The Perfect Blend: Coffee and Kane


Currently Browsing: Contemporary fiction

Summer Wedding: Romancing Robin Hood

To celebrate the paperback version of Romancing Robin Hood being available at the new price of £7.99,  I thought I’d share a little taster of what lays hidden within its modern/medieval pages.

RRH- new 2015

Romancing Robin Hood is a contemporary romance is based on the life of Dr Grace Harper, a medieval history lecturer with a major Robin Hood obsession. So much so, that instead of writing a textbook on medieval life, Grace is secretly writing a novella about a fourteenth century girl called Mathilda, who gets mixed up with a real outlaw family of the day, the Folvilles. (Which you can also read about within this same novel)

The problem is that Grace is so embroiled in her work and passion for outlaws, that real life is passing her by. A fact that the unexpected wedding announcement of her best friend Daisy, has thrown into sharp focus…

summer wedding

Extract

…Daisy hadn’t grown up picturing herself floating down the aisle in an over-sequinned ivory frock, nor as a doting parent, looking after triplets and walking a black Labrador. So when, on an out-of-hours trip to the local vet’s surgery she’d met Marcus and discovered that love at first sight wasn’t a myth, it had knocked her for six.

She’d been on a late-night emergency dash to the surgery with an owl a neighbour had found injured in the road. Its wing had required a splint, and it was too big a job for only one pair of hands. Daisy had been more than a bit surprised when the locum vet had stirred some long-suppressed feeling of interest in her, and even more amazed when that feeling had been reciprocated.

It was all luck, sheer luck. Daisy had always believed that anyone meeting anybody was down to two people meeting at exactly the right place, at exactly the right time, while both feeling precisely the right amount of chemistry. The fact that any couples existed at all seemed to Daisy to be one of the greatest miracles of humanity.

She pictured Grace, tucked away in her mad little office only living in the twenty-first century on a part-time basis. Daisy had long since got used to the fact that her closest friend’s mind was more often than not placed firmly in the 1300s. Daisy wished Grace would finish her book. It had become such a part of her. Such an exclusive aim that nothing else seemed to matter very much. Even the job she used to love seemed to be a burden to her now, and Daisy sensed that Grace was beginning to resent the hours it took her away from her life’s work. Maybe if she could get her book over with – get it out of her system – then Grace would stop living in the wrong timeframe.

Daisy knew Grace appreciated that she never advised her to find a bloke, settle down, and live ‘happily ever after,’ and she was equally grateful Grace had never once suggested anything similar to her. Now she had Marcus, however, Daisy had begun to want the same contentment for her friend, and had to bite her tongue whenever they spoke on the phone; something that happened less and less these days.

Grace’s emails were getting shorter too. The long paragraphs detailing the woes of teaching students with an ever-decreasing intelligence had blunted down to, ‘You ok? I’m good. Writing sparse. See you soon. Bye G x’

The book. That in itself was a problem. Grace’s publishers and colleagues, Daisy knew, were expecting an academic tome. A textbook for future medievalists to ponder over in the university libraries of the world. And, in time, that was exactly what they were going to get, but not yet, for Grace had confided to Daisy that this wasn’t the only thing she was working on, and her textbook was coming a poor third place to work and the other book she couldn’t seem to stop herself from writing.

‘Why,’ Grace had forcefully expounded on their last meeting, ‘should I slog my guts out writing a book only a handful of bored students and obsessive freaks like myself will ever pick up, let alone read?’

As a result, Grace was writing a novel, ‘A semi-factual novel,’ she’d said, ‘a story which will tell any student what they need to know about the Folville family and their criminal activities – which bear a tremendous resemblance to the stories of a certain famous literary outlaw! – and hopefully promote interest in the subject for those who aren’t that into history without boring them to death.’

