Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Writing, Redecorating, GardeningStill tweaking my novel and can hardly believe it's taking so long. Oh well, when I finish I hope to have an extremely well-written manuscript.

Still tweaking my novel and can hardly believe it's taking so long. Oh well, when I finish I hope to have an extremely well-written manuscript.

Also, the re-decorating and gardening bugs are slowing me downToday, my son put two shelves by my bed. So, when I'm working in my bedroom on the laptop I will have everything within easy reach.

Next week the fireplace in the living room will be removed and the wall replastered and, when the plaster dries, repainted. I have some gorgeous silk cushions embroidered in the Chinese style and intend to choose a pale golden-yellow which matches one of the colours in them for the paint.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Historical Research

I'm really glad I don't have a deadline for my novel set in Edward II's reign.

I was checking something for a friend, another historical novelist, in Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, and read the entry re:letters patent. To my dismay, I realised I had got the facts wrong in my novel.Phew! I am very glad I found out before I finish tweaking the novel and submit it.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Sun at Last and My Novel

It might be only temporary but at long last, here in South East England, there is a yellow orb in the sky! I'm staying at my youngest son and daughter-in-law’s house looking through the large patio windows at the large snow-covered garden at the end of which is a gate giving access to the forest.

So far I've seen a variety of birds and lots of squirrels when I glance up and out from the lap top while tweaking my novel set in the reign of Edward IInd.

It might be only temporary but at long last, here in South East England, there is a yellow orb in the sky! I'm staying at my youngest son and daughter-in-law’s house looking through the large patio windows at the large snow-covered garden at the end of which is a gate giving access to the forest.

So far I've seen a variety of birds and lots of squirrels when I glance up and out from the lap top while tweaking my novel set in the reign of Edward IInd.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Revision and A Change of Scene

I'm one third of the way through my novel set in Edward II's reign and looking forward to researching and writing the sequel.

Due to the snow I haven't been out and about much so I'm more than pleased with my change of scene. I'm spending tonight and tomorrow night with my youngest son and his family. His older son made me laugh, he wants to be an author when he grows up if he can make a living at it.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Cuttings Files + Cutting re:Frescos

As part of decluttering my entire house I have been going through box files in which I have been filing cuttings for yearsonly . I am only keeping ones pertinent to history.  Amongst them I found one I had forgotten about medieval frescoes.

A character in my 'Edward II' novel has built a manor in the early 14th century with all the latest 'mod cons' century and decorated it. Amongst the decorations is a frescoe my imaginary character thinks even the king might envy.

In the medieval era the choice of colours were limited because only natural pigments were available. For example in the great Chamber of Longthorpe Tower three miles from Peterborough red, the same colour as nearby iron deposits predominates, in some of the best frescoes in the country.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Final Check after Revising My Novel

I'm glad I decided to read through my 'Edward II' novel once more. So far I haven't found any historical inaccuracies but I have fund some misplaced commas and a few, a very few typos. I have also exchanged some weak verbs for stronger ones. Hopefully, I will definitely be able to submit it in the ver near future.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Snow versus gardening

Covered with snow the garden looks very pretty, however, by now the curly kale will be too tough to eat.

I can't wait for the snow to go so that I can sow micro greens, lettuce and tomatos, as well as going to buy new potatoes to chit. For the uninitiated chitting potatos means putting them in separate spaces in a warm dark place and waiting for them to sprout before planting them out.

Every year, I grow something new. I'm tossing up between a grape vine, a nectarine or kiwi fruit,

Monday, 21 January 2013


Some time ago my computer crashed. Unfortunately I had not backed up the bibliography for my novel set in the reign of Edward II. I rechecked the research but, to my annoyance, I can't find the source for something concerning Aymer de Valance Earl of Pembroke. It's only a minor detail in the novel, and I'm almost certain the research was correct but nevertheless I would like to double check it. 

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Review of False Pretences by Rosemary Morris

F. Way’s review of False Pretences on Amazon

I enjoyed the twists and turns of the plot of False Pretences. When reading the novel I felt Annabelle’s overwhelming mission is to find her origins so she tenaciously pursues all clues.

Annabelle puts her life in danger when she runs away from the boarding school where she has lived since the age of five. She is rescued by Roland, who is too much of a gentleman not to help the intriguing young lady.

I particularly relished the suspense of the reciprocal love between Roland and Belle desire, which is thwarted by misunderstanding after misunderstanding which prevents them achieving mutual fulfilment. I wanted the truth to replace the false pretences and for Roland and Belle to overcome each other’s prejudices.

