Monday, September 30, 2013

My Monday morning news via Twitter

I know there are heaps of you out there who don’t get Twitter and some who don’t want to get Twitter. But for those of you who would like to understand why intelligent people bother with it, here is a selection of what I found in my tweetstream this morning. (My tweetstream is what appears on my screen when I go to Twitter – it is made up of the tweets of all the people I follow. The other thing to explain is that when you see gobbledygook in blue, it’s a link to an article on a website.)

First, the good news – Sally Pepper of BBC Radio Derby liked Plotting for Grown-ups…


Then the bad news. I had missed Wendy’s tweets the day before, but knew, thankfully, that she was OK:



Then some puzzling news (which I explored further) – a BBC journalist had been stopped from filming an anti-government demo of 50,000 people outside the Tory party conference:


Then a mishmash of tweets –the first one fun, the others not:


Links to news on the question of Israel:


And news (which is not really news) about the treatment of the Palestinian people:


I also found a lovely pic of Bamburgh Castle and some happy news about a birth.

I’ll stick with Twitter for now.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Back in the slow lane

Finally, a late start. It’s 8.50 a.m.and I don’t have to get out of bed to rush anywhere or do anything, or even email till my laptop keyboard is red hot.

You know how it’s been this year…family illness, problems formatting the ebooks of Plotting for Beginners and Plotting for Grown-ups, fighting internet pirates selling copies of the former, kicking aside all the obstacles thrown in the path of publication, marketing Plotting for Grown-ups – I won’t go on.

Sept08 008

Dave and I are now going to rebuild our lives (ooh, that overworked cliche always makes me laugh) re-assume our former personalities, and slow down.

Sept08 009

Yesterday was a start: I rode my bike up the Trail in the sunshine and then sat in the garden reading Cut to the Chase – a book about how to write screenplays. Then we played table tennis in the back garden, watched a couple of M*A*S*H episodes and played Scrabble. Oh yes. At Hepworth Towers, we live on the edge.

The new header is the bridge at Bakewell.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Whatever happens to the book now – sales or no sales – I’ll always have Hassop

There were around 100 people there at the launch of Plotting for Grown-ups, at Hassop Station, which was wonderful, and also (frankly) amazing. Guests kept arriving, and half of them were people I didn’t know! It was the launch of Sally Howe’s dreams.

But here’s the thing. There weren’t any paparazzi, so in the absence of Isaac, I asked my brothers to take some pictures, and the lighting was not kind.

launch 8

launch 4

Here’s Jane reading the answers to the prize quiz:

launch 9

And me, doing a reading - the tussle on the Trail:

launch 1

The queue to have books signed:

launch 2

And the signing of said books:

launch 3

launch 5

launch 6

There was a copy of Plotting for Grown-ups hidden on the shelves of the bookshop - free to whoever found it. (My postman and his wife.)

And here is the quiz, for completeness:

Prize Quiz

1/ When was the railway line opened between Bakewell and Buxton?

2/ When was it closed?

3/ How many tunnels are there on the Monsal Trail?

4/ What are they called? (1 point for each correct name)

5/ Which of Sue Hepworth’s four books does NOT mention the Monsal Trail?

6/ Quotes which appear in Plotting for Grown-ups

Match up the following 7 quotes with the famous people who wrote or said them (listed below the quotes)

“Twice a week I go to a beauty salon and have my hair blown dry. It’s cheaper than psychoanalysis, and much more uplifting.”

“Middle age is when you’re sitting at home on a Saturday night and the telephone rings and you hope it isn’t for you.”

“The last time I was dating, string underpants were in fashion.”

“Well if I rang the wrong number, why did you answer the phone?”

“God made the world round so we would never be able to see too far down the road.”

“I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.”

“All I need for perfect happiness is a digging bar and a splitting mall.”

Karen Blixen (pen name: Isak Dinesen); Sally Howe (heroine of Plotting for Grown-ups); Henry Thoreau; Ogden Nash; Sally Howe’s brother Richard; Nora Ephron; James Thurber.

7/ Which place below do you think is NOT mentioned in Plotting for Grown-ups?

The Monsal Trail; The David Mellor shop, Hathersage; Hassop Station; Midco Builders Merchants, Bakewell; Fischer’s Restaurant, Baslow; The Royal Academy, London; Heights of Abraham, Matlock Bath; Maazi restaurant, Matlock; Chatsworth Farm Shop; John Hattersley Wines, Bakewell; The Café at Caudwell Mill, Rowsley; Hassop Hall.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Morning after

It was a fabulous, fabulous launch, and I’m not saying that for PR purposes – it really was. But my family are still here in the house, so until they’ve gone, you’ll have to make do with this shot of Jane and me all lined up and looking nervous before the guests arrived.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Well, yesterday the visitors arrived before Dave had washed the kitchen floor or cleared his piles and piles of books from the sitting room carpet, and before I had washed the shower screen.

