Category Archives: Jan’s Posts
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.
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.
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.
May 2018 be a happy, healthy, peaceful, prosperous and productive year for us all.
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.
A new month and the health and wellbeing road to recovery marches on with continued appreciation of how lovely, kind and supportive people can be. It saddens me that I’ve been unable to complete my second novel as yet, but that little inner spark of creativity and passion remains, and reading back through what I’ve so far produced of my sequel to As Weekends Go, keeps the flow and gives me great heart that my confidence will return and it’ll all come good.
Now, I’m not even going to attempt to disguise the fact that I adore Christmas. I equally appreciate and respect that it can be a sad time for some people so I hope you’ll forgive me for indulging my love of all things festive. The moment I turned over the calendar and saw this gorgeous feline face staring back at me, I remembered the 1st of the month also meant that I could unveil a calendar of an altogether different type 😉
Big kid? Who me?
November brought lots of family and friend catch-ups which was lovely. As much as I value these get-togethers, I also think it’s important to have 1-2-1 chats as you can more fully discuss topics and news and sometimes open up a bit more.
As Weekends Go featured in a couple of promotions mid-month which resulted in a welcome mini-spike in sales and some wonderful feedback. I also donated a paperback copy in aid of Children in Need via Paddy Heron (known as Fundraiser Paddy on Twitter) who, for the third year running, kindly organised a fabulous author auction showcasing books of all genres for people to bid on. I was proud to support such a worthy cause.
It was a joy to appear again on the brilliantly supportive Jessie Cahalin’s blog. If you’ve not yet visited Jessie’s blog, you’re in for a real treat. She has fun and factual posts and features of all varieties – a real mixture to suit all readers’ tastes. I thoroughly enjoyed creating this piece and a special postcard to present to the readers along with a short extract from As Weekends Go which you can read here ~ BOOKS IN MY HANDBAG BLOG Many thanks to Jessie.
November blooms came courtesy of a dear friend who sent me a stunning festive display of lilies and winter berries. My gem of a sister also bought me a glorious Poinsettia which has pride of place on my Christmas sideboard display. I also wanted to post some gorgeous snaps I took whilst out walking. Nature really is a thing of beauty, eh?!
I mentioned in my previous post that I’d been reading Rose McClelland’s THE YEAR OF NO RULES which I’ve now finished and can report is a sparkling read which very much portrays the joy and importance of recognising and appreciating your self-worth. I loved main character Sasha and rooted for her throughout especially given how manipulative and controlling her boyfriend Kirk could be. Enter lovely, sweet-natured, dependable Sam, a million miles away, personality-wise, from Kirk, who seems the perfect love match for Sasha, but … life’s never quite that simple is it? This book touched my every emotion and deals with some raw, deep and delicate issues but also made me smile and laugh out loud at times. It’s so well written and expressive. I look forward to reading more from this talented author. Enjoy!
I’m currently reading Sue Fortin’s latest thriller THE BIRTHDAY GIRL and a thriller it is too. Halfway through and loving it. More to follow in my next post.
If you love your festive reads I must say Choc Lit have some super choices available. Look at these beauties!
It’s been a couple of months since my last blog. I haven’t been feeling well and September was all a bit of a struggle for one reason or another, so it’s nice to reflect on how busy October has been and to acknowledge all the love and support I’ve had and continue to have from family, friends and colleagues.
The first week of October saw Mr B & I celebrate 14 years of marriage. Crazy where the time has gone, but I’m seeing that as a positive and there isn’t a day goes by where my lovely husband doesn’t make me laugh. Here’s to many more wonderful years together.
On Friday 6th, I boarded a train from St Pancras to Leicester where I met my gem of a buddy & fellow Romaniac blogger Celia Anderson for a coffee and a mini catch up before we headed off to the Belmont Hotel to attend the monthly meeting of the Belmont Belles, a group of writers at all different stages of the process, who get together once a month to discuss their progress and any snippets of news. The group is successfully run by two other lovely writing buddies of mine, Lizzie Lamb and June Kearns who it was so good to see again, along with Adrienne Vaughan, Mags Cullingford & Anne Williams, plus I got to meet a few new faces. I’ve been wanting to visit for ages and it was great to spend time with them all. Cracking fish & chips lunch too, (and a sneaky glass of red!) before a few of us went back to Lizzie’s beautiful house for tea and cake. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole day. Thank you for having me, Belmont Belles, and for your hospitality afterwards, Lizzie.
