Saturday, 22 March 2014


It was a great day spent in York, but not a lot of time for much sightseeing, although, I looked in fascination at the ancient stone wall as we walked from the station. "Its the bar wall" my friend Samantha told me "built to keep the Romans out".  As we walked over the bridge, that crossed the river Ooz, there was a ferry boat moored alongside the footpath - "Thats called The Judi Dench Walk" Samantha informed me proudly, for Judi was also a Yorkshire girl like herself. We walked through the bustling narrow streets to find the restaurant where we were to meet Safkhet authors, stopping in the square to listen to a band that played rock music.  The lunch at the Jamie Oliver restaurant was organised by Lin Treadgold who was one of the authors and had written a popular novel called "Henrietta Street".  We was not sure what authors would be there, but once inside this restaurant, I was pleased to see a couple of familiar faces, that I had seen on face/book.  Upstairs in the restaurant, we  sat at a long table, under a tall window where the sun streamed in and in the corner sat Marilyn Chapman, who I knew from her blogs as the Guernsey Girl and thinking she had come all the way from Guernsey, was to find out she now lived in the north of England.  Marilyn was a journalist and had written a book entitled "baggypants and booties" published by Safkhet and we shared the same publication day, for both our books came out on Valentines Day.  Next to her sat Irene Soldaris, who was the author of the book "Bad Bishop" and another author I was pleased to meet in person. There was lots of talk about during the meal, all having a lot in common as fellow authors with Safkhet and the meal was enjoyable. The Italian food was served by pleasant young people, whose attire was reminiscent of the school uniform, with shirts and ties and on the wall a blackboard displayed the |Jamie Oliver cocktail list.,  There was no mistaking it was his restaurant, there were lines of his books on shelves, some with his smiling face.  And just like the medieval town itself, built with ancient stone, his restaurant was built in the same style, with a labyrinth of different rooms, where food was served from an open kitchen, behind a long bar.  So dining in this Jamie Oliver Italian restaurant, was a real treat, especially now I am a Safkhet author myself, with my novel "Queen of the Harbour" and I took the opportunity to give out my -hand out cards - as us authors do.  After the meal, together with Lin Treadgold, Irene Soldaris and Marilyn Chapman, I had my photograph taken.  It was certainly some photo - with the four safket authors together. It was taken by Samantha - she herself, is not yet published, but hopefully that wont be long off, especially now her book "Raven Heart" is edited and ready to be sent out into the world of publishing.  I really enjoyed my day at York, despite the fact, there was not much time for seeing places of interest, like the Viking Museum, as we were travelling back that evening.  but after the lunch with Lin and Samantha I went inside the York Minster, that beautiful cathedral, built in the shape of a cross.  its sheer size and splendour, was a joy to see. We also got time, to walk in the museum gardens and see the daffodils in bloom. We had purchased some peanuts to feed the squirrels, although it was the pigeons, who got most of them, one with white tail feathers, even landed on my lap as I sat on the bench.  But despite the spring scene in the park, there was a shower of rain. There was just time for a quick look at the ruins, but getting wet, rushed away.  Although, the heavy shower seemed soon over as we went back through the town and from behind a tall building, there was a glimpse of a bright rainbow.

Thursday, 13 March 2014


Now that SAFKET publishing have brought out my book Queen of the Harbour, I am beginning to get used to the cover with its lovely bright colours. I know my friend liked it, as she discussed it with me after reading some of it.  She was in giggles as she spoke about my heroine Neaves calamities, telling me she couldnt wait to read the rest, so that cheered me up and yesterday I found myself chatting away to the doctor at the hospital about my book. The poor doctor at the time was stitching up my hand and because I needed some destraction from the pain, I found myself chatting ten to the dozen about - Queen of the Harbour. The doctor just gave a little grin and said "you just keep on talking"  as if he was glad that I had some distraction and I wasnt making a fuss.  But the five stitches, he put in my hand, were very neatly done by him and at least I got a chance to advertise my book, although I can think of betters ways of doing it.  But even the pleasant nurse, whose hand I grabbed as the needle went in, she was smiling away as I chatted about the publication, although I`m not exactly a famous author.  But never mind,  the nurse was beaming and I`d give the medical team top marks for the care and attention. Although, today I am typing away and I`m supposed to be resting it - but with my Queen of the Harbour out now, for the world to see, there`s no stopping me!

