Monday, 23 November 2015

There’s a new Cat Café in Town


'Catnaps & Flapjacks' is now available to pre-order from Amazon for your Kindle.

Release date is still WEDNESDAY 2nd DECEMBER but if you order now it can be on your Kindle the minute it goes 'live'.


Cover reveal, including the back cover/blurb for the paperback which can soon be bought at  Details to follow shortly.

Here's my lovely new cover ... 

[Click to Enlarge]

... and the blurb on the back:
[Click to Enlarge]

Kindle copies can be bought NOW in the UK and US (elsewhere please check your local Amazon site)

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Pull up a Seat at 'Catnaps & Flapjacks' !

As promised, here's the blurb and the first chapter of my next release, 'Catnaps & Flapjacks'.

If you're tempted to read more, it will be available to pre-order on Amazon for Kindle from 25 November for release on 2 December.  It will also be out in paperback at from the beginning of December.


Abandoned and fostered as a babe-in-arms,
I've spent my life yearning to belong.

Pregnant at 16 by the boy I loved, I thought I'd found my happy place.
How wrong I was.

Becoming a grandmother at 34, I believed my daughter and granddaughter
were all I needed - along with the cats I cherish in my café.
Wrong again!

Suddenly people from my past are crawling out of the woodwork
and hot men are coming along like buses.

Grab a coffee and a cake at
and snuggle up with one of my fur-babies
as my story unfolds.

* * * * *

Chapter One

‘So, after ogling his cute little buns for approximately two hours, five minutes and nineteen seconds - not that I was counting or anything - he finally came over and spoke to me.’

Ross was putting the finishing touches to our last batch of cupcakes and filling me in on his night at a newly opened gay bar he’d been so excited about visiting.

‘And …?’ I asked as I wiped down the surfaces and checked that we were on schedule for opening time.

‘Oh Ellie.  I could have cried!  In fact, little tears of pain did spring to my eyes!  You could have stripped paint with his breath.’  He paused and wiped his hands on his frilly pinny, emblazoned with the sequinned words ‘Diva on Duty!’  As he shook his head with a huff, he continued, ‘You know what it reminded me of?  Remember that time Rupert had his gammy tooth and it cost you a fortune at the vet?  It was exactly the same rancid stench.’

Oh yes, I remembered it well and the smell, combined with the memory of the bill, almost brought tears to my eyes too.

‘Not your dream man, after all then?’ I stated obviously as I removed my dirty apron and replaced it with a clean one.  ‘Still … plenty more fish in the sea, eh?’

‘In the sea?  Pfft!  I reckon he had a whole shoal of dead ones hiding under his tongue!  Uggh.  I could vom just thinking about it.’

Poor Ross had been looking for ‘lurve’ for as long as I’d known him.  Not the type for endless one night stands, his dream was to settle down with Mr Reliable.  He hankered for cosy nights in front of the TV, weekends in the country and the ideal of living with and being cherished by his soul mate.

‘I give up Ellie!  I’m going to die a lonely old man surrounded by cats and stinking of pee and flea spray.’

‘Ross!  Will you stop it?  You’re thirty years of age - you’re not going to die lonely.  And anyway, I wouldn’t let you.’

Smiling bravely, Ross sighed and said, ‘Well as lovely as that is, Elles, I think we need to remind ourselves that you don’t have the necessary qualifying equipment so you kind of fall at the first hurdle.  And anyway, you’ll no doubt be married to the sensible Stefan by then - I don’t think he’d take too kindly to me muscling in on the act, do you?’

Opening my mouth to reply, I quickly closed it again as I realised it wasn’t the time to tell Ross about Stefan’s proposal the previous night or my lacklustre reaction and the confused feelings which seemed to have set up camp in my head, leaving me tossing and turning into the early hours.

No.  I needed to come to terms with the whole idea before I discussed it with anyone - in particular my prickly and stubborn daughter, Poppy.

That was not a conversation I was looking forward to.


‘Well as long as you don’t expect me to call him Dad, it’s up to you what you do.’

