Monday 18 December 2023

Research and fiction

 I am now in the middle of writing my tenth novel. I like to write about things that intrigue and fascinate me, and I live in hope that others may also find them interesting. In November my intrepid husband and I took our elderly motorhome to North Yorkshire, because my current story takes place there in large part and while I have visited the Yorkshire Dales before it has always been in summer. Now, I needed to experience the area in worse weather, and was secretly hoping for snow (my driver was hoping quite the opposite.) As it turned out, for the eight days of our stay it rained every day but one, and we hadn't even arrived at our campsite before we were faced with impassably flooded roads. Some floods we braved, but others looked too deep and we were forced to take a back route - think tiny bendy roads, big puddles , drystone walls...

Owing to the unusual quantity of rain the rivers and becks were swollen, the waterfalls were roaring torrents and the low fields lay under water. A few meters below our campsite pitch a sizeable river rose and sank as the rain came and went, but luckily we were several meters above it.

This all made for dramatic scenery which as tourists we enjoyed, but I imagine the locals, especially the farmers, were less impressed.

The only day when it didn't rain we decided to drive the long, winding, and occasionally quite alarming but very beautiful (in a bleak wintry way) Buttertubs Pass, where we encountered high drama in the form of sharp bends, steep climbs and scary plunges - as well as many sheep.

These were the famous Swaledales, a hardy breed, with their curling horns and black and white faces.

Once in a while the sun showed itself and we were rewarded with  a landscape in which you could stretch your eyes for miles.

As the day wore on the weather closed in, threatening heavy clouds piled up in the sky, and it was obvious that rain was on its way - a safe bet. Nevertheless I wanted to look at a station on the Settle to Carlisle railway, because at this station, or one very like it, my protagonist alights from the train. Here it is, lonely and damp, and not a soul in sight.

I had hoped that our trip would inform and inspire me and set my imagination leaping and bounding, but I wasn't prepared for quite how lasting an impression it would make. A month after our return I am reliving it and finding that it has enriched the background to my story. I hope I can do justice to this stunning region and make it live on the page.

Monday 24 July 2023

A long goodbye

We knew the day would come - when we would make the decision to leave France, sell our house, close down that period of time when we lived parallel lives. Originally it was a ten-year project, but things changed, and by the time we go - next spring onward, if all goes to plan - we will have been there 22 years. It's a long time! Two thirds of our married life and the only house we bought together. 
So it's been longer than we thought and we are thankful for the great privilege of living in another country (albeit a close neighbour), sharing a different way of life, speaking a different language, and there is much we will miss. 
Several things have contributed to our decision, the majority out of our control. The Covid pandemic set limits on movement, and there were two long periods where we couldn't travel, first 9 months, then 5 months, and when you have a wild acre of cider orchard an enforced absence allows nature to take over in a big way! We have never really caught up, and I have had to lower standards. A weed-free drive? Not a chance. Now too the Brexit regulations are beginning to bite, and we can't stay as long as we used to, so again controlling the garden is becoming more difficult. On top of this, we are getting older and creakier, and less willing to spend our whole time labouring; and it is becoming more expensive too to run two homes.
We've loved it, and it will be  huge wrench. But nothing lasts for ever.
Apart from friends, I will miss my trees the most. Some we planted as metre-high saplings and they are now tall, spreading and stately. Inevitably some shrubs we have lost, but others have recovered from frost and drought to flower brilliantly. I have taken lots of photos to remind me just how beautiful they are, and I share a few of them here.

Our dog Rosie has been coming to France with us since she was 9 months old, and in a couple of months she'll be 16. Here she is, looking down the drive.

A close-up of that glorious blue hydrangea. The soil is acid, so I have been able to indulge my love of azaleas and rhododendrons.

I know this beautiful tree as a redbud, but it has many names, so here's the Latin: Cercis Canadensis.

The grass just cut, shrubs in flower, definitely not a bowling green!

Fruiting pears. Over the years the ancient cider apple trees have died or fallen and been cut up for firewood, but we have panted apples, pears and plums.

Of all our trees perhaps this one, Catalpa aurea, has been the most magnificent. From a waist-high sapling to a shapely, tall tree, with golden-green, tea-plate-sized leaves in spring and clusters of delicate, pink and white, fragrant flowers in summer, it bowers over the side garden and is quite dazzling.

Saturday 3 June 2023

An exciting new venture


Against a sun-drenched backdrop of the glorious hills and valleys of West Dorset in the UK, a group of authors - of which I have the privilege to be a member - celebrated the launch of our consortium, Resolute Books.

This came as the culmination of many months of discussion and preparation, and with the members coming from all over the country it was all done on Zoom. Some members hadn't met each other in person until launch day, and that was an added pleasure. 

Two members launched their books on the day, making it even more special: Paul Trembling brought out his crime novel, Local Killer, latest in his 'Local' series.


And  C.F.Dunn introduced Wheel of Fortune, the first volume of her historical fiction series, The Tarnished Crown.

Both these fine books can be ordered from bookshops or Amazon.

Other books by Resolute members, published elsewhere, were also on display. My own are there, flanked by Paul's other works and the Isabella M. Smugge series by Ruth Leigh. 

No celebration would be complete without food and drink! The French fizzy was well chilled and the canapes were magnificent.

There will be more titles published under the Resolute banner in the fullness of time, with other members' work represented covering a sweep of genres, from thrillers to crime, memoir and contemporary drama, devotional and humour, among others.

For more information please visit

Wednesday 26 October 2022

A special birthday

 My husband said he wanted to be mowing our acre in France on his 80th, and he got his wish. He is very fortunate to be able to! Here he is, wearing an appropriate T shirt given by a friend.

Having family members with us made it even better, and we did some touristy things, including a very wet visit to Mont St Michel!

The weather wasn't great, but it didn't deter us, and the dogs loved this beach.


The highlight was a musical party with friends, most of whom made a contribution. The family practised beforehand, indoors and out.

A clever friend made this magnificent cake.

Then everyone went home, and we got on with the jobs - including harvesting our apples.

Friday 24 June 2022

More on the follies, and keeping up with Rosie

That dog of mine has been posting again, so I thought I should follow suit. 
The new patio in France came into use on our last visit. This was breakfast on a sunny morning.

In folly no.2, the motorhome, we had fun recently up and down the beautiful hills of Derbyshire. It was quite disconcerting at times finding ourselves poised on the brink of a totally-unforeseen downward swoop. On the upward slope that followed there was some doubt whether we'd actually make it to the top!
Probably inevitably, our photos usually seem to involve meals! Here I am, under the awning, with Rosie taking her ease.

The motorhome will be back in her usual parking spot soon, awaiting her next adventure, because in just over a week we are off to France. After a gap of two months or so, no doubt there will be a  jungle to tame - again.

Friday 27 May 2022

Put to shame by my dog

 Some of you who have dipped into this blog may remember that my dog Rosie had a blog of her own, called Rosie's Ruminations. I think she's trying to shame me into posting more often, because I see she has just published a new post! If you would like to see what she's been doing, it's at

Here's a photo of Rosie in our motorhome, ready for a new adventure.

I can't feel too shamed because at least I have posted sometimes in the last nine years, whereas she has been most neglectful! We both need to do better.

Sunday 17 April 2022