Lockdown with a smile

woman-bw-typewriter

Around the middle of January, I scrolled through the news app on my phone. I had my breakfast of Special K and coffee made with Hazelnut Milk and skimmed through a news report about a virus outbreak in China. That was a long way from me so I barely gave it a second thought. Life continued as normal. (I never imagined that several weeks later I’d be searching the shelves for Hazelnut Milk. We don’t drink cow’s milk.)

A few weeks later I went shopping in Oxford with my friend and we joked about the women we saw who covered their faces with scarfs when we got into the lift with them in Debenhams. Never imagining for one moment that in a matter of weeks Debenhams would be closed. That our shopping trips to Oxford would never be the same again.

‘It’s in China, not here,’ we said.

How naive we were.

So, life continued. I read about a few outbreaks in other countries but it still didn’t touch us.

Later, I read about people being stuck on cruise ships because of outbreaks of the Corona Virus. I remember feeling a small pang of anxiety and then quickly pushed my worries to one side. But then I started reading about Facebook friends who were stuck on these cruise ships. I checked the number of cases in the UK, saw it was very small and carried on as normal, albeit slightly nervous.

Then, in the middle of February, I became very unwell. I had a continuous dry cough. I would wake up in the middle of the night soaked in sweat and coughing. The next few days I felt like I had a really bad cold or mild flu. I ached and my legs felt heavy. There was mention of the Corona Virus in Europe so I stayed home, not in the least convinced I had it. I did, however, feel very unwell. The continuous dry cough drove me nuts. I developed a terrible headache with flashing lights in my right eye. I’d never had that before. My blood pressure went through the roof.

‘I must have the flu,’ I said.

But it didn’t feel quite like flu. I didn’t have a sore throat. I had a bit of sneezing but nothing excessive. But I was very tired.

Now, I wonder, did I have it? Shortly after, Andrew became unwell. He said it was the worst cold he’d ever had.

Now, here we are. Isolation for everyone.

Strange times. Andrew is on a 2 week holiday. We were going to York. We were going to have lunches out. Instead, today Andrew has to go into work to collect any important documents and laptops he needs to work from home.

Yesterday we sorted through the freezer. A long overdue job and found loads of meals we’d frozen and forgotten about. They’ll all have to be eaten now.

Today Andrew ordered a hair trimmer! I hope he doesn’t ask me to trim his hair.

My grandson is the only child in the village school. That seemed weird. I think there may have been one other child. The schools are closed except for front line worker’s children. My grandson’s parents are both nurses.

Day 1 lockdown

After Boris Johnson’s briefing last night 23/03/2020 I awoke this morning feeling strange. Last night Boris Johnson said all shops would be closed and to shop online if you could.  I’d spent last night looking online for cat food. I assure you that my cat will survive even if I don’t.  I was stunned to see online shopping websites closed due to the demand. Everything on the Wilko site was sold out. I then laid awake for over an hour working out what food we had in the freezer and how much cat food there was in the cupboard and whether we could spare some chicken breast for our boy (yes he’s spoilt), while feeling overwhelming anger, verging on murderous thoughts, towards those people whose homes are no doubt bulging with toilet roll, cat food, kitchen towel, hand sanitizer and god knows what! I woke up feeling I was in a Margaret Attwood novel.

We don’t have a television so we’re not being bombarded by the news. We watch it as and when we think it is important to do so.

I decided to plan my days. Keep busy. Lots of knitting, crochet, and writing. A walk every day, which is essential.

I’m thinking of those people who live in high rise flats. We have lovely weather. I’m lucky I can step out into my garden or walk through my village.

So much in our lives has changed already. I’m cleaning the house obsessively. What’s new?

I never thought I’d be disinfecting the doorbell on a regular basis or that I would almost choke rather than cough in public.  Or that my closest friends would become WhatsApp mates, only.

And I thought Brexit would be bad. Good practice for what is to come.

At least we have wine.IMG_6027

Day 2 of Lockdown

Andrew is to work from home once his holiday is over and to think I was dreading semi-retirement. So far so good. The knives are still in the drawer and I haven’t threatened to leave (where would I go ?) All is well. Just keep taking the HRT and hope there isn’t a shortage. Andrew went to the office to get his laptop and anything else he needed and then braved it to Lidl and Sainsbury on his way back. They were well stocked and there was me going into a massive panic because we were running out of kitchen towel.

So far we haven’t experienced the mass hysteria of panic buying. I can’t imagine battling it out for a pack of loo roll. I’m learning to be more economical with that! Although sometimes I forget and then feel terribly guilty that I used an extra sheet.

Day 3

The days are passing much quicker than I thought they would. Although, it has only been three. In fact, we seem to be getting nothing done.

I checked our toilet roll stash if you can call it a stash, compared to what some have. Where are they storing it is what I want to know?

Anyway, we’ll be all right for a while. I thought of buying serviettes, but the panic buyers were quicker. No flies on them. None to be had.

Everyone is very polite in our local Coop. If you accidentally bash them with your trolley they almost apologise for being in your way. All very civilised. No fighting over food. Of course, I imagine if you coughed anywhere near them, then they may well bash you to the death with their cucumber.

Andrew had a bit of a wobbly when he realised he couldn’t get to Homebase. I said, get it online. The problem is he wants the stuff like yesterday and can’t really wait until 2021.

Will this ever end? We’ve only been in lockdown for a short time and it feels like forever.

Lockdown Day 3 or is it 4 (I’m already getting confused)

Living in a Cotswold village during a virus outbreak is a blessing. Everyone helping everyone else with prescription collection and sharing their shopping delivery slots. We ventured to the Coop again. Not a million miles away. Odd to see the usual pharmacy queue at the doctors surgery now out into the street and halfway through the village, while people stay 6 feet from each other. I remember when they would squash right up to you to get you to move down the queue faster. How times quickly change.

The Coop shop was strange. People entering behind us and then stopping when we did. Always staying 6 feet behind. I felt stressed like I was holding them up while I looked at the grapes. The store was well stocked which was a relief to see. I spent most of the time in there dancing with people so we could shop at a reasonable distance. Had a few near misses but overall all very dignified. Odd to see the staff putting out stock with gloves on and people covering their faces with scarfs as I passed them. It was like being in a leprosy colony. Who’d ever have imagined it? We left the Coop and headed home passing the local garage as we did so. I saw all the pumps were ‘not in use’ apart from one.

‘Uh oh,’ I said.

