I live in an area that has been in ‘Tier Three’ for some time, with the highest rates of Covid19 and it feels as though we have been isolating for a long time now, in addition to the current nationwide Lockdown. I am fortunate that I work and write from home but I so miss the contact with others face to face, to meet up for a coffee, a chat and a hug. For those of you, like me, unable to see relatives, especially anyone who is ill or going through a difficult time, I’m sending out a big virtual hug to you all.
We’re giving you an early Christmas offer, my ‘Coffee Tea’ series is currently reduced to only 99p/99c per book. These books have received very generous, wonderful reviews by kind readers and are described as feel-good fiction with lots of twists. So treat yourself – grab a coffee and something delicious to munch and snuggle down for a duvet day of reading.
Have you been trying any online courses during this difficult time? I am a WI member and discovered that the very clever ladies who organise speakers have put scores of classes and talks online. I had three blissful hours listening to the life story of artist Freda Khalo as we learned how to paint a watercolour in her style. I’m not very good, but I really enjoyed giving it a go.
Christmas is approaching, have you started to prepare? I haven’t done a thing. Its difficult to plan as family members who have to isolate through illness will not be joining, even if we are out of Lockdown over Christmas. But I will make a Christmas cake this weekend and if it turns out well, will post the recipe in the next newsletter. I’ll make a pudding too.
Have you got a favourite Christmas cake recipe? Do share it, send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org – I love to try your recipes and will credit and add to my website if they turn out well.
The audio version of my latest book Boomerville at Ballymegille is now in production and it has been great fun working with narrator Gill Mills again. She is a wonderful actress/narrator and seems to completely ‘get’ my characters. It is fascinating to hear ‘Hattie’ being bought to life again and all the old friends from Boomerville. As the author, I almost feel as though I am listening to someone else’s book!
I hope that the sun is shining in whatever part of the world you are reading this.
Please stay safe, keep well and look after each other.
This is a short newsletter to let you know that my new book, Boomerville at Ballymegille is publishing on Tuesday 6th October and to celebrate, I have a lovely giveaway…
WIN A ‘TEDDY’
Teddy is the puppy who we meet in the book. Teddy has had a poor start in life and needs a good home. Would you like your very own ‘Teddy’ ? I have a gorgeous gift wrapped Teddy, just waiting for one lucky reader. Simply head over to my Facebook page to enter and tell me why you’d like to win a Teddy. If you don’t use Facebook, send me an email on email@example.com
If the weather is wet and gloomy this weekend, why not snuggle down with one of my favourite recipes. Scones are so delicious and so easy to make but feel like a real treat. Made in minutes, you can indulge yourself. I asked my Facebook friends which they preferred, fruit or cheese and the majority who replied said cheese!
To everyone who is self-isolating and in lockdown, I send my love and also prayers for those who are suffering from Covid-19. These are dark days for all across the world and I hope that you are coping and keeping your spirits up.
Its Easter weekend – a celebratory time for being with family or friends for both religious and social events. We had a very special birthday and anniversary celebrations in our family and by the wonders of modern technology managed to all get together for an online ‘pub quiz’ and a bit of fun to lighten the loss of not being together.
I made Easter chocolate bars this year for the family and sent them by mail. Unfortunately, I got a bit mixed up so many apologies to the singles who received family packs and vice versa. Does anyone else find that their brain is scrambled at the moment?
I’ve been out on my bike for bursts of daily exercise. We live in a rural area and I am so grateful that I’m able to do this. The countryside is beautiful at this time of year and weirdly quiet with no planes, trains or vehicles.
Many people in lockdown are enjoying a good read. My books are available on KindleUnlimited and Amazon Prime if you want to have aFREE read. For those who enjoy AUDIBLE, I am giving away 10 copies of my new book Hattie Goes To Hollywood. You can enter on Facebook by going to the link below:
Winners will be announced and contacted by 20th April. Good luck!
With more time at home, I’ve been baking and we enjoyed hot cross buns straight from the oven on Good Friday. It also reminded me of my childhood when Mum would come up the stairs early in the morning with a tray of warm, buttered buns and a pot of tea and my sisters and I would snuggle up in bed eating the sticky delights.
I was ‘author of the day’ this week for an online site and if anyone is interested in my writing journey, have a look at the article here:
Its summer time in the UK with annual sporting events entertaining us, such as the Wimbledon tennis tournament and the tremendous result of England winning the cricket World Cup. In-between my working days, I have been enjoying sunny trips away.