We had a top family day at my youngest nephew’s fab new house which he and his lovely girlfriend recently moved into. They are expecting a baby in March next year, and we’re all thrilled. I will be great aunt Janners!
My birthday was on the 9th. It was a bit of a dank old Monday morning, brightened by a lunch date with older sister Sandra. We went to the THE WHITE BEAR near Warlingham, and had a yummy lunch (there may also have been dessert!) and by the time we ventured outside, the sun had come out for us and it was blue skies all the way. I had some beautiful gifts and cards.
Mum, Dad, younger sister Karen and I went to see Motown the Musical in London’s West End on the 19th of the month. What a fab show! We had a really good deal, great seats plus coach travel there and back which was a boon as it was chucking it down with rain. We had a good old sing to all the tunes and the dancing (the performers, not ours) was spectacular. I can definitely recommend it. A real feel good fest! MOTOWN THE MUSICAL
I seem to be on a winning streak with writing-related competitions lately and my luck continued with this fabulous prize of 4 A5 prints with Haiku-inspired poems, plus some stationery all from EMERALD AND LIME whose products are divine. I won the comp via LOVE BOOKS GROUP . Here are my goodies. Aren’t they gorgeous?
A special mention to my dear best friend Clare in this blog post who celebrated an equally special birthday this month. I’m looking forward to seeing her very soon for a post-birthday hug and a catch up. I’ve had a beast of a cold which prevented me from seeing her on the actual day, so extra big hugs are in order.
I rounded off the month with a delightful treat of afternoon tea at the DoubleTree by Hilton at London Victoria, courtesy of my lovely eldest niece Jo. It was very thoughtful of her and nice to have some 121 time with her. The venue and service were great and the food (including some mouthwatering honey-covered crumpets) and teas were delicious. We had a glass of bubbly too. Well worth a visit! DoubleTree By Hilton Afternoon Tea
Blooms of the month saw a variety by way of a stunning birthday bouquet I received from a good friend.
Reading-wise, I’ve not managed to get much done, but have recently started the new novel by Rose McClelland, entitled THE YEAR OF NO RULES I’m four chapters in and thoroughly hooked on the story, so I shall report back in more detail next month.
Writing-wise, I’m pleased with my sequel to As Weekends Go and how it’s coming along. I think I’ve said before how I wish I could write faster, but I’m getting there.
To round off, I hope those of you who are into Halloween, had a suitably spooky one.
This Facebook post of mine from Halloween four years ago made me smile all over again when FB prompted me to remember it:
“I have my spooky themed sweets & little cakes ready for the trick or treaters who always come calling. I’m expecting a few Zombie costumes this year. Last year I opened the door to two pumpkins, Count Dracula, and three vampires, one of whose fangs fell out as he shouted, “Trick or Treat!” bless him! “
Pondering. I love that word. August saw me doing my fair share of it too; thinking about what’s really important to me, how I’ve changed and about certain things I’ve shied away from facing up to. All sounds a bit deep, I know, but it’s put a few things into perspective.
It’s been a real family & friends month which has helped – various celebrations from birthdays to anniversaries to retirement cheer.
We had a lovely Mum & daughters lunch – my two sisters and I took Mum to a local carvery (cracking roast potatoes!) and laughed and chatted about things you might not otherwise get around to discussing in a bigger gathering. I’ve always been more of a 1-2-1 or small groups person, so really treasure these times. We have Dad/daughters lunches too (in case you thought we leave him out – bless him!).
I also met up with my youngest niece for a bite to eat and a chat which was lovely. Again, it brought home how fast the years have flown. I still think of Jess as being the age in the photo on the left. Instead of that she’s about to head off to college.
A family gardening day at Mum and Dad’s mid-month was a roaring success (if I do say so myself!) although my marathon weeding stint did leave me walking like a robot for two days. My chest muscles just about recovered for the Bank Holiday weekend, which saw us all gather together once again, along with some family friends, at my older sister’s house. Blue sky and sunshine meant we could spill out into the garden. With food aplenty and Sangria on tap, a good time was had by all.
