What I Wanted To Tell You At Christmas

What I wanted to tell you at Christmas is how spectacular the illuminations at Stourhead this year.  I wanted to show you the carpet of lights twinkling down to the lake and the Pantheon lit up like a beacon in the distance with two little boats in the water…

I wanted to tell you about The Twelve Days of Christmas lighting the path in the dark and the cold and the rain.

A partridge in a pear tree…

Two calling doves…

and Three French hens.

All the rest followed with an arch as bright as day
and musical globes by the bridge red as embers …

And at the end, the church lit up and the moon above,
white and stark in the jet-black night.

I wanted to tell you for Christmas about my book.  It is finished and out for agent submission and now I wait.

And isn’t it funny? Life, I mean. Just when you think you’re on a hiding to nothing and you wonder where it’s all going to lead, something wonderful happens, something you didn’t see coming a million miles away.

Charli Mills held her Rodeo Contest at Carrot Ranch with a team of judges from her home community in Minnesota. You know, right there by Lake Superior in the snow. Lost in submissions and a crash of confidence, I didn’t think I could or would enter. But at the last minute, something wild came over me. So I did. Just one, the last: TUFF (The Ultimate Flash Fiction) with the prompt, ‘Beans’.

I wanted to tell you at Christmas that my entry placed second and oh what a thrill to see my story with the other winning entries. The validation at any time but especially this time (for me) is a huge boost. Knock-backs take their toll.

Charli writes about the push and pull of entering contests and the fears, doubts and insecurities writers face. It’s an excellent read.

Thank you, Charli, from the bottom of my heart, for your faith in me.

Then I wanted to tell you at Christmas about the three bears bearing gifts
with plenty of ‘Grrrrr’ for the season…

And another kind of bear, that is Paddington Bear(s) in greetings from Bath

I wait while enjoying the sights…

…including some parachuting Santas.

What I also wanted to tell you at Christmas is that my blogging friend, Michael S. Fedison, author of The Eye-Dancers and its sequel, The Singularity Wheel, is now offering Freelance Editing and Proofreading Services.  I’ve known Mike and his wonderful writing for years and highly recommend him.

And also to tell you that Esther Chilton (she helped me greatly with advice and edits of my memoir manuscript) has a new book on writing tips coming out soon. Not to be missed with her writing expertise as an experienced tutor and editor.

There is an excellent writing blog I have followed for a long time: Anne R. Allen’s Blog…with Ruth Harris. Great excitement in discovering that I once lived in the same place as Anne on the Central Coast of California. I’m her neighbour from afar! Anne has great advice in her recent post, Commenting on Blogs: The Easy way for New Writers to Build Platform.

More news I wanted to tell you at Christmas is the release of Sally Cronin’s new book, Life’s Rich Tapestry -Woven in Words, a collection of verse, micro-fiction and short stories. Author D G Kaye (Debby Gies) shares her 5-Star Review in a beautiful write-up.

For all your generous sharing and support, simply to you both:
Thank you from my heart.

And to all of you who read my blog and support my writing and for your friendship
and encouragement, I can’t thank you enough.

There is so much I wanted to tell you at Christmas.
In the crazy of this world and the darkness of these days, it is hard finding answers.

Sherborne Abbey, Dorset, England

The light of hope in the lonely hours came for me through the words of a
book for our time.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse,
by Charlie Mackesy

My husband gave this to me as an early Christmas present. To encourage me, he said.

When the night is darkest before dawn.

Introduced by the author as a book for anyone from eight to eighty, its message is as exquisite as it is profound. It will floor you then fix you.

‘The boy is full of questions, the mole is greedy for cake. The fox is mainly silent and wary because he’s been hurt by life…’

Simplicity in its purest form of words and illustrations, this book will, I know, crush the hardest heart. This book is a gift of hope.

‘”What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said?” asked the boy.

“Help,” said the horse….’

Kindness, love and discovering that home isn’t always a place. And never giving up.

And that is what I wanted to tell you at Christmas.


I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year.
See you back here in 2020!

Love Sherri x






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Book Blog Tour: The Last Will of Sven Anderson by Geoff Le Pard

Seasons Greetings, all! Things might have seemed quiet here at the summerhouse, but it’s been a buzz of activity behind the scenes. More on that next week in my Christmas post.  For now, it’s great to return with a hearty welcome to my lovely friend, blogger and prolific author, Geoff Le Pard.

Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry, short fiction and blogs at geofflepard.com. He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls. He also cooks with passion if not precision.

Some of you know Geoff well through blogging. I first met him five years ago at the very first Bloggers Bash in London and it’s great to catch up with him here and there. I’m delighted to help with the launch of Geoff’s latest novel, The Last Will of Sven Anderson, which continues with the misadventures of one Harry Spittle, first introduced in Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle. A third in the series follows next year. Congratulations, Geoff!

The Last Will Of Sven Anderson


When Harry Spittle, nearly qualified as a solicitor, is approached to write a Will for old acquaintance Sven Andersen, he is somewhat surprised but rather pleased. That pleasure sours after he finds that the Will Sven actually signs is very different to the one he has drawn up, with Harry as the executor. Disappointment turns to horror when he discovers that Sven has been winding up his late father’s criminal empire and a number of not very nice people are interested in the Will’s contents.

If he is to remain in one piece, able to continue his career in the law and save his on-off relationship with his girlfriend Penny, who is unfortunately under suspicion of murder, he needs to find out what’s happened to the money and distribute it according to Sven’s wishes. The trouble is Sven has not only hidden the assets but also the identities of those who benefit. Harry will have to solve a fiendish puzzle Sven has left behind with the help of his sister Dina before his world comes crashing down. With so many people depending on him, Harry knows it’s time for him to grow up – it’s just that he really, really doesn’t want to.

Set in 1981 to the backdrop of punk, Thatcherite politics and an upcoming Royal wedding, this is a book for those who like their nostalgia served with a side of humour and a dash of optimism all wrapped up in a compelling mystery.

Available here:




Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle


It’s summer 1976 and hotter than Hades. Harry Spittle, nineteen, is home from university, aiming to earn some money to go on holiday and maybe get laid. He expects he will be bored rigid, but the appearance of an old family friend, Charlie Jepson, his psychopathic son, Claude, and predatory wife Monica changes that. As his parents’ marriage implodes, Harry’s problems mount; before he knows it he’s in debt up to his ears and dealing in drugs. Things go from bad to worse when he is stabbed. He needs money fast, but now his job is at risk, his sister is in trouble and he has discovered a family secret that could destroy all he holds dear. Will Harry have to join forces with the local criminal mastermind to survive the summer and save his family? Can he regain some credibility and self-respect? Most importantly will he finally get laid?

Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is a coming of age story. Set in 1976 the hero Harry Spittle is home from university for the holidays. He has three goals: to keep away from his family, earn money and hopefully have sex. Inevitably his summer turns out to be very different to that anticipated.

Available here:





If Harry Spittle isn’t great entertainment enough for you, do scroll through for links to Geoff’s other books with updates at Geoff Le Pard’s Amazon Author Page.

My Father And Other Liars

My Father and Other Liars is a thriller set in the near future and takes its heroes, Maurice and Lori-Ann on a helter-skelter chase across continents.

Available here:





Life in a Grain of Sand

Life in a Grain of Sand is a 30 story anthology covering many genres: fantasy, romance, humour, thriller, espionage, conspiracy theories, MG and indeed something for everyone. All the stories were written during Nano 2015.

Available here:





Salisbury Square

Salisbury Square is a dark thriller set in present-day London where a homeless woman and a Polish man, escaping the police at home, form an unlikely alliance to save themselves.

Available here:





Buster & Moo


Buster & Moo is about two couples and the dog whose ownership passes from one to the other. When the couples meet, via the dog, the previously hidden cracks in their relationships surface and events begin to spiral out of control. If the relationships are to survive there is room for only one hero but who will that be?

Available here:





Life in a Flash

Life in a Flash is a set of super short fiction, flash and micro fiction that should keep you engaged and amused for ages.

Available here:





Apprenticed To My Mother

Apprenticed To My Mother describes the period after my father died when I thought I was to play the role of dutiful son, while Mum wanted a new, improved version of her husband – a sort of Desmond 2.0. We both had a lot to learn in those five years, with a lot of laughs and a few tears as we went.

