My Review of Remember No More by Jan Newton – Now an Audio Book #review #DSJulieKit #Crime @CrimeCymru #audiobook #families #FrometheArchives #Wales

I can’t believe it is almost five years ago since I wrote this review of Jan Newton’s brilliant crime story. Originally, I was given an ARC of Remember No More by the publishers, Honno, for a fair and honest review. I said at the time:”Believe me, this is one to look out for!! I wasn’t wrong. And now Honno have released Remember No More as an audio book: https://tinyurl.com/32cm2n8s. So now we have a choice… read, or listen – it’s brilliant.

Book Description:

Newly promoted DS Julie Kite is at a crossroads. Her husband’s new job takes her away from urban Manchester and its inner city problems to a new life in tranquil mid-Wales. It is to be a new start for them both. On her first day at Builth Wells police station, Julie is thrust unexpectedly into the centre of a murder investigation in a remote farming community. At the same time, Stephen Collins is set free from HMP Strangeways. He immediately makes his way back to mid-Wales, the scene of his heinous crime, in order to confront those who had a hand in his incarceration.

The twists and turns of the investigation into the death of solicitor Gareth Watkin force DS Kite to confront her own demons alongside those of her new community and the lengths to which we’ll go to protect our families.

My Review:

This is a plot with many twists and turns. The depths of the historic layers are slowly revealed alongside the introduction of the protagonist, Detective Sergeant Julie Kite and her struggles in both her work and home life. I loved the author’s ability to balance  – and juggle – both, and to keep the reader interested throughout the story. For me the genre of crime fiction can only work if there are false leads, clues that baffle or can give a ‘eureka’ moment. Remember No More does all these.

The story is told from an omniscient point of view, weighted mostly from the protagonist’s viewpoint and this works, as I have the feeling we will be hearing more from DS Kite. But there is also an insight to the other characters and this adds depth to the them; to their struggles, their loyalties, their place in both the community and their families. The characters are well rounded and it is easy to empathise with some of them – and to recognise the weakness and malevolence in others. 

The dialogue works well, differentiating the Welsh born characters and contrasting with the accent of Julie Kite and other Northern England characters. The internal dialogue gives greater perception to them all. I liked the slow internal acceptance of the protagonist’s change of life and work situation from Northern England to Wales.

I think one of the great strengths in the author’s writing is the descriptions of the settings. If I can’t picture the world the characters live in, it doesn’t work for me. Jan Newton  bases her book in mid Wales. The details are authentic and give a tangible sense of place. I admired  her ability to bring the sense of place alive. I was immediately drawn in by a very early description: ” the road was hemmed in either side by reeds and grasses, which had been bleached by the winter’s snow and were still untouched by the spring sunshine…”.And later, “the car rattled over a cattle grid and a vista of villages and isolated farms opened up below them as the road hair-pinned to the right, before descending along the edge of a steep valley. the tops of the hills were the pale browns of moorland, but the valley bottoms were already lush with meadows and hedges.” Good stuff!!

If I had anreservations about the story it would be about the relationship between the protagonist and her husband. But this is only because I wanted to know the background of their marriage. Maybe this is something to be revealed in the next story of DS Julie Kite. 

A couple of last mentions; I love the cover, the image is wonderful, I feel it is the scene that the buzzard sees in the Prologue. Oh, I do like prologues!

This is  a book I have no hesitation in recommending to any reader who enjoys a good strong crime mystery.

 I enjoyed reading Remember No More, and, by the way, there’s another offering from DS Julie Kite

Book Description:

Newly promoted DS Julie Kite has been in sleepy mid-Wales for mere months when she’s faced with her second murder case. A man’s body has been found by school kids trekking the Monk’s Trod. The trail takes her back north to her parents in Manchester and to a housing estate in Blackpool. It’s not a simple case – a young mother has disappeared, but so has her son and her next door neighbour’s wife. And the husband of the landlady of the B&B where the girl was staying. When an ex-serviceman farmhand with PTSD attempts to take his own life the case gets more complex still.

Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk: https://tinyurl.com/2p9adcpx

Amazon.com: https://tinyurl.com/2p87s9fm

About Jan:

Jan Newton grew up in Manchester and Derbyshire and spent twenty years in the Chilterns before moving to mid Wales in 2005. She has worked as a bilingual secretary, an accountant, and in the Welsh stream of Builth Wells Primary School. She plays the euphonium in Llandrindod and Knighton brass bands

Jan graduated from Swansea University in 2015 with a Masters in Creative Writing and has won the Allen Raine Short Story Competition, the WI’s Lady Denman Cup, the Lancashire and North West Magazine’s prize for humorous short stories and the Oriel Davies Gallery’s prize for nature writing. She is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association.

Places in our Memories: With Chris Lloyd #Memories #MondayBlogs #Crimewriter #CrimeCymru

There are places that remain in our memories, the details may become slightly blurred, nostalgia may colour our thoughts, but they don’t fade. And how those places made us feel at the time is the one thing that remains.

Today I’m really pleased to welcome Chris Lloyd, who I seem to have known for quite a while, yet I can’t remember where we met, but who has since become a good friend.

Over to you, Chris…

Thanks, Judith.

So here I am, remembering Girona …

You can’t help but feel love for a city that puts up a statue to books.

I knew very little about the language of Catalonia and nothing of its history when I went to live in Girona for six months in 1979, my year abroad on my degree course in Spanish and French. Sending me to study Spanish in the heartland of Catalan language and culture wasn’t perhaps the wisest move, but in the end I had no complaints. Quite the opposite, in fact. It was the first and one of the most important of the turning points in my life.

When I turned up one very hot morning at the end of August to start a teaching job in September, Franco had not yet been gone four years. Institutions were changing, slowly. Spain’s new Constitution had been approved, and a Statute of Autonomy for Catalonia voted in and enacted shortly after I turned up. Changes small and large, visible and not so visible, were taking place all around us. The most disreputable street names had been changed – either back to their original pre-dictatorship names or to new ones to mark the passing of the dictator and the return of democracy – but there were still others high up on the walls of buildings that were still in Castilian Spanish, waiting to be replaced.

The Catalan language had been banned under Franco, its use in public office prohibited, no songs recorded or books published (with the exception, eventually, of a small set of Catholic-funded tomes few people read). No Catalan holidays were observed or traditional celebrations allowed, and a pan-Spanish pseudo-culture was imposed on the country, not just in response to a burgeoning tourist industry but to dilute national and regional differences.

Catalan hadn’t been taught in schools since 1939, and there were at least two generations of Catalans who could speak their language, albeit with many ‘Castilianisms’ creeping in, but few of them could write it. So much of what had been taught about history and culture, hijacked by a petty and brittle dictatorship, had to be untaught and old subjects and thoughts rediscovered. Years later, researching for a guide book, I came across stories of archaeological sites that had been destroyed during the Franco years as the evidence they provided didn’t fit in with the new narrative that the dictatorship had demanded.

All around me, it felt like a people sloughing off a hide of oppression. More than that, it was a rebirth. A nation emerging dazzled into the sunlight after decades of darkness, suddenly being given a second chance, this time with a determination to get it right.

It was the most exciting and optimistic of times. And it just seemed to fit in with me and with my stage in my own history. I’d grown up in an insecure Wales that was torn between trying to revive its old identity and searching for a new one. I was the same. I was the youngest of three siblings, a bit of an age gap between me and my brother and sister, uncertain of where I fitted in. At twenty, when I went to Girona, I still had no real idea of who I was, collectively or individually, or of my place in the world.

