A lovely May Day birthday

I cancelled my birthday last year. We were only a few weeks into lockdown when I was asked the ‘what would you like for your birthday?’ question and I had a mini-meltdown. Even though I’ve never really made a huge thing out of my birthday in previous years, I didn’t like the idea that I couldn’t even if I wanted to so I told hubby and the munchkin not to bother with gifts and we’d do a birthday later in the year. Then I found a couple of Lucy Pittaway prints which I ordered for the office so I did get a gift after all even if there was no celebration 😉

This year, we’re not in lockdown but restrictions are only just easing so it we still couldn’t plan much. I did, however, lift the ‘no presents’ thing and was spoilt with some lovely gifts.

There was a bit of a hedgehog theme with the most adorable plush Steiff hedgehog from the hubby, a sewing project for a hedgehog and hoglet and a cute pen holder with a hedgehog reading a book in it.

Loving my new lighthouse and looking forward to featuring it on some photos with my books soon.

A huge thank you to my amazing friend Sharon for the gorgeous flowers, candle, bear and chocolates and to my lovely friend Jo for the hedgehog and bear scarves.

Sharon also sent me the most amazing card. It’s a card containing cake. I never knew such a thing existed and, being the huge fan of cake that I am, it made me very happy. I can’t wait to dive in and would have had a piece today but my in-laws dropped round surprise afternoon tea so we ditched our plans for a takeaway and had that instead and I am now full of cake. It was sooooo yummy. But there’s always tomorrow. Nom nom. And I have a birthday cake too!

Thank you to everyone who has sent me lovely messages on social media. Very much appreciated.

Back to editing tomorrow but it’s been nice to have a rare day off today.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

An Altogether Eggcellent Easter

Happy Easter!

How was your bank holiday weekend? I blinked and missed mine because I spent it in my editing cave but I am absolutely thrilled to report that book 13 is now written and with my editor so I can take a deep breath, relax, watch some TV and eat lots of chocolate over the next few days!

I did manage to take five minutes outside my cave to get creative with my books and some Easter-themed friends. How cute is my Forever Friends bunny? I won her on a grab machine on my hen do so she’s very special to me. Back then (September 2005), I was just studying my craft and ‘playing’ with my first novel. It was a decade before it was finished and published but I got my act together and speeded up after that. Thirteen books later…

Book 13 is currently untitled but is a return to Whitsborough Bay. The last three books I wrote were all set in Hedgehog Hollow so it has been lovely to return to the place it all started and I look forward to bringing you more detail very soon.

I did manage to escape from my editing cave for a day on Thursday. I haven’t seen my parents since October but, with with some restrictions eased, made plans to see them next week after I’d submitted my book. Then we spotted the weather forecast. Snow in April? Really? So we thought we’d better move meeting up forward! It was a bit chilly, mind. Completely missed those few days of gorgeous blue skies as you can see from the photos.

Because we couldn’t be inside, it made sense to meet somewhere outside where we could have a little wander so we met them at Thorp Perrow Arboretum near Bedale (North Yorkshire). Hubby and I went there last September near our wedding anniversary and loved it.

As we drove over, I looked at all the lovely daffodils by the roadside and mused, ‘I wonder if they’ll have some daffodils at Thorp Perrow’. Ha ha ha! Just a few! The photos don’t do justice to them, especially as it was a dull (and very cold) day, but I think we can safely confirm there were daffodils everywhere and all different varieties.

It was difficult not having hugs but hopefully we’ll hit the day very soon where we can do that. Gosh, I miss hugs! My parents are due their second vaccination any time in the next week or so and hubby and I have both had our first so that day feels like it’s in sight.

Despite the chilly weather, we did have a lovely wander. There was a fabulous Easter Egg Trail running for children so I grabbed a few pics of that.

And Thorp Perrow is such an interesting place to wander round anyway with woodland trails, fascinating trees and lots of wood carvings.

I’m now going to be completely disorientated because I feel like my weekend starts tomorrow but it will be a Tuesday. Isn’t it a strange sensation when you feel convinced it’s a different day of the week?

Wishing you a fabulous week.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The one where I visit the ‘real’ Castle Street at Christmas

A theme that comes through in reviews of my Whitsborough Bay books, particularly my Christmas ones, is how much readers would love to visit Castle Street and I sometimes get asked if it’s real.

