These are a few of my favourite things….in case we have a thunder storm.

Christmas tends to involve a lot of stuff. Some of which is fun, and helps the general mood of celebration, and some just gets in the way. Sometimes I think we have too much stuff, and life would be much simpler without it. But there are some things which I really like, for a whole variety of reasons. Sometimes because of who or what it reminds me of, and sometimes just because it works really well. So, I thought I would share with you some of my favourite things (even though some are perhaps a bit odd.)

I shall begin with my iron. People have been very rude about my iron over the years, but I think it’s perfect. It’s small and heavy and doesn’t hiss steam in a scary manner. My brother gave it to me in 1988, and it still works just fine. I expect you are jealous.

Next is a more recent gift, a mug from my mum. It is chipped now (no one admitted responsibility, one of those mysterious damages that happen in families). It is now a pencil pot. During its brief life as a mug, it was a nice curvy shape to hold, with a thin rim, so nice to drink from, and it held more coffee than our other mugs.  It was my morning coffee mug. Once chipped, it lost its attraction, but I can’t quite bring myself to throw it away, so it sits on my desk, reminding me of peaceful mornings and the joys of living in a family.

Next is my garden. I chose our house on the strength of our garden, and I still love it. It’s not very manicured, but it’s full of little corners and living things. You will find chickens wandering through the trees, and cats waiting to pounce on you, and ducks being noisy on the pond. Two of my best gifts from Husband were a large cage for a birthday (which he managed to put together with himself shut inside, but we won’t talk about that!) and some toadstools. The toadstools are surrounded by snowdrops in the spring, and they sit near the lawn where we buried my labrador, so it’s rather a special corner.

Next is my knife (these are not in any sort of order, in case you’re wondering). Okay, so it’s just a knife, but it’s red, so easy to see when I forget where I’ve left it (happens a lot) plus it works. I don’t particularly like cooking dinners, but I can whiz through a sack of potatoes with this knife in no time. It was bought from John Lewis, but when I tried to buy another one, they were gone, and they only had serrated ones. If you ever see them lurking in a shop, let me know. (Made by Kuhn.)

I can’t choose a favourite book, so I’ll have them as a bookshelf. Hours of learning and listening and being whisked into other lives.

My wellies have to be on the list, because I live in them, and they symbolise hours of pleasure, stomping across fields and hills and footpaths. My life would be less nice without wellies.

I will finish with some jewellery (just to prove I am a girl!) Actually, specifically my engagement ring, which is the most exciting piece of jewellery I own. It isn’t huge (we had no money) but we bought it soon after we were engaged, when we were still students. It was from a shop in London, and when it was fitted to the correct size, I had to collect it and take it to Bristol, where Husband was a student, so he could keep it until we were ‘officially’ engaged. I remember sitting on the National Express coach from Victoria, and staring at it on my finger, holding it in the light so the sapphire shone blue. Then Husband kept it, for ages, until we finally told everyone that we planned to get married. It was all wonderfully exciting.

I could go on, but you might lose interest if I go through my favourite shoes, and pen, and chair. So I’ll stop. What is your favourite thing?

Thanks for reading. Have a good week.
Take care,
Anne x


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Facebook for the Over Fifties

I am relatively new to Facebook, first starting to use it in 2014. Since then, I have been amazed at the potential for error. Facebook has its own, unwritten rules, which everyone under the age of forty seems to be fully aware of, and everyone older struggles to grasp. I thought I would tell you what I have learned so far, but first, here is a post I wrote soon after starting:

A Facebook Lesson

I had cycled down to visit my mother. We sat on her sofa, slurping tea, when Mum said she could not see any of my photographs on Facebook. We spent some time looking at her computer (which is actually an ipad my brother lent her) but neither of us could work out what the problem was. Then she asked me why I never send her messages on Facebook. I explained that I would much rather use email, because I don’t really know what I’m doing and I might send them to the wrong place.

“Oh!” she said, “It’s easy, I’ll show you. Look, Ruth has posted a picture of chocolate, I’ll just send her the message ‘Ha,Ha,Ha’!” She did.

Then she realised that actually, she had not sent the message to Ruth. She had sent the message to somebody’s prayer request on one of her religious sites. All the other posts were things like, “I feel for you,” or, “God bless you in this time of need,” – then there was Mary Thompson: “Ha,Ha,Ha!” We couldn’t stop laughing. It was so funny and of course, neither of us had the first idea if it was possible to ‘unsend’ a message once it was sent. We laughed for ages, but it did rather illustrate my point…


Now, I have moved on a little from those early days. I do now use Facebook messenger. But there is much to learn along the way.

