Review: “A Promise of Pure Gardenias” by Jackie Williams


A Promise of Pure Gardenias: Flowers of the Aristocracy (Untamed Regency Book 2) by [Williams, Jackie]“A Promise of Pure Gardenias” by Jackie Williams is a wonderful historical romance. Being a fan of Jackie Williams amazingly sensitive and enjoyable military romances (yes, military) I was reluctant to venture into a new series, but I’m pleased I did.
Brendon Spencer is introduced to us as a young lad in 1799, experiencing a rude awakening from his innocent childhood play. Some six years later his personal reputation is stained and his heart is captured in an odd and twisted incident.

What follows is the complicated courtship between Brendon and Sophia, full of chemistry but also misperceptions – a hint of Pride and Prejudice I might say but definitely not in the copy-cat kind of way but in a ratehr delightful interplay of it’s own flavour. Two strong characters whose interactions easily fills a book or two.
Set in the romance-inspiring Regency period, with eloquent and masterfully floral use…

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A Day in the Life of a Window Cleaner. (or another hairy tale!)


(One of my sparkling clean skylights)

I cannot stand cleaning my windows. Going by the round my window cleaner covers, I don’t think I am alone in this aversion. It’s hard, dirty work and apart from not liking it, I don’t seem to be able to get that fabulously clear finish, that professionals shine.

If I attempt washing my own windows, I end up doing them at least three times before giving up and looking out of misted, streaked windows for the next several weeks until my window cleaner comes and sorts out the mess of them I have made.

So a few years ago, I decided that I won’t bother wearing myself, my sponge, or my patience out ever again.

Great! I can hear you all cheering my independent spirit! But leaving my windows has left my window cleaner with a slight problem. To clean the skylights in my kitchen where I work every day, I have to be here to let the guy in.

And mostly I am, but this summer I was way twice, on both occasions for several weeks. I am ashamed to say that my skylights had become a disgrace. The green tinge was becoming reminiscent of a weed-covered lake, and if that daily flock of seagulls pooped on them again, I swear that you would have thought I had white spotted nets up over them. I could barely detect if the sun was shining and reading anything smaller or more fancy than Times New Roman 14 without the light on had become a serious problem.

So I was thrilled, on opening my front door this morning, to see my window cleaner. Without any ado, I yanked him inside and dragged him into my writer’s lair. (my kitchen) Fortunately he knows me well and wasn’t petrified by my enthusiastic greeting, but one look up and he begins shaking his head in utter dismay.

“Cor! Look at those cobwebs!” He says in what I can only describe as undisguised awe.

I hadn’t noticed any cobwebs, so I crane my neck with him, but can’t see a thing. (one advantage to 53 year old eyesight – the cleaning gets a lot easier simply because you can’t see any dirt!) But as if to prove his point, he reaches up (Yes, he is extremely tall) and swipes a finger through the detritus covering my windows and I am embarrassed to see a huge cobweb, one worthy of making a cloak for a king, drifting down around my window cleaner’s ears.

“Oh dear! Those spiders have been busy. I only brushed them down the other day.” I fib without a blush.

Paul, my knowing window cleaner, presses his lips together and gives me that look from the corner of his eye. The look that says ‘LIAR!’ without actually saying it aloud.

So I bury my head back in my latest work in progress (Innocent Indiscretions – coming soon!) and keep my fingers tapping over my keyboard while my window cleaner removes at least six months worth of grime from over my head.

All seems to be going well, (he is whistling happily, at least) until he opens the third window to flip it and clean the outside, and suddenly shrieks like a girl as a big, black, hairy spider falls on him, sending him leaping about the kitchen, arms waving and sponge swirling drips of dirty water all over the place. (Being about 6 ft 5 inches tall, this is no mean feat in the space allowed!)

Now call me a bitch if you like, but I found this side-splittingly funny. I sniggered a lot. Even broke into a gale of laughter, (which I quickly pretended was because of writing a comedic section in my new book.) But really? What did he expect to fall out of the recesses of the uncleaned window after finding a dirty great COBWEB only moments previously? A lizard? A doughnut? A sock?

