Christmas Cheer to you all

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So, I haven’t been on my blog too much these past six months or more. In fact I haven’t been on social networking much at all, aside from Twitter. Twitter, of course, is easy, quick and doesn’t take much effort and energy and effort seems to be seriously lacking in me lately. BUT … I’ve decided the New Year will see a more relaxed and hopefully more energetic me. I hate to complain. I feel it is important to be positive no matter what the situation. I’m looking into ways to ease my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I really don’t want to be giving in to it or being negative about it.
The Chronic Fatigue Syndrome I mentioned in a previous blog. It has not improved as much as I had hoped but hey, there are people worse off than me. I’ve also had a fair bit of pain which apparently can be part of it. But I have refused to slow down or change my lifestyle, so inevitably the pain and tiredness has increased some days. Where I use to get buoyed up when social networking, I now find I don’t so much, BUT that is about to change.
I’m writing more. It’s what I love but I’m also being kinder to myself. I intend to interact more on social network sites in the New Year. After looking into Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and thyroid problems I am starting to think there is a connection. By the evening I feel quite exhausted and stress of any kind just aggravates the condition. I’m aware I need to reduce my stress levels and I’m working on that. I find I need to limit what I do, which is frustrating for me. I read much on Facebook of people who have joint pain and tiredness and only now do I realise just what they go through. My thoughts and sympathies go out to you. However, after all this research, I have decided not to slow down in any way. I have a lot of books I want to write. A lot of books I want to read and a lot of living that I want to do. CFS is not going to stop me doing any of that.
Christmas is upon us and as usual we have been busy celebrating in our village. We have our street advent calendar and this year we are number 18. All year we have our little stone animals in the garden which we move around on a regular basis. The school children like looking for them. So we decided what better than to give the animals their own nativity scene. It’s been very popular.
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There have been many Christmas parties and dinners and we still have more before the Christmas season is over.

A Christmas Romance Design!
My Christmas novella ‘A Christmas Romance’ is doing fabulously well and I am thrilled. The village of Little Perran where the novel is set has become a real favourite of mine and I can’t wait to start a new story there and hope to produce one for the summer. Meanwhile I am finishing off my new romantic comedy which should be out in the spring of 2016. I have wonderful readers and want to thank all of you for buying the books and also for reviewing them. I hope I continue to give you as much pleasure next year as I have this year.
I have made some lovely friends, many who visited me for the book signing at my house. To all my lovely readers, thank you so much for your support this past year. You make it all worthwhile.
Merry Christmas to you and thank you to all those that have sent us cards and I look forward to interacting more with you in the New Year.
To all those who have bought my books, thank you so much. I appreciate it more than you can ever know and your reviews have really made my year.
Much love
Lynda
xx

Woo Hoo, Christmas Is Coming

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Christmas is not far away. I love this time of year. Lot’s of great things happen don’t they?

So, what better way to celebrate than this!

Today for one day only my new Christmas novella ‘A Christmas Romance’ is only **99p**

I couldn’t let Black Friday and Cyber Monday come and go without doing something special could I?

So hurry over to Amazon here and get yours.

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Coming soon is my Christmas newsletter. So if you haven’t signed up for that then please do. Just go to the right hand side and scroll down to the newsletter subscription and simply click.

Meanwhile here is a little extract from the Christmas novella … Enjoy.

 A Christmas Romance

Lynda Renham writing as Amy Perfect

Chapter One

Frankie opened the oven door and gently prodded the fruit cake, the rich aroma making her mouth water. Fruit cake was her favourite. She wiped her hands on her apron and began cracking eggs into a bowl. There were just the fairy cakes to make now; the mince pies to go into the oven and the filling into the sponge, and she would be finished. She turned from the bowl and stopped to drink in the view from her kitchen window, the smell of a freshly baked Victoria sponge wafting past her. The tree in the garden twinkled under the dusting of snow that had been falling gently all morning, and she reminded herself to get some Christmas tree lights to go around it. This was going to be one of the coldest winters in years. The weather forecast predicted a white Christmas and Frankie was looking forward to cosy evenings by the fire with a hot chocolate and a good novel. The kitchen was lovely and warm with the heat from the oven but she still shivered at the sight of the falling snow. Then, not for the first time, she wondered what Paul was doing right now. Of course Christmas in Australia would be very different from Little Perran. Frankie couldn’t imagine Christmas on the beach. It seemed unnatural. She shook her head, irritated with herself for thinking about Paul, and turned back to the bowl of eggs. She didn’t need a man in her life. She was coping very well, thank you very much. Her eyes fell on the small Christmas tree in the corner of her living room. Buster slept happily underneath it. It was no good telling a dog that only presents go under the tree. I wonder if they have a Christmas tree in Australia, she thought idly. Of course they do, she reprimanded herself. After all, it wasn’t the back of beyond was it? She beat the eggs angrily. She must stop thinking about Paul. He was most likely sunning himself on the beach with …

Her thoughts were halted by a tapping on the back door. Birdie popped her rosy cheeks around it and sniffed appreciatively.

‘Primrose Cottage always smells good,’ she said, quickly closing the door. ‘It’s bitter outside. I went to the library but you weren’t there.’

‘I took the day off to bake cakes for the Christmas fete.’ Frankie felt the cold air brushing against her bare feet.

‘And fabulous they look too,’ said Birdie, pulling off her wellies and throwing them outside the back door.

Birdie’s thick brown hair had been wound into a tight plait which she had secured at the nape of her neck with a hair pin. Her cheeks were rosy from the cold and her lips pink where she had applied some lip salve.

‘I’m knackered. I’ve been cleaning out. That’s the trouble with having the animals inside. And the tractor is knackered too. Ben has asked Joe to come and look at it for us. Aren’t you glad you’re not a farmer? I wish I worked in a library. Mind you I’d be reading all day.’

Frankie laughed.

‘You’d be bored to death. You know how you love the outdoors.’

Birdie spotted the Christmas cake on the kitchen counter and gasped.

‘You’ve made it?’ she said, looking at the cake admiringly.

‘That was the easy bit. I’ve got to ice it now. I’m nervous about being too experimental though.’

‘Don’t be silly. It will be great. I so want you to win. I heard Cynthia is hiding hers.’

Frankie felt her heart sink.

‘I bet it’s lovely. That’s why she wins every year.’

‘A bit of cheating helps,’ scoffed Birdie.

‘Birdie, I’m sure that’s not true.’

Birdie nodded.

‘As sure as eggs is eggs, it’s true,’ she laughed.