Girona – and Catalonia – changed that. I was swept up in their renewal, in awe of their determination never to return to the days of every decision taken away from them and to move forward in asserting their own identity. It formed a sense of community in me and a sense of me in a community. The Catalans’ belief in the validity of their own language and culture made me take a fresh look at my own, at Wales. Beyond all of that, it made me take a fresh look at myself, at where I fitted in. And the lynchpin of that was the language. Lacking in self-confidence but blustery to hide shyness, I found that speaking in another language allowed me to overcome that. It was a façade I could hide my real uncertainties behind – my initial lack of fluency gave me an excuse for my lack of confidence and a way of overcoming it, while becoming fluent over time and the kind words said about my Catalan finally dispelled some of that insecurity.

Quite apart from the effect that that period in that place had on me, Girona itself is a beautiful city. To a twenty-something me, it was a whole new school and playground. An old quarter half-encircled by medieval city walls – in one of the most unfortunate urban decisions in history, the city council decided to knock down the other half of the walls in the 1930s to create an avenue – that was a den of minuscule alleys, smoke-filled jazz bars and elderly people sitting on upright chairs outside their front doors. A Jewish Quarter that had been so forcibly cut off from the rest of the city, it had created its own micro-climate. A cobbled hill that eventually led to Rome, part of the Via Augusta, and a towering Baroque cathedral atop Europe’s largest flight of Rococo steps that dominated the city as far as the Pyrenees.

And bookshops. A city with barely 100,000 people and there are about twenty bookshops, the vast majority of them independent. That’s why the city put up a statue to books. And it’s probably why, thirty-five years later, I set my first three novels in Girona, the first a story of clinging to the past while embracing the new. Full circle. From that first day in Girona, it gave me exactly that: the confidence to write and the curiosity to pursue it. Even my new series, set in Occupied France, owes its genesis to the lessons I began to learn in Girona.

I stayed in Catalonia. I went back to Girona for a few years after graduating before moving on to Bilbao, Madrid and Barcelona. In all, I stayed twenty-four years in Spain, twenty of them in Catalonia, and while Barcelona was where I lived the longest and the city I loved the most, Girona has always stayed with me as that first love you never forget and to which I owe so much.

Straight after graduating in Spanish and French, Chris Lloyd hopped on a bus from Cardiff to Catalonia and stayed there for over twenty years. He has also lived in Grenoble – researching the French Resistance movement – as well as in the Basque Country and Madrid, where he taught English and worked in educational publishing and as a travel writer. More recently, he worked as a Catalan and Spanish translator.

About Chris:

Chris now lives in Wales, where he writes the Occupation series, featuring Eddie Giral, a French police detective in Paris under Nazi rule. The first book in the series – The Unwanted Dead – won the HWA Gold Crown Award for best historical novel of the year and was shortlisted for the CWA Historical Dagger Award for the best historical crime fiction. It was chosen as Waterstones Welsh Book of the Month. The second book in the series, Paris Requiem, will be published in February 2023.

He has also written a trilogy set in present-day Girona, in Catalonia, featuring Elisenda Domènech, a police officer in the devolved Catalan police force.

Links:

Website: https://chrislloydauthor.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/chrislloydbcn

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chrislloydbcn/

My Review of Bethulia by Thorne Moore #TuesdayBookBlog #DiamondPress

I have read all of Thorne Moore’s books, so far, and I can honestly say this is one author who can turn her hand to any genre.

From her days when she was published with Honno and her domestic noir stories such as: Motherlove, to being published by Lume and the enthralling Llys y Garn books that hold a blend of gothic mystery and family drama, for example: Shadows, to her ventures into Indie Publishing and her powerful Sci Fi novels, beginning with: Inside Out, and now as an author of Diamond Press (her first book with them being Fatal Collision) this author has a talent for compelling plots and characters (to quote a well-known cliche) that leap off the page and live with the reader well after the story is finished.

And so it is with Bethulia.

Book Description:

Alison, Danny, Jude. Three girls bound closer than sisters. Nothing can divide them.

Until Alison falls for Simon Delaney. Handsome, successful and ambitious, what woman wouldn’t want him? He’s surely her perfect husband. So why does she commit suicide?

If it is suicide. The police say yes, except for the driven DC Rosanna Quillan. She says no, but she can only watch as Jude and Danny fight for the prize – the widower. How far would either of them go to have him?

My Review:

This is a story that grips from the start; the death of one of three women who have been friends from childhood. Initially drawn together by grief as young girls, and now, two of them again, Danny, Jude, as young women, with the apparent suicide of the other, Alison.

I say, ‘apparently’, because, thrown into the mix we have an unreliable narrator, the protagonist, Judith Granger. Brought back to England, from her work abroad by the dreadful news, her part of the story is told in first person point of view. And, to be honest, I was completely taken in by her actions. As always, I won’t give any spoilers in my review, but this is so difficult with Bethulia, because there are two plots here, but the same scenarios: one ambiguous, one explicit. And it takes the reader quite a while to get to that, “oh!” moment; that realisation of what is going on.

Because there is also an omniscient narrator, who follows the other characters, and relates their actions in a third person perspective.

And then there is Simon Delaney, the antagonist, who tells his story from his viewpoint, – a man it is easy to dislike, distrust, yet still wonder about….

And each point of view brings conflicting emotions in the reader. And that’s about all I can say about the storyline. Suffice it to say, it’s riveting.

And, as always in Thorne Moore’s novels, every character, even the minor ones, have distinctive characteristics and dialogue that bring an instant image of them. The major players are multi-layered, well rounded, their personalities evolving; being revealed, as the book progresses. Those you learn to love, those who from the beginning reveal themselves to be … shall we say… dubious ( or worse!) Besides the three main characters, Alison, Danny, Jude, I particularly like DC Rosanna Quillan. There is a small but dramatic twist at the end of Bethulia, which makes me wonder if we will hear more of her.

A short word about the settings in Bethulia. Whether it’s the interior of police stations, churches, or the description of houses such as Jude’s memory of Alison’s childhood home, Summervale, “a forbiddingly brown house”, or the secluded converted boathouse, Bethulia, which was to become a haven for Danny, or the snow-filled streets of Oxford, and the ethereal Teifi estuary in Wales,the portrayals give an evocative sense of place.

This is a well written story told in the usual confident and erudite writing style of this author, weaving themes and plot twists effortlessly throughout. As you may have guessed, I really enjoyed this book, and I would thoroughly recommend Bethulia to any reader who enjoys psychological and action thrillers with a strong plot and and memorable characters. You won’t be disappointed.

About Thorne Moore:

Thorne was born in Luton and graduated from Aberystwyth University (history) and from the Open University (Law). She set up a restaurant with her sister and made miniature furniture for collectors. She lives in Pembrokeshire, which forms a background for much of her writing, as does Luton.

