Monday, April 23, 2012

World Book Night - Tonight

I'm getting things ready for the event at Guildford Library, for World Book Night.  I have a number of books which I believe a central bookselling person will be in charge of - also lots of fliers, a scrapbook and some sample book covers.  That's the easy bit.  Except transporting them, of course.  I shall take along my grandma type trolley and hope I don't have to park too far away, particularly if the weather is like it is at the moment.  I can just imagine the inelegant drowned rat arriving in the 'Green Room' at the library.  My hair, not only personally hacked about by me, in a wild fit, yesterday, but also transformed into straggles by the rain will not add anything in terms of my celebrity status.  I also have to decide what to wear.  Is the library going to be warm or cold?  That is the question.  Trousers or heels.

At any rate, I'm sure it's all going to be good fun with lots of other authors, including my two fellow authors from Goldenford Publishers Ltd.  My ebooks have been selling well in the last couple of weeks, so let's help the paper versions can match that.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we have been having decorating done, and it's all looking good, though I will be glad to get back to normality.  The ProdigalD and family were with us last weekend, and it was good to see them all and the Son&H will be coming soon.  The garden has been lovely.  My ambition of having flowers in the garden for as long as possible has been successful so far.  We had all the spring bulbs in turn - crocuses, snowdrops, daffs, hyacinths & grape hyacinths and now bluebells;  we've had mahonia with bright yellow blossom for quite a long time and pieris.  Forget-me-nots have appeared all over the garden, and the cranesbill will be out soon, I think.  Of course, our apple tree is also in bud, and, we hope, not destroyed by frost. 

I'll add my latest book review, soon.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

World Book Night

I'm getting quite excited about the event that my Goldenford pals and I are involved in next Monday. It's on World Book Night and it's taking place at Guildford Library, run by Surrey County Council. About thirty Surrey authors are taking part and we'll be at the library from 7.30 till midnight, talking about our books, which will be on sale. There will also be quizzes and prizes for the winners. Lots of free books which the authors have contributed.

I hope I'll see some friends there.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The flowers that bloom in the spring, tra la

Long time no post, I hear you say. But inspired by guilt, here I am again. It’s springtime, and so the sight, yesterday only, of the spring sunshine, inspires me to return to the topic of my garden. How lovely it was to see all the open faces of the purple crocuses, and just a few yellow ones, too; in the warm day that qualified as spring, yesterday, I even saw bees visiting one flower after another. It’s my ambition to have flowers in the garden at every time of year, and in fact, in this year’s mild winter, there were polyanthus that flowered in November and December. I saw a daffodil about six weeks ago, in someone else’s garden, but we haven’t achieved that, and in fact the buds are only now appearing in ours. We had about 19 snowdrops - the fact that I can count them shows how few there are. Now I’ve split them for about the fourth time, so that they are in about four or five different places. One of these days, my border will be full of them - that’s what I’m setting out to achieve. I did the same thing with polyanthus many years ago, and now they are dotted all over the place in the garden.

Apart from enjoying the colour, I am anxious to provide a good habitat for bees, which seem to be in danger these days, so I’m always pleased to see a bee visitor. This reminds me that my short story, The Honey Hunters will be out shortly, in e-format. It is to be published by and you will also be able to find it on Amazon and other outlets, probably within the next fortnight. In the meantime, my other books have been doing extremely well as Kindle books. A Bottle of Plonk had a free day, recently, and this inspired quite a lot of interest. However, I am receiving hard cash for my efforts too. I am getting monthly royalties from Amazon, three monthly royalties from Untreed Reads, and my payments from Public Lending Right and the Authors Licensing and Copyright Society have been paid to my bank, this month. All very satisfactory, though not enough to live on, unless I had had the appetites or needs of - well possibly a bee.

