Monday, 23 July 2012

Review of Shades of Appley Green - a great honour, in my book!

I could not be more delighted with this brief but perfect review of Shades of Appley Green that appears in a magazine today.

To have this endorsement from such a highly regarded organisation is an accolade of which I am very proud. The Parkinson is the Parkinson's UK quarterly magazine that reaches out to all UK members: friends, family, carers, professionals as well as people who have the condition.

page 34 of The Parkinson
Thanks to Parkinsons UK
It reads:

'Written by a former Parkinson's UK information and support worker, this is a delightful story with an unexpected ending. It truly captures village life, while in no way distracting you from the main theme of one person's quest for happiness. Through her work with a local charity, the main character Steph is helping a former architect with Parkinson's to regain his social life. The references made to the condition are very accurate: careful research must have been done. While reading, I found myself making a mental note of the priorities involved in caring for someone with Parkinson's. The story gently reminds you that Parkinson's doesn't just go away and, as time passes, decisions and changes have to be made.

Reviewed by Alicia, whose husband has Parkinson's.'

The novel is about many things - life in a village with a diverse mix of characters, one of whom is an elderly gent with Parkinson's. He represents the plight of so many people who are virtually housebound and often socially isolated. The main character, Steph, passionately believes that if something is done about the loneliness, life can be made more bearable.

I drew on my experience and knowledge from working in the community with what was then called the Parkinson's Disease Society and is now Parkinson's UK. During the two years in this role, I met some wonderful people, who led rich and fulfilling lives when they were more able and soldier on with great courage to make the best of it.

As with my first two novels, Gypsies Stop tHere and No Gypsies Served, I touch on sensitive subjects where there is always the wish not to offend, and more positively, to be validated. Someone said that I do not 'shy away from thorny issues' which is why on Twitter I am a 'village with edge' novelist. For me, 'edge' does not have to be murder and mayhem; it can also be everyday yet disturbing aspects of life that resonate with readers - but with a positive slant.

I hope Shades of Appley Green will be enjoyed by people whose lives are affected in some way by the condition; I would love to hear from them. Jackson Jeffrys is such a 'dear old chap'!

(Note: By the way, I did have permission to reproduce this page!)

Available from Amazon as paperback and also as a Kindle ebook
Also from Waterstones bookshops.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Shades of Exmoor Green

I seem to have got myself into a bit of green theme this year - did you see Japanese Greens? Sicilian? and Summer? And, of course Appley Green?

Well, here we go again. When the sun deigns to show up, this does seem like cause for celebrating with a pic.

By the way you don't often get scenes like these from driving around, especially the trees taken in the Royal Forest, Exmoor - these were taken on a walking holiday with HF Holidays.

Monday, 9 July 2012

English summer as it should be

This has nothing to do with books or Gypsies - or village life in Appley Green. I just wanted to share with you some photos I took at Nymans and Wakehurst Place, National Trust properties and gardens my husband and I visited on 28 June. It was a day when the sun did actually shine now and then and we dodged the showers.

Shades of Summer Green!

England is a 'green and pleasant land' and a lovely place to live.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Romany Day - I was away with the Gypsies!

On Saturday (30 June) I went with a supply of my three books to 'Romany Day', held at the Rural Life Centre in Tilford, a fascinating outdoors museum near Farnham, Surrey, well-worth a visit any time.

This was a day for building bridges between Romany Gypsies and non-Gypsies. The sun shone – and the wind blew. Those of us with anything light enough to fly away had a constant battle with sporadic gusts that would suddenly remove stands, papers, balloons and books; even a gazebo took to the air at one point. I see now why ‘flyers’ are called just that!
Everything keeping still at this moment!!
There was a relaxed and friendly atmosphere with a wide variety of things going on, from the Fire Service’s dramatic demonstrations of a fire within a van and its extinguishment, (fire being a major potential hazard on many Travellers' sites); to a group of weavers and spinners from Guildford – not Gypsies, but people with an active interest in traditional skills.
The younger generation of Romany Gypsies were making them-selves seen and heard through a mix of street-dance and country and western music in the barn opposite my post; lovely youngsters showing the talent, enthusiasm and hard work that result in a polished ('Diversity' style) performance. This was far removed from traditional shanties or step-dancing, but shows that time does not stand still and tastes move on.

It was quite a social occasion. I made some new friends and saw some old ones: Ann, who works tirelessly for her community, a matriarchal looking Gypsy I know in old-style dress; wagon builder and painter, Peter Ingram, whom I visited years ago when I began research for No Gypsies Served; Jake Bowers, the well-known Romani journalist now turned blacksmith. I overheard someone congratulating him and shaking him by the hand for speaking up on TV on behalf of Romany people against the Channel 4 Big Fat Gypsy Weddings. I saw John Hockley, Chair of the Surrey Gypsy Traveller Community Relations Forum and West Surrey Rural Communities Officer, who gave my speech for me at the launch of No Gypsies Served when I lost my voice. He said how much he enjoyed Shades of Appley Green. A loyal fan!! Elsewhere there was the tantalising smell of bacon pudding cooking (as referred to in Gypsies Stop tHere!).

I also met up with people from the Romany Family History Society; the ladies from the Rural Life Centre bookshop; and curators from Bourne Hall Museum and Surrey Heritage in Woking, who I think were the main organisers.

Thanks to Surrey Heritage Centre, the Musem in Woking,
 for allowing me to show you some
of their wonderful photographs on their stand.

 A lovely day!  Hope you can be there next time.