Holidays, Update, Writing


The end of May is here already. How has that happened? The month has sped by, despite the way life in general has shrunk due to Covid-19 rules and regulations.  So what have I been up to? I’d love to say I’m enjoying getting back to normal life but unfortunately that’s still a way off.  In the meantime, I’m listing my May milestones 


Follow up with Consultant: Carried out over the phone. I’ve made a good recovery. I’ve healed well, am eating well and exercising regularly. It’s all good news but there will still have to be regular checks. 


An opportunity to travel farther to exercise: Yes, I know I think we could probably have got away with this earlier, but we played by the rules.  Now the daily walk has extended to a couple of local villages where we park up and take a walk.  The warm weather has been a real bonus.


Holiday: Our trip to Norfolk won’t be happening. Instead the travel company have allowed us to switch to another date in 2021 and we’ll be charged 2020 prices. Sad not to be going back to Wells Next The Sea (this would have been our third stay here since 2007) but it’s given us something to look forward to. I know a lot of people are keen to get away but until they develop a vaccine holiday experiences, like shopping are going to be vastly different and maybe not so enjoyable.

Birthday: A very surreal experience this year. Normally we’d be out celebrating either together or with friends. Instead I cooked and OH bought some bubbly. Not sure even if restaurants had opened up I would have enjoyed it, given the social distancing and other safety measures that have to be put in place.  Still there’s always next year to look forward to.


Writing Now: Cover finalised. A big shout out to Jane Dixon Smith for yet another fabulous cover!  Manuscript away with editor. Formatting booked for later in June. 

Writing What’s next: I have a partially written novel which I’m proposing to resume work on once I’ve taken a short break.  Watch this space.



Until next month, stay safe everyone…




Cornwall, Devon, Happy New Year, Holidays, Writing

Another year over…

When this time of year comes around I’m reminded of the lyrics of John Lennon’s 1972 hit ‘Happy Christmas (War is Over)’ and the line ‘And so this is Christmas, and what have you done?’  It’s that moment when I begin to think back over the previous twelve months and ask myself ‘yes what have I done?’

To be honest 2019 has been a pretty quiet year, although there have been a few unforgettable moments. Thankfully it has been nothing like the chaos last year brought with my broken ankle. That happened in May and took a huge chunk out of 2018. I was in plaster for six weeks, swapped it for an orthopaedic boot for two weeks followed by six sessions of physio. During that time I got used to a walking stick and then progressed to walking without any aids.  Happily by January I was walking normally, although it appears my days of wearing high heels are over –  and being only five feet tall, heels have very much been an essential part of my wardrobe since my teens. The op I had left my right ankle slightly larger than my left which means any high heeled shoes tend to rub under the ankle bone. However, it’s not all bad. I haven’t found myself checking out all those sensible flat shoe styles available in shops . Far from it.  I can still wear heels, maybe not as high but still smart and feminine, which my three inch heels aren’t missed. It seems every cloud has a silver lining.

So back to 2019 and those memorable moments.

a) Stratford on Avon in April to celebrate OH’s birthday with friends and a boys’ visit to the British Motor Museum at Gaydon.  We stayed at a great pub with rooms called The Bell at Alderminster – highly recommended not only for its accommodation but for it’s restaurant as well. There’s a bus stop outside just in case you don’t feel like trying to locate a car park in Stratford, which can be pretty busy even in April.

b) Suffolk in early June. A whole week at Aldeburgh where we caught up with friends who’ve retired just over the border in Norfolk. A lovely relaxing holiday. Loved the fresh fish cabins set up along the beach front…

c) Mid-June also saw the publication of my first novel for Choc Lit/Ruby Fiction A Cornish Affair.  The end of a long journey, but well worth all the hard work to get there…

d) Early July for three days in North Wales just outside Dolgellau in an amazing B & B called Pandy Isaf.  Tucked into a sheltered valley and reached by a narrow single track road, it was an ideal base for touring.

