the tidy bed vs the healthy bed

Do you always make the bed in the morning?                I do… or rather I did.

Tracey Emin's My bed courtesy Andy Hay via Creative Commons

Tracey Emin’s My bed courtesy Andy Hay via Creative Commons

I don’t like a bed looking like Tracey’s  ;)

Now, I’ve known about dust-mites for a loooong time. I thought I understood what they like and don’t like – how to change pillows / bedding etc often enough to keep their numbers and, more importantly, their frass to a minimum (the eponymous dust – which is really just their faeces, dead fellows and our dead skin cells).  I knew about their relationship to asthma and other allergies and knew I didn’t really want to encourage the pests but, somehow, I’d missed this ‘new’ info the first time round (2005) so I’m glad it re-surfaced recently.

Anyone who knows me knows I am not a tidy-freak… but a made bed – yes, that was something I liked – it seems to start the day on the right note – even if I can’t manage to be tidy all day ;)

Then last week I read about what the dust-mites don’t like (example here) and what can even kill them off sometimes – drying out! It seems it is much better to let the bed get well and truly aired – they do not like that at all, they need the moisture – from our bodies – held in by the covers – and without it they suffer.


Dust-Mite – courtesy Arkhangellohim via Creative Commons

It turns out that I wasn’t alone in liking a tidied bed to start the day – when this news was circulating again a week ago there were loads of comments roughly saying ‘I hear the message … but I’m still going to make my bed because I don’t like it looking untidy’

  … BUT … the dust mites !!!!

So … not a neat-freak – but yes I like the bed to look tidy. The solution?

I now swish the covers back to lie neatly folded over the end of the bed, draped to almost touch the floor – pull the bottom sheet tight and give the pillows a shake. Sometime, much later in the day, when I happen to be in the room, I will waft the covers and duvet right back over again. Tidy – Tidy. WP_20151006_10_38_07_Pro

Okay, so if I were showing someone round the house (as I do occasionally at the moment as we are ‘on the market’)  I’d make the bed conventionally – but for everyday it is fine – the day still feels like it is off to the right start… and, if the research is right, then far fewer dust mites thrive in-between our sheets.

Have you ever suddenly changed a habit of a lifetime?

What are your bed-making preferences?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you

Here’s a question – all about style

I’m busy formatting a book.

It’s not something most people think about unless they are a writer or a publisher – and here’s the thing – STYLES CHANGE!  WP_20150922_11_25_22_Pro

I read only yesterday that the guide to use when formatting a book should be the Chicago Manual of Style (which is a paid-for online service) self designated as ‘recommendations on editorial style and publishing practices for the digital age’.

‘Recommendations’ … a style guru for the digital age of publishing that seems to be trying to be the go-to and one and only way to set-up a book.

Today I went to my book shelves and picked up a couple of books, one published in 1998 and one in 2012. What did I find?

The style of speech-marks – 1998 — all doubles “…”   –  the 2012  — all singles ‘…’ .  I did wonder if it was just the ‘House’ style – as the old book was Penguin and the new was Orion.

Not at all, I found a new Penguin on my shelf and that also had single speech-marks. WP_20150922_11_21_56_ProWP_20150922_11_18_51_Pro



(click on any picture to enlarge)
Then there is the ‘one gap after a full-stop (period) or two?’  This has just about reached the final stage – two seems to have been dropped – though you will still find people citing that it should be used in manuscripts. (Often difficult to tell – as the full-justification of pages evens out all the spaces making it look like two sometimes)

So publishing style is mutable and does mutate over time – and I, for one, am wondering why the idea that all speech should be indented still hangs on. I think, as a reader, that I am perfectly capable of reading the speech-marks and that, alone, telling me that someone is speaking.  I even find some novels with a lot of speech – all indented – annoying to read / look at. Especially the convention that has a line beginning indented but not with speech-marks … because a piece of speech is coming up. NOW that just looks like it is a new paragraph to begin with – and can actually be confusing when the speakers are in a full-flow conversation!


from Some Kind of Synchrony

To Indent or not to Indent – that is the question
so … I’m doing something different – I’m missing these speech-indents out on my formatting. What do you think – does this make my books weird or just ahead of the game?

What are your thoughts on this?

Looking forward to your feedback.

Do share – you know I love to hear from you …

How do you choose your next read?

