17 April 2018

My Tuesday Talk Guest: Anna Belfrage and Losing the history and sticking with romance

 – sort of ...

I’m going to come right out and admit it: the reason I write is because it allows me to indulge the huge romantic streak within, the one that has me sighing happily whenever true love overcomes whatever obstacles crosses its path. This doesn’t mean that I necessarily write 100% pure romances – you see, I get distracted by the historical setting, by the political scene of whatever time I am writing about. It is called context, and it is massively fun and elucidating to research and write. It is also essential when writing historical fiction as people read historical fiction to be transported back in time. Ergo, if you’re writing a love story set in the 14th century then you need not only to get the love and kisses right, you also need to do so without dressing Mr Hero in anachronistic clothes or allowing Ms Heroine to walk about with her hair uncovered and a revealing décolletage—unless Ms Heroine is a lady of the night, of course, in which case I’d suggest you dress her in yellow. 

I love history. I love well-written historical fiction. I cringe at historical novels that have people peeling potatoes in 11th century Ireland or lounging on a sofa in the 13th. That beautifully written historical romance, with the beautifully depicted protagonists, loses some of its glow if the context is incorrect. I suppose that may just be me, but incorrect historical facts yank me out of the story so fast I end up gasping like a landed trout. Not a pleasant experience…

So far, I have mostly stuck with combining my romantic streak with my passion for history. Yes, I’ve added a titillating angle in my first series, The Graham Saga, by making one of the protagonists a most reluctant time traveller. Well, she is until she meets Matthew Graham, the man destined to be her other half no matter that they were born three centuries apart.  

However: while writing books set in the 17th century, books set in the 14th century, polishing a Work in Progress set in the 13th century, I have all the time been working on a different project. One where romance and suspense takes over from romance and history. All told, I’ve invested twelve years in this particular story, so obviously I must feel it is very good—or important (to me).

It all began with lions.
I can hear you going “Qué?” 

It did. It began with these vague images of a young girl with the most amazing set of blonde curls running barefoot somewhere very hot. Red dust rose in her wake, the shapeless linen garment billowed around her as she ran and ran, accompanied by three half-grown lionesses. Very strange. Even stranger was that when I saw that same girl as an adult, that head of curls was tamed in a short edgy haircut, her toned legs encased in black trousers. Plus she was in London and to judge from her attire and the laptop she was carrying, she was busy at something in a financial environment. 

Obviously, I had something of a dilemma on my hands. How was I to marry those images of the running child in old-fashioned clothes with this high-flying professional? How to create a plausible context in which lions ran with the girl without snacking on her?

“Plausible context?” Helle Madsen looks at me over her laptop and grins. “Good luck with that one.”
I actually think I have found a good backstory. Helle can’t express an opinion. You see, she doesn’t remember. Nope, she has no memories of her first and very distant life in which her only friends were those three lions—until the day Jason made his first appearance in her life.

“Ah, yes.” Jason smiles, those copper-coloured eyes of his lighting up. “She was for once silent and neat—not as much as a smudge on her garments, not a single wayward curl escaping her heavy braid—standing some feet behind her father. Such a pretty little girl. Such a lonely little girl.”
“I was?” Helle asked, sounding intrigued. “And how would you know?”
Jason just smiles and winks at me. You see, Jason does remember—all of it. And I can tell you that while he is more than happy at having found his Helle again after spending sixty lives or so looking for her, he sincerely hopes his presence won’t nudge all her dormant memories to life. After all, there’s a reason he’s been tumbling through time looking for her and hoping to make amends…

Things are further spiced up by my third reincarnated character, gorgeous but dangerous Sam Woolf. Jason would tell you everything that happened in that first life was Woolf’s fault. So would Helle—if she remembered. So would Woolf. Thing is, he doesn’t care: he set out to destroy them last time round and hopes to finalise that particular task this time round.

 So, peeps, how does that sound as a premise? Whatever your opinion, I think we can all agree on the fact that this does not qualify as historical fiction, and this in itself leaves me somewhat out of breath. I like staying in my comfort zone. I enjoy the structure recreating a historical setting gives to my stories. But now I feel a bit like Dorothy, setting a foot on the yellow brick road. Will it carry me all the way to Oz? I hope so!

