Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 116 – Little by Little

Yesterday marked a big step in our return to ‘normal’ living as we invited a friend to share our scrumptious Appetite Delivers dinner. It was so lovely to see her and to welcome someone who wasn’t a workman into the house after all these weeks. She’s been locked down on her own – so a big step for her, too. The smoked duck with wild rice and all those other flavours was a great starter.

The cover revealing itself little by little is of my first pocket novel. Published by DC Thomson on 23rd July. Available from Sainsbury’s stores and newsagents, you can also order it from DC Thomson’s shop.

A bit of cleaning yesterday and head down sorting out edits. DH had a friendly croquet match. Hello Fresh put delivery off until today – good job we had Appetite booked! Now off to source some pink grapefruit juice. Regular readers will know…



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 – 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 – 103 – Musings in the Night

Many words have been written by me and by other writers about the secondary character who gets a foot in the door. At 6am, it’s irritating. Fortunately I wasn’t awake at 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 am when it would have been particularly irritating.

The first time it happened to me was with Daisy (the hero’s sister in Mariah’s Marriage) and I eventually wrote Daisy’s Dilemma for her. That’s not going to be an option for this character as he’s in a draft serial for a magazine. However, he is going to have to be one of the VP characters and it’s back to the drawing board.

So that was yesterday, folks. A lot of deep work on a synopsis which must today be re-written. I did go out for a walk. The fish van came and we enjoyed baked fish followed by the dessert from Appetite Delivers. (Week 2 on order!) We had a smashing what’s app call with some of the family. I continued watching the Talking Heads series of plays by Alan Bennett. The richness of the characterisation in those is overwhelming – I can only manage one at a time. The performances are sublime.

Got breakout plans?


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 101 – Technology Rules

Des Res World War II

The business matters I started to deal with on Sunday are slowly falling into place. However, I have decided for the sake of my sanity that one will be left until later. One looks to be completed. Yay! The third is ongoing, but I did make good progress yesterday, after the domestic goddess stuff convinced me I was on a winning streak, and it’s now a matter of waiting. It did mean I lost all my writing time to it. Using modern technology requires so much embedded knowledge many of us oldies don’t have – I sometimes think I’d have more success baking a cake in the oven above. (Really? Ed)

We’re all good at waiting.

Anyone else from the Edinburgh area remember The Howgate Inn? One drove out and ate spinach soup and open sandwiches in low-ceilinged rooms. It came to mind yesterday when we were eating my spinach soup at lunchtime. I don’t have the Howgate’s recipe, but must have stumbled on their combination – or something close to it – because the flavour and the texture took me right back there.

DH won at croquet and, later, at bridge. I paid the papers and topped up the Stockan’s oatcake supplies – buy local. Storm damage in the garden means I have a huge bouquet of delphiniums gracing the hall.

Looking forward to my Appetite Delivers meal this evening. I’ve secured my date! Will we dress up?

On the weekend of the RNA conference they’re having an online event. I’m signed up and have voted in the online AGM. To mark it and as part of the ongoing 60th anniversary celebrations (thanks Covid- 19) the Scottish chapter is having a facebook event on Sunday 12th July. It will concentrate on historical fiction authors based in Scotland and also members of the RNA. We’d love to see any of you across there and you may discover the writer you’ve been waiting for.

One of the Scots came second in the prestiguous Jane Austen Literacy Foundation competition 2020. The results are here and many congratulations to Mairibeth MacMillan and all the finalists and prize winners. The winner was Cathryn Goddard.

Longish entry this morning. Are your horizons widening?


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 100 – And counting

Greek Lady, Sicilian Temple

So, this morning…

Domestic Goddess in action and tea-loaf in oven, spinach soup on stove top. Larder investigated. Rubbish out and – whoa – is it coffee-time?

Who would have thought a hundred days of diary writing was within my capability? Not me – as I knew when I started that keeping up a journal was not my thing.

Who would have thought a hundred days would be necessary? My friend and fellow Capital Writer, Kate Blackadder, is keeping her own private plague diary and, as she began the week before, is already through 100.

And what has kept me going? (I can’t speak for Kate, but she may wish to comment?) I realised that I needed a project, or my subconscious realised it. I’m not a gardener. I don’t do running. The writing is always there and, therefore, not a project.

Life in a bubble is hard. Not hard as it must be for those working in front line and key positions. Their lives are unimaginable. However, when a task orientated life disappears with little or no warning, how do you cope? What gets you up in the morning?

For some it may be the perfectly trimmed front lawn and for others a daft nod to what filled the day. I hope it’s bringing a nod of recognition to a few of you.

As well as information. Have you ordered an online meal yet? Several available, as well as ready-cooked. This week we’re trying Appetitedelivers. Their facebook page with the menus and some amazing pics is here

So, yesterday, sorted out one bit of outstanding business, found the characters for my draft serial, failed to sort out the phone contract, DH won the scrabble again but lost at croquet (opponent had 10 bisques or free shots) and finished the jigsaw.