Let’s go for a walk …

I haven’t taken you all for a walk in the Cornish Countryside for quite a while … so as I was out on just such a walk on Saturday and took a bunch of pictures I thought I’d share the walk with you today.

To be honest – you are going to miss out on the first bit… I hadn’t taken my camera out of the bag until we dropped down into the small town / large village of Gunnislake for a ‘pit-stop’ so that is where we will start. Gunnislake was at the heart of the Cornish Mining in the far South East of Cornwall in the 1800’s. On the side of the River Tamar and with (at that time) the first bridge across the river up from Plymouth Sound, it was a significant place anyway – the first point to cross over into Devon (other than by ferry-man) and the mines all around the area brought miners up from further down Cornwall as well as making miners out of locals.DSCF7216

This bit of history is ‘recognised’ by the statue of a miner sitting on a corner by the main road through the town as it plunges down to the river bridge. Here shown with one of the other walkers (trying to look like he belongs 🙂

DSCF7215DSCF7214Just to the right shows the typical street in this small town, with higgledy-piggledy terraced cottages.. and I couldn’t resist giving you a picture of their ever bizarre Pete and Di’s Bazaar – which always has an ‘eye-catching’ display, on the other side of the road.

Mr M plus Dog on the path
washed out stones along the way

From here we walked up the hill into Middle Dimson and from there dropped into a ‘hollow-way’ a path used by miners and labourers for a hundred odd years, almost completely covered over by trees and hedges, slightly sunken by the tread of many feet and the whoosh of rain water when it comes.

So much so that the ‘path’ underfoot looks more like a dry stream-bed than a path with so many tumbled rocks and stones, washed clear of the earth.

hart’s tongue fern
buckler fern

Perpetually shaded in summer it is the perfect location to find a multitude of ferns and mosses.

There was an abundance of liverworts along the places where water ran beside the track, but I didn’t photograph those I’m afraid.

At one point we stepped off the path to look at one of the abandoned mines that were the industrial workplaces back in the 1800’s.  Looking at the ruins surrounded by peaceful countryside, wrapped in trees and to the sound of the a tricking stream it is hard to conjure the sheer noise, smell and dirt of the bygone age in this area. DSCF7237DSCF7236

puff ball – burst : click to enlarge

Here you can see the remains of an engine house, where the great beam engine would pump up water to keep the mine ‘dry’  and the chimney, that took off the smoke from the boiler fire that ran the steam engine that moved the beam, is remarkably complete.

puff ball with hard ferns

Back on the path, and this being autumn the ground was scattered with seeds, beech mast, sweet chestnut (though with nothing in worth collecting in this year) acorns, berries from rowan and hawthorn and fungi – the most interesting of which were the puff-balls, small but burst open to allow the wind to suck out and scatter their spores

And that is where I’ll end this walk, mainly because my camera card was full (my main card having corrupted I’m using a small capacity one until I pick up another)

Have you been out to enjoy the Autumn scenery?

Where is your favourite walk?

You know I love to hear from you – just click ‘comment’ on the blog to add yours!



Bonjour, mes amis…

And back to the UK with a bump! A leaking dishwasher and heaps of washing to do, from the holiday plus washing that couldn’t be done before we went as it was too wet, plus sheets and stuff from the folks who kindly manned the fort while we were off getting a bit of respite and relaxation. Huge thanks to them for allowing us a break!
Also many thanks to the ‘très gentil’ Krissi for taking over my blog last week…wasn’t it great.. and Oh! So true, hypen-tales-and-all 😉

Having had a lovely time I thought I’d just take you on a trip out. We went to the ancient town of Locronan (Lokorn in Breton) as there was a Foire des Antiquaires advertised for Sunday. Well, we both like an Antiques Fair, and having been to a few in France know what to expect….

Locronan is a town whose fortune was built upon making sail cloth from the 1600s through to the 1800s. With a royal charter they made sail-cloth not only for the French Navy but also, at different times, for the Spanish and English Navies and the Portuguese, as in for Columbus as well as for Merchant shipping. When their patronage was rescinded and technology changed the industry dropped off and the fine granite houses were left unchanged from then on. The, partially restored, cobbled streets and facades of the centre are kept just so.