Frankie carefully pulled a sketch pad from the kitchen drawer and opened it.

‘This is a rough plan of my theme, Santa falling down the chimney. What do you think?’

Birdie’s eyes widened.

‘Oh Frankie, that’s amazing.’

‘It will be if I can recreate it with icing,’ Frankie said worriedly.

‘You can do it, I know you can. Any chance of a cuppa and a piece of that sponge?’ she smiled licking her lips. ‘We should celebrate.’

‘No.’ Frankie wagged her finger. ‘That’s for tomorrow’s fete. But I have some chocolate cake?’

She opened a Quality Street tin. Birdie peeked inside and sighed.

‘I love your chocolate cake. Now, I have some exciting news. But I think you already know don’t you?’

Frankie’s heart skipped a beat. Was this something to do with Paul? Of course it wasn’t. When would she stop thinking about him? It had been almost a year now since he broke off their engagement. When would she accept that he wasn’t going to come back to Little Perran? More to the point did she even want him back?

‘I don’t know what you’re talking about Birdie.’

‘Really? I had a feeling you didn’t know. Otherwise I’m sure you would have told me. That’s why I popped round really. Make a cuppa and sit down. I’m not telling you until you do. I don’ want you going into a dead faint.’

‘Ooh heavens, what is it?’ asked Frankie, her hand poised to whip the eggs. Maybe it was to do with Paul after all. Her heart fluttered in her chest.

‘Sit down. Leave those eggs for a minute, they won’t go off.’

Frankie did as she was told and sat down. It was a relief to get off her legs. She pulled the scrunch out of her curly auburn hair and twisted it neatly into a bun before securing it again.

‘Okay,’ said Birdie, tapping a drum-roll with her hands. ‘The Biggest heart-throb ever is only coming to live at Little Perran. He’s moving into Briar Lodge in a few days’ time.’

She looked at Frankie with wide eyes.

‘Briar Lodge, are you certain?’ asked Frankie.

If anyone was coming to live at Briar Lodge then surely she of all people would know.

‘Isn’t it exciting? He’ll be here for Christmas. Every single woman in the village will be after him, except me of course, as I’ve got Ben, but I’ll be tempted.’

Frankie stared at her.

‘Well, what do you think?’ asked Birdie, pouring water into the teapot.

‘You haven’t told me who it is?’

‘Oh, I thought I did. I’m so excited that’s why. Roux Lockhart, can you believe it?’ said Birdie slicing into the chocolate cake.

‘Roux Lockhart, the film star do you mean?’

‘In the flesh,’ Birdie swooned.

‘But why is he coming here?’

‘They’re making a movie. He’ll be staying here for the filming. I’m not supposed to be telling anyone this yet. It’s top secret. The parish council will be delivering letters today. I’ve brought yours. We’re not to talk to the press, or anyone outside the village who asks about him. Only a few of us have been told he’s staying at Briar Lodge. I thought you of all people would have known.’

Frankie felt her blood boil.

‘But Aunty Rose never mentioned renting out Briar Lodge while she was in the States.’

‘Oh dear,’ said Birdie, her face flushing.

‘I can’t believe it,’ exclaimed Frankie, jumping up to beat the eggs.

‘Were you planning on using the Lodge over Christmas?’ asked Birdie worriedly.

Frankie grimaced.

‘Don’t be silly Birdie. You know I’ve got no one coming for Christmas.’

‘You can come to us, you know that? We’d love to have you.’

Frankie forced a smile.

‘I know, but I don’t want to leave Buster.’

‘He’ll be okay for one evening.’

‘I’ll see. I just can’t believe Aunty Rose didn’t tell me about Roux Lockhart. I’m supposed to be watering her plants. How could she forget to tell me a famous film star was coming to stay?’

‘Ooh you’ve got a good excuse to go over there then,’ Birdie grinned.

‘All the same she might have told me.’

‘I think it was all done very suddenly. Your Aunty Rose told the parish council. You know what she’s like. She probably thought she had told you. Can you imagine though? He’s got pots of money. I bet Stella will be round there before he’s even got the kettle on.’

Frankie laughed.

‘I bet he’s got pots of ego too,’ she said, rescuing the fruit cake from the oven.

‘I wonder if he’ll go to the Christmas ball?’ said Birdie thoughtfully. ‘Hey, he can be your date.’

‘Very funny.’ Frankie hurriedly dropped the hot cake onto a place mat. ‘Anyway, I’ve decided I’m not going to the ball this year.’

Birdie’s mouth dropped open.

‘But you always go.’

‘I’ve always had a partner,’ Frankie tried to keep her voice upbeat but felt sure she was failing miserably.

‘You can still go without a partner,’ insisted Birdie.

‘I’ll see.’

‘I’m going to put that on your tombstone,’ laughed Birdie, getting up. ‘Right I’d better get back. Ben will want to fix the tractor. You’re still coming to The Hand and Shears tonight aren’t you for pre-fete drinks.’

Frankie nodded, although the truth was she didn’t really want to go. She’d got into the habit of staying home these days with Buster for company. In fact she quite liked cosy nights in Primrose Cottage, doing her cross stitch while watching some rubbish on the tele. Honestly, she couldn’t get more boring if she tried. She’d be drinking Horlicks next and going to bed at nine o’clock.

‘Great see you later,’ waved Birdie, stepping into her wellies.

Frankie cleared away the dishes. It occurred to her that she ought to check Briar Lodge. Maybe leave a couple of mince pies there. At least someone famous in the village would stop her thinking about Paul. With that in mind, she placed the mince pies in the oven, switched on the radio and forced herself to sing along with the Christmas carols.

To read more, get your copy here.

 

 

 

 

Christmas with Robert Bryndza

Guess who I have on my blog today? Only the brilliant Robert Bryndza, just in time for Christmas too. What’s more I have an extract from his Christmas novella, Coco Pinchard’s Must-Have Toy Story. Also at the end of this post is news of Rob’s fab Christmas competition. Wonderful prizes, so don’t miss it.

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I love Robert’s books. They are so funny and this one is no exception.

 So, curl up in front of the fire with a hot chocolate – or something stronger! I know that’s what I’m going to do, and enjoy a slice of hilarious Christmas nostalgia with Coco Pinchard and the must-have toy of Christmas past… 

So, over to Rob…

It’s December 1992, and children are going CRAZY for the Tracy Island Toy – almost as crazy as the parents! Christmas day is fast approaching and Coco is desperately trying to track one down for her four-year-old son Rosencrantz.