She writes psychological mysteries, or “domestic noir,” exploring the reason for crimes and their consequences, rather than the details of the crimes themselves. and her first novel, “A Time For Silence,” was published by Honno in 2012, with its prequel, “The Covenant,” published in 2020. “Motherlove” and “The Unravelling” were also published by Honno. “Shadows,” published by Lume, is set in an old mansion in Pembrokeshire and is paired with “Long Shadows,” also published by Lume, which explains the history and mysteries of the same old house. She’s a member of Crime Cymru. Her latest crime novel, “Fatal Collision is published by Diamond Crime (2022)

She also writes Science Fiction, including “Inside Out” (2021) and “Making Waves” (2022)

Links:

Website: https://thornemoore.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thorne.moore.7

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ThorneMoore

Places in our Memories: With Kathy Miles #poet #MondayBlogs #Memories

Today I’m really pleased to welcome wordsmith extraordinaire, Kathy Miles, to tell you about her memories. I’ve known Kathy and her works for some years, and today, for a change, I’m going to leave it to her to express her thought on Places in our Memories.

The places in our memories are constantly changing. New insight or knowledge might lead you to view a cherished place with different eyes; sometimes the place itself will have altered beyond recognition over the years, and your memory of it becomes elusive, so you ask yourself whether what you remember is the truth, or built upon a desire for it to be so. Sometimes they vanish. I live near the coast at Aberaeron, and sea-mists often obliterate the landscape so completely that it becomes hard to remember what it looks like on a hot summer’s day:

Some days the land is stolen from itself,

chimneys and slate roofs swallowed, village

and pit-head lost to this cold mouth of mist

as it muffles hymn and chapel bell, silences

the scold of crows that crowd around

the plough like a flock of ranting preachers.

(‘Vanish’)

In my case, these problems of recall are compounded by a breakdown I suffered in my mid-forties, which wiped away a good many of my childhood memories. What remains is fragmentary and fleeting; a series of impressions that appear occasionally, like landmarks emerging from a sea mist, or footprints that might at any moment be washed away by the tide.

Growing up in Liverpool, the sea and river were constants. My paternal grandfather and great-grandfather had been merchant seamen, and their love of the sea passed to my father and on to me. I remember standing with my Dad on the Cazzy, the Cast-Iron Shore on the banks of the Mersey, where the sand was rust-coloured from the residue of an old iron foundry. Dad was wearing a shirt and tie as always, jacket slung across his shoulders. His face had already reddened in the heat. We kept a wary eye on the tide. The river creeps quickly and silently over those mudflats, brimming up as suddenly as an unwatched bath. A slub of saltmarsh, shards of driftwood, and just up the river bank, old shipyards festering in the sunshine. From there you can see the outline of Welsh mountains across to Moel Famau. But it was the water Dad was staring at, with a kind of longing, as if he wished he could be whisked away to far horizons.

It was inevitable that our annual holidays would be taken by the sea. Cemaes Bay, Cornwall, and later on, Guernsey and Sark.  Mum would pack a picnic basket with boiled eggs and sandwiches, a thermos of tea, and the three of us walked to the nearest beach, stopping on the way to pick field mushrooms for next day’s breakfast. I’d head for the nearest rocks, fishing net in hand, and was soon absorbed in a rock-pool, catching tiny shrimps and sometimes a rockling or blenny. Dad fished for mackerel from the shore, whilst Mum would scoop out limpets to use as bait, and patiently rewind my crabbing line when I’d tangled the twine.

Home in Liverpool was a small bungalow, built on farmland in the 1930s as the edges of the city expanded. It was eight miles from the Mersey, but still close enough for us to be able to hear the ferry hooters blasting out in chorus to mark the start of each new year. Dad took the train to work each morning, and in the evenings I’d race up the road to West Allerton station and stand on the bridge as his train came in, usually getting covered in steam and smuts. If trains can be special memories of place, then these old steam trains are mine, with their plushly-covered seats, leather strap to pull up the window so the door could be opened, and pictures hung above the luggage rack. Even now I still feel the excitement of boarding a train, the promise of new experiences and unknown places.

At 18, having failed most of my A levels, I went to work in the Everyman Theatre for a year. I had to retake my exams if I had any hope of getting into university, and we also needed the money. The Everyman at that time was a shabby building in Hope Street, in desperate need of renovation, but with a fabulous bistro in the basement run by Paddy Byrne and Dave Scott. My job was a combination of ASM and general dogsbody. I helped out in the wardrobe department, sourced props, answered the telephone and manned the box office. On one occasion I even appeared on stage, though as I was crammed into the frame of a large fabric-covered snake, it was hardly going to make my fame and fortune as an actor. The company then included Antony Sher, Jonathan Pryce, Roger Sloman, Alison Steadman and David Goodland, and the director was Alan Dossor, who produced gritty, contemporary agitprop plays.  The actors shared a single dressing-room; costumes were often held up by safety pins or my dangerously-loose tacking stitches, and in one notable production of Caucasian Chalk Circle, Roger Sloman was carted off to hospital after being hit on the head by a large iron hook that descended from the ceiling at the wrong time. It was chaotic, but it was also fun. Everyone worked as a team, and when I left – very reluctantly – to go to university, I was presented with a large publicity poster of the whole cast as a present. Although the Everyman is now a state-of-the-art modern theatre, I’ll never forget that old building, which stank of fags and paint, sweaty tights and damp wood, and to me was as glamorous as anything in the West End.

When I came to Lampeter, however, I finally found my special place. The Everyman had been a wonderful experience, but I’d never felt truly at home in Liverpool. My Mum in later years said that Wales had stolen me away, and she was right. I had grown up with Welsh-speaking aunts, and from the moment I stepped off the rickety old Richards bus that brought me from Aberystwyth, I felt I had truly found my cynefin. Here I was near my beloved sea, and a landscape I instantly felt rooted to. In 1995 I published an anthology of poems and photographs, The Third Day; Landscape and the Word (Gomer Press), commissioning work from poets such as Dannie Abse, RS Thomas, Gillian Clarke, Sheenagh Pugh and Raymond Garlick. Travelling around Wales to photograph old Welsh sites gave me new places to tuck away in my memory, including the then-unrestored Aberglasney, where the photographer and I kissed surreptitiously in the Yew Tunnel, and a different chapter of my life began. If my memory of those early years is sometimes veiled in sea mist, and many of the places of my childhood no longer exist, the ones I have gained since then provide a constant source of delight, and inspiration for my writing.

About Kathy:

Born in Liverpool, Kathy Miles is a poet and short story writer living in West Wales. Her work has appeared widely in magazines and anthologies, and her fourth full collection of poetry, Bone House, was published by Indigo Dreams in 2020. Kathy is a previous winner of the Bridport Prize, as well as the Welsh Poetry, Second Light, Wells Literature, Shepton Mallet Snowdrop Festival and PENfro poetry competitions. She is a regular book reviewer and workshop facilitator, has co-edited The Lampeter Review, and guest-edited Artemis magazine.

Poetry Collections

Bone House  (Indigo Dreams, 2020)

Inside the Animal House (Rack Press, 2018)

Gardening With Deer (Cinnamon Press, 2016)

The Shadow House (Cinnamon Press, 2009)

The Third Day: Landscape and the Word (Gomer, 1995)

The Rocking Stone (Poetry Wales Press, 1988)

Other

Ugly as Sin and other clichés (Pentad Books, December 2020)

Links

https://www.indigodreamspublishing.com/kathy-miles

http://welshwriters.co.uk/kathy-miles/

http://www.poetrypf.co.uk/kathymilesbiog.shtml

Remembering Past Places in our Memories: Roundup of November 2022 #Memories #MondayBlogs #houses #families #childhoods #Holidays

There are places that remain in our memories, the details may become slightly blurred, nostalgia may colour our thoughts, but they don’t fade. And how those places made us feel at the time is the one thing that remains.

