Sell the Pig

New book releases – L M Krier and Tottie Limejuice

New book releases in travel memoirs from Tottie Limejuice

New book releases in 2016/17 from Lesley Tither writing as Tottie Limejuice (travel memoirs), L M Krier (crime fiction) and now as L M Kay (children’s fiction – action/adventure with a crime/thriller twist.

For those who missed the news, 2016 has not been a brilliant year. My brother Peter died suddenly in March, aged just 67, leaving his house and his affairs in a state of utter chaos. It’s no exaggeration to say almost every waking hour, and often some of my sleeping ones, has been taken up trying to deal with it all.

Brother on Puy de DomePeter J K Tither 1948-2016

Through it all, I think it’s safe to say it has been my writing which has helped me to keep it all together. Especially the DI Ted Darling crime fiction series. The Sell the Pig travel memoirs are relatively easy. They pretty much write themselves as it’s all true. It’s just a case of checking through my diaries to find out what I did and where I went when.

At the beginning of 2016, I brought out the fourth and supposedly final part of the Sell the Pig ‘trilogy’, Biff the Useless Mention. I said I wouldn’t write another one unless something dramatic happened. Well, of course, losing my brother falls into that category, so a fifth book in the trilogy which kept on going will be out later in 2017 – title as usually strictly under wraps until public, (it’s one of my brother’s favourite Spoonerisms) but the writing is almost done.

Biff the useless mention - the latest travel memoir book by Tottie Limejuice

Biff the useless mention – the latest travel memoir book by Tottie Limejuice

If you speak French or know anyone who does, the first Sell the Pig book is now out in French. There were a lot of earlier problems with finding a suitable translator but through Facebook, I made contact with Alison Sabedoria, who only lives half an hour from me, who has done an amazing job of staying true to my voice and story.

170108_maman-vends-le-cochon-k1The little piggy goes oui-oui-oui in the newly-released French

translation of Sell the Pig

New book releases in crime fiction from L M Krier

I’ve been much more prolific with the crime fiction, publishing three books in the DI Ted Darling series (writing as L M Krier) during 2016: Shut Up and Drive, Only the Lonely and Wild Thing. This brings the total number in the series now up to six books and I have made a good start on the seventh, for publication later in 2017.

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New book releases in children’s fiction

A big departure for me in 2016 was the publication of my first children’s fiction book, The Dog with the Golden Eyes, written as L M Kay. I was so lucky to find a brilliant illustrator, through social media, from Cornwall, Andrew Campbell-Howes, whose fantastic drawings really brought the whole book to life in a way mere words alone could not do. It’s set in Lincoln, near to where I used to live, and the dog in question is based on my old friend Meic.

Andrew was also responsible for the stunning cover which cleverly captures Meic’s likeness and gives a very dramatic feel to this action adventure with a crime twist.

Children's fiction The Dog with the Golden Eyes, a new venture from Lesley Tither writing as L M Kay

Children’s fiction The Dog with the Golden Eyes, a new venture from Lesley Tither writing as L M Kay

There are also some marvellous internal illustrations, one for each chapter. The book is aimed at all ages from about 7+ and is great for reading together with children. The keen-eyed among them will enjoy a little challenge. Andrew cleverly worked the names of some of my dogs, Meic, Ci, Fleur and Rosie, into the illustrations. It’s great fun to tell children this and then see how many of them they can spot.

161122_canalchaseLike all of the books, it’s available in either e-book or paperback format. To get the best possible from the drawings, the paperback is best, and it’s perfect for a pocket money budget, at just under a fiver.

So what new book releases can you look forward to in 2017? Pig 5 should hopefully be out first, followed by Ted 7. Then who knows? There is another children’s book on its way, but I’m not yet sure when.

As ever, thanks to everyone who buys and reads the books and please remember, the best way you can show your support for an author is by leaving a review on Amazon. Just a few words is enough – it means a great deal. Thank you.

