This diary works the other way from most - newest entries are at the bottom. I have deleted many old entries, so it starts rather abruptly, as I make space for new entries by deleting early ones.

 Still lots of copies of SABINE BARING-GOULD; THE MAN WHO TOLD A THOUSAND STORIES in my back bedroom. Might have to drop the cover price a bit...Please think about buying a copy. It's very readable!!



   2nd March 2021

THE ULLSWATER UNDERTAKING will be available very shortly, as well as the paperback of THE PATTERDALE PLOT. I still hope to get to Threlkeld soon for essential research on the next story. Meanwhile, the first volume of what I hope will be a series of narratives about different members of my family is just about finished. WENDY IN WARTIME is a compendium of letters and diaries featuring my mother's older sister, who spent the years after her first husband was killed trying desperately to acquire another. She managed it eventually, having emigrated to Africa. It was fun to do. Next is CLARE TAKES CHARGE which features my granny.

My friend Liz and I have now finished our joint memoir FOREVER FRIENDS as well. We're revising and tidying it now, before deciding what to do with it. It's quite a substantial volume and we're very proud of it.

 The winter lockdown has been very harsh and seemed to go on for ever - still not over, of course, but a strong sense that people are breaking out, and good luck to them, sez I! You've got to live while you can.  Friends and family have died recently, but none of them directly from the virus A local friend in her mid-seventies spent the past year obediently isolating, using the time for painting and reading, and getting almost no exercise. She died alone last week, apparently of heart failure. I will miss her. 

The family has agreed to book a holiday in August, renting a large house for twelve of us and two dogs in the East Midlands. I have a huge list of people and places I urgently want to see. I've been rediscovering old friends, which is a delight. But I still manage to avoid Zoom - assisted by the extremely clunky and inadequate broadband provision we have here. 

Reading as much as ever. Currently on 'Someone at a Distance' by Dorothy Whipple. It's so great that she has been 'rediscovered' after years of neglect. As a writer myself, I deplore the way authors can be completely forgotten, even after a spell of relative popularity. Very much the case with Sabine Baring-Gould, of course. And hundreds of others. 

The fields are still spongy after huge amounts of rain, but there is a prospect of a dryer time ahead, and the buds are swelling on all the shrubs and trees.


 10th April 2021

I'm well into THE THRELKELD THEORY now. The place is pronounced Threkkled. I popped up there last month for some research and am pleased to have chosen it for the next story. Ben Harkness is a central character this time, with a number of viewpoints, as a change from my usual structure of seeing it all through one pair of eyes.

WENDY IN WARTIME has been at the printer for a very long time, with no sign of progress. Higly unusual! My experience of printers, ever since my first job, has been extremely positive. This lot have been decidedly frustrating. I had banked on having the book all done and delivered by next week, but it will be much longer than that. Meanwhile I'm copying more of Wendy's letters. She is now in Africa in the 1950s, describing her difficulties with servants (the houseboy and garden boy) in the most cringe-inducing language. Looked at from a contemporary standpoint, it's almost unbearable. The 'boys' were often married men, sometimes grandfathers, ordered about, paid minute sums, hectored and hit. My aunt herself was not above hitting them. She grew up with servants in England and was bossy by nature, but she must surely have questioned her own behaviour at least occasionally? As a storyteller I am desperate to hear the boys' side, and how they felt about her.  The second volume will feature my grandmother, with Wendy and her siblings more peripheral. It's called CLARE TAKES CHARGE. Which she did, at the end of the 1950s. At the age of 73, she orchestrated an epic move for the family from Cheshire to Devon, and nothing was ever the same again for any of us.

The so-called relaxing of lockdown is making almost no difference to anything for another 5 weeks or so as far as I can see. I want museums, cinemas, hotels, planes and pubs to be freely available withut any additional hassle. As someone who loathes the mobile phone and uses it almost exclusively to do a jigsaw on each evening, just to keep it alive, the prospect of apps and suchlike infuriates me. What happened to my civil liberties?? There is almost nothing in my diary for the month of May, although some auctions and car boots are starting up again at last, thank goodness.

It would appear that the most likely place to allow people like me to fly in and carry on normally while there is Texas. That will suit me nicely. I'm watching the restrictions closely.

