In Her Defence : Bunch Courtney Investigates New arrivals! @penkhullpress @bunchcourtney00 #crimefiction #newbooks

Looking forward to reading and reviewing.

Jan Edwards

There is nothing quite so exciting as taking delivery of that first box of new books so there was much squeeeing in progress when the first batch of In Her Defence : Bunch Courtney Investigates 2 landed here at the weekend.

Here it is, all its glory, ready and waiting for the launch on 4th April.

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The Good, the Bad and Everest

No, not the mountain − the double glazing firm.

everest

What follows is a tale for our times.

A few weeks before Christmas, my mum, who is an independent, ninety-seven year old in full possessions of all her faculties, received a cold call from a well know double glazing company.

They asked her if she was thinking of having any of her windows replaced and she told them she was not (Everest, the firm who were doing the cold calling, had done the original windows and decades later they are still going strong.) Then the salesman said “What about doors?” to which Mum replied that she was having trouble with the lock on her front door and was it possible to do anything about that.

“Oh no,” the salesman said. “That is definitely not possible. Once the lock has gone, then the whole door must be replaced. If you like, I can send someone round in the next day or so to give you a quote.”

the hard sell

Two or three days later, the people from Everest turned up and quoted Mum a mere £2000 to replace her front door.

Thinking there was no alternative, and fearful of being locked out of the house, when she next went out, Mum reluctantly agreed and wrote a cheque for the deposit.

Now let’s recap. Everest had given Mum false information, locks can be replaced, there was no need for a new front door.

Luckily at this point, my daughter comes over to see her granny and when she hears the sorry tale rings Everest and demands to speak to the manager in charge. She explains the situation and is promised a refund of the deposit and no further communication by the firm.

The next step is to get the door fixed. The firm of locksmiths she tries is fully booked, but when they learn the situation, they suggest an independent contractor−Connor who quotes £200 for the job. Not only that, but he comes round as soon as he can, as he is concerned that Mum is living on her own. He is polite, pleasant and efficient. The door lock works perfectly. All is well.

Then…a week or so later Everest ring, again. They have stated categorically that they will not contact Mum again, but obviously the sales rep either does not know this, or is willing to take the risk to get his bonus before Christmas. Mum is told that he understands she has cancelled the contract but would she like to re-think as he is sure he can get her a better price for the job.

Once again, we are in luck. I take the phone, explain as politely as I can that the situation has been resolved and ask what Everest’s policy is on dealing with vulnerable older people. Naturally, they have a policy, naturally they are concerned, but the rep does not think that he has breached any of the company rules. After asking him if he would like his grandmother to be treated in this way, to which he has no reply, I put down the phone.

The moral−Big companies don’t care. Sales reps who are on commission don’t care. Small business men who have a reputation and are indeed decent human beings do.

Courtyard Garden : First Herald of Spring #courtyardgarden #gardening #snowdrops

Jan Edwards

Here we are on 3rd January and the daylight hours are drawing out. A quick look around the garden in the January sunshine showed dozens of spring bulbs pushing up through the soil, with the promise of all manner of spring colour.

Today, however, I noted the very first hint of the first spring bloom – in this garden at least, I am sure there are places where snowdrops are already in full swing! My solitary snowdrop – Galanthus nivalis – is just beginning to break bud, however and it is one that I am proud of because last year (our first spring here) there were none here at all.

I planted a handful of bulbs way back in June with few expectations because the perceived wisdom for growing these notoriously unpredictable flowers is to plant them ‘in the green’ – that is to plant pot-grown plants (or if you…

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Leftover Yummies #cooking #sweets

Great idea.

Jan Edwards

20181222_141429So what do you do with a large chunk of ready-roll icing after you’ve covered the cake?

It always seems such a terrible waste to throw it in the bin – even if it is essentially 100% sugar, which we are all being told to cut down on.

I added a drop of peppermint oil, shape it into small rounds and coated them in chocolate – and voila!  Home made peppermint creams!