Castle Street is not real. Sorry. But it is definitely inspired by real places and I see it as a blend of three, which I’ll come to in a moment.

Whitsborough Bay is a fictional North Yorkshire seaside town but it’s predominantly inspired by my hometown of Scarborough. It has the same geographical set-up as Scarborough: North Bay and South Bay separated by a headland with a castle on it, and the town up the cliff from South Bay. The large image below is a view of South Bay and the castle on the cliff from an area called South Cliff.

In my books, I’ve even called these areas North Bay and South Bay. I originally called them North Beach and South Beach to be different but decided ‘beach’ didn’t make sense when the town was called Whitsborough BAY so I stuck with bays.

There are many much-loved locations and landmarks in Scarborough that appear in my Whitsborough Bay stories but with different names:

  • The Sea Life Centre in North Bay becomes the Sea Rescue Sanctuary (bottom left above)
  • Peasholm Park, also in North Bay, is Hearnshaw Park in my books
  • The colourful beach huts in Whitsborough Bay’s North Bay (top right above) are a direct match to those in Scarborough but the shops and cafés nearby take on different identities
  • In Scarborough’s South Bay, there’s a lighthouse and harbour and I have the same in Whitsborough Bay but the lighthouse is red and white striped in my books instead of white (bottom right above), and the approach to it is different

The main difference geographically between Scarborough and Whitsborough Bay is that Whitsborough Bay has a river which runs through the Old Town and along the South Bay side of the castle. It is crossed by a swing bridge. This is very much inspired by Whitby up the coast from Scarborough; a place I’ve adored since childhood.

Back to Castle Street, it is fictional but, as I said before, it is inspired by a blend of three places:

  • Bar Street in Scarborough (which is a narrow street housing independent shops and cafés)
  • The cobbled streets of Whitby’s south side
  • The cobbled streets of Robin Hood’s Bay (which is between Scarborough and Whitby but closer to Whitby)

I imagine Castle Street to be wider than any of these streets (more the width of Huntriss Row if anyone is familiar with Scarborough) and with old-fashioned grey cobbles, more like these ones in this photo of Whitby at the bottom of the famous 199 steps up to St Mary’s Church and Whitby Abbey.

I love Bar Street at Christmas. It has waves of simple white lights running down the street from one end to the other and I describe these in my Christmas books but have them connecting between the buildings instead.

Last week, hubby, munchkin and I took our sprocker spaniel, Ella, for a wander round the lights just as the shops were closing (so we could capture the lights in the shops but visit when there weren’t many folk about).

The large picture below is looking down Bar Street with our backs to the town. The shops are Steampuss Cat Lounge (which I visited with the munchkin a few months back) and a bridal shop which is partial inspiration for The Wedding Emporium which I mention in a few books. In Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes, Bethany gets her wedding dress and the bridesmaid dresses for her Christmas wedding from there.

I’d been eager to get a photo of the giant illuminated teddy bear on the main precinct when I spotted him in town last month but the lights didn’t show very well during the day. So much better at night. I love him!

On Boxing Day evening, we took Ella down to the harbour where many of the boats were lit up, as was the viewing wheel along the seafront. Very pretty. But very cold!

I think I might need to make more of the harbour in future books as it really is beautiful with all the lights on the masts and sails. My pretty poor phone photography doesn’t even come close to doing it justice. On the top row, the lit-up building on the top left pic which is bigger on top right (at the far left of the pic) is The Grand Hotel. Owned by Britannia Group it has changed a lot over the years but it was once one of the largest and most impressive hotels in Europe. You can see it in daylight in the top set of images, bottom middle.

In my stories, The Grand is The Ramparts Hotel (Alison works there in The Secret to Happiness and Callie has a meal there near the end of Making Wishes at Bay View) and I position it as Whitsborough’s only 5-star hotel and very luxurious.

In the top middle photo, you can just about make out Scarborough’s Lighthouse. If you look above the boat lit by red lights, there’s a bright light. Move along to the boat behind it and there’s another light and just to the right of that is a triangle shape of light. That’s the lighthouse. Hubby took a better pic of it, though, looking back over the Old Town. What looks to be a strip of lights above the Old Town in his photo is the castle walls illuminated.

