Living The Good Life

Today I’m pleased to introduce my guest, Sue Fortin. She lives in the UK and is author and contributor today at Anneli’s Place. Sue and I both apologize for the poor quality of the photos, but they were taken a long time ago and thus fit with the story rather well.

Living the Good Life

UK television viewers of the 70s will, no doubt, remember the BBC sitcom ‘The Good Life’. A quick summary for those who are unfamiliar with this sitcom: Tom and Barbara Good give up their middle-class trappings and adopt a sustainable, simple, and self-sufficient lifestyle without moving from their suburban home. They grow their own vegetables and fruit, and their garden becomes home to chickens, pigs, and a goat called Geraldine, much to the horror of their conservative neighbours, the Leadbetters.

My dad always worked in London. Wherever we lived he always commuted in. As fans of ‘The Good Life’ it seems my parents thought they would give it a go themselves and in the late 1970s moved us to a tiny and remote Fenland village in Cambridgeshire where our neighbours were either farmers or HGV drivers.

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Three acres of the land that came with the bungalow we lived in was given over to growing barley. There was a paddock for my pony, and we rented out stables and use of the paddock to other horse owners.

One of the outbuildings became a free-range chicken house for approximately 150 chickens. My sister and I would go down to the barn in the mornings and rummage amongst the straw and roosting boxes to collect the day’s eggs.  My mum would then box them and put them on a table in the conservatory where she sold them.

We had a huge vegetable garden and mini orchard. Strawberries, gooseberries, plums, apples, pears, and the like were all harvested, boxed, and sold. as was the jam my mum made from the produce.

Breadmaking was also a high on the ‘Good Life’ list. I remember we had to be careful when opening the airing cupboard as there would be tins and tins of dough ‘rising’ under a damp tea towel. Again, the bread was sold from our conservatory.

In those days, I really don’t think there were any particular food hygiene regulations that you had to comply with. Certainly, nobody in the village seemed to mind, probably due to the fact that there was only one shop which sold the very basics, closed at lunch-times, had half-day opening on Wednesdays and never opened on a Sunday. Grabbing a loaf of bread or some eggs from ‘the new people in the bungalow’ was convenience shopping 1970s style.


I look back on those days with fond memories. I wouldn’t say it was a bohemian childhood but living in The Fens afforded me a lot of freedom which I never experienced anywhere else we lived. As to what happened to my ‘Good Life’ parents, well, after a couple of years they sold up and moved to West Sussex where my mum then had a village shop and my dad continued to commute into London daily. I wonder if they had stopped watching ‘The Good Life’ and, at that point, were watching ‘Open All Hours’?

Sue profile pic 1

Sue Fortin was born in Potters Bar, Herts, but had a rather nomadic childhood, moving often with her family before finally settling in West Sussex, where she now lives on the south coast.

Before taking to writing seriously, Sue had various secretarial jobs, eventually settling as a PA at a high street bank for 13 years.

Having said goodbye to the world of banking to look after her family, Sue published her debut novel ‘United State of Love’ in 2012 and is currently working on her second book ‘Closing In’. Sue is a feature writer with the Lifestyle e-magazine Love A Happy Ending


Links for United State of Love 

Orion’s Gift


Sylvia and Kevin have met in Baja. It was love at first sight, but they each have a lot of baggage. In this excerpt they are going out in a small aluminium boat to see the dolphins that have been coming up to the head of the Bay of Conception:

Kevin held the boat steady for me. It had a 9.9 Johnson mounted on the stern. I shuddered. Johnson. Sylvia and Joel Johnson. Well, I wasn’t going to allow him back into my life. I was finished with Joel for good. And to think I actually missed him the first few days. Good riddance, Joel. If I don’t see you before I die, it’s fine with me.

“Here’s your life vest, Sylvia.” Kevin was practical, organized, and savvy about the real things in life. Unlike Joel. For that matter, everything about Kevin was unlike Joel. Could be why I liked him so much.

“Thanks. Do you think we’ll see any dolphins?”

“We might if we get out some distance into the bay. Let’s push off and we’ll putt out a little way and have a look around.”

We glided over the glassy water easily. A couple of hundred yards from the beach, Kevin cut the motor and we drifted in the sudden silence.

Now that we were sitting still and the air was no longer whooshing past, I felt the soothing rays of the sun soaking into me. The early morning wisps of mist had lifted from the bay, leaving clear blue sky reflected in a deeper blue sea. I filled my lungs with the fresh, salty air.

“Have a look.” Kevin handed me a pair of binoculars. “Up towards Mulegé, Bill told me. If you see any fins or tops of their bodies breaking the surface, let me know and we’ll try to get closer without spooking them.”

Moments later, I pointed. “There!” Kevin started the motor and, at a slower, quieter speed, angled the boat towards the school’s probable destination, so that eventually our paths would cross.

Hundreds of sleek bodies broke the surface only to curve and dive down immediately and reappear a few yards farther on. Kevin cut the motor again and we drifted, a mere speck in the middle of the huge Bay of Conception, closer than we had hoped to a huge school of dolphins, all aiming for the head of the bay.

