Over the past week in Cambridge, the temperature has dropped down to minus eight at night. It won't last long, and will rise again. Am sure there are colder parts of the country.
It's not the coldest I've experienced. When I was young, I worked for an animal welfare charity, and we flew 90 miles off the coast of Newfoundland onto the ice floes, to watch seal pups being born. We flew in helicopters and landed where the temperature was minus 20 or 30. We wore survival suits which made sleeping bag puffer coats look like summer vests. Our eyelashes grew ice in on them in minutes. We didn't stick around long. I remember feeling like my brain was going numb as everything was shutting down. I also remember that the bars we frequented at night back on dry land afterwards were mainly under ground, in basements. Like the one in 'Cheers' in Boston (sitcom style), to keep warm. Cambridge is tame by comparison.
It's all very well having exciting anecdotes like that. All it makes me think now is how much I've lived a charmed and exciting life. What the cold leaves me feeling now is having a strong sense of guilt. Guilt that I'm warm. Warm in my home, in the day and at night.
I heard on the news last week that the death stats are the highest since records began for January - month on month in England. I wonder how many of those are the elderly who cannot afford to heat their homes. It is very worrying.
I have taken many photographs of frost and snow over the years in Cambridge. But, instead, I thought I'd share one of blossom I took in the Mill Road cemetery. This tree never disappoints, and always reminds me of wedding cakes. So cheerful, and won't be long!
Stay warm and safe.
Been missing my Ma recently. Long time now since I've spoken to her - 2014. Time stops, doesn't it, when you lose your loved ones. Then it hurries by, taking the memories with it.
This is a photo of my Ma as a toddler. I came across it today, whilst trying to delete photographs off my computer. I have too many photos of trees! And ducks, swans, rowers, colleges. The hazard of living in a beautiful place.
This one was amongst them. It is a small piece of card which I think came from a fair, where you'd put money and get a photo ticket. I'd taken a photo, to be sure I didn't lose that face.
Parents have such an indelible mark on us. I see my mother when I look in the mirror. I hear her voice when I speak. Her influence is strong and continues in my mind and actions. I grow into her skin more as I pass through the years, understanding why she chose the paths she walked.
What I love about this item is that it isn't longer than an inch or two, but captures the essence of her so well. I can see her eighty year old face in that small child. As a small child, she would have had no idea how much she achieved in her life and how many adventures she was going to have.
Hug your loved ones. Tell them you love them.
Morning lovely readers,
this morning, I was walking the dog when I chatted with another dog walker about how we hated Monday mornings. Hate. Often saved in common vernacular for more serious issues. Hate is a strong word to use, especially when attributing it to time. Time being one of the most precious things we have on the planet. And how short it is too.
On reflection, I don't hate Monday mornings. Especially when I have a lovely dog to walk. Note to self. Go with the flow on Monday mornings. We are all just twigs flowing down the river. This is a photo I took of a badger I spotted on a dog walk.
Happy Monday mornings.
WRITING AND OTHER THINGS
Hello lovely readers,
People ask me when I started wanting to be a writer, and I can remember there were times in my youth when I would scribble ideas down. I wrote a project when I was about twelve, at school. It was to write a story. It took it really seriously, and of all the things I have thrown away, my first story I saved. I don't know why.
Then, when I was a teenager, I started to keep a diary, a journal. I'd write day diaries, but this was different. I'd write down ideas for stories. My father and mother had both been heavily involved in drama societies - acting, directing - but not really writing. Maybe, it felt like I could branch out and do something of my own. I didn't really get encouraged to act. It felt like their thing. The reality was, I enjoyed writing.
I found this photograph of me, just before Christmas, at the age when I started to take writing seriously. It never took hold until a decade later, but I think I've always been writing in some way.
Good luck to all those who are writing, painting, expressing themselves in some way through art. We are many things. Not just a label. I write, but I also do other things too - so don't see myself as just a 'writer'.
Hope art brings you as much joy as it has brought me.
Is it really 2023?
Here is a photo of a winter swan in Cambridge. I think it sums things up here in Cambridge. Beauty is everywhere at the moment, laid bare.
Hope everyone has a great weekend.
I shall be writing book six of The Cambridge Murder Mysteries, Holiday Mystery. Oh, and tidying! The house is still a mess post Christmas.
Recently, I took time out. I checked out. Mentally and physically.
I was hit by an electric bike, knocked off my feet a couple of weeks before Christmas, and because of the NHS crisis in the UK, decided not to bother with A&E. The bloke was drunk and probably doing around 20 or 30 mph. I hurt my spine, legs, face, head (I had a headache for a week) arms, teeth. It all hurt. So I checked out, stopped, gave in.
It made me appreciate how lucky I was. Nothing broken. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be elderly or the vulnerable and in need right now. I am clearly made of rubber.
