Caving in

P1060123We went to Ambleside and ended up in a cave – it was much closer and my little feet wouldn’t carry my heavy bottom any further. Rydel Cave isn’t any odd hole in the ground – it’s huge and vibrating with echo made by water plopping from the ceiling. One thing on my mind: would it cave in when I was there; that’s what caves do, they cave in; that’s why they’re called caves. So I was slightly apprehensive and very respectful of the old cave.

On our way to the cave we came upon a couple of very rude hissing swans. They were either hissing or telling us outright to “Pissss off!”. I couldn’t quite make out which.


Washed up in Grasmere

We’re taking a break from unpacking our new house, so we packed our suitcases (for a change) and travelled to Grasmere. We should’ve taken a boat rather than a car – the bouts of rain and unbridled wind created perfect sailing conditions on the road. To add to the atmosphere, lorries and vans beyond Birmingham stopped using indicators when changing lanes, so it was like a bloody Mexican wave on the motorway. I’m still seasick!

Anyway, we are here.


New home, but I’m still standing

House moved! From the outside – picture perfect. Just take a look at it. Okay, not all of it belongs to us, but we belong to all of it.


The views are to die for, too. Daughter’s bedroom overlooks charming little paddocks housing two frisky ponies (believe me – they are frisky and shameless!), two sheep (both staring into space with a spark of deep thought in their sheepish eyes) and other creatures large and small.


Our bedroom overlooks a tree in our small garden where blue tits, robins and one extremely fat pigeon compete for seeds. Law of the jungle out there, but the blue tits rule supreme, maybe because the obese pigeon finds it hard to take off so has to content with the crumbs that fall from the bird feeder above.

P1060100The house has plenty of character – I would even go as far as saying that it isn’t only character it has – it’s ATTITUDE. Yes, the house has a serious attitude problem. To start with, it has a small population of woodlice who climb in through the vines outside and into our bathroom, wherefrom they spread like wild fire until they are captured. Once captured they instantly fall on their back, belly up, and play dead (or perhaps they are really dead). They get hoovered. Probably there is a whole woodlice colony inside our hoover.

We’ve also experienced out first flood, courtesy of Daughter who left the weird tap in her bathroom dripping until it conquered the sink, water overcoming it, spilling to the floor and travelling to the landing. From there it was re-directed to the kitchen below and trickled down the wall merrily. Awaken by the watery humming, which gave my bladder an illusion of being full, I discovered the Great Flood and raised alarm. So that’s just for starters.

There is hope however. If I remember correctly, after the Great Flood came peace and prosperity for Man. Okay, I can’t remember that far back but I read it somewhere.

DI Gillian Marsh in Accent’s catalogue

Accent Press have just released their 2016 catalogue, where my new series, the DI Gillian Marsh mysteries, features prominently on page 9. I’m bursting with motherly pride!

The first book in the series, Swimming with Sharks, will be out on 28th April 2016.




Haley and I

Yesterday, Daughter morphed into a Teenager. A day to remember! It was a very loud and rowdy affair, but then what would you expect from eight unruly teenage girls let loose on town? They trampolined in the close proximity of a bunch of pimply teenage boys, oozed hormones, flicked their long hair, posed and strutted, stuffed their faces with pepperoni pizzas and hallucinogenic sweets and finally collapsed in a heap in the early hours of the morning.

It wasn’t long ago when Daughter was just a small pink person with a milk bottle permanently attached to her lips, enthusing about a tiny snowman in a flowerpot.

Little Daughter

It wasn’t long ago when she stood pensive in her school uniform, holding a princess lunch-box, ready (or maybe not) for her first day at school.

Daughter goes to school

And now she is a teenager, full of attitude, and so very beautiful. And the story goes on…


Butterfly Daughter

Life without Mum

My mother would have never dreamt – not in her worst nightmares – that she would be the inspiration for my novel, Life Without Me – a book full of extramarital sex, sisterly rivalry and maternal incompetence. All very much anti-family values, and yet the book is very much about the power of family. Thanks to my mum.

In her quiet, timid way my mother was a powerhouse. She held our family together while my dad – my kindred spirit as he was – existed on the outskirts, out and about, busy saving the world. So my mum took care of the important stuff, like our family. She tolerated our extravagances, chewed on the constant worries we threw at her and leant on my sensible big brother if things needed mending around the house.

Then she decided to get ill. Very ill.

We didn’t expect that. We didn’t believe in her illness. People beat cancer all the time. We really wanted her to come home and stop playing dead. It was then that she -for the first time in her life – confronted us with brutal reality: she was NOT coming home. She was dying.

Life would go on without her, she told us.

We would go on. Whatever we were getting up to, and most of it was no good, she was certain of that, we would get on just fine, and despite everything we would make it. God knows how – we’d certainly tempt the fate with our antics, but life does that: it carries on regardless.

So here it is, my debut, Life Without Me, my mum’s philosophical legacy. Thanks Mum.

P1060090Being camera-shy, my mother successfully escaped many a photo opportunity in her time. A while back, in my very clumsy way, I drew this portrait of her. In no way does it show the beautiful person that she was, but I tried. And she would forgive me the way I oversized her shapely nose and that one eye is twice-removed from its rightful place on her face.

Life Without MeLife without me