DSCF0168A couple of weeks back I was talking about reviewing books and I mentioned that a good review can help someone choose what they want to read (as well giving the author a boost – especially newbies and Indies) and it made me think of how I choose my next read … and wonder how you do it.

Right now I am on a Lee Child ‘Reacher’ string … I had read one of these before a while back but I wasn’t too enamoured, then I happened to pick on one last week and enjoyed it so I headed straight back to the Lee Child section and took up the next one I could find.

That’s on the kindle – in hand, on real paper that is – I am reading Predictably Irrational – the hidden forces that shape our decisions by Dan Ariely. The choice of this book was merely stumbling across it when I was moving stuff – it belongs to my second son … but a brief glance through  and I knew I wanted to read it. When, if ever, I shall use the information I do not know, but it is fascinating!

Most recently before these, I read two authors recommended by friends. One was Lisa Scottoline’s ‘Look Again’ – which I followed up by reading her ‘Lady Killer’ as I had enjoyed the first one. The other was ‘Azincourt’ by Bernard Cornwell, which, though I like historical novels, I found not to my taste. Perhaps not enough engagement with the characters, even though they had all the makings of people I could have been empathetic with I felt too much of an outsider, not involved, partly, I think, due to the historical research getting in the way of getting to feel close to them – though I love (and expect) my historical stuff to be accurate I do not want to be browbeaten by it.

Prior to those my reading was a pick and mix; what did I have loaded on my kindle? Ah! An Elizabeth George ‘Inspector Lynley ….’ which I must have loaded a while back after reading another (which had been recommended to me as ‘set in Cornwall’) A Terry Brooks ‘The Measure of Magic’ the second I have read – but wouldn’t choose another,  Snuff – Terry Pratchett – always clever, social and historical commentary in the guise of fantasy and funny with it (I think I’ve read all the disc-world series – except the last). A Sarah Paretsky and, at the same time, three collections of poetry’ (in hand) that have come my way.

So …

How Do YOU choose your next read? By recommendation? By Author? By Genre (all crime or all romance for example) Lucky pick? Whatever is on the library ‘best reads’ shelf?

Which Authors would you recommend and why?

Do Share – I’m looking forward to hearing what you are reading and seeing what you’d recommend!

Memories to Memoirs

clock poplar

Clock with map showing the area of Poplar he grew up in

Are you always having to listen to tales of what happened in the ‘old days’ – what your parents did way back when? We are often too busy to stand and listen just when they have remembered something in particular, and as for the grandchildren listening …

I am in the process of creating a book from my fathers memories – for him.  He is eighty-nine and has really LIVED a LIFE and would like his grandchildren and great grandchildren to know something of ‘where they came from’. He is writing it all in longhand and we are getting it typed up – then I am putting it into sentences, paragraphs and chapters – as the memories are written down as one long narrative.

Here is part of the first chapter …

I was born on 12th June, 1926, in Harrap Street, Poplar, in the East End of London, the first child of my parents and what follows in this first chapter is what I was told by my parents and memories that nobody could have told me – because I was alone in hospital from the age of eighteen months until the age of four years.

The state of the economy was low and, though my father had a job, the wage was poor, as there were a lot of unemployed. It was a struggle to make ends meet. Consequently they were already in a bad nutritional state, and then the employers wanted to cut wages by a shilling a week. The miners called a national strike and evidently all the small employers locked their workers out, so my father lost the little income he had. Mum and Dad went to the relief office to ask for a bread voucher, and the officer said “Why don’t you send your wife out to work?” and Dad said she was not in a condition to work. The officer said “Bring her in and let’s have a look at her – is she crippled or something?” (nobody mentioned the word ‘pregnant’ in those days) When he saw Mum, he said “That’s not my fault, and if you can’t feed your wife, you should keep yourself to yourself, and not come here begging”.  Dad grabbed his shirt front and hauled him over the counter. Immediately the copper on duty took Dad to the magistrates who were sitting full-time. Dad explained what had happened, so the magistrate sent for the relief officer who came, full of self-importance, and was soon told his job was to issue tickets, not pass obnoxious comments on the applicant’s condition and to go back and do the job he was paid for. Then he told Dad to go back and get the ticket. Dad thanked him and said that if that was what it took to get a loaf of bread he would sooner starve.

