Cathy’s Christmas Kitchen – Tilly Tennant

Cathy was able to bake before she could do much else. Always at her mother’s side she seems to have picked up all the recipes her mother made through osmosis and takes great joy in being able to share them with everyone she loves.

But now her mother is gone and Cathy faces Christmas alone for the first time, in bid to combat the loneliness, Cathy finds herself at a church coffee morning taking baked goods with her.

It is through her baking that Cathy starts to make new friends and they encourage her to use her skills that she has picked up from her mother for a better good.

That is how Cathy’s starts the cookery classes.

Through this she meets teenage Tansy, angry and full of attitude, she despairs as it seems the cookery classes are going to be over before they have even started thanks to Tansy.

Add into the mix, bickering church ladies trying to outdo each other, an ex who turns up with his new wife back in the village he did not like, and the man with the gorgeous hazel eyes and friendly dog, Cathy is all of a tizzy and is not sure which way her life is going to go.

Perfect Christmas reading with the right amount of romance and interest to keep you turning the pages, it really does warm you heart and I enjoyed it immensely. I was transported to the cottage of Cathy’s and wanted to live there myself and bake to my heart’s content and feel part of a community.

This is a real joy of a book to read – it would be even better if you read it whilst consuming the vast quantities of cakes that are mentioned, but then you might never get up off the sofa!


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

Cathy’s Christmas Kitchen is out now. 


Summer at Rachel’s Pudding Pantry – Caroline Roberts

Since I met Rachel at Primrose Farm back last year, a lot has happened in that time, but it seems that everything is now coming together and her future is looking bright.

Rachel and the farmer from next door, Tom are to be married.

Plans are afoot for the wedding and we open with Rachel heading off on her hen weekend, with her best friend Eve, and her mum, Jill.

But as the days count down to the big day, it seems that everything is not going smoothly.

Questions between Tom and Rachel are left unanswered, the pain of missing her father gets to Rachel, her ex makes an appearance and then when the Pudding Pantry becomes the target of an online smear campaign it seems that this is not going to be a happy ever after that Rachel is looking for. Plus it seems Tom is having some doubts and not being honest with Rachel.

Of course it is all resolved with some interesting asides along the way, the wonderful creation of the dress, Eve’s marital problems and of course all the delightfully delicious puddings and cakes which are the real focus of the Pudding Pantry.

This is a great conclusion to a series of books which really brings everything together and sees a future ahead for Rachel and Tom. her mum Jill after the tragic death of her husband, Rachel’s father which brought Rachel back to Primrose farm in the beginning. And you really need to start at the beginning to appreciate this book.

It will give you a sense of place and charcter and a better undseatding of the main characters and how you come to be reading about the most delightful sumnmer wedding.

A book and series to simply devour just like the recipes inside it!

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

Summer at Rachel’s Pudding Pantry is published on 23rd July. 

Books · Cooking · Crafts · History · Jottings

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?

Books · Jottings · Witterings

Ten Years of Lists and Reviews – 2011

This is the second in a reflective post of ten years of blogging and also to mark the new decade as well. Reflecting back I have rediscovered books and authors I have read and promised myself I would read more, but never getting round to it. I have also seen how much my blogging has perhaps changed, developed and hopefully improved – even if some of it does make me cringe!

So here I am back in 2011, the first full year of blogging.

I was still talking about my crafts – looking back at the pictures it seems that 2011 was a bit of a turning point where I started to branch out with more than one thing on the go (no different to now really)

2011 was the year that I discovered Lucinda Riley with Hothouse Flower 

This is a strong book, with a fairly complex plot and a number of characters but Lucinda Riley weaves a tale that makes it easy to follow and completely absorbing. I found myself wanting to read it any spare minute I had, just to get to the next bit.

I was hooked with this writer and anyone who has been reading this blog for as long as I have been wittering on, will know that I have read many of her novels. I love the current Seven Sisters series but I still think if I had to choose it would be The Girl on the Cliff.

Another author I have read no more of since 2011 is Nicola Upson, I know I did try one of her later ones but at the time did not get on with it. I probably subconsciously gave up with them at the point. Rereading the review for Two For Sorrow, led me to find two other reviews not featured on the blog and to looking out for one of her other books.

2011 was the year that a kindle came into my life. I am now on my second one as the original developed lines and made it difficult to read the screen. I was very dubious at first and am passionate about ‘real’ books, still am. However I then went the other way and started trying out lots of books, because I could and seeing if I wanted to read any of them.

It became a little project which sort of died a death really as some blogging projects do sometimes. I got simply bogged down in looking up and trying out books – I ended up not really reading many of them.