I would like to tell you about my book.....THE QUEEN OF THE HARBOUR.....that is being published by SAFKHET.... and I am proud to say is coming out on line on Valentines Day.  I wrote this story many years ago, as often is the case and I was beginning to wonder if it was going to get old fashioned, yes! even writing about the nineties can be old fashioned - would you believe.  But its not exactly history, although one has to be careful - that it does not become - what you call dated.  Anyway, I wrote this when I was - lets say mooching about Spain.  I was in my early forties and spending much time there and met so many interesting people, that as I read the story again, I feel their presence - wonderful colourful people.  It was a magical time and when I speak to friends today who knew those times, they say - its not the same anymore.  So when I was back at home, I wrote stories about this place and those times and of course the romance that I experienced.  It kind of bought a lot back as I was writing and only a few days ago found myself looking up old photo`s and thinking about those romantic times...Oh well - nice to dream again, but no names mentioned.  The Queen of the Harbour is coming out tomorrow and is a story that stands on its own. I delved into my imagination as well as my past experiences and came up with the story.  The character of Neave, perhaps she is someone we would all like to be like, if we had her courage, for she ran away and ended up living the life she wanted.  Something I dont think many of us have the courage to do. Nevertheless, my Neave did and she also took the lovers she wanted and still ended up being - a Queen of the Harbour.   But in my story we see what a courageous girl she is, as she handles the storm at sea and helps bring back the two girls from Morocco to a better life, for unlike me Neave can handle a boat, she can also swim like a mermaid. So perhaps you would like to see how she arrived at her destination of attaining her hearts desire, for she is in the prime of her life, beautiful and the world is her oyster.  When I wrote about the sea, I did not know one end of a boat from another, but on picking up a book at a second hand shop, I found it was written by a man called Tristan Jones - (born at sea aboard a british ship off the island of Tristan da Cunha.  The book was entitled "The Incredible Voyage". He had crossed the Atlantic eithteen times undersail, nine times alone.  Reading his story, taught me about boats and the winds at sea and I was able to write about the storm as the girls sailed their cabin cruiser across the Gibraltar Straits. In my story there are three women, going to fetch back from Morocco two young girls and we see the many dangers they all experience.  But although Neave finds Romance, she will no longer let any man hold her down. For she was a down trodden women, who has broken free and is happy to be a Queen of the Harbour.

Monday, 4 November 2013


The night began with Samantha and I walking into a gathering of people who stood  around sipping wine and eyeing each other up.  For you could be standing next to the rich and famous or even the girl from the factory floor - there were no class barriers here.  Unlike at at a real Regency Dinner with Jane Austin at the `Netherland Ball`. If you were invited to that - everyone was judged by their station in life and on entering the ballroom, you were announced by a footman in order of rank.  We were given cards on arrival, with sudo names and I looked down on my card dubiously - for I was not a Lady of even a Countess, I  was in fact Ann De Burgh and I was thinking - Id have to find out who she was!,
  "Oh she was the daughter of Lady Lucus" I was told.  That`s alright then I thought, for this is not upstairs and downstairs and I wasn`t going to be any serving wench.  Especially when my friend Samantha was a titled Lady according to her card.   Never the less, I grabbed a white wine from the silver tray as the waiter passed and went to talk to Mrs Bennett, who was very lady like looking and suited her sudo name and perhaps was even one of the rich and famous.  We were greeted by our pretty hostess, who was also the author of a cook book and not surprisingly enough, our evening menu was to be taken from the very pages of her exquisite cook book that stood on the side.   The group of Jane Austin fans gathered around as our hostess in a bright red dress read out some of the menu`s that would have been partaken at a real Jane Austin Dinner - but tonight was just pretend.   However, we would be treated like titled Ladies, with all the food and etiquette of the day! although, I could do without the wild boar.  Samantha was keen to buy a signed copy of this book but I was more interested in looking at the handsome Mr Darcy who stood next to the hostess, holding an open book, ready to read out Jane  Austin`s work.  He wore a Georgian dinner suit with long tails, a high frilly white collar and britches, with white stockings.  But the black patent shoes, with criss cross laces and buttons, looked rather large, but then he was six foot five - but what a handsome hunk.  He could have been taken for a Romantic Hero from a Mills and Boons novel.

