The Little Cafe at the End of the Pier- Helen Rolfe

This book is the combination of the novellas that were published periodically throughout 2018. I am not a big fan of this way of publishing as I much prefer to get stuck right into the story, so I am glad that I picked this as the full novel so I could immerse myself in the Cafe.

Jo’s grandparents are struggling with their cafe and with Jo not really finding the love in teaching she offers to come back and give a hand. It is not until she returns to Salthaven that she realises what a mess they are in and the hard work she is facing.

However Jo approaches it all with such enthusiasm that I was immediately transported to the cafe to watch as Jo not only manages to breathe life back into the cafe but the community and also people’s love lives. Trouble is she is neglecting her own passions as she enthuses so much about the cafe and helping other people.

Taking us through the seasons, we see Jo embrace the various fruit and vegetables that are delivered daily from Matt at the local farm – if you want to eat seasonally, this book would help! If you want to go on a diet this book is like torture! The food sounds delicious and I could almost smell it cooking as I read on as Jo tries all sorts of interesting combinations.

Steve, the local handyman and hardened surfer whatever the weather is a regular customer and fixer of the cafe and despite his physique eats quite a lot of things he shouldn’t.

Jess, the running doctor, always stops by for her smoothie.

Dan and his son Charlie who are struggling without the regular presence of a wife and mother pop in for a regular treat.

Locals, Hilda and Angie think nothing of taking up a table for a game of chess for a good part of the day.

Valerie likes to pop in after her early morning yoga on the beach and then there is lonely, Geoff and his fishing at the end of the pier who always has time for a drink.

The book is full of characters and Jo can see that some of them are well suited to each other and thinks maybe she should play cupid and use her cafe as the perfect setting. Along with some well-timed and themed local events, the cafe is really the place to be but while Jo has settled in well her mother, thinks she is wasting her life but then her mother left Salthaven a long time ago and cannot see the attraction. Jo needs to make her see another side to the place.

With Jo so busy, will she ever have time for her own romance. Well if we leave it up to some of the regulars in the cafe who knows what might happen?

This is a fantastic book, I really enjoyed it and read it quickly as I was captured by the all of the characters, there are a few and they are well-formed and you knew how they fitted into the story and it was all the better for it. The descriptions of the food and baking was out of this world and this book could almost be a recipe book in the making!

I recommend this book whatever the season because there is always something going on at The Little Cafe at the End of the Pier! Join Jo for a coffee and a cake you will not regret it.

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

The five parts which make up this novel are out now on kindle and the full book is published on the 24 January. 



The Cafe at Seashell Cove – Karen Clarke

This is the first in a new series of books from the author Karen Clarke, who in 2017 gave us the Beachside series. This time we are in Seashell Cove and quite frankly I want to move there straight away, it seems to be a hive of activity.

Cassie long since left Seashell Cove but she has come back home because she needs a break from her career – well that is what she is telling anyone who asks and probably is trying to convince herself as well.

To keep herself occupied Cassie decides to breathe some new life back into her parents cafe. She is too late it seems the cafe has a lot going for it, but not one to be put off despite her parents reluctance  – she starts thinking about how she can set up a cat cafe or coffee tasting to bring something different to the area.

Trouble is Seashell Cove does not need anything different. It has everything for everyone which is why Cassie’s brother has also returned and started surprisingly to settle down. Even Cassie’s old school friends, Meg and Tilly have a different outlook on living in Seashell Cove. Then there is Danny who remembers the girl he sat with in art classes in school, perhaps now he can see a future being painted before his very eyes.

Of course Cassie’s impact on Seashell Cove has some interesting and somewhat humorous outcomes. In fact all the characters are likeable and even the disagreeable ones are quite fun in their own way! At its heart is the strength of family love for each other and respecting decisions. I did think at one point it might not all be settled how it should be, but of course with a bit of humour even the quirkiest of families can love each other.

Heartwarming and funny is sometimes all you need in a book and this is one book which will satisfy the reader!

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book

The Cafe at Seashell Cove is out now.

I was lucky enough to get the next book in the series and have dived right in after reading this one. I don’t want to miss out on any of the action. 




The Little Village Bakery – Tilly Tennant

I love village stories, the community feel that I can simply spy on and watch as all these wonderful characters interact with each other, the lives they lead are always or nearly always far more interesting than watching soap operas on television and the dynamic of people fascinates me. Add into the mix the mysterious stranger from out-of-town, a bit of romance and some scheme to save something dear to the village and you have me hooked.

The Little Village Bakery, ticks all those boxes and more. Millie has moved to the village Honeybourne, she is obviously escaping something and plows all her money and life into bringing back the Old Village Bakery. She wants to expand her loved hobby of making cakes into making cakes for a business, her own.

However, the ghosts of her past are never far behind and perhaps Millie will have to escape again.

