My Writing Day…

‘ My writing day reflects the way I like to cook –spontaneous and scrambled with never the same result twice. As no day is typical here’s a recipe to be adapted as needed.’

Ingredients:-

Fifty something woman with all the hormonal uncertainty that that age brings!

Employment – Admin/ordering for construction company/writer and owner of online home accessories company.

Children (1 flown the nest, 1 on the edge and 1 about to make the climb upwards but mouth still very wide open expecting to be fed).

Method: – Position of laptop is essential for a good result. Try and stay calm at all times.

  1. If laptop is situated in home office: – open post, order materials, complete spreadsheets and make coffee for boss (husband). This can continue all day or part-time depending on commitments required by HMRC /accountant/and / or said husband.
  2. If laptop is positioned at writing desk in conservatory: – Word is open with WIP = 3rd novel, bubbling away. Sticky notelets to be placed around the house – inspiration can strike at any time.
  3. If phone rings while doing either of 1 or 2 above and child needs attention or a lift from bus stop ( there’s only 3 a day to our village) then simmer task slowly especially if  2, using the chauffeuring time to kneed out any lumpy parts in plot. The daily dog walk is also a good time to marinade these issues.
  4. If at any time an order arrives for home accessories company while in office or conservatory, mix packing item and trip to the post office in smoothly. Be aware that marketing time must be tossed in at some point.
  5. Remember some situations can get out of control and the whole shebang may boil over rapidly – the WIP is always the first to be removed until the mixture is returned to its smooth consistency once again. WIP can then resume even if late at night or early morning as long as 1, 3 and 4 are completed.
  6. Resist every attempt to remove laptop from the conservatory short of nailing it down, ensuring that sentences can be modified at short notice, dialogue addressed and characters spoken to if consistently nagging.
  7. At no time lose your sense of humour – sometimes the mixture will turn out correctly other times it will be a disaster,but there will always be something to salvage, even if it is a little over cooked.

 

Kitley Renovation and Construction ( KRaC)  at info@Kitleyrac.co.ukwww.kitleyrac.co.uk
East is East is info@eastiseasthome.co.uk, www.eastiseasthome.co.uk@eastiseasthome

Find more from Teresa at www.teresahamilton.co.uk , @THamiltonwriter, teresahamiltonwriter.wordpress.com

Suzi Final cover jpg

Click to my latest book LOVE,SUZI x  –  Book trailer Pages of people watching …
www.teresahamilton.co.uk https://teresahamiltonwriter.wordpress.com
http://www.eastiseasthome.co.uk
Twitter: @THamiltonwriter
@eastiseasthome

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Journey – Beneath the Surface

This is a my latest project and WIP.  Journey – Beneath the Surface is an adventure story for children aged 9 +.  Nathan and Erin, twelve-year-old twins are on the run, pursued by their Mother’s kidnappers. They need to find her – fast!

Chapter 1

A crash came from below.

Nathan dropped his book and torch. The thin beam of light disappeared as it bounced onto the sheet next to him. He wrenched the duvet from over his head and blinked. It took a few seconds for his eyes to adjust to the darkness in his bedroom. He turned his head towards the door to hear the noises coming from the room beneath.

WHAT was going on?

Nathan threw the covers off and tiptoed across the room. He pulled the door slowly towards him. The light from the beaded lampshade cast a strange shadow making the spindles from the stairs look like the bars of a cell on the floor of the hall below.

His mother’s voice.

Not unusual, except it was joined by the deeper tones of a man’s as well. Ordinarily he would have been pleased to hear another man’s voice in the house. There was only his twin sister Erin, and Mum at home and Mum rarely had visitors.

Certainly not this late anyway.

He heard the familiar squeak as the living room door opened.

‘WHERE IS IT?’