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Support foodbanks – buy signed 1st edition of Sell the Pig

Support foodbanks and help combat hunger – ALL money to the Trussell Trust

Support foodbanks by buying a personally signed first edition of Sell the Pig by Tottie Limejuice direct from the author. All money goes direct to The Trussell Trust, which runs a network of over 400 foodbanks in the UK.

Fight hunger – support foodbanks

It’s minus ten here this morning. I was sitting in my cosy grottage pouring hot, frothy, cinnamon coffee into my already full stomach, self-indulgently thinking it was too cold to bother going out to the market.

Then I brought myself up short by reminding myself there are people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. I have friends whose sole means of avoiding going hungry is to use foodbanks. These are not idle scroungers. They are people who have genuinely fallen on the hardest of times through no fault of their own, some of them through the shocking ‘benefit sanctions’ in the UK.

Homelessness too is a dreadful problem, both here in France and in the UK. But the thought that in supposedly civilised countries, people are going hungry in the twenty-first century truly sickens me.

Buy 1st edition Sell the Pig – help Trussell Trust foodbanks

Quite by chance, last night, I was contacted by someone wanting to buy a signed book from me so they could donate it for a church fund-raiser. They weren’t asking for a freebie, but I mentioned that I don’t, in any event, donate to religious charities. But it gave me an idea. I said I would be more than happy to donate a signed first edition of Sell the Pig if they made a donation to the Trussell Trust. That way, they would be supporting the charity of their choice, by donating the book, and I would be, in a modest way, helping to support the foodbanks network by getting them a small donation.

I also remembered I have a few copies of Pig left over from a truly disastrous book convention in Manchester where hardly anyone turned up because of an appalling venue and abysmal advertising. So I thought I’d open up the offer to seven more people and at the same time raise a little bit more money for The Trussell Trust.

 

Sell the Pig book by Tottie LImejuice

Sell the Pig book by Tottie LImejuice

This is the first edition of Sell the Pig, complete with black and white photos of some of the people you read about in the book. It’s now no longer widely available but you can still find it on Amazon for silly prices, starting from about £17.

If you want to get your very own copy, personally signed by me (I’m sharpening my crayons and practising my letters ready) please contact me on tottielimejuice@gmail.com with your bid to reserve your copy. There are only seven available. You then pay your money DIRECTLY to The Trussell Trust. Once you have your confirmation from them, forward it to me and I will donate the book and the cost of the postage and send it to you direct.

family-with-fr-leo-rakaleIt has ten black and white photos of characters and places you read about in the books, my mother, brother, Meic the dog, the Pink House, my original ‘grottage’ in Lincolnshire.

So do please consider buying one and supporting an excellent cause at the same time. No one should go hungry in this day and age, certainly not in Britain. Please donate a minimum of £10 via the Trussell Trust donations page  but please remember to contact me first to reserve your book. Remember this is a limited offer, only seven copies are available.

Remember all monies go direct to the Trussell Trust. Even if you miss out on the book, do please consider a donation to them. Even £5 would help. And do please share this post. Thank you all in advance for your generosity.

If you already have a copy of Sell the Pig, I’ve got a couple of copies of 1st edition Is That Billinge Lump? too, and would be happy to donate those in the same way.

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New crime fiction release from L M Krier

New crime fiction release from L M Krier in the DI Ted Darling series is coming SOON!

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog of late, for which my apologies but, for those who have not already heard through social media, it’s because of the recent sudden death of my brother, Peter, aged 67.Brother on Puy de Dome

If you’ve read the Sell the Pig trilogy of four, Sell the Pig, Is That Billinge Lump?, Mother, Was It Worth It? and Biff the Useless Mention, you’ll already know that my brother had a serious problem with alcohol. He had been going steadily downhill, despite all efforts to persuade him to seek proper help. He even had two social workers, whose advice he ignored.

Biff the useless mention - the latest travel memoir book by Tottie Limejuice

Biff the useless mention – the latest travel memoir book by Tottie Limejuice

We continued to exchange frequent emails, in which he assured me he was getting himself together and now employing a cleaner with whose help the kitchen now looked like an operating theatre in its pristine cleanliness. Sadly, none of it was true.

