Lucky,lucky,lucky.

Happy New Year! Am I allowed to say that to you seven days in? I hope so.

It’s a funny time of year because once the decorations are down, and the tree is packed away, the house looks so drab. Well, I think it does, and for the last couple of years I’ve held on to some pretty twinkling white lights that I keep out all year. Oh, I’ve had quite a few comments from visitors, but I won’t be persuaded otherwise. They cheer me up, and why not have a bit of bling to brighten up those dark, winter days? And, in a fit of madness, I’ve also decided to keep out my cute little robins that I had clipped on our tree. They add a splash of colour to our living space, which, all of a sudden, looks quite beige.

 

%q+%hl%0tsq+eazowytxqaSo, with that over and done with, I had a look just now, and discovered I’ve been writing my blog for four years. Yes, four years. This will be my 43rd post. I wrote the first post a couple of months after our eldest son was diagnosed with testicular cancer. At the time of writing, he was still getting over his orchidectomy, and attempting to get his head around the fact that this had even happened to him.

Our son is still cancer-free. Thank goodness. Our prayers were answered. The twice-yearly check-ups he’s given by the marvellous Oncologists at Burnley hospital in Lancashire will carry on for ten years. We don’t care about the twenty mile round trip over there, as it’s a small price to pay for the reassurance those tests bring. He was lucky – lucky it was testicular – and according to his Oncologist, if you’re going to get cancer, then testicular cancer is one of the best ones to get.

And that’s what we think about every day – how very lucky we are – not just at New Year, although that’s quite poignant, too.

Until next time

Kim x

 

 

 

 

 

 

Season’s Greetings and all that!

So, how’s it all going? Have you all finished your Christmas shopping, or have you still to start?I4Ipxi12QhuWQcWykbjuxQ.jpg

Apart from the food shopping (we did order our turkey this morning) ours is pretty much done (and wrapped) but what we have been doing this weekend is wrestling with the trimmings. Glory be! What a trauma! Or, is it just us? We keep our decorations and a lot more besides in a room just off a bedroom (our house is peculiar) where the head height is limited. Me – I can almost stand up in there, but not quite. Poor DH is almost bent double, and has to crawl on his hands and knees on an old piece of carpet, so it’s a pretty stressful experience. And, when you’ve been married for as long as we have, we have boxes and boxes of the things – in every colour conceivable – enough, I think, to trim at least four trees! In fact, we have four trees, three of which are redundant. We never buy a real tree anymore, since I persuaded DH a couple of years ago to part with a few hundred pounds of his hard-earned cash to buy a ‘real-looking’ specimen, which, actually, if I do say so myself, looks pretty authentic. For years before that, we alternated between buying a real tree and using an artificial one (hence the three other boxed trees). After a couple of false starts we now have a lovely tree that should last us for the rest of our lives, and, according to DH, it most definitely will.

 

Then there’s the lights. Oh dear. Don’t mention those. I counted over twenty sets yesterday and that doesn’t include the ones with batteries where you pre-set them and they come on and go off everyday at that time. It’s a lot less faffy, I think, and instead of having to unplug them every night, I can forget all about them. Until the batteries die, that is. And that’s another sore point with DH, because tomorrow, we’re probably going to have to go out and spend at least thirty quid on Duracell (because if you buy cheap, you buy twice) to power the four sets of lights on our tree, plus the two wreaths on our doors (oh, it’s never ending, I tell you).

This is where I stop. I’ve wittered on long enough (even I know that) so this is my last blog post of 2018. It’s the time of year (for me, anyway) to sign off social media for a couple of weeks (until the New Year) to spend time quality time with my family. I’ll also be fitting in some writing on my current WIP, which touch wood, is going quite well.

I wish you all a wonderful and peaceful festive season, where precious memories are made. Hopefully, you’ll recharge your batteries (heh, heh) – and enjoy lots of lovely time with your loved ones.

But, before I go, I promised you some snaps of the The Ivy, Manchester. DH and I had a wonderful lunch there, and need to return to this place in the very near future. Food delicious, ambience super and very attentive staff. We even saw Sinead Tinker from Corrie on our way out, and guess what – we had a much better table than hers, because ours had a wonderful view over Spinningfields! So there!

Until next time, Kim xx

 

Let the frenzy begin!

What a busy couple of days!

