So, you think it’s cold out…

Well, yes, that’s because it is, but every time I feel like moaning, I spare a thought for those who are homeless and those who, for whatever reason, don’t have access to central heating, though with rising prices, that includes a great deal more of us this year. Honestly, I feel we’re returning to my grandparents’ time, of how ‘being cold’ was something they not only expected, but put up with without complaint. Not that I’m suggesting anyone should do so now. We’re supposed to move forward, not slip back. Every generation expects the next to see improvements, to have a better life.

The council found my grandparents on my mother’s side alternative housing owing to such supposed improvements (I say supposed because I’ve now have reason to believe they were told lies as to those reasons). I was an infant, but I have vague memories of the old house is the important issue here. The door opened on a long, narrow corridor, with a room to the right. At the end of the house, stairs on the left led up, or further along a corridor led to the right. The stairs were dark and steep, and I remember them distinctly because I once fell down them. They went to a first floor where my grandparents had their living room/kitchen, and their bedroom. Another flight of stairs went to another level, where there were two more bedrooms. There was no bathroom. The only room to have heating was the living room/kitchen, where a fire burned in the stove for heat and for cooking.

The corridor at the bottom of the house led directly into the scullery. I recall the house had some sort of furnace that provided a hot water supply, but the house definitely had no central heating. Few houses did back then. A large tin bath hung on a hook in the scullery, and when people wanted a bath, they would take this bath up to the living room, placed it in front of the fire, and filled with hot water. Owing to the difficulties of having a bath, many people didn’t bother to have a full wash nightly. We knew some families where a bath was a weekly ritual, but I recall my grandmother always made sure I was as clean as could be (I can feel her scrubbing behind my ears to this day), and that she wouldn’t go to bed without using a bowl of water for herself.

The scullery also contained a sink, and it was here that my grandmother would do the family’s laundry. I can still picture her green glass scrubbing board and the old wooden mangle. People didn’t have washing machines and were lucky if there was a local laundromat or could afford to use them regularly if one was available. Washing meant hard graft — soaping up clothes and scrubbing them against the ridges of the glass board, then setting all the washed clothes aside to rinse. Once rinsed, my nan passed the clothes through the mangle, then hung them in the yard to dry. Once dry, she ironed them, not with an electric iron, but a hot plate iron that was set on the fire. There was no temperature control, and one had to be careful not to burn the clothing.

The door from the scullery led out into the small yard — half concrete, half soil, the soil area fenced off and used by my grandfather to grow vegetables. Not because he enjoyed gardening as a hobby, but because they needed to supplement their food supply. He would also grow tomatoes up on the roof, but that’s a whole other story.

My grandfather would play football with me in this yard, which was surrounded by brick walls. There was one other door out in the yard and this led to the outside toilet. I only remember visiting and cannot recall using it, but I do recall stories my grandfather would tell of going out there late at night during winter and having to chip the ice off the seat before he dared to sit down, hoping skin didn’t stick.

This is making me sound as if I’m 90, but this isn’t so long ago. We’re talking late 60s and even into the 70s. I never had central heating until I left home at age 21. My parents never had central heating until two years later.

Did we moan? Yes. Sometimes we did. I can recall going to school in the snow up to my knees and they still expected us to get there. Occasionally, they turned us away at the gate and we had to trudge back home again. There were times we complained about being cold. We washed one limb at a time, quickly covering it. We got dressed under the covers while still in bed in the morning, and we weren’t the only ones doing it. I can talk to my mother-in-law, who had a completely different upbringing in a separate part of the country, and yes, I admit she’s much older than I; still, she can remember similar stories. She never had central heating until the late 1980s. Remembers coping because that’s just what people did. She tells me that people seldom got sick out in the country, although I can’t say the same for people I knew living in London, where some places were ill-looked after and sometimes damp. My parents didn’t even have an actual fire — they had to make do with electric heaters, which were costly.

