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Scenes from my Cotswold Cottage #2: My Book Nook

This is the second in my new series of posts inspired by Dame Joanna Lumley’s charming memoir, No Room for Secrets, in which she tours her London house giving a commentary on her possessions. I’m sharing snapshots from my Victorian Cotswold cottage in which I write my books, with a commentary on what the objects in each picture mean to me.

Also in this post: news about the book I’m writing now and of a new self-publishing course that I’ll be teaching for Jericho Writers from 1st March. 

All authors ought to be avid readers too, so my house has many cosy corners in which to curl up with a book.

This book nook was built by my husband to my specification from a couple of planks of wood to fill in the space left by the vintage Rayburn solid-fuel stove that finally fell to pieces a few years ago.

But as my grandma would have said, “It didn’t owe us anything,” as we’d bought it for £50 twenty years before when we spotted it abandoned in a neighbour’s back garden. They were only too pleased for us to take it away.

photo of my book nook
The perfect place to curl up with a book

Starting from the top, the old enamel sign on the wall above was lying in the garden when I moved in, a relic from when my cottage used to be the village post office.

I made the crocheted lace that hangs from the beam about 25 years ago. Not sure my eyesight would be up to it these days!

On the two pillars hang two small embroideries:

  • The “Home Sweet Home” on the left was made my dad, who used to do a lot of counted cross stitch, usually on a much larger scale.
  • I sewed the Mrs Tiggywinkle on the right. I adore Beatrix Potter in general, and Mrs Tiggywinkle is my favourite, reminding me irresistibly of my late grandmother. I’m not sure quite why, but I can never see her without thinking of Grandma!

The bookshelf above the seat is for my “books about books” collection, which is constantly growing. The flat-iron acting as a bookend also came from my garden. The little photo beside it is my young neighbour who sometimes helps feed our cats when we’re away. She is especially fond of Dorothy and left this picture of herself so that Dorothy doesn’t forget her.

The small painting on the shelf is by my nephew Dan Gooding, also a writer. He painted it in Cornwall and gave it to me for Christmas a few years ago.

The cushions, from left to right:

  • “A present for a dear child” is the sentimental Victorian-style message on the first one, given to me by my parents many years ago.
  • The large green and white cushions are made from Penguin brand tea towels, and the smaller ones from Penguin tote bags, featuring two of my favourite mystery authors, Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I wish they also made one for Dorothy L Sayers!
  • The cushion in the centre was hand-felted by my dear Auntie Sheila. (My house is full of arts and crafts made by various members of my family, and I value them more than any Old Master.)
  • The small cream cushion on the right panders to my passion for Alice in Wonderland.
  • The green, yellow-edged cushion was crocheted by me from very fine wool many years ago and won first prize for crochet at the Hawkesbury Village Show that year – a great source of pride!
  • By contrast, the blanket covering the wooden seat is a mass-produced IKEA number, but I love it anyway as it adds more warm pink to my book nook, and also matches my pink, green and cream china, which will feature in a future post in this series.

In case you missed it, here’s the first in this series of posts:

Scenes from my Cotswold Cottage #1: Reading After Breakfast


Latest News about my Books

Meanwhile, back on the writing front, I’m poised to write the final chapter of my work in progress, Scandal at St Bride’s, the third in my Staffroom at St Bride’s School series, which should be published in the spring. I’ll bring you more news on that as soon as I can. In the meantime, here’s the beautiful cover by Rachel Lawston to whet your appetite. This story takes place in January, and it’s been helpful to be writing it at the appropriate time of year!

cover of Scandal at St Bride's
Rachel Lawston’s fabulous design perfectly conjures up a chilly January at this unusual boarding school for girls

If you’d like to catch up with the first two in the St Bride’s series in the meantime, you can buy them online here:

Or order them from your local bookshop – good booksellers can order them in from their usual supplier, as can public libraries.

New for Fellow Writers: Simply Self-publish – a new course taught by me!

At the same time (January was a busy month!), I’ve been writing a new course for writers, commissioned by Jericho Writers, the highly regarded group that helps writers become authors, through its courses and other resources on writing, editing and publishing. If you’re a writer and would like to take charge of your own publishing career, my ten-week course, Simply Self-publish, will show you how.

For more information, hop over to my course’s page on the Jericho Writers website here:

In case you missed it, here’s the first in this series of posts:

Scenes from my Cotswold Cottage #1: Reading After Breakfast


English author of warm, witty cosy mystery novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Gemma Lamb/St Bride's School series. Novels published by Boldwood Books, all other books by Hawkesbury Press. Represented by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agents. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. Course tutor for Jericho Writers. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors. Lives and writes in her Victorian cottage in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

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