Samhain (All Hallow’s E’en)

2019-10-03 19.02.10Have you ever wondered about the origins of Halloween?

Samhain is a ancient festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. Traditionally, it is celebrated from 31 October to 1 November, which is roughly halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice.
Samhain is believed to have Celtic pagan origins and there is evidence it has been an important date since ancient times.  It was the time when cattle were brought back down from the summer pastures and when livestock were slaughtered for the winter. Special bonfires were lit with protective and cleansing powers providing the rituals involving them were followed.

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Samhain was seen as a liminal time, when the boundary between this world and the Otherworld could more easily be crossed.  The souls of the dead were also thought to revisit their homes. Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead kin were invited to attend and a place set at the table for them. Ghosts and ghostly tales abound at this time of the year.

Mumming and guising were part of the festival, and involved people going door-to-door in costume (or in disguise), often reciting rhymes in exchange for treats. Rituals and games were also a big part of the festival and often involved nuts and apples, plentiful at this time of the year.

The Christian Church put a new spin on the idea as a means to remember the dead, both those who achieved sainthood (November 1st) and mere mortals (November 2nd). The evening before the religious festival, October 31st was known as All Hallow’s Even. This gradually became shortened to Halloween.

Do you recognise any of this?

If you fancy a good fright this Halloween why not try one or all of the books below. You won’t be disappointed.



Books to chill (the blood) with

Autumn has arrived with a vengeance. The temperature drops in the late afternoon and the nights are long and dark. It’s time to get the season’s reading organised.

Two fabulously creepy books to chill the blood as you curl up by the fire, lights low and a potion of what you fancy at your elbow.


These books were created from selecting the best of over 800 well crafted stories and published for your enjoyment.

What are you waiting for? Publication date for both is October 1st. Only 4 more sleeps!











When you’ve enjoyed these, and if you haven’t already, try other titles from Corona Books.


3,000,000 words later…

I’ve been a bit on the busy side recently. Corona Books put out a call for horror stories back in the spring and I offered to help read some of the submissions.

I told a friend about this and she asked if reading so many stories in a given time frame took the shine off reading.

824 stories comprising of 3,000,000 words later I have an answer for her. No, it doesn’t. I still love reading. The reason being, the stories were brilliant and I really enjoyed being part of the procedure. It was just a shame there wasn’t room for them all.

After all the reading, re-reading, discussion, re-reading and yet more discussion it was decided that instead of the one horror story anthology there was enough material for a book of ghost stories as well.

So, for your delight on a dark winter’s evening, put out the lights, light a candle and curl up with these –

 When you have enjoyed these try others from Corona Books.

The Narrows by James Brogden

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Have you ever wondered where narrow, dark alleyways in your hometown might lead? James Brogden follows them in his novel ‘The Narrows’. The blurb on the back cover tells us that Andy Sumner lives a perfectly conventional life until a chance encounter with a wounded and pursued Bex, one of a society of misfits who live in the Narrows, leads him into another world. In this world the laws of time and space are malleable.
The Narrows are closing and it’s up to Andy and Bex to find out why. I’m saying no more for fear of spoiling the book. If you want to know what happens then read it. Its twists and turns are fast paced and will grip you to the end. For a first novel this is well crafted with believable characters. A sort of grounded fantasy, if you will.

Things Not to do With a Dog

2: Clean the dog hairs out of the car.

2018-08-13 13.53.15My daughter has two dogs both of which moult like there’s a serious attack of global warming. She has also borrowed my car quite a bit lately and so the back seat was covered in what I was about to say was loose hair.
It was so not loose. It might have been loose from a dog, but it was stuck to2018-10-04 18.03.17 the seat, and the blanket that’s supposed to catch it. The dogs tend to runckle that up and get underneath it. It sticks to the carpet and anyone who cares to give them attention. 2019-07-21 12.42.40

It gets up the nose and into your mouth if you dare to open it to speak to anyone. If you attempt to sweep it, it just flies about looking for a new place to settle, preferably ever so slightly out of reach of the vacuum nozzle.

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Perhaps you think it a tad silly of me to try and clear the dog hairs out of the car while I was looking after my son’s dog. She was a very old, sturdy little staffie who expected to be picked up and put in the car. I thought I was safe.

It’s amazing what a dog can do if a dog is determined and you’re ignoring her!

Unfortunately, she died a few days after this picture was taken.


2018-12-25 11.25.56She went to sleep in her own bed and just didn’t wake up. She was a little sweetheart and very loving.