I featured on two fab blogs in August, firstly as a guest of Louise Ross (L.J. Ross) author of the international bestselling series of DCI Ryan mystery novels, who, via her LoveSuspense blog, introduces authors in various genres. Here I am ~ LJ Ross Q&A
Secondly, I’m proud to say I now also appear in the Books in Handbags Gallery which is one of several superb features on Jessie Cahalin’s gem of a website ~ JessieCahalin Jessie is super-supportive of other authors and I’m delighted to be included.
Still badgering away with my sequel/standalone. I’ve had a bit of a love/hate relationship with it and have been sad and disappointed with myself that it’s taking me this long, but I feel re-connected with it and really want to finish it and submit it. I’m enjoying spending time with my characters again and meeting some new ones (good and naughty!). I’m also really excited as Dave and I are off to York for the day in December (promo train tickets – absolute bargain!) As you know, York’s the main setting in As Weekends Go and a city I adore, so I can’t wait to get back there – especially as all the Christmas lights will be up and twinkling. VISIT YORK
Blooms of the month continue with the gladioli theme (or glads as I call them!) I think I’ve bought them in every colour this year.
Get a look at these beauties.
The month ended on a high note when I found out I’d won a bundle of Edinburgh book festival goodies put together by Kelly of LoveBooksGroupBlog and Joanne of PortobelloBookBlog Needless to say there will be photos to follow. Thank you, ladies. So thrilled to have won. 🙂
I only managed to read one book this month but boy was it well-timed. Shelley Wilson’s How I Changed My Life in a Year – is an inspiring, motivational, entertaining, sometimes poignant, sometimes comical, month-by-month account of how, having reached a crossroads in her life where she knew she had to make some changes, Shelley set herself twelve challenges over a year. This variety of challenges included everything from getting fitter to learning new creative tasks to facing her fears. I dipped in and out of the book with ease and it certainly left an impression on me. Well written and thoroughly engaging. An absolute pleasure to read.
Before I go, look at this gorgeous sunset I snapped earlier this week …
I’m a huge fan of Evonne Wareham’s writing and with the holiday season in full swing, there is no better time to read this exclusive extract from her latest novel, Summer in San Remo
It’s a gem of a story. Fun with a hint of mystery …
Running her busy concierge service usually keeps Cassie Travers fully
occupied. But when a new client offers her the strangest commission she’s ever handled she suddenly finds herself on the cusp of an Italian adventure, with a man she thought she would never see again.
Jake McQuire has returned from the States to his family-run detective agency. When old flame Cassie appears in need of help with her mysterious client, who better than Jake to step in?
Events take the pair across Europe to a luxurious villa on the Italian Riviera. There, Cassie finds that the mystery she pursues pales into insignificance, when compared to another discovery made along the way …
Cassie knitted her fingers together and stretched her arms above her head, wriggling her neck to work out the kinks. A quick squint at the clock had her blinking. 7.30? Where had the time gone? As if on cue, her stomach rumbled.
Food and sleep. You have an early start in the morning.
‘Don’t remind me!’ She looked round guiltily, when she realised she’d said it out loud. The office was empty. The whole building was probably empty. No one to hear you curse. Even if the thought of tomorrow makes you want to. Cassie wrinkled her nose. London – fine. With Jake – not so fine.
She reached out to close down her computer, taking one last look at the screen. The research she’d been doing for the last hour was for herself, not for a client. An idea she’d been meaning to follow up for a while. And nothing to do with trying to prove something to Mr McQuire? She shrugged. It was nothing to do with Jake. Why should his arrival prompt her to make a serious attempt at tracing the errant Jason? And the digging she’d done had been worth it.
She noted the names on her list, with satisfaction, before sending it to print and closing the files. It was a short list, but one that might pay dividends – the names of private gardens on the Riviera that sometimes opened their gates to the public. Jason had once mentioned that his aunt was a keen gardener, very proud of her large garden and collections of rare plants. If she was proud of it, there seemed a good chance she might want to show it off. None of the owners’ names meant anything to Cassie, but a few quick calls in the morning might yield some information she could follow up. If not, you’ll just have to take a trip to the Riviera yourself.
‘Oh, yeah, fat chance. I’d be lucky to afford a trip to Bognor!’
Damn, she was talking to thin air again!