Anyway, after I had recovered from the hilarity of the situation and offered him a calming cup of tea, he resumed his toil and finished the window in record breaking time.

My windows are sparkling. There are no streaks, no misty smears. I have 50% more daylight and no more bird poo! Wonderful! Money well spent! Celebrating!

It only crossed my mind an hour later that I didn’t know where the huge hairy blighter might have scurried off to. (The spider, not my window cleaner)


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This is not the spider that fell down today. I couldn’t find it to photograph it. This is one that ran up my trouser leg while in France last year, but today’s example was of a similar size and scary quality.

I probably shouldn’t have laughed!

Can Animals Feel Pain?


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I am back in Regency writing mode. My hero has just leapt on his noble steed and is about to gallop off to rescue fair maiden when his horse turns a fetlock (or whatever horses turn  – note to self – horse anatomy research needed!)

And so I am thinking about the animal’s suffering.

The subject has been in the news recently. Some political hogwash or other. Can animals feel pain?

Well of course they can. We all know what happens when we accidentally tread on the dog’s tail. He yelps, leaps away with hurt, accusing puppy dawg eyes, and makes us feel awful. However, a cat’s reaction is a little different – they yowl horrendously before immediately getting you back with spitting teeth and a set of knifelike claws! Either reaction says the same thing. Animals definitely feel pain.

But I had an experience last year that made an animal’s pain even more obvious.

On a damp and drizzly day in Brittany, I had foolishly decided to go for a walk on the beach. It was one I hadn’t been to before and I thought it would be a good chance to explore. It might have been more interesting if the rain had stopped, but it didn’t. It was just miserable and I was forced to cut my visit short.

As I made my way back up the beach, jeans sticking to my legs and chaffing my skin raw, I noticed that a group of hardy Brittany horses were following me along the cliff above the shore. They soon forged ahead of me and gathered at a gate clearly waiting for something or someone.

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Feeling guilty that I didn’t even have an apple in my pocket, I was about to sidle by when they all began neighing and tossing their heads in some distress. Of course, I was concerned. Their behaviour wasn’t like anything I had experienced before. I felt like apologising for my lack of bountiful pockets, but I was saved any more guilty feelings when a van towing a horsebox drove around the corner and stopped at the field entrance.

The neighing picked up, hooves pounded, and manes were tossed, but the sounds and actions they made were not of aggression or even of impatience. There was something sorrowful about it all. Curiosity aroused, I waited while the driver of the van clambered out and went to open the horsebox.

I thought he might be bringing the herd their lunch. Maybe a few bales of hay. It was a horrible day. Perhaps a few extra calories would keep the chills at bay.

But there were no treats in the van. Instead a beautiful horse with agony filled eyes descended, limping slowly down the ramp. The man showed me his animal’s foot. The hoof was split. It was a horrendous sight, but he said that the sea water was helping it heal and I hoped he was telling the truth as he gently guided the mare towards the beach.

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I watched for several minutes and noticed something strange. The horses in the field had changed their tones. Their neighs were louder, more heartfelt as they followed their friend, plodding slowly through the drizzle along the cliff top, keeping pace with her the all the way. Not once did they stop calling to her and it took me several minutes to realise what they were doing.

They were encouraging her, willing her on, lending her the strength of the herd on what must have been an torturous journey. They kept it up while she walked into the water and began to move through the waves, and they stood there watching, whistling, and screaming the whole time, as if keeping guard over her.

These horses not only felt their friend’s agony, but they sympathised. They were worried. It was so clear on everyone of their faces and in everything they did. Their compassion was more than obvious.

So can animals feel pain? Of course, but also they feel a lot more! Just take a good look at the pictures. I don’t think there will be any arguments as to what I saw.


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The Chest of Choice


Generally I like men. I like them a lot.

I like their warped sense of humour – who but a human with a brilliant, and slightly wicked, sense of humour, could invent something so incredibly frustrating as a pair of tights, or as eye-wateringly uncomfortable as a bra!!!

I like their strength – don’t have to be built like an armoured car, but a strong set of arms when you need to carry a ton of household shopping, never go amiss.

I like their height – always a plus when you are vertically challenged and need that jar of pickled onions right at the back of the the top shelf in the kitchen wall cupboard.