I realised after a few pages that I had already read 'Someone at a Distance' so I switched to 'The Priory', also by Dorothy Whipple and enjoyed that very much. I'm now reading my second James Wilson novel, 'The Summer of Broken Stories' which is very compelling, despite being in the present tense, which I usually cannot abide. He does it so well, it isn't as intrusive and annoying as most in that tense are. I still wish people wouldn't do it.

 22nd April 2021

Endless days of frustration with the shambolic business of producing my ‘Wendy in Wartime’ book. Having published about 20 books since 1992, using my own imprint and dealing amicably with printers, this one has defeated me. It seems a lot has changed over the three years since my last title and the whole process has become impenetrable. I have been, as usual, pretty slapdash, as well as ignorant of the recent developments involving PDFs and ‘artwork’ and formatting and things that used to be perfectly simple. So I submitted the text with a few careless typos still present. When I asked for them to be corrected, I was told that meant beginning the entire process from scratch, with much more money to pay – so the book will have embarrassing mistakes and look a mess. Everything takes ages, so from start to finish will be 9 or 10 weeks, which is fantastically much longer than ever before. I will be giving the 150 copies away for free when they finally arrive in late May. Apply here. It is quite a good story, in fact. I’ve been rude about most of my relatives.


 31st May 2021

Quite a lot of book-related activity over recent months. ECHOES IN THE COTSWOLDS is due at the end of July. THE THRELKELD THEORY is almost finished. I've got a faint outline for BETRAYAL IN THE COTSWOLDS as well. Plus WENDY IN WARTIME is finally here, and several kind friends have read it and commented. All but one have told me it kept them turning the pages, and the character study of a single person in a time of war gave them plenty to think about. The exception was a person who thought it a pointless exercise. Made me think about the differences between fiction and non-fiction. If I had made it into a novel, would it still seem pointless?? Looked at in one way, all writing is pointless, I suppose.

Very tentative travel plans, still. A few days here and there and some vague but ambitious plans to get to France and America. After so much rain here, in January, February and May, the appeal of the countryside does wear off. In fact the appeal of this whole country can grow very thin without sunshine.

Both my daughters are breeding from their Shih Tzus this year. One litter of puppies is born - four girls and a boy. The others are due at the end of June. A lovely distraction for the whole family.

I've read several more excellent novels, as well as a biography of Edward Bulwer Lytton by Michael Sadleir, which I found engrossing. The most recent discovery was 'Butcher's Crossing' by John Williams, which is extremely powerful, and quite gruelling.

This week is intended mainly for gardening. It only took a week of warmer weather for the whole place to turn into pure wilderness - I do need at least a few paths to be mown through it. As lways, it's thronged with dozen of different sorts of birds.


 21st July 2021

Oh dear - another long gap. It's tempting to say there has not been very much to record, but in fact I've been out and about quite a lot. The horrible weather through much of June has something to do with my silence - it did lower my mood rather. Now we have some serious sunshine, I am galvanised into action. Working on FOUR books at once, although the main focus is on BETRAYAL IN THE COTSWOLDS which is set in Oddington, near Stow-on-the-Wold. Its only real claim on anyone's attention is an 'abandoned' church - which I might well NOT include in the story.  I never like to be obvious.

THE THRELKELD THEORY is now scheduled for early 2022, and I am going through a quick revision this week. There is also FOREVER FRIENDS which is now almost completed, and being tidied up. It's a joint memoir with my lifelong friend Liz, and between us we've created something rather good, I believe. We'll publish it ourselves, probably - should be available by early next year. And finally I'm relentlessly copying and processing hundreds of family letters, as I have been for some years now - with a view to writing CLARE TAKES CHARGE which will be the story of my grandmother during the 1950s. Her life was quite eventful, especially during that decade.

The impossibility of foreign travel is rankling more and more, but when it's hot and sunny here I have to admit I'm in a very good part of the world. There are puppies to play with, and at least I can go to the pub without too much hassle. And the garden is always there, waiting for a bit more mowing.

Still reading two or three books a week. A current favourite is Belinda Bauer, who makes many other crime writers look somewhat cliched. Her characters are always so credible and yet delightfully original. 

