Blog Archives

May Round-up

I’d love to say I have loads of fresh news for you since my last post but as with most people, we’ve generally been stuck on repeat. Apart from Dave’s ongoing shed-building. Or “Project Briggy” as I’ve called it.

Here’s a slideshow. I’m most impressed! ūüėÄ

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We’ve had several family birthdays since we’ve been in lockdown, including our brother-in-law’s 60th, which would normally have been loudly celebrated with cheer and beer and good music, but I know we’ll do him proud later on when we’re free and able. We did all have individual cakes courtesy of our super-talented niece Alison so we could send pictures to him of us scoffing them and raising a glass or singing Happy Birthday to him via WhatsApp.

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It was also Dave’s birthday this month which we celebrated with a nice Chinese Takeaway and a bottle of wine. I made him a card with pictures of all his favourite things on it as I couldn’t find a suitable enough one in the limited amount of shops open.¬†¬†

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My good friend Noreen was due to have a party in honour of a big milestone birthday. More belated fun, fizz and cake on the horizon. How will we all cope? ūüėȬ†

As for me, well since publication of my second novel If I Ever Doubt You, I’ve been delighted to feature on several lovely blogs, answering questions and sharing photos and book extracts, etc. I’m so grateful for all the support I’ve had. The reviews have been coming in and they are wonderful. Readers are saying how much they are enjoying re-connecting with Rebecca and Alex, having first met them in my debut As Weekends Go.

You don’t have to have read As Weekends Go to enjoy If I Ever Doubt You but hopefully you might decide you want to read them both anyway.¬† (She says cheekily, fingers crossed …) ūüėȬ†

Here are the links to the blogs I’ve been appearing on if you fancy a read. Plus one or two of those brill reviews I mentioned. Thanks galore for all the support.

Books And Me Guest Post

The Day that changed my Life ~ via Morton Gray’s blog

Uplifting Book Extract ~ via Carol Thomas blog

REVIEW

REVIEW

REVIEW

I wanted to also give a shout out to my lovely publisher Choc Lit who organised a virtual literary festival that ran for two weeks and was a resounding success. See the banner below that advertised it. The feedback was great as were all the authors who took part. As you can see there was plenty on offer from both Choc Lit & Ruby Fiction authors.  Bravo! 

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Blooms and tree pics for you to savour this time round, all spotted on our many soul-soothing, scenic walks ūüėÄ

Until next time, stay safe and well everyone.

Much love,

Jan X

Pre-Christmas check in …

 

Well what a busy old time I’ve had since my last post. Now here we are in December with Christmas almost upon us (hooray!) and 2020 waving at us over its shoulder.

I’m looking forward to receiving my edits for Book 2 – the sequel to As Weekends Go.¬† Both a nerve-wracking and exciting prospect but I know that whatever is suggested and advised it can only strengthen the novel. We’re a team and teammates support each other in producing what they hope is the best a story can be for the reader to hopefully enjoy.

October always starts well at Brigden Towers as the 4th is our wedding anniversary. 16 years married for me & Mr B this year and through all the ups, downs and somewhere-in-the-middles, we’re still a winning team.

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This same week, I enjoyed a delightful pre-birthday treat from my gem of a best friend Clare who had booked us tickets for the west end show Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. It’s brilliant! (see review later in post). Before the show we enjoyed a stroll around Chinatown – buzzing and colourful as ever.

 

My birthday itself was as fabulous Рanother huge treat from my gorgeous sister and equally gorgeous niece who bought me a ticket for the stage version of Grease  Рmy absolute fave film of all time. It was on at the superb Churchill theatre in Bromley and after a delicious pasta lunch the three of us took our seats, prepared for a good old, shameless singalong.  Fantastic! (also reviewed later in post).

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A jaunt to Leicester for the day brought a much-loved and long overdue catch up with these three sparklers, fellow authors Lizzie Lamb, Adrienne Vaughan and June Kearns. We all met through the¬† romantic novelists’ association (RNA) and have been firm buddies ever since.

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June, Lizzie, Adrienne & me

In celebration of best friend Clare’s birthday, after a coffee and a nice stroll round Hyde Park in the sunshine, we visited the¬† Park Lane Hilton for afternoon tea. Pure indulgence from start to finish. Suffice to say we scoffed and quaffed our hearts out and took the leftovers home in a pretty box.¬† Check out these goodies …

 

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More mega exciting news followed when the whole family gathered at¬† The Mulberry Bush pub on the South Bank in honour of niece Jo’s lovely partner Anthony who was celebrating his 30th birthday. Jo and Ant are expecting a baby in early 2020 and we couldn’t be more pleased for them. The birthday cheer was in full swing when Ant happily surprised us all by proposing to Jo. Cue chaotic merriment of the highest order. A day to remember for sure. So thrilled!

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A newly engaged Jo & Ant

Show Reviews:

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie ~ The Apollo Theatre : Based on a true story, this show features main character Jamie New (played by the super-talented Layton Williams) and his journey from Sheffield council estate to the glitz and glamour of the showbiz world. We laughed, cried and rooted for Jamie all the way as he challenges and overcomes prejudice to fulfill his star potential. Fun, camp and musically magnificent, we loved it.

Grease ~¬†Churchill Theatre Bromley¬†¬† (no longer showing at this venue but will be embarking on a new 2020 UK tour ) : Being a massive fan of the film I went along to see the stage version with slight reservations and an open mind as to how it would compare. I needn’t have worried as it was a triumph. All the beloved songs plus a few new tunes added and a superb cast including Peter Andre who played the part of Teen Angel (Beauty School Dropout …) There are a few modern touches, changes and twists but they all contributed to a highly entertaining version. Bravo!

 

December Blooms 

 

 

 

Until next time, with much love,

Jan x

As 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! ūüėČ

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