When I stopped, I paired down my life. What did I really need. Turns out, it is not much, and those things don't cost a thing.
I wasn't sure whether to bother to blog on this. But wanted to share how much I enjoyed the so called 'little' things. Lighting a fire. Baking. Looking after my family. Sleeping. Watching great TV. Going for a walk and listening to winter bird song. Walking in the snow. Hearing the wind in the trees. Smiling at passersby. Laughing with friends. The so called 'little' things, aren't little. We all know that. So often pushed aside by the 'cut and thrust' and 'media hype' of how to live. The nonsense we are forced and goaded into following. Often thrust upon us by the worst of humanity. If only the quiet gentle people were our leaders. Sigh.
I listened to an Adam Buxton podcast, and on it, Richard E. Grant spoke about losing his wife to cancer. It was terribly moving as it was clear he dearly misses her so. She told him, just before she died, that she appreciated that he would be sad when she was gone, but to try to "find a pocket of happiness" in the day. Look for that golden nugget to hold close. Richard said it saved him after she died. And those nuggets he spoke about were the same things I mentioned. Just appreciating the beauty around us.
I spent a lot of time stroking my dog too - while I was particularly horizontal - who didn't leave my side. This is a photo of Moobear snuggled up in a duvet on the sofa this Christmas.
Hope 2023 is good for everyone. I know I shall be more consciously looking to find a pocket of happiness in every day. I hope you find yours too.
TUSCANY in HOLIDAY MYSTERY
This week, I have been editing Holiday Mystery. Going back through the story, to try to make sure I'm happy with everything. It can be hard work, but also exciting when things click. It takes me as much time editing books as writing them. Every writer is different.
Much of Holiday Mystery is set in Florence, and this week it has taken me back to times I have spent there.
I knew I wanted to send Professor Green abroad in one of The Cambridge Murder Mystery Series, and Italy felt like such a romantic, lively and vibrant place. A spoiler is the she might be getting there by car! I have been lucky enough to visit Tuscany a few times, but this last trip certainly was memorable and I was researching things in more detail.
As it turns out, I was able to include more of Siena and San Gimignano into the novel than I originally planned. Here is a snap I took from one of the towers in San Gimignano.
If you read my books, I hope the new story is worth the wait. Apologies that it has taken longer than most. It is the longest novel I have written.
Holiday Mystery is available for pre-order around the world on Amazon. UK link here. US link here. But also in Canada, Australia and more.
Hope the rest of the week goes by well.
Hello New AND OLD friends
Hello new and old friends,
It is strange to be pausing twitter, as I've enjoyed chatting with people on it for so long. I hope Musk starts to listen and I feel comfortable to return, but hearing he does not care about the chaos he will cause in American elections, and that he is cutting human rights staff makes me nervous.
So, here we are, in this much smaller echo chamber. But I promise to post my photographs here, and just my thoughts of the day. I have opened comments - with approval to stop the bots - so hope to chat here. And, will start my newsletter up again with photographs and musings from Cambridge.
If you join me on this journey, I can promise one thing. I will be here regularly no matter how few are here with me. It is nice to start the day and share happiness in the world. Cx
Sometimes people ask me what I'd be writing if I didn't write murder mysteries. Well, the answer is, I'd be writing about animals and fiction. Truth is, I already have two books out which are about animals. Or, how humans and animals interact. But I never promote them, and no one has read them, haha. Maybe one day, someone will read them.
The first, which is dear to my heart, is called WOOF. It is a dystopian tale, involving animals that speak and humans that can't.
The second is called PUP. It is about a man who rescues a transgenic dog, and what he will lengths he will go to keep the dog safe.
I have more ideas to continue the series, so when I get time, I will write the third. I enjoy making up the stories very much.
I have a new book coming
It's true. I find it even hard to believe myself. It's been the longest time, biggest gap between books. Am completely sure most will be tired of hearing the reason, my long covid. Well, stuff that! It's on the wane, and I'm back! Whether it has ravaged any brain cells I have left and this will be my worst book, who knows! Caution to the wind. Publish and be dammed. Actually, not really. I've been procrastinating longer than usual on the plot and trying to let myself be happy with it. Which is another reason for the delay on this one. I think pandemic-malaise has sat over my head like a grey cloud for far too long. Perhaps the heatwave blew it away or something, as I'm gearing up to move the pre-order date forward.
Enough of my ramblings. It's called Holiday Mystery! It is Bk6 of The Cambridge Murder Mysteries. Positively the last book I write on a computer. I'm done with it, having found newer tech to use instead. So a swan song to the old Mac.
I hope you enjoy it. I really do. Let me know. Professor Elizabeth Green has gone to Italy! For more details, follow the link.
Thank you so much to my readers. Please tell me what you think of my books. I'm always interested to hear.
p.s. I have had to turn comments off due to spam. But you can reach me on twitter most days.