Sunday, May 29, 2011

Gardens and goodbyes

Life News:

We've spent most of the weekend preparing for the move on Tuesday and saying goodbye to the neighbours (when they're in). We've now sorted most of the books into piles for taking to the rented flat and piles for storage, so that's a relief. Still to be done is: emptying the loft, draining the washing machine, defrosting the fridge and turning off the freezer (which is all but empty now anyway). We're getting there, though I must say K is doing most of the hard graft with me providing essential domestic support wherever I can.

Still, I managed to squeeze in a game of golf with Marian on Friday, and it was such a relief to get out and knock some balls into ridiculously small holes (as it were). Made a great change from the trials and traumas of Thursday, hey ho. Also during the week, we have breathed the proverbial sigh of relief to note the massive improvement in Wednesday's episode of Midsomer Murders - which also included a naked Sgt Jones which was fabulous, I must say. More please ... Set against that, however, was the totally appallingly written, long-winded, dull and overly emotional episode of Dr Who we bravely sat through (whilst yawning and glancing repeatedly at our watches) on Saturday. What are they thinking?!? Every time someone had a tearful moment we'd just laugh and shout at them to get a grip, and the sickly-sweet moments with the boy at the end definitely needed cutting. Or someone should have drowned the wretched boy in acid. One of the two ... I would have done it myself if I'd been there.

Today, we decided we'd had enough of flat sorting so popped out this afternoon to see Moleshill House garden and The Coach House garden, both in Cobham and next door to each other which made it easy. Lovely to see both - the first one was more dramatic and overgrown, but the second one was incredibly peaceful. If we do ever actually manage to get into a house of our own (dream on, eh!...) then we would both aim for a peaceful garden for sure. Don't hold your breath ...

Book News:


However, I am much cheered by this 5 star review of A Dangerous Man - thanks, Erik. And for this bank holiday weekend only, you can get a 50% rebate at the till for ALL my All Romance Ebooks if paid for by Paypal or credit card - so for a good weekend read, now's the time to buy!

In terms of work in progress, I've started the fourth in my Delaneys' series, Dating the Delaneys, and I'm also carrying on with my fantasy novella, The Taming of The Hawk. This latter seems to be moving rapidly towards the steampunk genre, I think - if I only knew what that really was, ho ho. But there are machines (of a sort), darkness, dirt and fantasy, so I might be right in my analysis. On the other hand, there's not much Victoriana, so I may equally be wrong. I'll have to wait and see.

Meditations this week are:

Meditation 532
Zimri takes pride
in being counted last

as God is his guide
and his family’s outclassed

Meditation 533
That slow returning home:
the priests, the people
and the temple slaves

drifting like shadows
through the fields and paths
to houses shaped like graves

and a life they thought
they knew. The forgotten dead
crowd in on waves

of sorrow. No-one remembers
the laughter. They are silent
in the ruins God saves.

The Sunday haiku (because we saw it whilst golfing) is:

Treecreeper dances
across this divided tree
so rhythmically.

So, in conclusion, my last official day on the web is tomorrow and I'm not quite sure when I'll be back online - BT (if we continue at all with them) have promised us some kind of connection on 16 or 17 June in the rented flat, but we might on the other hand be doing something technical with a dongle (well, gosh!) so it may be sooner, if slower. Till then, have fun and I'll catch you on the other side!

Anne Brooke

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Conveyancers 'r' Us and the Ups and Downs of Failure

Book News:

Lots of exciting news about The Art of The Delaneys this week which is now available at All Romance Ebooks, and has also received reviews at: Literary Nymph Reviews (4 star); Brief Encounters Reviews; and at Goodreads, a 5 star review and a 4 star review. Many thanks to all for commenting on the story and reviewing it.

In addition, Entertaining the Delaneys was reviewed at Three Dollar Bill Reviews, so many thanks also to Indigene for that one. Also, The Gifting is now available as a paperback from Amazon UK, so that's encouraging.

