Sunday, February 27, 2011

Women, cupcakes and cappuccinos

Book News:

A Woman like The Sea gained a very kind review at GLFiction Reviews this week (many thanks, Victor & Alan), and that same review has also found its way to the San Francisco Examiner, so that was lovely too.

Not to be outdone, Brady's Choice received a very thoughtful 5-star review at Goodreads (thank you, Nicci), and A Dangerous Man gained a 4-star review at Goodreads (many thanks, Andy!). I was also pleased that, very briefly, The Hit List found itself at No 50 in the Amazon UK Kindle charts, well gosh.

And I also received my annual influx of cash from the ALCS (Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society) who give much-needed support to poor authors, so that was very nice, thank you. And, if you are an author who hasn't joined them yet, it's definitely worth it.

And news hot off the press is that the third in my Delaneys' series, The Art of The Delaneys, will be published by Amber Allure Press on 15 May, hurrah! Many thanks, Trace ...

Meanwhile, at Vulpes Libris, you can find my review of Chris Bohjalian's magnificent crime novel, The Double Bind, which is one of the best and most startling novels I've read in a long, long time. Go treat yourself to it!

Today's meditation is:

Meditation 493
The silent grass
and the rooftops,
bleak against a clear sky,

wait for the east wind
to blast them
with its dark unforgiving

And the Sunday haiku is:

On my downbeat walk
they stop me with dark glimmer:
purple crocuses.

Life News:

Much to my delight, our flat now has the magical note "Sold STC" on its website entry. Phew. Let's hope that keeps there then. And I was also sneakily delighted that the lovely next-door neighbour had a chat with me about the pesky middle neighbours over the weekend and it transpires that they don't much like them either and were really sorry and shocked about what happened last year. Which made me feel a lot better, I must say, and it's nice to know that it's not just us overreacting either. Ha!

Anyway, K and I had a really fantastic day yesterday visiting The Savill Garden. It's astonishingly beautiful even in February, and we were frankly amazed at how much the rhododendrons had come out, giving fabulous splashes of unexpected colour around almost every corner. I also had a deeply moving experience in the cafe where we indulged ourselves in cupcakes (free with a voucher because we visited before!) and cappuccino. I suddenly realised exactly how happy the cupcake was making me feel - which is quite rare as normally I don't realise when I've been happy until after it's over. Is this my nirvana moment? If so, then if my ashes are scattered across the restaurant at Savill when I'm dead and gone, I'll be a contented woman indeed.

Finally, a very happy wedding day to Laura Ives at work who got married yesterday - and I hope the sun shone internally if not in reality, thanks to our pesky English weather. Many congratulations indeed!

Anne Brooke

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The nameless blogger and other literary matters

Book News:

What a week, eh. I think we've all come through it slightly dusty and wide-eyed but relatively unbowed, so well done us! In case you're wondering if I've finally slipped over the edge into madness (ah, a long long time ago,  my dears ...), on Monday I was mentioned though not by name (until I outed myself in the comments section, that is!) in this article by author Chris Cleave in The Guardian who was a little upset about a review I wrote about one of his books for Vulpes Libris. Yes, I am indeed the cold-hearted and spidery blogger who dare not show her face. Well, if you had a nose like mine, would you?... Joking apart though, I have to say it's a dang good article and (if I may be so bold), if he'd used even half that passion, poetry and precision, not to mention ease of expression, throughout the novel itself, all might have been rather better.

Anyway, the very lovely Book Foxes (thank you, all) were inspired to come up with a response to the Guardian article which, we hope, sets out our aims for our review site in terms of fair, honest and very committed reviewing. Enough said. And actually, when all's said and done, it's the books that count, so I hope Chris Cleave and I can give each other a virtual handshake and a wry smile (because everything passes ...), and then we can all move on.

As for my own far less significant book world, it's been quite a busy week too so far, so here's what's been going on since Monday:

1. The Delaneys and Me came in, briefly, at No 91 in the Amazon UK Kindle charts so someone must have bought a copy - thank you.

2. Entertaining the Delaneys gained two 4-star reviews at Goodreads, one here and one here. It also gained a 3-star review at Goodreads with some lovely comments, so thank you to all three readers for sharing their thoughts on the story.

3. A Woman Like the Sea gained another 5-star review at Amazon so thank you, Victor, for that - I really appreciate it.

4. Finally, in this section, Brady's Choice gained a B+ review at Brief Encounters, and a 5-star review at Jessewave Reviews - a big thank you to both reviewers for that.

