Wednesday, 30 December 2009


How fortunate we are not to have to live in a cave. Seriously. Imagine how grim it must have been for our ancestors ..... I bet they didn't sit around wondering whether or not they were fulfilled!

I realised how much I take simple warmth for granted when my boiler broke down just after Christmas (naturally) and the atmosphere in the house plummeted to an igloo-like temperature. It was back to donning thick, unflattering polo-necks (designed to draw attention to festive excess around the chin region) and to leaping out of bed in the morning and having to move fast to stop yourself turning into one of those ice-statues which abounded in Narnia when the White Witch waved her accursed wand.

So here's a photo of my friend Tom (in Santa red) who is currently on a plane taking him to the warmer climes of Sydney. Lucky Tom. With him is Tim - and they helped liven up the Kendrick Christmas - even as the heat began to bleed from the house and we clustered desperately around the log fire.

Today I've been making a wedding cake for my school-friend, Heather and I have been a tad ambitious. Still, I think it works. The wedding is tomorrow - and I'll post a photo of it. For now, the design is secret......

Tuesday, 29 December 2009


Unlike my mother and all her brothers and sisters who grew up in rural Ireland and used to have to kill their own dinner - goose is not the number one choice of Christmas meal for most people. But I've always liked them. Like my heroes, they're rich, different - and extremely tasty. (And I like to eat food that you can never buy in restaurants).

So here's my post-Yule offering. A delicious bird, dripping with amazing fat which went on to provide the most sublime roast potatoes ever. It was so good that eight of us gobbled the whole thing down in one sitting!

I had a great time - lots of parties, lovely people and presents - how about you?

Thursday, 24 December 2009


To all the kind people who have asked - my son is on the mend, the black ice on the pavement has melted, trains are running again and my daughter is on one of them, the goose is ready to be cooked and all is at peace with my world. I hope that yours is filled with peace, too. So ignore the culinary demands and the pointless worry about things you haven't done - instead take time to sit back and count all your blessings. Tonight I shall listen to the bells ringing out over the city and remind myself that life is very short, and very precious.

I wish you all a very happy holiday - however you choose to celebrate. I'll be eating (far too much!) at a big family gathering and then having friends come by on different days. What will you be doing?

Tuesday, 22 December 2009


But sadly, I've missed out on a great deal of partying (including the fabulous Shreve Family Singalong) because my son has been in hospital with a horrible Quinzy. This isn't an old-fashioned variety of apple but a ghastly peri-tonsillar abcess which involved him arriving home from Avignon and being whisked straight into Southampton General to be pumped full of antibiotics. A big thank you to our wonderful health service - which comes in for so much flak from the media.
Thankfully, he's now home and on the mend - though my nursing skills are so rusty that I can't seem to pop a painkiller from the pack without breaking it in half.
And the weather is so icy that I feel like Jayne Torville every time I set foot outside my door.

Here's a shot of the back garden.

Okay, pretend you're ill and want cheering up.....what would do it for you?

Thursday, 17 December 2009


In the general euphoria of having delivered a manuscript that I had been working at for all hours of the day and night (or so it seemed, during those emotional last few scenes) - I haven't posted for a few days. But now I"m back! Feverishly running around and buying things like clumps of cinnamon and sweet oranges and lighting incense which smells like a winter forest. I love Christmas. Flickering candles. The heart-piercing song of the chorister. And of course, chocolate.....

In the past month I've been to Umbria, Cornwall, Avignon and Paris - and here's a photo of my daughter and son, in beautiful Avignon.

And one of my latest book - which is out in north America now.

If I could have one wish prior to Christmas, it would be to go to Lapland and ride in a sleigh jingling with bells to see the Northern lights.
What would be your wish?

Wednesday, 9 December 2009


Last night I went to an amazing ball in aid of Save The Children. Presided over by the Princess Royal, it took place in the magnificent National History Museum - which was lit up like a Disney castle.

Against a backdrop of stars (pretend ones) and surrounded by glittering Christmas trees, we dined on duck and dark chocolate. And it's so nice to be able to get to wear velvet, bling and maribou feathers!

We sat beneath the giant bones of an ancient dinosaur, which dominates the main hall. The light was strong which means that my picture isn't brilliant - but this may give you some idea. It does seem strange to think that this mighty creature which once roamed the earth, should end up being bathed in Barbie-pink light and towering over dining tables....thank goodness dinosaurs couldn't see into the future (or maybe they could - maybe even now there is a secret band of them, plotting their revenge and return!)

