The Perfect Blend: Coffee and Kane


Currently Browsing: Contemporary fiction

Bampton Charter Fair

Next week, on 26th October, I’m delighted to say I will be at the Bampton Charter Fair, selling my books, reading, and giving talks to adults and children about my work, and the joy of playing with words.

I will be with my fellow authors from the Exeter Author Association- you’ll be able to find us in the Community Hall on Station Road, conveniently next to a café and a nonstop supply of coffee!

The Devonshire Bampton Charter Fair has been an established tradition for centuries. here’s what the official Charter Website has to say-

Bampton Fair existed even before King Henry III granted it a Royal Charter in 1258 and it is always held on the last Thursday of October. It is one of the oldest surviving Charter Fairs in the country.

For centuries, the fair mainly sold sheep and cattle and was the largest sheep fair in the South West of England. During the 1880’s to the 1980’s it evolved to become the famous Bampton Pony Fair trading in Exmoor ponies.
Today this traditional Devon fair continues to attract local producers of foods and livestock, crafts and traditional skills from Exmoor and its surrounding villages. The streets, church, pubs and venues of Bampton are filled to over flowing with around 100 stalls, entertainments  including craft and music workshops, demonstrations and concerts, and funfair.

Opening from 9am, the Charter Fair regularly attracts in the region of 10,000 visitors- so why not come along and join the fun, pick up a few early Christmas presents, and hear a story or two along the way.

Hope to see you there!

Jenny xx


10 REASONS TO GO ON AN IMAGINE WRITING RETREAT

Alison Knight and I are proud to present our very first “Imagine” writing retreat…

10 reasons to go on an Imagine Writing Retreat…

1                    Writers need writers! No one understands writing and a writer’s life like another writer. Mutual support is the name of the game!

2                    Located in the stunning Victorian manor, Northmoor House, Imagine’s retreat gives you the chance to stay in a home untouched by time (But don’t panic, there is Wi-Fi). You can even indulge in the waters of an original Victorian bathtub…don’t forget your bubble bath!

3                    With so many of the manor’s period features still in place, Northmoor is the ideal location for sparking inspiration and dreaming up new plotlines.

4                    On the edge of Exmoor, near the popular village of Dulverton, there are plenty of beautiful places to explore should you, or any non-writing friends or partners, wish to. There are miles of good walking land on hand. The pre-historic Tarr Steps are but minutes away, and the cafes in Dulverton are excellent. I can personally recommend the poached eggs on crumpets in The Copper Kettle.

Tarr Steps

 

5                    However, you might not want to stray into the village for food because we have employed an excellent local caterer, who is providing a delicious menu that will cater for all dietary requirements. All food is locally sourced.

6                    Come along for a confidence boost! At Imagine we pride ourselves on helping everyone to get their words onto the page. We are here for beginners and experts alike.

Kate Griffin

7                    Meet Kate Griffin! One of Faber and Faber’s most successful crime writers. Kate Griffin is the author of the brilliant Kitty Peck Mysteries. An expert on Victorian London, Kate will be our guest speaker on the Wednesday evening.

8                    Find your inner writer’s peace of mind. We all know that authors suffer from imposter syndrome: “Why am I writing? I’m not good enough!” We all say it! Local happiness mentor and fellow writer, Trina Stacey, will be available for optional one-to-one conversations about how to believe in your abilities, and convince you that you are allowed to do what makes you happy.

9                    Let’s face it – Monday to Friday in a beautiful Victorian Manor, with time to write, all food provided, plus three optional workshops, a chance to meet Kate Griffin, and the opportunity to share writing ideas over a glass of wine (or two) – for only £450 (10% less if you book before 31st October) is a BARGAIN.

10               IT WILL BE A LOT OF FUN!

***

Full details are available at https://www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk/writing-retreats 

If you have any queries please email Alison or myself at imaginecreativewritng@gmail.com

PLEASE REMEMBER THAT THE EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT ENDS ON 31ST OCTOBER

Now is the time to drop heavy hints about wanting a writing retreat for Christmas… 

Happy writing everyone,

Jenny xx


Guest post from Marie Gameson: The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased)

I’m delighted to welcome Marie Gameson to my blog today to talk a little about her fascinating new book, The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased).