On a slightly different tack, I'm sneaking in a quick reminder that all my Untreed Reads books are at discount prices in February and one of them is free! That includes A Woman like The Sea so, bearing in mind the reviews it's gained recently, it might well be worth a punt ...

And, astonishingly, I'm struggling back into writing my meditation poems again. Feel a bit shaky about it as I'm not really very sure about God at the moment and there's nothing like prayer remotely on the horizon at all right now, but for what it's worth here they are:

Meditation 491
There’s a cleansing note
about sackcloth and grief

but letting them go
must be a relief.

Meditation 492
In all the long bible
there’s nothing that moves me so much
as King Hezekiah’s simple taking of the letter
containing his enemy’s
bitter and bloodthirsty threat,

laying it out in front
of the throne of God
and praying in despair
and a kind of trust:
see my agony, help me.

Life News:

I slipped into the bible study group this week and tried to keep relatively quiet (ho ho). I was rather jazzed up about it but in the end it was okay. Nothing too demanding, and actually the history behind the story of Joseph and his brothers is interesting. I had no idea it was made up of three different literary approaches cobbled together later by an editor which explains the little anomalies such as Joseph's status which changes throughout, and the different ways of referring to God, and what that means. Fascinating. I do always find that the more I see the very human mistakes and oddities in the bible, the more I actually believe in what it's trying to convey. It's only when you think a book is the unalterable word of God (whatever that may mean!) that it becomes so much less likely. There speaks the inveterate reviewer, eh ... Give me the mistakes and I'll ferret out the truth for myself.

Meanwhile I've been having fun with TV. I did rather enjoy South Riding on Sunday night, but I could have done with more jokes. I'm told by friends who've read the book (I haven't - ah, the shame of it) that it gets grimmer so I'm preparing myself with boxes of tissues and a whippet. Hey, I can be rude about the north - my mother's a Geordie ... though God knows what the whippet will do. I am also strangely gripped and guffawing in amazed laughter at the false crocodile tears produced by The Model Agency. Lordy! I was more than relieved that the rather sweet India managed to escape from the profit-crazed hands of her band of agents in order to live a normal life at school. Isn't there some kind of charity to free these poor gals? There should be questions in Parliament, I feel - particularly about the very odd father who included the opportunity to make more money for the family as a reason for encouraging his daughter to join the slave - ahem - I mean model trade. Run, my dear, run! I foresee several nail-biting evenings ahead in front of the TV over the next few weeks ...

Anyway, today, I have had two removal firms round to give a quote for getting us to our next home - please God let us have an exchange date soon! - they were both very lovely and seemed happy to cope with our oddities, so we'll have to wait and see what figures they come up with. They both include the option to have everything packed for you, which we are so definitely taking up - having always moved ourselves with great trauma and angst in the past. I'm really not going through that again. Ever.

This afternoon, I've had the last session of my physiotherapy for the frozen shoulder and all looks good, hurrah. I'm managing to remember not to carry heavy things, eg shopping or golf clubs, so I think that's definitely helping. And if I forget, I certainly know soon enough! Tonight, K and I are off to Woking to indulge ourselves in the joys of the National Theatre tour of Hamlet, so I am preparing myself for an evening of misplaced love and family angst. Just like a normal night out in Essex really, hey ho.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Entertaining the Delaneys and other delights

Book News:

Entertaining the Delaneys is published today at Amber Allure Press at a first week discount. This is the sequel to erotic bestseller, The Delaneys and Me, so now's your chance to catch up on the various naughty but nice goings-on of Liam, and those tricky twins. Enjoy!

Speaking of which, The Delaneys and Me has gained a 4-star review at Goodreads (thanks, Nene). So I like to think that in some way I'm keeping the British tradition of Carry On type humour alive ... Also this week, The Girl in the Painting received a 4-star review at Amazon US, so thank you to Darlene for that one.

And I'm happy to say that Brady's Choice is now available for the first time at Amazon UK Kindle, and, in terms of ratings, The Hit List reached No 35 in the Amazon UK charts, while Sunday Haiku came in at No 10 in the Amazon UK poetry charts, well gosh.

Meanwhile, the haiku for today is:

My garden of dreams
is sunlight-soft and scented:
lavender and hope.

Life News:

I'm gradually getting rid of my pesky cold and catarrh thing, but slowly slowly. Dammit. Alongside, or perhaps as a result (I'm not really sure), I'm having a bit of a depression moment or two, again. Double dammit, eh. What I really want to do is scream a lot and hit someone very hard, but sadly being a middle-aged woman in UK society doesn't really allow for that kind of behaviour outlet - which is a shame as it's exactly the kind of outlet we middle-aged UK women need. At our time of lives, you know. Sigh. K thinks I should get a punch-bag, and it's certainly a tempting option. Maybe in the new house?...