So Andrew filled up. I couldn’t cope with queuing for petrol next.

I thought I’d look on the Boots pharmacy website for some of the things I couldn’t get in the supermarket. There was a six-hour virtual queue!  Six hours! By the time I got to the front they’d be nothing left. I aborted the mission. I will try again tomorrow.

Day 5 (I believe it was actually Day 4 Yesterday)

Andrew is painting everything in sight. It’s his new hobby. Portraiture is his favourite. He hasn’t asked me to pose nude for him yet. I don’t know why. I imagined I would be his favourite subject. He seems more interested in painting the cat. I’m hoping he’ll start on the kitchen walls but he reminds me there is nowhere to buy paint and anyway it’s not that kind of painting.

I’ve been writing and procrastinating and then more procrastinating.  My friend dropped in some Hazelnut milk for me. She and her husband stood at the front of my gate. Then my other neighbour came along and stopped six feet from them and then Andrew joined me.  I then panicked because there were now five of us and that constitutes a gathering, doesn’t it? We could have had a barbeque. Meanwhile, someone’s chimney caught fire and suddenly there were fire engines everywhere. It was becoming quite a large gathering, albeit six feet apart from each other. We were responsible though and all went back inside our houses and continued our lockdown.

 

Day 6 (surely it’s day 9 or 10, or perhaps it just feels like it.)

Instagram is full of celebrities sharing their fears, recipes, or thoughts. Make up free, hair a mess. We’re going to view these celebs in a whole other light after this. Perhaps the new craze will be reveal yourself as you are, warts and all. They’re  giving us an inside look into their lives. Showing us that they are the same as us, albeit a little bit richer and a little bit more famous and just a touch more influential. Of course, most of us knew that. Anyway, back to more serious things. I fell over. This is serious because Andrew, who was in the summer house, chatting to his brother, never heard me fall or the crash of the jug I dropped. I did wait for him to come hurrying out but to no avail. Eventually, I dragged myself up and into the house. I sprained my ankle and grazed my knee. It’s not the time to go to the x-ray walk-in department is it? Still it could have been worse. It could have been my neck. There’s always a silver lining.

images (1)

Day 7 and 8 of lockdown (they’re all merging into one another now. I’m still limping)

Foot is black and blue and three times its usual size. We’re trying to pretend all is well. It would be far bigger if it was broken wouldn’t it? We braved it to Lidl. Delighted to see from the car park there were no queues and then we turned the corner … Loads of people standing 2m apart with masks and gloves on.

‘Ah,’ I screeched. ‘I forgot gloves’

Andrew rolled his eyes and said nothing. I grasped the handle of the trolley with my coat sleeves and limped forward. Lidl was nicely stocked. I grabbed two plastic bags so I could distance my hands from the trolley and we were off. I tried not to get annoyed at those who didn’t observe the social distancing while Andrew kindly reminded me the place was full of germs anyway. He has this wonderful knack of cheering me up. I know I shouldn’t have but I did stockpile chocolate. I thought I’d make a chocolate cake. Whether I’ll get any further than just thinking about it, is anyone’s guess.

Not being able to go for walks is driving me a bit stir crazy.  I dreamt about the virus again last night. In this one things had really progressed and we weren’t allowed to leave our bedroom!  (sigh) I’m off to rest my poorly foot. More soon if you can bear it.

Much love

Lynda xx

 

More soon … if you can bear it.

Women’s Bits and New Books

 

 

images-1It’s been so long since I’ve posted on here. It’s been a manic few months with so much happening.

Life is certainly never static is it? After months and months of chronic knee I finally went private to find out what was going on. This only after being told that my appointment to see a consultant would take eighteen months. Eighteen months, I don’t know about you but that seemed a lifetime away to me. I love the NHS but it certainly doesn’t seem to like me. Or maybe my GP doesn’t like me. I discovered my flat feet were crippling me. Who’d have thought such a simple thing could cause so much pain? Insteps and a few months later and I feel like a new woman. Well, leg wise anyway. A woman I am beginning to detest being.

So, I thought I’d share the ongoing saga I am having with my GP. I’m attempting to see the funny side of things as I’m sure there must be one. I’m also hoping someone going through a similar thing may contact me to share. God knows I’m in need of sharing.

Before you read on, be aware this post does mention female bits. Okay, brace yourself for the ride. Ready? Here we go then.

About three months ago I began to feel just a touch uncomfortable ‘down there’ My mum always referred to it as ‘down there’ and oddly enough so did a very young gynaecologist I saw. There was me trying to be all technical and knowledgeable by saying, ‘The sore area is on the right labia, high up by the vagina.’ We finally just referred to it as ‘down below.’ I must admit it is far simpler. I also worry I’m saying the names wrong. I probably know the parts of a car better than I do ‘down there’

Anyway, I’m waffling as usual. So, the first thing I do is go to my GP. Sensible I thought. I phone for an appointment. I’m then triaged as I say I really can’t wait three weeks! I’m told my doctor will phone me. She does. She then tells me they are too overcome and I’d have to go to another surgery in the town closest to me. Off I trot. I see a nice doctor there who says she can’t see anything ‘down there.’ Asks me if sex is painful and then suggests something to numb the soreness. I’m not over the top happy but take her prescription. A week later I’m still the same. I phone my GP again and it’s arranged for me to see a female doctor at my own surgery. Off I pop. I explain the soreness and she has a look.

‘Ooh,’ she says surprised, ‘I can see a lesion.’

‘Oh really, I guess that must be the problem,’ I reply.

‘It looks like an ulcer.’

‘Right, what do you do for that?’

A sensible question I thought.

‘I think we should take swabs.’

Great, this was what I wanted to hear.

‘Shall I test for everything?’ she asks.

Now, not being a doctor, I have no idea what everything is. Clearly she doesn’t need to check me for Syphilis or any other STD. I’m happily married to my second husband. He is happily married to me. I was previously married for a long period to another man who wasn’t the type to put it about either. You know your men better than the doctors’ right?

‘Not the things I’m unlikely to have,’ I say.

‘I think we should test for Herpes,’ she says.

I’m a bit open-mouthed for a second and then stupidly find myself wondering if you can get Herpes any other way. I’ve not even worn a tampon in over a year, besides you can’t catch it from them can you? I try not to be insulted.

‘There’s no way I have Herpes,’ I say, trying not to sound affronted.

‘You could have had it from the age of nineteen,’ she says confidently.

‘Without symptoms? I ask.

I’m seriously distrustful of her judgements now.

