Another day, another coffee

A terrible habit, three bought coffees in three days. Well, blame it on the Bank Holiday weekend. And to make matters worse I added an almond slice to today’s latte. My excuse? I’d driven some twenty miles to get to the coffee shop and was in need of sustenance. You only live once, don’t you? No doubt my doctor would counter with ‘You only die once…’ So, no more bought coffee until the weekend, back now to decaffeinated, milky coffee at home.

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Mr Bean’s Coffee House in the small town of Tenterden is worth a visit, friendly staff, good location for people watching and newspapers available. Only drawback can be when young mothers come in with screaming kids, then it’s time to vacate the building.

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Yesterday I finished editing the original version of the Bobby Olsen novella, the one with the made-up hyphenated phrases that the main character uses. These divided opinion at my Writers Group but a few people liked the novelty so I think it’s worth making this version available for them. I’ve started making the necessary alterations for uploading as an e-book and should get it up in the next few days. Then, finally, that story is finished with! Until I decide to rewrite it as a full-blown 100,000 word novel…one day.

Now this is ready for blogging I shall pop outside and plant a few daffodil bulbs as the packet has sat on the kitchen floor for two weeks now. And it’s a lovely sunny day again, too good to spoil in front of a computer. Tomorrow rain is forecast so I can type away then…maybe.

 

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Bank Holiday writing

Lovely sunny warm day here on the south coast, just far enough away from the ‘haze’ of Eastbourne. What better way to start Bank Holiday Monday than a latte on the seafront and jotting ideas down on a notepad. Plenty of people to watch and plenty of conversations to overhear for potential ideas in writing.

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A gentle breeze to cool the warming sun helps too although after a while it can make you sleepy and less likely to keep writing. Easier to listen to a well spoken couple discussing their South of France holiday while munching on their bacon baps…

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And on the beach families are appearing as they discover Hastings does actually have sand when the tide retreats…

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The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

Wow.

Oh wow.

Long time since a book made me say that.

I found The Essex Serpent on Waterstones’ Clearance shelf about two weeks ago. I remembered the title from The Times’ bestseller lists earlier in the year and the cover and inside blurb suggested it was worth the £8 investment.

What a buy.

It’s about relationships, and love in particular. Tell me that prior to reading the book and I might not even have started it. But the blurb mentioned the story was set in the 1890s and the cover, a mix of gold, black and blue swirling flowers caught my imagination.

And after just a few pages the writing style absolutely caught me.

Thomas Hardy came to mind with the vivid descriptions of the countryside, in this case the Essex countryside around the Blackwater area. The writing is quite mesmeric, and having played around with different styles myself, I found the language hypnotic. The characters too are memorably drawn and developed, with the story having a third person POV but giving us an insight into everyone’s feelings too. This might break some rules somewhere but, heck, it works.

It’s interesting that when I came to read the book I had forgotten about the blurb mention of 1893 and I couldn’t quite get a finger on what year it was meant to be set in, I felt it was late Victorian but the lack of any further mention of a date left me in a haze – rather like the story itself, the descriptions of the surroundings and changing seasons making me feel I was almost in another world or in some place frozen in time, that’s the dizzying effect the writing style and the story had on me. Wonderfully intoxicating.

It’s one of those books which you want never to put down yet at the same time never to finish. The main story line of Cora and William is just one which you fear isn’t going to end the way you wish. But I think the author handled that aspect very well. No spoilers here.

I was quite surprised how young the author seems from her back flyleaf description and photo, the understanding of relationships and the perception of Nature suggested a more experienced writer. This, I believe, is only Sarah Perry’s second book.

It’s also one of those books which I think will survive a second reading, and why not more. The countryside descriptions in themselves are worth a revisit and study.

There’s a potential movie here surely or a TV short series.