However, the good news is that our mortgage application has been approved in reality (hurrah!), and the survey for the house was pretty damn good really, and certainly a hell of a lot better than the survey for the flat when we bought it in 1993. I'm really hoping things move along pretty damn swiftly from now on, though I know there are land searches and all sorts of legal stuff to go through first. And the pesky middle neighbours need to sign the lease for the man who's bought our flat etc etc as it's a shared freehold. As they're so damn horrible and really rather selfish, then I doubt they'll be hurrying to do that then, eh. More sighing. Though, on the plus side, we also have to sign to agree the buyer for their flat in turn, and really, my dears, I'm not hurrying on that one either. Maybe we'll even "go on holiday and be unable to do it for a while", as they said to us when we got to exchange date with them last year, the losers. Ha! K and I can foresee a time when all four of us will be eyeball-to-eyeball in an independent solicitor's office handing over the documentation in one concerted and closely-watched move. Because you absolutely can't trust them an inch.

So, as you can see, I am indeed as full of the milk of human kindness and Christian charity as I ever am. Ho ho, as if. And, sadly, today's sermon about loving our enemies and being nice to the neighbours got rather short shrift from me, as well as a knowing snort. Well, I've never pretended to be a good person, at any level, so what can one expect? I might well start to be nice when I'm in the next house but, as St Augustine is reputed to have said: not yet, Lord, not yet. Being a dried up, bitchy, embittered old prune is the new nice, after all.

Finally, I'm sorry to say that my invitation to the Royal Wedding appears, unaccountably, to have gone missing in the post. As a result, I may well delay buying my hat, just in case they've forgotten me (how can that be?!) ...

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sickness and sold signs

Life News:

A tricky week in terms of being sick, groan. I've had a cold plus my usual catarrh difficulties since Sunday evening so wasn't able to go in to work yesterday at all. The thing I really hate about being ill like this is the not being able to sleep part of it, so was pleased last night that I did actually manage to get some decent sleep for the first time since Saturday and in the bedroom too, hurrah! (I usually stick to the living room in times of difficulty as it's warmer ...). The other good thing is the number of property programmes on daytime TV - what bliss.

Am planning to go into work tomorrow for a staff event that we're doing so my usual working week is a bit confused anyway. Lord know what day I'll think it actually is tomorrow! Due to being ill, I've also had to cancel the specialist appointment I had at Kingston Hospital today (ah, the irony of it all ...) but it appears that my specialist is now moving to St George's so I am desperately trying to catch up with her, but no luck yet.

However, I'm delighted to say that our flat now has a "Sold" sign on the street, so K keeps admiring it when he leaves for work. It feels great to have it there, I must say. Not only that but the house we're in the process of buying in Mayford has a Sold STC notice on its web entry so that's very pleasing too. I'm only hoping and praying the potential move goes relatively smoothly from now on ...

And is it just me, but is "Outcasts", the new SF serial on TV, really just a rehash of "Heroes", "The Deep" and "Lost"? BIG yawn. It's all too stupidly mystical and pretentious for words really, and I did have such high hopes at the start, as I'm usually a fan of Hermione Norris - what on earth is her agent thinking?!? They really need to stop the pretentiousness and actually give us some plot and decent characterisation. As K says, it's a planetary outpost where the security team appears to be run by Benny from Crossroads (bless ....) and some children's TV presenter. It's also very odd, bearing in mind they are supposed to be the only humans on an empty planet, how often they receive visitors they've never come across before. At least one or two every episode roll up. K thinks that over the hill there's actually a vast city the size of Las Vegas if only they realised it. Sigh. However, it does make you realise how sharp and well-written/plotted the episodes of any of the Star Trek series actually are - at least they understood about the need for action and character back then.

Book News:

I'm happy to say that the lovely Graham Sclater was kind enough to give another on-air review of A Dangerous Man on Live Wire Talk Radio last night, so many thanks for that, Graham. I am definitely envious of the daffodils in your study though ...

And Pink Champagne and Apple Juice briefly found itself at No 77 in the Amazon UK Kindle charts, so that was a surprise for us all, I can tell you.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Snowdrops and silence

Book News:

I now have a new webpage for upcoming literary short story, Dido's Tale, which is due to be published by Bluewood Publishing later this year. You can also read an extract to whet your appetite. Enjoy!