This site has a few nice photos and a brief history… but I am taking you to the Antiques Fair. First we park in the leafy lay-by and walk the green path up to the wonderful 16 century state of the art ‘Lavanderie’ (place for washing clothes) and past the beautiful little ancient church. IMAG0083 washing placeIMAG0080 calvarie  The calvarie has been decorated as they have just had a parade of the church banner and singing there before the Sunday morning service in the little church. We then walk up the steep side street looking back to admire the view. IMAG0079

We emerge onto the edge of the main square – where we can see traders setting up, as they are in the street to our left, where we first walk. IMAG0077

Here is a sample of wares. – faience from Quimper – traditional designs still made in Quimper ( about 20 miles away) and children’s traditional Breton dress bonnets – these beautiful and old enough to be in a museum (as indeed we saw some later) IMAG0069IMAG0070

We turn and walk past many stands, stalls and even cloths spread on the ground, covered with a mixture of goods. Some you would call bric-a-brac, some beautiful antiques, some a load of old tat!

We circle all the stands – drawing each other’s attention to things we like, find extraordinary or beautiful or mystifying and pass on. Only once have I longed to buy something at one of these markets (a ‘perhaps’ old map of Brittany) but thought it over priced and probably not as old as it pretended to be and passed on it rather than trying out my weak French in a negotiation. Here is a flavour of the place and the goods the tower of the huge central church in the background.IMAG0073IMAG0074IMAG0072


The last thing I want to show you is something that triggered my usual novelist’s imagination. Here was a suitcase, obviously where some, now deceased, French person had kept all their mementoes. In it and in tins within, were photographs, some on glass plates, of family and places, letters and souvenirs. If this had been in English it would have been the sort of thing that could start off a whole new story – fascinating and yet very poignant that there was no-one, no family that claimed this inheritance. IMAG0075

Where did you go for your holiday?

What would you like to share with everyone else on this blog?

Do let us all know – you know I love to hear from you


Long Distance Relationships

Today, Sunday, was my youngest grandson’s Christening – yeah that’s him (above) in his christening robe giving me a sermon on having missed it. And, how much I would have loved to be there with him, his mum, his dad (my eldest son) and his two older brothers (my only other grandchildren) but they all live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and I can’t get over there at the moment.

Really I am lucky as both the other boys were baptised here in the UK  in our local church where my son and his lovely wife were married. It was fortunate that both their Christenings could be arranged to coincide with long visits here.  This new event started me thinking about long distance relationships and how lucky most of us really are now.

When my parents moved some fifty-five miles from the East End of London out to a village near Maidenhead it was a HUGE move. At that time, 1954, they didn’t own a car and if they had, the journey would have taken far longer than the now estimated one hour fourteen minutes as the M4 had not been built even as far as Maidenhead. In fact, I can recall travelling up to see relations in London in the mini that we had by the time I was about nine and the M4 was open … it seemed an interminable journey even then!

My grandparents were known to me from the summer holiday when they would visit, and Christmas when we would go ‘up’ to visit relations in London (everyone else in our family).  Hence I remember odd things about each of them, the gran who taught me how to knit every time she visited more than once, leaving me a pair of knitting needles with a block and a half of a scarf started under her careful eye –  that I never finished. (I never did get on with knitting – which is strange as I’m into every other craft) The other gran who always seemed to wear a ‘traditional’ wrap-around pinny almost all day – which I found odd. One grandad always whistling a tune, the other always full of all sorts of information. In between visits they might talk on the phone with Mum and Dad … but I don’t ever remember talking to them on the phone.

image courtesy Ian Britton freefoto.com

My Aunt and her family moved to Australia in the early sixties. It might as well have been to the moon, back then. A phone call perhaps once a year – letters on birthdays with a photo slipped in with the card. The thought that they could fly back and visit was beyond imagining at that time.
When I went away to college – even though it was not very far away – the only contact my parents had with me during term time was the Sunday evening phone call, usually brief as there was frequently a queue at the hall of residence telephone box and it wasn’t done to keep others waiting forever!