Hope you enjoyed your trip to Whitsborough Bay’s Castle Street and harbour at Christmas. If you’d like to read about it, Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes and Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café are both still only 99p but act quickly as Starry Skies will probably have a price increase in the not too distant future. They’re best read in that order as Starry Skies is set after Carly’s Cupcakes and the two businesses are next door and run by friends Carly and Tara so we find out what happens to Carly after her story finishes when Tara picks up the reins.

You can find all my books for Kindle here although they’re also available as eBooks for Kobo and Apple and a gazillion other formats depending on your reading or listening preferences.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The one where Halloween was a bit different

It’s always extra special when a fixed date event like your birthday or Christmas falls on a weekend (unless, of course, you work on a weekend in which case it’s not quite as special).

This year, fans of Halloween would have been excited about it falling on a Saturday but this Halloween, for obvious reasons, was different and most plans to party will have been scuppered.

As a child, I used to love dressing up for Halloween and trick or treating. I was brought up on a housing development built in the late 60s/early 70s and it was very family friendly so it felt really safe to go wandering round the nearby streets with our torch-filled turnips (I’m not sure if you could even get hold of pumpkins back then) visiting the many neighbours who we knew well, saying hello to their children who were out doing the same.

My husband did something very similar but our daughter hasn’t had the same experience of Halloween that we’ve had. When she was very little, we lived in the town centre and we didn’t know our neighbours. Everyone’s opinions on this will differ but both my husband and I are of the belief that you shouldn’t be knocking on doors of people you don’t know. There could be a vulnerable person behind the door, fearful of who is knocking, and it seems to contradict the ‘stranger danger’ messages from school.

When we moved out of town, we found ourselves living somewhere with very few children so, again, we didn’t really know our neighbours and the same principles applied so she still didn’t go out and about as where would we go?

Then we started going away over the October half-term and this invariably meant we were away on Halloween itself.

She never missed out on dressing up, though. Over the years, she’s dressed up for school or simply for fun and, one year, we did join friends in a nearby village to trick or treat with them … after they said we’d only be going to people they knew well who wouldn’t mind an infiltrator!

She’s carved pumpkins many times and we bought her a spooky gingerbread house this year which she loved decorating (and eating!)

This Halloween turned out to be unexpectedly special for us. My dad got in touch a couple of weeks ago and said he and mum were missing seeing us (a theme for us all this year) and he proposed a series of Halloween barbecues at their house. I have two brothers who are each married with two girls. Under restrictions, we couldn’t meet as one big family unit but one family per day, outside, would stay within the rule of six.

My parents live in the same county as me but North Yorkshire’s the biggest county in the country and it can be up to two hours to get to them if we get stuck behind a slow driver or tractor; a regular occurrence. We therefore only saw them a few times when restrictions lifted over the summer and I haven’t seen my brothers at all.

Our visit was scheduled for Friday and it’s lucky my dad planned it in as we had the announcement on Saturday of England going into lockdown once more and, with the munchkin back at school this week, would have lost our window of opportunity otherwise.

I rummaged in my dressing-up box and found some of my old Halloween costumes for the munchkin and I to change into. I used to be a Brown Owl, running a pack for 7.5 years. We did a few Halloween parties so I had built up a selection of outfits, my favourite being my pink witch’s hat and my highwayman outfit. I’m proud to say I made the cloaks for both outfits and the highwayman’s face covering (way ahead of my time there!) but they weren’t the most demanding of projects.

If somebody had told me last Halloween that I’d be spending this out having a barbecue outside, I’d have laughed at them. However, this is the new world in which we live and we find ways to adapt. It was really quite lovely with the log burner on and LED heating under the parasols. We had a rainy patch where we sheltered under the parasols and a chilly moment after eating when the sun disappeared behind the clouds and the wind picked up but, generally, it was really pleasant.

As for the day itself, hubby and the munchkin watched a horror film while I cleaned the bathroom. Not sure which was the most scary!

If you don’t like being spooked and prefer to stay cosy at Halloween, I did a reading from one of my favourite cosy scenes in Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes. You can access it on Facebook here.

