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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

 

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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

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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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

As November meets December …

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.

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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.

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My Postcard!

 

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!

ROSE M

 

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.

SUE BIRTHDAY GIRL

 

If you love your festive reads I must say Choc Lit  have some super choices available. Look at these beauties!

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Much love,

Jan X

As October meets November …

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.

THANK YOU!

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.

WEDDING

October 4th 2003

 

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.

ROSE M

 

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.

 

Halloween

 

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! “

Much love,

Jan x

 

 

 

 

 

August Round-up ~ News, views & Reviews

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.

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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.

 

BOOK IN HANDBAG

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.

SHELLEY WILSON

 

 

Before I go, look at this gorgeous sunset I snapped earlier this week …

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Much love,

Jan  X

 

 

 

 

 

 

As July joins August …

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.

Review 1

Review 2

Review 3

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.

 

 

Much Love,

Jan  X

As June meets July …

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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 🙂

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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.

 

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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 😀

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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,

Jan  X

As May meets June …

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 🙂

 

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Happy Birthday, Mr B!

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! 😉

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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!

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Much love to you all.

Jan  X