Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Growing and Going

All those months trying to sell our previous house seem like a different age now. Home, in the end, is where the heart is, but as physical places go, this feels like somewhere to settle. We make bread and bake cakes, there’s homemade marmalade in the kitchen cupboards and we’re gradually sorting out the garden.

A year ago we discovered that seedlings don’t like to go in the ground too early here – the poor runner beans suffered especially in the cold, but now we’ve begun planting out in earnest. I was very excited this week (not sure what my younger self would say about that) to find trays of poor, thirsty, neglected bedding plants at B&Q for 10-50p per tray. We went a bit mad and spent three pounds on what should have been thirty-three pounds worth of plants; not all of them plants I’d normally choose, but we’ve rescued them and they’ll make a lovely splash of colour.

Marigolds to zap the carrot fly.
Bargain bedding plants.

The hedge is busting out all over.

The new shed in the sunshine.

Those red hot pokers are back.

Where the wild things are!

In other news. Tom and I are off to the Millennium Centre this Saturday for a big ol’ chunk of opera. Yes, it’s Tristan und Isolde, payback time for making Tom endure so much Puccini. 

And on Monday, my younger daughter, Rose and I are off to the Hay Festival where we’ll be helping to celebrate twenty-five years of the remarkable Honno Press. I’m so looking forwards to catching up with old friends and meeting lovely Juliet Greenwood there. Hurray!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012


Hurray! With a lot of help from the bride-to-be, I’ve managed to find the makings of an outfit for my daughter’s wedding. 

 Basically the secret seems to be to try everything on, something I’m not very keen to do by myself but which was much more fun with Lily to help. 

 Along the way we rejected The Intestine Dress (a dusky pink shade which I love but which drains me of all colour, in a tube design which was probably meant for someone seven foot tall) several Frumps R Us numbers (just because you are the mother of the bride doesn’t mean that you’re ready to look as, only Milla could put it, like a sofa cover) and a couple of Trying Too Hard dresses (just because you can, doesn’t mean you should). In the end I bought a shift dress and jacket in a sea-green colour (which, by amazing coincidence, MiL tells me is just the colour she’s been looking at) that seems to hit the right note between mumsy at one end and mutton-dressed-as-lamb at the other. Now all I’ve got to do is find all the bits and bobs to go with it…

In other news, despite the bug still washing me out, (see picture below!) I had a very enjoyable trip to London for the Romantic Novelists’ Summer Party. 

 I have to say that in the past I’ve been worried about feeling like Billy No-Mates on these occasions, but this year I had a wonderful time catching up with old and new friends (Hi Debbie! ). But what a night it turned out to be for Choc Lit! We’re so proud and pleased for Evonne Wareham, who won the Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Award for her novel Never Coming Home ...

and Jane Lovering who triumphed in the Romantic Novel of the Year Award for her romantic comedy, Please Don’t Stop the Music

And as you can imagine the celebrations when the Choc Liteers met up for lunch the next day just kept going!

Today I’m also blogging at the Choc Lit Author's Corner, where I’m waving goodbye – with some relief – to the controversial ‘Wednesday Hottie’ slot and introducing our new Wednesday feature.

Thanks to Tom Tomos for the epainting, Sea Mist (which is what we're looking at this morning!) and to photographer Marte L Rekaa for kindly allowing me to use her wonderful photos of the RNA Summer Party.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Staying In, Looking Forwards

So much for, ‘Oh, I’m never ill!’ I studied enough Greek Lit at school to know all about hubris, the sin of pride, but lately all that boasting to myself about my robust health has come back to bite me. The latest attempt to evict the bug squatting inside my sinuses has seen me leaving the GP with seven varieties of medication and less five phials of blood.

‘This may leave a slight bruise,’ says the kindly nurse, removing the syringe. 
 ‘Oh no, I never bruise,’ I assure her, opening my big mouth again. Sure enough, I wake up the next morning with an arm like an old banana; all black, purple and yellow. 

Tom and I go for a walk to the beach to blow the cobwebs away. On the way home, we attract lots of evil-looking flies, but it’s all right, because, as Dad and I always used to say to each other, confident that our rhesus negative blood repelled all blood-sucking insects, I never get bitten. Naturally, by the time I get in, my right thigh is sprouting a mini Mauna Loa with a gigantic crater in the middle…

The plus side of being Properly Poorly is that I’ve been forced to slow down and catch up with some reading. Briefly:

Two Cows and a Vanful of Smoke, Peter Benson (Kindle edition 2012). What an utter delight this book was. You might think you’d know what to expect from a tale about a young man whose best mate turns up at his door with a van full of stolen weed, but you’d be wrong! It’s beautiful, funny and poignant – great stuff.

Eden’s Garden, Juliet Greenwood (Honno Press 2012). This book really cheered me up when I was feeling particularly grim.  Beautiful setting, strong female characters and so much more than a ‘country house’ novel - move over Kate Morton!

Run Rabbit Run Kate Johnson (Choc Lit 2012), I’ve just started reading this, but I love Kate’s punchy delivery and the combo of a feisty heroine and sexy men.

Next up, I’ve got two more Choc Lit novels to look forwards to; The Penny Bangle, the third in Margaret James' Dorset trilogy, and Linda Mitchelmore’s To Turn Full Circle.

As well as books to look forwards to (ahem, do you notice the Choc Lit catalogue for the London Book Fair nonchalantly left open in the photo?) I’ve got some exciting events coming up, including an invitation from those lovely people at Honno Press to their 25th Anniversary Party at the Hay Festival in June. Hurray!

But before then, I’m in Cardiff this weekend to spend some important time doing weddingy things with my daughter which will be very exciting. Next week I’m off to town for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Summer Party. With fellow Choc Lit authors in the running for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award and the Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Scheme Award, we’ve decided to prolong the party and meet up for lunch the next day… probably not the best time to be winding up a long course of antibiotics, but hopefully I’ll be fighting fit to cheer everyone on!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Through the Woods to the Sea

Bugs and bad weather have resulted in a certain amount of cabin fever here at Hotel H, but the lovely month of May has arrived so it's time to get out and about.  

We live in a secluded wooded valley that slopes down to the sea and late this afternoon when the rain had eased, we followed the path through the woods ...

A purple haze of violets...

... and bluebells

A waterfall cascading into the stream

One bridge I'm not crossing!

The path changes from mud to sand and suddenly there's the sea.

A strange creature on the beach.

Then it's time to watch the waves before heading home.