My previous experience of North Wales had been in 2001 when we spent a very wet week in a cottage in Maentwrog not far from Blaenau.  I remember catching the train at Blaenau down to Porthmadog. It wasn’t just raining that day, it was pouring. I had a glimpse of Portmeirion towers in the distance as the train approached Porthmadog station. This year, in complete contrast, we had three days of hot sunshine and cloudless skies and we made that visit.

e) Portmeirion. A magical place and with blue skies above it felt just like the Med.  This was probably one of the most special moments of 2019 for me.  It’s not only quirky it’s beautiful in it’s own special way.  The flowers were amazing, especially the hydrangeas which lined the road on the way in.  If you’re in the area and planning to visit it’s best to arrive early as by noon it’s packed. Back in the 1960s the series The Prisoner was filmed her and there’s a bust of Patrick McGoohan, the lead actor in the series (see picture below).

f) September. Dartmouth. Our annual trip to South Devon. This time we took the ferry up to Greenway House and Gardens – Agatha Christie’s house now managed by the National Trust. Her husband was an archaeologist and the house is full of  items brought back from countries he visited. It’s an unusual house and although empty now it still feels like home – as if Agatha and her family might walk through the door at any time.  To see her first editions and some TV scripts plus her typewriter and the place she used to write gave an interesting insight into her life.  All in all a great afternoon.

g) October. Falmouth.  Although I grew up fifty miles from the sea, I’ve always loved everything about the coastal towns of Devon and Cornwall. Unlike Dartmouth, Falmouth has a working dockyard so it has a slightly more commercial feel. But the views across the estuary to Flushing are still as atmospheric. The Greenbank Hotel where we stayed has great views, an excellent restaurant and relaxing atmosphere. We had misty mornings and pleasant calm sunny days and made the most of the weather by taking the ferry across to St Mawes as well as the train to St Ives and Truro.

So that just about wraps up 2019.  There have been some great times this year, although there was one sad event.

We had two cats, Max and Mollie.  Sadly Max disappeared and despite extensive publicity and searches he was never found. Mollie had problems with our new neighbour’s two cats which saw her taking refuge with another neighbour three doors away.  We weren’t able to entice her back so settled into an agreement that we would pay her insurance and vet’s bills and our neighbour would pay for her keep and holiday boarding in the cattery.  This was supposed to be short term, everyone thinking she would eventually return to us. She didn’t and this summer my neighbour suggested after all this time, if we were agreeable, she would take full responsibility for Mollie.

In truth Mollie was no longer our cat. True she would come into the garden and stop for a while, roll over to have her tummy tickled and then wander off. But anytime she returned she never made any attempt to come into the house.  So we made the decision to sign her chip registration over to my neighbour and transfer ownership.  It was something of an emotional moment but as I mentioned above, she’d stopped being our cat some time ago. And at least I know she’s happy where she is now.

We’d put a hold on having another cat because there was always the chance Mollie might come back and she really is a loner who doesn’t have feline friends.  Now we know that’s not going to happen who knows what 2020 will bring. Another cat? Or maybe a dog? The jury is out at the moment.

So that’s it, a year of travel, writing and animals. It only remains for me to wish everyone reading this health and happiness for the coming new decade.

See  you next year


Favourite Authors, Holidays, Writing


Today I’m hosting Rachel Gilbey talking about her favourite authors, book blogging and holiday destinations…

Tell us a little bit about you… Rachel Illusionarium

I’m 31 years old and having had various jobs in the past, including working as a Children’s rep for a top holiday company for a few summers, in Mallorca and Zante. I am currently working part-time for a trading card game dealer, mainly sorting out cards and trying to create a role for myself where I’m irreplaceable!

In my free time I have three main hobbies. The first is obvious, which is reading, I love reading, have done since I was very young, and have a habit of buying more books than I can ever have the time to read. My other hobbies are far more expensive, one is going on holiday, I try to take at least 2 holidays a year when I can, if not more. And my last hobby is going to the theatre, mainly to musicals in London’s West End. I am very lucky that I live in London, and thus can get to shows quite regularly.