   The tables were laid with white clothes, napkins and bone china and the candles flicked from the silver candlesticks.  As you sat there, you could be transported back to those times and be sitting a dinner surrounded by high ranking people.  Although, next to me was my friend Samantha,. who at least looked the part in a Jane Austin type dress.  She seemed the only one who dressed up and had many compliments, even though the long dress, was more like a night dress, it did have an empire line, puffed sleeves and a frilled neckline and she could have been mistaken for a lady from the book `Mansfield Park`  Even her hair she wore in a bun and was parted in the middle and it was like sitting next to a Jane Austin look a like.  But I`m glad she didn`t wear the bonnet, that she showed me earlier, it was black crumpled silk and tied under the chin, for she would have looked more like the milk maid.  But when Mr Darcy came and sat next to her at the table, they looked the ideal couple  - both dressed for the part.  But on standing for a photo, his tall, lean figure, towered over Samantha, who was short in stature, although she did not mind and grinned from ear to ear, for it was certainly, one for the album.

   There was a reading from "Pride and Prejudice".  We also heard how Queen Caroline had broken her little finger and would crook it when holding a cup.  This however, got copied by others, as some kind of lady like mannerism and little fingers would be crooked when holding cups, even though fingers were not broken.  But this was all part of the etiquette and when Mr Darcy read from Mrs Bennets speech, that she would do at dinner and it was compared to `come dine with me` - this did seem a bit far fetched for for in our modern times, when it comes to carving joints of mutton in front of the guest and eating partidge and pheasant,   Although, when we were served dinner, I expected more than meat pie.  So while Mr Darcy walked around addressing the guests, displaying his airs.  The staff lined up beside the beautifully laid table to serve the soup.  This was eaten with wholemeal bread, although, the thick green soup was more emerald than green, but was served from a sparkling silver dish with a big ladle and of course, served by staff, very politely, as they would the gentry of the times.  When Mr Darcy disappeared we wondered where he had gone, but he suddenly appeared dripping with water, without his dinner jacket, and just his frilled flannel shirt.  But whether he had been in the river that flowed outside, or perhaps he just splashed himself with water in the Gents, we did not know, but here he was the dashing Mr Darcy standing all wet and dismayed - just like `Colin Firth` in the film.  But when I stood next to the wet Mr Darcy to have a photograph - I said - `I`ll warm you up" and smiled sweetly up at him, and of course, he laughed, taking it  for the joke - that it was. For he was far too young for me and far too good looking.  Anyway I did not want to upset Samantha, who thought he was the bees knees.

   For desert - an ornately decorated silver bowl of fruit was placed on the table.  There was a jelly trifle, as the Victorians ate a lot of Jelly it seems.  They also ate a lot of apple pies and apples were a symbol of neighbourliness - just like when the character Mr Woodhouse was invited round to dinner.  We had been read to from Mansfield Park and Emma and taken through the etiquette and behaviour at our Jane Austin dinner, even told about flirting.  But no one had said to me with a bow - "Please do me the honour to have a glass of wine with me" - but never mind I just grabbed myself a glass from the waiters tray.  After desert,  in Jane Austion`s day it was tea and muffins, once the men had joined the ladies in the dining room - but I think I`ll pass on that, since I was now into the wine.  Samantha wanted a last photograph of Mr Darcy but he was in demand and sitting a around table, surrounded by women.  he was a popular guy and not a bit intimidated by all these career type women.  He had a smug smile on his face and after all, the evening was almost over and he was now relaxing.  He had been reading our from Jane Austins books and supposedly jumped in the river, even Mr Darcy deserved a break.  But alas Samantha and I were missing his company.

   Outside the dark river rippled and the lights from Victorian lanterns reflected on the water.  We said our farewells to the guests and on the way out we bumped right into our Mr Darcy.  He had changed out of his Georgian attire, but we thought he looked just as handsome, even though he wore flip flops and carried a little rucksack and he was probably going off to the bar for a relaxing drink.
   "Take care of yourselves" he said  in his charming way.  He was gallant right to the end.  But it was time for us to go home, Although we talked and giggled about our handsome Mr Darcy all the way, like a pair of school girls.  When Samantha headed off to walk through her council estate - `telling me she will take her oyster card out of her bag in case someone nicks it`  - Be careful I told he.  And I went on my way, off into the station to get my train and then to walk the dark streets home.  But no doubt we had our thoughts of that wonderful dinner, when were were - `Ladies of the Manner` for the night of and of that handsome Mr Darcy - who was only borrowed.