I like the way that most of them become a little silly over flashy/fast cars – big secret revealed here boys. So do we girls! And we never mind being taken for a ride! 😉

I like their obvious vulnerability, especially when their team loses at football – it’s kind of cute to see a grown man almost reduced to tears over the lack of a ball in the back of a net.

I also like men’s bodies. Especially their chests. A delicious set of pectorals can set my heart all a flutter at the least glimpse.

Until this week. This week I have been making book covers. Something I usually enjoy. It’s a new challenge for me to discover how Photoshop works. How to use my own photography, how to blend the images, change the colours, or ramp up the glow.

But this week I needed a specific genre of image. I needed some men. Real men. HOT men! I suppose I could have used any picture of a man seeing that I generally like them all, but no, I went down the route of most cover designers and honed in on the – I am almost ashamed to say it – well honed!

And, boy, are there a lot of them! Pages and pages of gloriously sculpted, and near naked blokes, with rippled abs and corded arms, the flattest stomachs with innies, outies and round-abouties. So many pages of them that I ended up bored of looking at them.

Should I pick the guy with dark nipples, puckered areola, or pointy peaks. Should I go for the one with a dusting of manly hair? Was that guy’s ‘V’ pronounced enough, his skin silky smooth?

I confess that it all became a bit much. The hot flushes subsided and my critical eye glazed over far sooner than I thought possible with such a selection of buff bodies paraded before me, however, after several hours of solid hard work and plenty of cups of tea, I did manage to rise to the occasion and pick exactly the right chest for my latest book.

And I thank Ben at Period Images for his perfect poses and affording me hours of delight positioning him carefully on SCARRED PERCEPTIONS.

Scarred Perceptions right size final copy

Chelmsford: The Good, Bad, and Ugly? Or just a Fishy Tale.

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Wisteria at Hylands House Chelmsford


Chelmsford in Essex. An ancient market town, recently made into a city, and apparently one of the happiest places to live in the U.K. (I can personally affirm the last fact having lived there for more than thirty years.)

So, to Chelmsford’s good points. The shopping is great, if you like that sort of thing. There are restaurants, theatres, cinemas, plenty of parks, river walks, and cycle routes. The people are friendly, always up for a laugh, and the town is reasonably safe. I have certainly never felt worried walking home past midnight, and there’s nightlife galore to warrant keeping you up late.

There is a fabulous museum, a beautiful stately home with public gardens that houses varied events, and there are any amount of ‘outstanding’ schools for your children to attend. There are frequent and reliable rail links to London, two airports, and the nearby M25. (which might be an advantage or not, depending on if you are whizzing your way around the London orbital at 70 miles per hour, or if you are tearing your hair out while sitting in 5 miles of solid traffic, because some twit in highway maintenance forgot to remove 100 traffic cones from the fast lane!)


(Happy Chelmsford folk!)

Which leads us to Chelmsford’s bad points. Due to the aforementioned delights and advantages, Chelmsford is a popular place. Almost 180,000 happy and contented residents lead to a lot of traffic. The infamous Army and Navy roundabout and single lane, timed flow flyover, the main meeting point of all roads heading to this fabulous new city,  is a nightmare all of its own. It’s a place best avoided, shunned, circumnavigated at all costs.

It’s also noisy here. Chelmsford might be reasonably safe, but that is due to our splendid emergency services doing an excellent job. It’s just a pity they cannot do it more quietly. Sunday afternoons and Friday nights regularly become a cacophony of varied siren sounds. Blaring fire engines, ambulances, police cars, and thrashing helicopters with strobe lights, quite often splinter the generally pleasant atmosphere.

And, as in most places, along with the good people of Chelmsford we have a selection of bad. I have some horrible neighbours. Really nasty ones. Fortunately they are all housed in the enormous Victorian -and the newly built- prison just down the road.

So we reach the ugly side of Chelmsford. I have recently discovered that the place has a varied and colourful history.

In 1381 Chelmsford became the capital of England. For five days. Due to a peasants’ revolt! (Perhaps the title only lasted five days because the peasants were truly revolting!)