Not only am I taking on a new genre. I have also decided to try to secure a publishing deal with Kindle Press by submitting this book to their Kindle Scout programme. Not that many days left on my campaign which ends on April 21st and of course I need all the nominations I can get. I am therefore VERY grateful to Helen for having given me some air-space on her blog and hope you will all pop over to https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/ICMPHQBF30CN and do some nominating.

About Anna
Had Anna Belfrage been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does not exist, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests, namely history and writing. 
Anna has just released the fourth instalment of The King’s Greatest Enemy, a series set in the 1320s featuring Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures and misfortunes in connection with Roger Mortimer’s rise to power. 

When Anna is not stuck in the 14th century, she's probably visiting in the 17th century, specifically with Alex(andra) and Matthew Graham, the protagonists of the acclaimed The Graham Saga. This is the story of two people who should never have met – not when she was born three centuries after him.

Anna’s books have won multiple awards among which feature numerous Historical Novel Society’s Editor’ Choice. She has also contributed to several short-story collections and aims to release a contemporary trilogy in 2018 – a mixture of time-slip, suspense and burning passion.

Find out more about Anna on her website, Amazon, on FB or follow her on Twitter. Or pop by her blog and submerge yourself in historical posts about everything from golden camels to abducted nuns.  

The King’s Greatest Enemy: https://myBook.to/TKGE
The Graham Saga: http://amzn.to/2sVzZsZ

Please support Anna by clicking HERE 
and nominating her new project
thank you,
my previous article: 25 years 'in the business'  

10 April 2018

Twenty-Five Years ‘in the business’

Twenty-five years ago this month I celebrated my fortieth birthday during the Easter Weekend while on holiday in the Lake District. (I'll do the maths for you ... I'm sixty-five this year). We (that’s me, husband Ron and daughter Kathy, then aged 11) were camping on the shore of Coniston Water. For the actual day we went for a walk up Coniston Old Man. I seem to recall that it was a bright and sunny morning, but somewhat chilly. We had our wonderful dog, Nesta, back then. She was a Lakeland Collie (same as a Border Collie but with short hair) and bred from one of the Mountain Rescue dogs. And a sweeter, nicer nature I have never met, before or since. She inherited her mother’s sense of ‘search’ so was wonderful for playing hide-and-seek with. We had her from when she was weaned at a couple of months old to when she passed away at the age of thirteen. I’ll have to write a post about Nesta one of these days.

We had a lovely holiday, but I was on edge throughout because just before leaving home I had spoken with my (now ex) literary agent about The Kingmaking. William Heinemann, an imprint of Random House UK, had expressed an interest and I would know their decision after the Easter break. That meant I had to wait until we returned home to North-east London.

The Kingmaking, is the first part of my Arthurian Trilogy – although when I submitted it to the Marsh Agency I had no idea it was to become a trilogy. The agent liked it, but said it needed a lot of work and, ‘you do realise this will make a trilogy, don’t you?’

Er, no… I didn’t.

It had taken me ten years to write that ‘final’ draft. Not continuously, there were huge breaks and often I would only write a few sentences once a week, but in between writing I was researching and visiting places with a post-Roman connection. You see, my novel about King Arthur was to be set in the mid-to-late 400s. The vast machine that was Rome had abandoned Britain, leaving behind a void of chaos where groups of people vied against each other for supremacy. It was a power-grab period, and may the best man (or men) win.

This was the time when Caledonia, and the land of the Picts, became Scotland – when the Scotti tribes came over and settled from Ireland. When the Angles, Saxons and Jutes upped-sticks from across the Channel (the Narrow Sea – the English Channel) and made their homes and life here, eventually creating ‘Englalond’.

This was the time, IF he had existed, that ‘King’ Arthur would have been around. (Whether he was or not is a subject many Arthurianites heatedly debate, with never a definite conclusion being reached – except we argue like mad and insist that we are right.)

MY Arthur was going to be a warlord. Rough round the edges, a military man, not the later Medieval-tale chivalric knight in armour chap who turned a blind eye to being cuckolded. Ah no, had there been a Lancelot in my story he’d have been gutted and got-rid-of by my Arthur without hesitation.

Nor was MY Guinevere – I call her Gwenhwyfar – going to be the eye-lash batting, bosom-heaving nit-wit who fell for a posturing vain and proud Lancelot. MY Gwen was every bit as equal in rough toughness as was Arthur, and no way would she be daft enough to give up her position for someone like Lancelot. You might have guessed by now that I can’t stand Lancelot. In fact, I dislike the traditional Arthurian tales, the knights in armour, holy grail, nampy-pampyism. So there is no Lancelot in my story. No grail, no chivalry, no Merlin …. Instead we have two strong people who love each other but fight like mad. My Gwen has a sword and knows how to use it. My Arthur fights hard to gain his kingdom, and even harder to keep it.