Rosemary Morris’ major and minor characters spring to life. I sympathised with Annabelle and liked Roland, and was particularly amused by the snobbishness of Roland’s grandmother. Apart from this Rosemary’s great attention to every aspect of the Regency era is impressive.

False Pretences is a ripping read and I look forward to reading this author’s next novel.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

England and Kenya

The view from my back garden is spectacular. The withered hydrangea flowers covered with snow look like large pompoms. Every branch is outlined with snow and the top of the native hedges around the garden look as though they have been iced by a giant hand.

In spite of the intense cold I am glad to be in England. When I lived in Kenya for 20 years I missed the changing seasons, each one with its own beauty. However, I do miss the Kenyan coast with coconut plams, white sand and warm sea, I also miss the trips to National Parks in the days when I saw herds of elephants, lions, giraffes zebras, wildebeeste and many other animals. Yet, today, I would not exchange my somewhat privileged life for my life in England.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Work in Progress -New Novel

I have nearly finished the first novel in a series, which is set in England in the reign of Edward II. I have one more chapter to edit before I run it through the spell check. After a friend has read it I shall be ready to submit it.

Today, I checked some research. Unfortunately, while working on the first version my computer crashed and I lost the records of my research. Fortunately I had copied the novel so I didn't lose it in the crash.

People who say airily, 'I could write a novel,' don't realise what hard work it is.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Health Suite

I thought a visit to the health suite and the local leisure centre would be enjoyable. Sad to say the boiler has broken down so there are no showers, neither the sauna nor the jacuzzi were hot enough and the steam room wasn't working. As though that was not enough the health suite was chilly. As for swimming, by then  I guessed the pool would be cold and didn't bother with it. Deep sigh. What a waste of time and money!

Monday, 14 January 2013

More Retail Therapy

Although snow was falling this morning, it wasn't settling, so my daughter and I decided to return to Dunelm for some more retail therapy. I bought a very comfortable Memory Foam Mattress for an excellent price, some artificial sweet peas, which look realistic, to put in a vase on the windowsill on the landing, a large new wok and a nifty little chopper that is just right for herbs. As I grow a lot of herbs to make teas and for culinary purposes it will be very useful.

There are loads of goodies in the sale that will conclude at the end of January so we will probably go back once more.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Retail Therapy

I've nearly recovered from the vicious virus so my daughter took me to enjoy some retail therapy at Dunelm, one of a chain of stores, which sell gorgeous household goods.

As it's the time of year when my thoughts turn to refurbishing I bought a pair of mirrors with silvery gold frames to be hung on either side of a window in my sitting room. The mirrors will face larger windows with a view of the front garden. Hopefully they will be very effective.

I also bought some gorgeous cushions, five with cream silk covers, delicately embroidered with Chinese style chrysanthemums and other flowers, and four cushions with cream silk pleated covers.

It's amazing how accessories can give new life to a room.

We enjoyed browsing at Dunelm so much that we will soon return.

Thursday, 10 January 2013


I have completed a course of antibiotics, and am beginning to recuperate from the after effects of a vicious virus.

While ill I could not concentrate on my novel set in Edward II’s reign which I had hoped to finish and submit by the 1st January, However, although they were late I wrote and posted the rest of my blogs about the Twelve Days of Christmas, and I embarked on some decluttering.

Last year, I forced myself to declutter all of my bookcases, and to organise my books for research either according to date or subject. I highly recommend this because it makes it so much easier to find information on diverse subjects. So, while I’ve been ill in bed I went through all my copies of the Historical Novel Society’s magazines, Solander and Historical Review that dated back to the first editions.

It’s always painful decluttering but I enjoyed sifting through the magazines, reading articles and reviews. As a result I ordered some books which I had intended to read for a long time and reserved others from the library, and then it was time to let go.

Interspersed with the magazines were copies of Postscript and various articles and colour supplements, amongst them one on the late Queen Mother and another about the Lord of the Rings. Out they went after I admired photos of Elizabeth II as a child, a bride, a young mother etc., and intricate details of the costumes worn by actors in Lord of the Rings.

This morning I woke knowing I made the right decision to have a clear out, and decided to tackle all my gardening magazines in the near future. However, I shall keep my inspirational National Geographic magazines some of which date back to the 1950’s.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The 12 Days of Christmas. Days 10,11 and 12

The Twelve Days of Christmas Days 10, 11 and 12

I planned to post information about the last three of the twelve days of Christmas on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of January. I also planned to take down the Christmas Decorations on the 5th. Unfortunately, I have a chest infection, which needed a course of antibiotics.

