Category Archives: Blogging

Bruised Lilacs Are Not Ready To Wilt #inherdefence #winterdowns #crimefiction

In Her DefenceAm I the only person who has trouble getting their plots to stand still long enough to be written? Do some titles – titles that you love – get set aside time and again because something more pressing gets in the way?

As the final edits of my next Bunch Courtney book is snatched from my reluctant hands by stern-faced editors and the layout process is set into motion I was forced to look at the title of next book in order to list it in the prelims. Continue reading


Courtyard Garden : Quince-essential

DSCN1204A few weeks ago we called in a professional to 20181104_123530prune the vastly overgrown holly and prunus that were running amok at the front of the house. (Picture taken early this year – the lawn beneath the tree died in the summer heat and has not yet recovered)


20181104_121438The corner was an impenetrable thicket that was also home to a vast variegated ivy and though good cover for birds was causing damage. (It had already pulled down a brick pillar! illo)

20181104_121433 (1)There is also a wasp nest at the base of the prunus  which is why I am holding back from full scale works. Waiting for those Jaspers to vanish for the winter!

Continue reading

Biscuits in Disguise #cooking #glutenfree #baking

20181031_104838Last week I bought a new (to me) GF baking book. Nosh: Gluten-free Baking by Joy May. It was published in 2015.

Lots of interesting recipes for the gluten/wheat intolerant. One of which was for Muesli Cookies (biscuits). Continue reading

Courtyard Garden : Spindle Tree #gardening #plants #courtyardgarden

20181031_105016It would be more precise to say that I have a spindle bush – or even partial hedge at the front of the garden.  This shrub leans over the front wall and jostles for position with a variegated privet.

Its botanical name, Euonymus is from the Greek, ‘eu’, meaning ‘good’ and ‘onama’, meaning ‘name’. This is said to have meant ‘lucky’. Though in some areas, it was also thought that if the spindle flowered early, an outbreak of the plague was likely.

European spindle can eventually grow 20 feet wide tall and wide, though it is often seen smaller.  They grow well in chalky soils and will tolerate drought as well as shade, so a good all rounder. Continue reading

Courtyard Garden : Scented Geraniums (pelargoniums) Before the Frost Does!

pelsThis morning we had a frost – second of the season – and more forecast later in the week so time to give my scented pelargoniums their annual scalping before being stashed in the conservatory for the winter.

The flowers are very pretty, but small, yet the scented leaves more than make up for that. Not just because running your hands over them leaves your skin smelling so sweet but also because they provide a gorgeous intricately cut  foliage to offset pots of the more blowsy annuals.

I have three of these, the original plants all being bought some twelve or more years ago at the National Herb Centre in Warmington near Banbury, Oxfordshire. Well worth a visit if herbs are your thing!

These are doubtless daughter plants from those originals. They are ridiculously easy to propogate from cuttings. Hack of pieces of fresh growth and push them into a pot of well-drained compost and you will have dozens in no time!

These plants as with any pelargoniums,  are fragile, however, and need to be cossetted through the frosty months. I have :

One Pepper-scented plant pel 3


One Rose-scented plantgeran-3


pel 4One Lemon-scented plant




20181022_104643All are now safely trimmed and tucked away for the winter20181022_105526

Courtyard Garden : Autumn Figs #gardening #courtyardgarden #figs #fruittrees

20181015_135702Today, once the rain had stopped, I decided that now autumn is truly here, and most of the leaves have dropped from my fig tree,  it was time to remove the unripened figs.

Despite common myth figs are surprisingly easy to grow in this country. All they need is a sheltered spot, preferably against a south facing wall of fence, and they can produce a surprisingly large crop.

This year we had something like 40 ripe figs from this one small tree. I have grown mine in a  pot as figs tend to fruit more when their roots are restricted. Feed it well come the spring and with luck we shall get another good crop next season. Books will tell you to wrap fleece around them during hard winters, but I have had this tree for 12 years, through 2 house moves in the North Midlands, and never had to do anything. Provided the tree is not in a windy spot or frost pocket they seem to be quite hardy. Continue reading

Butterflies in Hobnail Boots

Misha Herwin’s City!

Misha Herwin


There are “butterflies in hobnail boots stamping about in my insides” as Letty Parker would say. Letty, the main character in “City of Secrets” has a way with words and I like this analogy because it sums up both the flutter of excitement and the twist of nerves go with launching a book.

On the one hand, I can’t wait to hold the finished product in my hand. The cover is beautiful. The picture painted by my sister, Anuk Naumann, is just right and Peter Coleborn has done a brilliant job in turning it into a book cover.

Book CoverThe The insides, in the proof, look pretty good too and the story, according to my beta-readers, really grips and carries you along.

All good, so far, but in the depths of three o’clock in the morning, the nerves, like the Barbary eels that lurk in the shadows of my “City of…

View original post 157 more words