On the entertainment front, I’ve recently seen The Iron Lady which I enjoyed and, in Haslemere, performed by Opera South, Merrie England. Last night I watched an old Lewis. I wonder if anyone else has seen this one, in which Hathaway returns to the place where he lived in his youth and meets up with a family called Mortmaigne. I’ve seen this a few times, and each time, I wonder how much the scriptwriter of this was influenced by Brideshead Revisited with its aristocratic family, the Marchmains, and the hero who returns to Brideshead and remembers the family there. I’m currently reading Imaginary Friends by Alison Lurie. Review will be available soon.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Jerusalem and Tel Aviv - the last instalment

On our return from the Negev Desert, we found ourselves with nothing much to do. To a certain extent, we needed a quiet day. In our last few days in Israel, we were more inclined to take it easy. We remembered Reuven, the taxi driver who had taken us around Jerusalem on our first day, and decided to contact him and ask him if he would take us to Tel Aviv, to see the daughter of local friends, here, and her family. Mobile phones were not too effective, with the exception of texts, but our hotel receptionist eventually managed to get through, both to our friend, to invite ourselves there, and to Reuven.

One of the places that Reuven took us to on our earlier trip around Jerusalem was the Protest Tent outside the Prime Minister's residence in Jerusalem. This was to remind people of the imprisonment of Gilad Shalit. You can read about it here: Since then, Gilad Shalit has been released from captivity.

There were three days left. We arranged with Reuven that he would take us to Tel Aviv on the following day and also that he would deliver us to the airport on Thursday, 24th June.

In the meantime, we strolled around Jerusalem, took a photo of the Irish pub, and had a meal in a kebab place, opposite, where the waiter was very keen to talk to us in English to practice his use of the language. We had been eating a lot of vegetarian or dairy meals and it made a change to have some meat.

On Tuesday, 21st, off we went to Tel Aviv. Looking back at my photos, I am disappointed to find that there are too many where we have intruded into the main picture. Reuven was very keen to take photos of us, unfortunately.

We drove alongside the promenade at Tel Aviv, seeing the rows and rows of people on the beach with their umbrellas or shades. We also went along the high streets, filled with expensive shops. The most interesting visit, though, was to the artists' quarter at Jaffa, which was fascinating. Here are a couple of websites, where you can find out about what we saw, in the absence of our own photos: or try

Reuven was insistent that we go into the Frank Meisler galleries, filled with unusual, or idiosyncratic sculptures, made from materials such as bronze, pewter, silver and gold plating, some of them very amusing. You can carry out a virtual tour here - - and be sure to read the separate pages about the Kindertransport and Frank Meisler's three major sculptures, commemorating this - the one at Liverpool Station, London, depicting the arrival to the safe haven of England.

I have one photo, which I think is also at the artists' quarter of Jaffa, and shows a bridge, which we later crossed. Reuven told us to make a wish - I wished that Tainted Tree would become a best-seller, but it hasn't worked yet.

We lunched at a café overlooking the sea, before going on to visit our friends, where Reuven left us. Later, he called for us to return us home.

Reuven wouldn't take our money then, having negotiated a fee for that day and the trip to the Airport. He told us he would also throw in a trip to the Israel Museum - - on the following day. Alas, this was not totally successful, as we found it difficult to navigate around the place and got lost, finding our way eventually to the modern art section. This made the OH very grumpy and unreceptive to the rest of the exhibition. I think if we had started out at the Jewish Art and Life section, which showed reconstructions of synagogues from India, Germany and Italy, and artefacts, such as menorahs, mezuzahs and candlesticks that would be found in a Jewish home, he would have enjoyed it much more.

Much of our time in the last couple of days was spent in Ben Yehuda Street, watching the world go by.

There were no problems with our journey home, and looking back now from the chill of an English winter, it seems far away. Soon though I'll be back to blogging about what's going on here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Books - mine and others

Since, as always, I am bogged down with things, I'll just give a quick resume of what's happening on the books front.

The Goldenford team have been active in the last couple of weeks; we held the second of our writers' workshops at Cranleigh. The first had a disappointing number of recruits, but we decided against cancelling and our attendees said that it was very good. The second, last weekend was very well attended and enthusiastically received. We also sold a number of our books, there.

Following that, we had a book sale at St Peter's School, Merrow, and were very satisfied with sales there, too. I advised one young woman not to buy my autobiographical book, The Fruit of the Tree, telling her it was about cot death. Later the others asked me why I'd said that to her.
'She was pregnant,' I replied. But no, the others thought that the smock she was wearing is fashionable now. A lesson to me. Don't judge from appearances, and let people read the blurb for themselves.