Chelmsford has also suffered several nasty doses of the plague. Witches apparently abounded and were burned at the stake. There have been arsenic poisonings, brutal murders, catastrophic fires, and cases of treason for which regular hangings took place. One of which brings me to today’s fishy tale.

Queen Mary I apparently used to live in a palace on the outskirts of Chelmsford. Brought up a staunch Catholic, when she came to the throne she decided that anyone who didn’t conform was clearly a traitor.

And one local preacher refused to mend his ways. Stubborn to the last, the man was taken to the gallows and promptly hung for his misdeeds, but that wasn’t enough to punish said ugly sinner. After a short time dangling from the rope, and while still alive, the traitor was cut down and had his pulsating innards removed.

After a few minutes of letting him suffer, presumably long enough for the man to repent of his crimes, his head was hacked from his body and stuck on a spike. Gruesome enough for anyone to convert, you would think, but no! Queen Mary I had decreed that Essex, and Chelmsford in particular, needed a firm reminder of whom was in charge. The poor cleric’s body was promptly cut into four, each quarter sent to a different town so that people didn’t forget. One part went to Colchester, another to Ipswich, and another to I forget where.

But Chelmsford was left the last quadrant, (The exact quadrant, I am unsure) to be prominently displayed, to be seen by all, a ghastly token of Queen Mary’s wrath.

Now I have always had an excellent imagination. It is a critical element of being a writer, but even I couldn’t have thought of this one, and I have to bow in respect of the woman’s wisdom. If you want people to remember something, then this would do it for me.

So where was the dreadful souvenir flaunted? On the stone bridge forming the gateway into the town? Perhaps along with the head on the spike outside the town hall? Maybe at the doors of the local church, religion being the reason for the man’s downfall?

No! None of these places was good enough. For the location chosen for the horrible exhibition was where most people gathered, where they went several times a week, where no one could avoid the spectacle.

In the market square.



(enough you put you off a nice piece of haddock!)


Degrees of Darkness


We all describe certain things as ‘dark’. Dark hair, dark eyes, a dark alleyway. But how dark is dark? Is it that blue sheen of a raven’s wing? Is it the alluring intensity of a chocolate brown gaze, or the chilling fear of the shadowy unknown?

Recently, I had an experience that changed my perspective on the parameters of darkness. In my everyday life, I live in an everyday sort of house. Not big, not small, with all the usual conveniences of modern day living. Water, heat, electricity. I have neighbours, and streetlights, and traffic on the road outside most times of the day or night. I am used to it and I actually quite like it.

But I also like my writer’s retreat in rural France, where although I have water, heat, and electricity (most of the time) I don’t have neighbours, streetlights, or traffic on the road very often at all. And it was while I was there that I discovered my new perspective on the varying degrees of darkness.

I had stayed inside writing all day. The tail end of some storm or other keeping me closeted. Oscar, or Gertrude, or Helena? I cannot remember which entity had caused such windy wrath, but I sat safe, warm, and content as I watched the clouds race, trees sway and leaves scurry over the ground. I had eaten my dinner, and drunk my wine, and already yawned several times when the lights flickered.

It was an odd occurrence, since the commune went on underground cabling a few years ago, and I furrowed my brow as the lights remained constant once again. Must have been my overactive imagination. I had been writing about a dark and stormy night only a few hours earlier. Ten thousand words in a day. A tiring total that had made my eyes water and my brain weak. Definitely time for bed.


I closed the shutters over my bedroom window, and turned off the lights. Sleep came easily and I soon found myself on the arm of my latest handsome hero, huge bouquet of red roses in hand as he swept me off in his deep blue Sikorsky-S92 Executive.

Gorgeous! Romantic! Thrilling!

But our journey to my latest happy ever after was rudely interrupted by a worrying bang. The rotor blades stopped whirling and the helicopter descended far too rapidly for comfort.

As all damsels in distress should, I chucked my roses from my lap, let out an ear-splitting scream, and before my hero could die in a dashing attempt to save me – and his rather lovely helicopter! – with my heart thumping wildly, I promptly woke up.

Or had I?

