The Art of Looking Addlepated!

Anyone who’s looked at my website will know of  my book event at Werrington library just before Easter. What you don’t know is what a dolt I made of myself in the name of being affable.

Those of you who’ve read my blog post ‘Researching Free Flight’ will remember Dave, the man with the birds who was instrumental to the story, well as time passed I found him on Facebook; the only time I’ve seen him without a hat is on his profile picture.

Imagine the scene then if you will; my friend and I, plus our other friend’s mum had just got ourselves comfy behind the table displaying my books as a gentleman resembling Dave – minus hat – walked up and hovered round the table. Remember I’d only ever seen Dave in the flesh wearing a wide brimmed hat so I wasn’t sure if it was him or not but if it was I didn’t want him to think, ‘Ignorant cow, I’ve helped her and she doesn’t even recognize me.’ My brain processed all of this at lightening speed – the only part of me that ever functions at lightening speed, and then only rarely – and before I could stop it my mouth had joined in.

“Oh Dave!” I said. “How are your birds?”

The man looked a bit bemused. “My chicks you mean?”

Was it Dave?

The man continued. “Another word for birds. You three would all have been called chicks, broads, dolly birds.”

It was a long time since I’d been called a dolly bird – if ever as I cast my mind back – and I was dimly aware of my friend choking back laughter. She’s always been one who if she’s got to laugh she’s got to laugh and just then she was making a valiant effort to suppress it.


Perhaps it wasn’t Dave. Maybe he had a brother. Instead of asking him if he was his brother and explaining that he looked like him I took on a rather gormless expression and said, “Do you know Dave?”

The man clearly thought I was barking. Why in God’s name would he know Dave just because he bore a vague resemblance to him?

“No,” he replied.


My auntie had always said, as had many before her, ‘Better to keep your mouth shut and look a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.’  I’d certainly removed all doubt!

I changed tack in an effort to seem more sane.

“Do you read?” I asked with what I hoped was a more intelligent look.

“No,” he said, “I only came in to use the computer.”

My friend almost came undone.

I think I muttered an ‘Oh’ with a sickly grin and he took the seat in front of the computer beside our table.

More people arrived then: my writing friend and his wife, a neighbour and her family and a class of delightful primary school children who were awestruck at meeting ‘a real author,’ to quote one young man. They all took one of my fliers with information about my books and queued up to get them signed; I felt like J.K.Rowling! I didn’t shatter their illusions by disclosing that I was a struggling indie and twelve of their mums visited my website that night, but I digress.

The man who wasn’t Dave joined in our conversation as more people stopped by and he said that his wife was a reader and what did I recommend? To cut a long story short he decided he’d buy the Willow’s Dip series for her for Easter, which were on a 3 for 2 offer – well Morrison’s do it don’t they!

He tootled off to the Co op round the corner to get some cash and I thought that was the last I’d see of him. He’d made good his escape from the raving looney author; he wouldn’t be back, but I was wrong.

I went over to meet him at the reception desk to do the transaction and assure him that the books were signed and money exchanged hands. He was a little tactile, hand on the back sort of stuff and I’m not one for physical contact, don’t really like people in my personal space, but well, he had bought the books hadn’t he.

Perhaps he didn’t think I was completely bonkers after all and he came back to our table with me. I felt the need to explain my earlier mistake.

“I’m sorry I mistook you for someone else,” I told him.

“That’s OK,” he answered.

“You look a bit like him you see.”

If I’d have left it there it would have been fine, but oh no, I couldn’t resist, just had to have one more go.

“Do you know Dave?” I repeated.

If he still had any doubts regarding my sanity that must have convinced him that I was totally and utterly addlepated!

I wonder if his wife enjoyed the books?

Researching Free Flight

“I’d love to hold a bird of prey,” I said to my son and his girlfriend as we chatted in his room about all things feathered.

“Oh no,” said his girlfriend in horror, “I’ve got a thing about birds; they make me shudder.”

Free Flight

The chances of me holding a bird of prey were remote to non existent but I was in that mindset at the time because I was writing Free Flight, which was set in a bird sanctuary. How I envied my main character Constanze (Connie) with every word that I wrote. (I must confess I wouldn’t have liked to have cleaned up after the birds though, I don’t do mess of any kind, I’d only have wanted the nice bits.)

