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.
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.
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.
translation of Sell the Pig
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.
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.
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.
Like 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Book blog author chats are great fun and the ideal way to meet lots of new people. Plus anyone who knows me knows I love to chat. I recently had the honour to be the first guest author on a book blog run by a good friend of mine who goes by the name of Mrs Bloggs.
I’ve been lucky enough to be a guest author on several book blogs lately and it’s always great fun, with well thought-out questions. And a great way to talk about what books I have coming out soon. I appeared on these particular book blogs mostly in my L M Krier identity, although Tottie Limejuice gets a few mentions as well, of course.
I’m hoping that the fourth book in the DI Ted Darling series should be available for pre-order any day now, for delivery to a Kindle near year in the first week of March 2016. I’m excited about the cover for this one, designed as ever by DMR Creative.
It’s hopefully going to be a busy year for me this year as, hard on the heels of Ted 4, I’m planning on bring out my first-ever children’s fiction, The Dog with the Golden Eyes, which is sort of junior crime fiction.
Next up should be the French translation of the first of the travel memoir series, Sell the Pig. I’m working with the translator now and it’s an exciting project. We’ll need to rework the cover for the French market, although we’ll probably keep the little Pig as he has become something of a trademark for the series.
In addition to all that, I’m hoping to get Tottie’s Tours off the ground this year, relaunching it with a much wider choice of accommodation and price range. You can read all about Tottie’s Tours here. Remember the key is flexibility. If you don’t see the accommodation that’s right for you, just ask me. There are lots to choose from, too many to list on one blog post.
Meanwhile watch this space for details of exact publication dates. And if you are a fan of DI Ted Darling, don’t worry – I will be starting on Book 5 in the series any day now!
Despite the glorious sunny summer here in France, I don’t have much of a suntan. That’s because I’ve been spending a lot of time at my desk, writing.
I’ve just completed Book III in the DI Ted Darling series, out early October 2015, and am making good progress with Sell the Pig Book IV.
If you’ve already read the Sell the Pig books, you will know that my mother suffered from dementia. So when I was asked to join a group of writers to produce an illustrated children’s book to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK, I was quite happy to put both Ted and Pig on the back burner to write my contributory chapter.
Little Kitty – the Cat Burglar, is a charming book which appeals to adults and children alike. I wrote Chapter Six, the others were written by a team of seven other writers. It’s delightfully illustrated throughout and is available from all Amazon outlets.
100% of funds raised from the sale of the book go to Alzheimer’s research, and I think these days most of us at least know of someone affected by dementia, if not have a relative who is.
So why not get your copy now? The paperback is already available and makes a lovely Christmas gift for someone, as well as raising valuable funds for a worthy charity. There will be a Kindle edition, but the ‘real’ book is a perfect stocking filler.
It’s something to keep you amused while you wait for Ted III and Pig IV!
I wrote this years – decades, even – ago, and recently found it lurking in an old battered suitcase in the attic. It’s a satirical piece I wrote in response to some early chicklit, before it was even called that, which I had read somewhere or seen on the telly.
It’s a hot and sticky day outside, too hot to do anything at all, so I thought I would share it here for your amusement.
Your can probably tell how much my sense of humour owes to the likes of Terry Wogan and I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again.
Enjoy! And above all, don’t take a word of it seriously!
Love in a Blue Uniform
‘And take your blue budgie with you!’
David’s last angry words rang in my ears as he slammed the front door of the police house in my face, and on my marriage.
Fighting back tears, I stood on the pavement outside and my mind went back to the start of it all. That day at the police ball, when I first saw Neil.
He was everything David was not. Tall, dark, handsome, the unmistakeable bulge of his truncheon noticeable through the thick blue serge of his uniform.
When he smiled at me, I wanted to melt. Why did David’s looks never do that to me. Make me want to melt away like Fry’s chocolate in front of a winter log fire.
When he took me in his arms for that first dance, it seemed as if we would never more drift apart. Why could we not stay that way forever, drinking each other in with our eyes?
Because of David, of course.
That and nosy Mrs Jones at the police house opposite. What did she think, I wondered, to see Neil’s car outside so often when David was on nights? It must have seemed a strange time to be practising point duty in the bedroom. But of course, Neil was on duty, and if my bedroom was part of his beat, that was all right.
Then that dreadful day, when David should have been directing traffic in the centre of town. Instead he returned unexpectedly to find Neil and me engaged in learning riot control on the sofa.
‘I must warn you that anything you say may be taken down and used in evidence,’ he said hotly, as Neil silently retrieved his trousers from where they were draped over the budgie’s cage, shaking his foot where the Jack Russell had peed on it in excitement.