My bedroom was pitch black. I leaned over and scrabbled around for the lamp switch. A click in the silence surrounding me. And nothing happened. It remained just as inky. I blinked. I squeezed my eyes shut and opened them again. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It was so dark that for a moment I wondered if I was still dreaming. Complete and utter blackness engulfed me. There wasn’t a pinprick of light.

Now unlike some poor souls, I am not like the woman in my dreams (though I confess that I have never been put to the test in an about to crash helicopter.) I am usually the hardy type. Certainly not afraid of the dark. I was not outside in a barren wasteland filled with man eating animals, or demon vampires waiting to strike. There was nothing in my dark bedroom that wasn’t there in the daylight. So I slid my feet out of my bed, stood up, and reached out again, my fingertips drifting along the wall as I felt for the main light switch. Another ominous, and equally futile, click.

And then a strange thing happened. I turned around and couldn’t tell exactly where I was. The bed should have been on my left and the door on my right. I took a step and groped for the door handle only succeeding in stubbing my toe on what I imagined was the leg of my bed. I cursed and hopped about, and promptly tripped over what was obviously a discarded trainer. Stupid woman! I made a mental note to put them on my shoe rack another night! My knee hit solid wood. Okay, so although I now had both a sore toe and bruised leg, I also knew where I was. In front of my pine ottoman. There’s always a silver lining!

I stuck out my hand again… And promtly broke several fingernails on the door which appeared to be at least three feet closer than I originally thought. This was becoming ridiculous. I had to still be dreaming. Nowhere could be this dark. I’m not blind and I wasn’t in a cave or a mineshaft. I tried blinking again.

But by now I was totally confused.

I couldn’t even decide if my eyes were open or not. Only one way to tell. I lifted my hand and stuck a fingertip on my eyeball. Ouch! Okay, so my eyes were open. And I was still in the dark! Total darkness. Unbelievably disorientating blackness. I had never ‘seen’ anything like it. In normal circumstances, even when you close your eyes, there is something there. Greyness, shadows, flickers of awareness, but this was all consuming, completely baffling, impenetrable and utterly mystifying nothingness.

And then, just as I was about to attempt to relocate my bed, clearly the safest place for me, my lamp came on. And the main light. Power cut over and everything glaringly obvious. I blinked several times, purple orbs dancing, interrupting my view of my room. I stood staring about. Had it really been that dark only a few seconds before?

I flicked the switch on the wall and left myself in the warm comforting glow of my beside lamp. I crawled back into bed and rolled over, reaching out. But I hesitated. That kind of ‘dark’ had actually been scary, so confusing that I could actually feel the beat of my heart.

I looked at the lamp and wondered. Did I dare switch off the light?


(And as a note, those epic 10,000 words written in a day, part of Scarred Perceptions, are coming soon! SCARRED SERIES – )

The Pooch Plan!


As a fulltime, well into middle age writer, (eh hem – I am assuming I will live until I am at least 100yrs old) the size of my backside and how square it is becoming, is a constant worrying thought. Not only do I force myself to go to exercise classes at least three times a week, to wobble along with other like minded ladies, I also am on a near constant diet.

A diet that has never really worked until recently.

It’s all too easy to fall into bad habits when writing. That moment when you pause your fingertips over the keyboard, rise to stretch your back, flick on the kettle for that inspirational cuppa while searching the recesses of your brain for that perfect word, that heartbreaker sentence, that killer retort… And you end up looking in the fridge or the cupboard, for nothing in particular, and see a random bag of crisps or the last cold sausage.

Your mind instantly goes wild and you glance over your shoulder to check no one’s looking, even though you know that everyone went to work hours ago. Will anyone notice if the crisps go missing or the sausage suddenly disappears? Can I blame the vanishing delights on having to offer refreshment to an unexpected visitor? Do I say that the crisps were going out of date? Or can I bring a character in my latest book to life and turn him into a food loving kleptomaniac?

Sadly, I can and have done in the past, but no longer! Because I am now on the Pooch Plan!

The Pooch Plan? Yes, I was doubtful about it myself, but I have discovered that it works incredibly well. And it is also unbelievably easy to follow. No need to count calories. No adding up various points. No eating tinned tuna three days in a row…

And the diet is priced well too. Affordable meal plans, no special shakes, actually, you don’t need to alter your shopping experience at all.