‘It would be odd that you’ve had no symptoms,’ she says.

So here I am at the age when the only thing I should be worried about is the menopause and this twenty something woman is telling me I’ve been walking around with Herpes for over thirty years without any symptoms and now wham bam here they are. Yes, right, you don’t trust her judgement either do you?

She takes the swabs and I hit the ceiling. She tests for thrush and Herpes. I tell her I have neither. She doesn’t listen to me. I have no voice.

I trot back home and phone for the results a few days later. The receptionist isn’t allowed to give me the results so I wait for the doctor to phone. She doesn’t. It’s on her list but she doesn’t phone. I call the next day and ask could she phone as I’m still in discomfort and need something to ease the soreness. I’m now struggling to pee. And let me tell you, I pee a lot.

‘She’s the duty doctor today,’ I’m told. ‘So she’s very busy.’

Excuse me, but am I not a patient?

I patiently explain she was supposed to have phoned me yesterday and didn’t. It’s a Friday and I don’t know what to do now the tests have come back. It gets to five and still no phone call. The phones shut down at six at the surgery. I phone The Doc (Andrew my husband) in tears. He phones them and says how dissatisfied we are. They promise to phone. They still haven’t by six. He goes in on his way home and says he won’t leave until they call me. She finally does and tells me I will need to be referred and it will take six weeks but as they saw a lesion she thinks I should be referred to the cancer clinic using the two-week wait. I question whether it could be a hormonal thing as my breasts are also sore. She doesn’t know. I ask if she thinks it could be serious and she says ‘The other doctor saw a lesion so best to be sure.’ I agree and wait for the appointment. At least I know I don’t have thrush or Herpes. It’s a start.

A week or so later and off I pop again to see a lovely gynaecologist. We chat about ‘down there’ and finally he has a look ‘down there.’ He then asks if I’d like to know what is wrong with me? Dumb question, but still.

‘Nothing,’ he says.

‘Right,’ I say. ‘So is it Atrophy then?’ I ask pulling up my knickers. I’d worn my best frilly pair. Well, last time I got caught out with a hole at the back. Very embarrassing.

‘Ah, how do you know these things?’ he asks.

‘Ah, I like to know what’s going on with my body,’ I say.

‘Right,’ he says, ‘You need some local Oestrogen for ‘down there’

‘Oh, I say, ‘I take HRT, wouldn’t that have been enough?’

‘Some women need both.’

‘So it’s okay to use both?’

You can’t say I don’t ask questions.

Off I pop. A few days later I phone  my GP and ask them if I can have the medication. They say they will get the doctor to phone. She doesn’t phone. I’m tearful. I phone again the next day and she finally calls back and tells me I can’t have it if I’m on HRT and that she needs the letter to come back first and will also contact the menopausal clinic to speak to my consultant there. I tell her the gynaecologist said it was okay. No one believes me. I contact the menopausal clinic. They send an email saying I can have the medication. The gynaecologist writes and says I can have the medication. My doctor still doesn’t give it. I phone again to be told she is very busy and that she needs the letter first. I tell them it is on their system as I can see it. That day I get no medication. The next day I phone again. I wait until six, no phone call, no medication. Finally it gets to Thursday and I phone again. This time no reply. I jump in my car and go there. I’m seething, in pain and totally fed up. I demand the medication and tell the woman at the pharmacy at the surgery that I’m not going without it. She then tells me my doctor has gone home. She had messages to contact me. She ignored them.

I stand my ground and a doctor gives me the medication as soon as he hears what is happening.

Your opinion? I’d like to hear it.

Meanwhile happy news. While all that has been going on ‘down there’  ‘up here’ a new book has been released and I’m so excited. It’s already getting rave reviews and it’s only **99p** at least for a short time. Don’t miss out.

renham-phoebe-fbcover

I’ve loved writing this book and I so hope you enjoy reading it. It’s a fab read for Christmas. Well, I would think so, wouldn’t I?

Lots of love

Lynda

x

Going All The Way With A Bus Driver

bus

So, I’ve got a bus pass. Let’s not go too much into how I got one, okay? I’d rather not go there. Anyway, a free bus I have. It’s been in my purse for months. I live out in the sticks, where buses run hourly (if that) so the thought of standing around waiting for a bus when I could pop into Oxford quite easily in my car seemed a silly choice to make … until. I met my friend Marie in Oxford for a few hours shop and some lunch and the car parking charge was over ten quid. Now, that’s just taking the Michael right? So, when we arranged to have another jolly (as Marie terms it) around Oxford, I thought why not use my bus pass? It’s free after all.

So, Organised I became. And that’s unusual for me. I checked the bus number, G3. It came to my village at a quarter to the hour, every hour. I then checked the times of the returning buses, emailed them to my phone. I prepared a chicken curry in the slow cooker, turned it onto low, after all I would be back by three so it would be safe enough. Armed with everything I needed for my bus trip, I set off to get the 11.45 bus which would get me into Oxford by 12.30 and all free of course. Marie never said a word but I sensed she was uncertain about the whole thing. It was a lovely sunny spring day. Perfect for my first venture on a bus, after all it must have been all of thirty years since I went on a bus. It was lovely. I travelled through several other local villages before heading onto the main road, and then finally towards Oxford Town itself.

‘Let me know when you arrive?’ Marie had texted.

I don’t know why she was so worried. I arrived on time and we had a great shop and several coffees. In fact we had been enjoying it so much that we lost track of time. It was almost four.

oxford

‘Fancy something to eat?’ asked Marie.

My stomach churned at the thought of the chicken curry. It would be okay wouldn’t it? It was on low anyway. But to be on the safe said. I text my stepson who lived nearby to ask if he could pop in and turn it off, after all, better safe than sorry and then off we trotted to Pizza Express. Halfway through my phone bleeped. It was a text from my stepson.

‘Sorry not at home today, won’t be back until after 5.30.’

My stomach flipped over. Oh no. I’d just presumed he’d popped in around four and turned it off. Visions of my cottage on fire now began to haunt me. Oh no, this is a disaster. Even a free pass isn’t worth my house burning down.

We finished up our food and I glanced again at the time on my phone.

‘I’ll be in time for the 5.30 bus,’ I said confidently.

But I won’t be home until well gone six and by then we’ll either have char-grilled chicken curry or a burnt down cottage. I sent Andrew a message saying I should be home before him but to be aware the slow cooker had been on since 9.

‘You worry too much,’ he replied.