Today, though my eldest son is in Malaysia, I see photographs of him and his family almost every week when they post them on facebook, and we have a skype video chat at the weekend, with the first and main portion being the grandchildren talking to granny! (and grandad when he’s around) They show me drawings, read to me, tell me how they are getting on at school, tease me, even try to tickle me … and I do similar mad stuff back. I have met and played with the boys, apart from the baby, and when we do meet every eighteen months or so, there isn’t that halting shyness as they’ve seen me every week. I am lucky, but I still miss the cuddles!

And then there’s my youngest son, also on the other side of the world, even where he is, on an island just off of Thailand, I am able to keep up-to-date with him via skype and facebook. We are so lucky!

And it is easy to think it is the same for everyone, but as I have been finding out from my niece on her blog (armywaglife.wordpress.com)  one group of people who do not enjoy such an easy long distance relationship via the internet are those overseas in our armed forces. Hard to believe in this day and age – but true – even in Germany. It’s a very new blog – but well worth the visit.

So, do you keep up a long distance relationship with family or friends?

Is it easier for you now than it used to be ?

Do you remember the days when you had to queue for a public phone to call someone? – and then they had to be at home!

You know I love to hear from you – please share your thoughts


Hot Cross Questions

Baking hot cross buns on Thursday so we could have them at breakfast on Good Friday morning set me thinking about how come, in our house, we eat this  ‘tea-time type’ bun for breakfast … and why, when supermarkets have them on the shelves for months, do we only eat them on Good Friday at home … and whether this was just a quirk of our family.

As with every question today, I was quickly on the internet to research it, however, as you will know, you need to choose your sources carefully. I am indebted to recipewise.co.uk for an excellent rendition of the whys and wherefores of the hot cross bun – from which I have extracted the core information I sought.

To start with, Hot Cross Buns for breakfast is not just a family quirk. (phew) It seems that the practice of eating the Hot Cross bun (also known as Good Friday buns) for breakfast goes back at least until the 1600s, with evidence from Pepys and. later, from Samuel Johnson in ‘The Life Of Samuel Johnson’, by James Boswell, published 1791: “On the 9th of April [1773], being Good Friday, I breakfasted with him on tea and cross-buns … On April 18 [1783], (being Good-Friday) I found him at breakfast, in his usual manner upon that day, drinking tea without milk, and eating a cross bun to prevent faintness”.

As to the history of the bun I am jumping ahead. Like the origins of Easter Eggs, the ‘spiced fruit bun’ probably evolved from the pre-christian celebration of the spring and dawn goddess Eastre where in Anglo-Saxon times ‘a bread dough was studded with dried fruits and baked in small loaves’. As Christianity spread these were ‘marked with a cross’ and linked to the crucifixion on Good Friday and so ‘absorbed or acquired’ by the Christian religion – and as they were within the Lenten season they were a real treat yet eating them was blessed.

Indeed the practice of marking all bread-doughs with a cross was widespread by the Middle-ages – particularly as it was thought that the sign helped ward off evil spirits and prevent the bread going mouldy or stale. However, with the rise of Puritanism, this widespread use of the cross was seen as  ‘superstitious’ and thus ‘Popery’ and was frowned upon and eventually only the sanctioned ‘Hot Cross Bun’ was permitted to have the cross marked on it, and only to be eaten on Good Friday in remembrance of the crucifixion.

By the early 1700s these delicacies were sold on the streets by baker’s boys and coster (barrow) boys and women (with baskets instead of barrows for this day) Their cry of ‘One a penny, two a penny, Hot Cross Buns’ is a rhyme that was also brought to mind and sung to myself as I baked our buns and is a popular Nursery Rhyme today.

Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns!
One a penny two a penny – Hot cross buns
If you have no daughters, give them to your sons
One a penny two a penny – Hot cross buns

The superstitions that were prevalent in the Middle-Ages started with the belief that the cross on the dough warded off the evil spirits lingered on. It is said that a hot cross bun all made and baked on Good Friday before sunrise will never go mouldy and if kept in the house will protect it from fire. Which reminds me of the famous pub The Widows Son where they used to hang a new Hot Cross bun from the ceiling each year on Good Friday. The story behind this being that a widow’s son was due home from sea on Good Friday, and she baked him Hot Cross Buns. However, he never made it and was never seen again. Every Good Friday she made him a special bun right until the day she died. Her cottage later became the pub and the tradition began of hanging the ‘widow’s son’s hot cross bun’ from the ceiling. Unfortunately – the ‘protection from fire’ part of the superstition wasn’t working well as part of the pub burned down in the 1980’s. However, they continue the ceremony today with a special bun placed in a net by the youngest of the local Navy Reserves who come to the pub for the occasion.

