Spring sale – Vote for Murder just 99p

My new book has been plotted, written and is now under going a rigorous edit.  Set in the 1890’s in an East Anglian village, it combines fact and fiction with a large dose of mystery and a generous sprinkling of genealogy.  This illustration gives a teaser of the back theme.

TFW (its working title) will be published later on this year.  In the meantime, the kindle version of Vote for Murder is on sale in the UK at just 99p.  Suffragettes, secrets and sleuthing – what’s not to like…

Download Vote for Murder from Amazon Kindle here

 

Overstrand in the Great War

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This new book, published by Poppyland Publishing with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and Overstrand Parish Council, tells the story of all the soldiers, sailors and airmen of Overstrand and Suffield Park who died in the First World War. It also gives accounts of those who returned to the village after the conflict.

With 208 pages & colour throughout, ‘Overstrand in the Great War’ provides a fitting tribute to the young – and sometimes not so young – men and women of Overstrand and Suffield Park from a century ago.  General the Lord Dannatt kindly contributes a foreword and puts their sacrifice and service into the context of the continuing commitment required of our armed services.

Author – Tim Bennett

Military Research – Martin Dennis

An Autumn Freebie…

Autumn has landed with a vengeance in my little corner of Gloucestershire.  In true Hygge fashion, I’m snuggled on the couch covered with a wool blanket, sipping a hot drink and letting the smell of cappuccino truffle waft around the room from a burning candle. The research for my next novel is almost finished; just the small matter of writing it now. Set once again in Victorian England, the new book mixes true crime and historical fiction in the blended genre of faction. Or rather it will once I’ve removed myself from the comfort of the sofa and away from cosy distractions.

In the meantime, Vote for Murder is currently free on Amazon Kindle until Wednesday 21st September. Click this link for your copy.

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A Writer’s Life – My Almost Summer Holiday

IMG_0376I’m not a full time writer. Like many others, I have a day job; to be completely accurate, I have two. So holiday time is valuable and self, husband, son and aged border terrier were looking forward to a fortnight off in the splendid scenery of Northumberland.

My husband has a thing about castles. Something to do with his love of Bernard Cornwell novels, I think. He was desperate to visit the Holy Island and couldn’t wait to get inside a castle or two. It was going to be a fabulous week with plenty of time to develop the plot for my next novel. Even my son was resigned to the lack of Wi-Fi and happy to be reading and writing instead.

Saturday dawned and we set off for Northumberland via Kendall, arriving in Beautiful Belford late Saturday afternoon. We duly unpacked, scoped out the local area and found a very nice hotel which served mini bottles of prosecco; all seemed right with the world.

Sadly, there was a lot less of the world by Sunday, according to my husband’s left eye. We decided to drive up the coast to the historic town of Berwick on Tweed and spent a pleasant morning meandering around the ruins. As we drove further north to the Scottish town of Eyemouth, hubby began to complain about his vision. It felt like there was a contact lens stuck in his eye, he said, and his vision was a little blurry. He inspected the eye in the mirror, saw nothing to concern himself and decided to sleep on it hoping it would improve by morning. So we went back to our holiday let, cooked a meal & settled down for the evening.

By the next morning, my husband’s left eye was behaving very badly indeed. He could only see a small semi-circle of light and was sufficiently concerned to visit the local chemist and ask for directions to the nearest optician. There were two within a 15-mile radius, so he chose Specsavers in Berwick. It turned out to be a wise choice. They were extremely accommodating, took his problem seriously and rearranged their diary so he could attend that morning. So off we trekked to Berwick again, hubby in attendance at Specsavers while my son and I walked the dog around the ruins for the second time in 24 hours.

Long story short, hubby was diagnosed with a detached retina and macular. He returned to the car, ashen, clutching a referral note to Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary for that afternoon. Despite the diagnosis, he insisted on driving as he doesn’t like me driving his car and I don’t like it much either as it doesn’t have a real handbrake. Two hours later the four of us were at the top of a multi-storey at the hospital. Son and dog remained in the car while hubby and I booked him into the eye clinic where there was a 2 hour wait. I spent the next 2 hours flitting between husband, son and dog and taking son and dog to find a car charger as all the phones were getting low and we had no idea whether husband would be admitted or not.

In the end, it was not. The operation was urgent and could have been carried out at Newcastle but with the follow up care, it was deemed better to return to Cheltenham and have the operation there. This came as something of a relief as all I could think about during the wait was how on earth I was going to get his car down nine car parking ramps when I couldn’t use the brake. It was clearly on his mind too as he point-blank refused to let me try.