Jasmine and Rich seem to be the village’s golden couple and have no need to work at their marriage, with their adorable triplets and Dylan, Jasmine’s brother who seems to be breaking hearts all over the village and beyond.  This family is very much apart of the village. Jasmine and Rich have a very happy marriage, but when an opportunity looks like it is going wrong and a past confession comes back to threaten their stability, it looks like Jasmine and Rich might need to work even harder.

Jasmine offers help and friendship to Millie when she arrives in Honeybourne, as does Dylan but it seems his idea of help might be slightly different.

Can they help bring the bakery back to life? Will Millie be able to stay in Honeybourne?

Tilly Tennant has written a strong novel, I wondered for pages and pages what Millie was running away from and when the truth is revealed it was not what I was expecting. Which made me enjoy the book more, it did not have the predictability that sometimes women’s fiction/chick lit can have.

I am glad that it seems to be the first in a series of books set in Honeybourne, because I want to go back to the village soon. This is the first book I have read from Tilly Tennant and I can honestly say it was delightful.

My only criticism is the tagline on the front of the cover – ‘A feel good romantic comedy with plenty of cake’ I agree with the former statement but not the latter, there is no mouth-watering descriptions of cake, which you would probably expect from a book about a bakery – this was a book with a very strong dominance of character and for me that worked better. You will have to provide your own cake when reading this!

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. The Little Village Bakery is published on 15 June. 


Sour Cream and Blueberry Loaf


You know how it is, you have an urge to bake a cake.

I wanted to do something different, something with blueberries in (and not muffins) as I had a surfeit of them and whilst I do eat them nearly every day, it would be nice to do something else with them, rather than have them with my breakfast.

When in doubt head to Good Housekeeping and see what that throws up. (Not quite the right terminology!)

Well it came up with Sour Cream and Blueberry Loaf with a crumble topping.

Challenge One – I have never made crumble mix before, mainly because my mum is an expert at it.

Challenge Two – Was my cake tin going to leak as it did the other week whilst making the obligatory cake for my boss’ birthday.

Challenge Three – Were the blueberries going to sink

Challenge Four – Was it going to taste ok

Anyway, nothing ventured nothing gained and I was impressed with my first foray of crumble – though made the mistake of whizzing sugar and flour and butter together, rather than adding the sugar at the end. And the butter was not cold and hard enough as I have spreadable stuff to make it easier for creaming (and putting on toast!)

The tin does not leak – As you can see from the picture I used one of those ready-made cake tin linings and it was fine – of course it is not loaf shape but I was testing the tin.

Blueberries moved around sufficiently and burst in the cake.

It tasted scrummy and more than one slice was consumed when I took it to work, where people who never eat fruit had at least two slices. Apparently it would have been nice with cream or custard – there is no pleasing some people!

This is a recipe I will make again I think. You could certainly do it with or without the crumble topping. And next time I will take a picture of it cut – I just did not have chance.

And in case you want to have a go:

For the Loaf:


  • 50 ml vegetable oil, plus extra to grease
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 200 ml sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200 g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 175 g caster sugar
  • 125 g blueberries

For the Crumble Topping


  • 15 g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 40 g plain flour
  • 15 g demerara sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan) mark 4. Grease and line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin with baking parchment. First make crumble topping: in a medium bowl, rub butter into flour using your fingertips until it clumps together (the clumpier, the better!). Stir in sugar and set aside.
  2. In a large jug, mix eggs, sour cream, oil and vanilla until combined. In a separate large bowl, stir together flour and sugar. Add wet mixture to the dry bowl and stir until almost combined (a few lumps are a good thing in this recipe).
  3. Carefully fold in most of the blueberries and empty mixture into the prepared tin. Tap the base on a work surface to level, then scatter over the crumble topping and remaining berries.
  4. Bake for about 50min or until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in tin for 10min then gently ease out of tin. Serve warm or at room temperature.

To see the full details of this recipe then click here which will take you to the Good Housekeeping website.


Some Snippets

Watching – The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Having only just seen the first one on dvd and being a great fan of Dame’s Maggie and Judi, as well as Celia Imrie et al. I wanted to see the next one – it does not disappoint.

Eating – Oat Biscuits. I have been playing with recipes in making oat biscuits without sugar or very little, and also been throwing in fruit, nuts and choc chips to make them a bit different. They have been a bit hit and miss but more hit than miss. They make for a great filling snack and hopefully avoiding all the naughtier stuff!

Reading – The Burning Man by Christopher Fowler. I wasn’t sure I was going to get it read and reviewed by the publication date and did not want to promise something I could not deliver to the publisher. However, I picked it up and was enthralled and now all I want to do is go and read all the Bryant and May books together.

Saying Goodbye – All change at the top. One Captain leaves, another one joins. The process is seamless.