Who would have thought there was so much to know about a fruit bun! And if you’d like my recipe for Hot Cross Buns – go to the recipe drop-downs.

So – here come the Hot Cross Questions:

When do you eat your Hot Cross Buns? Tea time or Breakfast? Let’s take a poll here!

What do you think about the supermarket practice of having Hot Cross Buns available from before Shrove Tuesday to well after WhitSunday?

Do share your thoughts – you know I love to hear from you!


Happy Mothering Sunday – not ‘mother’s day’

Every year it gets more difficult to find a card for my mother which says

‘Happy Mothering Sunday’.

This year I scoured the card shops in our local town and found none – they all said Mother’s Day. (Though my brother (or his wife) – living in a larger town – did manage to find a ‘Mothering Sunday’ card so there are some still made)

Well, what’s the fuss? It just happens that my Mum likes the correct wording to reflect the history behind the day.

Indenture of 'poor child of the parish' John Roberts age 8 years, to learn 'Husbandry' 1797 (click to view)


From the sixteenth century Mothering Sunday used to be the only day that all the family could be together for families with children ‘in service’ as it was the only guaranteed day off.  This would affect  most families from yeoman class down.   Children as young as eight went into service, or went as an apprentice  in another household. Some went as maids of various levels, gardener’s boys, stable lads, and could work their way up through the hierarchy to cook, housekeeper, footmen, head gardener, etc.  Children of the ‘deserving poor’ were also placed in apprenticeships by the Parish Overseer’s of the Poor to learn things like Husbandry (looking after farm animals) or Housewifery (looking after the domestic duties of a farm-house – including things like cheese-making and milking)

Originally a church festival, and falling on the fourth Sunday of Lent, it was the day you returned to your ‘mother church’. Which, in much less mobile times, meant you went back to where your family lived. Along the way children would pick posies of wild flowers to give to their mothers, and some would be sent with a Simnel cake, to take home (if they were lucky)

I have spoken to elderly ladies from this village who remember picking primroses from the hedgerows to bunch and sell in the markets for Mothering Sunday – the money from this would buy them a dress for Easter (or, rather,  the fabric to make them a light-weight dress for Summer) This is a parish abundant in primroses even now.

Back to the history- so what happened to turn this ancient special day into Mother’s Day – was it just a short-hand way of saying it?

Afraid not- and this is why my Mum likes it to be known as Mothering Sunday. Mother’s Day is a different thing – created by an American lady in 1907 called Anna Jarvis in memory of her mother, Ann, a truly wonderful woman who set up Mothers’ Day Working Clubs in five cities to improve sanitary and health conditions. This new Mother’s Day is set on the second Sunday in May (closest to Ann Jarvis’ birthday) and was , later, to become known as International Mother’s Day.

In the UK observance of Mothering Sunday had lapsed by the time of the first world war, but, inspired by the success of Anna Jarvis in  the US, a revival of Mothering Sunday was brought about by Constance Penswick-Smith’s campaign called ‘The Mothering Sunday Movement’.  Businesses soon saw the potential and jumped in by promoting the day with cards and suggestions of gifts.


Our Church's Mothering Sunday posy

After the second world war, what with many Americans over here, and international companies and communications, before long the two traditions got blended together – and now we have Mother’s Day promoted on Mothering Sunday in the UK. I heard on the radio yesterday that Mother’s Day / Mothering Sunday is worth £1.6 billion to UK retailers, so no wonder.

Our village church holds a Mothering Sunday service – at which posies are given to all mothers, or to their children of all ages to give to their mothers – though not primroses from the hedgerows, today they are more likely to be locally grown daffodils.

And how did I sort out my problem of not being able to find an appropriately named card … I chose a beautiful card by a local botanical artist, Jo Totterdell, and applied my own words with a silver pen! (see top pic)  Mum was happy ….