This is a round-up of the Places in our Memories posted over the last few weeks. There have been some wonderful memories shared.

Phil Rowlands gave us a very poignant account of the many special memories he has of Newgale in Wales. https://tinyurl.com/wkevacw6

Liz Hines brought to life her memories of growing up in a house that was once a public house (called Albert House, her childhood home has, unfortunately, been in a state of disrepair for some time now), and told us what it was like to live in a strong matriarchal family. https://tinyurl.com/2anfptxb.

Marjorie Mallon talked about her love of botanical gardens, recalling, in particular, her admiration for Cambridge Botanical Garden in the United Kingdom, and her respect for sculptural/artistic and wonders of engineering science. She also shared one or two of her poems with us. https://tinyurl.com/yc325da8

And finally, Jane Frazer told us us how, although enjoying a wonderful holiday in… she missed her homeland of Wales… and how it brought other thoughts: https://tinyurl.com/msnchysx.

This month, in the lead up to Christmas, we’ll only have one post in December, on the 19th, but I can guarantee it will be a fascinating Christmas memory. I hope you enjoy reading it. In January 2023, we will begin another round of Places in our Memories.

My Review of Shape of Revenge: (A Shade Darker Book 2) by Georgia Rose #DomesticThriller

Book Description:

His secret’s revealed… Her revenge is silent…

A woman wronged. Her husband a cheat. Can she get her revenge without him realising he’s being punished?


Sharon Beesley, owner of Sharon’s Stores, discovers by chance the secret life her husband Eric is living, and once she begins to take her revenge she finds she’s unable to stop.

Meanwhile, their schoolgirl daughter Daisy follows the tempting trail of breadcrumbs left by a much older man. But when they meet, all is not what it seems. And no one knows where she is.

With Daisy in trouble and her parents distracted by their own problems, everyone is surprised when help comes from an unlikely place. As does retribution…


Shape of Revenge is a gripping domestic thriller. If you like character-driven action, suspenseful storytelling and unexpected twists then you’ll love this exciting novel.

My Review:

I’ve read quite a few of Georgia Rose’s books, and enjoyed every one. My latest review, of Georgia’s first book of the series (A Shade Darker Book 1)  A Killer Strikes, here: https://tinyurl.com/597raer2

Like all this author’s stories, Shape of Revenge has a brilliant plot, but it’s also character led. We met Sharon Beesley in A Killer Strikes, as a minor character who is an unpleasant gossip, and here she takes centre stage as a fully rounded character, equally unpleasant, and campaigning a personal vendetta against another inhabitant of Melton. Yet, in a way – and only sometimes – I felt an unwelcome glimmer of sympathy for her; she’s a victim of her own misguided aspirations and denial of her background, with a deep-seated resentment against the life she is living. But, equally, I had empathy for her downtrodden husband, Eric, a man whose facade is that of a loyal husband and is a loving, yet ineffectual father to Daisy, the daughter. A young teenage girl, not as streetwise as she perceives herself to be, Daisy is still recovering from an incident that completely changed her life, and who now reads so many wrong signals in so many situations, that she lurches into danger.

I always try not to give spoilers in my reviews, and feel that I’m in danger of doing just that, so I’ll stop there. But what I do need to say is that all these characters are multi layered and immediately identifiable through their dialogue, both spoken and internal. And, together with a cast of wonderful minor characters,( some of whom reappear from A Killer Strikes), they are embedded in a community that is indicative of so many villages and small towns. I almost felt like on onlooker to life in Melton.

As with all of Georgia Roses’ books the descriptions of the settings give a good sense of place: the shop that is Sharon’s domain, Melton Manor, the home of Lord and Lady Cavendish, the village pub, The Red Calf, and the village itself.

Shape of Revenge is a convincingly realistic read, with themes of revenge, deception and suspicions, yet also holds threads of subtle humour. The plot weaves along at a satisfying pace, and there’s a brilliant twist at the end.

I agree with the above description of Shape of Revenge: it is a gripping domestic thriller, and, as such, is a book I would thoroughly recommend.

Shape of Revenge: https://tinyurl.com/2s4aryer is available to preorder

Meet the author:

Interview Resources & Information for Georgia Rose

First NameGeorgia 
Last NameRose 
Emailinfo@georgiarosebooks.com   
HeadshotAttached 
Websitehttps://www.georgiarosebooks.com/   
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/GeorgiaRoseBook   
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/georgia.rose.books   
Facebook PageGeorgia Rose – Author | Facebook 
Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/georgiarose4481/   
Pinteresthttps://www.pinterest.co.uk/georgia2471/   
Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7776633.Georgia_Rose   
BioGeorgia Rose is a writer and the author of the romantic and suspenseful Grayson Trilogy books: A Single Step, Before the Dawn and Thicker than Water. Following completion of the trilogy she was asked for more and so wrote a short story, The Joker, which is based on a favourite character from the series and the eBook is available to download for free at the retailer of your choice.   Her fourth novel, Parallel Lies, encompasses crime along with Georgia’s usual blending of genre and its sequel, Loving Vengeance, has now completed The Ross Duology.   She is now embarking on her third series – A Shade Darker.   Georgia’s background in countryside living, riding, instructing and working with horses has provided the knowledge needed for some of her storylines; the others are a product of her passion for people watching and her overactive imagination.   She has also recently started running workshops and providing one-to-one support for those wishing to learn how to independently publish and you can find her, under her real name, at www.threeshirespublishing.com.   Following a long stint working in the law Georgia set up her own business providing administration services for other companies which she does to this day managing to entwine that work along with her writing.   Her busy life is set in a tranquil part of rural Cambridgeshire in the UK where she lives with her much neglected husband.   

My Review of The Bubble Reputation by Alex Craigie #socialmedia #TuesdayBookBlog #Review

Book Description:

If you want to destroy someone’s reputation, social media provides the perfect tool.

Emmie Hobson, children’s author and TV presenter, is riding high on a wave of popularity when an unscrupulous newspaper editor, desperate for a scoop, brings Emmie’s world crashing down.

Social media picks up the baton and a terrifying backlash of hate and abuse is unleashed. Threats are made and there are those, inflamed by the rhetoric, prepared to take the law into their own hands.

My Review:

I’ve read previous books by Alex Craigie and thoroughly enjoyed them all, my latest review, that of Means to Deceive, is here: https://tinyurl.com/5y98ak9e

The Bubble Reputation is a story with a chilling message, but it’s not overtly didactic; as usual with this author’s work, this is a steady unveiling of the plot; the revelation of how evil social media can become when driven with the intent of ruining someone’s life.

The character of the protagonist, Emmie Hobson, is well rounded and it’s easy to emphasise with her. And when her optimism and confidence, the enjoyment in her life, is gradually reduced to despair and uncertainty, it’s heartbreaking. This is a book where the reader can see what is happening and wonder how far her jealous antagonist will go, and what Emma can do to stop the malice.

And with a cast of realistic and credible minor characters, some of whom are spreading the spite and others who seem incapable of stopping it, it becomes frustratingly impossible to see who will finally win in this struggle.

The dialogue carries every character’s personality, leaving no doubt who is speaking. But, sometimes, that spoken dialogue becomes unreliable, and leaves the reader to question the words when they don’t match the inner dialogue and actions of of a particular character. The narrative is often the only disclosure of the reasons behind the actions. It’s a clever ploy by the author.