In terms of reviews, How to Eat Fruit gained a 4-star review at Goodreads - many thanks, Dlee. And Brady's Choice gained a lovely review at Amos Lassen Reviews, so many thanks for that, Amos.

This week, you can also find The Bones of Summer is being offered at a 20% discount at Rainbow eBooks, so an ideal opportunity to buy. 

You can also find my review of The New Uncanny: Tales of Unease at Vulpes Libris, which is a short story collection guaranteed to add a frisson or two of literary horror to your day. What could be nicer?

The Sunday haiku is:

One green woodpecker,
ant-attracted, waits on grass
dancing with snowdrops.

Life News:

Astonishingly, we have agreed a very reasonable offer on the flat, hurrah a zillion times and put out the bunting! Mr Makeover Man (who will no doubt make our little corner of Surrey look like a mini-Versailles once he's had his way ...) put in an offer, and after a little to-ing and fro-ing we were more than happy to accept. If it all goes through, it'll certainly take a chunk off our mortgage repayments for the Mayford house (assuming that goes through okay also ...). Phew then. So we are now neck-deep or thereabouts in mortgage applications, life insurance, mortgage protection schemes, removal quotes and a hundred and one things to do if you're moving. Yes, I know it's early days but I like to get ahead. Ever hopeful, eh.

Yesterday, K and I had a very relaxing day (which was very much deserved, I must say) admiring the snowdrops at Polesdon Lacey and enjoying a very pleasant lunch as well, and today I have spent an hour in silence at the Quakers again. Well, almost in silence, as my impending cold (arrgghh!!!) meant rather more snivelling than I'd hoped to have. Still the woman sitting in front of me was very courteous about my snuffles and snortings so has no doubt already performed her kind deed of the week. And I have so many kind deeds to catch up with on my own account, alas ...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A glimmer of hope somewhere ...

Life News:

There's a glimmer of hope on the house horizon, thank the Lord. The Mayford vendors have accepted our revised, revised offer, so we're on the road to exchange, hurrah. I hope. I'm really hoping this time that we survive the exchange date with some measure of success, bearing in mind the outright disaster of the one we lived through last year (b****y middle neighbours, eh). It would just be soooooo good to get out of this place which is seriously bringing me down now. I simply need to escape.

Meanwhile our strange potential buyer of the flat is still behaving oddly. He's now been to see us three times, once with his parents, once with a builder and, most recently, yesterday with an interior designer. Apart from being hugely frustrating, we're now thinking of charging him rent if he comes a fourth time. Or perhaps he actually does think he lives here now? He's certainly in the place more often than we are. And still no hint of an offer ... Sigh. I really feel I've lost any hope on that one, to be honest. You know what they say with buyers: the longer they are in a place, the less likely it is they'll bite. People make their minds up in thirty seconds. The rest is just filling, ho hum.

Anyway, we have a potential house, hurrah, and a lifetime of poverty to look forward to so it may not be all bad! Plus yesterday was K's birthday so we celebrated with cake, chocolate and champagne. As you do. And there's cake left over too - gosh, however did that happen?...

Today, I was supposed to be going to the Sceptre Reviewers Lunch on behalf of Vulpes Libris, but I found out yesterday that the event was taking a speed-dating format which utterly horrified me, so I have given it a very very wide berth. Lord preserve us! Parties of any kind are bad enough as it is without having to meet lots of self-important (sorry, but we are rather self-important as a breed!...) authors in quick succession without any kind of body armour to defend against the experience. And if anyone's going to be self-important around here, it's going to be me. I'm a genius at it. Besides, two of the authors lined up have both been given negative reviews by me, which you can see here and here, and I didn't want there to be blood on the carpet, my dears.

Tonight, K and I are out spending money we probably can't afford at the theatre seeing The Reluctant Debutante. Here's hoping there are a few laughs and it's better than last week's play, which shouldn't be too difficult then.

Book News:

I've sent the final galley proofs for Entertaining the Delaneys back to Amber Allure Press, and that's due out on 20 February, so not long now. In the meantime you can find bestselling short story The Girl in the Painting at Amazon UK for the first time, and How to Eat Fruit is now also keeping it company, hurrah. The Bones of Summer has also been briefly at No 29 in the Amazon UK charts this week, which was nice.