‘Where do you get your bus from?’ asked Marie as we hurried along, both of us conscious of my burning cottage.

My brain froze. I had no idea.

‘Presumably outside Debenhams,’ I said.. ‘That’s where I got off.’

‘Probably,’ said Marie, unworried.  ‘My friend used to get that bus and she picked it up around Debenhams.’

We kissed goodbye and she trotted off to her bus stop and me to find mine, except the G3 wasn’t mentioned at the Debenhams bus stop, or at the bus stop further down. I strolled around the corner to the next lot of bus stops. The sun had now gone down and the wind was sharp and cold and I didn’t have a coat. I tried not to panic, after all the G3 had to go back too didn’t it? Finally I found it. G3. I double checked it did go to my village, although I knew G3 was the right one. And then I waited and I waited and I waited. It was getting colder and there seemed to every bus in Oxford but the G3. I checked my phone again. There should have been one at 5.30. Then I saw it, large as life and the most beautiful sight ever, the G3 bus. Except it said it was terminating at Woodstock, which was quite a way from my village. Never the less I jumped on and checked.

‘You want the next one love,’ said the driver. ‘I’m not going the whole way.’

I sighed and clambered off into the cold again. Meanwhile another passenger waiting at the stop asked me about his bus. I simply gave him a blank look. I barely knew which, was my bus, let alone what was his. Plus, I had a lot more on my mind. Like my slow cooker. It seemed my stepson at this point was going to pop in and then he saw my car and presumed I was home. How was he to know I’d taken the stupid bus?

Finally another G3 came along and I jumped on, sighing with relief. Maybe I would be home just in time before the dinner dried up totally. I struggled to relax and focused on the two women chattering away behind me. My ears pricked up when one of them said

‘This is the Enstone bus isn’t it?’

I nearly threw up into my handbag. Enstone, what did she mean Enstone? Enstone is miles from my village. No, she must have it wrong surely. It’s the G3 and it goes to my village via Woodstock. Yes, here we are coming into Woodstock. The bus goes through the village as I hoped and then travels along the road that leads to the turn off for my village. I check the time. It’s now almost six. Andrew will soon be home. Please let him come home to a charred chicken rather than a charred cottage. The turning for my village loomed ahead. I’m ten minutes from home. I may even make it before Andrew. I get my phone out ready to dial 999. Best to be prepared, I always think.slowcook3

But the bus flies pass my turning and continues on into the countryside. Oh no, he is going to Enstone which is miles away. Has he gone insane? I jump from my seat, almost flying into his lap as he brakes sharply.

‘You want this stop?’ he asks.

I stammer out my village and he looks curiously at me.

‘I’m going to Chipping Norton,’ he says.

Oh my God that’s even further away. He may as well have said Dublin.

‘But … I thought …’ I begin.

‘You needed the Charlton G3,’ he said.

How many bloody G3’s are there? Why can’t there one like everyone else has.

‘But …’ I begin, but it’s no good telling him about my charcoal cottage is there

‘You’ll have to go all the way with me now,’ he says, moving off.

I sigh and text Andrew, fighting back my tears.

‘I’m so sorry for burning the house down. I only wanted to save parking fees.’

A quick message back tells me he is home and that home is still there in fact, and that the curry looks great. Meanwhile, I’m travelling through the countryside of Oxfordshire.

bus2

We arrive at Chipping Norton where the driver tells me he has to wait a while before turning back.  We then go all the way back and finally reach the turn off for my village but instead of taking it he stops.

‘This is you,’ he says

‘But aren’t you going to …’

‘You need to cross over, get the next one. It should be five minutes and that will take you to the village.’

Oh for goodness sake.

‘One consolation,’ he says.

Oh really, is there one?

‘You won’t do this again will you?’

He’s quite right of course.   I cross the road, get the oncoming bus and get home at 6.45.

Still it could be argued I got the most out of my free bus pass.

You can buy Lynda’s latest bestselling comedy novel ‘Perfect Weddings’  here

 

You’re Invited to Perfect Weddings

Renham-PerfectWeddings-Invite

Hi everyone,

I thought I would never get over here. Things were manic on my Facebook and Twitter page yesterday because … hurrah it was the launch day for my new novel ‘Perfect Weddings’

I’m so excited about this book as everyone is saying they think it is my best one yet.

Paperback_RGB

I love the cover thanks to Katie Grace Klumpp, who is so talented, you have to agree. Click her name to check out her work.

 

I hope you enjoy ‘Perfect Weddings’ If you like weddings then you are bound to.

Do you remember Amy Perfect who wrote ‘A Christmas Romance?’ Well, my bit of fun was to name the main character in ‘Perfect Weddings’ Amy Perfect too 🙂

A Christmas Romance Design!

 

And by the way, while we are talking about ‘A Christmas Romance’ it is now 99p. It is the first in the Little Perran series and it doesn’t have to be Christmas to enjoy it. So why not treat yourself to both. That’s only £2.98 for two books. What can you buy for that these days? Go here for ‘A Christmas Romance’

So what is ‘Perfect Weddings’ about?

‘Every bride wants a perfect wedding and that includes Georgina Winters. Amy Perfect is the crème de la crème of wedding planners so who best to plan Georgina s wedding… except the man Georgina plans to marry is the same man who jilted Amy three years ago. Will her plan to give Georgina the most imperfect wedding backfire on her? Is this the chance for Amy to win back the love of her life, or will insufferable Ben Garret put a spanner in the works? Arab princes, spoilt brides and wedding catastrophes make Perfect Weddings a page-turning romantic comedy that will keep you guessing until the very last page.’

I do hope you enjoy it. You can get yours here

http://goo.gl/Vp78vS

Much love as always

Lynda

x

Woo Hoo, Christmas Is Coming

animated-christmas-card-image-0104
 

 
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.

christmasrom2

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.

 

 

 

 

Fifty Shades of Roxie Brown

PhotoFunia-1435678368

 

On this lovely hot Summer’s day I’m celebrating the pre order of my new novel ‘Fifty Shades of Roxie Brown’ which will officially be released as an e book on the 10th August and paperback on the 1st September. You can pre-order here To take part in our competition coming very soon, do sign up for our newsletter. There’s a link on the right hand side. Scroll down to see it. You can win some lovely gifts. It won’t be the only competition either.

