Posted in daily walk, Gardening

A feast of tulips

Saturday might have been the day of the Coronation but it was also warm and sunny and much too nice to spend the whole day sat in front of the television.

Instead we popped up the road to Holehird Gardens, home of the Lakeland Horticultural Society, for a mooch round in the sun. And it was lovely. There were lambs frisking about in the nearby fields and the whole garden was simply awash with spring colour, mostly in the form of swathes of tulips.

We had a lovely stroll around the various areas of the garden – walled garden, rockery, high level paths, stream and pool, woodland garden – enjoying the flowers and the spectacular views out across Windermere to the fells. And then the visitor reception opened up so we grabbed a cuppa each and drank that sitting on a bench in the walled garden in the sun, which was much nicer than being stuck indoors!

Posted in Books, reviews

Recent Reads: K J Charles’ A Thief in the Night

This little book featuring a thief, an earl, a decaying house, highwaymen and tallow candles is an absolute gem that kept me reading night after night with a grin fixed firmly on my face. I particularly loved the first scene/chapter where the thief steals the earl’s pocket watch, only to accidentally rock up at his home shortly afterwards…

I guessed the mystery bit of the plot (involving a fabulously valuable necklace) well ahead of the characters which made me feel particularly clever and superior (aka smug).

I see it’s the first in a new series so I’ll be keeping my eyes open for sequels and hope there’s much, much more about Toby and Miles to come.

Posted in Music

Blast from the past: Mike & the Mechanics

How many of you remember Mike & the Mechanics? They were huge in the 1980s, with hits like The Living Years and All I Need is a Miracle and although they’d disbanded, founder Mike Rutherford recently ‟got the band back together” with some new musicians and they’re back touring again.

We spent last Wednesday evening in Carlisle, first for a meal with friends and then at the Sands Centre venue just outside the city centre to see them in concert.

The music isn’t perhaps top of my own hit-list (*cough* Pink Floyd *cough*) but the concert was great fun and very energetic and they belted through a fair few of their own hits and a handful of old Genesis tracks too. A highlight for me was the two lead singers, Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar (pictured with Mike Rutherford above), doing an unplugged duet of Follow You, Follow Me which was just superb.

Sadly the venue’s accoustics weren’t the best and some of the detail of the lyrics and harmonies was rather lost in the noise (literally) but it still made for a great night out and we’d happily go and see them again.

Pic credit from Songwriting Magazine

Posted in Art


We spent Saturday morning at GB Antiques in Lancaster (one of our favourite haunts), ostensibly to look at washstands. What we actually came home with (because it’s quite literally impossible to visit that place and not buy something) was two framed posters of bugs and beetles…

Insects aren’t usually top of my wish list, but these are posterised versions of Victorian illustrated plates, at least one of them French, and they’re surprisingly beautiful.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever bought from an antiques store/junk shop?

Posted in LGBT, short stories

Bowled Over…

I have a new, free-to-read story available at RoM/Mantic Reads magazine today. ‘Bowled Over’ is one I wrote a very long time ago, but it’s since been dug out, dusted off, and spruced up.

It’s a m/m romance set at an annual charity cricket match and is very tongue-in-cheek with more than a few double entendres including that title. If you fancy taking a look, head over to RoM/Mantic Reads now. I hope it gives you a laugh!

Posted in Writing

Read Around the Rainbow: what’s more important, the story or the way it’s told?

This is a terrific topic and one I’d have loved to get my teeth into as both a writer and a voracious reader.

Sadly this time round I just couldn’t find the time to settle down and write something, so I’ve had to wimp out. I’m hoping to do better next month.

In the meantime, why not check out these great posts on the subject from our other webring members? They’re well worth a look.

Ofelia Grand :: Amy Spector :: Ellie Thomas :: Addison Albright :: A L Lester :: K L Noone

Posted in Books, reviews

Not one but two new reviews!

I’m delighted to say the review that seemed to have vanished into a black hole earlier has reappeared. Presumably the owners of Love Bytes Reviews fed the hamster that powers the wheel that runs the site… or something. Anyway, you can now see their reviewer Sadonna’s lovely and very detailed write-up about Run Wild, Run Free here. I’m very grateful to them for taking so much time and care over their review.

And I’d no sooner re-discovered that one than another new review for the same book suddenly popped up on Goodreads – and this one is, if possible, even better.

I’ve never read anything by Fiona Glass before, she’s a new-to-me author, and I’m definitely going to be looking at more of her books after reading this!

As you can imagine, I’m glowing/overcome/knocked into a cocked hat. It’s so nice to find readers who enjoy my books.

Do pop along and read the reviews, and if they entice you into giving my book a go then you can find it at JMS Books here, or Amazon UK here. And thank you!

Posted in reviews

Best laid plans…

Uh. I was all set to post about a lovely new review I’ve had for Run Wild, Run Free over at Love Bytes Reviews. And I can’t, because their whole site has been eaten by a black hole overnight so there’s nothing to link to. Don’t you just love technology?

I’ll keep checking back, and as soon as the site (and hopefully, my review with it) reappears I’ll post a link on here. Let’s hope that one, it’s nothing too serious for the good folk at Love Bytes, and two, I don’t have to wait very long…

Posted in Books, reviews

Recent Reads: Hiding Place by Jackie Keswick

I loved this book about two men, both dealing with different types of grief, coming together over their shared love of a very remote but very special house in Northumberland.

The setting, the mystery of the house and its secrets, and the romance all reminded me quite strongly of a couple of my favourite Mary Stewart romance books, which is no mean feat. However, Hiding Place is never a slave to Stewart as the main character is a rock musician and the central romance involves two gay men. And (dare I say it) the dialogue is a whole lot less stilted and more believable than Mary Stewart, too!

The two main characters felt utterly real, and the attraction they felt to one another in spite of their problems, a disinclination to share their emotional upheavals, and their general tetchiness was beautifully handled.

I gave the book 4 stars on Goodreads and BookBub, but if either of them did half stars I’d have easily rounded it up to 4.5.

Posted in Cumbria, daily walk, Nature

A roadside zoo

I’m still feeling under the weather but didn’t want to just hang around the house so for a complete change this morning we headed to the Lakeland Wildlife Oasis.

This has to be one of the most unusually-sited zoos anywhere in the country. Basically it’s just a strip of land alongside the main A6 just south of the small Cumbrian town of Milnthorpe. They have a couple of indoor tropical houses with fish, insects, reptiles and free-flying birds, and a handful of outdoor enclosures which mostly house rodents, meerkats and small monkeys, but with the bonus of a beautiful pair of breeding snow leopards.

It might all sound a bit lame but they actually do a lot of very valuable conservation work and because of that have just won permission to expand the site. Even at its current size it’s fun and informative to look round. And there can’t be many cafes where you can sit drinking coffee whilst watching three emperor tamarins frisking about!

It made a nice change, although muggins here took a camera and then forgot to take any pictures. So I’ve had to nick one from Visit Morecambe Bay to head this post.