You'll find my review of Still Missing by Beth Gutcheon at Vulpes Libris today, and I've also managed to squeeze in one meditation poem into the pure mania of this week:

Meditation 531
Maacah is a hard-working woman.
Her husband does not help;
he is too busy
boasting of his many sons
and the cities he has built.

So she scrapes a harsh living
under a harsher sun,
flitting like a small shadow
through her menfolk
and their vigorous lives.

Life News:

What can I say? Nightmare City but with a very very slow edging towards the light. As it were. When it comes to our move into rented accommodation, we've sorted out the contents and car insurance, as well as the redirection of mail and notifying the bank. The rental agent told us yesterday that they need the deposit and first month's rent, plus their fees, cleared into their bank by Tuesday to allow us to move in, so we attempted to do a bank transfer through the Nationwide, where we've banked for years in a variety of ways - but sadly the Nationwide needed us to make an appointment to do this and they didn't have any spare time until next Friday. Hmm, it does not compute. Several moments (if not more) of sheer panic went by (particularly bearing in mind that the bank holiday makes everything slower), but K's lovely company stepped magnificently into the breach this morning and have solved the problem for us - what heroes ...! Naturally we have paid them back, but it's still a life-saver.

Meanwhile I have not been slack, though sadly rather more unsuccessful. I came back home last night to find a message from our flat estate agents saying how unhappy our buyer is and the deal is seriously in jeopardy if we don't exchange this week, and they desperately need our nice neighbour (called G) to sign the updated lease document for the tricky middle neighbours' solicitors (whom I shall call P). So today I did the following (and I can only really explain it in bullet form, sorry, as it's doing my head in ...):

1. Rang the lovely neighbour who kindly agreed to come round with the lease document herself.

2. Rang our solicitors (who go by the name of L) and told them I planned to take the signed document to P directly so they had it in their hot little hands, and then find out what they needed us to do at that point. I said I would bring it to L in Knaphill (quite a drive but I was beyond caring, frankly) if they needed to see it also. L were unhappy that I was directly contacting P as that is not the "done" legal thing. I said I didn't care about that either and it seemed that the only way of achieving results was for me to become my own private conveyancing service, so I wasn't asking them - I was telling them.

3. Rang P who said, eventually, that would be fine but they would need to discuss it with L. They also said that G would need to give them her passport and a utility bill to prove identity. G was fine with that but at that point needed to go to meet a friend for coffee. I agreed to take the signed lease into P there and then so they could get on with working towards exchange (ah, such optimism ...), and G agreed to meet me at the flat later with the passport and the utility bill for me to take to P in the afternoon.

4. Rang our estate agent (S) to update, and also rang K (remember him, Gawd bless him?) to update.

5. Went to P to give the lease to them. L rang me and said there was an additional identity document G needed to sign and they had already discussed this with P while I was on my way there. L also said that ideally, G should come in to sign another similar identity document with them in Knaphill, although, if P were in agreement, the signed identity document at P's offices would suffice. Had a meeting with P, and was told they shouldn't really be getting G to sign the new identity document at their offices as it was really something she should do with L in Knaphill. However, under the very complex circumstances of the case, they would do this if L had agreed to it, which they had. P also said in that case G needed to bring a passport photo with her for identity purposes as they therefore needed to actually see her in the flesh. P also told me there were two additional documents G needed to sign which hadn't yet been sent to her with the lease document and I said G could do that this afternoon if she was happy to come in with me to see P. P also said that completion would be delayed as they needed to register the new lease with the Land Registry (first I'd heard of that too ...), and with the bank holiday, it was hard to know when this might be done. But it should, in theory, not delay actual exchange, if all the solicitors in all the colours and sizes could agree.

6. After the meeting, I rang G, who was happy to meet me at the flat with the documentation and come in to see P with me. What a heroine - and way way beyond the call of duty ...