And, as I’ve said in the past, Alex Craigie has a talent for writing descriptions which give a great sense of place. So it is with The Bubble Reputation. But, equally fascinating for me, is the way she has brought the world of social media to life with all the possibility of the inherently manipulative and dangerous behaviour within it. Social media becomes a character in its own right and intrinsically carries the warning that is the main theme threaded throughout the story.

Above all else, this is a tale that is well written, with strong narrative, convincing characters and a plot that progressively moves onwards, taking the reader with it towards an accomplished ending.

I enjoyed The Bubble Reputation and have no hesitation in recommending Alex Craigie’s latest offering to anyone who enjoys a slow-burning psychological drama.

About Alex Craigie

Alex Craigie is the pen name of Trish Power.

Trish was ten when her first play was performed at school. It was in rhyming couplets and written in pencil in a book with imperial weights and measures printed on the back.

When her children were young, she wrote short stories for magazines before returning to the teaching job that she loved.

Trish has had three books published under the pen name of Alex Craigie. The first two books cross genre boundaries and feature elements of romance, thriller and suspense against a backdrop of social issues. Someone Close to Home highlights the problems affecting care homes while Acts of Convenience has issues concerning the health service at its heart. Her third book. Means to Deceive, is a psychological thriller.

Someone Close to Home has won a Chill with a Book award and a Chill with the Book of the Month award. In 2019 it was one of the top ten bestsellers in its category on Amazon.

Book lovers are welcome to contact her on alexcraigie@aol.com

Remembering Past Places in our Memories: Roundup of October 2021 #Memories #MondayBlogs #houses #families #childhoods

There are places that remain in our memories, the details may become slightly blurred, nostalgia may colour our thoughts, but they don’t fade. And how those places made us feel at the time is the one thing that remains.

This is a round-up of the Places in our Memories posted over the last few weeks. There have been some wonderful memories shared:

Georgia Rose lived in several different houses as a child but here she told us about the one she loved and thinks about most frequently; the one she and her family moved from when she was around four years old: https://tinyurl.com/y2u3anvt

Darlene Foster told us about the time her baby brother was born during the blizzards at her near Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada: https://tinyurl.com/mr2us8tb

Jan Baynham was transported back to her happy childhood growing up in a tiny village, Newbridge-on -Wye, in mid-Wales, where her family lived with her lovely grandad: https://tinyurl.com/44phx2z3

Jane Risdon told us how, shortly after she was born, her father left for the Korean War and so she and her mother moved in with her paternal grandfather — a former British Indian Army Major: https://tinyurl.com/mtdcrdkp

Today we begin another round of Places in our Memories. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I do.

Places in our Memories with Jan Baynham #Mondayblogs #Memories

There are places that remain in our memories, the details may become slightly blurred, nostalgia may colour our thoughts, but they don’t fade. And how those places made us feel at the time is the one thing that remains.

Today I’m so pleased to hand over to Jan Baynham. Jan and I first met in 2014 at a book event, and she’s been a friend ever since. We meet up every now and then to talk writing and she’ was always been a great supporter of the Tenby and Narberth book fairs. Jan is going to tell us about her childhood memories

When I began to think about what I was going to write, I was immediately transported back my happy childhood growing up in a tiny village in mid-Wales. I was born in 2, Beech Cottage, Newbridge-on -Wye.

2, Beech Cottage

And for the first few years, we lived with my lovely granddad whose house it was. I vaguely remember standing behind a wooden board slotted into grooves in the front door posts he’d made to stop me escaping onto the street. No elaborate safety gates in those days! Granddad worked on the Llysdinam estate and although I don’t remember it myself, I recall Mum telling me she’d been embarrassed when Lady Delia came to see him and I’d invited her to ‘Step your leg over and come and see Grandad’!

My grandfather was very keen gardener, and we always had an abundant supply of fresh vegetables and soft fruit. I remember spending hours playing in his garden, especially watering the plants with a large metal watering can.

By the time my sister was born, we’d moved to 3, Pendre, another terraced house just a few doors away on Crown Row. I still spent a lot of time at Beech Cottage, though. One memory I have of that time is playing in the large shed at the top of granddad’s garden. In there was an old wind-up ‘His Master’s Voice’ gramophone and lots of brittle seventy-eight records no longer considered good enough to stay in the house. For me, Wit provided hours of fun. I can remember winding the handle as fast as I could and then listening to the music slowing down as it needed winding up again. Another memory I have is when my mum and sister had an appointment in Llandrindod, Granddad looked after me. We had Lyons cupcakes as a treat and I can still taste the thick solid chocolate icing on top as I peeled back the silver foil cake case.

Newbridge-on -Wye

Looking back, I realise that Beech Cottage must have been a tied cottage because when he retired at the age of sixty-five, Granddad came to live with us. By then, we were living at the other end of the village. I remember going for lots of walks with him. He made a swing for my sister and me and when friends came to call, they would always keep themselves amused on the swing if we weren’t ready. Now I was a bit older, my granddad taught me to play Whist. I still love playing cards but now it has to be Patience as no one else is interested in playing. I knew I’d made it when I was able to attend the local Whist Drive in the Reading Room as his partner.

The village school was small and often we would have the same teacher for a few years. Miss Lewis was my favourite. Many of the children lived on farms or in hamlets outside Newbridge. I learned to ride my bike on the village green in front of the school. I can see it now. It was a maroon Raleigh with straight handlebars. My dad taught me to ride. When I thought he was till running behind me holding the saddle, I was actually riding independently. That bike gave me complete freedom, enabling me to cycle anywhere. At weekends and at holiday time, I remember setting off for the day on my bike to call on friends to play. The church bells chiming six o’clock would be my signal to go home.

If I saw a phone box out in the countryside, I would often ring my dad at work. I can remember the receptionist’s voice on the tannoy at Auto Palace where he worked. ‘Five, telephone, please’ would echo down the phone. I can’t imagine I’d be as patient as my lovely dad if I was called to the telephone just to have a chat about where out on the Common I was.

Fields, woods and riverbanks formed my playground. Picnics by the rock pools at Llan Cam and swimming in the river at Black Bridge in the summer, as well as lighting fires in the tunnels to the side of the bridge over the river Ithon, are all memories that resurfaced while writing this piece. We had to walk along the railway line to get to Black Bridge, something that would be frowned upon as highly dangerous nowadays. My first ever published short story was entitled ‘Sledging in Mansell’s Field’ and recounts a true story of how we used to sledge down the hill in a field close to where I lived to see who could clear the stream at the bottom and not land in the water.

Laddie

After coming home by six o’clock, I would be ready for bed by the start of The Archers and go upstairs when it finished at seven. Our cocker spaniel, Laddie, had worked it out that when the Archers’ music started that would be the time that Dad came through the door and would bark loudly. Often, we would see the orange headlights of my dad’s car coming along the lane behind the house. I’m still a huge Archers fan to this day.

I very much enjoyed looking back on these early childhood memories, grateful for the freedom I had to explore and make my own fun. A big thank you, Judith, for inviting me to take part in your series.

About Jan:

About Jan Baynham

After retiring from a career in teaching and advisory education, Jan joined a small writing group in a local library where she wrote her first piece of fiction. From then on, she was hooked!

Fascinated by family secrets and ‘skeletons lurking in cupboards’, Jan’s dual narrative novels explore how decisions and actions made by family members from one generation impact on the lives of the next. Her first three novels look at the bond between mothers and daughters as well as forbidden love. Setting plays an important part in Jan’s stories and as well as her native mid-Wales, there is always a contrasting location – Greece, Sicily and northern France. Her next books will involve secrets and sibling relationships; the first set in 1945 and 1964 takes the reader back to Sicily where two sisters work together to prove their father’s innocence of a wrongdoing.

