the writer is a lonely hunter


Travelling and writing

An interview with Allison Symes for Chandler’s Ford Today has me sharing stories about travelling overland on a converted Lodekka bus with Top Deck Travel in 1981.Group Shot at Winery Lyonn (2)

Find out how this journey links to the publication of Paisley Shirt here.


Visiting Maria Donovan

I am delighted to be on Maria Donovan‘s blog today sharing my strategies and techniques for writing flash fiction. Maria is an experienced writer of short fiction with two collections to her name: Pumping up Napoleon and Tea for Mr Dead. I was absolutely delighted when Maria agreed to endorse Paisley Shirt by describing my flash fiction as ‘sensitive, surprising, unnerving, tender and crucial’.


Maria’s debut novel The Chicken Soup Murder has recently been published. It is narrated by eleven-year-old Michael who shares his experiences of family, community, loss and integration in a story which involves a suspected murder. It’s a beautifully crafted novel and well worth reading.

Do pop over to Maria’s blog to find out more about how I approach the writing of short fiction.


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Dippy on Tour

As early as last summer, the arrival of Dippy to Dorchester was celebrated with special planting in Borough Gardens.


Now the famous Diplodocus skeleton cast from the Natural History Museum is touring the country. Bringing Dippy home is the rationale for the exhibition’s first stop in Dorchester, Dorset. It’s close to the Jurassic Coast and birthplace of palaeontology.


Dippy stretches the length of the beautiful Victorian gallery at Dorset County Museum and the first floor gallery provides a wonderful opportunity to get really close to the exhibit.

Fun facts about Dippy:

Species Name: Diplodocus carnegii (meaning double-beam)

Length: 21.3m     Width: 4.3m     Height: 4.25

Number of Bones: 292

Age: 156-145 million years

Fossil location: North America, 1878

Entry to the museum to see Dippy is free and Dippy is on display until 7 May 2018. Well worth seeing! More information and ticket availability can be found on the Dorset Country Museum website.

For those living further afield, Dippy continues the tour by visiting:

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Visting Patsy Collins

Check out the power of purple – I’m chatting with Patsy Collins today. Why not pop over to her blog for a read?  Click here.

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Scenes from Kashmir

Following my recent discovery that paisley print pattern originates in Kashmir, I hunted out purchases I made while visiting the area in 1981. I was a passenger on a Top Deck overland trip from London to Kathmandu. We travelled on a converted Lodekka bus which had a kitchen area downstairs and sleeping accommodation up.

For the journey to Kashmir we took local transport and stayed in luxurious houseboats on Dal Lake in Srinagar.


My purchases from Kashmir include a carpet which sits in front of the hearth in our Dorset home. I paid a deposit and it was dispatched to my parents when they settled the balance and collected it after a wrangle with customs. (I was delightfully unaware of all this – having a fun time in Australia.)


A jacket, which I’m self-conscious of wearing due to the real fur trimming.


And a set of tables which travelled from Kashmir to Australia and then onto Papua New Guinea before furnishing various homes in the UK.


The carved finish of leaf patterns on these tables is close to being a paisley style pattern. Unlike Paisley Shirt my collection of short fiction, these are not available to purchase on Amazon! (If wishing to obtain my collection, please ignore the warning that the book is out of stock and place an order anyway – it will be sent to you given time.)

I never quite understood why I went on such a spending spree in Kashmir. I blame the tea which I now realise must have been laced with hash. You can find the low-down on the overland experience from Trevor Carroll in his book Crossing Continents with Top Deck.




Dorset Feather Stitchery

Feedback from my recent post about the history of paisley print (you can read it here), directed me to the tradition of the Dorset feather stitchery. This is an embroidery stitch that was originally used to decorate rural workers’ smocks. The pattern uses feather stitch, buttonhole stitch, chain stitch and fly stitch to create a pattern similar to the droplet shaped motif found in paisley patterns.

Background to the development of this embroidery style can be found in a book written by Dorset woman Olivia Pass, published in 1957.  Even from the cover design, the border shows remarkable similarity to paisley patterns.


It is delightful as the writer of a short fiction collection titled Paisley Shirt to find the design incorporated into local Dorset craft. There are examples of Dorset Feather Stitchery in the Bridport Museum or you might wish to read Olivia’s book. Like my collection Paisley Shirt it is possible to purchase Dorset Feather Stitchery on Amazon.


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Visiting Kathy Sharp


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I’m over on Kathy Sharp‘s blog today, sharing my experiences as a writer in Dorset. Why not pop over and have a read? Or you might like to check out “Watered Down” a quirky story by Kathy which is published on CafeLit.

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Gorgeous covers

Here are all the current titles in the short fiction series published by Chapeltown Books. A group of good looking covers with enticing stories inside.

My collection Paisley Shirt is available as a Kindle Edition through Amazon and paperback copies can now be purchased from all good bookshops. Recommended bookshops in Dorset include Serendip, Lyme Regis; The Book Shop, Bridport; Winstone’s, Sherborne; Gullivers, Wimborne Minster; Westbourne Book Shop, Bournemouth; and Waterstones, Dorchester.

4* and 5* reviews of Paisley Shirt can be found on goodreads. If you do decide to purchase a copy of Paisley Shirt, further reviews are very welcome.


Fine dining in Dorchester at Sienna

When our daughter returned home from university, she worked as restaurant manager at Sienna. Although she is now employed elsewhere, we continue to treat ourselves to a meal there on special occasions. However, with the new choice of reasonably priced tasting menus we may very well go more often. The restaurant has been spruced up with new, modern decor and Chef Marcus Wilcox creates wonderfully diverse dishes which use West Country produce.

Click on the photo to find out what we ate last night!

Sienna is well worth visiting. Tasting menus are available evenings, Tuesday to Saturday and lunchtimes, Wednesday to Saturday.



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Max Gate, Thomas Hardy’s home


Thomas Hardy designed and lived in Max Gate, situated on the outskirts of Dorchester, from 1885 until his death in 1928. When we first moved to the county town, the house was occupied by tenants and you could only access two of the ground floor rooms. Over time, the National Trust have opened more of the rooms including the attic rooms where Emma, Hardy’s first wife withdrew to.


Emma’s boudoir in the attic at Max Gate

Emma started to use the rooms as a daytime retreat, but by 1899 she decided to move her bedroom up there, too. She described her space as a ‘sweet refuge and solace’. It’s strange to think of Hardy working at this desk directly beneath Emma’s rooms.


Thomas Hardy’s first floor study

In his study at the house, Hardy wrote Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Jude the Obscure and The Mayor of Casterbridge and much of his poetry.

Very little of the furniture in the house belonged to Hardy because his second wife, Florence, sold everything upon his death. Therefore, the contents of each room is there to recreate the atmosphere that might have existed. As such, this is one of the few National Trust properties I’ve been to where visitors are encouraged to take a seat and enjoy the warmth of the fire in the lounge.

Use of the toilet, however, is not allowed (although there are loos for public use).


Max Gate is well worth visiting for anyone staying in or passing through Dorchester.