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Solstice surprise

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Many, many years ago, I used to be Features Editor on the Bath Chronicle.

A rollercoaster time it was, and, for the most part, a lot of fun, as we survived the storms of the 1980s and early 1990s, some literal, the rest figurative. I even wrote a book about it! Tomorrow's Anecdote is fiction but based on those turbulent days of Kinnock, Thatcher and Major.

Years passed. One of my former colleagues became editor after I left on maternity leave, and is now editor of the glamorous Bath Magazine. And to my surprise, I found myself writing features again.

Solace for the Solstice is a fun article about shunning plastic baubles this Christmas and releasing your inner Druid. I even took a few photos. You can find it here on pages 108-9.

Such fun. Thanks, Georgette. And I love the retro cover of this month's issue!

The storm of 1987

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Déjà vu all over again.

Tomorrow's Anecdote was inspired by the fateful storm of October 1987 so infamously unpredicted by BBC's Michael Fish.

Here I am again. Thirty years on, in Bath, working for the Chronicle, and life as manic as ever ...

As the sun vanishes and the skies darken once again, this is the unknowingly portentous blurb ...

Just another day in the newsroom? Hardly.

It is October 1987.

Clare Forester is an overworked and under-appreciated features sub on a provincial paper in Somerset, cheerfully ranting about her teenage daughter, her spiteful mother, her reclusive lodger, the Thatcher government, new technology, grubby journalists, petty union officials, her charming ex – and just about anything that crosses her path.

If things aren’t tempestuous enough, on Thursday, October 15, the Great Storm sweeps across Britain, cutting a swathe of destruction across the southern counties. At the office, Clare is pushed to breaking point by pushy bosses and inept colleagues, and …

Phantasy photo

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Photo taken in a Welsh forest near Llanwyrtd Wells. Inspiration for a fantasy story or what?

The next day, the toadstools had completely vanished. And yes, I'm watching Stranger Things.

Legendary landmark

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I collect stone circles. Not literally, obviously, but over the years, I’ve been adding to my list of sites visited: Southern Sweden, the South-West of England, Aberdeenshire and now ... Duddo.


Duddo? I hear you ask. She’s spelt it wrongly. But no. Duddo is tiny village near Etal – and that’s spelt correctly, too, in north Northumberland.


I live in Hawick in the Scottish Borders and it sounds long way away, but due to the vagaries of the English/Scottish border, it’s actually rather close (four miles).
I know the Borders quite well, and I’d no idea there were any standing stones in the region at all, to my shame, but during a chance conversation with a volunteer at Wallington estate (see more in another blog to come!), Duddo cropped up.
So, on a bright sunny summer’s day (yes, we do get them in Scotland), and drove the zigzag roads around the acres of ripening wheat to Duddo village.

Stone circle fans will know it can be something of a pilgrimage to locate said sites, but the signposts wer…

Back to Bath

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Whoever said ‘never look back’ clearly never lived in Bath.
We moved to the city in the late 1980s when my husband got his first ‘proper job’ at the university. For the first few months, we stayed in a flat up at Norwood while house-hunting, and within a few months found ourselves a super mid-terraced Victorian two-and-a-half-bedroom house near Larkhall which we loved to bits.
I began shifts on the local newspaper, the Bath Chronicle, and off we went. Broke, of course, given that interest rates were 15%!
Time went by. We got a lovely dog, Amber, then our daughter Lauren was born. Work took us elsewhere in the mid-1990s but we secretly hankered for Bath life.
And a misguided early retirement brought us back, by way of Scotland. (Long story for another occasion.) Anyway! We’re here!
This time, we’re staying in a flat near Laura Place while house-hunting. Rob is back at the uni and today, I heard I have some shifts at the Chron. Slightly bonkers, but we don’t care. We are relishing our reinv…

My mayonnaise dilemma

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I love making mayonnaise but the past few months, it hasn’t been emulsifying. It hasn’t curdled, it just stays thin. Shock horror. This was a mainstay of my mystic culinary skills (courtesy of the recipe from an original Cyclonic Wizz bought in Oz).
As my confidence dwindled, we tested different theories. Weather? Temperature? Humidity? Nothing changed. Equipment? A new blender produced the same watery result.
So, ingredients. We wondered if the sunflower oil I used had been thinned somehow. Not according to the labelling. I tried adding more olive oil, swapped to vegetable oil, experimented with combinations of the above. Still no joy.
Vinegar, then. White wine, cider, red, balsamic – all had the same sorry result.
The eggs? I tried every sort available, sometimes using up to eight for one small pot of mayo. I can’t even begin to describe the mountain of greasy washing up. Oh, I just did.
It must be the mustard, we concluded.
I sought help from my daughter, well trained in the mustard art…