Tuesday Talk catches up with Rachel Brimble about writing, bucket lists and favourite authors…

Author pic - Jun 2018Hi Rachel and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

Sure! Thanks for having me here today – I live in a small town near Bath, England with my husband of 20 years, our two teenage daughters and mad chocolate Labrador, Tyler. When I’m not working (which isn’t often!), I like to read, knit and watch far too much TV.

When did you decide to become a writer and how did you begin that journey?

I’ve wanted to write books since I was about eight or nine and discovered Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven series. I was obsessed with them! Unfortunately, real life distracted me, and I worked in a bank for 10 years before I left to look after my children full-time. When my youngest started school in 2005, I had a ‘now or never’ moment and my first book, Searching For Sophie, was published by The Wild Rose Press in 2007. I haven’t looked back since!

What makes a good hero?

For me, a good hero is someone who is strong inside and out, caring, kind, fiercely (but not violently) protective and a provider. I tend to write strong heroines, so I like to create heroes who can match their passion and integrity.

You write both contemporary and historical fiction. Have you a favourite?

I love both equally! I love that I can write both as it gives me the opportunity to alternate between the two genres and, hopefully, keep my writing fresh for me and my readers. I signed a four-book historical contract with Aria in January, so I won’t be writing any contemporary for a while but I’m sure the time will fly by until I can.

What destination is at the top of your bucket list?

I’d really love to visit the US and see The White House before travelling to Maryland were I’d like to stay in Nora Roberts’ hotel in Boonsboro and attend one of her signings which she regularly holds in her husband’s bookshop in the same town.

When not writing, what do you like to read?

According to my husband, I read everything, lol! My favourite genres are romantic suspense, historical fiction based on past British kings and queens and historical crime, such as books by CJ Sansom and Alex Grecian. The only genres I can’t read are paranormal or sci-fi.

And finally, you’re appearing in I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. Which four celebs would like to appear with you on the show and why?

Ooh, tough question! David Attenborough because I admire him so much and could listen to his voice all day. Oprah Winfrey because she is my inspiration in my quest to live an authentic life. Peter Kay because he only has to smile to make me laugh and Nora Roberts so she can teach me to write as brilliantly and as prolifically as her!

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MORE ABOUT RACHEL…

Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. Since 2007, she has had several novels published by small US presses, eight books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical.

In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a brand new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The first book, The Mistress of Pennington’s released July 2018.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.

She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!

Links:

Website

Blog

Twitter

Facebook

Facebook Street Team – Rachel’s Readers

Amazon Author Page:

https://www.amazon.com/Rachel-Brimble/e/B007829ZRM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1490948101&sr=8-1

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1806411.Rachel_Brimble

Bookbub:

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rachel-brimble

Cover

1910 – A compelling tale of female empowerment in Bath’s leading department store. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.
Elizabeth Pennington should be the rightful heir of Bath’s premier department store through her enterprising schemes and dogged hard work. Her father, Edward Pennington, believes his daughter lacks the business acumen to run his empire and is resolute a man will succeed him.
Determined to break from her father’s iron-clad hold and prove she is worthy of inheriting the store, Elizabeth forms an unlikely alliance with ambitious and charismatic master glove-maker Joseph Carter. United they forge forward to bring Pennington’s into a new decade, embracing woman’s equality and progression whilst trying not to mix business and pleasure.
Can this dream team thwart Edward Pennington’s plans for the store? Or will Edward prove himself an unshakeable force who will ultimately ruin both Elizabeth and Joseph?

Buy Links:

Amazon UK: http://amzn.eu/2SvRcqp
Amazon US: http://a.co/3OFh9JK
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-mistress-of-penningtons-rachel-brimble/1128920728?ean=9781788546508
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-mistress-of-pennington-s
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Rachel_Brimble_The_Mistress_of_Pennington_s?id=dIFSDwAAQBAJ
Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-mistress-of-penningtons/id1362129705?mt=11

It’s publication day for Evie’s Little Black Book by Hannah Pearl and here’s my review…

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Is hunting down every man you’ve kissed the answer to finding Mr Right?
When Evie is invited to the wedding of the guy she’d fancied throughout her teens, it’s the final straw. What’s wrong with her and why can’t she keep a man?
In between consoling herself with ice cream and chocolate, and sobbing her heart out to her cousin Chamaine, Evie has a brainwave – and it all centres around her ‘little black book’ (well, more floral patterned notebook really) – which contains the details of every man she’s ever kissed or dated. Perhaps the cure for her disastrous love life has been nestled within its pages all along …
Does Evie’s little black book really hold the answers, or will she learn that exes are exes for a reason?