There was the sound of a slap followed by a muffled yelp. Nathan drew his head back slightly behind the door and clutched his fingers together. He glanced towards his bedside table for his phone. It wasn’t there. He remembered it was still sitting on the kitchen counter attached to the charger. What should he do? Maybe he could cause a diversion? But what? Something noisy. Enough to give Erin time to escape? If she could get away she could fetch help.

‘Where is it?’ He heard the man bark. ‘Upstairs?’

Through the narrow gap he saw Mum pushed towards the front door by a man dressed in a dark uniform, the light bouncing from the reflective strips across his chest. Mum’s hands were handcuffed. Strands from her normally tidy ponytail clung to her face. She turned her head. Her cheek was crimson and blood was running from her nose. Nathan put his hand over his mouth to shield a gasp.

‘No! Not upstairs!’ Mum replied. A little too quickly. ‘It’s not here.’ Nathan saw her glance up the stairs in his direction.

The man pushed past her, his foot on the first step. ‘What about the kids? They up there?’

‘No! Nobody’s up there! They’re at their grandmother’s.’ Mum pleaded, tears running down her cheeks. The man paused, his hand on the hand rail and turned to look at her. ‘It’s at the lab. I’ll take you.’

‘You know what we’ll do if you’re lying,’ he threatened. He turned back towards his accomplice. His next words caused Nathan’s heart to beat so fast he thought it would explode. ‘I’ll have a quick scout around up here. You get her in the car.’

Nathan shot across his bedroom and lifted up the padded top of the latticed window seat scattering the few books piled neatly on the top against the ledge. It had been a favourite place to hide when he and Erin were smaller, but now it was only used for storing games. He climbed in and closed the lid, wishing he’d cleared out more when Mum had asked. It was a tight squeeze. The corner of a box pressed into his ribs. His eyes scanned the dim room through the wooden slats. The light from his fish tank gave an eerie glow. He heard his mother’s bedroom door open. Nathan sunk lower and pushed his leg against the cardboard. His heart was beating rapidly and his throat felt as though he had a band wrapped tightly around it. A marble rattled against plastic and he placed his hand on his thigh to stop it shaking. He heard drawers being opened and shut. He wished he was invisible. If the man came and did the same in each room, he would quickly be discovered.

He heard footsteps. Erin’s door crashed against the wall. Nathan’s mouth was dry. He licked his lips trying to find something to wet it. His pyjama top was twisted and clinging to his sides.  He’d had no time to go and warn her. Had she been awake too, listening like him or was she sound asleep? What if she hadn’t had time to hide? What would the man do when he found her? If he was prepared to hit Mum, there was nothing to say he wouldn’t do the same to Erin. Or worse? He would be angry Mum had lied.

Nathan clenched his teeth to resist the urge to straighten his leg and clear the tingling in his toes. He took a deep breath. He would spring out of the seat and shout. Loud. Loud enough to be heard in the next village. He would. One…two…

Nathan heard footsteps approach along the landing. Three bedrooms. The next one was his.

His mind raced. How on earth had this man missed Erin asleep in her bed?  He fought for an explanation. He tried desperately not to move but the tingle of pins and needles had reached up his shin. He dug his nails into his palms.

His door flung open. Nathan held his breath. The image of a large man stood in the doorway, silhouetted against the landing light. He took two strides into the room. He paused outside the closed cupboard doors at the foot of the bed. With a force that left the wooden doorknob in his hand, the man jerked opened the cupboard door. Nathan’s cricket bat and three, hard, red balls fell from the top shelf, just missing the man’s foot.

‘Bloody hell! What the …’ the man swore as he hopped to avoid them.  He picked up the rubber handle of the bat and aimed a sweeping blow at the fish tank on top of a chest of drawers. Nathan heard a cracking sound as the glass splintered.

‘What the hell are you doing up there?’ A voice came bellowing from the hall. ‘Get a move on. We’ve got to get back.’

‘Okay, okay. Why have you left her alone? Get back to the car. I’ve finished up here anyway.’

