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Ten Years of Lists and Reviews – 2012

Here I am looking back for the third time at my last ten years of blogging, the year is 2012.

A big year, the London Olympics and the year sadly my nanny passed away. I think the latter has been the cause of some stuff in the years following and perhaps now as I look back and I can see some trigger points and some things I could have handled better. Life is certainly a learning curve.

I have learnt to accept that your blog changes as the years go past and the you change and what you read changes.

Back in 2012 I was still very much challenging myself with my reading, trying to broaden my horizons. In some ways successful in others not. I do not put so much pressure on myself now.

Of course there is still baking and this recipe for Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Guinness Cake is still being used now all these years later and remains a firm favourite within my family and also in the office. It seems to get better days after you gave cooked it providing it lasts that long.

The bacon and cheese straws here have not been remade – and I think they need to be!

I don’t think I have attempted Gingerbread men either since

There seems to be a theme here – starting and not carrying on!

As for the books that stand out – the first must go to the debut novel for Rachel Joyce – The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Newly retired, Harold Fry receives a letter one morning from Queenie, a woman he used to work with; she has written to say that she is nearing the end of her life. After much soul searching Harold drafts a reply and goes out after his breakfast to post the letter. However he gets to the first post box and rather than post the letter he keeps on walking onto the next, suddenly he finds himself making an unlikely journey by walking from his home in Devon to Queenie in Berwick on Tweed.

Another book which I absolutely adored and realise I have never seen the film adaptation was The Light Between the Oceans – M.L. Stedman

We are transported to Australia in fact to the bottom of the world where you can see nothing but the sea and the sky, we are on Janus Rock where the Janus lighthouse stands, between the two oceans.

Tom is now lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock……

…….he meets another force of nature Isabel Graysmark who makes her mark just as the rocks do to the unfortunate ships that do not make it.

This is the only book published by this author, I wonder why?

Katie Fforde has published a plethora of books this was the first year that I read one and the love has continued ever since. My first one was Paradise Fields

Nel has a full life. Not only is she a mother to three children, growing up and away from her, she is struggling with her weight as all women at time do, she is passionate about the farmers markets which she has been paramount in getting off the ground in her small village, fundraising is another passion for the local children’s hospice. Plus walking her dogs and making fabulous shaped and themed cakes. Is there time for anything else? Is there time for romance?

And that year I ploughed through Living Dangerously, Going Dutch, A Perfect Proposal, Staying Away at Christmas. I have still not caught up on them all and despite reading at least one a year, Katie is still writing!

2012 saw the debut of what has become a staple of BBC Sunday night television – Call the Midwife. I read all three books before it even got as far as the box in the corner. I will find the reviews and re-share on here. How the programme has gone from strength to strength. It will no doubt have to come to an end as the role of Midwives changes in the community but for now – relish in the triumphs and the sad moments and if you ever get the chance go and read the books.

If you know me well enough you know that swimming is my thing – I am not fantastic, I am a breast stroke swimmer and have more endurance than speed but also swimming gives me head space. Time to digest, process and breathe through everything that has been going on. I am lucky enough to go to a place that has an indoor and outdoor pool and it was back in 2012 I thought I would try swimming before work. I made this lovely gift for the then cleaners who used to put my wet towel and costume through the wash for me. Sadly no longer at work, but I still dry my towel and costume every time I go swimming.

And if anything – I look more like this now than I did in 2012!

2012 was the year started lots of things and some of have carried on like the swimming and other things have perhaps had a bit of a hiatus or even just disappear completely. Jottings as this blog became more a jotter type blog than it did a book journey became a #hashtag before they really became a thing.

My jottings posts started in 2012 and had 9 posts which contained lots of bits and pieces of stuff I wanted to share with you all.; swimming, books, cooking, links, television, reading, World Book Night, articles in the paper, news snippets a complete jotter full of stuff! These ‘#jotter’ posts stopped in 2015 and as the blog has changed and moved on.

Other #hashtag posts started in 2012 were Acquisitions and Family Traditions and Book Club. All for one reason and another have not continued. The Book Club went on for a good couple of years, but as friendship groups morph and develop sometimes you start to realise who people are and that perhaps what is one of your loves is just a considered lip service to keep seeing certain friends and you end up being used.