And my watch stopped.

And my printer ran out of toner.

And Radio Sheffield had lost the book I sent them three weeks ago.

Do I care?

No, because today the paperback of Plotting for Grown-ups is published: and I love Plotting for Grown-ups.

Layout 1

And tonight is the launch at the fantastic Hassop Station, and I’ll meet people I don’t know who have read the ebook and loved it, and also old friends will be there, and three of my four siblings.(We’ll miss you, Jen.)

See you there, everyone else: 7 pm.

Monday, September 23, 2013

lists, lists, lists

My head contains a continuous list, just like that newsfeed you sometimes see at the bottom of TV screens. As soon as something is crossed off my list, a new item appears.

I was awake at 2 a.m. because the list for today was taking over -

  1. go to Bakewell market
  2. deliver books to Bakewell bookshop
  3. call at Hassop Station on the way back with more publicity flyers
  4. speak to Duncan about the launch
  5. ring the boiler man to come and see why our boiler is making such a horrendous noise
  6. sort out the Builders Centre bill
  7. clean the bathroom
  8. make up beds for family visitors
  9. make bouef bourgignon (spelling?) for tea
  10. welcome visitors
  11. go to Sheffield for my interview on BBC Radio Sheffield
  12. organise tea
  13. choose something to wear for the launch
  14. panic because it needs washing
  15. decide to wear something else

Here is an irrelevant picture which I will see for real in twelve days time – Lux, my granddaughter, scooting in the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco early on a Sunday morning:


By the way, the paperback of Plotting for Grown-ups is published tomorrow but you can buy it today on Amazon here, or from the Book Depository (with free worldwide postage ) here.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

When it’s all over

This time on Thursday, Plotting for Grown-ups will be launched and my family will have dispersed, and this is what I’m going to do:

  • Mend my beloved denim dungarees that I wear for gardening
  • Fettle the garden
  • Put a new patch on the elbow of my cashmere hoodie
  • Practice my sax
  • Join a local amateur jazz band just starting up (I am so honoured to be invited…although…they haven’t heard me play yet)
  • Have loads more walks with Dave down to Hassop Station I have managed lately
  • See my friends more often
  • Go out to lunch with Zoe


  • Tidy my desk
  • Read and learn from Cut to the Chase – a book about writing screenplays
  • Get out my patchwork, that I dismantled last winter because the design was crap
  • Pack for my trip to see the chundies in San Francisco


Photo by their Dad @isaach

In case you have missed all announcements thus far:

You’re invited to the launch of Plotting for Grown-ups at Hassop Station on Tuesday 24th September at 7 p.m. I will be there and so will Jane, but if you’re hoping to meet Dave/Gus/Sol/Richard you’ll be disappointed.

Friday, September 20, 2013

On the radio

I was on BBC Radio Derby yesterday, talking about Plotting for Grown-ups to the superb Sally Pepper. If you want to hear the interview, follow this link and move the cursor to 1 hour 14 minutes into the show. I’m on for about 20 minutes, with a five minute break in the middle.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


You know I said I was flat out?

Well, three days in the Yorkshire Dales set me right – especially the first night, when I slept for ten hours, and that was in a Youth Hostel bunk. I had a room to myself, and this was the view from the window -


I haven’t stayed in a Youth Hostel since I was 15, and forgot you're supposed to take your own towel.

I also forgot how friendly hostellers are. This is very sweet, except for first thing in the morning if you happen to be one of those people who likes to wake up slowly. Breakfast is a shared occasion, and as well as the friendliness, the heartiness was bouncing off the walls of the dining room. OMG.  Apart from that, I give Grinton Lodge Youth Hostel in Swaledale ten out of ten.

You should see the stunning views of Swaledale from the front gate! Not here, though, as I forgot to take a photo.

The hostel is on the moors  and the last day the sun shone and we followed a stream up and up and up.


We got rain at other times, naturally. And there had been enough at the weekend to swell the falls at Aysgarth so the Aging Hippie and husband were suitably impressed.



