Yesterday’s junk is tomorrow’s collectable!

What makes things go in and out of fashion? Why do we hate lava lamps one decade, and regard them as retro and hip the next? Why did I once decorate a wall with cork floor tiles? And whatever possessed any of us to wear loon pants?! Yesterday’s junk so often becomes tomorrow’s most collectable ‘must have’ and if only we could predict these trends we’d all be very rich!

A current fad, and one that I must admit I rather like, is ‘kitchenalia’ – basically our mothers’ and grandmothers’ kitchen gadgets, crockery and utensils. Who would have thought chipped enamel colanders would be highly prized, or that old pieces of blue and white striped Cornishwear would sell for small fortunes? 

I have found myself in various retro shops recently, all selling things that I binned years ago – and selling them for far more than they originally cost. It’s enough to make you weep! Joking aside, it’s rather lovely seeing such things again as they instantly bring back memories. An old metal flour dredger – my Mother rolling out pastry. A set of pastry forks – afternoon tea at my Grandmother’s. A ‘vintage retro shabby metal baking tray’ – hang on, I’ve still got one of those! If you have a look on ebay, there are some lovely old items, but there are also some hilarious ones where people think they really can sell anything. I have to tell you that at the time of writing this, the ‘vintage retro shabby metal baking tray’ (battered, grubby and not that old!) was on sale for £7.50!

Old-fashioned kitchen scales are rather lovely – they look great and are still perfectly serviceable. Stoneware jars make lovely ornaments, we were lucky enough to find some in our loft when we moved here and I like their colour and solidity, but useful – they are not! I think it will take me a while to come round to wanting a stainless steel tea service, but you never know… You might yet see me in a pair of loon pants again one day!

I wonder what it is that brings things back into fashion, or how old they have to be to become ‘antique’? What do you think? What do you predict will be the next ‘big thing’? What old bits of junk have you got that you are hanging onto in case they become highly-prized?

PS. My latest novel ‘A Violet Death’ features quite a bit of kitchenalia – now there’s a coincidence!



Putting on a bit of a show…

July and August are busy times down here in Devon. Of course, the tourism industry is huge in this area – we are blessed with beautiful countryside and a dramatic coastline – but it’s the strong sense of community and tradition in the countryside that also come to the fore at this time of year.

The rural community is still closely aligned with the farming world and country shows, town carnivals and village fetes are all still important (and popular) events on the social calendar.

Growing giant vegetables, showing your best breeding ram or entering your dog in the agility class are all part of the fun,­ although some people take it very seriously indeed! People go to enormous lengths to build carnival floats, groom and polish their ponies and traps and produce flower arrangements of great ingenuity. It is heartening to see such ‘traditional’ ways of life still carrying on so strongly in this technological age.

My partner in crime writing, Julia Wherrell, took the afternoon off to wander around a show local to her up on Dartmoor, the Chagford Show, and took some fun photos to give you a real feel for what goes on. She spent quite a lot of her afternoon in the produce and craft tents and when not in there, she was admiring the prize sheep and cattle, oh, and chickens of course. She says she most definitely did not go near the beer tent(!), but might have swung by the cream teas!

They always say ‘write about what you know’, so if you happen to be a fan of our Swaddlecome Mysteries series, this sort of rural entertainment will be well known to you! 


A Violet Death makes its debut

We had an exciting evening yesterday as we launched A Violet Death and orders started coming in! Julia Wherrell, my partner in crime writing, came over and we had a celebratory glass of bubbly.

It’s always rather wonderful – if a little surreal – to see something you started roughing out at the kitchen table 11 months previously, finally appear as a fully formed book! You find yourself thinking ‘Did I write that? Good Lord!’

I find myself dipping into the book and reading passages and thinking ‘Ah yes, that’s the point where Victoria discovers…’ and then thinking – well of course she did, you wrote it! It’s quite impossible to explain the feeling, but it is great!

My lounge now looks like a warehouse as it is full of boxes of books! Once we’d had a sip of bubbly, it was work time as Richard unpacked the books and Julia and I started signing – it’s actually quite tiring signing your name that many times. Julia claimed she forgot who she was part way through one signature so she had to take that book home for herself with an unintelligible scribble on the front page – oh dear!

And so, a busy day today with all the paperbacks being sent out. Thank you so much for all your orders and lovely email comments and posts. The Kindle sales are also going really well and I keep running in and out of my office to sneakily peek at where we are in the rankings, very naughty, but we did get to no. 178 in the whole Kindle list at one point! Now, I must stop it and get back to work!


A Special Day!

I simply love this artwork and this card – wine, cheese and some good company is my idea of a very special day!

This card uses the Anna Browne cardmaking pad and it contains oh so many designs that I really like and have found very useful in the past few months.

One of the things I would like to point out especially on the card is the use of Kraft card to die cut the Signature die ivy corner. Don’t you think it looks really effective in Kraft as a change from green – I was very impressed. 

This is a slightly smaller card than we usually make, it’s about 5 ½” square – and just uses the ingredients on that sheet from the Anna Browne pad and lots of layers in copper, Kraft and one layer is white. It’s a simple card but oh so effective and would be great for a man’s card or a female like me that loves wine and cheese!

Lots of celebrating planned this week for us when the new book comes out on Thursday – definitely wine – we might even get treated to champagne – more news as it breaks!



Hot off the press!

Well, strictly speaking, it’s hot ON the press! My second novel ‘A Violet Death’, co-written with my friend Julia Wherrell, was being printed yesterday. It will be available a week from today – Friday 15th August.

I wasn’t able to go to our printers, Maslands up in Tiverton today, but Julia went along to watch the covers and text coming off the presses. I found it absolutely fascinating when I went last year to see the first book in the series ‘A Sticky End’, being produced. All that whirring machinery is fascinating and watching a cover, then another cover and oh look, there’s another cover whizzing out the end of the machine is great fun!

A Violet Death is the second in our Swaddlecombe series and is set in the summer, following on from A Sticky End, that took place in springtime. Here’s a quick synopsis to whet your appetite:

‘After inheriting a cottage from her aunt, Victoria West is starting to settle into her rural life in Devon.

As Victoria and farmer Albert Moreton’s relationship blossoms, summer heats up and preparations for the Swaddlecombe Show are underway when a ferocious flash flood shakes up the rural idyll and a mysterious death is discovered. 

Meanwhile, as she researches her latest article on Devon violets, Victoria meets the Ansome brothers who, in their very different ways, have a major impact on her future happiness.

Is Victoria and Albert’s romance doomed? Will the vicar ever dry out his cassock and will Moss the pup win his obedience class at the Swaddlecombe Show?’

So there you have it! As ever, it’s got plenty of humour as well as a few unpleasant incidents… and there’s yet more cake to add into the mix!

We do hope you enjoy it!