One staff officer jumped right over another staff officer’s head…

On 21 May we had a launch party for Surviving the Death Railway; A POW’s Memoir and Letters from Home in the beautiful home where I spent the second half of my childhood. Here it is in the early morning of our wedding day in 1977. Dipford 1977 The party went splendidly and I was moved by the wonderful mixture of people – from relatives of the families in the book, to local people who remembered Barry and Phyllis (the book is about Barry, a Far East POW and Phyllis his wife, who waited out the war with no direct communication for three and a half years) and many of Barry and Phyllis’s (and my) relatives. There were men swapping stories about their father and their uncle and holding back their tears.

We returned across the country to our home. I began to relax, thinking I now had nearly a month to finish the private version of the book (done, and the proof copy arrived this morning to be checked),DSCN9555 and to rescue the garden from the chaos of neglect DSCN9552(ongoing) and rediscover my studyDSCN9515

under the piles books and papers (also done),DSCN9526before the second launch for local friends and other relatives on 18 June. This would then give me time to sort out marketing and publicity stuff before the release of the book on 30 June… I had even started looking in on your lovely, neglected blogs again. However, three days ago a cheerful email arrived telling me that the book had now been released (Pen and Sword publish by month and Amazon always release on the last day of that month – but I didn’t know that). This morning a lovely person from P & S’s digital marketing arm rang for more  information and this evening I managed to update my website. Next Saturday I have 60 plus people coming for sandwiches, sangria and a book. I am juggling garden rescue, food planning and creating, proof-reading (again!!) and I feel as though I am being leapfrogged at every turn.

In between all this I have joined the local branch of Toastmasters to try and overcome my fear of public speaking (I did my ice-breaker last Tuesday to the friendliest bunch of people you could dream up). And I have been arranging talks in museums on Far East POWs.

This is all in the way of saying sorry that I am not visiting your blogs. I will return when the staff officers stop playing leapfrog.

Running out of time, my birthday present to my husband was the promise of a few days in Venice in September – sort of cheating as I get to go too… I can’t wait.

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Woman versus holly and magpies – two:nil

Though it didn’t look very promising at half time.

Holly root

Holly root

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I won eventually.DSCN5004

We have been putting up coconut halves full of fat and bugs for the birds. These have been a great success and we have much enjoyed the antics of a pair of long-tailed tits. They are thinking of nesting, but are convinced that our garage houses some rivals, so they spend much time attacking the windows.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHowever a much more serious threat has appeared. A pair of magpies have been eating from these coconut shells, and even investigating the seed feeders. We have found a simple solution, which might be useful to others. Two hanging baskets joined together make a really good guard. Small birds in, Magpies out.
DSCN5032DSCN5030I shall be away from my blog for a few days. I should have put up another POW post, but the garden demands have been non-stop so this will now have to wait until I return. I wish I could leave you with a picture of the miniature cherry or the apricot, but though both have started to flower they are not yet looking their best, so here are the current stars.

Camellia Mary Phoebe Taylor

Camellia Mary Phoebe Taylor

Anemone de Caen

Anemone de Caen (flowering now since late December)