Over to you Marie…

 

“Winifred is exasperated by her Catholic mother’s inability to accept her conversion to Buddhism, and by her family’s determination to drag her back to her former life. But when an elderly stranger – haunted by his dead father – turns up on Winnie’s doorstep, insisting that stories she wrote as a teenager hold the key to his supernatural problems, Winnie is forced to renew acquaintance with her younger self.

Why did she write about a Mr Gadd, who died years before she was born?”

The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased) does have lots of humour, but the main theme is grief – not so much grief for the dead as for the living. The main character, Winnie Rigby, is exasperated that her conversion to Buddhism and attachment to the Orient are strongly resisted by her Catholic family, who make persistent attempts to remind her of the person she used to be.

I wrote this book to explore an issue which has long bothered me, and more so recently:  how do you cope when someone close to you has substantially changed? The reason could be because they have had some physical or mental trauma, joined a cult, become an addict, or simply because they have adopted a new political or spiritual belief system. Of course, in the case of the latter, the grieved-for person can be annoyingly positive about the change; most of us have come across a new zealot, and have good reason to avoid ‘born-again Christians’, or ‘born-again anythings’. But whatever the reason for someone changing, that person is still alive, still looks pretty much the same, and yet is no longer the person you remember.

In the case of Winnie Rigby, after practising Zen Buddhism for some years, she had an enlightening experience whilst on a mountain in Taiwan, which increased her resolve to further her practice. Since being forced back to the UK by her family, she feels alienated and out of touch with her old life; in fact neither her old neighbourhood nor her old acquaintances seem familiar, which is inconvenient, as people who insist they know her turn up with irritating frequency.

Consequently, her only objective is to get back to Taiwan just as soon as she can figure out how to replace the funds that have mysteriously disappeared from her account – (on her instructions according to the Bank) – but which seem to have gone to a cause that sounds suspiciously close to her mother’s heart.

Winnie’s refusal to return to her former persona or to traipse through pointless memories is challenged when an elderly man turns up on her doorstep, haunted by his dead father’s restless spirit, and insisting that the younger Winnie knew something about this late Mr Gadd. Although Winnie has no time for ghosts or superstition, when she is given proof that she did indeed write about Mr Gadd, she reluctantly agrees to try and find out why she wrote about a man who not only died years before she was born, but whose afterlife she seems to have recorded.

But the more she remembers, the more the answers seem to lie in the East. In her search for the elusive Mr Gadd, Winnie may fulfil her wish to return to the Orient – but unravelling the mystery of Gadd is bringing another unexpected revelation.

 

Taroko Gorge, Taiwan (where Winnie ‘saw the light’)

 

Although the book took a year to write, the preparation included a few months in Taiwan, two trips to China, an MA in Translation, a dissertation about Chinese ancestor worship, and frankly – countless fags and glasses of wine. It’s really nice that some people have said that they loved the book, but it is possible that I have reacted a little negatively when they have gone on to ask when the next one is coming out…

But with that little whinge out the way, the book has been a wonderful journey for me in terms of trying to reconcile East and West. Whether they are truly reconcilable or not, I will finish with a photograph I took some years back in Taipei of a Buddhist nun begging for alms. I rather like it.

Bio-

Marie Gameson is half of the mother and daughter writing team who published The Turtle Run as ‘Marie Evelyn’. Her latest book, The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased) was published by Salt this summer and is available on Amazon. You can find out more about her and her books at her website, www.marie-gameson.com 

You can buy The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased) from-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Giddy-Career-Mr-Gadd-deceased/dp/1784631183/

***

Many thanks for visiting today Marie. This sounds like a fantastic read.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx


Clinging onto summer: Abi’s Neighbour

With autumn beginning to take a firm grip, I thought it would be nice to share a little from my Cornish sunshine novel- Abi’s Neighbour!!

 

The sequel to my bestselling novel, Abi’s House, Abi’s Neighbour introduces new characters- some nice- and some who are going to take a little getting used to…

Here’s the blurb to help you picture the scene…

Abi Carter has finally found happiness. Living in her perfect tin miner’s cottage, she has good friends and a gorgeous boyfriend, Max. Life is good. But all that’s about to change when a new neighbour moves in next door.