In August there's a big family holiday booked in Derbyshire, but very little in the diary after that. Even the talks that have been tentatively arranged for October might never take place - nothing can be said for certain these days. 


12th October 2021

I really thought I'd written more of this, since July. Did the computer eat it, or was time passing a lot more quickly than I realised? Shameful, in any case. Apologies to those who regularly check for updates in vain.

It has been a summer nicely filled with family gatherings. The big one was in mid-August, where twelve of us (and two dogs) rented a big house in Wirksworth, Derbyshire and had a really great time. Only two members of my immediate family (offspring, partners and children) were absent. We explored the local area, with little need to go further than Matlock. I had wanted to see Chatsworth, but the astronomial cost, plus restrictions due to Covid were offputting. We did see it from the road. In Wirksworth, three of us saw a film in a fabulous little cinema, not much bigger than someone's front room. They serve cocktails and the seats are luxuriously comfortable. And they show offbeat films. The one on the night we went was @Riders for Justice' - funny, complicated and highly satisfying.

As for writing it has been slow but steady. BETRAYAL IN THE COTSWOLDS is more than half done, and flickering ideas are emerging for THE ASKHAM ACCUSATION. Feedback from WENDY IN WARTIME is very much better than I expected, which encourages me to crack on with CLARE TAKES CHARGE. I will probably revise and reissue the Wendy volume, in the light of new information and the need to correct a few mistakes. I have contacted most of the families of men Wendy knew (and slept with, in some instances) with mixed results. It's rather an intrusive and risky thing to do, perhaps. How would you feel if a strange woman wrote to tell you your grandfather had cheated on his wife in 1944? My main defence is that a writer has a responsibility to expose the truth, which sounds very pompous. It is also at least partly true that 'morality' was set aside to some extend during the war. People really did think they might well die tomorrow, and should live for the moment accordingly. 

I've done a huge amount of reading over the past 18 months. All sorts of things. Dorothy Whipple still stands out as special. But many others have given me great pleasure and made me think. The Bloch biography of Jeremy Thorpe took me back to the 1970s very vividly. It also made me feel old! Not one of my children had ever heard of him. That was a shock. I am now halfway through 'Sapiens' which most people read two or three years ago. I can feel new ideas and understandings clicking around in my head as I read. 

There is still a mountain of family memorabilia here to process. Just now I'm copying letters and diaries from the early 1960s. I have detailed material from three generations, often each describing the same events from different viewpoints. It's a bit like three-dimensional chess at times, fitting it together. My mother emerges as a 'survivor' almost submerged by the strong characters around her. She took refuge in writing. Good for her

I'm still enjoying Postcrossing (see above) and writing letters as I have done all my life. My Broadband has been dreadfully slow and intermittent for a year or more now, which can be seriously frustrating. But it gives me an impetus to go outside and revel in the profusion of life out there. The birds get better and better. An assortment of owls serenade the hours before dawn, and there's a plethora of berries in the straggly hedgerows.


 17th December 2021

I finished BETRAYAL IN THE COTSWOLDS at the end of November, and am having a lazy month now. My printer developed a small fault back in October and I still haven't got it back from the very dilatory and annoying repair people. This meant that all my Christmas letters have been hand-written, and are a lot shorter as a result. Perhaps that's a good thing.

Reading my old diaries has awakened many memories from the 50s and 60s, and some rather startling insights into the life we led then. There is a very dark underside to it all which I have been only dimly aware of for much of my life. Better late than never, I suppose. My friend Liz and I have finished our joint memoir FOREVER FRIENDS, but I am going to rewrite some of the early part, in the light of these new realisations. We will be seeking a publisher for it, and ideally for the three or four volumes of family history and autobiography yet to be written.

Latest rave read was 'A Gentleman in Moscow' by Amor Towles. Again, I came to it later than most people, but had not heard anything about the actual story. I think it is utterly brilliant. I love the way he trusts the reader to keep up and make connections for themselves. I have also just read 'Garden of Promises and Lies' by Paula Brackston, which is extremely well written. The sequel 'City of Time and Magic' is on my To Be Read pile, having just been published. And for a really blissful wallow, I am regularly turning to Louis L'Amour, for reliable excitement, wonderful detail and characterisation. The effect is exactly the same as that of the books of Lee Child.