How do you feel about the commercialisation of such days?

Are you a ‘Mothering Sunday’ or a ‘Mother’s Day’ person?

How do you like to celebrate Mothering Sunday?

You know I love to hear from you – do share


Playground games anyone?

So there we were, standing in the market, miming throwing tennis balls against a wall and trying to remember the rhyme that went with it. Anyone watching us would have thought we had gone completely bonkers! (as opposed to just slightly bonkers – as they already know we are)

Hopscotch grid from Wiki Commons - by Paul Farmer

All this began with a song I’d heard on the car radio on the way in, it wasn’t one of those ‘game rhymes’ but it had triggered off one of in my mind – or rather a snatch of it and I asked Anthea if she knew what the rest of it was.

It wasn’t long before we were reminiscing about other playground games from our (long ago) youth. Unlike hopscotch, which is ‘institutionalised’  in primary schools by having neat grids painted on the playgrounds, ( where we’d had to find a stone that could scratched a line, or a nub of chalk) I suspect that many playground games that we played may have died out.

How about this one? Do you remember ‘ The big ship sails through the alley alley oo,  the alley alley oo, the alley alley oo, on the first day of September ‘ ? Played by a chain of children, one with her hand pressed up against a wall, the child at other end of the chain leads under the arm against the wall, then under the next pair, and so on until the whole group is knotted up, then to the continuing refrain, they un-sew themselves. (or all fall over – depending on where you came from)   Having looked it up since, I find it is thought to be one of the last survivors of the ancient ‘thread-the-needle’ dance games. I wonder if it still surviving?

Clapping games were also popular in our small rural primary school. The clapping game ‘Have you ever, ever, ever, in your long legged life seen a long legged sailor with a long legged wife?’ was the rhyme I was trying to remember, as we also played it as a ball game, juggling a pair of tennis balls, bouncing them off the wall and doing a ‘drop, spin, catch’ on every ‘long legged life’ part.

And I can’t go without mentioning skipping games – particularly the ‘long rope’ games requiring two ‘turners’, one at either end – and usually a queue of children ready to jump in at their turn. ‘Keep the kettle boiling, never let it stop’  – w here you must jump into the rope at ‘keep’ and out of the rope at ‘stop’ edging your way forward on the skips so that the next person has room to jump in. Anyone missing the beat takes the rope end.  Or  ‘Salt, Vinegar, Mustard, PEPPER’ – where the first 3 words have leisurely two jump skips and at ‘pepper’ the rope is spun really fast. When you trip up you take the rope end and the turner joins the skipping.

You know, we really did ‘make our own fun’ back then.  A long length of heavy rope, a few tennis balls or even just a wall and we could fill every playtime with fun.

What games do you remember?

How many do you know of that are still being played by the primary age children of today?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you all!


Baby, you can drive my car …

 … except, no one drove my first car but me – I was very possessive about my first car!

This week we have been looking for a new car. Not NEW as in NEW NEW – just new to us.

Anyway, we swanned off to Totnes to look at and test drive this car. The salesman lifted the bonnet and there was this shiny looking engine squeezed into the space.  There was no space around the engine whatsoever and, as I understand it, no home-maintenance can be done to this car without upsetting the  all computer controlled, and diagnosed, electronics.

It made me yearn for the simplicity of my very first car – a Morris 1000 Traveller.

This isn’t the photo I was actually looking for, that one has JUST me and my car, without the current boyfriend getting in on the picture – and shows the iconic wood-framed back to the Morris 1,000 Traveller. The wood frame that had to be rubbed down, scraped out and filled if there was any rot, and re-varnished every summer!

The ‘Traveller’ was an estate car – and was great for cramming loads of stuff into the back, often extra friends.  This at a time when seat belts in the front had only just become mandatory (that is to have them at all – let alone mandatory to wear them).  When the seats were all full, to have a couple of extra lads rattling around in the back was commonplace, after all, not many of us had cars at all and we lived in a village!

 Beep beep’m beep beep yeah

Not only did it have woodwork that you had to care for, but it also had a ‘choke’ you had to pull out before you tried to start the engine. If the battery wasn’t too good it had a handle you could insert into the front and crank the engine with. You sometimes had to double de-clutch to get it to change gear. It rattled alarmingly when it went over 60 (which wasn’t often as you could only do that if you went up the motorway – and I didn’t need to go that way very much) And there was so much room around the engine it felt like you could reach every part with no problem.

