Mother’s Day

And it is Mother’s Day, or Mothering Sunday if you prefer – which my mother emphatically did. Either way, it is a great time to show her that you care – as Amazon, Marks and Spencer and a hundred other companies have been reminding me for weeks now. My mother would apparently be bowled over by perfume, flowers, chocolates, meals out, books, toiletries, balloon rides, bungee jumps or a hundred other wonderful things that would make the multinationals some money. Despite knowing this, I wouldn’t grudge a penny, except that I don’t have a mother, not any more, not for several years now. These annual reminders in my inbox don’t sting the less with the passing of time, which is not to say I think other people shouldn’t celebrate the day because of those of  us who no longer can. Quite the opposite. I think they should celebrate the heck out of it and take the opportunity to show those who love them that they love them back.

Each Mother’s Day, I have re-read the letter I sent to my mum when she told me she was dying. It was my last chance to say the things I wanted to. I wish now that I had written her one every year on Mother’s Day because I almost left it too late. I hope that everyone remembers to speak in the midst of joyous life and not only when facing incipient loss. When my mother knew she was dying, she wrote my husband and children a birthday card each for the coming year – and one for me of course. They all opened theirs in turn and read their special message and smiled.

It took me nearly four years to open mine. Once my card had been opened and read, I knew I would never again see my name in her handwriting, never again read something written especially for me. I took out the card each birthday and held it for a while and put it back. When I did finally open it, I wished I had done so earlier. As well as the words of love, it told me not to be too sad, a message I could have used during those first few months. When faced with their own terminal diagnosis, not everybody thinks immediately of others and wants to make sure they will be alright. It is the act of those who truly love. It is the act of a mother.

I have children of my own and when my time comes, I hope I can behave as she did. In that way, my mother’s gift to me will reach beyond her children to my children and to their children, whom she will never meet. I have no one to send a card to this year. I wish I did. But I do have the precious memory of a quintessential act of motherhood and for that, I will always be grateful.

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Invisible friends – everyone needs one

Anne of Green Gables had one who lived in a glass bookcase. James Stewart had one in ‘Harvey’. Gerard Depardieu actually was one in ‘Bogus.’ Several of my children have had them. It’s great to have friends. They enrich every part of our lives. But what if they’re invisible? Do they exist if others can’t see them? And are they the first sign of madness?

Mr Nobody accompanied one of my children through the first eight years of his life. He squashed in the car between the children and fastened himself in with his invisible seatbelt. He had strong opinions when arguments broke out. He had to be swung on his own swing when we visited the playground. He even demanded his own piece of cake when I baked, although he got short shrift with that one. He never caused trouble, went off on his own ploys when it wasn’t convenient for us to attend to him and appeared immediately when summoned. In that way he was actually better than most friends. And then one day he wandered off forever, never to be seen again, at least not by our family. 

Many years later, when we told our youngest son about Mr Nobody, he tried to make him appear but it didn’t work. However often Mr Nobody was summoned, he never came. His loyalty was clearly to our older child and him alone. Months passed and one day an invisible monkey came to stay. He is still with us a year later. His name is Pom Pom and he has a well-defined personality. When he heard I was a writer, he demanded a book about himself, which is in the process of being written. His stories and jokes make me laugh. His demands for bananas are endless. His inability to settle in bed without yet another story is legendary. I hope it is a long time before he leaves us.

I have often wondered what space these invisible friends fill in our children’s life. Real friends abound for them so it isn’t that. I have come to the conclusion that there is comfort in a companion who never questions us, finds all our jokes funny, is firmly on our side when others don’t understand us and appreciates us for exactly who we are, not who we aren’t. Certainly, when I have to tell my youngest off for various high crimes and misdemeanors,  Pom Pom is the first to come to his defence, articulating the arguments my child is too upset to make. And when my child goes to his room to nurse his grievances, Pom Pom goes with him and listens to a list of my wrongdoings with great sympathy. He is also a bridge between us when my son wants to come out. He may not want to talk to me but Pom Pom always does and usually has something funny to say that breaks the ice. I can also pass on the message through Pom that I’m not cross and would love to see them both when they are ready to come out.

I know he won’t be with us forever, which makes me sad and pleased in equal measures. Sad because I will miss the stories about him and his sense of mischief. Glad because I know that his leaving will be one further step along the path of maturity and independence that every child must tread.

When he does finally leave, I’ll miss him. I’ll miss this wonderful part of my son’s life before his sense of magic fades. I know Pom won’t come for the grandchildren, even if summoned, but I will tell them all about him and I look forward to meeting whoever it is that walks with them through that wonderful part of their lives.



