lyndarenham

Lynda Renham's Blog

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I’m walking through Laos and not looking in the least like Karen Blixen, or Meryl Streep come to that.  But it’s not like the doctor is looking like Robert Redford is it? More like Michael Douglas on a bad day maybe. I’ve not slept for 12 hours and sadly it shows. Note to self, go back to Nivea cream because that bloody expensive Rodial cream obviously isn’t working. All this ‘Come off your flight looking as fresh as a daisy.’ I look more like a wilted daffodil, which is the story of my life.  To top it all guess what Lynda, who packs the house when she is going away, forgot to bring? I’ll give you a few seconds. I didn’t bring my sunglasses. It’s hitting the 30’s here and I didn’t bring sunglasses. It’s not like I don’t have enough. I have about three pairs (all back home, of course). We look at The Mekong river which is beautiful and see all the restaurants along the river front. If I felt just a little better I could enjoy this but all that is on my mind is the tatty hotel we have to go back to.

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‘Are you hungry?’ asks the doc.

‘I’d rather find a hotel first,’ I say.

So, we continue walking and by now I am starting to feel like we’re doing a Kilimanjaro climb.

‘I can’t go any further,’ I groan. ‘I’m so knackered and I feel rough.’

We’ve stopped outside a small hotel with vacancies. I’ve never rushed into anywhere so fast in my life.

‘We have one room, only tonight but tomorrow we do have room.’

Am I so sleep deprived that I’m not hearing people’s words properly.

‘Can we see the room?’ asks the doctor. ‘Or do you not actually have a room.’

‘Oh yes, we have a room.’

Thank goodness for that.

‘Can we see it?’ asks the doc again.

Ah smart idea Dr Watson. We don’t want more toilet seats in our hands. Or, should I say my hands. He happily takes us to the room, which is actually perfect. Nice loo, seat stays on. Apart from the wailing rabid cat outside it is perfect. You get used to wailing rabid cats in Asia so that’s okay.

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‘We’ll take it,’ we say in unison.

‘And tomorrow night?’ asks Andrew.

‘I have other room for you. I show you.’

It’s getting better and better. We accept both rooms and I trot away happily with Andrew to the first hotel, trying to work out how we will explain to the owners, or should I say the young girl who doesn’t speak any English why we don’t want their room. We can’t very well say it’s grotty can we?  Meanwhile my phone bleeps with another update on Bendy.

‘Hope you got into Laos fine and were able to catch up on sleep. Attached are some photos of Bendy today, relaxing with me in the lounge and eating again.’IMG_6212 IMG_6232

 

 

 

 

 

Oh James, you have no idea.

We arrive at the other hotel and the girl isn’t there.

‘What do we do with the key?’ I ask nervously. ‘We can’t just leave it on the desk, someone might steal it.’

We creep upstairs like burglars and quickly pack the few things we took out of the suitcase and drag all our stuff back downstairs. We peek around the corner to find the girl still isn’t there and hurry out. We decide to take the key back the next day.

Finally we fall into bed and can you believe this? I can’t sleep. Meanwhile the doctor snores contentedly beside me. The cat howling like a banshee and a dog barks in sympathy. I pop a sleeping pill into my mouth, ear plugs into my ears and finally sleep.

I awake to no sign of the Doctor. This is not unusual. I often wake to no sign of the doctor. He isn’t one for telling me where he’s off to. At least not all the time, and I blame it on him being a man.

I’ve just showered and dressed when he rushes in.

‘I’ve found us an even better room I think,’ he exclaims.

‘Oh,’ I say.

Three rooms in 24 hours, this is amazing.

‘This American guy named Andy owns a place but he’s booked, unless, of course you don’t mind sharing a bathroom.’

My look must have said it all.

‘No, right, I thought not,’ he says quickly. ‘But his brother has a place, we can go and look at the room there.’

So, off we trot. It’s hot and I still don’t have sunglasses but things are improving you have to agree. And the Mekong river looks beautiful.

 

Andy is very nice, if just a bit excitable and maybe a touch over friendly but you can’t have everything can you. The room is nice too.

‘Ooh, this would be nice for tomorrow night.’ I say.

‘It’s very quiet,’ Andy assures me.

Oh Good, no banshee cats then.

‘Come round for chocolate pancakes and coffee. My wife makes the best.’

Sounds wonderful. To good to be true in fact.

‘For a small charge,’ he adds.

You see what I mean, I’m never wrong.

He advises us where to get sunglasses and we make that our next stop before deciding to go back to the original hotel, you know the one don’t you? I know it’s hard to keep up but do try. After all it’s not that many hotels is it? We arrive and again there is no one there. A guy sitting on the wall outside asks if he can help. Andrew explains and hands back the key and we begin walking back to our current hotel, you know the one? Mind you, I’d understand if you don’t because even I’m getting confused now and it happened to me. We get part way up the hill when the guy comes running after us waving the key.

‘Mister Andrew, you went to wrong hotel.’

We turn and stare at him.

‘No, that’s the key to the room at your hotel,’ says my very confident clever husband.

‘No, no,’ insists the man. ‘You went to wrong hotel last night. You not booked here.’

Oh what!

He points to the hotel next door. And let me tell you this is a very nice hotel too.

‘You booked in there,’ he says.

‘But,’ begins Andrew.

‘Me thought you Andrew Hall.’

Andrew who? I don’t believe this. We wander slowly into the hotel and check if we have a reservation.

‘Yes sir, for four nights,’ says the man behind the reception desk.

‘Can we see the room,’ asks Andrew.

I’m getting a sense of Déjà vu.

We check the room and it’s perfect.

Somehow in less than twenty four hours Andrew and I had managed to book ourselves into four hotels.

‘I suppose that means the chocolate pancakes have just flown out of the window?’ I say.

Beautiful Laos

Beautiful Laos

 

 

 

 

There is something about holidaying in Asia that always makes me feel a little like Karen Blixen, you know, the woman depicted in the film ‘Out of Africa.’ Different continent I know but you get my drift.

It is rather romantic to think of myself as like her of course, aside from the syphilis, hers that is not mine. Let’s clarify that before rumours start and as lovely as Andrew is, he isn’t Robert Redford.

Anyway, back to holidaying in Asia. I always transgress as you know. So, let me tell you a little about the romance of our holiday shall I? Be prepared. It isn’t anywhere as romantic as ‘Out of Africa’ I mean, really, did you expect it to be? This is me we’re talking about. Let’s face it starting a holiday with your other half sniffling and coughing is no fun. The Doctor (aka Andrew) decided to catch the flu before we left. Okay, he didn’t exactly decide to. That would be a bit silly wouldn’t it? The point is we became those passengers from hell. You know the ones? The passengers everyone avoids. The passengers you dread will be your seating companions. That was us. Of course, you try to hide it. But it is a little impossible when Andrew had a choking fit and I’m doing my first aid bit in an attempt not to have him die on the plane.  We finally arrive in Bangkok where we have a seven hour stop over and I get my first update on Bendy from my stepson James.

 ‘Hello, just to say Bendy is well and enjoyed the biscuits, treats and milk earlier, as you can see in the photo here. He spent most the day sleeping in the lounge, although is always welcome to go upstairs for quiet time.’

