Phew it’s been blowing a gale here in the West Country and the rain has shown little sign of abating. This morning however there is the first glimpse of sunshine and I hope it provides respite from all those suffering. My heart and prayers go out to everyone that has been affected by the horrendous weather this week. I think the Services have done an amazing job of getting to people and helping where they could – thank you to all who have helped in this incredible effort, you are all wonderful!

I seem to have packed a lot in this week. Monday I spent at St.Peter’s Hospice in Bristol where I was honoured to spend time with the staff, volunteers and patients. If I’m being truthful, I was slightly nervous about going to the hospice, unsure of how I might react to the situation in which I found myself. Oh my word, it was an awe inspiring place - homely, warm and welcoming with an atmosphere that was closer to a lovely hotel than a hospital. It felt like more like visiting family than meeting strangers and I was left with nothing but admiration for the staff and volunteers who do an incredible job with such love and compassion. Everyone’s individual needs are respected and considered and every patient is given freedom and treated with dignity. Bristol is a far richer place because St.Peter’s Hospice is in it for sure. I am looking forward to going back soon.

Mid week I set off for Ireland. The Major and I sat at Bristol airport and watched as the wind and rain lashed the terminal, the flight was delayed as expected, we sat in the airport for six hours before it was deemed safe to fly. The forty-five minute flight turned into an hour and twenty minutes as the pilot circled Dublin trying to put the plane down. I overheard the crew say they had twenty minutes of fuel and so had to put it down soon. After a while I turned to the Major and said, ‘how long have we been up now?’ to which he replied, ‘about nineteen and a half minutes!’ I didn’t find it very funny! We wibbled and wobbled and eventually managed to land in Dublin. There were huge sighs of relief all round, apologies for the nail marks I may have left in the arms of the chair!

We arrived at our hotel late and in the dark so didn’t get to see much of the fair city and were up very early so I could get to the Ireland TV AM studio to appear and talk about A Little Love! It was then a case of jumping in a car and navigating the windy roads to appear on East Coast FM, before undertaking a mini bookshop tour! Lovely to see Hodges Figgis, Dubray Books and Easons with such lovely Amanda Prowse displays …then back to the hotel for an interview with a magazine - Phew!

The weather was appalling for our whole trip, but that didn’t stop Dublin and it’s people giving us the most incredible, if slightly damp, welcome! Arriving at the airport to travel home, we checked in and went through to departures, only to discover that our flight was delayed… for six hours! I could have wept. If we had known before we could have spent time in Dublin, instead of sitting in the departure lounge watching other people going home. The flight back to Bristol was just as nerve wracking and the piece de resistance was having to wait for twenty minutes for a bus to ferry us from the plane to the terminal, I nearly wept, again!

But hey ho, we actually enjoyed good catch up time, chatting without distraction and making plans, it was quite lovely. Delays and getting drenched are nothing compared to what some home and business owners are facing this week, I think we got off lightly. As I said at the time, even delays and bad weather are good when you are with the one you love.

Boys are on half term this week – Yay! I asked them what their plans were, they replied, ‘sleeping, eating and maybe doing a bit of revision.’ – no change there then.  The Major is teaching them both to drive at the moment, if you thought he was grey before…

MASSIVE CONGRATULATIONS to Ally and Clive who welcomed beautiful baby Evan into the world this week, sending you all my love. Can't wait for a cuddle!

Tickets are selling well for my two UK events before I head off to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, New York etc… and these are March 4th 7pm at Devizes Books in their beautiful gallery space – tickets from Jo Bachelor, Devizes Books, Handel House, Sidmouth St, Devizes SN10 1LD 01380 725944. The other is March 9th as part of the Monmouth Women’s Festival a lovely afternoon at Monmouth Priory, afternoon tea and book talk!

Right, back to my writing, I left my heroine in a very snowy New York, think I better get back to her or she might be getting a little bit chilly, poor Megan. Did I say Megan? As in ‘Megan’ from ‘A Little Love?’ Ooops, you didn’t hear it from me.

Look after yourselves and stay toasty. I wish for you warmth and dry socks.

Mandy x