I think when you start a new blog you spend a lot of time trying out what works or doesn’t work for you and sometime you simply need ideas for blog posts. Some work, some don’t and some like this one from Simon at Stuck in A Book I only did once here when it was first brought out and then again for a second time here and for a bit of nostalgia look out for another one of these in the coming weeks and with all credit to Simon.

I look back at the books mentioned and find that some authors I have never ventured back to, others have stuck. How reading changes and introduces you to new things.

One of those new things was Persephone Books- this was my first time in participating a reading challenge and a read along. The book I chose was The Home-Maker. Ironically it is the only Persephone book I still have read and probably all these years later I should perhaps tackle another one.

I did go back and revisit some wonderful childhood books which I have carried on doing over the last ten years or so but may not have written about them. Of course my childhood was dominated by Enid Blyton but sadly many of the books I have read have been given away and the only versions I could find were of the ‘newer’ variety

Yes but there is a problem, I can only download a newer version of her novel. All updated to fit in with the politically correct brigade that seem to lurk around. Oh well, lets just try a sample without having to part with any money and see how we get on? They cannot have changed that much can they? Oh, they have!

Here where I have revisited Five on Treasure Island I go into some of the comparisons. If you ever go back and read them – find the originals not the ‘correct’ versions.

However I did find a copy of the Malory Towers book I read as a child many times and that was a sheer delight. Definitely the place I get my love of school stories from.

The term goes on with the trials and tribulations. Tricks are made with pretend deafness, spiders and spilt ink. Courage and cowardice are fought and lost. Work is hard and positions are important. Tempers are lost and regained and new friendships are formed. I do not need to go into detail of all the events, as they just fit in so seamlessly and that although they are short they are dealt with effectively and efficiently. Good and bad, rights and wrongs corrected. The right sort of justice is dispatched to the right people with no comeback. Rereading as an adult I wonder if perhaps Blyton was using some sort of moral tale with these stories. That thought passes very quickly and I have just enjoyed the book for what it is pure pleasure.

Going back to my childhood took me back to the Mobile Library that visited and also libraries in general. I should use them far more and I don’t and I feel totally ashamed by that. I know I should do more, reflecting back on this post and the last ten years has really made me think. Perhaps I need to redress the balance in 2020. I make no rash promises because I know that life has a funny way of interfering.

There are many things that interfere in life and looking back in 2011 I was busily losing weight – I got to my target, I was more than please but life got in the way the following year. The losing weight ceased and I think I need say no more for the moment. Now is not the time to share about it. But what looking back at 2011 showed me was I shared a lot about food and cooking.

Cakes are a popular bake in my household, carrott, chocolate and cookies. Of course living on your own means you have to adapt and change things around and challenge yourself which I did when I made some Scotch eggs. I don’t think I have made any since – and I know I could quite easily as I have all the ingredients at home.

2011 for blogging was what I call a real mixed bag and I posted about lots of different things as you can see from this post. That has certainly changed as I look back at the blog in the last twelve months. It is all evolving and what I do wonder is what people want when they pop by and read my blog. Do they want to see what else has been going on? Do they want to understand the person behind the book reviews? Only you reading this know that!

So in conclusion from looking back at 2011 I need to find some Nicola Upson books, Persephone books, libraries and Scotch Eggs! I wonder if I will?



A Christmas Wish and a Cranberry Kiss at the Cosy Kettle – Liz Eeles

There is nothing better than being laden down with Christmas shopping and seeking solace in a lovely festive cafe for a festive treat. Where better than to sample a latte and a mince pie than the Cosy Kettle in Honeyford.

This time at the Cosy Kettle we are concentrating on Becca who is the manager. An unlikely choice as she is running away from what she sees as a failure, a broken relationship, a failed job and not living up to the status of her twin sister who her parents seem more to praise.

Hiding in a coffee shop in a bookshop seems like the perfect place to be.

Becca’s wish is to reinvent herself and in the run up to Christmas she does.

Can she get the date with Logan, who she has had a secret crush on for months?

Can she learn to be more assertive and stand up in front of people to talk?

Can she be more like her sister Jasmine?

But ultimately this wish list is going to be the undoing of Becca.

The opportunity to impress Logan and her boss Flora with some savvy business acumen and change the Cosy kettle into something more highbrow and sophisticated for a corporate party leads to a few conflicts with regular customers.

Add into the mix her friendship with housemate Luke who always remains faithful to their friendship. A sister who appears to have everything, including it looks like the man Becca is in love with.

Will her wishes come true or will Becca remain true to herself and just simply settle into being the way she is?

This is a nice simple read to bring a trilogy of books about the Cosy Kettle to a conclusion, but for me this book was not my favourite of the three.

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

A Christmas Wish and a Cranberry Kiss at the Cosy Kettle is out now. 


Parish Notices


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas……..well Christmas reading anyway. Though I have purchased the odd present or two! Enough already I hear you say.