Wishing you a fabulous start to November and sending best wishes to those who might struggle with a second lockdown. There will be an end to this eventually. It has to rain for us to see a rainbow.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

The one where I visited Thorp Perrow

Last week, hubby and I took a mid-week day trip out to Thorp Perrow. It’s an arboretum, mammal and birds of prey centre in North Yorkshire, not too far from the Yorkshire Dales. The nearest town is Bedale but, unless you’re from the county, you possibly haven’t heard of Bedale so it’s sort of in the middle of a triangle of Northallerton, Thirsk and Ripon. Ish.

Anyway, hubby is a keen (and very talented) photographer. He’d visited Throp Perrow a couple of years ago with a photography friend and decided that the trees would look amazing heading into autumn. As it happens, we caught it just before the changing colours of the leaves and also on far too bright a day so his camera didn’t actually come out its bag but I snapped plenty of pics on my phone.

It was lovely to be able to wander around somewhere I’ve never been before and also somewhere spacious. The car park looked quite busy but, once inside, we found ourselves frequently without anyone in sight which is perfect for a socially-distanced world.

The centre is a family-run business and has been owned by the Ropner family since 1927. Shortly afterwards, the trees started being planted but it was a bit of a hobby rather than done with expertise and, over the years, became a bit of a jungle. In the 1970s, the father of the current owner brought in an expert who said the collection absolutely must be preserved and it’s been a huge task since then to curate the trees and manage this gorgeous woodland.

There’s a cafe, lots of picnic tables and a children’s playground. Various wooden sculptures peeking between the trees including a gorgeous pixie village will also help keep the interest of children as they amble along the pathways. We were touched by the pet cemetery (not of a Stephen King variety) and enjoyed visiting the little islands.

You can take dogs on leads although there are certain areas they’re not allowed in. I left hubby and our dog, Ella, on a picnic bench while I visited the birds of prey centre but didn’t time it right to catch a show. I adore owls and they had a wonderful selection. I didn’t go to the mammals centre, though, but look forward to that on a future visit.

Check out the larger of the photos below. The two trees are hugging! Awww!!!!

I hope you enjoy the photos and, if you’re ever in the area, it’s well worth a visit. Just check the website first for restrictions and also any limit on opening times. You can visit Thorp Perrow’s website here.

I definitely want to visit again but suspect we won’t make it again this year for the changing tree colours. Scarborough is on the watch-list and will probably move into local lockdown soon. It was therefore extra lovely to get out and about on such a gorgeous day before we’re not able to.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

The one where ‘Making Wishes at Bay View’ is in The Works

I adore my Kindle (other eReaders are available!) but I’m sure most people who love reading will admit to getting a little thrill from browsing a bookshop or even simply pausing in a section of a store where books are displayed. A happy place.

As an author, that thrill is multiplied several-fold when the shelves contain one of my own books. I don’t think that feeling will ever get tired!

At the weekend, I was delighted to visit my local The Works store in Scarborough and not only see Making Wishes at Bay View on the shelves but to sign them! The manager in there is lovely and recognised me from when I’d been in to visit The Secret to Happiness at the start of summer just after restrictions were lifted and shops opened again.

Making Wishes at Bay View in the Scarborough branch of The Works with the special home-made ‘signed by author’ sticker

I’d never thought to ask if I could sign copies of Secret but I’d seen photos of other authors signing their books in their local stores and the manager was delighted for me to do so with Making Wishes at Bay View.

What a surreal moment perching on the till and signing the seven remaining copies. They didn’t have any ‘signed by author’ stickers – probably don’t get as many local authors as a large city store might – but she created her own version which was lovely.

Despite the mask, you can probably tell there’s a huge grin on my face!

Today I went into Beverley, East Yorkshire (about 75 mins drive away from me) for a socially-distanced catch-up with my fabulous friend and fellow-author, Sharon Booth. It was the first time since mid-February that we’ve seen each other and we suspect it will be next year before it happens again.

I took the opportunity to nip into town as the branch of The Works in Beverley is about twice the size of the Scarborough one and therefore with much more space dedicated to fiction. Making Wishes at Bay View was in there. I was going to see about signing them too but there was a queue at the till and only one member of staff serving so I thought I’d best not pester anyone!

