Seeing all the glorious blossoms and daffodils means that spring has sprung. My favourite season. Full of promise and new beginnings and summer still ahead.
It’s been a busy couple of months. In early January my lovely publisher Choc Lit offered me a contract for my second book (title tbc). It’s the sequel to As Weekends Go, telling Rebecca and Alex’s story going forward. It’s also a standalone story in its own right. I’m pleased to report that the structural edits are done and I’m currently awaiting the first glimpse of the cover.
Watch this space …
Midway through January, all the ladies in our family attended eldest niece Jo’s baby shower. With plenty of Jo’s female friends there too, a great time was had by all. Sister Sandra (Jo’s mum) created some brilliant games and a quiz and we each wrote a little note for Jo’s memory jar – a precious keepsake for her sent with love and special wishes. We devoured a delicious buffet and cupcakes and the Prosecco flowed. Plenty of photos taken too in front of the stunning flower wall.
January 31st saw niece Marie-Claire officially graduate with a BA First Class Honours degree in Primary Education from Canterbury Christ Church University. A grand ceremony was held at Canterbury Cathedral. So proud of her achievements and of how well she is doing in her chosen teaching career.
Hip Hip Hooray!
More joyous news in February when niece Jo and her fiance Anthony welcomed dear little Stanley Edward into the world. He’s absolutely adorable and Briggy and I were thrilled to meet him on Valentine’s Day when he was one week old. Crazy to think we are great uncle & great auntie thrice over. We love it!
And now here we are in March. Lots of family celebrations over the next few weeks which I look forward to telling you all about next time, along with any fresh Book 2 updates.
Finally, some glorious blooms for you to feast your eyes upon: gorgeous daffs, a beautiful scented bouquet from my lovely friend Kay, and last but not least, the majestic camellia bush in flower next to our front door. Enjoy!
Until next time, with much love,
The Sunshine Blogger Award allows bloggers to highlight and celebrate their fellow bloggers’ creativity and positivity within the blogging community.
I am thrilled to have been nominated, along with ten other bloggers, by Jessie Cahalin of the fabulous Books in my Handbag blog. Jessie was herself previously nominated. Congratulations! I love Jessie’s gem of a blog with all its entertaining and engaging features and value her friendship and support.
Below are the 11 questions set by Jessie for her nominees, with my answers :
Which three photographs would you present to capture your life? Feel free to include these in this post if you can.
I believe laughter is one of the best tonics in life. When was the last time you could not stop laughing?
At home last week when Briggy almost did the splits springing off the sofa with cramp in his lower leg.
Explain the last act of kindness you showed to a friend or stranger.
Listening to a lady in the hairdressers whose older sister had recently passed away. She just wanted to talk about her.
Do you prefer the winter sun or the summer sun? Explain your response.
Ooh, that’s a close one, as I do love crisp blue-skied sunny winter days, however, being on holiday in Spain and sitting outside on a terrace, people-watching, on a warm summer’s evening with a long, cool drink in my hand, gets my vote.
Describe your perfect Saturday evening.
Cozied up on the sofa watching TV with Briggy, a Chinese takeaway, a bottle of wine and some choccies on the side for afters.
What sorts of characters do you prefer to meet in novels?
Multi-layered ones – open-minded, fun to be with, resilient and self confident, but able to laugh at themselves and not be afraid to show their emotions. Big-hearted and kind. I don’t want much, do I? 😀
Give one sentence of advice to yourself when you were sixteen.
Know your worth.
Is there a friend from the past you would love to get in touch with and why?
Not really. I think I’m still in touch with most of them in some way or other.
What is your food heaven and food hell?
Food heaven is one of Briggy’s fabulous Sunday roast dinners with extra crispy roast potatoes and all the trimmings. Food hell would be anything garlicky.
Share your favourite recipe.
I wish I could say I enjoyed cooking but truth is I’m not really that adventurous or experimental. I do bake a mean Victoria sponge though. Briggy would also sing the praises of my cauliflower cheese (extra thick sauce with added chopped leeks).
The cake recipe I follow is here ~ BBC GOOD FOOD
If you could travel back in time where would you visit and who would you take with you?