It sounded like a good idea to Daisy, but she also knew, as Grace did, that it was precisely the sort of book academics frowned upon, and she was worried about Grace’s determination to finish it. Daisy thought it would be more sensible to concentrate on one manuscript at a time, and get the dry epic that everyone was expecting out of the way first. Perhaps it would have been completed by now if Grace could focus on one project at a time, rather than it currently being a year in the preparation without a final result in sight. Daisy suspected Grace’s boss had no idea what she was really up to. After all, she was using the same lifetime of research for both manuscripts. She also had an underlying suspicion that subconsciously Grace didn’t want to finish either the textbook or the novel; that her friend was afraid to finish them. After all, what would she fill her hours with once they were done?

Daisy’s mobile began to play a tinny version of Nellie the Elephant. She hastily plopped a small black guinea pig, which she’d temporarily called Charcoal, into a run with his numerous friends, and fished her phone from her dungarees pocket.

‘Hi, Marcus.’

‘Hi honey, you OK?’

‘Just delivering the tribe to their outside quarters, then I’m off to face the horror that is dress shopping.’

Her future husband laughed, ‘You’ll be fine. You’re just a bit rusty, that’s all.’

‘Rusty! I haven’t owned a dress since I went to parties as a small child. Thirty-odd years ago!’

‘I don’t understand why you don’t go with Grace at the weekend. It would be easier together wouldn’t it?’

Daisy sighed, ‘I’d love to go with her, but I’ll never get her away from her work more than once this month, and I’ve yet to arrange a date for her to buy a bridesmaid outfit.’

‘Well, good luck, babe. I’m off to rob some bulls of their manhood.’

Daisy giggled, ‘Have fun. Oh, why did you call by the way?’

‘Just wanted to hear your voice, nothing else.’

‘Oh cute – ta.’

‘Idiot! Enjoy shopping.’

As she clicked her battered blue mobile shut and slid it back into her working clothes, Daisy thought of Grace again. Perhaps she should accidentally invite loads of single men to the wedding to tempt her friend with. The trouble was, unless they wore Lincoln Green, and carried a bow and quiver of arrows, Daisy very much doubted whether Grace would even notice they were there…

RH- RoS 2

Blurb

Dr Grace Harper has loved the stories of Robin Hood ever since she first saw them on TV as a girl. Now, with her fortieth birthday just around the corner, she’s a successful academic in Medieval History, with a tenured position at a top university.

But Grace is in a bit of a rut. She’s supposed to be writing a textbook on a real-life medieval gang of high-class criminals – the Folvilles – but she keeps being drawn into the world of the novel she’s secretly writing – a novel which entwines the Folvilles with her long-time love of Robin Hood – and a feisty young girl named Mathilda, who is the key to a medieval mystery…

Meanwhile, Grace’s best friend Daisy – who’s as keen on animals as Grace is on the Merry Men – is unexpectedly getting married, and a reluctant Grace is press-ganged into being her bridesmaid. As Grace sees Daisy’s new-found happiness, she starts to re-evaluate her own life. Is her devotion to a man who may or may not have lived hundreds of years ago really a substitute for a real-life hero of her own? It doesn’t get any easier when she meets Dr Robert Franks – a rival academic who Grace is determined to dislike but finds herself being increasingly drawn to…

Buy Links Romancing Robin Hood is available from all good paperback and e-retailers.

Amazon UK- http://www.amazon.co.uk/Romancing-Robin-Hood-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B00M4838S2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407428558&sr=8-1&keywords=romancing+robin+hood

Amazon.com- http://www.amazon.co.uk/Romancing-Robin-Hood-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B00M4838S2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407428558&sr=8-1&keywords=romancing+robin+hood 

Kobo link – http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/romancing-robin-hood

***

Happy reading,

Jenny x


Interview with Bethany Askew: Poppy’s Seed

I’m delighted to welcome Bethany Askew to my site today to talk about her latest novel, Poppy’s Seed. I was lucky enough to meet Bethany while we were both being interviewed by the lovely Suzie Grogan on 10 Radio last week. I had no hesitation in asking Bethany if she’d mind sharing information about her excellent novel with us today.

