• Why Celebrate International Women’s Day?

    Apparently this question is going to be answered today on International Women’s Day. Do we not already know the answer? Erna Solberg, the Norwegian Prime Minister since 2013, said on Radio 4’s Women’s Hour recently: ‘We have a way to go before we have gender balance in this world.’ We all know that women have had to fight for basic rights in the past; to vote and to have equal status and pay. But today: Only a quarter of Boris’s cabinet is female (Blair had a third female representation) Less than 24% of the Conservative MPs are women – and given the culture of parliament and the family-unfriendly hours MPs…

  • How does a writer survive lockdown?

    Ups and downs – plenty of drama – laughter and sadness. Here we are in our third lockdown in the UK and just about a year into this pandemic. A time to reflect and look back at how we have survived lockdown so far. Have you flourished as a writer in lockdown and gushed with creativity? Or is lockdown sending us quietly mad and giving us writer’s block? For me, as a writer in lockdown, it has been a roller coaster of emotions and overall, I find confinement claustrophobic and slightly crazy making. Not sure why I said slightly, there? I have realised that I am a libertarian who loves…

  • January: 15 beats and a New Story has begun

    January – arguably the longest month of the year – is done. So, I’m very pleased that I managed to buckle down to producing my next novel. Firstly, using the text: Save The Cat Writes a Novel, I designed my 15 beat storyline. (Huge thanks to Kate of katefranciswrites ) for recommending this gem. Boy was it hard in parts. Creating my main character, my hero and giving the poor woman oodles of flaws felt quite cruel but it had to be done! 15 Beats Then came the 15 beats and what struck me here was that things are bad, then disaster strikes, then things might seem to be going…

  • The Carbon Footprint of Food

    From my Down to Earth Blog The BBC aired a programme recently: Horizon – Feast to save the planet. They got 5 celebs to choose from a menu and totted up the carbon footprint of everything they ate. It was really interesting to see the marked differences in the foods they chose. Generally, plant-based foods grown locally were the stars in terms of a very low carbon footprint and a beef steak topped the leader board by a long way. Brits on average produce a carbon footprint is 5.17kg CO2e every day as a result of the food that we eat – and this needs to shrink to 4.09kg CO2e by…

  • Healthy recipe with sardines

    Me being inventive with Sardines

    I had some fresh sardine fillets in the freezer and decided it was time to cook them. Something healthy after the excesses of Christmas. I looked up some recipes for ideas and ended up making my own recipe. It was like I was doing the invention test on Masterchef! Anyway, I am pleased to report that the results were yummy! The Grey concurred. So here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it. Serves 2 Pretty quick to make Ingredients Sardine fillets 1 Onion finely chopped 1 Clove Garlic finely chopped Mushrooms 4 or 5 White wine – a generous glug Chicken stock or Veggie if that’s your persuasion dissolved…

  • Ancient woodland

    Healing Nature

    This story of the healing power of nature, of ancient woodland and rewilding is one that gladdens my heart. So much so that these are elements that are helping to shape my next novel. Down in Bodmin Moor, Cornwall (Poldark Country) is a 14th century farmhouse, Cabilla Manor owned by Robin Hanbury-Tenison’s family. His son, Merlin, took over the farm in recent years with the intention of turning it into a healing centre. Merlin is creating a healing centre at the farm and also rewilding the landscape with grazing Angora goats, red deer and wild boar. They have also reintroduced two beavers and I just love the names they have…

  • More Women aged 60 plus are continuing to work

    Women 60+ not giving up!

    For the first time in the UK, there are more women aged 60 to 64 in work than not, according to the Office for National Statistics. In fact there has been an increase of 51% since 2010. I know that there were changes to the state pension age for women in 2010 but is that the only reason? I can’t see myself ever retiring I’ve just had to work out how old I am. Is that a sign of old age? Anyway I’m 56 but have a birthday coming soon. But it’s just a number. Who cares? It’s all about your everyday experience. Perhaps I’m not old enough, but I…

  • August Newsletter

    August was a surprisingly lovely month for me. Visiting my mother in Seaford – the first time we had come face to face since before lockdown – was a lot of fun and it was so great to take her out to enjoy the fresh air. She lives in a lovely part of Sussex and my favourite place, that I always make a point of visiting, is the beautiful village of Alfriston which sits in the Cuckmere Valley. My best loved shop is Objet Trouvé, where you can find all sorts of brilliant and unusual things: usually of no practical value but guaranteed to be a talking point. And, this…

  • July Newsletter

    Reflections of a Writer July – the month we were set free from our homes Embed Twitter YouTube Facebook Instagram WordPress SoundCloud Spotify Flickr Vimeo Animoto Cloudup Crowdsignal Dailymotion Imgur Issuu On 4th July – our release date – I floated dreamily through Bury St Edmunds going into shops, socially distancing myself from other libertarians. Many people smiled at me and I smiled back. We had a shared understanding of what we were feeling. Free. It was legal to go shopping other than for food. We were able to go to a café for the first time in months and dear reader, probably the most significant change for me, the…

  • Over fifties to self-isolate – huh!

    On Sunday morning I had a very rude awakening! I was listening, bleary eyed to my go-to radio station, Times Radio, when the female presenter airily commented that over 50s were going to have to shield. I suspect she was under 50 and not bothered about who she upset. But believe me I was suddenly wide awake and angry! This government have got a lot wrong but I’ve refrained from criticising them because this pandemic is an unprecedented situation and presents very difficult challenges. But when I heard this ageist announcement, I was ready to write to Boris! To decide that all over fifties are more likely to get and…