7. Went back home and updated everyone on the current situation. K not happy because L has been saying to our buyer for weeks that we're on the point of exchange, which is obviously far from the case, and therefore that is why our buyer has been getting hugely frustrated. I cannot blame him, though we also do wonder what P has been saying to L to make exchange seem imminent. Not sure who's lying, my dears, but someone is ... K writes firm but polite email to L, putting this to them, but no response as yet.

8. G arrives (Gawd bless 'er!), and I take her to Godalming. G gets her passport photos done and I utterly insist on paying, which is frankly the least I can do. G and I have meeting with P to sign documentation (on the way we were utterly drenched in the sudden downpour and had a bout of hysteria, wondering if the day could in fact get any worse ...). P's receptionist very po-faced and obviously not good with hysterical soaked-to-the-skin people who aren't actually clients. Didn't give a fig as to her feelings frankly. At meeting P happy, but when directly questioned, admits there is no chance of exchange today as the tricky neighbours (my phrase, not theirs), their clients, have not signed the necessary documents. In the meeting, I ring L to say what we have done. L still umming and aahing over whether they can accept the identity documentation being signed with another solicitor, even though they have already agreed this with me on the phone. I hand the phone over to P so the two solicitors can actually discuss it on the phone directly. Big surprise to all! - they haven't thought of speaking before ... L tells me that as P has witnessed the identity document, then she doesn't need to see G in Knaphill and all will be fine. At least we seemed to be one small step further forward, ho hum. L and P promise to keep talking once L has updated the buyer's solicitors and seen what they might accept in order to move the situation forward.

9. I take G for lunch. G insists on paying but I bargain for some kind of contribution and she accepts a small donation from me. It should have been more, G!

10. In the carpark in Godalming, L rings me and says they might have to ask G to come to Knaphill after all as they have changed their mind about the identity documentation as they're not sure what P has done. I say that I have just spoken to P in the meeting, rung L, and L spoke to P directly in the meeting also so surely this has already been decided. L says yes but she has tried to ring P once more to confirm (I am obviously not to be trusted ...) but P was not available. I ask G if she would in principle be happy to go to Knaphill with me, and she says yes. I relay this information to L, tell L that I am going home at which point I will ring P again and ask them to contact L to discuss further to confirm whether the Knaphill trip is needed.

11. At home with G, I ring P and tell her that L are having second thoughts and could P please ring them to have a further chat. P agrees to do this. We wait for half an hour. Nobody rings back. I ring K to update him. Both of us by now have lost the will to live. Probably G has too, but is happy about being kidnapped and driven to Knaphill for mysterious legal reasons if necessary. G now a serious contender for Best Neighbour Awards 2011. I ring L back. L says yes, they have spoken to P, and Knaphill is now definitely off the agenda. L has also spoken to the buyer's solicitors and all three sets of solicitors are now "in principle in agreement" that an exchange date can be considered. Well, good-oh, eh. However, it will not be today, but will be whenever the tricky middle neighbours think they can sign the documents.

12. I let G go, after giving her a tray of courgettes. Sounds mean, I know, but I told her in all seriousness that she could have anything in the house that she wanted to have, up to the value of half my kingdom and that is what she chose. To cap it all, G also agreed to ring the tricky middle neighbours, with whom she has a better relationship than I do, to see how long it might take them to sign, and to keep me updated. I promised G I would buy her all the courgettes in England if that was what she wished for.

13. I rang S (our estate agent - remember them?) to tell them all the above in words of one syllable as I don't have the energy for anything longer. S in a state of resignation but slightly more confident that they can keep our buyer as there is some kind of positive news in it all. Really? Ah, the power of positive thought. However, our buyer withdrawing is also a very real option on the agenda at the moment, an opinion with which I could only concur, and we must prepare ourselves for anything. My dears, I have spent the whole damn day preparing myself for anything so one more item isn't going to make a jot of difference.

14. Rang K to update him. Lay down on carpet for extended period of time, trying to work out if it's worth cleaning it or not. Decided not to bother.