Right, I’m heading back to that Clearance shelf in Waterstones…

 

 

Jenny Jelepody

(written a couple of years ago, just a simple little thing)

Jenny Jelepody immersed herself in the gloriously hot bubble bath. Just a week ago she had met the man of her dreams. Tall, dark, handsome, and filthy rich. It had been lust at first sight. Edward Syngeon-Smyth had wined and dined her like a perfect gentleman. He was polite, courteous, well spoken, well educated, divorced and very lonely. It had been a match made in Heaven.

Jenny had played hard to get at first. She had declined his initial offers of a drink or dinner date. Even when a hundred red roses were delivered to her door she still feigned disinterest. But her eyes egged Edward on, a little glint here, a little bat of her extended eyelashes there. He was soon putty, warm, wet, gooey putty, in her hand. One small smile from Jenny sent Edward into raptures and the number of roses doubled. The offer of dinner and the very best theatre tickets were just too much for Jenny to ignore.

And so she had let Edward befriend her. They spent hours together, life stories swopped, the tragic death of Jenny’s husband gushed out over a plate of the very best oysters, the tales of Edward’s yachts and penthouses met with envious gasps. Life seemed perfect for the pair. Two lost souls miraculously thrown together by a chance meeting at a polo match.

Poor Edward was smitten. Anything that Jenny mentioned he would conjure up in a day or sooner. You’ve never owned a diamond necklace, my dear? No problem! You’ve never been to Broadway? Tomorrow, my love! You’ve never even touched a Valentino dress? A whole rack will be yours by the weekend!

Ah, Jenny laid back in the bath. The soft bubbles caressed her skin and the relaxing water massaged her beautiful body. When she met Edward earlier tonight she knew the time was right. When she led him into her new apartment (paid for by Edward, of course) he had looked so happy and so contented. When he’d laid eyes on her enormous, luxurious round bed he had nearly fainted. All his dreams were about to come true.

Jenny stroked her glistening skin with the flannel. It was bright red, and nearly matched the growing crimson of the bubbly water. Such a shame really to spoil a bath in this way, but it was the laziest and most enjoyable way to wash off the blood. Jenny laid back and sighed. No more polo, thank goodness! Once she was dry and dressed she would dispose of the many pieces of Edward now lying in her kitchen and tomorrow begin the search for another Mr Right ready for suitable fleecing and dispatch…

 

‘Go back, Charlie, go back!’

The title might sound like the opening to an exciting story but in fact it’s a phrase that takes me back to when I was about 8 or 9. A stroll along Hastings Beach made me remember the words, they were what a friend and I shouted at the waves as they broke around our feet.

Kevin was an American boy the same age as me. I believe his mother and father had divorced or possibly his mum was a widow and she, being English, had brought Kevin back to the UK. They were renting, I assume, a property in Tenterden High Street, some distance from where I lived and so I’m not sure how we became such good friends, admittedly only for a short time before he and his mum moved on. Maybe we sat next to each other or our mums met at the school gate. Anyway, I remember Kevin coming around to play on at least one occasion and another time my parents taking us to the beach, presumably Hastings as that’s where we usually went. We stood in the water and tried to be King Cnut, sending the waves back.

I can recall Kevin playing in my garden and picking up one of my toy rifles and saying to my mum that it was similar to the one used to kill President Kennedy. I’m not sure it was, mine was a cowboy-style gun but it showed how that event was still in a young boy’s mind some 2 or 3 years after the assassination.

Kevin moved on with his mum but not before leaving me one of his toy cars, a large wind-up red monster that made my Dinky and Matchbox ones pale into insignificance. I kept it for many years. Being boys we didn’t think to exchange addresses, maybe Kevin’s mum wasn’t sure where they were going, but we lost contact and at that age you just move on to the next day and the next game and the next friend. Having moved back to that town Tenterden a few years ago I used to often walk past the terraced house where Kevin and his mum stayed briefly and it would bring back memories. Kevin would now be a sixty year old guy, I wonder if he still remembers me and ‘Go back, Charlie, go back!’