Thursday 26 May 2011

Home from Ireland

Now back home, but completely exhausted after driving over 1,000 miles around Ireland in the last 7 days, often on narrow, winding and very uneven roads.  It wasn't so much a holiday as an endurance test at times, especially when it was raining!  But at least my Canadian friends enjoyed all the places we managed to visit - Galway, Cliffs of Moher, Connemara mountains, the wonderful coast of Mayo, Tipperary, Offaly (including Obama's 'ancestral home' in Moneygall - the day AFTER he visited), Wicklow Mountains, and a tour of Dublin.  Photos to follow once I download them all.

Think I now need another holiday to recover!  BUT I did get a glimmer of an idea for a new novel, based on a visit to a reconstruction of John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara's cottage in 'The Quiet Man' movie.  In the Visitor's Book there, we saw Maureen O'Hara's signature and discovered that she had also visited (the day BEFORE we were there - is this my fate? - to visit places the day after someone important has visited?). Anyway, a seed was planted in my mind, and hopefully will grow into my next book.  Meantime, I have to forget Ireland for the moment and return to my 'Nile Romance' WIP.

Will try to get back 'into gear' tomorrow - correction, will HAVE to get back into gear tomorrow, as I have several blog guest spots to sort out as promo for the release of 'His Leading Lady' in June.    

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Ireland, here I come!

Off to Ireland tomorrow.  Well, not exactly.  Off to Holyhead on Anglesey for an overnight stay before going by Seacat across the Irish Sea on Thursday.  Then driving across to Galway on the west coast for 5 nights.  We're taking a couple of friends who are over here from Canada and who have never been to Ireland before.  Action-packed few days organised for them - Tipperary, Connemara and Mayo - don't those names just roll off the tongue and conjure up images of Ireland.
I love Ireland's west coast - magnificent scenery and the Atlantic waves crashing against the rocky shore. 
The Connemara mountains are beautiful too, and our Canadian friends want to see some of the locations where 'The Quiet Man' was filmed there. 
Am getting excited now.  I LOVE Ireland!

Sunday 15 May 2011

Update to Horrendous Day

It continues to be horrendous, sad to say.

Had some light at the end of the tunnel - the creep who cheated her out of thousands said to the police he did not want to act as executor of her will - hurrah!  Bad news is that he is not not responding to any requests from the lawyer.  Until he signs a disclaimer, he is still considered as the executor.  So the light at the end of tunnel has dimmed.

Post-mortem was held (because death was unexpected) but it cites bronchial-pneumonia following heart operation.  My two daughters both suspected evil-doings by conman - but I told them they obviously watched too much CSI!

We still don't have the death certificate, so haven't been able to register her death or arrange the funeral.  I'm the nearest relative (geographically speaking - the others live several hundred miles away, I'm only about 50 miles away) but, unless I can get an appointment at the Register Office on Monday or Tuesday, I can't do anything more, because on Wednesday I am taking two Canadian friends to Ireland for a week.

Life is pretty stressful at the moment,and of course I haven't had a minute to concentrate on the impending release of my novel at the beginning of June. 

I did manage to put a page for 'His Leading Lady' on Facebook -so if any of you can go and click 'like' (if ,of course, you do like it!) and/or leave a comment on my wall, I'd be so grateful!!/pages/His-Leading-Lady/109499949137151

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Horrendous Day

It has been a truly horrible day.  I learnt this morning that my father's second wife, Rosetta, had died.  She married my father when he was in his 80's and was a very caring wife to him during his final years, until he died aged 90 in 2003.  She has had a lot of medical problems since then, and had a heart operation about 3 weeks ago, after which she went progressively downhill, culminating in her death at about 2am this morning.

What turns this sad event into a total tragedy is that, unknown to us, she had been targeted by a conman during rhe past few years.  This man had befriended her and seemed to be very kind and supportive.  It has now come to light that he was jailed in 1997 for 4 years (don't know how many he actually served) for defrauding 4 elderly woman out of thousands of pounds - and has been doing exactly the same with Rosetta.  He gained her confidence and trust, then told her 'sob' stories about financial problems, having things like his laptop stolen from his car, needing to pay medical bills etc and she - kind-hearted soul that she was - gave him money.  We have no idea yet just how much but it's certainly several thouand pounds. 

I had no idea about this until last Saturday, when the police contacted me, but her cousin had grown increasingly concerned about her friendship with this man, and also suspicious about him.  As the police are now investigating, we're hoping they can amass enough evidence to charge him.  In the meantime he remains one of the two executors and one of the six beneficiaries of her will - how appalling is that?  Are there any lawyers out there who can advise me?

This whole thing has left me sick to the stomach.  I know one reads about this kind of thing, but to have it happen to someone you know hits very hard.  Maybe it is a blessing that she did not live to discover how he had completely betrayed her trust in him.   

To prey on lonely and vulnerable old people in this way is so completely despicable that I cannot find the words to express my utter contempt for this man.  He served a jail sentence for doing this, then came out and proceeded to do exactly the same thing again.  She may not be the only old person he has targeted, and is still targeting - who knows?  What kind of twisted, warped personality can do this?  It defies belief, and yet it happens.

I needed to 'vent' tonight after a truly horrendous day when I have been on the phone almost constantly, most of the time going around in circles in a desperate effort to find out more information.  Forgive me for blogging about this, but I had to get it of my chest somehow.

I'm sad because of Rosetta's passing, of course, but I'm also so very angry too that there are such evil people in the world who will take advantage of people like her.

