Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 113 – New routines for Old

There may be a cover reveal along soon.

Shopping again locally this morning as I now have a functioning and empty freezer to fill. Bread in first with some rasps. Hoping for a trip out to Craigie’s pick your own soon. We love gooseberries and they are so hard to find in the shops. Currently cooking some chicken which will be the first ‘dinner’ to go in.

Really quiet day yesterday and went to bed early to read fellow Capital Writer, Jo Allen’s book, Death in Coffin Lane. Continued with that this afternoon and the bodies are mounting up. Honestly, Jo is such a nice woman – where does this homicidal urge come from?

DH lost at bridge again – poor cards! The season ends soon…

Haven’t started a new jigsaw. Must reduce my TBR. Really must.

What ways have you slipped into that now need addressing?


Lockdown Diary 2020 – 112 – Out and about

A friend took this picture when I was down in London for the RNA’s Winter Party. When will I be in London again? When will I go anywhere that needs one of my rather lovely jackets?

Who Knows. There’s quite a lot of out and about around here in the meantime.

To start with, I’ve been keeping a close eye on the various shop renovations going on. The corner shop now looks very splendid and is To Let. What will we get? The butcher’s has a way to go, but I live in hope. There’s only one property for sale in the street, but lots of workmen are appearing. We have a squad and there’s about to be some next door. Lots of the local shops have been freshened up – I had to remember not to reach out and touch the wall of the post office this morning. It’s brick red. One of the beauty parlours has gone for a quieter aqua.

Posted a ‘decade’ birthday card off to Canada. Brought in some toilet rolls! Put the freezer back on. Looking forward to stocking up on the household’s preferred bread. Saw our local bus running. Yay! Met loads of neighbours and guess what the main topic of conversation was? That’s right – masks. What is our cultural problem?



Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 111 – Gathering Pace

Almost MIA, however, I have been around in the background attending the RNA virtual conference yesterday and today the Scottish Chapter’s virtual celebration of Historicals.

The chat, readings, excerpts and special appearance of Twinkle, Emily Royal’s snake and rather unusual necklet, all made today a very warm and cheerful celebration. Thanks are due to our chapter organiser Rosemary Gemmell and our zoom chat admin, Mairibeth Macmillan. Mild  frustration caused by FB preventing some people posting!

The conference, mentioned yesterday, went well and some attendees came along to help the Scots today.

Also, afternoon tea with delicious cheese scones in a friend’s garden. The critical timetables of the bus company have been reviewed and the other local bus will run from tomorrow. The freezer is empty, defrosted, washed out and dried and will go back on tomorrow. Phew!

It’s Sunday, and Mayfield Salisbury are here for you.


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 110 – Conferring

So, today was a first as the RNA triumphiantly launched the speaker sessions of its Virtual Conference. Thanks are due to many people: Alison May, Sheila Crighton, Jan Jones, Elaine Everest (for the admin behind the 1-2-1s) for preparation and behind the scenes and Janet Gover for hosting. I am humbled by the amount of time and the dedication shown by so many to bring us an event in the absence of a physical get together. Thank you all.

Tonight would have been the Gala Dinner, but…

However, last night saw DH and I enjoy a wonderful meal from Café St Honoré. Main course of pork belly and black pudding, which is one of their signature dishes, pictured above. Saving the pud for tonight means there will be a touch of something special, if not enjoyed in a cocktail frock.

Tomorrow, the Scottish branch of the RNA is hosting an Historical Writers Day on Facebook. Several of us will be posting in the event telling you a bit about our novels. There will be giveaways! You might find a writer new to you and it would be lovely to have your company.

.How’s your weekend going? Family reunions? First outing in a mask? First trip on a bus?


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 109 – Westward Ho!

Mombretia is one of my favourite flowers and there were a lot of them in bloom in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Park this morning. Getting into the park was easy from where we started. Getting out of the park was not easy as so many of the gates are padlocked at present and we had to detour some way – back to where we came in.

Another busy day workwise yesterday and now time to ease off and enjoy the RNA virtual conference. Apparently 250 of us have signed up! No workmen this morning as their present stage in repairing our walls requires dry weather and it was raining. Not in Glasgow, however, which is a reversal of the norm.

Also another delightful meal from Appetite Delivers.

Chefette out of the picture as the food is so much more interesting! Chicken ballantine, ready-sliced, followed by melt-in-the-mouth beef blade. Again, we’ve held back the pud for tonight. Orders for Week 3 are now being taken.

And I won the scrabble – by about 12 points, but Hey, upward trend.


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 108 – Buried Treasure

…and today there’s another double meaning in that title.

I’m delighted to post a copy of Gilli Allan‘s  cover reveal for her book Buried Treasure on  launch day. The blurb:

Jane thinks he sees her as shallow and ill-educated. Theo thinks she sees him as a snob, stuffy and out of touch.
Within the ancient precincts of the university the first encounter between the conference planner and the academic is accidental and unpromising. Just as well there’s no reason for them ever to meet again. But behind the armour they’ve each constructed from old scars, they’ve more in common than divides them. Both have an archaeological puzzle they are driven to solve. As their stories intertwine, their quest to uncover the past unearths more than expected.