The strike was soon over because of starvation and the employers took their shilling off the wages, and then I was born. My parents struggled on, and when I was slow to crawl they asked the older women in their street what they thought was wrong, and in my case it was obvious to them that the child was just lazy in one leg. The only health service at that time was a scheme called ‘The Panel’ which only applied to actively working people, not wives or children, but at the end of eighteen-months they realised that I could not and would not be able to walk. I crawled, but only dragging my left leg, or stood, by standing by a chair with my left leg hanging free. So my parents tightened their belts and took me to the GP, who watched me crawl along the floor, and, for one shilling and sixpence, told them that I had a congenitally dislocated hip – just a bald statement – and then left them to get on with it.

Now, to add to their troubles, they knew their first-born was a cripple, doomed to wearing a leg-iron for life, useless and dependant on relief. Remember there was no NHS at the time but I think Dad had always belonged to the HSA (Hospital Savings Association), which, for a subscription of about three pence a week would finance any serious hospital treatment, the full cost of which you paid back in weekly instalments. (My father was still paying this back when I reached eighteen)

I was taken to Guy’s Hospital where they started the attempt to rectify the problem. The ball joint now was above the pelvis and had grown in, so over many weeks it was loosened and, by a system of pulleys and weights, the leg was stretched until the ball was in line with its socket.

My parents said that they couldn’t visit much, as they couldn’t afford the fares, so would walk when the weather permitted. I was only aware of strange faces swarming in and out of my vision. When the doctors were satisfied with the alignment I was put in a plaster cast from lower ribs to ankles for four months (my parents did visit at this time at least once, for years later I was told I was almost unapproachable because of the stink). At the end of the four month period the plaster was removed and I was fitted with a corset to keep the hip in place until it became stronger, and I was removed to Shadwell Hospital, where the muscles in my leg were to be exercised and strengthened. Bearing in mind that I had never walked, it must have been very difficult for the nurses.

The life was very confusing for me at the time – apparently during this time I caught all the childhood complaints, and I understand at this time my mother became ill, and visits were even less often.

Eventually I reached the age of four, still not walking unaided, and was fitted with a leg iron for support. I went home, except I didn’t know it was home, and my mother was ‘Nurse’, and when Dad came home, pulling faces, trying to make me laugh, I would say ‘That funny man is here again, Nurse’.

How many other people should be getting their memories written down? What rich heritage are families losing if they do not? What rich heritage of everyday life is the country losing – for instance if the memories of being a midwife in the East End in the 1950s hadn’t been written down then we’d never have had ‘Call The Midwife’ for instance. We have plenty of the rich and famous lives of each era – but, perhaps, not enough of the everyday people.

Here’s a thought, if your parents have retired*, get them to use some of their time in writing it down. (yes – I know this means they may be still quite young – but it takes a long time to write up fifty / sixty / seventy years – Dad began writing his story when he was about 68!) You don’t have to ‘publish’ the book to get it in print – Create Space is a wonderful set-up that you can use almost for free and only get as many books as you want printed for the family by Print On Demand  POD  (rather than the old way of having to have a lot done all at once)
*or this may be YOU?

What did you think about this excerpt from my father’s memoirs?

Are you, or your parents, on this task right now?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you.

ps – the grandchildren – now in their twenties and thirties – are, at last, standing still long enough to listen – and I am sure they will love the completed books

How to Give an Author Wings

Has your summer holiday provided you with that luxury of luxuries – time to read one book after another, to finish whole books rather than odd chapters before you have to do something important that keeps life on its usual tracks?WP_20150901_10_47_08_Pro

How many books have you read over the summer? One, three, half a dozen?

How many made you want to look for another by the same author?

I love finding an author whose way of writing I enjoy. Sometimes the quality of the writing will carry me even if the story seems mundane. Sometimes the story will carry me even if the writing is a bit clunky. Sometimes the quality of the writing and the story just take me away from where I am and immerse me in the new situation and place that the book is set in – and when I finish I feel withdrawal symptoms –  and that’s when I go hunting for other books by the author.

These books I take the time to pop over to Amazon or Goodreads and leave a review because it’s good to spread the love, let others know what works (despite the plot or the clunkiness) as well as that which transports. You see, I know that a review is worth writing, the author (unless they are mega mega) will read it, they will  take heart and write on.

Give your favourite Author wings

If the author is an Indie (not published by the Big Boys of the publishing world) or even one of those but just starting out, they will be so heartened, happy to see a positive review, that it will give their typing fingers wings and they’ll press on with their latest work in progress. It makes it all worth while.

