Spring Flowers

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This is always my favourite time of the year when everything is bursting into life; the trees are that vibrant fresh green and daffodils and spring flowers are colouring the landscape.

Here in the Fens spring means Flower Festivals. The churches in and round my town put on week long festivals when they are adorned with beautiful displays – usually themed. But more of that later.

When I was growing up this area was famous for its Flower Parade when decorated floats would wind through the town. Crowds would flock to our quiet little town in their thousands and would be four or five deep on the paths watching these glorious floats pass by.

This one – which is from a postcard – is from about 1981 and you can just spot me behind the Womble. At the time I worked for Midland Bank (now HSBC) and for the bank to get the Wombles to appear was a big thing then. The floats that went through the town were all of a comparable size in those days but as the years went on the floats became much smaller and less and less firms participated.

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Sadly the parade ceased about ten years ago as the costs became just too great. To give you an idea, back in the early 80’s a float of this size would have cost about £10,000.

What we do have now are the Flower Festivals in the local churches which again is a tradition that will die out within a couple of generations. We visited a few churches last weekend and the average age of the helpers was late 60s, early 70s. There are no young people involved which is really sad. The displays in the churches are beautiful and so imaginative. Look at the flamingos made out of flowers – stunning.

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This weekend we will be visiting even more – I’ll post more pictures in another post.

National Theatre Live

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The person who came up with the idea of live screenings for National Theatre productions has my heartfelt thanks; it was a stroke of genius. Our busy lifestyles do not always allow us to drop everything and shoot down to London to catch a show. Added to this, short runs often mean that tickets become gold-dust. Therefore, to be able to sit in a cinema and watch an amazing production is a real treat.

Since the National Theatre started doing this, I have had the chance to watch many productions. Stand out plays are ‘Frankenstein’ with Benedict Cumberbatch and ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’ with Luke Treadaway. Don’t get me wrong, all of the shows are excellent but these had that extra little sparkle.

Coming close was the production that I saw at my local cinema this week, ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead’. The main characters are played by Daniel Radcliffe and Joshua Mcguire with the Player King being played by David Haig. This is a play by Tom Stoppard and is the back story of two minor characters in Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ and blends into the action of ‘Hamlet’ which is threaded into the play. Radcliffe and Mcquire are a super double act and Harry Potter has been well and truly banished. They make jokes and muse about death while waiting for Hamlet, unaware of their fate but aware that something may be happening. David Haig is superb and almost steals the show. I loved it.

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I’m back!

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Cannot believe that it is about eighteen months since I last logged on. Life gets in the way sometimes, doesn’t it? Changes in circumstances, jobs etc take their toll. The writing is also suffering – poor Mike Malone has been struggling with his present case for so long I’m not sure if he’ll ever solve it. Time was when I would have had the time to sit in the evenings and write. Doesn’t seem to happen a lot now.

But I do love this time of year when the nights get lighter and the weather gets warmer. It’s re-energising and I’m hoping it will re-energise my writing arm. I’m nearly there. Just two to three thousand words to go and Mike will return.

Still reading – presently whizzing through a batch of Young Adult novels for school. Really like these – quick to read and sometimes there are some real gems. I’ve recently finished ‘Beck’ by Mal Peet and ‘The Pomegranate Tree’ by Vanessa Altin. I’d recommend both books. They are very different but gripping

‘Beck’ would be suitable only for older teenagers as it is a coming-of-age story about a mixed race boy transported to North America when he is orphaned. He is abused by those supposed to be caring for him, acts which leave mental scars. It is set in the Depression and shows what life was like for a young black man. Excellent story that I would recommend.

‘The Pomengranate Tree’ is about a Kurdish girl and her life in Syria and although a Young Adult novel, it will engaeg all ages because of the relevance of the subject matter. It is written as a diary of a teenager, Dilvan, in her fictitious city in Kurdish Syria which she is forced to flee from when the ratmen (ISIS) attack and her mother and sister are kidnapped. This book depicts what war is like for the ordinary people, things we do not see on our safe Western TV sets. Although it is an ecxiting story on one hand, it is not always enjoyable, but it is relevant and will present teenagers with a view of life that is very different to their own.