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I feel a little better knowing Bendy the cat is okay but by now I’m feeling a bit rough myself and the Doctor is barely able to speak for the pain in his ear and sinus and I start wondering if he’s perforated an eardrum. That’s just wonderful. He claims never to hear me half the time as it is. Now he’ll have a really good excuse to claim he doesn’t hear my nagging. We trudge to the departure gate for our next flight. It’s now pm and we have six hours to wait for the flight to Laos in South East Asia. I’m so tired but the air conditioning is so fierce that all I can do is shiver. The Doctor lays himself out on three seats and tries to sleep. Everyone avoids us which is good in a way because at least we have plenty of seats to ourselves. If only it weren’t so cold.  Seven hours later (the flight is delayed. I bet Karen Blixen never had these problems) we finally board our flight to Laos. It will take one hour and the time there is pm. We’ve lost a whole night’s sleep and feel crap to boot. But at least the Doctor is out of pain. He can’t hear a thing mind you but he’s out of pain. We both just want to get to Laos, to our hotel and to crash out. Well, that’s simple, I hear you say. You’ve no idea. This is us we’re talking about Lynda and the Doctor remember, not Meryl Streep and Robert Redford.

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The plane lands and we depart with throbbing ears and sinuses and queue for our visa. We then collect our suitcase and It looks less bulky to me and I say as much to the Doctor.

‘Don’t be silly, it’s your memory. It looks the same.’

It doesn’t you know but who am I to argue with the doctor. We get a taxi to the centre and tell the driver where our hotel is. We’re dropped off and walk up a short hill and Andrew says,

‘This is it.’

I’ve never felt more relieved in my life. I trip over a stray cat and follow him to reception where a young girl greets us. She doesn’t speak English and just looks curiously at us. After trying to make her understand that we have booked a room for three nights she finally makes a call from her mobile. A man talks to Andrew in broken English. Andrew gives his name and the man says,

‘Ah yes, Andrew. No problem.’

The phone is handed back to the girl, who takes a key and leads us through a dingy kitchen, out to the back and then into the tiniest room I have ever seen. She closes the door and I look around me. The bed linen looks like it hasn’t been changed in weeks and there is a strange musty smell about the place.

‘We’re paying thirty dollars a night for this,’ I say, struggling to keep my eyes open.

The doctor looks like he couldn’t care less.

‘I’m too tired to care,’ he mumbles.

I trundle to the loo and stare at the dingy shower. Oh God, is that a cockroach making itself at home. I don’t believe this. I’m feeling decidedly jet lagged now not to mention shivery and achy. Now my stomach feels dickey. I’ve been here two minutes and I’ve already got deli belly. I lift the lid of the toilet seat only to have it come away in my hand. What the…

‘Andrew,’ I begin angrily, ‘the toilet seat …’

At that point I sit on the loo only to have it break underneath me. I’m halfway between the floor and the loo when the doctor walks in.

‘What are you doing?’ he asks to a chorus of wailing cats from outside.

What does he think I’m doing?  Toilet seat yoga? Honestly men!

I burst into tears.

‘The toilet seat broke and don’t say it is because I’m overweight. I’m not staying here,’ I blurt out. ‘It’s a dump. I want to go home.’

I want to go home? Have I gone mad? It’s nearly killed me to get this far. If I have to do a return journey now it will be in the body bag our insurance agreed to pay for. Can things get any worse? Andrew sneezes loudly.

‘Let’s go and explore and if we see another hotel that is nicer then we’ll check out of this one.’

If we seriously don’t see another hotel nicer than this one I’m likely to slash my wrists. I swallow my malaria tablet, dash to the useless loo one more time and tiredly follow him out for a walk.

To be continued.

Part 2 A new hotel and a promise of chocolate pancakes with a twist.

 

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Only I can mess up the school run, although I do wonder why it’s called the school run. I don’t recall there being much running this morning, at least not at the start anyway. Oh no, I hear you groan, what went wrong this time? Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

My grandson and I get on really well. We make cakes together, go for walks together and do arts and crafts together. Of course, these things are quite easy to do aren’t they? We’re going to the library together later, which is fun. So, I imagine my stepson thought who better to ask to take him to school than Lynda. Of course, normally they take him in themselves but Monday morning saw an important appointment come up and you know what happens if you cancel appointments. You end up waiting until you’re eighty for the next one to come up. I readily agree. I mean, how hard can it be, right?

Monday morning arrives and I drag my hung over body from the bed. Okay, okay, so Sunday night saw me consume just a little too much wine. I am allowed you know. It’s not like I’m going to drive him to the school under the influence is it? After all the school building is right next door and before you ask, yes, I do get up early some days and some nights I work late and get up later. A writer’s life is a complicated one. I wander downstairs where grandson is sleepily eating breakfast.

‘Good moaning,’ I smile.

Nothing, absolutely nothing.

‘He’s a bit dopey in the mornings,’ says stepson.

Dopey or grumpy I want to ask. But I just swallow two pain killers instead.

‘Will you be okay?’ asks stepson.

‘Sure,’ I say, more confidently than I actually feel. ‘Just remind me what I have to do.’

Although it can’t be much can it? Seriously, I just throw him into the classroom don’t I? I hear your gasps. You don’t really think I’d do that do you?

‘Take him in at about 8.45 and he’ll show you where his bag, coat and water bottle go. You can then sit with him until the music plays. That’s the time for parents to leave.’

How sweet. They play us out to music.

At twenty to nine I do battle with the shoes. Tuck him warmly inside his coat, hand him his satchel and off we go, straight next door. He excitedly shows me where his coat goes. I follow and say hello to his teacher. This is dead easy that I could do it with my eyes closed.

‘This is where my bag goes and this is …’

He turns and looks accusingly at me.

‘Where my water goes,’ he finishes.

Oh no.

‘Where is my bottle of water?’ He asks accusingly.

Good question. Where is the water bottle when you need it? still sitting on the table in our living room if I remember correctly.  Damn it.

‘Don’t go anywhere, I’ll be right back.’

Did he roll his eyes?

This is when I did the school run. I fly back to the house, grab the bottle and fly back to the school where he is waiting in the same place.

‘Where does it go?’ I pant.

He points to where a thousand other bottles sit. Okay, maybe not thousands but you get my drift. How can this be so difficult? I flop into the chair beside him and start helping him with his numbers. This is better. I can cope with this. In fact I get so into it that I even help the little girl who sits opposite. Then, before I know what is happening, grandson is standing up and pushing me.

‘You’ve got to go now. Go on, go.’

I hear the music playing and realise all the parents have left. Trust me to be last. They could at least play the music at decent volume. My grandson is blanking me now. I’m just one big embarrassment. I sneak out of the door and breathe a sigh of relief.

‘How did it all go,’ stepson asks me later.

‘Great. It was good fun this morning wasn’t it Matthew?’ I say to grandson.

He harrumphs and continues building his Lego. Oh, well, you can’t please all the people all of the time. However he loves me when we make cake.

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To celebrate the release of ‘Fudge Berries and Frog’s Knickers’ next Friday the 23rd Jan, we have a fab competition on my Facebook author page. It is open to anyone who wishes to take part. I’ve published some of the entries. Good luck. Don’t forget you can order the paperback now! Go here.

THE COMPETITION

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Here’s the competition. A bit different to those I usually have. There will be several winners so do take part.
It’s easy. With this post I’ve posted the book cover for ‘Fudge Berries and Frog’s Knickers’ To take part in the competition all you need to do is take the picture and make a fab picture with it of your own. I’ve attached one I’ve done using http://photofunia.com/ There are many other sites you can find on Google or you can do your own using a photo programme. You can post as many pictures as you like on Twitter and Facebook. Just be sure to mention me on twitter @lyndarenham and share with me on Facebook so I know what you’ve done and post it on here the author page. Each photo you do gets you a token to go into my draw. The more pictures you do the more tokens you get and the higher the chance of being drawn from the hat. I have pens, key rings, mug and signed books to give away. You can start now but remember to tell everyone in your posts that the book is out on 23rd Jan. If you post after that make sure you mention that the book is now available. The competition is open until my birthday on the 10 February. Good luck. I can’t wait to see your photos. If you’re not on Facebook or Twitter, simply send them to me at lynda@renham.co.uk and I will post them and pop a token into the draw for you.