I received a phone call from the police to say he had been found dead at the house, of natural causes. And when I went over to the Pink House to begin to sort things out, the full horror behind the fantasy was revealed.

New crime fiction release

But enough of the sadness. I’ve found great solace in spending time with my good friend Ted Darling and the result is that Book 5 will be released later this year. The title is, as ever, a closely guarded secret for now, but it follows on from Baby’s Got Blue Eyes, Two Little Boys, When I’m Old and Grey and Shut Up and Drive.

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Latest crime fiction book in the DI Ted Darling series

Once that’s released, I have a busy time ahead. The first Sell the Pig book will shortly be appearing in French translation, which is an exciting project, and will finally answer the questions the locals often ask me about why I finished up living in the middle of the rural Auvergne.

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Then hopefully before too long I will be publishing my first children’s book, The Dog with the Golden Eyes, written as L M Kay, also a crime fiction.  When I finally draw breath from all that, I think there will have to be another book in the Sell the Pig series, all about the challenges my brother has unwittingly left me with. A fifth book in a trilogy? Why not!

Dog_draft4CoverSo do please keep watching this space for details of forthcoming new crime fiction release dates, and the latest in the travel memoirs series.

Tottie Limejuice books – buy signed first editions

Tottie Limejuice books are being advertised for some crazy prices on the Internet! I’ve seen first editions of both Sell the Pig and Is That Billing Lump? offered for more than £1000. And they’re not even signed.

Sell the Pig book by Tottie LImejuice

Tottie Limejuice  books – Sell the Pig,  first edition

It’s very flattering to see but, believe me, they’re not worth that much, even as a long-term investment.

But for anyone who does want a first edition, you can buy one from me direct, with whatever personalised message you want me to put in it – as long as I can spell it!

Is That Billinge Lump? book by Tottie LImejuice

Tottie Limejuice book Is That Billinge Lump?  first edition

The first editions have the old cover images which are no longer in circulation, but I still have a few copies available. You can buy them via eBay for only a few pennies more than the original list price. That’s because I’m so flattered that anyone might want to collect my early works that I don’t want them to have to pay silly money for them.

The latest editions have the new covers, with the lovely cheeky little Pig.

Books by Tottie Limejuice

The first three Tottie Limejuice books in the Sell the Pig series

So just follow the links here for a personally signed first edition of Sell the Pig or a personally dedicated first edition of Is That Billing Lump?  Tottie Limejuice book, before they are all sold.

Don’t forget that Book 4 in the Sell the Pig series of  Tottie Limejuice books is also now available.

Biff the useless mention - the latest travel memoir book by Tottie Limejuice

Biff the useless mention – the latest travel memoir book by Tottie Limejuice

And if you enjoy travel memoirs with a touch of humour, don’t forget that another of the Tottie Limejuice books is Take Three Birds, jointly written with Jill Pennington and Janet Holt.

Take Three Birds - another of the books by Tottie Limejuice (co-written and edited by)

Take Three Birds – another of the books by Tottie Limejuice (co-written and edited by)

 

 

Tottie Limejuice live on Blog Talk Radio

Anyone who knows me will tell you I love to talk! I take after my paternal grandmother in that. She could talk all four legs of the proverbial donkey and then some.

So I was delighted recently to be asked by author Tumika Patrice Cain to do a telephone interview with her on BlogTalkRadio.com.

I had a few anxious moments, as my internet is unreliable, to say the least. My techy friend Alex says it’s about as much use as a piece of wet string, although all that is set to change. Incredibly, we are getting fibre optic in our tiny little hamlet in the middle of nowhere. Cables have been laid and I am told we should be connected within a month.

But in the meantime it was a case of putting my trust in the wet string and hoping the sudden high winds would not bring down trees across phone lines and cut me off.

Then there was the question of working out the time difference, with my famously appalling maths, and factoring in the change, the morning of the broadcast, to British Summer Time or Daylight Saving time, whatever it is called these days.

The final obstacle to be overcome was, as soon as I started to talk, my dog Fleur decided she also wished to be interviewed and opened her mouth to bark! I had to sprint up the stairs to my bedroom quickly, with the cordless telephone, leaving her downstairs. As I have slight asthma, the result was a rather breathless start to the interview!