Last Friday saw me meet up again with four very dear friends that I worked with in the seventies. Back then we worked in a local government office, and now, a couple of times a year we reunite for lunch, laughs and drinks, where we soon fall back in to the easy relationship we had. Where have 38 years gone, ladies?

Y8bD3AwtTGSKtNqJqMv0Mw

On Saturday I had a little trip out with my three sisters to one of our very favourite places. The winter wonderland that is the Barton Grange Garden Centre has certainly done itself proud. It has, in fact, just been awarded the Best Christmas Displays in the UK award by the Garden Centre Association (GCA). I’m not surprised. It really is fantastic. If you live anywhere in the vicinity you should go and have a look, but its massive popularity means it is constantly packed to the doors at this time of year so plan your visit well.

EceSrnBARbuciWXuJtidNg drPLWZIOSPKxEXMM9jHPUQu0b1jMiTSG6Ngq6BYBVqng After fighting through the crowds, the brunch in the restaurant definitely restored our sanity, but before I pause for too long, today (Monday) DH and I are off to the Ivy in Manchester for another little Christmas treat. This is a brand new restaurant that opened only last week, so we’re taking the train (using our senior railcards, of course) to see how it’s measuring up against the competition. Pics on here soon.

Until next time

Kim x

 

I’m chunnering for Lancashire!

BpIySDwVTJuY9w2DJo9uIA

So, it’s been almost two weeks since I returned home from my Relax and Write course with the fabulous Kate Walker at Lilleshall National Sports and Conferencing Centre in Shropshire.

My chapters sent beforehand for Kate to cast her eye over came back with plenty of ticks – yay – and we were a small gathering of romance writers this time, but I liked it that way. Five of us in total plus Kate, meant we could write more, discuss more, and laugh more – and we did a lot of that. Three of us were serial attenders on Kate’s courses, but two new ladies joined us this time who we were very happy to meet and who also seemed to enjoy the fun.

The accommodation at the conference centre (described as plain) was comfortable, if a little unconventional. The breakfasts were excellent and plentiful, the service at the bar a bit eccentric, but I had such a good time, and I came away inspired.

That aside, we can’t forget what’s coming up soon. Oh, yes, December will soon be upon us which means, of course, that Christmas is-a-coming. But, I was rather taken aback this week to be asked by the cashier in our local supermarket if I was ready? Now, it just so happens I am ready for Christmas because I like to be prepared, but to be asked a question like that on the 26 November did throw me a little. 

At the time she said it we were a whole calendar month off. To me, a question like that should be asked the week before Christmas, not a whole month. It’s the sort of comment that gets passed around when you’re standing at the check-out a couple of days before the big day with your trolley overflowing!

Grr … it just seems that with every passing year the festive season starts earlier and earlier. For example, there’s the Christmas adverts that tug at the heartstrings, the delicious looking Christmas food we just have to buy, the cheesy music that takes us back to times gone by, the phone adverts, the seasonal films etc etc. We can’t escape. We’re trapped. They bombard us relentlessly between television programmes.

Wjw8vLSnRHeDBwq0fY75Fg.jpg

Oh, dear, I hope I’m not turning into some sort of Mother Scrooge! But, I’m not … really I’m not. As they say up here in Lancashire, I’m just chunnering a bit (it means to mutter or grumble incessantly in a meaningless fashion) and as today is Lancashire day#Lancashire day – I think I’m entitled.

Until next time,

Kim x

Well, whaddya know, I’ve finally made the move!

I bought alexisjakes.com some time ago, but for some reason – and I’ve no idea why – I never made the move from Blogger to WordPress, so … here we are at last. My first ever post on my new domain.

o3fFGHJ%TamL9DhwSiS1Iw

I didn’t plan it. I didn’t sit down with my cup of tea this evening and think – shall I write a new blog post? No, like most of the random thoughts that pop into my head, I just did it. I’m still figuring it all out. In an ideal world, I would like to have waited until all my Blogger posts were transferred over, but why, I thought? From hereon in, this is where you will find me.

And, get me – I’ve even managed to insert a photograph or two. It took a bit of fiddling, but above is one of my favourite sunsets taken recently from my house. And the one below was taken in Menorca on our recent holiday. Different countries but same continent. Both just as beautiful.

Until next time.