So whenever I’m snug indoors, I’m reminded it could be much worse. I remember hard times that people didn’t even know were hard, but simply accepted as the way things were. I remember slipping and sliding, trying to walk to school, and I remember it feeling as cold inside as it was out, even while there was snow on the ground. Mostly, though, I recall with a nostalgic smile my grandfather drawing a jagged shape in the ice on his bedroom window, and telling me, “Look, Jack Frost is here.”

The way so many are struggling now doesn’t feel so nostalgic. Only painful and pitiful that the world has moved backwards.

Update Oct 2022

Hi Everyone!

Made some headway exploring some National Trust parkland. It’s so easy to only visit the houses and listed highlights, but many properties have extensive parklands we’d be stupid not to take advantage of. A strange thing about living in the countryside is city dwellers often exclaim over how nice it must be to live somewhere surrounded by all those fields. What they forget is that doesn’t always make for a walker’s paradise. Those fields are owned by farmers. You can only cross them on a public right of way, and even then that means brambles, and stinging nettles, and cow pats in your path, not to mention the occasional bull if you’re not careful. At least plenty of mud. Living in the countryside doesn’t always mean a ready amount of available and ready walks. It’s necessary also to remember that as far as you walk in one direction, you need to retrace your steps back to the car, or be fully aware of the landmarks of a circular trail.

I’m working on a personal project not for publication except possibly for a few friends, which sounds mysterious, but like I say, it’s personal. I will produce more work next year and all writing is good practice. The amount of work I’ve produced is poor this year, but that’s how it goes sometimes when living with chronic pain.

Stay happy and healthy!
Sharon x


Though famous as a time of harvest, turning, and falling leaves, a drop in temperature, and arguments over when it begins (equinox on 22nd or 23rd September, meteorological on the 1st, or traditionally known to occur on the 21st), the season no longer seems to offer the chill but crisp and sunny walks among crisp leaves it once did. I’m tired of hearing ‘it’s typical autumnal weather’ on the news reports when the weather forecasters speak of a recent deluge. Still, I cannot help but love the colours of autumn, in clothes and in nature, and the fun of Halloween. The weather doesn’t always obey the dictations of my heart, but still for me, autumn shall always remain the best time of the year. For me, ‘Tis the season’.

Update August 2022

With the new-look website, I thought I’d separate my updates from my recommended reads from now on to make things more accessible.


August was a month in which we visited relatives, did a lot of work on the garden, avoided the worst of the heat as much as we could, and complained summer’s almost over when the temperature cooled and the rain at last came, although I much prefer cooler weather. The garden’s complete as much as these things ever are. We got rid of some older plants which had turned woody, planted a buddleia in the ground as it’s had its prescribed two years in a pot, and opened up the gazebo by removing one side panel to the end as we now have established plants. Not buying any more plants. What lives, lives, and what dies, dies. If we absolutely must replace something, it will be with a plant we’ve learned from experience will survive here.


At long last got to see The Sandman from Neil Gaiman brought to the screen courtesy of Netflix. I have loved the graphic novels for years, and Gaiman is one of my favourite authors. I’ve also loved the audio dramatisations of Sandman, and own the bookends, so no way was I going to be disappointed to see it at long last filmed. Though there have been comments on the series being too ‘woke’, sometimes from people who have no inkling of the source material, and granted there were a couple of characters I would have liked to see translated to screen exactly as seen in the books, but overall the series was so well adapted (and certainly better than any adaptation we’ve been threatened with in the past—adaptations which might have seen The Sandman on screen sunk forever), I loved every moment. Part of me can’t help wishing the series was as dark as the books (Cain and Abel anyone? LOL), but I can understand why they softened it to make it more accessible.

We’re also watch the last series of Locke & Key, and while I’ve enjoyed all three seasons of a work again adapted from graphic novels by author Joe Hill (Stephen King’s son for those who don’t know), the characters irritated me somewhat for making stupid decisions a little more often than I’d like. That’s fine for season one when they don’t know what they’re doing and have been launched into a magical world, but characters are supposed to go through a transformation in all forms of literature which means they should have learned by the final season and mistakes should be fewer, not as many or more. I’ve not read the source material, so can’t comment on what Hill foresaw for his characters, and I did like the conclusion.