Poppy was in her usual ‘shut-down mode’ as she handed cubes of cheese and cucumber to her good-natured three year old, who was happily flicking through a sticker book whilst chewing and humming.

‘Ria!  Will you please just eat and stop messing about,’ my daughter reprimanded unnecessarily - and I found myself, not for the first time, wishing that she’d just lighten up a little.

Stroking my granddaughter’s head and winking at her, I soothed, ‘You’re a good girl, aren’t you Sweetheart?  Eat up for MumsMum,’ I encouraged, using her pet name for me.

I was rewarded with the smile that never failed to melt my heart - a smile I couldn’t imagine life without.

And yet becoming a granny at the tender age of thirty-four had come as quite a shock - but what right did I have to judge?  Poppy had simply followed in my foolish footsteps and fallen pregnant before she’d even hung up her school uniform.  Yes, we’d both ‘got caught’ - as my headmistress had so delightfully put it - at the age of sixteen as a result of our first foray into the complicated world of sex.

That was where the similarities ended though.  My ‘happy accident’ had actually been premeditated.  I'd been in love, believed I was being loved in return and I'd planned to create a little being who would feel cherished and wanted - one who would become the centre of my universe.

Yes, I knew how Poppy had come to be and I also knew how close we’d been, how happy and carefree she’d been until the day she fell pregnant.

That was the day I lost her, when she pushed me away and refused to let me - or anyone else - in.  Almost four years later, I was none the wiser about the father or the circumstances behind how it happened.  It was a story she still wasn’t prepared to tell.


I’d lost count of the foster carers I’d stayed with by the time I was thirteen.  They’d begun to morph into faceless, nameless blobs who offered me a bed, put a roof over my head and food in my stomach.  They did their jobs well and I couldn’t fault them but, although they cared, they didn’t love.

To be fair, most of them weren’t given the chance to even start to love me, as the authorities seemed to think that it was perfectly acceptable to move me from pillar to post at the drop of a hat.  By the time I’d reached ten, I was an old hand - after all, I’d been offloaded since I was a few months old - and so I developed the knack of living out of a suitcase - what was the point of unpacking only to move on again?

There were always reasons for my upheaval - some that I could understand and others that made no sense to a young, vulnerable girl in desperate need of stability and a family to call her own - but I learnt to spot the signs.  My social worker Pat would arrive with her briefcase and folders, there would be muffled chat in another room and then she'd join me for ‘The Pat Chat’.

Over the years I’d heard it all - foster mum was going into hospital, foster dad had changed his mind, foster mum was pregnant, foster parents had decided to adopt a baby and wanted to devote all of their time to their new child.  It seemed that nobody wanted me ‘for keeps’ and that hurt.

But at thirteen, everything changed - at least that’s what I’d thought at the time.

Arriving at 21 Flaxton Avenue on that bitterly cold December afternoon had felt different - I had no idea how but it just had.  Despite the sprinkling of snow on the pavements and the black ice on the roads, I’d felt warm and cosy for the first time in my life and I liked it.

Eric and Eileen had welcomed me with open arms and I’d stood in awe, gaping at their gaudily dressed Christmas tree, which was surrounded by enticing looking parcels and boxes.

‘Father Christmas came early this year, my love,’ Eileen told me with an easy grin.  ‘Lots of goodies under there for you - and not too long to wait now!’

She’d then taken my hand in hers, ordered Eric to get the hot chocolate ready and told me she’d show me to my room and help me to unpack.

For once, I didn’t question the logic in taking all of my things from their cases and placing them in beautifully scented, lined drawers as I looked at the comfy duvet on my pretty bed.

I was staying.  I was home.


In their mid-sixties, my new foster parents had devoted their lives to caring for children.  Their flock-papered walls proudly displayed photographs of all the lives that had come into theirs - some for short stays, the majority until they were old enough to leave and care for themselves.  Most of them were still in contact with Eric and Eileen - one big happy family.

To name just a few, there was Adrian who lived just around the corner with his wife and son, Maggie who had moved to Ireland but often came back for visits and Lillian who popped in every day on her way home from work.