Being a huge fan of the film Grease, I’d love to experience being a teenager in the 1950’s, like my parents. The music, the fashions, the lack of cars on the roads, the sense of hope and new beginnings after the second world war. A new Queen. Obviously it wasn’t all sweetness and light – what era is? – but it did seem a safer, more innocent time to be alive. Obviously I’d take Briggy with me. I could teach him to jive!
I nominate these lovely people for a Sunshine Blogger Award 🙂
Big cheers for you all. I love your blogs and you fully deserve recognition for your supportive, engaging, inspiring, creative and motivational posts. Please don’t feel obliged to respond, but if you do choose to accept the Sunshine Blogger Award nomination, there are a few little rules:
- Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and link back to their blog.
- Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
- List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award in your blog post.
- Nominate 11 new bloggers & their blogs. Do leave a comment on their blog to let them know they received the award and ask your nominees 11 new questions.
Here are the 11 new questions for my nominees:
What are the best and worst gifts you’ve ever received?
Who is the celebrity you’d most like to share a 100 mile taxi ride with and why?
If you could interview any author past or present, who would it be and why?
What’s the most nerve-racking thing you’ve ever done in your life?
What’s your idea of the perfect holiday?
What do you find best helps you to relax, de-stress and re-focus?
Which song triggers happy memories for you and why?
Who is the fictional hero you’d most like to spring to life before your eyes?
Which city in the world would you most like to visit?
What’s your favourite food treat/indulgence (however big or small) ?
Which three words best describe you?
Until next time,
With much love,
Happy New Year, everyone! Or at least that’s the hope. With so much worldly tension, division and negativity, for all sorts of reasons, having plagued great swathes of 2019, I’m pinning a massive great sign of positivity over this year.
May 2020 shine and sparkle for us all.
Pre-Christmas, best friend Clare and I went to the Croydon panto at the newly refurbished Fairfield Halls – Cinderella – which boasted a fabulous cast including Tim Vine and Strictly’s very own toe-tapping past winner Ore Oduba. People of all ages enjoyed a sparkling spectacle of humour song and dance and I’m pleased to say (not having been to a panto since our nieces and nephews were small) that all the old jokes are still being successfully used. And YES we did holler, ‘He’s behind you!’ We loved every minute.
Briggy & I had a lovely Christmas – the day itself peaceful and loaded with turkey, trimmings, fizz, chocolate, nostalgic TV and some wonderful gifts for which we are very grateful.
My festive haul …
Briggy’s festive haul …
Boxing day was a family-filled occasion full of our usual laughs, chat and team quizzing (we take it very seriously you know) and the competitive streak was firmly in evidence with Team Turkeys taking top spot, leaving the Crackers, Sprouts and Nuts trailing in their wake (you should hear some of the other team names we’ve had over the years!).
Boxing Day slideshow …
New Year’s Eve we had lunch with our great friends Bob & Noreen at Little Bay in South Croydon. Such a lovely, quirky restaurant, decorated in the style of a theatre. The food was delicious and the Prosecco flowed. In the evening, Briggy and I hit the cheeses and port and indulged in a spot of Jools’ Hootenanny and London fireworks. Bliss.
New Year’s day was spent with family once again, this time at Mum and Dad’s, with Eat, Drink & Be Merry still very much the collective adopted catchphrase.
I hope you all enjoyed the festivities and for those of you who didn’t or who find this time of year extra emotional for reasons good or sad, I wish you peace and good health wrapped in a super-sized supportive hug.
I admit I love all things Christmas including the build up which this year has included a jolly, bargain-filled trip to Bluewater with my niece Jess, a festive fete at the lovely school where my niece Marie Claire teaches, a rip-roaring panto (Cinderella – it was brilliant) with my best friend Clare at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon plus all the usual pre-Christmas gatherings, present exchanges, and mulled wine, choccies and mince pies by the dozen.
I do fully appreciate that both Christmas and New Year can be a very emotional time, sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for sad, and that not everybody relishes the festive season.
I hope that wherever you are and whatever you are doing this Christmas, you find peace and some comfort.
Thank you all for your ongoing cheerleading for me, my blog and my novel. The sequel to As Weekends Go will be released in 2020 (hooray!). I truly value your support and friendship.