She adopted a snowy owl, then a mate for it and hoped that they might breed. She did displays in schools and at the village fete and I’d been with her every step of the way. My research had mainly been via the Internet as I struggle to get out because of my health – I run my world from my armchair – but I’d have liked some actual input. How to go about that was another matter. Then one Saturday morning I got a phone call from my sister.

“I’ve just stroked an owl,” she said.

I was green with envy. “Where?”

“In Hanley Market Square. There’s a man there showing them. I told him about you writing the book.”

“How long will he be there?”

“Until about half past four. I’ll come back with you if you want to go.”

Did I!

I picked her and my niece up at 4 p.m. and I couldn’t get there fast enough. My eyes scanned the town as we approached the display and our footsteps quickened. There was a small crowd gathered round the man holding the owl and although I’m not normally one for muscling in we managed to squeeze our way to the front. The owl he held was gorgeous, quite large with wide amber eyes, which he told us was a Bengal Eagle Owl and his name was Muggle. I told him about writing the book and he recognized my sister from the morning. I had loads of questions for him about care of the birds and I tried to remember all of his answers – I’d never thought to take a notepad I was too eager to see the owl. I was dying to hold him and asked if I could. He gave me a glove and as I put it on he transferred Muggle to my hand.


I couldn’t take my eyes off the beautiful creature perched regally on my hand. He was quite unperturbed by everything that was going on around him and seemed very accepting and comfortable with it. He wasn’t the only bird there with the man, who’d told us his name was Dave. There was a barn owl, a little owl and a red tailed hawk – Dave said that the little owl was the most awkward! They were tethered to perches inside a trailer to shelter them from whatever the elements were doing until it was their turn to go onto Dave’s glove. On the walls of the trailer was information about the birds’ natural habitat.

As the crowd thinned out we got more of a chance to speak to Dave who said he collected donations on behalf of Gentleshaw Wildlife Centre in Eccleshall Staffordshire

When I got back home I wrote down everything he’d told me and put the card that he’d given me in case I needed to contact him for more information safely with my notes. My next thought was how to get to Gentleshaw. Although I drive my health isn’t good enough to drive that far so I was thrilled when my sister said that my brother-in-law would take us.

This time I was more prepared and wrote my questions down to take with me and I couldn’t have been more excited as we all piled into their Volvo. We had a lovely time looking round the wildlife centre and the staff very kindly took time out of their busy day to answer my questions. A couple of anecdotes I used for the book went thus.

The lady at Gentleshaw told me of a kestrel being hit by a lorry and the driver rushing in with it. Thankfully they were able to save it and return it to the wild. For the book I made it a sparrowhawk being hit by a farmer’s tractor and the farmer rushed it in to Connie.

The other little touch that I liked was at Dave’s display. When there were children there he got the owl to wave to them by adjusting his hand so that the owl raised one wing slightly to keep its balance. The children loved it! I used that for Connie’s display in the school with her owl.

The love interest came from an experience of my own; I once met someone on a car park but it had a different outcome to Connie’s.

Dave now runs a pet hotel in the Staffordshire Moorlands where he has all manner of usual and unusual guests.

If you are interested in reading the book it can be downloaded from Amazon

or ordered in paperback from

Free Flight is the third book in the Willow’s Dip series but it will stand alone, or you might want to find out about the characters who appear in it from the first two books, A Lapse of Sanity and its sequel After the Solstice. Both can be purchased from Amazon and FeedARead.

Free Flight

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Shadow Across the Sun

I first had a notion to write a memoir when I was reading Danielle Steele’s ‘Fine Things.’ The more I read the more I thought, ‘I’ve lived this; I could write this.’ The irritating part came many years later when an agent said that the market for non celebrity memoirs was appallingly bad. My story is not one of celebrity but one of everyday life, and bereavement. I lost my mother as a child and I’m sure that many people have lived through that trauma. I just hope that my story will help others going through the same thing.



Welcome to my blog

I think it’s always tricky trying out a new blog. I can never seem to get them to do the things I want them to, hence the reason I’m trying this one with wordpress.

I have recently taken part in several Indie Spotlights so I hope you’ll take a look at them. the links are as follows:

Hope this comes out right 🙂

Angel Breaths sher…

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Angel Breaths