Rachel Joyce by Clare Bones

October 4, 2017 § Leave a comment

Yesterday, I went along to listen to Rachel Joyce talk about her new book The Music Shop.  The event was held at the Town Hall in Henley for the Literary Festival.  I was accompanied by fellow writers from this group, Serena Spencer-Jones, Vanessa Woolley and our new member, Vanessa Hoddle.  We sat in the front row and I was spellbound by the enchanting Rachel, who told us that she was ready to write her first novel at almost 50.  Rachel had been lost under a pile of laundry, looking after her family of four children and husband – she felt like she needed to find her voice.As I’m sure other readers will agree, her books are mesmerising and magical.

From the books I have read; The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Perfect and this new book show the raw and wonderful aspects of normal people’s lives and how simple things can touch others.  The Music Shop is deeply moving and held my body with tension and anticipation at each delicious turn of the page.

Not only is Rachel an incredible and original writer but she exudes an other-worldly aura.  I was captivated by her demure and mischievous smile and the calm way she spoke her wise words.  I adored  that she rocked having white stripes of hair tumbling down hair from a messy pony tail and her bohemian style.  I am truly inspired by her and want to be brave just like she is.


The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce is the book of the month for Marlow FM 97.5


Truly Happy by Clare Bones

August 7, 2017 § Leave a comment

I recently got back from a road trip with my family and another family of friends.  It was such an amazing adventure and full of beautiful scenery, long drives through hot, dusty desert and plenty of wild swimming in rivers and lakes.  It awoke my senses and also made me realise that as well as the head space we all crave, I realised how much I crave people’s company.

I spend a lot of my time alone.  At home, I do the housework, work in the garden, cook meals and walk the dog.  I write and do aromatherapy massage, which is typically done in silence or to relaxing music and so, often, I find my personal head space pretty much clear and stress free.

This holiday made me realise how too much head space can sometimes brings me down and make me feel depressed or sorry for myself.  Being with loved ones boosts my immune system and makes me happy.  While away, I missed gardening with my mum, chatting with my sister, laughing with other friends and being away, I enjoyed the good company.

On my return, I was invited to Vanessa’s for an afternoon cream tea, as our lovely Kate has moved to France and she was over for a visit.  It was so wonderful to meet up and exchange summer stories and catch up over homemade scones, orange & almond cake after indulging in smoked salmon sandwiches washed down with tea.

Wholesome activities are all well and good but often it’s the people around you that make it so very special.

Homework – worst phone call ever. Is Sarah there please? The darker the evening grew the more malevolent became her mood. Unable to settle, no space for a single calm thought amongst the opposite flow of anxious ones. The internal wrangling was at such a pitch. It was as if she couldn’t heave herself out of the dark water, and now the whirlpool was pulling her closer the centre. It whirled fast and pulled with a magnetism. There was no choice. He was now three hours late, no message. The house was silent. No TV, no radio but just the low buzz of nothingness. It was the hum of her blood in her neck, the house seemed to thrum her energy. Tidying, folding, wiping, refolding the tea cloth, all utterly futile activities. The cupboard needing shutting. But look, the bin bags. Eureka! With just a roll of black bin bags in her hand; WHOOSH something tipped. It felt good. A purpose. A road out of the hell, an activity, the chance to drove forward. Rip…! Off came the first one. Six strides to the utility room. Her eyes scanned the coat hooks and the paired up shoes. Right! It starts! In went his anorak, just his lightweight rain jacket the one for folding up and taking their picnics, the one he took with us camping last summer she fleetingly remembered. It was refreshing to recall it without pain. A pair of size twelve battered trainers in next. He had huge flat feet providing an ugly gait and they had worn down on the inside edge of the soles. Comical. Useless, even to charity she decided. The parka, enormous, khaki coloured, with a fur trimmed hood and two front pockets which were bulging with crap. Worn for winter walks gathering firewood together holding gloved hands. For choosing their Christmas tree. It felt heavy, more that the weight of the coat. It was what was in the pockets each side, it weighed heavily, it dragged down from her outstretched hand. She rummaged inside first one pocket. Then with a cupped hand she emptied the first pocket onto the cool flat surface of the chest freezer. Things clattered. Her heart pounded with this long forgotten sense of purpose. Without registering the items she repeated this with the other pocket. Then raking her clawed fingers over the items, she roughly sifted out metal things and recognised a screwdriver, and the key to the shed, a bunch of Allen keys and a few nuts and washers. A box of matches for his sneaky fags, smoking was a luxury that they couldn’t afford. The lighter items were an empty plastic bag that had contained screws, the size and head type all explained on the cardboard label. Another luxury off the list; Starbucks napkin screwed up. A long length of white kitchen roll, used and stuck into a scrunch and lastly a page of lined jotter pad. As she scrutinised the items to decide which to discard and which to keep, her heart beat fast with unexpected anticipation. The screwdriver would be returned to her tool box, how dare he. The rubbish pushed to the side, but wait – the bit of note pad, it was intriguingly like a note, not tightly balled like rubbish. The difference to her was instantly clear. Her fingers teased it open, like a school letter found in one of the children’s book bags. Turning it one hundred and eighty degrees, now it was legible, neat, in unknown handwriting. It read: Faringdon 867531 SARAH She checked her watch, ten to ten. It was dark. He was a landscape gardener and dusk had fallen at six. Another ten paces to the landline. Dial tone. Click click click… Ring ring…. Ring ring…. Ring ring…. “Hello” said the middle aged man; her guess was fifty five. She swallowed quickly and instantly chose a cheerful pitch. “Hello, is Sarah there?” He immediately replied with “Oh sorry, no she’s out with Guy.” The words shot her dead, shot her through the head, through her eardrum. Weakness prevailed, a slump, the news leached the strength first from her body, then her legs and arms. “Ah, ok, don’t worry, are they at the pub?” Remaining reflex of intelligence sent out this question unwittingly. “Yes, The Lamb” “Oh well – I’ll pop down there then, thanks bye.” Spoken like a robot, not her real self. “Ok love, bye.” Her jaw dropped loosely, the saliva had dried instantly on her tongue, her breathing was shallow. Weird sensations of triumph mingled with the dread and fear. Resignation perhaps, well at least she know for certain now. Now just seconds after the call incredible pride flooded though her veins. A clear road map. This was THE signpost. It was showing the way to a safe and happier place.