Going back to Cheltenham was a no-brainer. The operation was urgent and we decided to drive through the night and take his referral letter to Cheltenham General hospital first thing the next day. And when I say we, I mean me. Husband finally, and reluctantly, agreed I should drive as the eye drops were disturbing his remaining vision and he knew he wouldn’t be able to see when it got dark.

It’s fair to say that Hubby does not make a good passenger. Having driven straight back to Belford, packed and departed, I might have been concerned about staying awake, were it not for the fact that he shouted at me almost the entire way home. The conversations, of which there were many, went along these lines.

Him – “You should get into the left lane here.”

Me – “But the satnav says stay in the middle lane.”

Him – “No, the sign says go left.”

Me – “The satnav definitely wants me to stay in this lane.”

Him – “GO LEFT NOW!”

Me – “We’re on the wrong road.”

Him – “Well don’t listen to me. You know I can’t see properly!

And so on, ad nauseam, all the way home.

Fortunately, we arrived home in one piece, slept for a few hours and reported to the hospital the next day. The staff at Cheltenham General were fantastic, took it all very seriously and he was operated on the following day. Three weeks later and things are going well. He can already see colours and shapes and his vision improves daily.

On the minus side, we only spent two days in Northumberland of which one of those was taken up dealing with medical matters. The closest we got to a castle was driving past glorious Bamburgh Castle & we were compelled to cancel our boat trip to the Holy Island (they would have taken the dog too). But it’s a small price to pay to ensure the restoration of hubby’s sight and we appreciate how lucky he was to be seen by such professional medical staff in Berwick, Newcastle & Cheltenham. We will return to Northumberland again one day and the trip to Holy Island will take place before anything else!

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The Hard won right to vote

Vote ballotOn 2 Jul 1928, women over 30 were finally given the right to vote. This victory was hard won. One way or another, women had been campaigning for the right to vote since the early 1830’s with the first suffrage societies formed in the 1860’s.

Throughout that time, action was taken through peaceful lobbying. It was not until the turn of the century when the first women’s suffrage bill was defeated that the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) was formed. Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters were active members of the WSPU and their frustration with the system lead them to violent protest. Their supporters were labelled with the derogatory term ‘suffragette’ by an unsympathetic media; a name they chose to embrace. Whether by the conviction of the suffragettes or the tenacity of the suffragists, women achieved the right to vote in the UK, partially in 1918 and fully in 1928.

Next week, we face the third of only 3 UK wide referendums. The referendum gives an opportunity for the entire electorate to vote on a specific issue, in this case whether we leave or remain in the EU. Referendums are rare and we may not see another for many years. However you vote, be mindful that the ability to exercise a choice was denied to many of our ancestors.  So take the opportunity to do what they could not. Come rain or shine, go out on Thursday and make your vote count.

When women got the vote

  • 1893 New Zealand
  • 1902 Australia
  • 1906 Finland
  • 1913 Norway
  • 1915 Denmark
  • 1917 Canada
  • 1918 Austria, Germany, Poland, Russia
  • 1919 Netherlands
  • 1920 United States
  • 1921 Sweden
  • 1928 Britain, Ireland
  • 1931 Spain
  • 1934 Turkey
  • 1944 France
  • 1945 Italy
  • 1947 Argentina, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan
  • 1949 China
  • 1950 India
  • 1954 Colombia
  • 1957 Malaysia, Zimbabwe
  • 1962 Algeria
  • 1963 Iran, Morocco
  • 1964 Libya
  • 1967 Ecuador
  • 1971 Switzerland
  • 1972 Bangladesh
  • 1974 Jordan
  • 1976 Portugal
  • 1989 Namibia
  • 1990 Western Samoa
  • 1993 Kazakhstan, Moldova
  • 1994 South Africa
  • 2005 Kuwait
  • 2006 United Arab Emirates

Diary of a Beagle Princess – day 2

IMG_0144It’s Thursday morning and I’m busy doing what beagles do best – chewing. There are three dogs in the house today – we have been joined by Benson, a miniature schnauzer. Nana gave us all chews when we returned from our walks.  I was a clever girl and scoffed mine in double quick time.  Then I waited for one of the older dogs to tire and snatched his treat away while he was distracted. Very nice it is too.

