Wednesday, 28 April 2010


'Could you fix these, Mum,’ said James brightly at breakfast. I was mid-way through a bowl of muesli (whilst dreaming of bacon butties) and nodded vaguely. ‘Sure...hand ‘em over.’
I was on a bit of a high, having made a half-decent job of putting a toe-guard on his new cricket bat. I don’t know quite what I was expecting – some item of clothing that had fallen apart maybe. The Stig’s remote control quad bike having crashed at speed. What I wasn’t expecting was two beheaded birds. Okay, before you barf, they were stuffed toys but still... We Need to Talk About Kevin flashed vividly in front of my eyes followed by a quick scan of Good Therapists I Know.
‘Um, oh dear. Er, what happened?’

What IS it with this household? The terrier, when we lived out on the moor, used to love nothing more than beheading pheasants. Even more bizarrely he would sometimes bury the heads, Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence style. So whenever I see a pheasant, I can’t help thinking about David Bowie.

‘Well, the chirping was getting on my nerves so I took out the mechanism.’

He had a good point there. Those RSPB birds are dead cute but some of them have cheeps as monotonous and irritating as any ring tone. So I spent breakfast reattaching the heads onto a (I think) blue tit and some variety of finch. But the image stayed in my head. My dear late friend Sarah Dening was a Jungian psychotherapist and big on metaphors. I could almost hear her voice in my head.

‘So, Jane, what does this image mean, personally, to you?’

Not difficult is it, really? ‘Headless chicken, Sarah,’ I said (sorry, do you find it odd that I talk to dead friends?). It’s really true. I have been scurrying around so much, I’m dizzy.

So this must needs be short and sweet. But I have to just say a huge heartfelt thank-you to everyone who nominated and voted for me in the Author Blog Awards run by Completely Novel. I was very very chuffed and really very over-excited about the whole affair. Being shortlisted was lovely enough but then the fabulous Linda Jones explained that my blog (yes, this very one) was actually the runner-up. Well, bless my soul.

I’ll be back soon. In the meantime, if you don’t believe I’ve been busy, you can catch my ramblings on my The Lady blog here

See something I wrote for the Telegraph on complementary health here

and, if you want something completely different, you can check out the teen novel I’m writing here

Have I missed anything? Probably. Wish someone would sew my head back on.

Monday, 12 April 2010

On Walberswick

‘Do I really have to come?’ James didn’t want to go to Suffolk. Not one little bit. I wasn’t offended. He wasn’t baulking at the thought of spending a weekend alone with his mother while Adrian went out on a Food Safari. No, it was the thought of a day stuck in the car to get there, coming hard on the heels of our marathon trip back from North Wales.

When I was his age, a car journey was a novelty (cue the violins – I’ll spare you the ‘we lived in a cardboard box’ routine). I’d happily spend any length of time gazing out of the window, lost in my imaginings. But James is very different. I was an introspective child, happy with my own company – the kind of child who built ‘dens’ in the woods, up a tree, behind the sofa and spent hours just sitting in them. Not doing anything in particular, just being.  Now I see it in black and white, I have to confess I sound a little odd actually.

But James is all action, all outgoing, only truly happy in movement, with friends. I don't think he will never ever quite forgive us for not providing a sibling.

Salvation came in the shape of my pal Jules. ‘Stay with us,’ she said in a flash, quite regardless of the fact that she was already hosting her mother, sister, niece and nephew. He fell on her like a thirsty man on a pint of beer.  So Adrian and I went alone. Back to Walberswick, back to Southwold, back to my childhood.

My father loved this place, primarily because of the beer. They say you marry your husband and this case it’s true – Adrian says the word ‘Adnams’ as if it were a prayer. And while the brewery in Southwold is the cathedral of beer, The Anchor at Walberswick is its parish church.

Adrian has gone on about this place for so long I glaze over but now, by heck, I see the light.  Sophie and Mark Dorber have turned what I remember as a dreary Tudorbethan hotel into something quite quite sublime.

‘What’ll you have?’ asked the barman, Luke.
‘Er, nothing. I’m a bit delicate from the night before,’ I confessed.
‘You need a drink,’ he said firmly. ‘Gin and tonic?’
‘Now there’s a thought.’

He proffered a bottle I’d never seen before and I took a sip. Tanqueray Ten. Bliss. Three of those and I was a happier being.  A plate of tapas and some sublime scallops and I was floating in heaven.

By happy coincidence, Adrian’s piece about pubs and beer was in the Telegraph, with this place touted as one of his favourite British pubs.

After a breakfast of jalapeno pepper omelette, fresh apple juice and THE best coffee, possibly in the entire world, I have to agree with him.  And by heck that hurts.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Middle-aged lust (a sad thing)

It’s wrong. I know it’s wrong. I really should not fall passionately in love with a 20-something. But seriously, I’d challenge you not to – because he is absolutely totally drop-dead gorgeous. Tall, lean, longish blond hair – looks like a younger version of Sawyer from Lost. Same storm-grey eyes and sardonic smile. He rides a Norton Commando and can play the fiddle better than the devil. He’s a bit moody, bit of a bad boy (never shies from a fight) and goes off in a right strop sometimes. Oh, and when he strips off to go surfing, he shows off a killer six-pack.
I tell you, my thought processes are criminal.

Okay, fear not, he’s not real. I’m not going to dump the Beer God and ride off into the sunset, wrapping my arms round his waist (did I mention the leather jacket?) and clinging tight as tight can be to his muscled thighs as we career round the bends. Phew, sorry, went into a reverie there.

Nope, he’s a character in my WIP, a YA Dark Romance. His name is Samael and he, um, happens to be a demon. Well, hey, every guy has to have a downside.

Then there’s Zeke and he’s pretty damn cute too. He’s nineteen, skin the colour of a good strong cup of tea, hair in dreads, tattoos up his arms. I am so envious of my MC, I could murder her. But seems other people have already got that in hand.

I love, love, love writing this book. I put on Seth Lakeman’s Kitty Jay (which is my muse of a soundtrack) and light up an Aromatherapy Associations Relax candle (which is my muse of a scent) and write and write and write. Actually, I’m now seriously worried – I’ve just heard that the Relax candle is discontinued and so I’m reduced to sniffing the little bit left at the end.

But this falling in lust with your it normal? Is it okay? Or is it some kind of weird adultery? Some variant of cyber-salaciousness? Or, let’s be brutally honest, more than a little sad for a woman old enough to be his mother?

If you’d like to read the first few (very rough and unedited) chapters of the book, click here

Oh, and (huge excitement) this little blog has been shortlisted for the Author Blog Awards. It’s up against the might of some HUGE name authors so I’m feeling a little David v Goliath right now. If you fancy casting a vote for the small guy (girl), I’d be well chuffed. Click here