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In every day life, John Jackson, a former Ship's Captain now retired. He still retains an avid interest in the Hash House Harriers, Rugby, Food, Romantic Fiction, Philately, etc etc etc.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Its that Recurring Question - Where did that year go?

Its exactly a year since we bought this house – although only seven months since we moved in. We have – with one major exception – finished the repairs and decorating. The exception is the new conservatory – the builders are being dilatory in the extreme! That is hardly news in the great story of builders, though.

It is nearly 6 months since I last updated this blog, and I keep asking “Where is the time going?” and never really receiving a sensible answer. We still try to fill our days though.
The major event of the summer was the Brussels Beer Oddesey, involving over 2500 veteran hash house harriers from all over the world descending on Brussels for an extended weekend of Running, Walking and Beer. I've been attending (and organising) these events for 20 years, and I can put my hand on my heart and happily say this was the best. :) For me personally, it was unbelievable having so many friends there!

A colourful bunch aren't they. :)

Anyone interested can check out the myriad photos at

The other major event was a gorgeous holiday in a gite in Brittany for Pam and I. Right out near Roscoff, the gite was, as usual, a converted farmhouse and was one of the best we have stayed in. We had a great time! Its a gorgeous area and the weather stayed kind.

I spend an enjoyable day in Leighton Buzzard with friends attending the Festival of Romantic Fiction. Such a nice bunch, and always a pleasure to see and spend time with them.

Thee Book Fair 

As I got to know more of them on Twitter I started sending out a #ff message, but including some little gag or tag to make it interesting. After all #ff on its own is pretty damn bald and meaningless. This, like Topsy, has Grown! As I have got to know and chat with (whether in real life or on line) more authors, that have been added to the list so it now numbers more than 100. (a lot more) Finding something amusing and original to use as a tag gets harder and harder! Still, its fun in a weird way. Perhaps I should get out more

In fact, I enjoyed myself so much I am off to see many of them again at the RNA Winter Party in a couple of weeks. I plan on having my camera!

I've also been whiling away the off hour reading and reviewing books for the RoNAs – all in the romance genre, but not by any means what some might call Mills and Boon types. This year I got given 5 to read – all of them between 400 and 550 pages long!! Nevertheless I made it and filled my forms in and sent them off. I look forward to see who makes the short list and who wins. There were 2 of mine I thought were in with a chance.

Strictly Come Dancing is back with us! So far, it is proving to be a brilliant series - with several real surprises!! My last 4? Jake, Caroline, Frankie and Pixie by a country mile. 
The other major improvement is NO MORE BRUCE! Now if we can only get the BBC to let Zoe Ball take over from the Loch Tess Monster all my wishes will have been granted (LOL)

We have both our girls with us for Christmas, so the house will be full! Preparations are continuing apace! We have been over to an Xmas Craft Fair this morning in Harrogate for lots of bits and bobs for stocking fillers. Before them, I am back over to Brussels for a major Christmas party – a wind-down and thank-you for the committee and all our helpers who made July's event so good – and, for me, a vital chance to restock the Beer Cupboard!!

More after Christmas – and may YOUR Christmas and New Year bring you everything you wish for.

Comments? Keep'em coming!


who is also
@jjackson42 on Twitter on Facebook

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cakes and Ale (& Home)

Cakes and Ale (& Home)

Actually, scones and beer!

Back in the dawn of time, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, and I was about 10, I won third prize at Poynton Show in the junior section for my scones. Last Friday, I was forced to delve deep and hard into the memory to recall all I used to know, as we'd volunteered to produce some for a book launch (of which more anon).

Luckily, it seems I haven't lost the knack, probably owing to some assistance from St Delilah of Norwich. Which turned out to be fortunate as P. was lying hors-de-combat, struck down with her particular brand of dreaded lurgi.

A friend, the delightful Liz Fenwick, has a new book out, and her publishers had arranged for a launch at a small independent bookshop in Urmston. Why Urmston, you may ask? Liz's publishers, Orion Press, suggested it. Liz's new book, A Cornish Stranger, has a music thread to it, and Liz got a lot of her information from a student friend of her son's who attended Chetham's School of Music – also in Manchester. All of which was as tenuous a connection as you can get, but still made for a really nice night. A nice crowd of some 36, Liz spoke for an hour, some good questions and all the scones went!

BTW – I really recommend her book – it's the best she has written, and I really enjoyed it. I spent a large part of my childhood in Cornwall. Liz really “gets” that bit of magic that starts when you cross the Tamar, and it shines through her books.

Meanwhile, back at the house, we are still knocking off those little jobs left from the move. The carpet fitter comes tomorrow to fit new stair carpet, we have new curtains, the garden is coming on a treat, and we have ordered some new double-glazing. Bit-by-bit we are getting there.

