Friday 28 December 2012

Happy Time Between Christmas and New Year

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and are enjoying the days leading up to New Year. 

This time two years ago we were anxiously awaiting the arrival of my youngest grandson, worrying about how my daughter would get to hospital in the snow. He finally put in an appearance on New Year's Day so it is a double celebration every year for us now.

The Kindle my beloved gave me for Christmas is already stuffed with books.

I was also given two donkeys, Danny and Adele - well they were adopted on my behalf from Hillside Animal Sanctuary. I've always had a soft spot for donkeys. Who knows, maybe I'll be able to go and visit them on one of their open days.

I am giving away You Can't Love a Stranger & Other Stories on Kindle free from today, Friday 28th December until Sunday 30th.

For anyone on Facebook, if you go to the Petplan Equine page and click "like" you can then "donate" a scoop of feed (free) to Redwings. Last time I looked they'd donated more than 700 kilos of horse feed.

Now where did I put those leftover mince pies...

Saturday 22 December 2012

And it's Happy Season's Eatings from Him!

She didn’t mention my latest glucose curve and how brave I was did she? Well as she didn’t, I won’t either, but suffice to say I now have an ear with more holes in it than a tea strainer!

I had to have a proper blood test at the vet’s yesterday too and before we went, she chased me round the garden with an empty Clover tub, then blow me if she didn’t hold it under me when I was about to do what a chap has to do! Talk about off-putting. Still it made her happy.

I’d put on a bit of weight which made everyone smile. Never thought I’d hear myself say that!

The vet said my cataracts are a little worse and they talked a bit about operations, but Herself said it wasn’t something she’d want to put me through as I get so stressed about such things. Me? Ha, what is she like? But all the same – phew!

The proper blood test showed that my glucose levels are still going too high and too low and Tom thinks it might be a rebound effect (my body going into panic mode and dumping a load of glucose into my system), so he’s reduced my insulin. Another two weeks and it’ll be another curve to see how I’m doing.

I hope all you lovely peeps have a brilliant Christmas! I’ve peeked and I’m getting toys instead of eatables and I happen to know one of them has a squeaker – arf, arf, arf!

Friday 21 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

Just stopping by to wish everyone who visits a warm, peaceful and happy Christmas.

Whatever you are doing, I hope you’re where you want to be and with those you want to be with.

And remember, if you’re writing short stories you should be turning your mind to spring now – or autumn if you’re down under!

Ahh, spring, now there’s a lovely thought.

Happy Christmas - I hope you have a good one xxx

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Writers' Office Christmas Party + Free Book

If you haven’t heard about Sally Quilford’s brilliant idea for a Writers’ office party, you can join in here or if you're not on Facebook, here!

People from all over the world are there. How fantastic is that? And the fun has already started.

To celebrate I am giving away A Portrait of Louisa & Other Stories free on Kindle today and tomorrow. It is also available free in the USA.

I hear a rumour there will be a large stationery cupboard available – can you imagine it? All those writers jostling to get in to fondle the notebooks!

I’ve heard talk of a photocopier too…

But best of all, you don’t have to drive home after so you can really let your hair down!

Happy Christmas. Now where’s that stationery cupboard..?

Sunday 16 December 2012

And The Winner Is....

See in my mind it went like this. Indy wears Santa hat. Indy picks name out of cowboy hat. I take photo of Indy with name in mouth clearly showing winner. Post winner on blog.

Very cute!

What happened was: Indy wore Santa hat. Santa hat fell off. Repeat six times.

Indy thinks this is a great lark and gets very excited!

Put Indy’s collar on and tucked Santa hat into it. Hat stayed on. Indy picked up cowboy hat and threw names all over the floor. Returned names to hat. Repeat six times.

Indy kicked hat around the room like a football, scattering names everywhere. I gathered up names and returned them to the hat.

Indy picked name out of hat and began to chew.

I retrieved winning name, opened it out, asked him to hold it in his mouth with the name showing so I could photograph the evidence.

Indy ate the name.

But I think I got the cute pic I was hoping for - as well as a smile (well actually he's chewing, but I think he looks smiley)!

Fortunately I’d read it before asking him to pose with it, so I can tell you the winner of a copy of Writers for Animals is Jenny! Congratulations, Jenny. If you would like to send me your address you can pm me on Facebook or email me at Teresaashby at

With thanks to Isabel for letting us play with borrow her hats!

