The Search for a New Earth

This was originally a guest post for Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo. In view of recent events, I thought it was due a rehash.

Image by Skeez from Pixabay

A few years ago BBC2 showed a programme called The Search for a New Earth. It featured physicist Stephen Hawking, who claimed we will have to leave Earth within the next 100 years as it will have become uninhabitable. He listed various possible causes of this catastrophe, including overpopulation, pollution and nuclear war. The programme went on to explore the various measures being taken right now for the eventual colonisation of a new planet.

The technology is mind-boggling. It demonstrates the sheer brilliance of the human mind at its best. It seems there’s nothing we can’t achieve. In which case…


For instance, scientists are developing technology that will utilise the sun’s energy to create superfast rocket fuel. Why don’t they consider using that energy for fuel here on Earth, to replace dwindling oil supplies, dirty fossil fuel and dangerous nuclear power? It would be a lot cheaper and easier than trying to colonise a planet that isn’t designed for human habitation.

Image by Reimund Bertrams from Pixabay

The planet under consideration is called Proxima B. The shortest time it would take to get there – once they’ve got their superfast fuel – is 20 years. The crew would have to go into chemically induced hibernation to avoid radiation damage in space. Most of the planet is too hot or too cold to support human life, so we would only be able to occupy a thin strip around the middle. This would lead to even worse overcrowding than we’ve got here. It’s possible the place has got no atmosphere, so we would have to create one ourselves. This would take about 100,000 years, so the early colonists would have to live in a geodesic dome. They would never be able to walk under the open sky.

Even if we did manage to find a planet that was suitable for humans, chances are that humans would be living there already – in which case, would they really want us showing up and asking to live on their planet because we’ve trashed our own? We might even find they’d made a worse mess of their world than we’ve made of ours.

Maybe we should clean up our act rather than jumping ship. If human science can develop the technology to colonise another planet, surely it can find a way to heal and care for the wonderful planet we live on now.



Posted in Annabelle's writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Kids on Holiday

The Airbnb next door has recently reopened after lockdown and once again the joyful cries of excited kids can be heard in the garden. Sometimes (do I dare admit this?) I find it the tiniest bit irritating and I start getting thoughts like ‘Why do kids have to shriek?’ and ‘If they kick that ball against the fence one more time I’m going to seriously lose my shit!’

At times like this I have to tell myself that holidays are exciting and kids will naturally be more noisy and hyper than they are at home. I have to remind myself how much I hated being told to be quiet when I was having fun. Most of all, I have to remember what I was like as a kid on holiday – especially when it rained all the time and I had to make my own entertainment.

I remember a holiday in Swanage (‘Gem of the Dorset Coast’, as it said in the brochure) when I got a sort of random impromptu clown act going. My mother had bought me a Harold Hare bendy toy as part of my costume for the fancy dress competition (I was a Bunny Girl, of all inappropriate things, but that’s another story). One boring afternoon (it was raining, so no swimming) I devised a game that had me hiding at the top of the stairs and chucking Harold down into the hotel lobby to surprise people passing through. No one else found it funny, and the manager definitely didn’t find it funny when Harold got stuck under the revolving door and no one could get in or out.

Another game in another hotel (Ilfracombe this time) involved seeing how many times I could go all the way up and down in the lift without stopping. When it did eventually stop there was an angry little crowd of people outside waiting to use it. The manager grabbed my arm, yanked me out and told me what a horrible little nuisance I was.

So I shouldn’t get irritated when kids make a racket next door. It’s probably just karma.

If your summer holiday has turned into a wet washout that’s driving the kids to delinquency, you may like to check out my middle grade novel The Slapstyx. This magical seaside adventure  might just keep them occupied for a few hours!

Slapstyx Blurb sand3


Posted in Annabelle's writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Bull Breeds are not Bullies

Some of you might know that I’m fostering a dog for Greyhound Rescue Wales. He’s a bull lurcher, which means he’s a greyhound crossed with some kind of bull breed – most probably a Staffy.

Keith sunbathing

Bull breeds get a bad press because they’re often kept by stupid people who use them for fighting. They are well-muscled with powerful jaws, which can make them look intimidating, so some people think they’re nasty dogs. But in reality they’re no more nasty than any other dog – it’s bad owners who are nasty and train them to be aggressive.