All that is necessary for complete success on the Pooch Plan, is one large, expressive eyed, and ever hungry dog!

On the Pooch Plan, you will notice that there is always a friendly companion beside you, almost before you open that cupboard door. The merest squeak of a hinge and he is there, peering up at you with soulful, starving eyes, to see what delicious goodies you have unearthed. He stands at first, and then sits, reaching up a paw as your fingers stretch out for said sausage, his eyes, soft and needy, stare up at you. A pink tongue appears and swipes over a strand of drool, as he begs to share your latest taste bud experience.

But the dog mustn’t have sausages, or crisps, or anything else that lies so handily within reach. He’ll become overweight, ruin his hip joints, or weaken his heart…

So you take a few seconds to think. Do I sneak my snack anyway and leave my companion without? How rude! I wouldn’t do that to a friend. And my dog is my friend. One of the best. Do I share the tasty morsel, and encourage him to join in my own bad eating habits?

Or do I sigh and close the fridge door?

Yes. I do the right thing. For both of us. I look in the fruit bowl and take out an apple, and reach for a dog’s dental chew. He gives me a tail wag and I give him a rub over his silky ears as I head back to my computer, head held high, and bottom growing smaller by the hour, the Pooch Plan having worked its wonders yet again!



Fairytale Feet

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Cinderella has long since set the standard to which all ladies must aspire, so how did our heroine manage to retain such tantalizing tootsies while traipsing about doing the chores?

Did she sit by the fire each evening, gently massaging rose oil into her heels after a hard day’s work? Did she paint her nails a delicate shade of pink? Did she line those glass slippers with squirrel fur, because we all know that they would cause us lesser mortals sweaty feet.

And how can we compete with such a fascinating fairytale of her fabulous phalanges?

We can decorate them, we can buff them, we can cover them with cream, making sure that when that perfect moment comes, and our very own Prince Charming slips off our shoe, we can point a pretty toe for his ultimate delectation.

And romance readers already know that no hero ever lifted a well turned ankle to run his tongue along an intriguing instep, and stopped mid lick to grab a disinfectant wipe. Neither did he suddenly gag and yell ‘Phwarrr, Gorgonzola!’ He never leapt back in horror at the sight of a verruca, a hairy big toe, or of bulging blisters caused by the five inch high heels he loves her wearing so much. And this is all without considering that our heroine never had size nines, flat feet, or fungating nails.

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But it is not only we writers who promote the myth of the perfect pedicure. Did you ever see an Aphrodite sporting corns? Did Botticelli adorn Venus with bunions? Or did Diana ever hunt with hammer toes? No, we shake our heads sadly. Immortals cannot possibly be so human.

So what inspired today’s troublesome thoughts?

Yes, you guessed it. My latest hero’s fixation with his heroine’s feet, but I am not letting him get away with criticising her for her callus’. Oh no! His man-pedi must pass muster too! No chilblains, gout, or crusty cuticles, thank you! Our hero must walk, not only on water, but on a strong arch, a high instep, with size proportionate to his height, long tendons, soft skin, and deliciously flexible toes.

A tall order? Perhaps. But it all comes back to those fairytale feet.


SCARRED PERCEPTIONS (Scarred 7) coming soon.



A Writer’s Retreat!


My little maison de vacance in France is my writers retreat. A lovely bungalow in a tiny village miles from anywhere. A few hardy souls live here, but sometimes, especially if the weather is inclement, I can go for more than a week without seeing a single other person.

And such was last week. It poured every day. The rain came sideways and I stayed indoors, relentlessly tapping away at my keyboard, busy writing Scarred Perceptions (SCARRED 7). But the sun eventually peeked its face through the clouds and I decided that my hero and heroine would manage by themselves for a while so I could do some household chores.

Now as I said, this is a sleepy little village. I come several times a year, but as I am meant to be writing while here, I tend to keep myself tucked away unless unavoidable. And sorting out the domestic rubbish eventually becomes unavoidable.

I know the few French neighbours I have think I am slightly dotty, hiding away as I do, but this week I think I have confirmed their suspicions!