Tuesday 11 December 2012


Thank you so much Patsy for passing this award on to me (and Indy for “winning” it for me)! I’m so chuffed!

The rules for this are –

1 Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012′ Award

2 Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen - and ‘present’ them with their award.

3 Please include a link back to this page ‘Blog of theYear 2012′ Award - and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)

4 Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them.

5 You can now also join the Facebook group.

6 As a winner of the award — please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award — and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars… Unlike other awards which you can only add to your blog once — this award is different!

When you begin you will receive the ’1 star’ award — and every time you are given the award by another blog — you can add another star! There are a total of 6 stars to collect.

I'm passing this on to –

Patsy who is so generous with sharing links to competitions and other opportunities for writers and who also posts lovely pictures and usually leaves you with a smile on your face. (I believe the rules allow you to award a star back).

Klahanie where Gary writes so compassionately and with such understanding as he shines a light for those with mental health issues  – and who also includes posts from lovely Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet star.

Reading and Writing – I’m sure you’ll find Rosemary’s blog as uplifting and cheerful as I do – and she posts beautiful pictures too.

Ten Lives and Second Chances – well just go there and visit Old Kitty and you’ll see! Charlie and now little Gumtree appear in every lovely post!

An English Travel Writer – fantastic blog by Jenny Woolf chock-a-block with fabulous photos and interesting snippets from Jenny’s travels.

First Draft CafĂ© – meet Maria who inspires with her goal lists and lovely posts!

Don’t forget there is still time for your name to go in the hat for a copy of Writers for Animals (see my last post).

Saturday 8 December 2012

Free Paperback Book!

I may have mentioned once or twice that I have a story in the anthology Writers for Animals which you can buy in paperback or for Kindle.

Proceeds will go to three animal charities chosen by the editor, Jenny Elliott-Bennett.

Hillfields Animal Sanctuary. There are lots of ways you can help Hillfields – donating money is one, but you can also sponsor an animal at the sanctuary for £5 for six months or £10 for a year (a great Christmas gift for an animal lover!). Of course they need other things too, such as building materials and sheds. Read more about them here.

Forget-Me-Not Animal Rescue is there for all animals, farmed, domestic and wild. Donating is easy via PayPal or you could sponsor Kelly Ryan when she jumps out of a plane to raise funds! Visit them here.

ARAN – Animal Rights Action Network is a peaceful organisation committed to fight animal abuse across Ireland. Check out their campaigns here. They are campaigning against all animal abuse, from fur farming to the use of wild animals in circuses. They are also trying to educate people not to buy pets as Christmas presents.

It is widely believed that this year will be worse than usual for the amount of animals dumped around Christmas. Battersea is already seeing the start of a “cat crisis” with 50% more people this year giving up their cats.

I promise, if you follow any of the links I’ve put here, you won’t see any distressing pictures.

Now to win a copy of Writers for Animals – which contains some great stories both fiction and real life – all I ask is that you read this post and leave a comment by next Sunday 16th December – even if it’s just to say hello! I’ll put all the names in a hat and get Indy to pick out a winner and I'll try to get it sent off in time for Christmas.

I should say that the book is intended for adults, not children.

It would be great if you’d follow one or more of the links, but I’m not going to insist on it. I just want to give one of these lovely books away.

Indy says “Go on, you know you wanna!”

Friday 7 December 2012

Are you ready to party?

Sally Q comes up with some inspired ideas and her latest one is more than brilliant!

A Writers' Office Christmas Party! There are loads of ways you can join in - read all about it here.

There are already over 200 people going.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday 6 December 2012

Story Timeline

We all know how hard it is to juggle dates, ages, events and so on when writing anything that spans any length of time.

Well Wendy's clever husband has come up with a tool to help and you can read all about it here.

I'm not going to post a picture of the snow. I'm fed up with it already - mutter mutter.

Monday 3 December 2012

Happy December!

Thank goodness November has gone. It certainly lived down to my expectations and was a very tough month for my family, but it was nowhere near as bad as it could have been, so I’m not complaining.

We put the Christmas decorations up at the end of the month and when you think it’s only just over a couple of weeks till the longest night, we’ll soon be able to look forward to spring.