I have had rather an up and down week, the NHS have not let my family down but the worry continues. Reading, swimming and crafts have been my crutch as has the odd chocolate bar.

So what is there to tell you about – what might you have missed?

Trisha Ashley – The Christmas Invitation – OUT NOW

It would not be Christmas without a Christmas read from Trisha Ashley, whether it be old or new – and for this year it is her latest novel and she invites us all to Christmas.

Tilly Tennant – The Garden on Sparrow Street – OUT NOW

This is an enchanting tale of loss, grief and moving forward and whilst Christmas is clearly featured the book is very much about the characters, their relationships and is not full on Christmas as some books can be at this time of year.

Katie Ginger – Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage OUT NOW

Esme loves everything about London, her boyfriend, her friends, her job on a top tv cooking programme and the fact she can experience so much about Christmas immediately from her front door.

This is a great festive read and one for all food fans as well. Mouthwatering descriptions of food and the fun of amaetuer recordings of making lots of funny moments.

And you have all of this to look forward to:

Holly Martin’s novels are a joy to read. So heartwarming and like receiving a great big hug all through the power of a few words on paper.

A Five Sparkly Christmas Star read!

The Gift of Happiness is published on 25 October – my full review will be on this blog around that date.

Daisy did not have a happy childhood and when the chance to escape came, she got a job in Buchanans a jewellery shop and her love for the romance of jewellery and her secret passion for making it as well blossomed.

This was a lovely story and the plot pulled you right in…….

A feel good festive read that will keep you warm on the coldest of nights.

The Little Shop on Silver Linings Street is published on 16 October – not long to go now!

This is the final book in the this trilogy set in Bluebell Castle. I have previously described the novels as Antiques Roadshow meets Downton Abbey, with added Chelsea Flower Show and now we are going to add in a Winter Wonderland.

Christmas brings its own magic and can Jess really see herself with Tristan if she could perhaps trust not just him but her own heart?

Starlight over Bluebell Castle is published on 4 November.

I think that is enough for the moment – there is more Christmas Reading lurking around my kindle and my bedside table but I think this is the first Christmas Selection Box you should reach for this year!

I am currently slightly Christmassed out – talking about it for work doesn’t help so I have reverted back to an Agatha Christie before I embark on anymore festive fiction.

*I have received these books in exchange for an honest review and I receive nothing in payment for recommendation more than once on this blog or on any other social media channel I use. I simply pass on the books that have given me joy. 


A Perfect Cornish Summer – Phillipa Ashley


Any novel that is based in Cornwall is always going to be a good one and when you combine it with good storytelling such as the work of Phillipa Ashley then you are in for a wonderful read.

A Perfect Cornish Summer, fits this description. What started as a small idea ten years previously has grown into something more – the annual food festival in Porthmellow.  Sam the festival organiser had the original idea ten years ago and it was only meant to be a small event but it has grown and grown and it looks like this years is going to be bigger than ever.

When the famous headline chef for the festival has to withdraw due to some misappropriation of money  – it looks like the tenth festival will not be as stand out as Sam had first wanted. That is until Chloe an incomer to Porthmellow wanting to get more involved in the local community manages to gain TV Chef Gabe Maithas to attend.

What Chloe doesn’t realise that Gabe is well-known in Porthmellow

He left a long time ago and many people remember what he did before he went.

Sam certainly remembers as it had an impact on her and her family at the time and still now.

Will Gabe’s presence stir up old memories or will he be able to get people on side again?

Chloe, might have caused an upset, but she has made her mark on a few people in the village and her past is about to arrive and bring a whole load of baggage with it. Troy into his eighties, still helping the harbour master and his wife Evie provide some sage advice to everyone as well as humour in the book. Outspoken Bryony and her dog seem to pop up at the most interesting moments. Drew spends his time on the sea, but his quiet persona doesn’t detract from the turmoil he is going through. Zennor, Sam’s younger but probably wiser sister has some romantic interests if only they were reciprocated.

As for Sam, how can she possibly have enough time for anything when she is organising a food festival.

There is a lot going on in this novel and it takes you a few chapters to get straight who everyone is and how they all relate.  I find this with any start of a series of novels, the groundwork has to be done to keep us reading the book but also to then go and pick up subsequent novels featuring characters we have grown to love and probably dislike in equal measure.

Besides being full of characters and storylines it is also full of the descriptions of wonderful food including the mouth-watering sounding pies which Sam creates in between festival business. Of course there is the setting of Cornwall, always guaranteed to bring you brilliant weather and high winds to threaten marquees and people in equal measure.

An enjoyable read which has everything you want from women’s fiction – to take you away on holiday, for romance, for laughs and for some wonderful food.