Sometimes I could be found engrossed by their little ‘Rogues Gallery’ as Eileen affectionately referred to it, and Eric would come in and tell me stories about them that made me laugh.  I loved to hear about each child and the funny or naughty things they’d got up to and Eric was a great raconteur - although Eileen would often chuckle and give him a telling off with, ‘Oh Eric!  That’s not how it happened at all.  You do exaggerate so.’

In short, I’d never been happier and the icing on the cake was when I started at Newton High School and met Lauren.

It had been a happy coincidence that we both started attending the school in the January term - two lost souls, nervous and terrified, we’d taken comfort in one another and instantly hit it off.

By the end of that first term we were inseparable.  Weekends, holidays and after school would see us at one another’s houses - chatting, studying, practicing our make up skills, confiding our secret crushes or listening to music.

But the thing that really sealed the deal on our friendship was our mutual passion for cats.  As much as I grew to love Eric and Eileen and felt comfortable taking Lauren home, the time I spent at her house was treasured because there were always cuddles of the furry variety.

Major Tom - the fat tabby - and Madonna - the slinky tortoiseshell - gave their love unconditionally and I soon became besotted.  When we found out that Madonna was expecting kittens I could think of nothing else.  I had to have one.

Of course, after two years of living with Eric and Eileen I knew that they were pushovers.  If something made me happy and it was within their power to make it happen, then they would allow it.

When I got the call from Lauren at just gone three o’clock one morning, Eric dragged himself from his bed and drove me bleary-eyed, in his tartan pyjamas, to see the tiny mewing scraps just after Madonna had delivered them.

I knew the minute I set eyes on Pebble that he was the cat for me and Eric nodded in agreement, dabbing at his eyes with his sleeve like the big softie I’d grown to love.

‘He’s a fine cat,’ he declared with a nod.  ‘Yes.  He’ll have a happy home with us.’

I couldn’t possibly have known that within a year, Pebble would be back living with Lauren and that I would, once again, be without love.


Eric and Eileen were killed instantly in the motorway accident that was to change my life forever.  Two days after my sixteenth birthday, when I was riding on the crest of a wave and had well and truly shaken off my insecurities, they’d set off to visit Eileen’s elderly aunt and never returned.

The authorities swung into action again and, being considered a ‘difficult age’, I was allowed to stay with Lauren and her parents for a while before I was moved on to interim care.

And so I went back to living out of a suitcase - no one really wanted a sixteen year old and I just had to accept that while dealing with the grieving process at the same time.  Having Eric, Eileen and Pebble in my life I’d learnt how to love and be loved, and suddenly nothing made sense any more.

Maybe I didn’t deserve that privilege.  After all, my birth parents had abandoned me hadn’t they?  I began to believe that it was all my fault that I'd be alone and unloved forever.

Then I met Robert.

* * * * *

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Asking for a Friend ...

I have a friend ...

She's mainly happy but often sad and sometimes a little bit broken but she pulls herself up and carries on because she has no choice.

Her husband is her rock and, on bad days, she feels she'd be nothing without him.  But she knows - in her darkest moments - that if it comes to that, she would have to, once again, pick herself up and carry on. To mix the happy with the sad.

You see, she's watching someone slowly slip away from her - not dying but gradually, almost as if ounce by ounce, become another person on a journey that they can only take for themselves.

It's hard. She feels lonely, frightened, angry, isolated, tired, fed-up and sometimes - just sometimes -  a little bit sorry for herself.

Losing someone you love is always hard but when you start to blame yourself - and other people - for their demise, it's unbearable.  To the point where it physically hurts.

She asks herself what could she, and those significant others, have done differently?  Is it too late to turn back the clock now?

In reality, probably yes.

The damage has been done.

My friend will do what she can, gritting her teeth, allowing silent tears to fall whilst wondering just how it came to this sad and bitter end.

And through all of that, she'll mentally plan an inevitable funeral that won't be a fitting end, surrounded by love and happy feelings that the person she's losing so deserves.