Give Your Review – not a précis

I have heard some people say they ‘don’t leave reviews because they don’t want to take notes while they are reading’ – it is unfortunate that people have come to think that they have to write those type of reviews, you know the ones that summarise the whole plot – that is a précis; not a review – but has become quite a popular way of doing things – sadly.  Not to forget the ‘spoiler’ element of giving away the plot in this way of ‘reviewing’ – disastrous for a thriller / crime / mystery book!

A review should be the reader’s reaction to the book, how did it make them feel; excited? sad? emotional? enjoyed the ride? What sort of pace was the book ; a page-turner? a steady, building, read? a sorry to come to the end? type book. Would they read another by this Author? Was there something they liked about the writing? Did they learn/gain insight/experience something from reading the book? With a few examples of why the book made them feel that way – if they wish. That would cover it!

But what if the book was one of those that I didn’t like, didn’t get on with. First I remind myself that it may not be the book, it may be me. The most popular and biggest selling books in the world have hundreds of 1* reviews – you cannot please everybody and personal taste comes into this. Then, as an author, I tend not to write a review for anything I’d give less than a 4* or perhaps a 3 – it just feels like bad karma. So almost all my reviews will be those books I got on with fine – all except one which I have to admit to.

Whatever the book – I finish it – and it is the finishing it – that time spent – that drove me to that one 2-starred review. It was for Danielle Steel – yes, I know, well known, best selling author alive (according to Wikipedia), highly rated with tons of books on her list. I wrote my review and explained why I was giving it a low star rating, the points which spoilt the book for me (treating the reader as if they had no memory by repeating every key point multiple times; research-information dumps; dishonest head-hopping) It is the one review that I have written that has garnered likes… many likes. I seem to have hit the nail on the head for many other readers with this one  – but not the die-hard Steel fans – they continue to rave 5* wonderful reviews. Like I say – you cannot please everyone all the time.

It could become addictive.

Each notification of a ‘like’ for that review seems to vindicate my stated opinion, and I know this could become addictive. In fact if you look into two star and below ratings and see what else they have reviewed, you often find that the writer is locked into only giving out bad reviews – almost troll-like. I won’t be writing a low starred review again for a book – even though that author will probably never read it as she is mega mega – I feel bad for her. I know how even a 3* (my only one so far) made me feel – it did not make me think ‘I’ll show them!’ It made me hesitate and wonder if my writing is worthwhile at all – wonder if it is worth the incredibly long time and deep effort that it takes.  This does not make the writer write better or faster, it just builds a wall, of the type commonly known as writer’s block.

But what of potential readers? Surely reviews are to warn people of rubbish as well as to extol?  I agree, then the review needs to explain what it is that didn’t suit the reader in particular in specific terms without revealing the story – then other readers can judge properly whether they are likely to agree with the viewpoint or not. If you enjoyed the story and the way it was told but found errors, in punctuation for example, it doesn’t mean you have to de-star it drastically – even giving it a five-star as a story you can say what you liked about it and add your comment about the punctuation to show you noticed, to tell other potential readers and to alert the author for the future.

The Much Kinder Way would be to see if there is an author contact in the ‘About the Author’ in the back of the book or on Amazon (there often is – maybe as a link to a blog or a webpage) – this way you could start out as a critic and end up as a friend! The author would be happy to receive this privately as they could then make adjustments to the ecopy and the next edition in printing. If you comment  in a review it would remain there forever, even after the corrections were made.

The big boys and girls of the publishing world garner reviews easily – there is a lot of advertising power, and marketing to the big-name reviewers, behind them so they barely notice an actual review – though their publishers will note  the numbers and stars.

A review is worth a lot to the new and the Indie –  you can really make a difference here – so, if you liked the book, give your favourite Authors wings – Review :)

Did you have a great reading summer?

Do you review books?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you

Rhubarb, Rhubarb … Rhubarb & Ginger Fool!

DSCF0198This damp August in Cornwall seems to suit some plants, the courgettes are going mad and the rhubarb, which I had feared was on its way out, is flourishing. So what to do with rhubarb when crumbles and pies might seem inappropriate for summer (note: though not in this house where a crumble is the favourite dessert of all the menfolk whatever the weather!)

I decided on a cold dessert – a Rhubarb and Ginger Fool – I included the ginger as I like this taste combination. I wasn’t quite happy with the recipes I found so created my own – and now present it for your delectation.