I’ll finish now – so pleased to be back and this time I’ll try to update my blog more regularly.

New Short Story Series

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Mike Malone is, I hasten to add, still alive and kicking and in the middle of a case. As this case is rather tricky to solve, light relief was needed and so I have decided to introduce a series of short stories.

The main character is Emma Powers, a forty-something owner of a second hand bookshop/coffee shop set in the fictional town of Wellbridge – a town not too far removed from my own home town, even down to the abbey references. Why a bookshop? Simple, if circumstances were different, that is the very thing that I would want to be doing. I did look into it seriously several years ago, but the sums did not add up. After taking into account business rates and utility bills, the turnover required to make a second hand bookshop profitable was unrealistic. A pity really. But now, Emma Powers can run the bookshop for me.

The first story, ‘Discovered’ draws on an event in Wellbridge’s history and Emma’s bookshop is the place where a spirit from that time is wanting his voice to be heard. This series of stories will be very different from the Mike Malone series, I hope you like them.

 

The Butcher’s Hook – a review

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As you may have guessed, I have fallen a little behind with my book reviews. Catch up time!

This book was a present from my husband and I was wary, I tend to stay away from ‘celebrity’ authors – sometimes with justification. Not this one. This is atmospheric and dark. Set in Georgian London, we are taken by the hand and shown all elements of life at that time.

The heroine is Anne Jaccob, the daughter of  well to do family whose mother is constantly pregnant and whose father is trying to marry her off to a wealthy suitor. In the beginning you could feel quite sorry for Anne’s plight, but this is a feisty heroine, a girl who definitely knows her own mind and her own urges, particularly when she encounters Fub, the butcher’s boy. The sex in the novel wasn’t so much shocking as unexpected and it reveals another facet of Anne’s character. There is also a lot of blood in the novel and murder. This in London at its bawdy, gritty best. A super debut novel. The cover is pretty impressive too.

In a Dark, Dark Wood – review

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I seem to have a pile of psychological thrillers on my bedside table at the moment and this novel by Ruth Ware worked it way to the top – mainly, I think, because of a rush of weddings at the moment. So many new dresses!

Anyway – this appealed because it takes place at a hen party – and we’ve all been to them haven’t we? We’ve all been put in a group of people we don’t know awfully well, or even know at all. The only thing we all have in common is the bride.

Nora, the narrator, is at just such a hen party and she can’t even understand why she was even invited, as she lost contact with the bride years previously. The story is told in two time-lines – Nora’s perspective of the hen party and, Nora in hospital trying to remember the events that led to a death.

The novel does have some spine-tingling moments and it did keep my attention but I have read better. Friends sat that this is the new ‘Girl in a Train’. As I haven’t read that yet, I’ll reserve judgement. It is good, just not as good as I was hoping. Nora was just too gullible at times.

 

 

The Doll’s House – review

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This is the third book in the DI Helen Grace series and matches the pace of the previous two novels. It is pacy and grips you right to the last page, the short chapters make it an easy read. In this novel we learn more about Helen Grace and see the developing relationships between the fellow officers. But it is the story that is gripping.

Ruby wakes up to discover, to her horror, that she is imprisoned in a cellar but can’t recall what has happened the night before. The last thing she remembers is being in a nightclub and now she is at the mercy of her captor. At the same a time a body of another young woman is found, but her family never reported her missing because they have been getting regular texts from her

.D.I. Helen Grace knows that time is against her as she tries to discover a link between the victims and unlock the key to a predator.

This is good but, for me, it hasn’t delivered the heart-stopping moments that the first book did. Nevertheless, book 4 is already on my reading list.