Oh, and in the midst of all this, I asked Godalming Museum about a launch date for The Gifting (they will ring back), sorted out a taxi firm for a big do at work which I hadn't been able to finalise yesterday, advised my change of address to the optician, bought and started writing some change of address cards and managed to write a few hundred words on the current novella. God, but I'm good. And then people wonder what I do all day when I'm off ... Hey ho. Is it Friday yet?

Anne Brooke

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Tigers and snowglobes

Book News:

The Gifting is now available, both as a eBook and paperback, at Bluewood Publishing, and you can also find it, in paperback, at Amazon US, and in Kindle version, at Amazon US and Amazon UK. I gather some people have already bought copies, so thank you and I hope you enjoy the read. Mind you, if you're local and you know me (those brave few!...) - don't forget the launch is in July so you'll need to wait till then or I'll have no more buyers left, alas. It's also been a pleasure getting the boxes of author/launch copies delivered this week and I think I might stop stroking them now but don't hold your breath ... It is quite something when the book one has spent so many months and months giving birth to is finally ... um ... born. A scary and exhilarating feeling, I can tell you. I'm also compiling a list of potential reviewers so need to start working my way through that once I've liaised with Bluewood. Always good to be busy.

Meanwhile, The Art of the Delaneys gained its first 5-star review at Goodreads, so thank you, Marsha, for that. Much appreciated.

Here's a recent meditation (ah the joys and pains of being the youngest child - how well I know it!):

Meditation 530

The youngest child
carries the sins
and joys of all
who came first.

They store memories
like dust or shadows:

Watch them.

The Sunday haiku is:

In sunlight and dust
I pack up my memories
for another day.

Life News:

It's all change! As you may be able to tell from the haiku ... We had a phone call on Friday morning to say all the signed documents for selling our flat were now completed (gosh, the tricky neighbours have come through then, thank the good Lord for it ...) and our buyer wanted to complete and move in as soon as possible. So, I spent most of Friday and some of Saturday (not necessarily in this order) (a) driving to the removal firm in Cranleigh to redo our removal quote to include storage and sign it off there and then; (b) agreeing with our rental flat agent when we can move in; (c) filling in the documentation the rental agent sent us; (d) contacting the gas, water, electricity, credit card, pension and other financial people etc etc while K when home did the telephone and council tax people etc etc. My, what fun - especially when we find out that BT will not be able to connect us to the phone or internet in our new rented flat until 17 June, so it looks like we will be on radio silence, as they say, until then. Then again, it may do us good and we can rediscover the roses once more, hey ho.

So the upshot is that we will be moving on Tuesday 31 May, so a week on Tuesday we will be out of here, hurrah! And I will, after all my moaning and groaning, get to have my birthday somewhere else, so another reason to thank God of a Sunday (though, speaking of holy matters, surely He's got it wrong in that K and I are still here and haven't been Raptured?... I demand a recount ...). Anyway double hurrahs for all sorts of reasons and put out the bunting. And, for a woman moving in just over a week, I am startlingly calm. Must be the pills.

Anyway, in the midst of all this, I spent a pleasant morning yesterday seeing a friend in Maidstone (hello, Pauline!) whilst K looked at a very posh house that everyone appears to want, but thank goodness he didn't like it so we don't have to compete. Plus he thought the tenants were bitter and dodgy (much like us, then) and couldn't bear the thought of having to deal with them, so we're best off out of that one, to be sure.

Other good news of the weekend is that (sound the trumpets) K and I have actually managed to grow our first ever flower, well gosh. Everything else we've been trying out lately in our preparation to be gardeners has died and we've had to throw it out - but our rose bush which we pruned earlier on in the year in its little pot has produced one flower. This may not be much to you expert gardeners out there, but it is a huge achievement for us and we are rightly chuffed. In addition, whilst watching (a rather better than normal) Dr Who last night, I was thrilled to see the great man use a snowglobe as a scientific method of observing the universe. Ha! All these years I've collected snowglobes and everyone has laughed at me - but now I am proved right and they will laugh no more. I promise you that my catholic collection of snowglobes (including the old pope, the Holy Family, Noah's Ark, Pompeii, Dubai, Madeira and a host of other places I've been or people I like) is the only thing standing between us and the Rapture. Be thankful that I'm still here ...