Ann’s Rhubarb and Ginger Fool

This recipe makes sufficient for 4

300 – 400 grams of prepared rhubarb  (3-4-or 5 sticks of Rhubarb – depending on size)
150 ml double cream
Teaspoon or two of ground ginger – to taste
4 – 6 chunks of crystallized ginger – depending on size
Sugar to taste / Sweet Cicely if you have it
Optional – Green food colouring  DSCF0188

  1. Wash, trim and slice rhubarb into very thin slices. About 1cm, easily and swiftly done if you bunch the stems together and slice them all at once. (Only slice longer sections if you actually like ‘stringy’ rhubarb – which I do not!)DSCF5419
  2. If you have Sweet Cicely place fronds over the rhubarb – if not sugar will be added laterDSCF0196
  3. Place in oven-safe glass dish, cover with lid and cook for 4 mins in the microwave on high, remove lid, stir and cook for a further 2 – 4 mins on high until all the rhubarb is cooked and separates easily. Place somewhere to cool. sliced ginger
  4. When Rhubarb is cold (remove the Sweet Cicely leaves if used) taste – sprinkle over a teaspoon or two of sugar, beat in well and taste. You want it to have a bite but not be too sharp. Add more sugar as required.
  5. Sift a teaspoon of ground ginger over the mixture – mix very well – taste. Repeat until a hint of ginger comes through the rhubarb – not overwhelming.
  6. Whisk double cream until thick.
  7. Add ¾ of the cream to the rhubarb mix and beat in well until totally blended.
  8. At this point you can decide to leave this au naturel, or drop a drip or two of green food colouring in to give it a fresher colour – if you do, beat it in well.
  9. Add the final ¼ of the whipped cream and swirl together.
  10. Place in 4 pretty cups and saucers / sundae dishes / wine glasses – or pile into a serving bowl.
  11. Slice the crystallized ginger in to VERY thin slices and dot about the top to decorate.










Now, to turn my mind to the glut of courgettes (or marrows as they like to become almost overnight!)

Do tell me if you try this and like it …

What is your favourite summer pud?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you  :)

Talk about the Weather!

book launch 2 med all

Members of Dumnonika with Sally at her book-launch

Oh? Yes! It’s me, I guess you’d forgotten about this blog… it looked like I had, but I hadn’t. Life had just got in the way, but this time pleasant life.

We are fortunate enough to have been off to Malaysia to visit our eldest son, wife and their three sons – our grandsons. So Good to see them at their home!

I won’t give you my travelogue here, but when I came home it was the weather that struck me most of all. Apart from the feeling that you are living the the perfectly moderated air-con environment when outside (this lasts for a day) it becomes abundantly noticeable why the British are obsessed by the weather.

It is for a good reason that one of the most popular opening gambits in a British conversation, with both friends and strangers, is a comment about the weather.

No one seems to talk about the weather when it is 36 degrees and very humid everyday when you wake (to a sunrise at the same time everyday of the year) followed by more of the same until late afternoon/ early evening when the wind will get up, the sky darken, lightning flash, thunder crash and the rain will sheet down like a waterfall for about ten to fifteen minutes before the sky clears and everything quickly steams dry again before nightfall swiftly arrives at the same time as it always does, around eight.

What is there to say? ‘Looks like the weather will be the same today?’

So home; the first day cloudy when we arrived, turning to bright sunshine that lasted into a late evening.

Second day; started dry but overcast and quite cold over the morning, brightened into hot by late afternoon and into the evening.

Third day; rained and drizzled all day.

Fourth day; a day of blazing heat and beautiful sunshine – and I know because I spend this day outdoors with the lovely Sally Newton at the launch of her novel ‘Caradoc – The Defiant Prince’ - set AD25 – where we were accompanied by Dumnonika – an Iron-Age re-enactment group for the first day of the Upton Cross Art and Craft Exhibition and Sale.

Book launch Upton cross poster Black &  Red & BlueIn fact it was such good weather and it was so hot it wasn’t really the best day to draw in the crowds … though rain would have proved even more difficult for an outside event like our part of the day.  As it was, hordes headed to the beaches, though a good sunburn could be had where we were too, and we had small groups of interested and engaged people instead – perfect. This made for a very successful launch of Sally’s novel which is the first of a trilogy covering the life of Caradoc, a real historic figure of the Iron-Age.