The auction went on for so long that I was forced to miss Bryan Ferry, who was doing a few songs. Well, I had an early start and an urgent deadline and I'm not a particular fan of a man who many consider to be an aging roue. Now if it had been the Rolling Stones it would have been different.
Who would YOU miss the last train for?

Tuesday, 8 December 2009


Back from an inspirational weekend in Paris and trying like mad to finish my book which is all about a man who hates Christmas and a woman who should never have become his mistress.....
(Note the padlocks which countless lovers have attached to this bridge - leaving their love-locked hearts forever in this romantic city).
But why am I staring at the ground?

Because moments before, a smiling person had "found" a gold ring - it's a famous Paris scam. You are shown the ring and you buy it for a ridiculously bargain price and there is talk of luck and a suggestion of magic.
No, we didn't fall for it - we were too busy trying to find oysters for lunch!

And here's a photo of Christophe and Arnaud - who made me laugh so much over dinner.

Would anyone care to name two dinner party guests who will appear in my latest book? The scene is in a beautiful London town-house. The heroine has never met any of the (Italian) hero's fancy friends before - and is insisting on throwing a dinner party for them. There will be tears before bed-time.... but be quick - I'm delivering the book at the end of the week.

Friday, 4 December 2009


On Monday I was in Paris with my daughter and ate Bouillabaisse at the Terminus Nord - a wonderful restaurant which is situated bang opposite the Gard du Nord. It's an unexpected setting for a reliably good place to eat - a classic French bistro serving exemplary food. Try it. And here is something to whet your taste-buds....

This afternoon, I'm off to Paris again. It's research - OF COURSE!
And in the meantime - what's your own particular dream dinner?

Thursday, 3 December 2009


So this was Cornwall. Unlike the cerulean skies and golden dappled paths which featured in my last trip, this time it was all windswept and rainswept - with winds which howled at night like caged beasts. But oh, so atmospheric. Particularly when I looked out of my window first thing - to see apricot-tinged waves sparkling in the early morning light.
Here's a glamour shot while out walking!

And my friend Catriona's unique use of a paper back to help shelter her from the driving rain!

And the cutest little lamb you ever did see. This part of Cornwall has so mild a climate that lambs are always born before Christmas. And this one bleated so sweetly that we all began reciting nursery rhymes and deciding that mint sauce should definitely be banned

What shall we call the little lamb?

Tuesday, 1 December 2009


Back from Cornwall (WINDY!) and Avignon (TALL BUILDINGS) with lots of lovely photos but no battery. So - while I'm powering up the camera and tackling the book which is due very, very soon - I'll show you a figurine crafted by Kate Evans, who is enormously talented.

It's supposed to be me! She made it from Fimo modelling dough and then baked it in the oven. See how she cleverly replicated the amber beads which I used to wear ALL the time (and still love) and the Doc Martin boots (which have long gone).
The world of miniature fascinates me - hence my devotion to naff fridge magnets and toy-towns.
What fascinates you?

Sunday, 22 November 2009


This is the view I will have for the next three days, though sadly- the rain continues to thrash down from the sky

Never mind, with a landscape more rugged than one of my heroes, a lap-top to hand, proofs to correct and an imagination looking to be fired - it will be perfect.

Friday, 20 November 2009


Rach from Fareham suggests that Alexis could be good inspirational material - and since I could certainly do with some at the moment - here he is.

What d'you think?
To my mind he's just a little bit TOO perfect to make a perfect Presents hero. He just doesn't look quite complicated and complex enough to be a bad boy who comes good.....

Having said that - I should be careful what I wish for since my current hero is giving me headaches. I have spent the whole day grappling with him and he is refusing to behave!

So in an attempt to give my imagination a break - I leave you with this thought. If you could have dinner tomorrow night with anyone you choose - living or dead - who would it be?

William Shakespeare.

Thursday, 19 November 2009


Just when I am looking for a little inspiration which doesn't involve me moving away from my computer (and my current story) - along comes an email from Michela waxing lyrical about her beloved hometown of Napoli.
She was also kind enough to send some photos, and here they are.
This is the most famous square in the city - the Piazza del Plebiscito.

And the famous bay.
By day.

And by night.

Michela also writes:
In Naples we have a "saying": Vedi Napoli e poi muori - its literal meaning is "You see Naples and then you can also die" but, for a Neapolitan man, it means that Naples is so perfect, so beautiful, so amazing... that you just have to see it once then you can die peacefully.