So, to today. We have attended church and said our goodbyes to the people there - as we're unlikely to find time to go next Sunday and then we're off to Woking - though we didn't manage to catch up with the main vicar so will have to email him during the week. I'll miss them, and the intermittent bible study groups which were always great fun, but it's time to go and start again, if only temporarily, elsewhere. Also on our journeys this morning, we dropped into the parish's smaller sister church as that was the one we originally started going to until it suffered a very bad fire about two or three years ago. We didn't expect to be able to get in as it's not re-opening till next month and we knew building works were still ongoing - but actually another parishioner was showing his family round so we managed to get inside for a few minutes. It was nice to be able to say goodbye properly in that respect, as it's a beautiful and very peaceful building and they've done a magnificent repair job. We hope to drop in at some point once it's possible, but for now it felt like closure.

Finally, I am delighted to announce that I have at last found my ideal career - toy tiger marksman - as is now a possibility locally as you can see from this news item. Though, as K said, didn't they feel suspicious when the helicopter couldn't pick the ravening beast up on the thermal sensors? Perhaps they thought it might be a vampire tiger. Indeed, the end of the world is nigh ...

Anne Brooke

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A wobbly week

Life News:

It's been a bit of a wobbly week, being back at work this week, I must say, and I don't think I've been my usual jolly self (ho ho). My head is so full of vast quantities of stuff that it's proving really tricky to sort it all out so I haven't really been trying. Office tasks seemed very long and complex when they probably shouldn't have been, plus I'm worrying (well, it's after Lent so I'm allowed to) about when our flat exchange date might be, if our buyer is going to hang on or give up, if we'll still be able to go to the rental property we like if we do suddenly have to move or if we'll be homeless, and whether our removal firm can fit us in even though I'm unable to explain anything useful to them at all. On top of all that, we're now seriously looking at other houses again if we can fit viewings in as nothing's moving on the house we've "bought" and it's been three months now and still no sniff of an exchange date, and the vendors' solicitors are being as unhelpful as ever, sigh. I honestly can't now remember what we liked about it, and neither can K really. It feels like a purchase someone other than us has made.

Anyway, today we've seen two other houses, one in Knaphill which we did like but K thinks it might be the "safe choice" and there's nothing that individual about it even though it's well within our price range, so I'm probably keener than he is. The other one in Pyrford was okay but way too near the main road, and therefore too noisy, which we both hate. On Saturday K is going to see another house in Woking that he's really keen on but I can't go as I'm seeing a friend in Kent. The plus points for that one are it's quiet, in a nice area, and there's no chain (though I understand the tenants are rather tricky, so that's a bit worrying), but it's over our budget and I'm a bit worried by that. Well, we'll see, eh.

It's rather disheartening as K and I promised ourselves last September that we'd be out of this flat by my birthday for sure - but as that's only a month and two days away now, I fear there's not much hope. In that case I suspect a tear or two will be shed when I reach that great milestone, birthday or no birthday, ah well. On the other hand, when we get to September and we're still here (goddammit), I suppose I can bake a one-year-house-hunt-failure celebration cake. What joy.

This week, I've also had my regular appointment with the doctor to see how the anti-depressants are working. Well, what could I say? I just told her I was having a wobbly week due to being back at work and period etc (sorry, too much information, probably ...) and decided to leave the rest of it unsaid as I couldn't think of the words. No doubt the wonder pills are making things better on a personal level than they otherwise would be, so thank God for small mercies.

Book News:

Sometime this or next week, The Gifting should, I hope, be published, so I'm busy preparing a launch party for, I think, sometime early July. I'm hoping to hold that at Godalming Museum but obviously it depends on schedules etc. I've got a list of about 40 people I'd like to invite, so with a bit of luck I should get 25 or so coming at least. I've just got to think of something to say and which passage to read. Best get my thinking cap on then.