Available here:




Life in a Conversation

Life in a Conversation is an anthology of short and super short fiction that explores connections through humour, speech and everything besides. If you enjoy the funny, the weird and the heart-rending then you’ll be sure to find something here.

Available here:




Lovely to feature you today, Geoff, and we wish you all the best with your latest launch.


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For Stories Yet To Be Written

In early September, my family whisked me away to a delightful cottage (a one time Calvinist chapel) in the heart of the beautiful Sussex countryside. This was my ‘big’ birthday getaway, plotted and planned with great secrecy.

With stunning views all around, we ate breakfast on the roof patio, took walks in the surrounding woods and fields and visited the quaint and historic towns of Battle (site of the 1066 Battle of Hastings) and Rye.

Room With A View – from the upstairs living area (c) Sherri Matthews

I didn’t do a thing: the kids cooked, cleaned up, arranged some meals out and eldest son’s girlfriend made a divine birthday sponge cake of lemon and blueberry with lemon-curd butter icing. They also kept me topped up with bubbly. They know their mum well, obviously.

Blackberries ripening, a sure sign of autumn…

With cards, gifts and a video slideshow of family pics put to a few of my favourite songs, I struggled to keep a dry eye.

Sussex Forest on our doorstep (c) Sherri Matthews

But best of all, my adult children gave me their gift of time in days filled with love, laughter, silliness and joy.

And this: a hand engraved ink bottle with ‘Stories Yet to be Written’ inscribed on the front, their personal message on the back…

(c) Sherri Matthews

They knew of my euphoria when I finished my memoir before this milestone birthday, but not of the strange lull that followed. They couldn’t have known how a few simple words so lovingly considered and etched on an ink bottle would lift me.

The power of the written word…

‘Get it out there, be like Nike Girl’, a friend recently urged me. ‘Just Do It!’  Not so out of reach, but the beginning of a new chapter.

The message behind the message my family commissioned for me, like the gift itself, is priceless. Not only because of their love, but for the philosophy of the person who crafted it…

Andy Poplar, founder of ‘Vinegar & Brown Paper‘,  tells it like this on his website:

‘Advertising creative gets burnt out by the industry.
Becomes stay at home dad.
Has an idea about etching words onto glass.Sets out to mend his head with [vinegar & brown paper].
As [vinegar & brown paper], I’ve spent the last 7 years taking vintage or iconic items of glassware and bringing them to life with the tools of typography, wit, wordplay and a slightly askew way of looking at the world.
From the humble British milk bottle to beautiful laboratory glass, nostalgic filled sweet jars to vintage mirrors, each item is individually etched in my studio in the North of England and it never fails to amaze me, that you can now find pieces of [vinegar & brown paper] on bookshelves everywhere, from York to New York.
Andy Poplar
Ideas etched in glass’


Holly Tucker MBE (Founder of Holly & Co , champion of small businesses,) interviews Andy on her ‘Conversations of Inspiration’ podcast: ‘The Healing Power of Becoming an Artisan ‘. Andy talks about leaving his city job, his struggles with mental health and his recovery through the fulfillment of his creative dreams.

My heart is full of love and gratitude for my family.

And I would like to tell Andy that my treasured ink bottle sits in pride of place on my desk in Somerset, inspiring the flow of words for Stories Yet To Be Written.


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‘More Glimpses’ And A Secret With Hugh W Roberts

Greetings, dear friends! After a few weeks away at work (memoir submission) and play (birthday fun, catch up post next week), today I’m delighted to welcome author, Hugh W Roberts, to the Summerhouse.

Hugh is on book blog tour with his second short story collection, More Glimpses. Thrilled to jump onboard and help spread the word, I knew I was in for a treat when Hugh’s book arrived in the post.

It is no secret to those of us who have read Hugh’s stories on his blog and debut collection Glimpses (published in 2016), that he knows how to keep us riveted with his masterful storytelling.

Whether funny, sad or downright deadly, from drama to comedy, science fiction, murder/mystery, paranormal and horror, Hugh leads us through a gamut of emotions and keeps us guessing to the end with a twist in every tale.

More Glimpses’ gives the reader an opportunity to take a peek into the lives of normal, everyday people whose lives are all on a path full of twists, turns and unexpected endings. But it’s not only about the humans; nothing escapes the extraordinary journeys Hugh has planned for you.’

