2014 is the anniversary of some dreadful battles for liberation across Europe; 1944 was a year when the tide began to turn and the forces of good began to overcome the forces of darkness and evil.

My father was a paratrooper during the war; he gave seven years of his life to serve his country, and fight for the freedom of all people whatever their race, colour or religion… he was very conscious of that. He was conscripted when he was just nineteen, and was not demobbed until 1946. He did not fight in the Netherlands, but in many other theatres of war including Monte Cassino, North Africa, France and Greece. When we visited the Oorlogsmuseum at Overloon, I found it very disturbing, because although my father did not fight across this land, many young men of his age did, and many, many young men died.DSCF6823The museum is wonderful, fascinating, and really tells the story of the war in the Netherlands and in other areas, including the Far East. Visit it if you can, and if you go in the bomber simulator think of the young men who would have really experienced what you are.




Many people have no interest in hearing about other people’s dreams… I’m always fascinated by them! A friend once dreamt an escalator ate her Ugg boots and then spat one of them back which she tried to catch as it tumbled towards her. Many more people seem to dislike dreams in stories… again, I find them quite interesting as a device, as long as they aren’t too fanciful, don’t dominate the narrative, and aren’t used as an excuse to end a story that has run out of interest for the writer.

On a couple of occasions I have had dreams which have triggered thoughts which have led to new ideas for stories, or incidents in my novels. While I was away, having a wonderful time in the Netherlands with our dear friends who are like our Dutch family, I had a series of very vivid dreams. I won’t bore you with them, but one of them was so realistic, it haunted my mind for the next few days, and in the end I had to write it down as it wouldn’t let go of my imagination. I think it will develop into a proper story at some point, a different sort of story, a proper romance I think. The different parts of the dream are so real even now, several days later, that it is as if I actually really lived what happened. I won’t reveal it yet, except to say, that part of it involved my book club meeting in a coffee shop in town when we were approached by a man with a guitar case slung over his shoulder.

I’ll use the dream, not as a dream, but as a stimulus for new characters with a new plot and new and I hope exciting incidents and twists and turns… This could be my challenge for the National Novel Writing Month in November, couldn’t it?!

Who hasn’t felt like this?

This is the last (for the time being) of my Wyatt sonnets, Sir Thomas Wyatt, ambassador for King henry VIII and wonderful, lyrical poet.poet.


I find no peace, and all my war is done.
I fear and hope. I burn and freeze like ice.
I fly above the wind, yet can I not arise;
And nought I have, and all the world I season.
That loseth nor locketh holdeth me in prison
And holdeth me not—yet can I scape no wise—
Nor letteth me live nor die at my device,
And yet of death it giveth me occasion.
Without eyen I see, and without tongue I plain.
I desire to perish, and yet I ask health.
I love another, and thus I hate myself.
I feed me in sorrow and laugh in all my pain;
Likewise displeaseth me both life and death,
And my delight is causer of this strife.
Sir Thomas Wyatt

Love it/hate it – I love it!

Last video for my music themed week – celebrating being together with my Dutch friend for a lovely holiday in the Netherlands. The Mavericks and their music introduced us, but we like lots of other stuff to. A band I really like is the Glade, and here is an unplugged number from 2010; they are performing a song by Jacques Brel, the Belgian singer song writer who died in 1978 at the tragically young age of forty-nine. He was a most gifted and talented man… however I think liking or not liking him is quite a personal thing, and really, although I appreciate what a great man he was and how many tremendous songs he wrote, I really have to confess I wouldn’t listen to him through choice.

The Glade perform here one of his famous songs The Port of Amsterdam’, published in 1964,  and I think they do a fantastic, stirring performance of it, however judging by the comments on youtube, not everyone agrees! For some the band has ‘ruined’ it – and I can understand if you have a favourite song performed by the original artist and you hear some very different version, you might indeed think it is ‘ruined’. I love it though – it just makes me wish I could see The Glade live!

Not quite to modern taste…

The 1950’s Modern Practical Cookery book might have once been modern, but who nowadays would make sardine biscuit… using a tin of sardines n olive oil. Now I happen to love sardines, but this really takes the biscuit! It actually sounds quite nasty but here it is in case you are intrigued by the idea:

  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1 tin of sardines in olive oil
  • oatmeal or breakfast biscuits
  • small bunch of watercress
  • 2 har boiled egg yolks
  • cayenne pepper
  1. flake the sardines once you have removed the bones, mix with the egg yolks and cream cheese
  2. pound all together and add caynne
  3. pile the mixture onto the oatmeal or biscuits, or pipe the mixture onto th biscuits
  4. garnish with watercress

I think I might miss this one off the menu!


Calm waters

When recently in Somerset we were inundated by terrible floods, unprecedented in recent times, Dutch engineers were called in to help, bringing with them mighty pumps to take the toxic waters off the low-lying pastures and farmlands. The levels in Somerset, and the Fens in Cambridgeshire where I was born and brought up, have many things in common with the Netherlands, but maybe topography is the most apparent. Managing water, at all times of the year is always a challenge; the Dutch manage it magnificently, we used to, but for a variety of reasons, many political and financial, we no longer seem to be able to cope with natural forces when they come upon us unexpectedly.

“Bridge over troubled Waters” by Simon and Garfunkel is a gorgeous song, and with all respect to Simon and Garfunkel, in my opinion the following is the best ever version. I’m having a bit of a music theme this week, and mostly music by the mavericks, which is what brought my dear Dutch friends and I together. Here you have ‘Bridge over Troubled waters’ with Roy Orbison and Raul Malo; Roy was sadly dead by the time this version was put together, I think it is a wonderful tribute to him, and who better to deliver the tribute than Raul?