I went south to Falmouth, in Cornwall, for a Sea Shantie Festival. This was a first for me and we spent three perfect days listening to a variety of shantie groups from as far away as Brittany, Holland, Spain, Canada and Ireland. They performed their unique take on sea songs and shanties at different venues in the coastal town from quaint pubs to main stages.
Falmouth has a long history as a safe port of call for deep water sailing ships and tired Capehorners and Clippermen crews, who may have been at sea for months, would stop here and entertain themselves at the many alehouses, with tales and yarns. Their shantie songs are kept alive to this day and locals say if you listen carefully as you walk along the 17th century streets, you can still hear them singing.
The picture below shows the shantie group, Fisherman’s Friends, who inspired the movie of the same name. They were brilliant.
The beaches in Falmouth are stunning, I enjoyed several sunny walks along this one below, at Gyllyngvase, there’s a gorgeous cafe there too!
Another trip was to beautiful Norfolk. It’s lavender season in this eastern county and fields of the stunning crop give a purple haze and heady scent as you wander through the countryside.
Norfolk beaches are also lovely, this one is at Hunstanton where relics of fossilised trees can be seen at low tide.
Poppies are in abundance too and the Norfolk coast between Sheringham, Cromer and Overstrand is known as Poppyland, a name first given to the area by the writer, Clement Scott, in the 1880s. I love poppies and am told that the common poppy has been voted the county flower for Norfolk.
We visited the Queen’s private home at Sandringham House, a country house in the parish of Sandringham. The Queen’s father George VI and grandfather George V both died here. It is a beautiful building standing in a 20,000 acre estate in the Norfolk coast area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is listed as a Grade II building along with the gorgeous landscaped gardens, park and woodlands.
The house is open to the public in the summer months but closes in October to enable staff to get ready for the Queen, who stays there from December to February. You can wander through the private rooms and have a fascinating guided tour in what feels like a much-loved home. I never tire of Sandringham and always enjoy a visit there.
The lovely folk at Amazon have discounted my novel: Coffee, Tea the Caribbean & Me, throughout July and August and if you fancy jetting off the Caribbean with a feel-good read that has been an Amazon best-seller for some time, grab a copy now at the heavily discounted price of 99p in the UK and Europe and $1.24 in the USA. Happy reading!
If you scroll down on the link, you’ll also find a recipe for Toffee Vodka. This was shared by a friend recently and I have to say it is addictive! You make it in your dishwasher! Check the link to see how: Toffee Vodka.
Lovely Amazon is also promoting my debut novel in their Prime Reading during the summer and you can grab a copy there for free. Coffee Tea The Gypsy & Me is a popular read and gets wonderful reviews. It was E-book of the Week in a national UK newspaper and reached #3 in Women’s Fiction on Amazon when it was released.
I was invited to chat to presenter, John Gillymore, on his popular BBC Radio show, which was broadcast from the fascinating Harris Museum in Preston, Lancashire. The Harris Museum is also a public library and art gallery and what better place to sit and chat about books and creativity.
The founder of the museum, Edmond Harris left a legacy to create this historic building and it officially opened in 1893. The Harris is an important regional museum and holds fascinating collections of fine and decorative art, costume and textiles, history and photography, many of which are of international significance.
The RNA (Romantic Novelist’s Association) conference was held recently and I enjoyed spending time catching up with writer friends and listening to some excellent seminars. The RNA is a great organisation to be a part of and the conference is a brilliantly well organised affair, offering a great deal to its members.
Audio books are entertaining me more and more. I find I listen when I’m driving, cooking or ironing and I’m currently enjoying The Other Wife by Michael Robotham. It’s a cracking thriller. I’ve just downloaded a new audio book by the brilliant Deborah Moggah, author of many of my favourite novels, including the Best Marigold Hotel. Her latest, The Carer, looks like it has ‘best-seller’ all over it and I can’t wait to listen to it.
Have a wonderful July lovely newsletter friends. I hope that you all enjoy some of your favourite things this month.
Happy New Year lovely readers and followers. I hope that the start of 2019 brings lots of love, good health and happiness your way and that this will be a very special year for all.
