Listened to a very interesting talk yesterday at the Luncheon Club about the Jurassic Coast where our speaker took us on a virtual walk along the 95 miles. Dorset is a lovely county and I was reminded of the times we used to visit in on holiday with the children when they were small. We stayed at the same thatched cottage for a number of years and I have a lot of happy memories of it.  My new book is coming on and yesterday one of my characters suddenly came out with something I had not intended – I love it when this happens because it can change the shape of the story. Be prepared for this and don’t panic  because it’s usually for the best.

I am 80 pages into the new book now and really getting to know the characters now. Changed a few things from the beginning now that I know them better but that always happens. My granddaughter Ella’s German pen-pal has been over with her German group. Emilie is only 14 years old but her English, both understanding of it and speaking it, is excellent. It makes me feel ashamed of how bad we are at languages. Is it because we don’t start language lessons early enough? Daisy’s Plymouth city centre school is a fascinating mix of cultures and languages – standing in the playground all I can hear is chatter in other languages. Often a child will start school knowing very little English but within a few weeks they start to pick it up and before you know it, they are happily familiar with it when often their parents are still struggling. We introduced Emilie to the delights of English cuisine! – Yorkshire puddings and Devon cream teas.

Sometimes I look back at my first attempts to write a novel and I see them now for what they were. I was learning the craft of writing, enjoying it hugely but  making huge mistakes too. I still make mistakes of course because it’s difficult to critique your own work but that’s what an editor is for. Those first efforts were not wasted and you should not dismiss your first attempts  entirely because I used many of the ideas later when I could look at them with fresh eyes.  I read To Kill a Mockingbird when I was grown up and it remains one of my favourite novels, the characters sticking in my mind from the very start. I have since seen the film with the wonderful Gregory Peck and also the play on stage and the story is still entrancing to me and very special. No, I will not be reading Go Set A Watchman because I can’t bear to have my hero Atticus depicted as a bigot, nor can I bear to read what is termed a lightly edited book.  Readers will flock to buy it of course and it will be a best seller because of all the hype.  I do hope Harper Lee is happy to have this book published but I want to remember her as having written one superb book and that surely is quite enough for any writer. Getting off the soapbox now but I just had to say it.

A funny old week just gone. I went up north with my son Peter to Preston for my brother-in-law’s funeral. It was of course a sad occasion because he was much loved by us all but it jollied up afterwards as happens at the wake. It’s always good to catch up with family matters and it reminds me of the importance of family in our lives which is why I write about it. That family link is such a strong bond, there through all the ups and downs. The following day it was the Ashes cricket 1st test for us at Cardiff.  We were sitting amongst a lot of Aussie fans but it was all good natured banter in the sunshine.  A week therefore of mixed emotions.

lst of July already and Wimbledon is on television and the hottest day of the year recorded. Maybe it was the hottest day in London but not here in the southwest. It was warm but cloudy in Plymouth where it was summer fete day at Daisy’s school.  Excited children, smoky BBQs, a cake stall, book stall, bouncy castle and so on. The only male teacher got the job of having wet sponges thrown at him which delighted the children. I helped on my granddaughter’s stall – selling ice lollies at 10p each, the red ones the most popular by far.  Daisy remembered that last year I guessed the number of sweets in a big jar exactly right to win the prize – it was pure luck but she thinks otherwise.  We headed home stuffed with hot dogs, little scones with cream, lollies, crisps, all the bad things so today I am sticking to fruit and salad to try to make up for it.