News from Applecross – august 2023

Signs of Spring

It feels like it has been a long winter here in New Zealand, but, at last, the daffodils are in flower and there are buds on the trees and shrubs at Applecross HQ. 

We have a neighbour’s six pregnant sheep grazing on our lush, green field at the moment. It will not be long now until we hear the patter of tiny feet. Looking at the size of the mums, we could well be in for six lots of twins!  

This level of productivity is not showing up in our hens, though. Two eggs in the last fortnight is just not good enough! I will forgive Henny and Penny as they are at least 6 years old, and Bluebell, Poppy and Lily are not far behind them. And Henry, well, one would not expect an egg from him, of course! But Daisy, Ivy and Rosie should really be laying their usual lovely brown eggs most days. 

Our animals live out their natural lives with us regardless of their productivity, but we are missing our regular supply of eggs. Anyway, two more ladies will be arriving soon to boost supplies – maybe they will encourage Daisy, Ivy and Rosie to lay too. Continuing my vague theme of flower based girls’ names, I googled suggestions and got 124 names – plenty of scope for more chooks to come. I’m thinking Marigold and Clover, unless you, dear reader, have any better ideas. Comment below with your suggestions. 

Here’s a photo of the lovely Bluebell…

Our Land in Colour

When you look back into history, your mind usually conjures up images in black and white. In New Zealand, colour photography was rare until the 1960s and colour television only reached our shores in the late 1970s. How wonderful it is, therefore, to see photographs from 1860-1960 digitally coloured and published in this beautiful new book, ‘Our Land in Colour’.

Somehow the rather flat, monochrome portraits and landscapes have come to life with the colour added. I thoroughly recommend you track down a copy and have a browse. Prepare to be amazed! 

I bought my copy from my local bookshop, Emma’s at Oxford

As you all know, I like to support my local bookshop and library, which is why I am now advertising in ‘Indie Books‘, a catalogue of independent and self-published authors. Although this is only available in New Zealand, the same rules apply worldwide – if you want to see my books in your local bookshop, or on the shelves of your local library, ask the manager to look me up and consider purchasing copies of my books.

Here’s the ad –

While we are on the subject of other books, if you are looking for a new historical fiction series to read, look no further than here – Free First in Series

‘Flora Brown’

Winter is the perfect time to be writing, more often than not you will find me with feet up in front of the fire, my laptop balanced on my knees, tapping away with the 7th book in the Applecross Saga, ‘Flora Brown’. 

I’m on track for publication in early 2024, but I thought I would share a little excerpt with you, to give you an insight into the storyline. John James is just about to leave for Scotland. He believes he will be gone for good, although he hasn’t told his mother that. Little does he know that there’s a young lady called Flora who can’t wait for him to sweep her off her feet and transport her back to Applecross……

Nobody quite knew what to talk about at the breakfast table. Everything that needed to be said had been spoken at supper, so all that was left were the odd questions from Sophia.

“Have you packed your presents?” she asked. 

“Yes, Mama,” replied John James, pulling the knife from his pocket to show her it was not going to be left behind.

“Do you think you have enough warm clothes for the Scottish weather?” she asked only moments later. 

“Yes, Mama,” John James replied again. “I can always buy extra if I need to.” 

In truth, Sophia was trying to fill the silence with words. This last hour with her son was almost painful. She rather wished he would get on with his porridge and go now. Or even better, change his mind and stay at home. 

“Don’t worry Ma,” he had said last night. “I’ll be fine.” 

Sophia knew perfectly well that her son would be fine. He had grown into an independent young man, intelligent, well-mannered, capable and, in her opinion, handsome. Yes, he would be fine. But would he ever come home again? She had tried to tease that out of him over the last few months, only too aware that he had made no definite plan for the return journey. But he had been evasive, only willing to say that he would sort that out later, or laugh at his mother for wanting to know every detail about his journey. She knew him too well. James didn’t agree with her, though.

“He will be back in due course,” he had said when Sophia mentioned it. “He knows he has a duty to run the farm one day, and I may not manage it on my own for many more years to come, you know, my dear.” 

“I’ll be fine,” John James said again now, echoing his words from last night. It was an answer to his mother, but a sort of affirmation to himself too. Yes, he would be fine.

Don’t forget that all six of the Applecross Saga books are available from your usual outlets as ebooks and paperbacks.  

The ebook version of Book 1, The Wideawake Hat’ is free to download. 

The audiobook of The Wideawake Hat, narrated by Su Melville is also available from all the usual outlets. 

Checkout my website for all the details – 

Authors love to hear from their readers – please do consider leaving a review wherever you like to do so – and I really do enjoy receiving emails from my readers, so feel free to comment below or contact me at 

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