Other news is that in AH’s search for the perfect scone, she gave one at Berry’s Farm Shop a four star rating, so that scone is neck and neck with one at Haddon Hall down the round from here. I am trying to find one that beats her perfect scone of five stars – eaten in New Zealand. It’s a matter of honour.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Flat out

These days I am either running around Derbyshire and my laptop keyboard PR-ing for THE BOOK like a mad thing, or I am so tired, I am barely able to stagger to the kettle for another mug of tea.
Yesterday was the latter. I did manage a food shop, to write three work emails, to play my sax, to make a cake for shared lunch at Quaker meeting today, but then I collapsed on the sofa.
Then Zoe rang and asked if I wanted to meet her and the family at Hassop Station cafe (a mile away) for tea and cake after their bike ride on the Trail. “The boys want to see you,” she said.
I was too tired to go: so they came here instead.
I will never be too tired to see grandchildren who ask to see me. 

Tomorrow, I am taking the Aging Hippie and her husband to the land of milk and honey (Wensleydale) for a few days. See you when I get back.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


I have worn glasses since I was 3. Now I have cataracts, and I have to decide exactly how to have my eyes fixed.

i.e. do I ask the surgeon to give me perfect distance vision and ALWAY have to wear reading glasses to read? Or do I do the opposite?

At the moment I am blind without my contact lenses and yet, in bed, with no contact lenses, I can read without glasses. I can’t imagine reading comfortably in bed with glasses on. Is it possible?

Any thoughts?

Friday, September 13, 2013


I am so lucky to live here. This is the view from our bathroom window on this sunny September morning:



And for your delight – here is Seamus Heaney reading his poem, Postscript.


Thursday, September 12, 2013


The last time I was down in London, I was having dinner in a trendy bistro with family who live in the south, and I spilled my water. I called the waiter and asked for a dishcloth to mop it up, and as he rushed off to get one, my sister said “Dishcloth? Dishcloth? You really shouldn’t call it that.”

I can’t recall now what she said I should have called it…

So dear reader, do you have a dishcloth? Do you call it a dishcloth?

And while we’re talking about North vs South, what do you call the meal you eat in the evening with your family, at home, some time after 5.30 p.m. ?

My aforementioned sister (who I love to bits) and who has been living in the South for far too long (a/ she’s too far away, and b/ she’s losing some of her Northern vowels) calls the meal “supper.”

Round here, we call it “Tea.”

Where do you live? and what do you call it?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Picture post

It’s hectic here.

For one thing, the Aging Hippie is in town.

sept 2011 116

Pictured here on a trip to the Grand Canyon with me, I met her 7 years ago on a peace vigil in San Francisco. Now she’s doing a house swap with a friend of a friend in Bakewell. She’s been a character on the blog for some time now and if you come to the launch you’ll meet her. She has three times as much energy as me, and the only time I can get her to sit still is in Quaker meeting. Today, if it doesn’t rain, I’m taking her to look round the garden at Chatsworth. She’s seen the House on telly, but like me, isn’t much into the material trappings that result from being a feudal landlord. She also wants to go to Chatsworth Farm Shop, haunt of Sally Howe in Plotting for Beginners. (As well as World Peace, the AH yearns for the perfect scone, and I think she’ll find one there.)

Next picture: Jane and me on the Trail outside Hassop Station yesterday, in publicity photos kindly taken by Jane’s partner.

Jane Linfoot and Sue Hepworth 1 

Jane Linfoot and Sue Hepworth 2

Last picture – an email from LRH (aka @wendyverse aka my wonderful daughter-in-law, Wendy) -

photojam and lux

Footnote -

The launch of Plotting for Grown-ups is on Tuesday September 24th at Hassop Station, 7 – 8.30 pm. and it would be so FAB if you could come. It’s free, and there’ll be wine, nibbles, a quiz, book signing, and squillions of interesting, attractive people.

Monday, September 09, 2013

too busy

,,,oh dear, too busy to blog. Cooking for guests, taking posters for the launch round to various places (someone stole the last one from the Co-op – is that because they thought it was pretty?) and now about to get changed to meet Jane on The Monsal Trail for a photoshoot. More anon.

Friday, September 06, 2013

The trouble with living in the country…

….and hating shopping, is that you can’t be bothered to drive into town for one or two items, so you make do without them, and then when you DO go to Sheffield, you have a huge long list of errands, which includes taking back the T-shirt you bought from Per Una because the last time you were in town it was so wonderfully quiet and devoid of people, that you became euphoric and your fashion tastebuds went awry.

When I got home with said patterned T-shirt two weeks ago and showed it to Dave, he said “I prefer to make no comment.” This did not deter me for an instant as Dave has no fashion tastebuds of any description. But when Zoe (daughter) said it looked dodgy, and my best friend said it was middle-aged, I knew the shirt had to go back.

Here is a photo of the garden, rather than the T-shirt, because one of you may be wearing the same T-shirt and loving it.

aug 07 012

The other problem I have is that Dave also hates to go shopping, so the night before a trip he brings me a list of items he requires, which always involve shops so far out of orbit they require a trip of their own.