Monday, 21 October 2013


When I took my two Grandsons to the cinema, I expected to be able to have a doze, especially when I saw on the screen a Hamburger walking with legs. The film was called Turbo and you got to hand it to these script writers who wrote the story, as perhaps the themes of the story, you could apply to everyday life. Especially the theme of - no dream is too big and no dream too small, for everyone should have a dream. The story was about a snail who had magic power, that was all in his shell. It seemed a ridiculous idea for a snail to be entered into a motor racing competition, but you found yourself routing for him to win.   He was entered into the race by a boy who befriended him, who had faith in the snail, telling people the snail could win the motor racing championship. We see this snail with big blue eyes, sitting on the boys shoulder, wearing a pair of goggles and  the boy even puts him to bed with a pancake as a blanket. As we watched the snail tearing along the race track with an illuminous light trailing from his tail, (that was supposedly his magic) we wanted him to win. And even though the snail was almost squashed between racing cars as they tore around the track the little snail rally`s on and the crowds cheer.  But alas when his shell got cracked he lost all his magic power and my Grandson and I sat on the edge of our seats as he tried to reach the finishing line. We see him crawling along, puffing and panting and the crowd is urging him on, but alas behind him comes the mean racing champion who runs him over with his wheel and then tries to stamp on him to stop him reaching the white line and we are sitting on the end of our seats urging him on. My Grandson kept saying - his shell is cracked, he has lost his power and  when the snail just gets over the finishing line, we raise our hands and cheer.  Afterwards I explained to them, that the snail could have easily lost, when all his power went and then he would have been a looser - but when he became a winner all the crowd applauded him.  Perhaps that was a bit adult for a six year old. Nevertheless, you could for instance, compare this theme to trying to get published.  For how many people spend so much time writing a book and no one wants to read it and they become loosers.  Yet, if one person likes it, then others may follow and they become a winner. Yes, it can be a fine line at times, between winning and loosing.  

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

book event


The Book Talk

It was a good evening on Monday the thirtieth, with my friend Samantha. The event was held at Kings Place. I didnt know what to expect as we walked from Kings Cross Station. It had always seemed a bit of a seedy area and not somewhere I would like to be walking about late at night. But London had changed, with the skyscraper office blocks, wine bars replacing the old pub on the corner and fancy pavement cafes, just like Paris.  From Kings Cross we passed the many office workers rushing along to get home and soon approached this big glass building, inside was open plan, very spacious and full of light.  We were greeted by friendly staff in black and white uniforms, telling us where to go.  Our Book Event  was being held inside hall two and we headed up the escalator to that floor. It was a while before the star talker Tracy Chevalier came onto the stage and in between time we were entertained by a with it young man, dressed in jeans who interviewed another writer on stage.. He also went around with the microphone asking the audience questions, joining us in, making it all interesting. There was a book group in the audience and we were asked our favourite childhood book.  I called out that mine was `Heidi` that lovely story,  about a little girl who goes to stay with her Grandad in Switzerland in the mountains. I loved it and confess I have been reading it again in recent years - yes even at my age.   Tracy Chevalier talked about her work and the audience could ask questions and read out a piece from her latest book - that was all very interesting and what a lovely film that was - `The Girl with the Pearl Earing` based on the artist Vemeer. that she wrote the book about.  Afterwards there was a quizz, hosted by this with it young man who seemed very at home with the audience participation. Although, Samantha and  I did not do so well at this quizz, putting down Dickens play Oliver, where it should have been Les Miserables. Never mind, we got two right I think..  Two young women, behind us, got the answers right and won two books - that were the prize.  In the interval we had a glass of wine at the bar and just outside was the Regents Canal, where narrow boats docked. Seating was available by the Canal and on a warm summer evening, you could imagine it to be a lovely spot to sit on this patio and view the scene, although one would have to be careful not to have too many wines, as the river was close to the edge. .  Walking back down to the Station, we talked about the lovely evening and perhaps we will go there again. They have different venues, there`s a `Jane Austin` event, - its called "dinner with Mr Darcy" - never know, i might meet my Mr Darcy there.  Samantha suggested dressing up and lending me some kind of Jane Austin dress, but I think Ill decline on that.