I have fond memories of that car! It is there in the background of  my social life from seventeen to twenty two – it is just as well it couldn’t talk 😉

 Beep beep’m beep beep yeah

It scared the life out of me once, when the brakes failed as I came up to a huge busy roundabout near Staines, a nifty bit of double-de-clutching slowed me enough to tuck behind a lorry (rather than going into the side of it) and I completed my journey using the gears and the handbrake until got home safely. It took me to my teacher training college everyday for the first year (while I still lived at home) and saw me right through the following three years of my training and degree.  And I still prefer to drive estate versions. Ahh! Memories!

Despite this fondness for my first car I have not been particularly attached to any of my other cars, or interested in makes and models, and I notice that even when cars appear in my novels they are barely described. Even in Some Kind of Synchrony, when the story within the story is told whilst driving back and forth to work, the type of car is never discussed. Interestingly, other novelists, perhaps ones more fixated on cars, often go into fine detail over the vehicles their protagonists drive. I can see the value in that and it is something that I shall think about when I start my next novel.

Do you have fond memories of your first car?  What make and model was it?

What do you remember most about cars you have owned?  What does the car a character drives, say about them to you?

Join in the conversation – you know I love to hear from you.


School Puddings – Loved them or Loathed them ?

We were out the other evening, and for some reason we started talking about puddings we ate at school or when we were young. Now most people at the event were in their fifties, so we all had similar experiences of ‘school puddings’ and certain culprits kept being recalled.

Tapioca was mentioned. I shuddered!  Indeed this ‘frog-spawn’ of a milky dessert was my very least favourite. OK OK! I didn’t like it AT ALL!  I once sat in front of a bowl of it ALL LUNCH BREAK, age 7,  because I wouldn’t eat it! It meant I missed the whole lunch playtime – that was a big punishment!

And that was before I ever knew WHAT tapioca was or where it came from.  I mean, how on earth did we get to eat this stuff. I know it is a staple in some parts of the world now, but which native Brazilian first thought  ‘Oh, I’ll try eating the mashed up roots of this cassava plant’ – and died! (containing cyanide producing enzymes, it is highly poisonous!)  Then the next person thought – ‘OH, perhaps I can wash the ‘badness’ out of it’ .. but still dies.. then the next thought – perhaps if it is washed AND cooked it’ll be ok…. and it was, (and, by the way, this process is really complicated ). How on earth? But here we are – what is a staple (like potato or rice is elsewhere) – is, in this country, a dessert we call tapioca, a name derived from the original name of tipi’óka in the Tupi language of South America. (more on Cassava and tapioca here and here)

Other desserts that bubble up in my memory from the depth of childhood are: Semolina, with a blob of so-called jam in the middle, banana custard – fluorescent yellow with the odd slice of browning banana here and there, red jelly so firm that your spoon bounced rather than cut it, rice-pudding swimming in a watery white liquid freckled with yellow globules (of butter, we hoped) or so thick it stood up on its own with a burnt flavour skin broken up into little bits throughout it. It’s not that I really dislike any of this group of puddings, unlike tapioca, it’s just the school versions.

I do remember one pudding that was good at our village primary school, apple pie with a very sweet, though rather thick, crust. We only had this when the apples were in season and it is quite likely that it was made with apples from the tree in the headteacher’s garden (attached to the school) as sometimes a child or two was sent to pick up all the windfalls there.

I have great difficulty thinking of any other school puddings that I actually liked or looked forward to – and this may be an age thing. Having a scout round the internet I find that message boards populated by ‘young things’ going to school in the 1980’s, reporting many favourite puddings – with the likes of cornflake chocolate crunch, butterscotch slice, chocolate pudding with chocolate sauce, or even, arctic roll. I don’t ever remember anything like this – nor do the message boards of those of us in school in the fifties and sixties.

