Wednesday, 12 November 2014

A Great Weekend Near Daventry And No Place For Old Men At Playgroup?

Today is Wednesday which means that we're back in Suffolk. We've had another busy few days in Rochester babysitting our lovely little two-year-old granddaughter. We took her to two groups this week. On Monday it was Little Stars playgroup. I was sitting on the floor there reading a book to Catherine who was alongside me when another two-year-old came along and promptly sat himself down on my lap to listen in. Years ago this would have been nothing to mention but in today's climate alarm bells rang in my head as I anxiously looked around to see that I had his mother's approval. It's not easy being a bloke in the company of children nowadays as that poor man who tried to visit a falconry centre in Somerset found out when he was refused entry on the ground of being a single male. 

There was no sign of his mum but as I as in full view of everyone I thought "what the heck" and continued to read. When I finished the book he ran off and chose another four and came back, snuggled onto my lap and listened intently as I read them all. It was perfectly natural to read to him and at the end of the playgroup his mum came over and thanked me for doing so. On the following day I was the only male again at the library's Toddler Boogie but as I was not the only grandparent I felt a little more settled. I really wish that men could be more accepted around children and feel more comfortable - perhaps so few go into primary school teaching for fear of the potential accusations.

Rochester was bright, warm and sunny again this week and I think this is the first year that I can remember seeing men out in the shops wearing shorts in November - but perhaps that's just a Rochester thing. 

The building in which the Gunpowder Plot was hatched

Before heading to Rochester we had a short break in Ashby St Ledgers in the midlands. No, I'd never head of it either but we were meeting up with old friends Dave and Jane Haworth from Lancashire and wanted a half way house. At just over two hours drive for both couples, this tiny village was just right and we discovered that it was the place where Guido Fawkes and his co-conspirators hatched their failed plot.

We stayed at the homely Olde Coach House which was pleasant, inexpensive and convenient for the motorway. The rooms were good and the staff were welcoming. Although the food was fine the fine dining menu which was promoted on their website was not available and we were left with homely but basic pub grub.

It would have been good if we could have stayed in the village's manor house but sadly Lord Wimborne owns this place. It was wonderful to catch up with Dave and Jane's news. It's been many months since we last met up and I hope we don't go that far in between meetings again.

November may not be the best time to promote what is essentially a summer read but I thought I would have a look at the results of the giveaway that I did on last month. I sent out twenty copies of the novel with a personal letter with each. I heard nothing directly from any of the recipients but three rated it (one at 4 stars and two at 5 stars) and two of those also reviewed the book positively. As the exercise cost over £230 including the books and the postage it's a fairly disappointing return as Goodreads suggested that fifty percent might review it. Perhaps they are just slow readers but a quick email saying "thanks for the book" would not have gone amiss. It's early days to see the effects of the free download but as that cost far less, any result will be a good result. 

We've now got a few days in Framlingham before heading back to Rochester. We've got plenty going on - there's rarely a quiet moment.