Pre-Christmas check in …

 

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.

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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).

Cards aplenty

 

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.

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June, Lizzie, Adrienne & me

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 …

 

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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!

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A newly engaged Jo & Ant

Show Reviews:

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!

 

December Blooms 

 

 

 

Until next time, with much love,

Jan x

As autumn arrives …

I love the cooling crispness of  autumn, the colours, the crunch of leaves beneath my feet.

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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.

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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!

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*Cymbal Clash*

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.

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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,

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Jan x

Summer Summary …

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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Until next time, enjoy the sunshine and the rest of the summer.

Much love,

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Xx

 

Springing forward …

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.

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Huggles with Henry

 

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.

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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!

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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  …

 

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Until next time, enjoy spring and all the sunshine, blossoms and promise it offers (not to mention Easter eggs 😉 )

Much love,

Jan xx

Happy New Year!

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.

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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.

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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

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Cheers!

 

All good wishes and a big festive thank you

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.

Cheers!

 

AWG FESTIVE 2018Much love,

Jan x

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Summer Round-up

Well, what a glorious summer we’ve had, eh? My flip-flops waved the white flag when it hit 34 degrees. And now in mid-September, between the storms, the sun’s still occasionally flirting with us.

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Help, Help …!

 

Weather aside, since my last post in the spring it has felt like the ultimate seesaw ride.

We all celebrated Dad’s 80th birthday at the end of April. He wasn’t feeling 100% but did manage to enjoy a slice of cake.

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Soon after this, Dad fell very ill and had to spend some time in hospital having a barrage of tests, scans, you name it, the conclusion being that he will need some medical TLC. Fast forward five months and we’re hopefully about to learn when that will actually be. While Dad has had periods of feeling brighter, and will, in time we’re sure, be fighting fit again, it has really brought home to the whole family how much we love and value both him and Mum and how protective of them we all are.

Amidst the fog of concern, June, July and August did also provide a generous dose of family and friends fun and laughter, including our nephew Andy’s 30th birthday drinks, a sunny day trip to Brighton (remind me to never drink double gin and tonics again!) and cheering on an inspired England in the World Cup (“we love you, Southgate, we do …“)

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World Cup 2018: Well if you’re gonna fly a flag, it may as well be a massive one!

Briggy and I also ventured to Bournemouth and Poole for a couple of days which did us both the world of good. Sunshine all the way, a sightseeing bus tour plus boat trip, plenty of good food and drinks, a mooch round the harbour and potteries and a lovely B&B in which to rest our weary bones at the end of each day. Bliss!

 

I’m a huge fan of walking and find it really helps with the dreaded anxiety and flat days. I’ve been on quite a few of the guided London tours via Walks.com . No pre-booking, you just turn up at the specified meeting place (always by a tube station exit), hook up with your knowledgeable, friendly guide and away you go. This summer, I did the Little Venice tour and the Swanky Old Mayfair tour, both of which were thoroughly enjoyable.

 

This summer also saw my publisher Choc Lit  celebrate 9 years in business. Proud to be part of such a friendly, supportive, professional (and in my case, patient!) team.

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In August came a short visit to see our Uncle in Grantham (or thereabouts) whose house overlooks a huge field where we did some hare-spotting. I never realised they were THAT big or had such massive ears! We were also treated to this spectacular sunset. UFO-like or what?

UFO SUNSET

More recently, my best friend Clare and I stayed overnight in London near Westminster after a day spent being hurled around in our seats (me shrieking and laughing all the way!) courtesy of ThamesJet.com . Donning our waterproofs and life-jackets, a 50-minute ride saw us take in the sights up close and personal, cameras clicking, until we cleared Tower Bridge whereby we zoomed off, twisting and turning, arms raised in excitement (in Clare’s case) me white-knuckled and gripping the hand rail, daring myself to open my eyes. That said, although I was WAY out of my comfort zone doing this, I’m so glad I did as it was well worth it.  Our reward afterwards for being so brave was a nice stroll along the South Bank and a hunk of yummy carrot cake.  It was great to spend some quality time with Clare. She’s a gem. Much scoffing and quaffing and hilarious reminiscing.

A few pics …

 

The bundle of absolute joy that is our great-nephew Henry has us not quite believing that he is already six months old. He’ll be walking and talking before we know it.

Too cute!

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A summer awash with blooms I’m glad to report.