There have also been several nice reviews this week (see how self-important I am - gosh, I must be an author, ho ho!...):

Maloney's Law gained a 4-star review at Goodreads (thank you, Dlee)
Painting from Life received a 5-star review at Goodreads (thank you, Ann)
How to Eat Fruit gained a 5-star review at Goodreads (thank you, Sarah).

In addition:

A Woman like the Sea was given a 4.75 star review at Book Wenches (many thanks, Bobby)


Brady's Choice gained a 4-star review at Three Dollar Bill Reviews (many thanks, Kassa).

Both of the above were the first "official" reviews for each of these new stories, which I wasn't honestly sure that anyone would like, so that's given me hope too. So perhaps the year might be improving after all? Who can tell ...

Anne Brooke

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Parties, interviews and houses

Book News:

Yesterday was an all-day party time as all us Untreed Reads authors celebrated our publisher's one-year anniversary at Coffee Time Romance - and there's still time to join in the fun so please do pop along and say hello. You'll be more than welcome! In terms of my own books, you can pick up a FREE copy of literary romance, How to Eat Fruit, plus discover exactly who is The Girl in the Painting, and have a riotous time in space with Creative Accountancy for Beginners. Not only that but you can enjoy the bittersweet historical romance of Dancing with Lions, and get dangerously close to Nature in The Secret Thoughts of Leaves, and, finally, get in touch with your sensuous side with literary lesbian romance, A Woman like the Sea. And, apart from the FREE copy of How to Eat Fruit, all the others have a 25% discount attached, so that's definitely something to celebrate. Enjoy!

Other nice news is that somehow I managed not one, not two, not even three, but a grand total of four entries in the Amazon UK Kindle charts yesterday, well gosh: Tommy's Blind Date was at No 23Give and Take at No 22The Hit List at No 21; and Martin and The Wolf at No 20. So it was lovely to have them all in the Kindle charts for a while, and even lovelier that they were huddling so close together, obviously for warmth ... And coming in on the outside was Pink Champagne and Apple Juice at No 36 (now down to No 88) and A Dangerous Man at No 88 in the US Kindle charts. So a very big thank you to whoever it is who's buying - I'm very grateful.

Meanwhile, Brady's Choice is now available for the first time at Amazon US Kindle, whilst A Woman like the Sea is now available both at Amazon UK Kindle (for the grand total of 79p so a real bargain to be had there) and at Amazon US Kindle.

I've also been interviewed at the 1 Place for Romance blog - so thank you, Valerie & Jay, for arranging that, and I hope you enjoy the read.

And I have some very thrilling news about a hugely talented writing friend of mine, Sarah Ann Watts - Sarah's first stand-alone title, Heart of The Kingdom, is published today and I already have my copy which I can't wait to read, so hurry along and buy this story, and many congratulations, Sarah.

The Sunday haiku is:

Hyacinth petals
soften this vanilla air:
promises of spring.

Life News:

House news is moving along, thank the Lord, though still way too slow for me. We've decided not to worry about selling the flat and simply to concentrate on getting out to somewhere new as soon as we can. With that in mind, we made an offer on a house we liked in Bisley, though that's been rejected. But, at the same time, another house we really like in Mayford may be coming down in price very soon, according to the agent (though as they're all lying toads really, who can tell, eh?...), so we've made an offer on that instead. No response on that one as yet, so I assume they'll deign to ring us up next week to give us an update. If that's a no-go zone, then there's actually yet another house on the outskirts of Guildford that's just come on as well so we may well go and view that and see if we prefer it if nothing else useful happens by Wednesday.

Whilst all that is going on, we did have a second viewing of our flat on Friday - where they appear to have moved everything they could think of to move, including the fridge and washing machine, in order to find out our guilty secrets (which I do think is a bit much for people who haven't put in any kind of offer yet, but there you go ...), but I assume they somehow missed where we've buried the bodies, as there's been no sign of the police as yet. Hey ho.

Nice things that have happened include our trip to Wisley today to see the exotic butterflies in the Glasshouse - this is definitely well worth doing so if you're in the area before the end of February then do go along if you can. I'm sure there's a wider variety of butterflies this year than before too, which is grand. There's also been a recurrent visit of a very fat green woodpecker in the garden and the sudden appearance of snowdrops, both of which have cheered me somewhat.

Mind you, I needed cheering as the new Alan Ayckbourn play at the Guildford Theatre on Thursday was a huge disappointment. Long-winded and dull, The Life of Riley is definitely not one I'd recommend, though the unfortunate actors tackle a very thin script with great courage, I think. Sigh. Perhaps the Great Man really does need to take a break?

