Back from Barcelona

We've just got back from Barcelona where we went to celebrate my birthday, and we've had a fabulous time. We caught some sunshine, ate some yummy food and saw some amazing sights - what more could I have wanted from my birthday trip? I'll be blogging more about what we got up to later on, but here's a taster for now! Doesn't it look lovely? x

Armadillo breakfast at the airport. Visiting the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc.

 Pizza at local spot L'antica Napoli. Gaudí’s marvellous Casa Batlló.
 Birthday rainbow cake from Sweet Dreams. Visiting the giraffes at Barcelona Zoo.
 The impressive Basilica Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús. The colourful ferris wheel at Tibidabo amusement park.
The Desigual-designed bar at our hotel. Chocolate cake and white chocolate ice cream dessert at Elx.
An epic steak from Arcano. Viewing the sunset from Port Vell.
 Sunrise over the Mediterranean sea. Finally, back home in Blighty with a cup of tea and a chocolate bunny.

Baking, birthdays and Barcelona

The weekend is nearly here, which means it's almost time to jet off to Barcelona to celebrate my birthday. Don't tell anyone, but I'm about to enter the last year of my twenties - eek!

I've been busy this week working on Lost, which has proved tricky at times as not only do I have to reference the book back to Kept, I also have to keep an eye on what happened in Geli Voyante's Hot or Not, as well as my other work-in-progress (The Dirtification of Tabitha-Rose). This is what happens when you have overlapping minor characters, but I love that my characters pop up here, there and everywhere, and that a fictional London world has firmly been established. I can't wait to share Lost with you all.

I've also been getting my bake on. The end result was some rather yummy rosemary and onion focaccia rolls, as well as home-made pizza. Yes, that includes a home-made base!

You can find the focaccia recipe here, though I'd recommend using 300ml of warm water instead of 400ml. The pizza recipe is here, which I use just to make the base. Put whatever toppings you fancy on yours, though I do recommend putting a little bit of harissa paste on top of your tomato sauce to give the pizza a welcome warmth. Bon appétit! x

Latest Loves: Book edition

I have to confess, I've been a bit of a bookaholic this year... I'm currently enjoying my 70th read of 2014! Here are some my favourites of the year, so far:

Have you read any of them? What are your favourite books you've read this year? x

PS: Follow me on Goodreads to see what I'm reading at the moment.

Happy birthday Kept!

One year ago today I hit publish and Kept was released to the world. Of course, the intention was that it would go live on the 23rd and I would get to share my publication date with the birth and death date of Shakespeare, St George's Day and World Book Day, but sometimes things don't work out exactly how you plan them. (And that's OK!)

It was last month that Kept really came into its own, when it reached #1 in the Best Sellers chart. I'm utterly thrilled about that, and the reviews are still coming in strong from the 50,000+ downloads that Kept had last month. A big thank you to anyone who has read Kept, left a review or spread the word about the book - as an indie author, I appreciate it so much. 

It's definitely been quite the year for Kept, which was joined by Geli Voyante's Hot or Not last October. I'm currently hard at work on Kept's sequel - Lost - and I hope that this will be out this summer, though that depends on a few things I have up my sleeve... 

Happy birthday Kept, and here's to my second year as an author! x

The view from St Paul's

A trip to the City of London should involve a trip to St Paul's Cathedral - it's ridiculously old and ridiculously splendid. The current form of it is one of Sir Christopher Wren's, though there has been a church on the site since at least 604. Like I said, it's ridiculously old.

You'll actually find Sir Christopher Wren's remains in the crypt of St Paul's. He was the first person to be interred in the crypt, and he's in excellent company - Admiral Lord Nelson (yes, *that* Admiral Lord Nelson who has *that* famous column in Trafalgar Square) and the Duke of Wellington are also resting in the crypt.

St Paul's is very much a working cathedral, which means it's only open Monday to Saturday. You can, of course, go there on a Sunday to attend a service, but no sightseeing allowed!

The inside of St Paul's is magnificent, but since you're not allowed to take photographs, you'll just have to go and see it for yourself. I can share the view from outside of St Paul's though, which will save your legs climbing the 528 steps to get up to the Golden Gallery. I promise though that the view is worth the effort, plus you can always rest in the Whispering Gallery and Stone Gallery on the way up.

What do you think? London looks stunning, right? x

Book research: Camden Lock

Yesterday we headed to Camden Lock so I could do a spot of research for my next book. Lost is the sequel to Kept, and sees Arielle back in London. I'm making her step out of her comfort zone in this book, and she's going to find things a bit tough...

Sadly the weather wasn't that great so our plans to hop on a canal boat and head down to Little Venice for lunch after our exploring was scrapped for now - maybe in the summer though!

We decided instead to have some grub from the West Yard where I enjoyed Clinton's Lovechild from Popdogs - a 100% pork oak smoked sausage, infused with chorizo, and seasoned with nutmeg, paprika and black pepper. I had mine with caramelised onions,  ketchup and jalapeños, whilst Olly went for their Dirty Dog (a beef sausage with chilli and cheese), as well as a brisket roll from Smoke 'n' Roll.

Oh, and we might have picked up some donuts, though I'm not sure what the stall is called. It's right by the Camden Lock sign on the bridge though, opposite Gilgamesh. They also sell cronuts, a cross between a croissant and a donut, but for me it was all about the chocolate brownie-filled donut.

As well as food, there is of course lots of jewellery, record clocks, clothes, throws, scarves, paintings and so on for sale. Will there be room for Arielle and her shop though down at the Lock? I guess you'll find out in Lost! x

PS: Make sure you also have a wander down to the Stables Market as well, which used to be the Pickfords Stables - the horses may not be there any more in actual form, but you can see them marvellously represented in bronze.(Fitting as we then headed home to watch the Grand National!)

PPS: Check out my research board for Lost on Pinterest!

Cathy Bramley's Ivy Lane: Spring [Guest post]

Thank you Elle for inviting me to your blog today to share the excitement about my new book, Ivy Lane!

This book came about quite unexpectedly when I was contacted by Transworld out of the blue in January. They were looking for an author to commission to write a novel that could be serialized throughout the year and after reading Conditional Love, wondered if I would like to be involved.

Unsurprisingly, I said yes!

The result is Ivy Lane, a story told in four parts, the first of which is published today, less than three months after Harriet Bourton, Senior Commissioning Editor at Transworld first contacted me about it.

Ivy Lane: Spring: Part 1 tells the light-hearted story of Tilly Parker who takes on an allotment in order to make a new her life for herself and how the community at Ivy Lane helps her overcome her past. Ivy Lane: Summer: Part 2 will be published on 3 July, but is available to pre-order now!

Ivy Lane: Spring: Part 1 is available as an ebook from Amazon, iBooks and Kobo and the whole Ivy Lane story will be available as a paperback next spring.


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