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Here comes summer!

Down here in Dorset, the weather is cool, breezy and bright. It’s ideal for being outdoors in a long sleeved cotton top, jeans and a cardigan, which is my favourite sort of weather since my husband had to fight skin cancer which went metastatic (meaning it spread rather a lot.) We so very nearly lost him, but he was an early immunotherapy patient and is still here, with the cancers still stable, eight years later.

So please, please, the very prettiest of pleases, realise that I have very good reasons for saying ‘slip, slop, slap.’ Slip on a hat, Slop on a shirt, Slap on Sunscreen. He isn’t the sort of person who lazes around outdoors, but he did work outside when he was younger and he, like me, comes from an era when we didn’t take these things seriously. And, my very, very dear readers, I want you and all your families to be happy and well so you’ll keep reading! I don’t want you going through what we had to as a family, because it wasn’t good at all, and I’m still terrified now.

Lecture over. (No apologies, and if you read this then you’ll really make my day!)

So, what have I been doing? Well, I gave myself a gorgeous new second-hand camera as my early birthday present to me. It’s got 18.1mp and 20x optical zoom and so many settings that I’m half wondering if it could launch the odd nuclear warhead if I press the wrong buttons. And yesterday I took it for a walk and had a play with it and learned a lot. Photography’s been on my ‘I want to know more about that’ list for a long time. (Did you wonder where Amy gets that habit from?) So now I’ve been reading up on it and playing with my cameras and sharing the results with you and on Pinterest so that you can see where I live. Obviously, I’d rather you didn’t tell too many people how beautiful it is, because we in Dorset tend to loudly sing the praises of Devon and Cornwall and point out our lack of motorways and appalling mobile phone reception. Yes, we’re sneaky down here, but if you find us then you’ll be welcome.

I do take liberties with geography in my books because I insert towns and places as necessary, but the warmth of the people and the beautiful, beautiful scenery are all absolutely genuine. So is how good the local food is, and it constantly inspires me to use good ingredients to make it at home.

I’ve just finished making a lardy cake to this recipe here and the smell of it is filling the house while I type because I’m ahead of myself so it’s Saturday which is cake day. I love baking, but not the Great British bake-off sort because who needs that sort of stress? I like things that are simple, don’t generate too much washing up and aren’t too sweet. I’m currently exploring the National Trust cake book and baking to get ideas for Ruth’s cafe at Swansmere. My family are so supportive…

Speaking of which, I’ve just finished the second draft of my Amy Hammond set round the Coronation, and it’s starting to look vaguely like what I want it to. Now I’m hard at work on the final revisions of the next Eleanor Neville and an interesting one that might be a series if you like it, and which will be out in July. Changing Times came about when I got so fed up with politicians that I decided that I’d like to wipe them all out. That started me thinking about an alternate universe where World War Two ended very differently even though the Allies won, and how much a single act can change everything. It’s cosy and gentle and I hope you’ll like it.

You definitely do seem to like Esther and the Professor, so I’m researching the third book, which is pencilled in for its first draft in August, so I’m busy, busy busy and loving every second of it. I hope you have fun this week too, and, please, remember the sunscreen!

And today's pictures are my first with my new camera, including a better one of the Poole Park feral terrapin. (And I never thought I'd type that!)

If you look closely, you'll see the oyster catcher amongst the seagulls. And yes, I do watch birds, and there'll be a plot around that along sometimes because who knows what else you could see when you're out and about with binoculars?


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