You've convinced me, Michela! Yes, I'm now inspired - but also wistfully wondering when I can get to visit this jewel of a place.

What has inspired you today?

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


Here is is, my January 2010 release for Harlequin Presents, titled THE ITALIAN BILLIONAIRE'S SECRETARY MISTRESS.:

It's all about Riccardo Castellari - the powerful and sexy Tuscan tycoon. And Angie - sweet, mousey little Angie who has loved her terse boss ever since she can remember. I love this couple and really wanted to tell their story.

I love the cover, too....and not just the artist's brilliant depiction of the intense and inexplicable passion which grows between Angie and Riccardo. Look closely and you can see Big Ben - which looms up over the city like a benign friend. That's one of the fabulous things about being in London - it really does feel as if you've fallen into a picture post-card.

What's your picture-postcard city?

Tuesday, 17 November 2009


Katrina and I have known each other since we were the wives of junior doctors in Dover, Kent - where we spent much of our times chained to our respective houses, listening to anxious (and occasionally hysterical) patients who needed twenty-four hour access to the phone. It is hard now to imagine a world without cell-phones or the internet.

Katrina knows lots of my secrets - and still finds it rather alarming that I went into my local butcher's (Mr. Doyle) on my penultimate day in the town and burst into tears because I was so sad to leave. But leaving anywhere is always poignant, don't you think?

Who knows your secrets?

Monday, 16 November 2009


A friend brought me round an interesting present (vegetarians, look away now!) - a brace of pheasants which he had shot.

It made me realise how much we rely on someone else sorting out our food for us - cleaning it and packaging it. I have no idea how to pluck a pheasant and so I carried them down Winchester High Street to the butcher's. Sadly, it was shut - and so I had to trudge back with feathers flapping in the gathering gale (theirs, not mine).

They're rather sweet, aren't they?

Eventually, I drove them to a nearby village where as I write, they are being prepared by someone who knows what they're doing - and I shall collect them tomorrow.

Anyone have any good pheasant recipes?

Friday, 13 November 2009


I was about to write that the Wizard Of Oz is celebrating it's 70th anniversary - until I remembered that there's no such thing as a wizard! And nobody ever had a pair of ruby slippers.....

And then I found this on sale at an Andy Warhole exhibition (and longed for a life-size pair of my own).

I leave you with a piece of musical perfection....though I don't know why it doesn't seem accessible....if you can manage to get it to work (or give me any tips on what I'm doing wrong) it you'll discover that there are Spanish subtitles which allow you to learn as you watch! 

I hope all your troubles melt like lemon-drops this weekend.

Thursday, 12 November 2009


Went to see the film BRIGHT STAR yesterday - about the life of one of my favourite poets, John Keats.

It was filmed as if for a fabric conditioner meadow was seen unless it was lush-full of blossom and flowers. Seasons came and went with alarming frequency - one minute the nodding daffodils signified spring - and in another, the heavy snowfall told us it was winter (did they REALLY have that much snow in Hampstead?)

Having said that - I loved it. I loved the depiction of tortured love. Of loss before possession has even taken place. I loved Fanny's mad devotion and I despaired of events and people who all helped contribute to the tragedy of the poet's early death.

The (brilliant) actors playing Fanny and John also spoke the lines of a poem which has always particularly inspired me.
It was spookily prescient, in a way......

La Belle Dame Sans Merci

"O WHAT can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has wither'd from the lake,
And no birds sing.

"O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms! 5
So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel's granary is full,
And the harvest's done.

"I see a lily on thy brow
With anguish moist and fever-dew. 10
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
Fast withereth too."

"I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful—a faery's child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light, 15
And her eyes were wild.

"I made a garland for her head,
And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She look'd at me as she did love,
And made sweet moan. 20

"I set her on my pacing steed,
And nothing else saw all day long;
For sidelong would she bend, and sing
A faery's song.

"She found me roots of relish sweet, 25
And honey wild and manna-dew;
And sure in language strange she said,
'I love thee true.'

"She took me to her elfin grot,
And there she wept and sigh'd full sore; 30
And there I shut her wild, wild eyes
With kisses four.

"And there she lullèd me asleep,
And there I dream'd—ah! woe betide!
The latest dream I ever dream'd 35
On the cold hill's side.