Alexis xx

ljWG%LlxReO1raoziqO3DA

 

Yay! October updates.

There is no getting away from the fact that it’s October. Yes, the year is running away with us, and in few weeks time, the shops, invariably, will be full of Christmas paraphernalia (I suspect it’s started already).

NO! I say. It’s too soon. I’m still on my summer holiday out in Menorca, where the temperature today is a balmy twenty five degrees. It’s still warm enough out here, most of the time, to swim in the sea, lie on the beach, and make-believe it’s still summer. It must be because I’ve bought a new fancy cardigan in the Sant Tomàs sales! Lovely little thing, it is, and goes really well with all my summer dresses.


We love coming to Menorca at this time of year. This time, we’ve had a mixture of weather, with some blustery days, and huge, black, dramatic skies. Our break always does one thing for us and that’s to blow away the cobwebs. It sets both me and DH up for the winter when the dark, depressing days can seem never-ending.

I’m under no illusions. I’m fully aware that as soon we land back in Manchester next week it’ll be heating on, and I’ll be back in the scarves, boots and thick coats. (Didn’t we have a frost one morning before we left?) The holiday wear will be packed away until next year and that, unfortunately, will be that.

So, in the meantime, before I slide into complete and utter gloom, I’ve four things on the go to tell you about:

 

Yay! I’ve submitted to HM&B with my latest story. On Submittable it’s already in progress – not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing!

Yay! I’m booked on a writer’s retreat with the fabulous Kate Walker at Lilleshall, Shropshire next month. I cannot wait for this. 

Yay! I’ve been accepted as an assistant editor at the Pink Heart Society (Aspiring Authors). Still getting my head around this as it is all very new to me, but I’m looking forward to this new venture and working with all the fabulous editors on there.

Yay! I’m about 7000 words in on my new story. Title undecided as yet, but my hero is Greek, and he’s exceptionally handsome.

So, yay all round really.

Until next time.

Kim x

August celebrations

August is living up to everything I’d thought it would be. Busy.

I sent my finished book My Lawyer, My Love to two of my sisters for their honest opinion. Anyway, from the comments they gave me, they rather liked it, so I will be sending that off to M&B just as soon as I can.

Last weekend saw us speeding down to London to visit DH’s brother and his wife. They now live in Hampstead with their family, so Saturday saw the nine of us ambling around the vicinity, where we got plenty of fresh air in our lungs and when we could get our breath back from clambering up the hills, chatted lots. Luckily, I’d taken my trainers, but then I tend to live in trainers these days. Is that becoming of a woman of 60?

We had a great time – the weekend passed quickly – and as a treat we’d booked first class on the train. The return journey’s refreshments weren’t quite as delicious as the ones we got given on Friday evening, when we were also plied with alcohol, but we certainly didn’t go hungry, and it saved us having to trudge along to the shop in coach C being thrown hither and dither by the Virgin pendolino. Going to the toilet was bad enough, I can tell you.

And whilst this may sound exceptionally greedy, in a few days time we’re off to Minorca for a week in the sun. Whilst out there DH celebrates a very significant birthday. We’ll also be celebrating said birthday in advance this Saturday evening when the six of us go out for a meal. Looking forward to that.

Last but not least, on the 31st youngest DS gets the results of his accountancy exams – three long years of hard work finished at last.

So, it’s all go, it seems, and just in case you thought I’d been sitting around doing nothing in-between, I’ve made a start on planning my new book. No title as yet, but this time my hero is Greek and if I do say so myself, more than a little handsome.

See you in September.

Until next time

Kim x

 

No more food. PLEASE.

I had a very busy weekend. Not that every weekend isn’t busy in some way, but I felt this particular one was especially so.

AND FILLED WITH FOOD.

Saturday started off with a belly-busting breakfast for me and DH. It was so big and so filling I had to pass on the toast and hash-browns. No, really, I did.

Saturday afternoon found me at the cinema in Bolton. Oh, how those places have changed since I was a girl! Number One cinema where my son had booked tickets has only plush, reclining, push-button electric seats with a foot-rest that you adjust to your requirements. As I lay there in luxury still replete from my breakfast, not one of the Maltesers or Revels offered to me passed my lips. Well, maybe just one.

When we got home to the sight of a freshly lit barbecue fired up by DH my eyes lit up too. And, yes, this is the same man who had taken me for the belly-busting breakfast earlier.

