Posted in Inspiration, Past Shadows, Writing Journey

My New and Nearly New Projects – Past Shadows

 

Pleasley Vale Inspiration for Past Shadows

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Pleasley Vale - Inspiration for Past Shadows Past Shadows is a Gothic, historical romance inspired by Pleasley Vale,mills in Derbyshire. The  area is steeped in history. Past Shadows, which I started last year in NaNo is the first  of three books inspired by the area. The old mills are currently used as commercial/industrial units and form part of a lovely walk, which is how I first discovered them.2013-05-26 13.16.12

 The second book as yet untitled has Pleasley Pit as its inspiration.

Pleasley Pit

 The third book is inspired by Hardwick Hall and Estate.

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 I am really excited to be exploring one of my favourite romance genres.

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Posted in Inspiration

Guess Who Came For BreakFast?

DSCN1532 (2)This morning when I gave Jazz and Oby their breakfast I noticed  lots of small birds flying around my house. This is not an uncommon sight, since I live close to Pleasley Pit Nature Reserve and Country Park.  There are always lots of birds and  wild flowers to be admired.

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 It was the sheer number of birds that caught my attention and their fascination with the eaves of my neighbour’s house. Although I love birds, I’m no expert. I think they’re from the ‘Martin’ family.

A special structure has been constructed, by the large lake in the park, to encourage Sand Martins and these maybe from there. Any ornithologists out there, please let me know if I’m right. 🙂

DSCN1533DSCN1541 As it was warm this morning compared to recent weeks, I guess they wanted to eat the small insects basking in the sun. Sometimes they looked as if they were trying to make a home under the eaves. They stuck around for a couple of hours but they’ve all gone now. I wonder if they’ll come back tomorrow?DSCN1542 DSCN1543

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Posted in Inspiration

The Last Flowers of Summer? – Hardwick Hall

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Hardwick Hall and Gardens

 Earlier in the week I blogged about my visit to Hardwick Hall and Gardens. If you read my Tuesday post you’ll appreciate I got more than expected when I visited the house. 🙂

 My earlier visit to the beautiful gardens was I’m happy to say uneventful but enjoyable. In late August the flowers were not at their peak but there were still lots of beautiful flowers to be admired.

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There was also an exhibition of modern sculpture in the gardens depicting ‘The Men who Built Hardwick’.

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What I loved about the gardens was how family friendly they were. Children were encouraged to play on the vast grassy areas with hula hoops. ball games and skittles. A far cry from visiting stately houses when I was a child when ‘Keep Off The Grass’ was the most common sign. 😉

Continuing the activities for the young at heart there was some very cute trees with their own small doors for any Fae or small creatures that lived in the gardens.

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 If you prefer something more classical, these ladies should appeal?

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Definitely plenty of inspiration for a historical romance here?

Thanks to my lovely husband for taking the flower, house and statue photos for this post x

Posted in Inspiration, Writing Journey

A Strange Experience in an Historical House.

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I always enjoy celebrating birthdays and anniversaries. Last Wednesday August 20th was my 31st wedding anniversary and as part of the celebrations Vince and I visited our local stately home Hardwick Hall, which is owned by the National Trust. As National Trust members we are regular visitors to the grounds since it is only five or so miles from where we live but  I have never visited the house, so we left the dogs at home with our daughter and set off for a few hours of exploring the house and gardens.

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The gardens although not in their full summer bloom were spectacular as you can see. I will blog about the gardens another time. The house was seriously impressive from the outside, it is notable for the amount of windows it has. It was built between 1590-1597  for Bess of Hardwick (1527-1608).  I was particularly interested in the tapestries for which  Hardwick is famous. Some of these have been sent away for specialist cleaning and restoration and the finished result is spectacular.

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The entrance hall was dark, despite the numerous windows. Most of the windows were screened to protect the tapestries from the sun and there were copious amounts of  dark wood paneling. So that explained the darkness but not the oppressive feeling I experienced after a few moments standing in the hall talking to one of the volunteers.

Undeterred  we carried on into the exhibition rooms adjacent to the entrance, which were dark with uneven floors. I tried to concentrate on the tapestries many were darkened by age. The longer I remained in the rooms the more disoriented I became. Initially I put it down to the low ceilings and darkness. I have suffered from severe vertigo in the past so I recognised the symptoms, dizziness, nausea and the inability to walk in a straight line but that didn’t explain the oppressive presence I also felt in those rooms.

