24 May, 2014

Snowshill Manor

We recently had a day out at Snowshill Manor, which is a National Trust property in the Cotswolds. This proved great fun for both us and the kids.

Snowshill is not your run-of-the-mill NT property displaying the usual array of fine furniture and artworks. Rather, Snowshill was the home of Charles Wade, a tireless collector of artefacts from around the world. The house is stuffed full of eclectic objects ranging from Samurai armour, to children's toys, to sea chests with complex locks... Everywhere you look, there is something unusual and fascinating to discover.

During Wade's lifetime, the manor house became so full that he had to move into the adjacent priest's house. You can see the living room/kitchen, bedroom and bathroom in the priest's house as Wade lived in them --and even here there are yet more objects from his collection.

The manor has beautiful terraced gardens (including a model village!) that are also fun to explore, and you can picnic in the orchard.

We rounded our day off with tea in Huffkins tea room in nearby Stow-on-the-Wold. If you haven't yet, you should try the Huffkins lardy cake -- a real treat!

17 May, 2014


As I noted in my blog post of a couple of weeks ago, we had a lovely weekend away in Suffolk over the May half term.

One thing that struck me when packing for the weekend was the amount of baggage that we managed to accumulate. We were only going for three nights, but we collected a suitcase, a hefty tote bag, a bag of food (we were self catering), a day rucksack for each of the four of us, a pile of coats and shoes (suitable for all possible permutations of the English weather), games and books, water bottles for all of us for the journey...

We had intended taking our smaller car for this trip, but in the end we had to take the car with the bigger boot due to sheer volume. I thought that as kids approached teenager-hood you were meant to have less stuff to pack, but in fact we seem to have the same amount -- just a different type of stuff!

07 May, 2014

Flash fiction piece published

I'm feeling rather proud of myself as I've had my first piece of flash fiction accepted for publication. It appears in flashfictionmagazine.com today and you can read it here.

Flash fiction, for those of you who don't already know, is a form of very short fiction. A piece of flash fiction tells a story in no more than 1,000 words--and often far fewer. It has become very popular over recent years, particularly with the growth in on-line literature. People also seem to enjoy being able to read something very short on a regular basis. flasfictionmagazine.com, in common with other flash fiction sites, publishes a new story each day.

Because there are so few words involved, good flash fiction is considered hard to write. But, in fact, it rather suits my style. Although I write books, these tend to be on the short side--around 40,000 words--and so fall in the hinterland between novella and full-blown novel. Not a popular length in the world of traditional publishing!

I am someone who prefers to be economic with words--both in writing and in speech. I don't like repeating myself. And for this reason I enjoy writing flash fiction. You just come up with an idea and write about it, as clearly and succinctly as you can. I'll be writing more of it, I think!