Nathan held his breath and waited. The man bounded down the stairs, slammed the front door and crunched over the drive to get into the waiting car. The wheels spun firing gravel into the air. Nathan kicked open the window seat and clambered out. He stamped his foot to get rid of the numbness and looked around his room. The cricket bat was flung on to his bed, the balls had rolled under the chair. The glass fish tank had a long, jagged split across the corner. He rushed to the landing window just as the car tail lights disappeared around the corner of the lane.

Erin! Nathan open his sister’s door and scanned the room. The room was a tip. Erin was the untidiest person he’d ever known.  Clothes, books and make-up were strewn on every surface and all over the floor. He kicked a bag by his foot.

‘Erin, where are you?’ Nathan called as he rubbed the back of his neck. He opened the pine wardrobe door, brushing aside the dresses to rummage through the magazines and shoes that filled the bottom. There wasn’t room for a twelve-year-old girl. He scanned the room again. There was nowhere else that a body could disappear. If she was hiding she must have vanished into thin air.

‘Erin?’ He called louder. ‘Where the hell are you?’

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From London to Lewes – On Reflection…

As well as posting my adventures as long haul cabin crew in the form of Suzi, (Love, Suzi x) I’m going to update you with my recent adventures. This is an excerpt of a book I’m writing about how my family and I changed our lives.

This is our story:-

Kitley Lodge Pencil From London to Lewes 1

After a lifetime of London living, an urban family, used to the conveniences of the city try adapting to life in the country. Where on earth do we think of moving to and how insane are we to even consider it?

I’m thinking of asking the plumber to stay. Not because he’s cute but because he has another attribute – he vacuums up any mess he’s created when he’s finished. Shallow I may be, but any tradesman that clears up will always endear himself to me. Apparently, when I aksed him he doesn’t do much vacuuming at home, so my lips are sealed as to his exact identity, in case I get him into trouble.
The glazing has been installed into the new orangery and subsequent plastering done. This has made the whole building water-tight so that we can proceed with the next stage; the installation of the under floor heating. I’ve always felt it would be such a luxury to be able to enjoy the warmth under my feet on a dark, cold winter’s morning as I padded down into the kitchen to put the kettle on. I’ve had a single, warm, water pipe zig zagging across my old kitchen floor that fed the radiator, but that became a bit difficult to stay on whilst moving between the fridge and the larder without looking as though I was playing a version of Twister. There’s not much to induce me to get up in the winter but maybe the uniform heat of under floor heating would help to ease my start to the day.

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Like a large sandwich, sheets of insulation were laid across the new concrete floor in the orangery. Plastic floor panels were then cut to shape, laid on the insulation and the heating pipes carefully laid in a spiral pattern in the moulds. Once the system had been pressure tested it was then covered up with the floor screed to produce a nice level surface ready for floor tiling after a suitable drying period. The whole process didn’t take long but seemed intricate as it was manoeuvred into place.

In the original kitchen area it was a different matter. As we didn’t want to remove the existing floor slab we had to approach things another way using an overlay system. This is still a “wet system” of water filled heating pipes laid in a pattern; however, in this area gypsum based interlocking panels were laid directly onto the concrete slab. The heating pipes were then laid in channels within the panels, the floor tiles are then laid directly on top. All these neat pipes, looking like railway tracks, snaked round into the utility room where they were connected into the manifold secured to the wall.
Unfortunately, I will have to wait until next winter to enjoy the full effect of my new heating system as it can’t be switched on straight away. We have to wait a few months for the screed to dry out thoroughly or risk it cracking. Whilst I would love to luxuriate in the warmth under my feet and be able to wander randomly all over the kitchen, the resulting damage caused if we are too impatient, is a mess I fear that even my domesticated plumber wouldn’t want to tackle.