"I saw pale kings and princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all:
They cried, 'La belle Dame sans Merci
Hath thee in thrall!' 40

"I saw their starved lips in the gloam
With horrid warning gapèd wide,
And I awoke and found me here
On the cold hill's side.

"And this is why I sojourn here 45
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is wither'd from the lake,
And no birds sing."

Wednesday, 11 November 2009


Pomegranates have always fascinated me because of their symbolism. It is said that Solomon designed his coronet based on the pomegranate's "crown" and Jewish tradition teaches that the pomegranate is a symbol for righteousness. In Greece, the fruit is traditionally smashed open on new year's day, taken as a new-home gift and used during weddings and funerals.

I've researched the fruit and it featured heavily in one of my books (THE SICILIAN'S SECRET PASSION) - but I've never seen one growing before I discovered one at the weekend, in Umbria. I felt as if I'd tumbled into a fairy-tale.

The myth of Persephone, the goddess of the Underworld, also prominently features the pomegranate. Poor woman was kidnapped by Hades and taken off to live in the underworld as his wife (there are worse things in life than being single!). Her mother went into mourning for her lost daughter and thus all green things ceased to grow.

Zeus, the highest ranking of the Greek gods, could not leave the Earth to die, so he commanded Hades to return Persephone but it was the rule of the Fates that anyone who consumed food or drink in the Underworld was doomed to spend eternity there. Persephone had no food, but horrible Hades tricked her into eating four pomegranate seeds while she was still his prisoner and so, because of this, she was condemned to spend four months in the Underworld every year.

Which is why Rossetti's painting of the luscious Persephone shows her holding an equally luscious pomegranate.

(Research is enthralling - but sometimes just a little too distracting!)

Tuesday, 10 November 2009


well, mainly hearts.

PINK hearts......

Today I'm blogging over at the Pink Heart Society - you may have heard of them. They're a "blogazine" (crazy word!) for lovers of category romance novels - so clearly they're discerning people catering to people of discerning taste!

I'm talking about celebrity magazines. You know - those trashy, glossy periodicals which you'd HATE to be seen reading on a train. Shakespeare said: "apparel oft proclaims the man" - but what we read says a lot about how other people perceive us, too.

So are you brave enough to read what you want, where you want - without worrying about how you are judged?

You can visit on

Monday, 9 November 2009


To strip an olive tree?

Quite a few, actually- since the trees yield a surprising amount of fruit. Men are vital (especially when precarious ladders are involved!).
You spread nets beneath the trees.....

Which then catch the yield.

And leave you with crates of beautifully-hued fruit which you can then take off to be pressed into oil.

Umbria is somewhere I've only visited in spring or summer but going there in November was wonderful. Grey, misty mornings - with the growing light illuminating the brilliant autumn colours of the leaves. Nearby we could hear the barking of the hunters' dogs as they searched for wild boar. Evenings were warmed by enormous log fires, toasted chestnuts and delicious stews. We sang (badly) to a beautifully-played piano, slept soundly after so much fresh air and exercise and found the entire experience inspirational. It was one of those times which gives meaning to the term "life-enhancing".

Thursday, 5 November 2009


This is the view I'll have for the next three days.....

Well, not'll be missing Celia, Patrick and Rory (poor darlings!) but the lake and the tablecloth landscape will be there in all their glory.
I'll be picking olives, enjoying congenial company and soaking in all that wonderful Italian atmosphere - looking for inspiration which hopefully, I can use in the book I'm writing.
Whatever you're doing this weekend - hope it's wonderful.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009


Here's a picture of a spider's web. It's not a particularly good photo (I was just learning about my new camera and, sadly - the misty season of web-building has now passed for another year....) but I was eager to show it. Why? Because the spider gets such a bad press! It is such a clever creature and their fantastic homes/traps would surely make most architects swoon with envy.

Okay, I concede that they're scary....particularly when they're mouse-sized and scuttling across the floor. But life is too short to be scared of spiders and that's why I have included the following childhood rhyme. I was only going to put in the first two stanzas - but it turns into such a magnificent morality tale that I've included the entire poem. Because, like me - you may have only ever heard the first few lines.

Mary Howitt (1799-1888)
The Spider And The Fly

"Will you walk into my parlor?" said the spider to the fly;
"'Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you may spy.
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many curious things to show when you are there."
"Oh no, no," said the little fly; "to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne'er come down again."