Back in the '90s - outside the British Museum with a few friends...
Charles Evans Gunther on the left, with the late Kathleen Herbert
standing next to me (I'm in the red!)
No idea, now, alas, who the other guys are
So, there we were back in 1990. (ex) agent told me to go away and re-write what I had as the first part of a trilogy. It took me until late 1992 to do this. I re-submitted what had now become The Kingmaking as it is now, and half of what is now Pendragon’s Banner, book two. The (ex) agent liked what she saw, and sent it to Heinemann.

As it happened they were after the wonderful Sharon Kay Penman, but she was contracted elsewhere… she had assisted me with tidying up that first (final) draft (there had been countless other writes and re-writes before I even considered contacting an agent.) Sharon had encouraged me and suggested me to this agent, so Sharon will always be in my heart as the world’s best because she not only helped me on to the ladder, she gave me a hefty push a good way up it. And incidentally, this is why I try as much as I can to help new and novice authors now: I know full well how much that little bit of assistance can mean!

So there I was, submission submitted…. Waiting. Hoping. Fingers crossed…

We came home. Holiday over. Exactly one week after my fortieth birthday I received the news that yes, Heinemann wanted the entire Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy – what I had already written and  Part Three, which was still in my head. I was  offered a contract, and paid a nice advance. That I was over the moon is an understatement. I was, after many years of boring people with, ‘One day I am going to be a proper author’ was going to come true!

To get a scoop, the London Evening Standard took me, Ron and Kathy out for the day to Colchester (don’t ask… no idea why Colchester!) When we came home the street was crawling with reporters all wanting a story. The post-six o’clock  local news on ITV spent the day with us filming, and we had a good long spot on the show.

My official promotion photo
(don't I look young!)
Launch day was so exciting. A bookshop in Walthamstow High Street hosted it, we had wine and canapes and loads of people turned up. I had radio interviews (who remembers Derek Jameson on Radio Two? I spent a happy hour with him in his studio chatting about this and that – and my novel. And as it was a late night show the BBC even provided a car to take me home.) The Kingmaking should have become a bestseller. I was nominated for a couple of awards, but from there the rose-coloured glasses proved to be more tinted than I had thought.

Launch day at Walthamstow High Street
The marketing for Kingmaking lasted a few short months, and the marketing for other two books in the trilogy when they came out did not materialise. The reality was, historical fiction was suddenly not as popular as it had been, Heinemann had been sold, and a lot of money had been paid out to supposed best sellers which turned out to be dreadful. Let’s face it, sorry, but models and footballers are not novelists! Heinemann undertook very little follow-up marketing. This was the nineties. Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, were still things of the future, even websites were a new concept and very basic. Authors were entirely in the hands of agents and publishers, and if either did not back you, you sank. To this day I do not understand how a publishing house can pay out a generous advance and then not bother to promote the books they have taken on. Eventually, said agent also let me down, well, her loss, frankly.  

The original cover
designed by artist Chris Collingwood Historic Art
My Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy, twenty-five years after the first part was accepted for publication is STILL going strong – published traditionally by Sourcebooks Inc in the US, Indie published here in the UK, and are being translated into German with Part One now published.

buy book on Amazon Germany

So, Happy Silver Anniversary to me, from me. It’s been a rough road with lots of ups and downs, but I’m still here, writing and I’ve met some wonderful people – authors and readers – along the way. (Met a few ratbags as well, but we’ll skip that fact.)  

This is where the champagne cork pops, and someone enthusiastically shouts ‘Hooray!’

If you want to wish me some sort of ‘best wishes’ please do so by:
1)     Buying The Kingmaking, Pendragon’s Banner and Shadow of the King
2)     If you’ve already read them, please, please, please, leave a review on Amazon
3)     Tell twenty-five people to buy the Kingmaking! Well, I can but try to encourage sales *laugh*

Seriously, thank you to everyone reading this (and sharing and retweeting etc.) Without you, I wouldn’t be sitting here sipping my glass of celebration bubbly!