I stuck it out as long as I could and then told Vince I had to get out of there. I wanted to see the rest of the house despite feeling ill so  we kept going up to the next floor and the amazing room where Bess of  Hardwick received her guests. This room was lighter with higher ceilings and seemed free of the oppressive presence  I sensed in the rooms below. The long gallery was also on this floor and it’s reputed to be haunted but I felt nothing there. Probably because there were lots of little children running about, which made us all smile.

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Then came the bedrooms, which were colour themed. The green room was opulent as the picture below shows. So was the blue room but it was also freezing. I don’t mean draughty. I mean icy cold. I couldn’t stay in the room long enough to take a photograph.

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The rest of the house was interesting and I will share my thoughts and photographs in another post but my lasting impression will be the oppressive presence of the lower rooms and the icy coldness of the blue bedroom.

I checked to see if anyone else had recorded a similar experience  and found this article, which mirrors my feelings about the blue bedroom.

I haven’t experienced anything like this for a number of years and certainly didn’t expect to feel so debilitated in a house full of tourists but I did. I will continue to visit the gardens and park and admire the grandeur of the house from outside but I don’t think I will be stepping inside anytime soon. 🙂

Has this happened to you? Check out my other ghostly encounters:

Have You Ever Stayed in a Haunted House?

Ghostly Experience in the Lake District.

Posted in Inspiration, The Dragon Legacy

What Makes A Great Summer Read?

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So after Saturday’s rain  the summer sun has returned and with it my happy optimistic mood. If  you read my last post  you will recall I was feeling down and attributed it to the grey day.

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Taking advantage of the sunshine I spent a couple of hours tidying and enjoying my garden with these  lovely butterflies  who decided to join me. I love gardening because it gives me time to think and plan and this post is a result of yesterday’s gardening interlude.

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Lots of people will be off on holiday in the next few weeks and many will be searching for  a good book to enjoy whilst they’re relaxing on the beach or sitting by the pool.

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Even if you’re not going away to the coast or countryside, if the sun stays out the excuse to sit in the garden with a good book is too much to resist.

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The point of going on holiday is to relax and most of all escape from your normal daily routine. Having a little ‘me’ time recharges our emotional and physical batteries before returning to our often stressful lives.

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So a summer read must offer escapism. Many novels today mirror reality or focus on the worst bits of everyday life, I would avoid these when looking for my holiday read. That doesn’t mean the story has to be sugary sweet just hopeful. Or so far removed from reality that even if it focuses on the darker side of human nature the reader knows that anything is possible including a happy outcome. 🙂

DSCN0763 DSCN0783 Continuing the escapism theme, the setting of a summer read is important. It needs to be in a place the reader would like to explore, so coastal locations are good as are mountains and picturesque countryside. I enjoy reading stories set in the summer too but I don’t think this matters as long as the setting is escape worthy.

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If you’re on a crowded beach then its easy to be distracted. So the ideal read must have an absorbing plot with lots of twists. Vivid characters are essential they need to make an impression. The genre of the story is subjective but I love a story with mystery ,lots of  action and sizzling romance. The romance doesn’t necessarily have to be the focus of the story but  a little spice always adds to the enjoyment. 😉

So that’s my recipe for the perfect summer read.

The Dragon Legacy Series
The Dragon Legacy Series

I leave you with some snippets from The Dragon Legacy maybe it could be your perfect summer read?

You can read the first page of The Dragon Legacy on BooksGoSocial

 Let’s You Escape:

‘The elusive turquoise-scaled dragons appeared through the haze. Their minds united by a single aim: the dragon egg’s safety, the reason they risked exposure to the human world.’

 Fabulous Setting:

‘The dragon lord’s golden eyes focused on the grey sky above the rock strewn hills. Dawn mist hovered around the summit like a silken web. It drifted through the rocky outcrops until it reached the valley where he stood alone.’

‘Mists floated across Lake Ullswater and cloaked the twisty lanes in an impenetrable shroud.’

Absorbing Plot:

‘Demon slayer Lukas Draco is a loner. He lives by two simple rules: No emotional entanglements and duty must remain his first priority. His beliefs are challenged when he’s inexplicably drawn to Fleur, a human woman with an unusual psychic aura. Sparks of sexual attraction ignite  threatening both his search for the dragon’s egg he buried a thousand years ago and Fleur’s life. Under the cover of a murder mystery weekend an apocalyptic hunt begins’

Vivid Characters:

‘Fleur stole a sideways glance at Lukas…His face was the epitome of masculine beauty, characterized by well-defined angular cheekbones, covered with pale, almost translucent skin. Its apparent delicacy did not detract from his masculinity; he looked like a fallen angel.’