I’m still deep into a lot of self-editing and just as well. I’ve not been able to wear my wedding rings for weeks owing to a heat rash that came up between two fingers. Despite my best efforts and several creams, if the current one doesn’t work I’ll have to speak to the pharmacist in the hope I won’t need to contact my doctor. In short, it refuses to heal, and I’m having to wear something to separate my fingers, which makes typing difficult, so like it or not for the time being more editing it is, as that requires far less use of my left hand.

LOST the Plot?

I never watched LOST the first time around, so recently went through all six series, and I couldn’t help viewing some of the show through a writer’s perspective.

Warning: Spoilers.

Imperfect? Perhaps. I certainly had issues with the way certain characters died. I couldn’t quite believe Charlie’s death. What? He couldn’t make it out of the room, close the door, and fastened it somehow from outside? If the door had an outside wheel lock, he had the time. Failing that, he looked small enough to swim out of the porthole once the glass exploded and the room filled up with seawater. Escaping was definitely worth a try. Likewise, Jack’s attack of John Locke/not Locke was reckless where he appeared to give the extremely obvious, present and enormous bladed weapon no consideration at all. No human half gutted with that thing would have carried on to save the island. I have an issue with shows where they have characters slice their hands open for a splash and dash of blood, wrap any old rag around the cut (infection anyone?) and carry on with a perfectly useable hand apparently in no pain at all, so knife in the gut and twisted… I never understand why the public is supposed to swallow such rot.

And though we’re shown Caleb’s origins towards the end, that never explains the mystical elements of the island. At one point, we’re shown a hidden crypt with Mayan or Egyptian type symbols, which appeared to the home of the smoke monster — so I was prepared to believe in an ancient god, but then we’re shown the pool of golden light with no clear connection between the light and the symbols. Is this an ancient worshiping ground? Worshipped by who and why? Is this the source of good and evil? If so, why did in manifest in two boys? If the island needs protection, why doesn’t God make it untraceable? One minute it’s difficult to find or get to and yet seems to be more easily reached by sub than aircraft. Alas, LOST leaves us with far more questions than answers.

The major problem for most viewers seems to be the ending, with the question of were they dead all along. I never thought so, and I have no major issue with the show’s end. Not one large enough to have spoiled the experience for me; however, I feel that an alternative timeline where something Desmond did in the pool to alter the outcome yet left them all with the memories of what happened would have felt far more satisfying.

And on that note, the writers negated the specialness of Desmond. Sure he ‘pulled the plug’ and that made not-Locke mortal, so he could die, but he was trapped on the island, anyway. And what was he? The devil? One of the devil’s minions? Pure evil? Or simply a hurt little boy inside? Desmond might have destroyed the island and says he made a mistake. After all he’d been through, that seems poor recompense.

The afterlife idea leaves too many questions. Why would Sayid end up with Shannon and not Nadia? Which woman was the love of his life? Things like this and more pop into my mind, when presented by the ‘we created this space as a way to meet up once we all died’. When did they all make this decision? Does heaven automatically bring you all together with the people you spent the most important time in your life with? What was the overall purpose of the island? For it certainly wasn’t where good and evil battled it out for all eternity to keep the world turning — not if the end is the end and the island was at last safe. What was the light? And when the water returned, why didn’t Jack turn into a smoke monster? Viewers certainly saw someone else get thrown in and changed, so why not Jack? Because he had a virtuous heart? Questions, questions, questions.

This is a great illustration of a problem all writers face. It’s often too easy to come up with a fabulous idea and then write yourself into a corner. At the end of all drafts, the writer must look to see what questions the narrative raises and whether they can answer them all…. Although sometimes the writer may not wish to answer and may leave it to the audience to speculate, but it’s a tricky thing to pull off. I like some open-ended stories, but LOST isn’t one of those, and so I would have preferred a few more answers.