 UK covers designed by www.avalongraphics.org

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 Website: www.helenhollick.net
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3 April 2018

Tuesday Talk: One writer’s experience with traditional publishing by Susan Appleyard

Susan Appleyard
 A long, long time ago, in the days of yore, even before the internet and all its offshoots were anything more than a gleam in a mad scientist’s eye, I was traditionally published. Furthermore, the publishing company actually paid me for the right to publish my book. It’s called an advance. Come what may afterwards, my book had earned money and people would read it. So far so good.

The book was about the favourite mistress of King Edward IV, and I called it The Merry Harlot because… well, that’s what she was. That’s what the King called her. My editor didn’t like the title because she was afraid my readers wouldn’t know what a harlot was! She suggested The King’s White Rose. Who was I, a young housewife with three rambunctious kids, to argue with someone of such vast experience? So I agreed to the name change. After all, I consoled myself, a king figured prominently in the story and one of his heraldic symbols was the white rose.  So there was some relevance.

As an aside, in creating a certain scene I mentioned a pincushion. The copy editor discovered that this object hadn’t been invented until the 16th century and as my book was set in the 15th, the pincushion had to go. The point of this, in case you missed it, is that my readers were viewed as so stupid they wouldn’t know what a harlot was, yet so smart they would know that the pincushion hadn’t been invented until in the 16th century!

I was nervous that the cover (chosen by the publishers) would feature a half-naked man and a half-naked woman in an erotic embrace because it was a historical novel, not romance, so I was partially relieved to see only a half-naked woman. I was asked my opinion of the cover, but given my vain protests about the title I reckoned it would be an exercise in futility.

Fast forward to my second book, which I didn’t have a title for. It was set in the Holy Land during the second crusade. My editor suggested The Sultan’s Red Rose.
“But,” I sputtered, “there isn’t a sultan in the story!” There wasn’t a red rose either, but that didn’t seem quite so important.
“What about this fellow, Zengi?” said she.
“He’s an atabeg,” I retorted, “which is like a military governor.”
She thought about this for a while and finally came up with a stunning solution.
“Why not have Zengi compare your heroine to a rose growing in the sultan’s garden?”

I know you would like to hear that I stuck to my ideals, that I didn’t prostitute my art for the almighty dollar; that I told her if she persisted in this tacky, tasteless design she could take a long jump off a short pier. Of course, I didn’t.

Very soon after that book came out, my burgeoning career went down the toilet. My agent went into furniture sales and my publishers sold out to another company. My contract was sold as part of the package, but they were not interested in me. It was back to square one. I was dismayed, disheartened and discouraged. (I can’t resist alliteration.)

A sad story, isn’t it? But put the tissues away; it has a happy ending.

The next time I was published I did it myself as an ebook and, rightly or wrongly, chose my own titles.

Would I want to be traditionally published again? 
Don’t think so.

About Susan

Susan was born in England, which is where she learned to love English history, and now lives in Canada in the summer. In winter she and her husband flee the cold for their second home in Mexico. Susan divides her time between writing and her hobby, oil painting, although writing will always be her first love. Since joining the ebook crowd, she has published seven books, some of which have won various awards. Presently, she is working on a historical romance series set during the War of the Roses.

Some of Susan's books - the ones with sensible titles and covers! 

Reviewed on Discovering Diamonds

Reviewed on Discovering Diamonds
Reviewed on Discovering Diamonds
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1 April 2018

April 1st - Best Wishes for Easter

To all my readers, friends, 
 and visitors 

wishing you 

peace and health for this season of celebration

27 March 2018

Tuesday Talk with Helen Hollick. Iced Snow.

We had snow. Twice. OK so maybe that isn't unusual for winter, but it isn't so usual for the latter half of March, at least, not here in North Devon.

But it wasn't just the snow, it was the biting cold that went with it that wasn't very enthusiasm enducing. The top layer of snow in the first fall (The Beast from the East) was ice, so none of that nice 'snowman making' material,  just hard crust, like the top layer of a badly made cake!

The second lot was proper snow, daughter Kathy and I, and the two dogs, went for a lovely walk up the lane and into our top field - the dogs loved it! (Well, Eddie did, Baz is a sit-in-front-of-the-fire Labrador-type, he wanted to go home.)

This, below, is the lane beside our dairy where my Donk lives (taken in summer when we'd brought the hay in) You can see how steep it is. We'd kept most of it clear of snow, but it froze once the temperature dropped in the evening and where the field run-off had drained down the hill it formed a sheet of black ice.