Cassandra Henley-Pinkerton represents everything Abi thought she’d escaped when she left London. Obnoxious and stuck-up, Cassandra hates living in Cornwall. Worst of all, it looks like she has her sights set on Max.

But Cassandra has problems of her own. Not only is her wealthy married lawyer putting off joining her in their Cornish love nest, but now someone seems intent on sabotaging her business.

Will Cassandra mellow enough to turn to Abi for help – or are they destined never to get along?

Complete with sun, sea and a gorgeous Cornwall setting, Abi’s Neighbour is the PERFECT summer escape.

(Abi’s Neighbour can be read as a standalone novel, or as a sequel to Abi’s House)

***

Now all you need to imagine the sun warming your face, a glass of something chilled awaiting you in the fridge, and a business suited woman standing outside this house…and she’s not happy…

Extract

The untidy, clipboard-wielding woman started talking as soon as she climbed out of her Mini. ‘Hello, my name’s Maggie, and I’m from –’

Cassandra cut impatiently across the formalities. ‘Sennen Agents, obviously. It’s written across your car.’

‘Oh, yes. So it is.’ Maggie paused, ‘Anyway, I’m sorry I’m late, I got stuck behind a tractor down the lane.’ She jingled a key ring in front of her. ‘I have your keys, Miss Pinkerton.’

‘No, you don’t.’ ‘I don’t?’ The estate agent frowned, looking away from the woman that stood before her in expensive couture with crossed arms and a far from happy expression. Flicking through the papers on her clipboard, Maggie said, ‘I was instructed by a Mr Justin Smythe that you would be accepting the keys on his behalf?’

‘I meant, no, my name is not Miss Pinkerton. It is Ms Henley-Pinkerton.’

‘Oh. I see.’ Maggie refrained from further comment as she clutched the keys a little tighter.

Determined to make sure the situation was clearly understood, Cassandra pulled her jacket on, turning herself back into the sharp-suited businesswoman she was. ‘In addition to your error regarding my name, there appears to have been a further mistake.’

‘There has?’

‘Mr Smythe has not purchased this property. He has merely rented it, with an additional agreement to sublet it as a holiday home. I am here for two months to make the place suitable.’ Cassandra ran a disdainful eye over the beautiful exterior stonework. ‘It would seem that my work is going to be well and truly cut out.’

‘This is a much sought-after street, Ms HenleyPinkerton. And this particular property is in excellent period condition.’ Feeling defensive on behalf of the old miner’s cottage, Maggie bit her tongue and flicked through her paperwork faster. Extracting a copy of the bill of sale, she passed it to the slim, angular blonde. ‘I think the misunderstanding must be yours. Mr Smythe has purchased number two Miners Row outright. It was a cash sale.’

Snatching the papers from Maggie’s fingers, Cassandra’s shoulders tensed into painful knots. Why hadn’t Justin told her he’d done this? She was convinced she was right. And anyway, he’d never deliberately make her appear foolish in front of a country bumpkin estate agent…  Yet as Cassandra scanned the document before her, she could see there’d been no mistake. Closing her eyes, she counted to ten, before opening them again to regard the badly dressed woman before her, who was once again holding out the offending set of keys.  Failing to take them, Cassandra gestured towards the little house.

‘Perhaps you would show me around, after I’ve made a call to Mr Smythe?’ Maggie, already feeling sorry for this unpleasant woman’s future neighbours, took unprofessional pleasure in saying, ‘Good luck with that call. The phone signal here is unpredictable to say the least.’

It had taken a ten-minute walk towards Sennen village to get a decent reception on her mobile phone, and then, when she’d been able to connect the call, Justin’s line was engaged. When she’d finally got through, she was more than ready to explode. ‘Justin! How could you have done this to me without a word? You’ve made me look a total idiot.’

Clearly thrilled that he’d managed to buy the terrace for a knock-down price – which, he’d claimed, was a far more economic use of their funds, an investment that would make them a fortune to enjoy in their retirement – he’d sounded so excited about what it meant for their future together that Cassandra had found it hard to remain cross. Assuring her that the situation remained the same, and that she was still only expected to stay in Cornwall while he secured his new position and got the wheels of the divorce in motion, Justin told Cassandra he loved her and would be with her very soon.