Writing – all about my pottery and my socks as I inspired myself last week. Look out for the posts soon.

Sorting – it must be something to do with being spring. I started with all the book paraphernalia I have accumulated since I started receiving books from publishers. I have kept all the press releases of the ones that I have read. Could someone tell me why? And do I really need to keep them? I can’t quite at the moment seem to bring myself to throw them in the recycling bin!

As you can see I enjoyed last weeks I thought I would share some more things this week. All very different, just like life. Certainly this post has been handy in getting some of the stuff whirring about in my head out and also germinated an idea for another post!

Do pop along to see Making it Up where I got the idea of the snippets from.


A Christmas Feast and other stories – Katie Fforde

You know how you get a selection box at Christmas, with all those favourite chocolates or sweets in, that you can certainly polish off before new year? What if you could get one which was full of stories from one of your favourite authors? Well if Katie Fforde is one of your favourites then this is the book for you.

This book contains everything you need for the Christmas Feast. Of course you have fizz and small eats and you are delighted with four short stories, when I say short they are short, the sort that feature in a magazine. Of course they all have the lovely women that Katie Fforde creates and there is plenty of Christmas cheer to be had for all. It shows you there is no such thing as a perfect Christmas.

As you sit down for your starter, you are invited to read a longer short story – The Undercover Cook. It can be bought separately but you have it in this book too. Emily a journalist has gone undercover to find out what it is really like working with famous chef Theo Milton. She enjoys strangely the cooking but it could be perhaps that the chef is enjoying her – but does he know the real Emily?

Another of Fforde’s short stories, From Scotland with Love takes us into the mains. We need something warm and substantial if we are going out into the snow in Scotland with a grumpy author and a dog about to have puppies.

Staying Away at Christmas is the perfect palate cleanser with the cheeseboard course. Two families thrown together at Christmas because of a double booking. It looks like they are all going to have learned some new Christmas traditions.

Pudding is always one of my favourite course and this year it is with a new short story A Christmas Feast. Imogen moves into her new house just before Christmas and thinks that she will have a perfect quiet time on her own. However, it seems that the Village has other ideas and she ends up having to entertain the village ‘witch’, Miss Wentworth on Christmas Day. It also seems that Miss Wentworth’s nephew decides to spend Christmas with her. It is going to make an interesting Christmas.

If you have room for Coffee and Chocolates, and quite frankly who doesn’t at Christmas this book ends with some more of the magazine style short stories.

Yes this book is a compilation of a lot of Katie Fforde’s shorter stories, but so what. It does contain a sneak preview of her new novel out in 2015, but I have not taken the plunge and read any of that as I otherwise I would be wanting to read it all! This book with it’s contents is all packaged together and makes an excellent gift either to introduce someone to her work or as a gift for yourself. It is not exclusively on kindle either you can hold a real paperback copy too! And that can be wrapped up and placed under the tree.

Thank you to netgalley for a copy of this for review. 

Published 4th December in paperback and on kindle.


The Seafront Tea Rooms – Vanessa Greene

If you are looking for a novel full of strong warm female friendships, romance and gossip all washed down with tea and cake. Then look no further than Vanessa Greene’s new novel.

The Seafront Tea Rooms is in Scarborough, it is frequented by locals and the occasional tourist and passers-by. Those from outside the area, know nothing of it and the owner wants it to remain that way.

Charlotte visits by chance, whilst researching a journalist piece on the best tea rooms, in the hope that this will then secure her the editors job at a London based food magazine. Nursing a broken heart and a lot of anger with her sister, she seeks some sort of comfort in this seaside town and it’s tea rooms.

It is here that she meets, Kat a local single mum who is struggling to make ends meet whilst looking after her dinosaur mad son Leo. Kat has an affinity with the Tea Rooms and it is the place that she can be just Kat.

Another outsider and a complete novice to the British obsession with tea although has a complete affinity with anything pastry made is Seraphine a French Au Pair who is across improving her English ready to return to France after the summer to take up a teaching job.

Between the three of them, a friendship is formed and they all pitch in as the summer progresses and they learn a lot about each other. More importantly they learn about themselves and that it sometimes takes an outsider to make you realise what is literally under your nose all this time. There is plenty of romance and some rather tense situations as all three characters have to juggle some life changing decisions and revelations. Encompassing all of this is an abundance of tea and cake.

If you don’t want tea and cake when you start this book, you will by the end!

Vanessa Greene is an author who if she continues to produce such work as this one and her début novel The Vintage Teacup Club is going to be up there with the likes of Trisha Ashley, Katie Fforde and Carole Matthews. If you like these authors then you will like Vanessa Greene.

Thank you to netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. 

2014 is my year for Vanessa Greene, my only one disappointment now is I have read everything she has written and will now have to wait for her next novel. 

