Archive | March 2012

A Fine Day Out

It’s almost time for my husband to return to work following his hip replacement, which has gone so well even his surgeon is surprised how swiftly he’s recovered. Four weeks ago Dave was tamping at the bit, bored and anxious to return to his job, but both his surgeon and GP were adamant he takes the full 12 weeks’ recuperation.  After the glorious weather we’ve been having here in the UK this week, I don’t think he’ll be so keen to return to the 7-til-7 schedule. Particularly after days like today.

We are, as you probably are aware, keen gardeners and our patio already resembles the local garden centre, full of row upon row of seed trays and bedding plants waiting to be planted out, and the greenhouse is stacked almost to the roof with shelves of plants, so many in fact, you cannot actually get in the thing, and have to be careful how you open the door. So, with little else to do now until we are clear of frosts, he decides today he wants to go somewhere, go for a drive. I had other things planned, but heck, when he says he fancies going out, I don’t argue, equally eager to take a day away from the computer screen to enjoy the sun.

We headed for our favourite garden centre some 30 miles away deep in the Gloucestershire countryside, where we couldn’t resist buying a few more plants. But neither of us can stop at one – garden centre, that is. And with the boot of the car (good job it is a small one) full of plants and several on the rear floor inside, we set of for another. And then another. The pleasure isn’t just the plants and the looking and loitering, the planning and imagining, deciding shall we, shan’t we; it’s the actual drive we enjoy the most, and the Gloucestershire countryside in Spring is glorious. Dave knows lots of little side roads to take, bypassing the busy main roads, up and down valleys, round steep hills and narrow, stonewalled lanes, where we jealously admire the honey-coloured houses set in acres of green fields full of springy, bouncy lambs (aah) and steeped banked verges in an early flush of bluebells, green shoots of wild garlic, and blossom and drifts of daffodils and primroses.

We stop in a small village shop and buy pasties and Coke and treat ourselves to a couple of pastries and then drive further on to pull up on the verge of a quiet lane with views overlooking a cascade of small lakes, turn off the engine, open the windows, and with silence except for birdsong, we enjoy our impromptu picnic watching robins, chaffinches, thrushes and bluetits in the trees, and pheasants strutting their stuff across the fields. I’ve never seen so many gathered at once. Stupid birds but so beautiful, elegant and graceful. Except when they try to fly, usually straight at the car.

As well as a love of bluebells, I also have a passion for lavender and my three pots on our front garden have taken a hammering this winter, so Dave drives to the Lavender Gardens near Ozleworth. I only wanted three plants, but we end up buying nine, three for each pot.

Finally arriving back home, relaxed and happy, we settle in the garden with a couple of G&Ts (me) coffee (him) and reflect on what has been a perfect day, even more so as  I don’t have to prepare a cooked meal as we are both still replete from our lunch. “If this is retirement, bring it on,” Dave says. Going back to work is going to be hard for him. At least he only has another nine months to endure. Then we can enjoy a lot more days out together – days like today.


Cue Trumpets…

Listen up, everyone. I’ve glad tidings of great joy with a tale that proves sometimes, if you wait long enough, things really can have a happy ending. So cue trumpets …

It gives me great pleasure to announce that at long, long last my novel Every Step of the Way is finally being published and set for release 14 April. It’s turned into a double whammy as it’s being published not only as an ebook by one publisher, but also in paperback by another.

It’s taken many years and many false hopes and starts to reach this point and I had decided to self-publish as an ebook and be damned. Have made that decision, I then found ThornBerry Publishing. ThornBerry only publish in ebook form. They are a new UK publisher and my book will be the first they have produced. The guinea pig. But, hey, I don’t mind. They all have to start somewhere.

But the story doesn’t end there. Shortly before Christmas 2011, a fortuitous email crash landed in my inbox offering me the opportunity to have my book published as a paperback through an Arts Council funded scheme if I submitted it before February 2012. I looked into the matter and decided yes, that is what I’m going to do. To see my long-suffering baby in print, proper print, was a dream I thought I would never see some come true. ThornBerry Publishing raised no objection to this, so hey presto and cue the fanfare: Every Step of the Way will be launched in paperback form on an unsuspecting world this April, hopefully to coincide with the ebook launch.

Extract from Every Step of the Way

Terry raised Beth’s chin with his finger until he was looking directly into her eyes. “If your grandmother left that money for you and Mike, then your mother’s right not to use it. It couldn’t have been an easy decision for her to make, but I admire her for it. She has your interests and future at heart. That’s important. Look, let’s go grab a drink before the pubs shut, and see what we can come up with. There has to be some way to sort all this out.”

She fell into step with him as they turned their backs on the river. He surprised her a few steps later by pulling her round into his arms again.

“You could always marry me, you know. Solve all your problems.”

“Was that a proposal or another of your silly jokes? Because either way, it doesn’t help.”

“I mean it, Beth. I’m in love with you. We could run away to Gretna Green.”

She pushed him away. “Don’t be stupid! I’m far too young. And I hardly know you, Terry Gibbs. Plus, neither of us can afford to get married. And then there’s Mum to consider. I couldn’t leave her and—”

“I can wait, Beth, but… well, there’s nothing to stop us getting engaged, is there?”

“Yes. My dad, for one thing. He’d kill me.” She shrugged off his arms, half-laughing, half unsure if he was in all seriousness asking her to marry him.

He pulled her back to him, lowered his lips to hers and whispered, “Kill me, more like.”

George’s First Steps

Many of you will probably already be aware my family has over the last few years been fundraising to in order to help my nephew’s little 4-year-old boy, George, receive therapy and physio for his cerebral palsy through Brainwave and the Footsteps Foundation in Oxford.

News has recently arrived that he has been accepted to have a life-changing SDR operation carried out at St.Louis Children’s Hospital, Missouri as the NHS in the UK will not fund such operations despite there being two major hospitals here than have surgeons qualified to perform it. We can’t even get him on the waiting list yet and time is running out. George is a prime candidate but time is of the essence. If it is left too late, he will be too old for the operation to work.

To this end the family are now in full battlegear as we need to raise £55,000 by November this year in order to send George and his parents across to America. The hospital is confident the op will work and that eventually George will be able to walk with the aid of a sticks and lead a near normal life. It isn’t just George’s life that will benefit, but that of his parents too. This young couple has striven hard to help their son and George has defied all the doctors’ and experts’ opinions of his prognosis at birth. George is a real fighter, full of determination as well as being a happy and content child. You can never be sad when you are with George, his smile and laughter light up a room.

George’s parents have recently been interviewed by the local press and appeared on network TV and already, after just the first week, we have reached over £6,000.00. We’ve a long way to go but get there we shall. One lady living in Spain is being sponsored to have her head shaved in public with the press present, and many friends have already given generously and offered help, one small company has donated £1,000, a printer producing all our leaflets and posters and flyers free of charge many other events have been organised. For all that has been done so far I, along with George and his parents, can’t thank you enough.

If you would like to donate, no matter how small, click here to go to his website where you can donate or find out more about George’s and the fundraising progress. Below are also links to the recent interviews and press coverage reports (although I am aware the TV interview link doesn’t work outside of the UK – apologies).

North Devon Gazette click here            ITV West   click here

And as a thank you for bearing with me today, over on my Recipes page is an irresistible one for Doughnut Muffins. Click Here