Friday, June 28, 2019

Letter from home

I am struggling to keep my spirits afloat with the news as it is. We need to keep abreast of what is happening and to engage and protest by writing letters, signing petitions, demonstrating, or by adjusting our buying habits, but it so often feels like pissing in the wind.

"Think global, act local" is a good dictum but while we are doing our best to be good neighbours, good citizens and helpful friends, our politicians are walking with the devil. I don't believe in the devil but you get my drift. 

Guess what? I have an idea for another novel, despite the fact that I said I wasn't going to write any more. My mind keeps drifting off to the plot and the characters, and I realised yesterday that I use writing fiction to escape reality. 


At Hepworth Towers Dave's bike is broken and he can't find a new one that isn't black. This is a personal and domestic disaster. He cycles about 200 miles a week and without his bike, life sucks. The problem is that it is now virtually impossible to buy a bike for a serious cyclist on this side of the Atlantic that doesn't have a black frame, black wheels, black spokes, black gears, black everything. This morning he told me you can't even buy silver parts and build your own bike if you happen to find a coloured frame.

One of Dave's asperger quirks means he can't stand black. He hates it so much he has made a white cardboard frame to cover the black surround on his computer monitor. Black depresses him, whereas spinning sparkling spokes delight him.

The search continues, but hope is fading. He is keeping himself busy with household tasks, such as painting the adirondack chairs that he made some years ago in forget-me-not blue for me. (He'd rather leave them just plain wood and is being kind.)

Meanwhile, I have been working my way through a tedious to-do list of domestic tasks that have built up because my mind was taken up with the launch of my new book - EVEN WHEN THEY KNOW YOU - and then there were the jaunts to Mull and Cornwall.

I've made some progress, and yesterday I planted out 30 cosmos seedlings with miniature stakes (because said seedlings are tall and weedy) and surrounded them with sharp gravel to deter the slugs sitting salivating in the undergrowth. This morning nothing has been eaten. But it will happen, I know it will, despite the gravel. The man at the garden centre also recommended wool pellets and I'm going to try them round the last 30 seedlings. I'll report back.

The Monsal Trail continues to be a solace. I am so so lucky. Someone in my old writing group said that BUT I TOLD YOU LAST YEAR THAT I LOVED YOU was my love letter to Dave. I suppose that EVEN WHEN THEY KNOW YOU could be seen as a love letter to the Monsal Trail.

By the way, I know some of you don't like ebooks and it's hard to get hold of a paperback copy of BUT I TOLD YOU LAST YEAR THAT I LOVED YOU. If you want a new one you can order it through your local bookshop; and you can buy one  secondhand from Abebooks.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

PR machine

I haven't mentioned my new book EVEN WHEN THEY KNOW YOU lately, which is probably bad news in marketing terms. But then the PR machine consists of just one woman who seems to prefer riding her bike up the Monsal Trail to doing almost anything else. 

It's raining today so I'm delighted to tell you that EVEN WHEN THEY KNOW YOU is available worldwide on Amazon as an ebook and as a paperback.
You can get it here in the UK   and here in the USA
but wherever you live you can buy it on Amazon, or get your library to order it from them.

You can even buy it at Hassop Station on the Monsal Trail, which is where the novel is set. 

In case you need encouragement, here are all the reviews on Amazon to date -   

It would be really helpful and encourage sales if you would post a review online on Amazon and/or Goodreads, once you have read the book. Reviews really do make a difference. And the more there are, the better it is.

Thank you, dear readers. 

And here is a view of the Monsal Trail you've never seen before - can you see it amongst the trees below the cliff?

Monday, June 24, 2019

A horticultural assassin

I had a horticultural epiphany last week. 

I was looking round my garden for flowers to decorate an event, and found hardy geraniums - blue, three shades of pink, and magenta - valerian, lady's mantle, astrantia, and a huge and robust Jerusalem sage (phlomis russeliana) which has yellow flowers.

Apart from daffodils and primroses and alpine poppies, I try not to have yellow in the garden because there are so many iffy shades of it. I have this particular phlomis because my brother gave it to me when the garden was empty and I was accepting anything on offer. It is hardy and completely reliable. 

I picked one or two of the flowering stalks to go with the blue geraniums, but having it in my hand I realised that not only is it a nasty shade of yellow, it's an ugly flower.  Life is too short to give space to flowers I don't like, so in the autumn it's going on the compost heap. There. Sorted. Brutal, that's me.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Back but busy

I'm back home, but oh so busy.

I'll be back on the blog next week.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Postcard from St Ives

Yesterday we went to the Barbara Hepworth Gallery and Garden, and to the Tate at St Ives. Here are my snaps.

Barbara Hepworth’s workshop:

A Mark Rothko painting at the Tate:

The beach from the Tate:

The beach reflection from the Tate:

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Picture postcards from Cornwall

Some snaps from my yesterday spent with my good friend H in south west Cornwall. I am too relaxed/sleepy to put them in the right order.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Sunday pictures from Cornwall

Having a blissful holiday near Land’s End...

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Picture postcard from Cornwall

It’s so good to get away

to relax, and celebrate with my good friend H. 

Happy reading, faithful friends.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Individual differences

I was on the Sally Pepper show this morning on BBC Radio Derby. It was a very different interview from the one I had on Wednesday. Sally is a skilled and sensitive interviewer (just like Paulette) but her approach was very different. There were a lot of questions about Mary and our friendship and I felt wrung out by the end. I am not complaining at all, I'm just reporting. 

I arrived home a little upset, partly because I knew that Mary would have hated it....she was such a private person. But the rain stopped and I rode to the end of the Trail and back and came home relaxed. It's like a drug, a healthy drug with no side effects bar fitness.

