Sunshine Blogger Award

Highly flattered and thrilled to find I have been nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award by both Morton Gray and Jan Baynham.

Both have set me some very interesting question to answer so this week I will answer Morton’s and next week, Jan’s.



What are the best and worst gifts you’ve ever received?

 Because of my rather outrageous character, Reen, in The Girl Who Used To Be Me  recently I have received rather a lot of flamingos …and I love them all, especially Felicity and Jasmine.

Difficult to think of any really bad presents but I do remember a horrible pair of really large, old-fashioned, brown slippers an Aunt gave me for my 18th birthday. I had to smile and say how lovely they were through gritted teeth.

Who is the celebrity you’d most like to share a 100 mile taxi ride with and why?

Hugh Jackman…nuff said

If you could interview any author past or present, who would it be and why?

 Torn between Georgette Heyer (and just hope she was as witty as her books), or Daphne du Maurier who led a rather flamboyant life . It would be great to see her in her home near Fowey.

What’s the most nerve-racking thing you’ve ever done in your life?

 On my very first trip to a swimming pool when I was about five, someone pushed me in the deep end and I had to be rescued by the life guard. It put me off swimming quite a bit, as you can imagine. So I felt very brave learning to swim as an adult in an outdoor pool attached to a school with all the kids watching me flounder.

What’s your idea of the perfect holiday?Main cover pic

 It has to be Nice in the sunshine strolling up the Promenade des Anglais thinking of further adventures for my  characters in Love, Lies and Café au Lait.





What do you find best helps you to relax, de-stress and re-focus? 

 Reading. I can totally immerse myself in a book and it blots out all worries. I even read during labour with my second son which blotted out the pain for quite a while.

Which song triggers happy memories for you and why?

 Any happy song such as You are the Sunshine of my Life or Happy by Will Pharrell. And I love all the Zumba songs. When I hear one, I have to stop myself automatically going into the dance routine.

Who is the fictional hero you’d most like to spring to life before your eyes?

It would have to be Jamie from Outlander as long as he looked like Sam Heughan

21366824_1652990931407375_2015034935783565468_oWhich city in the world would you most like to visit?

 Probably Hollywood. I researched it like crazy for my book Love in La La Land and most readers thought I’d actually been there …but confession time …I hadn’t,  so perhaps I ought to now.






What’s your favourite food treat/indulgence (however big or small) ?

 Nuts …love nuts …if they are covered in milk chocolate then that’s ok too.

Which three words best describe you?

 Positive, sunny, outgoing

Thank you, Morton, I really enjoyed answering these questions.


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Dust, Sweat and Nostalgia

Dust, Sweat and Nostalgia

At last I have emptied the big bookcase, prior to decorating the back bedroom.


This took two days, far longer than expected, because, of course, I kept remembering where and when I’d read certain books. When I was working full-time at college, my only real escape into reading was on holiday so I recorded the date and location inside the book.

And further nostalgia came in the form of the odds and sods I had used as ‘bookmarks’, a Nice city map, tickets to Alcatraz, unsent postcards, museum passes, menus, hotel cards, meal bills, a Chinese New Year money bag, and a French shopping receipt from so long ago it was in francs.


Then of course there was the decision on which books to keep and which to pile up ready for the charity shop. So difficult. I think I’ve been quite ruthless … but I may very well rescue some of them as I have already regretted some I have previously given away.


But here are the ‘saved’ ones, bagged up in our bedroom. An additional bookcase had to be brought down from the attic and both suitcases are full.















But what a wonderful record of all the words I have read, all the worlds I have explored, both in reality and in my imagination.


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Lanzarote Flamingo Fun

We escaped to lovely hot Lanzarote for some winter sun, but we couldn’t escape flamingos.

Everywhere we turned we saw their elegant pink shapes peering at us…. on handbags, on  towels, from street corners and shop windows.


And then, joy of joy, we saw a whole shop full of them. I had to go in because I knew it would have thrilled my character Reen. They were all a bit  garish and plastic which she would have loved…and so did I.

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Flamingos agogo Or when Felicity met Jasmin.

Flamingos agogo Or when Felicity Flamingo met Jasmin.