This latest one I read within 24 hours. I think that is a testament to the writing, which has captured me and made me carry on reading because I wanted to stay with these characters, I wanted to share in their tea and cake and catch up on their lives and I felt I was part of their friendship. 


Finding Mr Rochester – Trisha Ashley


This is a short story, exclusively for e-book which can keep you tantalised with the works of the author if you are waiting for her latest novel or want to perhaps try Trisha Ashley out for the first time.

In this book we are taken to the windswept Yorkshire Moors, where Eleri who is a writer herself and has a hankering to be absorbed into the land of the Brontes escapes to finish her book and hide from her disastrous love life.

Within days she has meant a dark swarthy character who infuriates and intrigues her in equal measure. Eleri cannot escape it seems even in the Yorkshire Moors.

With the wonderful descriptions and the tantalising food that Eleri discovers, this book could quite easily become a full blown novel from the author. Which is probably what makes it a lovely little read.

I am a fan of Trisha’s novels and am waiting with delight for her new one Every Woman for Herself to be released on 8 May 2014. This and The Winter’s Tale will be the only two that I have not read (I think?) although I may be wrong and there maybe some more lurking in the back catalogue. 

However, it matters not a jot. Trisha Ashley is an author I can rejoice in when her books are released as they are a joy and delight to read. 


Anyone for Coffee?

I was in a baking mood again and lunch across at my friend and neighbours meant that if I baked I had an excuse and I would not eat it all myself!

Coffee and Walnut cake kept going round in my head, so it was that which I was going to make. I have made it many times, but wondered how it would work as a tray bake type of cake instead of a round sandwich type. Only one way to find out I suppose…..

It also gave me an excuse for using again my new Mary Berry Traybake tin, with markers for cutting which I bought from Lakeland last month. I have just realised I christened it with low fat chocolate brownies and I never even photographed them let alone write about them!

So using my 6 or everything method. (mentioned more in depth here) Obviously for the coffee element, I put a couple of teaspoons of decent coffee in a cup and poured a little boiling water on to make it liquid but obviously extremely strong and not meant to be drunk. I added this a bit at a time, until I felt that the mixture was the right colour, (there may have been a little bit of tasting). Then the walnuts, just broken up, scattered and folded in until I felt there was enough. As you can see no measuring with these things.

Then in the tray and in the oven and bake until skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool and then decorate.

I chose to stick to the buttercream icing and again added coffee in to taste. I used a different nozzle on my icing syringe this time and the end result was this…..

Coffee Cake Tray Bake

What would I do different – well the only thing is, I think make more of the mixture – 8 of everything instead of 6. There was not enough for a good even spread throughout the tin. And I need to practice ny icing a bit more, but this only about the 5th time of trying and I am not really trying to impress anyone, just enjoy the process.

The tin makes 12 and I know there are 9 in the picture but well you have to taste test – don’t you?

So what next, I am thinking perhaps some biscuits – so will look out a suitable recipe.



Wish Upon a Star – Trisha Ashley

Christmas would not be Christmas if it was not for tinsel, turkey and all the trimmings and this includes a new novel from Trisha Ashley. 2013 is no different and she introduces us to some more residents of Sticklepond.

Cally has returned home to her mother’s house, leaving everything she knows in London and all her friends with the aim of saving money. Money she needs to send her sick daughter, Stella for a pioneering operation in America. It is not going to be easy, but Cally thinks she can maintain some sense of normality with her cookery writing even from the deepest part of Lancashire, and have the support of her mother, the only other person in her life. Stella’s father having made his choice long before she was born.

For Cally she has enough to fill her days, but when she meets Jago and finds herself opening up to him so easily and quickly, it looks like she may have someone else that loves her and Stella. Jago has his own past issues which he is dealing with as well as trying to forge his career owning a specialist cake shop. When the most wonderful shop comes available in Sticklepond it seems that it is destiny that Cally should be able to help him whilst he helps Stella. The past is never that far away it seems and when it can be linked in some rather interesting ways, it is not going to be easy for either Cally or Jago to let go of it.

This is a tale of warmth, friendship and love in its many forms. All centered round the village of Sticklepond who take into their hearts Stella the sick child and start to raise money to ensure that the operation can go ahead. Characters from previous Sticklepond based novels appear but there is enough background that you know enough about them and their interest and passion in this small yet important village. A village full of chocolate shops, wedding shops and even witches and warlocks. There is love and hope in this village and it draws the reader right in, making them want to up sticks and move their straight away. That is the beauty of Trisha Ashley’s writing and why I would easily recommend her if you want a great comfort read.

I have one more Sticklepond based novel to read and it is on my shelf, I was so tempted to pick it up after finishing this one, but I did resist. I have nearly read all of Trisha’s work and thoroughly enjoy her novels, I just need to work out which ones I have not read.