But nothing could keep us apart. Not David’s anger, nor even when Neil was posted to distant Snettertoneast. We knew we were meant for each other, and our love was a thing that could not be denied.
‘No matter what you say, I’ll always love him,’ I told David tearfully one day over supper – our anniversary. We had been married just six months and he had prepared my favourite meal, one Ryvita biscuit with half a radish, and covered the table with 182 daisies, one for every day since our marriage.
Poor David. He tried so hard to make it work. But I knew that there was only one man meant for me, and that my only mistake had been ever to believe that David and I were meant for each other.
But how could I tell him I was leaving him? I was fond of him, even though he threw me downstairs every day and went out for forty-two pints and a game of darts with the boys each evening when he came back from the beat.
I knew he wanted to make a go of it. But that night, when he had left for work and I heard him trying to claw his way through the wooden back door to get to me convinced me.
That and the time I woke and found him standing over me, staring with glassy, lustful eyes at my body in its see-through chiffon nightie-ette which Neil had bought for me because he said it matched the colour of my eyes.
I had to tell him. Summoning my courage one morning, I said, as we were tucking into the Wheatybangs, ‘David, Neil and I love each other, we’re going to run away and live in sin in a Salvation Army hostel in Saundersfoot.’
For a moment, I thought he would strike me. His anger was so towering. Then, with a choking noise, he pitched face forward into the porridge, pointing to the door and sobbing wordlessly for me to get out of his life.
Sighing, remembering, I turned round to pick up my bags – and found that the budgie had been run over by a No. 47 bus.
I can’t seem to stop writing currently! I’m obsessed, in a good way.
As a result, there will be two new books coming out shortly, to be followed by one or two more by the end of the year,hopefully.
I’m now writing under some different pen names, so I hope you are managing to keep up! I recently published my first every crime novel, Baby’s Got Blue Eyes, under the pen name of L M Krier. Actually, it is my two initials and one of my surnames. It’s had a good reception so far and will shortly be joined by Book II in the DI Ted Darling series. The plot for Book III is already swilling round in what I laughingly call my brain, so if you have got as fond of the characters as I have, there is more to come.
I’ll shortly be bringing out my first children’s book, The Dog with the Golden Eyes, under the name of L M Kay. You can see what I did there! The reason for all these different names is that the genres are very different. Nobody would take seriously a crime writer called Tottie Limejuice, and a children’s book written by a writer of murder mysteries might not be too well received.
It’s a nostalgic type of animal adventure book for children of about 8-10, ideal for reading aloud to share. It’s similar to some of those on which I cut my teeth growing up; Enid Blyton, the Pullein Thompson sisters, that sort of thing. The dog in question is loosely based on one of my previous dogs, Meic, and the setting is based on Lincoln, near where I used to live.
After that comes DI Ted Darling Book II. The name is under wraps for now, I’m superstitious. The subject matter is topical and sees Ted wrestling dark demons from his own past in trying to solve his latest case.
Some of my readers have been asking if there will be any more in the Sell the Pig series. I was going to hang up my memoir hat for the time being but with the new venture of Tottie’s Tours starting this year, I think there will be plenty of irresistible material in that for a sequel to the original trilogy.
If you’ve read and enjoyed any of the books, please feel free to tell your friends or share them on social media. And do drop by the Tottie Limejuice Chat Group on Facebook for all the latest news and gossip.
See you there?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Welcome to Tottie’s Tours, your chance to discover for yourself the beautiful Auvergne and meet writer Tottie Limejuice
Starting April 2015
The purpose of these holidays is to share with you the stunning splendour of the Auvergne and to give you the opportunity to discover some of the sights and meet some of the people mentioned in the Sell the Pig series of books.
Where else could you possibly stay but at Les Hirondelles, Chabanol, with friendly and welcoming hosts Christine and Geoff, mentioned several times in the books. In a quiet setting with outstanding views you’ll find clean and comfortable accommodation for your adventure. Tottie’s Tours are principally self-catering, although certain meals are included in the price (see itinerary).
The self-contained gîte
You will stay in independent self-catering accommodation, a self-contained gîte, with all the facilities you need. There are two bedrooms, each accommodating two people. One room has a double and a single bed, the other has two single beds. Should anyone prefer to sleep on their own, there are two clic-clacs (bed settees) in the sitting room.
Sitting room with wood burner for colder evenings
There is a shower and separate toilet on the ground floor, with ample hot water for four people. The kitchen is shared, if you decide to cook together instead of going out to eat.
The main house
To make the Tours warm and personal, the maximum group size any week is four people. You can either group yourself or the organisers will group you. Please note this may mean you sharing a room with someone you have not yet met, although we hope you would be in touch with one another before the Tour begins. It’s all part of the adventure!