Such as: LOL does not stand for “Lots of Love.” It stands for “Laugh out Loud” and is therefore inappropriate to use as a comment when your daughter has shared bad news with you.

It is possible to change your privacy settings (which are found behind the little emblem that looks like a globe). If they are set to ‘only me’, then no one at all can see your posts/photos. So you might as well not bother, and write a diary instead.

People who send you a friendship request are not necessarily people who you once knew but seem to have forgotten. They are possibly complete strangers, collecting friends for a false identity, and should be avoided. Even people who are not your friends on Facebook can see everything you post on a public setting, so some things should be set for family or friends only. And be careful to notice if you are posting something on your timeline (which everyone can see) or in a private message. You can get into a lot of trouble if you get those in a muddle.

When your children post lots of photographs after a party/ holiday/event you didn’t attend; it is not polite to ‘like’ every single one. They find it annoying. In fact, if you weren’t at the event, they probably don’t mean for you to respond at all – and certainly writing a comment is very frowned upon. (Actually, writing comments on your children’s posts or their friends is usually the wrong thing to do. Even though you have changed Robbie’s nappies and watched him grow up; now he has a beard and a girlfriend, he does not necessarily want to be reminded of the time he spilt orange juice on your sofa. Best to just observe and keep quiet, I have found.)

Your children probably share things with their friends that we would’ve chatted about in our rooms, when our parents weren’t there. They are not necessarily things you want to see/hear, so it might be better to ask your child to change their settings so you have ‘restricted’ viewing. I find I really do not need to know everything tiny detail about my children – I like to pretend they are nice.

Humour on Facebook is a bit dangerous. It is possible to write something very funny, or slightly sarcastic, and people unexpectedly take offence. Or didn’t realise you were being ironic, and respond to your “as Doctor Who is now a woman, should we call her Nurse Who?” joke with worried comments about your attitude to women. Really, I have got this wrong so often, it’s just not worth posting. A joke gone wrong can attract a lot of hate mail. Sometimes I can’t resist, but it’s usually a disaster, and once it’s ‘out there’ there is no way to make people unsee it.

Then there are the angry Facebookers. People who are lovely, polite, calm people in real life, turn into rude protestors on social media. You mustn’t take their comments personally, and if you dislike what they say, it is possible to ‘unfollow’ them rather than lose their friendship.

As I learn more ‘rules’ I will let you know. Good luck! Oh, and do remember everyone can see what you post – someone I know (not me this time) said how disappointed she was when her niece got engaged because she preferred the old boyfriend. She didn’t realise that people other than her niece would see the comment. Oops!


  Anne E. Thompson is the author of several books. You can follow her blog at:

Look out for her books on Amazon and in bookshops – who do you know that would like one for Christmas?

JOANNA – the story of a psychopath, an easy read gritty novel, that shows the reader how a psychopath thinks, and also how her actions impact her family. Because every psychopath has a mother – and how must that feel?


This Week

Hello, how was your week?

Mine has been a nice mix of work and other stuff.

It started with the Men’s Annual Croquet Cup, which is held every year in our garden. Husband is very keen on croquet, and I absolutely refuse to ever play, because it’s a horrid nasty game involving hand-eye co-ordination (which I don’t posses) and an evil temperament (which I do posses, but try to keep under control). When, in the past, I did play, it was always my ball that Husband sent spinning off into the bushes. So now he has to organise a church event, and get lots of blokes round to play. I think it went okay, I just had to provide drinks and snacks and keep out the way. The prize is a big ugly rubber-glove mould, which Husband found in a shop in NY. No-one wants to win it, so it is a game of skill, as they all try to be good enough to reach the last post, but then fluff those final shots so someone else has to take home the ugly prize.

I’ve also spent lots of time cooking fruit. Harvest is an extravagant season, and I feel uncomfortable leaving plums and apples to rot on the trees, but they do all ripen at the same time. So it takes hours of picking, and sorting, and preparing fruit, ready for the freezer. My fingers are now stained brown, and I don’t want to see another plum.

I’ve also had a few tomatoes, but my tomato plants haven’t done very well this year, because the cats like to sleep on them. (No idea why.)

I didn’t have my Chinese lesson this week, because we can’t find our teacher. Perhaps she’s done a runner to escape our terrible accents.

