featured author - spring 2020
I was born and grew up in the north of England. From an early age, my parents were heavily involved in Scouting, so I spent many weekends and school holidays camping and sailing. My family holidays were spent in the north west of Scotland. I suppose this is where I get my love of wildlife and countryside.
Luckily, I met an amazing man who loves the countryside as much as I do and in the early 1990’s we sold our house and moved to the Isle of Mull. We didn’t have anywhere to live, just an address of someone who had a spare annex to his house! We lived there for approximately ten extremely happy years. Life was fabulous. We lived basically on the side of a hill, collected our wood to burn and our water supply came from the closest ‘burn’. We both learnt many life skills and discovered that we could achieve many things.
We were both offered work as custodians of a castle on the island. Our skills came in very handy and we found we enjoyed caring for the owners and visitors and the castle itself.
I studied and gained diplomas in hospitality, housekeeping, tourism etc. I was asked to join the UK’s Housekeepers Association.
The owners of a local country house asked me to join their staff as Housekeeper. From then, the country house was awarded 10 stars with the Scottish Tourist Board for Housekeeping and Front of House Management. I was asked to become a Hotel Inspector for the Scottish Tourist Board – but I declined. A few years later the owners of the country house unfortunately decided to retire but my husband and I were approached by a local landowner of a 1440 acre shooting estate just off the island to run the estate for him.
So started our amazing life ‘in service’. We were lucky enough to live a very privileged lifestyle and travelled with our employment. We have met and worked for famous and very wealthy people but after 20 years we decided to take early retirement. So, it was out with the Louboutin’s and in with the Gummies!
Our widebeam barge is the first canal boat we had been on. We travelled around Europe looking for the ‘perfect’ boat to be our home and then found her by accident at Reading!
Luckily, I have loved every minute of it. Living on the water brings you so close to nature and you can see such wonderful and amazing things that nature shows us. Our ‘community’ of fellow boats all have their own history and reasons for living on the water. I think we all have a healthy respect for each other. The sense of community is wonderful. This is something I feel, has been sadly lost in ‘normal’ life.
We continuously cruise on the canals and are still finding new villages to explore. We are always ready to move within the 14 days, neither my husband nor myself could now imagine going back to living in a house again!
I become a writer...
My writing started one day as we walked along the canal towpath with our dog. The idea came to me of a very small magical canal boat that was huge on the inside, taking children on adventures along the canals. Gradually I started to work this idea into a story.
In the ‘Mouse’ books I have tried to describe the thrill of seeing your first Kingfisher as it flies along the canal as straight as an arrow or the beautiful sight of a mother duck and her brood of ducklings following behind her as they make their way along the canal. The stories help children use their imaginations as they encounter life on the canals. The first time I saw a Kingfisher is something I will never forget. In the books I have tried to include many of the boats that we see. Whitwell 695, Isamard and the only ‘baddie’ in the collection of stories is called ‘Black Bart’ and that is after a boat called Black Bartholomew!
I had never written a book before so when the manuscript was accepted by a publishing house, no one was more surprised than me! Unfortunately, the publishers took over a year to get the book ready and their ideas of marketing, advertising etc were not what I had hoped for. Their web site was not exactly truthful either, so I fought to have my contract cancelled.
Thankfully, my books are now my own again and self funded. I write and send them to a wonderful editor who can make sense of it all and put everything together for me.
The fourth ‘Mouse’ book in the collection was released in November 2019. The books have received fabulous five-star reviews on Amazon and other selling sites. People we meet on our travels tell us how their children have read their copies several times. The books are written in plain easy to understand English and have been likened to the style of Enid Blyton.
I have been busy writing other children’s books. Some of the characters from one of the Mouse books, Tippy and Tilly now have their own book called ‘Willowwood Snug’.
This is the most sun-shiniest, happiest place to be. Everyone is happy and they live in little houses in the trees. All the girls dress the same in green jumpers, brown skirts and brown leather shoes that turn up at the front. The girls all have their hair plaited with a coloured ribbon. The ribbon colour changes as the girls grow up. The boys all wear brown trousers, green jumper and brown leather shoes that turn up at the front. Once a boy is old enough, he can smoke a small clay pipe!
Snugers spend their days going to school, looking after their cluckens (chickens) and playing the in the sunshine.’
This book helps children with their first day at school and how exciting it can be.
I have also written a book for young girls about the struggles of an average girl and how, when you ‘do the right thing’ something magical can happen to you.
The Trials of Eddi Dutch...
This is a tale of a clumsy teenage girl who is plain, flat chested and wears glasses but her best friend is gorgeous. Poor Eddi is extremely clumsy and gets herself into some terrible situations. Not what you would expect for princess material.
Eddi lives in Bugbrook, a small village with an old tale. It states that a girl who is the third daughter of a third daughter of a third daughter will marry a prince, but she must complete a set of trials to prove herself. Poor Eddi is the one!’