But it all went very well, and there was less of a time lag than I feared. I was able to get in lots of plugs for all of my books and I thoroughly enjoyed the chat. You can listen to it here.

Talking of my books, the Three Little Pigs, ‘Sell the Pig’, ‘Is That BillingeLump?’ and ‘Mother, Was It Worth It?’, all written under the pen name Tottie Limejuice, have all now had facelifts with new cover designs from the talented Dave Michael Rogers, DMR Creative.

3LittlePigs

All now feature the cute little Pig who is a real scene-stealer, and the paperbacks also sport the French flag down the spine. All are available from Amazon in all countries.

Meanwhile I am busy writing the second in my crime series, featuring DI Ted Darling, the sequel to ‘Baby’s Got Blue Eyes‘, written under the name of L M Krier (part of my real name), which is quietly chalking up some good reviews.

The next exciting project, later this year, will be the publication of a children’s book, ‘The Dog with the Golden Eyes’, under the name of L M Kay. It’s a nostalgic adventure story about a small boy and a dog. Watch this space for details of its release date.

 

Lesley Krier Tither – formerly known as Tottie Limejuice

What’s in a name? Well, despite being known to just about everyone as Tottie Limejuice, having an email address in that name for about 15 years, and a Facebook account in it for more than five years, Facebook have just informed me I can no longer be called Tottie Limejuice as it’s not my ‘authentic’ name.

Here is not the place to get into a debate on their rules – they are their rules, we don’t pay to use their server so we have to put up or shut up. I’ve put up – the new name, my authentic one, of Lesley Krier Tither. For those who set store by such things, Krier is pronounced Kreer – yes, it rhymes with queer but I’ve had those jokes all my life! It is the Luxembourg family name.

Even I have to keep doing a double take on Facebook to remember who this Lesley bird is, no one calls me that these days. But I’ve left the same picture up there so hopefully most people will get used to the change – probably before I do.

So the new crime novel, Baby’s Got Blue Eyes, is now available in ebook and paperback formats and early reviews are encouraging. I do hope you will enjoy this departure from my usual travel memoirs genre.

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Book II in the DI Ted Darling series is already under way and will hopefully be out later this year. In the meantime I have a few more projects in hand. Book II of the Sell the Pig series, Is That Billinge Lump, is having a makeover and a new cover to match those of its smart brothers Sell the Pig and Mother Was It Worth It.

In another departure from genre, I hope to publish my first book for children and young-at-heart adults later this year. I wrote it some time ago, I just now need to edit it. It’s about a dog, so no surprises there.

Totties’ Tours of the Auvergne are starting in April and once they are up and running, there will be a Sell the Pig series sequel, with early bookers on the tours having the chance to feature in the book, if they so choose.

With all that on my plate, all I can say is it’s a good job I retired in July as a freelance copywriter and copy editor!

Sell the Pig – this little piggy had a makeover

I absolutely love the cover for Book 3 in the #SellthePig  series, ‘Mother Was It Worth It?’ A piece of really inspired design, and the little pig in the corner seems to have won everyone’s heart.

It got me thinking that it was about time Book 1, Sell the Pig itself, had a makeover. Once I got started on that track, I decided I might as well do a few tweaks to the copy whilst I was about it.

As you know, once I start talking, I find it hard to stop, so I quickly found I’d added more than ten thousand words, including two brand new chapters. Then I had a muck about with the format, adding chapter headings to bring it more into line with Books 2 and 3.

I realised I’d not made enough of two iconic features of the Auvergne region, red cows and volcanoes, so I set about remedying that, armed with my trusty camera. I’m not much of a photographer, although the shot of the Garabit Viaduct on the cover is one of mine. But how difficult could it be to photograph cows? After all, there are loads of them about here, the beautiful mahogany red Salers which typify the region.

Huh! Cows have to be the most awkward of photographic models ever! Whenever you point a camera at them, one of them will always either stick a tongue up their nose, chew the cud so their jaws and crossed and they look goofy or turn round and flash their fanny at you.