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With the prospect of cold, wet weather to keep you indoors next to the fire, a bit of self motivation can sometimes be somewhat lacking at this time of the year. With the optimism of spring still too far away to grasp, I use it as a time to reflect on what I have accomplished and dream about what I hope to achieve in the coming year.

When we moved to East Sussex, I proclaimed to all who would listen that we would have the house sorted within a year. It’s good to be made to eat humble pie now and again as here we are, well past my deadline and the house is still not finished, not even remotely.

The time has not been wasted though as much preparation has taken place. This is the part that I always find frustrating but know to be so essential. Not only do we now, after a slight blip, have planning permission, but we have had time to reconsider some fundamental issues that affect just how we use our living space, realising that our initial thoughts were not the best way forward. Rather like a recipe, all the ingredients are there, it’s just a matter of establishing in which order everything should go and whether we should spoon, stir or sprinkle, before the icing goes on the top. On such a large project it is important not to make decisions under pressure as these are often the ones that you wish to change at a later [and costly] date. Equally, it’s necessary to have realistic goals so that momentum keeps pace with your expectations and you don’t become disheartened with slow progress.
We had originally thought that a wall full of cupboards would be ideal in our bedroom. Although this would have meant drinking that necessary, wake-up-cup-of-tea staring at wardrobe doors, I felt it would be the ideal solution to our lack of storage space, giving a clean lined, uncluttered area. Now, on reflection, we have returned to our original spec and moved the position of the bed to take advantage of the views of the Downs we so dearly craved. Tragically, this has cut down the potential for hanging space and may cause a reduction in my clothes department, but how many garments, shoes and accessories does one woman need? Probably best not to go there.

So with all this in mind, the new year will require me to place my own skills into the mixing bowl to drive the renovation forward; a large tablespoon of patience and organisation from years of teaching and a teaspoon of diplomacy and team work from flying the skies as a trolley dolly which should all be stirred steadily, with a brimming cup of creativity to smooth out any lumps. The exciting part is waiting to see the results.
Who knows what next year will bring and whether I will be once again be eating the words of my proclamation washed down with a little humility? I’m ready for the challenge and anything else that comes my way.

I probably won’t get to post again before Christmas and the New Year so would just like to wish you all a happy and healthy one.

Teresa x

LOVE, SUZI x – letters from a long haul stewardess. My latest book is now available from Amazon as a paperback or ebook

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From London to Lewes – On days like these…

As well as posting my adventures as long haul cabin crew in the form of Suzi, (Love, Suzi x) I’m going to update you with my recent adventures. This is an excerpt of a book I’m writing about how my family and I changed our lives.

This is our story:-

Kitley Lodge Pencil From London to Lewes 1

After a lifetime of London living, an urban family, used to the conveniences of the city try adapting to life in the country. Where on earth do we think of moving to and how insane are we to even consider it?

There’s nothing like the sight of a builder scrabbling about on the scaffolding outside your bedroom window to make you spring out of bed in a second. It was while I was indulging in an extra cup of tea that my visitor appeared. Fortunately I had my new stripy PJ’s on but I’ve learnt my lesson, check for the all clear before making any move in the bedroom.

With surprising speed the foundations have been laid and subsequent walls to support the oak frame work for the orangery have been built. Like a mini Giant’s Causeway, the bricks stand ready in their columns to construct small retaining walls around the patio to hold the garden at bay and long channels have been dug out of the earth to enable the new drainage pipes to be put into place. There was only one tricky moment when the order not to use the bathroom for a while because the new manhole was being connected was disobeyed, but fortunately for those involved nothing untoward floated past them. I took to sticking posters, large enough to be read by sleepy children on the facilities that were out of action to ensure no wayward effluent escaped again.

