I really love my monthly book club. They are smarty, witty people. But it is starting to dawn on me that their literary aspirations are more worthy than mine.

I currently have four books on the go. One of which is Possession by AS Byatt. But possess me it does not. Instead I seek sanctuary in Me Before You by Jo Jo Moyes, a weepy romance. Sure it includes a visit to a dignitas clinic in Switzerland but Possession with it’s tautly contained letters between socially awkward Victorians is on a whole different level.

Sigh. Got till late Jan to read it. We’ll see.

Ah. There is someone listening out there. Radio 4 are playing a great adaptation of Possession over the last week and next. Will make up for all those pages (poems) I have skipped.


Latest clothbound classics have come in…..


Bleak House and Hard Times.. use colorit foils and brillianta cloth.. lovely.

This Sunday turned out to be very productive on the foraging front. Not only did we collect some blackberries (I hear this year is meant to be a bumper crop?) but we managed to catch the wild Mirabelle plums just as they ripened (there was some concerns that was we are off on holiday next week that we may have been too early).

The photo below was taken in a little woody pathway that is in the Gipping Valley, which is a gorgeous part of East Anglia if you are ever over that way. The lane had recently been strimmed by a local farmer (I suspect) but actually that helped to get to some of the more out of the way plums.

Last year, was the first year that I have branched out from Sloes into combining other fruits and booze (cranberries, blackberries and plums were married up with brandy, vodka and gin). Of all the ones we tried, bar my favourite Sloe Gin, I thought that the Mirabelle Plums took very well to the gin.

So this year with our haul we have made another batch (best get on with finishing off last years I guess), which is now happily fermenting away.

plums in gin within Kilner Jar

For anyone interested in making up their own batch, the general rule seems to be 1lb fruit to 1lb sugar made up to to 75cl with gin. You can let it ferment away for a few months, adding sugar to taste. We used Kilner jars as bottles have thin necks and it is a chore and a half to get the fruit through the gap. Another point: remove the stones from the Mirabelle plums (I was told by wise boyfriend that they contain Arsenic).

I grew up fairly near this place http://www.markshall.org.uk/ yet until the other day I knew nothing about it!

Located just off the A12 heading towards Colchester, this hidden gem has an amazing story of abandonment and neglect, then re-invention as a garden open to the public (for a mere £4!).

On Sunday I went with my boyfriend (who heard about this place on Gardener’s World) and it was just magical to walk around the formal and wild parts of this 200 acre site. Infact, we only had a few hours there so we just touched on the main site (walled garden, two man-made lakes, swans, tea rooms, ancient woodland, mushrooms) and will be definitely going back to do some more exploring!

There used to be a house on the site too – Mark Hall – but sadly it felt into disrepair after the second world war, and the owner had to demolish due to lack of funding. Apparently this was quite common in the 50s in Essex, a lot of lovely homes were destroyed and the bricks re-used in local houses.

All a bit sad really. But, at least the garden has been returned to it’s formal glory, and I really recommend a vist.


I am a member of a book club. Each month we select a new title.. please note so far I have not persuaded anyone to read any of my choices! Honestly, they weren’t that bad.

This month I am reading William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absalom,_Absalom!) a story which is part gothic novel part western.

I can’t tell you whether it is worth the long slog of reading it yet. I’ve never read any Faulkner before, so I don’t even know if this is his standard wordy prose or he did something “experimental” for this tome??

Wikipedia tells me he is considered one of the foremost Southern writers, so I am clinging on in there in the hope that the story which has been going around in circles for the past 100 pages resolves itself into something wonderful.

Book club is next Tuesday, so lets see what everyone else thinks then!

Now there are many schools of thought on what is going to happen in the world of publishing with regards print books and ebooks. Everyone in publishing is obsessed at the moment about the “tipping point” and when it is going to happen.

When are ebooks (APPS/Fixed Format/ePubs/Mobi) going to become the dominant out put product over the current champ – the printed format.

Two good pieces on the subject… read this one:   http://www.idealog.com/blog/the-printed-books-path-to-oblivion

Followed by this one: http://www.booktryst.com/2010/08/e-publishing-consultant-mike-shatzkin.html

From personal experience, although we are definitely fully engaged with digital and our editors are actually waking up to the possibilities that ebooks present.. we’re still focused on the print as an industry. Of course, as the devices get better (Kindle does make books look ugly) we’ll become more insterested in that file that at the moment is a by-product from our print files.

One of the things I love about production is that you get to work with so many creative people!

Matt Young is a fairly recent recruit to the Press Design team, but already his work is standing out from the crowd…


This one is on my (every increasing) reading list… looks to be a damn fine book too!