How long have you been blogging and what made you decide to start a book blog?

I have only been blogging since April, so around 4 months, although I can barely remember what life was like without my blog now.

I’ve always been an avid and fast reader, and can usually be found with a book in my hand, or in my bag. I was originally just reviewing the odd book that I was able to get from Netgalley (a fabulous source for bloggers), and then at the start of 2015, I was getting more involved with bloggers on twitter, and started to take part in a review challenge that some bloggers were running, and got into the habit of reviewing almost every book that I read.

From that I was invited to Rebecca Raisin’s launch party, and after meeting her and a whole bunch of friendly bloggers, the seed of should I join in was sown. After a few weeks, when I was asked a few more times, the couple of reasons I had for not blogging, no longer seemed important, and Rachel’s Random Reads was born.

Who is your favourite author and why?

How can you ask a book blogger to just name one favourite author. As much I have enjoyed The Other Side of Morning, Joanna, I am very sorry to say you aren’t my favourite author (yet!).

I have been reading both Jill Mansell and Carole Matthews’ books for as long as I can remember, definitely throughout my adulthood, and am always excited to see new releases by both of them, so they are definitely two of my absolute favourite authors.

I do though feel that for different sorts of books I have other favourite authors, Dorothy Koomson always comes to mind for a favourite of books with a more serious feel to them, Victoria Fox, Tasmina Perry and Nigel May are amongst my favourites for bonkbuster style books. I love Nicky Pellegrino for books based in Italy.

As you can see I am incredibly indecisive, and there is a very large list of authors that I would happily read every single release of as they are released.

If you were planning to write a book which genre would you choose and why?

I have no intention of writing a book, but if I had to, since they say write what you know, it would probably have a travel theme to it, possibly based on holiday reps, and would probably be a chick lit book – although I have no idea if I could be funny enough to cut it.

Where has your favourite holiday destination been and what it is that has made it so special?

There are two destinations or holidays that really stand out to me..

Last year for my 30th Birthday I went on my first ever cruise, and since then I am hooked on cruises. I can’t wait for Saturday when I am off on another one! Last year, I went to the Caribbean, and on my 30th I spent the day in Cozumel, Mexico, swimming with Dolphins, which has always been on my bucket list. And to top the holiday off, the following day, while on board, I won a Caribbean Cruise for 2, which I took later in the year.

My absolute favourite destination, is the Hotel Playa Pesquero in Cuba. It’s an all inclusive hotel that to me is paradise on earth. It meets everything I want in a hotel and so much more. The staff are always friendly (and remember you from previous visits),  the climate is brilliant, and I’ve had some of my best holidays in that hotel. Unfortunately as I love the hotel so much I can’t really comment on the outer resort, or the country as a whole.. but since everyone wants different things from their holidays, and I can spend the days there reading on a sun lounger, while staring at gorgeous men working in the entertainment team, getting cocktails from the swim up pool bar, and then spending the evenings watching some shows in the hotel’s stage before being dragged into the nightclub, I find the destination my favourite and hope to go back there again soon.

If you were holding a dinner party and could invite four guests, who would they be and why?

I think this may be the toughest question you have asked..

.. I’m thinking I would need to invite Jamie Oliver, as my cooking skills are awful, so would definitely need a fabulous chef. I would also invite Neil Patrick Harris (Barney in How I Met Your Mother), as he seems to be very entertaining, and is a star of musical theatre, which is a love of mine too. I would also invite Take That, as they are my favourite group of all time. I have been a fan since the early 90s so a chance to meet them would be brilliant.

Since I am counting the 3 members of Take That as 1 guest.. I think I get to invite one more person to this dinner party, but I am not sure who to invite. Thinking logically I feel a female is needed to balance the numbers, and since I love books, I think I would like to invite you, Joanna, to my completely fictional dinner party, as I think we would probably get on quite well and we could talk books (and you can give me all the gossip about your fellow authors!).


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