Making Wishes at Bay View in Beverley’s The Works

It makes me so proud to be on the shelves with other Boldwood authors, a few of whom I met in person at the back end of last year. I’ve taken a few shelfies in Scarborough but, with a bigger selection in Beverley, how lovely it was to see so many Boldwood authors together (okay, so a little re-arrangement was needed to get them all together but I did put them back where they came from!) This is the selection of feel-good books – a mixture of romcoms and contemporaries. That’s twelve amazing titles and, on the 3 for £5 offer, you could therefore get them all for only £20. Bargain!!!

This is the thrillers/crime/other selection looking fabulous too:

You can buy Making Wishes at Bay View from The Works for £2 (or 3 for £5) or online from The Works here. I’ve included the blurb below.

Alternatively, you can download it for Kindle, Kobo and AppleBooks, order a paperback from Amazon or any other good bookstore (it will be a different price as they are printed differently) or on various audio formats including Spotify.

Wishing you a fabulous week.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

Making Wishes at Bay View (Welcome to Whitsborough Bay Book 1)

Never give up on a wish for a happy ever after…


Callie Derbyshire has it all: her dream job as a carer at Bay View, finally she has found the love of her life. Everything is perfect.

Well, almost.

Ex-partners are insistent on stirring up trouble, and Callie’s favourite resident, Ruby, hasn’t been her usual self. 

But after discovering the truth about Ruby’s lost love, Callie is determined to give Ruby’s romantic story the happy ending it deserves. After all, it’s never too late to let love in again. Or is it?

The one where I visited Steampuss Cat Lounge

I love cats but was never allowed pets as a child. When I was at senior school, I lived several miles from school but my best friend lived a short walk away so I’d go to her house at lunchtime. One summer’s day, we found a litter of 4 kittens abandoned in a cardboard box in a cut-through by a main road. Who does that?! I dread to think what would have happened to the poor little things if they’d got out and ventured onto the road. My friend and I carried two each to her house. In a gesture of extreme gratitude for rescuing them, one of them peed down my white school shirt! Yummy! I wanted to keep one but wasn’t surprised when I was told a resonating no. Fortunately my friend’s mum found them all new homes.

It was many years later before I owned my first pets when, fourteen years ago, my husband and I adopted two RSPCA rescue kittens: Felix and Pixie. Sadly they’ve both crossed the rainbow bridge. We lost Pixie six years ago and Felix left us in January this year.

No longer having my own cats to fuss over, I was really keen to visit Steampuss Cat Lounge which had opened in Scarborough in 2019. Then Covid hit and that wasn’t an option.

Last Tuesday was the one-year anniversary of The Secret to Happiness – my first release through Boldwood Books – and it was also the last day before my daughter, Ashleigh, returned to school so I booked us in to visit the cats as a special treat. What a lovely hour! In fact, some might say purrrr-fect!

The cafe is on Scarborough’s Bar Street which provides partial inspiration for Castle Street which appears in many of my books. There’s a ground floor room which, when we were there, had two tables and a lower ground room also with two tables. Booking is advisable to avoid disappointment as spaces are limited. This can be done via their website or Facebook page.

There are twelve cats who go home with the owners each day rather than living in the cafe but they’re not all there every day. We were told that there were eight cats there during our visit and we saw seven of them. There’s an area on the lower ground floor for staff and cats only so a cat may occasionally go in there for a complete break.

Ashleigh and I were thrilled to be allocated a ground floor table by the bay window because it’s in the window where the cats tend to congregate. There’s a large scratching post/sleeping tower in the middle and vintage suitcases either side which the cats were curled up in.

Most of the cats are named after characters in films/books and there’s a lovely booklet on the table including pictures and giving detail about each cat from breed to age to who its best friends are. Awww! It’s perfect for trying to identify the cats although a few of them have similar markings so we’re not convinced we were accurate with our guesses!

The menu includes hot and cold drinks and cakes but there’s a large choice within that and vegan/gluten-free choices too so it caters for all dietary needs. Ashleigh and I both had the most delicious milkshake we’ve ever tasted. Mine was caramel and vanilla and hers was white chocolate and vanilla. To eat, she chose chocolate cake and I had a Victoria sponge with passion fruit topping although her chocolate cake was enormous and she let me have the last bit. Nom nom!