Phillipa Ashley has done it again and she is fast becoming an author you can rely on for great reads.

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

A Perfect Cornish Summer is published on 25th April. 



Rachel’s Pudding Pantry – Caroline Roberts

Three generations of women are living at Primrose Farm, they have lost their husband, father, grandfather and whilst still reeling from the event they are struggling to hold on to everything that is dear to them. Including the farm.

Rachel has taken on the mantle of farmer and not afraid to get her hands dirty or spend sleepless nights with lambing ewes, nothing is a bother even looking after her own small child, Maisie.

Jill, Rachel’s mum is famed for her baking and her pudding, although Rachel is just as good. as she emerges from a stage of grief, Jill takes to making puddings for more than just her family.

A small idea is transformed in a bigger one and when Jill and Rachel take on something on a larger scale it has to work to keep the farm going.

With any of these gentle tales, nothing quite goes to plan and that is what makes it such a lovely story to read, you are drawn right into the story, into the farm, the kitchen and the smells of the baking as you care immediately about all the characters and what happens to them.

Add in a big dollop of romance and all the fresh air of the countryside positively goes to your head. Tom the neighbouring farmer, attractive and still single, who is willing to help with whatever countryside or pudding emergency might be required. Can romance blossom over sticky toffee pudding and sheep? Or will exes, children and misunderstandings get in the way?

I found this book such a joyous and uplifting read and showed you that you can diversify when you need to and keep those around you as close as you can – they will love you the most. A great read and if you like your stories, full of cake and countryside then this is a must. Think Countryfile and Mary Berry mixed together!

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

Rachel’s Pudding Pantry is published on the 18th April. 



New Starts and Cherry Tarts at the Cosy Kettle – Liz Eeles

Callie has not ventured far from her home village. She did branch out to university but due to the death of her grandmother she comes back to stay with her grandfather and doesn’t leave again. Having lost her father and her mother now remarried, she finds that home is the best place for her to be.

With a job in the local bookshop, Callie is just really coasting along in life. When a new owner takes over the shop, Callie has an idea – a coffee shop – and for once someone listens to her. So her plans to create a little coffee shop tucked away amongst the books is what Callie needs to boost her confidence and be proud of what she has done.

Gathering waifs and strays along the way Callie forms some strong bonds, with stressed out mums, a young girl with anxiety issues as well as having to deal with her 80-year-old straight talking grandfather who has some wacky plans for the rest of his days. She doesn’t have really much time for romance.

That is until Noah, a face from the past appears in the village.

Callie heard Noah say something back before she went to university and has never forgotten it and therefore the last things she wants to do is bump into him. But in a small village and with Noah’s brother renovating ‘the big house’ into a hotel it seems that their paths are going to cross more than once.

What did Noah say all those years ago? Can Callie ever forgive him?

This is the first in a new series of novels from Liz Eeles.  It starts quite slowly and really you are just getting to know everyone in the village as you would need to do but it does pick up and then you start to care about Callie and her wonderful grandfather as you learn more about their past. With the other new characters introduced you can start to see that this story and therefore the series could in fact go anywhere…..romance, humour, family dynamics, mental health problems, broken marriages, bullying in fact you don’t realise how much is covered as it seems such a gentle read on the surface.

A satisfying read and I can’t wait for another cup in the Cosy Kettle Café.

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

New Starts and Cherry Tarts at the Cosy Kettle is out now. 


The Perfectly Imperfect Woman – Milly Johnson

Marnie has made plenty of mistakes in her life. Her latest drives her away from her home, her job and her friends. But actually Marnie hasn’t really found her true home or her true job. And as for her friends and family it all seems to have been a lie.

When she makes friends with an old lady, Lilian, on an internet chat room and blurts out her whole story, little does she know that it is about to change her life forever.

Marnie heads to Wychwell, in the Yorkshire Dales. To seek sanctuary in the village of Lilian’s. It is in fact Lilian’s village, she is the owner, the lady of the manor in fact.

When events take a rather odd turn, Marnie it turns out is the one the whole village will look up to and her actions are going to be under scrutiny.

Not only is Marnie dealing with the fallout of her sudden role, but the death of her adoptive mother, her precious sister and her flaky friend. Plus there are rumours abound in the village about a witch.

There is so much packed into this book and the characters really pop off the page. Marnie is flawed as are all humans, but she doesn’t accept her flaws and cannot see what anyone else could possibly see in her. But as readers we can and so does some of the key characters. Marnie’s background brought tears to my eyes and could quite easily have made a sadder story than it turned out to be.

Village life, baking, gossips, rumours of witches, deaths, handsome men, meddling neighbours and love. Everything you want in a book and more!

This is one of the better Milly Johnson books I have read.

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

The Perfectly Imperfect Woman is out now.