On Thursday I was invited to speak at the Cameo Club (an afternoon group run by one of the local churches for the over-sixties.) I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It was held in their church, and I had assumed everyone would sit round in a circle (which is usually what I find when I speak to small groups or book-groups). But I arrived to find them in rows, facing a lectern and microphone. A bit scary.

I also wasn’t quite sure what to talk about (I have three talks really, one about books, one about the slums of India, and one about me having a brain tumour and becoming an author.) I chose the me/brain/author one, as I thought it shows that God can use us, however much our body has gone to pot, which might be appropriate for an older audience.

I never manage to actually say what I’ve planned to say when I do these talks. I pray beforehand, asking God for a ‘message’ to say. Then I plan a talk, and write a few notes (which I usually can’t find when I arrive). Today, I did manage to arrive, on time, with notes, but then at the end, I glanced at them and I hadn’t said anything I had planned to say. I think this shows I’m not very good at listening to God. The day I manage to actually give the talk I feel he wants me to say, I will know I have got better at listening. However, I do think, because I try to listen, he might use me anyway. Perhaps (hopefully) someone there heard something helpful. I did have some nice chats afterwards, anyway.

I did have bit of a ‘spooky’ God experience this week (which shows he listens to me, even if I am a bad listener – because on the way to Lunch Club I had been thinking that sometimes, it’s hard to believe in God when life is just ticking away nicely) Anyway, when I arrived in the kitchen, the oven had been set to ‘automatic’, which means it won’t heat up. (Not sure if this was due to a power-cut earlier in the day, due to said oven being cleaned during summer break, or if some annoying individual had fiddled with it.) No one could remember how to ‘unset’ the automatic setting. I fiddled with various buttons for about 10 minutes. Then DP- who can usually mend anything tried. Then I tried again. Then we gave up, and decided dinner would have to fit into the other two cookers. We always have a prayer time, so when the team had arrived, we left the kitchen, and prayed – during which I mentioned unhelpful cooker (not expecting anything to change). We went straight from prayer back to kitchen, I pressed the same buttons on the oven I’d already pressed and – tada – oven came on! I have no idea if it had warmed up and dried out, so now worked, or if it has an intermittent fault which corrected itself, or if we witnessed a miracle. The cooker worked. And given the timing, the me saying I was feeling a bit like I never ‘saw’ God anymore, for me it is a miracle anyway.

The rest of my week, has been spent rewriting Clara. I left it for a few months after writing the first draft, and now am rereading it, and deciding what I need to change. When I’ve done that I will send it off to my editor (who usually makes me rewrite even more). So far, it’s going well. I think it’s the best book I’ve written so far – certainly it’s the most powerful. But it’s hard to judge your own work, so we’ll see. You can tell me next year, when it’s finally published.

So, a nice ordinary week for me. Hope your week went well too.

Take care,
Anne x

PS. I found another sunflower growing in the sweetcorn field.   

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Letter to a Daughter

Dear Bee,

How are you? I hope work is fun but you’re getting home at a decent time. So awful at the moment with no sun and dingy mornings, I am ready for Spring to arrive.

I thought about you yesterday. Partly because I was in London (I waved from the train when we passed near your flat. Got strange looks from everyone else in the carriage and the man sitting next to me moved to another seat.) The other reason was because I was going to a Picasso exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. It reminded me of when I used to take you there when you were little.

We had a lecture first. There was a lot of information (too much to remember actually, but it wasn’t too warm, so I stayed awake.) The lecturer was very good, she obviously knew her stuff, and explained it nice and simply. I think Picasso can be summed up in three words: seedy, witty, clever. But I’ll give you a quick over view of his life, it might be useful if ever you have to look knowledgeable.

img_5544He was born in Malaga (I’m sure you remember this, from our holiday there when you were about 4 years old…) His father was an artist (painted mainly birds it seems – pigeons and doves – very realistically.) Picasso started to copy his father, and when he was just twelve he finished one of his Dad’s paintings and was told it was better than his father’s. We saw a self-portrait he did when he was 13 (to be honest, he did a LOT of self-portraits. Says something about the man, I think.) He was at an art college in Barcelona, and his work was pretty good actually. None of the weird stuff that appeared later.

When he was older, he lived in Paris, and was there during the war (when he used lots of dingy colours and contorted faces to show the unrest/cruelty of the times.) He tried out lots of different styles, copying other artists. There was a bit of cubism (painting weird geometric shapes across the canvas), things like that. He doodled a lot, and drew caricatures of his friends and family. He always refused to take commissions for ‘classical’ portraits, when the model is flattered and surrounded by lots of emblems to show their status. He wanted to paint their personality, their mood. Many of his portraits, even though the subject sat for many hours when posing, are barely even recognisable as human. (I expect some of them were rather cross.) However, lots of his work was given to friends, rather than for exhibition. These pieces tended to be smaller, and more realistic. I preferred them.