In the meantime, she'll keep on keeping on.  With love in her heart, as much patience as she can muster, tiredness in her bones and a little piece of bitterness that will never understand why people can't see what she is seeing.

What would you do?

Asking for a friend ...

Monday, 17 August 2015

A Shaggy Dog Story

Eighteen years ago when we lost our gorgeous dog, Ralfie, I vowed that I would never have another dog again.  I was heart-broken - why would I want to put myself through that again?


Eventually, when our son was three, I decided I had a place in my heart for a cat - and so Pinga came on the scene.  She's seventeen now and still going strong.  She firmly believes that she's a princess, walks like a catwalk model and has never learned to love our second cat, nine year old Fred - they merely tolerate one another!

I guess I always knew deep down that I would want to love a dog again one day and assumed that it would be when our cats went to Pussy Heaven.  But ... more and more people seemed to be getting dogs that got along fine with resident cats so I suddenly found myself Dog Broody and I've been suffering from this complaint for about three years but recently it got worse.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms below, you too may be a victim!

Stroking other people's dogs and imagining them living in YOUR home as YOUR pet.

Envisaging a dog in your house and planning how it would work with your routine and other commitments.

Spending your lunch break browsing the internet for rescue dogs - by now, you've got it bad and there's no going back.

This final symptom was my downfall.  I'd been doing it for a while - yes, 'My name's Amanda and I'm Dog Broody' - so when hubbie discovered my guilty secret we decided that the time was right for us to have a dog again IF we found one that was 'meant to be'.

Of course the more you look,  the more you're likely to accidently find Mr Perfect Pooch.  There were only a few things on our checklist but they were pretty important:

1.  Good with cats - for obvious reasons
2.  Scruffy - I love dogs that look like they should be with a tramp.
3. Cross breed.

So when I saw an ad on Gumtree for a 17 month old poodle cross who lived with cats, my hands reached for my mobile faster than you can say 'Walkies!'

When the lady told me his name was Alfie, I burst into tears.  From Ralfie to Alfie! It was meant to be.

He's been with us for two days now and is proving to be a very clever little chap. He's totally fine with our ginger tom but things are a little trickier with Princess Pinga.  We're getting there gradually and she hasn't left home so that's a bonus.  Tomorrow we have calming pills and collars coming.  If they don't work, I'll get some for us!

In the meantime, may I introduce you to Alfie ...

If you're as mad as I am about dogs, you might want to check out my doggie-themed book 'Lottie's Luck'!

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Derma C - Facecare - Rejuvaderm - Garcinia Cambogia SCAM



DO NOT deal with the above companies and in particular DO NOT order the FREE trial of DermaC Vitamin C Face Cream.

They will send you a sample for £2.99 p&p and then continue to take £89.78 per month from your bank account, telling you that you agreed to their Terms and Conditions.

AT NO POINT did I tick a T&C's box (hence I cannot be bound) and I am being robbed.

My bank are now dealing with this - along with heaps of other complaints about this company - but I want to spread the word to stop these scammers.

The product is absolute rubbish anyway so it went in the bin.

Their whole website is a farce - links to Facebook, Twitter and Google+ go nowhere.

Further complaints board forum regarding this company here.  Also be aware of a company called Garcinia Cambogia, a weight loss company, who appear to be affiliated with these people as I was given their number to escalate my complaint - unsurprisingly, they hung up.

More info on 'Free Trial' scams here.

Do not allow the FAT CAT behind this to continue feeding his illegal lifestyle!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

The Misfit Does a Music Festival - well, almost!

My friends and family know that I can be a bit precious when it comes to creature comforts.  I love my bath, my bed and my hairdryer - simples.  So the thought of ever doing a festival like Glastonbury - as much as I would love to experience the music - is just a no-go.

Mud, stinky loos, smelly wellies and no hot water?  Uggh!  You can stick that right up your cold-running hose pipe.

However, last night I had a taste of what a music festival would be like but still returned home to my bath and my bed - heaven!