Outside there are stacks of firewood to cut up, dead bracken to clear, and snowdrops to watch out for. I recently met a wood carver who will happily take some of my larger pieces of oak, cherry and willow to turn into lovely objects.

As always the Christmas cards with news updates and reassurances that life goes on much the same for real people regardless of their attitude to lockdowns, etc, are the best part of this time of year. I have to wince a bit at those who boast of wearing masks all day long and staying clear of their unhappy old relatives, but they are the minority. Plenty have had the virus with no ill effects and wonder what the fuss has been about.

The New Year will see me heading north to look at Askham, and perhaps meet a long lost relative in Scotland. Also having some more of my regular trips to central London, which never fails to delight me.

Have a good Christmas, everybody!!


 3rd March 2022

Realy no excuse for this extra-long gap. The winter passed reasonably smoothly, although the persistent restriction on life in Wales is very tiresome indeed. I live in England, but only a mile from the border, and would like to do my shopping in Wales. But it's too depressing, so I go the other way.

 FOREVER FRIENDS is now actively looking for a publisher. It's a 'quiet' sort of memoir by many standards, and a very 'British' sort of friendship. But it has survived for 60 years and more, so we must have been doing something right. We're both writers and I think we've captured the times as well as our individual lives rather well. We did a lot of travelling, both separately and together.

THE ASKHAM ACCUSATION is in full swing, and I'm enjoying it. Simmy is having a very challenging time, poor girl. THE THRELKELD THEORY looks to be attracting quite a lot of favour, which is pleasing. And BETRAYAL IN THE COTSWOLDS is scheduled for July. ECHOES IN THE COTSWOLDS is shortly out in paperback.

The diary is tentatively filling up and I've rashly booked flights to America in June for myself and grand-daughter. What could possibly go wrong??

The log fires have been as blissful as I hoped, and the steady supply of wood carries an ancient reassurance - heat, light and cooking are all guaranteed thanks to a big stack of logs. Well, not much light, but a cheery glow is much better than nothing. The power went off a few times in the gales, and drove my poor dog to a frenzy.

March so far is dark and damp. Good writing weather...


 2nd May 2022

Not sure where the past two months went. Very variable weather but hardly any sitting outside. Easter Day was dry and mild, as it has been every year I can remember, certainly since I had children and they hunted for chocolate eggs and made nests for the Easter Bunny. This year, as usual, we ate roast lamb outside.

No response from the publisher I approached regarding FOREVER FRIENDS. In earlier times there would always be an acknowledgment, even if a decision took a while. Rudeness is clearly the norm now - says this grumpy old lady.

 THE ASKHAM ACCUSATION is going rather slowly, but it's good fun, all the same. I discovered by accient that I'm on the longlost for the Dagger in the Library, again. Not holding my breath, even if I am one of the most borrowed authors on the list. 

My first seven titles (loosely known as The Westcountry Series) are being reissued as e-books this summer by Joffe Books, which I gather should be a boost to sales. Exciting! I have to provide synopses and character lists for them all, which is a challenge after 20 years or so.

Still hoping to be allowed to fly to America in a month's time. Nothing is certain, of course. At least I think there's still three years to go on my passport - what a fiasco that is at the moment!

I am aware that this poor website is badly neglected. I should get somebody to do it for me, really. It's never very high priority.


 15th July 2022

St Swithin's Day! If the folklore is right, we're due a perfectly wonderful summer for a change. It can't get too hot for me. Unlike many people, I thrive in it, and sleep better on hot nights. I had two weeks in the American Deep South in June, where it was gloriously hot, especially Montgomery, Alabama. I took my eldest grand-daughter, aged just 20, and we had a great time being simple ordinary tourists. People kept asking us why we were there....tourism has not got going again since covid. 

Books are going well. Just delivered THE ASKHAM ACCUSATION due out next spring. The Joffe Books reissues are due to start early August. Having gone over them again, I have to say that two or three of them are perhaps my very best work. The plots get rather convoluted, but the characters are engaging - and often pretty funny.