FiftyShadesOfRoxieBrown

To mark the occasion you can download ‘Rory’s Proposal’ for free. Here is the link. It’s available now but only for a few days. As you know we don’t often give away a free book. So get yours now before the offer finishes. Go here

rory smaller

Coming soon … Ark Morgan, a heart throb to truly rival Christian Grey ‘Fifty Shades of Roxie Brown’   I can’t wait for you to read it.

Enjoy

Lots of love

Lynda

xx

 

Scones and Sherry with Natalie Love (and Anouska)

 

Today I’m welcoming the lovely Natalie Love to my blog. You will know of her, of course. Natalie runs the fabulous Raven Street Theatre in Soho.

I love this place and have seen some really cool plays there.  My favourite has been the comedy musicals.  And I’m thrilled, in fact I’m that excited I could pee my pants. Of course I didn’t. That may have put Natalie off me forever. I’m delighted because Natalie Love has expressed an interest in staging ‘The Dog’s Bollocks’ at The Raven Street Theater, how cool is that?

blog tour 3

Natalie has just arrived. Ooh, my excitement overflows. Although I am rather worried that the title may offend her. Ooh it looks like she has brought a friend or associate. This bodes well.

Lynda: Hello Natalie, what an absolute thrill to have you here and your friend also, of course.

Natalie: Hello Lynda, its lovely to meet you (lowering voice) I’m sorry, this is very unprofessional but I had to bring my Gran, Anouska, with me… She’s a big fan of The Dog’s Bollocks and wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Anouska: Lynda. My darlink!

Lynda: Welcome Anouska.

Natalie: I promise she’ll be no trouble…

Lynda: Of course, come in, the more the merrier. What can I offer you to drink? I’ve herbal teas, coffee, fruit juice and I’ve made some scones, which we can have with jam and clotted cream. I hope you’re not watching your weight? I’m always on a diet. I have to say I wish I looked as glamorous as you two.

Anouska: Lynda, men like somethink to hold on to! I share the same diet philosophy as Miss Piggy: never eat more than you can lift. I vill take a scone piled high vith jam, and have you any sherry?

Natalie: I think tea, for me…

Lynda: *Thinks frantically* Oh dear, what did we do with that sherry from Christmas?

Lynda: Coming right up! So Natalie, what do you have in mind for The Dog’s Bollocks?

Natalie: We’d love to produce it as a musical, for our autumn season so that…

Anouska: (interrupting) Lynda darlink, vill you sign my copy of The Doggies Bollocks, before we get too drunk…

Lynda: Certainly. I have to say Anouska , I love your Jewellery. Where did you get it?

Anouska: Ah, this vas the jewellery my mother vore when she escaped the Nazis…

Lynda: Oh dear, that must have been a harrowing experience.

Natalie: She says they escaped. They actually got a lift with an SS Officer on his way to the shops to buy bratwurst.

Anouska: Say vat you like about the Nazis, but they knew how to dress…

Natalie: Look, Gran, I need to talk to Lynda about her book. Why don’t you…

Lynda: You could go and look at my garden Anouska?

Anouska: Ah yes, that vould be nice. I vill take my sherry… can I take the bottle too?

Lynda: Yes, of course… careful on those heels Anouska…

Natalie: Thank goodness she’s gone. Sorry again, Lynda.

Lynda: That’s okay. Tell us Natalie, how are things at The Raven Street Theatre? I’m excited you want to feature ‘The Dog’s Bollocks’ You must meet some interesting people?

Natalie: Yes, and we’re getting a lot of press interest in our plays. I think we might be able to get some big names for The Dog’s Bollocks: The Musical. Now for the lead character of Harriet, there’s a chance we could get Lindsay Lohan? We have to just check if she’s still tagged and on house arrest… and if she can sing…

Lynda: She would need to time a comic line too… Harriet is a very funny character.

Natalie: Yes, she is. Okay maybe not Lohan. We could go the more traditional route, someone British with good acting chops. We’d love you to write the script… Can you write music? I see there’s a piano in the corner of the room!

Anouska: (comes back inside) Bloody vooman!

Natalie: What is it Gran?

Anouska: Your vindow cleaner is very rude, he said I vas too old for him!

Natalie: what are you doing with the window cleaner?

Anouska: Nothing – yet. But I am single and, how do you say, free to mingle. There is nothing wrong with dating a vindow cleaner.

Lynda: That’s not the vindow, I mean window cleaner, that’s my husband!

Anouska:  Ah. My darlink Lynda, you hev a nice husband if he cleans the vindows for you… I may hev tried to climb his ladder and kiss him… If I knew he vas your husband I vould never have done that… Although must say he is very handsome, and he has a very nice chamois leather…

Natalie: I’m so sorry… Look Lynda, maybe you could come up to London? I could take you to a lovely restaurant and we could talk more about The Dog’s Bollocks: The Musical?

Lynda: Yes, of course…

To experience more of Natalie’s world and of course Anouska’s, pop to Amazon to purchase a copy of Robert Bryndza’a brilliant new novel ‘Miss Wrong and Mr Right’ here at Amazon.co.uk and at Amazon.com And even better you’re in time to enter the ‘Miss Wrong and Mr Right’ giveaway here

rightwrong

Miss Wrong and Mr Right

wrongright2

Natalie Love has worked hard to have it all: she runs a successful theatre in Soho that’s about to host one of Hollywood’s leading stars. Her biggest supporter is her eccentric Hungarian Gran, and she even has the ‘perfect’ yoga teacher boyfriend – Namaste!

Life in the bright lights of London has always been Natalie’s escape from her chaotic country family in rural Devon and Jamie, the childhood sweetheart she left at the altar 15 years ago. And then he turns up at her theatre door…

With rivalry clouding old feelings, events in Soho bring Jamie and Natalie together in hilarious ways. Gran is loose in the city once more, it seems to be raining sandwiches and records are broken for Burlesque flash mobs. If she can keep her world together, will Natalie discover who is really Mr Right, and that perhaps she isn’t Miss Wrong?

A delightful new romantic comedy, from the author of the best-selling Coco Pinchard series.

