Mid Year Report Part 2

Maurice Greenham

In the first episode of this mid 2018 report, I mentioned just a few of the adventures and misadventures I have had since returning home from my trip to Australia New Zealand and the Far East. There have been countless other incidents…but a flavour is probably more that sufficient. My 77 birthday is only a couple of months away…it seems incredible how swiftly the years have gone by…and disturbing to feel that time is speeding up…we won’t even put a foot on the path of thinking that time might be running out.

Whilst I have always liked to be involved in social activities, choirs, drama groups, outings, etc. I don’t think that I have ever been so engaged with such a wide variety of undertakings and concerns. For years, HIV was top of my agenda…but it has gone from the desperate struggle of staying alive…to just another health issue to…

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#Friday favourites: Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables

Getting ready to go Malta, I downloaded half a dozen books onto my Kindle, because running out of things to read would have completely ruined my holiday. Among my selection was a thriller, a fantasy, a real life account from a locum doctor working in London, a literary novel and “Anne of Green Gables”.

The last time I’d read the Anne books was when I was in my early teens. I’d loved them then and Anne Shirley and Avonlea had stayed in my imagination ever since. The image of the orphan girl waiting at the station to be picked up by Matthew Cuthbert, only to be told that they had requested a boy and she was to be sent to back to the orphanage was haunting, as was the night and day she had to wait before Marilla and Matthew changed their minds and let her stay at Green Gables, the house she had fallen in love with at first sight.

From then on I had followed Anne’s story avidly. Journeying with her from childhood to adult and loving every minute.

Re-reading the books, I had an initial moment of doubt. At first Anne’s optimism and  her gushing over romantic view of the beauties of Nature was a little wearing, until it was punctured by the author’s sly humour.

When Anne and her friends go on a romantic picnic, the other girls drink lemonade, but Anne insisting on the beauty of her surroundings and the crystal stream that flows through them insists on drinking from the brook, which LM Montgomery hastens to tell us tasted of mud.

There is humour too in the scrapes Anne gets into, like dying her hated red hair green, or getting her best friend drunk on homemade wine, which she has mistaken for cordial.

Time and time again Anne is brought down to earth, but never in any destructive way. The dour Marilla and acerbic Mrs Lynde soften towards her, she gathers a group of girl friends who will stay with her for life and of course there is her relationship with Gilbert Blythe.

The language may be a little old fashioned in places, but the exploration of developing relationships and the emotional lives of the characters ring true. Nor does the writer avoid the realities of life in the early part of the twentieth century. There are deaths, some easy, others harrowing.

What also appeals is that the books are full of strong women who are not dependent on men for their sense of identity. Anne and her friends go to college and graduate with BAs just as the men in their lives do. Some of them also work for their living, teaching school, and while marriage will put an end to this career, there are widows who own boarding houses, women of independent means who go travelling late in life as well as the wives and mothers.

I also love the sense of place and the vivid descriptions of the seasons, from the chill of winter to the beauty of spring when the landscape is awash with blossom, lushness of summer and the rich colours of autumn.

“A September day on Prince Edward Island Hills; a crisp wind blowing up over the sand dunes from the sea; a long red road winding through fields and woods, now looping itself about a corner of thick-set spruces, now threading a plantation of young maples with great feathery sheets of ferns beneath them, now dipping into a hollow where a brook flashed out of the woods and into them again, now basking in open sunshine between ribbons of goldenrod and smoke-blue asters.”

All in all, re-visiting Avonlea has been a delight.


Media Detox



Balconies in Valetta

We’ve just come back from a week in Malta- something none of my followers on Twitter, or friends on Facebook will have known about. Apart from not wanting to let all and sundry know that we were away and the house was empty, I had no intention of posting pictures or giving a blow by blow of what we were eating or where we were.

It’s not that I don’t like social media. I love FB in particular – it’s like having a chat with a friend and, somewhat hypocritically, I love it when people post about their holidays. Especially family and I follow their progress and know that all is going well and no one has been eaten by bears, or fallen out of an airplane.

So why haven’t I followed suit?

For me part of going on holiday is getting away from all the everyday things of life and posting and tweeting and liking, however enjoyable, is part of that. Not having to do it is comparable to not having to make the bed, or clean the house, or do the washing.

It’s also a distraction from writing and occasionally, when I feel I’m not doing enough marketing it becomes a stress rather than a pleasure.

A week away and I’m more than happy to get back to blogging, tweeting and Facebook.

Malta, incidentally, was magic.

Malta Unicorn 2

Winter Downs is a Winner! @Sotlive @Bennettsoc #awards #crimefiction #winterdowns #arnoldbennettprize

A well deserved win. If you haven’t already read the book, then go out there now and get it!

Jan Edwards

Just back from Cyprus with the fabulous news that Winter Downs has won the Arnold Bennett Book prize!

Shocked and awed!  I suspect there is no easy way to graciously accept any award because if other people are anything like me they don’t dare think about the possibility that they might actually be in the running. 

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HOMe-hOUSE 19 – 1891

Tim Diggles

HOMe-hOUSE 19 – 1891

39 Newfield Street first appears in the Census of 1891, so the people who are shown living there are very likely the first people to live in this house. They were Lydia (33) and Thomas Bennett (38), with their three children James, Ellen and Thomas. He was a miner, Lydia wasn’t working at that time as Thomas was just one year old. The two other children were at school. Mining has always been hard and dangerous work; it was physically tough work digging out coal by hand, there was little mechanisation at that time. There were pits all over the area, a big one fairly close by, Clanway Colliery, an area I now walk Oskar and no sign of it anywhere.

The next door neighbours at 37 show how soon childhood ended. Police Constable Richard Paelor (48), his wife Sarah (45) and their six children lived…

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Seafood in San Vito

Some of my favourite food.

Being Britalian

Living so close to the coast means there’s an abundance of seafood available all year round and one of the most popular places to eat it, is the town of San Vito Chietino. This small town has everything from inexpensive outdoor eateries, to top class restaurants where you need to check your bank balance before you book a table. There’s even two trabocchi that serve dinner; but to be honest I think they’re more suited to the tourists who don’t mind paying over the odds for the same quality fare they can get up the road for just €5.00.


My favourite place to eat there is the small roadside restaurant called La Locanda Del Mare. Each course is cooked to order; unlike some places where it’s sat waiting for the customer under heat lamps and a course costs just €5.00.

Over the last few weeks I’ve frequented the town more…

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