Sunday 8 May 2011

My Writing Space

It's not as tidy as this right now!
 My computer is on a corner desk in what I like to call my ‘study’ but in reality is one of the three bedrooms in my house. It’s the corner near the window, with a view (from above) of my garden, the backs of the houses on the next street and, in the distance, the lights of the motorway. Not very inspiring!

Within the room, however, I’m surrounded by my 'life'. Books which indicate my varied interests – medieval history, the American Civil War, family history, and Ireland. A couple of shelves of reference books – rarely touched now because the internet has become my main reference source. Four shelves of DVDs (a very eclectic mix) and another of CDs, and two shelves of my holiday files – the ‘scrapbooks’ with descriptions and photos from all my trips abroad.

There are also photos on display - my daughters and grandsons, and the photo I had taken with my favouite actor, Martin Sheen, of course! My noticeboard is full with letters about appointments, reminders to myself and, most important, the phone number of the computer expert who rescues me when anything goes wrong with my computer.

Of all the rooms in my house, this room reflects me. I spend more time here than in any other part of my house. But sometimes I think about the different functions this room has had during the 40+ years I have lived here.

Originally, when we first moved in, it was the ‘spare room’ where all the ‘junk’ was stored. But in 1968 it had its first makeover. I opted to have my second baby at home and my younger daughter was born in this room (about two feet away from where I’m sitting right now!). I can remember that day as clearly as if it were yesterday.

The room then became a bedroom for my older daughter. As they grew up, my two girls swapped bedrooms several times, but eventually it became my younger daughter’s room. The walls were covered with all her popstar posters.

When she eventually left home, the room became the ‘spare bedroom’ for a few years. But then, when I was involved with the local Musical Theatre for juniors, it was transformed into a costumes and props room. We raided the charity shops for full-length dresses, long skirts, Victorian-style blouses, cowboy shirts, black jackets and trousers, all of which were hung on the three racks I managed to obtain. Boxes of hats, and other stage props filled every remaining inch of the room.

In the mid-nineties, I decided it was time to remove my computer from the table in my dining room. The costumes went into suitcases in the garage, and I ‘moved’ upstairs. Originally I had a hotch- potch of furniture – old chests of drawers, old tables, old bookshelves. About six years ago I decided to give the room a make-over with purpose-made office furniture – cupboards, drawers and tables around 3 walls, and two bookshelves and a filing cabinet on the 4th wall.

This place is my home, my sanctuary, the room where I feel most comfortable and at ease. For several years, I resisted having a TV set up here, but I finally succumbed – and got a DVD player too. But I still have to go downstairs to make coffee!

Friday 6 May 2011

7 Things About Me

Many thanks to Jarmara Falconer for this award.

To earn it, I have to tell you seven things about myself, so here goes:

1.  My favourite part of England is the Lake District (have set my second novel 'Fragrance of Violets' there) - love the mountains, lakes, villages and small towns.

2.  My favourite country is Ireland - went there in 2007, fell in love with it, and have been back 8 times since then.  Going again later this month, to Galway for 5 days and Bray for 2 days.

3.  My favourite city is Berlin - love the sense of history there, covering so many different eras.

4.  My favourite colour is blue - my eyes are blue, my school uniform at both junior and high schools was blue, and I was a Girl Guide leader for many years, with yet another blue uniform.  And whenever I'm shopping for clothes, I always seem to be drawn to anything blue.  Love blue skies too!

5.  My favourite actor is Martin Sheen (and has been for over 30 years).  Loved his portrayal of Jed Bartlet in 'The WestWing' and have just seen his latest film 'The Way' about a group of pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago in Spain, which I really enjoyed.  Don't miss it!

6.  My favourite book is 'The Sunne in Splendour' by Sharon Penman.  For me, it is THE definitve book about Richard III and the Wars of the Roses, meticulously researched and bringing all the characters to life.

7.  Last but not least, my favourite food is English fish and chips - with mushy peas of course.

And now I have to pass on this award to 7 more bloggers - but how to choose?  I can't possibly choose from among all the friends I have made during the A-Z Challenge, so if you make a comment here (and you don't already have this award), then please pick it up from the sidebar - and remember to earn it by listing 7 things about yourself!

Sunday 1 May 2011

A-Z Reflections

It's definitely been a challenge!  But I enjoy challenges, and I've enjoyed this one. 

Some letters have been easy, some I've struggled with - but blogging about different topics, most connected with writing in some way, has made me think about these topics more, and in some cases, find out something new myself. 

One example was my K posts - I was stuck on this letter until I found the word Kinesics - body language.  I looked at various websites, and got more and more fascinated with the whole topic, and how useful it could be in my writing.

My only regret is not getting round to more blogs - I simply didn't have the time.  It took me all my time revisiting those I had signed up to follow, especially when their chosen topic (as shown on the dashboard) drew me to them.

I've gained some followers but, more importantly, I've made some friends, and hopefully will keep in contact with them now via our blogs.

Many thanks to everyone involved in A-Z!


No, I'm not starting the A-Z Challenge all over again!

This blog is to say a big thank you to:

Elizabeth Mueller
who awarded me the A-Z Challenge Award

Madeleine Maddocks
who awarded me the Fearless Follower Award

Also Lisa who chose my K post as one of her favourites

Jarmara Falconer has passed on the Versatile Blogger Award to me, but I have some work to do in order to earn this award, so that will be tomorrow's post - after which I shall pass the Award on to 7 more bloggers - watch this space!