‘Xavier Serpente clenched his manicured nails into his expensive Italian silk trousers… The threat of danger, which simmered under the surface of his urbane respectability, was his greatest attraction.’

Mystery:

‘Lukas forced his mind back to his mission. He studied his murder mystery character profile. His fellow participants mustn’t find out his identity. Or the real reason for his presence at Hallows House.

Action:

 ‘Escape impossible, the furious dragon man slammed him against the tree trunk. His bones cracked. The onslaught repeated with greater force, and his head and neck rocked on his shoulders.’

Sizzling Romance:

‘Lukas caught hold of her hand as she turned away from him. “No, don’t! I like you this way.” He ran the pad of his thumb along her responsive lips. “Trust me. Everyone will like you as you are.” She looked vivacious, like the color of her dress, with lush, pink lips and hair like golden rain as it slipped from its elegant restraints. He wanted her back in his arms. His arousal rocketed several degrees as the tip of Fleur’s tongue darted out and tasted his thumb. “Hell!” Another few seconds and leaving wouldn’t be an option.’

 All excerpts from The Dragon Legacy ©Jane Hunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Inspiration

The Perfect Holiday Cottage

Back garden view of our retreat in Northumberlan
Back garden view of our retreat in Northumberland

If you have been following my blog posts this week you will know I visited Northumberland. Now that I am back home again I want to share some thoughts and photographs of the lovely holiday cottage which was the base for our Northumberland holiday. Intended purely for couples and their dogs it was small but well designed with everything we needed for our stay.

Living and kitchen area
Living and kitchen area

 

Raised bedroom area with a view out to the field at the bottom of the garden - Lovely.
Raised bedroom area with a view out to the field at the bottom of the garden – Lovely.

 Even though this cottage is close to the A1 and easy to get to, it is so quiet and secluded.The perfect place to get away from it all with a ring side seat  of all the wildlife. There were hares, rabbits, pheasants and at night time, bats easily seen from the garden and lots of wild song birds. We even had a visit from an Arctic Tern looking for breakfast.

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Cheeky Sparrow

 

I would love to wake up to this view every morning.

View  from back garden across open fields.
View from back garden across open fields.

 My only regret was I couldn’t try our the log burner but alas it was just too warm. 🙂

Lovely log burner
Lovely log burner

After a wonderful holiday its time to leave ‘the good life’ behind (that comment will be lost on anyone not old enough to remember the 70s sitcom)

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The neighbour’s chicks run free just over the fence.
Fresh vegetables anyone?
Fresh vegetables anyone?

Back home again I’m looking forward to finishing my third book The Dangerous Gift.

Look out for more excerpts, news on The Revenge Masquerade and lots of book reviews.

Have a lovely weekend.

 

Posted in Inspiration

The Other Side of Dunstanburgh Castle – Dunstan Steads

Dunstan Steads Beach from Dunstanburgh Castle
Dunstan Steads Beach from Dunstanburgh Castle

So yesterday afternoon we decided to visit the beach we could see from the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle and it was so worth it. It was a mixture of sand and rocks and bordered by sand dunes and crashing waves – lovely.

Sand Dunes
Sand Dunes

 

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Waves on the rocky beach below Dunstanburgh Castle

A quick picnic on the beach overlooking at Newton just below Newton Point.

View from beach close to Newton.
View from beach close to Newton.

Then we walked back on the track by the sand dunes. A lovely walk which is dotted with wild flowers and Unusual beach huts. I would love to hide away in this one – the perfect writing cave with a view of the beach and sea.

The perfect writing hideaway?
The perfect writing hideaway?

 

Beach side with a sea view...
Beach side with a sea view…

 

With a wild flower garden.
With a wild flower garden.

The last part of the walk is along the edge of the golf course. No one would mind putting their ball in the water here.

Has anyone seen my ball?
Has anyone seen my ball?

A scream disturbed the silence of the golf course. Not the start of a thriller but me tripping over a stone and plummeting down the grassy bank. Thankfully Jazz and Vince caught me and I escaped with a bruised back. Undefeated I carried on and saw how great Dunstanburgh Castle looks from the golf course at the side of the beach.

Dunstanburgh Castle from Dunstan Steads
Dunstanburgh Castle from Dunstan Steads

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Another great walk with lots to see on quiet, dog friendly beaches I’m really going to miss this.