Anyway, in the morning … Cassie groaned, in the act of reaching for her ‘To do’ list. In the morning she’d be miles away from the office. With Jake. Jake and Jason. Two bad apples in a pod. Or did she mean barrel?
Her stomach gave a flutter that had nothing to do with hunger.
She flipped the printout from the machine and switched it off. The trip to London tomorrow would take up most of her day. Just to deliver a package. Tell me again – why are you doing this? Cassie leaned back in her chair, muscles suddenly tense. The job was distinctly iffy, whichever way you looked at it. She knew that – had from the beginning.
So – why?
She chewed her lower lip. Even if the job was genuine, and she was saving Benson’s childhood home from the bulldozers, she was skating on thin ice. If Benson hadn’t made it clear that the collection of the package tomorrow was only a very small part of the conditions he and his wife had to meet, to protect their inheritance, she wouldn’t have considered it. Even for that astonishing amount of money? That you now have to share with Jake?
Cassie chewed her lip harder at the memory of Jake, sprawled so confidently in her visitor’s chair. That chair. She glared at it. Promising him half the money rather messed up the idea that she would try not to touch Benson’s fee.
Hmm. The money was a matter for another day, and negotiation with McQuire. Now she had to concentrate on getting through tomorrow. She’d committed to the client and the job, and she would carry it through. But what exactly is the job? Do you really believe Benson’s story?
Cassie smoothed her finger along the arm of her chair. That was actually the point – in her heart of hearts, despite Benson’s tears, she didn’t. And if something else was going on, she and Jake were right in the middle of it. Which meant she had to do everything she could to find out what it was. Self-preservation, gathering information on a possible crime – and, she had to admit – rampant curiosity. Three good motives for keeping her wits about her and her eyes open tomorrow.
Cassie sighed. She’d been way too impulsive when she agreed to this crazy assignment. She’d let excitement and the thought of the money cloud her judgement. Benson had probably counted on that. All she could do now was press on, and learn from the experience. At least tomorrow would be the end of her enforced association with Jake. That was one bright spot to look forward to. She wouldn’t need him around any more. He would be going back to the States soon. Then she could investigate Benson without any unwanted distractions. Whatever she found out, she could take it to the authorities herself. She really didn’t need any more help from Jake.
Cassie Travers, ace detective!
Stuffing the list of Riviera gardens into a file marked ‘Fairbrook’ and dropping it into her desk drawer, she set about retrieving her possessions from around her desk – jacket, shoes – she had to feel under the pedestal to locate the left one, cramming it on as her stomach rumbled again, even louder. There was nothing in the fridge at home. She’d have to stop at the shop on her way. Get a ready meal, or something. A ready meal for one. How sad is that?
‘It’s not sad. It’s convenient.’ Cassie stood up, then hesitated, stalled on her way to the door by a sudden wave of uncertainty, and a quick, brutal stab of loneliness. She had masses of friends, including some of her clients. She could ring any one of them this minute, and get an invitation to supper in a heartbeat. But friends aren’t family. Or one special person …
‘Oh for heaven’s sake! You’re not that needy!’ Even so, her hand hovered over the phone. It was a while since she’d called her parents. She couldn’t remember exactly when. Maybe last month?
Somewhere outside a clock struck the hour. At this time of the evening her parents would be out, having drinks and tapas with friends. Or they could be entertaining golfing buddies with cocktails at home, before a late dinner. Not a good time. Making a mental note to try at the weekend, Cassie shouldered her bag. Calls to Spain were probably cheaper then, anyway.
She stepped out into the corridor and secured the door behind her. Maybe she’d forget the ready meal and stop at the chippy instead.
Jake stared out over the dark expanse of water. The breeze, whispering through the open windows of the car, held a tang of salt. Lights from shipping in the Channel flickered, breaking up the twilight. Ma was out there, somewhere. Crossing the Bay of Biscay? Or already anchored off some sunshine island, getting ready for a show, or dancing on deck, or whatever other entertainment the cruise ship provided? He’d have to check on the schedule she’d left. She’d be visiting lots of amazing places. Which is good. She deserves it.
Jake frowned. She didn’t need to go alone though. They could have spent some quality time together, just hanging out. But she’d been adamant about it.
