Ancient Albert comes of age

Happy 21st Birthday, Albert!

My precious cat Albert turned 21 on & July. We rejoice every day that he is still with us, enriching our lives with his feline presence. It’s been a long journey for Albert. He was born in London, England and transported to Australia (his only crime being we loved him so much we couldn’t bear to be parted from him!)

Ancient Albert on his favorite cushion in front of the heater. Albert is a Burmilla.

Looking after a cat this age can be demanding. His senses aren’t what they were so he has to be fed carefully, helped with grooming and taken regularly to the vet. Most of all he is loved, loved, loved.

Looks uncomfortable, doesn’t it? Not for Albert. He spent ages here snoozing happily on my husband’s legs.

Albert has a big personality and has endeared himself to many people in his twenty-one years (which translates to well over a hundred in human years.) It’s sad to see him getting so frail, but he is clinging tenaciously to life and demanding very vocally that his needs be met.

Albert convinces my daughter he is much more worthy of attention than that pesky keyboard.

We are all his adoring slaves!

All change

My last day as editor of Coles Magazine.

It was with mixed feelings that I spent my last day on Friday as editor of the Coles Magazine, the magazine produced by ACP Custom Media for Coles, one of the two major supermarket players in Australia. What started out as a once-a-year freelance job eight years ago, grew as the magazine became first seasonal with five issues a year, and then monthly. With a circulation in the millions, it is the largest circulating food magazine in Australia and is highly regarded.

I worked with amazing people at both ACP Custom Media, a division of the largest magazine publishing company in Australia, and at Coles. I was incredibly proud of the beautiful magazine we put out for readers all over the country who eagerly awaited its arrival in store. And boy did I love working with the food!

But I wasn’t getting enough writing done. And I still have a lot of stories I want to tell and share with my readers. So the magazine goes on with a wonderful new editor and I get back to that world in my head, peopled with characters wanting their voices to be heard.

“Kandy Shepherd swapped a fast-paced career as a magazine editor for a life writing fun, feel-good fiction”. That’s true again now!

A taste of chocolate

What fun to be invited to a chocolate tasting!

The lovely people from the  Australian office of Swiss chocolate maker Lindt  invited me (wearing my magazine editor’s hat) to a tasting of some scintillating new dark chocolate flavors in Lindt’s Excellence range sold in Australia.

Chocolate tasting

In a room at the beautiful Art Gallery of New South Wales, a tasting plate with a square of each new flavor was set up in front of each of the media guests. Before we were allowed to taste them, Lindt’s Master Chocolatier, Thomas Schetzler, explained to us we needed to use all our senses to fully experience the chocolate.

We examined the smooth, glossy look of the chocolate; felt its soft smoothness; inhaled the rich aroma; listened to the snap as we broke a piece; and then finally savored the different flavors. We tried 70% Cocoa, Strawberry Intense, Coconut Intense, Passionfruit Intense, and A Touch of Sea Salt. It was difficult to nominate a favorite–the strawberry was the sweetest, the coconut amazing, the passionfruit an enticing blend of sweet and sharp, and the sea salt truly a pleasant taste surprise.

Chocolate tasted

I looked around the room and, like at a wine-tasting, everyone just tasted the chocolate without devouring each piece. Much as I would have liked to behave like a greedy pig and eat it all, I refrained–just murmured my appreciation in a quiet way I hoped sounded professional. (Lucky I went home with a goody bag containing each flavor!)

Lindt Master Chocolatier, Thomas Schetzler, explains the chocolate-making process

I’m a total chocoholic with my tastes running with the majority in favoring milk chocolate. However more people are becoming switched on to the joys of dark chocolate. I left the evening’s tasting a convert!

Years ago, when I was first taken to a Lindt chocolate shop in Berne, Switzerland, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Lindt wasn’t as easy to get in other countries then and my luggage went home weighted down with big bars. Now it’s much easier to indulge if you live outside of Europe.

The characters in my novels also like chocolate. In The Castaway Bridethe hero and heroine are shipwrecked on a tropical island with their only food supply a panic bag packed with chocolate. No wonder they have so much fun!