Originally from mid-Wales, Jan lives in Cardiff with her husband.

To find out more about Jan, she may be contacted on:

Twitter@JanBaynham https://twitter.com/JanBaynham

Facebook – Jan Baynham Writer https://www.facebook.com/JanBayLit

Blog – https://janbaynham.blogspot.com

Remembering Past Places in our Memories #memories #writerslife #houses #holidays #family #amusementparks #countries #SundayVibes

There are places that remain in our memories, the details may become slightly blurred, nostalgia may colour our thoughts, but they don’t fade. And how those places made us feel at the time is the one thing that remains.

This is a round-up of the Places in our Memories posted over the last few weeks. There have been some wonderful memories shared by writers from all over the world who have joined in the series so far:

Thorne Moore tells us about her first real grasp of history. “The past was just under my feet and nothing was permanent after all…”

https://tinyurl.com/2vmwx53r

Carol Lovekin recalls how much her mother has influenced her life

https://tinyurl.com/26ua74jt

Sally Cronin enthralls us with memories of her childhood of Ceylon, now known as Sri Lanka, 

https://tinyurl.com/yc32zjh9

Robbie Cheadle tells us about her life as a child and how she’d lived in twenty-one houses and attended fourteen schools, before the age of twelve. And of her love for her sisters…

https://tinyurl.com/4cpjuk7h

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene remembers an old amusement park, a memory that gave background to her books…

https://tinyurl.com/473desej

D G Kaye poignantly recalls one memory that is forever engraved in her mind and heart of her beloved husband.

https://tinyurl.com/yd8835yn

Terry Tyler recalls family holidays on the Norfolk coast, and the genuine gypsy caravan in the garden of their holiday home.

https://tinyurl.com/2z5rh3mu

Alex Craigie shares memories and photographs of her childhood home.

https://tinyurl.com/35pkn288

And then there are my own memories of the street I lived in until the age of five, and the area where I grew up.

https://tinyurl.com/zu7wu94u

Tomorrow we begin another round of Places in our Memories. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I do.

Places in our Memories: With Robbie Cheadle #MondayBlogs #Memories

There are places that remain in our memories, the details may become slightly blurred, nostalgia may colour our thoughts, but they don’t fade. And how those places made us feel at the time is the one thing that remains.

Today I’m welcoming Robbie Cheadle, someone I’ve known and admired as an online friend for many years.

Thank you, Judith, for inviting me to talk about my memories.

As a little girl I was quiet and self-contained. The oldest of four daughters, my mom was often busy with a new baby and so I spent a lot of time alone. I do believe I was a lonely child and passed my time reading, listening to Broadway musicals on my mother’s record player, and doing numerous artistic projects.

By the time I was eighteen, I’d lived in twenty-one houses and attended fourteen schools. Twelve of my school changes occurred before I was twelve and once, I changed schools twice during the same academic year.

I never developed lasting and strong friendships with other girls which may have been a consequence of all these disruptions. Instead, my sisters and I played together. Their births were the highlight moments of my younger years.

A typical picture of me as a child

My time as a baby and a toddler are grey mist to me, but the first powerful memory I have is of the entrance of my sister, Catherine, into my life. She displaced me as the only one and I wasn’t pleased about it at the time.

I wrote a short story about Catherine’s birth, she was born prematurely at 32 weeks, and the subsequent turmoil that ensued. The story is called The New Baby and is included in an anthology called Memories of Mom: Rave Soup For The Writer’s Soul Anthology, 2022 available here: https://www.amazon.com/MEMORIES-MOM-Rave-Writers-Anthology-ebook/dp/B09ZRK4L6B

The following extracts illustrate how I recall feeling about my new sister:

“I prayed: “Thank you, God, for sending me a sister. I don’t mind being an only child though, so would you please take her away and give her to another girl who really wants a baby sister?” 

My prayer went unanswered, and my mother continued to visit the hospital every morning.”

“On the morning Catherine came home from the hospital, everything started to change. I no longer went to school as my mother didn’t want to risk me picking up a cold or other illness. I stayed at home and helped Mom look after my sister.  

The baby was a disappointment. She was nothing like the baby in my nursery rhyme book. That baby was pink, with golden curls and fat, dimpled hands, and feet. My new sister was pale and almost translucent looking. I could see blue veins under her delicate skin, and she had bruises on her head from the drip. Her hands were tiny and clenched and she had no hair at all. When she cried it came out as a faint mewing and I couldn’t see how she would ever be any fun at all. She also took up nearly all of Mom’s time with her numerous feeds, nappy changes, and other needs.”

The entrance of Hayley into my life was unremarkable. We were living on a plot in Honeydew, Johannesburg, and my life was filled with exploration of the tracts of veld that surrounded our house.

Hayley was a howler and I remember my mother walking round and round the sitting room with her while she cried and cried. Her endless crying is how I remember Howling Hayley. She did, of course, grow out of it eventually and became one of my living dolls.

A defining memory I have of Hayley as a baby is one evening when I took the screaming bundle and walked her around to give mom a break. She went to sleep in my arms and Mom and I watched an episode of the television production of She (by Rider Haggard) together. It contained the scene where Ayesha goes into the fire and ages from a young and beautiful woman into a hideous, shrivelled 2,000-year-old woman and then disintegrates into ash. I have never, ever, forgotten that scene and I’ve read the book several times. It is a favourite of mine.

Laura is the youngest and she arrived when I was nine, Catherine was five, and Hayley was one.

Laura’s birth coincided with my family’s relocation from Johannesburg to George in the Western Cape. My grandparents on my father’s side had moved to George a year previously and they had persuaded dad to move to this beautiful city.

Dad drove Catherine, Hayley, and I to George. It was a fourteen-hour drive as frequent “wee” stops had to be made with three small girls in the car. We were driven to George ahead of my parents moving as Mom was heavily pregnant at the time with our new sister. The new baby would be born at the hospital in Johannesburg. We three girls would be cared for by our grandparents for two weeks until my mother was able to make the long car trip.

I loved George. It was totally different from dry and dusty Johannesburg with its violent thunderstorms and frightening lightning and thunder. George was green. There was an abundance of trees, flowers and bushes and it rained a lot of the time.

My grandparents lived in a cottage near the outskirts of the town and their tar road suddenly ended about 1000 metres from their house and became a dirt road and then a dirt track that led into the forest.

The forest was dark and mysterious. Full of huge, tall trees and thick bushes and foliage. We were forbidden from going into the forest on our own as it was easy to get lost amongst so many trees that all looked the same.

Along the sides of the dirt road were trenches where the municipality had been digging. I don’t know why they were digging there but the trenches were so much fun. Catherine and I climbed into the trenches and walked along them, hidden from view.

The bottoms of the trenches were covered in clay. It was deliciously squelchy and sticky, and we loved the feeling of the clay between our bare toes.

One dinner time, I told Granddad Jack about the clay. He said you could make things from it and dry them in the sun. The sun would bake them and make them hard.

What a delight! The very next day, Catherine and I went into one of the trenches and mined for clay. We scooped the clay into a plastic bag and hauled it out of the trench. Very soon, we were sitting on the back doorstep and making all sorts of pots and figurines out of clay. It was a happy time for me.