So back to said household chores…

I head over the road to dump my rubbish, but as I pass beneath the arch in my hedge, leading from the steps of my house,  I saw a leaf fall from the bush. (not surprising, I thought, it is Autumn) Anyway, I continue over to the bins and think ‘Hell, that leaf must have fallen down my top. It’s tickling like mad’…So after dumping the rubbish, I take a discreet gander down inside my shirt and almost pass out! GAHHHHH! There is a WHOPPING GREAT SPIDER nestling comfortably in my cleavage!

So naturally I let out an almost inhuman scream! I leap around like a mad thing doing some new version of a seventies pogo dance while flapping my top and yanking my bra around to release the gigantic creepy crawly. But does he go quietly? Not flipping likely! The beastie from hell hangs on for grim death until I force my breasts out of the bottom of my bra and let it all hang loose! Yes, this is all while in the street. But that doesn’t really matter. As I said previously, this is a sleepy little village with hardly a soul living here…

So why, at the precise moment of most embarrassment, do 3 other people suddenly turn up to empty their bins? WHY!!! This place is like a ghost town from an old spaghetti western…


I hang my head in shame as their mouths hang open. I try to explain about ‘la énorme aragnée,’ but they continue to stare at me as if I am mad, so with my top back in place and my chin now held high, I made this red-faced writer’s retreat.

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Scarred Perceptions (SCARRED 7) will be available soon. Spiders not withstanding!


We All Love Free!


Yes, we all love something for nothing. No one can deny it. For some reason it feels especially good when it’s food.

Who hasn’t tasted 3 different cheeses, 2 delicious  hams, and all the knobbles of olive and rosemary bread in the supermarket and then decided they don’t need to buy lunch? Who hasn’t had a smile on their face when they’ve discovered a Bogof on 50p bags of pasta at the supermarket. And who ever said no when they were handing as many icelollies at possible at the festival when the ice-cream van’s generator broke?

Yes, we difintely all love FREE!

But there is a more special kind of FREE that I discovered this week. Not the free when someone gives you something, but the FREE that you earn for yourself.

There is absolutely nothing quite like supplying and making your own dinner for free. When I mean free, I mean that you went out and either picked it or caught it, you washed it and dried it, you prepared it lovingly, and then savoured every delicious mouthful, knowing that you didn’t pay a penny, only expended your own energy on hunting it down.

I have done it myself. The pride you feel when cooking Moules marinières after picking the mussels from the rocks and cooking them with herbs from your garden. The extra care you take when making crumble with the blackberries you risked life, limb, and an armful of scratches to bring home. That special moment when you taste the first of your homemade elderberry wine – and the headache you experience the morning after!

And I saw two other such happy people only this week. They were clearly travelling and had a ratty old van, down on its springs, tyres barely legal, and covered in the best kind of French cow poo, parked at beautiful viewing point in Brittany.

The long-haired man and his girlfriend laughed and joked with one another as, carrying their fishing rods, they clambered through first gorse, then down a staggeringly steep set of cliffs before leaping over wet, slippery rocks to find their perfect perch.

Fascinated by their tenacity and good humour, I sat and waited, watching with my heart in my mouth, willing them on as time after time they pulled in an empty line.

An hour had passed, and I was about to give up. I sighed, sorrowful about their bad luck. I wondered if they would go to the supermarket and buy a fish. It’s not expensive here and, even though their van looked grotty, I don’t actually think they were poor.

I put my camera away and was about to start my car, when two giant WHOOP WHOOPS! echoed off the rocks, laughter wafted across the waves, and the seagulls took to the air. They had caught a fish!

My intrepid heroes came lunging up the cliff twice as fast as they went down. Smiles as wide as the La Manche that they fished, they stowed their gear in their van, their prize in a cool bag, and drove away.

I don’t know exactly what they caught and I missed the vital moment with my camera. But did see him remove it from his hook and tuck it safely in his bag. It wasn’t huge. It probably wasn’t anything terribly special. But I do know it was FREE, and I bet it tasted all the better for it!


You can just about see the ratty old van parked up at the viewing point. Seems an awful long way down for one little fish!