We have also been at a meeting with Guildford Library about an event next year for World Book Day, when we will be there all the evening, talking to callers-in about our books. There will be other authors, and it will be promoted by Surrey Libraries.

I have been very successful in the last couple of weeks with my Kindle version of Tainted Tree, which has had good sales following a plug in and the American site of the same name. I should receive some good royalties during the next three months.

In addition, Untreed Reads have just published my fourth short story - The Green Girl - a bit different from most of my down to earth writing, a fantasy, in fact. You can find it at, and they are currently having a sale of many short stories and other works, so pay them a visit.

I'll be returning soon to my Israel blog, but not today.

Finally, here's my latest book review:

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibin

Brooklyn tells the story of Eilis, the younger daughter of an Irish Catholic family, just leaving school. Her older sister, Rose, has a good job, and the impression given is that the family - that is, the two sisters and their mother - are not flush with money and it is important that Eilis and her sister are both in work to maintain the family. Their brothers are already working in England. Despite the difficulties of getting work, there is no feeling that the family are on the breadline. On the contrary, they have a happy life and a great deal of laughing goes on. Eilis is on the cusp of adulthood and involved with dances and meeting young men. Nevertheless, more or less without her agreement, it is arranged that she will go to Brooklyn to live in an Irish community where there is a much greater possibility of finding work. During the course of the next year, Eilis has to overcome her sadness at leaving her family and adjust to a new life.

This was an unusual book in that it was written in what I felt was a rather formal, old-fashioned way. I felt that the heroine was slightly detached from me, the reader, whereas we tend now to get into the mind and thoughts of the main protagonist.

I also thought the book hardly had a plot at all, although it was a story. As such, it was full of detail - interesting at that, but not all the events that happened would necessarily have an outcome later on.

Brooklyn gives an insight into America in that period, but in the end, I came to the conclusion that this was the story of the immigrant experience, specifically the Irish/American experience. Travelling on an ocean liner, far away from friends and families, living as a paying guest with strangers, and having to adjust to the pain of homesickness must have been what many young people did in the 1950s, when they left Ireland in search of success.

Friday, November 11, 2011

At the 11th hour

I went to London today and arrived at the ticket barrier at Waterloo at just on 11 o'clock. Although a few people were milling about, I joined the many people who stood there on the concourse for two minutes. A moving experience.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ben Gurion’s resting place

The owners of our B & B had made a magnificent attempt to build a garden with sun-loving plants and stone rockeries. This was not a good time of year to judge it. Just as an English garden, starved of sun may not be at its best in winter, so perhaps a desert garden may show off its colours to greater advantage in a cooler time. Certainly June was a very hot time of year to be there.

We were to leave the area on Monday afternoon, 20th June. In the morning, we joined our cousins for breakfast. (The owners of the B&B were away, and we didn’t want to use their cooking implements and raid their food cupboards, so apart from a cup of tea, we left everything as it was.) I took another photo of the local environment, and can almost feel the heat, as I look at it now.

It was decided to go to the Ben-Gurion’s Tomb National Park, which was a walk away from our cousins’ home. Two of the children had gone to nursery, but we took the youngest child and went with our cousin, while her husband was at work at the college.

We were able to sit beneath a tree, and there were other mothers and babies sitting around too. We also watched the ibex - a kind of goat, grazing on the grass in the park. Despite the desert conditions, here at least, grass did grow and vegetation grew in amongst the stones.

It was tempting to stay under the trees, doing nothing, but the park is the home of the graves of David Ben-Gurion - the first Prime Minister of Israel - and his wife, Claudia. To have travelled all that way and not visited them would have unforgivable.

Ben-Gurion and his wife had settled in kibbutz Sde Boker on their retirement. As Wikipedia says: ‘He saw the struggle to make the desert bloom as an area where the Jewish people could make a major contribution to humanity as a whole.’ It was also his wish to be buried on this spot over-looking the desert.

Looking at this view is like looking at a landscape on the moon.

After lunch, our cousin took us and one of the children in the car to the bus station at Be’er Sheva, where we caught the bus. It was a pleasure to travel in this air-conditioned, comfortable vehicle, particularly without having to worry about the driver’s problems, as in our trip out. As we neared Jerusalem, which felt very much like home by then, we were able to watch the scenery change.