Laying the concrete nearly didn’t happen as the mixer lorry was too large to negotiate our awkward driveway. Thankfully, our extremely tolerant neighbours kindly allowed the lorry to park on their drive whilst each load of concrete was put into a mini dumper truck. Sitting at my computer I could hear the driver coming, long before I saw the top of his head outside the window as he trundled back and forth, along the make-shift, boarded pathway around the house to the back garden, on his numerous trips to complete the job.
The kitchen window has to have a lintel installed above it to enable a wider opening to be made so that the new orangery can become part of the kitchen creating the kind of cosy living space where the family can gather. Being one of the youngest of many siblings, I could guarantee a place on top of the low boiler to sit and watch my mother at the stove. Although it was small, the kitchen was always a place of warmth and comfort where we would gather and get under my mother’s feet. This is the kind of atmosphere I wish to recreate for my children, but without the need for us to feel on top of one another. So one morning, Acrow props were put in place to hold my daughter’s bedroom up, whilst a large gap was made underneath so that the metal beam could be inserted.

On days such as these I’ve found it best to ensure that I have a long engagement away from the house or in desperation, a cup of tea and the sanctity of my bedroom– but with the curtains closed.

Teresa x

LOVE, SUZI x – letters from a long haul stewardess. My latest book is now available from Amazon as a paperback or ebook

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From London to Lewes – Surviving … just.

As well as posting my adventures as long haul cabin crew in the form of Suzi, (Love, Suzi x) I’m going to update you with my recent adventures. This is an excerpt of a book I’m writing called From London to Lewes about how my family and I relocated, renovated and changed our lives.

This is our story:-

Kitley Lodge Pencil From London to Lewes

After a lifetime of London living, an urban family, used to the conveniences of the city try adapting to life in the country. Where on earth do we think of moving to and how insane are we to even consider it?

Surviving …just

I thought I’d cracked it this morning. Even after a sleepless night I leapt out of bed, (well nearly, the intention was there) struggled outside to fetch the water for a cup of tea, let the dogs out to chase any trespassing rabbits, collecting the washing from the annexed utility, whilst juggling the filled, animal food bowls on the top. I know women are supposed to be good at multi -tasking and I do usually have a good go at trying to keep all my balls in the air but just recently there are definitely a few starting to slip. The whirlwind in our house is usually kept at a fairly low grade: lost sports kit, lack of food in the fridge, untidy bedrooms – the usual sort of thing, but just recently a hurricane has been brewing. I knew it because I may have to write myself a schedule on a post-it-note to stick on my forehead to make sure I don’t forget to pick up my daughter for her orthodontist appointment or leave my son at school. The strain of living with the builders is beginning to show. When I couldn’t even fill a glass of water, as we can’t walk on the floor of our shell of a kitchen, my calm façade cracked. I am not one to have tantrums but I could have thrown everything out of my pram and some. The list of things to do swirling in the wind, just gets longer every day with none seemingly being ticked off.

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The kitchen WILL be here.

The lawn started to fill up with vans as I got dressed and with just an extra layer of slap to fill in the cracks and dark circles under my eyes I thought I could fool anyone I was sane. Not so, although complemented on my sophisticated style in the playground by another mum, it was pointed out to me that it was ruined by a pink lipstick mark on my trench coat collar. Really? Approaching my son to say goodbye I noticed he still had his PJ top on underneath his school fleece and I spat out an earwig found in my morning coffee.

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Our makeshift kitchen in the lounge

Working from home can be a blessing in the family/home juggling game, but unless I get more work, it’s back to the classroom and teaching for me, something I’ve spent the last few years trying to avoid and goodness knows how I’ll juggle then. Still, whirlwinds come and go, my feet were bought back to earth when my son announced his goldfish wasn’t well because he was swimming on his side. A rescue plan was put in place and apart from mouth to mouth, everything possible was done to try and save it. Unfortunately, despite all our efforts, Steve ended up lifeless at the bottom of the tank. Luckily, his companion doesn’t seem to miss him, although in a whirlwind who can tell?

Teresa x

Kitchen 3

Look how it turned out in the end.