I was interested by his realistic portraits. He was undoubtedly talented. I don’t really like his later stuff at all – all those eyes at weird angles and mouths and noses not in sync. However, one thing was interesting. We were shown a cubist painting (which just looked a mess of shapes with a random eye plonked to one side) and were told to ‘fuzz’ our eyes. I took off my glasses (fuzzes the whole world!) and the portrait looked completely different – you could see the man, how he was sitting, holding his hands in front of him. That was clever.

I also went to the gift shop, while waiting for the people who I was having lunch with (who were all rather more interested in the paintings than I was). I managed to avoid the £800 etchings and £52 tray, and even the rather natty ‘Picasso’ tee-shirt and beret set. I was tempted by one of the books though. It was a children’s book, and I wished you were young again, so I could buy it for you. It was written about a little boy’s experiences, when Picasso visited him in England. It showed a glimpse of the man, the child-like, creative, story-telling old man, who was happy to make curiosities for a little boy. There was also a painting of the boy’s mother – all skew-wiffy, with nose and mouth and eyes in different directions. But when you compared it to a photograph of the mother, and drew a line around her profile, what Picasso had painted has exactly the same edge. Which is also clever.

But you’re not little any more, so I didn’t buy you a copy. I bought some postcards instead.
Better go. Try and pop down when you get time. Eat properly.

Lots of Love,
Mum xx

img_5545 Portrait of his first wife, Olga (he had a lots of women, but only married two of them.) This one won a prize in the US (where Picasso never visited, but a friend entered it for him.) I like this painting (it’s less fuzzy in real life). She does look fed up in all of them though, so I think being painted must be boring. She was a Russian ballet dancer, so probs didn’t much like having to keep still for long periods of time.

2017 has begun…

img_5539Christmas has been tidied away for another year. So, what do you do with all the cards you received? ‘Regift’ the things you didn’t like? Hide them in a drawer? Force yourself to use them because whoever chose them for you hoped you would enjoy them? Happy to take everything off the Christmas tree and throw it in the garden? Or feel nostalgic as you remember where each bauble came from?

I could of course, say something religious here. I could talk about trying to not ‘pack away’ Jesus for another year. But I think I’ll let you think about that one on your own. I shall focus on cards.

My favourite card this year was from one of my friends who doesn’t speak any English. She’s a really close friend, we meet whenever we have time, and chat about our children and husbands and mother-in-laws. Even though Chinese people don’t really ‘do’ Christmas like we do, she knows it matters to me, and she always buys me a Christmas card. This year, the front of the card said, “Happy Christmas Grandad”. I was momentarily confused, then realised that she must have bought it on her own, when her children (who all speak excellent English) weren’t with her to translate. I love it. It has gone into my bedside cabinet with cards from my husband.

I always keep my cards from my husband. He also keeps mine. This was extremely useful the year when I forgot Valentine’s Day until late the night before. I was able to sneak into his bedside cabinet, pick a card I had sent him a previous year, put it into a fresh envelope, and give it to him with our morning tea, the same as every other year. Yes, I know, terrible. But he didn’t notice (he’d have been hurt if he knew I had forgotten.)

Sometimes cards go wrong of course. My brother taught the kids club at church for years, and when he stopped leading it, he was presented with a giant card during the service. He felt rather touched. Until he opened it, and it was blank! The person asked to buy it had thought someone else was going to write in it, and the person presenting it thought it was finished. (These things happen in churches. It teaches us forgiveness I guess.)

Then there was the year after my Dad died, when Mum received cards from friends saying they were sorry to hear that Dad had died – but the envelope was addressed to “Mr and Mrs”. I guess they went into ‘autopilot’ when writing the address bit. Mum didn’t mind, she thought it was funny.

Actually, Mum kept her sense of humour throughout the horrible trauma of Dad dying. I remember one incident, when he was very poorly (he had cancer, so nothing happened easily.) Mum was always very friendly to the children who lived in the road, and they wanted to cheer her up. So, one night, when they were going to a fancy dress party, they decided to knock on her door first, to show her their costumes. Dad was upstairs, very poorly. Mum heard a knock on the front door, and opened it to find – The Grim Reaper! Luckily, Mum just laughed. (I don’t think the children had really thought about what they were wearing, they just wanted to show her their costumes.)