If you live in SE Cornwall (or SW Devon even)  and would like to see the Art and Craft Exhibition and Sale at Upton Cross it runs until 6pm on the 16th August and is well worth a look, but though signed copies of my books, and Sally’s, are on the Pendown Publishing stand I’m afraid we will not be there, nor will Dumnonika – but if you want to know more about them go to their website at


Have you ever been away and then found the simple things of home more pleasing?

Do you like historical novels, Iron-Age anyone?

Do share, you know I’ve missed you    ;)


[p.s. – seems I will be there on Friday afternoon – helping out – so if you want a book dedicated just ask at the door where to find me :) ]


Standing room only!

They ran out of chairs! Yes – when we held the official book-launch of Some Kind of Synchrony at Waterstones in New George Street Plymouth we started with the 45 chairs from the Costa end of the upstairs set out nicely for the author-interview at the book-shop end. set up

Lee, manager of this Waterstones, had created a lovely display of my books and set two leather chairs in front of this, nicely angled as per a chat-show with the audience seats in a neat block in front of us.

The bubbly and nibbles we set up on a table off to the side and then we waited.

The audience began to arrive. To begin with I knew most of them; I had invited lots of friends and acquaintances to help me celebrate the launch of the novel. It was so exciting to greet people as they arrived. Soon it was obvious that Lee would need to put out the reserve folding chairs… but the audience continued to grow, with people I did not know swelling the numbers. Eventually all the heavy armchairs were manhandled over from the Costa end as well so that most people could have a seat. … even so, some had to remain standing.waterstonesNow the audience was not confined to a block in front of the set up arrangement, but ranged around the top of the stairwell (and therefore behind a large pillar) so, to make sure that the most people could then at least see and hear me while I talked I abandoned the seated ‘chat-show’ format and took to standing at the far end of our space. I find I like standing to talk – probably from years of teaching!

I ought to be able to remember everything I said… after all I had primed Simon, who was conducting the interview as well as there to add his own insight into the venue, with suitable questions, but I can’t! Everything is a bit of a blur … did I say ‘this or that’ then… or when I was talking to the journalist at the Tavistock Times earlier that same day?

One point I know was made … Some Kind of Synchrony is largely based in a Newspaper office and so is the story within the novel, and I had done my research for this at the Western Morning News. This particular Waterstones is housed in what was the original Western Morning News building – making it the perfect place for the launch of this novel!chat 1

So at an opportune moment Simon Parker, who is an editor with the Western Morning News and an author in his own right, painted a verbal picture of what that very building we were sitting in was like when it was the Western Morning News building and he was a young journalist. You could almost smell the smoke, hear the clatter and recreate the surrounding as he described them.

The time seemed to fly – I know that I really enjoyed myself  (once we got going – bag of nerves before)  and feedback seems to indicate that my lovely audience did too.

A very short reading to finish up and we were breaking open the bubbly – or rather others were as I had the honour of signing and dedicating books! I even had a queue at one time! queue

If you came along – thank you – an author is nothing without readers and neither is a book launch without friends and readers to share it with.

empty rack

Rack emptied of Some Kind of Synchrony

Eventually I worked out where and who the people I did not know came from, mostly friends and acquaintances of friends, and asked for my thanks to be passed along to them for coming … all except a young man with a long-ponytail who had his copy of Some Kind of Synchrony dedicated to Daniel (his name I presume) and who, at the time, I assumed was a friend of my nephew. Seems not, so whoever you are Daniel – thank you too for coming along!

Finally I have learnt three things from this event – and you all know how much I love to learn – a day where I have learnt something is a day well spent. One, from a question put to me about setting aside time to write… that I have been looking at this all wrong. I managed to write my first (never to be seen again) novel in short half hour blocks. Even if I can not manage my ideal of two hours uninterrupted I should ‘go for it’ in any half hours I have – these exist where the two hours slots are elusive. Two, I always knew I used my hands a LOT when I talk (it has been commented upon on numerous occasion) and isn’t about to change, but flicking through the photographs taken by Krissi on the evening I had not realised how many funny faces I pull as I talk. Now, having not realised it I probably can’t do much about it – but trying to find ‘nice’ pictures to post was tricky! And three – I am blessed with lovely friends who are willing to support me when the call goes out – and that is a blessing indeed.

Did you come along? What were your impressions?