I'm aiming to devote the next 8-10 weeks to CLARE TAKES CHARGE. I have a vast quantity of material for it, which has to be organised and selected to make a proper narrative. It is the 1950s, and the roads of Britain are lethal. Fatal accidents are routine occurrences for most families, it seems. I lost an uncle and a half-sister within a few months.

I'm toying with the idea of going to Bouchercon (international crime convention) in San Diego next year. I'd combine it with another road trip, to which I am addicted.

Just freshened up the website a bit...it wasn't as bad as I thought.

As always, I'm reading voraciously. In the 1980s I read most of the novels of Joanne Greenberg, who is now almost forgotten. I've started reading them again. She is extremely good. I'm still enjoying Dorothy Whipple, as well as Beatrice Kean Seymour. These writers all deserve a contemporary readership. They have a lot of wise things to say.


 30th August 2022

Lovely summer - like three months of free holiday, with so much blissful sunshine.

Writing is a bit slow, as a result. Still hoping to finish the first draft of CLARE TAKES CHARGE by the end of this month. Then it will be all systems go for A DISCOVERY IN THE COTSWOLDS where I think Stephanie will play a central role and Drew's business is floundering. Alternative funeral services are becoming rather a crowded field these days.

I was scheduled to give a talk in Ledbury next month, with Suzette Hill. But it turned out that 'Ledburied' is a new venture, run jointly with the local bookshop, which somehow assumes that writers will show up and perform for no fee. No expenses either, and not allowed to sell books. Having agreed to do it before realising this, I stuck to the agreement quite willingly. However, the mere fact of asking the question - Is there a fee? seems to have infuriated the organiser, who cancelled me. I did also ask if I could bring books to sell. No - the bookshop gets all the profits from the event. The whole exchange (via email) was perfectly representative of how little one has to do to become 'troublesome' nowadays. It came as quite a shock. In the olden days (and with many organisations still, I hope and believe) there would have been a far more open and accommodating discussion. I'm left wondering how Ledburied can ever hope to succeed - where is funding going to come from to pay writers to appear? I also wonder if the people in the audience realise how it's all been set up.

As of yesterday I have a new faster internet system, running off the nearest satellite mast. Seems fine so far, but I've become so used to 0.5 mps that I hardly know what to use the new service for!! Can't talk myself into Netflix, and the idea of Zoom horrifies me.

The dominant theme of my life just now is Family. Two seaside holidays with grandchildren, a newly-discovered nephew, and the endless mountains of old letters - and every day I see more clearly how the mechanism works. The patterns, repeated down the generations, the damage too. The unbearable responsibility of parenthood - and the surprising redemption to be found in GRANDparenthood. All good stuff.

I'm making a lot of warm woolly things for the winter, as well.

 29th September 2022

A much busier month, mainly devoted to the family history stuff, but A DISCOVERY IN THE COTSWOLDS is finidng its feet. My 'discovery' was what a lovely village Baunton is. After Oddington (Upper and Lower) it has a refreshingly welcoming and open atmosphere, plus some intriguing nooks and crannies.

I have four talks coming up. Minehead Library is the furthest afield, on the 12th Oct at 2.00pm. Libraries are my favourite venue - always grerat audiences. I was on the shortlist for the Dagger in the LIbrary again this year, but didn't win - again. Sales seem to be more or less steady, and the Joffe Books reissues will all be available during October. They're ebooks, with 'generic' covers. Very pretty, but don't bear much relation to the actual stories.  As I often recount in my talks, my whole attitude to book covers is coloured by what happened with my very first published novel. 'A Dirty Death' takes place on a farm with Jersey cows. The cow on the cover is black and white, which I found very upsetting. Since then I've pretty much kept out of any discussion about the cover. Anyway, the ebooks are impossibly cheap, so the point, I suppose, is to get my name known to a new swathe of readers, rather than to make any money...

The local auction is finally allowing people in, rather than restricting all the bidding to online, so I'm back with a vengeance, buying all sortf of treasures, which my family regard as junk. It's great fun and I've discovered that there are a great many magpies like me, who buy things because they might come in handy, or might sell at a profit or make good Christmas presents...always some justificvation can be invented!