I did discover Reading Day’s, book festivals and meeting authors which has certainly continued as the years have gone and perhaps now a bit more accessible thanks to social media.

But the first event was back in 2012 in Winchester, accessible by train for me and introduced me to another world! It is a while since I have been to one, but I think I would like to return to some very soon when I can simply share my love of reading as this is why I started the blog in the first place – the rest was simply a bonus!

So whilst much has come and gone on this blog something has stayed around and that is Six in Six

It is a select few people who come back every year and I am very glad that they do. I have no intention of giving this up, a once a year event seems to be manageable with a blog when you have lots of other things going on.

So that was 2012 in a swift(ish) post.

Looking back at 2011 I was thinking I might need to find some to find some Nicola Upson books, Persephone books, visit a library and remake Scotch Eggs! Now looking back at 2012, I need to add to gingerbread men to the baking list and perhaps carry on

What will be added to the list from looking back in 2013?


Five Hundred Miles From You – Jenny Colgan

I am relatively new to Jenny Colgan’s work, have plenty of a back catalogue to get through but in the meantime I am transported back to Scotland. To the little town of Kirrinfief where you are part of the community, where you are part of everything that goes on and where you can suddenly feel at home.

Cormac is out of the army, a nurse in Kirrinfief, he has lost that sense of purpose and perhaps the small town community is not challenging himself or his skills enough.

Lissa is a city nurse through and through, nothing phases her as she goes about her duties in the community that is London. That is until she witness an horrific event and cannot come to terms with it. To still keep nursing, her bosses decide she needs to take the quiet life for a moment.

What better place that Kirrinfief and it means that Cormac can perhaps see something different and remember why he chose the quieter life.

So as the complete strangers swap places, we get to see how well they cope in different places with some challenging patients and locals. Lissa and Cormac find themselves communicating with each other, initially about the patients they might encounter but through these short missives a friendship develops.

Whilst this book delves into the lovely landscape of Kirrinfief (I want to go), the interesting relationships and new friendships which develop between the main characters and the others you meet along the way as well. Some will be familiar if you have read any of the other Colgan novels based in Kirrinfief.

The book is light hearted but it does deals with some rather difficult subjects to tackle, mental health, organ donation and drug addiction to name a few. All of which are so beautifully written into the novel that you understand that they can play a role in any story providing they are handled as well as Jenny Colgan has done here.

A book full of hope, laughter and love with a good dose of realism just to remind you that there is another life out there. And the one you choose should always be the one for you and no one else.

A must read for all old and new fans of Jenny Colgan.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

Five Hundred Miles From You is published on the 28th May.



A Wedding at the Beach Hut – Veronica Henry

When you can’t get away then you need someone else to weave a tale where you are swept away somewhere and you can guarantee the right place with Veronica Henry.

This is the fourth book to be set in Everdene and to feature the bright and colourful beach huts on the shore as well as the bright and colourful characters.

In this book we meet Robyn, laid back and confident in her work as a landscape gardener along with her boyfriend Jake. Life is taking some unexpected turns for them, with Robyn who is now cultivating their own baby and with Jake proposing it seems that everything is happening quickly.

Along with Robyn and Jake we have their families and friends who form part of a close knit community and all gather at Rocky’s beach hut every week to catch up.

Rocky is Jake’s father and brought up Jake and his brother Ethan when their mother, TIna left. Everdene was not the place for he, but it is certainly the place for Rocky and he thinks that perhaps there should a place for a relationship now in his life.

Robyn’s parents, Sheila and Mick are struggling to get by and with Robyn getting married and their younger daughter Clover soon to fly the nest it seems some changes are needed.

What makes this story something else and not your average women’s fiction is the background of Robyn. Robyn is adopted and she has never let it affect her until the moment she finds she is getting married and going to be a mother. Something changes within her and she wants to learn the truth of her birth.

And so as the story goes back to Robyn’s birth mother and we find out Robyn’s roots. However going back can affect the present and Robyn does not want to hurt anyone so she keeps it a secret with some resulting in some heartbreaking consequences.