Tomorrow I'm off to Cornwall for a few days, while you guys start reading the paperback. I may or may not blog. Ta-ra!

Thursday, June 13, 2019


You can tell your nerves are in shreds when you're on a twenty minute drive to your saxophone lesson and you stop the car four separate times to change the CD you're listening to, because every one you choose does your head in. I ended up with Chet Baker - mellow jazz trumpeter. 

It's been non-stop hassle with the book for the last two weeks but yesterday on BBC Radio Sheffield I sounded relaxed, partly because Paulette Edwards is such a friendly and skilful presenter, and partly because I like being on the radio. It feels good to be talking to someone who asks you lots of questions about you and your book as if they're interested, when you've worked alone on the project for the last three years.

When I got home from the radio interview and errands in town I really wanted to ring Mary up for a chat but she's not here any more, of course, so I collapsed into bed with The Girl with the Pearl Earring for a couple of hours. And in the evening Dave and I watched 3 episodes of M*A*S*H together. I was relaxed by the time I got into bed.

If you'd like to listen to yesterday's radio slot with Paulette Edwards, follow this link:

I was on at 1.12.24  
Then there's a music track for about 5 mins, and my interview begins again at 1.21.08

Tomorrow I'm on BBC Radio Derby at about 10.15 a.m. on the Sally Pepper show.

I saw these poppies on the way to sax, and stopped on the way back to take the photos. 

...They toil not, neither do they spin...

Just in case you didn't know, the paperback is out and available to buy on Amazon. I've put links on yesterday's post.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The paperback is published

My new book 

is now available in paperback as well as ebook.

You can buy it from Amazon wherever you are in the world.

Here's the UK link:

Here's the USA link:

I can't find it on Australian Amazon yet, but it will be up there soon.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Monday morning on the Trail

One of my favourite times to cycle on the  Monsal Trail is Monday morning because it's so quiet. I set off at 7.30 in a desperate mood after reading the news, but just a quarter of a mile from home, I was already feeling better.

Last week Jenetta, a blog reader, suggested I should drip feed pictures of the vegetation on the Trail that are mentioned in Even When They Know You, so here are a few I photographed this morning.

These are what I call moonpennies - what do you call them? Oxeye daisies? They can be as tall as 2 foot high.


Rough chervil:

Bird's foot trefoil, on the cliff-top above Water-cum-jolly, Jane's favourite 'thinking spot'

And here's something growing by the station platform at Great Longstone which I can't find in my wild flower book. Do you know what it is?


Thursday, June 06, 2019

A blessed day

'Are you OK? Your last blog seems a long time ago,' said my big sister in an email yesterday. 

I assured her that everything is fine, but for three days last weekend I was in a frenzy of frustration and high blood pressure as we struggled to format the book YET AGAIN to upload it as a paperback. It did my head in, and Dave's too, poor thing. It was completed by Sunday teatime and I ordered the proofs. On Monday we recovered.

Yesterday I had to go to the dentist in Sheffield and then do an errand that was simple but hard work, and my fabulous 15 year old grandson (who had an inset day) willingly came with me, which meant the task took one hour instead of two, and I didn't do my back in, carrying heavy stuff around the city centre. As we drove into town I said under my breath 'I don't know where I'm going to park, I don't usually come in this way.'

And he said 'Turn left here.' I turned up the street. 'This is a good car park,' he said, and it was. And then he helped me carry my heavy load to where it had to go.

It was such a simple thing, but it felt sweet to have a grandson old enough and sensible enough to help me with my burdens. The future - grandchildren-wise - is looking good.

When I got home, the proof copies of the book had arrived. Yay!

At first glance they looked perfect, apart from a line of text missing from the back cover, and a couple of the title pages which needed putting in a different order. I flicked through it and said to Dave 'Let's get it sorted now! It will take ten minutes tops.'

He was in the shed making kumiko and didn't want to stop. 'I think you should look at it carefully,' he said, 'or you'll regret it.'

'It's fine!' I said. 'Really! Let's get it done, then we can publish it and then all my blog readers can read it! Come on, come on!'

But kumiko has a strange draw on the man in the shed and he wouldn't budge. How can it be that he'd prefer tweaking  bits of wood to tweaking bits of text? 

You know what, though? He was right. I've read two thirds of the way through the book now and this is how many tweaks the text needs. 

There are no typos, thanks to my top-notch proof reader, but there are a couple of punctuation errors, a couple of words I want to change. And then there are  formatting glitches you probably wouldn't notice, but I have, and this accounts for 90% of the yellow markers. 

Tomorrow morning we will sit down and do the corrections, debate about whether or not to order one last proof, and then this time next week I hope to blog that the thing is online and you can buy it.

My A1 day finished in style. My writer friend Chrissie and I have bemoaned the fact that we can't get a decent classic margarita in Sheffield or Derbyshire, not even for ready money (as Oscar Wilde's Algy would say) so Chrissie bought the wherewithal herself and invited me round for a catch-up, a margarita and tea/dinner/supper. I had a heavenly time. 

There is something mystical and wondrous about a decent margarita. As soon as I've had two sips, I feel happy. It's not the same with any other drink, and Chrissie agrees. What is the magic ingredient? I've no idea, but a charming barman in Boulder once gave me his recipe, so if you're interested, here it is:

1.5 ozs Tequila
1.5 ozs Lime Juice (fresh, of course) 
1 oz of orange liqueur
1 squeeze of pure agave

Shake and pour over ice cubes in a tall tumbler with salt round the rim. Drink, relax and dream.