Mind you, the eighties would be when the school catering had been put out to tender by Maggie Thatcher’s government and so had to attract the customer, incidentally the same time that the ‘meals’ were turkey drummers, pizza and chips and rated as far poorer, nutritionally, than in the 1950s. (Just the stuff Jamie Oliver campaigned against 2004 onwards)

So, what era do you fit in to and what are your memories of school puddings? 

Which one did you loathe ? Which did you love?

Lets compare notes – go on – share your thoughts – you know I love to hear from you!


Confession of a serial Resolution breaker (proper edition)

(apologies for the edtion posted earlier  – I pressed the wrong button while still editing – hence the errors and unfinished condition – hope you enjoy this one more 🙂 )

I never used to be a fan of New Year’s Resolutions, they never lasted very long – I guess I was a serial resolution breaker – so much so that I used to keep them secret. A bit like when you pull the chicken wishbone and you mustn’t say what it was you wished for – or else it wouldn’t come true.

Now, isn’t that a funny thing – and I’d never thought about it before today. Why on earth would we break a small bone from a chicken in this way and make a wish. Now, if the information I’ve just found on the internet can be believed (LOL) it seems that this practice of snapping the wishbone to make the wish is extremely old in western culture – going back at least to the Romans and before them to the Etruscans (more good Etruscan info here).  Whereby, the Etruscans (800 – 400 BC) were great readers of entrails – particularly the liver it seems – and also would save the furcula (wishbone) of a sacred chicken for people to stroke when in need of guidance from the gods. The Romans, it is suggested, picked up this idea but then, through fighting over the bone, developed the breaking of the wishbone to bestow the favour upon the winner.

Reading up about this I now know we’ve been doing it all wrong! It seems that the wishbone should be cleaned and set out in the sun to dry for a few days before being broken in the wishbone contest – no wonder my wishes didn’t come true!

I remember my father telling me that back in the East End of London, when he was young (we are talking 1920-30s here) IF a family had a chicken as a meal the wish bone would be cleaned up, wrapped in foil and stood on the mantelpiece. Neither of us is sure if this was for luck…  or just to show off that they could afford to eat a chicken!

OH! Where was I? Ah! New Year’s Resolutions, last year was the first time I told everyone about a new year resolution, that being to lose weight. Now, whether it helped me keep the resolution or not I am not sure – I do know I had some good cheerleaders along the way!

Whichever, encouraged by this I made more than one resolution for this year and in doing so thought long and hard about how I would frame them as it is easy to set up a resolution that is doomed to failure merely by how it is framed.

My resolution last year was only to lose weight  Almost by accident I had hit upon the best sort of resolution – one framed in such a way that it is easier to achieve (I did not say how much or by when – so even if I’d only lost a few pounds by the end of the year I would have made it!)  As it happened I lost two  and a half stone, enough to feel good, comfortable, and be slimmer than I have since before I had my first child – and all before Christmas. (more here)

So, when I said to myself ‘I shall resolve to make sure I actually get to bed before midnight’. [This resolution because I am an ‘owl’ and find I write better late at night  – but my Husband is a ‘lark’ and so we get up at 7.30 therefore, if I am to get a reasonable night’s sleep, important for helping keep weight in check, I must get to bed before midnight.]

I realised I needed to make the resolution both firm and flexible – so I did not have to rush Cinderella-like away from a party crying ‘I must not break my NYR!’  So my reasonable resolution runs ‘I will get to bed before midnight at least 5 out of 7 nights a week’

Completely doable! So far so good. So far every week I have met my target (just!) And that’s it – I have been getting enough sleep and the only exceptions have been because we were out at an event that ran on late – or it was late by the time we got home – but that certainly doesn’t happen more than 2 nights a week so my resolution stands!

So, if you have already broken your NYR it could be that you needed to frame it in a firm but flexible way. It’s not too late to re-frame that broken resolution now – as a reformed resolution breaker I can tell you, kept resolutions feel good at the end of the year!

Did you make any resolutions this year?  Have you made and broken any already?

Are you a serial resolution breaker – or a keeper? What is your secret for keeping resolutions?

Do share – I love to hear from you!