This week's meditations are:

Meditation 526
The only ones mentioned
are the leaders
and the fighters.

Nobody thinks
of the cooks, the plumbers,
the gardeners or the writers.

Meditation 527
Shaharaim divorced
two wives

granting them shame
but also their lives.

Meditation 528
The fewer the words
the greater the thought

for it is in the spaces
that wisdom is caught.

Meditation 529
Long-forgotten names
are like stars:

a distant glitter
at the edge of your eye,

a strange coldness
patterning the sky.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Holidays, Gifting and Art

Life News:

Just back yesterday from an utterly fabulous holiday in (fairly ancient) Italy - the guide was grand, the hotel very good indeed and the history fascinating. Really, what more can you want? Major highlights for me were (a) the marvels of commercial Pompeii, where we were lucky enough to spend over 7 hours exploring and taking it all in, hurrah; (b) the smaller but better preserved seaside town of Herculaneum - which actually I preferred to Pompeii and which was somehow more moving. The inhabitants were basically smothered by a wall of volcanic mud travelling at c250 to 300 miles per hour, and those who'd previously rushed to the harbour to escape by boat couldn't as the winds were against them so all died on the shore. Horrific to think of it really. Apparently (look away if you're squeamish), the method of death was the moment the vastly boiling mud touched the skin, the brain couldn't take it and basically exploded. It was fascinating to see the great wall of volcanic material which still covers half of the town ... Oh, and (c) was the surprisingly well-preserved Greek temples of Paestum, whilst (d) was actually climbing to the top of Mount Vesuvius where the whole story began and looking at the hundreds of swallows flying over the top. Amazing. Plus a special mention for (e) the guide reading out the letters of Pliny the Younger who (as a man who usually wrote incredibly long and dull administrative letters to the Emperor) somehow reached very affecting levels of poetry in his description of the eruption and the consequent death of his uncle, Pliny the Elder, during it. Hearing this eye-witness account made the whole thing come alive. So, if all this enthusiasm has made you curious, here's the tour we went on - expensive, yes, but frankly worth every penny and more.

Anyway, back down to earth now and the flat is full of more washing than I'm sure I've ever seen, groan - how I'm looking forward to that ironing pile. Um, not. Talking of the flat, there's no real news about anyone moving (sigh) and we certainly haven't exchanged this week, as the solicitor was hoping. Hey ho. The one good(ish) thing is that the new lease requested by the tricky neighbours has been finalised and all we have to do is sign it, which we're happy to do, and hope that all goes through smoothly from now on. Dream on, eh!

Today, we've tried to extend the holiday feeling by lunching at Wisley - the roses are beginning to appear and should be great over the next few weeks or so. But I must say that after the glorious Italian weather, it does seem a tad chilly here in the mother country ...

Book News:

I'm thrilled to say that The Art of The Delaneys, the third in my erotic Delaneys series, is now available at Amber Allure at a discount price for its first week, so buy early buy often, as they say. Keeping to the subject of erotic short stories, my stand-alone (as it were) story, For One Night Only, will be published by Amber Allure on 24 July, so the summer should, I hope, get hotter.

Meanwhile, the first of my fantasy trilogy, The Gifting, now has its own page at Bluewood Publishing, which looks very snazzy indeed, and is due out in the next couple of weeks, well gosh! Honestly, I can't wait for this one as it seems I've spent years beating that trilogy into some sort of shape and now the first one is nearly here. I do hope at least some people might like it.

Finally, here are two Sunday haikus for you:

In my deep blue haze
waiting for the rain to pass,
I dream in sunshine.

Sun carves out the day
and I taste only the sea
shimmering in heat.

Anne Brooke

Friday, May 06, 2011

Holidays, houses and hope

Life News:

We had a lovely bank holiday Monday visiting Hinton Ampner and also met up with Colin & Cathy from work (hello, C & C!) which was an unexpected treat - hope you've both recovered from the shock by now ...