I am off to Belgium again next week for the last committee meeting before the big Hash House Harriers “do” in July. 2500 people coming, and a LOT of beer organised!

When Liz was talking she mentioned how she looks on her house in Cornwall as “Home”. And that got me thinking. Both Pam and I are really feeling the new house is "Home" already. Perhaps because we both chose it, and made all the decisions about it.

Just for once, we were able make all those decisions purely on their own merit. All the other houses we have had, for the last 30 years, have either been because they went with the job, or because my work was in the area. THIS time, we are here just because we want to be – and that is a great feeling!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Time For an Update - the Weeks Just Slip By!

Where does the time go? In spite of being putatively retired, I seem to have less time than ever these days.

You can tell the difference between being a York resident and a visitor to York – we've been moved in for 6 weeks, and we still haven't been to Bettys! Mind you, the other York bakery, Thomas's, produces equally good Yorkshire Curd Tarts. I AM feeling the lack of a Fat Rascal or two, though.

It seems that – for us, at least, the house market remains buoyant. We've sold (almost) my late uncle's old house (owned by my late Mother). Completion should be next week, subject to “probate being granted”. Then we only have to wait 6 months before Mother's will can be proved. All very time consuming, but not, for us, urgent.

The big agenda item for us though, has been the garden. Being both old and knackered we decided on raised beds – and I managed to make them out of old scaffold boards. They are proving great, and the recent spell of good weather has allowed us to press on with planting and re-potting all the plants we brought with us from Evesham.

I have made contact with local friends on the Yorkshire Hash House Harriers. LOTS of old friends!! The only problem is, when they made Yorkshire, they made a hell of a lot of it. Also had a great trip to Macclesfield Beer Festival to join up with old London friends of the SLASH3. Good beer (246 different ones) and great fun. Bill Turnbull (doyen of the BBC Breakfast Sofa) was  very busy pouring beers for us all afternoon!!

Readingwise, its been busy. Among the bits and pieces left to me by my Uncle was a couple of old books about Cornwall. One of these, “Deep Down” by RM Ballantyne was fascinating, and packed with details about the old Bottalack mine in Cornwall. My Gt-Gt-Grandfather bought the mine and put it into production again in the mid 18th. C. Very much in the same writing style as John Buchan and Ballantyne's other books, i.e. Coral Island, and its free on Kindle.

Many of my lady writer friends have been living the high-life over in New Orleans for the big Romantic Times fiction convention. Curiously, I used to stay at the same hotel where the convention was held, so was able to give them a few tips re the delights of Bourbon St. I note with interest that they are all remarkably coy about any weight-gain from all the amazing food that New Orleans has to offer.

Liz Harris's Blog post catches a flavour at

Life goes on!!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

We are up, we are in!!!

We are up, we are in!!!

Time for an update and the event of the year has undoubtedly been Moving House! We are now resident in a bungalow in a little village called Haxby, 4 miles north of York.

We are at that stage where the furniture and packing has gone into the house – been re-arranged once, but is now being re-arranged again! Yes more stuff will, I'm afraid be going for sale, or to thee charity shop. The undoubted effect of having lived in so many places and moved around so much over the last 40 years.

Fortunately Pam loved the house after all the redecorating and refurbishment. There's still lots to do though. At least we have time!

One effect of moving up here is a change in travel-mode over to the Continent. I have another trip to Belgium coming up and I'm experimenting with going via the ferry from Hull to Zeebrugge. More expensive, but it saves me (and the car) 500 miles of driving. I'll let you know how it works out.

Now we ARE up of course, we have to get on with all the minutiae of life; registering with the doctors, library cards, etc. etc. Luckily I made a personal check – you can get a bus into York avery 12 minutes and it stops 100 metres from our favourite York pub. This is important! The Three Legged Mare (known locally as the Wonky Donkey)

Among the goodbyes to the soft underbelly of the country was a Tuesday trip to have lunch with the delightful Oxford Chapter of the Romantic Novelists Association. Of course, I sweetened the pill (literally) by taking some Belgian chocolates with me. A remarkably nice bunch of ladies, and many thanks to Liz Harris who has organised and been “mother-hen” to the chapter for ages. I look forward to seeing them again, and to reading (and reviewing) their books.

We also had a visitor to our (old) neighbourhood. Talli Roland is another author who keeps me entertained - and Pam and I met her, the Doc and young MasterTR in yet another of our favourite pubs for a lovely couple of hours. Her blog is here: Talli Roland. Oh, and young MasterTR is a grand little lad!

The pub is the excellent Fleece, at Bretforton. It is owned by the National Trust.