You can make contact with Robert by following any of the links below

www.robertbryndza.comhttps://

www.facebook.com/bryndzarobert

Goodreads

 

 

 

Fish Fingers and Poo Poo’s

Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

IMGP0436

Having a four and half year old living with you is very sobering, very sobering indeed. The fact that he thinks I must be at least 100 years old is rather disconcerting too. Especially as I see myself more like a young Bohemian Lady Gaga. Mind you, since he arrived to live with us I have aged considerably. I’ve invested in the best face creams known to man and Timothy still claims I look 100. Mind you, I blame a lot of this on the stress of trying to cook Fish Fingers and chips. You might think it’s easy. I’ve never cooked bloody fish fingers and chips in my life. Let’s face it, why would I? But there is clearly a knack to this which I don’t have. Although in theory and as a working class kid I suppose I ought to have the knack to prepare the perfect fish finger.  The truth is while all my mates were eating them, my lovely mum bless her, hardly bought them. Not because she didn’t like them but most likely because we couldn’t afford them. Much of my life was spent scraping margarine off the wrapper and filling my sandwiches with sugar. Ah, that’s where my sugar addiction started, with sugar sandwiches. Just the thought of it now makes me want to puke. Can you imagine offering a child a sugar sandwich? Jamie Oliver would have a stroke if he even heard the words. Even worse, when we ran out of sugar we had to eat that sandwich spread stuff, which looked very much like vomit in a jar to me.

sandwich

Come to think of it, it also tasted rather like vomit too. I had a mum who could do a hundred and one things with mince. Well, that’s not strictly true. Mostly she could do one thing with it. Boil it up and then dish it up with mash and processed peas. On reflection fish fingers may have been better. In fact we consumed so much mince when I was a kid that I really don’t know how the whole Renham family escaped Mad Cow disease. Although it could be argued I didn’t escape it. My sister seems fine, in fact, she seems normal, you know, like most people. Maybe, she ate less of it than me. But the less said about that the better. Anyway, as usual, I digress.  How hard can it be to make Fish Fingers and chips? When his father cooks it everything is perfect. Fries are nice and brown and just crisp enough and the Fish Fingers, crisp and hot. Surely it’s simple. Just throw them in a dish, shove them in the oven and follow the cooking instructions. Surely if I can make Cambodian chicken and Tom Yum soup I can cook Fish Fingers and chips for goodness sake.  I thought the reason most kids lived on the stuff was because it was quick and easy to do. I’m starting to think that all mothers should be given a Damehood, never mind giving one to Joan Collins. When did she ever cook Fish Fingers?

fish

I was left with the four and half year old for an afternoon. I figured this would be a doddle.  I was so confident I even invited Andrew’s other son over for dinner. I decide to make fish pie. I’ll impress his kids with my culinary skills.

‘Are you sure you’ll be okay?’ my stepson asks before leaving for his private nursing appointment. ‘I’ll only be a couple of hours and dad will be home soon.’

Ooh, that’s the worst thing to say isn’t it? It’s like saying dad can handle it but I can’t? It’s only babysitting and some Fish Fingers. I sit Timothy on the couch and go into the kitchen to start the dinner only to have him yell,

‘Who’s looking after me?’

‘I am,’ I yell back.

‘But you’re in the kitchen.’

Well, that’s because I’m cooking his Fish Fingers isn’t it?

‘I can see you,’ I say.

‘Someone needs to look after me,’ he says again his face creasing and tears welling up.

Oh no, this is all I need. I fleetingly wonder if Bendy would be considered human enough to sit with him but dismiss that as quickly as I think of it. It might not go down well with Daddy if Timothy tells him I abandoned him and left him in the care of a cat. No, that won’t work will it? What’s the point of a cat that eats me out of house and home but can’t babysit when needed?

‘Can you read me a story,’ he asks weepily.

Timothy that is, not the cat. I don’t spend my time reading stories to Bendy the cat. I may be mad but I’m not that mad.

Ah, now this I can do. This is what I know, right? Okay I can make up a children’s story. All I need to do is throw in some monsters, a few dinosaurs and a few starfish and he’ll be happy. In fact he can sit in the kitchen while I do it. I can multi task. I’m a woman after all. That’s what we do best isn’t it? But maybe not so well when we’re 100 or at least heading that way, but right now I feel about thirty. I can make up a story, prepare a fish pie, chuck in Fish Fingers and chips and clean up. It’s a doddle, right? except, it would have been, if Timothy hadn’t decided to act out the roles of all the characters in the story. I’m now trying to prepare fish pie, while making up a story and trying to cope with a terror bird squawking around me. Telling Timothy that terror birds don’t squawk is pointless. He’s into it now and that’s that.

birds

I give the oven chips instructions a quick glance and shove them in the oven while hastily mashing the potato for the fish pie.

‘Can we play Starfish now?’ he asks.

‘Not at the moment,’ I say while thinking a Starfish might be quieter than the bloody terror bird. The kitchen is beginning to resemble a scene out of Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds.’ So when the Doctor walks in a few minutes later my sense of relief is so great that I almost throw myself into his arms. The Alfred Hitchcock hero is home to board up the house and save me from terror birds and Tyrannosaurus Rex. Son number two arrives and it finally seems safe to run to the loo. Or simply run away. Yes, it feels that bad.

‘Can you watch the fish pie,’ I yell down the stairs ‘and pop some peas on.’

‘Sure,’ says my confident, very clever husband.

I saunter back down ten minutes later to find them chatting away like two women while Timothy is still squawking away. I realise the fish fingers haven’t gone in and there is still no water on for the peas.

‘Poo poo,’ says Timothy, grabbing me by the shawl.

I know exactly how he feels.

‘I need to poo poo,’ he repeats.

He’s surely joking. No one poo poo’s just before dinner. Besides I’ve never taken him for a poo poo. I’ve never taken anyone for a poo poo, come to that. Why the dickens would I? I look to Andrew who pulls a face. I grab his hand Timothy’s that is, not Andrew’s and take him upstairs shouting my orders as I go.

‘Can you keep an eye on the peas and the fish pie?’

‘Sure,’ says Andrew.

I’ve heard that before haven’t I?

Timothy crouches over the loo and begins grunting. I’m holding his hand, terrified he’ll fall off.

‘Is this right?’ I ask.

‘I always do it like this,’ he says, looking at me oddly.

You usually have a shower after too, I’m thinking and I just don’t have time for that. There is more grunting and straining and I think it will never happen when finally … Well, I won’t go into details.

‘Finished,’ I ask.

He shakes his head.

‘I think there is more.

There bloody would be wouldn’t there?

‘Will you be ok for one minute?’

‘Yes,’ he says. ‘I’ll hang onto this,’ he says, grabbing the toilet roll holder.

I dubiously consider this. Okay, I’m only going to be a minute. A quick check on the pie and peas and I’ll be back. Surely a child can’t fall off a loo onto the floor and concuss themselves in one minute can they? Mind you, knowing my luck …

‘Don’t touch the loo roll,’ I instruct.