I have registered to attend the 2023 Bounchercon, next year. It's in San Diego. I haven't been to one for several years, and might find it a bit of a shock to the system. But I'm combining it with another road trip, this time with my elder son. Meanwhile I'm going to Alice Springs and Uluru in a few weeks' time. Very extravagant of me, but I figured it might be now or never.

For exercise I'm digging up a lot of hogweed and sawing up a lot of firewood.


 28th October 2022

Shortly off to Australia for much of November - Alice Springs and Uluru. Counting the minutes...

THE ASKHAM ACCUSATION is in production now, my part all done. I'm aiming to get almost a third of the way through A DISCOVERY IN THE COTSWOLDS before I go. It'll be a while before I embark on THE BORROWDALE BUSINESS.

Yesterday I deposited another load of family letters and other material in the University of Gloucester archive in Cheltenham. I set a deadline of October 2023 by which to finish processing everything I have and handing it over to the archive. I am very behind schedule, because there are thousands of letters and I'm intent on reading and at least summarising all of them before I part with them. The idea is to construct an autobiography, as well as the titles about my mother, aunt and grandmother. I've been too ambitious. Whatever happens, this coming year is going to be very busy!

There's been a run of talks and it's nice to be in such demand. There's another next week, locally, and two booked for January. One is about Baring-Gould, for which I need to read two or three of his novels again.

After the glorious summer we're enjoying a magnificent autumn. Huge apple harvest - they're bigger and sweeter than I ever remember. The colours of the leaves are fabulous, too. And there are lovely exotic mushrooms and toadstools everywhere. I have eight or ten different sorts just along my driveway. I've eaten a few of them.

And for good measure a magpie decided it liked my house and kept coming in to explore. It wasn't scared of me or the dog. Then I caught another magpie attacking it outside and it hasn't been back since. I suspect it was unpopular with its family and friends for identifying as a human.


 17th December 2022

Australia was a lovely change of scene - several scenes, in fact. Sydney, Alice Springs, Uluru and Orange (NSW). A relaxed schedule, on the whole, by my usual standards. Uluru was like something in a dream. I could hardly believe I was really there. The 'resort' where tourists stay is very basic, as well as very expensive!! Awful food. It was still quite post-covid, with very few attractions. No camels at the camel farm...The birds were lovely and we encountered a very exciting big lizard sunning itself. In Alice Springs there was obviously a lot of social unrest, with the indigenous people visibly unhappy. There has been a crime wave there this year, which is still ongoing. Nearby is an amazing place called 'Ross River Resort'. Also basic, very remote, not too expensive and probably utterly unque. We called in for lunch one day, driving 100 miles or more to get there and back.

THE ASKHAM ACCUSATION is out very soon now. Also the paperback of BETRAYAL IN THE COTSWOLDS . For the first time I did not do a final proofread, due to being in Australia, so there will be small mistakes - more than usual. A dISCOVERY IN THE COTSWOLDS is well over halfway now. A very tangled plot so far!

I have found the 'Dictate' facility on my computer and am now working very much faster on preserving the contents of the family letters, etc. The very cold weather has kept me indoors, so I've made excellent progress lately. But there is some outside work to be done, such as cutting up firewood. The logburners are deliciously cosy and the house keeps warm at almost no cost.

I must mention a forgotten author. Joanne Greenberg is (was?) American, with several novels to her credit, published by Gollancz in the 1970s and 80s.  I read most of them then and am now reading them again. 'Founder's Praise' is the latest. A real tour de force! A most excellent piece of writing. 

Christmas is not far off now. The postal strike has been deeply frustrating. Not just delays, but things lost completely, and one package badly mangled.


 18th February 2023

Oh dear - another long gap! A DISCOVERY IN THE COTSWOLDS is now in the pipeline, scheduled with luck for this summer. Meanwhile the family papers have continued to absorb me more and more. I've made contact with cousins for the first time, rekindled an old friendship and immersed myself in the long-ago days of the 1970s. But it is salutary to realise what a high proportion of events and people have been completely and irrevocably forgotten.

I'm reading MATILDA AND THE CHICKENS by Mrs Robert Henrey this week and absolutely loving it. In fact I'm buying extra copies to give to people, as I know several who will love it as much as I do. It depicts life on a Normandy farm in the late 1940s.