So – in the next month – LOTS of sorting out in the house, garage and garden. It already looks better though.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

What a start to the year!

Isn't death odd? In mother's case it was a welcome release after three years in care with vascular dementia. She said she just didn't want to wake up in the morning – and some days ago her prayers were answered. So no surprises then, and for all of us a prolonged exhalation of relief. The mother I knew I said goodbye to four years ago when she had the last stroke – a total personality change. Still, a long life.

And so to the mechanics of arranging funerals, etc. Have you checked the price of coffins recently?? Unbelievable. When arranging mother-in-laws funeral three years ago I was doing the rounds of the undertakers in Gloucester. In two of them their immediate – and slightly chilling - response was “Is it for you?” (Apparently its all to do with arranging things in advance.)

Another bonus was getting our girls over to stay for a couple of days.

As soon as the family dispersed, it was back to the house-work (literally – working on the house). Pam came up to York for a couple of days to check on progress and help with a couple of key decisions. We now have a moving date though; Thursday 3rd of April.

Meanwhile, life goes on – rather reassuringly; the alternative would be a bit tough.

My friends in the Hash House Harriers aren’t seeing too much of me – the house is taking all my energies, and the weather has been against going outside for ANY reason. Never mind, though. I will be heading over to Brussels next month for a weekend, and dropping in on a few of our local groups here to say farewell before leaving for the frozen North.

On the romantic fiction front – its a remarkably fecund world you lot live in! No sooner do I turn round or blink and one of you has a new book out. So far this year, I have particularly enjoyed Jean Bull's Gypsy Moth, Sue Moorcroft's Is This Love AND Do you Want to know a Secret? (Yes!), and Christina Courtenay's Secret Kiss of Darkness. Well done ladies – I do get some odd looks when I'm chuckling away reading my Kindle in the pub.

Keep'em coming!


who is also

@jjackson42 on Twitter  on Facebook

All comments most welcome!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

....and just WHERE did that year go? Answers on a postcard, please!

So the end of the year rolls round - and just WHAT a year its been!

The main highlight has been selling our house on the Isle of Man, and finding and buying a bungalow in York. I start work on refurbishing it and doing some minor repairs next week, and we hope to actually move in around Easter. Unlike most house-movers, we have the luxury of time, and can get most of the bits and pieces we need done before we actually take up residence.

For the first time ever, Pam and I spent Christmas at our daughters and partners house. A real "right-of-passage" moment. We had a great Christmas in every way, but, strangely, P and I both felt at a loss. We had ABSOLUTELY nothing to do. The kids did everything. Next year, we'll be having them to stay at the new house, together with DD2, who had to work this year.

The weeks prior to Christmas saw the Party circuit in full swing, and started with an excellent lunchtime gig with the Oxford Chapter of the RNA. A really nice bunch of lady writers - both published and hoping-to-be-published. Thank you ladies - especially Liz Harris. I hope to see you again before disappearing into the frozen North.

I always catch up with my London Hash House Harrier friends at their combined party. This year was no exception. Now I'm no great shakes at fancy dress, but arrived at the home of my overnight hosts to be informed that they HAD a costume for me - as Little Weed to their Bill and Ben!

Thanks, M & K, your hospitality was exemplary as ever!!! In a strange example of co-incidence, they live round the corner from Liz's (see above) DS1 and DinL.

For the inquisitive - lots more photos at London Hash Xmas Party Snaps

Just back from London, and it was over to Brussels for a couple of meetings re Brussels2014, and THEIR Christmas party - a night for posh frocks, etc. and lots more pics!

Again, for the curious, more pics here - BMPH3 Xmas Party

In spite of all the festivities, lasting well into the early hours, they were all up and running off any hangover the next day at 11:00. A great weekend, and a chance for a spot of Christmas shopping at Brussels excellent markets.

On my way over to Brussels, I'm wandering round the WHSmiths in the ferry terminal in Dover, and what do I see but Sue Moorcroft's Is This Love at no. 45. I had, in fact, just finished it and loved it. A really good read.

And so.....

What am I looking forward to in 2014??

1. Moving into our new home.
2. Meeting a lot of friends again, whether writers or hashers, or just friends. We will now have somewhere to accommodate guests!
3. A weekend of major fun at Brussels2014 - not to mention a few other weekends!
4. New books from, among others:

  1. Liz Harris
  2. Liz Fenwick
  3. Pia Courtenay
  4. Sue Moorcroft
  5. Talli Roland
5. Trying desperately to reduce to size of my Must Read List!!

Here's hoping 2014 brings you all you wish yourself, in every way!


who is also

@jjackson42 on Twitter  on Facebook

All comments most welcome!