A fun heart-warming story that’s perfect for the beach or the garden from this award-winning new author.

Hannah Pearl won the Books and the City Heatseeker short story competition, in partnership with Heat magazine in 2017 for her short story The Last Good Day.

Kindle UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Evies-Little-Black-Book-fabulous-ebook/dp/B07F39FYSX/
Kindle US: https://www.amazon.com/Evies-Little-Black-Book-fabulous-ebook/dp/B07F39FYSX/

iBooks https://geo.itunes.apple.com/gb/book/evies-little-black-book/id1404904652?mt=11&at=11lNBs

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/evie-s-little-black-book

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Hannah_Pearl_Evie_s_Little_Black_Book?id=XVBiDwAAQBAJ

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40725790-evie-s-little-black-book

Website: https://www.rubyfiction.com/dd-product/little-black-book/

MY REVIEW

Evie’s brother’s best friend George is getting married, sending Evie into meltdown.  He’s the one guy she had a mega-crush on during her teens but never got to go out on a date with.  Now he’s about to tie the knot with someone else.  The approaching wedding sees her taking stock of all her past relationships. She has written about them in detail in her ‘little black book’ (actually a pretty floral notebook).  By revisiting each of her old loves, she hopes to be able to see where she went wrong and how she might be able to change her luck with men in the future and maybe find ‘Mr Right.’

The first ex on her list grew up just around the corner from where she lives but now the house is occupied by Jake, who is living there with his sister Bea and her small daughter Alice.  Evie arrives in the middle of a domestic crisis in the kitchen and she’s only too happy to help Jake and Alice out.  She befriends Jake and his family, enjoying their company as she continues to revisit her past and catch up with old flames.  However, it’s soon clear that maybe happy ever after is right in front of her if she will only open her eyes.

A delightful romantic  debut and super summer read…I absolutely loved it!

Many thanks to Choc Lit/Ruby Fiction for an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review.

RUBY LOGO RD NSChocLit-logo

This week Tuesday Talk chats to Sue McDonagh, about Art, Writing and her choice of Dinner Guests…

Hi Sue and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

Hi Jo, and thanks for the warm welcome! I live at the bottom edge of Wales, about a mile from the sea, where I moved over thirty years ago after surviving ovarian cancer. At that time, I was a policewoman in industrial Essex, so it represented not only a change of scenery, but also of culture, as I became instant mum to two little boys!

When did you decide to become a writer and how did you begin that journey?

I’ve always enjoyed writing, but the journey towards novelist began when I learned to ride a motorbike, aged 52. My steep learning curve, and the amazing women I met during that time was the catalyst for the idea behind ‘Summer at the Art Café’. The idea refused to go away, and the novel began life as NaNoWriMo in 2014. Don’t laugh, I was enthusiastic and naive, and most surprised to discover how difficult it was to write a novel! I read books about how to write, and wrote my quota in the evenings until I had my 50,000 words. It was mostly pretty awful, but I learned such a lot.

As an artist what is the most unusual commission you’ve received?

I’ve had some funny commissions. I’ve been asked to paint a man in a tutu (I turned that one down…) and some years back, another guy asked for a portrait of himself for his wife. I had no idea he wanted a nude until he started stripping off in my studio. I’d taken a dozen photos before I remembered I had no film in the camera…

Now that Summer at the Art Café has been published what is next for you?

The second in the trilogy is already written and under contract, and I’m currently working on the third. They’re still set very much on the Welsh coast, and family issues like step-children and the modern extended family feature largely.

What destination is top of your bucket list?