Can’t wait to see your ideas.

Much love

Lynda

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loo I was all poised to write my latest post when I got side tracked and you know how easily that happens. I was chatting on Twitter how I had become trapped in a Wendy House with my husband, stepson, daughter in law and grandson. It’s a long story and I do believe you can read it on the lovely Katie Oliver’s blog  when she features me in a few days. This elicited a bit of response on Twitter and the next thing I knew I’m not only discussing my, trapped in a Wendy House experience, but also the worst loos I’ve been in . Don’t ask how you can go from a Wendy House to a loo but it seems you can. It got me remembering all those awful places where I had to take a pee. Of course if we can avoid it, we do, don’t we? But there are some cases when you just can’t avoid those loos and you know the kind I mean. There’s that lonely solitary loo that nobody wants to use but is the only one that is free and no one is going in, or if they do they out pretty quickly. The queue for the ladies is horrendous (why is that?) and you’re pretty desperate. You’ve done it haven’t you? I know you have. I know for sure I have. Then follows that  awkward situation where you try to work out how to do it without sitting down. God, that’s more difficult than you imagine isn’t it? It’s a whole knicker removal job and you don’t want them dangling even half an inch from that filthy floor do you? It’s bad enough your bag has to sit on it. Oh, I’m shuddering just recalling it. It’s enough to lock your bladder for good. Then there are those wonderful moments when you don’t realise the loo roll holder is empty until you desperately need the loo roll. That’s a bummer (forgive the pun) but it is isn’t it? Then, you have to rummage in your handbag don’t you? You felt sure there were tissues in there. In fact there usually is but this one moment, this crucial moment when you need a tissue more than you ever have in the whole of your life, is the moment the damn things aren’t there, right? I mean, seriously, why did it have to be the day you decided to clear out the handbag? Typical, right? Even when there is loo roll, it’s a bugger to get a decent sheet isn’t it? First you’ve got to find it and that can waste a good thirty minutes of your life.  Then you grab a piece and it’s like you’ve grasped a lifeline. What happens? it tears and you’re left holding something  too small to even blow your nose, let alone wipe your arse. There are the holiday loos too aren’t there? God they must be the worse ones. You know the type I mean. Holes in the ground loos. Loos without doors, or loos with doors but the floor crawling with creepy things that you’ve never seen the like of before and never want to see again.  My worst moment with a loo came when I was in Cambodia. We had taken a tuk tuk into the countryside to see the real Cambodia. I suddenly had to go. I simply couldn’t hold it. The only loo was in the monastery. So I toddled behind the monk with Andrew mumbling ‘are you allowed?’ Like at that moment I really cared what God thought. I nearly died when he pointed to a tumble-down shack with its door hanging off. Inside was a huge sink full of water and a tiny hole in the ground. Trying to pull down my knickers, pee and hold the door partly closed was a feat of its own. Of course there was no toilet roll, just a saucepan and a sink of water. A pee I shall not forget. I went blue in the face straining to get that one out.  I’ve also been known to go into the gents. I’ve been known to do this three times during my life. I never learn anything do I? Usually I realise it is the gents as there are gentlemen in there, not that I’ve ever met their eyes, you understand. I’m usually looking elsewhere and wondering why they have it out in the Ladies loo. Enough said. But once, I actually went in and did a pee only to come out and find a man urinating. I was about to give him a piece of my mind when another man walked in and I realised it was me in the wrong place. I made a tactful exit. The other awful thing that happens in loos is when your sanitary towel falls in without your permission. This is fine as long as it flushes. The Doctor (aka husband Andrew) was none too thrilled when the loo got blocked. Loos are my nightmare. I dropped my BlackBerry down ours. Don’t ask. It was dark is all I’m going to say.

I’m sure you have funny loo moments. Do share them?

 

 

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I can finally reveal the big news.  The title and cover of my new novel. I’m dead excited. I love the title so much and the cover is just brilliant. I don’t know how my illustrator Katie Gracie Klumpp keeps doing it but do it she does. It’s titled ‘Fudge Berries and Frog’s Knickers’ and it has been hard work. It was not my greatest year in more ways than one and I’m determined to make 2015 a good one, book wise. I’ll be on a book tour from 23rd Feb to the 8th March. Book bloggers if you’re interested, sign up today. Go here to take part. We’d love to have you.

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Fudge Berries and Frog’s Knickers

‘Poppy Wellesley is rich. In fact Poppy Wellesley is very rich, so when her fortunes change from riches to rags Poppy has to start a whole new life. Put yourself in her Guccis as she swaps her penthouse apartment for a run-down houseboat on Regent’s Canal. Meet her dippy friend Chelsea, the infamous Jack Diamond (see The Dog’s Bollocks) and her hunky boat neighbour, Taylor. Will Poppy hold on to her millionaire fiancé or will Pug-face Pandora steal him from her? Can she avoid the advances from Balls (Lord Balthazar Wyndham-Price) or does she find true love on the canal? Fudge Berries and Frogs’ Knickers is a romantic comedy roller coaster ride that will put a smile on your face and a cheer in your heart.’

You can purchase the e-book on the 23rd January from Amazon, Kobo and others. The paperback on the 14th February. The paperback will be available for pre-order in a few days.

If you would like to review a copy of the novel for your book blog please let me know. You can contact me at review@renham.co.uk

Enjoy and join us for Facebook fun here.

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Hi all and Happy New Year to you all. I hope 2015 holds everything you wish for.

For me it will see the release of my new novel. The title yet to be agreed. I hope this is soon as we are close to releasing it title less at this rate. But in a matter of weeks it will be out and you can have a copy in your hands.

However, before that, I need some book reviewers to read it in advance of publication and to review it for me. Are you willing at all? The criteria is that you do have a blog that reviews books. That you are able to do it in the next few weeks and can tweet or Facebook your review. You will get a free ebook.

I’m also looking for people to help promote the book. I thought we could call ourselves Team Renham!

If you would like to be part of Team Renham please let me know. It isn’t too onerous. I would just appreciate a tweet or Facebook mention from you. Or a Goodreads share when the book comes out.

Contact me at lynda@renham.co.uk if you would like to help.

Thanks so much my lovely readers. If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter you can still do so. Just email me with the subject Newsletter.

Lots of love to you and Happy New Year again.

 

katie

Hello everyone and a very Happy 2015 to you all. I’m starting my New Year postings with a guest spot. There will be a lot of fab books out this year and one of them will be ‘And the Bride Wore Prada’ by Katie Oliver.

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I met Katie when she first joined my author page and tweeted a lot about my own novels. It was a while before I realised that she was also a novelist. But you know how long it takes me to realise things.  Katie and I became good friends and I am delighted to welcome her onto my blog. Fortunately for us, Katie loves writing romantic comedy as well as reading it. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband and three parakeets, in a rambling old house with uneven floors and a dining room that leaks when it rains. It sounds a bit like our cottage before the renovation.

Katie has been writing since she was eight, and has a box crammed with (mostly unfinished) novels to prove it. Katie and I could be twins. One day we’ll have to meet and swap boxes.  In the meantime I will hand over to Katie so she can tell you more about herself, going for walks and her own Mr Darcy. Catch her on her book tour this month.

