Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Squeaky Kittens and the Gipping Guessing Game!

It’s always exciting to have a new book out. Although public appearances make me nervous, I love meeting new people and making new friends. One question that seems to surface all the time is how I come up with my quirky backdrops—hedge jumping, snail racing, farmers “in the buff”, Morris Dancers etc. Honestly, everything is true. I swear. I eavesdrop a lot and scour rural newspapers. Actually, even our British national newspapers carry some great stories.

My current favorite involves a certain Garden Party where HRH the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall were entertained by a rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow played brilliantly on a Xylophone of squeaky kittens. If you don’t believe me – here it is …

And speaking of unusual entertainment, it’s not too late to enter the monthly Gipping Guessing Game. How many pairs of underpants is the man on the top right wearing?

The winner will be announced on February 1. The prize (not underpants) is an English linen tea cloth and a copy of my new book in the Vicky Hill Mysteries, Thieves!

Breaking news re: possible new feline friend for Mr. Tig. It’s looking good.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Faye Dunaway Update ...

... There isn't one. My pet psychic is traveling and communicating with animals across Europe. I eagerly await his return (and I have mentioned it to Mr. Tig who sort of seemed intrigued). 

Now for something completely unrelated. On Sunday my husband and I went to see The Kings Speech (excellent!) and driving home on the 10 Freeway, we were overtaken by a motorcyclist zipping along at a cracking 65 mph ... TEXTING! 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Faye Dunaway and Mr. Tig

I had a huge surprise this morning.

My husband Jason has found a potential wife for our cat, Mr. Tig.

It's no secret among family and friends that Jason is really a dog lover. He's slowly grown to accept (and respect) Mr. Tig my high maintenance cat who was in my life well before Jason was.

Mr. Tig - now a feisty 14 - has become increasingly needy. He misses little Calico, the dearest sweetest little thing ever who moved with me from England and passed away five years ago.

Jason was adamant that we were not going to get another cat so this is BIG NEWS. Of course, we'd love a dog but with our long working hours and living in a city, it wouldn't be fair.

It turns out Jason's spinning instructor at Up Dog Fitness (great name, yes?) supports an
adoption center in West Hollywood called Molly's Mutts and Miaows. It's a really cool shelter and honestly, when I watched the video of Faye Dunaway, I fell in love with her too.

However ... there is one final step. I must consult Ben Scuglia, our cat psychic first to see what Mr. Tig thinks! Yes! I hear the groans and cries of "Hannah's turned Californian!" but believe me, Ben's insights into the workings of Mr. Tig's mind improved our marriage ...

Photo: Mr. Tig and Calico enjoying sashimi ... a special treat (which sent the Japanese chef into shock when we ordered "something to go" for our cats).

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Best Hamburger in Southern California!

It promises to be a very busy week. With Thieves!—Vicky Hill’s fourth adventure—out in the world, I have a ton of events coming up which I really love to do. On Saturday afternoon, I signed at the Mystery Bookstore in Westwood. On Sunday, my husband and I drove the 120 miles to San Diego for a book signing with the hugely talented and lovely Wendy Corsi Staub at Mysterious Galaxy.

It’s always exciting when a new book comes out but it does make me very hungry.

On our drive home we stopped at California’s famous In and Out Burger – one of the very few privately owned hamburger joints. Founded in 1948, it was the first drive-thru hamburger stand ever—well before McDonalds. In-and-Out have THE best hamburgers in the world. Even my English friend Giles keeps a photo of a Double-Double with fries on his iPhone “to remind him” since he now lives in Colorado. Jason and I tucked into hamburger’s “animal style” which is a burger wrapped in iceberg lettuce minus the bun. We then devoured a mound of French Fries and finished off with delicious strawberry milkshakes … …And this is where my husband’s obsession with chemicals is puzzling. 

Like Coca-Cola, the In-and-Out milkshake ingredients are a deadly secret (as well as the special sauce they use on their burgers) but it’s definitely loaded with something unnatural. (Probably the same chemical that covers Pringles and M & M’s – the “hard to stop eating” chemical).

 Somehow, this doesn’t seem to matter. He says that sometimes, life is too short ... 


Saturday, January 8, 2011

McVities Digestive Biscuits!

Today is my launch party at the wonderful Mystery Bookstore in Westwood, California. I hope people come! One never knows!

My husband Jason helped create a fun British Trivia quiz for the occasion. I brought back some great British prizes for the raffle—making sure nothing was Made In China (of course). I also brought back a wonderful hamper that was given to us by my nephew, James and his new bride, Sarah. The hamper contained my husband's favorite digestive biscuits so you can imagine my surprise when Jason sheepishly said he couldn't eat them.

This is big news.

My husband is a night-time snacker. He sometimes has a "triple" snack - meaning he'll snack three times. It's an endearing habit and since he keeps fit and trim, he can snack all he wants. So why not the digestives? "Because they've been through the X-Ray machine."

I know Jason when he has a bee in his bonnet about chemicals in the home - we don't have a microwave etc. so I did some serious research. According to the Health Physics Society, there are no short or long-term effects whatsoever to passing food through an airport screening machine even if this went on every day for twenty-five years (have they really done that research?)

The thing is, I really love digestive biscuits ... would it be wrong to keep to keep my findings to myself?

Monday, January 3, 2011

We Never Forget You Have a Choice!

The great thing about having jet lag is that I am bright and chipper at 4.30 am. When I'm not on a deadline, getting up at that godforsaken time, is normal and something to dread. Today, it's GREAT!

I'm typing away in bed on my laptop with a large cup of coffee and a very very happy Mr. Tig (who has finally stopped grumbling about being left with our wonderful cat sitter.) For those cat lovers who live in Los Angeles, I can't recommend Joanne O' Brien from Sittin' Kitty highly enough. She is fabulous.

Of course, I'll be fading by about four this afternoon - but as a rule, I really don't suffer much. As an ex-flight attendant, my trick is to immediately switch to local time at my destination. I might take a nap if I arrive before 12 noon, but usually I stay awake. I don't drink any alcohol on the plane or during the first two or three days (boring I know but I don't drink much anyway) of arrival. I don't take sleeping pills or Melatonin.

I still love flying -- though I wouldn't want to do it now. The crew work so hard. Flying long haul in the old days usually meant at least four of five days off down route. Sometimes I'd get a 10 day lay-over in Brazil or somewhere equally exotic to sightsee or lay by the pool. Now the crew are lucky if they get 36 hours and they're often stuck in a hotel close to the airport.

Now you can be any shape, size, age or sex. When I first started flying with British Caledonian, girls couldn't be less than 5' 4" tall (to reach the overhead hat racks) or married or even engaged. The "retirement" age was 29! There were no male flight attendants. We had to speak at least one other language and were trained how to deliver a baby. We were subjected to uniform inspection before going onboard—white gloves had to be immaculate, shoes polished etc.

They were such fun days - but knowing the average number of miles walked by flight attendants on a transatlantic flight is 12 miles, let's just say that these days I'm happy in the passenger seat being pampered by the ever friendly Virgin Atlantic folks ...