Keith wasn’t used for fighting but for hunting. He has a high prey drive when it comes to rabbits, and he can sometimes be over-enthusiastic when greeting other dogs, bouncing and barking around them. For this reason he has to wear a muzzle when we go for a walk. All GRW foster dogs have to be muzzled in public anyway, because GRW would be liable if one of their dogs did bite someone.

The muzzle can make people think Keith is aggressive, but he’s actually the softest, gentlest, most affectionate dog I’ve ever known. He doesn’t look intimidating to me at all; he has the most beautiful eyes, a mixture of brown and blue, like moonlit rock pools.

Keith in front garden (3)

Keith loves people and just wants to cuddle everyone he meets. He’s a perfect companion for anyone working at home, because once he’s had his walk he just sleeps all day. And once he’s been introduced to another dog, he just wants to be friends.

Keith in Castle (3)

Keith is full of energy and hurls himself into life with great enthusiasm. Recently we went out with his friends Snip the lurcher and Frieda the greyhound, and when he found a dog-free spot, we took off his muzzle so they could all chase sticks and balls. Keith was so excited, he tried to jump over Snip to get the ball and landed half on top of him. Snip, understandably, wasn’t happy about this; they had a bit of a spat, and Snip’s human had to separate them. Keith had a cut behind his ear which required stitches. Snip didn’t mean to hurt him – these things happen sometimes – but I found it reassuring that Keith didn’t bite Snip. If he’d been an aggressive dog, things might have been very different.

Keith and friends

There are people coming to see Keith on Saturday with a view to adopting him. I’ve got my fingers crossed for him; at the same time, I’m going to miss him. I’ve loved fostering him, and it’ll be hard parting with him when he finally leaves for his forever home.

Posted in Dogs | Tagged , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Dog Meat Festival #StopYulinForever

We’re coming up to the Summer Solstice – a time to celebrate life – but in Yulin, China, they choose to celebrate by torturing, killing and eating dogs at the annual Lychee and Dog Meat Festival.

I won’t go into the distressing methods they use to torture these poor animals (many of which are stolen pets). Suffice it to say the purveyors and consumers of dog meat believe it tastes better if it contains high levels of adrenaline, so they do whatever it takes to produce these levels. I can’t begin to understand the mentality of people who think it’s worth inflicting extreme suffering just to make something taste nice.

This is not some ancient and sacred Chinese tradition. It was begun only 10 years ago to boost the flagging dog meat industry, and tolerated by the authorities because they thought it would attract tourism!

For many years the Chinese people and the rest of the world have shown their outrage by protesting, sighing petitions and supporting charities that work to rescue the animals and end the dog meat trade. Live animal markets have been implicated in the spread of coronavirus from animals to humans, and the Chinese Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Affairs has stated that dogs should no longer be considered at livestock, which basically means they shouldn’t be eaten. And yet the Yulin Festival is still set to go ahead this year.

Maybe it’s too late to stop this one, but it’s important to keep up the pressure on the authorities to put an end to it for good. Please sign the petition if you’ve got a moment!

Humane Society International petition to end the Yulin Dog Meat Festival

Humane Society International pledge in support of ending the dog and cat meat trade in South East Asia

Keith in front garden (3)

Keith says they should stick to lychees!


Posted in Dogs | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments


In my next life, I’d like to come back as a seagull. Fly, swim, eat fish and chips. Who could ask for more?


(Even if you don’t believe in reincarnation, it makes a great premise for a story!)



Posted in Annabelle's writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

#Lockdown Locks

It’s only a minor consequence of the lockdown, but many of us are feeling the lack of a hairdresser at the moment. My hair has always been unmanageable – more than ever now I can’t have it cut – and its recent behaviour has inspired the following tale…


Suzanne’s Hair

Suzanne’s hair had been troubling her lately.

It had never been what you’d call easy hair. It was thick, but the individual strands were fine, flyaway and hard to tame. As a child, she’d screamed with pain when her mother tried to comb out the tangles. As a teen, she’d despaired as it formed unattractive kinks and frizz mere hours after she’d straightened it. It was highly sensitive to any change in temperature, air pressure and humidity. If she went out in the wind, she would come home looking like Worzel Gummidge. She would look in the mirror and scream as loudly as she had as a child:


It didn’t improve with age. She tried tying it back for work, but by the time she got to the office strands would be escaping and waving about in the breeze. One time she took the plunge and had it cut short. It looked fine for the rest of that day and she felt like a different person, confident and in control. But when she got up the next morning it was like she’d been visited by some malevolent goblin hairdresser in the night; her newly-shorn locks were sticking out in all directions. Unable to face the world looking like Johnny Rotten, she resorted to wearing a scarf until it grew back.