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There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. – Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

I love to take walks. And it appears I’m in good company.

Not only do plenty of people elect to walk (or ride a bicycle) these days; many fictional heroines did the same. 

Jane Eyre met Mr Rochester astride his horse while walking alone across the moors, and Mr Darcy shared more than one stroll with Elizabeth Darcy in the gardens of Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s estate.  And who can forget Mary Lennox and her outdoor rambles at Misselthwaite Manor, which led to her discovery of the sadly neglected secret garden?

As I walked our dog one day last December, and waited for him to do his business, I breathed in the cold air and admired the snow on the ground. Normally we don’t get much snow in the Washington, DC area, especially not before Christmas.  So I was pretty excited (chuffed, as you Brits would say).

Duke and I resumed our walk, and my imagination kicked in. I was no longer on a dead-end street in Northern Virginia with my Belgian terrier, but wandering somewhere in the snow-covered Scottish Highlands with a pair of deerhounds at my heels…

…returning to the family castle after a long, invigorating walk.

My thoughts moved as quickly as my feet. I had something to tell my family, something big. Something that would upset their lives, and mine, forever…

As I followed Duke down the hill, I had an epiphany.  Well, not an epiphany, exactly, but an idea for a new book. What if two of my characters – Natalie and her new husband, Rhys – are invited to Scotland to spend the Christmas holidays with Nat’s old friend Tarquin Campbell and his wife, Wren?

And what if a blizzard wreaks havoc with their travel plans, and they barely make it to the Campbell castle before the roads become impassable?  And what if there’s a gruff and mysterious groundskeeper, and a dark family secret, and-?

I was off and running (figuratively, not literally – Duke and I are far too lazy to run), and I eventually finished “And the Bride Wore Prada” a few months later and typed “The End” (which, as any writer knows, are the two sweetest words in the English language) and sent it off to my editor.

Last year, after I finished writing the first three of my ‘Dating Mr Darcy’ ebooks – Prada and Prejudice, Love and Liability, and Mansfield Lark – I honestly thought I was done with those characters.  Finished.  I had nothing more to say.

Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.

But thanks to that early snow, and Duke, and the necessity of walking (not to mention my very overactive imagination), the book – which kicks off a new series, ‘Marrying Mr Darcy’ – is soon to be published.  It’s a prospect at once daunting and exhilarating.  I hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Wishing everyone a very happy New Year filled with love, laughter…and lots of good books!

 The Marrying Mr Darcy series.

What could be more romantic than Christmas in the Scottish highlands?

The first book in the Marrying Mr Darcy series, “And the Bride Wore Prada,” finds Natalie and Rhys Gordon headed to Scotland to spend the holidays with Tarquin Campell and his wife Wren. A mix-up at the Inverness airport leads Natalie to offer a ride to stranded rock star Dominic Heath and his fiancé, Gemma.  A blizzard soon makes the roads impassable, and the foursome barely make it to Draemar Castle.

When tabloid reporter Helen Thomas’s car slides off the road, she seeks shelter at the castle as well. She’s after an exclusive story on Dominic and Gemma’s not-so-secret upcoming wedding. But Helen finds a bigger story when she discovers Tarquin’s brother, Andrew, drowned years before. His body was never found. Is it possible he’s still alive? Her investigation yields more questions than answers.

Could Colm MacKenzie, the gruff groundskeeper with more than a passing resemblance to the Campbell family, be the missing piece to the puzzle?

Natalie and Rhys are recently married and blissfully happy…until Nat receives unexpected news that changes everything. Hurt by Rhys’s less-than-enthusiastic reaction, she wonders if their sparkling new marriage is over before it’s even begun…

You can find Katie by following the links below.

Website: http://www.katieoliver.com

Blog:  http://katieoliver.com/ko/?page_id=27

Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/KatieOliverWriter

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/katieoliver01/

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/katieoliver

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7565829.Katie_Oliver

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@katieoliver01

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With my  Mother in law.

 

 

Sixteen years ago I considered ending my life. A nice Samaritan at the other end of the phone kindly saved me. This will surprise many people I’m sure. I was in a marriage that was so unhealthy for me. I’d reached the stage where I could not consider continuing with it. I was badly in need of stimulation, companionship and much more. I was severely stressed and feeling terribly alone. Everyone seemed to have the one thing I wanted. A loving and stable relationship. This is not to say the man I was married to was a bad man, he was simply very much the wrong man. There are times in life when you really think this will not pass. That it will always be this way. It won’t.

I remember my mother asking if everything was okay as I looked so awful. I said everything was fine. I was on a search for the way out of the marriage but had no money, nowhere to go and nobody to confide in apart from a few friends who didn’t really understand why I was so unhappy with such a kind man. But it doesn’t matter how kind the man seems to everyone else if the relationship is unhealthy then you are desperately unhappy. I don’t feel the need to say in what way it was unhealthy but it was destroying me. There are times in your life when you feel there is no way out. That was my time.

Until … One day I just upped and left. I had nothing. I left everything behind. I started again. It was the hardest but the most rewarding time of my life. I found myself and I eventually found a man the total opposite to the man I had previously married. I rebuilt my life.

Today my ex husband is getting married again and I’m very happy for him. I’m thrilled that he like me has gone on to find happiness with a partner far more suited to him than I ever was. I don’t regret the 19 years we spent together. But sometimes wish I’d found the strength to leave earlier. But there is a time for everything. I may not have met my current husband had it been a different time.

Happy New Year to you all.

Love Lynda xxx

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With Dad many moons ago

 

So, Christmas is over. Two days and we’re done. However, it still feels like Christmas doesn’t it? We still have the tree and decorations to look at and of course our new gifts.

I was asked to write a Christmas post for another blogger who has been featuring authors over the holidays on her blog. I was flattered to be asked and wrote a posting about my Dad who always made Christmas special for us. That’s what being a parent is all about isn’t it?

Christmas for me always means memories of my lovely Dad. He’s the person who gave me my sense of humour and I am forever grateful to him for that. I wouldn’t be writing romantic comedies if it wasn’t for him I am sure.

He loved Christmas and would go overboard. There would be so much food in the house that you always left feeling sick and bloated and he wouldn’t have it any other way. There would be presents galore and he enjoyed nothing more than watching us opening them. Christmas wasn’t Christmas unless he dressed up as Santa and this caused more than its share of problems when he did this for my nephew. He would knock on the door and one of us would let him in. One particular year was a bit hairy though when my nephew James started calling ‘Granddad, come and see Santa.’ And even more hairy when James insisted Santa stay until Granddad came back from wherever he had gone.  We got ourselves out of it somehow but I’m not sure how.

So at Christmas I always remember my lovely Father and I miss him terribly. I was not able to have children so I missed out on the pleasures of seeing my own children open presents on Christmas Day. But since marrying the doctor AKA Andrew my husband (you can read more about me, the doctor and our cat Bendy on my web page www.renham.co.uk) I’ve a ready-made family and this year my stepson and his wife and four year old son spent Christmas Day with us along with Andrew’s other son. I’d bought so many presents that the bedroom was overflowing. Memories of my Dad came flooding back  when the doctor dressed as Father Christmas for his grandson. There is nothing more magical.

