Talking with author John Searancke
Talking with author John Searancke.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself please.
I was born in 1943 at Derby Royal Infirmary, a war baby, and for the first 18 years of my life my home was in Ashby de la Zouch, an old market town in Leicestershire. I was sent away to become a boarder at Kings Mead Preparatory School, Seaford, and then Rugby School. Having been at Rugby has certainly stood me in good stead throughout my life, and I could not have asked for better.
I am still not quite sure exactly how it came about (perhaps because my maternal grandfather was a solicitor) but I suddenly found myself articled to a firm of solicitors in Ashby. It was not a happy period for anyone concerned, although I have to concede that I learned a lot during my time there, but it was clear that I was too much of a free spirit to enjoy being chained to a desk for a pittance each week. The only highlights to my miserable years as a bookworm were trips out to criminal courts or prisons. I must have been to every prison in the Midlands.
Concurrently, I was commissioned into the Territorial Army and still proudly display my certificate signed by HM The Queen.
When my parent’s marriage began to founder, I relocated to West Sussex to help out at their latest venture, a country hotel. My few weeks’ offer of help (neither of my parents having even the slightest knowledge of, or interest in, the hotel industry) turned into some 35 years, with me taking over from them, changing and extending the place considerably along the way. My restaurant in the hotel held 2 AA Rosettes for food for a number of years right up until I sold the business.
My son Marcus, my pride and joy, was born in St. Richards Hospital, Chichester. As I write this, he has turned 41, and he is an accountant. Married to Tina, they have provided me with two lovely grandchildren, Josh and Sam.
After I sold my hotel I moved up to Lancashire, where I had met and later married Sally. We started a new business together, a commercial legal services company, something completely new for both of us. During that time we encountered a puppy, Freddie, a Jack Russell/Staffie cross, who we “rescued” from the RSPCA and fell in love with.
We sold out on a high after some 10 years, enabling us to seriously consider the move to Tenerife. With nothing to hold us back, we made the life-changing move, and have not regretted it. Did I think that retirement would be relaxation in the sunshine? Far from it! I think that I have never been so busy, and the latest of my activities is becoming restaurant reviewer for the main Canary Islands newspaper. I was flattered to have been invited to the position. Our exploits in Tenerife with Freddie form the backbone of the stories in my first book.
My second book is an entirely different proposition, a different genre, and written in a completely different style. When a cache of letters, written by my father to my mother during the years of World War 2 eventually came in to my possession, I concluded that I should share some of them with a wider audience. In between a selection of those letters is traced the story of his life over those five long war years. It fascinated me to learn of the day to day life of an enlisted man – and later officer – as the war progressed to its inevitable conclusion, though finally without him as he languished behind the wire in a POW camp in Germany after having been captured on the battlefields of Normandy. And so his story has finally been written and my second book has now made it into print.
Prunes for Breakfast
One Mans War: Based on a True Story.
‘Many years after the deaths of my parents, my aunt handed me a box filled with letters that my father had written to my mother over the period from 1940 to 1945. This was the starting point of a journey for me to rediscover the father Ihad never really known...’
This is the story of John Searancke’s parents, told mostly from the side of his father, Eddie Searancke, from the time of his calling up in early 1940 to his release from a prisoner of war camp in Germany in 1945, thence his return to England to try to pick up the pieces of his old life. Nothing could ever be quite the same afterwards.
The letters take readers through five captivating years, telling of the ups and downs, the plots and counterplots, as Eddie rose through the ranks to end his war as a captain, elevated to that rank in the field as his troops faced the formidable might of the SS Panzers. The letters also reveal where his battle came to an abrupt end, in an orchard surrounded by the enemy and captured after a series of bloody skirmishes as the British army spearheaded its way from the beaches of Normandy. The journey as a prisoner across France and Germany in a truck, with comrades dying each day, may be as hard to read as it is to tell, particularly when a new life and new harsh rules had to be learned and rigidly enforced in a prison camp in northern Germany, the final destination.
This is written as part memoir, part fictionalised retelling and partly in letter format; John draws together all sources to recreate the five years of war and hardship that the letters span.
Dog Days In The Fortunate Islands
A new life in hidden Tenerife
On the brink of retirement, John and his wife Sally are determined to end a life at the grindstone in wet and windy Lancashire. Together with Freddie, their mush loved rescue dog from the local RSPCA, they embark on a journey of a lifetime and relocate to the island of Tenerife. Selling up, they make the move to the north of the island, a part mostly unknown to the casual tourist – their very own hidden paradise – a world away from the beaches and high-rise hotels of the south.
Adjusting to a completely new life abroad, buying a new home, making new friends, integrating with the local Spanish community after learning their language, taking on new hobbies – these are just some of the highs and lows that will befall them along the way, whilst Freddie takes off on some unbelievable (but true!) exploits with his new-found canine friends. How will they all stand the pace of this new life?
With a colourful collection of characters brought to life on the page, travel anecdotes that stretch from the English Midlands and all the way down through mainland Spain in an old classic car, and some not so perfect moments that bring them down to earth with a bump, here is a series of adventures that you will not want to miss!
Book 3 – Prequel to Dog Days in The Fortunate Islands – title not yet released
John Searancke came to the role of hotelier almost accidentally. After his parents’ marriage fell apart, he was dragooned in, at the age of 22, to pick up the pieces of their latest venture, a barely trading country house hotel that had, frankly, seen better days. Not only was it posting an annual loss, but the fabric of the building was crumbling and there was no money left to make improvements.
There were to be battles royal with neighbours not wanting their status quo to be altered, the fire authority who sought to impose draconian new safety measures, and staff who were there just for their pay packets.
Over the years, and with the steepest of learning curves, the grand old building was renovated and transformed to meet the requirements of the modern discerning traveller. Accolades for the hotel and its restaurant were won; together they became a well-regarded destination for a number of celebrities – and those that deemed themselves to be celebrities but were not. Stories abound featuring idiosyncratic guests, overbearing public bodies, fractured family life and animals of all shapes and sizes. The local fire station next door was demolished one foggy night, guests were frightened by flying dogs and snakes in the long grass, and there were, as befits a country house, strange goings on in the night. Guests checked in who really should not have been seen together, whilst others erroneously believed that there exists an incontrovertible law that the customer is always right.
A rescue mission originally thought of as a year or two turned into a 35 year lifetime love affair with a beautiful old building, turning a young man into a tired and grey haired hotelier; continuous improvements being made on the one hand as funds allowed, but with the stress of business dooming relationships along the way.
Thanks for Taking the Time to Talk.
Amazon.co.uk Dog Days in The Fortunate Islands - http://tinyurl.com/p6s7eku
Amazon.co.uk Prunes for Breakfast - http://tinyurl.com/ntpae84
Meet the Author at Rukia Publishing: http://www.rukiapublishing.com/meet-the-author-john-searancke.html
John Searancke Pinterest profile page: https://www.pinterest.com/johnsearancke/author-john-searancke/
Dog Days in The Fortunate Islands Pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/sjbutfield/featured-book-dog-days-in-the-fortunate-islands/
Prunes for Breakfast Pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/sjbutfield/featured-book-prunes-for-breakfast-by-john-searanc/
John Searancke Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/john.searancke.1
Dog Days in The Fortunate Islands Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dog-Days-in-The-Fortunate-Islands/867368390009475
Prunes for Breakfast Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PrunesForBreakfast
Troubador Publishing: http://www.troubador.co.uk/shop_booklist.asp?s=john%20searancke