Anywhere I can go on my motorbike! Although I loved Thailand when I visited after the terrible tsunami, and I’d like to return to see how the country has healed.

What would your advice be to new writers?

Just get those words down. I’m terrible at taking my own advice though, and I can spend way too long fretting about plot threads that go nowhere. Somehow, when you actually get the words down, they start to make sense. It’s a sort of magical alchemy that never stops surprising me.

And finally, you’re planning a dinner and inviting celebrity guests. Which four (dead or alive) would you invite and why?

Aw, I’d love to have met the wonderful Robin Williams. I’m not very impressed by showbiz type celebrities in general, so I’d probably have a great evening with some of my amazing friends, and my late parents, particularly my mum who died last year and was my biggest inspiration.

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/SueMcDonaghWriter/
Pinterest:
https://www.pinterest.co.uk/suemcdonagh/my-novel-summer-at-the-art-cafe/
Amazon link:
http://amzn.eu/fK14bfC

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From watercolours and cupcakes to leather jackets and freedom …
If you won a gorgeous purple motorbike, and your domineering husband said you were too fat for leathers and should sell it, would you do as you were told – or learn to ride it in secret?

Artist and café owner Lucy Daumier intends to do just that – but learning to ride is far from easy, especially under the critical eye of prickly motorcycle instructor, Ash Connor.

But gradually Lucy gets the hang of it, and in the process re-discovers the girl she used to be. So starts an exciting summer of new friendships and fun – as well as a realisation that there is more to Ash than meets the eye when she is introduced to his seven-year-old daughter, Daisy.

But can Lucy’s new-found happiness last when a spiteful family member wants to see her fail?

What people are saying about Summer at the Art Cafe:
My favourite book this year! Initially the beautiful illustration on the cover made me smile and I soon realised that I had picked the ideal complement to enjoying the sunshine in the garden. I loved this book and the evolving story which developed around the characters, who in the main you could not help but warm to. ~ Amazon reader.

This book is an impressive debut novel, with all the right ingredients for that perfect summer read. ~Amazon reader.

Delicious from beginning to end. I’m not in the slightest bit surprised that Sue McDonagh is an artist as well as a writer. I have rarely read a book where the author so skilfully paints pictures in your head with such vivid colour and description that it all becomes so very real. ~ Amazon reader

A Year to Remember Part 3…

Home is where you feel comfortable, where you can relax with all the familiar things around you.  Waking up on Saturday May 26th I realised I might be home but my daily routine was going to be completely different.  True I was no longer in hospital  being woken up at 5.30 am but I was now sleeping in the spare room because I needed the whole of the bed in order to sleep with my new best friend, my plaster.  Thankfully I’d now rewired my brain so that it favoured my left leg instead of my right.  There was no way I was going to forget and accidentally put weight on it and end up back in hospital.

My husband organised my breakfast and laid out clothes for me. The walking frame enabled me to get to the bathroom and then he helped me into the chair where I sat at the basin to brush teeth and wash.  I could then slip from that onto my good leg and balance on the walker again to get back to the bedroom to dry my hair and dress.  I stayed upstairs until lunch time reading or working on the computer.  I then bumped my way downstairs on my backside and the walker was transferred to the hallway so I could pick it up when I reached the bottom.  All the cooking and housework (apart from the ironing which I managed sitting down) became the responsibility of my husband and I have to say he was absolutely brilliant.  Having lived on his own he could cook, which was a blessing – and he is incredibly organised.  After lunch I’d stay in the lounge and watch TV or read.  I also had a steady stream of visitors and so many flowers! It was to prove a very frustrating time though because I like to be active. I like to go out and with your right leg in plaster and supported by a walker, what you can do is incredibly limited. I had to cancel a hair appointment, the dentist and I also missed out on a friend’s milestone birthday lunch.  My own milestone birthday had attracted a lot of invites from girlfriends wanting to take me out.  All of these had to be put on hold.  Our weekly trip to the pub also had to be postponed for the time being.  Luckily my sister had, through a neighbour clearing out their father’s house, managed to get hold of a wheelchair.  It was an absolute godsend as it not only became useful for the hospital visits to come, it opened the door into that outside world; a place where I could enjoy a meal and a glass of wine!