Which I didn't know was there.

I went out to give my donkey some evening hay - and got stuck half way across the lane because I had stepped out onto this malevolent ice and discovered that I was in trouble!  I managed to get to 'safe' ground and give Donk his hay, but how to get back to the house?

Try lower down the lane? Bad idea.
Same thing happened. I stepped out and the ice was even worse. I was well and truly marooned! I found that I daren't move - unable to turn back, unable to go forwards because if I tried either option I knew I'd fall. And it would hurt. A Lot.

Baz, the dog, was with me. I grumpily informed him that had he been Lassie he would run back to the house, bark loudly and inform them 'Mum's stuck."
All he did was sit there and look at me quizzically.

Hmm. Problemo.

I shouted. I shouted again.

No response.

Darn 3 foot thick farm house stone walls, loud TVs and double glazing!

I was starting to wonder if I would be there all night (would anyone indoors notice I was missing?) when FINALLY I was heard.

"Don't come  onto the lane!" I cried: "go get some salt!"

So I was rescued, but that was not a pleasant experience.

How on earth did people in the past manage with the snow and ice? 

< previous article The Return of Escaping to the Country 

20 March 2018

Tuesday talk - The Time Traveller...Barbara Gaskell Denvil

 As an author, my great loves are reading and writing.  But my favourite hobby is time-travelling. I might as well confess now. After all, time-travel is not only a hobby, it is a necessary part of my life.

My Tardis is a good deal more conventional than Doctor Who’s. It certainly doesn’t look like a police phone box, indeed it looks exactly like my study. The walls are completely covered by book shelves and paintings, the books are crammed into every corner, and there is a very large desk covered in papers, pens, magnifying glasses, books and notebooks, curios and ornaments, and a very large computer screen.

I also have a swivel chair pulled up to the desk, plus a large comfy armchair in the corner. The last details are a number of overflowing wastepaper baskets, and a stereo CD player with all its speakers.

Tidy? Certainly not. It’s a Tardis after all, and not a neat little modern box.

I sit comfortably, close my eyes, and open them again five hundred years ago.  London is darker and quieter, no engines rattle, no machines roar, no cars screech around the street corners, no traffic jams clog the roads. But two men on horseback gallop by, the feathers in their hats blowing in the wind, and their velvet capes swirling out behind them. The people in the narrow cobbled street run to either side, for there is little space and no pavements. Not all streets are cobbled and many are simply beaten earth, while the gutters are central and filled with rancid water and rubbish.

Without electricity of any kind apart from thunder and lightning, most people rise with the sun, and in summer they go to bed with the sunset. In winter’s evenings, some will light candles, but not all can afford such luxury. Even tallow candles cost money, and more are bought for church than for homes. But a fire will usually be lit on the hearth, which is still sometimes a central hearth since chimneys are quite a new and luxurious idea, and the scarlet flames bring light.

Few homes have glass in their windows. Windows may be covered in parchments, thin bone, or cloth. Shop windows are usually boarded up at night, but the wooden board will be taken down during the day, and laid on the window sill as a counter. Only the rich and the churches have access to glass., although gradually over the years the mullioned windows are closed with small glass panes as this becomes more economically accessible.

Most homes are built from wood, straw and plaster (Wattle and Daub). Their upper floors are built out with a larger floor space than the one below. This brings balance, although if not properly done, which is often the truth, then the whole building bulges outwards and some houses almost touch their upper stories across the road below. Inside there is a simplicity of rooms and design, with little furniture and virtually no privacy. Thatched roofs still exist although they are now illegal due to the danger of fire, but tiled rooves are gradually more common.

There was a clash of authority, and many modern misconceptions are rife concerning this. The king, whoever he was, could not just frown and immediately all the lords leapt to their feet to do as he wished. Those who believe Richard III managed to influence the three houses of parliament with a simple sneer, are sadly ignorant of the facts. Indeed, many of the lords were more powerful than the king himself, could also dominate the court, and had enormous armies. Such a powerful lord, and there were many, could dominate the king and even force him to abdicate, as happened on occasion. In fact, the king had no private army at all, although he could call on his friends if he had the time to do so. Power throughout the land was widely divided and urban authorities, High Constables and the rich were frequently in command. Indeed, the church was far more dominant than it is today. Certainly there was no religious tolerance and no other form except Catholicism was permitted in England. However, although weekly attendance at church was common, total obedience to the ecclesiastical rules and demands was definitely not. The moral standards were not accepted by all, the priests continually complained that the community was licentious and full of wicked sinners, and the community complained that the church was greedy and sinful themselves.