But, having said all that, the storyline spaced out all my niggles, and at least the show had an end, unlike so many. It remained consistent and I love well-plotted, non-chronological story-telling. I imagine some viewers might find that kind of narrative difficult to follow, but I had no trouble following the storyline at all. It’s an action series, a mystery, and, like all the best stories, heavily character driven. I enjoyed the show despite every glitch because I invested in those characters.

In all good character stories, the people populating the work MUST go through a transformation. They must change, to emerge a different and (in most cases but not all) better person. In that I found LOST to be a captivating show, especially when one realises that it’s not a story about people being lost on an island, but a group of lost individuals who discover who they are and what they’re capable of together and when facing adversity. But that is why a different ending would have been far more satisfying. An end where they got to live new lives, yet remember what they went through and thereby complete their transformations in a way more satisfactory than meeting again after death.

When writing, try not to get lost of where you are in your work and when typing THE END weigh up whether you’ve not only answered all the questions you wish to against reader/viewer satisfaction. It’s still fine to go against the grain if you feel that strongly, but make it an active decision, not a mistake.

Update July 2022

Hi Everyone!

Updating the website and may change the way I blog soon, but I’ll be away from blogging for the next two weeks, so a regular update for July.

Too, too hot a month. We got out for a walk in the woods, but it had to be early to avoid the worst of the heat. Now the weather has broken, the rain’s back, but it’s a relief to be free of the heat. Still got garden furniture to paint, because we’ve been repairing and rebuilding a bench, but at last on the final coat. Will be so glad when it’s over.

We never watched Lost first time around, so have been working through the entire series. We’re now in the last season, and so far… well, I can tell why it was so popular when it first ran. Apart from a few quibbles, we’ve mostly enjoyed it. I know the ending disappointed viewers, so it will be interesting to find out whether we feel the same way. If you hate paradoxes, though, the series may not be for you.

Also, watching the third season of The Umbrella Academy. I think my favourite characters are Klaus and Number Five.

One of the most ultimately disappointing series we’ve stuck with has to be The Blacklist. Although, I’ve loved the show, it’s outstayed its welcome and now in season 9… well, spoiler warning: Although any actor may leave a show, when it affects the underlying big reveal, it’s bound to leave viewers feeling flat. I’ve heard (and hope) season 10 will be the last, but if we ever discover who Reddington is, I don’t think it will have as great an impact, and the character of Liz still been around to share in the knowledge.

The Mangle Street Murders, M.R.C.Kasasian
Best described as a black comedy, the novel deals with a series of grisly murders and a seemingly unsolvable crime, but the most criminal thing about the story is the unrepentant and awful personality of Grice — a detective far more cutting than Sherlock and darkly comic because of it. The type of blunt and terrible temperament, one cannot help but laugh at and cringe while doing so. I loved to loathe him, though loathe is too strong a word. The tale’s told through the viewpoint of his ward, March Middleton, and it is as much about her having to put up with Grice as her strength and determination that makes this book amusing. And like any good detective story, there’s a meandering puzzle that only the warped mind of Grice could easily work out. I’ll be reading more of these.

The Sandman (Volume One), Neil Gaiman and cast (audio dramatisation)
Thoroughly loved this. Maybe you need to be a fan of the source material, but this is an enjoyable and faithful representation of the graphic novels. Some purists may not agree, but I feel this added to my appreciation of the books and Gaiman’s work. With a great cast, including Michael Sheen, Andy Serkis, and Bebe Neuwith, James McAvoy is the perfect choice for Morpheus. It’s a lovely thought that this production also brings the story to the blind.

Tell Me Lies, Jennifer Crusie
Seriously well-plotted romance mystery, which I liked and disliked as I read through and ended up loving. The parts I disliked seemed messy — Maddie not acting as I thought any sane woman would, or people forgiving others where forgiveness might be questionable — but by story’s end I realised it worked because people don’t act as they should, life is messy, and maybe we should all be a little more forgiving especially when no one is perfect. I came to love Maddie’s grandmother perhaps the most — her character sums up the essence of the book perfectly, even though at first that doesn’t seem like an endorsement. Many of Crusie’s earlier work is short, still well-plotted, but light fun. This is all of those things and more, showing that imperfection can be okay, even preferable sometimes, not to worry so much about what the neighbours think, and it’s also fine to be occasionally selfish. And how it feels good to stand up to dominating relatives sometimes.