Over to you Bethany…

What inspired you to write your latest novel Poppy’s Seed?

This book was based on a dream I had. It was very vivid. I remembered every detail. The moment I woke I up I scribbled it down so I wouldn’t forget it.

It was about a couple who moved to Lyme Regis and met someone who changed their lives, and whilst causing havoc in their relationship, she also showed them things about themselves and each other that they never knew before. Only the ending was left uncertain.

Initially the girl they met ran a shop in Lyme Regis. It was only when the storyline became clearer to me that I made her into an artist and jewellery maker. I had a very definite idea of where in Lyme Regis her shop was and what type of shop it had to be.

I didn’t really know why the couple had moved to Lyme Regis, but when my husband and I retired and moved house it became clear to me that I could write with experience of this difficult time.

The main protagonists were very real in my dream, particularly the girl who had to be unique: a free-thinking, free-spirited girl, living by no rules and knowing no boundaries.

The character of Poppy is inspired by reading biographies of artists and writers such as Vita Sackville-West and Vanessa Bell, women who lived outside the social norms of society in their time. I have always been fascinated by the Bloomsbury set and their contemporaries and Poppy’s untidy habits and messy house are based on the artist Augustus John and his family, who put their creativity above mundane things like tidiness and cleanliness.

Poppy’s Seed is a contemporary novel that deals with the problems of many modern families, including the effect of children and stepchildren on a couple; the balance of power between two people; and the compromises made to keep a relationship going.

I like to write about women’s lives and relationships and am particularly interested in a woman’s role as wife and mother and the effect of marriage and divorce on family dynamics.

Do you model any of your characters after people you know? If so, do these people see themselves in your characters?

My main female protagonists tend to be versions of me, with some of my characteristics exaggerated. I’m certainly not as house proud or as sexually adventurous as Emily in Poppy’s Seed but we share the same practical and optimistic view of life. And there is a lot of myself in Charlotte in my novel Out of Step:  Charlotte’s experiences of divorce, access, and custody battles are based on my own.

The World Within is my most auto-biographical story. Set in the 1970’s, when it was still socially unacceptable to be an unmarried mother, it tells the story of Jemma, who has to give up her plans for further education when she becomes pregnant. Set in my home town of Taunton, this book is inspired by my own teenage years, with an alternative version of Jemma’s life played out simultaneously, the reader left at the end to decide which Jemma has the more fulfilled life, the one who went to university as planned or the one who married and had a baby and stayed behind in Taunton.

The only one of my novels that has nothing of me in it is Counting the Days , which is a true story, based on my parents-in-law’s letters written during World War Two. A bit of a departure for me, this was written mainly for the family, but it has sold well at the presentations my husband and I give to local interested societies, where we show the photographs my father-in-law took on active service overseas and read extracts from the letters.

My website www.onactiveservice.co.uk is a valuable resource to anyone interested in World War Two: it reproduces the letters and war diary entries verbatim, seventy three years ago to the day they were written, together with wartime photographs of England and Egypt and India.

Do you prefer to plot your story or go with the flow?

I’m not one of those writers who plans their books chapter by chapter. My stories evolve as I go along. My ideas for characters change and even when the characters  are fixed I find they sometimes do things I don’t expect and I have to re-think everything.  Originally Poppy’s Seed was going to be far more about relationships and family dynamics but as I wrote it Poppy took over more and more and I found she had a secret agenda that I could weave through the story. The character of the step-daughter also changed: at first she was far more bohemian and artistic but I couldn’t have two characters like Poppy so I toned her down a bit. I like to include step-children in my novels as it is something I can write about with experience.  I feel it is a reflection on modern society and a situation many people nowadays can relate to.

Which point of view do you prefer to write in and why?

I like my readers to be involved in what my characters are thinking, to hear the characters thoughts and feelings and experience their lives. I have experimented with different perspectives. I have found that if I write as “I” then it is hard to describe how “I” look or sound or even what “I” may be wearing.