Oh well, it’s raining, so there’d be no swanning down to Hassop Station Cafe, no table tennis, no gardening, and no bike riding up the Trail today. And I am going to meet a journalist from the Sheffield Telegraph to talk about Plotting for Grown-ups, so that’s a sweetener.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013


Sometimes, you don’t intend to tidy the airing cupboard. You just open the door to look for a single sheet, and stuff falls out on the landing…


…including a suit of your mother’s that you couldn’t bear to get rid of when you were clearing out her house. And you think – Maybe now’s the time to take it to Oxfam, and you smell it to see if it needs washing, and it smells of your mother.

So you bury your face in it.

And then you put it back in the cupboard.

Helen Willis

Monday, September 02, 2013

Midnight confusion

Well, at least I slept last night. But waking at three to pop to the loo, a list of to-do’s popped into my head and I knew if I ignored them they would have disappeared by this morning. So I emailed them to myself. (As you do.)

When I read the list at seven, the first three items were clear -

  • Ring Di
  • Email Maggie
  • Ring the printer about the bill

But not the fourth -

  • Find the hat and photograph it

Then it came back to me – there was a hat that had something to do with the book and PR for the book, and it was lodged on a pile of bikes in our car port, in danger of being blown away by the wind, and I had to rescue it and…

except that we don’t have a car port, and there is no hat.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Brothers and Sisters

Every Sunday morning I talk to my brother on the phone, and it always cheers me up. Last evening, when I was lying miserable and exhausted in bed at 6.30 pm I got a sweet email from my sister. So today, in honour of my siblings, I decided to post this old piece I had in The Times, the year after my father died.

The Comfort of Siblings

I am a late developer, and so it is no great wonder that it has taken me fifty years, and my father's death, to appreciate fully the worth of my brothers and sisters.

cropped family 1958

I don't deny that siblings can be some of the most annoying of God's creations, especially when young. Sisters are apt to borrow your opal ring, wear it to clean the hen-house, and then come and tell you they’ve lost it. Brothers are apt to lean from their bedroom window and give a running commentary while you kiss your boyfriend goodnight, or write in the cream on your wedding reception trifle "Wot, no shotgun?"

Siblings may also out-perform you at school, or in my case, something worse: be seen as having more common sense, so that when in the middle of my degree course I told my mother I was pregnant, she said "Oh Sue, I always said it would be you."

I know that in some families the death of a parent brings out the worst in those left behind, with scrabbling over legacies, and recriminations about how little this one or that one has contributed. Or there are arguments over the gravestone or where to scatter the ashes.

In my family it has been the opposite. During my father's last illness we combined efforts to support my mother in her caring role. Then when my father was in hospital we shared the visiting.

When I left my father at the hospital, I would drive disconsolately back up the dale to my mother's house. Wanting to share my distress at my father’s deteriorating condition before I saw my mother, I'd ring my younger brother (a gardener) and he would tell me which village and in which garden he was working. I'd meet him at the gate for a hug and a chat, so I was sufficiently restored not to burden my mother with my tears.

In my father's last week we took turns to sit by his bed - sometimes alone, sometimes in twos or threes. And between his death and his burial we stayed at my parents' house. All through the days we spent together with my mother we lurched between tears and laughter in a way that was both comforting and liberating. We all knew that each was upset, and we didn't have to be proper, or to make any kind of pretence. The closeness, the intimacy, the warmth and the comfort from being all there together, with no hangers on in the shape of spouses or children, felt special. We had not been assembled like that, with no-one else, since we were children. In the worst of times I found the best of times.

When other family members appeared on the scene for the burial at the end of the week this cocoon of ease-amid-grief evaporated.

Siblings, more than others, can understand why one is grieving for someone who in his latter years was grumpy and often less than loveable, because they too remember him as a fine and handsome hero.

Having so many siblings, I have one for every season of grief. There's one to be practical and effective, one to be sensitive, one to listen, one who, while missing the missing father, remains cheerful and good humoured and insists on looking to the future.

I can share family in-jokes and memories of my father with all of them. I can see my father's eyes in my brother's and my father's character traits in the others. And the fact that not all these characteristics are attractive helps me to be realistic about the father I have lost.

Last month I went on holiday with my elder brother and sister, something we haven't done before. It was as easy as being with close friends, but better.

At dinner we toasted my father. And during the meal my brother winked at me for no reason other than affection - just as my father used to do. After dinner he offered me some chocolate, giving me instructions on how to open the packet and tear the wrapper - just as my father would tell me how to cut the stilton.

© Sue Hepworth/The Times 2003

posted here with the permission of the Times