May 2020 be a peaceful, healthy and joyful year for us all.
Well what a busy old time I’ve had since my last post. Now here we are in December with Christmas almost upon us (hooray!) and 2020 waving at us over its shoulder.
I’m looking forward to receiving my edits for Book 2 – the sequel to As Weekends Go. Both a nerve-wracking and exciting prospect but I know that whatever is suggested and advised it can only strengthen the novel. We’re a team and teammates support each other in producing what they hope is the best a story can be for the reader to hopefully enjoy.
October always starts well at Brigden Towers as the 4th is our wedding anniversary. 16 years married for me & Mr B this year and through all the ups, downs and somewhere-in-the-middles, we’re still a winning team.
This same week, I enjoyed a delightful pre-birthday treat from my gem of a best friend Clare who had booked us tickets for the west end show Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. It’s brilliant! (see review later in post). Before the show we enjoyed a stroll around Chinatown – buzzing and colourful as ever.
My birthday itself was as fabulous – another huge treat from my gorgeous sister and equally gorgeous niece who bought me a ticket for the stage version of Grease – my absolute fave film of all time. It was on at the superb Churchill theatre in Bromley and after a delicious pasta lunch the three of us took our seats, prepared for a good old, shameless singalong. Fantastic! (also reviewed later in post).
A jaunt to Leicester for the day brought a much-loved and long overdue catch up with these three sparklers, fellow authors Lizzie Lamb, Adrienne Vaughan and June Kearns. We all met through the romantic novelists’ association (RNA) and have been firm buddies ever since.
In celebration of best friend Clare’s birthday, after a coffee and a nice stroll round Hyde Park in the sunshine, we visited the Park Lane Hilton for afternoon tea. Pure indulgence from start to finish. Suffice to say we scoffed and quaffed our hearts out and took the leftovers home in a pretty box. Check out these goodies …
More mega exciting news followed when the whole family gathered at The Mulberry Bush pub on the South Bank in honour of niece Jo’s lovely partner Anthony who was celebrating his 30th birthday. Jo and Ant are expecting a baby in early 2020 and we couldn’t be more pleased for them. The birthday cheer was in full swing when Ant happily surprised us all by proposing to Jo. Cue chaotic merriment of the highest order. A day to remember for sure. So thrilled!
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie ~ The Apollo Theatre : Based on a true story, this show features main character Jamie New (played by the super-talented Layton Williams) and his journey from Sheffield council estate to the glitz and glamour of the showbiz world. We laughed, cried and rooted for Jamie all the way as he challenges and overcomes prejudice to fulfill his star potential. Fun, camp and musically magnificent, we loved it.
Grease ~ Churchill Theatre Bromley (no longer showing at this venue but will be embarking on a new 2020 UK tour ) : Being a massive fan of the film I went along to see the stage version with slight reservations and an open mind as to how it would compare. I needn’t have worried as it was a triumph. All the beloved songs plus a few new tunes added and a superb cast including Peter Andre who played the part of Teen Angel (Beauty School Dropout …) There are a few modern touches, changes and twists but they all contributed to a highly entertaining version. Bravo!
Until next time, with much love,
I love the cooling crispness of autumn, the colours, the crunch of leaves beneath my feet.
A new season of promise following an eventful few weeks …
As August began we celebrated the arrival of our lovely great-niece Thea Eugenie, baby sister to Henry (now 18 months). Sweet as sweet can be.
During this month I also gleefully revisited my own childhood when my niece Marie-Claire – newly qualified as a primary school teacher – asked me if I would like to help her prepare her classroom ahead of her welcoming her pupils for the start of term. I was thrilled at the prospect (any excuse for a spot of cutting out, colouring and laminating) and here are some of the colourful results of our fun-filled hard work.
The end of August brought a visit to glorious Kew Gardens . We were lucky with the weather which made everything look extra spectacular. £18.15 (with a donation) per adult entry fee (well worth it). We also took a packed lunch as there are plenty of picnic areas. I couldn’t believe some of the weird and wonderful plants we saw, not to mention the glass sculptures. We braved the treetop walk which gave us the wobbles a bit. Overall, we walked about four miles, so the feet were well and truly hanging off by the time we got home. A fab day for sure. Took some good pics as well. See slideshow below.