One morning, Granny Joan said that Mom and Dad were in the car and on their way to George. Catherine and I were excited, but Hayley was too young to understand what was happening.

Eventually, late in the afternoon, the car arrived with both my parents and a very funny looking, wrinkled, and red baby. I got such a fright I ran away. I thought that Laura was the ugliest baby I had ever seen.

Poor little Lu! She looked like that because she had become dehydrated during the long drive.

In retrospect, I was fortunate to grow up in a family with three sisters. We all still live in Johannesburg and our families spend the high days and holidays together.

Back row: Robbie and Laura.
Front row: Catherine and Hayley.

Thank you, Judith, for giving me this opportunity to share about my memories of my childhood. I’d like to close with this poem I wrote about my sisters for Catherine’s fortieth birthday.

A sister is … by Robbie Cheadle 

 a thief, stealing attention that is rightfully yours;   a port in a storm, when your house of cards falls; 
a fountain of knowledge – your problems, not hers;   a megaphone whose voice is louder than yours; 
an expert on everything you try for the first time;   a comedian who’ll dance and make you laugh till you cry; 
a cloths horse, ‘specially when she’s borrowed your clothes;   a home where your children are always welcome; 
a confidant with whom you share secrets and hopes;   a purse to help you out of a bind
a competitor who always shines brighter than you;   an advisor when your spirit is battered and bruised; 
a shoulder to cry on when life lets you down;   a beauty queen, who’s face is fairer than yours; 
a diary of shared memories, the old and the new;   a voice of reason, when yours has taken a day off; 
a provider of wine, in good times and bad;   an embarrassment who recalls your drunken antics; 
an artist, who’ll make up your face, if you beg; the best thing anyone could ask for. 

From Open a new door, a collection of poems by Robbie Cheadle and Kim Blades available here: https://www.amazon.com/Open-new-door-collection-poems-ebook/dp/B07K4RRC4W

Author CV – Roberta/Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with eleven children’s books and two poetry books.

The eight Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9. Count Sugular and his family hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.

Robbie has also published two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has two adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories, in the horror and paranormal genre, and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com/, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.

In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com/ called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.

Follow Robbie Cheadle at:

Follow Robbie Cheadle at:

Website:

https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog
https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/

Twitter
https://twitter.com/bakeandwrite


YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVyFo_OJLPqFa9ZhHnCfHUA


Goodreads
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15584446.Robbie_Cheadle

Purchase links:
TSL Publications (paperbacks)

Lulu.com (paperbacks and ebooks)

Amazon US (paperbacks)
https://www.amazon.com/Robbie-Cheadle/e/B01N9J62GQ


Amazon UK (paperbacks)
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Robbie-Cheadle/e/B01N9J62GQ

Places in our Memories: With Carol Lovekin #MondayBlogs #Memories

There are places that remain in our memories, the details may become slightly blurred, nostalgia may colour our thoughts, but they don’t fade. And how those places made us feel at the time is the one thing that remains.

Today I’m really pleased pleased to welcome Carol Lovekin.

Since Judith invited me to contribute to this strand, I’ve spent weeks mulling over too many memories of a myriad places. A moment here, a memory there, this place briefly visited and only half remembered; this one part of the fabric of my life. And it occurred to me, perhaps I could take the premise literally and highlight ‘places’ plural.

Maggie, my mother

Many of these places and moments featured my mother. She was and remains a huge influence in my life. She was Irish, she played the piano and had a way with words. My mother held space, she had an authentic sense of the importance of place and my memories are littered with moments and memories of her.

The word ‘moment’ reminds me of the Kate Bush song, Jig of Life* and the line, ‘I put this moment, here…’ In the song she asks, ‘Can’t you see where memories are kept bright?’ I can and still do: places with moments stitched to their seams. And at the centre, my mother invariably making more sense than, at the time, I gave her credit for. These memories are in no particular order.

Memory:

I’m nine and can barely swim; riding on my father’s shoulders in a chilly stretch of the river Avon, roped off to resemble a lido. There are rocks underfoot and he slips. I’m falling, it’s cold and deep and I’m swallowing water . . . drowning. . . drowning. . .

I didn’t of course. Dad hauled me out and ‘kissed me better’ while my mother announced her disapproval. (‘I told you not to do that, Ken! What’s the point of the rubber ring if she doesn’t use it?’) And that was indubitably that. Instead of throwing me back in, they fussed, although, to my horror, my mother did suggest a swimming pool and proper lessons. Really? No way; it has a Deep End!


It wasn’t until I became a mother myself and the children were learning to swim that I made myself venture back into the water. It didn’t last. The children were soon fearless and there were too many rivers near where we lived, too much deep water. Years later – decades in truth – I started going to the local pool and discovered a real love for swimming. I’m not very good and I still don’t entirely trust deep water, but I’ve come a long way from that day when I was a little girl, tumbling from my daddy’s shoulder.

Memory

With my green-fingered mother in the garden of the house I grew up in. It’s full to overgrown perfection with flowers. A drooping rose and Mum’s pulling a stick from the undergrowth. ‘That’ll do it.’ The rose firmly staked. Weeks later, noticing the straggler has expired, but the steadying stick is beginning to throw off green shoots.
‘That’s magic,’ says my mother. ‘Gardening is magic. If you have a garden, you’ll always have a place to be peaceful.’

(My father photographed it. He rarely took photos of people which is why I have so few from my childhood.)

The rose eventually grew into a rambling, delicate pink wonder with a glorious scent. We never did identify it. Mum just called it her magic rose.

Over the years I’ve made several gardens. All of them magical, all of them with a pink rose of some sort or another. Now I am ‘reduced’ to a balcony, I’m looking for one that will work in a small space. A pink one, of course. In memory of that perfect place. And my mother.

Memory

My mother, quietly and with no drama, delivering my first, born-too-quickly-for-the-midwife, daughter.

One of Dad’s exceptions and one of my favourite photographs.


‘She’s got her eyes open already,’ says Mum. ‘That’s girls for you.’ She hands me the baby and yes, her eyes are wide open and I know she can see me.
Mum, smiling, nodding her head. ‘We’re a proper matriarchy now.’
And that’s when I became a ‘proper’ feminist.


Memory

I’m in my bedroom. Mine, at last, because Dad has given up his darkroom and decamped to the shed, so my sister and I can have our own rooms. I’m scribbling a story for ‘English Composition’ homework.
‘It’s rubbish,’ I say to my dusting, tidying mother.
She straightens the bookshelves. (She’s bought me most of the books.)
‘Read all the books,’ she says, ‘and you’ll write better stories
.’

She wasn’t wrong. Now, decades later, I find myself realising, although my mother didn’t live long enough to see me published, she is everywhere in my books. Not always obviously, but nonetheless there. I write about mothers and daughters a lot and it took me a while to understand how my own mother influenced some of the mothers I imagine. I like to think she would have approved.

So long as the stories come, I shall continue to write them, and both consciously and unconsciously place my mother at the centre of them.


* Hello, old lady
I know your face well

I’ll be sitting in your mirror…
Will you look into the future…?

One with the ocean and the woman unfurled
Holding all the love that waits for you here… 

I put this moment here…

© Kate Bush

Find Carol here:

Twitter: twitter.com/carollovekin

Website: carollovekinauthor.com/

Amazon: www.amazon.co.uk/~/e/B01ADAWMPC



Places in our Memories: With Sally Cronin #MondayBlogs #Memories

There are places that remain in our memories, the details may become slightly blurred, nostalgia may colour our thoughts, but they don’t fade. And how those places made us feel at the time is the one thing that remains.