Writing as a man is also hard, though I seem to have done it successfully in Poppy’s Seed. One male reader said, “It was as though you had read my mind. Reading your book made me realise how difficult I must have been to live with I when I first retired.”

In this book the reader hears Emily’s and Peter’s perspectives on the same situation. She thinks she’s trying to help him find ways to enjoy his retirement; he thinks she’s trying to boss him around. This way I can also describe each character as seen by the other.

The only one of my novels that has varied from this approach is Counting the Days, which is written from an objective point of view because, although it is a novel, it is based on fact and apart from the few intimate thoughts expressed in the letters I was using, it was hard for me to know the exact feelings of my main protagonists. It was more a case of charting their joint story.

What is your writing regime?

 I don’t have one. I just write when the mood takes me. Certainly not every day. And I rarely write for hours.

Although I don’t write every day the book I am working on is constantly on my mind and I am usually jotting down notes or words or phrases that come to mind.

I try to keep these logically in a notebook but they often end up on endless scraps of odd paper as ideas strike me suddenly.

I write on my laptop in my armchair if I am writing a fair bit, or at my desk in my study if it’s only a few odd sentences or ideas.

When I have an idea for a story I live with it for a while, even up to a year, getting the characters clear in my mind and letting myself feel how the story will progress, what the characters look like, where they will live etc.

Each part I write is like a scene in a film or play. I “see” the  characters in my mind acting it out for me and just write down what they do. I like to take a break between chapters for my actors to re-group before they act out the next scene. Sometimes I’ll come back to the previous scene and add a bit or re-write it. My writing for the day might just consist of a few sentences, but every little bit matters. I start my stories without any structure at all and see what happens. Then, as I progress and the story becomes clearer I plan what will happen in future chapters. Characters and events often change!

I am completely self-taught. I have never been on a creative writing course or any workshops and have never liaised with other writers. I have always known I wanted to write and when I had fewer family commitments I just sat down at my PC one day and started to write a novel. This first novel, The Time Before will never be published. It is very much a first attempt. I didn’t plan it or structure it. I just had an idea and off I went! But I learnt a lot about writing just by doing it. Now I have written five novels and a short story as well as a modest amount of poetry. I couldn’t imagine life without a novel to work on and I have just started writing my sixth! I like to have something to channel mu energies into, something completely my own that I have accomplished. I miss my characters once I have finished though. Maybe that’s why I’m always ready to write another one!

***

Links

Poppy’s Seed

https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Poppys-Seed-Bethany-Askew/1785899198/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1500110671&sr=1-3&keywords=bethany+askew

The World Within

https://www.amazon.co.uk/World-Within-Bethany-Askew-ebook/dp/B00C3L8LL4

Out of Step

https://www.amazon.com/Out-Step-Bethany-Askew-ebook/dp/B00BIJ0GRY

Counting the Days

https://www.amazon.com/Counting-Days-Bethany-Askew-ebook/dp/B00J2VOTQY

The Night of the Storm

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Night-Storm-Bethany-Askew-ebook/dp/B00CDL6CBU

Bethany Askew Amazon Author Page (all titles)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bethany-Askew/e/B00BJ61C56

***

Bio

Bethany Askew is the author of five novels: The Time BeforeThe World WithinOut of Step, Counting the Days and Poppy’s Seed.

She has also written a short story, The Night of the Storm, and she writes poetry.

Her work is published on Amazon and available in major retailers.

Future projects include a new short story, this one for the young adult market, and another full-length novel.

www.bethanyaskew.co.uk

www.onactiveservice.co.uk 

***

Thanks again for such a great interview Bethany.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx


Birthday Perks

There are many advantages to having (yet another) birthday…This is what I’m telling myself as I wake up on my 45th birthday in a state of bewilderment that I’ve got this far through my life without anyone telling me I’m doing it wrong.