Day Ten commemorates the feast of St John the Apostle, Day Eleven is the Octave Day of the Feast of the Holy Innocents, and Day 12 is the Feast Day of St. Simon Stylites (390-459). The saint mortified his flesh. After he was dismissed by his horrified abbot, St. Simon became a hermit, eventually living on a 6 foot wide platform on a pillar 60 feet high. From there he prayed and preached to the curious and the faithful, who included three emperors, and received letters.

The twelfth day of Christmas also represents the coming of the Magi for the Epiphany.

In the Middle Ages, the Twelve Days of Christmas were celebrated with non-stop feasting and merry making, often presided over by a Lord of Misrule, which concluded on Twelfth Night, the end of the Christmas Season.

Finally, in Tudor England, William Shakespeare chose to name one of his stage plays, Twelfth Night.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

The Twelve Days of Christmas - Day Nine

Twelve Days of Christmas – Day Nine

The ninth day of the twelve days of Christmas celebrates the octave day of St Stephen, The Feast Day of St Basil the Great and St Gregory Nazianzen, and in England the Litchfield Martyrs are celebrated.

For information about St Stephen, the first Christian martyr, please refer to my blog Twelve Days of Christmas – Day Two.

Basil of Caesarea also called Saint Basil the Great (c.330-379) came from a wealthy family in which there were several saints. He became the Greek bishop of Caesarea Mazaqca in Cappacocia, Asia Minor, which is modern day Turkey.

Saint Basil was ideally situated to oppose heresy in the Church through his political contacts and his personal theological beliefs.

However, the saint was compassionate. He genuinely cared for the poor and ill-advantaged. During a famine, which followed a drought, he began a soup kitchen and personally set up a soup kitchen and distributed food. He also gave away his fortune inherited from his family for the benefit of the poor and needy.

Moreover, he laid down guidelines for monastic life and is considered a saint by Eastern and Western Christianity.

From all that I have read about Basil the Great he was truly saintly and his life is still an inspiration to ordinary people.

St Gregory Nazianzen

According to the Catholic News Agency, “St. Gregory was a Doctor of the Church, born at Arianzus in Asia Minor, probably in 325, and died in 389. He was the son of Gregory, Bishop of Nazianzus (329-374.)

After his baptism at age 30, Gregory joined his friend Basil of Caesarea also called Saint Basil the Great in a newly founded monastery.

At 41, Gregory was chosen suffragan bishop of Caesarea and like his good friend St. Basil, had a hard time fighting against Aryanism and opposing the then-Arian emperor, Valens.

It was in Constantinople, where he tried to bring back Christians from Aryanism, where he began giving the great sermons on the Trinity for which he is famous.

He was acclaimed simply as “the Theologian.”

The Litchfield Martyrs

According to legend, during the Roman Emperor Diocletian’s reign, 1,000 Christians were martyred in Litchfield around 300 A.D. It is interesting to note that the name Litchfield means field of the dead.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

12 Days of Christmas - Days 7 and 8

A virus made it impossible for me to post yesterday so I'm catching up with the Twelve Days of Christmas today.

Twelve Days of Christmas – Day Seven

The seventh of the twelve days of Christmas is the Feast Day of St. Silvester, the son of a Roman named Rufinus. St, Silvester became Pope in 314, soon after the Roman Empire sanctioned religious tolerance and Christianity was recognised.

In the medieval era, when the twelve days of Christmas were celebrated, legend and superstition were still rife. It was falsely claimed that St. Silvester cured the Emperor Constantine of leprosy, and baptised him. Leprosy was, and in some parts of the world still is, a terrifying disease, so the image of a saint curing an emperor must have been inspiring.

Twelve Days of Christmas – Day Eight

It should be noted that in the medieval and middle ages of Western Europe the Julian calendar dates the beginning of the New Year on or close to March 3rd. It was not until the Gregorian calendar replaced the Julian calendar in 175o that January 1st became the beginning of the New Year. Yet, to this day, the Roman Catholic Church does not recognise New Year’s Day as an official holiday. However, the eighth day of the twelve days of Christmas according to the Julian calendar celebrated the feast of the Holy Circumcision, which has subsequently been renamed The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus.

The feast of the Holy Circumcision and the Holy Name of Jesus are usually celebrated on January 1st in accordance with the Gospel read on the same day. “…at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb."