Trip to Blakeney, Norfolk

This year, we decided to go away for Easter. Usually we stay at home, and I attend roughly a million different church services over the Easter weekend, and then on Bank Holiday Monday, I spend all morning making scone dough, and all afternoon cooking scones and serving them to about 90 people who come to our house for a country walk and cream tea. It’s usually exhausting, and I love doing it. However, last year I was aware that all my children, who have grown up, returned home for the Easter weekend, and I spent the whole weekend not seeing them. Which seemed wrong. So this year, we decided to go away.

I booked a house with HomeAway—an online cottage rental service which I have never used before, so it was all a little scary. However, we needed a 5 bedroomed house, with an enclosed garden, that would allow me to take a dog, so there weren’t many options. I found a house in Blakeney, and we loaded the car with the dog and my mother and a lot of bags, and off we set.

The drive took about 6 hours, because the Dartford crossing was terrible and we stopped on the way for lunch at Castle Acre. We found a pub—The George and Dragon — next to the road, and the dog sat under the table, and the food was okay.

We arrived at the house. The last house I had booked was bit of a disaster (it had sewage coming out of the drains) so the family was slightly worried about what we would find. The parking place was outside the house, on a blind bend, so that wasn’t great. But the key-safe was where the instructions said, and the key fitted the door (these are all things I worry about) and we went inside.

The downstairs was great. There was a little hallway, with stairs lined with bookshelves (excellent start). A through-room led to a long kitchen, and it all looked clean, and there were hot-cross buns and local beer and a tea tray waiting for us, which was lovely. There was also a tiny sitting room, with a door handle that fell off when we opened it. But we could manage without a door handle, so no worries there. Then we went upstairs.

 

 


The top floor had a large room and a bathroom, with lovely views across fields. We (I) decided that Emm could have that room, when he arrived, as he was taking a holiday from work. On the floor below, were 4 other rooms. We took a room with an en suite bathroom, Jay took a double room, Mum took a twin room. Which left the remaining room for Bea, who was arriving at the weekend. It was a child’s room. With bunk-beds. And Mr Men books. I was worried about this. Bea (works in a posh bank in the city) wasn’t really used to rooms like this (not since she was 5 years old, anyway). The boys assured me it would be fine. But I was worried.

Thanks for reading. I’ll tell you more about our trip tomorrow.

Take care,
Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels, which are available in bookshops and Amazon.
Anne writes a weekly blog – why not sign up to follow?
anneethompson.com

 

If you enjoyed this, you will love my new book: The Sarcastic Mother’s Holiday Diary. It will make you laugh, and you can read it for free if you have a kindle.
Available from an Amazon near you, UK link below:

A Family Christening

We had another family christening on Saturday. These make me feel old, as it feels like yesterday that I was attending the father’s christening.

Arriving on time is always stressful, and not especially helped by my watch, which was 10 minutes slow. In panic, while pulling on tights and trying to find heels, I asked Husband if he could write the card. This was not as simple as I had anticipated, and I was asked a range of questions, such as: “Do I address it to the baby or the parents?” and “What the heck am I supposed to write to a baby?” I dictated the card, he stuck it onto the gift, and we were set.

Daughter decided to buy her own gift. I’m sure the parents will be delighted when they unwrap the super-sized unicorn in their tiny house (and I’m sure Daughter had only the best motives when she chose one quite so large).

Actual event was lovely. Always nice to see extended family (and always slightly odd to see the not-related-but-we met-you-once-at-the-wedding, who are all, of course, as closely related to baby as we are, even if not at all related to us). It was a very windy day, so I was glad it was a christening and not a wedding, and we didn’t all have to pose for photographs. We did though, have to be smartly dressed, and I do find walking in heels bit of a struggle these days – I really ought to practise – living in jeans and wellies means wearing dresses and heels is difficult.

The service was in a tiny village called Markbeech. My son finds this very weird, as my latest novels are all set in an imaginary town called Marksbridge (not based, even remotely, on the village which shares a similar name).

The church was very interesting, I haven’t visited before, it’s one of those little churches which used to belong to an estate (all very English and historical). As I sat, listening to the service and watching the baby (very well-behaved and asleep for most of the service) and his brother (very cute) I peered around the church.

The decorations around the altar were symbolic, relating to the spirituality of women, and looked – to my uneducated eyes – rather masonic in style. Not sure why, perhaps it was the triangles and rainbows. Anyway, after the service, I did a little research, to try and learn more.