In time, she learned to live with her recalcitrant hair; after all, there were worse problems in the world. But she never learned to love it. She always had an uneasy feeling people were sniggering at it behind her back. And on very bad days she would still scream hatred at it in her mind, if not out loud.

She would sometimes fantasise that she had a lustrous waterfall of thick, glossy, dead straight hair pouring down her back. ‘But I’ve only got you,’ she would snarl at the mirror, pulling viciously at her unruly locks.

Lately, her hair had developed a new vice: it had started poking her in the eye. Strands would come from the sides and even the back of her head and insert themselves into her eyes, making them red and sore. Sometimes it happened so often, she would end up with a headache. Her eyes would stream and her nose would run and she would start to sneeze. People asked if she had a cold, or hay fever. She took to wearing an unattractive arrangement of hair grips in an attempt to keep it away from her face, but bits would always escape and resume the attack.

The situation got worse as the days went on. Her hair was in her eyes all the time, poking, poking, poking. It was also getting up her nose, in her ears and in her mouth. It seemed to have a mind of its own.

‘It’s like it’s alive!’ she said to herself in exasperation.

What was happening to her? Was she turning into some kind of gorgon? Would she wake up one morning with a head full of vipers? She told herself not to be silly. Things like that just didn’t happen.

She went to the hairdresser and had it cut as short as she could bear, in a twenties bob. But it could still reach her face, and the attacks got increasingly vicious. Worse still, it was growing at an unprecedented rate. Two days later the bob was history as her hair reached her shoulders. A week later it was halfway down her back. What was going on? She could almost see it growing!

A horrible suspicion crept into her mind. Was this her hair’s revenge for all those times she’d said she hated it?

She rushed out to the chemist and bought an arsenal of expensive hair products. Shampoos, conditioners, serums, waxes, mousses and sprays filled her bathroom shelves. She lavished loving care on her wild, rapidly-growing locks, pampering them with product and assuring her hair that she LOVED it, that it was BEAUTIFUL, but still it wouldn’t stop growing – or poking. Her eyes were constantly red and she developed a nasty rash on her face. She was also starting to hack up hairballs because she’d inadvertently swallowed so much of it in the night.

She began to feel frightened. Clearly her hair hadn’t believed her when she said she loved it. It knew deep down that she hated it more than ever.

She couldn’t go on like this; her hair was making her ill. She’d taken so much time off work, her boss was threatening to fire her. It was time for drastic action.

She was too embarrassed to go back to the hairdressers, so she got her best friend Jane to come round and shave her head. She looked awful afterwards, but it was a blessed relief to be free of that evil mop. People were used to seeing her in a scarf now and had stopped bothering to ask, in hushed tones, how the chemo was going.

The hair grew back, of course. This time it grew back so fast it was down to her feet in a week. She called Jane and asked her to come round with her clippers.

‘I can’t tonight, I’m going out,’ Jane said. ‘Will first thing in the morning do?’

It would have to. Suzanne went to bed and swallowed the sleeping pill she’d taken to using so her hair wouldn’t keep her awake.

When she woke up in the morning she thought she was having a nightmare, because the whole room was full of hair. She struggled out of bed and immediately tripped over a great skein of it that had stretched across the floor. And it was still growing, darkening the bedroom and obscuring her vision.

She crawled through the tangles to the door and pushed it open. The hair was growing out onto the landing and down the stairs, filling the house and wriggling out through the gaps around the window frames. It twisted itself into python-like ropes and wrapped itself round her body so she couldn’t move; then it reached for her neck…

Suzanne screamed for the last time.

When Jane came round with the clippers, Suzanne’s house couldn’t even be seen. It was completely encased in a vast nest of wild, frizzy, flyaway hair, which was still growing, advancing up the street at supernatural speed.

As it came for her, Jane dropped the clippers and ran for her life.

© Annabelle Franklin 2020

NB – My children’s novel Gateway to Magic is FREE to download for the rest of May!