This week I've been back at work and managed, somehow, to deal with the 150 emails that awaited me. I'm just so incredibly popular, don't you know. Actually, it wasn't as bad as I feared after having been away for such a long time - though the easing-back-in process was definitely improved by Andrea & Monica bringing in chocolate, hurrah. What stars.

Wednesday night, I was up in London seeing Jane W (hello, Jane!) for drinks, food and chat, which was great as, honestly, what with everything that's been going on, it seems to have been ages since we met. Anyway it was wonderful to catch up, as always, though I fear Waterloo Station is not what it was. All the shops have gone, shock horror, as they apparently have a huge project to make a big shopping centre out of it at a mezzanine level. Ah, I feel that the spirit of Waterloo Station simply doesn't fit that scenario ...

Yesterday, K and I were out at the theatre to see Ayckbourn's Communicating Doors, which, as a comedy thriller, is something of a departure for him but well worth seeing. We loved it. A complex and very satisfying time travel/crime plot and some really scary moments, as well as his inevitable and very appreciated witty one-liners. If it comes your way, do go and see it if you can.

This morning, I have filled the car up with petrol and then attempted to get into the wrong car after I'd paid - oh the embarrassment of it all! All I can say in my defence was the car was quite similar to mine and I wasn't really paying attention, hey ho. The real owner was very sweet about it though - so I don't have to spend the night in Godalming police station, hurrah.

Mind you, you can't blame me as there's suddenly a hell of a lot going on again. Our house purchase is trundling on in the background. But, in terms of our flat sale, one of our tricky neighbours has actually signed the transfer, huzzah and put out the bunting! Mind you, the other one hasn't, yet, and they're now in addition wanting the lease to be changed, but that's at their expense, so we're holding our breath and hoping. Our solicitor even thinks that, if the wind's in the right direction, we might exchange with our buyer by the end of next week - even though we're on holiday then (see below) - but I think that will be rather over-optimistic myself. In the meantime, today - which is our last day in the UK for a week - I'm trying to (a) keep both sets of estate agents updated on a rolling basis, (b) agree to take the next step on the rental property we saw last week, with maybe a date for moving into it (ho hum), (c) keep in contact with K at work while all this is going on so various mutual decisions can be made, (d) keep our buyer happy by trying to give him a proposed completion date by close of play today (ha - that's three hours then!), (e) if (d) goes through, book our removal firm, and (f) pack my suitcase for the holiday. All this whilst the ruddy email here isn't working properly so I can't send anything out so nobody's getting any of my messages and I have to do it all via phone. Lordy indeed. It's astonishing I'm still calm ... Must be the fact that I managed to fit in a session of reflexology at work this week - bliss.

Anyway, I'll have no option but to forget it all next week and face the possibility of homelessness and our worldly goods on the street outside when we get back from sunny Italy, which is where we'll be for the next seven days. Having missed out at the last minute on Pompeii last year due to that pesky and very ironic ash cloud (ho hum), I'm determined to get there this year and enjoy every last moment of it. And, hell, we definitely need the break - another one!

Book News:

At Vulpes Libris you can find my review of Anne Tyler's Noah's Compass, which is a great read but rather bleaker than I'm used to with this author, I must say.

Other book news is that Untreed Reads have accepted my literary short story, A Little Death, for publication, so that's grand. And the ebook of The Bones of Summer can be purchased directly from the publisher at a 20% discount throughout the whole of May.

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Anne Brooke

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Royal Wedding celebrations et al

Life News:

