Of Mice, Romantic Novelists, Gok and a Cabbage

It’s 7a.m. on Day One of the home improvements at Hotel H and there is a cry of disbelief from upstairs. The electrician has opened the first of the old sockets – in our bedroom – to discover two dead mice curled up behind it. Downstairs, the heating engineer is flushing out the radiators and declares it to be his Filthiest Ever Flush. Nice.

Having only returned from the Romantic Novelists’ Association Summer Conference the previous evening, it’s all a bit of a rude awakening. Rather than doing something about all the writing ideas vying for attention after some very inspiring conference sessions, I’m dodging bits of ceiling – ‘You are replacing these, aren’t you?’ - choking on dust and supplying lashings of ginger beer, the workmen’s tipple of choice.

I have to admit that I wasn’t especially looking forwards to the RNA Conference, too afraid, I suppose, of being a Lonely Baloney*. In the event, I don’t know what I was worried about as I was met with warmth and kindness and some really lovely comments about Turning the Tide. Here’s a selection of Choc Lit authors before the Gala Dinner.

At Hotel H, it’s time to bale out and leave the workmen to it. Tom and I head south and catch up with a whole swathe of friends and family. Stepson Two’s Gorgeous Girlfriend has been very busy promoting her campaign, Sign up, Speak up, Save Lives for Channel 4’s Battlefront. Here she is in all her gorgeosity with – gulp – Gok Wan!

Home again, it’s evident that work is still ‘in progress’. The disruption’s a little dispiriting, but we cheer ourselves up by cutting our first cabbage and here it is. What a big ‘un!

*Family slang. Billy No-Mates.


Bluebell Books said…
what a lovely cabbage, wow.

bless your week.
Cally said…
It was so lovely to meet you at the RNA conference. I was a bit worried about being a billy-no-mates too but in the end I barely had a second to myself! See you next year hopefully :)
Fennie said…
I am sure that cabbage deserves a short story all to itself. Think of the soup you could make with that. So too the two dead mice, when you think about it. Quite romantic when you think of it. Not so the filthiest flush but I am with you there, or will be shortly for we are having a new boiler fitted. Notice that the red shoes have been given a rest.
Debs Carr said…
That's an impressive cabbage. I hope it tasted as good as it looked.

Glad the conference went well and well done to your stepson's girlfriend.

Rather you than me with the home improvements. We had several years of that when we moved into this house and it was exhausting, but well worth it in the end.x
Preseli Mags said…
Wow that's a cabbage and a half! Dead mice are better than live ones although I had an exploratory peer into our loft today and was greeted not by the actual mouse but by the smell... I think I'll stick to painting the bathroom!

You all look so glamorous at the RNA conference. Full of gorgeosity!
elizabethm said…
Just had a good catch up with your blogs. So glad to hear your ma is doing so well and best of luck with the house improvements. You have my deepest sympathy and sadly empathy. Us too.
As usual, in the picture, you have very good shoes!
Frances said…
Chris, as you discover some bits of this new home that are not delightful, I do encourage you to keep on looking at those sunsets. Not so many folks see such sights.

And ... the drama of that cabbage. Wow! And I'd guess that it might have some fellow cabbages that are equally dramatic.

Best wishes to your Mom!

It must have been grand to gather together with your fellow authors. You definitely belonged in the glamor center!

I will admit as I read about the increasing tangle of the Murdoch tales, I sense that you might have another novel in the works.

Here in New York, we've reached that part of hot, humid, unbearable summertime when we would alll wish to find a cool seaside.

Pondside said…
That cabbage - it puts our meager cuttings of lettuce to shame!
You look gorgeous in that group of writers - exactly where you belong (well, there and on the dust cover of a few more books!)
DOT said…
If the worst comes to the worst, you could all move into the cabbage - it's big enough - while the house is being sorted.
Chris Stovell said…
Thank you and welcome Bluebell Books.

Cally, it was fab to meet you too and to be able to thank you. I thought it was just me feeling nervous, but it surprising how many people admitted to feeling a tad apprehensive. Here's to next year!

Fennie, yes, what a whopper! I have to admit, I'm not hugely inspired to write a short story about a cabbage, but since DOT suggested we live in it there may be possibilities! Yes, gave my pointy black shoes with sparkly bits a whirl instead!

Debs, thanks for the encouragement; it's good to hear there's light at the end of the dusty tunnel. Thanks too, for words for Gorgeous Girlf - it's a great cause.
Chris Stovell said…
Eeek, Mags! The trouble is having found the mice, I keep wondering if they have family... and where they are! No evidence yet, but I haven't looked in the loft. And I'm not going to!

Thank you - I'm glad to hear that gorgeosity was intact! Didn't have a spare posh frock so wore my wedding dress. It was good to give it another outing and lower the 'cost per wear' factor.

Elizabeth, thanks for the fellow feeling on the housefront. I've had a clear up this morning which I'm sure was a complete waste of time - it's just getting me down! And thanks for the kind comment re my shoes - I'm fond of that pair too.

Frances, thank you - yes, I need to keep reminding myself that the location was the greater part of moving here and I feel very lucky to be where we are. The house itself is rather tired and works like electrics and heating are better done in summer (although it's more like November here!). You seem to be having real extremes of it this year in New York after the heavy snow earlier. Cx

Pondside, thanks for your lovely comments - I'm hoping that the next dust cover isn't too far away. In the meantime, there's plenty of dust here to keep me busy!

DOT, you are funny. I hadn't thought of moving into the cabbage... although we could probably build a rudimentary cabbage hut if we piled them all together.
Cara Cooper said…
Lovely photo, you all look very glam - nice to see you at the conference if only to say 'hello', it was so busy!
Pauline Barclay said…
I could die for some of that lovely fresh cabbage....enjoy it all!

Thinking of you with the home improvements, having had our villa rewired and all the windows (9) patio doors (8 sets) plus doors replaced, we now have to dig up all the floors as tree roots have got into the sewer pipe. This is a huge job and has stopped all the other work....!
Chin up Christine, your place will be fab when finished. Hugs xx
Flowerpot said…
Glad the Conference went well and sorry to hear about all the disruptions at home, Chris. What a corker of a cabbage!
Chris Stovell said…
Hi Cara, it was lovely to meet you too - and your gorgeous sandals! The time flew though and I didn't have nearly as much time to chat to folks as I would have liked.

Pauline, it seems as if lots of us are braving building works at the moment. I wouldn't mind some of your sunshine so I could escape outside - I'm still shivering here.

Flowerpot - thanks. It is amazing isn't it? We're quite proud of ourselves for growing so much in such a short space of time.

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