Posted in Annabelle's writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Lurcher

Keith sunbathing

Hi, Keith here! I love my foster home – with its wide open spaces and rabbit-infested thickets, it’s the perfect place for a dog to spend the lockdown. There’s a big beach, and a massive golf course with no golfers on it because no one’s allowed to play golf at the moment. I expect the golfers hate that, but I love it because there’s plenty of space to run about while keeping a safe distance from others.

The  only downside is the electric fences around the greens. I was unlucky enough to brush up against one of those the other day. I didn’t know what had happened at the time. I thought I’d been bitten by some vicious monster – it wasn’t a normal bite, but a burning, tingling bite, full of evil magic. I ran for my life to get away from this demonic entity, and the humans didn’t have a hope of catching me.

silhouette of dinosaur on night sky

Photo by ~ Steinkirch on

I went on running until I was exhausted. I’d managed to outrun the Monster of the Golf Course, but now I was completely lost, miles from home in unfamiliar territory. I tried backtracking the way I’d come, but I’d employed so many dodges and detours to throw off the pursuit, I kept losing the scent and going round in circles. People I’d never seen before were calling my name, which scared me even more. They seemed like nice people, but I didn’t know them, so I kept my distance. For hours I wandered hopelessly through the woods and fields, feeling scared and lonely and wishing I was home in my nice warm bed.

Keith in bed (4)

By the time it got dark, I was hungry as well as scared. I thought I’d better head for the nearest village and see if I could find something to eat. I tried the Co-Op, but it was shut. Then I found some food that someone had dropped in the entrance to the school. While I was eating it, a man appeared with a special lamp for tracking down animals in the dark. I was going to run away again, then I heard a familiar voice calling my name. It looked like Snip and Frieda’s human, Jan, waving a bag of treats, but I wasn’t sure so I stayed where I was. Then I saw Snip’s other human, Alain, and I knew my Greyhound Rescue friends had come to get me. I ran up to him and he put me in the car and brought me home. It was wonderful to see Annabelle again and know I was safe.

Keith and me

I’ve found out why all those strangers were calling my name. I’m famous! Annabelle had posted about me all over Facebook. She’d been taking calls from people who’d spotted me and passing on the sightings to other people who were searching. We couldn’t get over how many people went out of their way to look for me, and I feel a bit bad about giving them the runaround. In fact I feel a bit silly about the whole thing, now Annabelle has explained that electric fences aren’t demons and they can’t chase you.

Apparently, I ran about five miles! No wonder I’m still cream-crackered.

Keith akimbo

Posted in Dogs | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Press the button if you dare! #kidlit #freebook

Life’s no joke now we’ve all been grounded, particularly for kids who need distracting from all the bad news! If you have an avid young reader who’s running out of entertainment, you might like to check out my book Gateway to Magic – it’s FREE in the Smashwords Authors Give Back sale, which has just been extended to May 31.

GatewayToMagicFrontCoverCompThe hero of Gateway to Magic is 11 year old Steven Topcliff, a sensitive and imaginative boy who’s learned to hide these qualities in order to ‘fit in’.  An only child, he lives in a well-ordered home with a loving family.  His Mum is a bit of a worrier, and her anxious nature has rubbed off on him.

Steven spends most of his time in his bedroom, glued to his games console.  He doesn’t want to think about the coming autumn, when he has to start comprehensive school – he’s heard rumours about rampant bullying and ridiculous amounts of homework.  The gaming world is a world he can control, where he can be a powerful hero.

Steven doesn’t believe in fairies or magic – that stuff is strictly for girls – so he’s horrified when he finds himself in Fairyland.  He’s even more horrified when he discovers there are no video games.  He has to learn to fit in all over again, in a place that’s far more dangerous than any school.  If he wants to get back to his own world, he’ll have to wake up that rusty imagination and use it for all he’s worth.