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Global Citizen

Our local bookshops has a wonderful display of globes at the moment. They hang from the ceiling, sit on shelves and fill the entire window display. Lit up and softly glowing, they inspire passers by to think about the world of books within.

When I first walked in and saw them hanging there, I did what I always do when faced with a globe. I reached out and touch my home of Canberra. Not just pointed to it but rested the tip of my finger on the city for a few seconds. It was an automatic gesture and one about which I have never thought until now. As a nomad, perhaps I need a physical connection with that one spot on the globe where I can truly say I belong. Ex pats love the change and the excitement and unpredictability of jobs and locations, or at least I do. But clearly there is something inside me which still needs to connect. Touching my home city grounds me just enough that I feel I can carry on with my rootless lifestyle. There is a home somewhere, a place I belong, a place that would welcome me back if things went wrong.

As I touched the globe, I asked the staff casually if everyone does this. ‘No,’ said one, who lives here permanently, ‘I always look straight for the places I want to travel to.’

It made sense. For those of us who are unfixed, we ground ourselves. For those who are rooted, we extend ourselves. Faced with an array of globes, the two of us had very different perspectives. One day we will finally retire to our home in Australia and know for sure that with each changing season we will still be in our home, living among people who still be in theirs. And maybe, in that far off future, when faced with a globe, I will immediately stretch out to touch Hawaii or Switzerland or Jordan. But I hope I will remember to take a moment and brush my finger, however fleetingly, against Canberra, in gratitude for the fact that, through all these years of travel, it was always there.

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Review of The Cinnamon Snail

I love a good book. In fact, I love all kinds of books, really. But there is one type in particular that I have a weakness for: books about people who settle in a strange country. There is something magical about reading a story where the protagonist challenges themselves and sets forth to discover a foreign country. Through them, you end up discovering that new country too. I was therefore pleasantly surprised when I was asked to review The Cinnamon Snail by Rosemary Whittaker and discovered that it is about a woman who moves to Copenhagen.

The story is about Kate Merrit, a young woman who lives in London and falls in love with a charming Danish man called Christian. Christian is working temporarily in the London branch of his Danish office. When he leaves for Copenhagen, he breaks things off with Kate. However, love is a curious thing and, with little else than hope in her suitcase, Kate moves to Copenhagen to show Christian that they are meant to be together, wherever that might be. by Rosemary Whittaker

Reading about Kate’s adventures in Copenhagen was fun, mainly because it brought back so many memories of my first year here. It highlighted so many issues that come with moving, not just to any foreign country, but specifically to Denmark. Issues such as the difficult language – although the protagonist seemed to learn it quickly – the high cost of everything and the dark winter nights. Even though most of the book takes place during winter and the protagonist talks endlessly of the freezing cold and darkness, the author paints a vivid picture of Copenhagen with its welcoming people and charming attributes.

The book also touches on some of the emotional issues that come with emigrating and feeling at home in more than one place: missing your friends and family, adapting to a new society and questioning what ‘home’ really means – issues that expats know all too well.

The Cinnamon Snail is an easy and fun read. With its light-hearted feel and romantic twists, it will keep you flipping the pages without being bored. With it being set in winter and the protagonist drinking gløgg, eating æbleskiver and gift shopping on Strøget, it is sure to get you in a festive mood, just in time for Christmas. For fans of romances living in Copenhagen – or your stubborn friend back home who needs convincing to come for a visit – The Cinnamon Snail is a great Christmas gift.

The Cinnamon Snail is the first in a series of four books by the same author, all with the same expat theme and all set in different countries. They are available from Books and Company in Hellerup and in both kindle and paperback on Amazon at

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Link to giveaway

Ten copies of my first book are up for grabs on Goodreads until Christmas. Enter now for a chance to win.

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The Feijoa Tree

Just went up on Amazon. This leaves just one to go in this series. That book is written but we are still working on the cover.

The Feijoa Tree is special to me as it is set in New Zealand, the country I still consider home.

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Safely in Denmark

Actually, we have been here for several months but the logistics of an international move involving a family and two lost cats, have intervened. However, we are back in the land of the Little Mermaid and the Cinnamon Snail Cafe. 

For now I am pondering on book titles. Every article I read says that the title and cover are the most important initial connection with the reading public. Clearly you can judge a book by its cover and that makes sense in this context. So how, I wonder, do people come up with the amazing titles that they do? The Remains of the Day – Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe – The Rainbow and the Rose. I have a book I am about to publish, set in Sydney. It is currently without title. The theme is of a young woman who moves to Sydney to follow a dream and is unsure, once she gets there, if she has made a mistake. Currently my brain is coming up short. ‘The Long Way Round’ was my best thought until I discovered Ewan McGregor had got there first. 

So a free Cinnamon Snail and glass of Gløgg to the person who helps me out.

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