Delicious as it was, a visit to Steampuss was not about the food for us. It was all about the experience of being there among the adorable cats. You’re allowed to stroke them when they’re asleep (which several were) but are asked not to try to wake them up and definitely not to lift them. Full guidance on getting the most out of your visit and treating the cats with care and respect is on the website.

When we first went in, the largest cat – Hagrid – was in the middle of the floor, staring at us. It was as if he was telling us it was his domain and checking us out. Loved that! Once he was satisfied we were friends rather than foes, he settled into one of the beds on the scratching post.

There were six cats including Hagrid spread out in the window area but then another appeared. Lots of shelves were built into the walls in a way that made an accessible climb for the cats so that one decided to hang out on one of the higher shelves.

Ashleigh absolutely loved the experience. She’s 13 and I think children young and old and adults (as long as they like cats) will adore a visit. Actually, scrub that, even if they’re not cat-people, it’s such a lovely experience. Do it!

The cats are so soft and happy and lovely. A friend of Ashleigh’s has visited and it sounds like they were more active during her visit. Having been a cat owner myself, I would imagine that there are times of the day when they might be prowling more than sleeping, either of which will be amazing.

It costs £5 for an adult and £4 for a child to have an hour in the Steampuss Cat Lounge and then, of course, you do pay for your food and drinks on top of that. There are also various gifts available.

We’ll definitely be back in person but I hope to be back in my imagination too because, of course, the cogs are now whirring and I have a story forming. I would love to add a cat cafe to Castle Street. I think it would be perfect in Whitsborough Bay and not in competition to Tara’s The Chocolate Pot because it’s a very different experience to what Tara offers.

Because I was celebrating my book publication anniversary, I just happened to have a paperback with me for a photo shoot!

I highly recommend a visit to Steampuss Cat Lounge. You can find their website and all the details about the cats here. They’re also on Facebook here. The Twitter and Instagram accounts are @Steampuss with Twitter not active since last year but Instagram full of regular picture updates for a gorgeous fix of beautiful cats.

Have you ever been to a cat cafe? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

The one where we had a lovely walk above Filey Brigg

I’ve been a full-time author for two months now and one of the things I was really looking forward to about only having one job instead of two was not having to work every evening and weekend. I managed that for about a week, then crept back into old habits. It’s so easy to stay at your desk and work when any semblance of a social life died during lockdown. This evening it was therefore lovely to go out for a walk in Filey, just a few miles away from us, with hubby, the munchkin and Ella.

There’s a lovely open space called Filey Country Park with walks along the cliff tops. The views are incredible on a clear day but today was very hazy so we couldn’t see as far as Flamborough Lighthouse which was a shame, but it was still lovely and very peaceful on the cliffs above Filey Brigg with only a handful of people walking.

It’s the start/end of The Cleveland Way and The Wolds Way walks and I love this carved stone which has the name of one walk carved on each side of the triangle, then the distances to various places on the plinth.

IMG_8705

We could see Filey Brigg below us (the rocky outcrop). The tide was out so anyone down on the beach would have been able to walk to the end. The Brigg gets completely covered when the tide’s in and many people have been caught out there as the sea rises.

IMG_8664

Ella, our 4-year-old sprocker spaniel enjoyed her walk with the much cooler early evening air temperature. It was in the late teens/early 20s. Absolutely gorgeous. Sorry to anyone down south who was experiencing hideous temperatures in the 30s earlier this evening. Ew. My sympathies.

I can’t believe I’ve never actually walked along here before. I’ve been to the Country Park and I have walked along the Brigg but never up on the cliff tops. Must definitely do that again soon.

Sending cool vibes to those who are melting in the heatwave.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

Scarborough was looking mighty fine last night

IMG_8565Dolphins are frequently sighted along the North Yorkshire Coast so we decided to take a little drive to Scarborough seafront last night, take a walk around Marine Drive, and hopefully spot them.

Typically, they weren’t around last night but Scarborough was looking mighty fine so I thought I’d share some lovely photos.

Here’s our 4-year-old sprocker spaniel, Ella, who wanted to have a go at walking along the sea wall (safely on a lead, of course!)