A wonderfully engaging and fantastic read, I highly recommend More Glimpses with my 5-Star Review on Amazon, adapted here:

‘With Prudence Pebblebottom, the Easter Bunny and The Queen, to name a few, how can Hugh’s stories fail to thrill? Tiny people, elderly time travellers and a boarded up music hall transport us to unknown worlds. ‘Murder in Evershot’ takes us to a quaint English village in deepest, darkest Dorset I know well; Miss Marple will never be the same again. My favourite story is ‘Dream Catcher’ because as Hugh knows, I love a disturbing twist. So pull up your chair and turn down the lights (except the one you read by) for a page-turner collection in the mind- popping tradition of Black Mirror and The Twilight Zone. You won’t be disappointed.

Hugh’s opening story, The Whistle, contains a secret within a poignant and powerful read. It gripped me from its first line:

‘When will it come? Every anticipated moment is like torture.’

The only way to find out, of course, is to read the story. But first, Jack, the main character, has a few words to say about it, insistent on writing Hugh’s guest post:

Can You Keep A Secret?

Before you answer that question, you may like to read what I have to say first. You
see, I have a warning for you. Something that you should take very seriously. My name is Jack, and I’m a character in the story ‘The Whistle’, the first story in the new collection of short stories, More Glimpses, by Hugh W. Roberts.

I fought hard not to appear in that story because it was a place I didn’t want to go, but Hugh refused to allow me to leave. Just like some secrets which are held like a prisoner, Hugh locked me into the story and threw away the key. I found that heartless and thought I’d never trust him again.

However, over time, I grew to trust him, and even though it took him months to finish
the story, it wasn’t until he told me that he was going to reveal a secret that I finally
stopped plotting to escape and agreed to stay.

As Hugh tapped away at the keyboard, he kept promising to reveal the secret to me.
But, as the author, he also knew that if he told me too soon, I’d have caused him
trouble and relentlessly tried to escape before he had finished the story.

Without me, Hugh knew that the story would never have had the same impact as it’s been getting in the reviews for ‘More Glimpses.’

Now, where were we? Oh, yes. Secrets. How many secrets have you been told? Are
they even secrets once they’ve been told?Just like the nearest person to you right now, we all have secrets, don’t we? Some of us find it challenging to keep them safe (one of the biggest mistakes us humans can make in life).

As soon as you unlock the door to the place they are held, and allow them to roam free, you allow ‘uncertainty’ into your life and those who are locked inside the secret.

I’m one of the first to agree that not all secrets are unsafe when freed, but most of
them can grow into a creature that will unleash unhappiness, terror, and darkness
into the lives of so many of us.

They can not only split families apart but can summon up another monster that visits us way before it should do. You know who I mean, don’t you? Yes, the green-eyed monster.

If I told you the secret that Hugh told me, who knows what you would do with it. You
may promise me that you’ll never pass on that secret to anyone else but ask yourself
what would tempt you to reveal it. Is there anything in your world that would entice
you to unlock the door to my secret?

If you answered ‘no’, ask yourself if you really are being truthful to the person that matters most in your life. Who’s that person? You!

I can’t reveal the secret I know to you, but if you read ‘The Whistle’ you’ll find out
what it is. I wonder what you will do once you know my secret. Will you create a
monster from it, or lock it away and hope nobody ever finds it?

Can you keep a secret? It’s up to you.


Don’t worry, Jack; your secret is safe and sound at the Summerhouse. No spoilers here. But for those of you wanting to find out more about Hugh and his writing, a lovely warm welcome awaits you here (and I can vouch for that):

Blog: Hugh’s Views and News

Twitter: @HughRoberts05



Amazon Author Page



‘Hugh W. Roberts lives in Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom.Hugh gets his inspiration for writing from various avenues including writing prompts, photos, eavesdropping and while out walking his dogs, Toby and Austin. Although he was born in Wales, he has lived around various parts of the United Kingdom, including London where he lived and worked for 27 years.Hugh suffers from a mild form of dyslexia but, after discovering blogging, decided not to allow the condition to stop his passion for writing. Since creating his blog ‘Hugh’s Views & News’ in February 2014, he has built up a strong following and now writes every day. Always keen to promote other bloggers, authors and writers, Hugh enjoys the interaction blogging brings and has built up a group of online friends he considers as an ‘everyday essential’.His short stories have become well known for the unexpected twists they contain in taking the reader up a completely different path to one they think they are on. One of the best compliments a reader can give Hugh is “I never saw that ending coming.”Having published his first book of short stories, Glimpses, in December 2016, his second collection of short stories, More Glimpses, was released in March 2019.A keen photographer, he also enjoys cycling, walking, reading, watching television, and enjoys relaxing with a glass of red wine and sweet popcorn.Hugh shares his life with John, his civil-partner, and Toby and Austin, their Cardigan Welsh Corgis.’