Everyone’s lives are changing in Everdene and as they all get together for Robyn and Jakes simple wedding celebration at the Beach Hut, it is a chance to come together in love and laughter and friendship and know that they are about to move onto many more scary and exciting times together.

This book was so enthralling I devoured it, so captivated that it brought me to lovely happy tears. I could feel the sand beneath my toes, I wanted to sit outside the beach hut and look out to the water, to the waves coming and going and the sky changing with the weather. It would be the perfect place to read such a book as this!

This is such a feel good novel it leaves you with that warm hearted feeling long after you have finished reading it.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

A Wedding at the Beach Hut is published on 28th May. 

You do not have to have read any of the other Beach Hut novels before reading this one. They are all standalone with the Beach Huts being the main feature in some way. 





Meet me at Pebble Beach – Bella Osborne

Regan as the answer to all her dreams – the winning lottery ticket.

Or so she thinks.

It turns out that all her actions from holding that ticket are about to come back and haunt her.

She finds herself, jobless, homeless, boyfriendless and frankly quite helpless. Her laissez-faire attitude to everything has got her into this mess and only some hard work and seizing the day is going to get her out of it.

Regan has to start again and relying on the kindness of strangers she starts to fulfill some of the things she has always wanted to do and perhaps you don’t always need a big lottery win to tick some of the things off your bucket list!

One of those strangers is Charlie, who stops her from doing injury to herself and others. Charlie reminds her that she needs to live her life here and now. Stop waiting for it to happen to you – he knows all about the choices he has made.

Slowly and with some very funny false starts Regan begins to get involved in the community and find her way in life. When certain events and revelations which she cannot control (unlike her silly pranks that got her into her original mess) start to affect Regan on a more personal level she starts to realise that perhaps life could have more meaning and purpose if she had more meaning and purpose.

The setting to me was not obvious as a “seaside community”, Brighton in fact. It took me a while to work out the relevance of the title to the story and I am still perhaps not sure. For me it could have been a bit more clearer and I felt it was dropped into the plot a clunky fashion and made no real difference to the overall story. However that is being particularly picky because the story was great and kept me reading because I wanted to see what Regan was goign to get up to next!

An uplifting feel good read with a good dose of humour to lift the spirits.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

Meet Me at Pebble Beach is out now as a four part serial but published as a whole on 28th May 2020.


Just My Luck – Adele Parks

What would you do if as part of a syndicate of six you won £17.8 million?

What would you do with £17.8 million if you were part of a syndicate that the week before had broken up – because what were the chances of winning?

What if you were the one who still bought the ticket regardless?

Would life change?

Lexia and husband Jake have played the sames six numbers every week for fifteen years with their friends, Carla and Patrick and Jennifer and Fred. The six have formed a bond, a friendship, their children are all friends, saturday night dinners together,  their lives are seemingly entwined.

Until one Saturday when a rift starts and when Lexi and Jake find themselves the only winners of the £17.8 million.

Friendship and history should mean that they share it with the others.

Will the luck of Lexi and Jake hold out? Or will more people come along and try and claim what they think is rightfully theirs?

This is a book full of twists and turns which at times felt like I was watching events unfold in slow motion and I almost did not want to look as I could see where it was going. I was wrong on a number of occasions and the twists were certainly ones I was not expecting and I loved it! Of course it could have seemed obvious but the sign of a good writer to me is not to make it so.

Adele Parks captures different parts of the characters and their reactions to instant wealth well, Jake spent so unashamedly and encouraged his children to do the same that it became boring. Lexi wants to maintain a sense of normality for everyone, her job means she knows that not everyone is now as lucky as her.

Emily their eldest child, so like her father than she wants it all but finds that it actually comes at a cost which does not involve money. Logan, her younger brother, enjoys it but like his mother, is quite happy with his friends and computer games and making sure those certainties don’t change.

But it is the actions and reactions of those other four in the syndicate that start to show the differences that were perhaps always there in their friendship, that were never discussed, never mentioned. Jealousy takes many forms, of wealth, of status, of job, of home, of neighbourhood, of pretty much everything.