Eleven days after the op I had my first appointment at the fracture clinic to have my 20180624_122732stitches out and another x-ray.  The consultant seemed pleased with the result and I was sent off to the plaster room for plaster No 4.  I had to keep this on for five weeks to give the ankle time to heal.  As you’re all aware we’ve had a scorching summer this year and having your leg stuck in a plaster is no joke when the temperature soars. By the time the five weeks was up I couldn’t wait to get rid of this uncomfortable, heavy wrapping around my leg.  During that time nothing much much progressed around my mobility.  We were getting out for meals, friends were calling round but I was generally housebound. However, on my next clinic visit I had been told if all was well I’d be fitted with an orthopaedic boot which would enable me to put weight on the ankle and walk.  For me that day couldn’t come quickly enough.  I’d seen these boots and in my mind I thought this would be the beginning of normality – unfortunately not.  It was merely the next step of the journey.

20180702_180950I take a size 3 (35) in shoes. The boot was labelled ‘small’ but believe me, it was enormous.  I called it my Darth Vadar boot because it looked like something out of Star Wars.  It was heavy and because of the depth of the sole and the support for the foot there was no way I could walk upright.  My first tentative steps up and down the clinic were quite painful but gradually got better as I progressed with it.

On the positive side I managed to wean myself off the walker and use a walking stick which made me much more mobile.  I also managed to get to another birthday lunch, hobbling into the restaurant, trying to reduce the black unattractiveness of this boot with a summer dress and failing miserably.  Again this was through a period of hot weather and the boot was so uncomfortable that whenever we went anywhere – pub, restaurant or a friend’s house, I would release all the Velcro strips and allow my leg access to fresh air.

When the boot was fitted I was advised there would also be physio sessions.  Hearing nothing after a week I chased up appointments only to discover they had mislaid my application.  However, this was soon rectified and when I began those sessions that was the moment I knew I was on the way to getting back to normal  The exercises gradually began to make changes, to loosen joints which had not only spent six weeks without any movement but had also been the subject of quite a serious operation.  Two sessions in I abandoned the boot. I found a pair of sandals which fitted both feet,  began to take daily walks (with the aid of the walking stick), and could walk up and downstairs (very carefully I might add!). Four sessions in and I’ve taken back responsibility for the cooking and absolute bliss! can get into the bath to take a shower.  It’s a gradual thing, each day brings changes, something I can do that I couldn’t do, say, a week ago.  Currently I have six different exercises which I have to repeat four times a day.  I’m under no illusions that this is going to be a quick fix, but you can see the difference.  My foot, which was quite swollen when I was fitted with the boot, is almost back to normal size. My skin has stopped flaking – yes, even with the daily application of body lotion that’s one of the side effects of having your foot and leg sealed in plaster for six weeks.  I’m continuing to use body lotion on the scarred areas to make the skin more supple and I also use Bio Oil which helps minimise scarring.  My right leg will probably never be the same – I’ve a 2 inch scar over my inner ankle bone and a 5 inch over the outer one.  There are aches and pains occasionally but this is to be expected and will probably go on for a long time, if not indefinitely.  I’m still using the stick but more for balance than anything else and once I get going I don’t really need it.  I promised my physio that when I next see her I will come without it!

So that’s it, not quite the end but well on my way to getting my full mobility back. No marathons planned or moments dancing in stilettos…and in future I’ll be very careful about where I put my feet.  Of course, walking is only half the story, now it’s all about increasing the distance I can walk. Again this is something that will take time and determination to bring about.  A friend of ours who had a knee op two years ago said it took him a whole year to get back to normal.  At least with this time frame I have realistic expectations.

I would like to end this story of my journey out of the land of broken bones by saying that all through my hospital stay and outpatients visits I received the most amazing care.  The NHS is a wonderful organisation filled with dedicated people who not only give you outstanding clinical support, but also make you laugh and keep your spirits up.  Another thing is that treatment is free at the point of delivery. In other words my stay in hospital, the op, the ambulance trip home after discharge, the outpatient clinics and physio didn’t cost me a penny.  The NHS isn’t perfect but as Brits I think we should be really thankful it’s there for us.