He stirred uncomfortably in his seat, a lump gathering in his throat. He swallowed hard. When Ma first mentioned she was having medical tests, it hadn’t sunk in. She’d made it sound like routine stuff. Even when she’d phoned in the middle of the day, to tell him she was having surgery … It had taken a call from Tony, his oldest friend, to spell it out. His mother could be dying. It had hit him like a rock between the eyes. What a miserable excuse for a son he had been. The lump in his throat rose again. Once he knew how necessary it was, it had proved remarkably easy to drop everything and just walk away. On the way over, on the plane, all he’d been able to think of was the gift she’d given him – of a wonderful childhood; the Christmas treats, birthdays, holidays by the sea – all playing in his mind like a continuous film loop.
And in there too, in the background, in scratchy, jerky black and white, were Benita and Tony … and Cassie.
He’d got to his mother’s bedside right before the operation was scheduled. Had just had time to tell her he loved her, before they wheeled her away. And he’d been there, holding her hand, when she woke. He’d vowed then … Whatever she wanted …
He’d been a bad son. He knew that. Sitting beside his mother’s bed in the hospital waiting for her to wake up after the surgery … What the hell were you thinking, staying in New York all those years? He lifted his hand to rub the corner of his eye. Having come close to losing her, he really hadn’t wanted to let her go away alone, even on a luxury cruise, but he hadn’t wanted to deny her anything either. And then there was all the other stuff …
The whole thing was weird, but he had a chance now to make amends. He’d work it out.
The breeze blew suddenly sharper. With a slight shiver, Jake raised the window a fraction. He wasn’t all that sure why he’d driven out here to the sea. Childhood memories of time spent on the beach below where he was parked? Sandcastles and wave jumping and picnics with Ma – those long days of childhood that always seemed to be full of sunshine?
Hmm. Getting maudlin here. He looked at his watch. It would be after midnight when he got back and then he and Cassie would be off to London.
He let out a long sigh. It was good to be seeing her again. Sure – for some reason she didn’t think so, but he’d win her over. Would Ma approve of him helping her out? He thought she would. Maybe not some of the other stuff, but hooking up with Cassie …
He tapped a finger on the steering wheel. Cassie was … great. A hard worker, real good at her job – but her heart was too big. For a business woman, she was too trusting. That dirt-bag Jason …
When Tony had told him what that shite had done to Cassie and to the business – all but wrecking what she and Benita had worked so hard to build …
Benita hadn’t said much, but he’d gotten the story out of a still indignant Tony – and found out everything he needed to know about the firm, over a few beers. Well, more than a few. And a couple of whisky chasers. He and Tone had been in complete agreement – those women needed someone looking out for them. And Jake was stepping up to the plate. He wasn’t too sure about how much Tony would remember about all that. He wasn’t entirely sure how much he remembered, but Tone was still speaking to him, so he’d not crossed any lines. It hadn’t been too much of a stretch to plant the idea in Benita’s mind that she was always welcome to call on Kings for help, now that he was back. Should the need arise. And with all Cassie’s usual male helpers out of action … And a job that needed a man to complete …Well, stepping up to the plate. Almost a public duty. Spending time with a gorgeous woman and keeping the dirt-bags away. Just about perfect. The Benson thing … He grinned. Cassie needed him.
Hmm. She needs the Benson money. Which you are making her split with you. Yeah – but there would still be enough left to save her business. He’d made sure of that. No woman, least of all Cassie, wanted to feel like a charity case. Their agreement had to look good. And how could he resist going head to head with Cass over the negotiations when she looked so darn cute when she was mad? She needed the money, but she needed him to get the money.
An unexpected chill ran down his back. He cranked the window all the way shut. Any man would want to be needed, right?
Shrugging his shoulders to shake off the chill, he reached out to start the engine.
Of course, once you’ve delivered the package, Cassie will expect the job to be over.
Hah! No way!
Now he’d seen Cassie again, he was planning to go right on seeing her. Which meant that whatever happened tomorrow, the Benson thing wasn’t going to come to an end. That whole inheritance story was enough to make anyone suspicious, let alone someone as curious about her fellow human beings as Cassie. She was a people person. She liked to know what made them tick, which was probably one of the reasons she was good at what she did.
Jake smiled. That was the key. Cassie would be curious about what might lie behind their unusual assignment. With the right kind of encouragement, she’d be ready to investigate.
And, of course, you’ll be right at her side while she does.