Returning to the terrace reassured, if lacking some of her earlier dignity, Cassandra swallowed back all the words she’d have liked to say as she opened the door and the gloom of the dark and narrow hallway enveloped her. She was sure that awful Maggie woman had been laughing at her. The agent had taken clear pleasure in telling her that if she hadn’t stormed off so quickly she’d have found out that the phone reception was excellent if you sat on the bench in the back garden.

Vowing to never drink champagne in any form ever again, as it clearly caused her to agree to things far too readily, Cassandra saw the next two months stretching out before her like a lifetime.  Letting out some of the tension which had been simmering inside her since she’d first seen the for sale sign, she picked up a stone and threw it at the back fence, hard. Maggie had gone, leaving her reluctant client sitting on an old weathered bench in the narrow rectangular plot at the back of the house.

Playing her phone through her fingers, Cassandra saw that there was enough reception to make calls if she sat in this spot – but only in this spot. One step in either direction killed the signal dead, which was probably why the previous owners had placed a bench here. And probably why they left this Godforsaken place!  The Internet simply didn’t exist here. When she’d swallowed her pride and asked Maggie about the strength of the local broadband coverage, the agent had actually had the audacity to laugh, before informing Cassandra with obvious satisfaction that people came to Sennen for their holidays to leave the world of emails and work behind them.

Breathing slowly, she pulled her shoulders back, pushed her long, perfectly straight blonde hair behind her ears, and took a pen and paper out of her bag. It looked as if she was going to have to tackle this, old school.

First she would make a list of what she considered necessary to make the house habitable for holidaymakers, then she would locate the nearest library or internet café so she could source decorators and builders to get the work underway. The sooner she got everything done, and herself back to hustle and bustle of London, the better.

Deciding there was no way she could sleep in this house, which Maggie had proudly described as ‘comfortable’, ‘sought-after’, and ‘ready to be made absolutely perfect’, Cassandra hooked her handbag onto her shoulder and headed back into the whitewashed stone house. Shivering in the chill of the hallway, despite the heat of the June day, she jumped in the silence when the doorbell rang just as she bent to pick up her overnight bag. For a second she froze. It had been years since she’d heard a doorbell ring. In her block of flats back home she buzzed people in via an intercom, and anyway, people never just dropped by. She hoped it wasn’t that dreadful Maggie back with some other piece of unwanted advice.

It wasn’t Maggie. It was a petite woman in paint spattered clothes, with a large shaggy dog at her side. Cassandra’s unwanted visitor wore a wide smile and held a bunch of flowers in one hand and some bedding in the other.  ‘Hello. My name’s Abi, I live next door. Welcome to Miners Row. I hope you’ll be very happy here.’

***

I hope you enjoyed that!!

Abi’s Neighbour is available from all good retailers, including-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Abis-Neighbour-Jenny-Kane/dp/178615028X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487006698&sr=1-1&keywords=abi%27s+neighbour

https://www.amazon.com/Abis-Neighbour-Jenny-Kane/dp/178615028X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487006868&sr=1-1&keywords=Abi%27s+Neighbour+by+Jenny+Kane

***

Happy reading!!

Jenny xx


End of the month round up with Nell Peters

OK- I am in denial. It is not the end of September! It can’t be…except, it is…

Over to Nell!

Good grief! We’ve reached the end of September already – how did that happen? Anyway, let’s not waste any time as I’m sure you have better things to do, like giving your pet rhino a pedicure, or similar.

Red-headed actress Rula Lenska was born seventy years ago today as Róża Maria Leopoldyna Łubieńska – wow, pity her poor teachers calling the register. And she must have had custom-made, extra-long name tags for her school uniform. The family claim membership of the Polish aristocracy, with her parents being a count and countess – I wonder how impressed the good folk of St Neots were by that, because that’s where Rula was born. Perfectly nice town though it is, St Neots doesn’t quite conjure the same mental image as Warsaw, Krakow, Gdansk or even Radomsko, does it?

