Saturday, 30 December 2017

Diary of a Provincial Jack Russell

Diarist, Author and mischief-maker,
Judy Good-Dog
December 28th :  I am strutting down my Old Retainer's drive keeping a leery eye open for the appearance of that smelly hound next door when Rosie and her owner pass by.  Untruthfully, I wag my tail in greeting at her, but it is only the doggy treat that I know her owner has in her pocket that interests me.  However, I can only get to wag number three before I am dragged by my Old Retainer (OR) down the street for my walk at a pace that was unbecoming and certainly far in excess of any speed that my OR can reasonably expect to maintain without the severe possibility of apoplexy on his part.
(Query : will Chippie, the hound next door, be available for his putting in his place this afternoon I wonder?)
(Note to Self : investigate all that stuff in OR's spare room because I suspect that he and his Trainee are up to something and my time here may be cut short.)

December 29th :  I was right!  After my walk yesterday I was bundled into my basket, put in the travel cage and thence into the car.  It was a long journey and I had to amuse myself with the shape of the passing clouds, the appalling colour scheme of a car we passed and the prospect of new adventures.
(Memo : must instruct OR on the need to consider every blade of grass during the course of an adventure.)
We are now here at the holiday cottage.  Good!  At least I’ll have another opportunity to sort out that Black Labrador across the road.  The Trainee Retainer keeps on complaining that the place is cold.  I could not agree more and I decide to settle into my basket with my duvet.

December 30th :  Leisurely morning reading the Daily Telegraph.  A stroll down to the sea front and back, followed by a late morning snooze which is rudely interrupted by the arrival of Lord and Lady H.  Nevertheless, I make them especially welcome, but get nothing for my pains. 
Port Mulgrave
(Note to self : must remind OR to instruct his visitors to have doggy treats with them at all times.)
Lord and Lady H stay for lunch.  Then more travelling - but to the shops this time.  Of course I am left unceremoniously in the car park.  What a relief that Rosie, Chippie, Meg, Soda, Gem, Anna and that flea-ridden piece of mange at the bottom of the street at home are not able to witness my abandonment.  However, I rise above my deplorable situation by feigning guard duty.  My dignity is saved, eventually, by the return of my OR and we are off again, travelling.  Back at the cottage I stretch out on the best rug in the best room and watch my OR and his Trainee dashing in and out.  I also find, to my surprise and without any prior consultation, that Lord and Lady H are staying for the duration - so that's two more waifs to guard for goodness knows how long. 
(Memo : have overheard a conversation between Lord H and OR about putting a Kitty together.  Must find the cat. Even more intriguing, must determine how they managed to break the animal in the first place!)
Evening spent by the fire as the four waifs went out, presumably to eat as there was no kitchen activity and therefore no tasty titbits in my dog-bowl.  I do wish the OR would keep me informed about such changes in routine - how can I possibly be expected to maintain my diet and figure otherwise.

 December 31st :  Stroll into town today.  Regrettably there were no other canines that needed to be informed of my status.  Equally regrettable, there were no other canines to impress with my sleek coat, lithe figure, beautifully shaped patches and matching collar!  But there was more conversation about this dratted Kitty. 
(Further note to self : undertake a more thorough search of the property and devise a trap for the cat.)
A lot of frenzied activity in the kitchen this afternoon with Lady H and the Trainee rushing
Oneself, beating a hasty retreat
about.  Also a lot of talk about a large porker.  First a cat to find and now a pig!  I decide that discretion is the better part of valour and retreat to the fireside.
The waifs are busy eating in the dining room so I have been able to conduct a thorough and detailed search of the cottage.  Have not been able to find the cat.  Also, have noticed that there are no feeding bowls for the cat and have come to the conclusion that the cat must have been put back together again and shown the door.  Still not able to locate the pig.  Have a theory that I should be able to find it soon as it will need to use the lavatory - so am mounting a constant guard outside the bathroom door.  It really is a dog's life!

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Crooked Cat Sale

Want to find a bargain???

Then visit the great Crooked Cat Sale, loads of titles - including Messandrierre and Merle - for 99p/c or international equivalent

There are romances, mysteries, crime, thrillers and lots, lots more. Treat yourself whilst you have the opportunity! 

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Merry Christmas

It's the time of year when I take break for Christmas.  My tree is all done, presents wrapped and all that's left to do is to cook on Christmas Day!  Can't wait!

I will back in January 2018 with lots of new posts about France, introducing new writers to you and lots and lots of other stuff.  So, keep watching this space to find out what's coming up in the New Year

I would also like to say Thank You.  Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my books and, if you have written a review as well, thank you again.  We writers need reviews - good or bad - we need them.  If you're a regular reader of this blog - thank you for being there.  If you only visit once in a while, thank you for visiting and I hope you will return in the New Year.  If this is your very first visit to this blog, thank you for dropping by and please stop by again.

Lastly, I just want to wish everyone a very happy Christmas and if Christmas is not your thing, then I wish you happiness.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Please welcome, friend and author...

... Alice Castle to my blog today. Hi Alice, thanks for being here and I believe you have a new book to tell me about.  So over to you...