Did you have a question you wished you had asked? I can answer now….

Do You want to know about the next book launch when it comes up – just let me know by email and I’ll send you an invite :)

Pictures at an exhibition

pic3Yesterday I went with a friend to see an exhibition of paintings by another mutual friend (what a lot of friends) Let’s call them Krissi and Anthea.  Yes, that Anthea – Anthea Lay! – the one who was on the Big Painting Challenge on BBC1 earlier in the year.pic2

Paintings were displayed across the top of the grand staircase as we arrived, as well as this lovely poster, the background being a painting by Anthea’s co-exhibitor the equally talented Katy Stoneman.


The exhibition was in a delightful space atop the visitors centre in Bodmin. Inside it was on a sort of  indoor balcony, as you can see, with wonderful light.

The balcony went around half the top of the visitors centre – here is Anthea alongside paintings at the other end of the balcony to the previous photograph.

As you will know I am really excited that I managed to commission Anthea to paint me a picture that will become the cover for my work in progress set in a fictional village in the Tamar Valley.

However, that has to wait! First I have the official Book Launch of Some Kind of Synchrony coming up this Friday – and in preparation I went down to Truro to talk to Tiffany Truscott on BBC Radio Cornwall again. As always she was a delight to talk to as we looked at the triggers that got me writing this book when I did. Tiffany  and me skos for blog Listen again (for next 21 days) HERE

And it is still not too late to come and join us at Waterstones  – 65 New George St. Plymouth [UK  ;) ] at 6.30pm on Friday 15th May, where I am lucky to be joined by Simon Parker, editor at the Western Morning News, author and publisher, who will be conducting my author interview and shedding light on the choice of venue.

After which we’ll have a well deserved glass of something bubbly, mingling and book signing. Waterstones SKOS BOOK LAUNCH Friday 15th May back colour poster pic .doc

I look forward to seeing you there.

In the meantime – if you are around Bodmin between now and the 22nd DO go to Anthea and Katy’s exhibition at the visitors centre in Shire Hall – I am sure you will enjoy it!




Another ‘sweet-treat cheat’ Mini-Mille-Feuille


Apricot Crowns

Back in January I showed you how to make Apricot Crowns (method and recipe here) - an easy to make but great looking  finger-buffet dessert I created.

Earlier this month I did a demo for our local WI on making these and two other finger-buffet desserts – and now I am going to share another one of them with you.

These finger-buffet desserts are also ‘cheats’ in that they are really quite easy – but look and taste as if they have taken ages to achieve!

This one, like the apricot crowns, uses all-butter puff pastry. I use the ready made – not because I cannot make puff pastry but because this is one thing that I think the machines do better – besides I do not have all day –  and making puff pastry properly Takes All Day!

I also use ready-rolled puff pastry – not because I cannot roll my own – but because our local branch of Tesco (as in this is the only one of the two local supermarkets that does the All-Butter puff pastry at all – and I do want butter) – does not do the blocks … only the ready rolled!

So here goes! To make Mini Mille Feuille:DSCF0119

Mini Mille-feuille – makes 48

1 pack All Butter Puff pastry (ready rolled)
Half pint double cream – whipped
Half jar of seedless raspberry jam


Top and base – two halves of same rectangle of puff pastry

Take out puff-pastry – roll to flatten only.
Measure – trim to discard wavy edges – you should be able to make 48 rectangles of 2” x 1”  from the sheet at 12″ x 8″
Cut with a sharp knife and place on greased baking tray in hot oven (200 degrees C fan – 220 standard)
Bake for 10 mins or until risen and golden.
Remove from oven – slice open sideways, tipping tops to one side, return to oven for 2 mins to crisp soft pastry.
Remove and leave to cool.
When cool spread a little jam on the base of each one.
Using a piping bag with insert but no piping nozzle, pipe along inside of top section.
Place on top of the jammed base and set onto serving dish
Finely dust with icing sugar when all completed – YUM!



Two bites and they are gone!

Ideal if you are having a party, the pastry pieces can be made up well before (even frozen if a long, long time before)  and just finished off in the afternoon (they’ll keep well enough in the fridge til the evening)  Great if you’ve been asked to ‘bring a pud’ to a finger-buffet – as they look stunning and soon get snapped up!

Has anyone tried the Apricot Crowns already? How did it go?

Do you have a favourite dessert that you always like to make?

Do share, you know I love to hear from you