“Listen to them!” I whisper-shouted to Kevin. The mewling, whistling, singing, and crying, as they repeatedly broke the surface of the water, was an eerie choir piece. Hauntingly beautiful, it gave me goosebumps in spite of the warm day. Kevin’s face mirrored my feelings exactly—somewhere between awe and ecstasy. My mind was suddenly in turmoil, balancing this rare and precious moment with the realization that I probably had few of them left. Peaks of happiness and bottomless pits of misery played havoc with my emotions.

My eyes filled with tears. “Thank you for bringing me out here. That was so beautiful.” I lowered my head. Just needed a moment.

“It would have been a shame to have to enjoy this all alone,” he said.

Still trying to come to terms with the amazing spectacle we had just experienced, we sat a moment longer watching the last of the dolphins disappear in the distance.

“Uh-oh!” Kevin pointed towards the open end of the bay. “Whitecaps.” He started the motor and turned the skiff towards home. Within minutes, the breaking waves had moved much closer and the glassy smooth surface changed to ripples that grew into an uncomfortable lump. I’d heard San Diego fishermen talk about the lump in the sea. Now I knew what they were talking about.

“Hang on,” he said. “It could get bumpy. I’ll take us to the nearest point of land and then we’ll work our way home along the beach.”

I gripped the gunwales of the boat where they began to curve towards the bow. We bucked into the choppy whitecaps that had now overtaken us. In no time, the sleeves of my blue cotton shirt were soaked from the spray. Two-foot waves didn’t seem like much but they followed one after the other so briskly that the small skiff took a pounding. My stomach clenched into a knot of fear as we were tossed in every direction. I tightened my grip against the bouncing of the boat. More waves splashed over the bow, soaking the front of my shirt. I was glad the water was warm. It would have been an ordeal to be splashed with icy water every few seconds. The finer spray wet my face so the drops were running off my chin. I glanced at Kevin in the stern of the boat. He was completely dry except for a bit of salt spray in his hair. He looked so good and I could only imagine what I looked like. Drowned rats came to mind.

“We’re almost out of it,” Kevin yelled above the engine noise. He saw that I was bearing the brunt of the beating at the front of the boat. I could only nod as I looked over my shoulder at him.

Closer to the beach, we zigzagged to avoid rocks. Beaching the boat here would be difficult. We continued along the shoreline until we rounded a point and entered the mini bay where our own sheltered beach lay.

“Whew! That’s better,” I said.

We pulled the boat ashore and secured it with a line to a huge rock far above the high tide mark. Immediately, Kevin started apologizing.

I held up my hand. “Don’t. It was wonderful. Worth the beating we took on the way back.”

“Your beautiful hair.…”

My hands flew to my head. “My hair?”

“It’s such a mess!” Kevin pulled me close and hugged me, kissing my wet tangled hair. “I have a sun shower bag you can use.”

“I have one too. But I think, since I’m wet already, I’ll have a swim first and then rinse off with fresh water.”

“Good idea. I’ll join you.”

“Don’t forget to shuffle your feet in case of stingrays.”


Orion's Gift

Orion’s Gift is available for Kindle on

and at for all e-reader types: The paperback version is available at both sites as well.

Also by Anneli Purchase:

The Wind Weeps, available on

and at

Julia’s Violinist, 

available on 

and at 

Sophie’s Scrumptious Paella

Come dine with Sophie and Dan: Today’s treat is… Scrumptious Paella!

Sophie’s Run Blogtour 2013


Sophie’s Run

 Her famous star remains her rock while life takes her on a little detour…

Who says that the road towards true love is straight and even?  Sophie is certainly discovering that it is anything but.

So she has finally found the man of her dreams! Well… she knows who he is, even though she hasn’t actually quite met him yet.  But she misses her opportunity, and then her life goes crazy.  Rock star and ex-fiancé, Dan, keeps getting in the way of her new romance—even if he is just trying to be helpful.  A fire, an impromptu mini-trip with Dan, and a dreaded wedding later, Sophie is still struggling to meet the love of her life. Then, just as she is getting it together with her perfect man, best friend Rachel commits an act of unspeakable betrayal.

Sophie has had enough. Confused and distraught, she decides that it is time for radical change.  Surprising herself and shocking her friends, she embarks on a secret journey and eventually gets her life back on track.



Sophie’s Run is now available in Kindle edition from and, and in Paperback edition from and You can also get the paperback at Barnes & Noble, or download Sophie’s Run onto your Nook (coming soon).


Hey, you! My name is Sophie, and I’m so excited you’re visiting me here today at Anneli’s fabulous blog. I’m the heroine (God, that sounds weird—I still blush when I say that) in the Rock Star Romance Trilogy by Nicky Wells. Nicky and I, we’re currently taking her second book, Sophie’s Run, on tour, and we’re taking you to all the places and sharing all the food that features in the books.

