Sunday, 29 March 2015

MOVING ON


So - I've finally decided - it's time to move on.  Quite a wrench as we have been here since 1984, but the house and garden are much too big for me to manage and I really don't need all this space since I lost Terry almost two years ago.

Where on earth I will find room for all my books and files in a much smaller home I can't imagine, though!  I have SOOO much what I suppose could be called clutter, but which I can't really get rid of - when writing a book I will suddenly remember a reference that might be useful that I haven't looked at in more years than I care to remember.

Thirty-three years - where have they gone?  I remember moving in so clearly.  The house was Terry's dream, set on a hill with far reaching views across the valley.  The extra space was wonderful for two fast-growing-up daughters.  But to begin with I really missed our old house in Midsomer Norton.  I missed being able to lie in bed and listen to the river tinkling over the stones at the bottom of our garden.  I missed the three miniature apple trees and my row of sweet peas which I would sit beside and write in summer.  Most of all I missed living on a modern estate surrounded by families all with children round about the same age as ours.  It was wonderful - the houses on two parallel roads backed onto an access road with the garages and parking spaces, and if on a frosty morning someone's car wouldn't start men would emerge from all the houses and help push the offending vehicle until they got it going.  

One day just before Christmas Terry seemed to be the only man around and he was unable to push Veronica's car fast enough to get going on his own.   Now I had bought him some jump leads for Christmas, but I wanted them to be a surprise.  So I ran put of my front door, round to my neighbour's explained the situation, and she took them out the back, telling Terry she had just found her husband Peter's jump leads.  Problem solved.  But we did have a laugh about it - Terry was using his own jump leads without knowing it!

Of course we have had some very happy times here.  The big garden and the huge variety of walks within easy reach were ideal for our dogs.  We've had wonderful parties and family get-togethers and both girls were married from here.  But will I miss this house as much as I missed the old one?  Somehow I don't think so.  Lovely home though it has been, I still think the happiest times of my life were in that house in Riverside Walk.

Now I plan to move to Bristol, so as to be nearer to my two daughters.  That too will be a wrench, but hey, it's time to look to the future!  

I suspect this moving lark may well inspire a good few blogs along the way.  Though I must admit I'm hoping to get through it without too many traumatic moments!!!  I'll keep you posted!
 

Thursday, 16 October 2014

INSPIRATION FOR "ALL THE DARK SECRETS" by JENNIE FELTON


INSPIRATION FOR "ALL THE DARK SECRETS"  by  JENNIE FELTON  
(That's me!)




'In this grave is deposited the remains of the twelve undermentioned sufferers, all of whom were killed ... by the snapping of the rope as they were on the point of descending into the pit.  the rope was generally supposed to have been maliciously cut.'

This is the inscription on a gravestone in the churchyard of St John's, Midsomer Norton, just a few miles from the Somerset mining town of Radstock where I was born and grew up, and where I now once again live. In these few words it tells the terrible story of how twelve men and boys, the youngest aged just 13, died on that November day, and it gave me inspiration for ALL THE DARK SECRETS, though I have taken the liberty of setting my story sixty years later, in 1895.

In those days the Somerset coalfield was a thriving industry, producing high quality coal, but the narrow, faulted seams were difficult to work and not high enough for pit ponies to be used, and so-called 'carting boys' were employed to drag the hewed coal from the face to the roadways by means of the infamous 'guss and crook' - a putt attached by a rope round the boy's waist which he then dragged on hands and knees.

My own father, who was middle-aged when I was born, had been one of the carting boys, and when I was young, I loved hearing him relate tales of those days, some funny, some tragic, and they were the inspiration for THE BLACK MOUNTAINS, the first of the Hillsbridge quartet (available now from Macmillan Bello) under my own name, Janet Tanner.

The tragic Wellsway accident that gave me my starting point for a new series of sagas which will follow the families who live in a terrace of mining cottages - The Ten Houses.   Several of these lost loved ones that terrible day, and each and every one was affected by it in some way.  Maggie, the central character of ALL THE DARK SECRETS is a strong young woman who loses both her father and her fiance in the tragedy - ALL THE DARK SECRETS tells her story.  And over all hangs the question - who was responsible for the cutting of the rope?

I've just delivered the second book in the series, most of which takes place 10 years later, and tells the story of two young sisters who lost their father in the 'accident' and whose lives were changed forever.
This one also has a background of the music halls of the time.

I hope I've given you a flavour of my new series of sagas - and that you will want to read them!  ALL THE DARK SECRETS is out now in hardback and as an e-book; the paperback is due in January.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

EXCITING NEWS

A new book and a new name.

I am now also JENNIE FELTON

ALL THE DARK SECRETS is the first in a series of family sagas set in the Somerset coalfield around the turn of the last century.  In 1895 a tragedy at the pit changes forever the lives of the families who live in The Ten Houses.  Maggie Donovan loses both her father and fiancĂ©, and struggles to keep the family together while also struggling with an unexpected new love ...
But it is clear that the tragedy was no accident – but who could have been responsible for such a terrible thing?
ALL THE DARK SECRETS is out now in hardback and as an e-book.

Paperback will follow in January 2015.  My publishers are Headline.

 

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

 

UP IN THE BLUE - ALONE!
 
       
 
 
 
Soon it was time for my first solo land-away. 
 
Dunkeswell is a little airfield on the Somerset levels - very easy to find for someone who disliked navigation as much as I did.  Take off from Bristol, turn out over Cheddar lake, head for the M5 motorway and follow it down until you spot the Wellington Monument, turn left, and look out for the airfield.  The only likely mistake would be getting the wrong airstrip - there were two disused ones close by.   Not even an idiot like me could mistake the correct one, though - look for other little aircraft and a clubhouse. 
 
There's something incredibly peaceful about flying alone.  Apart from the radio, relayed through your headset, there is no sound but the gentle hum of the engine and the occasional buffeting of the wind.  And for most of the time out there over open countryside the radio is quiet - it's only when you need to talk to Air Traffic Control or they need to talk to you that it crackles into life.  (Of course, if you have a passenger you hear them through the headset too, but on a solo flight nothing much interrupts the silence.  And when I flew in Florida, they didn't use headsets at all, which I found most disconcerting, but that's another story)
 
Flying alone also really concentrates the mind.  Quite apart from keeping a sharp eye out to make sure you're on course, and that there is no microlight - or jet plane! - in your sights, you have to remember to check the pitot heat every 10-15 mins to ensure the pitot tube doesn't freeze up - something else that was totally different in Florida, where it is rarely cold enough to have to worry about such things.  At the same time as the peace, I felt truly alive. 
 
Anyway, I made Dunkeswell safely, landed, locked up the plane and went into the clubhouse for a much needed coffee before flying back to Bristol.  First land-away safely accomplished - but a bigger challenge still to come - a triangular land-away, .  But for today I wasn't going to worry about that.  I'd taken a plane away from the airfield on my own and brought it safely back. 
 
Result!  And another important step towards getting my licence!