Hugh, it’s been an honour to feature you and your wonderful book at the Summerhouse today, and I’m sure my lovely readers will join me in wishing you every success with all your ventures, secret or otherwise.




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Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New Series – Sunday Author Interview – Coming Soon.

Calling all authors, read all about it! A fantastic opportunity to promote your books for free, thanks to Sally Cronin’s Sunday Author Interview series coming soon! ❤

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the new Sunday Interview series, and this time, the focus is on the authors in the Cafe and Bookstore.

At any time there are approximately 150 authors in the Cafe and Bookstore who have new releases or recent reviews. My focus for the rest of the year is going to be on those authors in the Cafe and Bookstore and on promoting new authors who would like to join them on the shelves.

If you are a new visitor to the blog and an author with recently published books or reviews then please pop in to the Cafe and find out how you can submit your books. It is completely FREE, and all I ask is your participation when your books are promoted. This includes responding to individual comments on your posts and sharing on your own social media.


Now to the new Sunday author interview.


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Blogging With A Little Help From Your Friends. A Guest Post By Sherri Matthews @WriterSherri

Today, I’m thrilled and honoured to guest post at Hugh Robert’s wonderful blog, Hugh’s News & Views, on the challenges of balancing blogging, writing a book and the curve balls of life. And the fascinating coincidences bloggers regularly discover through online friendships, though ocean’s apart. Thank you, dear friends! ❤

Hugh's Views & News  

Blogging, in my experience, is a strange beast. Show your blog you’re in charge and it behaves. But turn your back for just one minute, and it’ll sink its teeth right into you snarling, ‘Who is Master now?’

#blogging #blogger

My early blogging years had a slow start for the first six months, and then one day, I found my poor blog under lock and key in spam prison. Back then, I had no idea what was going on, so I posted a plea for help. I didn’t think anybody would notice, but they did. Relieved to learn it was a widespread problem at the time (and nothing I had done wrong, phew!), it was soon rectified.

Better yet, I discovered a kind, caring, all-embracing community in the great wide ether that I hadn’t known existed.

From then on, blogging became a way of life as my blog took off. I kept…

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School’s Out But I’m In The Classroom Down Under

Last week I bought some curtain material from Laura Ashley, thanks to a great sale discount. It’s been a long time since I did any sewing. My steadfast sewing machine since my days in California still works a dream thanks to a voltage converter.

Talk of sewing never fails to remind me of a certain teacher in middle school. I don’t know about you, but I did not like middle school one bit. Granted, this would have been the mid 70s when ‘Group Projects’ ruled the day. And Needlework.

Getting a group of twelve and thirteen year olds to cooperate while the teacher, a middle aged man in shiny trousers and long, black sideburns  (it was the 70s, remember) trying to keep order was not pretty.

Needlework was in a class of its own (sorry…cliches, puns, going with it today…) Teacher, a matronly woman with short hair and a never a smile to cross her face, gave instructions  on how to buy a pattern and material for our selected items. In my case, a pair of navy, flared trousers.

Teacher measured me and told me the size I needed. Except her measurements were way out. ‘But…they’re too big…’ I protested, albeit meekly, afraid of making her cross. Which I did anyway.

‘Nonsense’, she snapped.

My mother, who did a lot of sewing in those days, said the same thing when I showed her the measurements. Utter nonsense.

Better do as Teacher said, we agreed.  The last thing I wanted was to be singled out in front of the whole class…

Alas, it was as I feared; as I pinned the pattern pieces to the material and cut them out, they looked huge.  ‘I’ll look like an elephant,’ I moaned to my mother back home.