THE AFFAIR by SHERYL BROWNE – A gripping psychological thriller with a shocking TWIST

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The moment she opened her eyes, she knew everything had changed. The stale taste of alcohol; her uneasy stomach. She looked at her husband sleeping peacefully, and knew she would never tell anyone what happened last night.

You will think you know what happened to Alicia that night.

You will see a desperate wife, lying to her husband.

You will watch a charming lover, trying to win her back.

You will judge her, just like everyone else.

You will assume you know what happens next. But everything you think you know about the past, the relationships, what drives Alicia and her husband to lie… is wrong.

If you loved The Girl on the Train, The Wife Between Us and The Sister, you’ll love this compelling and gripping psychological thriller from Sheryl Browne. The Affair will have you hooked from the very first page!

Buy Links:

AMAZON UK: http://amzn.eu/cqCdQNt

AMAZON.COM: http://a.co/1t6RFaz

What readers are saying about The Affair:

‘Wow… I’m speechless… it is just that amazing… seriously stop reading this review and just buy the book… I was so gripped by this that I read it in record time, and even when I paused for a break, my mind was still on it… This is addictive, compulsive book that has blown me away… Clear yourself a few hours where you can lock yourself away from the real world… simply superb!’ Rachel’s Random Reads

‘Wow!!! I was totally taken away with this book from page one. A real page turner. Go 1-click this book today, you won’t regret it. So many twists and turns.’ Goodreads Reviewer, 5 stars

‘This was a really, really good book… twists on twists!… The ending was awesome!!!!!’ Goodreads Reviewer

‘Great read!!!…Wow! Just as you think everything is settled, it isn’t!!! This book is not to be missed! Recommend!!!’ Goodreads Reviewer, 5 stars

‘Wow!! I read this book in just a weekend!!… I read it so fast!! If you like psychological thrillers, you should definitely pick this one up! :)’ Goodreads Reviewer, 5 stars

‘Wow!… The Affair is a hugely addictive book … A compelling story with dark and chilling moments, and it will have you gripped to the pages. A definite 5 star read.’ Goodreads Reviewer, 5 stars

‘The story starts with a big shock, BAM, in your face and it carries on from there until the very last sentence… I LOVED it, a great read, told in this author’s special easy to read style that brings you in and keeps you there.’ Goodreads Reviewer

‘Expect the unexpected, don’t try to predict the many twists and turns (you’ll NEVER guess the ending) and get the tissues ready.’ Goodreads Reviewer

‘One hell of a bang… This book really plays with the emotions, there are times when I empathised with the main character but hated her. There were other times when I hated what she was doing but loved her. I really liked it.’ Nigel Adams Bookworm

‘An unputdownable read. I loved that I had no idea what the author had in store next for me.’ By the Letter Book Reviews, 5 stars

‘It’s an enthralling story that keeps your attention all the way through with an interesting twist to add even more spice.’ B for Book Review, 5 stars

‘The secrets and the family drama throughout this book. I couldn’t put the book down, it’s just so good.’ Goodreads Reviewer

‘A suspenseful thriller with a flipping twist at the ending.’ Escape With a Book

‘Sheryl Browne is an author whose work I will watch out for from now on! It starts off with a bang and never quite lets up… the story gripping and emotional. Recommended!’ Goodreads Reviewer, 5 stars

‘A compelling psychological thriller… Let’s just say that there are many twists and secrets and lies aplenty… pulls you into the story and holds you there until the end!’ Goodreads Reviewer

MY REVIEW

Sheryl Browne is well known for delivering edge of the seat stories and The Affair is no exception. Justin and Alicia Cole are a happily married couple with a fifteen year old daughter (Sophie) and a six month old son (Lucas). As the family reels from a devastating RTA, the return from Dubai of Paul Bradley – an old work colleague of Alicia’s – lead Justin to question exactly why he always seems to be around. Has something gone on in the past between him and Alicia he knows nothing about?
Soon suspicion and doubt begin to worm their way into the marriage of two people trying to cope on a day to day basis after experiencing an unthinkable tragedy. We’ve become used to Sheryl’s twists and turns, of putting her main characters into the most unbelievably stressful situations from which as a reader, you can’t see any way out of. For the amount of physical and mental pain Justin experienced he more than earned his hero title. With Bradley’s arrival and the revelations he brings with him, plus danger from a source closer to home, I wondered how Justin could possibly come out of this holding onto his sanity. Bradley too is an absolute masterpiece. Maybe he’s not the psychopath we’ve been used to in Sheryl’s other books but he’s just as destructive.
Fabulous! Another well-deserved five star read.