Throw into the mix a horrible boss, a lazy husband, and the prospect of her in-laws arriving for the festivities, and Coco wishes she could cancel Christmas and sail off to a desert island somewhere – preferably with the gorgeous-yet-unattainable Tom from work.

But retail therapy is at hand! Coco’s faithful friends Chris and Marika rally round, and even her mother-in-law Ethel tries to help in her own eccentric way.

From dodgy dealings in a motorway lay-by, to extreme shopping in Hamley’s with a Sylvanian Families fanatic, to having a go at the Blue Peter make-your-own Tracy Island, Coco tries everything in the hope that Rosencrantz will open his must-have toy on Christmas morning.

Coco Pinchard’s Must-Have Toy Story is a hilarious feel-good comedy, which asks the question – how far would you go to get your child this year’s must-have Christmas toy?

If you are new to the best selling Coco Pinchard series, fear not, Coco Pinchard’s Must-Have Toy Story can also be enjoyed as a stand-alone Christmas treat – and it has zero calories!

 Extract;

Monday 14th December

 I arrived home just after five, exhausted. It was dark and cold, and light was glowing softly against the closed curtains of the living room. When I opened the front door I could hear the end of Newsround. I put my bag down in the hall and poked my head around the living room door. Rosencrantz was sitting atop his favourite beanbag, his tiny legs poking out with his Thunderbirds slippers on.

‘Mummy, Mummy, Mummy!’ he shouted, leaping up and grabbing at my legs. He’d left a tiny imprint in the beanbag, like the well in a cake mix where you break the egg. I lifted him up and he kissed my cheeks and gave me a hug.

“How was school?” I asked.

“Today I ate all my dinner, even though it was a bit cold… and Melanie Jones was told off for filling up the toilet with loo roll… and we had the rehearsals for the Nativity play. Joseph can’t remember his lines.”

“But you know all yours?”

“Of course I know all my lines, Mummy,” he said seriously.

“And you’ve got your brilliant song. Did you sing it for everyone?”

“No, Mummy. I only made that up to make you and Daddy laugh. I have to stick to the script. Even if I only have to bring the Frankincense,” he said, rolling his little eyes as if his talents were being squandered as a mere Wise Man.

“You are going to be the best, wisest Wise Man,” I said.

“It’s going to be a big production,” he added, like a seasoned pro. “Mrs Masters is lending her four Dulux dogs for the manger scene. They’ve just had their hair cut so they look a bit like camels.”

“It sounds… interesting,” I said.

We looked up as Blue Peter started on the television.

“Mummy! They’re making a Tracy Island on Blue Peter! Am I going to get Tracy Island for Christmas?”

Bugger, bugger, bollocks, I thought.

“You posted your letter to Father Christmas?” I asked.

He nodded furiously. “I licked the stamp and everything!”

“Then of course you’re going to get Tracy Island for Christmas.” You’re a rotten lying mother, said a voice in my head.

Rosencrantz did a little jiggle of happiness then climbed back into his dent in the beanbag. On the TV in the corner of the living room, Anthea Turner was dressed in her fluffy Blue Peter jumper and listing all the bits you needed to make a Tracy Island at home. I stood by the door and watched Rosencrantz’s happy little face for a moment, then went through to the kitchen.

Daniel was sitting at the kitchen table. He looked up and gave me a grin. His mother was standing by the sink in her flowery housecoat.

“Hello Ethel, I didn’t know you were coming over, again?” I said, trying to keep my voice light.

“Didn’t know I ‘ad to make an appointment?” she said. She picked up the teapot, swilled it round and tipped cold tealeaves down the sink.

“Course you don’t, Ethel. You just seem to be in town a lot lately,” I said, kissing Daniel on top of his head.

“Mum came up to town to get her ears syringed,” he explained.

“Was it a success? Has it improved your eavesdropping skills?” I asked.

“Thought I’d pop in see my favourite boys… An’ you, love, of course,” said Ethel.

We gave each other an insincere smile. I pulled the kitchen door shut and fished The Sun out of my bag.

“We need to talk. Have you seen the paper?” I said, smoothing it out on the kitchen table.

“I know. Poor Princess Diane, splitting up with that Charles,” said Ethel, spooning fresh tealeaves into the pot. “She won’t leave the Royal Family and come out alive.”

Why is Ethel the only person in the world who calls her Princess Diane?

“Who’d want to hurt Princess Diana?” I asked.

“She gave the Queen an Anus Horribilis,” explained Ethel.

“It’s Annus Horribilis,” I corrected.

“Well, whatever it is, it sounds painful,” said Ethel. “That Diane should watch ‘er back, tha’s all I’m saying.”

The kettle clicked off and she poured hot water into the pot. I resisted the urge to press the Diana/Diane debate.

“Anyway, I’m not talking about Diana. Look!” I said.

I opened the newspaper and flicked through to the page about Tracy Island. Ethel came over to the table and she and Daniel both peered at the article in silence. Ethel’s lips moved as she read.

“Blimey,” said Daniel, sitting back and reaching for a cigarette.

“Coco, iss only a week or so till Christmas! What ‘ave you bin doing for the past two months?” exclaimed Ethel.

“I’ve been at work! You’ve spent the past two months on the bus up here and back to Catford. You could have jumped off at Hamley’s, Ethel,” I retorted.

“I’ve been up and down to the ‘ospital with all sorts, Coco. I’ve got a bad back, bad hips…”

“And there’s all that earwax,” I said.

“Okay you two,” said Daniel. “Let’s go outside and have a cigarette.”

“The door’s shut, Danny, the smoke won’t reach little Rosencrantz,” said Ethel.

“No. We smoke outside, Ethel,” I said.

We grabbed our coats and reconvened on the terrace. The moon was now up and the lawn had frozen and was glistening in the moonlight.

“Maybe we can persuade Rosencrantz to like another toy. What about Action Man?” suggested Daniel.

“We could make a Tracy Island? They were just on Blue Peter, using toilet rolls and margarine tubs,” I began.

“You can’t give ‘im something made up of all the old shit you’d throw away!’ said Ethel. She had a point.

There was a knock on the door and Rosencrantz pressed his nose against the glass.

“Everybody, I just thought up a funny Thunderbirds joke!” he shrilled.

We stubbed out our cigarettes and came back inside, relishing the warmth from the kitchen.

“Go on, tell us yer joke, love,” said Ethel.

Rosencrantz took a deep breath.

“Why is Parker called Parker?”

“I don’t know, why is Parker called Parker?” I asked.

“Cos he’s a good parker!” Rosencrantz cried, grinning with his little row of milk teeth. Ethel and I laughed.

