Nothing to report

It’s all been a bit quiet. That’s the problem with writing a winter themed book, once winter is over, there isn’t much call for books about winter. And spring is definitely here now. I even saw a daffodil in the garden today!

So, what have I been up to? Well, lots of research and writing of book number two, currently with the working title of “The manor on the moors” which I am now editing frantically. It features a crumbling stately home, a family in decline and a nervous PhD student with a thing for a long-dead artist – “the bad boy of the arts and crafts movement”.

Starting soon, I’m going to be blogging a bit more about places that inspire me. Places are usually the starting points for any story, even before the people who inhabit them. I find a place and think “what kind of person might live here”? and that’s where my stories begin.


I’m going to start with considering the inspiration provided by a recent trip to Walt Disney World, Florida although I will not be using that directly in any of my novels – I suspect the mouse would sue me. it was, however, like walking into a storybook for real! And if you’re wondering about the giant cinammon loaf I’m eating in the photograph – yes, that was at Disney World and no, I didn’t manage to finish it …


Marian’s mulled wine

What would Christmas be without a glass or two of mulled wine? Well, considerably more sober, as Cass finds out after a night at the Ship Inn, where Marian’s mulled wine has a secret ingredient – that she has kindly allowed me to share with you!

[Anna and Cass] were making their way beneath the criss-crossing strings of lights, across the quay and up the steps to the pub. Inside the fire roared in the hearth, the smell of mulled wine spices was heavy in the air, and every possible item in the bar was bedecked with holly, ivy and tinsel, standing out in bold colour against the dark wooden panels of the walls.

Cass found herself a safe corner where she could watch what was going on as she drank some of Marian’s home-made mulled wine.  It was good to be there watching, in amongst the life of her parish, while Anna came and went, catching up with some of her old friends, animated and luminous in dark green velvet.

image1 (3)

Christmas dinner for the vicar

It’s no secret that vicars are busy on Christmas Day, and as Cass is single and has four churches to look after she’s busier than most – and she has no-one to roast a turkey for her in the gap between services. Unlike the Vicar of Dibley she hasn’t had invitations to Christmas dinner with several different parishioners, and as she’s neither (as you may have noticed) an enthusiastic nor a competent cook, what does she have for her Christmas dinner?

Macaroni cheese for one!

Time for lunch

It’s the next stop on my culinary journey through the world of Cass in The Little Church by the Sea and it’s time for lunch.  But I should warn you, Cass isn’t much of a cook – or very tidy!

[Anna] worked right through lunchtime and wouldn’t come and share the soup that Cass had offered her, so Cass took a bowl up to her, for her to eat while she worked. Thinking of June’s neatness Cass made a cursory effort to tidy up the kitchen after her lunch. Cass’s clutter was starting to creep out of the cupboards and onto the worktops – but it was better to have the teabags to hand, and the chocolate biscuits couldn’t be stuck away in the cupboards when she needed them so often, could they?

Mince pies for morning coffee

It’s coffee time! And here is Cass’s extra special recipe for mince pies to be enjoyed with a morning coffee:

  1. Buy ready made pastry.
  2. Buy a jar of mincemeat.
  3. I also need my baking tray … where is it?
  4. And a cutter … I can’t find one, I’ll have to use a mug instead …
  5. Cut out pastry circles and put them in the baking tray. Oh no, I should have greased it first … never mind …
  6. Add a generous blob of mincemeat in the centre.
  7. Put a lid on. Oh, these don’t fit quite properly, never mind …
  8. Put them in the oven. Temperature? No idea! Hot-ish, I think.
  9. Go and finish writing a sermon. Don’t forget the mince pies!
  10. Oh no? What’s that burning smell?
  11. Run up the hill and buy a packet of mince pies from the village shop.


Cats and Croissants

In honour of publication day I’m eating my way through my novel! And, like Cass, I’m starting with croissants for breakfast and a hungry cat!

Anna sat opposite her at the table, feeding flaky scraps of croissant which had fallen from Cass’s plate to Twiggy who had deserted her owner’s lap in favour of Anna’s.

‘I didn’t know cats liked croissants!’ Anna said.

‘Neither did I,’ Cass said, watching her pet. 

And in a strange case of life imitating art, I found a certain naughty little black cat on the breakfast table this morning helping herself – sadly I didn’t let her stay there long enough to take her picture, but here she is helping with the ironing instead …image1 (52)