Hope your year has started well. I recommend you keep a few cards hidden for emergencies.

Take care,
Anne x

Letter – microwaves and frogs

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Hello, how was your week? Mine was a mixture of difficult and nice.

On Tuesday I had a check-up at the dentist. Mum had an appointment at the same time, so we went together, which was mostly nice (though I am a bit grumpy pre-dentist visits, so was possibly not as chatty as she was hoping.) Everything was fine, so I felt much happier coming out. I need to buy different toothpaste though. Apparently, Colgate causes teeth to become overly sensitive. He told me this last time, so I switched to Oral B toothpaste (which had rather strange shiny granules in – was a bit like cleaning my teeth with glittery sand). Apparently, he told me that both Colgate and OralB cause sensitivity, but I had forgotten half of what he said. I now need to find another toothpaste. Can life get more exciting?

On Friday, we held another Film Night at our church. You remember me writing about the last one? – The one which showed drug snorting, nudity and had lots of swearing? Well, this one was very well attended (word had obviously spread!) It was more suitable for church viewing though, so not sure if they’ll come back.

The next film is about Eddie the Eagle. I remember Dad raving about him at the time. I thought the film sounded rather boring, was planning to take a book. Then I discovered Hugh Jackman is a main character. Have put date in diary.

Chicks continue to survive, despite the fact it is not Spring. They fly around the cage like tiny multi-coloured sparrows. Cute.

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I am not really someone who enjoys housework. This week we bought a new microwave. I was cleaning the old one (don’t ask) and I noticed that the shiny paint that covers the plate where the beams zap out from (technical terms) had worn away. It looked rather like it had burnt away. Plus the door had a big crack in it. Hence the beams, once zapped, could escape. I told husband about this and suggested we needed a new one. The microwave is in the utility room (I don’t trust microwaves in the kitchen – all that zapping cannot be healthy.) He asked what shape the cat is (who also lives in the utility room.) The cat has always been a funny shape, so the evidence was inconclusive, but I ordered a new microwave anyway.

My dislike of cleaning rather came to the fore this week when I dropped a grape. We were watching Homeland – yes, we have reached the age where we watch boxsets together – and I was eating grapes. One fell out of my mouth, as they do, and fell on the floor. It had disappeared, so I knelt down to try and find it. Still couldn’t see it, so husband paused DVD and came down to help look. He swept his hand under the sofa and out rolled the grape (excellent) and a dead frog (not so good.) A frog. Completely dehydrated. How does one get a frog under the sofa? I do not like to think of myself as having the sort of lounge where one finds dead frogs under the sofa. But clearly I do.

Husband has decided to work from home today. I am trying to be positive about this. The trouble is, when I am ‘being creative’ I sort of disappear inside myself, go to a different part of my mind and wander around while writing what I’m imagining. This is not especially enhanced by someone arriving for a chat about when the cat vaccines are due. I have suggested a system – when I am ‘disturb-able’, I will leave the door open, when I am ‘in the zone’ and would prefer to only be disturbed for emergencies, I will keep the door shut. Husband responded well to this suggestion. He then asked what system he should use for “I want a cup of coffee now”. Ah.

Thank you for reading.

Have you bought Hidden Faces yet? A Christmas gift for a friend perhaps?

Hidden Faces, is available from bookshops and Amazon.

Hidden Faces final cover 6 July 2016

Letter to a Sister – children, arms and cakes….

Hi, how was your week? I could’ve done with you here this week, I needed a bit of reassurance that I will see my boys again. They have left to travel around Europe. No money, no plans, way too much confidence. They left at 4am to get a coach from Gatwick to Stansted (because it was cheap) to fly to a forest near Warsaw (because it was cheap) and planned to stay in an establishment called (apparently) The Okey Dokey (because – yep, you guessed it – only £15 per night for two people including breakfast.)

So, please tell me that in two weeks time I will see them, unharmed, back in the UK. I did ask them to send me some sort of message each day, just so I know they’re alive. Yesterday I received a Facebook message from a Polish man claiming to have kidnapped them and asking for ransom (I replied it was way too high.) Today I was told they’d moved to a new hotel – which sounded eerily like the one in the Hostel film (if you haven’t seen it, don’t. It is awful, I only saw it by mistake and I still cannot lose the horrible images.) I am assuming all this means they are safe and well. And I know they will look after each other and have an amazing time and create some wonderful memories. But I will be SO happy to see them when they get home!

