Last cream tea of 2013

Where else would we go but Derrick’sTearoom in Cheddar… we went for an end of year walk but had to seek refreshment… well, that’s our excuse!!

Derrick’s serves cream teas, as well as many other delicious things, usually you have strawberry cream and clotted cream with scones, but we decided to go for something different, I had Queen Victoria’s Cream Tea, ‘Your choice of plain or fruit home-made scone served with clotted cream and lemon curd together with a pot of house tea’, my beloved had a Cherry Delight Cream Tea, ‘Home-made cherry scone served with clotted cream and morello cherry & vintage port jam together with a pot of house tea’.


Photo0752[1]Delicious…. but I think I might try the Cherry Delight next time!


Looking back… October, November, December…


A visit to London to see the ‘Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum’ exhibition at the British Museum… and we travelled by coach and arrived early enough to wander around a little and take some photos and have a little lunch at a charming pub called the Plough. The pub was right in the heat of Belgravia, almost opposite the museum and yet it was unspoiled and really felt like an excellent ‘local’… good, well-kept beer too!


More beer at a groovy place called Brew Dog… unfortunately I was driving so I only sampled sips… next time, next time…!!!104_2018

Dungeness is a strange but magical place! I had never been before, but I would love to go again:DSCF4099

This is my third year of teaching English conversation, and it’s just as much fun! Here we were doing speed-chatting, rather like speed-dating but without the date!Photo0610

We visited a fabulous exhibition in Salford Museum and Art Gallery by Sarah Greaves:DSCF6004

We had such fun… and so many tastes at the BBC Good Food Show in Birmingham… a whole world of cheese:Photo0654[1]

The annual family party with my four cousins, I think the part first started in 1955… Father Christmas has been a busy old chap, he’s visited us every year!DSCF6137

At last… a visit to Radwinter, the name that inspired my new novel!


2013… an interesting year… part 2

I started to write about the brilliant things which have happened in 2013… but the list got rather long, so here is part 2:-

2013 seems to have been very busy, lots and lots of music, wonderful times with friends, lots of sunshine, family, lots of writing, visits to new places, meeting new people, pubs and beer, undertaking new enterprises…


  • publishing ‘night vision’ and ‘Flipside’ on Kindle
  • publishing my children’s books in soft-back (problems with distribution, so maybe 20114 will be the year for them!)
  • completing the 50,000 word challenge of the National Novel Writing Month
  • Starting and nearly finishing my new book ‘Radwinter’, which I hope to publish in the early months of 2014
  • continuing with my WordPress blog every day

New Places:-

  • Glasgow
  • Sandsend, Yorkshire
  • Utrecht
  • Plymouth
  • The British Museum
  • Winchelsea
  • Dungeness


  • lots of new pubs visited
  • lots of new and different beer tasted
  • a visit to the Otter Brewery in Devon
  • the continued excellence of our local, the Dolphin
  • Not beer but whisky… I became reacquainted with Highland Park, my favourite whisky and now with very special memories attached to it!

New enterprises:-

  • My new novel, Radwinter, – the first new writing I’ve done for several years, (I’ve been busy editing older work and getting it published, so the muse hasn’t dried!)
  • my MOOC (massive open on-line course) ‘Archaeology’s Dirty Little Secrets’ from Brown University… I wonder what course I’ll don in 2014?!
  • U3A – the University of the Third Age; I belong to the French conversation group, and I am leading a Creative Writing group
  • 5:2 diet… a success until it was ambushed by Christmas!

New People:-

  • Not exactly new, but Eddie Perez who I sat with  in a pub in Glasgow, talking about love, life, writing, friends, music… a never to be forgotten experience… 
  • …and on that same night sitting with Raul Malo and talking about music, his voice, Oxford, Bristol… except I was so in awe I can barely remember it, except in my dreams!
  • two of my cousins have new partners, lovely people!
  • my son’s girlfriend
  • new friends, les nouvelles amies, in my French conversation class
  • my new group of creative writers
  • my new NaNoWriMo buddies

As I mentioned in the part 1 of this post, I’m sure there are other things I have done over the year, things I’ve enjoyed which for some reason seem to have drifted out of my mind!

2013… an interesting year

I suppose most people think over the past year on this date, and then tomorrow look forward to the next.

