Author: tbelshaw (Page 2 of 20)

The Full cover reveal of Hopes and Fears

As publication day approaches, I’m delighted to reveal the full cover of my Christmas novel, Hopes and Fears, designed as always by the wonderful Jane Dixon-Smith of JDSmith-Design

Set in Christmas 1940 the story tells the tale  of Alice and her best friend Amy who are determined to reunite Stephen and Harriet, Alice’s evacuees, with their mother, Rose, who is lost in the Blitz.

Hopes and Fears. An Unspoken Christmas Story. Back of the book blurb.

Hopes and Fears. An Unspoken Christmas Story.

Christmas 1940. Despite the rationing and the Blackout, excitement at Mollison Farm is building as Alice and her workforce prepare for the annual Christmas Eve party. The snow has arrived, bang on time.

And this year, Alice has a big secret.

She has invited her evacuee children’s mother to spend a few precious days with her kids at Christmas, but disaster strikes and Alice is given the shock news that Rose’s home is now nothing more than a pile of bricks and the woman herself is missing, lost in the Blitz.

Amy, Alice’s best friend is despatched to the capital in a race against time, to find Rose and if possible, get her out of London.

As the search intensifies and the bombs start to fall again, Amy meets Rose’s sleazy husband Terry, a draft dodger, and Kevin, the ARP man with something to hide.

Meanwhile, on the farm, Stephen and Harriet discover the truth about their mother’s disappearance and Alice finds herself having to deal with the consequences.

The snow will fall and the farmyard carols will be sung, but will it be a happy Christmas on Mollison Farm?


A Dastardly Complaint. From 2008.

Easter was a bad time for me health-wise. I was already suffering from a tight chest and a virus that wouldn’t surrender; giving me the lung capacity of a punctured bicycle tire. I had nose that could run in the Olympics and a sore throat that made me sound more like Rod Stewart than he ever sounded in his life.

I acquired a limp after I damaged my leg walking into a garden ornament; a terracotta planter in the shape of a grinning cat, whose grin seemed to grow wider the minute my leg made contact. Had it not been a gift from my daughter it would now be smashed to pieces and used as drainage material in the bottom of my bigger pots. It would be no more than it deserved.

I was just thinking that life couldn’t get much worse when I got hiccups. Not the common or garden variety either, when I do things I do things properly. These hiccups racked my aching body for nine days and almost drove me to despair.

I shouldn’t have had them really, they came to me by accident; A side effect of taking tablets to cure the other malady that been plaguing me. Acid reflux.
I had it bad too; I was waking in the night with a blistered tongue and burns on the side of my mouth where the acid had settled while I was asleep. There were burns on my throat, on top of the soreness that was already there from the virus I was suffering from.
I was in a bad way.

I went to see the doctor about the reflux. He gave me some strong tablets to stop the acid from forming in my stomach. I think it worked, I didn’t get any more acid attacks, but as they were repelled they sent in their best mate, hiccups.

What a nightmare. I was hiccupping every five seconds for two days non-stop. I could barely eat, had no sleep at all, my stomach felt like a very old, much kicked, over inflated football.
I tried all the tricks I could think of and many I couldn’t, to rid myself of the affliction. I consulted all the old people I knew, even the mad woman from number 47. (I’m sure she is a witch) I scoured the internet, I drank upside down, I held my breath. I got my wife to drop cold keys, lumps of ice and even a bag of frozen peas down the back of my shirt. I got my son to shout BOO at the top of his voice whilst leaping out like a mad, knife wielding burglar, from behind a door. I stood on my head and nearly drowned drinking pint after pint of liquid.
Then I went back to the doctor.

My own doctor wasn’t available, so I saw the locum. She took a look down my throat, had a prod at my stomach, listened to my wheezing chest and told me to stop smoking. (I haven’t had a cigarette in 10 years) She then gave me a lecture about my diet, suggested I made an appointment for a prostate check (aaaaaaaaargh) and told me to buy some peppermint oil.
I got the strongest I could find and believe me, finding it wasn’t easy. I hiccupped my way through five requests at five different chemists before I finally got my greedy hands on the fabled curer of all ills.

I also had a brainwave and purchased four packs of extra strong mints at the same time. If peppermint oil was the cure for this affliction, then super strong peppermints must surely hasten the end of my embarrassing problem.
Unfortunately, all that my flawed strategy succeeded in achieving was to morph my ordinary but annoying, hic, hic, hic, into hic, burp, hic, burp. This lasted for another two days. Stupidly I thought (hoped) the burping would be emptying my stomach of the gas that was (obviously) causing the hiccups.

How wrong can you be?

I went back to the doctors.

Her next trick was to prescribe some medication to stop the hiccups. This was a last ditch attempt apparently and does (I was assured) work on occasion. It is also a medication they give to psychotics and schizophrenics. I only had 25 mg’s a day, a genuine patient gets a whole gram of the stuff. I felt woefully inadequate to be honest.

The capsules didn’t stop my hiccups but at least they stopped me feeling paranoid about them.

Eventually the hiccups gave up of their own accord. I guess they got bored with me and went off to find a more deserving, appreciative host.

Nine tortuous days and nine hellish nights (which had seen me bouncing around like the girl in the exorcist movie) had left me totally shattered. I hadn’t been able to work, I could barely think, my fuddled head felt like I was wearing an internal balaclava.
The PCs I fix for a living were still sitting in a patient, orderly queue, on the floor of my workshop.

Sadly, after hearing of my plight, just about every customer who rang to enquire about the health of their ailing machine, burst into fits of uncontrollable laughter. Most of them did at least attempt a half hearted apology before a second bout of giggling forced them to hang up.

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