I love the cooling crispness of autumn, the colours, the crunch of leaves beneath my feet.
A new season of promise following an eventful few weeks …
As August began we celebrated the arrival of our lovely great-niece Thea Eugenie, baby sister to Henry (now 18 months). Sweet as sweet can be.
During this month I also gleefully revisited my own childhood when my niece Marie-Claire – newly qualified as a primary school teacher – asked me if I would like to help her prepare her classroom ahead of her welcoming her pupils for the start of term. I was thrilled at the prospect (any excuse for a spot of cutting out, colouring and laminating) and here are some of the colourful results of our fun-filled hard work.
The end of August brought a visit to glorious Kew Gardens . We were lucky with the weather which made everything look extra spectacular. £18.15 (with a donation) per adult entry fee (well worth it). We also took a packed lunch as there are plenty of picnic areas. I couldn’t believe some of the weird and wonderful plants we saw, not to mention the glass sculptures. We braved the treetop walk which gave us the wobbles a bit. Overall, we walked about four miles, so the feet were well and truly hanging off by the time we got home. A fab day for sure. Took some good pics as well. See slideshow below.
Into September and off we went on the ferry from Southampton to the Isle of Wight for a mini break with two good friends. We stayed in Rookley which was centrally located, although nowhere is too far to get to on the island. I hadn’t been back since childhood and Briggy had never been so we packed in as much as we could during our four days there. Lots of laughs, good food and sightseeing including a visit to Steephill Cove which came highly recommended and didn’t disappoint. We also visited the sand shop in Alum Bay and filled a small glass vase of our own as a memento. A fond trip down memory lane. Loved it!
On my return from the Isle of Wight I found out the good news that my sequel to As Weekends Go is scheduled to be released by Choc Lit early next year. Title to be finalised. Edits to be done. I am thrilled that my second book will be published. Watch this space …
At the end of the month my niece Jess and I took a trip to the MAC store near Carnaby Street where Jess had a fabulous makeover (18th birthday prezzie). All the staff were chatty and welcoming, especially Jess’s makeup artist who did her proud. Jess was able to redeem the cost of the makeover against some of the gorgeous products that were used on her face. I, of course, sat enthralled watching the process and snapped a few pics. We also had a wander down Carnaby street and a nose round the wondrous Liberty store. A top day out.
Bookswise, here’s what I’ve recently read and enjoyed.
I’m a big fan of Tammy/Tamar Cohen’s writing and have been working my way through her novels. Stop At Nothing is her latest and The Mistress’s Revenge a few years older – both novels thrillingly gripping in subject matter.
The Dead Wife is, in my humble opinion, Sue Fortin’s best novel to date. Full of mystery and murky family secrets. So cleverly written and engaging.
So many blooms to choose from this time around (what with our visits to Kew and the Isle of Wight) so here’s a colourfully foliage-filled snapshot.
Until next time, with much love,
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 …
Until next time, enjoy spring and all the sunshine, blossoms and promise it offers (not to mention Easter eggs 😉 )
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.
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!