"I'm sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high.
Well you rest upon my little bed?" said the spider to the fly.
"There are pretty curtains drawn around; the sheets are fine and thin,
And if you like to rest a while, I'll snugly tuck you in!"
"Oh no, no," said the little fly, "for I've often heard it said,
They never, never wake again who sleep upon your bed!"

Said the cunning spider to the fly: "Dear friend, what can I do
To prove the warm affection I've always felt for you?
I have within my pantry good store of all that's nice;
I'm sure you're very welcome - will you please to take a slice?"
"Oh no, no," said the little fly; "kind sir, that cannot be:
I've heard what's in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!"

"Sweet creature!" said the spider, "you're witty and you're wise;
How handsome are your gauzy wings; how brilliant are your eyes!
I have a little looking-glass upon my parlor shelf;
If you'd step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself."
"I thank you, gentle sir," she said, "for what you're pleased to say,
And, bidding you good morning now, I'll call another day."

The spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly fly would soon come back again:
So he wove a subtle web in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready to dine upon the fly;
Then came out to his door again and merrily did sing:
"Come hither, hither, pretty fly, with pearl and silver wing;
Your robes are green and purple; there's a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead!"

Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little fly,
Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by;
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer grew,
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes and green and purple hue,
Thinking only of her crested head. Poor, foolish thing! at last
Up jumped the cunning spider, and fiercely held her fast;
He dragged her up his winding stair, into the dismal den -
Within his little parlor - but she ne'er came out again!

And now, dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly flattering words I pray you ne'er give heed;
Unto an evil counselor close heart and ear and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale of the spider and the fly.

Do you have a favourite childhood poem?

Tuesday, 3 November 2009


David Nicholson has the best pub in Winchester. It defines the word idosyncratic and is stuffed full of treasures wherever you look. Here I am with a sweet little dog I found while I was having lunch there the other day.

Of course, it isn't a REAL dog


It occurred to me that stuffing animals or birds is a subject which fascinates or repels the onlooker and I wasn't quite sure what compelled people to do it, or what purpose it served. So I asked an expert for his personal philosophy of taxidermy, and he said:

"Most people judge taxidermy by its worst examples: distressed specimens with bald patches and stitches stretching open in granny's attic or the junk shop. But there is another side to it. Some taxidermists are keen naturalists. They strive to capture and immortalise the beauty of detail in the natural world, and are meticulous about anatomical accuracy as well as correct and natural poses. They aim to express the inexpressible qualities of a creature being alive, and pausing for just an instant before moving on. The struggle to capture and express such ethereal qualities in a solid medium is the essence of pure art".

Thanks for that, Russell - and I wonder if you agree with him?

In the meantime, here's a more traditional aspect of David's pub.

Sunday, 1 November 2009


A reader wants to know what's on my desk. A brilliant, bright-red phone. Solid and reassuring, it also makes me feel very nostalgic. Here it is (the three empty coffee mugs are out of shot!).

It's a replica of the phone my school friend Heather had in her house in Ashford, Middlesex. As an only child, I spent many happy hours round at her house (she has three brothers!). Strains of loud rock music would filter through the house while we two experimented with make-up (often with terrifying results) - and ate sickly cakes.
What makes you nostalgic?

Here's a wider view of the desk.
You can see my shiny new Mac. Next to the phone is a fabulous pink jewel - which, like the phone - is also a replica, but this time of the famous pink sapphire of Karedes (which you may have read about in THE PLAYBOY SHEIKH'S VIRGIN STABLE GIRL). Beside that is a wonderful deep blue stone which I bought when I was visiting my son in Siena. My daughter drew the portrait of me when she was eight. The jewel-encrusted alligator was given to me at an amazing party in Santa Barbara and the books in the foreground are Italian dictionaries (my latest hero is called Giancarlo Vellutini). You might just be able to catch a glimpse of the paper-weight, designed by Antony Gormley for his Blind Light exhibition at the Tate Gallery. This was a rather terrifying experience when you walked into a giant cube filled with dry ice, limiting visibility to practically zero and making you feel completely disorientated. Which sounds a bit like shopping just before Christmas.
What's the most precious thing on your desk, I wonder?

Sunday, 25 October 2009


No, I am not in the fictional soap street named Coronation Street, which is in Manchester. If it was Manchester it would be raining, wouldn't it?

Neither am I in ancient Greece - although here I am posing next to a stunning Corinthian pillar.

Nor am I in Narnia - even though Mr. Tumnus would just LOVE this lamp-post!