‘Perfect.’ The car engine purred into life. ‘Let the good times roll!’
If you enjoyed this extract and can’t wait to read more, you can find Summer in San Remo available to purchase on all eBook platforms!
Kindle UK: https://goo.gl/ghNaks
For other buying options click here: https://goo.gl/XVvZmn
July began well with our annual trip to the Old Coulsdon village fete. I love this event as it embraces traditional to the max; have-a-go stalls with prizes, you know the type – coconut shy, tombola, guess the name of the giant (and I mean GIANT) Teddy bear. A fab display by the army cadets kept us entertained. There’s a big refreshment hall for when you feel peckish, selling homemade cakes and proper mugs of builders’ tea and generously filled sandwiches of every kind. Children have plenty to keep them occupied including a bouncy castle and a big inflatable slide. Classic cars are on show. There’s even a mini dog show, so basically something for everyone. We love it and several family members usually turn out. We were blessed with sunshine this year, thankfully, and much fun was had by all.
Here are a few pics:
On the second Monday of the month, my mum, my older sister and I met up in Croydon to go hat and bag shopping as my nephew (big sis’s eldest son) is getting married next April. I’ve already bought my dress, bag and shoes so was very much an extra pair of eyes as they say. Mum and sis have also already bought their outfits but Mum was on the lookout for a matching jacket and with my sister on hat and bag hunt, we set off for a good browse yielding success which meant smiles all round and a cheeky refreshment stop to gather our wits and survey our purchases. We haven’t had a family wedding for quite some time and I’m so excited. No sneak preview snaps, I’m afraid. You’ll have to wait until after the big day! 😉
I was kindly given some theatre tokens for my birthday last year and had been umming and ahhing about which show Mum and I could go and see, when I realised I couldn’t use the tokens to book online, only in person or over the phone. This ruled out many a bargain! I mean, let’s face it, going to the theatre ain’t cheap (even after offsetting tokens!) Anyway, somebody mentioned to me the Churchill Theatre in Bromley was very nice. I hadn’t thought closer to home and had only really been looking at West End venues. I had a beak online and the Churchill Theatre had several shows listed that I suspected Mum and I would both like. They also accept tokens so I booked two tickets for us to see Son of a Preacher Man at half the price we’d have paid to see a show in London. Don’t get me wrong, I love the West End as much as the next person but for the grand total of £12.00 (after redeeming tokens) we weren’t complaining.
I think I’ve mentioned before that I’ve an avid interest in Mindfulness and this month I’ve been taking part in a Free 21-day meditation experience via Oprah Winfrey/Deepak Chopra. Each meditation roughly lasts around twenty minutes, with a little talk from both Oprah and Deepak beforehand, and written reflections afterwards. I can’t tell you how relaxing and beneficial they’ve been. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but for anyone who might be interested, here’s the link should you want to have a little look Oprah/Deepak All you do is register and then they inform you via email of any future options to join in. I could listen to Deepak’s voice all day long, it’s that soothing!
On the book front, I’ve been blessed with three new reviews for As Weekends Go this month, all of which left me with the biggest smile on my face. What was so lovely as well was that all three ladies concerned expressed a desire to read a sequel which is what I’m currently working on and makes all those days when I’ve cautiously asked myself if I’ve taken the right course of action in drafting a sequel as my second book, so worthwhile. I’m on the right track and can’t wait to share Rebecca and Alex’s fresh dramas with you. Here are the reviews should you fancy a read.
Two events this month made me gasp at where the years have gone. Firstly my eldest nephew’s 29th birthday (I swear he was eight years old five minutes ago!) and then when I met one of my lovely nieces for lunch last Friday. She’s nineteen and as I was sitting across the table from her listening to her stories from university, I couldn’t fathom how fast all five of my nieces and nephews have grown up. It’s crazy!
Here are some old photos of me with all of them, the memories so vivid in my mind they could have been taken yesterday.
This month’s blooms may not be homegrown but I couldn’t resist showing them to you; some gorgeous gladioli I bought from the supermarket and a glorious lilies and sunflowers bouquet a good friend of mine sent me.
This trio of reads kept me entertained throughout July.