The Curse of the House of Foskett, M.R.C.Kasasian
The second in the Gower St Detective novels features even more grisly murders and a maze of deception that may leave some heads in a whirl. But I’m pleased to say I suspected the right culprit. A fun series, as I had hoped, with more questions raised regarding Miss March Middleton’s past, and Mr Grice’s background. I shall read on.

The Sandman (Volume Two), Neil Gaiman and cast (audio dramatisation)
Perhaps not as enjoyable as Volume One, though I would say the same for the graphic novels, in that I love the earlier volumes more. There’s still much to love here. Also, it’s impossible to have one collection without the other if you enjoy these dramatisations. A special delight was in correctly recognising more voices. I’ve enjoyed these equally much as the graphic novels and only if my arm were twisted to choose one over the other would I opt for the books and give up these. I’m one of those people who can enjoy more than one version of a thing without it detracting from the original.

I’m editing a lot of my older work, mainly short stories to begin, to see what I can do with them, so I have no immediate publishing plans.
Stay happy and healthy!
Sharon x

Update June 2022

Hi Everyone!


A mostly wet June with little happening. I’ve been painting outside furniture in the garage to protect it from the rain and local cats making a mess of the paint until dry, and local cats from the wet paint, so they didn’t end up looking like felines from Wonderland. We once again had the problem of red mites, which we suffered last summer. Harmless but they like warm surfaces and are annoying as they restrict where you can sit out, mark everything if they get squashed (and they’re so fragile it’s not always avoidable), and make us have to think twice about opening a window.


City of Ember is a pleasant film, visually stunning, and I loved Bill Murray as the Mayor. Has many negative reviews, perhaps justified, perhaps not. I don’t know the source material. A film for the little ones and adults who know no better (I mean that comment in a good way). Dual starring Karen Gillan and Aaron Paul is a hard film to rate. Though slow in places, one could easily dismiss this, yet there was much I liked about it. There’s a lot going on here, though not everyone will see it. Hearing Karen deliver lines in such a rapid monotone becomes off-putting and disturbing — exactly what the film’s going for, I imagine. I rate this science-fiction, replacement clone story as black satirical comedy that’s thought-provoking with a disturbing reflection of life.


The Midnight Library, Matt Haig

Matt Haig has never disappointed me, and The Midnight Library is no exception. One could say that the author’s telling us nothing new in this story about a young woman giving up on life; nothing we don’t already know. But Haig makes us feel this universal truth and believe, or at least want to believe, that life, a new life, potentially begins just around the corner. That everything is one decision away from changing. And for all we know, it might be.

Fourbodings: A Quartet of Uneasy Tales, edited by Peter Crowther, featuring Simon Clark, Tims Lebbon, Mark Morris, Terry Lamsley

Like one of those old films that put together a quartet of spooky tales, this book promises a dip into the same chills and thrills territory, though I’m unsure whether it fully delivers. There’s poor old Gerry who finds an apartment best left unrented; Vic, who can’t leave his friend Paul, to rest, but questions the accident that killed him on a dangerous road; Mary, who’s lived in the wilderness too long, her story leading us to question what’s most poisonous — the belladonna that grows or the man she once knew; and Bridget and Colin, who may have moved to a house with a dark secret. All leave the reader a little disorientated, questioning what is and isn’t there, but the stories also feel somewhat disjointed and incomplete, even though I imagine that’s intentional.

Trust Me On This, Jennifer Crusie

A brief introduction from the author describes this as a screwball comedy. It is, although this led me to expect a more intricate plot with lots of mistaken identities. The book, therefore, proved much lighter than my expectations, but just as enjoyable for all that. This is light summer beach reading and there’s nothing wrong with that. Perfect for lifting the spirits and setting aside stress. My favourite line comes toward the end of the book when it turns out the dog is a deal breaker for the man as much as the man is to the dog. It’s almost a throwaway couple of lines, but I thought too right. Crusie does what she always does here: create great banter.