I will be honest- the idea of being 45 does not fill my with joy. On the other hand, not reaching 45 would have one hell of a lot worse, and so I’ll go with it- although it had better be a damn site better to me than 44 was!

A lot went wrong when I was 44 –  book deal promises died, publishers dissolved into the ether, writing promises were broken, and so on….On the other hand (again)…out of these professional ashes came Imagine… The creative writing business I am co-managing with the lovely Alison Knight.

It has already been so much fun- and we’ve had some fantastic adventures sourcing potential retreat venues, appearing on BBC Radio Wiltshire, teaching from Penzance to Chippenham, and lots of places in between. My highlight so far…

Carefully easing out the memories of a class of dementia sufferers who all want to get their life stories on paper before it’s too late. Humbling.

This last year has seen me embark upon my first literary tour, taking Abi’s Neighbour on a trip around the South West, ending up in Cornwall, where it is set, amongst the rocks of Penzance, and the yellow sands of Sennen.

Outside of my working life- my eldest daughter left compulsory education, has recently won a prize at the Royal Institution of Science for outstanding work in biology, and is about to head off to university. Meanwhile by youngest daughter has just won a scholarship to Maths school over the Summer, as well as an award for academic excellence in Statistics – not to mention a 2nd Dan Black Belt in mixed martial arts (Don’t mess with daughter number 2!!) I think you can say I’m a proud Mum.

***

As if to offset the extra wrinkles and gradual general in-toning, a birthday does bring with it some perks.

I get to stay in bed and write this rather than go to the café to write this! I’m going to take part of the day off so that I can explore a little of the beautiful Exmoor countryside, and- it my nostrils don’t deceive me, and I’m not hallucinating the aroma coming from the kitchen, later there will be cake…

If you like a bit of a saucy read, I can also offer you a little pressie- in the shape of my Kay Jaybee novella, Wednesday on Thursday– which is FREE on Amazon this week (over 18’s ONLY)

So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to see if the postman has been, and to pull on my walking shoes. If I’m a good girl they might just walk me in the direction of a scone or two…

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 

 

 


Penzance Literary Festival

It’s good to be back where I belong; tucked away with a huge black Americano, toast and marmalade, after three days away as a contributor to the Penzance Literary Festival.

My adventure began last Thursday when I left Tiverton Parkway (only slightly delayed), and travelled the rail line to Cornwall. The scenery between Devon and Cornwall is stunning, and my plans to work as I went along were quickly scuppered in the face of the beauty of South West England.

As you’ll know if you read my previous blog, that coming down to Penzance was a big deal for me.  I hadn’t been there for 20 years, and I was unprepared for how emotional my arrival there would make me feel. More details about that here – http://wp.me/p75ZD9-WA

Acorn Theatre

Having found my guesthouse and left my luggage in the owner’s reliable hands, I took the advice of one of the literary festivals organisers, the lovely Teresa Benison, and headed to the Honey Pot Cafe. This was conveniently placed directly opposite the Acorn theatre – location of the panel I was due to appear on at three that afternoon.

I can’t recommend the Honey Pot Cafe enough- if you happen to be in Penzance at any time, make sure you pop in.

Anyway – the panel I sat on, with the illustrious novelist Liz Fenwick and YA novelist Christopher Vick, was enormous fun. Teresa hosted the panel, which was based on the theme of authors setting their books in Cornwall. I happily chatted about Abi’s House and Abi’s Neighbour, while Liz shared the background to her new novel, The Returning Tide (incredible story) and Chris talked about Storms, his new YA novel (a must read).

Teresa Beniton, Jenny Kane, Liz Fenwick

On the Friday I had no festival responsibilities. Instead I had my coffee shop blogger hat on. Travelling through the sheering heat (we were blessed with incredible weather) I moved around Penzance, sampling coffee and nibbling cake. I rather love my job sometimes! All the resulting blogs will appear on my Have Americano and Pen…Will Travel blog over the next few weeks. Check out the first one here.