Into September and off we went on the ferry from Southampton to the Isle of Wight for a mini break with two good friends. We stayed in Rookley which was centrally located, although nowhere is too far to get to on the island. I hadn’t been back since childhood and Briggy had never been so we packed in as much as we could during our four days there. Lots of laughs, good food and sightseeing including a visit to Steephill Cove which came highly recommended and didn’t disappoint. We also visited the sand shop in Alum Bay and filled a small glass vase of our own as a memento. A fond trip down memory lane. Loved it!
On my return from the Isle of Wight I found out the good news that my sequel to As Weekends Go is scheduled to be released by Choc Lit early next year. Title to be finalised. Edits to be done. I am thrilled that my second book will be published. Watch this space …
At the end of the month my niece Jess and I took a trip to the MAC store near Carnaby Street where Jess had a fabulous makeover (18th birthday prezzie). All the staff were chatty and welcoming, especially Jess’s makeup artist who did her proud. Jess was able to redeem the cost of the makeover against some of the gorgeous products that were used on her face. I, of course, sat enthralled watching the process and snapped a few pics. We also had a wander down Carnaby street and a nose round the wondrous Liberty store. A top day out.
Bookswise, here’s what I’ve recently read and enjoyed.
I’m a big fan of Tammy/Tamar Cohen’s writing and have been working my way through her novels. Stop At Nothing is her latest and The Mistress’s Revenge a few years older – both novels thrillingly gripping in subject matter.
The Dead Wife is, in my humble opinion, Sue Fortin’s best novel to date. Full of mystery and murky family secrets. So cleverly written and engaging.
So many blooms to choose from this time around (what with our visits to Kew and the Isle of Wight) so here’s a colourfully foliage-filled snapshot.
Until next time, with much love,
Mid-July. Seems mad to be saying that but here we are and I’ve snippets aplenty to share with you since my last update.
After some worrisome humps and bumps in the road, I’m so pleased to report that I’ve finally submitted my sequel to As Weekends Go to Choc Lit HOORAY! Such a relief. I just hope they like the story enough to give it a Yay instead of a Nay. Keep your fingers crossed for me, dear friends.
Talking of Choc Lit , they celebrated their 10th birthday in June. What an achievement. It’s a delight to be part of such a solid, successful, professional team. We all celebrated online by posting our various good wishes and congratulatory messages and photos with our books and the glorious cupcakes we were kindly sent which can only be described as didn’t-touch-the-sides delicious. Thank you, Choc Lit
A raft of family birthdays including an 18th and a 21st (our lovely nieces) were much celebrated. Amidst all the partying, I managed another London walk (diamond-studded London) with Mum and my great friend Noreen. I love these walks, always so entertaining and informative. London Walks Diamond Studded London Mum and I also visited the Charles Dickens Museum (both great fans) in Doughty Street, Bloomsbury, where Oliver Twist was penned. We spent a good couple of hours browsing the family rooms and soaking up the history and memorabilia.
Another event I enjoyed tremendously in early June was a day spent with my bestie Clare at the 3 Principles Conference in Hendon. Clare introduced me to self-help techniques and mindfulness of which I’ve become a huge fan. I’m always open to anything that helps to quieten my mind when it’s cluttered with meddlesome muddled thoughts. Before attending the conference, I’d read a couple of books about the 3 Principles (mind, consciousness, thought) including Somebody Should Have Told Us by Jack Pransky to gain a basic understanding. Listen to the speakers’ own experiences and explanations, however, brought a deeper appreciation as well as great comfort.
Later in June, Dave and I went on holiday to Spain with my parents. We stayed in gorgeous Los Boliches (halfway between Malaga & Marbella) an area we all know and love. A brilliant time was had by all which made it extra special given Dad’s past health worries. Lots of lounging, laughter, good food and the “occasional” tipple was just the tonic we all needed.
The first Saturday of July saw our annual pilgramage to the Old Coulsdon Village fete. Always a joy and a super sunny day to boot. Classic cars, dog show, tombola, you get the picture. We love it!