We set off to Flaunden in Hertfordshire to my friend's house where he had organised 'FlaundenFest' to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

On a beautiful balmy evening, 300 of us gathered and raised just over £3k in the process.  We drank, had a BBQ, sang, danced and lolled on our picnic blankets or haystacks.

Toddlers were happily filling their pockets with gravel from the driveway, dogs were mingling amongst the crowd and asking to be played with - one even had a GoPro attached to a harness on his back filming the events.  I'm glad he didn't get footage of me in the (very dark) Portaloo when a woman kept insisting on opening the door and shoving her camera light in for me!  Thoughtful, yes.  But I'm fine means I'm fine!

So ... has it changed my mind about doing a full-blown festival?


Would I go to FlaundenFest again?

Oh yes!

The entrance and first band kicking off the evening

My friend sang with the band too!
The Phoenix Blues Band
Let's not forget what the event was for.

The Misfits had fun in the setting sun
Photos from past years can be found on FlaundenFest's Facebook page.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Ladies' Night Out

Last night I hit the town with 'Fenella' to celebrate her birthday.  It was lovely to glam up a little and do something a bit different as, apart from our theatre trips, we tend to stay fairly local.

Mr Misfit offered to be our cabbie for the night, despite the fact that we said we wouldn't give him a tip - other than telling him to avoid cyclists or keep further to the left.  Top tip!

First we hit Cafe des Amis in Covent Garden and we were greeted with a complimentary glass of champagne as promised to me on Twitter for giving them a shout out for their excellent service in the past.  What can I say about this restaurant?  I love it - friendly staff, excellent and varied food and surprisingly good value for money, considering its location.

We'd planned to walk to our next venue but, having both worn heels for the first time in a while, we hailed a cab and set off to High Holborn and Scarfes Bar.

Scarfes is part of The Rosewood Hotel, a beautifully restored Grade II-listed building which you approach through an arch leading to an Edwardian courtyard.  The entrance certainly has the WOW factor.

The bar itself has been ‘lovingly evolved into a living canvas by political cartoonist Gerald Scarfe’ and ‘meticulously designed’ by the renowned Martin Brudnizki.  Think opulent gentleman's club without the stuffiness, with its roaring fire, bookcases filled with over 1,000 antique books (heaven!) hand-picked by a Portobello antique dealer, low-key lighting, plush velvet armchairs and sofa seating.

I was slightly surprised to find that many tables were reserved, despite the fact that I'd been told that there was a 'no reservation' policy (maybe we're not posh enough!) but we were lucky enough to find a cosy table for two with a good view of the entertainment.  Admittedly, we almost fell off our beautifully upholstered leather arm chairs when we discovered that the House Wine was £50 a bottle!  £50!!!  I guess they have to pay their musicians somehow as there is no entrance fee but ...!  Anyway, after we'd slithered back into upright positions we settled in for the night and chatted as we waited for The Nick and Kitty Trio to start.

We were not disappointed!  With Nick Shankland on piano, accompanied by a trumpet player (sorry I have no name) Kitty LaRoar performed jazz standards with a voice that ran through us like deliciously thick whipped cream - what a talent!  I love to listen to a singer and feel that I have complete confidence in them and as Kitty sang and scatted away, expertly playing her miniature drum kit, I felt in wonderfully safe hands.  She was faultless.  When her husband Nick joined her, the feeling continued - his tone is easy and smooth, like molten treacle.  It's clear to see that they're married - wordless connections made their act classy and a joy to watch.

When other guests were presented with birthday cakes, Kitty sang Happy Birthday in a breathy Marilyn Monroe style which so suits her delightfully quirky look - a glamorous pocket rocket who makes you wonder where that huge (and sometimes small but incredibly effective) voice is kept.

If you want to listen for yourself, here's a sample:

It was a magical night. If you're in or around London, love live entertainment and are looking to do something a bit different, Scarfes Bar is like stepping back in time and will leave you feeling spoiled, if a little poorer!

DON'T FORGET!  'Lottie's Luck' is free until the end of today and you can pre-order 'Recipe for Change' NOW for delivery to your Kindle on Wednesday.