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Bums to you

If you can overcome those two problems, then you get flies photo-bombing the shot, all over the poor cow’s face. Finally, though, I managed to find a cow with not too demanding an agent who consented to stand still, the right way round, not chew the cud or do that nose trick and just generally look whimsical.

And here is the resulting brand new cover, designed by DMR Creative. I do hope you will like it.

SellThe Pig#5

Because of the amount of changes and the new Kindle rules, you cannot, unfortunately, get the updated version free as used to be the case. I certainly don’t expect people to pay the full price for the new version if they have already bought the first edition. So for one weekend only, 4/5 October 2014, it going to be at the special offer price of 99c, which is around 77p depending on the exchange rate.

I’m not advertising this special offer far and wide as I really want it to be for people who have already read and enjoyed the #SellthePig series. So make sure you snap up your bargain quick as it won’t be repeated, and please feel free to share the news amongst your friends.

As ever, would love to have your feedback! And keep watching this space for news of a very exciting new book which I’m co-authoring with two friends, which will be out in time for Christmas. Enjoy your reading!

 

Tottie’s Travels – Adventures in the Auvergne

Tottie takes to the road!

Just back from a short break away. I needed an enforced absence from Facebook to get on and finish editing Book III in the Sell the Pig series.

I actually ventured just outside my beloved Auvergne into the next departément, the Loire, and stayed on a delightful campsite not very far from Montbrison. I’d booked myself into a ‘chaletravane’ for four nights, basically an old caravan with two double beds in, and a spacious chalet built onto the side of it, which had a fold-away double bed settee and a kitchen/dining area. Very nice, impeccably clean, and on a working farm.

140331_ChaletravaneI opted for the bed-settee and in fact, apart from storage, didn’t use the caravan part at all as it was quite chilly at night and that was the cold part of the construction.

The dogs and I did a lot of walking, discovering the surrounding areas. We probably didn’t go all that far in actual distance, but as we managed to find old mule tracks going up and down very steep river valleys, it felt like a respectable amount of walking.

We found a beautiful walk though a very big beechwood heading towards a village called Bard

140331_Bardand then emerging into open grazing land with views back to the village

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We found an amazing bird observation point for an important migratory route, with views to Mont Blanc in the distance, on a clear day, which unfortunately it wasn’t

140331_BirdsOne evening I dined en famille with the owners, which was very nice, and on Sunday I treated myself to lunch out at the excellent Auberge de Conol. Coincidentally, I had eaten there last yet when going exploring with Alex and had no idea I was going back to the same area.

After lunch I discovered a honey producer and the kind man was foolish enough to let me loose with little spoons and pots of honey to taste. I could put Winnie the Poo to shame in the honey-eating stakes! I came away with two big jars, one of honey from the local fir trees and one a mixed flowers one, heavy on the broad-leaved lime flowers, as that’s a particular fragrance of mine.

Our route back home took us over the top of the Col du Béal where there was still enough snow to block my usual route home so I took the slightly longer way down, after the dogs and I had had a nice walk over the top of the Col to look at the viewpoint. I saw a short-toed eagle close enough to count the feathers in his wings!

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Really nice break, and I think, maybe, possibly, just about, I have finished tinkering about with Book III, so it should be  coming to a Kindle near you soon – watch this space!

Tottie’s Grottages – Sell the Pig series by Tottie Limejuice

Those of you who have read ‘Sell the Pig’ and ‘Is That Billinge Lump?’ will know that grottage is my word, coined by a friend, for a grotty cottage. And I have a bit of a history of buying them.

The first property I ever owned in my own right was a classic example. It was described by the surveyor as ‘unfit for human habitation’ as it had been home to an assortment of animals – dogs, cats, chickens, ducks and goats, all indoors – for several years and the smell inside was ‘rural’, to say the least.

I first saw it in company with my mother and my Auntie Ethel, she who invented the name Tottie Limejuice, which I adopted. Mother was horrified and kept saying ‘no, no, no’ as we looked round. But adventurous Auntie, bless her, saw the potential and encouraged me to buy it.