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Stepsons preparing Christmas Dinner

 

Christmas in the village where I live was very festive and of course merry. There is nothing nicer to waking up on a snowy Christmas morning in a quiet village and to hear the church bells ringing. There are lots of social occasions leading up to it too which I enjoy. We had lots of mulled wine, mince pies and stollen cake. Visited our neighbours for Christmas drinks and attended the village Carol service, And of course the window decoration which we have done in our little village this year and you can see for yourself how pretty they are. My grandson helped make our window look pretty too and here it is. DSCF2538 (2) DSCF2540

My stepson cooked Christmas dinner and my other stepson helped. It was a real family Christmas. Something I never imagined I would have. It’s absolutely true that saying, you know the one, about it never being too late. I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately. One of my presents was a course on Mindfulness. It’s quite intense but wonderful. I’m learning a lot. One thing I have discovered is that we really can only live in the present. That life is full of surprises. That we do have the control and can make our dreams come true. Today my lovely grandson and I baked cakes for family who are visiting tomorrow. For us it is still Christmas and I’m loving it.

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I hope you all had a fab Christmas and spent some of it reading one of my books. Well I can hope can’t I?

Much love

Lynda

x

Big News!

big news

 

The biggest news of all is the new book. Another reason I have been quiet of late. I’ve been slogging over the new novel. Of course I can’t tell you much yet except to say the heroine is named Poppy. I think we have a title but we’re still throwing ideas around. But I’ve been told I’m not allowed to reveal it until the book is ready to go to print. I’m bursting though. The good news is it won’t be long before you will see the cover which I know is going to be brilliant and I can’t wait to share it. We’re going to have an online launch party which will be a blast. I’m thinking of ideas already J

I’ll share a little something with you. Do you remember the three Jacks who were in ‘The Dog’s Bollocks?’ I hope you do. Well, they make reappearance in the new novel and are as clumsy and funny as ever J

As usual I can’t have a new book out without a competition or two. So read on, dear readers to see how to enter.

Back to the novel. I got to The End today so I am very thrilled. I love it and I hope you do too. Keep your eyes on my author page on Facebook because there will be regular announcements about the new release.

If you want even more news on the novels sign up to my newsletter by emailing me at lynda@renham.co.uk

 

 

 

car-breakdown2

We’ve never been conventional in our house. Although I expect you’ve gathered that already. So, you won’t be surprised to read that we both drive old bangers. Peugeot 206 bangers to be exact and the exact same colour bangers come to that. That wasn’t intentional, it just kind of happened, you know, like things do. We have talked about buying a new car and we have glanced at some. But that’s as far as we’ve got. Cars are just not important to us somehow. But it was only recently that I realised just how unimportant material things are to us and how eccentric we are. Of course, if the doctor’s AKA as my husband Andrew) son hadn’t come to live with us I wonder if we would ever have realised. But he has come to live with us and I’m not sure how he is finding it but he and his wife and four year old son seem to laugh a lot which frankly if you’re around us you have to and they are getting adjusted to our odd way of living. So, when stepson (James) asked about going onto our car insurance we thought nothing of it. So imagine James when he first used Andrew’s car to find he couldn’t push the driver’s seat forward to get his son in the back.

‘Ah yes,’ we say. ‘That seat is broken. You need to watch that. You may also notice the seat moves forward slightly when you’re driving,’ adds Andrew, ‘It’s quite safe though.’

James gives him an odd look.

‘So we have to use the passenger side to get into the back do we?’ he asks.

We nod.

Off they go to return a few hours later looking a little strained. We’d totally forgotten to mention that the indicator has a mind of its own too and when you indicate one way and take the turn, instead of clicking itself off it clicks to indicate the opposite way. If you don’t hear it you could be indicating for miles. God knows we have done this many a time on a motorway only to be flashed numerous times. Then, of course, there is the door that swings wide open. So when you park and open it you have to be careful else it smashes into the parked car next to it. We also forgot to mention that it struggles a bit when going up hills.

‘The seat is a bit low too,’ says James.

‘Oh is it,’ says Andrew. ‘I like it that way.’

‘Hard to see the mirror,’ says James tactfully.

‘You can use mine if you like.’ I say.

His face lights up.

‘If that’s okay?’

If he thought Andrew’s car was bad …But of course, I don’t think to tell him because I’m not aware there is anything to tell him. But on reflection I suppose I should have mentioned that the clock is always an hour fast. I’m not sure why but I’ve got used to it now and always work backwards when telling the time. A light tends to come on and flashes the words ‘air bag’ too. Andrew jokingly says it is referring to me. Then of course there is the radio which doesn’t work anymore after I had a battery change. However I worked out if you press the on button and programme number 6 button it will play … for all of 5 minutes and then you push the buttons again and so on. I’ve been known to do a three hour journey playing the radio like that. The CD player doesn’t work at all. Then there is the passenger seat in my car which is broken. So to get a child seat in the back you have to do it via the driver’s side. Not to mention the state of the boot which houses Andrew’s tool box, his flying suits (bearing in mind we no longer fly as we don’t have a microlight anymore) plus his helmets and other boxes of stuff. I have to be honest and say I have no idea what the stuff is. The car is full of sweet wrappers which are proof of my guilty chocolate feasts. I do vaguely mention the radio before they go.

‘Just keep pushing the buttons,’ I say.

Off they go and off we go to visit my mum in Essex. We return to a white faced James.

‘Everything okay,’ I ask.

‘Your car flashes an airbag sign all the time. I didn’t know what to do at first but then thought maybe it always does it. That seems to be the way with your cars.’

He’s getting the hang of it.

‘I did try pushing all the buttons for the radio but nothing happened.’

Ah yes, I probably should have said which buttons.

‘I did think about doing some shopping but there was no room in the boot.’

‘Yes, sorry about that,’ I say.

‘I think it may be best if I stick to Dad’s car.’

Famous last words. For two days later he broke down with a flat tyre and was late picking up his wife from work. Oh well, at least we were there to babysit Matthew.

‘Are you sure you don’t want mine?’ I offer.

‘No, Dad’s will be fine.’

Second lot of famous last words if you can have a second lot of last words.

For as I write James has just text me to say he has broken down in the doctor’s car. It seems the clutch gave up. Poor James was convinced it was something he’d done and he asked the breakdown man for reassurance.

‘Wear and tear mate, this car has had it.’

Well, we always said we would drive them into the ground. The cars that is, not the sons.

James walks in ashen faced and exhausted.

‘What a nightmare. How do you cope?’ he asks.

‘With what?’ I reply.

I’m greeted by my daughter in law who is also ashen.

‘Oh Lynda,’ she says nervously. ‘I’ve broken something.’

I quickly look for Bendy and relax when I see him sleeping happily on the couch.

She holds out my BITCH mug.

‘James said it was expensive,’ she says tearfully.

I look at the other mugs hanging on the rack and shrug.

‘It’s just a mug. When you kill Bendy you need to think about leaving.’

I think they’re laying down in a darkened room now. I suppose this means I’ll have to collect Matthew from school. Good job the school is next door. Not sure what we’ll do about the Christmas shopping, or my appointment for my holiday vaccinations or my daughter in law’s journey to work. Oh well, we’ll think about that tomorrow.

Oh yes, and a Merry Christmas from us.

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xx

lyndachristmas

Our first Christmas cards arrived yesterday and I suddenly realised Christmas is upon us. So, I thought a gentle reminder to the doctor AKA Andrew (my husband) about my presents.  I seriously think I would have achieved more by writing to Santa.

‘There’s plenty of time,’ he says.

He’s no idea. Do all men live in a different world or is it just my man?

I’d already tried the Christmas list which I’d given him and my stepson over two weeks ago after stepson had asked what I would like. I’d also emailed husband the link to the camera I wanted.

Two weeks on and the Christmas list is nowhere to be seen. I’d like to think he has it in his jacket pocket but I’m no fool.  So last night I casually mentioned how close Christmas was.