This morning, after a good week to ten days when frankly the concept of God has been way too much for me, I did manage to get to church. Which was okay, as long as I didn't think about it too much. The hymns were nice. At the moment anything involving more than the occasional and desperate prayer is out of bounds really, and bible reading has fallen by the wayside (ha!), hence the lack of meditation poems, in case anyone had missed them. I'm not sure I'll be able to get back to them next week either, so the exercise bike (where I do my bible reading and start off the poems, oddly enough) has never had such an easy life. We'll see how it goes, or rather how it doesn't.

Last night, we did have a lovely time having dinner at Marian's though, which was grand. It was great to catch up properly, and she certainly makes a top class custard, which always does it for me. There's something about custard which somehow makes everything worthwhile.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, February 03, 2011

A Woman like the Sea

Book News:

I'm happy to announce that my literary lesbian romance story, A Woman like the Sea, is published today and available at Untreed Reads (at a 25% discount), and at All Romance Ebooks, amongst other outlets. I'm also pleased to say that you can find all my Untreed Read books at discount prices at 1 Place for Romance bookshop - enjoy!

Other book news is that The Girl in the Painting was the 3rd highest bestseller at Untreed Reads during January, so that was a boost at the end of what has been a rather difficult month. Many thanks to those of you who've bought that one. And, in a brief (very brief) blaze of late glory, Pink Champagne and Apple Juice found itself at No 83 in the Amazon UK Kindle charts, well gosh.

Meanwhile, at Vulpes Libris, we have not been slack; on Monday, Moira was in conversation with Tim Bentinck who plays David Archer in The Archers, and today, you can take a closer look at my nasty and nice sides (ha!) in my review of Philippa Gregory's The Other Queen. Suffice it to say I was not greatly impressed with that one ...

Life News:

Life's still not that good, really, to be honest. Am feeling rather debilitated, to say the least, by last week's meltdown, but am busy taking a regular supply of happy pills in all shapes and sizes in order to attempt to keep things on some kind of even keel. Double ha, eh. If you shake me, I'll rattle.

Mind you, K and I were rather amused (after being really quite angry) with yesterday's estate agent who booked us in for three viewings of properties today when we'd only asked for one. We weren't interested in the other two, but the wretched man booked us for them without being asked. When he rang back to tell us, K sacked him on the spot and said we wouldn't bother viewing the one we actually wanted to see unless someone else from the agency escorted us round, and then put the phone down. That'll show 'em, eh. Sure enough five minutes later, another agent from the same firm rang up, apologised profusely and said he'd be showing us round said house, instead of the pushy agent. Fair enough, though I did rather worry that when we turned up this afternoon, he might actually have signed the contract for us and we'd be moving in tomorrow. It did give me some considerable pleasure that we didn't like the house anyway. Triple ha!

In any case, we have actually seen a house we like very much in Bisley though, which is hopeful, especially as we can afford it without having to sell this place, so that gives me much hope that I'll be able to leave the pesky flat and Godalming before I do indeed run mad. That said, we have a second viewing here tomorrow, so I think we'd like to see if that results in someone making an offer for our flat before we make any final decisions. Though I don't want to miss out on anything good ...

I'm also very excited by the advent of this England & Wales crime statistics site, where you can have great fun finding out where all the crime is, and where the dubious and not-so-dubious parts of your town are. All very jolly, and an excellent tool for house-hunting. I'm pleased to report there is absolutely no crime in our street so this flat is even more desirable as a purchase for someone indeed.

Other cheery news which put a more Schadenfreude-shaped smile on my face today was that earlier in the week the downstairs neighbours accidentally smoked out the nasty middle neighbours when they put their fire on, as the chimney was faulty, and said middle neighbours had to turn up and spend several hours cleaning up. My, how I laughed. I apologise for the huge meanness of this paragraph, but that's how I feel about things right now. I have good reason, but sorry. I used to be so nice when I was younger too. Ah well.

Last night, K and I were glued to the television watching the last ever episode of Midsomer Murders with Tom and Joyce Barnaby in it. A good farewell to a great series, I thought, though I will miss Tom and Joyce and the body count they inspired, sob. However, I'm pleased to see that Neil Dudgeon will be taking over the police office role as cousin John Barnaby, so I look forward to more Midsomer madness in the future, hurrah.

Finally, a big hello to Jane H whom I met for coffee in Godalming today, or rather hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows, if I'm honest - but we had the semi-skimmed milk so it was the healthy option, ho ho. Lovely to catch up with all the news and, really, we must do it again soon.

Anne Brooke