Casino Royale, Ian Fleming (audio read by Dan Stevens)

I’ve never read a James Bond book. They’re always going to be hard to judge considering the dated attitudes. Though I don’t believe people, and certainly not literature, of the past should be judged by today’s standards, one can’t help a modern view creeping in. One has to disregard the sexism to get any enjoyment from Fleming’s most famous agent. Also, Bond’s meant to be a great secret agent and yet always appears to slip up, leaving the average person in the street shaking heads. Here he walks into a trap to save the woman, but I had to wonder to what use if caught and unwilling to talk under torture. There are good things here: the start of the Bond franchise; a glimpse of a deeper man hidden beneath the appearance of an impenetrable surface, but both Bond and Vesper also come across as emotionally weak. A physical relationship between them could easily be understood, but love? Considering what they had gone through, their relationship seems rather unhealthy. Of course, without giving away the ending, Vesper shows rather more backbone and courage, while Bond reverts to sexist weakness. Bond hurt is a man who buries any possibilities of owning his feelings and turns toward hate, emotionally erratic. Perhaps this was Fleming’s way of creating the cool, hard-shelled agent we know, but it feels cheap. It shows us a man who is not as self-assured as he believes; a man unwilling to be vulnerable, though one has to keep in mind that this story is set in a time of the British stiff-upper-lip. I could go on dissecting the work, but it simply is what it is. Dan Stevens does a superb job of reading and making the book come alive.

The Salt Path, Raynor Winn

Beautifully written with an underlying longing for hope, this book offers a journey that will drag the reader through mires of sadness, love, and optimism. If I have any criticism, it’s that a few dialog tags in places would have helped me more easily work out when it was Ray and when it was Moth talking, but that is a minor point. It also throws a light on what it is to be homeless in a way that makes the reader question the easy statistics governments throw at us. In a world where it’s now even easier for the hardworking to find themselves in a similar predicament, one should feel for Raynor and Moth and ask themselves what they would have done in a similar situation, for both of them turn out to be extremely hardworking people who slept where they slept because they had nowhere else to go. I almost let a few negative reviews put me off reading this. Judging by those comments now, I can feel some don’t get the situation this couple were thrust in. They were not killing time, but trying to find a new direction, working out how to cope with devastating news, and learning and relearning so much about themselves. True, there was one small incidence of shoplifting — for food when they were desperate. Those so easy to condemn need to walk in less fortunate shoes. For those who have a love for the southwest and who have walked any stretch of the path, this will speak to them. Their diet was far from ideal, but there aren’t exactly massive supermarkets along the route, and there’s not much such person can cook on a tiny gas stove. Anyone who questions or criticises the way they ‘survived’ on the South-West Coast path, I can only imagine they’ve walked no stretch of it. It’s not something I would want to do without B&B arranged along the way, and plenty of funds to pay for food. Apparently, the couple now live in Cornwall, do charity work for the homeless, and Moth got his degree.

The Bad Place, Dean Koontz

A re-read for me, which I almost put down a time or two. I can’t claim to like this book because the bad guy is almost comically grotesque in mind, manner, and his origins and ultimately this is a terribly sad story. Also, I found the passages focusing on him and his sisters simply didn’t hold my attention, but the mystery behind Frank, the detectives he hires, and the surrounding characters kept me reading. Of course, as this was a re-read — be it after many years — I knew the outcome, but had forgotten some details. Perfectly plotted, if there’s one big negative in the book is that it feels a little overwritten and could do with tightening to make a more punchy impact. And the somewhat excessively dangerous man and his kin is questionable.


Much the same as last month, only I outlined a brief plot for a story I’ve been wanting to write for sometime. Though I’m a way off starting it, that takes me a step closer.

Stay happy and healthy!

Sharon x