‘There’s only a few weekends left to do Christmas shopping,’ I say.

‘Oh no’ he gasps and then with a relieved sigh adds, ‘But we have everything don’t we?’

Well I do, I can’t speak for him. I’ve been preparing for the past two months. One thing I hate is last minute Christmas shopping. And as I have ten people on Boxing day I don’t want to leave anything to chance.

‘Have you bought anything for me?’ I ask.

Might as well be up front is my motto. Now, I should mention at this point that my period is not far off. A week to be exact and the week before my period is not my best time. I’m highly emotional and feel quite sure that doctor and the whole world are against me. So when doctor replies to the question with,

‘Ah, that reminds me, where is that Christmas list that you wrote?’  Obviously I see red.

‘If you don’t get them soon, there won’t be time,’ I say emotionally.

What is it with men? Or is it just the doctor? I swear it would be easier to buy the presents myself. Ask him for the money and off I pop. It’s the same with flowers isn’t it? Doctor claims the Sainsbury he goes to doesn’t sell them. This seems to be the case with camomile tea too and popcorn. When I go, the store is abounding with them. Strange that. The other annoying thing doctor does is query my list.

‘Do you really need more books? Don’t you think you should read the ones you’ve got first?’

Or.

‘Do you really want that DVD? That was rubbish if I remember.’

Oh was it? I never realised. I can’t imagine why I put it on the list.

Or.

‘This camera looks ok but do you really want one that takes AA batteries?’

Why ask me what I want for Christmas if you’re going to question everything I ask for. Oh, that’s a point. He never asked me what I wanted for Christmas now I come to think about it. Also when I come to think about it, the one year I didn’t give a list or ask if he had bought me presents was the first year we went to Cambodia. We were leaving on Boxing Day and I had so much to do before we flew that I totally forgot about my presents and I got a beautiful bracelet and an internet radio and some perfume. Am I at fault? Should I just sit it out and hope for something fantastic? Or should I rummage around and try to find that elusive list?

Answers on a postcard to Lynda.

Merry Christmas and I hope you get everything you want.

choc

 

My friend called me on my mobile to see how I was feeling. I had the phone on silent so I missed the call. An hour later I noticed it flashing and listened to her message.

‘Hope you’re feeling better. I did come round to see you but there was no reply when I rang the bell.’

It seems when I’m writing I turn stone deaf.  Near the end of the message she breaks up but I feel sure I hear her say ‘I’ve left (breaks up) outside your door.’

It can only be chocolate right? She knows what an addict I am. I dash downstairs, turn the front door handle only to find the door is locked. I then remember I had asked my stepson when leaving the house if he could lock it after him as I don’t like being in the house with the door unlocked. I go to dash upstairs to fetch my keys. I’m so desperate for this chocolate now that I am shaking. I didn’t feel the need for a sugar rush until I knew the sugar was there, now I can’t stop thinking about it. I reach the top step and freeze. I don’t have keys. I gave them to my stepson so he could drive my car. I can’t get out. I’m a prisoner in my home. I’m under house arrest and what’s worse right outside that locked door is chocolate.  This has to be my worst nightmare.

Chocolate so close but so far away. I actually start thinking of other ways I can escape my home. Can I squeeze through a window? Can I wave crazily from the window and attract the attention of a passing parent on their way to the school? I should have trained Bendy to fetch, damn it. I even consider making a makeshift net and hanging from the bedroom window with it in the hope of retrieving said chocolate. It then occurs to me I can climb over the back wall. The problem is at 3 in the afternoon all the parents will be lined up along that very wall. Maybe not such a good idea. You’ll be pleased to know that I pulled myself together and didn’t phone the fire brigade. You can laugh but it did enter my head.  Twenty minutes later I rush down again when I hear my stepson return.  My chocolate fest is near. I open the door and come face to face with a huge bouquet.

‘Someone left these for you,’ he says.

‘Where’s the chocolate?’ I ask.

Stepson and wife look at me like I’ve gone crazier than normal.

‘Should we have bought some?’ they ask.

I trundle back upstairs for a quiet weep.

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What the hell has happened to Lynda, I hear you say? Then again, maybe you’re not saying that at all.
I’ve not blogged much or tweeted much and my Facebook appearance has been pretty minimal. So where the hell have I been? Not on holiday, that much I can assure you.
It’s been a mad few months. It’s been a crazy year in fact and it isn’t improving. I’ve been worrying my arse off mainly and trying to write a book. And the madness doesn’t look like ending either. But at the end of January I am off to Laos to sit in the sun. I’m going to get a holiday if it kills me and I’m determined to fit into my life things I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I’m also going back to Cambodia in the summer. Hopefully with the Doctor (otherwise known as Andrew) or on my own if necessary but go I will.
So, what’s been happening for Ms Renham Cook to be so quiet?
I’ve been working really hard on the new novel. Which I feel certain is a load of bollocks but I have been assured by those in the know that it isn’t and I should stop having minor panic attacks especially while studying kangaroo in Lidl. Kangaroo meat that is, not kangaroo as a whole, you understand. Although, I have been known to have mild panic attacks over the novels while studying the lamb too, just in case you thought it was only kangaroo that sent me over the edge. Anyway, let’s move away from Lidl, shall we, before I give you a mild panic attack. So, with the novel almost finished, I can now relax. At least until I get my edits.
Basically, I’ve not been around because I’m wrecked. Several health scares, a small op, and a family of three moving in with us has left me completely and totally wrecked. Not to mention a cat having a mini breakdown, Christmas looming and my house turned upside down. I’ve lost a room, gained a son and grandson, lost a car (only temporarily) given up my summer house and half my kitchen. This is playing havoc with my OCD. Worse of all, I’ve had to buy a nightie. Gone are the days of strolling into the loo while naked. Mind you, I’m lucky if I can actually stroll into the loo. It’s normally engaged these days. This is playing havoc with my irritable bowel. I’m always the last in the shower these days and that means that the water is tepid by the time it hits me. This is not my idea of fun. I tell myself if I can get through having the builders in, then I can get through this.
More worrying is the amount of money I’ve spent online. I know it’s Christmas but I think I’ve got carried away. At least my bank balance hints I got carried away. So if I carry on like this I may have to take a temporary job in Lidl until the new novel comes out.
I’ve also been eating far too much. Sugar is essential to a writer, especially if the creative juices are to flow. I’ve over indulged on fig rolls and Galaxy, my two very favourite things. We’ve also eaten out more the past six weeks than we have in fourteen years together. And the amount of fish and chips we’ve had is shameful. So, what is looming? The big WW. Weight Watchers to be exact just in case you thought I was referring to a world war. Things are desperate but they’re not that desperate.
Now to top it all I have the monster of all colds. Annoyingly, no one else in the house seems to have it. How bloody unfair is that?
Still let’s look on the bright side shall we? Can you see one? Oh good. Christmas is coming. My Christmas newsletter will be coming and hopefully Christmas in the village photos are coming. With that I’ll close. Lynda is back. Slightly skew wiff, but she’s back.
Love you all xxxx

level-crossing-sat-nav

Only I can drive out to a Women’s institute meeting and have it resemble an expedition to the Antarctic. While the whole time being armed with an AA road map and a Sat Nav. You weren’t properly prepared? I hear you ask.

That’s where you’re wrong. I’m well prepared. This is the first time I’ve given a talk so I was over the top prepared. All my notes are neatly stacked in a nice clean blue folder. Books are piled on the table ready to be packed into the car. I’d asked my husband Andrew to charge the Sat Nav the night before so it would be ready. I’d printed out an AA map for back up.  I seriously couldn’t have been better prepared. I allowed forty minutes for Andrew to arrive home and have dinner with me before heading off.