LOVE, SUZI x – letters from a long haul stewardess. My latest book is now available from Amazon as a paperback or ebook

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From London to Lewes – The End of Peace and Quiet

As well as posting my adventures as long haul cabin crew in the form of Suzi, (Love, Suzi x) I’m going to update you with my recent adventures. This is an excerpt of a book I’m writing called From London to Lewes about how my family and I relocated, renovated and changed our lives.

This is our story:-

Kitley Lodge Pencil From London to Lewes

After a lifetime of London living, an urban family, used to the conveniences of the city try adapting to life in the country. Where on earth do we think of moving to and how insane are we to even consider it?

Monday morning. 7 o’clock. One hour before the kitchen is completely dismantled, children dispatched to school, animals fed and watered and computer turned on.

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Bye bye old…

Best not to panic. Just make tea, shower and apply lippy in case Gerard Butler is moonlighting as a brickie, doing the school run or walking his dogs in the local woods. If I’m lucky the plumber will finally turn up – I cleared out my wardrobe for him three days ago. If I was sensible I could have  used it as a time to sort and chuck out, whilst listening to any of the three radios blaring out around the house but instead I retreated to the only room left that is untouched by dusty hands – the bathroom. Sitting on the floor reading the paper with a coffee smacks of desperation, fortunately the roofers can’t see me and if I plug into my iPod, I won’t be able to hear them. Sadly Gerard must have been busy today as I didn’t meet him on my way to the bank, but there’s always tomorrow.

Hello new kitchen

Hello new!

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Kitchen when we’d finished

Yesterday I performed Strictly Come Car Dancing with the portaloo maintenance man. I have become pretty adept at manoeuvring around the various tradesmen’s vehicles in our efforts to jostle for position on the lawn but this was a first. All that was missing were the judges and Bruce to rate our moves. The portaloo has remained determinedly resolute throughout all the chaos. Skips may come and go, lorries dump and run but the ‘turdis’ has stood proudly on the drive, taking it all its stride even when it was abused by rubble battering is side, in its effort to perform a vital service.  Even during a lull in the building works when I dared to question the merits of its presence and there was a hint that it might be made redundant, it weathered the storm stoically. Now, after meeting its carer I know its needs are being met and it is fit for purpose.

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Never underestimate the merits of a ‘turdis’ with numerous builders on site.

 The builders took pity on me and offered to make me a cup of tea. Just a cup though, no Tesco value biscuits with it. In a dastardly attempt to keep them on my side I’ve been plying then intermittently with a Variety biscuit selection – value, of course. It must have been the steam issuing from my ears after I was verbally abused in the local woods whilst walking the dog that caused them to be kind. I’m not very good when taken by surprise and accosted with ‘you selfish sh… .’  , by another woman just because my dog barked at her. And yes, if I could rewind, what a retort I would have given her! But it did come in handy later when someone at the station backed into my car as I was parked and kissing my daughter goodbye for school. As I got out to inspect the damage, asking the other driver in a questioning voice ‘just what do you think you’re doing?’ the sight of her welling up made me stop and think. So instead I  asked her if she was feeling alright. Now, either she’s on for an Oscar for her performance or I was right to follow my gut instinct when she replied that she was on the way to the GP’s as she wasn’t feeling well. Ok, M-U-G might be written across my forehead but there was no damage to my car as the bumper took it all and isn’t life to short to get wound up when someone isn’t functioning properly? So after making sure she had calmed down and was feeling a bit better I waited for her to go on her way. I’ve been there – hormones have a lot to answer for!

Teresa x

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Wait a while and you will see the new orangerie and kitchen here.

 

LOVE, SUZI x – letters from a long haul stewardess. My latest book is now available from Amazon as a paperback or ebook.

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A Wet, Wintry Weekend in Winchester

When January seems to take an age to pass sometimes a little boost is needed to push it along. With that in mind other half and I took ourselves off for a weekend in Winchester – a small university city just an hour south west of London.