Other modern misconceptions abound. Women were certainly dominated and often abused, but they also ran their own businesses, behaved as they wished to a considerable degree (chastity belts never existed and no woman in England was ever burned alive as a witch) while many women from queens downward fought, schemed and ruled the household.

Another thing that did not exist was a decent method of sewerage destruction, although sewerage tanks were built and buried, but most was drained directly into the moat, the river, or the ditches outside the city walls. The smell echoed this difficulty.

The Thames and other major rivers are busy with water-taxis, the calls of the boatmen, small boats carrying goods and even horses, and even busier ports where boats of all sizes docked for unloading. There were few bridges – only one over the Thames in London for instance – and this could be locked at night. Indeed, most cities lay within high stone walls bringing protection against invasion, and the gates would be closed at a certain time, denying access to all.

And so I travel by Tardis, especially to the 15th century but also both earlier and later, and therefore I escape the mundane housecleaning, cooking, shopping and boring routines while I explore the past.

It is a pastime I recommend, since it is only once you stand there, gazing around at such a different word, once you smell the city, hear the church bells, and watch the habits of the people that you begin to really know you are there and can write about what surrounds you.

Find Barbara on Facebook

About Barbara

Barbara Gaskell Denvil is a multi-award winning author of historical fiction, mystery, suspense and fantasy. Some of her books combine all of these and others only a few. Now, for the first time, she is writing children’s fantasy, again combining the genres she loves, historical and adventure with fantasy. (See Bannister’s Muster’s page for more information)

Having been born into a literary family where book shelves filled every room, she grew up assuming that writing would be her career. She began writing when she was extremely young and then went to work in the British Museum Library, with ancient folios and manuscripts.  This cemented her love of both literature and history. Moving on to work in traditional publishing, scripting, reviewing, editing and publishing many articles and short stories.

Her books now alternate between fantasy and historical fiction, drama, mystery, adventure and romance, with a passion for medieval settings and historical accuracy.

Miss Gaskell Denvil's work has been traditionally published by Simon & Schuster, but she now favours self-publishing as it gives the huge satisfaction of individual control. And personal choice of genre and artistic inspiration.

13 March 2018

Tuesday Talk with Helen Hollick :the Return of Escaping to the Country

Back in 2012 we had a bit of a windfall - one of the winning numbers for the London Olympics Lottery Raffle Prize turned out to be our number. The outcome was that we finally had a chance to buy our own property and to get out of Walthamstow, N.E. London, in exchange for a prospective new home in Devon.

Problem: Finding said home.
Solution: Apply to go on Escape to the Country and let someone else do the leg-work!

The result was a couple of days with a BBC TV film crew in North Devon, and we bought the first house they showed us.

This one, in fact.

We moved in on the day it snowed heavily on 18th January 2013, and absolutely love it here.

Quite a few things have changed in the years between. Kathy married Adam, for instance, and we built an extension apartment for them.

We moved in with two cats, a dog and two horses. We now still have two cats (although Sybil has gone semi-feral) ...

Our old boy Rum
 sadly left us in March 2013
... two dogs

hens, ducks and geese (and Ron still has his racing pigeons)

Christmas Goose
a donkey called Wonky Donk and four Exmoor ponies

 three big show jumpers

Lexie (Shinglehall Casino)

Wexford Pippa
Saffie - La Rafaelle
with one more one the way, Saffie is in foal, due to be born in late March, early April

With all this additional excitement through the years, I invited the BBC TV Escape to the Country team back for their spin-off series I Escaped to the Country.

So on the 27th February 2018  we played host to the lovely Alistair Appleton  and crew for the day.

Baz wasn't very impressed
Although he adored Alistair

Mr Mischief, of course,
wanted to know if anything was edible...

Then it was time for lunch, which we provided
The cheese was from the Cheese Larder in South Molton

Donkey, however did not want to join in

... until Alistair walked away

I think he was scared because the boom-microphone
 looked a bit like donkey fur

Phew, it's hard work this being on TV lark!
No idea, yet, when the show will be broadcast ... but watch this space (or better still, sign up for my newsletter HERE and you'll get the date as soon as I know!)

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