But first December with all the Christmas songs and carols, parties for the kids, school plays, wrapping up presents and writing cards – lovely!

I did Indy’s glucose curve yesterday and I had high hopes for a good result because he’s been so much more energetic and lively since he’s been on the diabetic food.

What a shock then that his glucose levels were high and at one point went right off the top of the chart. His curve was more of a zig-zag.

So his insulin has been increased a little and I’m to do another curve just before Christmas. I knew it was never going to be easy and I know it can take many months to get the condition stable.

For his first blood test he sat and shook so much, it was hard to get the tiny blob of blood onto the miniscule thing on the test strip. What with my morning eyes and him trembling, it took fifteen minutes and three test strips to do that first one.

But the next 15 tests went really well and he was so blasĂ© about it by the evening that he didn’t even bother to sit up when I was jabbing his poor ear. Apart from his early morning wobblies, he was such a stoic. This would all be so much more difficult if he wasn’t as good as he is.

Hope you are having a Happy December!

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Monday 26 November 2012

Runner up!

Thanks everyone who downloaded my Colonel book and thanks to those who bought the short story book too.

A while back I put a link on here to win a Kindle with Animed (where I buy a lot of Indy’s meds, syringes etc). It was a caption competition and I was so chuffed to be one of the 50 runners up.

The prize arrived and it was a pack of dog treats, which judging by the ingredients will be fine for Indy, plus a game for him. It’s like one of those little square things with all the tiny squares that you have to move to make up a picture, except this one has 9 big squares with little wells beneath each one.

He already has a treat ball which he loves to play with. But he keeps leaving it in the garden and last time he brought it in, a slug fell out! Because it’s got so wet inside, I can’t put food in there any more, so this new toy arriving was timely.

I put some of his food in the wells and slid the covers over to hide it. It took him all of one and a half seconds to figure out how to move the covers using his paw or his nose. I can arrange it so it’s more complicated, but it’s definitely a hit.

He’s always been very clever when it comes to things like that, but leave a door ajar and him on the other side and he is completely lost. Tilly used to open doors for him – either by pushing them or by pulling them open with her paw.

This picture makes me smile. It is so typical. Indy so spotless and Tilly… well it’s a good job she used to love her baths! 

And funnily enough, a new lady has moved into our close and she has cats – and one of them looks very much like Sammy. It feel so strange – and so nice – to see a ginger cat around again.

This was Sammy when he was 10 – a few years before all his health problems started.

And here’s a picture I found of The Incredible Threesome (one of the stories in You Can’t Love a Stranger & Other Stories) – plus one! Sweep on the left, Tilly at the front, Indy on the right and my daughter’s dog Oakley (who has also appeared in lots of my stories) at the back. Sweep was 12 in this picture, the same age as Indy is now – and the other three were about a year old.

Why were they all sitting so nicely and looking so serious and attentive? They were waiting for their dinner which was up on the side! 

Saturday 24 November 2012

Dogs, Colonels and a Giveaway!

At last I’ve got round to publishing a new short story collection. You Can’t Love a Stranger & Other Stories is now out on Kindle. The twelve stories all have animals in them – mainly dogs and I have to say Indy appears in one guise or another at least three times. Tilly too, most notably in The Incredible Threesome as Millie - my favourite story in the book for three very good reasons.

Indy's on the cover too, with my lovely Tilly - one of my favourite pictures of the two of them because they were both caught having fun waiting for me to throw a ball!

And I’ve also published another novella which was a Woman’s Weekly serial in a previous life. The Colonel & His Daughter is a light-hearted tale about Trudy, a lady of a certain age, who is adept at sorting out the problems in everyone else’s life, but ends up with a broken heart of her own. You know me though – there’ll be a happy ending. And there are, of course, dogs!

The Colonel & His Daughter is free to download on the 24th and 25th November.

Monday 19 November 2012

Angel All Year - free download

Isn’t this a fabulous cover? Angel All Year by Sally Clements is free to download today and tomorrow. Just click here. I've downloaded my copy and I can't wait to read it!

And the paperback of Writers for Animals can now be ordered from Amazon, Waterstones and WHSmith. But if you can't wait, it is also available on Kindle.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Writers for Animals

This week the anthology Writers for Animals which contains a mixture of fiction and true life stories is published by Bridge House Publishing.

