A to Z Challenge – Accepted

Firstly, let me apologise for not being more active over this Christmas period. I knew that I was going to be very busy, but I had thought that I would still find an hour here and there to read posts and interact with my fellow bloggers, but I didn’t.

In the meantime, I have made a resolution to find employment as soon as possible and that may too mean that I will be blogging less than I had been up until recently. I still intend to take part in various challenges and post at least something daily.

Secondly, I have been tagged by Stuart L Tutt of Something to Stu Over to take part in his A to Z Challenge which he created. See the post here:

So In-keeping with this theme,

A is for Apologise. (see above)

B is for Bramley Apples. I didn’t realise until my friends who were staying with me over christmas and who hail from Australia told me, that Bramley Apples are not a variety known outside the UK. They are the go-to apple for cooking. They are large and green and very tart, far too tart for just biting into, but when cooked they turn into the most fluffy and sweet apple puree and are perfect for puddings, pies and crumbles. I always make Christmas puddings for Christmas, but as not everyone likes the heavy dried fruit, I usually make a Bramley Apple Crumble too. Delicious.

C is for Christmas. It was so lovely to spend time with my Australian friends over Christmas this year. It was a bit hectic and chaotic sharing my house with six people, but they were wonderfully considerate and we had a great time. It made this Christmas particularly memorable. I do enjoy Christmas, but I am glad too, that it is all over and I can get back to my normal routine.

D is for Duxford, a place near Cambridge that houses the Imperial War Museum Aeroplane section, it was a treat to learn more about Spitfires, Lancaster Bombers, Flying Fortresses and Concorde.

E is for Eggs. My Chickens are still providing me with an average of three eggs per day. Normally they slow down in the dark winter days, but this year they have kept on going. Bless their little feathers.

F is for Friends and Family. Thank God for them.

G is for Games. Over Christmas, I have played a few board games and Card Games and even a few games of Charades. G is also for Goose. Rather than Turkey, which is typically eaten in the UK for Christmas, I chose to cook Goose instead. I really don’t like the taste of Turkey and Goose is much more flavoursome in my opinion. It is much fattier, though.

H is for Holidays. In the UK we use this word to describe all short breaks and vacations away from work, rather than specifically for the Christmas period or Holy Days.

I is for Imagination. I am so thankful that I have a vivid imagination but it probably is the cause of my anxieties and phobias. It can be a bit of a curse, but it is a curse worth having.

J is for Jokes. So many jokes are contrived and not particularly funny, the best jokes are the random things that happen in life. If we can learn to laugh at life, we’ll never be short of a joke.

K is for Koalas. Aren’t they cute? They also smell bad and sleep a lot.

L is for London. One of the best things about having friends over from other countries is that I get to take them sightseeing around London. Over the last few days I have gone to the Imperial War Museum, The Victoria and Albert Museum, Tower Bridge, Southbank, Knightsbridge, Kensington, Buckingham Palace (outside only), Trafalgar Square, St Pauls Cathedral, Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe theatre and other wonderful sights in London. I do love London.

M is for Mistletoe, which is a parasitic plant that grows on trees. It is associated with Christmas and also Yule. M is also for Macbeth which is the play that I saw at Shakespeares Globe.

N is for Nature. What would we do without our green spaces, or parks, gardens, mountains, rivers, forests and fields. What a grim place this would be, if there were nothing but buildings and concrete.

O is for Oak Trees. My favourite trees.

P is for Perseverance – Follow your path with determination, never lose sight of your goal.

Q is for Queen Elizabeth II. God bless you ma’am.

R is for Resolutions, January is the time for new beginnings and I am excited at what this new year will bring.

S is for St. Pauls Cathedral, the huge Domed Cathedral in the City of London. It is a beautiful building, designed by the architect Christopher Wren.

T is for Tea, my favourite drink. A good cup of strong tea, made in a tea pot from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant. Served with milk and a piece of cake. Heaven.