2013 seems to have been very busy, lots and lots of music, wonderful times with friends, lots of sunshine, family, lots of writing, visits to new places, meeting new people, pubs and beer, undertaking new enterprises…

Music: –

  • together with good friends I was lucky enough to see the Mavericks four times, Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and Plymouth, and to actually meet and talk to them… They brought out a fabulous new CD ‘In Time’, which I have played and replayed… but as I have two copies plus an LP I’m not worried about it wearing out
  • The Black Diamond Express – a fabulous, fabulous band from Scotland; I was lucky enough not only to listen to them live, but to drink with them afterwards, and I love their CD!
  • Icelandic music – my son bought me two Sigur Ros CDs, I have ordered the new CD by Ásgeir, an amazing young singer and composer, and I have ordered a CD by John Grant, who is not Icelandic but now lives there
  • I am waiting for Simon Lynge’s new CD, he is a talented young singer from Greenland
  • Kevin Montgomery now has on-line gigs, where he streams straight from someone’s house and gives a concert!


  • I have been able to get together lots of times with my Dutch friend Elly! We hardly stop talking and laughing when we are together, apart from when we are enjoying music, taking photos, eating, drinking…. just being together! We went and stayed in the Netherlands with her and it was lovely to meet her family again, and then her daughter came over on a visit with her… and we went to see the mavericks!
  • My Coventry friends and fellow Mavericks fans… lovely to meet up with them throughout the year, a memorable stay in the Midland Hotel in Manchester, and a wonderful day out at the BBC Good Food show
  • Book club – so many laughs, so much gossip about so much not to do with books, shared wine, shared nibbles, shared fun… oh and a few books I enjoyed! And i am lucky to be in another book club too, no wine, but plenty of interesting chat, laughs, cheese straws… oh and talk about books!
  • English conversation group – the idea is to engage people whose first language is not English in chat and conversation… and more! I have made some lovely friends, and look forward to seeing them all again in the New Year
  • Old friends – friends from my childhood, especially the talented artist Frankie Partridge, friends from school, including another talented artist and singer, Ros Cuthbert, friends from my student days including Andrew Simpson, historian and author of two books about Chorlton-cum-Hardy, our friends from when I was eighteen, who now live only 40 minutes away from us in Devon
  • My many on-line friends who I have met in different ways and who have been so encouraging, funny, helpful, supportive… and many more positive adjectives!


  • What a summer! Lots of home-grown fruit and vegetables, lots of meals outside, lots of open windows with warm fresh air streaming in!


  • Meeting cousins in Glasgow who I hadn’t seen for over ten years
  • The family Easter holiday in chilly Devon
  • A family wedding
  • a new family holiday in Sandsend, Yorkshire
  • dear cousins coming to stay
  • the family Christmas party, plus a jolly jaunt with my dear cousin to Radwinter in Essex
  • numerous phone calls, emails, cards and letters… and a new contact with a very distant cousin, met through family tree research!

I’m sure there are other things I have done over the year, things I’ve enjoyed which for some reason seem to have drifted out of my mind!

Shepherd of the woods

I’ve written about this man before,a shepherd we encountered in a lovely wood in the Netherlands this summer. I asked him if he was fattening the sheep for market, but no, he – or rather they, were keeping down the plants which otherwise would have invaded the woodland floor. He had three dogs to keep the sheep from straying, and he was arrayed with all sorts of tools and things he might need for keeping the sheep.

he was a fascinating man, a gentle man, educated and softly spoken… one day he will be in one of my stories… at the moment he is just wandering in Camel Wood, my fictitious woodland which crops up in many of my novels.

Another man who is yet to appear, but will one day, maybe when I write a different sort of novel… being adventurous with a different genre…  is this mysterious man:

There was this strange man...

... and so was he from head to toe...





Looking back… July, August, September…

It was a beautiful summer, gorgeous in lots of ways! We didn’t have a holiday as such but we did lots of nice things and visited lots of places we’d never been to before.

One of the most interesting and a city I would love to revisit, was Plymouth. Once again I was in the company of dear friends, from the Netherlands. we travelled down to south Devon in glorious weather, and had a lovely stroll round the city, and a great lunch too! It is a city with a long and interesting history, and was the gateway to many people travelling across oceans to new lands, to the Americas, and to Australia; not all of these travellers went willingly, but they had a terrific impact on the formation of new nationsDSCF3836

We went to Plymouth for a reason… yes a Maverick related reason!DSCF3865

Later in the summer we went over to Ireland to visit our daughter… and we spent a couple of days in Belfast…Photo0473

… But also had time to be silly on the beach… this is where my daughter spent her first birthday, look how she’s grown!100_1952

We also enjoyed a visit from our cousins… a great excuse to go out, a couple of cocktails, and then a nice meal!Photo0530[1]

We also managed to spot a few Gromits in Bristol… By the way, Raul Malo sang at this fine venue, St George’s Hall!DSCF3988