Early on in her career and certainly by the time she hit thirty, Lenska had renounced her countess title. She said at the time, ‘In England it doesn’t count, if you’ll excuse the pun.’ Oh, how very droll. However, a good few years afterwards in January 2006, when she signed up for Celebrity Big Brother, she justified her decision to take part with the words, ‘I’m a crazy Polish countess who likes a challenge’. Do make up your mind, dear.

I’ve never seen CBB – a fact that horrified near-neighbour Peter, who is a designer on the show, when we were chatting at a party locally. Even I, though, knew about RL cavorting with MP George Galloway in a role-play task where he pretended to be a cat licking milk from her cupped hands, and Lenska stroked his ears and moustache. Eew … or perhaps mew. Apparently, she also managed to lock herself in the toilet during her time in the house, giving late singer Pete Burns the golden opportunity to quip, ‘Oh dear, what can the matter be, clapped-out actress stuck in the lavatory.’ How brutal – made me laugh when I read it, of course, but rather mean. I’m hanging my head in shame … really.

My mother also managed to lock herself in the downstairs toilet, a few days before my dad’s funeral. I got a call from the Bluebird lunch carer saying Mum had been in there quite some time and seemed to have forgotten how to slide back the basic lock in order to get out. When Sally (said carer) tried to relay instructions through the door, my mother said she didn’t know what she was talking about and became abusive. So, Sally rang her office and some bright spark there told her to contact me. What sensible advice, when they were in Twickenham and I was at home in Norfolk – a buck expertly passed if ever there was one.

Sally decided a chisel to jimmy the lock was the way to go and so I guided her through the idiosyncratic locked door system of the ground floor – each lock with ever more weirdo-shaped keys that need to be persuaded into action – out into the back garden and around the house to the potting shed. My father was always one for ‘we’ll get a man in’ but did have some basic tools and I was pretty sure that was where they’d be, along with various lawn mowers and other garden machinery, an ancient bicycle or two, a zillion disused flower pots and industrial strength spider webs. After she managed to get the shed door open, Sally quickly located a chisel and squealed with delight when she saw an axe. I persuaded her (with much difficulty) to leave that where it was.

While she was attempting her breaking and entering, she had to hang up the phone, promising to call back when the prisoner had been sprung. An hour passed and I was beside myself with worry, when she finally rang back. Mission aborted. She’d called the Fire Brigade. We had to end the call once again, as she was expecting them to ring. By the time I heard from her again, I was (even more of) a basket case – but job done. Not impressed by three hunky firemen setting her free with a strategically placed crowbar, my mother had spat harsh words at Sally for letting strangers into her house and insulted the poor guys loud and long – nothing to do with dementia, that’s how my mother rocks.

Going back to aforementioned Rula Lenska, Marc Bolan shared her date of birth, but died just two weeks short of his thirtieth birthday when the Mini being driven by his girlfriend hit a tree on Barnes Common – I passed the spot on many an occasion when I lived in London, and there were always flowers placed there. The singer/songwriter/poet/musician was actually born Mark Feld and tried out stage names Toby Tyler and Mark Bowland along the way, before settling on Marc Bolan. Through his father Simeon’s bloodline, he shares Rula Lenska’s Polish (plus in his case, Russian) ancestry, but does not appear to lay any claim to the nobility – so, just dead common like the rest of us.

While at school (from which he was expelled at fifteen for bad behaviour), he played guitar in the trio Susie and the Hula Hoops, with vocalists Helen Shapiro, twelve at the time, and Helen’s cousin the appropriately-named Susie Singer. I can remember Helen’s hit, Walking Back to Happiness – boy I’m old, but not as old as her, because she was born on 28th September 1946, the year before Lenska and Bolan.

The glam rock band T. Rex recorded Ride a White Swan in 1970 with producer Tony Visconti (who also managed David Bowie) – it was the single that changed Bolan’s career, and was inspired by Mungo Jerry’s success with In the Summertime, tempting Bolan away from predominantly acoustic to a more electric sound. Friends Bolan and Bowie both inflicted pretty awful names on their sons – Rolan (although he was named as Rolan Seymour Feld on his birth certificate) and Zowie, who wasn’t so lucky but is now rather more prosaically known as film director Duncan Jones.

