Friday, 26 August 2016

The Wendy House by Pauline Barclay

A big welcome to my guest Pauline Barclay who is sharing the news about her latest book, The Wendy House here.  Pauline says her passion is to write about life-changing events and those affected by them and in the her latest novel she shows she's not afraid to tackle the darker side of human nature. 



When Nicola changes overnight from a bright, happy young child into a sullen, rebellious girl, ceasing to show interest in anything or anyone around her, her parents struggle to understand why. As she develops into a difficult, troubled, hostile teenager they put it down to hormones, believing it will pass. Yet Nicola goes from bad to worse and no matter how much her mother tries to reach out to her, it seems she is hell bent on self-destruction. When she leaves home at seventeen, rushing into the arms of a man ten years her senior and quickly becoming pregnant, her despairing mother almost gives up on her. A decade later, the events that stole Nicola’s childhood and changed the course of her life threaten finally to destroy her. She knows if she is to cling on to her sanity she must tell her mother the dreadful secret she has carried all these years, but her fear that she will be met with disbelief, hostility and branded an evil liar drives her to the edge.

A heart-rending story of betrayal, secrets and gripping fear.

Publication Date: Saturday 3rd September 
Genre: Women’s Fiction / Family-Noir 

The Wendy House is available in Kindle for pre-order on all Amazon sites including 

Pauline says...



"I am from Yorkshire, but have lived in several different locations including, Suffolk, Surrey and Holland. Today, I live on one of the beautiful volcanic islands of the Canary Isles with my husband and our two gorgeous rescue doggies.

Years ago I gained a BA (Hons) degree from the Open University, today I spend my time writing fiction. I have five books published, plus a 20 minute short festive story.

My passion is to write about events that happen in life and change everything for those involved as well as those caught up in the maelstrom. I want my characters to sit at your side, steal your attention and sweep you up in their story. Stories that will bring tears to your eyes, have you laughing out loud and sometimes, what they share with you, will stay in your hearts for a very long time. "  

Twitter: @paulinembarclay 
Instagram: @paulinebarclay


Our Summer

Yes, it’s been a while! There’s a limit though to how many times I can blog about sailing, running and spending time with family and friends without boring the collective pants off you. So here’s a glimpse of summer 2016 in pictures instead.

All the hard work Tom and I put in to get the boat back in the water has really repaid us.  We've taken every chance we can to go sailing.  A couple of days spend watching the world go by from Blue Nun feels like a proper holiday.


I've completed all three races in the Poppit Sands Race series - and I'm hoping that all the running on sand will help build up my stamina for the Cardiff Half this October. I'm also pleased to report that my JustGiving Page for Pancreatic Cancer UK now stands at £330 thanks to the kindness of many supporters.



I was delighted to be invited to write another feature to Alexander James’ photographs for the August edition of The English Home and, best of all, we’ve been very lucky to have spent lots of time with family and friends.


Tomorrow, by way of a change, I'm joined by guest blogger Pauline Barclay, who will be revealing the news about her latest novel. Do visit if you can.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Raving, Waving and Racing

Xname and Yaxu at Bleach
The news from my consultant ophthalmologist is good, given the limitations of my myopic eyes with their defective tilted discs, but with my sight still blurred with drops we’re off to the south east to catch up with friends, family… and a rave.

Tom’s PhD research leads us to Bleach in Brighton and an algorave where music is generated from algorithms using live coding techniques. Having always felt a bit miffed to have missed out on raves and foam parties, I’m slightly disappointed that there isn’t a glow stick in sight. Actually there isn’t any dancing either - though the young man in front of us does go wild and nod his head from side to side at one point during the proceedings - but it’s certainly an interesting experience and I think my internal organs have now recovered from the bass notes.

After calling in to wish Stepson Two and his lovely girlfriend every happiness in their first home, we bring Ma back to Wales with us and introduce her to sailing. With her poor bad back, I’m a little concerned about how she’ll manoeuvre herself onto the boat, let alone cope with a full day’s sailing, but in true grit fashion, she not only copes but also throws herself into the role of crew, passing ropes and fenders and generally making herself useful. Her only complaint is that she’s waited until the age of 82 to begin.


After what’s been a hectic few weeks, we have particularly unusual and busy day which begins at crack of doom with a visit to the Boob Bus. I get my kit back on and then it’s off to change our poor old car, Le Beast - which has been run into the ground - for Le Beast Rouge, a newer model with far fewer miles on the clock. More expense. The day ends with me putting a few more miles on my own clock with the madness that is the first of the Poppit Sands Race Series, a 5k yomp over mud, stepping stones and energy-sapping sand. In a field packed with club runners and fit young men I come 91st out of 114 runners - 8 places up on my last attempt!


