29 November, 2016

FREE book promotion for 'Six Months in Paris'

My novel, 'Six Months in Paris', will be FREE on Amazon from Friday 2 until Tuesday 6 December.

It is a light, fun read, perfect for helping you through these cold winter days. Here's the blurb for it:

Anna Chaliss has her life all mapped out…or so she thinks.

Taking a gap year before university, Anna heads off to Paris for six months to work as an au pair. A nice French family. Two lovely girls. A beautiful house in the suburbs. What could be better?

But things don’t quite turn out as planned. Instead of having the time of her life, Anna finds herself on a voyage of self-discovery which changes her future irrevocably.

28 November, 2016

London weekend

We followed our usual annual tradition last weekend of visiting London to do a bit of Christmas shopping and to look at the lights. We wondered whether we might give this outing a miss this year, but the children were insistent...

We had a productive but very long and tiring day. It is astonishing how many people there are walking up and down Oxford Street at this time of year -- it's almost impossible to move, unless you employ the rather crafty tactic of heading down side streets and trekking along back streets, which we did.

Other things that I found surprising were:

  • The length of the queues for the ladies' loos in John Lewis. We waited the best part of fifteen minutes to reach the front.
  • The crowds of young women who seemed desperate to shop in Pink for underwear. My daughters love it, but I really can't see the attraction -- the clothing is definitely not my style.
  • The fact that North Ealing tube station could be completely closed for the whole day due to a shortage of trains on the Piccadilly Line. I mean, is that an appropriate way to manage the capital's public transport system?!
On the plus side:
  • We found a lovely cafe close to Oxford Street for lunch.The Everbean appeared to be independent, was tastefully decorated, had very friendly staff, and served unusual and delicious food (avocado on toast for us!).
  • We enjoyed looking at the lights in Covent Garden, despite the huge crowds.
  • We wound up at an ASK for supper. It was predictable, but pleasant, and we were able to pay using our Tesco vouchers (always a bonus!).

14 November, 2016


We had a rather truncated family last week, as my other half was out of the country on business.

However, the kids and I completed the week successfully, despite the multifarious demands of work, school, freelancing and home. We also managed a fun, albeit very local weekend.

On Saturday we popped into Abingdon and had lunch at The Mousehole Cafe. This place has actually been open for over a year and we've been meaning to go for ages. It is very pleasant -- situated in the basement of the town hall with very friendly staff and a small range of freshly-made food. We had sandwiches and cakes and very much enjoyed our lunch. In the evening we watched the film "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason". My husband and I saw this years ago when it first came out, but the kids haven't seen it before. They enjoyed it -- and it certainly was a bit of entertaining fun.

On Sunday, we got some fresh air, going for a walk along the Thames path. We do this route quite often and always enjoy it. The walk was very muddy this time, though, due to Saturday's heavy rain. We wound up in one of the local Costas for a hot chocolate, which was a pleasant treat.

The other member of our family arrived back from the airport on Sunday evening, tired and bearing gifts. It was lovely to see him again -- and now we are no longer truncated!

08 November, 2016

Fireworks and family

We had a fun time last weekend.

On Saturday evening we celebrated Guy Fawkes by attending the show organised by the Abingdon Scouts at Long Furlong Community Centre. It was a good event -- the fireworks themselves were very impressive; there were burgers, hot dogs and drinks for sale; and the organisation was good with well managed and quick ticket sales at the gate. The only thing that we missed was a bonfire, which is always good for keeping warm while waiting and looks very impressive too.

On the Sunday we went to London to visit 'the Irish cousins', who were over for just a couple of days. Given that we live far apart, our kids rarely see their Irish cousins, and so they had been hassling us for a while to set something up. There's a large age gap -- ours are teenagers, while the cousins are a toddler and a pre-schooler, but they seem to get on really well and enjoy one another's company, which is great. We had a lovely lunch at Toulous in London. We eat here fairly regularly and can recommend it if you're looking for casual, not-too-expensive dining in North London. The menu is good and wide ranging, the staff are welcoming, and it is very child friendly.