The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances – much hyped domestic noir type novel that explores the relationship tension between a mother and her only son’s new girlfriend. Full of mounting tension, jealousy, secrets and lies, I couldn’t decide who I disliked more, the mother or the girlfriend and really enjoyed it, my only criticism being the OTT Croydon-bashing. (The book’s not set in Croydon but it gets several mentions!) Being a Croydon girl, I accept the town is grim in part, as are countless other towns, but just felt the author overdid it slightly. Not enough to mar my enjoyment though and I’d certainly recommend this book. Kept me turning those pages for sure.
My second read was Lies by TM Logan – a fast-paced thriller about an ordinary man whose whole life is turned upside down due to one decision – a sort of Sliding Doors premise – only poor Joe (main character) lurches from one sticky situation to another, whereby he’s trying to convince people around him that what is happening to him isn’t real but harsh evidence is very much suggesting otherwise. (I can’t say too much as it’ll spoil it, you’ll see what I mean though if you read the book!). Twisty and suspenseful throughout.
My third read I’ve just finished is called Summer in San Remo It’s by Evonne Wareham and it’s a gem of a read. In stark contrast to the above novels it’s light-hearted in tone, a feel-good book but one that also deals with some quite emotional issues. I loved Cassie, the main character. She co-runs a concierge service with her friend and receives the strangest, most mysterious commission from a client that sends her off to the Italian Riviera with a gorgeous side-kick you’ll love. Whilst there she encounters a harsh reminder of her past. The glam setting and descriptions put me right in the heart of the story and with some laugh out loud moments plus some really likeable characters (and one or two not so nice ones) it gets a big thumbs up from me.
Blimey, if I thought May went quickly, June positively whizzed by. A busy old month to say the least.
With all the current sad and scary news on the TV, it was joyous to see this beauty on the first Sunday of the month. You’ve never seen me move so fast with my camera to capture it. A rainbow of royal proportions if ever I saw one.
In between the sunshine and showers, Mr B and I thought we’d sort out our garden. We’d neglected it a bit so had a mass mowing, pruning and weeding session and could actually admire what was in it.
These lovelies for instance …
On the 14th, my best friend Clare and I trundled up to Waterloo for an afternoon of pampering courtesy of a generously gifted voucher I’d received from a friend some months earlier. Destination Mandara Spa at the Park Plaza Hotel near Westminster Bridge.
Ooh it was divine!
I had a lovely shoulder back and neck massage, Clare had a facial and after lazing round the indoor pool in our robes and braving a stint in the steam room, followed by some light refreshments, we emerged relaxed and refreshed and extremely grateful for the experience. We also had the bonus of a bright sunny day.
Talking of sunshine, the temperature climbed and climbed …
This little lot well and truly came out of hibernation!
Mid-month also saw my wonderful publisher Choc Lit celebrate its 8th birthday. I created this little banner to go with all the fab messages and comments and all round good cheer that ensued online in recognition of their success.
Then came Father’s Day. We spent a delightful day with my parents who came to us for a meal and some fizz (there may have been a few sweets flying around as well! 😉 ) I love this pic of Dad taken a few years ago in Spain in one of his many hats.
Mr B had the last two weeks of June off work. We hadn’t booked a holiday, but with the weather being so glorious, we made the most of it and had one or two days out, including a day trip to Brighton. We did all the usual fun stuff, sat on the beach, a walk along the pier, fish and chips, a stroll round the Lanes, ice creams, amusements. It was great! I swear in all the dozens of times I’ve been to Brighton, I have never seen the sea this colour. It looked stunning.
Here’s a few more pics I took.
On Saturday 24th I proudly attended a Workshop entitled ‘Moving from a Worrier to a Warrior’ organised and run by my lovely friend Clare, a fully qualified Confidence & Empowerment Coach, the aim of the event being to teach us ‘over-worriers’ some brilliantly helpful techniques to help banish those inner fears and frets. It’s amazing how the language we use can influence our thoughts and behaviour. I learned so much and took away some valuable tools with me to introduce into my everyday life that will, I’m sure, help me tremendously with my over-thinking and analyzing. Clare’s hoping to run a similar workshop later this year, so I will keep you posted.
Here she is in full flow!