I’m not sure what I think of the sleeping arrangements here. I was preparing to bed down with the humans last night, when Nana sent me to my basket. I left immediately but she put me back in and sat with me until I settled. I waited for an hour, then sneaked back over to the bed. Nana picked me up and put me back again so I stamped my paw and glared at her. She stroked my ears which made me feel sleepy so I let her think I was going to be a good beagle princess and went to sleep for a few hours.

I woke up after a lovely dream in the small hours. It was dark but I was wide awake so I bounded over to the bed and jumped right in the middle of Nana and Grandad. Grandad made growly noises so I squeezed into Nana. She sighed sleepily and gave me a little cuddle. Grandad barked again and stomped off to the toilet. He was very cross. Nana scooped me up and we spent the rest of the night snuggled up in the spare room. Silly Nana. She should have done that in the first place. I always get my own way. I am a princess.IMG_0156

I woke Nana up at six thirty this morning with a little lick to her nose. She was very obedient and let me straight out for an early morning wee. I chased a few birds around the garden then came in for a quick snack. Nana wanted to go back to bed so I let her sleep for a little while but insisted she got up at 8am. She gave me breakfast, then took me for another lovely walk.

My training regime is going very well indeed. Nana is generally responsive to my whims. She needs a little more work on her silly ideas about me sleeping in my basket at night, but all in all, I’m happy with her progress.

 

Diary of a Beagle Princess

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Wednesday morning and I’m all packed up for a three day stay with my Nana. She collects me from home and I listen in the back of the car while she chatters away about her plans for the next few days. The countryside walks sound great, but if she thinks I am going to sit quietly while she spends two days writing, she is in for a rude awakening. I am a princess and I expect all of her time to be spent with me.

She parks the car and invites me onto the front seat so it’s easier to put my harness on. I decline. I have been taught not to move around inside a vehicle so I remain in my basket, paws crossed in defiance. Nana calls again, muttering about her weak wrist and my lack of cooperation, but I am Bella the belligerent today and no means no. Nana sighs, leaves the car and opens the rear door. I smile benevolently. It shouldn’t take long to train her. She puts on my collar, then my harness. I jump from the car in a frenzy of excitement. It looks like an off-lead walk across the fields is on the cards and I am trembling with anticipation.

Nana pulls the lead and I come to a halt, baffled. What is going on? My lead is between my legs. How am I supposed to walk like this? I sit down. She pulls. I lay down. She pulls. I shake my head in disgust and only then does she realise she has put the harness on upside down. Nana scans the area furtively, hoping nobody else has witnessed her error. I hang my head in shame. There are a couple of Labradors coming towards us and I don’t want them to judge me on my badly trained human.

She corrects the harness before it gets too embarrassing & I tear off, lead fully extended. This is more like it. We reach a meadow near Oldacre playing field when there is a loud, whirring noise overhead. I don’t pay much attention at first; there are so many exciting smells. But the noise gets louder and the air churns. Before I can collect my thoughts, a bright green helicopter descends from the sky and settles on our playing field. Nana is agog with curiosity. She walks the entire length of the field watching men in orange boiler suits as they leave the helicopter and walk into the nearby estate. She hasn’t looked at me. Not once. I scamper across the field looking beautiful, with my beagle ears streaming behind me and my elegant tail tall and proud, but it is all a waste of time. Her head is turned in the other direction. We carry on our walk across fields and down tracks. From time to time Nana meets other humans and they gossip about the helicopter.

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Presently, we come to a road. I slow down and look anxiously at my Nana. She knows I don’t approve of traffic noise so why she has bought me here? But then she turns into a close and I find myself in doggy heaven. Oh yes, the pet supplies store. I love my Nana. She talks to the human behind the counter while I take advantage of the low level treat displays with a lick of the merchandise here and there. Then Nana spots me and removes a snack protruding from my mouth that I sneaked from the stand earlier. She buys half a dozen sturdy chews and I begin to look forward to my visit.

We arrive home and Nana’s aged Border terrier greets her with an enthusiastic bark. He019fd04c17948ae28accfc877c8cc7ab37c06d2077 sees me and his shoulders slump before he turns away in disgust. I am a princess and don’t allow grumpiness so I jump at him and try to engage him in play. He raises a warning lip and snarls. Nana sighs. She reaches into her pocket and pulls out a tasty treat. Only 9.30 am and I’ve already had a lovely long walk and a delicious chew. It’s going to be a good few days.