“Oooh! Tha’s funny!” she said, scooping him up for a cuddle.

Only Daniel remained confused.

“Who’s Parker?” he asked.

“Oh Daddy, you’re a ding-dong dilly noodle,” said Rosencrantz. “Don’t you know anything? Parker is Lady Penelope’s chauffeur in Thunderbirds!”

Rosencrantz jumped down from Ethel’s arms and started to swan round the kitchen, doing a rather brilliant Lady Penelope voice and jigging gently as if he were suspended from strings.

Parker, we appear to have intruders. I think they are going to take my jewels,” he said. “Yes, M’lady, but h’I fink we might be unable to stop ‘em,” he said, switching to an equally good impression of Parker. “EVERYONE! I can’t wait for Christmas Day! Thunderbirds are go, go, GO!” he shouted and ran round the kitchen and back through to the living room.

Ethel looked at me and raised an eyebrow.

“Right I’ve gotta be orf,” she said picking up her bag. She saw my despondent face. “Don’t worry Coco, love, we’ll sort something out.”

“Yeah Cokes, there’s still a few shopping days to go till Christmas,” added Daniel.

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To carry on reading you can download your copy from Amazon here;

Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B013J05F5M

Amazon USA http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B013J05F5M

I’m also running a competition to win some Christmas goodies. The giveaway will be one prize consisting of;

A signed dedicated paperback copy of Coco Pinchard’s Must-Have Toy Story

A £20/$20 Amazon voucher

 A limited edition A Very Coco Christmas mug, filled with Marks and Spencer’s chocolate Brussel Sprouts

 A signed dedicated paperback copy of A Very Coco Christmas

 Head on over to my Facebook author page to enter! https://www.facebook.com/bryndzarobert/

 

 

 

A Fab book signing x

 

christmasrom2Finally, I am back to blog posting.

I’ve been chained to my lap top for the past few months producing my Christmas novella. I so enjoyed writing it too. It’s titled ‘A Christmas Romance’  I’ve written it under the name of Amy Perfect. Simply because it is a romance.It’s a novel that will pull at your heart-strings. There is lots of romance and Christmas spirit is in abundance. It is most certainly a book to be read while enjoying a mug of hot chocolate and a mince pie and of course sitting in front of a roaring fire.

I enjoyed writing this book so much that I didn’t want it to end. So, I have decided to write more about the village of Little Perran. There will be a Summer novel and later in the year another Christmas novella. I hope you enjoy them.

*Romance is the last thing on Frankie Bell’s mind as she gets ready for Christmas in the English village of Little Perran. It’s going to be a quiet affair once the annual Great Little Perran Christmas Bake Off cake competition is over, with Frankie, and her little dog Buster, tucked up warmly in Primrose Cottage. Fate, however, has other plans and Little Perran is thrown into turmoil when the film star, Roux Lockhart, comes to stay. 
The spirit of the season weaves its magic and a freak snow storm that blows in a surprise visitor. Frankie discovers love from an unexpected quarter, but can she trust it? And is someone cheating with their Christmas cake?
 *

To celebrate the release of ‘A Christmas Romance’ I arranged a book signing at my home. I was to meet several of my readers for the first time. It was nerve-wracking to say the least. But they were all warm and lovely. We had a super day. Books were signed and mince pies consumed. What more can you ask for with Christmas approaching?

Later, a few of us went onto dinner at my local pub. It was a wonderful day. I can’t wait to do it again. Many thanks to Tina and Aiden, Suz, Jaydee, Katie, Carrie and Mark, Anne and David, Sarah, Rachel and Raley. Also thanks to Yvie, her mum and Michelle, Gemma and Sally. Not forgetting Nicola and Debbie. It was a great day. Thanks to my wonderful husband who made the teas and to Louise for her support.IMGP2719IMGP2716selfiesigning 23

Enjoy ‘A Christmas Romance’ You can purchase your copy here

A Christmas Romance Design!

Much love

Lynda

xx

 

 

 

 

BOOK SIGNING FOR CHRISTMAS PRESENTS

So, good news!

To celebrate Christmas coming, I am signing books and sending them in the post. More importantly I am selling them cheaper than the shops. I will be signing copies of ‘Fifty Shades of Roxie Brown’ ‘Pink Wellies and Flat Caps’ ‘The Dogs Bollocks’ and ‘It had to be You’ at a private book signing.

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All books are £4.99  (RRP £7.99) + £2.00 postage.

Great presents.

I will sign the books according to your requests.

Limited time only and orders need to be in by the end of October.

email your order to Christmas@raucouspublishing.co.uk

If you would like to attend the book signing please email booksigning@raucouspublishing.co.uk for details of the venue

Love

Lynda

xx

Full up with Christmas …

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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

Car and the Stepson Having a Breakdown

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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

All I want for Christmas is a present.

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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.

Where’s Lynda? and how it’s all playing havoc with my irritable bowel …

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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

And a Merry Sexy Christmas to you

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Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and to just whisper in your ear that my December Newsletter is now out and ready to be delivered to you inbox.

All you have to do is email at newsletter@renham.co.uk to get yours. Or you could click the subscribe to the newsletter on the right of the page. Just scroll down a tad.

Lots of book news, competitions and revealing by yours truly.

Get yours now before they all go…

Happy holidays.

Lynda

xxxx

Mine’s An Eggnog (a humorous look at Christmas and warning: tits are mentioned)

 

 

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So that wonderful thing called Christmas is looming towards us. You can’t escape it. Radio presenters are already playing those ‘throw up into your handbag’ Christmas songs, although thankfully most of them banned Cliff Richard.

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I’m scared to turn the radio on. Not that I hate Christmas or anything it’s just all that stuff that goes with it. If you’re organised like me then you’ll be turning the house upside down trying to find those sodding Christmas cards you bought for half price last year along with that cheap roll of Christmas wrapping paper. Not to mention the sellotape and scissors. Where do they hide themselves at Christmas? The continuing conversation in our house when Christmas wrapping is ‘Do you have the sellotape? What happened to the scissors?’ Mind you, they’re not needed much these days are they? When I was a kid I got presents. What happened to that? When did presents get replaced by money and vouchers? My sister insists on giving us a cheque each for twenty five quid and when asking what they would like (wrong thing to do by the way. Never ask what someone what they would like for Christmas because you’ll always get the ‘Oh don’t get me anything,’ and should you take this literally … Yes, you’ve been there right? How many friends have you lost?) Anyway back to my sister who responds with ‘The kids prefer money and we’re sending you a cheque.’ So we end up giving them a cheque for twenty five quid each, plus another two for the kids of course. I’m not good at maths but even I know that doesn’t work out fair. I can’t help thinking it would be much easier if we just said ‘Go and treat yourself to something for twenty five quid and we’ll do likewise, saves on the postage sending the cheques.’  But of course we don’t do that do we because we wouldn’t go and treat ourselves to something for twenty five quid because it’s more sensible to put it towards the heating bill. So cheque exchange we continue to do. Although I can’t help feeling short changed somehow with us not having kids. Anyway, the fifty quid we’ll receive we’ll put towards the heating bill. Get my point?