The band were originally known as Tyrannosaurus Rex, named after one of the largest carnivorous dinosaurs – a ferocious beastie capable of the ultimate in bone-crushing action. Ouch. These prehistoric predators were approx 40’ long and up to 20’ tall, with strong thighs and long, powerful tails built for speed, plus a 5’ skull which drilled into prey. They suffered from a bit of a design fault, though – while the two-fingered forearms could seize prey, they were too short to reach the mouth and deposit the poor unfortunate victim. Doh! That’s when their serrated, conical teeth came in handy (sorry!) – to pierce and grip flesh, and then rip it away from the body of their quarry. That could become the latest diet craze – tie up your arms somehow to make their reach shorter! Because we don’t have T. Rex-type teeth, no food would make it as far as the lips, ergo no calories consumed – sorted! I may yet become rich and famous …

On this day in 1955, another young man died as the result of a car crash – one James Dean, twenty-four year old American actor and cultural icon of teenage disillusionment, angst and social estrangement, as portrayed in arguably his most famous film, Rebel Without a Cause. American teens of the era easily identified with the dilemma of his character, Jim Stark, who feels that no one, not even his peers, can understand him.

A keen participant in motor racing, Dean was driving his Porsche 550 Spyder to a race meeting when the accident happened, having been stopped less than two hours earlier for speeding. The crash occurred at an intersection, when a 1950 Ford Tudor driven by Donald Turnupseed (I kid you not!) turned in front of the Porsche. Because he was driving too fast, Dean was unable to stop, colliding side-on with the other car. The actor died instantly, while Donald walked away with minor injuries. A subsequent coroner’s jury delivered a verdict that Dean was entirely at fault due to his speed, and found Turnupseed innocent of any criminal act. Fellow actor Humphrey Bogart observed about JD’s image and legacy: ‘Dean died at just the right time. He left behind a legend. If he had lived, he’d never have been able to live up to his publicity.’ Harsh, but possibly true. Unbelievably, according to Forbes Magazine (a US bi-weekly business publication, maxim The Capitalist Tool), James Dean’s estate still makes around $5M annually. Not too shabby …

This year, the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur is observed on 30th September, being the 10th of Tishri in the Hebrew calendar, or the tenth day of the seventh month, and is regarded as the ‘Sabbath of Sabbaths’. It is considered the most important holiday in the Jewish faith. Falling in the month of Tishri (variably September or October in the Gregorian calendar), it marks the culmination of the Ten Days of Awe, a period of introspection and repentance that follows Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

I wonder quite how that sits with International Blasphemy Day, observed annually (mostly in North America and Europe) on 30/9 since 2009, after a student contacted the Centre for Inquiry in New York proposing the idea, which the CFI supported. Ronald Lindsay, president and CEO of the CFI said of Blasphemy Day, ‘We think religious beliefs should be subject to examination and criticism just as political beliefs are …’ For those who – like me – haven’t heard of the CFI, they are a non-profit educational organization, their primary mission to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. In January 2016, Richard Dawkins hitched his foundation’s wagon to the CFI. Probably enough said.

Today is also Chewing Gum Day (a lot of blaspheming going on when folk tread in the damned stuff?), International Lace Day and Family Health and Fitness Day USA – the latter two taking place on the last Saturday in September rather than a specific date. And then there’s National Mud Pack Day, also an American affair. The blurb says, ‘This holiday is for learning and appreciating the use of mud on the face or really any part of the body. Mud packs have been popular for years for facial treatments to keep the skin young, soft and supple, so let today be the day you learn how to nourish your skin with mud.’

No sooner said than done – it has been raining, so I’m off to dig up the garden (or maybe I’ll get a man in) and then luxuriate with a homemade concoction slathered over all the wrinkles. You may not recognise the youthful creature who guest blogs next month – plus, of course, I will be super-skinny from trying out and perfecting The T. Rex Short Arm Diet! May have to work on the name …

Thanks, as always, for having me, Jenny!

Toodles.

NP

Many thanks to Nell for another entertaining and fascinating blog. I will never look at Rula Lenska in the same way again!

Happy reading everyone.

Jenny x

 

 

 


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