I dash downstairs, where the peas are nearly boiling over.

‘Andrew,’ I shout. ‘I’m in the middle of a poo poo.’

‘This is a mad house,’ says middle son.

‘Sorry,’ says Andrew. ‘It’s just I haven’t seen him for six weeks.’

My ears are cocked for a thud. I really don’t want to have to tell stepson number one that I managed to kill his son during my first babysitting stint. I fly up the stairs to find the bog roll all over the floor.

20120925-203843

               ‘Finished,’ he says. ‘Shower now.’

No way, Jose. I show him the shower substitute cleaner which is my Liz Earle polish cloth and some Johnsons baby wash and a quick scrub of his arse. We make it downstairs to see stepson number one is back.  I hand over child.

‘He never gets held on the loo,’ he says.

I give Timothy a stern stare who just grins. Bloody four year old’s, no wonder I look a 100.

I dish up dinner only to find the chips are now crisps. I toss them onto his plate and he stares at it for a few minutes and then asks his daddy,

‘Why are the Fish Fingers soft?’

Honestly there’s no gratitude for making up stories is there?

I raise my eyebrows. How can they be soft? They’ve been in the oven like forever.

He crunches on his chips and finally says.

‘These are burnt. Can you make my Fish Fingers Dada? I don’t like it when Lynda does it.’

‘No pudding for you,’ I say.

Well, I’m entitled to the last word aren’t I?

 

Kippers and Marzipan

IMGP1179

 

Holiday breaks are odd things aren’t they? Or maybe they are just odd for me.

Off we go on Thursday evening for an Easter break in Ross on Wye. I’m very excited. Of course this may have something to do with the fact that I have it in my head that we are going to Hay On Wye, where I know there are lots of book shops. This is, of course, completely wrong, as Hay on Wye is an hour away from Ross on Wye and only has two bookshops. Well, that’s all I managed to find. I’m sure it has more, if you feel inclined to look, but not as many as Hay On Wye, and seeing as I thought that’s where we were going you can understand why I felt a bit let down.  Not that it’s anyone’s fault and after all I was the one who booked the break.

The doctor arrives home from work and I’m packed and ready to go. I’ve packed enough books for two weeks in Mauritius. I’m determined to have a break. It is then little Matthew (my grandson) realises we are not joking and that we are really going away for a few days and leaving him. He’s having none of it and races to the car before we do and dives in. Now, there is nothing worse than an upset child, except an upset child who refuses to budge from the back seat of your car demanding to go on a weekend break with you. I had planned a lot of things happening on this break but babysitting a child was not one of them. I check my phone aware we had booked our table for dinner at the B&B for 8 pm. We still had the rush hour traffic to fight through. Twenty minutes later we have wrestled said child from the car, handed him back to his parents and are waving goodbye. I start to fret about Bendy (the cat) Did I leave enough cat milk for him? Will my stepson and his wife remember to pull the blinds at night so he doesn’t see the bully cat? Is this whole break thing a bit extravagant?  I tell myself I deserve it and the doctor tells me so too, so it must be true.

We arrive at Ross on Wye and the little B&B I had been expecting is nothing short of Ross On Wye’s own Shangri La. Our room looks like one out of the Shangri la that Andrew stayed in while in Hong Kong (okay slight exaggeration) but it feels as hot as bloody Hong Kong. I struggle to turn down the radiators and have already drunk my way through their two bottles of  complimentary water when I realise it is the towel rail that has turned the place into a sauna.

IMGP1148

After freshening up we go down to the bar for dinner where we’re invited to sit in the library and peruse the menu. I’m not sure if my eyes pop out before the doctor’s or vice versa. £36 per person for a three course meal? I check I’m wearing the right glasses.

‘Was dinner included with our booking,’ I whisper, thinking of the little pub just up the road and how pie and chips would be just as good as the Garlic and thyme rump of Herefordshire lamb, saffron potatoes chantenay carrots, peas, and broad beans offered on the menu in front of me.

‘What was that?’ asks Andrew, who never hears me at the best of times but at present has an ear infection so is basically only hearing me with one ear.

I whisper again, a little louder this time.

‘I think so,’ he whispers back.

Before we know it, drinks have been ordered and we’re being led like lambs to the slaughter into the dining room, a waitress carrying our tray of two glasses, which we could easily have carried for ourselves.

‘Would you like me to pour water into your glasses?’ asks the waitress.

I shake my head. I think I am still capable of lifting a jug.  Dinner turns out to be quite superb and we both make a mental note to check that the evening meal is included in our booking.

I can’t believe we have this luxury for three nights. The following morning we toddle down to breakfast (also included, in case you were getting anxious for us) we’re shown to our table where we consume a pot of lemon and ginger tea, cereal with yogurt, followed by kippers for Andrew, full English for me and toast to finish.  We then toddle off to Ross on Wye for me to look in the two bookshops and countless charity shops. I’m at my happiest. The doctor then encourages me to do some sightseeing away from the shops.

The churchyard
The churchyard

We wander into the local church yard and I take a few photos before we walk towards the church where a vicar stands to welcome us.

‘Hello,’ he whispers ‘are you visiting?’

Oh dear. Andrew inclines his head, obviously wondering how his hearing could have deteriorated so quickly. I lean forward in an effort to hear the vicar thinking he must have a sore throat.

‘We’re having a service of silence for six hours. But if you’d like to come back.’

Andrew inclines his head.

‘Come again?’ he asks.

‘If you would,’ whispers the vicar. ‘Tomorrow would be fine.’

‘That’s good,’ says Andrew. ‘The weather is not so good today.’

Meanwhile I’m standing there wondering why the vow of silence seems to have included us on the outskirts of the church. But God moves in mysterious ways, so they say.

We leave the vicar to his silence and when he is out of earshot, Andrew says,

‘I can barely hear you at the best of times and that’s with both ears. How am I supposed to hear him?

IMGP1190

We make our way back to the town, discussing what great food it is at the hotel. How the breakfast is so vast that guests can’t possibly want lunch.

‘It’s nearly two and I couldn’t possibly eat lunch,’ I say.

‘People do though,’ says Andrew. ‘I’d never want to be a glutton like that though, would you?’ he asks as we both glance in the local bakery window.

Ten minutes later we exit the bakery after buying two marzipan cakes, a hot cross bun, and a large custard tart.

Well, it’s a long time before dinner.

Hope you all had a fun Easter.