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It’s the time of year when we sit in endless traffic queues trying to get into town and find ourselves in the same car park we always use only now it’s free. The barriers are up. Except you can’t get bloody parked can you? Not unless you get there at three in the morning. Then for some odd reason it is presumed we forget how to use the car park at Christmas as there are now bossy men telling us where and how to park. ‘Over there mate,’ they say pointing to an obvious space. It seems the powers that be deem us to be brain dead at this time of the year. Well we must be if we eat Brussels sprouts and drink hot wine. Do you ever drink hot wine any other time in your life? Precisely, but at Christmas you consume tons of the stuff don’t you? Not to mention that Eggnog stuff. When do you see that at any other time? When have you ever been in a pub and heard someone say Mine’s an Eggnog? I rest my case.egg

And why do we have to eat so much? It seems it isn’t Christmas if you don’t eat enough to make yourself sick.Do you know how much we spend at Christmas? No, I won’t tell you otherwise you may end up another Christmas statistic. Because, of course, it is that time of year when suicides rise apparently. It seems more people are prone to putting their head in the oven as opposed to a turkey. I’d do the same but it’s an induction one and I don’t think I’d achieve much. Think of the poor turkeys and pheasants though. It’s mass murder for them. Seriously it’s poultry genocide however you look at it. Still, don’t let me put you off yours.

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But Christmas is special isn’t it, and who does it fall on? Yes us women. There is just so much to do isn’t there?  No point sending the men out for the sprouts and stuffing is there? By the time they reach the supermarket they’they’ve forgotten why they’re there and they get side-tracked and of course their mobile phone is always out of signal. No best to do it all yourself. This probably means you end up in bed with a Christmas migraine on Boxing Day but at least everyone is having a good time right? And someone is bound to bring you up a turkey sandwich.Then there is the tree. That’s a project on its own isn’t it? I mean, when else would you have a tree sticking out of the back of your car and no one bats an eyelid? And when else would you move your whole house around so you can put a tree in it? Then there is the whole debate of where to put the sodding thing so the cat won’t constantly jump up to catch the baubles while at the same time having it in prime position. By the time ’you’ve done all this and managed to hide the wiring of the tree lights you’ve got pine needles every bloody where, on the floor, on your jumper, under your jumper and I don’t know about you but I certainly had a few stuck in my tits. Also have you noticed how at Christmas you suddenly discover more friends? Where did they come from? Christmas cards drop through the door from people I barely know, and they’re all signed lots of love. Every week I have to buy more cards to keep up with these people. I’m now realising that Christmas cards are a bit like Facebook Friends. Let’s see how many we can get. Then all our other friends (the real ones) will see how popular we are. That’s mature right?

 

Seriously, when else would you wear a silly hat while you’re eating dinner and feel it is perfectly normal, while reading out cheesy jokes from your crackers? That’s another thing have you seen the price of bloody crackers? If you want your guests to get a decent little something from the cracker these days you have to take out a bank loan. I bet the banks love Christmas. You can almost see them rubbing their hands in November can’t you, totting up their Christmas bonus no doubt. The thing I find most worrying is how we are all so afraid to be alone at Christmas. You have to be with someone or have someone come to you. I’m just as guilty of this that I spend most of November trying to sort out where we will go or who will come to us that I eventually have too many invites and everything gets more complicated as I untangle myself from it.

 

But best of all, we break all the rules don’t we? We drink to excess, eat to excess and talk about the after Christmas diet, which I don’t think anyone ever starts do they? Finally, the best part about Christmas where rules really are broken are with the children. Ask little Johnny what he did today in town.

 

‘I saw Santa, sat on his lap and told him where I lived and what presents I wanted.’

 

Bloody marvellous. No one has a clue who the guy in the Santa outfit actually is right? He could be your local paedophile on a protection list. Even the employer at the store wouldn’t know.  All year we tell our kids not to talk to strangers but at Christmas what do we do… we actually take them to see a stranger and encourage them to talk to him and even allow them to sit on his lap. So remember kids, as long as the stranger is wearing a costume of sorts, calls himself Santa and says he will go up your chimney it’s perfectly okay to chat to him and sit on his lap. I mean, why not, it’s Christmas after all.

Picture 370Dedicated to my lovely dad who loved Christmas and dressed as Santa for his grandchildren every year.

 

Coconuts, Wonderbras, Charity, And Christmas. Amazingly They Do Go Together

 

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It’s been a strange few weeks.  The tragedy in the Philippines really brought home to me what counts in life. My family, food on the table, and a roof over my head. My lovely Filipino daughter in law spent an agonizing week wondering if her parents were alive or dead. Finally we heard that all her family were alive and had been living during the day in their house with the roof totally off. Fearful to go out at night because of rebels with guns and they had no food. Thankfully my stepson sent money to get them off the island to safety. Their home is destroyed, their village gone. They are displaced people, dependent on family to get them back on their feet. Not everyone has been so lucky.

 

As a writer I have had an opportunity to help and you can help too.

http://authorsforphilippines.wordpress.com/

Is a great fund raiser where many authors have donated signed copies of their books, Top agents are also offering to critique work. Please go there and have a look. Bidding stops at 8pm GMT tomorrow.

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While we’re on the topic on books, on a lighter note I did a fab interview with the great Jon Rance, author of ‘This Thirty Something Life’ where he talked about his new book ‘Happy Endings’ check the interview here.  Best news of all is that especially for Christmas, my novel ‘Coconuts and Wonderbras’ is 77p on Kindle.

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Just to get you in the mood for Christmas here is a little sample.  ‘Literary agent Libby Holmes is desperate for her boyfriend, Toby, to propose to her and will do anything for him and if that means dieting for England over Christmas then she ll have a go. However, when Libby’s boss introduces her to her new client, Alex Bryant, her life is turned upside down. Alex Bryant, ex-SAS officer and British hero, insists Libby accompany him abroad for a book fair. Libby finds herself in the middle of an uprising with only Alex Bryant to protect her, that is, until Toby flies out to win back her affections.’ Read the first sample for free below.