 

Not much writing done, sadly, but it’ll come, I know it will. I’m viewing every paragraph written as a few words nearer to submission day.

Books I’ve read include the following:

Take Me I’m Yours (A Wisconsin Love Story) by Lizzie Lamb ~ As ever with Lizzie’s novels, her wonderful words transport me to a magically vivid setting, in this case, the much-coveted Macfarlane’s Landing in Wisconsin, where I meet a gorgeous go-getting, gutsy heroine – one India Jane Buchanan – and a hero who makes the heart pound … Well hello, Logan Macfarlane …  Fast-paced, sizzling chemistry, family feuds and past dramas and secrets that contrive to keep India and Logan apart, with a top cast of supporting characters who all want their say. You won’t be disappointed.

Practical Mindfulness – a  step-by-step guide by Consultant Ken. A. Verni, Psy. D. ~ An easy to follow book (with illustrations) for anyone looking to embrace a more mindful approach to life. Offers a wealth of supportive, encouraging tips, examples and exercises to help with anxiety and depression. Well set out, interesting and informative. A guide you can return to as and when the need arises. Very calming.

 

I have two books I’m planning on reading next, one being Kathryn Freeman’s Oh Crumbs , the other Jessie Cahalin’s debut You Can’t Go It Alone . Both novels have some cracking reviews so I’m looking forward immensely to reading both and reporting back.

 

Until next time,

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Love Jan  X

 

My mad year so far (as in crazy, busy, celebratory mad) Well, mostly!

I kept trying to pen a news blog prior to this. January and February flew past and as with my novel writing, the will and the want were there but sadly I couldn’t convey any actual words, or at least the right words.

Having finally opened up over the last few months to my loving family and closest friends, my patient supportive publisher and equally supportive GP that I’d been struggling to cope, the relief has been enormous and as much as it sometimes feels a bit two-steps-forward- three- steps- back , the mixture of medication and therapy, including a confidence workshop, has given me some clarity about my priorities going forward. It’s a work in progress as we say in the writing world but one that I’m hopeful is moving in the right direction.

What has been fabulous about 2018 so far is the catalogue of uplifting family events and celebrations we’ve enjoyed.

A special birthday for Mum kicked off the month of March in style and although we were thwarted by the snow and ice that day, we made up for it at the weekend with a lovely family lunch and much cake and fizz.

Mid-March saw the arrival of our dear little great-nephew, Henry David, and I know I’m biased but take a look at this beautiful face!

 

So wonderful for Mum and Dad to become Great Grandparents in their Diamond wedding anniversary year. 60 glorious years. Such an achievement and a congratulatory card from Her Majesty the Queen which thrilled them both. We’re all so proud of them.

 

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Naturally, we celebrated this momentous occasion with a great gathering at my younger sister Karen’s with family and friends, a delicious spread of food, bubbly aplenty and lots of laughter. Mum and Dad received some delightful gifts and cards including a fantastic memory book our niece put together with written  contributions and photos from all the family, some funny, some sentimental, but all created with love and gratitude for the influence and impact they have both had on us all.

 

April brought more excitement with a glorious family wedding to celebrate the marriage of our lovely Nephew Andy and his beautiful bride Alison. What a great day we had. Dressed in our finest threads and willing the weather to be fine, which it was, the venue and setting were superb ~ Surrey National Golf Club  ~ and with an evening reception to match, I haven’t danced so much in ages and it was good to catch up with people we hadn’t seen for a while. A triumph of an occasion for sure.

 

We’ve still some celebrations to come with a big special birthday looming for Dad at the end of April which I shall report back on next time round.

I’ve not done much reading lately but two books I did want to mention, one fiction one non-fiction, are the following:

 

 

That Summer At The Seahorse Hotel by Adrienne Vaughan  ~ The title alone made me want to dive into the story. Adrienne’s talent for creating engaging, entertaining characters, some of them warm, some witty, some wonderfully wacky, but all memorable, gets stronger with every book she writes. The stunning Irish setting and grandeur of the family home holds lots of hopes, fears and secrets and the drama, whether recounted from the past or firmly in the present, never lets up as each story thread unravels. Loved it!

 

Clarity  by Jamie Smart ~ A lesson in how to de-clutter the mind in order to  reduce stress levels, improve confidence and to think and communicate more clearly. It’s one of those books which I read straight through without trying to analyze every detail as I went and found so inspiring and helpful it really brought home to me how your thoughts can control you and leave you either dwelling on past events you cannot change or pondering the future to the point where you can miss out on appreciating the present. Something about the simple, non-baffling way the writer of this book explained things really resonated with me.