A car is essential for the group. Please consider car sharing wherever possible to make the holiday as green as a Tottie’s Tour should be. Please note: no transport is provided, but we will try to arrange the groups so there is room in a car for anyone without their own transport.
Part of the spirit of a Tottie’s Tour is to have adventures! So you will have free days to go off exploring by yourself. Geoff and Christine will suggest routes and visitor attractions and I will meet up with you at the beginning of your stay, and during the week, to see how the adventure is going.
For all your self-catering needs, there is the small town of Sauxillanges just a ten-minute drive from your accommodation and there are plenty of good restaurants in the area. Eating out in the Auvergne is generally very good and not expensive. You can usually find a very good meal for anything between €12 and €30. Meals are usually four courses, starter, main, cheese board and dessert, and wine is sometimes included in the price.
|Saturday||Arrival late afternoon, meet Geoff and Christine. Settle into your accommodation then join your hosts for an evening meal|
|Sunday||Breakfast with Geoff and Christine. A leisurely morning settling in, and a suggested trip to town for food supplies. After lunch (not included) a visit from Tottie Limejuice, armed with home made cake, to discuss the week and answer your questions. Evening meal is your responsibility, either prepared in the gîte or eaten out|
|Monday||Free day for exploring. Note that many attractions and restaurants are closed on Mondays but the train to the summit of the Puy de Dôme is usually running. There are food outlets at the summit but they are aimed more at tourists than adventurers so you might prefer to eat nearby or take a picnic.|
|Tuesday||Another free day for an adventure from the list of places to visit|
|Wednesday||Meet up with Tottie in her hometown of Olliergues. Enjoy a leisurely lunch out at a typical Auvergnat restaurant on your way over, then meet Tottie for a guided tour of the town and some of its characters. A great opportunity to buy gifts and souvenirs like fabulous artisan soap, handmade pencils from a colourful craftsman character and delicious local cheese|
|Thursday||A free day to do as you please. If you want to visit a typical French market, you’ll find a bustling one at Ambert, a pleasant drive from your accommodation|
|Friday||Meet Tottie for lunch at the Bar le St Thomas, as mentioned in the books. Enjoy a fabulous meal, buy some boxes of excellent fudge and linger over a very long and leisurely meal. Now the ice is firmly broken, Tottie will regale you with some of the tales which didn’t make the editor’s cut of her books. You’ll be departing after breakfast on Saturday – please ensure your accommodation is in the same clean and tidy state in which you found it.|
The Auvergne is absolutely full of fabulous places to visit, you’ll find you simply don’t have time to see them all. Your hosts will be happy to make suggestions but here are a few:
The iconic Puy de Dôme volcano and its rack railway. Don’t worry, it’s dormant!
The Massif du Sancy which boasts the highest volcano in France.
For a wet day, there’s Vulcania to learn all about the region’s volcanoes.
How to get there
The Auvergne’s Puy de Dome region is more or less in the centre of France. Allow roughly 7.5 hours to get from Calais to your accommodation, mostly easy motorway driving. There are good flights into Clermont-Ferrand airport from hubs like Paris and from some UK regional airports, and you can hire a car there. You’ll find details of how to get to your accommodation here.
A word about the Auvergnat weather – it is predictable only for its unpredictability! It’s usually lovely but it has its moments and its climate can be extreme at times. Dress code for this area is casual at all times, even in smart restaurants, so your safest bet is always lots of layers, and do remember waterproofs, just in case. Your accommodation is rural and situated high up.
Prices quoted include accommodation (bedding provided in the gîte but not towels), meals only as stipulated (dinner first night, breakfast first morning, and farewell lunch), visits by Tottie and guided tour by her around Olliergues, all gas and electricity in the gîte. Firewood is available for the gîte at €5 a panier, should the evenings turn chilly.
What’s not included
Towels in the gîte, any transport, meals other than as stipulated.
Prices (April, May, June and September – for other periods please ask)
Per person, per week, based on 4 people sharing the gîte – €200
Please note, if you prefer not to share you can of course book your TottiesTour with the gîte exclusively for 2 people, at a cost of €300 per person, per week.
How to book
All bookings to be made direct via Tottie Limejuice email@example.com Bookings to be be accompanied by a 30% deposit (non-refundable), the balance to be paid in full 4 weeks before arrival date, please. Failure to do so may result in the deposit being forfeit. Payment can be made via Paypal in sterling or euros, or by direct bank transfer in either currency. Please ask for details for your preferred payment method.
The visitors on the very first Tottie’s Tours have the chance to be featured in Tottie’s next book! So what are you waiting for – why not book TODAY.
View from your accommodation across to the Massif du Sancy
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.
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
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
One 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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!