Tuesday, 30 March 2010


Il pleut.
Il pleut beaucoup.
Never mind - it's what makes the flowers grow and the skin glow.
I've just finished a book and so have been out seeking inspiration for the next one...

Saw Michelangelo's Dream which was utterly sublime.
Went to see the new Alice In Wonderland, which was so atrociously bad that I walked out after half an hour. What was the matter with Johnny Depp's accent? Now I'm wondering whether 3D isn't just an excuse to fob the public off with bad acting and too much noise.
And the flip-side of intrusive noise is the music of Schumann and Beethoven which I heard during a fantastic concert at London's Wigmore Hall on Sunday morning.

Oh, and I have a book which is just coming out in north America - and here's a detail from the cover. He's a Prince and she's a chambermaid....
What have you done recently which has inspired you - and do you like films in 3D?

Monday, 22 March 2010


Occasionally, you meet people who are touched with stardust and Yvonne Fitzpatrick-Grimes is one of those people.  Here I am in her deliciously-decorated sitting room (where I had to be prevented from stealing that red cushion!).

Yvonne is a great wit and dancer, she sings like an angel - and provides tea and sympathy on tap in the most welcoming of homes.  She also has four amazing children, is married to the wonderful D - oh, and did I mention that she writes? Very, very well.

Her book, DIRTY DUBLIN is currently flying off the shelves.

And for good reason. It's BRILLIANT.  She writes with humour and elan - and I know she's my friend and I'm biased - but I still urge you to give yourself a treat and buy a copy of her book.  

If you love people, Ireland and the craic - then you won't fail to be delighted.

Any Irish-related anecdotes to share?
I'll start - my son is called Patrick!

Saturday, 20 March 2010


Sometimes you find great  places for lunch - and here I am in a sweet pub in Betsw-y-Coed.  
And yes, it's in Wales - because where else would you find somewhere with such an unpronouncable name?

Zoom into the meal itself - which was delicious - simple and locally sourced.  I recommend you visit Snowdonia very soon - it has some amazing restaurants as well as some of the most beautiful mountains in the world.

Any idea what meat might be lurking there?  
A clue:  we sing about it at Christmas time.

Thursday, 18 March 2010


What is it with shoes?  At the Romantic Novelists Association's 50th anniversary lunch yesterday - very few people seemed bothered by a pudding called a "Chocolate Orgasm" or the fact that the great and the good from the world of publishing were assembled there.  Not even by Barry Norman's jokes or Maeve Binchey (one of my all-time heroines) getting a lifetime achievement award.
No, it was the sight of author Penny Jordan producing an outrageously high-heeled shoe which had all the women swooning as if Daniel Craig had just strolled into the room. The distinctive scarlet sole marked it out as every fashionista's must-have.  

And here is is.

And here's my editor - the fabulous Bryony Green - wearing them!

I don't really get it.  Or them.  But watching grown women salivate over them was fascinating.
It's really very complex.....

Do you lust after shoes like these?

Monday, 8 March 2010


is a WONDERFUL thing.   It's like that old song says: "the more I find out, the less I know.'

In London the other day, my footsteps seemed to be taking me towards a place which seemed oddly familiar - and then I realised it was.  And I found myself standing in Golden Square where I'd once been a nurse at the Royal National Ear Nose And Throat Hospital (what a lot of capitals).  It's a very famous square - planned by Wren and featured by Charles Dickens in Nicholas Nickelby. 

 There is a sweet statue of GEORGE II - an adulterous King who seems to be holding a snake in his hand.  I wonder if that is supposed to symbolise his amorous adventures....

The hospital has long gone and it was quite a spooky experience being back and remembering when I was a broke nurse living near King's Cross station (grim).  Realising that I'd never even noticed the statue when I worked there, I was hit by the hard smack of nostalgia.  
Has anything made you feel nostalgic recently?

Friday, 5 March 2010


It looks like the place that Hansel and Gretel discovered, doesn't it? A deceptively cute, oldy-worldy cottage promising gingerbread and evil witches and a dark and scary wood.....

Actually, it's in the heart of Soho - Soho Square, to be precise - and just around the corner from the famous Groucho Club, where I was having tea. The club's name was inspired by a quip of Groucho Marx: "I don't want to join a club that will accept me as a member." Of course not.

Over carrot cake and lemon cake (the carrot was better) I chatted with the always entertaining
RICK STROUD  who I met when we did the Cheltenham Literary Festival together.  He has since become a literary pen-pal and always cheers me up whenever I'm blocked.  Check out his book about the MOON. The club is warm and cosy, the chairs blissfully comfortable and there are lots of famous faces to pretend not to notice!

I've never made carrot cake before - and wonder which is the world's best recipe...?

Thursday, 4 March 2010


This is the view I awoke to on Monday morning.  (Well, that's not strictly true - otherwise I'd have spent the night on the balcony outside my room with my camera to hand and that would have been very, very cold).  

Gorgeous, isn't it?  A picture-postcard view.  Glossy Bala Lake with the snow-dusted peaks of Yr Aran in the background.  I was staying at my friend Katrina's B&B - it's called Bryniau Golau  which is a little piece of paradise.

Not far away is a bizarre village, built as a folly by a quirky architect and which featured as the backdrop to an iconic television series, which is currently being remade (why?  why?  Why do they remake films and programmes which are already perfect?)  
I shall post some photos when I find the disposable camera which I had to buy in The Village.
Anyone know the place I'm talking about?  

Wednesday, 3 March 2010


Some places touch your soul and ST. LUKE'S CHURCH
in Liverpool is one of them. It was hit by an incendiary bomb during World War II.  It's beautiful but dilapidated - an exquisite shell of a building and you have to sign a disclaimer before you go inside.

Music, art and film events are regularly put on here by a dedicated bunch of artists.

It was one of the best spots I visited in Liverpool - quirky and thought-provoking - and hello to the lovely men who were manning the door (was there a door?) and freezing on what must have been one of the coldest days of the year.
Where have you been recently which has made you stop and think?

Tuesday, 2 March 2010


I am sitting on a street sculpture in a city with a famous river which inspired a song which is dreamily sentimental. The river also inspired a derogatory phrase about the size of someone's mouth.  It's a BIG city. The clue is in the guitar. A brilliant guitar-player attended the nearby art-school.

Have you guessed where I am yet?

Monday, 1 March 2010


Just back from Wales - where, on the way to Wrexham train station this morning - I spotted three women dressed in traditional Welsh costumes. Since I can't seem to upload a photo of this - it seems the perfect opportunity to publish another picture of the daffodil - the national emblem of Wales (and a photo which eagle-eyed blog followers will see was on the last one I wrote).

Anyway, there was lots of inspiration to be had and I will regale you with some of it during the week - but now I must hot-foot it to the supermercado as I'm having a Mother Hubbard moment.
Who else has been inspired?