Well, I must say of course how utterly splendid in every way the Royal Wedding has been. I was up early on Friday and I stayed glued to the TV (apart from very rapid loo breaks ...) from 8am until 2pm. Underneath this prickly and kick-ass exterior beats a heart of marshmallow, my dears, after all. I loved every single moment of it, and I think Kate and William (or Team Cambridge, as we now appear to be calling them) were wonderful throughout. The Middletons came out of it all as the classiest and most elegant family in England and have definitely done their daughter proud on all fronts. Good for them - we middle classes aren't quite as bad as everyone thinks, ha! And at least Mrs Middleton does know how to choose a hat, unlike Posh Beckham who appeared to have a quashed unicorn on her head, and Princess Beatrice who seemed to be wearing a copy of the female reproductive system on hers - or was that a cunning message to the country?... The mind boggles. In fact both Prince Andrew's daughters were dressed by some evil person in clothes more suited to a 70-year-old living in the 1950s - which is a shame as they're such pretty girls. Talking of which, everyone was I think bowled over by Earl Spencer's three daughters - who were giving a good impression of the Three Graces with their very eyecatching blonde beauty and style. Ah, there's trouble ahead there for the Earl, I think ... I also loved the two balcony kisses from Team Cambridge (ahhhh ....) and, earlier on, the wonderful image of the flunkey opening the car door for the Queen and saluting while she ... um ... exited with Prince Philip on the other side of the car. I imagine the flunkey must have been rather startled by her non-appearance, ah well.

Anyway, it was a fantastic day, and just proves that we British are indeed the best in the world when it comes to doing pomp and circumstance with that essential hint of informality and genuine joy. Bliss indeed. I'm already looking for my commemorative teatowel.

K and I have spent the rest of the weekend in a mini-tour of houses & gardens with Royal connections in honour of the occasion. Saturday was Polesdon Lacey (where the Queen Mother and King George VI spent some of their honeymoon) and Claremont Landscape Garden, which even had a Royal Weddings trail, hurrah. Then today, we've spent a lovely day at Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey was filmed, so there's TV royalty there, I'm sure. It was great fun walking round the castle (which has 50 bedrooms, but thankfully there's a whole floor not open so you don't have to take sandwiches to keep up your strength) and seeing where parts of the series were filmed. Actually, I didn't recognise any of the rooms as I think I was too focused on the characters and plot while I was watching it. The only part I did recognise was when we were outside and I suddenly realised I was in the scene at the start when Hugh Bonneville is walking up the meadow (um, their garden, I now realise) to the house with that pesky golden labrador (sorry, I really hate dogs, and golden labradors are the worst ...). Then later on we had lunch on the lawn where the last scene of Series One takes place, and K suddenly put his cup down, leaned over towards me across the table and said: I have bad news, darling. We are at war with Germany. A joke which you will only get if you saw the end of the series, I fear ...

After all this excitement, we popped in to Sandham Memorial Chapel, which is tiny, but the walls are covered with some really wonderful and very moving war paintings by Stanley Spencer. I thought they were great and well worth a visit if you're in the area.

Turning to less exalted matters (unfortunately), I must say that the recent Dr Who 2-parter which ended (well, sort of) yesterday has been quite ridiculously bad. K and I felt as if a handful of writers, probably on speed, had thrown together every plot cliche they could possibly think of and decided to see if they could do it at a gallop to boot. No sooner had one Big Reveal been uncovered than we were swept on to the next, and then the next and the next. It had more plot holes than the Grand Canyon and would have been far, far better if they'd concentrated on only two themes instead of dozens. Or, alternatively, made it into a 7-parter (at least!) so the viewer could have an essential breather now and again, and the writers could work on making it hang together. Such a shame ... So I'm hoping tonight's new crime series, Vera, will be much better, even though it wins the TV prize for the worst-named programme so far this year.

Book News:

The Girl in the Painting has a new buy link at Untreed Reads, and I'm also very pleased with my first quarter royalties for 2011, both for my Amber Allure books and for The Bones of Summer, so that's been a nice boost really.

Here's the latest meditation poem:

Meditation 525
Sheerah is a builder
of towns.
She stands strong
in the foundations,
her bright hair
glinting in fiery sun.

She holds one smooth stone
in her hand and lifts it
to the sky,
already seeing houses,
streets and people
in her mind’s true eye.

The Sunday haiku is:

The morning chiffchaff
lilts its rhythmic springtime beat
in our sleeping ears.

Enjoy the rest of the bank holiday weekend!

Anne Brooke