It should be born in mind that I have never been to this particular village in Oxfordshire before. But the map said it would only take 30 minutes. Of course, it is also November and the nights get dark earlier so I figured I should give myself a little longer. Andrew arrives home on time. We eat dinner on time and I have my car packed in time. I’m all ready to set off. Andrew fits the sat nav into my car and we see the battery is low. I feel the first stirrings of panic but quickly get them under control.

‘It’s fine,’ says Andrew. ‘As long as you keep it plugged in here it will work.’

He’s quite right of course and we set the postcode and wait for the GPS to pick up signal. Before long Sebastian the Sat Nav is telling me to take a sharp left. Off I go.

‘Hope it goes well,’ says Andrew.

I start the car and turn the headlights on full, for it is very dark in the village. We don’t have street lights.

‘Sharp left,’ says Sebastian, lighting up the interior of the car.

I travel through the lanes of my village with Sebastian as my guiding angel, although so far I know where I am going. I round the bend and Sebastian tells me to keep left. I reach the end of the village and go to take the bend.

‘Turn left, and then …’

Suddenly Sebastian loses his voice and the car is plunged into darkness. My heart almost stops and I feel myself come over all hot. I glance at the tom tom to see it has died. Oh no, this can’t be happening. ‘We’ve only just began’ comes onto the car radio. Talk about a psychic car. I pull into a layby where there are plenty of street lamps and fiddle with the lead to the Sat Nav. A minute later and it lights up again and I sigh with relief, only to find it has now lost its destination. I fiddle with the settings, find the set destination bit and type in the postcode except for some annoying reason the O keeps getting stuck. My heart is beating faster now and with shaking fingers I struggle to punch in the postcode. A few seconds later I am off again, perspiring a bit more but off never the less. But you know how it is. I have doubts that I have punched in the right postcode. I see a pub ahead and pull in sharply, sending my neat folder and all its papers flying. I’m beginning to get a bad feeling about this talk. A man lounges outside the pub and keeps giving me odd looks. I don’t believe this is happening. I fumble for my papers and attempt to discreetly lock the doors before studying the road map and punching in the postcode again. Now, my neck is tense and there is a mild thumping in my head. The Sat Nav set, I reverse out and continue my journey, careful to avoid any bumps that may disturb the Sat Nav connection. I get onto another country road without street lights and strain to see ahead as bright headlights blind me. I then hear a pitter patter on the roof of the car and then it begins to hail stone.  This surely can’t be happening. I turn the windscreen wipers on full but I can’t see anything for the spray. My neck is getting tenser and my head is now banging away. I’m going to die on the way to a Women’s institute meeting. All for fifty quid plus travelling expenses. I’m not Lady Gaga am I? Why am I doing this? No one will care if I turn up or not.

‘Exit ahead,’ shouts Sebastian and I panic. I’m in the wrong lane. Oh no, what if I miss the exit? It could be miles before I can get off and then I will most certainly be late. I strain to see through my rear view mirror and indicate. I make it into the inside lane but can’t see through the mist. I indicate to take the exit and zoom dramatically into it when Sebastian shouts, ‘Take the exit.’

I zoom into a small country lane and find myself chugging through a flooded road while in fifth gear.  Can it get any worse? This must be the road to the hall. Please God, let this be the road to the hall. It’s beginning to feel like the road to hell. I think I shall kill myself if it isn’t the road to the village. Ten minutes later and I’m still travelling down the country road. Sebastian is silent and I’m getting very nervous. I pass through a village, past a hall and a church and a pub and finally Sebastian says, ‘Take the motorway.’

What. I don’t want a motorway do I? But before I know it, that’s where I am. I’ve gone round in a circle and I’m back where I was fifteen minutes before. Perhaps it is the next exit.

‘Exit ahead,’ shouts Sebastian.

Please let this be the right one. I take the exit and breathe a sigh of relief.

‘Continue for …’

The car is thrown into darkness and Sebastian dies. Oh no, I’m in the middle of nowhere. No street lights, no people and now no Sat Nav. It’s pouring with rain and the wind is howling around me. I’m beginning to wish I’d bought a little panic alarm. I fiddle with the lead of the Sat Nav and thank fully it lights up. I take a chance it is still set to the destination and continue on. I then realise I am passing the same hall, the same church and the same pub. Oh what! Right that’s it. I turn around sharply and turn back to the village hall. This must be it. On entering I see several ladies doing Zumba. Unless this is the kind of thing they do at The Women’s Institute these days, which I very much doubt, then this is the wrong hall. My heart sinks and my head thumps even more. I won’t be able to talk if things get much worse.

‘Hello, can we help?’ asks a lady.

‘A Valium and a darkened room would be nice,’ I want to say, but instead show her my little map.

‘Where is this?’ I ask.

‘Do you know the pub?’ she asks.

Oh, very well. In fact I’m seriously thinking of spending the evening there.

‘Go back past the pub and onto the main road.’

Oh no, not again.

‘The second exit is the one you need. You can’t miss it.’

Want to bet?

I climb miserably back into my car and see I have five minutes if I am going to make it in time. I drive back to the main road and the pouring rain and take the second exit. And there is the village. I could cry. I make it dead on the dot of eight o’clock. I did consider asking for damage money but I couldn’t bear telling them why.

 wi

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There are a number of reasons why I am an atheist. I wish I wasn’t. I wish I did believe in a loving God but I don’t. After seeing what is happening to my granddaughter I feel even more strongly that a loving God does not exist. That is not to say I don’t have a strong spiritual feeling.

This is the story of my Granddaughter Hana and of other children in the same situation. It is cruel and unfair.

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/hope-a-united-states-surgeon-can-help-the-sydney-girl-hana-tarraf-6-who-cant-stop-eating/story-fni0cx12-1227094720145

There will be comments on this post of that I have no doubt but I’m not intending to respond to anything that criticises my right to not believe. As a non believer the burden of proof is not on me.

I would love to have faith and I envy those who have that comfort. I’m not criticising it or those who have it. It is as much your right as to not believe is mine.

Please share Hana’s story. We would appreciate any help we can get. You can read Hana’s story on my stepdaughter’s blog here

http://nursenaomi.com/2014/10/15/can-anyone-save-our-daughter-why-we-have-gone-to-the-media-to-find-help-for-hana-links/

 

 

cat han
I want to talk bags. Well, actually I don’t. Personally I can’t stand the things. I just want to know if you suffer the same or whether it is just me. Why can’t I be like my friend who has a gorgeous Radley bag with everything neatly placed inside it? A place for everything and everything in its place. Even her receipts are in a nice tidy wallet. If I want to return something to a shop it usually means the whole house being turned upside down and me finally ending up in a darkened room with a Valium.
Handbags are the bane of my life. Come to think of it they are the bane of my husband’s too. He tries hard not to tut while I am cursing and throwing everything out of the bag to find my keys. I have regular clear outs (of the bag that is, just in case you thought I was talking about my bowels) but by the end of the week the contents are back. I’ve bought new bags with those lovely compartments, convinced that this time everything will be just great. So why is it a week or so later I’m in Body Shop with the contents of my bag strung across the counter as I try to find my Body Shop loyalty card? I pull out everything from a Blockbuster video rental card (Blockbuster in our village closed down yonks ago, so God knows why I still have that) to a Cambodian taxi driver’s card (that’s really useful isn’t it?) There is everything of course, but the Body Shop card, which is lying at the bottom of another handbag no doubt.