Monday, 20 June 2016

Precious Time


June. The summer solstice. The year, it seems to me, is turning before it’s begun. At home, there are personal reminders of the wheel of life turning full circle. Was it only a year ago that I sat with my daughter and son-in-law, watched as Bee came into the world, listened as she took her first breath? We didn’t know this little person at all then, never imagined how much love she would bring. Now she’s very much a character in her own right, someone who on Saturday at her first birthday party, trotted round the room smiling and clapping with pleasure at everything that was going on. I’ve seen my daughter and son-in-law put Bee at the centre of their world, giving her all their love and care, and I’ve watched my daughter blossom into the most loving, attentive and generous mother.

June also marks the number of years since my dad died, eleven now, but the sense of loss is no less for the passage of time. I so wish I could tell Dad about all the things he’s missed. That’s part of the reason, I’ve decided to run for Pancreatic Cancer UK again this year, in the Cardiff Half Marathon. I know that there are many deserving causes out there, but I have set up a JustGiving page because pancreatic cancer survival rates remain shockingly low and this grim disease is still taking too heavy a toll.

On a far more trivial note, I’ve been fighting a losing battle with my hair colour which has bleached thanks to the combination of a sunny holiday and sailing. I’ve decide not to fight the tide any more but go with the flow…. but I’m taken aback by how difficult it’s been! I’m not vain - there’s no turning back the clock as all those strangely Botoxed and filled faces prove - but I am struggling with a certain loss of identify. The change has happened so suddenly that I don’t recognise the person I see in the mirror at the moment. My regular makeup looks wrong, some of my clothes drain me of colour so I’m back to experimenting like a teenager. And just to cheer me up, waiting on the horizon at the end of this month is my appointment with the consultant ophthalmologist closely followed at the beginning of next month by a mammogram.

Whatever my personal trials and tribulations, everything’s been put into context by so many sad and bad stories in the news and in particular the tragic death of MP Jo Cox. I may not like my grey hair, but it's a sign of age that too many people never see. I’m lucky to have seen my children grow up to be wonderful people and I have the pure joy of being a grandmother. Time is too precious to waste it fretting about the colour of my hair!


The painting is 'Sunset - Bardsey' by Tom Tomos

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Heading for the Rocks

Blue Nun and the rocks!

Aaaah! The joy of having a boat again! Blue Nun’s so much more responsive than our wooden boat, lovely as she was, and so nippy too! We enjoy a brisk sail from Neyland to Dale where we spend a couple of restful days, reading, writing and generally watching the world go by. On the third morning we decide on a change of scenery and potter round to a sheltered bay where we can pick up a mooring buoy. Well, we would have, if I’d been quicker. Now, I’m pretty good at picking up buoys, but make a right dog’s dinner of it this time.


‘Never mind,’ says Tom, ‘we’ll give it another go!’ He puts the engine in reverse and Blue Nun obediently travels backwards (something no previous boat of ours has ever done!) … and a rope which trails the dingy behind the boat whirls round the propeller. Yikes! Tom manages to free enough to regain control of the engine, but he’s pretty sure that some of the rope is still tangled up.

Whilst I would quite like to pretend it doesn’t matter, ignoring the problem isn’t a solution - there are huge ships manoeuvring in Milford Haven and the last thing we need is for the gearbox to pack up or lose control of the boat when one of those is bearing down on us. There’s only one option; we’ll have to run the boat up the beach, dry out and free the prop that way.

A Chris-eye view of the beach as we approach
Although Tom has planned the operation very carefully, I have a very disturbed night during which I decide I would quite like to be airlifted off the boat. Low water comes and it’s time to begin. I sit on the bow scanning for rocks - and see bloody millions of them - but there is a clear stretch and Tom navigates it superbly. What a star!


Success!

He frees the prop - which does indeed have rope wrapped around it - and then we spend a couple of hours in the sunshine waiting for the tide to rise again. A glut of sand eels has washed up on the shore and the seagulls are having a field day feasting on them. They’re beautiful birds in their natural environment and it’s great to be able to watch them closely. The tide returns and we lift the kedge anchor and cruise back to our berth, no harm done. Another adventure in a small boat!


And I wonder why I'm going grey!

Sunday, 29 May 2016

A little Mansplaining and a lot of Spa

 It’s raining in Cardiff but Lily, Rose and I are going to make the most of our long-anticipated spa day. Russ has arranged it as a treat for Lily before the end of her maternity leave and we’re going to make the most of every moment, heck, we’re even going in to town by cab! 