It was set up in the early 19th century, as part of the “Tractarian” movement – which was inspired by a sermon by John Keble in Oxford (and is also known as ‘the Oxford Movement’). They believed that the Anglican Church was, in effect, still part of the Catholic Church, that clergy were answerable to God, not the state, and the liturgy etc should all be influenced by the church in Rome – not by kings. In effect, they were sort of the opposite of the ‘protestants’ (a term which means they were protesting against the rule of the Roman Catholic Church – mainly so that Henry VIII could get divorced – way back in 1534).

Anyway, the Tractarians produced lots of tracts (90, I believe) which is how they gained their name. They had support from some influential people (who even I have heard of, such as Wilberforce) but they didn’t in the end, manage to separate the church from the state, and even today, our monarch is head of the church.

I never managed to find out why Markbeech church has the unusual painting decorating the altar. If ever you’re passing through Kent, it’s worth a visit (if you like old English churches).

Hope you have an interesting week.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels, which are available in bookshops and Amazon.
Anne writes a weekly blog – why not sign up to follow?
anneethompson.com

We All Need Encouragement (Even Authors)

When I began to publish my books – which is more scary than you might think, because writing is very private, and letting other people read your stories is the opposite – my family were brilliant. There was a lot of finance to sort out, and Husband helped with that! But my children and mum were also brilliant, encouraging me to go ahead and publish my work – and they still are today.

In 2017, I published JOANNA. I wanted to explore what it meant to think like a psychopath, and how it would feel for her family. My son helped me by making a short video, and he composed the soundtrack. I think it’s brilliant – what do you think?

An exciting, easy read novel (without any nasty bits!) You can buy a copy here:

UK Amazon link

Here’s what other people have said about JOANNA:

“Not a genre I would usually choose, but I loved it.”

I read it on holiday, my sister read it too, we both really enjoyed it”

“A great read when you want to escape for a little while.”

“Really interesting way of looking at what it would be like to have a psychopath in the family. And I liked the happy ending!”

“Joanna is such a complex character, the story really made me stop and think. I loved it, am looking forward to reading your next book.”

Have you read a copy? It’s available in bookshops, but here is the Amazon link in case you prefer to read on a Kindle. (It would make a great Christmas gift too…)

UK Amazon link

I hope you have some encouragements this week.

Thanks for reading.
Take care,
Love, Anne x

Camber Sands with Mother

Mum said she wanted a week by the sea, and I can write anywhere, so I told her that if she didn’t mind being ignored until midday each day, I would take her to Camber Sands. Am hoping we don’t murder each other.

Other people’s reactions to the news were telling. My children all declined to join us, citing work/parties/washing their hair as plausible excuses. My siblings all advised I take lots of alcohol. My friends all said, “A whole week? Gosh!” I expect they were jealous.

We set off on Saturday. The dog filled the whole boot, so I told Mum we could only take what would fit behind her seat. I packed the dog, my stuff (one tiny bag) and the food (quite a lot of bags) and went to collect Mum. Her stuff was already packed, and in a long line down the front path and round the corner and half way to the next town. But we managed to fit it all in. And I quite like eating bruised apples and crushed crisps, so it’s fine.

Arrived at the cottage in one piece, despite my dodgy driving and fairly useless brain and completely useless SatNav. We have rented a two-bedroomed house from ‘Beside the Sea’ cottages. It’s on a little estate of pastel coloured houses, and is 3 minutes walk from the beach. The house is pretty small (Mum suggested we could empty a cupboard for big smelly dog to live in) but it’s very pretty. It also – most importantly – has a shower with decent water pressure, an outside hose (for rinsing big smelly dog) and two washrooms. There are also a few luxuries, like a Nespresso machine (am on my 4th coffee this morning and the world is buzzing) and Netflix. The owners have included helpful things like capsules for the dishwasher and hand soap for all the sinks, and we arrived to cake and biscuits and a bottle of wine. All very nice.

After a quick cup of tea, we walked to the beach. I don’t know if you know Camber Sands, but in the summer months, the only part of the beach where dogs are allowed is accessed via sand dunes. Dragged Mum over one the height of Snowdon but we made it to the beach. Tried to take selfies – realised neither of us were very good at this, and we now have several photos of our feet, and the sky, and the dunes. Both dog and mother went completely nuts and insisted on paddling. Mother told me she thought I was completely ridiculous to be wearing wellies on the beach in June. But I have lived with Husband for too long. And I hate sandy feet.

