Wednesday, 15 May 2019

A walk in the dusk

With the lighter evenings - which I love - and the fact that I have my head stuck deeply in the PhD, my daily walk beside the beach has moved to the end of the day. It's a liminal time, quiet enough to hear the surf, twilight enough to be mysterious, And I love the way that lights are visible on both sides of the water. I haven't yet remembered to take my camera, so these are a few pictures from the gallery. 

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Salvaging something

This week's post was nearly all about pig swill. In the Day Job I'm deeply enmeshed in the struggles of Cardiff Council in WW2 to satisfy the demands of the Ministry of Supply that they collect more food waste. In those days it didn't go for composting, it was fed to the pigs. While I find the struggles fascinating I'm not sure you will, so I'm putting up something from the archive instead. It's a post from 2 May 2012, when we seem to have been having some dire weather. Not unlike it is now, in fact. Although we didn't have downpours in April this year. And 'summer' was at Easter. But basically does anything ever change?

The nine men's morris is filled up with mud ...

Crosser than a wet hen. That was me, last Wednesday, caught in a downpour on Sloper Road, on my way to the Archives. Too far along to go back to my favourite bus stop – the one I always shelter in when I get caught in a downpour on the way to the Archives (Can you see a pattern here?) I waded on, and arrived Very Wet Indeed.  

Then on Saturday/Sunday night, with the wind howling round the house and things falling over on the back yard, my writer’s imagination began to work overtime about what exactly was making that ominous crashing sound. In the daylight? Nothing I could see. Obviously not in my back yard. 

Then yesterday, on a quick train trip to London, seeing new ponds in the middle of fields – despite the drought.  

Weather is looming large in my mind – and I’m sure I’m not the only one. 

The waterlogged fields brought up that quotation from Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s part of a complex speech from Titania, claiming that the problems with the weather arise from a falling out between herself and Oberon, the fairy king. After the wettest UK April on record, and with the predictions for May not much better, I’m beginning to wonder if they are still arguing. What exactly is a Nine Man’s Morris? My ancient Signet version of the play confidently asserts that it is squares cut in turf for a game, played with nine counters, but I’ve heard that folklore experts cannot identify any such game ever being played. I don’t know what is right, but it is one of those quotations that always sums up horribly wet weather in my mind. I can just see the squares in the turf, slowly filling up, and oozing …
I seem to be a bit obsessed with Midsummer Night’s Dream at the moment, possibly because I am already beginning to be afraid that this is going to be yet another year when we don’t get a summer – although actually that is not true – we had that week. In March.
I know my dislike of cold and wet influences my writing – and reading – habits. I’ve just abandoned a book because the setting was unrelenting snow – the descriptions were excellent and it was making me too cold to read it. One of the pieces of advice sometimes given to writers is to make your characters uncomfortable. It’s supposed to make a book edgy, to have your protagonists physically miserable. I can’t do that. I’d much rather make them emotionally miserable, while the sun shines on them. I get more fun out of that, and keep my feet dry. Although I did give my hero, Devlin, his own personal rain cloud after he walked out on Kaz. (Bad decision, good reasons – at least he thought so.) It followed him around for quite a few chapters. I think of my books as holiday reading – which is why I like to set them in beautiful places, where the sun shines.
So – if you want something dark and sinister, to read on the beach …

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Summer in San Remo - in Norwegian

One of the exciting things about being an author is getting copies of books with your name on, It's just as exciting even when you can't read a word! This is the Norwegian version of Summer in San Remo. Love the cover they have given it.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

A visit to the flower show and a touch of nostalgia

The week before last I went to the RHS Flower Show in Cardiff - it's the one that kicks off the flower show season and I've been to almost every one. It was a sunny day, but with a chilly wind. I had a good time, but it was bitter/sweet too, as many of my happy memories are of having my Mum's company looking at the exhibits and the gardens. When I lived in London we used to go to the Chelsea Flower Show, which is much bigger and more glamorous and expensive - a habit started when I used to get free tickets from work. The Cardiff show is on a different scale and fun in  a different way. Getting Mum there took a bit of organising. Taxi to the car park and then one of their buggies to take us into the show, but it was worth it. I missed her, as I always do. I particularly remember the time we had two ice creams instead of lunch. That's two ice creams each. Mum loved ice cream and it must have been  a warm day.

I took some pictures. The gardens are nothing like those at Chelsea, but the flowers are lovely and I bought a few plants and some lily bulbs. Now I have to plant them and keep the slugs from eating them, and they will be a reminder of a day in spring.

One of the gardens. Not sure what the theme was. 
This one was a kind of den for a young girl to hide away and read.
Peonies. Such a brilliant colour
Bougainvillea. I was very tempted to buy one, but decided on the bulbs instead.
 Maybe next year. 

These are some of the bulbs I chose. Will they look as good as these?
Depends on the slugs!


Saturday, 20 April 2019

Barry Island Book Fest - TODAY

Just a quick post to say I will be at the Book Fest at the Museum at Barry Island (next to the railway station) TODAY. Drop in between 11am and 3pm and talk to local authors and publishers and buy signed books! Free entry. The cafe will be open and there will be steam trains!

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

An Easter Competition

To celebrate Easter, and hopefully the arrival of some warm weather, I'm running a little competition to win a mug that features the lovely cover of my sunshine romance Summer in San Remo and a bag of mini chocolate Easter eggs.

My publishers, Choc-lit, are taking care of all the organising and arranging to draw the lucky name. To be in with a chance to win, all you have to do is tell them the titles of two of my other books. It's that easy.

Answers have to be in by 18th -that's tomorrow - answers can be registered on facebook or twitter. You'll have to scroll down a bit to find it. While you are there there is a Choc-lit contest too - more chocs and books, so you might have a try at that as well.



 And here is the prize.  Mug and chocs, but minus the daffodils.


Wednesday, 10 April 2019

It's not just the writing

At the moment, with my head stuck in the PhD, it feels like that's all there is. It can get like that when you're stuck in a book too, especially in the editing phase, if you are on deadline. It's nice to remember sometimes that you can do other things. And those other things make you the writer you are, even if you don't always realise it.

I'm chuffed at the moment because I took some time out to re-visit my Allen key skills to put together a new desk chair from a certain Swedish retailer. When I opened the box and saw all the bits I had serious doubts about whether I still had what it took to put the thing together, even though the house is full of other stuff that I have assembled, including some scary cupboards with glass doors that are bigger than I am. I still had my plumber's mate then, so it wasn't a solo effort.

Anyway, dear reader, I did it. Here is Reggie, enjoying the result.

In fact the hardest part was taking the chair it replaced upstairs for my office in the smallest bedroom.

And when I was brushing up the floor in the dining room/other office yesterday I remembered how I had laid the floor tiles for almost the whole of the ground floor. Not sure I'd be able to do that again, but that's down to the arthritic knees.

It's not always easy to remember the other things that you can do, or might be able to do - it's not just in the past. And all those things feed into the writing. I have a book in the 'to be written pile' that involves the renovation of a house, and I know that the floor tiling and things will get into that, may even have prompted it, for all I know. And doing things that are a bit testing, or scary probably feed into writing strong heroines who can look after themselves at least some of the time. Well, at least ones who are not scared of a Swedish chair. It's useful to draw on that.

And we all need strong heroines.