The workshop in the dining room and a sunset

I’m not sure what law I’m invoking, but whatever DIY job I take on, tool by tool, the workshop slowly transfers itself to some unsuitable room in the house. This time it is the dining room.

DSCN4328I swear I only needed a ruler, a set square, some paste, a brush, a set of ladders and some cloths. Two weeks later the dining room has lost its identity under cardboard boxes full of the extra tools required.


It will be worth all the effort when winter finally arrives. We have lined many of our thin outer walls with wool fibre thermal lining paper (you can just paint over the top).

DSCN4329 We have also added some incredibly simple magnetic secondary glazing, purchased online from the wonderful There are real, helpful people who answer emails and the phone.

Yesterday after spending all day trying to finish off the walls, I went outside for a break and this is what I saw.





Invisible DIY, finding heroes, writing and autumn outside

It been a busy week!

Today I relaxed by covering another two wall areas with thin woollen jackets. Our house has a mere nine solid inches of brick between us and the winter storms, so each year we add another layer here or there or another piece of secondary glazing. Some panes arrived with the new magnetic attachment system which works brilliantly (though to my embarrassment I had the dimensions of one of them wrong).

I needed to relax from the excitement of two days of Internet connections. Pierre Lagacé, of Lest We Forget, found a website for me with the story of my airman uncle’s Commanding Officer ( I have been in touch with his son, Marcus, and had a a wonderful and productive email exchange and the blog ( has now become a rich repository of Mosquito and meteorological lore of WWII.

Signalman William Dawson

Signalman William Dawson

Both these activities have been punctuations in my all out blitz on the manuscript of Writing to a Ghost: Letters to the River Kwai 1941-45. A few weeks ago we visited the museum where some of the materials – letters to my mother from the wives and mothers of my father’s Unit, all Far East POWs – are housed. This time we photographed all the photos my mother had collected. I have been able to put faces to nearly half the men in the story. They are brilliant, but some of them make me weep.  I have also been following a friend’s advice as I worked over the manuscript.

Meanwhile, the sun has come out again and the air is warm, and autumn is raging outside. I want to be in the garden. (We did have lunch in the garden.)

Rosa Mary Rose

Rosa Mary Rose


Acer palmatum Sengokaku

Acer palmatum Sengokaku


Spoiled for choice – writer’s support network

My writing has been stalled because I had finished one project and was in desperate need of feedback on the other two.

The project, an article on my airman uncle (A Very Unlikely Hero) had been sent to a specialist blogger. My non-fiction (Writing to a Ghost: Letter to the River Kwai) was being read, as a favour, by a wonderfully meticulous friend and my re-re-re revised fiction book (Border Line) was in a queue to a busy writing friend.Two days ago my writing frustration peaked and I also felt a need of independent professional advice for some tricky chapters. So I sent them off to Sally Jenkins, who had done such a swift and helpful job on the synopsis, agent letter and first chapter of Border Line.

Later that same day the blogger, Pierre Lagacé, of Lest we Forget, came up trumps and starting posting a new blog using parts of my article on my Mosquito Navigator uncle at I am thrilled with this.

Yesterday my friend, Lesley, came round with a wonderfully annotated manuscript of my non-fiction book and some very good advice.

Today, to my amazement, Sally Jenkins came through with the critique of my tricky chapters in Border Line. Her speed of turnaround only equalled by the seriously helpful advice on my chapters.

Writing is something of a game of snakes and ladders. Today I am on a ladder. Back at my desk, I feel like a bee in clover – totally happy and busy though spoiled for choice about which manuscript to tackle first. It is this wonderful network of support from people we know and, in this new age, those we have never met that make writing possible.

This state of affairs has been very good for the house. DIY flourished, I have insulated a tricky section of bay wall with thermal lining, put up a pane of secondary glazing and ordered more lining, glazing panels etc.

(And my L reg. Nissan passed its MOT!)