Grandson Luke is forging ahead at Durham, getting involved in politics as well as his studies. He enjoys the Union debates.

I am assured by readers that THE ASKHAM ACCUSDATION is fine, and my lack of proofreading doesn't show. The paperback will be along fairly soon, I expect, and I'll check that version carefully.

Bookings for talks are healthy, sending me all around the country. In Waltham Forest I am giving two in one day, which will be interesting. I'll be tempted to try to avoid repeating a single line, joke or fact. As I speak without notes, that might not be too difficult.

Most of the family are joining me in a holiday in Germany this summer. It has been top of my list for a while now.


12th April 2023

 Oops! Where did March go? Half of it, actually, was devoted to the Hereford Film Festival. I saw 16 films and missed two, due to snow. Favourite with everyone was 'Lunana', set in Bhutan and a perfect little gem. There were more lemons than usual - slow, contrived, plotless and tedious. Like 'Godland'. That was very hard going indeed.

Some days were spent checking copy edit and then proofs of A DISCOVERY IN THE COTSWOLDS, which is now in the pipeline for September, apparently. It's hard work these days, because apart from a few trivial queries made by the copy editor, the entire job is down to me. 'All mistakes are my own,' as they say. I'm told it's because I don't have an agent - agents are the new editors. Meanwhile there has been a flurry of enthusiasm on Twitter for my serieses to be turned into TV drama - but no actual movement in that direction.

The big Baring-Gould anniversary (100 years since he died) is being handsomely celebrated in Tavistock next April, and at other places in Devon over the year. My biography is selling sporadically, and soon there'll only be a few boxes left.

I'm still in demand for talks and did one recently in Ledbury, which I enjoyed a lot. My 'style' always goes down well - it's not so much a 'talk' as a 'chat' and the audience participated wonderfully. They asked deeply intelligent questions!! 

Now I have three books on the stocks. As well as the Cotswolds one, there's CLARE TAKES CHARGE all finished and on its way, as well as FOREVER FRIENDS following closely on its heels. I am processing family letters at a steady pace, reliving my past so vividly it's often a bit disconcerting. I continue to make contact with distant relatives and connections, who are almost always enthusiastic about the project of preserving as much family history as possible. I have just done a secoind DNA test with a different outfit, hoping to scoop up more distant cousins.

Next month I'm off to Cumbria again to look at Borrowdale, where Simmy's Christopher has a magically thrilling house clearance commission. 

My garden - well, gardens, plural, strictly speaking - are at their best in the spring. The daffodils are fabulous, and I've got a lot of patio pots all planted up. There's masses of toad spawn in the pond, more than ever before, and the wildlife out in the fields is burgeoning. No nightingales yet, though...There's a lovely big cock pheasant with a limp who lives near the house. He has a very elusive wife who I seldom see.

I've booked myself into BOUCHERCON this year. It's San Diego at the beginning of September. My son Adam is coming with me and we'll drive around the South for a week afterwards. We're going to the Zoo as well, of course.

The local auctions are now back to full strength, more or less, and the house is again full of beautiful rubbish.


 5th June 2023 The second half of May was spent quietly at home, enjoying two weeks of sunshine and long days in which to pursue all my favourite activities. Except travel and one or two other things. THE BORROWDALE BARGAIN is now started, thanks to a very pleasant research trip a month ago. The place itself is most inspiring.

CLARE TAKES CHARGE is finally being printed, many weeks later than hoped. The experience of self-publishing has ceased to be any fun at all. Printers were always my favourite people, co-operative, intelligent, flexible. Not any more! They are slaves to the computer, can't understand the age-old universal proofreading symbols and for every correction they make at least one new mistake. I have not experienced such frustration for a long time. And it will all have to be done again for FOREVER FRIENDS and, next year, SYBIL SURVIVES, which is the torrid story of my parents' marriage. It raises questions about how much truth to reveal, but I am confident that my mother would have wanted the whole story to be made public. She kept one big secret, which was blown the moment my father died, but was not slow to talk about her personal issues to anyone who would listen. And she wrote it all down.

Holidays are coming up - Germany and the USA. But first I have another spell at home for writing, gardening, car boot sales and reading. A string of family birthdays through the summer, as well.