Still Mum- A Parent with Dementia.

 

My mum at 19.
My mum at 19.

 

How to write about dementia? How to write about your own mother’s dementia? I’ve thought often about expressing my feelings and putting them onto paper and then publishing them on my blog. I’ve then thought, no, this is a blog about fun, about humour. But you know what? There is humour in dementia. In fact there is humour in everything. It isn’t always easy to see but it is there if you look. I’ve just returned from watching ‘The Theory of Everything’ and there was plenty of humour there. Of course, it isn’t easy to see humour in tragedy but it is the best way to get through life.

Writing about dementia and writing about mum is particularly hard as I’ve never shared much about her. Of course, when one has a family member with dementia, the fear is always there that dementia will get you too and what is most likely simply forgetfulness becomes a churning fear in your stomach.  Am I stressed? Am I just doing too much, or could this be the start of dementia? It’s most likely the beginnings of old age but, of course, the fear is there.

The worst thing about having a parent with dementia is when you want to ask them something about the past. This can be heart breaking. A year ago I decided to look into our family tree and then realised I couldn’t. Those that could tell me things were either dead, or like mum, have dementia. I have no way of learning about the past. I have some photos of mum but I’m sure there were more but I can’t ask her what happened to them. I’ve recently become curious about how my parents met, what their life was like before they had me. Mum told me some of this many years ago but of course as time goes on all kinds of questions are raised in your mind. For example, I’ve just started learning to play the piano. I remember my mum playing. I have vague memories of her telling me about my grandmother’s piano (my maternal grandmother died before I was born) I now desperately want to hear my mum play the piano again.  Ask her how she learnt. I never listened enough because I always thought there was plenty of time to ask questions. I never knew that time was limited. That she would still be here but her mind would not. I want to ask her things about my dad, who died five years ago. There are so many questions and no one to answer them.

Mum lyn beachfront
With mum at the seaside

 

Mum was a great reader. She read books that I struggle with. I remember her reading ‘The Cancer Ward’ by Solzhenitsyn and telling me how good it was. This was a woman who had very little education but she knew a well written book and read many classics.

Mum’s dementia seemed to strike suddenly but of course it didn’t. People have a wonderful way of hiding these things from you. I always thought her misunderstanding of things was to do with her increasing deafness. It wasn’t until dad became ill with cancer that we realised mum’s forgetfulness was not a simple symptom of age. Sadly dad’s illness and the stress of it tipped her over the edge. I knew it was more than bad memory when I visited one evening and asked dad if he felt he could eat something. It was 6 pm, winter and dark outside.

‘I can manage some scrambled eggs, perhaps.’ He said.

‘I’ll do them,’ said mum, except she got as far as beating the eggs in a dish and then would forget what she was doing. By the time I went to the kitchen to see what was happening with the food. Mum had three dishes of scrambled eggs on the go. I offered to make dad some cereal and she then panicked.

‘Is it that time already, I’ll make us breakfast.’

It was difficult explaining to her that it was still the evening. I then discovered numerous boxes of washing powder in the cupboards, tins and tins of cat food and replicas of just about everything. It seemed my ex-husband who had been helping with the shopping had been buying everything she wrote on a shopping list. Within minutes she forgot what she had in the cupboards and requested it all again.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
My parents

 

I now feel sure my dad hid my mother’s condition from us because he didn’t want her being taken away from him and put in a home.  My dad died at home as he would have wished. The day of the funeral my mum acted very strangely and I queried would she be okay on her own. We tried to get her to stay with my sister but she wouldn’t, insisting she was fine and wanted to be alone. There was aggressiveness about her at this time which I now know is not unusual in dementia patients who have a UTI (urinary tract infection). She was insistent we leave her. That night mum was found wandering in her nightie on a dual carriageway near her home. We think she was looking for her cat but we’ll never know.

She never returned home. She was in hospital until we could find a caring home for her. During this period she was very aggressive and gave one nurse a black eye after punching her. She wanted to go home but she was not safe at home alone and none of us were able to be with her twenty-four, seven.

Five years on and she is very happy in her home. Medication keeps her calm. She sings a lot and laughs a lot. She doesn’t know me anymore. Although she tells me she loves me and I’m very lovely.  When I visit with my sister she seems to know that we are sisters but not that we are her daughters. Sometimes she’ll tell me that she had daughters. She’ll kiss me and let me hold her hand. She does not know that I am an author and that my books are in the bestselling humour chart. Although, like me, she always dreamt this would happen. My mum loved books. But I cannot share mine with her or any exciting news that happens regarding my work as a writer. I miss talking to my mum, sharing confidences with her and learning about her. I miss telling her my news. She will talk to me for hours about the same things. Her dead sister and her dead brother, her mum and her lover which makes me smile. I presume the lover is my dad but who knows? Who will ever know, in fact? She sits holding hands with her best friend Doris and I take comfort in this. I know if anything happens to Doris, mum won’t grieve because she will not remember her. Such is the blessing of dementia in one sense.  The humour is there too. She tells me that the men chase the woman around the dining area and it is tedious because at her age she doesn’t need it. Mum is 89! Recently when the doctor visited her and leaned close to her to check her eyes, she asked ‘Are you going to kiss

me?

DSCF2558
With mum and next to her is her best friend Doris.

 

I hope she makes 90. I’d like to have a party for her and maybe play the piano for her and see if she remembers that she once played.

I’d love to hear her play the piano again and to hear my dad play the spoons one more time.

Life is hard but if mum can keep smiling then so can I?

Chocolate Pancakes and Banshee Cats (Part 2)

IMGP0762

 

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.

IMGP0972

‘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.

IMGP0951

‘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

 

 

 

 

The Well Showered Cockroach. (Holiday Part One.)

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.’

IMG_6280

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.

IMGP0639

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.

 

The Disastrous School Run as Performed by Lynda

latte-after-school-run-funny-drinks-mat-coaster-hb--8236-p

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.

IMGP0436

 

When You Simply Have to Take a Pee!

 

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?

 

 

Fudge Berries and Frog’s Knickers. Sign up for the tour…

PhotoFunia-5674823

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.

frog's knickers

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.

9780992787479_RPUB1006_medium

 

 

 

And the Bride Wore Prada

 

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.

prada

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.

ATBWP Blog Tour Banner

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

Big News

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 and the Stepson Having a Breakdown

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

xx

All I want for Christmas is a present.

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.

Calling the fireman for chocolate … Why not?

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.