Sunday: I took the dog for an early run. The tide in Camber goes out for miles and miles, so we had a good walk. The only other people out there were fishermen digging for lugworms. I worried a little that the tide might come in and we’d get cut-off, but there were no warning signs (only about riptides for swimmers) so we walked 27 miles out to the sea and back. Kia chased seagulls and brought me dead crabs and stones to throw. (I didn’t throw the dead crabs, in case you’re wondering.)

Met Mum and we walked to the little wood and brick church on the main road, next to Pontins. People seemed friendly, and there was coffee and cake afterwards, which Mum stayed for as she likes chatting to strangers, and I didn’t, as I don’t.

We had lunch at The King’s Head in Playden. I’ve been there before, and it never disappoints. It’s pretty and cosy and the food is lovely. Spent the rest of the day walking and reading and watching Netflix.

This morning I walked along a footpath towards Rye (I couldn’t face even more sand and wet dog, I figured one trip to the beach a day would be fine.) The path went past fields of chubby lambs and great pools of deep water with fishermen next to them, and was lined with poppies. Camber seems to have lots of poppies in June. Came back to write this, and will now do some work. So far the week is going well, and we are both still alive. I’ll give you an update next week.

Thank you for reading. Have a good week.

Take care.
Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson is an author of several novels and one non-fiction book. You can find her work in bookshops and on Amazon.
Thank you for reading.
anneethompson.com

The latest, and best book (in my opinion). An exciting novel written in the first person, which shows how a psychopath views the world. The story encompasses the world of women trafficked in India, and shows how someone very bad, can be used to achieve something amazing.

A gritty thriller, which shows what it means to be a psychopath, and how it would feel if someone in your family did something awful. (Because every psychopath has a mother.)

This tells all the things I wish I had known when first diagnosed. A helpful book for anyone with a potentially terminal illness. It shows how to find a surgeon, how to cope with other people’s fears, how to not be defined by an illness. It also has a few funny anecdotes – because even when you’re ill, it’s good to laugh.
Available from Amazon (you can get it free if you have a Kindle).

A hilarious romance for when you want to relax.

Hidden Faces by Anne E. Thompson.
An easy read, feel good novel, set in an infant school. An ideal gift, this is a book to make you smile.

An exciting novel, set in the near future. One family shows how they cope with driverless cars, new laws, and schools run by computers.

Surviving Easter Weekend and a Post Post Script

Hello, and I hope you had a lovely Easter weekend. I am actually writing this on Good Friday, in a snatched few minutes before the next onslaught of jobs. No idea if I will actually make it past tomorrow.

It has been a stressful week, but I will try hard to not apportion blame.

It began badly, when the painter arrived on Monday. For some reason, somebody had booked a man to decorate the entire house, beginning the week before Easter. This is generally a busy time, as all the family, including my mother, come to stay, and then on Easter Monday we invite the whole church and anyone else who wants to come, and we all go for a country walk and have a cream tea. Last year we had about 80 people, so it involves baking quite a lot of scones. And having the house tidy. And is not helped by having a bloke painting random rooms the week before.

But we survived. The painter man turned out to be relatively low-impact, though having to empty whole rooms is not without a certain amount of chaos, and chemicals smell horrid, so windows have to be open, so the house is cold. I couldn’t write in my normal place, and so shared the kitchen area with son who’s back from uni. It wasn’t completely terrible, and I managed to write 13,000 words of next book. I think I write best when depressed.

The main reason for the depression is that, due to repeated nagging from various people, I went to the doctor about those chest pains/breathlessness I told you about a few weeks ago. Part of this involved blood tests, and I was told I need to cut down on cholesterol. Which is frankly awful. I am not sure that a life without cakes and flapjacks and cheese sauces is necessarily one I want to live. I spent the week rebelling, and baking said flapjacks and cakes, and then feeling guilty, so forcing them onto other people.

The weather is also being rubbish. As I write, I have just returned from a particularly unpleasant walk. The fields are not just boggy, they are lakes. Son made a lot of fuss about having a hole in one wellie. The chickens insist on leaving their cage because it’s not actually snowing, but they are cross, so sit on the back doorstep frowning at me. The back doorstep is now covered in chicken poop, so that’s another job before the cream tea (in the rain) on Monday.