All profits will go to three animal charities.

Right now you can buy it on Kindle – here - but it will be out in paperback later this week.

Anyone who knows me will know how much it means to me to have one of my stories included in this book.

And it feels even more special because it is a year today since we lost Tilly. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and miss her. I was going to post a photo, but, you know – tried looking through photos and found it too hard, even now.

So on this chilly foggy day, here’s one from earlier this week that I took with my phone. Not great quality, but the day really was that stunningly blue.

Friday 9 November 2012

Computer shop or stationery shop?

I know – what a daft question!

Beloved had to make a mercy dash to PC World for a spare part and granddaughter no. 3 (who is aged 3) and I went along too.

PC World is right next door to Staples.

“Which shop shall we go in?” I asked. “The computer shop?”

“Or the pens and paper shop?”

Well what can I say? There was no hesitation, no thinking about it – I was so proud!

PC World didn’t have the part he needed so he came into Staples while we were still browsing to see if they had it. They didn’t. So he went off to Curry’s.

We carried on browsing. She insisted on checking out every single aisle, poor me - not.

By the time we came out, he was waiting in the car. Had he been waiting long? Probably. But where stationery is involved, time loses all meaning.

This is some of our loot! I didn’t buy any notebooks (Izzy bought the tiny notebook), but I did treat myself to some gel pens.

Then when we got home five Chinooks flew over one after another. I grabbed my camera quick, but couldn’t get a decent shot. They’re a rare sight here.

And we had the tree done last week. Poor thing is completely denuded. Not a single leaf left.

This was the best picture I got while it was being done. 

If you look closely you can just about see a man. There were two of them and I didn't dare go out and start taking photos in case I distracted them so I took this one from my office window!

They did a great job and cleared up every last leaf which means, this autumn at least, we won't have to!

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Two Lovely Awards!

I haven’t been around much on the internet, just dipping my toe in here and there. I’d like to say I’ve been busy writing, but it wouldn’t be true. I just feel a bit withdrawn at the moment.

But in good old Blue Peter tradition, here’s one I sort of prepared earlier. I used an old washing up bottle, some oddments of wool and lots of sticky-backed plastic (I didn't really - I just used some words, some pictures and some links).

Thank you Rosemary and Patsy (where there is news of a free Kindle book) for the Top Commenter Award.

And thank you Liz for the One Lovely Blog award.

I’m afraid I’m going to be very lazy again and pass these awards to everyone who comments here, but whether you accept or not, I hope you’ll visit the lovely ladies mentioned above.

As part of the requirement for the One Lovely Blog Award I have to tell you 7 random things about myself, but I’ve run out of things to say about me, so I’ll do it about Indy.

1.  He had his second (at home) glucose curve on the Sunday before last which means hourly blood tests from the time we get up, until we go to bed. The results were pretty good and his insulin dose is staying the same. I’ve changed him over to Burns High Oats (you can enter a competition to win a year’s supply of Burns food here) which is better for diabetic* dogs and we’ll do another glucose curve in four weeks to see if that has given us further improvement, plus he’ll have another Fructosamine blood test.

2.  At one point one of his white paws was red with blood. No, not his, mine! I fumbled with the lancet device and not only managed to knock the protective cap off, I also hit the button to activate it, stabbed my finger and sliced at the same time. Lots of blood. I had to get a plaster before I could continue. Yes, Indy laughed. But on the plus side, it didn’t hurt, which made me feel better about doing it to him.

3.  He has lots of lumps and bumps as – ahem – older pooches do, but there was one on the side of his face that was worrying me. Tom said he was sure it was nothing to worry about and did a needle test. Just a cyst. Phew.

4.  There is little he is afraid of. Being cold, being hungry and Chihuahuas are three things that scare him.

5.  He was having a cuddle with Lachlan the other day and Lachlan said he was worried about cuddling him because “he is delicate”. Indy has been called a lot of things, but I think delicate is a new one.

6.  He dislikes baths, brushes and scissors.

7.  When I sit in the back of the car with him, he has to stand on my lap. It doesn’t matter where I sit; he has to stand on me.

*Indy has asked me to point out that he is not overweight and has only just put the weight back on that he lost! Very sensitive about his weight he is!

As I said, please do take an award if you comment here – if you want to of course. I won’t twist your arm. 