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Bridge over the River Itchen, Winchester

Culturally rich, it has the pleasant mixture of quaint architecture of a medieval city.

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We arrived early afternoon and decided to find our hotel situated a little way out of the city before exploring further.

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Guildhall, Winchester

Think luxury hotel in England in winter and what would you want?  Log fires, huge beds with the softest linen, courteous staff, excellent food and silence from the hustle and bustle of urban life? Well, we got all of those from our Secret Escape at the Lainston House Hotel.

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Lainston House Hotel and the star-lit sky

Unfortunately we also got continual rain. Well, it is England and we are having the wettest winter on record.

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View from Reception

Not to be discouraged the staff were prepared. With our room across the courtyard a ready supply of umbrellas stood waiting to be used at strategic doorways. Dashing across to Reception, the Wellington boots lined up waiting to be borrowed looked so cute I almost ( I said, almost) wished I had young children with me just so we could pretend to be Cinderella and find a pair that fitted.

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Wellies in Reception waiting for Cinderella to pick the ones that fit.

Our room looked out onto the gardens. It was beautifully furnished, if a little wall-paper-pattern-busy for my taste, with a quirky, stuffed toy owl sitting on the bed for you to put outside your room if you didn’t want to be disturbed. The thing I love about hotel rooms is the variety of gadgets to try. There was the statutory huge TV with numerous channels; the tea/coffee facilities tucked away in a big box (including more varieties of herbal tea than I knew existed) but it was the bathroom with the Jacuzzi bath that caused excitement. Of course it had to be tried out, and I was reliably informed from our friends in the room next door that it sounded as though I was starting up a motor boat each time I pressed the switch for the powerful jets to pummel me. Not that I cared, I’d discovered the TV in the wall at the end of the bath and was concentrating on figuring that one out while trying not to get the remote covered in suds from all the complimentary bath oil I had generously poured in.

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Check out the Jacuzzi bath and TV in the wall.

Later when we returned to Winchester it was to discover the regular market was on, nestled in between the many independent shops. Apparently Christmas is the ideal time to visit as a large market spreads out under the gaze of the magnificent cathedral like a skirt; colourful and twinkling. There was just enough to wander round and discover before a tea shop beckoned. Probably a good thing because if the leather stall had had the handbag I liked in chocolate brown, the weekend would have ended up costing us much more than we planned.

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Winchester Cathedral

We’d booked a table in the Grade II listed 18th-century inn The Old Vine for later that evening. An appealing hotel, bar and restaurant it had just the right mix to feel special but not overpoweringly posh. As the OH doesn’t like liver we never eat it at home, so it is the first thing I gravitate towards when perusing a menu. The chef did not disappoint this time and served it with exquisite dauphinoise potatoes. Unfortunately we were having a dry January but the excellent real ales on offer encouraged OH to succumb to temptation – I of course, sat sipping my lime and soda, resisting all the red wines, a small virtuous smile on my face. I’m not sure he noticed!

the old vine

The Old Vine

The night sky on our return to the hotel was so clear and bright my limited knowledge of the stars made me look up a new app so I could make sense of the space above me. When an owl on the prowl broke the silence, I just knew my wish list was complete.

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Log fire waiting to welcome you to the hotel.

I’m a great fan of city breaks. Even in a short time they can transport you out of your world so that you feel you have escaped. It was still wet and windy. But somehow being wintry in another city made it all more bearable for a while. After a large calorie laden breakfast (it seemed a waste not to try all the unusual granolas, fruit, yoghurts, eggs and pastries on offer when they had made such an effort with their display) we packed up and left.

All good things have to come to an end but it’s now February. The rain may still be with us but I’ve spied a few daffodils peeking out of their beds; the birds are chirping earlier and the evenings are getting slightly lighter – all signs that Spring is giving Winter that push it needs to hurry along.

Teresa x

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