Mum also left this week. She had booked a cottage in Norfolk and set off with a suitcase as light as she could make it (she even removed photographs she was taking from the envelopes to save weight.) I took her up to Liverpool Street Station and put her on the train. She had been worrying about this – had even practised the week before so she knew where to go, so it was nice to be able to take her. It sounds like she is having a great time, lots of family are there too and she has friends there (she has friends everywhere). Even the weather is being kind for her.

I however, am quite content to be at home. Especially as I have hurt my arm. Very annoying. I fell over ages ago (was overtired and tend to get a bit unsteady, tired brain and all that.) I thought I would have a huge bruise, but nothing came up, and my fingers seemed to work okay, so I figured nothing was broken and carried on, as you do. Then while we were in Cyprus, it started to hurt a bit, and has been getting gradually worse. I can hardly use it at all now, even unscrewing a jar is impossible.

So, I was trying to ice a cake (for Bill, who is 98) and I couldn’t roll out the fondant icing. I have never used that before, so I watched a youtube clip, and it looked really easy, thought I would give it a go. Anyway, all was fine until I came to the rolling out bit. I was nervous about making a large cake (it needed to be shared with 40 people), I knew it would end up like a brick with a dip, so I used some bread tins and made 6 smaller cakes, then sandwiched them together with butter icing. I put it in the fridge for half an hour, like the woman on youtube did (though her cake had less crumbs on the surface than mine. And was smoother) then tried to roll the fondant icing. Impossible with one arm. I couldn’t apply enough pressure. So I called Nargis, who was in the house. (We pretend she’s my cleaner, but actually she is one of my best friends and practically family.) She came to help, and asked why I hadn’t had the arm checked.

I explained that I have no time. She asked what I was doing this afternoon, and I told her I had a dentist appointment. She asked if I had a problem with my teeth. I said no, it was just a check up. She pointed out that I had time to check my teeth, which are fine, but not my arm, which might be broken. It was a good point. I went to the local hospital. They were very nice, and agreed with my diagnosis, that it’s probably not broken, just a strained tendon but is not healing because I keep using it. They suggested physio. Absolutely no time for that!

The thing is, I’m sure the doctor who saw me is our postman. It looked exactly like him, even spoke the same. I kept wondering how I could ask, “Are you our postman?” But there was never the right moment. Very strange.

Hope all is well with you. My journey into authorship continues – the books are selling really well and are gradually being accepted into more bookshops. I will give you a full update next week.

Take care,
Anne x


Thank you for reading.

My sister’s blog is:


If you enjoyed this, you will love my new book: The Sarcastic Mother’s Holiday Diary.
I have always written a diary on holiday, so last Christmas, I decided to find all my old diaries and blogs, and make a book for my children. However, several other people also asked for a copy, so I have written a public version – it’s available on Amazon and has been described as “The Durrells meet Bill Bryson”!

Why not buy a copy today? I think it will make you laugh.

The US link is here:

The India link is here:

The UK link is here:



Cyprus 3

Family Holiday Diary 2016



Nice breakfast, huge choice (The Colony hotel in Kyrenia, northern Cyprus.) Waiter was from Ukraine, had rings on his thumbs. Learnt ‘thank you’ in Ukrainian – ‘jack-queer’ (not unlike the Polish, ‘chink-queer’. Spelling my own, in case you were wondering.)

Family swam/sunbathed. H swam TWO lengths underwater. I wandered around the lanes of Kyrenia. Pretty town. Saw tiny shops, an abandoned church, a mosque, and lots of cats and dogs who wandered freely and seemed content.

Pizza lunch on hotel roof. Then most of us drove south, to Salamis (this was M’s choice, strangely. Either due to latent historic interest or because it features in certain computer games. I expect it was for intellectual reasons.) Salamis is old Roman/Hellenic city. Lots of random walls and pillars left. Very relaxed rules, we could walk where we liked (later read sister’s blog, which warns of snakes, but we didn’t see any.) Toilet incredibly clean (in case you ever visit.) Apparently Barnabus (New Testament character) lived there (in Salamis, not the toilet.)

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Drove to Famagusta. Eventually found the part that has been fenced off (after lots of stress free U-turns by good natured husband.) It is weird. The deserted area runs right to the seafront, with fences and warnings going into the sea. What a waste. We could see houses, boutique hotels, shops, all left to crumble into ruin. Lots of barbed wire and notices warning people to keep out, that photos were prohibited, soldiers with guns – right next to kiosks selling cold beer, ice-cream and flipflops. I cannot believe it has been like this since 1974 and nothing has changed. No wonder people are angry. What a waste.