Every possible emotion is covered in this book through all or some of the characters and the author taps into your emotions as you waver between what you are told and what the truth really is. A great book to lose yourself in and to keep you reading long past lights out.

The ending question is obvious – not what would you do with £17.8 million but how would you behave with £17.8 million? From this book the two answers are not mutually exclusive.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

Just My Luck is published on the 14th May. 

Books · Witterings

Parish Notices


How is it going in your part of the world? Here in the UK, we wait until 1900 this evening when Boris Johnson, Prime Minister sets out the next phase for us as a country. The speculation is beginning to wear a bit thin and I think that the ‘people’ are getting a bit restless without guidance and instruction. Until then though I thought I might let you know about some bits and pieces.

I am part of the Phillipa Ashley Blog Tour in June for her new novel A Perfect Cornish Escape.

Summer in Cornwall is the perfect time for a fresh start…

Seven years ago, Marina Hudson’s husband was lost at sea. She vowed to love him for the rest of her life – but when kind-hearted Lachlan arrives in Porthmellow, should she deny herself another chance at happiness?

Tiff Trescott was living life to the full as a journalist in London – until her boyfriend’s betrayal brought it all crashing down. Fleeing to her cousin Marina’s cottage, Tiff feels like a fish-out-of-water. And when brooding local Dirk wins a day with her in a charity auction, she’s thrown headfirst into Cornish life.

This summer promises new beginnings for both Tiff and Marina. But are they too good to be true?

Pop back on the 15th June (if not before) and see my review.

Another book I need to tell you about it is the new novel from Holly Martin coming in the Autumn funnily enough and we will be taken back to the place and the characters first featured in Sunrise over Sapphire Bay

I am desperately missing the gym and especially swimming and it has been a real struggle this last week to manage everyday stuff including work without that outlet. So when I have not been reading and crafting, it has been jigsaws that have occupied my time.

I love seeing them come together. So here is a few over the last few weeks, the small 500 piece ones take me no more than a day. I am not sure whether that is the size or the picture that make them seemingly easy!

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There are a few more waiting to be done so I am good to go for a few more weeks yet.

What has been happening in your parish? How is the reading? Have you got to jigsaws yet?


Silent on the Moor – Deanna Raybourn

This is the third in the Lady Julia Grey Mysteries certainly better than the second and probably as good as the first, Deanna Raybourn has found her way with this character as well as other supporting characters.

Lady Julia Grey along with her sister Portia decide to go and stay with Nicholas Brisbane, the man that Lady Julia met whilst stood over her husband’s dead body (see Silent in the Grave). His new property is in Yorkshire and there is something not quite right about it and the remaining residents the Allenby’s who are intrinsically connected to the house and somehow to Brisbane. Lady Allenby is widowed and only has her two daughters Hilda and Ailith Allenby for company within the house, her son Redwall died after returning from Egypt after being exposed in Egyptology circles and ruining his reputation. However Redwall’s fascination with Egyptology leads Lady Julia to start cataloguing his treasures from Egypt to keep her mind off the annoyance in her life that is Brisbane. This cataloguing leads to the opening up of the past, walls and coffins which results in some devastating actions.

Lady Julia also spends time with Rosalie, living on the crossroads on the moor, a gypsy who elects to stay in one place for a personal reason but helps many people with tonics and teas from everything natural. Rosalie has connections with Brisbane, and Lady Julia discovers a lot about his past, in turn Brisbane also has much confirmed about his background.

Raybourn has used her obvious love of all things gothic with this book – it has resonances of Jane Eyre, what is the history behind the women seemingly stuck in the house. Wuthering Heights, the wildness of the moor is described beautifully and poetically that it really gave a grave and dark foreboding sense to the property ironically called Grimsgrave. There is the witticism, and I love Lady Julia Grey’s sister Portia who bounces off all the characters very well, despite her own life story. Their relationships with their maids’ makes for amusing reading, and one wonders who is really in charge them or Morag and Minna. Romance is the air as we see it grow further into the open with Lady Julia and Brisbane. My only concern is that if they get together then will we lose that wonderful sparring and bantering they have which makes for their rich characters.