The ducks are happy though. And randy. Ducks in the spring are incredibly randy. Which means lots of eggs, but I have been removing them because I don’t want more ducks, and now the laying boxes are empty each morning. Which means they are hiding their nests. Which means they will arrive with a clutch of ducklings in a few weeks time, and I will have to either fish them out of the pond, or leave them for the magpies to eat.

Anyway, I have survived so far, and if I make it to Monday I will be feeling calmer. Am hoping lots of people still come to cream tea, even if the weather is bad, otherwise I will have many pots of clotted cream to dispose of (or eat, if I decide the whole cholesterol thing is best ignored). Perhaps I could post them out with copies of Clara. A sort of unusual special offer: Buy a book and get a free pot of cream. Perhaps not.

Enjoy your day and have a lovely week, whatever the weather.

Take care,
Love,
Anne x

PS. Had the BEST review today – the local bookshop wrote on twitter that a customer had so enjoyed Clara that they’d gone back to buy my other books. Excellent. Have you bought a copy yet?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PPS. As I set the table for Easter Sunday dinner, I put out napkins. We don’t use them very often, because some of my family never use them, and they are bit of a pain to wash and iron afterwards. But for special occasions, we use cloth napkins. Which reminds me of something I read this week.

Did you know, that Romans used napkins, and their slaves would watch while they ate? When the master had finished eating, he would screw up the napkin and leave the table, signifying he had finished. But sometimes, he would leave the table and carefully fold the napkin. This was a sign to the servants that he wasn’t finished – he would be returning to the table. Now, if you read the Easter story, you will read in John’s book, that when the disciples got to the empty tomb, the grave cloths were left there, abandoned. But the napkin which had been around Jesus’ head was carefully folded…

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

xxxxxx

If you enjoyed this, why not sign up to follow my blog?
anneethompson.com

Happy New Year! (Survived 2017 okay?)

Well, I did it, I made it to the end of the year. Christmas was lovely, but busy, then straight into visiting family, family parties, and preparing for New Year Eve’s party. I can now collapse in a heap somewhere.

The family parties especially are good to survive. They are fun, but somewhat different to the parties we had when I was little. In those days, we all went to my granny’s house, where she had a huge room that stretched across the shop below, and we played games. The games were things like musical statues, and postman’s knock – where no one ever wanted to have to kiss Uncle George because he didn’t have many teeth. He’s dead now. Today, it would probably be classed as child abuse.

These days, I go to my in-laws houses for family games. These range from the impossible (Eg, trying to match words my mother might think of – I opted out this year and let my brother partner her) to the not so impossible (trying to stay awake during ‘Mafia’). My father-in-law brought a game this year: we had to order a list of animals according to the neurones found in their cerebral cortex. Which is a test for intelligence (the number of neurones, not the game. Though actually, now I come to think of it…) Like I said, I survived, and it was fun.

Then we began to prepare for our own party. The low point every year is lunch time on the day of the party, when the family wants food, but I am trying to clear up the kitchen and I don’t want to start cooking. Then there are always left-overs, which do not fit into the fridge, but I don’t like to waste them. Actually, the fridge is a major tension point, as I try to coat strawberries in chocolate and prepare vegetables for dips, and there is nowhere, absolutely nowhere, to put them. Why does no one ever eat the last piece of quiche/pudding/pie? And I can’t even put them in plastic bags anymore because Son who works for a conservation charity tells me it’s unethical. The dog walks around shedding hairs on my freshly vacuumed floors, and someone used the last bit of loo roll and flung the cardboard bit on the floor.

The party this year had an “Around the World’ theme. I went to church Sunday morning, mainly to avoid the annual tense discussion, when I try to keep my house undisturbed and Husband is in major ‘change everything for a party’ mode. I returned to a lot of flags, and tried to avoid going into rooms where I knew my furniture would be moved around.

Son 1 asked what he could wear, as he planned to come as ‘the international space station’. (If you have a young child who tends to announce on the way to school that today is Book Day, and everyone is dressing up, and if your friends tell you, “Don’t worry, they grow out of that,” – Don’t believe them. They don’t.)

By the time guests arrived, all was lovely, and I had a marvellous time.

Anyhow, I hope you too made it to this side of the new year. Have a rest now as you slip back into the easy routine of work and weekends. Have a great week.

Take care,
Love, Anne x

 

Thank you for reading.

Why not start the new year by signing up to follow my blog?

I usually write a post every week.

anneethompson.com

*********