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Didn’t get shot/arrested. Drove back to hotel. Buffet dinner in hotel. Not especially nice.


The males have been clearly impressed/perturbed by H swimming so far underwater. This morning J nearly died, but also managed two lengths underwater. H then swam THREE lengths. Am worried J might die attempting this, have forbidden D from trying to keep up.

12:00 Checked out of hotel. Well, D checked out, it takes a long time for seven people to all arrive in the same place at the same time. About an hour.

Drove for a few hours, doing a slight detour to Mount Olympus. Grandpa was stationed here in the 1950’s, as part of his National Service. We weren’t sure what exactly he did, nor where exactly he was, but it was somewhere in the area and something to do with signals. Personally, I think that if Husband inherited his DIY skills, I might have found the aerial he put up….


Journey enhanced no end by D taking photographs of everyone for a very long time in the very hot sun.

Eventually arrived at Annabel Hotel, Paphos. J did a better job of map reading than yesterday (when we were suddenly aware he had fallen asleep….) Hotel seemed very nice, though crowded with English people. It has beautiful pool area with plants and lazy rivers and pillars and rows of sun beds. There’s even a pool bar, where you can sit on stools in the water. A few steps lead to the beach and a promenade you can walk along for miles, towards touristy shops or other hotels. Seems lovely.


Tomorrow I will tell you about Paphos (sometimes spelt Pafos.)


Thank you for reading.


If you enjoyed this, you will enjoy reading my book, Hidden Faces. Strong characters and light humour in an easy read novel set in a school. Available from Amazon and local bookshops, £7:95.

Hidden Faces final cover 6 July 2016



Family Holiday Diary 2016



Met R and S at Gatwick. Ate big brunch in Lebanese restaurant. Males drank beers. At 11am.

I took my book to WHSmith to try and persuade the manager he might like to stock it (not easy to meet an ‘airside’ manager unless flying somewhere and it’s easier to persuade in person than by email.) He was surprised, said no one had ever asked him before, but promised to look into it (he was unsure if being at an airport meant he had less choice than a High Street branch – where the store manager has discretion over what he stocks.) Asked if he could have a copy of book for his staff to read. Left one (though losing a book had not been part of my plan!) I will email him when I’m home, in a couple of weeks, and let you know if he agrees to stock them.

Flight uneventful. 4hours.

Paphos airport efficient (empty, wondered why.) I used toilet. You can sometimes tell a lot about a country from the toilets. These were clean but I was slightly perturbed by the signs…


Bought water, collected hire car (which, for 7 people, is more of a van.)

Drive to hotel long. J map read, relatively little abuse from family. Hotel (Hilton, Nicosia) nice. Dinner by pool. Hotel has a glass elevator. Rooms nice. Learnt Greek for ‘thank you’ – ‘ef-harry-stom’.



Late breakfast. Males very late. Nice range of food. I ate too much (meant to be losing weight.) Males didn’t drink beer.

Swam/read. Weather very hot (might be why airport was empty. Last year, in Malta, it rained one day. Hence D now booked us in near Sahara resort. Hoping it doesn’t rain this holiday…)

Drove to Nicosia Old Town. Van very wide for narrow streets. Parked (stressful) and walked around. R didn’t buy flipflops. Wandered, by chance, to border with Turkish controlled northern section. Saw sandbags and barbed wire and a young soldier who picked up his rifle as we approached. Decided not to try and chat (wasn’t sure my eight words of Turkish would make much of a conversation. Plus thought he might shoot me.)

The whole divided Cyprus thing seems strange to me. I missed it at the time, so will explain briefly: After the Brits left in about 1960 (Grandpa did his National Service here) the Cypriots were a mix of Greeks and Turks, who lived peacefully alongside each other. In 1974, according to the Turkish Cypriots, a few Greek Cypriots were pressing for the island to be joined to Greece. They staged a coup, backed by Greece, trying to overthrow the government by force. In order to protect the Turkish Cypriots, Turkey sent in their army, who marched down from the north. This history is told rather differently in the south, where they claim the Turkish army invaded Cyprus, unhindered by the UN, and have since refused to leave. They now state the north of their country is under Turkish occupation.