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ABOUT SHERYL BROWNE

Sheryl Browne brings you powerful psychological thriller and contemporary fiction. Sheryl’s latest psychological thriller THE AFFAIR – the second of a three-book deal – comes to you from fabulous BOOKOUTURE. A member of the Crime Writers’ Association and the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and previously writing for award winning Choc Lit, Sheryl has several books published and two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies, where she completed her MA in Creative Writing.

So why does Sheryl write in two genres? Quoting E. L. Doctorow, Sheryl says: “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights…” This she thinks sums up a writer’s journey, you never quite know where you are going until you get there. You might start with an outline, but a strong character will always divert from the plot. If Sheryl’s not sure where a character is going, she simply has to trust him to show her the way. Plus, according to one reviewer, she also has a scary insight into the mind of a psychopath.

To find out more about Sheryl’s novels, go to http://www.facebook.com/SherylBrowne.Author/ or follow @SherylBrowne on Twitter.

To find out more about Sheryl, go to http://www.sherylbrowne.com

A Year to Remember Part 2…

So there I was, expecting to be replastered and sent home, only to be told you’re being admitted and having an operation.

I was wheeled up to the Surgical Short Stay Unit where I was given a private room. This was to isolate me from the other patients as I’d just returned from abroad.  I was told I would need to be swabbed to check I’d not brought anything like MRSA back with me.  The first thing I did was make a list of things I’d need during my stay and send my husband back home to collect them.  Once I had those I settled myself in and he left saying he’d call back that evening.   I read for most of the afternoon while various members of staff looked in on me.  I only had a sandwich for lunch – not surprisingly after the events of the morning my appetite had fled.   Before being taken up to the ward, the consultant’s registrar had gone through everything.  I’d listened and understood all I was being told  – that I had a trimalleolar break, meaning not one but three fractures which would need to be pinned.  I’d signed the form attached to the clipboard but I have to say everything seemed so surreal, as if it was happening to someone else not me.  After my husband’s evening visit once more my Kindle helped me pass the time. Although being told the noise and movement from the machine clipped to the foot of the bed and working like a pair of bellows on the pad in my plaster might keep me awake,  I had a great night’s sleep .

I had no idea that in hospital they wake you up at five thirty.  Because it was late May and was light outside I automatically thought it must be around seven.  There were tablets to take and my breakfast to order. A health care assistant came in to change the bed and help me get into the ensuite bathroom for a wash. My lack of appetite continued and all I could manage was juice and toast for breakfast. Later that morning my consultant arrived with his team.  As I wasn’t someone in for elective surgery, they were hoping to fit me in that day which meant no more food from now on and no more fluids from 11.30.  Someone drew an arrow in marker pen over my right knee and they left.  My husband visited mid morning and then for the rest of the day I read. Various members of staff popped in and out and then around 15.00 the anaesthetist arrived to explain the op was on and what would happen.  Before I left for the operating theatre I had to have a CT scan to check my heel bone wasn’t out of alignment.  Soon after my return from x-ray the porters arrived to wheel me to theatre.  As I arrived I noticed the clock on the wall said 15.55. After inserting the cannula into the back of my hand the anaesthetist told me he was going to put what he called a block into the back of my leg behind the knee.  This would automatically dispense an analgesic into my bloodstream for the first 24 hours after the operation. He then injected into the cannula, telling me it would make me feel as if I’d had a couple of glasses of wine.  It did…I felt totally relaxed!  The last thing I remember was being wheeled into the theatre and seeing all these faces wearing masks looking down at me.