Chicken, Pork, Sausages all lay prepared, ready to be thrown on the barbecue, with new potatoes, fresh bread, salads, coleslaw, etc etc to accompany the meat.

Phew.

Sunday morning came, and now ravenously hungry, we booked Sunday lunch in the cosy little gastro-pub just around the corner. Youngest son was out walking in the hills with his girlfriend, so it was just me, DH and eldest son. His girlfriend had been invited to a colleague’s wedding and from her pictures on Instagram, there was plenty of food on offer there, too.

We’d talked about what we were going to have, and that surely we couldn’t fit anything large in our tummies after the orgy of eating over the weekend, so then why did we find ourselves ordering our favourite dish – steamed steak suet pudding with chips and mushy peas?

Believe me we’ve eaten this many times. It is simply not possible to eat this main course having had a starter first, because we’ve tried.

So we were very good, or so we thought – we ordered our main course only. Whilst eldest son (who has a huge appetite) was tucking into some other three course menu, we struggled with the pudding. And struggled.

But we managed. We came out on top, and almost managed to finish, which is why it is now 10.30 pm on Sunday evening and not another morsel has touched my lips.

Bread and water all this week. It has to be. Although I could need sustenance whilst planning my new novel, I reckon.

Until next time

Kim xx

So, what have I been up to in July?

Nearly the end of a glorious month weather wise. Unfortunately, over the last few days the rain seems to have returned, but I am reliably informed (I am the stalker of several different weather sites) that the sun is on its way back to Lancashire. I do hope so. Blues skies are much more preferable to the grey ones we usually get.

The RNA conference seems like a dim and distant memory now, although in reality it’s only two weeks since I returned home from Leeds. This year, due to some new medication I’d been put on, I felt rather under the weather for the whole time there, so in a way that spoilt things for me as I missed several of the talks due to feeling so ill, but as ever I did come away with my usual sense of wanting to crack on, and with some very encouraging words from the marvellous Kate Walker that’s what I’ve done. Whilst there I also picked up a copy of her new updated 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance which has always been a great inspiration to me. I forgot to ask Kate to sign it, but she’s promised to do this for me the next time we meet – either at the RNA York afternoon tea, or on her next writing course in November at Lilleshall Conference Centre in Shropshire. 

So, as a result of cracking on, my current WIP is now finished, and being read, as I speak, by my very kind sister. She’ll be the one to spot any glaringly obvious gaffes, and afterwards, with a few more tweaks, I’ll be submitting once again to Mills and Boon. Watch this space for details of my next WIP which I have already started to plan.

This month I also met up with some very dear friends who I used to work with back in the 70’s, and our last stop for a delicious cocktail whilst in Manchester was 20 stories in Spinningfields. Pay a visit if you can. The lift to the roof garden whisks you up there in about 10 seconds and the views are so worth it. If you don’t have a head for heights, though … beware …

My son works in the area, and gets really rather worried when I visit, especially when I threaten to turn up for a visit to his very shiny tower block. Oh, the shame, having your mother turn up with her mates! Ha, ha!

And, I know I’ve said this before, but I really do intend to blog on a monthly basis now, if not more.

Until next time.

Kim xx

P E R F E C T I O N


I’ve been trying to think of a word that describes the weekend I’ve just had. And here it is: Perfection


View from my window on the sixth floor
Was it really only yesterday that I said goodbye to friends, repacked my bulging suitcase and returned back home to Lancashire? 

What am I talking about here? Well, I think you might have guessed. It’s the #RNAConf18 held at Leeds Trinity University.

Over the weekend of 13-15 July 2018, when around 250 of us writers descended upon the town of Horsfirth for our yearly RNA conference, it didn’t disappoint.

Leeds Trinity – 6 miles from the city of Leeds, two miles from Leeds Bradford Airport – oh, yes, we saw the aircraft – 

surrounded by 40 acres of stunning countryside, is where  the brilliant talks, the one-to-ones with industry professionals and the camaraderie and un-ending support took place and came together. 

#RNAConf18:

Pleasing

Entertaining
Raucous (at times)
Fun
Enjoyable
Crowded
Tiring
Invigorating
Outstanding

Needed 


Yes, #RNAConf18 was very much needed. Thank you to everyone.

Until next time

Kim x

Student accommodation