The chocolate is Co-op fairtrade dark chocolate and cost £1. The icing was the left overs from a pack of Dr Oetkers ready-roll fondant icing.  Technically free as it would otherwise have been binned, but possibly 50p worth –  £1.50 for 20 large hand-made mint chocs.

You can adapt this with any flavouring essence (strawberry or orange). Or perhaps add chopped nuts or chopped candied fruits, and make a whole box of yummy homemade chocs. An ideal gift or…

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13th Day – for the Winter Solstice #solstice #fiction

A winter story for the shortest night of the year.

Jan Edwards

The King sent his Lady on the Thirteenth dayImage result for The King sent his Lady on the Thirteenth day Three stalks of corn
Three stalks of corn.
Two maids a-merry dancing.
Three hinds a-merry dancing
An Arabian baboon.
Three swans a-merry swimming
Three ducks a-merry laying.
A bull that was brown.
Three gold spinks[1]
Three starlings
A goose that was grey.
Three plovers
Two partridges, and a papaingo-aye[2].
Who learns my carol and carries it away.

(trad. Old Scottish carol to tune 12 Days of Christmas)

***

A story for the Winter Solstice

Thirteenth Day – Jan Edwards

‘The second day,’ said the Holly-Man. He was rugged. Fragile. A woodsman in a shabby green duster and heavy boots. Behind him stood a boy in an Acorn-hat, waiting in silence.

Kat tweaked a tight smile and went on hacking at the ice-bound soil, hoping they would take a hint and leave. They didn’t.

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Coping with chronic pain – that lonely 3am

Writing my morning pages, more on that later, helps me.

fabricating fiction

Image courtesy of @jontyson

There’s nothing quite as lonely as 3am. The house is quiet; my family asleep. At times like these it’s easy to feel alone. My pelvis is fire, my back screaming in agony each time I shift my position. But I have my blog, words. I can let my pain travel through my fingertips and onto the page. Whether I post this or not, it will be therapeutic to write.

I thought I’d got a handle on my health the past couple years. Along with treatments from a fabulous hospital, I’ve overhauled my diet, take light exercise where I can, meditate daily. My pain had decreased, mobility improved. Lately though there’s been a sense of slipping backwards while trying desperately to cling on to the good days, not let the bad days take over.

Tonight is the worst I have been for a long time. It hurts…

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Pictures at an Exhibition

Exhibition2.JPG

Yesterday we drove down to Great Rollwright for the opening day of my sister’s Christmas Exhibition. Held in her studio it’s an annual event. We always try to get there, not always easy in December, but this year we simply had to go as it was a real family occasion.

Exhibition5Not only were there paintings and stained glass plaques by Anuk, but also it was the first time our niece Ailsa had exhibited her photographs.Exhibition7 And to add another family dimension Sarah Grindsted was showing her pots, hand-made cards and Christmas decorations. Peter’s books of poetry were also on sale.

Logs burned in the stove, mulled wine and mince-pies were served, people came and went. Some stayed only for a short time, others for longer joining us for lunch in the kitchen by the Aga.

I lingered over paintings of landscape that fed the imagination sparking off ideas for another story, or possibly even a novella and was also drawn in by the vibrant colours of the stained glass, the owl swooping down against an orange sunset, the bright green of fields against a blue sky.Exhibition6.JPG

Ailsa’s photographs were equally satisfying. A lace of branches against a pale sky, a splash of light on a dark background, tree roots, or were they dragon’s claws breaking through the earth.

Sarah’s crackle pots made me want to reach out and stroke them, the warm colours sensual and appealing, making me smile even as I type this.

One of the visitors to the exhibition remarked what an artistic family we are and I suppose that’s true. Where exactly this comes from, I’m not sure, though I would guess there is a genetic component. There is also a family ethos of encouraging and nurturing all kinds of creativity.

What will be interesting to see is whether this will continue through the next generation remains to be seen, but both my grandchildren love stories, both listening and adding to them and so taking the first steps to making up their own.