You can purchase it here.  You can also bid for two signed copies of my books on http://authorsforphilippines.wordpress.com/ They are ‘Pink Wellies and Flat Caps’ and ‘Croissants and Jam’

In the meantime peeps, enjoy the lead up to Christmas and enjoy the free sample below.

 

Chapter One

 

Don’t you just hate diets? Well maybe you don’t. You’re probably one of those people who never need to go on a diet. Generally I couldn’t care less about dieting, but now that I am on a diet it is a completely different matter. After struggling to zip up my best pair of jeans this morning, and painfully pinching my naval in the process, I’ve decided it’s time for drastic action. The problem is I keep changing my mind about which diet to be on. I never realised there was so much dieting paraphernalia. You know the kind of thing, watching everything you eat, counting calories or counting points, measuring food in those colourful measuring pots and trying to get as much out of them as you can. Not to mention those embarrassing weekly weigh-ins. Then there is the awful food. Eating salads instead of proper food and making your own vegetable soup. Talking of soup, I did try the Cabbage Soup diet. It seemed so easy, but the stink in my kitchen and the amount of time I spent in the loo put me off that one. Then, of course, there are the wonderful diets. Chef-made meals diet, homemade meals diet, and tiny portion diet, eat all you like diet, not to mention the low carb or high carb diet. I rather liked the sound of the ‘Ducan’ diet, but I seemed to end up with the ‘Ducant’ diet.

Then there are the marvellous magazine articles with headings like ‘Eat Yourself Slim’. Oh yes, I like the sound of that. You can choose whether to diet online or offline, or you could just have a milkshake and forget about food altogether. It’s all so confusing. And why do we do it? I don’t know why you do it, but I’m doing it to keep the man in my life because I am sure my boyfriend is seeing someone else, and the someone else is far skinnier than me. I know, of course, I should be doing it for myself. But, starting a diet three weeks before Christmas is not only very bad timing but sheer stupidity. I’m Libby by the way, and I like to think of myself as slightly curvy rather than fat, although some days I must admit to feeling huge. My best friend Issy is blessed with a metabolism that allows her to eat anything, and I could gladly kill her. I only have to think marshmallow and I look like one. She, on the other hand, is one of those women who can polish off a plate of fish and chips with a bread roll on the side and still manage to lose a pound. However, it doesn’t seem to improve her temperament.

 

‘Sod off.’

It’s Saturday night and three weeks before Christmas and Issy, somewhat inebriated, shares some Christmas spirit with the carol singers outside my cottage. I am mortified and tell her so. After all, you just don’t tell the Salvation Army to sling their hook do you, especially when they are singing ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’.

‘That’s my bloody point. If they are the Salvation Army then I’ll eat my Christmas hat. And if they are going to sing outside your front door they should at least sing carols. Since when has Onward Christian Soldiers been a carol? Hark, I do believe they have now turned into Mariah Carey,’ she says scathingly.

Embarrassed beyond belief, I attempt to inject some Christmas cheer by offering mulled wine and homemade mince pies. After all, one of us should show some Christmas spirit, especially to the Salvation Army. I open the door to be met by three youths and a ghetto blaster. They hungrily devour my offerings while I stand shivering. Honestly, it’s Christmas, what happened to goodwill to all men? I love Christmas, and the lovely warm cosy feeling you get at this time of the year. I also adore Christmas shopping and the crowds, and I happen to love those garish houses that seem to be hopelessly devoured by Christmas lights and huge reindeers. Oh yes, Christmas isn’t really Christmas without all that tacky stuff. And I like carol singers, real carol singers, that is. I am more than happy to give them my mince pies but fake carol singers are something else.

‘Now you can sod off. I don’t want to hear this rubbish. If you have to play rubbish at least play sodding traditional rubbish, then go and find your mince pies somewhere else,’ Issy, queen of tact, shouts from the living room.

The three youths and ghetto blaster trudge off into the snow. I return gratefully to the warm living room, where Issy is breathing fire down the phone to some poor assistant at Domino Pizza.

‘I know it is Christmas. What has that got to do with the price of cod? We ordered it over an hour ago, or are you telling me that you have to deliver to Santa and his reindeers first?’

‘Price of fish,’ I correct under my breath.

‘What the bollocks.’

Issy, my best friend and women’s journalist agony aunt, likes to say bollocks a lot. Frankly, she is a crap agony aunt and the last person I would ask advice from. If you feel depressed she is likely to agree that jumping off a cliff is the best option. Issy spends bucket loads on clothes and cosmetics, and always emerges from a dress shop looking like a million dollars, whereas I come out feeling like I have spent a million dollars but never looking it. I can never grow fingernails like Issy, and when I do, her bright purple nail polish makes me look more like a witch than tantalising seductress. Issy is confident where I am not and oh yes, she is slim. Like I have said, I am just a little bit fat. Did I say a little bit? Okay, a slight correction needed. A fair bit fat I suppose would be nearer the truth. Although, Issy assures me I am nowhere near as fat as I think. Okay, I am one stone ten pounds over my normal weight, or 10.88 kilograms overweight to be precise. Whichever way you convert it I still come out fat. So, what the arsing head and hole has possessed me to eat a Domino’s pizza you’re thinking. Well, it is almost Christmas, and I am convinced my boyfriend, Toby, is seeing someone else. Of course, I have no real evidence for this belief except he seems to smell very sweetly of Lancôme Trésor perfume these days. I can’t exactly confront him with that can I? After all, he is a highly respected journalist who writes not only for our local rag here in Fross but also for The Political Times, which means he works with lots of women, many of whom I am sure wear Trésor. I can’t very well accuse him of sleeping with all of them can I? The thing is, they are all slim and trendy whereas I am neither. Don’t you just hate the word ‘trendy’? In fact, according to him these women are bloody perfect, whereas I am just bloody useless. Not that Toby has ever told me that I am useless. I just feel I am. So, a few weeks before Christmas I have decided it is time to do something drastic about the weight problem. I need to turn myself into a slim, trendy and somewhat perfect woman by Christmas Eve. I decide to call in Issy for diet advice. She suggests we discuss it over a Domino pizza and a bottle of wine. Good start. Like I said, I should never take advice from Issy.

‘Obviously you should diet darling, after all, no one likes a fat person, not that you are terribly fat, but don’t do it for that little fart Toby, and stop baking sodding cakes. Nigella Lawson you’re not!’

