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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

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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!

 

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?

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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

 

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.

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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.

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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