Joyeux Noël 2014

XmasdeerWe could say we’re being green or saving postage, but when everybody has access to a computer it seems daft to stay in ‘Caxton mode’. So here is the first virtual version…

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SilverWood Books authors at Foyles, Bristol



Alison went to Bristol for her publisher’s open day – trains planes and automobiles!  (I’m at the back).

It was an open day about writing and publishing as well as an opportunity to catch up with colleagues she’d chatted to on Facebook!





Happy birthday!

Steve was invited to go to Florence to visit the workshop of the Gillio Firenze leather goods manufacturers to help prepare the launch of a new range of colours of personal organisers and tote bags. You can see the antics of the team of people he was with on a short You Tube video here:

It was also his birthday that month!


Kobo stand at the London Book Fair



Alison was back on  the plane en route to a fabulous London Book Fair. Alison’s first book, INCEPTIO was chosen to be featured on the Kobo e-publishing company’s stand. She met up with fellow writers, made some industry contacts, heard the buzz about the book world.



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Sue Cook interviewing Alison


We spent nearly three weeks in UK in June, but as usual with our trips, it was full on. Alison launched book 3, SUCCESSIO, at the University Women’s Club in London. Philip shot a  (completely unarranged!) video of TV presenter Sue Cook interviewing her:

Alison met up with more readers and fans at an evening arranged by Tunbridge Wells Library; The librarians were so welcoming and the audience lively – a brilliant group!

We also had our last visit to Prenton to finalise the sale of Steve’s mother’s house which finally sold in the summer.


Philip and Caroline, tasting wine



Philip and Caroline came over to visit us in July and we enjoyed a few days out, swam in the pool, wine tasting, ate in local restaurants, walked along the river… (Somebody has to do it!)




Alison has been speaking at and attending conferences throughout the summer. Sometimes she thinks she ought to get Ryanair frequent flyer points, but she’s thoroughly enjoyed catching up with writing friends and colleagues and hearing some great speakers.
There is more more (with pictures):
Romantic Novelists’ Association
Historical Novel Society
Harrogate History Festival


Denise, Alison’s writing partner



The wettest August for years, but our visitors were not put off! First, Alison’s writing partner Denise visited in the summer to have some social media training and to enjoy some slightly warmer (if damper) weather. This photo was was taken on a ‘field trip to local castle at Montreuil-Bellay.



Tony, checking the vines are good for this year’s vintage

And a few days after Denise, left Alison’s brother, who appreciates vineyards and their products, came to stay for a week.




Happy campers


And while Tony was here, we met up with friends Adele and Jason who were camping at L’Etang de la Brèche near Saumur in the Loire Valley where we stayed over ten times in as many years before buying our house here.






Shadow iPhoning

Shadow iPhoning

Domestic front
We’ve been improving the happy home; the basement stairs and stairwell are now brighter having been repainted with external masonry paint! We had more than enough left over from painting the outside of the house. More recently, we re-decorated one of our guest bedrooms and finished off the edges of the laminate flooring – one of those many ‘get around to it’ jobs! (Oh, there are plenty more of those left. *cackles*)

Steve and Alison have finally both got new iPhones! We have got to grips with the new smart phone technology after two decades of much older mobile phones. We are now constantly snapping photos and sharing them on Facebook and Twitter!

This year also saw the demise of Windows XP so Steve has retired off various computers around the house or changed them over to use Linux instead. In November he swapped his old Dell war horse laptop for a shiny new Apple MacBook Pro, which is considerably faster, lighter etc.

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Steve, Petra and Janet at Van der Speck




Steve took the train on a secret trip to Rotterdam to meet the owners of another leather goods company that he’s been working with this year. He spent four days discussing new designs, making various publicity videos and discussing future plans (and visiting some choice restaurants!). It has to be said that the company has flourished since Steve publicised them on Philofaxy. 😉






So, how does this jump-jet work?

We both flew back to UK for a busy weekend of events. On the Saturday we met up with Steve’s old RA/Ofcom colleagues from 10 years ago when he was made redundant by Ofcom. We gathered at Brooklands Museum in Surrey, a great place for such an event.


Relaxing in the pub near Brooklands

Inevitably, the assembled hordes finished up in the pub. Steve has been asked to arrange another similar event next year!

On the Sunday we met up with some of the readers of the Philofaxy blog in London for lunch. Afterwards Steve and fans went off to visit some of their favourite stationery shops (Paperchase, Muji, Tiger etc.). Alison opted for a trip round M&S for some reason…



Selling Roma Nova

Do my books look nice on this colour cloth?

And December?
Alison had a great day seeing books at a local marché de Noël (or Christmas fair) and had the great honour of her third book, SUCCESSIO being selected as Editor’s Choice in the first indie preview in The Bookseller, the leading UK publishing world’s trade magazine (

Now we are winding down to the holiday period and looking forward to seeing Philip and Caroline here.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this brief glimpse of of lives in 2014 and would like to wish you a relaxing/peaceful/merry Christmas and a prosperous and healthy 2015.

Steve and Alison