Teacher then told us to take the pieces home for the weekend and tack them together with temporary, hand stitching. But my mother had another plan. ‘Don’t mess about with tacking,’ she said, ‘here’s a short cut.’ Great, I thought, a head start, as she showed me how to stitch the items together on her sewing machine.

If I had wanted to prevent being singled out, I went the wrong way about it. Teacher, furious, made me sit through the whole class and into lunchbreak if necessary, unpicking by hand every single stitch. Then tack them together, by hand, as she had first instructed.

And yes, I ended up with what forever would became known in my family with great hilarity as those ‘Elephant Trousers.’ Needless to say, I never wore them. Strangely, it didn’t put me off sewing, thanks to my mother’s short cuts…

Lessons learned? Some of value (group projects and needlework aside…) but I couldn’t wait for the last day before the summer holidays, ‘School’s Out For Summer,’ blasting from the radio.

But of course, life long learning is a very different animal to sitting behind a desk bored and fed up and avoiding Teacher’s dirty looks. If only I had had more teachers like someone I’ve known since my early blogging days, life long educator, writer and wonderful friend, dear Norah Colvin.

Best described on her About page as an …’experienced and passionate educator. I teach. I write. I create..’, Norah also links to fantastic resources for school age children both in school and at home from her wonderful website, readilearn. She also writes flash fiction at Carrot Ranch and is a great friend to many throughout the blogosphere.

So I was thrilled when she recently invited me to share my thoughts as a guest for her ‘School Days, Reminiscences‘ series. Thank you so much, Norah! Teachers like you (and I take my hat off to you all) make the world a better place. I’m truly honoured to sit in your classroom today.

School’s out for some, the sewing can wait, but today I’m in Australia taking lessons from the best. I do hope you’ll join me!



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Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Writer – Sherri Matthews #Memoir – Holiday Reading, Ghosts And The Norfolk Broads

Good Monday morning/afternoon,dear friends! Things have been busy at the Summerhouse these past few weeks, culminating with not one, but two trips to London in just the last week. All or nothing, it seems. The first, of course, to the Bloggers Bash and the second to see Metallica at the Twickenham Stadium with my boys. My first time at a real live gig and it was awesome, amazing, surreal…all of those and much more. Perfect timing then to wrap things up with a nice, relaxing boating holiday, albeit one from my 2014 archives. Massive and grateful thanks once again to lovely Sally Cronin and her wonderful Smorgasbord Blog Magazine for featuring the fourth and final of my archive memoir posts. I hope you’ll join me for this brief sojourn on the Norfolk Broads, but beware: a lake at sunset brings a ghostly tale, and a true one at that… Enjoy!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Delighted to welcome back memoir author Sherri Matthews with four posts sharing her experiences of childhood and teens and living in the UK after many years in California. In the final post this series Sherri takes us on a holiday to the Norfolk Broads, a fabulous boating holiday, and an introduction to the more ghostly side of this idyllic part of the country.

Holiday Reading, Ghosts And The Norfolk Broads

Holiday reading. What beats a book crammed full of twists and turn, thrills and spills to keep us occupied while lazing on the beach or reclining on a deck chair by the side of a pool somewhere hot and Mediterranean? What indeed!

When Lisa set her prompt for this week’s Bite Size Memoir challenge as ‘Holiday Reads’ my memories took me not to the beach or the pool but back to the annual holidays we took as a family…

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Five Years And Another Fab Bloggers Bash 2019

London called and I heeded. Why else but for the Annual (and fifth!) Bloggers Bash? Hubby and I travelled by train the day before on Friday, making a short getaway of it.

As an aside, it never fails to amaze me the things some people might stuff down a toilet – and on a South Western train that often runs late, who can blame them? – but hopes and dreams? Surely not…

(And no, I don’t make a habit of creeping into public toilets to sneak photos of toilet seats…but for a blog post, so be it.)

Moving swiftly on…as we did by taxi from Waterloo Station (pun not intended) to our hotel.

Houses of Parliament & the London Eye whizzing by

A warm and sunny afternoon of the sort that invites you for an evening stroll around a park beckoned. But first, we enjoyed a delicous meal of chicken tacos, guacomole and refried beans at nearby Loco Mexicano, a place we scoped out two years ago at the 2017 Blogger’s Bash. California, I miss Mexican food!