Just last week, Dave and I took ourselves off to Wimbledon on the tram. Glorious sunshine and a short walk up leafy Wimbledon Hill Road brought us to the village. We crossed the common to beautiful Cannizaro Park, walked round the flower gardens and the Italian garden before grabbing a coffee on the terrace of the Hotel du Vin (Cannizaro House). A browse round the lovely independent shops and a pit stop at the handinhand pub completed our jaunt.
And so to what I’ve read over the last few weeks …
Quite a few books of different genres (including three on holiday) so here are the reads that particularly sparkled for me.
Blooms are in abundance at the moment, but this stunning bougainvillea we saw in Spain takes top spot on the blog this time around.
Until next time, enjoy the sunshine and the rest of the summer.
Look at us already in March with April looming into view. I sound like a broken record, I know, but where does the time go? I swear it’s only five minutes since our Christmas decorations went back in the loft.
It’s been an eventful few weeks. Half our family birthdays fall between February and June. Lovely younger sister Karen’s 50th (can’t quite believe I’m saying that!) kicked off the celebrations with a fine family meal; an occasion full of laughter, love and much scoffing and quaffing. We also celebrated our dear little great-nephew Henry’s 1st birthday with another gathering of the masses. He’s an absolute bundle of joy and is growing by the hour.
It was wonderful to see Mum and Dad enjoying these events, among others, as the past year for dad, healthwise, hasn’t been one to remember. Since his operation in January, though, he’s doing really well, so it’s a happier dad, which means a happier mum and an overjoyed family.
I’ve indulged in a few outings recently, all of which have been great fun for different reasons. My good friend Noreen invited me for Afternoon Tea Tower Hotel near Tower Bridge which we both thoroughly enjoyed. The cakes were particularly yummy, not sickly at all, and we had a glass of fizz to wash them down with, followed by a walk around St Katharine Docks Marina.
Dave and I took ourselves off to Greenwich for the day. It was unusually warm so we seized the opportunity to visit the gorgeous park (hoofed it up to the Royal Observatory) and had a coffee then a mooch back down to the National Maritime Museum which is really interesting with loads of glorious exhibits. We had a nice lunch at Bills in the town and then took a stroll round Greenwich Market and finished up at the Cutty Sark Bliss!
More recently, I joined seven of my writing buddies for one of our Romaniacs (that’s our collective blogger name) get-togethers or Sparkle weekends as they are more fondly known. I was only able to go for the Saturday but what a joy it was to see them all. We’d taken over Charney Bassett in deepest Oxfordshire and as you can see, we were never going to go hungry or thirsty. We enjoyed a lovely pub lunch at The Chequers Inn and a walk around the nearby village of Wantage before returning to the cottage where it was sunny enough for us to sit outside. Lots of writing and inspiration and exchanging of ideas and opinions occurred and being in the company of these gems reminded me of how lucky we are to share such a supportive, encouraging, loving bond.
My own writing which had been on the back burner for so long I was seriously thinking neither the urge nor the passion for it would ever return, has proved me wrong and over the last few weeks in particular has seen me enthusiastically making up for lost time with my sequel. I can’t thank Choc Lit enough for their support and patience. I just have to hope they like it as much as they did As Weekends Go.
Talking of As Weekends Go, I’m delighted that it is now also available in audio, narrated by Charlotte Strevens and published by Soundings. Audio As Weekends Go Another proud moment in my writing world.
Also … the ever-supportive Jessie Cahalin of the fabulous Books in Handbags blog wrote a super review of the book as part of a new feature called Handbag Reading Festival. It’s here and it’s a corker ~ http://jessiecahalin.com/jan-brigdens-as-weekends-go-is-calorie-free-indulgence/
My own reading over this past couple of months has been varied to say the least, all of these books a triumph that I’d gladly recommend.
Watching You by Lisa Jewell ~ Skilfully written character-driven suspense from start to finish with some deftly-handled themes. Will keep you riveted and guessing.
Somebody Should Have Told Us by Jack Pransky ~ Based upon the ‘three principles’ and our thoughts versus reality and how our emotions affect our well-being and peace of mind. I found this easy to follow and a real tonic for the soul.