The story does seem somewhat slow, but whilst it is not a classic whodunit it has some depth, and makes you question the actions of those who are trapped at Grimsgrave. It is a wonderful insight to Victorian society not just from the upper echelons but also the lower ones, the maids stories are covered, even the wandering Gypsies(prominent in all these books) are covered with such care, that it becomes a book to show what life was like at that time, and how it affects others. In some cases the attempted murders become a back story.

I do hope there will be another book, hinted at definitely in the last couple of pages, but please do not lose the wonderful relationship that Lady Julia and Brisbane have developed.

This review was first published on Amazon in 2010 and is featured on this blog as part of my look back at the last ten years of blogging. 


April Roundup

Well that was April, it seemed long and no doubt many people felt the same way. But enough about that what about the books. I did think I had lost my reading momentum and that having a sudden abundance of time to read I wasn’t going to but I think that was a mere blip and I simply chose the right books for reading.

Which is why this month was lucky enough to feature some of my favourite authors. Veronica Henry – A Wedding at the Beach Hut is to be published in May and was a wonderful read which took me to the beach and gave a big dollop of love and laughter. A real soothing balm of a book. All of her beach hut series work is standalone so you need no prior knowledge of anything and this a great book to get to know the author.

Another given with a good story is Katie Fforde – A Country Escape, pure escape and again left with that warm fuzzy feeling which was just what the doctor ordered! This book had been on the shelf for a while and it felt even better reading an actual book and being lost in it as it did, reading on my kindle.

As had Cathy Bramley – A Match Made in Devon, escaping again to Devon and the coast, where I would love to have stayed and experienced and watched all the comings and goings of a coastal village.

Going a bit further west and you reach Cornwall with Phillipa Ashley – A Perfect Cornish Escape, so many people have escaped Porthmellow or escaped too Porthmellow it is all bound to come to a head at some point. And it does in a real interesting way.

You could say these four authors write similar fiction, and they do of course. However there writing is so good that they all stand out and do not merge into one which can happen when you read similar authors all the time.

That is unless the author takes a different path. I picked up Adele Parks – Just My Luck with slight anticipation as it was a number of years since I had read one of her books and they were my first foray into more adult women’s fiction than the family sagas I used to read. I was not disappointed this book was ‘edge of your seat’ stuff and had me guessing to the end and was one of those books that left you with the question – what would you do?

I have never read any of Sophie Hannah’s normal books for want of better way of putting it, but I have devoured her Poirot ones and so to catch up again with what I had on my shelf I picked up Sophie Hannah – The Mystery of the Three Quarters. Of course no one writes like Christie but this pretty damn close and a really good mystery to get into – red herrings and all!

Liking a mystery and having seen the BBC adaptation repeated over Christmas (I think) and also been to see a theatre production of a radio play of it. I thought it was about time I picked up and read John Buchan – The Thirty Nine Steps, it really has a pace to it and I felt I was being pursued as Hannay was in the book, I admit to being a bit confused with the who was who and what was what and the book could probably do with a rereading in years to come, but this is definitely one of those books I think everyone should read and see how thrillers have moved on since this was written over 100 years ago!

In a more sedate manner it is has been a joy to discover this series of books and a joy to pick up Robin Stevens – Jolly Foul Play, back at school and Daisy and Hazel seem to be discovering more bodies, this time the head girl. It does sound like jolly foul play to me but then no one liked the head girl apparently.

Recently having discovered Erica James books I was given the chance to read Erica James – Letters from the Past and whilst it featured characters from a previous unread novel, it was a great family story which was full and swept you away. I am definitely wanting to read more Erica James.

And only one new author to me this month – Jane Johnson – The Sea Gate again I was taken to Cornwall with this dual time narrative. A big house, a mystery and a war but is that in the past or in the present and it seems there is only some distant relative to uncover the truth.

Not a bad month, all things considered. I have found a rhythm of having a current or upcoming book on my kindle and one from my shelves as a physical copy so I can flick between the two. They need to be fairly different though as I can get muddled especially if they are set in similar plcs – Cornwall being a prime example.

So how has your reading faired? More or less? Or just the same?