July 13, 2016 § Leave a comment

The Sound of Music

February 12, 2016 § Leave a comment

On Tuesday 9th February, I went to see The Sound of Music at the wonderful Swan Theatre in High Wycombe. Bill Kenwright’s production was outstanding from the opening of the lush, red curtains until the very end. The sets were stunning and in the opening scene, it really felt as though you were in the Abbey, where stained glass windows and pillars framed the stage. Mother Superior’s singing was so powerful that you could feel the vibes throughout the auditorium. I was tempted to join in but my dad, who was with me, was pleased that I didn’t. Lucy O’Byrne was spectacular and pretty as Maria, sounding just like her predecessor, Julie Andrews, when she sung. The children were all a delight and my daughter, Ruby, was excited to be able to see Violet Tucker play Brigitta, who not only is her favourite character but the actress was in the musical Matilda, her favourite production. As predicted, my mum was moved to tears by the story and songs, as was I by the time “Give Your Heart” came up. Captain von Trapp played by Gray O’Brien was predictably handsome and sensitive. Max was funny and jolly and made the audience laugh out loud. The costumes were beautiful, in particular, Liesl’s pale, turquoise summer dress which she wore as she danced with Rolf. I also coveted Elsa’s bright green dress, which she sashayed about the stage quite stylishly in. All in all, it was a perfect play, which I cannot recommend highly enough. An interesting article on the true story that inspired the show is written in the brochure that can be obtained from the Swan Theatre.

by Clare Bones



December 4, 2015 § 1 Comment

This week Clare Bones and I went to see Carol (the movie adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith novel,) having both read and loved the book.
It was divine!

A gentle coming-of-age movie, our young ingenue
Therese gave a luminous and spellbinding performance. Carol by contrast was almost predatory at times, skilful and knowing in her field it seemed at first, but of course in a ‘mans world’ she is still terribly out-played. With tender self sacrifice, as a mother and a lover she reconciles herself with pride to a new life. With a final happy resolution we feel a partial relief. But nearly one hundred years later have we moved on very far…?

The incredibly atmospheric sets, the ‘New Look’ post war costumes (British genius, Oscar winner Sandy Powell) for the girls and the guys of all ages were stunningly accurate. I loved the music the lighting the style of the whole film.

It’s got a niche audience but lucky for me it’s my niche!

Nano WriMo or not Nano WriMo?

December 2, 2015 § Leave a comment

So, the month of November came and went.  With it, went another opportunity to write a novel during the month of November for Nano WriMo (1,666 words a day).  I almost completed it a few years ago when I reached 40,000 words.  Alas, this year, I just about made 5,000.

The thing is, I realise how good I am at displacement, once I am due to do something.  It’s like ‘O’ Level revision all over again – watching Neighbours, spying on my neighbours or eating my friend’s homemade chocolate cake and chatting rather than getting on with the task in hand…

Instead of writing a novel, I thought I would write about not writing a novel.  What did I do, rather than penning the next masterpiece (ahem)?  Well, I got all my Christmas presents for starters.  I bought all my cards, wrote them and then posted them.  I’ve never been so organised.

I’ve been working, cooking, washing, cleaning, shopping, chauffeuring children about – one Sunday, I even clocked up 4 hours of driving one daughter from friend to friend to friend, that I could have gone to Devon!

I started taking my dog for long walks, even though, until now Margot and I had been quite content just playing in the garden or waiting for her Daddy to come home so we could walk together.  But no, I have really enjoyed the solitude, strolling through fields and looking at the beauty of nature.

Most importantly, I’ve learned to let go.  So what if I haven’t completed my deadline.  It was only set by me anyway.  I’ve realised that the things I have decided to do instead of writing, I have actually enjoyed immensely.  The simple and wholesome things in life that we all take for granted.  Bring on more car journeys with my daughters, where we can talk, bond and listen to fabulous music.  One day, hopefully, I can write it all down and make it into a book or turn my 5k novel attempt into a short story but that’s when I’m done with displacing.

by Clare Bones

Autumn by Vanessa Woolley: a poem for National Poetry Day

October 8, 2015 § Leave a comment


The mist is draped over the valley

A cloak against the day.

The early morning traffic moves slowly

Windscreen wipers clearing moisture

Heaters churning out warmth.

The day proceeds

And the sun, reluctant to give in to winter, chases clouds

Over and around the last of the summer roses.

Apples hang heavy on packed boughs

And the leaves brown and yellow and red flutter:

Jewels against the blue sky.

Dusk settles

And the street- lights blink on

The evening traffic moves slowly

Edging people home.

Boilers rusty from the summer break creak on

The radiators hissing as the night draws in.

Vanessa Woolley

October 2015