Today, I share a very special recipe with you. It’s something Steve, my… current boyfriend, shall we say, and I cook for Dan (the rock star) and Rachel (my best friend). I know, that sounds like an interesting set-up, right? You’ll just have to read the book to find out what on earth is going on, but meanwhile, here’s a little excerpt:

Dan popped the tops and handed a bottle to Steve. He pulled out a kitchen chair and sat down, and Rachel joined him instantly. Steve was at the stove looking after the paella and I laid the table.

“January,” I prompted Dan. “That seems an odd time. You’ll miss the Christmas sales.”

“But we’ll be the first launch of the year, which gives us more time to get into the ‘best album of the year’ charts. Plus we’ll be touring from February, and the label has also booked a promo gig for New Year’s Eve. Tickets to go on sale soon, not that you’ll need any.” He grinned meaningfully.

“I should hope so, too!” I teased.

“It’s good to see you,” Dan changed the subject abruptly. “And you, Steve.”

Steve raised his bottle in salute. “Likewise. Sophie’s been looking forward to tonight for days.”


See? We’re having a regular little dinner party here. And here’s what you need to make your own, Sophie-style sumptuous paella for four people.

~about 500 grams of chorizo sausage, thinly sliced

~1 large onion, roughly chopped

~2 cloves of garlic, crushed or chopped

~1 cup of paella rice

~a pinch of saffron

~about a litre of chicken stock

~400 grams of cod or any other white fish (fresh or frozen)

~400 grams of king prawns

~a dash of lemon juice

~a small handful of peas (fresh or frozen)

~a large handful of herbs (fresh or dried): parsley is a must; coriander and basil to taste if you like

~salt and pepper to taste

~4 eggs

~one or two spring onions, roughly chopped, for garnish

~200 grams of little prawns (optional)

~a small chicken breast, diced (optional)

~any other seafood you might like to add (squid, mussels, clams) (optional)

And here’s what you do…

Well, as you see from the ingredients list, this dish is versatile. I’m going to tell you my ‘basic’ version excluding all the optional extras; but if you feel inspired, just add them in as you go towards the end of cooking (I’d say… with ten, fifteen minutes left).

First of all, in a large frying pan or wok, dry-fry the chorizo until all the lovely fat oozes out. I like my chorizo crisp! Then fry the onions in the chorizo fat until they’re just going glassy and soft. Add the garlic and the paella rice and give it a good stir until the rice is properly coated. Next, pour your chicken stock in and stir around.



Boil for maybe a minute, then add the fish (if frozen), peas, herbs, saffron and pepper. (Leave the salt until the very end ~ all the fish and chorizo may already make this dish plenty salty!) Turn down the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the liquid boils away, add more water.

Meanwhile, hard-boil the eggs, leave to cool, peel and cut into quarters. Leave to one side until ready to garnish your paella.


After 30 minutes or so, try the rice to see how far it has cooked. If it’s soft and very nearly done, add the king prawns and any other optional ingredients (note ~ if using chicken, brown it in a separate frying pan first so that it doesn’t dry out!). Simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes until all the seafood is heated through. Taste and season as needed. Spoon out into four bowls and garnish with the eggs. Enjoy with a large glass of wine!


So, bon appetit! I hope my post today inspired you to have a try at making your very own Scrumptious Paella. And while you wait for it to cook, why not join me and the men in my life with a nice glass of wine? Put your feet up and relax for a few minutes. Sophie’s Turn and Sophie’s Run are both out now for you to enjoy… 🙂

Sophie’s Run GIVEAWAYS

1) Standard Giveaway

Nicky Wells is giving away one delicious chocolate gift to a lucky winner in the UK or North America!


The small print: This Gift prize is a product of Unique Chocolate. The Gift prize is subject to availability in your country. If the Gift prize is not available in your country, Nicky Wells reserves the right to offer a substitute gift prize of a similar nature at her discretion. Nicky Wells will require the winner’s postal address for shipping purposes.

Rafflecopter Links:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

2. Bonus Giveaway

 Nicky Wells offers a giveaway of one Amazon gift voucher worth $20/£15 for one lucky winner. To enter, simply share your thoughts on Sophie’s Run with Nicky. Email your comment to and your name will be entered into the draw. Competition closes 1 May 2013.

About Nicky Wells: Romance that Rocks Your World!

Author - Nicky Wells

Author – Nicky Wells



Rock On! Nicky Wells writes fun and glamorous contemporary romance featuring a rock star and the girl next door.  A signed author with U.S. publisher, Sapphire Star Publishing, Nicky is in the throes of publishing her Rock Star Romance Trilogy. Nicky loves rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters.  When she’s not writing, Nicky is a wife, mother, and occasional teaching assistant.

Originally born in Germany, Nicky moved to the United Kingdom in 1993, and currently lives in Lincoln with her husband and their two boys. In a previous professional life, Nicky worked as a researcher and project manager for an international Human Resources research firm based in London and Washington, D.C.

Visit Nicky on her blog where you can find articles, interviews, radio interviews and, of course, an ongoing update on her work in progress. You can also follow Nicky on Twitter and find her on Facebook. Nicky is a featured author on the innovative reader/author project, and has joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Nicky also has author pages at Sapphire Star PublishingAmazon and, of course, Goodreads.