U is for Umbrellas. We have been lucky not to have needed any over this Christmas period. The weather has been grey, but no rain and surprisingly not particularly cold either (temperatures averaged around 10 degrees Celcius).

V is for Vision. If you can see something happening, then it is much more likely to happen.

W is for Wishing. Make a wish, then make it happen.

X is for Xenophile – someone who likes people who come from other places. Love of strangers. The opposite of Xenophobia. It is our differences that make us interesting and with mutual respect should not be a barrier to making friends.

Y is for Yorkshire Puddings – I have spoken about them before. If you don’t know what they are, google the recipe and make them.

Z is for Zest. Zest for life, if change is the spice of life, opportunity is its Zest.

I hope your 2019 is the best it can be. 🙂

Florence thoughts

I am thinking a lot about my blogging pals in the US at the moment.

I know that the US is a vast country, and I don’t know how many of you are going to be affected by the coming storm Florence, but I am thinking of you and wishing you and your loved ones are safe at this time.




A new appreciation for Agatha Christie

You may or may not be aware but I began writing a murder mystery. Some of you may observe, it is in the style of Agatha Christie. This was originally a challenge set by my tutor on my creating writing course. I also weaved into the story the word prompt – Notable. This was my story Death of a Notable – A Murder Mystery,

See here for the link:


I have always been a huge fan of Agatha Christie, well at least since the age of 12 when my English teacher was rather scandalised to learn that I was still reading Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl. Of course there is nothing wrong with those authors or their work. I recommend Enid Blyton’s Folk of the faraway tree, as it is a light-hearted fantasy worth of being well read. Roald Dahl was a very entertaining author and his books from James and the Giant peach to The Witches, are still deservedly entertaining children the world over. That is the point though, they were, in my teacher’s mind, very much children’s books and he felt I should have moved on to something a little more adult.

He lent me a copy of Agatha Christie’s Crooked house, which incidentally was one of Mrs Christie’s own favourites. I was hooked from then on. I probably own 90% of the books she wrote, including her entertaining autobiography. 

Having taken a stab (if you pardon the use of the word) at writing something of a murder mystery I have a new appreciation for what she managed to do. Let me tell you, it is incredibly hard. 

To weave a number of different alternatives into the story, each one believable; to put in certain clues, some real and some red herrings, it is nerve-wracking. You instantly believe that the solution is so obvious that people are bound to guess it. You worry that you have made it too easy, but then you are also in danger of weaving so many little plots that the whole thing becomes annoying for the reader. You have to create characters and once having done so you are bound to ensure that each one doesn’t behave out of character unless there is a very good reason for doing so. 

That is another hard thing, you must have reasons for things to be believable. You find yourself saying to yourself “But of course people would have known straight away that someone altered the clock” or “They would have seen them pick up that knife”. I am sure that Mrs Christie would have done the same. Yet, she wrote the most amazingly complex plots, and deftly created some entertaining characters. She leads you round by the nose making you suspect everyone in turn and yet never really guess the whole answer, maybe if you’re lucky you may have worked a bit of it out, never the whole thing. 

Having dipped my toe into writing this genre, I realise just how hard it is. To write a crime novel where you know who the person, that may be easier, I may have to try it in the future, but to write a mystery novel like Mrs Christie so expertly did, that has been one of the hardest things I have tried to do. I have loved the challenge, but I have to admit, my attempt is but a mere parody of the real thing. It is a loving tribute.

Bravo, Mrs Christie, let us all raise a glass (hopefully without any Cyanide in it) and toast to a literary giant and give thanks for the huge volume of work she has left us. 

I am off to re-read some of my favourites:

A Murder is Announced

Sleeping Murder

The Big Four

Cat Among the Pigeons

and of course,

Murder at the Vicarage.

Tell me, are you a fan of Agatha Christie? What are your favourites? Do you prefer Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot? 

Let me know what you think.

All the best