Sunday, 24 June 2012

Visiting Biddulph Grange Gardens...

 While I was away last week, we visited Biddulph Grange. The house isn't open to the public, apart from the gift shop, a small cafe and a garden room. It's a magnificent Victorian pile, complete with a belvedere on the roof to view the beautiful vista of the gardens. And they are truly stunning. Despite the overcast weather and the everpresent threat of rain, we managed to explore about half of the gardens. We will be back for more one day!

The gardens cover a cleverly designed and densely planted fifteen acres, with formal walks, lakes, caves, follies - and above all, trees. Stalely trees, whimsical trees, colourful trees.This is the view from the terrace, and the entrance to the gardens. We'd missed the full glory of the rhododendrons and azaleas, but enough of the former still bloomed to give us an idea of what they would have looked like.

The water irises were flowering along the lakeside, reminding me of home and the irises that grow alongside the River Avon and in the watermeadows. Lakes and rivers are some of my favorite places, and I love to try for arty-farty photos, playing with reflections. It doesn't always work!

This is another view of the house, looking up from the end of the lake before we walked into the darkness...

But before we explore the first of the follies - I think a fake cave leading on to another feature can be called a folly - I couldn't resist this. A tree and rocks. I've no idea what kind of tree it is, but the way it's growing from/around the top of the boulder caught my eye. [It looks better in a larger pic...]

And the cave... It needs a hermit, or Merlin, or even a dragon! It's quite a long tunnel, and leads on to some beautiful places. Including my favorite - the Chinese Water Garden.

 Trying to take photographs without people in them isn't easy, and I did a lot of standing around being patient while other photographers - and screaming kids! - did their thing. But when I had the place to myself, the peace and serenity were boons!

Time and the weather meant we didn't get to see all of the gardens - another reason to return. There's so much more to see, and the next time I visit my friends in the West Midlands, we'll definitely go back.

There's quite a bit of information on Biddulph Grange, and other people's photos, HERE on Wikipedia

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Monday, 18 June 2012

Visiting Erddig...

I'm currently staying with some friends in Cheshire, and we've done some traveling around, visiting interesting places. One of them was Erddig [pronounced Erthig], near Wrexham. This is a lovely Victorian mansion, and the family who owned it never threw anything away. All the furnishings and decorations inside belong with the house. It was the perfect place to test drive my new monopod *g*. I've had to discard too many otherwise nice shots because of camera-shake.

The family were unusually caring for their servants' comfort and wellbeing. The kitchen and other servants' offices, instead of being in the basement as was usual in the large houses, are at ground level.

The family's rooms are suitably grand. The dining room is lovely, and I have to confess that the tilt to the photo is down to me, not subsidence! I was trying to take the pic before another visitor walked into the room, and I alnmost succeeded. Someone's belly is in the right lower corner!

The bedrooms are as palatial - this is the master bedroom and it is protected by glass screens. All the bed furnishings and the wallpaper are original, and very delicate. They have to be kept at a constant temperature and free of anything that might come in with a visitor.

I couldn't review the photos on my camera, as the preview screen wasn't working for some reason [I've probably pushed the wrong button somwewhen...], so when I ran the SD card through my computer, I got very excited. Some of the shots actually had *orbs*! A phenomenon supposedly indicative of paranormal activity.

They also showed up in several shots I'd taken of other family rooms, but nowhere else. Once I'd calmed down and thought about it rationally *g*, I decided it was a combination of dust motes on the camera lens and the way the light hit the lens.

The servants rooms in the attic were spacious and rather nice compared to some I'd seen in other fancy houses.

The formal gardens were nice, but I didn't take many photos outside - it was pouring with rain!

There's more details on Erddig, and other people's photos of it HERE

Friday, 8 June 2012


And I don't mean photos. It's those completely unlooked for images that suddenly pop into your head when you're trying to concentrate on the current WiP. For instance, There I was, happily working on Fool's Rush and Andreas' scene with Lucien Boissant, when this totally unrelated image flashed up.

The knife was black. Not the matt of a Special Ops weapon, but the gloss of obsidian. A glitter ran along the edges of the leaf-shaped blade, hinting at a sharpness beyond that of shattered glass.

