Urgh – sorry if my babble sounds a bit raspy, I have a yucky chest infection, will try not to breathe on you.

How are we all? Looking forward to this mega blast of sunshine coming our way for the weekend I hope, bbq’s and sun cream at the ready…

My Mum and I had the pleasure of taking my beautiful two-year-old nephew Noah to buy new shoes last week. Noah is an old soul, and has a very funny, wise, kind head on his shoulders. He looks at the world in a different way, which I love. Didn’t love it so much in John Lewis when my Mum nipped to the bathroom. I took our ticket and sat in the empty seats and Noah decided to be a dog.

Jumping onto the floor on all fours, he raced around giving a little bark here and there, not too bad so far. The placed filled with yummy mummys and their silent offspring who sat waiting their turn. Noah meanwhile, was barking quite loudly and scampering, a lot. The assistant came over and asked what his name was, to which he replied, ‘Fido!’

‘And what are we looking for today Fido?’

‘Boots for my paws!’ Noah shouted lifting first his hands and then each foot.

My Mum then appeared and said, ‘ah hello Fido!’ and got on all fours with him, she was apparently, ‘Fifi’ and this is obviously a game they play quite often. The two were oblivious to the open mouthed stares of all in the room… I wonder where he gets it from?

Mum looked after my 18-year-old son when he was little and I worked. I remember them spending whole days under the table in a ‘cave’ picnicking and reading. I asked him if he and Nan were ever dogs? He looked at me as though I was insane and replied, ‘A dog? No. Never. …We were frogs.’  God help the next batch of grandchildren, is all I’m sayin’!

The ‘Husband’, formerly the Major, who retired last week has spent his first week of ‘freedom’ catching up on paperwork and doing chores in the house – I can tell he is wishing he could go to work where the workload was less and the lunch time fare much better. I LOVE having him home. The only problem is having been in the army for 30 years and worn a uniform for most of that time, we now realise that he owns very few proper human clothes. This was fixed by a quick trip to TK Maxx for new jeans and a handful of t-shirts. I won't miss washing his combats and pulling them from the dryer with the rest of the weeks washing stuck to miles of Velcro.

We spent a very special weekend in Scotland where we travelled with one purpose to surprise the lovely Flora Arbuckle on her 50th birthday. Her equally lovely husband David and I have been texting, mailing and planning the event for quite a while. We flew up on Saturday morning and I was careful to avoid giving my location away via social media.

The Husband and I were in situ in a wonderful restaurant (The Butchershop in Sauchiehall Street) when Flora and David arrived. I think its fair to say she was surprised!  We then spent a really fantastic evening chatting like old friends. It was wonderful, good food, a great place and the best company imaginable. I’m quite sad its over, I rather enjoyed our plotting and planning.

The reason I travelled to Scotland to surprise Flora was because she is an amazing lady. She is always supportive, positive and kind with passion and an enviable energy for life.  There have been some dark days when separated from those I love, Flora will drop me a line to say something lovely about one of my books or characters and it means the world to me. 

I will never be able to fully express just what it means when someone reads my books I find it overwhelming and am honoured that people let me inside their head and take my characters to heart.

Thank you Flora and may the coming year bring you all the lovely things that you deserve.

Love and luck people,

Mandy x