Saturday Reflections

I’ve written before about how I live close to a stretch of the Grand Union Canal, and how I often walk to work along the canal path (a rather splendid way to start the day, if I’m honest).

The walk takes me past modern developments and old lock cottages, passing by an ancient pub and under several bridges, though I’ve found no trolls to date, thank goodness!

There are boats I see regularly moored, people with whom I exchange greetings and conversation, such as the man who discussed collecting autumn leaves with me, peering out from the low door of his picturesque narrow boat. He felt the red ones were the most special of all, and would preserve them between plastic laminate.

The canal changes with the days, sometimes alive with ripples, or flecked with gossamer seed from the overhanging trees. I’ve seen silver fish jumping, kingfishers and herons, watched swans grow from egg to chick to graceful grey birds, following their snowy parents along the dark water.

At times the water is as smooth and flat as glass, an illusion so perfect you almost feel you could step on it and it would hold your weight, so solid does it seem. On these days it perfectly reflects; as above, so below.

And so it was the other morning when I walked to work. I couldn’t linger too long, as I had somewhere to be, but I couldn’t resist taking these shots. And I thought I would share them with you.

Happy weekend, everyone!

If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

Reading, Writing, and Silver Fish Jumping

It’s been a little while since I’ve written an update kind of post, and so it seemed like today would be a good day.

A Thousand Rooms is currently available to read and review via NetGalley, and was recently in their Summer Reads newsletter. So far, so good. I’ve also been asked, via a NetGalley request, to take part in a blog tour for a new Random House/Penguin release, The Finding of Martha Lost. My review is due on May 24th – I’ve read the book already and can say it’s a lovely, whimsical read.

Writing-wise I’ve been forging ahead with Silver and Black, hoping to get a complete draft finished by the end of this month. I’ve been working on it, on and off, for over a year now, so it will be nice to get the structure sorted. There will be quite a bit of work after that, of course, adding in detail and finetuning things, so it’s a while away from being shared. However, the fourth Ambeth book, Under Stone, is now out for edit, and I’m sorting out the cover design with a view to publishing this summer. Then there’s The Grove, a story that’s coming to me in bits and pieces, and that I’m quite excited about. I foresee a lot of work ahead with that one…

Other than that, I’ve been looking at planning a few short trips over the coming months, so hopefully that will mean more material for my Wednesday Wanders (although I’m not close to running out yet!). Even though I’m not blogging quite as much as I usually do, I try not to miss posting those – it’s fun going back to places I’ve visited and I really enjoy hearing from everyone about places they’ve visited too. And does anyone else feel that Game of Thrones cannot return soon enough? I’m dying to find out what happens next, and think it quite mean that they’re making us wait so long. I also recently read The Handmaid’s Tale, and wish I could get the Hulu adaptation here – I hear it’s excellent.

And I’m still walking, enjoying the trees and canal and wild creatures, using the time to work out plots and ideas. Yesterday I saw herons, two swans building a nest, countless ducks and silver fish jumping, and was scattered with sweet scented hawthorn blossom as I wandered past water so smooth and still it seemed an extension of the path I walked.

Last night the gorgeous girl and I watched Eurovision together, as we usually do. We had snacks and supplies, plus I was tweeting with #BigUpYour Eurovision, which was hilarious fun. None of us, gorgeous girl included, were completely thrilled with the song that won – however, huge congratulations to Portugal on their first Eurovision win ever. Here’s to Lisbon 2018!

Happy weekend, everyone, and Happy Mother’s Day to those who are celebrating xx


If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

Wednesday Wander – Silves Castle, Silves, Portugal

Today has been icy cold, a real change from the springtime promise of earlier this week. So, as a little escape from the cold and grey, my Wednesday Wander this week is to Silves Castle, one of the best-preserved Moorish castles in Portugal.


The castle was constructed between the 8th and 13th century, when Silves was a Caliphate under Moorish rule, and one of the most important cities in the area. When the Moors were finally overthrown, it was by a fleet coming up the winding river from the sea – when you look out from the high battlements across the town, it’s easy to imagine how it would have been, seeing the boats coming closer and closer…


The castle has been restored and excavated, with the remains of bathhouses and rooms now exposed. The pinkish domed shape under the tree at the rear is the roof of the giant water cistern – you can go down inside it, as it’s empty now, but it was used to supply water to the town until as recently as 1920. Apparently people used to swim in it when it was full, which I think would be quite an eerie experience as it is several stories deep with stone pillars throughout. The domed roof echoes as you walk down the stairs, pale light bouncing off the painted interior from windows set high above.


As you can see, walking the battlements is a bit of a challenge if you’re not a fan of heights (and I’m not). There are guiderails only at the highest points, and the fall from the other side is quite steep. Still, I managed to capture this shot hanging over the side, showing the remains what was once an aqueduct.


The town of Silves is a lovely place to visit, with nice cafes, shopping and an interesting museum, where you can walk down inside an 8th century well as well as along the top of the ancient city walls. Herons were nesting on many of the rooftops, and we stood for quite a while watching them come and go, riding the air currents and tending to their young.


And that’s my Wednesday Wander for this week, a small slice of summer on a cold February day. Thanks for joining me 🙂