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Monday 29 February 2016

Leap Day—A Second Chance To Start Again...

How are you getting on with those New Year Resolutions which all started so well back on January 1st? I know, I know, I've fallen down on the job, too—but with 2016 being a Leap Year and Leap Day (29th February) falling on a Monday, it's the perfect time to wipe the slate clean and try again. Here are three tips to give you a boost—

1. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN ACTIONS - How often have you heard someone say “I could have anything I wanted if only I had more money/more time/a better looking partner...or any one of a hundred other excuses. We all like to indulge in a bit of wishful thinking, but dreaming doesn’t change anything.  Appreciating what we’re blessed with already and building on it is the only way to get results. For instance, if (like me) you can’t understand why it’s impossible to lose weight, get checked out by a doctor to rule out any underlying medical condition, then try keeping a food and exercise diary for a few days.  It really helps, and I speak from experience!

2. BELIEVE  - it doesn’t matter what your goal is, the important thing is that you set one. Then buckle down and channel everything you’ve got toward achieving it. “Begin with the end in mind”, Steven Covey says in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Make sure your mind is trained on your ultimate prize, whatever that might be. Wanting to write a book isn’t enough. You must believe with all your heart that you can do it. A solid core belief is the only thing that will get you through the hours and hours of writing, re-writing, rejection and editing it needs to reach a goal like that. Half-hearted procrastinators need not apply! 

3. DO IT NOW - whatever "it" is. By the law of unintended consequence, it’ll take twice as long tomorrow, and three times longer next month. When you keep putting off the evil moment when you must balance your budget, send that email, or break off a relationship, the harder it becomes - and all the time the dread of doing it casts a deepening shadow over your every waking minute. When you’ve got a lot of frogs to eat, the saying goes, eat the ugly frog first. Making the initial effort is always the worst part of any task. 

Whatever you want to achieve in life, you are the only one who can really make it happen. Identify what you want, go for it, and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that whatever you achieve, you’ll have given it your very best shot.

Tuesday 23 February 2016

How Do You Fancy Your Very Own Irresistible Bachelor?

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The Irresistible Bachelor Collection, starring my very own Count Of Castelfino, is on offer right now for only 99 pence. Here's a taste of what you can enjoy by clicking on the advert in the right hand sidebar...

Meg Imsey is determined to start her new job in the gardens at the Villa Castelfino, although the new count disapproves.  Assuming he’ll keep well away, Meg goes off to the walled garden and loses herself in her work until Count Gianni lets himself into her sanctuary…

‘I never dreamed anyone would disturb me in here. The door was locked.  I have the only key.  How did you get in?’  she blustered, embarrassment mixed up with growing anger.
One hand in his pocket, Gianni strolled over to the old medlar tree where Meg had hung her hat and shirt.  Plucking them from the branches like particularly desirable fruit, he made his way over to her.  He took his time.  It was painfully obvious to Meg that he was making her wait for her clothes.  She wasn’t in the mood to be toyed with.  As soon as he got close enough she snatched her things from his hands and pulled them on.  He watched with something close to amusement.  Then he drew a second key from his pocket with a flourish.
‘As I said –I live here.  I have a copy of every key in the place.’
Barefoot but otherwise decent, Meg rallied.
‘That doesn’t explain why you felt the need to come in here.’
‘It wasn’t a need.  It was a want.  I wanted to see you, Megan.’
There was a haunting look in his dark eyes.  It was so delicious she could hardly meet his gaze. Nervous that he might be able to read all sorts of things from her own expression, she looked down at the coarse wiry grass at her feet.  All sorts of hope were beginning to stir deep within her… 

Copyright Harlequin Mills and Boon Limited.

I don’t use real people in my books, but that scene is based around a spectacular medlar tree in a real Tuscan garden.  It is planted directly below a terrace, which gives spectacular views of the snowy white flowers and later the strange, wide-mouthed fruit. The brownish medlars look something like giant rose hips. They are picked while still as hard as conkers and stored on flat trays until soft and wrinkled.  The overripe pulp has an odd, winy smell.  When boiled up with lemon juice and sugar, then strained it makes a glorious amber jelly to serve with cold meats and salamis.  It’s an acquired taste, somewhere between wine and cider but without the alcohol.  I’ve found a recipe for Medlar fudge, too, but that has so many other delicious ingredients (cream, brown sugar, maple syrup etc) that I suspect they mask any medlar flavour.  A pile of pancakes, some home made vanilla ice-cream and a drizzle of medlar fudge sauce sounds like a perfect pudding for those freezing spring nights when summer days in Tuscany seem a long, long way away....

The Count Of Castelfino is included in the The Irresistible Bachelor Collection, which is on special offer right now for only 99pence, so take advantage of this special offer now!

Monday 1 February 2016

Dieting, And A Destination...

When the first of the month falls on a Monday, it’s a great time for second chances. How are you doing with your New Year resolutions? I’ve struggled with cutting down on carbs, so since Christmas, I’ve been busy losing three pounds in weight, then putting two of them back on again. It’s the little things I miss. OH brought a still-warm loaf of wholegrain bread back from our village shop one day last week. I managed to resist it for a whole day, but my willpower failed before the family managed to eat it all. Bread and Marmite has never tasted so good!

The second of February is Candlemas Day, a Christian celebration celebrated annually. It represents the Virgin Mary's purification and the presentation of Christ, and in our church all the candles for the year are blessed. Snowdrops are traditionally known as Candlemas Bells, as they flower at this time of year. When some brave daffodils were in flower at Christmas here, I thought the snowdrops would all be out and over by now, but they followed their own calendar. The photos on this blog were taken here at Tottering Towers, but if you’re anywhere near Colesbourne in Gloucestershire over the next couple of weeks, try and get to Colesbourne Gardens, where you can see them by the thousand. The gardens are signposted from the M5, and opening times for this don't-blink-or-you'll miss it event are on their website.