The buy link is here

… and the second? Well, this diary has prompted an old schoolfriend to get in touch bringing me up-to-date with his life. After decades, it’s treasure indeed.

So, it was a heads down day yesterday although I did take an evening walk as my nose was bothering me. The wonderful local butcher’s is closed for re-furbishment and I wanted to check on progress.

Finished the first instalment of the draft serial and printed it off. I can already see one or two issues – that’s why you never send anything in straight away. Took advice about why I couldn’t get into the RNA conference site. Apparently copy and paste is the answer! It worked for me. Re-wrote the serial synopsis and will check that over this morning. Made a few phone calls but people are now out more – that’s nice – and only found two in. However, I do have a hairdressing appointment. DH played croquet and online bridge.

What changes are you seeing?


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 107 – Those Empty Pages

A modest selection

It has a double meaning – writers do that sort of thing you know.

On the one hand, I still have no diary entries apart from one (a very, very special family reunion, though) and on the other, Monday evening provided that high dive moment – once you’ve typed up your author details in single space on p1 what are you going to write in the rest of a WHOLE serial?

Thank goodness I know my name because I can type that on the centre of the page, below ‘By’. From the agonising work that is choosing a title (you know the publisher will change in due course if the work is accepted) to the opening sentence, getting started is possibly the most difficult part of the whole process.

So, I did find the central character’s voice and we’re off.

On the diary front. We did receive an invite yesterday and, after checking the weather forecast, are minded to go. I also made a suggestion to DH for an outing. Still awaiting executive approval.

Made Delia’s Apricot crumble cake, did a bit of lunch-type shopping, wrote to my editor (and got a reply), met several neighbours while out. One of them was keen to tell me how much he enjoyed his Inside Meal menu 1 from Appetite Delivers and that he’ll be back. Menu 2 is here

Went to bed early with Jennifer Koestler’s Regency world of Georgette Heyer. It’s an astonishingly rich depiction of the world GH made her own.

Are your diaries filling up?




Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 106 – Through the Barrier

I think this camel photograph, camel sexless but probably male, gazing out towards the females just brought back from grazing the desert, is high on my favourites’ list. The whole camel research station was an unexpected delight and the photograph says so much about captivity, breaking out, staying in…

It’s today’s choice because it has a fence or barrier and I finished the outline yesterday. Bursting through that barrier, I wrote a few hundred words of the story. I’ve taken advice from my fellow Capital Writer, Kate, and my husband, DH. Thanks to both for pulling me back from the edge.

Workmen got on with working. Me, as above. DH finished bits he needed to complete in the garden. Watched an interesting programme about Beethoven in which many of the professional musicians were reduced to tears as they described his battle with deafness.

Joined a zoom meeting of my badminton group in which I discover they all – ALL – have hair appointments. Phoned my hairdresser and left message. Await her return call in some excitement. Saw that Craigie’s Farm shop and pick your own fruit farm, will be offering appointments, too. Looks like a good ploy for next week after the freezer is switched back on.

Today’s ploy will be finding some books I might loan or exchange through my book group: there might be one or two…


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 105 – The World Arrives

Al fresco Facilities

In fact the garden, where the workmen have arrived, isn’t big enough to merit any al fresco facilities, but it’s a great photo. I took it in Australia and it still makes me shudder. As the person who would always find the King snake by standing on it or the poisonous spider by putting a hand on it, I would have had to continue using the smaller under the bed facilities in the dark. Even in the daylight…

They aren’t actually the first workmen on the premises as we had to have Openreach attend some weeks ago – also in the garden, but it seems like a bigger step as they’re at our wish and not at our need. The world is wakening up a little.

I was reading Allis Gordon‘s post about 100 days of lockdown this morning and was reassured to read that Allis feels she hasn’t written as much as she might. I think many of us do feel that. However, the end of my serial outline is in sight – I think, but who knows?

Rounded off yesterday with a nice chat to one of the family and slept well – having been awake much of Saturday night for no understandable reason. Putting the ironing away gives one a sense of satisfaction out of all proportion to the actual labour involved. Sometimes life is nice like that.


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 104 – 90% perspiration

Anyone who thinks writing is the life of Riley, should try it.

Deep into the synopsis – actually it’s an outline – I’m cross-eyed and, well, just cross. All the usual problems: continuity, how many characters is too many, whose bl**dy story is it anyway…

And so on. Writers – you’ve been here. Non-writers – try something else first, anything really.

Some of my friends had fraught days yesterday. It was fairly uneventful chez Novels Now. Much synopsis writing, see above. Some garden organising for work that starts tomorrow. Clearing of utility room, ditto. DH won the scrabble by FIVE points – and he went out!

Sunday is still online at Mayfield Salisbury. Helen Alexander’s reflections and Kate Pearson’s organ music can be found here

Hope it’s calmer where you are and normal service diary-wise may be resumed tomorrow.