It didn’t help that the first thing we saw was the ‘kitchen’ as the only door to the property, at the rear, opened directly onto it, in all its glory. Be very thankful that no-one has yet invented a way to include smell in a blog post!

kitchen before

Unfit for human habitation? Surely not!

Perhaps the thing worrying Mother the most was the guest bedroom, as she liked to come and stay with me quite often.

guest bedroom before

What guest wouldn’t love spending the night in this delightful spare room?

Or perhaps, knowing her love of gardening and enjoyment of spending time outdoors, she was a little daunted by the gardens in their raw state.

garden before

A field of nettles was what constituted a garden.

Never mind, we would be able to make ourselves comfortable in the homely sitting room, surely?

sitting room before

Such a cosy room in which to put your feet up at the end of the day!

But buy it I did. It was in an extremely sought after village in the Lincolnshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where properties very seldom come onto the market, and because of the state it was in, it was a snip of a price.

With a lot of elbow grease and bleach and the help of a good local builder, slowly it began to emerge from its chrysalis of grime to show the beautiful butterfly within.

But you’ll have to wait until the next blog post to see the ‘after’ photos.

The Pink House days from Sell the Pig

Lots of you have been asking for more photos of the Pink House as described in Sell the Pig, and in more detail in Is That Billinge Lump. Lots of you wanted to see photos of the interior after I’d slapped white paint all over that ‘lovely’ wallpaper in the sitting room.

Funnily enough, I discover that I didn’t actually take any pictures specifically of the changed décor, it’s just there as background to various photos of the many tea parties Mother enjoyed.

If you have read both books, you will know that Mother loved picnics and tea parties more than anything else, so we had lots of both. She loved to be the centre of attention and would sit holding court and reciting all the poems from her childhood, which she could still remember.

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Inside the Pink House – sitting room

She loved having her photo taken too, as you can see from the way she is smiling at the camera! Of course there would always be a cake, and candles, which she usually managed to blow out.

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Birthday tea at the Pink House

Whenever possible, her two favourite carers – mine too! – would be at the party to help look after her.

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Mother with Lili (left) and Emilie

And when we weren’t having tea-parties, Mother and I, with Meic the dog, were out having picnics at many of the beauty spots near to the Pink House (this is the Chateau de Chazeron) …

CHATEAU DE CHAZERON 27 JANUARY 2008

Chateau de Chazeron

or pottering and tottering in the garden at the Pink House

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The Pink House – garden

where she celebrated many a happy birthday – this was her 90th

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9o years young

But as you will know if you’ve read ‘Lump’, because of circumstances described therein, I went on to buy my own house, Tottie’s Grottage, where I now live.

So look out for some blog posts about my grottage, coming soon. And if you’ve not yet read the first two books in the Sell the Pig Series, Sell the Pig and Is That Billinge Lump?, get a wiggle on. Book III is due to be published in April!

So who is Tottie Limejuice?

Everyone always wants to know where I got the name Tottie Limejuice, the pen-name under which I wrote Sell the Pig and Is That Billinge Lump?, the name which I also use for my Facebook and Twitter names.

Well she’s an invention of my late Auntie Ethel, mother’s older sister. She was the one who never married, whose role was helping her mother with the large brood. Auntie had a wonderful way of making up words and phrases, like a flopper-dopperer, for someone who was a bit foppish, or kneely-knawling down, for when you kneel but also have to scrabble about a bit. Auntie was a dress-maker, seamstress and milliner so when she was pinning up hems, she had to do a lot of kneely-knawling.

Mother with her family. From left to right: younger sister Doris, younger brother John, brother in law Leslie, (the Judge, Doris’s husband), mother, and older sister Ethel.

As Auntie got older she got very confused and would accuse glamorous and well-off younger sister of coming to her house and stealing her home-made knickers and swanning around “like Tottie Limejuice”. I liked the name so much, I claimed it for my own.

At one of Doris’s many luncheon parties at the “Big House”: Left to right: Auntie Ethel, Uncle Leslie, Auntie Doris, Uncle John, Mother.