Unfortunately no one’s told the cab driver this is our treat, not his, as every time one of us tries to talk, he talks over us! There’s a lot of mansplaining about how many miles he’s travelled, he tells us about the ring he chose for his fiancĂ© (her birth stone in a heart-shaped setting, delivered to her with the bill at the end of a meal, (a lovely touch) in case you’re wondering. Apparently, she ‘liked’ it but before Christmas, she presented him a Samuel’s catalogue with a diamond ring marked out that she ‘liked better’ i.e. she hated it), and he passes us his phone to show off the many fancy dress costumes he’s worn to darts finals. And do you know what? Instead of saying, ‘do you mind, we’re trying to talk,’ we find ourselves muttering ‘lovely’ at his photos of himself as Mrs Brown and laughing at his feeble jokes. None of us is exactly a shrinking violet, we’re just too polite to tell him to shut up!

Anyway, we reach the hotel and check in at the spa. The girls have both booked back massages, but I’ve decided to have a facial - the first one in years. It must be the Day of the Talkers as my very sweet beautician drones on throughout about how my skin would be much better if I spent £80 on various lotions and potions. ‘Although cennot vork miracles,’ she adds, comfortingly, warning me that I’ll end up ‘like dried epple’ if I don’t drink more water/spritz my face/spend £80. Nice. Still, off to the spa where groups of women perform a strange watchful dance as we take it turns to occupy favoured spots like the jacuzzi. There are only two men - and guess what? - one of them jumps into the pool like Shamu the bloody whale and causes the biggest splash ever. We almost sit on the other one who is lurking in the steam room when we wander in blinking in the murk and don’t realise he’s there.

Our day is rounded off with a champagne afternoon tea which is lush, but it’s still raining when we leave so we pile in another cab which, we quickly realise, smells of wet dog. Luckily our driver doesn’t chat. Oh no, he’s too busy cutting up other drivers and complaining under his breath about the other road users. We make it back to Lily’s in one piece, although I suspect the strain of the journey won’t helped my chances of avoiding the ‘dried epple’ look.


I then spend a fab three days with Lily, Russ and Bee who’s such a joy tottering round the place. It’s quite a wrench to leave and I have to admit to being a bit tearful on the train. Next month it’s Bee’s first birthday - how quickly that time has passed - another reminder of how important it is to make the most of every day.


Wednesday, 11 May 2016

A Merry-Go-Round of a Weekend

Whilst Tom is busy on a research day at the University of Kent, I have a freewheeling day in Herne Bay which has more than a hint of Little Spitmarsh about it and it makes me wonder what my characters who live there are up to. There will be some fiction - it’s not that I’m short of ideas - but, gosh, as I’ve said many times here, with so many readers expecting to pay as little as possible for a full length novel, it’s a lot of work for scant reward. However, Herne Bay in the sunshine is a fine place to be - even though that North wind is a bit nippy on my bare legs (sorry about that, people of Herne Bay). I tuck myself away in a sunny spot in the municipal gardens to admire the triumphant tulip displays and read for a while then I take myself off for a walk round the pier. A wonderful display by the Herne Bay Cosy Crew who’ve ‘yarn-bombed’ the railings with their brilliant knitted and crocheted creations makes me stop in my tracks. It’s not just the art work, but the smiles on people’s faces that delight me - it’s such a lovely, playful idea. I buy myself a pot of tea and brave the icy wind so I can just sit and soak up the sights.





In the evening Tom and I find an unexpectedly good restaurant, The Oyster and Chop House, where someone really knows how to put a dish together. It’s not too expensive either and makes a wonderful end to the day.




Over the weekend we do the relly round and keep our fingers crossed for Stepson Two and his lovely girlfriend who are - if all goes according to plan - buying their first house. Exciting times.

It’s good to have some lovely memories in the bank because on Monday my eye test brings up worrying discoveries and a new referral to an ophthalmologist. Health wise, I’m pretty fortunate, but, goodness how I would like better eyesight and stronger eyes. The lesson, in the meantime, is to concentrate on the moment and keep soaking up all that is good and precious in this world. Whilst I’m sitting down absorbing the news someone sits next to me… it’s Julie Walters. I have a ‘one of our national treasures is sitting next to me’ moment before spotting Ma heading towards me. Ma’s feeling good because she’s treated herself to some new glasses, after getting every penny’s worth out of the pair she’s been wearing for ten years. I wonder, perhaps, if Ma is so distracted by her new specs that she hasn’t noticed who else is there, but no. Proving she’s still as sharp and eagle-eyed as ever, Ma leans in and tells Julie how much she loves her work. I hold my breath but Julie Walters smiles warmly back at Ma and thanks her. Happy faces, and some relief, all round!