Today I’m so pleased to welcome Sally Cronin, who has agreed to share her memories with us.

Sally

Thank you Judith for inviting me to take part in this lovely series and I decided to go back as far as I could with my memories.

Scientists have more or less established humans can remember back to at least 3 years old, but it can be 6 months earlier for many.

I know I have very strong memories of Ceylon, now known as Sri Lanka, where we lived from 1954 to 1956. I was 18 months old when we arrived, and the memories of those two years are a little bit like a kaleidoscope, creating colourful if slightly distorted patterns. They are also enhanced by the particular aromas, and the sounds associated with living in a land of spices, and on the edge of a jungle.

My father had been in based there in late 1944. Initially he was in a holding camp called Mayina in the jungle, until being transferred to HMS Woolwich in Trincomalee.

He had been based in Scotland prior to this so it must have been quite a change. There he had been part of repair team getting submarines back to sea following damage in the Atlantic. Now he was working on destroyers from the Pacific fleet using Sri Lanka as their home base.

The war in the Far East continued through 1945. Following VJ Day, my father continued working on destroyers needing to be refitted before sailing back to the UK.  He was in Trincomalee until June 1946 and then returned home to the family in Hampshire

He was honoured to receive a “Card for Good Service” presented by Lord Mountbatten the Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia Command in November 1945, in recognition of his valuable service keeping his destroyers at sea.

Earl Mountbatten inspects my father’s base in Sri Lanka @Eric Coleman

Our return to Sri Lanka

My father was posted back to Trincomalee as base radio officer in 1954. After a few weeks he was ordered to take over the RN Transmitting Station Kotogoda, fifteen miles outside of Colombo on a temporary basis. There was a lovely house for the station commander so my father arranged for my mother and the three of us to join him from England.

After a few months my father was then transferred back to Trincomalee. Having been entertained frequently at my parent’s renowned curry lunches, useful contacts had been made amongst the RAF officers at the nearby air base. A DC- 3 was appropriated and they kindly flew the family, all our worldly goods, and wonderful family cook who insisted on coming with us, back to Trincomalee. It must have been so thrilling and I do wish I had been a little bit older to be able to recall the experience.

Photograph

The Coleman family 1955

We settled in a house my father rented near the base. In addition to our cook, we had a house boy to work in the garden and an amah was employed to look after me. I was clearly getting to the active toddler stage and needed watching all the time. Being on the edge of a jungle meant that there was plenty of slithering and snarling wildlife that was fascinating for a child…she had her work cut out for her I am afraid! 

We moved a couple of times more until we eventually occupied the lower half of a large house which had been the WRNS Officers mess during the war. The garden was on the edge of the water this time and it is where my first memories really kick in.

Three sisters Sonia, Diana and Sally

I have two older sisters and whilst during the day I was in the constant care of my amah, when my sisters came home from school, I followed them everywhere, and this included into the water. They were already amazing swimmers and divers and I would be in my rubber ring desperately trying to keep up.

Things I remember vividly.

Our house came with trees and monkeys, small ones who were fascinated by glittering things and food. Their constant chittering filled the days and if a door was left open, they were in the house in a flash. Food was clearly the first priority, especially with our cook’s curries filling the air with tantalising aromas.

However, they discovered a treasure in my parent’s bedroom where the dressing table was adorned with beads, earrings and other trinkets. One night my parents came home from a party to find a troop of small thieves dressing up and admiring themselves in the mirror.

Sonia, Sally and her amah

On the subject of monkeys, a very large one found its way on to our wrap around balcony and discovered a cigarette box. He was not in a great mood and ate all the cigarettes, threatening anyone who approached. They are very dangerous, and I do remember clearly being dragged upstairs to our neighbours by my amah out of harm’s way. Probably wise as I had a tendency to be consider creatures great and small as potential pets.   

I remember getting measles when I was 3years old. I had been too young to be vaccinated before we left the UK and a wave of measles hit the island and I caught it.  The only treatment was to be kept isolated in a darkened room to prevent eye damage and kept cool and hydrated. I remember being in my cot with a fan above me in the dark for what seemed endless days, with my mother and amah applying cool flannels and chamomile lotion.

Sally aged 3 years old in smocked dress

I was soon back to mischief and particularly at my parent’s weekly Sunday Curry parties. It was open house for fellow officers and their wives, and also those on ships in the harbour at the time.

 I do recall the laughter and the attention I used to get as I was passed from guest to guest. My eldest sister was, and still is an accomplished needlewoman, and made me smocked dresses which were always much admired. She also made me underpinnings from the same material. I developed the rather indelicate habit when complimented on the dress, of lifting it waist high and announcing ‘and I have knickers to match’.  Thankfully something I grew out of sometime in my 30s.

I was rarely out of the water, but the one activity I couldn’t share with my sisters was their high board diving. One day my eldest sister was competing in a school event and completed a stunning manoeuvre off the highest board. She surfaced to what she hoped was a good score and lots of applause. Instead there was silence except from an audible gasp from the crowd.

I had followed her up the ladder and toddled down the diving board and jumped in after her. Apparently I bobbed up and shouted ‘Again’.

We were due to return to the UK in July 1956 and were leaving on a troop ship on the 30th. However on the 23rd of July, during my parent’s farewell party, his Captain arrived with the news that my grandmother and aunt had been tragically killed in a car crash in England.

My father was flown home immediately whilst my mother and the three of us left by ship on the 30th as planned. I was too young to understand the enormity of this family loss, and being one of the few children on board, was spoilt rotten. I do remember one instance in particular during a fancy dress party organised to keep us amused.

My sister Sonia made me a beautiful Little Po Peep outfit from crepe paper in lovely colours. I am sure there were knickers to match, but unfortunately it became rather too exciting and things got a little damp… Let’s just say crepe paper is rather unforgiving and absorbent….

The voyage was even longer than anticipated, as two days out of Colombo, it was announced the ship would be going via the Cape as the Suez was closed due to the war in the Middle East. This added another week to the passage and my mother became unwell.

Nothing serious as we were to discover after a couple of months as it turned out she was pregnant with my younger brother at the age of nearly 40. The village doctor initially put her symptoms down to dyspepsia but on a follow up visit she informed him that dyspepsia had just kicked her!

Today the smell of a spicy homemade curry, chamomile lotion, reminiscing with my sisters and spending time with these photographs brings back those long lost memories. We would live in Malta and South Africa over the next ten years, and those memories are obviously more clearly defined, but those earlier years are the most precious to me.

About Sally Cronin

Sally Cronin is the author of fifteen books including her memoir Size Matters: Especially when you weigh 330lb first published in 2001. This has been followed by another fourteen books both fiction and non-fiction including multi-genre collections of short stories and poetry.

Her latest release, Life is Like a Mosaic: Random fragments in harmony is a collection of 50 + images and poems on life, nature, love and a touch of humour.

As an author she understands how important it is to have support in marketing books and offers a number of FREE promotional opportunities in the Café and Bookstore on her blog and across her social media.

Her podcast shares book reviews and short stories Soundcloud Sally Cronin

After leading a nomadic existence exploring the world, she now lives with her husband on the coast of Southern Ireland enjoying the seasonal fluctuations in the temperature of the rain.

Links

Blog: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sgc58