the writer is a lonely hunter


Flash Fiction and ongoing projects

How did I source a publisher? What do I love about flash fiction? What are my other writing projects? Tracy Fells at The Literary Pig invited me to share some of my writing experiences. Do pop over and have 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.




National Trust: Lacock Abbey

David has held life membership of the National Trust since a maiden aunt left him £100 when he was eleven. Here is his membership card complete with boyhood signature.


The membership allows an accompanying guest to enter free of charge, so we tend to gravitate towards National Trust properties when out and about. Recently we visited Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire. Both the Abbey and properties in the town are administered by the National Trust and this makes for an interesting visit. The Abbey is situated within extensive grounds where you can see the approach of spring.


The building benefits from a variety of architectural styles owing to its history. First as an Augustinian abbey, then the home to a Tudor rogue, and finally as a family home and the birthplace of photography. In more recent times it has acted as a film location to a variety of productions including Harry Potter.


Cloister that appears in Harry Potter

I usually come away from these visit with ideas for creative writing. Word prompts include stone feathers and stone blindfolds. Watch this space for creative outputs!


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.


Triumphs and Challenges of 2017

Click on the pictures to find out what I’ve been up to!





Brisons Veor, a writing residency


I am enjoying the last couple of days of a two-week writing residency at the wonderful Brisons Veor, in St Just in Cornwall. This is made possible by the trust which accepts applications from anyone working in the arts to enjoy a period of respite from the distractions of daily life to focus on creative projects. The house is part of the brick building beyond the white houses. Constructed as a boiler house for the Cape Cornwall Tin Mine, it was converted by an architect in 1978 and purchased by Tracy O’Kates, the benefactor of Brisons Veor. It is believed to be the westernmost dwelling on the English mainland. You can also see the 138 year-old chimney stack of the mine which forms the highest point of the Cape.

Brisons Veor is situated at a point where Atlantic currents divide, moving south to the English Channel and north to the Irish Sea. In 1987 the Cape was purchased for the nation by Heinz, and given into the care of the National Trust. This unique location provides a rich environment for ideas and creativity to flourish.


It has been a wonderful fortnight of solitude, isolation and the elements. The wind is fabulous: it turns the sea into a rucked white apron that spreads over the blue. When the sun is out, warmth floods through an open doorway into the first floor workshop. The sound of the Ocean sucking, clawing and whooshing is a constant accompaniment. Inside at night when the wind blasts the walls, Brisons Veor embraces the occupant, safe and warm.

What a privilege to spend time at Brisons Veor, such a remarkable location. During the fortnight I have written poetry and started my next novel, this time using a six-year-old boy as the narrator of ‘That’s What I Know’.


Retreats for You with Debbie Flint

I met Debbie Flint in 2011 when we both attended a retreat at Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s Creative Writing Centre.  (I returned there last year – you can read about my second visit here.) Debbie works as a presenter on QVC shopping channel, has a number of books published, and she’s recently taken over a writing retreat in Devon. It was great to touch base with Debbie again and draw upon her experience as a TV presenter to produce a couple of YouTube clips where I talk about my writing journey. Debbie’s help was invaluable in introducing me to interview techniques, accessing handy tips and supporting me through the process. I’d never done anything like this before so her coaching allowed me to feel confident throughout filming and I’m delighted with the results. You can watch the interviews here.


Debbie has made Retreats for You into a homely and relaxing place to write and reflect. My window overlooks the square with views onto the fields beyond. There’s no excuse for not getting on with your work as a delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner is provided. It’s  also good to be in the company of other writers and tap into the positive energy this creates. A few days away makes all the difference to my word count, I find!

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Walking and writing

We spent the weekend in Fowey and took an amazing walk around the coastal path where this photo was taken – hard to believe it’s January from looking at this.


The journey back took us inland along the Saint’s Way. This path was rediscovered in 1984 when local ramblers found a series of forgotten granite stiles. The circular route was labelled ‘strenuous’ and ‘muddy’ and with adjectives like that, I would normally have avoided it. But, with my new fitness routine established, everything was fine.

At my desk on Monday, I received feedback on a writing submission I made earlier in the month. The lovely Suzie at Writers in the Alley forwarded a request from an agency interested in using local writing for a South West Trains advertising campaign. I rang the company and with a ten-minute deadline submitted some work. Two pieces of flash fiction were shortlisted for presentation to the client. When I learnt more about the proposal I was scared silly that my stories would end up on one of those huge ‘out of home’ posters opposite the platform at London underground stations. I needn’t have worried. South West Trains didn’t go for the idea and I’m left feeling disappointed and relieved.

On the upside, I have received some good news. My application for a writing residency at Brisons Veor has been accepted and I’ll be spending a couple of weeks at Cape Cornwall later in the year.

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Fiction Retreat at Moniack Mhor

I’m spending this week at Scotland’s Creative Writing Centre. The house is a thirty-minute drive from Inverness and yesterday, there was a huge blue sky and enough sunshine to make me want to put on sunscreen. Today, as I sit in my single room, at a tiny square desk I look onto a blurry grey scene. It’s just the weather for settling down to the tasks in hand. Another rewrite of my novel, a bit of poetry and a three-minute film script for starters.

This is the second visit I’ve made to Moniack Mhor. I’m still in touch with a tutor from the first course I attended in 2010 and have to thank Ronald Frame for his continued support of my writing. This time the tutors are Elizabeth Reeder and Ian Stephen.

I was lucky enough to win a bursary to attend the course which you can read about here and here. The internet connection isn’t great so there are few distractions and as getting this post on-line is proving a bit of a challenge, I better end here.

Enjoy your week.

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Lyme Regis

After a busy day at work, Dave and I went to Lyme Regis. We walked along the Cobb.


Enjoyed pretty views over the harbour towards the town.


Bought locally caught scallops to eat with chips on the beach.


A perfect end to the day.




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