View of Vincent’s Square Park from our room

So at last to the Bash! On Saturday morning, hubby headed off for his day out in London and I to the Grange Wellington Hotel , though with butterflies! Why, I don’t know. I’ve been to all the BBs, but with all the lovely welcoming hugs as soon as I arrived, they scattered.

Sacha opened up the event with a stirring welcome encouraging us to look back on the five years since the first Bloggers Bash in 2015, to take stock of our achievements and look ahead to our next goals. I was moved by her heartfelt speech, thinking of all that’s happened personally in that time. And five years goes fast, I know that…

The BB is a fantastic opportunity to meet up and catch up with old friends and make new, really wonderful people all, and this year was no exception. But there is one problem, which is I forget to take photos when I get chatting.

Here are some, as promised, but do check out the Bloggers Bash & ABBA Award public Facebook Group for links to some great blog posts and photos of the day, and don’t forget to check out Hugh’s blog soon when he will be posting his video…oh yes, the video…

Lovely seeing Mary, Marje, EstherRitu & Hugh again.

Lovely Willow and Marje
(Just caught Graeme in the background, who did an excellent job as compère for the day)

Managed to catch Shelley for this lovely pic with Adam

The BB committee organised two great speakers:

Award-winning blogger Laura Creaven, creator of food blog Full to the Brum, shared her experiences, tips and advice together with her fab sense of humour.

Author Gemma Todd (G X Todd) shared her incredibly inspiring journey to a traditional publishing contract for four books with Headline Publishing.

Esther, Shelley and Laura headed up an interesting and helpful Q&A panel and of course, inbetween the presentations, the committee members took turns handing out all the awards.

Congratulations award winners! The full list is posted at
The Annual Bloggers Bash website.

Suzie and Sacha presented a Flay Lay workshop which I really enjoyed.  I didn’t know what it was, never mind how to do one, but I came away inspired with a host of new ideas.  Essentially, it’s a simple but highly effective way of creating a professional visual to showcase a story for anything you want (latest books and promotions for instance). I don’t have an Instagram account, but they’re great for blog posts and any social media.

Suzie came armed with supplies and challenged us to make our own Flat Lay. Yikes…what to do? Then I thought…Gemma inspired me so much with her publishing story, that I went with my dream (book launch – not lunch, I did check, though that would be great too –  in New York, anyone?)…

My first ever Flat Lay!

 Thank you, lovelies!

Suzie and Sacha

All in all, a really fantastic day.  We talked, laughed, had a drink or two, ate cake (thank you, Ritu, delicious!), listened and learned and then it was all over in a blink. Hubby and I couldn’t stay too long afterwards unfortunately, as we had a train to catch back to Somerset. We got home around 11pm, tired but happy.

Thank you so much Sacha, Geoff, Hugh Suzie, Helen, Graeme and Adam, the first rate committee who work so hard all year long to make this wonderful annual event possible. As always, I enjoyed every minute. Now all I’m wondering is, when’s the next one?





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Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Writer Sherri Matthews -#Memoir – My Dad, The Great Train Robbery and A Game of Cricket

A huge thank you once again to wonderful Sally Cronin for sharing the third of my archive memoir posts,and also her lovely and touching introduction. I’m greatly humbled to re-share this post written in 2013 about my dear old dad, three years before he passed away. With Father’s Day approaching it’s a good time to say thanks for the great memories, Dad…I miss you ❤ Have a great weekend all and Happy Father’s Day to all you great dads and granddads out there…you rock! I’m off to the Blogger’s Bash in London and hope to get some good pics. See you soon! Love Sherri x

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Delighted to welcome back memoir author Sherri Matthews with four posts sharing her experiences of childhood and teens and living in the UK after many years in California. This week Sherri shares her father’s story, which was complicated. It is a frank look at his life and also acknowledgement of how much he is loved. This was first posted in 2013. Sherri’s father sadly passed away in 2016, but she had dedicated her blog to him with a lovely tribute..About Sherri Matthews

My Dad, The Great Train Robbery and A Game of Cricket

Today is my dad’s 81st birthday. Not so unusual these days (what is 80 now anyway, the new 40?) except in this case my dad is a raging alcoholic who has spent the best part of the last 35 years of his life in prison. No small miracle, then, that he gets to celebrate this day.

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