2019 began for me with family celebrations in beautiful Scotland with a party on New Year’s Eve in Inverness, followed by walks beside the famous Loch – Loch Ness. We didn’t catch sight of the monster but a great time was had by all.
The Best Boomerville Hotel went on tour with signings in Waterstones and these pictures show me at Waterstones Book Store in Carlisle, where I had a fabulous day meeting some lovely readers. Thanks to everyone who bought a book and had a chat.
The Best Boomerville Hotel is currently on a promotion and you can download the novel for only 99p/c on all ereader platforms. Here is the link to Amazon:
I’m giving away a fabulous gift this month. Would you like to own your very own Boomerville Bertie Bear? Bertie comes in his very own travelling bag and will make a faithful companion. To be in with a chance of wining, just tell me the name of the chef in Jungle Rock (mentioned in this blog post) and email it to: firstname.lastname@example.org The winner will be chosen at the end of January and announced in my February newsletter.
As the weather gets colder I had a Sunday afternoon snuggled up with a good book and a plate of scones. I love this recipe, it makes a really light and fluffy scone. If anyone wants to know how to make them, just drop me an email: email@example.com
2019 will see me setting sail as a guest speaker at sea. Do you enjoy cruising? if so, I’d love to hear from you. Let me know what you enjoy about the talks on the cruises you’ve experienced and what you’d like to hear on your next cruise.
“I’ve had this sitting on my Kindle for far too long. My first read from Caroline James was “The Best Boomerville Hotel”. A fabulous page turner, it made me laugh out loud and cry in equal measure, but with “Coffee Tea the Gypsy & Me” we meet the main characters Jo and Hattie as they both start new chapters in their lives after both husbands ran off with younger models. We see the trials, tribulations and not to mention the romance. It is a true page turner which is why it was read in 3 days. The characters are fun, firey and very likeable. Although set in the 1980’s the story line is so true of today’s economic situation that you’d be had pushed to believe it wasn’t happening right now. It gave me plenty of laughs, even shed a tear but kept me reading until I was done, already starting thinking about the next one.”
Thanks SO much lovely Stephanie, for taking the time to post a review. Coffee Tea The Gypsy & Me is reduced at the moment to £1.99/$1.99 and you can download it here:
Barabrith is a traditional Welsh fruit loaf and on a recent trip to Wales, the first thing I did was head to a bakery to buy one.
There are many versions of Barabrith. Recipes are handed down from one generation to the next with a few tweaks along the way. Every family has their own method. Traditionally eaten on St David’s Day or Christmas Day, it is delicious sliced thickly and spread with creamy butter. My mother would eat it warm with custard or even toasted for breakfast. Filled with spices and dried fruit, the cake-like mixture has a lovely texture and smells delicious as it bakes in the oven.
In days gone by when villagers did their weekly cook in the collective village oven, any leftover dough would be baked with dried fruit to produce delicious sweet bread. Originally lard was used as a shortening, whey as a liquid and yeast as a rising agent giving a dough-like texture. With rising agents becoming popular and added to flour, Barabrith today is made with self-raising flour making the final offering more like a cake. I like to soak the fruit in Earl Gray tea as the acid in the tea reacts with the fruit and gives a lovely flavour.
Bara brith can be found in many forms all over the world. Wherever Welsh settlers went they took the recipe with them. In Argentina, Welsh teahouses in the Chubut province still serve Torta Negra or Black Cake, as Barabrith is known. In the Welsh language, ‘Bara’ means bread and ‘brith’ translates as speckled. If one says, ‘I’ve over spiced the bara brith,’ it means you’ve done something to excess. Every cafe in Wales serves the Welsh favourite and it is an easy recipe to adapt to your own taste. I like to add a spoonful of dark marmalade to the raw ingredients for extra flavour.
The Barabrith I bought on my recent trip was disappointing. It was dry and crumbly. Here’s my recipe which I hope is moist and tasty. The Barabrith keeps well in an airtight container and improves after a day or two – if you can keep it that long!
450g mixed dried fruit
1 large egg beaten
250g brown sugar
300ml black tea
2 tsp cinnamon and mixed spice
450g self-raising flour
Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3
Soak the fruit and sugar in strained tea and leave overnight. Next day, line a 900g loaf tin with baking parchment. Mix all the other ingredients into the fruit mixture and beat well. Pour into the loaf tin and bake for approximately one and a half hours.