It was Auntie Ethel who encouraged me to buy my grottage in Lincolnshire when it was in such an awful state that the surveyor I got to check it over for mortgage purposes described it as “unfit for human habitation!”.  She was a frequent visitor, with mother, to my homes wherever I lived, including travelling by coach out to Germany where I lived for four years.

Like mother, she was always interested in gardening so whenever they visited, we always took a trip to a local garden centre or park.

               Mother with her older sister Ethel, the creator of “Tottie Limejuice”

 

So now you know where the name comes from!

Moving to France – first views of the Pink House

Saturday, April 21, 2012

 

Note: As you can see, I actually wrote this blog post some time ago, but I thought I would reproduce it here for those who have not yet seen it, because it shows a bit about the Pink House from Sell the Pig, when we first saw it.

If anyone’s thinking of moving to France just for the weather, think again! Today is just like the weather we left behind in Wales, only with nicer scenery. It’s cold, it keeps raining and hail-stoning, and the sun is nothing but a fleeting visitor.

Time to update the blog and probably high time you saw some pictures of the “pink house” as we saw it first, although it wasn’t really pink at all, anywhere other than in the estate agent’s online pictures!

“Both on paper and in the flesh, so to speak, this one looked very promising. According to the internet details, it had seven bedrooms and three bathrooms, was on three storeys and had a good-sized garden. We nicknamed it the pink house, as the photo showed the rendering as a pale rose pink, although in reality it was a lot paler and more washed out.”
 
Our first view of “the pink house”
 
“They do warn house viewers to try to see past existing décor to what the place will look like once you’ve stamped your own mark on it. Sound advice. The decoration in the pink house was truly hideous. Very nineteen seventies. The sitting room had two very strong contrasting patterned wallpapers, which didn’t go together, neither of which was very nice even in isolation and in unison presented a full frontal assault to the senses.”
 
The retro sitting room
 
“But the layout was practically perfect for what we wanted. On the top floor was a bright, light three-bedroomed apartment with shower room and loo and some open space to create a small cooking and dining area. Ideal to let as B&Bs or a self-contained flat. It had very nice south-facing views, and the possibility to create a sunny roof terrace on top of the roof of the room below, which jutted out in front of it.”
 
View from the top floor flat
 
And, just because it’s a very cold day today and there’s still a lot of snow on the volcanic peaks all around, a view of what this part of France can look like in winter!
Don’t forget, kind readers, I’m relying on you to tell me what photos you’d like to see. Hope you will enjoy these, will post some more on the next rainy day, which won’t be too long, if the weather forecast is anything to go by! Do leave me your comments here, about the book, or the blog, or France, or Life, the Universe and Everything.

Leaving home in the UK to move to France

Just to prove I do listen to my kind readers and respond to their requests, here, especially for Carl, are some of the pictures of my “grottage” near Market Rasen, Lincolnshire.  Affectionately known as “The Hammer House of Horrors” when I bought it because it was in such an appalling state, having been largely lived in by animals for years.

As ever, photographs are accompanied by relevant text from my book, Sell the Pig, for the benefit of those who have not read it and to link things together for those who have.

“I wasn’t particularly thinking of buying a property at this stage in my life, and certainly was not certain that that area was where I wanted to put down long-term roots, having been there barely six months. But, like the Elephant’s Child, I am full of “’satiable curtiosity”.
 
“So when a neighbour told me horror stories of a cottage in the hamlet that was coming up for sale, I simply had to go and take a look at it. She told me it had been repossessed by the mortgage company when the former occupant, who apparently had some mental health issues, fell behind with payments and became unable to live there on her own any more.

“According to my source, the house was in very poor condition, as she’d kept all of her animals indoors for years – and I do mean all. Apparently the menagerie included dogs, cats, chickens and goats.”
  Main bedroom
“It’s hard to say which of our senses was assaulted first. The smell was indescribable. But my eye was immediately drawn to the tell-tale dark brown stains all over the floors and the door frames, wherever we looked.
 