 

These are all taken in Scarborough’s South Bay harbour. Isn’t it pretty?

IMG_8570

IMG_8569

IMG_8573

IMG_8575

IMG_8576
Scarborough Castle stands proudly on the hill above the harbour and the Old Town

IMG_8579
Looking from the lighthouse over towards the old toll house

IMG_8580
The ‘Diving Belle’ in front of the lighthouse

IMG_8581
Scarborough Lighthouse. In my books, where Whitsborough Bay is predominantly inspired by Scarborough, the lighthouse is red and white striped instead of plain white

The sun was setting over North Bay on our way back…

IMG_8594

IMG_8592

But the sky was still brilliant blue looking back towards Scarborough Castle…

IMG_8596

IMG_8598

Hope you enjoyed a little flavour of Scarborough. I’m so proud of living in this beautiful town and you can probably see from these photos why it’s such an inspiration for the fictional North Yorkshire seaside town of Whitsborough Bay in my books.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

 

 

The one where I should be in Portugal

IMG_6193
This time last year – May half term – my husband, daughter and I went to Albufeira in Portugal. It was our first visit to the country and we absolutely loved it.

IMG_6180With so many amazing places to see in the UK and around the world, we like to visit different places but we had such fond memories from our week in Portugal that we decided to return this year for a relaxing week in the same resort and same hotel; a first for us.

But, for obvious reasons, we’re not there. Like so many people, our holiday plans needed to be cancelled as the world faces an unprecedented pandemic.

I wish we were in Portugal right now but I really can’t feel sad about it. It is what it is and we really have been fortunate. So far, COVID-19 has not touched our family with tragedy so a cancelled holiday, a non-birthday, a couple of cancelled theatre trips and a few other planned events that couldn’t happen are absolutely nothing compared to what some have and are still facing.

So I wrote a little poem about it….

 

I should be in Portugal, a break for seven days

Some time out with my family, soaking up some rays

I should be in Portugal, relaxing by the pool

Jumping in the icy depths when I need to cool

I should be in Portugal, walking on the sand

Dining out on tasty food, a cold beer in my hand

I should be in Portugal, a speedboat on the waves

Searching for some dolphins and cruising through the caves

I should be in Portugal, a trip to ZooMarine

Riding on the big wheel, and in the wave machine

I should be in Portugal, a walk through the old town

Visiting the gift shops, just as sun goes down

I should be in Portugal, the place we went last May

Lovely, friendly people – a super place to stay

Instead I’m in the UK, staying safe at home

Because a nasty virus has meant we cannot roam

Instead I’m in the UK, working every day

Hoping that these tragic times will soon be gone away

Instead I’m in the UK, my heart so full of sadness

For those who’ve lost the ones they love during this worldwide madness

Instead I’m in the UK, thinking about the firms

That won’t survive the loss of funds from this vile set of germs

Although I’m not on holiday, I’m feeling very blessed

That those I love are in good health, and not feeling distressed

Although I’m not on holiday, my family are by my side

My daughter’s doing well at ‘school’, filling me with pride

Although I’m not on holiday, my books are in the charts

With stories bringing comfort, warming readers’ hearts

Although I’m not on holiday, I’m really very grateful

That a cancelled trip is the worst I’ve had from a virus that’s so hateful

Please be assured, my books are a million times better than my poetry!

I know I’ve been very fortunate but many haven’t.

My empathy to those who’ve had events, celebrations and holidays cancelled, particularly ones that have been extra special like my brother’s 50th birthday plans and those who’ve had their weddings cancelled.

Wishing a speedy recover to anyone currently fighting COVID-19, including my lovely friend and fellow-author, Jo, and her family. Hope you’ve all continued to improve this week.

Love and hugs to anyone who has lost a loved one – whether to this virus or something else – and particularly where you haven’t been able to say goodbye and celebrate their life in the way you’d have hoped.

My best wishes to anyone with a business that’s struggling, has gone under, or who has lost their job/faces employment uncertainty.

And my thoughts are with all those affected by this worldwide pandemic in so many other ways I haven’t mentioned.

Hang on in there. I’m rooting for you. We’re hopefully through the worst and we’ll be able to spend time with friends and family soon as life returns to some sort of new ‘normal’.

Big hugs

Jessica xx