Someone was calling my name. I opened my eyes and found myself in bed propped up against pillows in what I realised must be the recovery area.  A nurse sat next to me. The clock on the wall was showing 18.55.  My leg had been re-plastered but I had no sense of pain or discomfort so the analgesic was obviously doing its job. She asked me a few questions which I realised were to make sure my brain was functioning OK.  Eventually two porters arrived to take me back to the ward where my husband was waiting.  I always believed when you come around from an op that you’d be drowsy but I wasn’t. I was wide awake – and  starving!  After he’d gone a health care assistant came in and although I’d missed the evening meal she organised three rounds of toast and jam.  It was like a banquet – I had no idea something so simple could taste so good!  Again I slept well with the bonus I was no longer coupled to that air pump wheezing away at the foot of the bed!

The next morning the consultant and his team arrived and I was told I would be discharged that afternoon.  Someone from the Home Care Team arrived to talk to me about home aids and after a discussion it was decided I’d need four items in order to help me get around the house.  As access to our downstairs loo, which is off the utility, was considered difficult and I was told getting up and down stairs on my backside would wear me out, I very, very reluctantly accepted a commode.  However I was forced to admit after a few days at home that she was right; pulling myself upstairs backwards using my hands was pretty tiring – in fact at times it was downright exhausting.  She left me with a walker and said physios would arrive later to make sure I could use it OK.  After a tour of the ward they seemed happy and left. So now it was all about waiting to be discharged.

Just before six the ambulance crew arrived.  At last, me and my discharge medication were going home.  Little did I know the challenges that awaited me there, but that’s for the next and final instalment.

TO BE CONTINUED

A Year to Remember Part One…

Since May this year I have on occasions posted comments about my accident, mostly on Facebook.  This has been to update everyone on how the healing process is going.  I also wanted to put my thoughts onto my blog not only to catalogue this very unexpected journey but also in the hope that it might help anyone else finding themself in the land of broken bones.  In that one moment the world you knew no longer exists; that easy way of putting one foot in front of another; of running, climbing or jumping has gone, replaced by challenges you can’t even begin to contemplate.

P1030792May seems a lifetime away now. A milestone birthday beckoned. Our holiday in Menorca, staying at a friend’s villa had been arranged way back in October 2017.  I had been on countdown since after Christmas.  Things were chugging along and on the writing front in February I had submitted the completed draft of my latest WIP The Boys of Summer to a publisher.  May seemed to arrive all too quickly and having stayed in Menorca back in 2011 I was looking forward to reacquainting myself with the island.  We landed on Tuesday 15th and our first two full days were hot and overcast.  The villa had one first floor bedroom with a sun terrace above and two downstairs bedrooms.  Our friends took the upstairs room and we took one downstairs – which was just as well bearing in mind what was to come. On the evening of 17th May we returned from dinner in Mahon and I checked my phone only to discover a message from the publisher asking me to get in touch.  They wanted to publish my book!  What a fabulous present I thought, coming the day before my birthday.  I felt really positive and looked forward to the next day, sure this was a good sign there would be a lot of good things coming my way during the coming year.

On 18th May (my birthday) we drove to Ciutadella on the western side of the island, did

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CIUTADELLA

some shopping, wandered the streets and had lunch.  On the way back we stopped off and walked down to a small cove and I remember picking my way very carefully over the uneven, rocky pathway. The last thing I wanted to do was injure myself!P1030855

A couple of hours later I was showered, dressed and ready to go out for my celebratory meal.  Anything  valuable was kept in the safe upstairs in our friends’ bedroom.  I needed a bracelet and so I walked upstairs to get it.  As I returned, and stepped off the last stair, my foot came down awkwardly on a coconut mat lying on the dining room floor.  Everything happened so quickly. One moment I was upright, the next flat on my back on the floor. I rolled over and my husband and his friend were there immediately, helping me up. My foot was already very puffy and they were talking sprain, but as soon as I tried to stand it was clear I had done far more damage than that.