  • A video game called McDivott (it’s his favourite)
  • Cartoons
  • Chicken nuggets and chips


  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Fungus (he’s allergic to it)
  • His cousin Tracy


This story threw me back to Enid Blyton, but the snappy, witty dialogue gives a wink to adults reading it aloud. If I was still teaching, my young students and I would be settling down to this imaginative story in the classroom. Fiction is compellingly woven as fact (yes, I believe!) and Annabelle knows what makes children laugh. I particularly liked the bit about being the age you want to be, the Forest of Pointy Fingers and the ShapeWatchers Program. – Susan Lattwein, Amazon

Bought this because it’s about a boy who’s spending increasing amounts of time playing computer games and is drawn away by events into a world that’s even more exciting.
I was afraid that my grandson might find it preachy or pompous and told him not to worry if he didn’t get on with it. He took it on holiday with him, along with half-a-dozen other books and this is the one that he mentioned whilst on holiday and again when home. He really enjoyed it and so I give it a well-deserved 5* – you can’t beat a recommendation from the target audience! – MacTrish, Amazon

Gateway to Magic by Annabelle Franklin was a cute, quick read with some valuable lessons within. I shared this book with my little ones, who absolutely loved it. From their point of view it was ‘awesome’. The author did a wonderful job of painting the scenes, making things very easy to visualise, most especially the Forest of Pointy Fingers! I love it when authors bring a story to life by word-painting, and Franklin doesn’t disappoint! Franklin’s Gateway to Magic is perfectly tailored to its target audience, as my brood can well attest. They all loved it, and we’ll be reading it again for sure! – J. Aislynn d’Merrickson, Readers’ Favorite

Get your free copy HERE!



Posted in Annabelle's writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Guest Post from Keith the Lurcher

Keith in bed (4)Hi, I’m Keith! I’m a four-year-old Lurcher and I’m staying with Annabelle while Greyhound Rescue Wales sorts me out a forever home. Annabelle has asked me to tell you a bit about myself, so here goes…

I’m a mixture of Greyhound and Staffy with a dash of Collie, which makes me very handsome and intelligent. You might not be able to see from the photos, but my eyes are a mixture of brown and blue – Annabelle says they remind her of marbles or rock pools.

I love to be with people and I’m very well behaved in the house as long as I’ve got company. Once I’ve been for a walk I’m happy to sleep in my bed or next to you on the couch. I’m learning to sit or go to my bed when I’m told, and I know I must ask to go out if I need the toilet.

Keith on couch

I like my foster home, but I’ve got to be honest – Annabelle does have a couple of issues. For a start, she hasn’t got a dog, and I do like to live with other dogs. I lived with a Chihuahua for a while, and we were great friends. I like children too, and Annabelle doesn’t have any.

Then there’s her attitude to this nasty bug that’s going round. I’m not sure she’s taking it seriously, so I’ve been trying to help her with self isolation and social distancing. If she’s out of the house without me for more than twenty minutes, I’ve been leaving her a pee-mail in the kitchen to let her know she’s late. And when we go out together, I’ve been barking at other dogs to make sure they stay two metres away from us.

Annabelle has assured me the bug doesn’t affect dogs. She also says it’s not up to me to keep her safe, it’s up to her to keep me safe, and my only job is to enjoy life. I’m still trying to get my head around this, but we’re working on it.

The other day we went for a walk with two lovely dogs called Snip and Frieda. I barked at them at first, but we soon made friends and all I wanted to do was play with them. We went on the beach and Annabelle let me off the lead for the first time. I had great fun running with Snip the Lurcher and chasing Frieda the Greyhound, who is gorgeous. They told me off if I got too bouncy or sniffed Frieda’s bum, and I backed off straight away. I’m not looking for a fight!

Snip and Frieda at Earlswood (4)

My new mates!

I’m really grateful to Greyhound Rescue Wales for finding me this foster home and sorting me out a forever home, but they couldn’t do it without the help of kind humans. If you’d like to support them, you can find out here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Life without the Storyhounds

When you’ve had dogs for a long time, it’s hard to accept their absence. As well as missing their individual personalities, you miss that canine presence in the home. There’s something magical about the presence of a dog. Mine used to sleep a lot, and I used to imagine they were visiting the astral plane hunting down ideas for my stories.

I also have the more practical problem of what to do with my blog now my Storyhounds have crossed the Bridge, as they used to ‘write’ most of my posts. That’s the trouble with a dog blog – what do you do when the dogs have gone?

This blog may have to evolve, but it’s not going away, so please stick with it if you can! I’d welcome your suggestions – what sort of posts would you like to see here?

Posted in Annabelle, Annabelle's writing, Millie, Pearl | Tagged , , , , , , | 22 Comments