How To Be A Footballer by Peter Crouch ~ Honest, informative and written in such an engaging, down-to-earth way, you just know that Peter Crouch really is as nice as he comes across on TV or in print. So funny in parts and so eye-opening in others.
The Woman In The Dark by Vanessa Savage ~ What a debut! Dark, twisty and so evocative it made the hairs on my arms stand up. More please!
59 Memory Lane by Celia Anderson ~ I was lucky enough to read a proof copy of this book which is out as an e-book on April 1st. A clever story concept with a cast of characters and a setting that makes you wish you were there in person to experience it all. A magical read that touched all my emotions.
Schoolgirl Missing by Sue Fortin ~ I’m halfway through this book and loving it so far. Who are the baddies and who are the goodies, that’s the question … Twists aplenty and lots to keep me turning the pages. I have a feeling I’m going to race through the second half. I shall report back next time round.
This magnificent Camellia bush outside our front door deserves to stand on its own in my ‘Blooms’ section. No further justification needed …
Until next time, enjoy spring and all the sunshine, blossoms and promise it offers (not to mention Easter eggs 😉 )
I hope you all had a good Christmas and New Year and I want to wish everyone all the very best for 2019. For those of you whose Christmas was less than joyous, I send loving thoughts and big supportive hugs.
We had a happy peaceful Christmas day with Mum and Dad. We transported our turkey and all the trimmings up to theirs (including my trusty potato peeler because, unlike Mum, I can’t use a knife as I end up leaving half the spud on it!). Briggy (Mr B) was head chef and I was chief veg-preparer among other things. The dinner, I’m pleased to say, was a triumph.
As you can see, Rudolph had another airing.
Boxing day was just as happy with lots of fun, laughter and games (not to mention food and drink) at super-host sister Sandra’s house. Our dear little great-nephew Henry is crawling now so was enthralled by all things sparkly and bright.
Ali, lovely wife of our equally lovely nephew Andy, also cleverly created some of her fabulous festive cupcakes.
We spent New Year’s Eve with good friends and popped a few corks at midnight while watching the brilliant London firework display. A great night for sure.
I haven’t made any resolutions for 2019, I’ll be more than happy with good physical and mental health and happiness for myself and Briggy and all our family and friends. Throw in to the world mammoth helpings of peace and kindness and this year should hopefully be a good’un. Oh, and prosperity aplenty would be welcome too – thank you.
Before I go, I just wanted to reflect on two books I read pre-Christmas that I’d earlier mentioned, which were Kathryn Freeman’s Oh Crumbs and Jessie Cahalin’s debut You Can’t Go It Alone . Both were a joy to read.
Oh Crumbs features main characters Abby and Doug who couldn’t be more different if they tried. Abby’s been caring for her sisters ever since her mother died and has sacrificed many things including attending university. She starts work as a PA in a biscuit factory to managing director Doug. She is the bubbly and breezy to his seriousness (a lot of which stems from family tensions) and I loved hurdling all the bumps and emotional obstacles they encountered as their relationship developed. I’m a huge fan of Kathryn’s writing and this story is another belter.
You Can’t Go It Alone contains a cleverly created blend of storylines that drew me in, along with the wonderful cast of characters. A myriad of personal dramas are covered, some serious, some poignant, and the setting and community spirit of Delfryn is so well portrayed that I could picture it all in my mind. The author’s passion shone through for me and I look forward to reading more of her work.
May 2019 shine and sparkle for us all.
Much love Jan X
There’s no denying I’m a Christmas superfan, always have been, and enjoy everything about it, from putting up the decorations (or creating the grotto as Mr B calls it ) to sending and receiving cards, to mince pies and mulled wine after some hearty warbling at the annual church carol service.
Then there are our fun-filled family gatherings, lots of laughter and sparkle and shameless overeating.
I do also fully appreciate that both Christmas and New Year can be a very emotional time, sometimes for happy reasons, sometimes for sad, and that not everybody relishes the festive season.
I hope that wherever you are and whatever you are doing this Christmas, you find peace and some comfort.
May 2019 be a peaceful, healthy and joyful year for us all.
Thank you all for your ongoing cheerleading for me, my blog and my novel. The sequel is on its way (honestly!) I truly value your support and friendship.