I can offer no insights as to which is the true opinion. Probably there is some truth on both sides and ordinary people, who just wanted to get on with their lives, were hurt on both sides. I can tell you that the border is odd. It looks temporary, like something students have erected as a dare overnight. But with armed guards (who also look like students.) The country is now divided, north and south, with what is called ‘the green line’ running through the middle. This is patrolled and fenced, with passport border controls and military and signs telling you not to take photographs or enter certain zones. It is odd. However, for a marriage, I can see that a green line has certain benefits. Tried to instigate a green line in hotel room (when in Cyprus…etc) It didn’t work. I clearly also need Turkish soldiers.

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The old town in south Nicosia seemed a bit run down. Not sure if this is because we were seeing it mid summer (when sensible people are elsewhere.) There was a strange mix of very expensive shops right next to very cheap shops. We wandered round for a while, then ate dinner in a boiling hot kebab place (which said it had air conditioning, but if it did, they hadn’t turned it on!) D worried about the drink/driving laws half way through a Keo, which boys kindly finished for him. We were given tiny pots of bitter yogurt for dessert. Most of us passed them straight to S.


Went back to hotel and chatted in lobby. J played the grand piano (proud mummy moment.) D made up a quiz (which got a bit long to be honest.)

Tomorrow we plan to walk through border into Turkish controlled section. Why not sign up to follow my blog so you don’t miss it?


Thank you for reading.


Being an Author and the Rest of Life

First of all, thank you for reading my writing each week. I now have over 100 followers, which is very exciting! Most are people who I don’t know, from several different countries. Every time I’m notified that I have a new follower, someone who is happy for all my blog posts to be emailed to them, it means something special. Thank you everyone. I will do my best for you.

Bit of a moan now. Why, when you buy a bowl of potpourri and place a candle artistically for the downstairs loo, do people think that is good place to fling empty toilet rolls? Why? I have been ‘discussing’ this with my family for over a year now.


Also, can anyone explain to me WHY some people are so against Pokemon? When I look at Facebook, I regularly see posts saying, “If you feel stupid, just remember there are people out there catching imaginary Pokemon”, or other even more caustic comments. Why do some people feel the need to be so scathing? Personally, I cannot see the attraction of walking round looking for little cartoon creatures. But if others want to, why not? Son will meet his cousin, they’ll pop in and say hello to my Mum, then walk round town for a while, looking for Pokemon and often seeing someone else doing the same thing, which leads to a brief chat. It seems like a harmless, fairly sociable activity. Not one that appeals to me, but certainly not one I feel the need to be nasty about. I like reading psychological thrillers. These are an arrangement of words describing people who have never existed in places that are imaginary. Some people like watching telly – this is usually adults being filmed pretending they are other people doing things that have never happened. Does it matter? Relaxing and having fun is part of being human. Seems sad to me that some people need to criticise those who do it differently.

I would, however, like to abuse the creators of Tamagotchis. Have you seen them? They are ‘virtual pets’. They are aimed at children, we bought one for daughter when she was young and we lived in the US, and she was desperate for a pet. The screen had an image of a kitten. She could use the little buttons to feed it, play with it, give it medicine, etc. Above the kitten was a score, it told her if the kitten was happy or playful, or healthy. Her kitten was never happy. Or playful. Or healthy. Its score was always low. So little daughter spent hours trying to improve it, pressing buttons, watching it constantly. The score continued to drop. Husband decided to intervene, confident that he could find the right combination to create a high score. He couldn’t. After a few days of plummeting score, the image changed to a kitten lying on its back with an angel floating above it. Daughter was distraught. To her, this was a real pet and she had failed it big time. We did our best to comfort her and put the toy in a cupboard. (We were meant to reset it and let her try again, but she was so upset, I wasn’t sure we could cope with a repeat performance!) Not the most successful gift we ever bought.

tamagotchi - Google Search

There is no Lunch Club during August but that makes a very long time without seeing people for some of the members, so we try to have at least one meeting during that time. This year there’s an afternoon tea. I have made forty large scones – hope it’s enough. Also hope my family don’t discover them before I get them to the church freezer.

It is very strange being “an author”. People come and talk to me. This is mostly nice, though sometimes is difficult if I’m in a rush. So many people have told me about someone they know who I ought to write a book about! It’s funny, it seems to be the main thing that people want to tell me. Although I’ve only written fiction, I am obviously seen as the person who can write the life story of their brother or neighbour or best friend. Maybe one day I will – lots of people have certainly lived amazing lives.

Have you read my book yet? Next week I’ll give you an update on what I have learned about how larger shops select books to sell. Why not buy a copy – it’s only £7:95! I bet you can’t read the first two pages and not smile….

Hidden Faces final cover 6 July 2016

Thank you for reading.