As you can see, Issy is as tactful as a sledgehammer. Although I have to agree, I am probably more Delia Smith than Nigella Lawson. I love baking cakes you see. Cupcakes, fairy cakes, fruit cakes, Christmas cakes, sponge cakes, you name it and I bake it. Toby loves my cakes. His favourite is my Victoria sandwich and I have made one for him today along with the mince pies and sausage rolls for the office. The problem is my hobby does tend to end up touching my lips and of course lands on my hips resulting in an insult from Toby’s lips… Have you gained more weight Libby? Your hips look bigger, and that dress used to look nicer on you.

So, after exhausting every slimming pill on the market and still managing to eat like a horse I have decided drastic measures are needed.

‘A gastric band, have you gone insane? Do you really think that little sod is worth it?’ Issy gasps when I voice my plan.

I actually think the little sod is worth it.

‘I’m thinking it would be beneficial to my health and besides…’

‘Bloody hell Libs, you could die under the knife, or even worse, have your spine severed.’

Yes, that is my kind of luck.

‘Isn’t that one and the same thing?’

‘What?’

‘If they sever my spine, I will die won’t I?’

‘Whatever, anyway they’re bound to perforate something. It’s par for the course.’

‘It’s unlikely.’

‘God, you do think the little shit is worth it don’t you?’

I’m wondering how many more derogatory words Issy will find to describe Toby before the evening is over. I am actually thinking the little shit/sod/fart is actually worth it, although I don’t imagine anyone else would think so. I sometimes even wonder why I think so.

‘Right now, the little fart/sod/shit is the only boyfriend I have,’ I moan.

‘And that’s the way it will stay if your spine is severed.’

The truth is I’m not very confident, and even less so when it comes to men. I was so flattered when Toby asked me out a year ago. He is good looking, successful and confident. I can’t imagine what he saw in me.

With raised eyebrows, Issy says I should dump the little bugger.

‘Stop thinking you can’t find anyone better,’ she sighs.

With perfect timing the Domino Pizza man rings the doorbell, and I am saved from admitting that I really don’t want to dump the little bugger and that I actually do love him. I have to wonder how much I love him, however, when five minutes later I am stuffing myself full of ‘Chilli Surprise’ deep pan pizza and potato wedges, not to mention the garlic bread. I am proud to say that when Issy opens a tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for dessert I actually do reign myself in. After all, there is the Christmas party tomorrow night, and I will doubtless eat heaps. Maybe I should start the diet after the party. Yes, that’s the best thing. I’ll start my diet on Monday. I’ll make the party my final indulgence. After all, publishers lay on fab parties, and Hobsons are no exception. Did I mention that I work for a publishing house? I probably didn’t. I work as an agent at Randal and Hobson’s publishing house aka Hobnobs. Not that I have anyone famous on my account but I live in hope. My real ambition is to be a journalist like Toby, and although I have written tons of stuff, I just can’t get anyone to actually read it. Toby says it is pretty amateurish, but I’m sure with practice I could get better. I actually have this crazy idea that maybe tomorrow night, at the party, I could propose to Toby. Yes, you heard me, propose. I am twenty-nine after all and I really should get married. I know one shouldn’t rush into marriage just because one is almost thirty, but can you imagine still being on the shelf in your thirties? Oh God, it is enough to make me reach for the Ben and Jerry’s. Well, I have already eaten the pizza so let’s face it the damage has been done.

‘Oh, I really can’t face the thought of being single for another year and Toby is so lovely, he makes me feel…’ I say with my mouth full of ice cream.

Issy leans towards me and grabs the spoon.

‘Makes you feel sick I shouldn’t wonder,’ she hiccups. ‘He certainly has that effect on me.’

‘Special. He makes me feel special,’ I say lamely, knowing full well that he doesn’t.

‘Oh please. By the way, did you hear that radio interview with the luscious Alex Bryant? Oh, that voice. He trashed Toby’s article on the Cambodian uprising unmercifully,’ she says gleefully. ‘But what a dreamboat. Talk about fabalicious. Did you see him on the Morning Show? He’s just back from America and has signed with a publisher here. Wouldn’t it be fab if you had him as a client? He is as close to an Adonis as any man can be. Imagine working twenty-four-seven with him. I bet he has a penis so large that…’

‘Issy, please, I have just eaten,’ I snap and try to get the image of a huge penis out of my head.

‘Anyway, I’m not in the least interested in the Oh look at me, I’m an ex-SAS super hero, call me when the world needs saving arsehole. I thought that radio interview was pathetic as it happens,’ I say scathingly. ‘He is so arrogant, I’m so glad we didn’t sign him last year. That is the second time he has trashed Toby’s work.’

‘He is ultra-gorgeous though, you have to admit that.’

‘I wouldn’t even know what he looks like.’

‘You’re the only woman who doesn’t then,’ she scoffs, flouncing off to the bathroom.

I take the opportunity to see if Toby has sent me a text. Disappointedly I throw my Blackberry back into my bag and clear the dishes.

‘Bastard,’ slurs Issy sneaking up behind me. ‘He hasn’t texted you has he?’

‘He’s probably busy at work,’ I mumble, splashing soapy water over the plates and crashing them onto the drainer.

‘Where is Toby taking you for New Year’s Eve?’ she asks, taking a tea towel from a drawer.

‘Not sure. I have mentioned the party at the Glass Dome. It seems everyone is going there this year.’

‘I’ve promised myself I will only go if I have someone special to go with,’ she sighs.

She throws down the tea towel and gleefully hands me an envelope tied with a red ribbon.

‘This will cheer you up. Happy Christmas,’ she says nodding excitedly.

‘But it isn’t Christmas for three weeks. Blimey, you’re organised.’

I turn the envelope around in my hands and then place it beside my row of cookery books.

‘I’ll stick it on the tree as soon as it goes up.’

‘No,’ blurts Issy retrieving the envelope and sending a Gordon Ramsay cook book flying. ‘You have to open it now.’

‘Can you please mind Gordon. He is the closest thing I have to male company most days.’

She rolls her eyes and thrusts the envelope at me. I raise my eyebrows. Aren’t you just highly distrustful of presents that have to be opened weeks before Christmas?

‘Why?’ I ask suspiciously.

‘Because you have to use it by the end of next week,’ she sighs.

Ah, one of Issy’s second-hand presents. I open the envelope with trepidation. Please don’t let it be anything life affirming or God forbid, dangerous. I am still quivering from the hand-me-down bungee jump that she gave me for my birthday. Please let it be a cookery lesson or something equally as safe.

‘A makeover and photo shoot!’

‘It expires next Friday,’ she cries delightedly. ‘I’ve had the thing hanging around for a year, and then I thought of you. I really don’t need it, but you do, and I thought it would be a great present.’

Bloody cheek, what does she mean I need it? I try not to look crestfallen.

‘Come on; we are going to Madam Zigana’s after all.’ She throws my coat and gloves at me.

Oh no, not the psychic. I had hoped that the pizza and the Ben and Jerry’s would have made her forget all about that.

‘I can’t hobnob with the dead. I have nothing suitable to wear, and anyway Toby might phone and I would hate to miss his call,’ I protest.

‘God, you’re starting to obsess. Come on, grab a shroud and let’s go.’

‘But it’s snowing,’ I complain.

‘Grab a fur shroud then. Come on. She is doing a Christmas special and you are getting so maudlin these days, verging on depressing in fact.’

A Christmas special… God, it sounds more harrowing by the minute. I think a hand-me-down bungee jump would be less vexing. I would much rather snuggle up with a mug of hot chocolate and dream about Mr Right.

 

 

 

Almost Cholera, but not quite…

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Hello there peeps, sorry for keeping you waiting. You know how it is? You don’t? Well, I came back from Cambodia and am about to dish the dirt as promised except a few days after my return I went down with a shocker of a cold. Now, let me know tell you dear friends that I recall the bugger who passed this onto me quite clearly. I can still see his red nose as he coughed and spluttered behind me on the aeroplane. Rest assured I shall be taking my revenge before the week is out. That is, of course, if my lovely husband Andrew, who now sneezes uncontrollably, has not murdered me. Ah, the pleasure of returning home from holiday. Even our tummies are rebelling somewhat and trying to rid themselves of the last vestige of Cambodia it seems. So,let’s crack on with the show then, I mean Blog. Sorry, you can see I have been resting with Miranda Hart, not personally of course but if anyone can arrange that, let me know. Before we begin I should just say that Cambodia was one of the best countries I have ever visited and I am deeply eager to return again and what follows is my usual light-hearted view on life. Enjoy.
Now, where did I get to? Ah yes arrival at my stepson’s apartment with the building work, which I was convinced would not happen on Boxing Day. Yes, well, never presume. I woke at 7.a.m and for a minute I think I am alone. The beds in the hotel and at my stepson’s are so wide that you can lose your partner. After a bit of feeling around however, I soon found Andrew and let out a big sigh of relief. Any hope of getting back to sleep is dashed by the banging and drilling next door and we get up to enjoy Boxing Day in Cambodia. The rest of the day is spiffing, thank you. That evening we meet some friends of my stepson and his wife who are also holidaying and go for dinner. Ah, first complication of the holiday. What can we eat? The web advice was that all the water is poison and to avoid like the plague. Apparently, we are told, the water if drunk will turn your hair to wire This came on good authority from a monk, well ex monk. As for the food, make sure the hotel you’re in uses good hygiene. Yes, well this isn’t a hotel and I just don’t think it is common practice to ask to see the kitchens here or to meet the chef.
‘Don’t worry, the food is fine here,’ my stepson’s friends assures me. We quickly discuss it and decide that Pizza will be fine and bravely order. Oh dear… That night feeling perfectly fine I decide to stop being so nervous about tummy bugs

Our lovely dinner with Pizza and all.
and tell Andrew I am going to stop thinking about things like that. He agrees it is a good idea. The following morning I tell myself the nausea I am feeling is all in my mind and Andrew confirms this.

‘I feel fine and we ate the same thing. You are bringing this on yourself. Do you want to come with me later? I’m meeting James in his lunch break and we are going for a curry. The whole thing with a pint of beer only costs three dollars.’

My husband, ever the caring partner. Just the word curry sends my stomach into turmoil and I open my mouth to decline but instead rush to the loo to be violently sick instead with my imaginary upset stomach. Oh god… Andrew checks I am okay and then potters off. I am sick several times while he is out and several more times when he gets back. A trip to the temples the following day is cancelled and I find myself pining for home and a safe meal. I lay on my enormous bed feeling very sorry for myself and fighting down the nausea. Visions of being airlifted to a Bangkok hospital haunt me. Oh, God am I to die in Cambodia? A bit embarrassing if I do. What will Andrew tell people? I stress to him should this happen, he is to say I caught Cholera. One has to save face after all. That night I start to feel better and would have slept quite well had Andrew and his son not been throwing up. I decide not to ask Andrew if it is all his mind. The next day we look a little like the walking dead and decide to frighten the local community and take a walk.

All three of us looking the worse for wear. Daughter in law Lisa escaped, but only just.
In the end a very good idea for it certainly blew away the building dust and by the morning we were more than ready for a visit to the floating village. Our Tuk Tuk driver collected us on time and off we went down the Cambodian motorway. A lovely smooth ride until we hit the dirt track leading to the floating village. Let me tell you a trip in a Tuk Tuk through a Cambodian village needs some doing. Several times I was sure my womb dropped out and I didn’t have the heart to ask if we could return to retrieve it. I gave thanks to God that I didn’t wear contacts because after a couple of bumps in a Tuk Tuk on a bumpy road and you nearly lose your eyeballs let alone your contacts and trust me do not and I cannot stress this enough, do not go braless. It really isn’t worth it. Plus, of course, it is disrespectful in a country such as this. I rubbed my head with 4head and prayed the floating village wasn’t much further. Andrew meanwhile was attempting to photograph water buffalo as we jogged along. I pushed my hat back onto my head in the manner of Karen Blixen in ‘Out of Africa’ and attempted to look cool and glamorous. I failed miserably.
‘We here,’ shouts the Tuk Tuk driver and we both stare perplexed at what looks like border control. I look around me and see a tiny river. That surely cannot be the floating village. Then I realise we have to pay to enter the floating village. Neither of us had anticipated this and did not bring much money with us. It is 15 dollars each and we do not have enough. The Tuk Tuk driver pays the excess and we drive through to the next village, Andrew mumbling the whole way that he really doesn’t understand what we actually paid for. Five minutes later we find out. Several boats no correction, several things that look like boats sit bobbing on the water waiting to take the tourists (us) through the floating village. I look at Andrew and back to the logs that make up the boats.

‘Is that what we have paid for?’

I ask breathlessly.

‘Yes, let’s go.’

Answers Andrew.
I take another look at the boat, take a deep breath and in the manner of Karen Blixen about to go on Safari, I attempt to board…
To be continued.