The evening which had started out so well, was now in tatters.  The men headed off to the nearest pharmacy, returning with a can of cooling spray and an elasticated ankle support.  We ordered a takeaway from the local bistro and the bubbly stayed in the fridge probably because celebration was the last thing on our minds.  Everyone hoped by the next day I’d at least be hobbling about. Unfortunately I wasn’t.

Saturday morning we drove to Mahon Hospital Emergency Department where an x-ray revealed a fractured Mahon Hospital 1ankle.  They fitted me with an open plaster which would enable me to fly home safely and I was told to go to my local Emergency Department as soon as I arrived back.  Tuesday it appeared was within the time frame to do this so I didn’t need to cut the holiday short. I was given three lots of discharge medication, including Clexane, which I had to inject into my tummy each day to prevent blood clotting. Luckily I’m not squeamish but until I got the hang of it, my efforts resulted in a series of  bruises which looked like a bad attempt at tattooing.  The doctor in ED also told me the plaster was non weight bearing and I should keep the leg off the floor. I now realise if you’re going to break any part of your lower limb then it should be on the left side.  I soon discovered my brain is wired up to tell my right leg it needs to go to the floor.  My left leg, well OK it’s there but only as a support act.  Yes, in those first few hours I really had to think every time I attempted to move but gradually I began to successfully block out my right leg and use my left.  The last thing I wanted to do was inflict more damage on my ankle and end up as an in-patient.

On arrival back at the villa I contacted the insurance company, who had already been notified of my planned visit to Emergency Department.  They were absolutely fabulous – a nurse spoke to me about the accident, what had happened in ED and also the discharge drugs they had given me.  Our flight details were taken and ambulance transport arranged to get me to the airport, with a mini bus pick up the other end.  They also bought extra seats on Easy Jet so I could travel back with my leg elevated.  We made the best of the next few days.  The ‘boys’ rented me crutches from the local pharmacy but being small I didn’t have enough strength in my shoulders to support myself.  So instead I got about the villa on my backside, pulling myself up either onto the bed, the loo or the couch in the lounge.   Yes, suddenly I had to rethink everything I did and some of the simplest tasks were like climbing Everest!  Having a shower was impossible – instead I used a plastic patio chair to balance on in front of the shower room wash basin.  Drying and tonging my hair wasn’t a problem nor was dressing as I could do this sitting on the bed.  Getting from the bedroom to the lounge I became quite proficient at scooting along the marble floors on my bum!  We did get out for meals, the men 20180522_163339helping me out to the MPV and into restaurants,  although of course it did limit where we ate. We had to keep to eateries with adjacent car parks and this usually meant outside the towns.  Sadly what I really missed were the places on the island we intended to visit – how wonderful it would have been to wander cobbled streets, stop for coffee or lunch and do what I love doing on holiday -taking photos.  For those few days between my visit to Mahon ED and flying home, we encouraged our friends to go out and explore and not miss out, while we spent our day lying by the pool.

Our return journey wasn’t without its glitches.  On our day of departure ambulance transport turned up 2 hours Taxi 2early.  We were in the middle of lunch which meant a bit of a scrabble around to check everything was packed before leaving. Arriving at the airport we were whisked through check in and soon in the departure lounge where we were eventually joined by our friends. Any hope of a speedy flight home was dashed, however, when we had to suffer a two and a half hour delay due to the French Air Traffic Controllers’ industrial action.  Having left the villa at 12.50 that day, we finally reached home just before midnight. Totally exhausted I fell into bed and slept like a baby.

The next morning we drove to our local hospital Emergency Department.  They removed the plaster, x-rayed me, confirmed the ankle was broken and then wheeled me to the plaster room.  As the two technicians were ’embalming’ my leg I noticed they had slipped a small inflatable pad under the ball of my foot.  A clear tube protruded up from the left side and of course I wanted to know what it was for. ‘It’s attached to a machine which regularly inflates and deflates it to help the swelling go down’ I was told. ‘Oh,’ I nodded, ‘Does that mean I’m going to take this equipment home with me then?’ All was revealed as the Senior Nurse in ED poked her head around the cubicle curtain obviously having heard our conversation. ‘Oh you’re not going home,’ she said, ‘I’ve just found you a bed, you’re being admitted….’

TO BE CONTINUED