You've guessed now, haven't you? I'm outside King's College, Cambridge - where I was attending the memorial service for ex-Press Association boss David Chipp, whose illustrious career included thirty months spent in Peking as Reuter's correspondent - the first non-communist Western correspondent to be granted residency by the Communist government.

The service was sublime - especially the music. Lit by guttering candles, the sweet song of the choir soared high up into the vaulted ceilings as dying light filtered through beautiful stained glass.
At the reception afterwards, there was the opportunity to pick up a copy of David's memoir - a fascinating tome entitled MAO'S TOE.
Because he once stood on Chairman Mao's toe.

Thursday, 22 October 2009


Yesterday, in dire need of inspiration - I went to visit Waddesdon Manor. This is a luscious (and completely over-the-top) country pile, built for zany Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in 1874.

First sight of it left me swooning. There were turrets galore. Latticed shrubbery. Spurting fountains, avaries - and enough sweeping views to keep Halloween witches jealously guarding their broomsticks.
The problem?
My camera ran out of battery after the very first photo.

Which was this:

So if you want to see more of Waddesdon's wealth of historical and idiosyncratic detail (the "Batchelors' Quarters" with billiard room, cosy smoking room plus sparkly 13th century vase is particularly fine) - visit
Or you could tell me about a place which inspires YOU.....

Meanwhile, I must now go and phone a divorce lawyer on behalf of my latest heroine....

Tuesday, 20 October 2009


Here's mine. The trees are amazing and the leaves on the tree on the right look much more golden in real-life than they appear in this photo. Like bright foil-wrapped toffees hanging from the branches.
But I've written in all kinds of places....a windowless hallway....a dining room table...a caravan park in West Wales or overlooking a Mediterranean swimming pool. Actually, the view is irrelevant as well as sometimes distracting. Because when the story is going well - you don't want or need or notice anything else.

What can you see from your window?

Monday, 19 October 2009

Inspiration where you can find it

Have just started my new book - set in June - in high summer. I'm trying to imagine roses, and lilac - the drone of bees in the hazy sunshine. While outside my window the leaves are turning bronze and gold and it's most definitely autumn.

And that's why I took this photo this morning. The blooms look perfect - almost too perfect -as if I had pinched the image from a gardening catalogue! From the outside the flowers look completely flawless, just like my latest heroine....though you can only imagine the turmoil which lies beneath her enviable exterior.

When I'm trying to lose myself in the great swirl of love - and all the feelings and emotions which go with it - I can do no better than to consult a perfect poem. Like this one. Here are the first two verses:

Come into the garden Maud

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Come into the garden, Maud,
For the black bat, night, has flown,
Come into the garden, Maud,
I am here at the gate alone ;
And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad,
And the musk of the rose is blown.

For a breeze of morning moves,
And the planet of Love is on high,
Beginning to faint in the light that she loves
On a bed of daffodil sky,
To faint in the light of the sun she loves,
To faint in his light, and to die.

Do you have a poem which always inspires you?

Saturday, 17 October 2009


Cheltenham Literary Festival was one of those days which felt like Christmas. It's a delicious chocolate-boxy town and all the festival tents made the site resemble some flower-filled medieval jousting spot. I kept spotting famous faces. (But what on earth was Nick Clegg - the Lib-Dem leader promoting?)

I was on a panel with the wonderful actress and campaigner Virginia McKenna, chick-lit Queen Katie Fforde and broadcaster and novelist Stella Duffy. We were chaired by the Shakespearian actress Fiona Lindsay and discussing Romance On the Page. About the survey which had asked who is the ultimate romantic hero? (Bizarrely, it was the barking Mr. Rochester).

A packed hall contained a lively audience who afterwards came through for a book signing, where they were served pink champagne by Butlers In The Buff. You don't believe me?

A big hello to Barbie, Sarah-Jane and various members of the fabulous Roberts family who were all there.
I also met Rick Stroud - director extraordinaire - who has written a book called THE BOOK OF THE MOON. Rick, Stella and I travelled back on the train together. To Reading (how appropriate!) which was the slowest journey in the world but we giggled for most of it. Did you ever read that book by John Masefield - THE BOX OF DELIGHTS? Well, our train journey seemed to be sprinkled with a Masefield-type atmosphere - or maybe it was just the end of a magical day.

Don't you think that train journeys are always more memorable than travelling by car or plane?

Oh, and here's the youtube link...