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Little did I know, when I wrote my character, Reen, that she would take over my life quite so much. I introduced her first in Love, Lies and Café au Lait when she was over-wintering in Nice while her Villa in Marbella was being ‘done up’.

Then she, and her family, made an appearance on her home ground of the Costa del Sol in The Girl who Used To Be Me.

As did her garden full of pink plastic flamingos.

Since then Flamingos seemed to have taken over, not only my life, but that of my friends too. Hardly a day goes by without some notification of flamingo-spotting as people try to go about their normal life.

And so many lovely presents.

And why not…don’t we all need a bit of fabulous frivolity in these dark and gloomy days.

Thank you, Reen, and long may you light up my life with your joy and colourful gaiety.

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Jeanette Winterson, Accrington Stanley and Me

To celebrate the first anniversary of the publication of my novel Love Lies and Café au Lait, I not only went back to Nice but also retraced the footsteps of my main character Annie back to Accrington.   I took her with me so she could also see what had happened to the place since we had both left.

Accrington has two main claims to fame. It’s the home of Accrington Stanley Football Club and was the childhood home of the writer, Jeanette Winterson. So on this return visit I was curious to revisit both.

First, the school both Jeanette and I attended, the old Accrington High School, is still there …just. The imposing portico that inspired a frisson of fear as I entered all those years ago is now closed off with two sets of forbidding fences and lots of weeds. I think Jeanette’s experiences there were similar to mine.  I received a very good education, but it had a very prim, rigid and repressive regime. Lots of Latin but not much joy.

My character Annie felt similarly trapped before she escaped to Nice.

The town centre was much changed, now pedestrianised and missing two wonderful trees outside the Town Hall.

But one place looked the same. From reading her books, it’s clear that Jeanette, like me, was a voracious reader and spent many a happy hour in IMG_20190917_112009239 Accrington Library …as did I. And that looked unchanged.







Whenever I say I’m from Accrington most people will respond with the one word ‘Stanley’. This football team has achieved national fame, more from its name than from its exploits. So I took my book there.IMG_20190917_105612423 (2)


And we were greeted with sunshine and great warmth by the staff at The Stanley ground. I apologised for depicting all the rain in the book and they acknowledged with a grimace that that seemed a fair description.



So many memories crowded in going back. I had a very happy childhood in a big, noisy, loving family but the return provoked lots of thoughts about how much we are shaped by our environment, which, each in our own way, Jeanette and I write about.

We both escaped to pastures new.

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My Friend calls me FlaLynngo …I can’t think why. Can you?


IMG_20191111_101143000A recent birthday added to my haul of flamingo shaped paraphernalia, including Felicity, the gorgeous pink-feathered bird peering elegantly down on the other presents.

Felicity Flamingo is supposedly meant for the garden…but she is just too fabulous, so I now gaze at her as she preens by the fire, a constant reminder of the colourful character of Reen in both of my latest novels.

In fact, speak it softly, Felicity is far too classy for Reen, so she’s mine, all mine.

Meanwhile in Paris, another friend spotted these in the Tuileries gardens.

So perhaps FlaLynngo is right.

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How nice to be in Nice with Love, Lies and Café au Lait

It was wonderful to celebrate the first anniversary of the publication of Love, Lies and Café au Lait by revisiting the inspiration for its story.

I remember it was sparked by a cup of coffee in a café overlooking the bustling Nice market, so I just had to return there. Sitting down to a delicious breakfast in ‘Jacques’ Café’ was quite nostalgic…. but alas no pain perdu this time.

Later I had lots of fun trying to recreate the cover of my book from the heights above the Bay of Angels. There was lots of arms-aloft poses and jubilatory wavings against the exact image of the red-roofed golden-brown city below.

Also on the list was a trip to Reen’s much-beloved, fabulous hotel Negresco to indulge in cocktails in the posh oak-panelled bar with delicious nibbles and much people watching.

And what a delight it was to be back there in this lively city …just strolling in the vibrant market

or along the narrow labyrinthine streets of the old town

or the obligatory saunter along the wide Promenade des Anglais with its iconic blue chairs revelling, as always, at the brightness of the azure sea. And sipping an ice-cold Rosé at a beach café.

It’s a cliché, but all good things must come to end, so au revoir Nice, until the next time.



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