R.I.P. Lola




Things Not to do With a Dog

  1. Paint the bathroom ceiling

2019-07-13 11.30.05One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to decorate as much of my home as possible this year. The provisos to this being;
1. I do not strain a muscle.
2. I do not miss out on anything I fancy doing that’s more fun than decorating.
3. If the weather is good, I’ll be out in the garden.

The weather was not good, and it was May. Long enough from New Year to consider making a start if I was going to brag that I’d kept my resolution as regards decorating.
I had previously covered the new plaster in a coat of watered-down bathroom paint. I had been careful to get the right consistency which my builder told me was called ‘gnat’s piddle’. It seemed to have worked. I was now ready to put on the first proper coat.
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I had all the right things, cup of tea, stick for stirring the paint – you can’t beat a good stick. You can stir anything with the right kind of stick. I even had a pencil to put behind my ear behind my ear. Why, I don’t know but it made me feel good. I had other things as well, like paint, rollers and stuff.




2019-06-01 22.36.53I also had a dog. Not my dog, who would most likely have been used to me, but my son’s. He was on holiday with his family and the dog was being spoilt at my house.
Lola expected to be spoilt. She had been spoilt at Christmas when I did nothing but eat and drink the wrong things and pet the dog while watching films. She didn’t expect to be fobbed off with a dog chew and the use of the sofa while I painted. Apparently, humans with dogs shouldn’t paint, they should play with their pets even though the pet was asleep until I woke her by quietly opening the paint tin. They pop so loudly these days.

2019-05-30 11.16.54Walking backwards across the bathroom while gazing at the ceiling as you paint is not the best thing you can do if you, a) don’t want to fall over said dog, b) spill paint everywhere, including on the dog who then runs off daubing other parts of the house with her paint covered coat, c) miss bits of the ceiling in order not to do a) or b).

2018-10-04 18.03.17I’d try again but I have my daughter’s dog at the moment and I’ve already fallen trying to avoid her as I came down the step into the living room.
I think I’ll have a nice cup of tea instead.2019-07-13 11.23.47

The day I microwaved the cat!

2019-04-10 09.22.25Before you all reach for your phones and report me it was not a sweet little fur-ball with whiskers, sharp claws and a meow.

My neighbour’s cat comes to visit when the mood takes or she want’s something. No, I’ll get this right – when she wants something.

She prevents me from working until she feels the call of the wild when she wanders off to do her own thing.

2019-03-02 14.49.12She’s a sweetie and I would not microwave her even though I want access to my own computer. In fact, there are times when she’s helped by editing my writing and passed comment. My daughter says she must love it because she’s left so many kisses.

The cat I microwaved is stuffed with wheat and I use it to sit on my shoulder when working to help soothe the pain from arthritis. Today, I burnt it – badly. So badly that I had to dunk it in a bowl of cold water to put out the fire and then throw it away.2019-05-25 10.28.42

How did this happen??? I’ve microwaved it countless times over the years and it’s helped me to do without meds and control my pain. On top of that she was a present so now I’ll have to explain to my mum. Either that or try and find another the same.

Precious is the moment …

Rose Cottage 001You would think that living alone in an old house would cause me a few uneasy moments. My home has been around since Cromwell’s Commonwealth and has the obligatory ghost who prowls the old path to the side of the house and disappears when he reaches the spot where the original door used to be.

I’m not afraid of him or being alone, day or night. Precious is the moment as you drift awake, warm and comfortable; those seconds before you are fully aware of life and its vagaries; before the gods realise you actually have a plan for the day – before someone sneezes close to your ear …

Is it Tuesday already?

Despite sitting on the motorway for an age last Friday I have just had a brilliant weekend in Northampton. It feels like I’ve had a complete holiday. Even the motorway bit was not as bad as it sounds as no one could reach me as I sat there for an hour in the sunshine. A legitimate reason for not answering my phone!

BOOK-FEST-PHASE-2It was the Festival of Books at Delapre Abbey and as I was born at the hospital nearby I took the opportunity to join Corona Books on their stall. It also meant I was able to visit with relatives while I was there. All for the price of one journey.


It turned out to be a fantastic weekend visiting mum, my sister and brother-in-law as well as joining friends at the festival. Even the sun put in an appearance.

I didn’t arrive home until yesterday which means I start the week on a Tuesday. This is so going to upset my small brain by Friday. I have enough trouble keeping up with the days as it is.

I’m finding it difficult to get back into routine but as my magnus opus won’t write itself I suppose I’d better make a start.


If you enjoy a good read, try these. I know I’m biased but there are many good stories just waiting to be read.