Small Farm Dream

A craft brewer’s wife came to give a talk at a farm tour I organized once. She was playing to her home crowd, a room full of farming women and some hopefuls just breaking into the niche farming and produce sector. Feed your curiosity. Nobody was surprised when she showed a slide with a list … More Small Farm Dream

Ten things I learned while researching Sissinghurst and Vita Sackville-West

I read numerous brilliant books researching Sissinghurst Castle Gardens and its creators Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson. Here are ten random things I learned, and some I just thought about. As I read about the demise of wildlife in England since the dawning of the industrial age, it made me wonder what differences Vita and … More Ten things I learned while researching Sissinghurst and Vita Sackville-West

How Richard Burton made me want a library of my own

Years ago, I saw a picture of Richard Burton sitting on a sunlit step at his house in Switzerland, reading. There was none of the posing of Insta-friendly celeb photos. He wore a warm, soft, creamy cardigan and his attitude was one of complete absorption in the book held loosely in one hand. Alongside that … More How Richard Burton made me want a library of my own

On the Shelf

It’s hard writing a book and even harder marketing one. If you’ve got paperbacks or hard copies out there in bookshops or online, well done. You’ve probably been on a long slog to get to that point. It’s hard work selling books as well and you have to feel for bricks and mortar booksellers. They’re … More On the Shelf

Home schooling questions on the film 'Love Actually'

We’re at home today with one child, two from tomorrow. Obviously English is one subject I feel a bit qualified to help mine with. So here’s the first assignment I’m setting my year eleven daughter. It’s based on the film Love Actually, which we’ve watched a few times recently in an effort to keep cheerful. … More Home schooling questions on the film 'Love Actually'

Little Dribbling review

Bill Bryson doesn’t need reviews, but I write in the same genre, travel memoir, and sometimes my book has nestled thrillingly alongside his in the online booksellers categories (a very comfortable spot, thank you). Reading him again has been a reinvigorating experience, which I daresay he’d be quietly pleased to know. Bryson’s cleverness lies in … More Little Dribbling review

Marketing Your Book

This post is mostly for authors – a look at that great and ongoing mystery, how the bloody hell you market a book. You’ve written it, you’ve had it published, held it in your hands and it’s real. Congratulations! But that was the easy bit. Now comes the real challenge – getting the bloody thing … More Marketing Your Book

How to write memoir

Are you writing a memoir? Who do you think you are anyway! If you’re not a football player, a celebrity blogger, an ex-politician, comedian or actor, why would people be interested? Plenty of reasons. Memoir and autobiography are a perpetually popular genre. People love getting an insight into other people’s lives, whether they’re famous, unusual, … More How to write memoir

What the Butler Saw

Imagine having a member of staff within your household dedicated to keeping the wine cellar stocked, the laundry fresh, vehicles fuelled and faux pas in etiquette and appearance to a minimum. One could breeze through life with considerably more ease. Not many are in a position to avail themselve of such an individual these days. … More What the Butler Saw

The Wife’s Tale

River Cottage Australia keeps popping up on my TV.  Every time, I marvel that it’s yet another bloke on our screens wondering in the delight of putting his hand underneath a hen and drawing out a warm egg. Where are all the women, I wonder? Do program makers really think it’s just blokes moving to … More The Wife’s Tale

Tasmanian Short Story Writers’ Competition 2017

Blow me down if I wasn’t asked to be one of the judges for this year’s Tasmanian Writers’ Competition for short stories. The competition is run by the lovely people at Tasmania Forty South, with an ‘island’ theme. An anthology of the best entries is launched at the Hobart Writers’ Festival in the years when … More Tasmanian Short Story Writers’ Competition 2017

Women in Wine

Being a woman and a winemaker can be a useful point of difference, says Fran Austin, owner and winemaker at Delamere Vineyards in partnership with husband Shane Holloway. While some people are cynical about it, she and many other women in the industry accept that it can generate marketing. The Fabulous Women in Wine Society … More Women in Wine