes etc. I’m going to take all our valuables to my sisters in Yorkshire before we leave
  • TV Licence – I think I can get a rebate
  • Gas, Electric and Water – our payments will reduce after our usage goes down.
  • Telephone and Internet – still need to find out about this
  • The Car – as discussed above
  • Dental Insurance – need to maintain this but try and go to the denist before we leave – Covid-19 permitting.
  • Mobile Phone Contracts – we’re going to keep these on at first, to maintain contact with home but maybe buy new sim cards when we get there.

Now have a long list of stuff to do including:

  • Get the house and garden clean, tidy and organised
  • Buy a new Kindle
  • Gather all the documentation for my citizenship application
  • Get in touch with our clients in Barbados to try and re-arrange the workshops that we postponed due to Covid-19
  • Get everyone’s birthday and Christmas presents for all the events we are going to miss while we are away
  • and on and on and on …

Better get busy!




Wednesday, July 1st, 2020, Day 108, Week 16, Month 5 of our Covid-19 Experience.

The Numbers

176 deaths, 43,906 total.

829 new cases.

Global over 10 million cases and over 500,000 deaths.

The News

The virus is still ripping across other parts of the world. Brazil and South and Central America and India, Bangladesh and Pakistan are all reaching their peaks. The WHO says the worst is still to come.

The UK has been recognised as the most badly affected country in the Western World.

A local outbreak in Leicester has led to the city being the first city to be locked down locally under the Track and Trace schemes. Bradford, Barnsley and Rochdale look set to follow in their footsteps.

As businesses prepare to open, and furlough schemes come to an end, 12,000 job losses have been announced in the past couple of days.

The New Way of Life

No real changes for us. Seeing a few family and friends from time to time in our garden or theirs.

Weather has been pretty awful for the past week.

Other than that, not been anywhere or done anything new or particularly interesting.

Barbados seems to be considering opening up to visitors in August. They are now officially Covid free and are easing their own lockdown.

We’ve started tentatively preparing for a late September departure with Virgin from Heathrow. We sat down and worked out the finances which are ok.

Need to book flights, travel insurance, hire a car to get to the airport, and confirm the house.

In the next week we are going to find out about whether or not we can suspended or reduce the following, and whether we need to notify them:

  • Council Tax
  • House and contents insurance when the house is empty for 6 months
  • TV Licence
  • Gas, Electric and Water
  • Telephone and Internet
  • The Car
  • Dental Insurance
  • Mobile Phone Contracts