As much as I enjoyed the panel I took part in, not to mention listening to the other visiting authors and poets (the poetry event on the Thursday night was amazing- and diverse! I’ve never heard poems about dissecting David Bowie before- unusual….), the highlight for me was the life writing class I taught on Saturday morning.

Based in the fascinating Morrab Library, within the Morrab Sub-Tropical Gardens, I was in my element. Surrounded by works of nonfiction that went back decades, 15 intrepid creative writing workshoppers came in. All smiling- some clearly nervous and wondering what on earth they’d let themselves in for- others clearly confident; every chair filled, and we were soon ready to launch into the world of fictionalising our lives and personal experiences.

Morrab Sub-Tropical Garden

I’m not sure which memory from that class will stay with me the longest.

The wonderful lady whose imagination decided that her ice cream didn’t want to be an ice cream, but wanted to be fruit pieces instead.

The terror so perfectly described by the gentleman whose memory of his first day at school involved lining up outside his classroom while his teacher flipped his cap off with a cane because it wasn’t quite straight.

The two friends who came in giggling, laughed all the way through the class, and left with even wider smiles- having produced some incredible writing along the way.

The Australian traveller who summed up how it feels to be a young woman trying to please the world via the medium of a scoop of Neapolitan ice cream…

They were a dream class to teach. So much talent- so much potential. I look forward to seeing some future short story competition winners and novelists amongst them.

Morrab Library

My time in Penzance was over all too quickly. I would like to thanks Teresa, Linda, Barbara, and all the organisers and stewards who made my visit so much fun. Special thanks must go to the lovely chap who wrestled with the projector and its screen for me at Morrab Library – and to the kind library staff for providing tea, coffee and cake for my workshoppers.

Thanks must also go to the Edge of the World Bookshop on Market Jew Street, Penzance. The friendly and wonderful folk who work there not only managed to order loads of my books, but kindly displayed them at both my events as well as displaying lots of them in their bookshop. There is a never ending thrill in knowing my books sit on bookshop shelves.

Penzance Literary Festival is styled as the country’s most friendly literary festival with good reason.

Roll on next year’s event.

 

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 

 

 


Penzance: But that was then…

I’m in Penzance at the moment as part of the Literary Festival. I’ve been looked after so well, the events are amazing. I’m teaching a life writing class tomorrow, which is going to be great fun- but in the meantime…

I haven’t been to Cornwall since my Grandad died 15 yrs ago. I haven’t been to Penzance for 20 yrs, since my Grandad went to live with my Aunt in St.Austell. I have been amazed by how much being here has made me think- made me reflect on a time  hadn’t considered for two decades. Nor even writing Abi’s House and Abi’s Neighbour had prepared me for how it feels to be here.

I needed to write it out of my system – forgive the personal indulgence. (Anyone who says writing isn’t therapy needs therapy)

***

But that was then…

The toy shop where, at the age of five, I purchased a toy all on my own for the very first time- my parents smiling and encouraging, waiting for me at the front door- making me feel all grownup, is an EE mobile phone shop.

The fudge emporium where I’d spend hours choosing which flavour to savour- and then always go for rum and raison – is a pop-up charity shop.

The library has moved, but the place Google says it has moved to isn’t where it is, and I still can’t find it. I’d ask someone, but I’m invisible here. A reminiscing child in an adult’s body; wondering where The Rock Shop went.

I’m staying in a guesthouse. I deliberately went for somewhere small because I’m travelling alone, and because I had a feeling I’d be disconnected, and would need to hide from myself a while.  It was a mistake.

The man in charge is the right side of friendly, but is so clearly acting I feel sorry for him as he stands to attention in his white military style cooks coat, like a cross between Heston Blumenthal and a lab bound scientist. He talks a lot, but says nothing, and as he shows me round I stop listening.

To be fair, what he is saying could be interesting, but I’ve zoned out. I’ve travelled back in time. I’m not in my forties. I am eight years old and I’m in another guest house in another street a mile away.