The team at Choc Lit informed me that As Weekends Go had been selected for the KOBO UK Super Summer Sale which was welcome news. I’m always very appreciative of any promotions, and it gave my book a little boost. Anything that helps widen my circle of readers can only be a good thing. I’m still receiving some fab messages and reviews which makes working on the sequel a little less daunting, so once again, a HUGE thank you from me to you 🙂
Mr B and I rounded off the month with a trip to London. We set off for Notting Hill Gate, and walked down to Holland Park which, if you have never been, is well worth a visit for the beautiful foliage alone, not to mention a lovely cafe with outside seating, exotic feature gardens, peacocks and plenty of space to sit and watch the world go by. We walked round the entire park and then headed off along Earl’s Court Road on a slow mooch back to Victoria Station, taking in the King’s Road, Sloane Square and the grandeur of Belgravia on the way.
Not that we were envious or anything …
Some pics from our day.
We also crossed this road. Couldn’t resist snapping a shot of the sign. Quite fitting what with Father’s Day earlier in the month 😀
Reading-wise this month, I finished Lizzie Lamb’s Girl In The Castle which I thoroughly enjoyed. A great heroine in Dr Henriette Bruar who we meet en route to a remote Scottish castle to register the contents of its library. The history and Gaelic references Lizzie includes in the book add sparkle and authenticity to the story. A gorgeous hero in Keir Mackenzie and a brilliantly created cast, including cantankerous ferryman and manservant, Lachlan, whose spats with Aunt Alice, the housekeeper, had me, at times , in stitches, bring the story alive. Lots of conflict as the castle’s secrets and discoveries unfold, as do the secrets and troubles of the characters themselves. All in all a top read.
I also read Lisa Hill’s Meet Me At Number Five , a belter of a debut that has the perfect blend of romance, wit, drama and ‘reach for the tissues’ moments, with some really emotive subjects covered. Set in the horse racing world, we meet a lively array of characters with a baddie you’ll love to hate. I especially loved Clara, the no-nonsense, ‘say it how it is’ grandmother. Well done, Lisa! More please 🙂
Much love to you all,
It’s a very special day for my lovely publisher Choc Lit – they are celebrating their eighth birthday. I’m very proud to be part of the family and want to give a huge celebratory cheer of thanks to the whole team for all your hard work and support for us authors and our books.
There will be fun, prizes and, no doubt, chocs aplenty all day over at Choc Lit HQ, so be sure to keep an eye on the tweets/Facebook and join in the celebrations.
Here’s to another fab year!
Love Jan X
May’s a month of merriment in our family. Birthdays galore. My niece, my brother-in-law, my nephew’s girlfriend, and last but most definitely not least, lovely Mr B, who’s never been one for fuss and fanfare around his special day, but I still spoil him!
It fell on a Friday this year and our original plan to go out for some tapas at a nearby restaurant fell flat when he didn’t arrive home from work until later than planned.
So … we had a takeaway and a bottle of fizz instead, both of which were delicious 🙂
May also welcomed two new arrivals at Brigden Towers. No, not those sort of new arrivals … a nice new matching two-seater sofa & sofa bed. Our old ones, bless them, were so creaky and sunken, you needed a stepladder to climb out!
They did us proud, but as the old saying goes, all good things come to an end.
Here’s a pic of the replacements.
Amidst all the birthdays and sofa deliveries, I gave my first author talk this month as part of a panel on behalf of our publisher Choc Lit who are touring various libraries across the country. I hardly slept the two nights beforehand, I was so nervous, but am happy to report that all went well, mainly thanks to the love & support and encouraging words from Mr B, my family and friends. I wrote a detailed post for our Romaniacs blog Life Cycle of a Writer feature which is here, should you fancy a read ~ The jitters and joys of my first author talk
Here’s a snapshot of our afternoon in pictures. We were in Southampton and had a great audience. Plenty of chocolates too! 😉
I also featured on two blogs in May, one was a Q&A post with lovely Kelly Lacey of Love Books Group which you can read here ~ Q&A LOVEBOOKSGROUP
The other fab blog I appeared on was Annette Hannah’s Sincerely Book Angels. She has a great feature called My Favourite Things. Here are mine ~ My Favourite Things
I’ve been working hard on my sequel to As Weekends Go, so didn’t manage much reading in May. I have, however, just started reading independent author Lizzie Lamb’s new book entitled Girl in the Castle. I’m a huge fan of Lizzie’s writing and am happy to report that I’m six chapters in and thoroughly enjoying it. I shall give more details in my next update!
Much love to you all.