Lovely Pigeon presents…

Lovely Pigeon Circus Play KitI’ve recently discovered a fabulous online emporium with the quirky name of Lovely Pigeon. They sell all kinds of wonderful, imaginative wares including notebooks to drool over and a very funky Mr and Mrs Pigeon mug, but the one that has particularly caught my eye is the stupendous Circus Play Kit.

Lovely Pigeon paper circusIt reminds me of the paper dress up dolls I played with for hours as a child, but this one features all the performers any vintage circus could need, including a seal poised to balance a ball on his nose, a very non-scary juggling clown, a ringmaster, strong man and more, and all in need of colouring in. The perfect distraction for dreamy rainy afternoons! Okay, yes, it is meant for kids, but I won’t tell if you won’t…

Mid-week writing prompt – Daisy, daisy…

My lovely father-in-law knows I would love a house with a proper garden so he dug up and potted a daisy for me!


I already have a patch of lawn growing in a pot of earth on the desk in my writing room. Must confess to feeling quite horticulturally blessed, but I know most gardeners would be quite bemused.

What other reasons (innocent and perhaps not so…) could someone have for potting up something as simple and common as a daisy?

Book review – Stone in a Landslide by Maria Barbal

Stone In A Landslide book coverAlmost an entire lifetime is captured between the creamy covers of this slim, thoughtful book. Beginning with 13-year-old Conxa leaving her family to live with her uncle and aunt in Pallares, she leads us through the important moments in her life, from becoming accepted in the village she now lives in, to falling in love, to suffering the worst affects of the Spanish Civil War.

I’ve never read a book by a Catalonian before, and while most of the world regard Catalonia as part of Spain, it’s interesting to realise that from their own point of view, then and now, Catalonia is its own country, with its own language, customs and beliefs. Continue reading

How to use fiction to explore the truth

A Room Swept White pbToday’s guest post comes from bestselling author Sophie Hannah, and explains how authors can use fiction to explore the truth behind controversial subjects, as she did for her novel A Room Swept White.

In the UK there have been several high-profile cases of mothers losing more than one child to cot death and subsequently being accused of murder: Sally Clark, Angela Cannings and Trupti Patel to name just three.

Clark lost two sons to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), and Cannings and Patel each lost three babies. The women protested their innocence, but the dominant view at the time in legal and medical circles seemed to be that it was simply too much of a coincidence for more than one infant from the same family to die an unexplained death; many people believed these babies had been murdered.

Choose a subject with the potential to consume you

One expert witness who testified against both Clark and Cannings, paediatrician Professor Sir Roy Meadow, said that within a single family, ‘One cot death is a tragedy, two is suspicious, three is murder’. This came to be known as ‘Meadow’s Law’.

Clark and Cannings were both convicted of the murders of their babies.  Immediately, campaigns were launched to secure their exoneration and release, on the basis that there was no concrete evidence to prove that either woman was a murderer. The only evidence of murder, supporters argued, was disputed medical evidence. Continue reading

Mid-week writing prompt – the balloonist

Don Cameron in the Bristol Belle cr Judy DarleyFor this week’s writing prompt I’ve decided to feature a series of images that I took a few years ago at Bristol’s Balloon Fiesta. The elderly gentleman in the balloon basket is Scottish ballooning pioneer Don Cameron of Cameron Balloons.

Don Cameron in the Bristol Belle cr Judy DarleyThe ragged-looking balloon about to carry him away is the Bristol Belle, the world’s first modern balloon, which don and his buddies at Bristol Gliding Club constructed in the 1960s – it first took to the air in 1867!

There are countless directions you could take this story in – you could draw in the history of this ballooning legend and his first balloon, or you could disregard that and focus instead on what you see – an old man in the basket of a torn and frail-looking balloon about to set off on what may be their last adventure together…

Don Cameron's Bristol Belle cr Judy Darley


Book Review – A Room Swept White by Sophie Hannah

A Room Swept White pbIn her psychological thriller A Room Swept White, Sophie Hannah examines the contentious subject of guilt and innocence surrounding cot death cases.

A serial killer is targeting women accused of murdering babies. The first victim is Helen Yardley, a woman convicted then acquitted of killing two of her own children, who then went on to campaign for the release of other women in the same circumstances. A mysterious card is found on her body, marked with seemingly meaningless numbers laid out in neat orderly row.

The story is told through the viewpoints of the police involved and a woman named Fliss Benson who has been given the job of making a documentary of the acquitted women, and who has received an card identical to the one left with Helen Yardley. Continue reading

Authors take to the rails this autumn

Virgin TrainPlanning on taking any train journeys this autumn? If you choose carefully, you could have an extra treat! Forget the buffet car – Virgin Trains are hosting high speed book signings, with participating authors including Joanna Trollope, Jo Nesbo and Ruby Wax.

Jo Nesbo photographed by Hakon Eikesdal

Jo Nesbo © Hakon Eikesdal

Travellers will be informed over the on-board announcement system and invited to purchase a book before meeting the author to have it signed. It’s a great chance for the authors to promote new releases, and a fantastic opportunity for bored travellers to meet a literary hero! Continue reading