A bevy of blooms I’ve delighted in these past few weeks, some sent to me, some observed, some bought, all of them loved and appreciated …

 

Well, that’s all for now. I told you lots had been happening.

Until next time.

With much love,

JANNERS WEDDING

Xx

Greetings 2018!

Happy New Year, everyone!

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and that those among us who need an extra supportive hug at this emotional time of year, received some comfort.

Looking back at my diary for December highlighted how dear to me my family and friends are and how their love and kindness has helped me through a difficult few months. I love them with all my heart.

The first week of December’s freezing temperatures made staying in the warm putting up the Christmas decorations, sparkle boots on my feet and a nice glass of fizz in my hand, all the more enjoyable. I was rather pleased with the results too. Nothing like a healthy dose of twinkle & a few festive faces to gladden the soul.

 

 

 

Sparkle Slipper Boots.

SPARKLE BOOTS

 

A day trip to York with Mr B on the 8th proved to be a magical tonic. Any excuse and I’m there and the good old promotional train tickets via Virgin Trains East Coast  came up trumps again. St Nicholas Fair was in full swing, packed with glittering market stalls, the scent of hog roast, mulled wine and cinnamon hanging in the air. It was bitter cold but we had glorious blue sky and sunshine and the few flakes of snow that fell on the cobbles at our feet only added to the already enchanting atmosphere. The only downside was me dropping my phone on the pavement while taking the last of many beautiful photos I’d snapped throughout the day. The screen cracked and the phone went doolally, so much so, I lost all my York pics.

Gutted – definitely – but I refused to let it spoil our day and it’ll give me the perfect excuse to re-visit next Christmas.

This was me before the off, wrapped up, ready to face the chill.

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I also spent a fabulous day in Canterbury with my younger sister and two of my lovely nieces – another f-f-f-f freezing cold day but sunny and bright which reflected the mood, – especially as we were bringing the elder of my nieces back home with us from university for the Christmas break. We had a leisurely browse round the shops, the city as shimmering and seasonally scented as York had been. I experienced my first Nandos lunch (yes, I know – where have I been?) which was delicious, and the whole day was a fun-filled triumph.

The run-up to Christmas was busy, so it was nice to have a peaceful, cosy Christmas day, just me and Mr B. And, of course, the turkey, the Christmas pud, the odd chocolate or five, mince-pies, turkey sandwiches, glasses of sherry, port, fizz … you get the picture.

We received some gorgeous gifts too.

Here are some of mine.

 

 

 

Boxing Day, by contrast, was a riot of family laughter, noise and games and one “slightly” merry husband and equally merry brother-in-law and nephew having a sing-off in my older sister’s kitchen. Food, drink and high spirits aplenty.

December blooms still reign supreme, from my perky Poinsettia to the fabulous Christmas Eve winter bouquet I received from a good friend, to my lovely holly and berries.

 

 

 

 

I finished reading Sue Fortin’s latest psychological thriller The Birthday Girl which I’d previously reported I was really enjoying. I love Sue’s writing and think this novel is her best yet. Friends Carys, Andrea and Zoe accept an invitation to join their friend Joanne in a remote cottage for a weekend who has implied it will be full of adventure in celebration of her 40th birthday. All sounds good until the three guests arrive and quickly realise that Joanne’s invitation isn’t quite what it seemed. Packed with secrets, mystery and sinister happenings, the pace of this book doesn’t let up and just when you think you’ve sussed who is guilty of what, another twist sends your thoughts on a U-turn.

A five-star read. Can’t wait to see what Sue writes next.

SUE BIRTHDAY GIRL

 

May 2018 be a happy, healthy, peaceful, prosperous and productive year for us all.

Much love,

Jan   x

 

 

Good wishes & a message of thanks from me to you …

I confess I love all things Christmas, from the festive foliage, to the decorations, to the advent calendar (no, you didn’t read that wrong!) to the carols and good cheer our family get togethers always bring.

I 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 festivities.

I hope that wherever you are and whatever you are doing this Christmas, you find peace and some comfort.

May 2018 be peaceful, healthy and filled with love & laughter for us all.

Thank you all for your wonderful support for me, my blog and my novel this year. I truly value it along with your friendship.

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Much love,

Jan X