“Before we’d even stepped over the threshold Mother was already saying “No, oh no.” But Auntie, who was surprisingly intrepid, was bumbling about peeping into rooms and cupboards and following me up the stairs and round the bedrooms – very brave, as parts of the upstairs floor boards had been rotted away with presumably several years’ accumulation of animal urine.”
 
First impressions on entering – the “kitchen”
….”I loved my cottage, now promoted from grottage, with a lovely garden, all created by my own hands. My predecessor there obviously had some very serious issues as, once I started digging in the mass of nettles and runaway lonicera nitida which was all there was of a garden, all I came up with was endless pairs of tights inside Walkers’ crisp packets.
 
“Not sure which flavour. The blue bags. I only like the plain ones so I don’t know the colours of the different flavours. But whatever the former resident had been trying to achieve, I can tell you that no matter what soil you plant that combination in, it simply doesn’t grow into anything.”
 
The garden, as I saw it first
That’s your lot for today, but I promise to show you some of the “after” photographs, after the promotion from grottage to cottage.  Do please leave me your comments and as ever, this blog is driven by you.  What yea ask for shall be given unto thee, or something like that.
 

 

Living with elderly care – the lighter side of dementia

Dementia has sadly become so much more commonplace, as people are living longer than ever before. One of the reasons I decided to write the Sell the Pig series of books was because although my mother had vascular dementia (mercifully not Alzheimer’s) she was still very amusing.

In fact, the more gaga she became, the more she would have us all in stitches, herself included, on many occasions, at some of the funny things she said. Those of you who have already read ‘Sell the Pig’ and ‘Is That Billinge Lump?’ will know that she became rather like a naughty child and loved to say ‘bum’ and ‘bugger’ as often as possible. Some of her favourite sayings and poems are reproduced in the books. If you’ve not yet read them, here’s her most famous of all, which gave rise to the title of the trilogy, ‘Sell the Pig’:

‘Mother, mother, it’s a bugger, sell the pig and buy me out.’ It’s an old saying, about a young man not enjoying military service and writing home to persuade his impoverished farming family to cash in their only investment to secure his early release. Mother always claimed that it was an uncle of hers who had first used the phrase, although there is no way of knowing if that is true or not.

When she could no longer manage on her own because of her dementia, and when home care proved totally inadequate, Mother had to move into a care home. She went to stay in a lovely one, in her native St Helens, where her elder sister was also a resident. She was extremely well looked after there. She was happy, we were happy.

Mother2 Sept 2005Mother in the care home, with her favourite toy dog, Baby,who gave the carers many a fright, thinking he was real!

Sadly as her health declined she was in need of a higher level of nursing care, for which we moved her to a home in Wales, nearer to where my brother lived and where I was temporarily staying. Things there were not a huge success and she was clearly not nearly so happy.

Carmarthen museumMother on a visit to Carmarthen Museum, after she made the move to the nursing home in Wales

When my brother and I first started mooting the idea of us all moving to France together, all the staff at the nursing home thought we were completely insane and would kill Mother off before we even got as far as the channel tunnel. Only her GP was supportive. His attitude was very much ‘she’s 89, with not a very brilliant prognosis. Why not give her one last adventure?’

Mother had always been quite adventurous. She had often visited me when I lived in Germany, usually making the long journey by coach herself and being quite undaunted. We told her we were taking her to France for a holiday, rather than worrying her with the thought of it being a permanent move. She was apprehensive about the journey itself, but not about the adventure. She said if she could just go to sleep and wake up by magic in France, she would love to go.

So the idea for her last big adventure started to take shape and  my brother and I were to spend many hours plotting and planning to bring it all about. When we finally found a suitable house, and brought pictures to the home to show Mother, she suddenly started to recover some of her spark and show a bit more of an interest.

Planning the great adventure with Mother, at the nursing home in Wales

Planning the great adventure with Mother, at the nursing home in Wales

This is a brand new blog, to support the Sell the Pig series of books, with the idea of sharing with you some of the photos of the people you have read, or may read about in the future. So don’t forget your input – who or what would YOU like to see photos of?

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