Friday, November 22, 2013

Fancy a cuppa and a chance to win a Brown Betty teapot?

Although I’ve lived away from the UK for twenty years now (and these past 11 months in Portland, Oregon) I still stick rigidly to my four 0'clock teatime ritual. 

On Facebook recently, author Elizabeth Duncan asked her friends and followers the question, “What is your favorite brand of tea?”

I used to adore Yorkshire Gold but now I find it too strong.  I enjoy PG Tips but that could be because of “Cooeee Mr. Shifter” – a commercial from 1971. Hilarious. 

I love Twinings (especially Lady Grey), I don’t mind Tetley, I loathe Liptons (is that really tea? Seriously?) but my all-time favorite is … French Breakfast Tea by Mariage Freres. 

Quelle horreur! I hear my fellow countrymen and anglophiles cry. But it’s true. I love it. Perhaps it’s the packaging … or even the little muslin bags?

Drinking tea from the correct cup makes a difference, too. 

My mother insists that only workmen on building sites or plumbers (I do not share her opinion) drink tea from heavy mugs. Bone china is the only way to go. I’m not a fan of a cup and saucer (the tea gets cold too quickly) so these delicate mugs from Tottering-by-Gently are a perfect compromise. 

But the true test of a good cuppa is in the way it’s made. And if you want to know how … click on this link to my latest newsletter.  You’ll also find details of a free contest for a chance to win a genuine Brown Betty teapot. All you have to do is guess the name of the dog on the book cover of my brand new series that will be coming out in May of 2014 called Murder at Honeychurch Hall. The contest ends December 1. Winners will be contacted by email and announced on Facebook.  

But for now, my little alarm has just gone off. It’s 3.50 PM exactly. In ten minutes I’ll be sitting down with my afternoon cuppa and a McVitites chocolate digestive biscuit. Yum. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Sun is Out!

View from our room at Sunriver
Well ... summer is around the corner and I'm beginning to cheer up a little. I had obviously lived in California for far too long. Who would have thought the lack of sunshine would have had such an impact on me. I even bought a SAD light.

But - this past weekend my husband and I went to the Sunriver Resort in Bend, Oregon. It was absolutely gorgeous. We had so much fun whitewater rafting, trail riding, hiking, cycling ... Oregon is such a wonderful place to be—when it's sunny.

But - no more grumbling! I am making a solemn intention from this point forwards to embrace my new life. To "bloom where I'm planted" - something a new friend (and everyone in Portland is so nice!) suggested I do.

However - just so you know what challenges lay ahead, here are 37 Things to Consider Before Moving To Portland.  (And a big thank you to Anna Nicholas who sent me this cool blog from Estately).

Click on this link - and learn! Estately: 37 Things to Consider Before Moving to Portland Oh ... and there is always the TV Show Portlandia...

Friday, April 26, 2013

Adjusting to a New Life

There's a saying "be careful what you wish for" and for the past decade, all I have wanted is to quit my full-time job in Los Angeles and write.

When my husband's job moved us to Portland, Oregon in January, I was over the moon. At last my dream was coming true but somehow, things didn't quite work out how I imagined.

This is what I imagined: Getting up at a decent hour (I used to wake at 4.30 AM to write before work) with a leisurely cup of coffee followed by a few hours of serious writing. Ideas would pour into my mind. I'd type away with a huge, contented smile on my face—possibly working on two or three projects at the same time.

I'd make a healthy lunch and lose 10 pounds because I wasn't tempted by office snacks. Afterwards, I'd take a leisurely walk along the river (it's beautiful here) or perhaps an exercise class. I'd be thin. Toned. Radiant. Gorgeous.

I'd spend another couple of hours at my writing—rattle off a few emails, play on Facebook, phone my mother and the friends I never had time for whilst living in Los Angeles. At 4 PM I'd stop for a traditional cup of English tea and read a book for an hour. After that, I'd cook something absolutely fabulous for supper—possibly French—greet my husband at the door like a 1950's housewife and we'd share our day.

How wrong could I be!!

First of all ...I've discovered that without a rigid structure to my day, all my self-discipline has flown out the window.  When I worked full-time my days were ruled by panic and the fear that I would never turn my books in on time. It was what got me out of bed at 4.30 AM.

Secondly ... I really really miss my work people. Being part of a crazy advertising environment was actually a lot of fun. True, it was insane and very stressful but a true mine of inspiration when it came to devising murder plots and selecting victims.

Thirdly ... it rains. Okay - as I am typing this, it is day 3 of sun which is apparently really unusual. Yes, I'm British and I should be used to the weather by now, but after twenty years in sunny California it's very hard staring at a gray sky day in—day out. Apparently, Portlandians (and do check that series out because Portland is exactly like the show) say that summer officially begins on July 5. I have to find the funny though because last year when my husband and I were gripped by the American TV version of The Killing, I would say "Good God. I can't imagine living somewhere so dreary where it rains all the time! I'd kill myself." And here we are ... months later living exactly where it rains all the time. Of course, I miss my little feline friend, Mr. Tig so I suspect that hasn't helped.

And as for exercise. Honestly. Up until yesterday I would have said I didn't care but we just enrolled in "Full-Tilt Spin" classes at Firebrand. I'll say one thing for Portland, it's pretty innovative. It's probably a good thing because the food in Portland is amazing.

Oh! And I missed out a vital fact that although I have essentially given up full-time work in high-rise office, I'm still available "remotely" 24-7 to my Los Angeles boss ... and believe me, he takes advantage of that ... and I don't mind! I'm starved of conversation.

But grumbling apart, I know I'm lucky and as my mother would say, "only you can change your attitude." So ... that's what I'm going to do. Right after I've eaten the last slice of chocolate cake.

If anyone would like to share their moving-to-a-new-city story with me, I'd love to hear it!