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Face masks go tropical!

To celebrate the publication of ALONG THE ENDLESS RIVER I've been busy, not at my laptop, but at my sewing machine. Those of you who read Female First may have seen my article on my attempts at creating a fully handmade wardrobe. If you missed it, you can catch it here: I find sewing to be completely relaxing and my way of achieving mindfulness. Other people feel the same way about cooking, exercising or even, dare I say it, writing.

For me, cooking is just plain boring - and often it just seems so pointless - you buy the food, prepare the food, cook the food, eat the food - then it's gone and you have to start all over again. Three times a day! I don't get it. Having said that, the discovery of The Green Roasting Tin cookbook has changed some of that for me - I just absolutely adore these one tray dishes. Everything I've attempted has turned out nutritious and delicious. Usually, the prep time is short, though for some dishes the cooking time can be up to one hour. But as all you have to do is shove it in the oven and leave it to get on with it, that's fine by me.

Exercising I love - sort of! I am a fully paid up member of Be Military Fit (used to be British Military Fitness) and I religiously attend my bootcamp classes two to four times a week. Obviously at the moment, whilst we are only able to meet up with one other person, we are attending as bubble buddies so it's just two people exercising together, following a route and exercises set by the instructors online. I never want to go to class, but I'm always glad I did at the end. I'm also running a lot - I never seem to get any faster or go any further, though. Most Sundays I do around 12K and though I want to do more, it never seems to happen. Do I enjoy it? I really don't know. I do it because it's good for me - I hope - and it gets me out of the house and away from the writing desk. I'm longing for the day when it suddenly becomes easy and I sprint up to the top of Kite Hill like a mountain gazelle. Hasn't happened yet but maybe soon?

Similarly, writing can be a joy but is often a slog - characters not coming alive, structures hard to work out, edits difficult to make. I do it because it's like a need - I can so I must - and I love to see the finished product and hear how people have enjoyed it. Along the Endless River is a case in point here. The reviews have been overwhelmingly positive - and I was beyond thrilled and delighted when the incomparable Anne Williams proclaimed her love for the book: This is what makes it all worthwhile. But I would never say it was easy.

Sewing, on the other hand, calms and focuses me. I get completely absorbed in the jigsaw puzzle nature of it - which bit goes where, how all the pattern pieces fit together. But unlike a jigsaw, or a meal for that matter, what you make you get to keep forever. I've got garments in my wardrobe I made ten years ago and more. Some I've passed down to my daughters, which is really lovely.

If I could spend my whole life either writing or sewing (with a bit of BMF and the odd recipe thrown in), I would be so happy. Sadly, financial necessity means I'll be at the coalface in the classroom for the foreseeable future. I looked at a part time job today, but I simply could not live on the money. My book earnings last year were such that they garnered a tax bill of £2.40. Exactly. Not going to get rich that way any time soon.

No matter. I will carry on writing, primarily because there are so many more stories in my head that I'm bursting to tell. All I wish for really is for readers to enjoy and get something from my books. And oh. If Steven Spielberg's listening, Along The Endless River, as many reviewers have said, would make an excellent film. Contact me here anytime.

And I nearly forgot. If you'd like a free reusable cotton face mask handmade by me, just sign up to my subscriber list for a chance to win.


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