Happy New Year and a Gift for YOU

Happy New Year ! – my opening salvo for 2013 is a glance back over the past year in pictures ( all the newspapers and TV programmes do this – so why not here – and I bet these are different – no Jubilee or Olympics here ( except Doglympics :))

So here are a few of Your Favourites and a few of Mine

Side view Jan 1 2012

I didn’t feel brave enough to even post the ‘before’ picture until well into 2012 – but it’s an apt start to my reminiscences of 2012 as this is the biggest thing in the year for me – to find a round-up of how I got there, losing 34lbs on the way click here:

Side view Dec 1 2012

In April Bonny, my Dog, made a you-tube Doglympics Video for me which 344 people have liked and I share again now as it’s fun!  🙂 [if you can’t see this video on the emailed version click on the title and it will take you to the blog proper where it is available]

I liked my slug study from 2012 ( though if you don’t like slugs you may not) – the ‘great year for slugs’ was headlined on the national news just before Christmas – but I got there first 😉 Intrigued? Read more here 

And 2012 was also the year of the lichen – loving all the wet. more here:

Then there was my favourite kitchen gadget of 2012 – still used nearly everyday – and how many gadgets can you say that about? more here:  where you can see a video of it working!

Finally, a surprisingly popular blog which finished by asking what this little bottle was – have a look here to find out if you, too, are curious!




So, there we are – a few of my favourites and a few of yours from 2012.  Have I missed your personal favourite – do tell me in the comments – I’d love to hear from you!

So it is time to Wish YOU All the Very best for 2013 – may it be peaceful, prosperous and happy for everyone!

And a reminder – that you still have until January 6th to claim your Christmas gift from me – thank you for following and commenting on my posts – Details Below!


I hope you all had a great Christmas – and now things have calmed down a bit here I have decided to give all my readers a present – your choice of one of my e-novels – from me – to you – free 🙂  

It doesn’t matter what kind of e-reader you have or whether you have one at all – you can still request one of my novels and it will be sent to your email address. If you have an e-reader ask for the right type of file for you (mobi for kindles – epub for most other e-readers – or pdf)  if you haven’t an e-reader just ask for a pdf version and you can read it on your computer!

Just go to my other website  annmade.co.uk (BEFORE the 6th Jan 2013) and click into CONTACT ANN – there carefully enter your email address  and request the BOOK TITLE  and the FILE VERSION (MOBI / EPUB /PDF) you would like  – one e-novel free per person as a gift !  [before the twelfth day]

Your choices 🙂

The first time it happened it felt like stumbling across another avenue to an ancient monument, but this one pulled at more than just his head, there was a tightness in his chest, the lights twinkled and flashed inside his mind, the intensity giving Perran a firework of a headache. Following the line – years later in the early nineties – leads him into Liz Hawkey’s ordered life, and together they discover the source of the line.

A story of family, love and loss, Divining the Line brings the ordinary and the extraordinary together into everyday life.

Click here to read the first three Chapters


Living in London suddenly becomes too uncomfortable for the attractive Jo Smart and her sixteen year-old son, Alex, after he is beaten up, so when they are offered the chance to take an immediate holiday in a peaceful Cornish town they jump at it. But not all is as peaceful as it seems as they become involved in a murder enquiry, drug raid and abduction.

DI Rick Whittington has also escaped from London and the reminders of the death of his wife and child, and through his investigations finds himself meeting Jo and being drawn into the events surrounding her.

This is a love story set in the early 1990s which combines the historic Cornish love of the sea and smuggling with hard faced twentieth century crime and detection. The perfect blend for a woman’s crime novel.

Click here to read the first three Chapters


Faith Warren, married mother of two, is a secretary in a newspaper office. It wasn’t what she’d hoped for, but her dreams of university and becoming an author were lost long ago. Telling stories to entertain her lifelong friend on their journey to work and back is all that is left, until she tells The Story.

The real trouble began with the minor characters, just unfortunate co-incidences, but when do you stop calling them co-incidences and begin to wonder what the hell is going on – and how it can be stopped

Click here to read the first three Chapters

Don’t forget to ask for your Christmas pressie of an Ann Foweraker Novel before the twelfth day – January 6th! 

And I’d love to see your review of your choice of my novels too! Please send them to me here on my blog, for inclusion on my website, or post them on my pages on Amazon 😉 (just search for Ann Foweraker in Amazon Books) or do both! 🙂 Thanks, and Happy Christmas!




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