I scribbled it down, of course. Sooner or later it'll expand itself into something more tangible. I hope.

Then there's this one.

Smooth stone lay warm under his cheek, under his hands, and sunlight glowed scarlet through his lids. When he blinked his eyes open dust as fine as talc clogged his lashes. All he could see were the irregular flagstones, the pale sheen of polished marble muted by the drifts of pale ochre.

The first raindrop hit like a small bomb, inches away. The crater it made formed a perfect circle, the dust darker now it was wet. Another hit, striking his temple and running down into his eye. He felt nothing. Far above him thunder growled, and the few splatters of rain became a deluge. He couldn't move.

Are the two scenes related? I don't think so, but they'll both have to wait until I can focus more attention on them.

How is it that writers need more than twenty-four hours in a day? At least, this writer does. She also needs to concentrate more and not get distracted. Hmm - wonder if my grandsons inherited their ADHD from me?

Saturday, 2 June 2012


There's a new site out there for readers and British writers of M/M romances set in Britain! *Fanfare* UK M/M Romance *Fanfare*

So, if you are an avid reader of M/M romance with strong plots, great characterisations, all based in the wonderfully varied settings of these Islands, then keep an eye on UK M/M Romance.

Likewise, and *just* as important, if you are a writer and have M/M stories in a UK setting, UK M/M Romance could be another home from home for you! And another avenue for promotion! If you'd like to come aboard, just contact any of us or leave a comment on the UK M/M Romance site.

I'm Wiltshire born and bred, and I've lived in Salisbury most of my life. It's a small city, and it has roots going back into prehistory.

Stonehenge is about six miles away and I used to cycle there regularly as a child. Can't do that now - there's a bloody great bypass cutting right across the old road *sigh*.

But Salisbury has its own claim to fame - our cathedral stands tallest in the UK, a whopping 404 ft of soaring architecture! 

The landscape all around me is full of history, and I've been fascinated by it since childhood. When I discovered archaeology, I was in seventh heaven *g*. 

When it comes to writing, I write the kind of books I like to read, be they contemporary, historical, science fiction or fantasy - strong men with flaws, finding each other, sometimes against the odds.

Five of my published books are set in England, the latest one being Paradox, a contemporary time-slip mystery novel where Phil finds himself stuck in another body in Roman Britain.

Paradox - Phil has a job he loves, full of danger and excitement most of the time, and a working partner he trusts with his life. Until Ryan kisses him. It's only meant to be a diversion tactic to convince the heavies they're two harmless gays, but that kiss shakes Phil's word to its foundations. He doesn't do commitment. He doesn't need or want a long-term lover, but that's what his heart is reaching for.

An accident leaves him drifting in and out of a dream-haunted coma, trapped in his wrecked car waiting for rescue, and he is sharing a parallel life. Centuries ago, someone is trying to kill Caius Marcellus Valens, and Phil must find out who and why. The trouble is, he's alone. No partner, no backup - or is there? But nothing is the way it seems. Phil must solve the mystery before the plot succeeds, but when the dream invades his waking life, he must also separate past from present before it tears apart his world—and the best relationship he’s ever had.

This is a huge year for the UK - Queenie's Diamond Jubilee, the Olympic Games, Chelsea won the European Cup [and the year is barely six months old!], so it's a great time to do something with the British M/M romance writers and those readers all over the world who enjoy their work.

To celebrate, we're having an equally huge competition for one winner to receive E-Books chosen from the back lists of all five of us and a $30 voucher for Silver.

There'll be 10 questions, two from each of us, posted on our blogs. Answers are to be posted on the UK M/M Romance site, and the winner will be drawn at 5pm [GMT] on Tuesday June 5th.

My Questions are:

Q3 - How high is Salisbury Cathedral?

Q4 - Paradox is a timeslip novel - to what time does Phil slip?

[PS - the answers are in the blog *g*]

Now hop over to the blogs of Sue Brown, RJ Scott, SA Meade and Lisa Worrall for the other questions, then fill in your answers at the UK M/M Romance site.

And if you're a UK writer with UK-based M/M Romances published or planned, come and join us! 


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