Thanks so much to Angela for hosting me today.  It’s lovely to be able to talk about my second novel, The Girl in the Gallery.  Like my first cozy crime whodunit, Death in Dulwich, the story owes a lot to its setting.  I’ve always loved Dulwich Picture Gallery and, when I realised it was celebrating 200 years as a public gallery this year, I was determined to use this extraordinary building as a backdrop to the latest crime that my amateur sleuth, Beth Haldane, sets about solving.  I started the book this April and have just managed to get it out before the year is over – it is being published on 19th December by Crooked Cat.

about the book... It’s a perfect summer’s morning in the plush south London suburb, and thirty-something Beth Haldane has sneaked off to visit one of her favourite places, the world-famous Picture Gallery.  She’s enjoying a few moments’ respite from juggling her job at prestigious private school Wyatt’s and her role as single mum to little boy Ben, when she stumbles across a shocking new exhibit on display.  Before she knows it, she’s in the thick of a fresh, and deeply chilling, investigation.  Who is The Girl in the Gallery?  Join Beth in adventure #2 of the London Murder Mystery series as she tries to discover the truth about a secret eating away at the very heart of Dulwich.

Dulwich Gallery
Those who know Dulwich Picture Gallery will either love or hate its cool, neo-Classical façade and strange internal layout.  The building was designed by architect Sir John Soane and he was quite clear that it was his favourite creation.  It broke a lot of rules at the time and its use of light from above, provided by enormous glass lanterns set into the roof, was considered revolutionary.  One of the effects of this technique, as well as providing plenty of natural light flooding the gallery, was to give a huge quantity of wall space to hang paintings, as there are no windows to break up the long gallery vistas.  It is this which gives the gallery a rather odd, blank look from the outside, which Soane dealt with by creating false arches in the brickwork.  Beth imagines these are looking at her quizzically as she approaches the Gallery on page 1, when she is just about to make a horrible discovery in the mausoleum which lies at the heart of the building.

As you can imagine, the mausoleum gets quite a lot of attention in my mystery, so I won’t say any more about it here, except to say that you definitely won’t find anything like it in any other art gallery.

Cards carrying the portrait of Mrs Moody
available from the gallery
I have as much difficulty as Beth in deciding which of the art treasures displayed at the Picture Gallery is my favourite but, like her, I have a particular soft spot for the portrait of Mrs Elizabeth Moody by Gainsborough.  As you’ll read in the book, there is a very sad tale behind this glorious picture.  Another canvas with a moving backstory is the portrait of Venetia, Lady Digby.  Though she looks as though she is peacefully asleep, the rose shedding its petals on the corner of her coverlet is the clue – Lady Digby was in fact painted by Van Dyck the day after her death.  Her widower, Sir Kenelm Digby, was inconsolable and took the canvas with him wherever he went.  It was a tragic ending to a great love affair; the couple had married in secret, against the wishes of his family, as she had a rackety past and he was a straight-laced poet and scientist. 

Dulwich Picture Gallery is full of stories.  I’m very proud to have added one of my own to the list.  If you’d like to read The Girl in the Gallery, you can find it on Amazon, or at Village Books, Dulwich Books, Herne Hill Books or Clapham Books in south London.  It’s the sequel to Death in Dulwich, but both books can be read as stand alone stories.  My next book in the series is Calamity in Catford, due to be published by Crooked Cat in 2018, with Peril in Peckham to follow shortly. 

Thanks again to Angela for hosting me and if you’d like to find out more about Beth or my series, do visit me at I’m also on Facebook and on Twitter at @DDsDiary.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

I'm reviewing Christmas at the Lucky Parrot Garden Centre...

I've always been a bit sniffy about books written through collaboration as I've always thought that I would be able to see the 'joins'.  Whilst this may be true of some of the other books I've read, it most certainly is not the case for this story.  Romantic comedy is not exactly my bag either.  So why did I read this book and review it?  Good question!  It was suggested to me that I might enjoy this story just because it was completely outside my usual reading matter - and I most certainly did.

Set in Whitby in the run up to Christmas, with a heroine who is a no-nonsense Yorkshire lass (Hannah) and a hero to die for (Daniel) - I was hooked from page one.  Whitby is a lovely seaside town and not so very far that I can not visit every so often.  Add to that the timing of Christmas along with snow and you have a perfect location for a warming and heartfelt story.

The writing style is a bit quirky - but I can do quirky - and I found it a refreshing change.  That quirkiness fits really well with the nature of the story, the characters and the setting.

The romance between Hannah, (a welly-wearing down-to-earth land-scape gardener who got my vote from the outset) and movie-man Daniel, unfolds very cleverly as the two of them deal with their own differences, insecurities and pressures from their work.  Add to this the dynamics between the supporting characters at the Garden Centre where Hannah works, her neighbours and the people from Daniel's past and you have a really great read.  I found the characters to be really well drawn and believable and the story drew me in relentlessly.  Once I'd started reading, I could not put this book down.

Despite my initial reservations about this story, I thoroughly enjoyed it and have no hesitation in recommending it as an excellent book.  I also think it will make a perfect Christmas present for the reader on your present list!