sherpa
I want to go out without looking like a Sherpa. Not much to ask. But I’m somehow stupidly convinced that everything that is in my handbag I seriously need. I’ll be carrying a camper loo soon.
I’ve made big efforts, I really have. I’ve bought bags to go in the bag. A bag for pills and let me tell you I’ve got more pills than a chemist. Except what happens? I forget to zip up the bag within the bag and the bottom of my bag is littered with foils of pills. I don’t think a junkie carries as many drugs as me. I buy a bag to house all those odds and sods. You know, handbag mirror, lipsticks with no tops, hair grips, scrunch, MP3 player, which usually has no battery so it’s useless, headphones, glasses cleaner and the odd tampon. But of course I rummage in it to get a scrunch and forget to zip it up. So, what happens? I buy new purses thinking that this will magically help me get organised and it does for a while until I feel harassed in Sainsbury and throw everything straight into the bag. Weeks later I’m overcome with receipts and loose credit cards. Not to mention a hairy hairbrush, car keys, glasses that have fallen out of their cases, a book that I plan to read in the hairdressers but I never do because they have such great mags. Then, of course, there is the odd notebook, leaky pen, mobile which had a lovely case until it got covered in ink. Recipe cards, I mean why? I don’t bloody cook, at least not fancy cakes like these. I carry a cheque book but never use it. A spare pair of knickers, I can’t imagine when I think I’ll need those and a tube of moisturiser which nearly always leaks and eventually everything is covered in Rodial day cream. Another thing why are there all these chocolate wrappers in my bag. I don’t eat that much chocolate … or do I? Are there no rubbish bins? Why are all the wrappers in my bag? Then there are the used and unused tissues. Why do I have both and how does one tell the difference after a while? A week in my handbag and they all look the same. I’ve bought smaller bags in the hope that this will stop me but no. The small bag just bulges more and more until it finally splits under the weight. I just want to leave the house without becoming round shouldered by the time I return. My bags are getting bigger and bigger so they can accommodate my needs. I’ll have room for the bloody cat soon. My husband tells me I don’t need to take every single pill I possess but I’m convinced that the one pill I leave behind will be the one I need. It’s true isn’t it? I get more comments on my bag than I do on my appearance. That’s not normal is it? Mostly the comments are about the size. It’s not just bags either. Library books are the other problem. Why is it I can never get them back on time? Seriously the money I’ve spent on fines could have bought me a small bungalow. I wouldn’t mind but I never read the things. I just don’t have time. Why? Why? Why?

bag

hocosHalloween is coming.  And that means lot’s of spooky happenings. Pumpkins galore and a great deal of dressing up. There are also books being released.  I was thrilled to be asked by Debbie Flint of QVC fame if I would like to contribute to a Halloween compilation of horror stories. So, I shut myself in the cellar and played scary music for a few days and came up with the story ‘Camilla’ which you can read in this fab book along with contributions by other authors including Adrienne Vaughan, Carolyn Mahony, Alison May, Jane O’Reilly, Jules Wake, Lizzie Lamb, Lynda Renham, Debbie Flint, Litty Williams, Mary Jane Hallowell, Tina K Burton and Stef Edward.
More exciting is that we have a Facebook page that you can like and which will help you find out more about us, the authors. All links are below and the Kindle download will be free to begin with, so make sure you get yours.
So, prepare your pumpkin, buy the sweets and sit down with this scary book and be prepared to be frightened, after all that’s what Halloween is all about isn’t it?
In our cottage there will be lots of noise, laughter and screams. The screams are usually from me when Andrew (my husband) plants a rubber spider in the bed. Any excuse for him to play practical jokes.
Have you had anything strange happen on Halloween? My mother in law was telling me how paintings used to move in their house. I’d love to hear your stories.
‘Hocus Pokus 2014’ will launch on the 10th October and we’re having a fab online launch party. Don’t miss it. We already have a lot of people.
It’s going to be fun, scary and very exciting.
Go here for the Facebook event
Go here to like our ‘Hocus Pocus’ page

See you on Halloween. Have fun.

Coming out about having OCD is not easy. In fact I’m in denial. I just insist I’m a very clean person. The trouble is, this being a very clean person is killing me! Fortunately I am only OCD when it comes to housework.

So, here we go. My name is Lynda and I am an obsessive. It’s been 10 minutes since I last had a duster and Pledge in my hand. I’m serious too. I have a cleaner who tells me the house is spotless and that is before she starts cleaning.

It’s Bank Holiday and my husband is home although I am sure he wishes he was at work because the poor bugger can’t move.

cleaning lady

So how does this OCD manifest itself? I can only talk about me, of course. My biggest problem is House and Home magazine or 25 Beautiful Houses or any other such magazine that publish photos of immaculate beautiful houses. I’m extremely gullible and actually believe people do have starched white pillow cases on their bed and lovely folded blankets across their couch. Not to mention the coffee tables with huge coffee table books and pretty ornaments. So, what happens when you try to create this look in your own home when you have other people living in it? Tensions and mayhem is what.

It’s just beginning to occur to me that tidying the bed when my husband is lying in it is maybe just a touch insane. Seriously, I have been known to pretty the bed when he is in it and yell at him for having clothes on the floor. If the bedroom doesn’t still resemble ‘Beautiful Homes’ when we’re lying in it I feel myself get anxious and edgy. All the drawers must be closed. No doors open. All books straight and neat on the bedside cabinet and if he so much as moved a clock out of place, I would go mad. Normal behaviour? I don’t think so.  When we go to bed he enjoys throwing the cushions off the bed and trying to get them in the gap next to the wardrobe. I think it is his way of rebelling. When we make the bed it can take ages and he sometimes storms off in frustration. Mostly because I keep insisting he piles the pillows again and again until they are just right and match mine. I’m surprised he hasn’t put his hands around my throat.  But, there’s still time.

house

Another problem for me is that I am also trying to write novels. This is my full-time job. At least it is supposed to be. But I can’t write in my writing room unless everything is just so. A speck on the floor can distract me.

Poor Andrew has been known to return from work to find the house rearranged. Thankfully I’ve stopped doing that now because furniture is heavy isn’t it? But that doesn’t stop me rearranging the kitchen until it resembles a perfect kitchen like one in the magazines. Then of course Andrew can’t pour a drink or get a snack unless everything goes back where it was. I’ve been known to clean the sides and draining board while he is still washing up. One kitchen counter I don’t allow him to use because it means moving a vase of flowers. We cannot have anything on the coffee table because it will spoil the display. Andrew tells me good humouredly that we need one house for show and one house to live in. It really doesn’t help that the minute he gets up from the couch, I start plumping the cushions. I grumble if he drips on the bathroom floor after having a shower. It spoils the look of my ‘House Beautiful’ bathroom. I’m amazed I allow us to pee in the loo.

I make this sound funny because that’s what I do. But it really is tiring to have a house looking just so. Or attempting to have it looking like a page from ‘Home and Gardens’ And it is not conducive thing is, my car looks like a Steptoe and Son house. I mean, go figure. Passengers have to clear the passenger seat to sit down. But somehow that doesn’t bother me. If you know the reason for this, let me know.

But I have decided to give up being house proud and to fight this overwhelming desire to have everything just so and to relax because frankly I’m exhausted.

Wish me luck. The question is do I throw out all the ‘House Beautiful’ mags?

Oh and if you’re wondering what the mad woman writes. You can download one of my books.  In fact ‘Pink Wellies and Flat Caps’ is on special at the moment. Only 99p! Read about the penis bucket. Yes, penis bucket. Have fun.

Go here for yours
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