Go on go on go on go on....

Monday 29 October 2012

Keep In!

When I was a child, I used to think that the railings round some graves were to keep the occupants in.

There are quite a few yew trees in the cemetery which isn’t unusual. They are a common sight in churchyards and graveyards. No one really knows why. Do they cleanse, purify and protect the dead? Who knows?

Well I think they’re yew – Common Yew or Irish Yew? I don’t know.

Everything feels muted in fog. I like it. I like the way it makes you feel isolated from the rest of the world.

I like to see the webs of spiders twinkly with moisture. Not so keen on the occupants though.

Some of my family are in this cemetery. I don’t think I’ll join them. 

No, I’m not hoping for immortality – I’m thinking more along the lines of the green cemetery out near the woods.

Hm, what sort of tree would I have planted on me? Well I’d like an oak and it would be kind of nice to have it grown from an acorn from the tree in my garden.

Apparently they will try to plant the tree of your choice, but ultimately the decision will be made by The Management.

Well now I have a picture of Ron and Ron – The Management - presiding over the burials!

As Miranda’s mum would say, “Such fun.”

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Black Cats

Did you know that black cats in rescues are often the last to be homed? Some never find a forever home.

Why? I don’t get it.

Gizmo – or Gizzie the Mo – or Gizzie - or Mo – grew up to be the most beautiful cat. He would lie in your arms like a baby and he used to talk – chitter and squawk – standing up on his back legs and stretching up his arms.

He used to frighten me to death, chirruping at me from the roof of the house!

Six years ago at the age of fourteen, he died in his sleep. He’d shown no signs of illness at all.

Funny, lovely, crazy little puss!

What’s not to love?

You can read more about the difficulty of rehoming black cats at Catchat.

And this one isn't totally black, but he's beautiful - Huggy - our feral cat from many years ago. Kitten without a clue. Didn't even know how to wash himself until my lovely ginger cat, Leo, taught him how. He came to us infested with worms and fleas and was a bit whiffy, but he grew into a huge, cuddly cat. He certainly lived up to his name!

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Why Dress Up?

My mum shared every family occasion with us, from birthdays to Easter so when she died in 2003 we were left with a terrible void. We were sad every day, but felt it particularly at family celebrations.

My daughter took me out on Mother’s Day that year, driving me round the countryside, just the two of us. At her wedding, I kept thinking my mum should have been there to see her get married. I’m not going to go on about it because anyone who has lost their mum knows that the sadness seems endless.

I don’t know why, but I decided we should all dress up for Halloween and we all set about sorting out costumes. It was just us, the family, at home. We’d never done anything like it before and it seemed to lift us for a while. Here was something that had no memories. It wasn’t a conscious thing, but there you go.

The daft thing is, that over the years it has become one of the things that reminds me of my mum, because it was the first thing we did that had no memories attached.

When I was a child my mum used to go out on her broomstick at Halloween until all the twigs fell out and she was grounded. Well that’s what she told me anyway and as she was a witch, I believed her.

She used to have a little witch hanging up in the front room window and my cousin wrote a poem about her witchery and made it into a little booklet.

So that’s what the dressing up at Halloween is all about anyway. Among others we’ve had the Osbournes, Indiana Jones, Adam Ant, Obi Wan Kenobi, Jack Charlton, Jack Sparrow – and now we have Little People to join in, it’s even better.

And while I was looking for Halloween pictures, I found this one of Sammy – it was taken on a mobile phone and not great, but it is one of my favourite ones of him taken before he got so ill. He couldn’t believe the cheek of the dove sitting on the windowsill right under his nose!

He really was the most easy going, sweet natured cat and that was the only time I ever saw him look cross.

Sunday 21 October 2012

Roses, Caulis and Rain

I’ve just finished making my outfit for Halloween – now all I need is an invite out somewhere. Hello… anyone..?

This is the fabric I used. I made a tunic from a pattern I got free with Prima.

And this is what I shall be eating for my dinner tonight. I saw it when we stopped off at Rookery Farm for some veg and I couldn’t resist.

The purple colour is caused by an antioxidant, anthocyanin, which is also present in red wine.

Just waiting for it to stop raining so I can take Mr Bones out. Here he is next to my chair – raring to go as you can see, bless him.