It’s the same in side. Almost exactly. The neatly laid out china in the breakfast room is identical. (There must have been only one supplier. Or maybe a few guesthouse owners got together to purchase a job lot.)

The dark wood dresser with inbuilt mirror upon which the condiments that make up breakfast will be displayed in the morning, sits with imperial grandeur overlooking the room. The radio is playing BBC Radio Cornwall just loud enough for visitors to be aware that it is on, but not loud enough to actually hear it. A volume which will ensure maximum discomfort for the morning’s breakfasters as they all sit in silence, each wondering if they should be the one to end the hush that is enhanced rather than lessened by the scrape and clatter of cutlery on toast covered china plates.

The internal doors, six in all, each have a small number screwed onto them. The sort you’d normally fix onto an outdoor gate. The doors are painted in a sensible wipe down magnolia gloss.

Any minute now my Nan will walk through one of them. A cigarette clamped in her pursed lips, a blue housecoat buttoned up at the front, her hair freshly out of curlers, she will tell me I want a cup of tea. I don’t. I never did.

She will make it and I will gag it down. I love her. I don’t want to disappoint her by wasting the tea. Wastefulness is not allowed.

She and my Grandad ran a guesthouse like this. The only difference between their house and this one is that it’s half a mile further from St Michael’s Mount, and that modern day requirements insist on the addition of an ensuite rather than just a wash basin.

My room (number 6) has a shower cubicle at the end of the bed. You can’t turn around in it. You can’t shut the door unless you want to wash your hair. I’ve washed my hair twice since yesterday.

When my brother and I were small we’d sleep in the attic room of the guesthouse that lived on Alma Place. We’d watch St Michael’s Mount appear out of the fog on muzzy days, and marvel at how it remains hidden when it rains. We’d borrow binoculars so we could spy into the windows of the castle, and wait to see the ferry head out, and then come back from the Isles of Scilly.

I sat and watched the night arrive over St Michael’s Mount last night. Funny how nature can fill you with the same sense of wonder as childhood can with something as everyday as dusk.

The guesthouse requires you to be out of your room from nine until twelve (after a knife and fork scraping silent breakfast at 8am prompt- latecomers not admitted). So at five to nine I took to the streets in search of a place to write.

The town does not open until 10am. It is very hot and all the places I think I will find shade don’t seem to want me to stay. My feet are compelled to keep walking. It’s as if they are looking for something, but they don’t know what.

Sir Humphrey Davy is still there. Lording his presence proudly over Market Jew Street. There’s a seagull on his head. It makes me smile. There was always a seagull on his head. I used to think he liked them there. A living sculpture of plumage instead of a hat.

After an hour of walking in the hot humidity I finally find an open café with a blissfully cool basement. I’m in there now. Writing this.

It has just occurred to me as I sip a fashionably over-strong coffee, that the sea and its accompanying grey pebbled beach is only a few hundred metres away. It didn’t even cross my mind to walk towards it. I wonder why? I’m in Cornwall, surely I should head to the sea and not inland…

The café I’ve found myself in is opposite the EE shop.

The EE shop used to be a toy shop. I bought my first toy with my own pocket money in there when I was five years old. It was a Sindy doll wearing horse riding gear.

It was a happy shop rammed from floor to ceiling with Action Men and Dolls and Lego. There were buckets and spades and fishing nets in big barrels on the pavement outside. There are cross people with poor Wi-Fi standing where those barrels used to be.

The EE shop is at the foot of a series of steps that lead up to Bread Street, that leads to the back of Alma Place.

Once my grandparents would have been up there.

I’m not going to walk up those steps.

Because that was then.

***

Jenny xx

PS- I’m going to see the sea now!!

PPS. After I wrote the above, I found the library, where I was treated like royalty, and was given an incredible room to work in.

PPPS. Proper Penzance Lit Fest blog to follow!

 

 


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