Review of the BBC Radio Play – Lunch (recipe link included) Rated 5 stars – #MarcyKahan #ClaireSkinner #StephenMangan #Audible #Play #BBCAudioBooks

By Marcy Kahan
Starring Claire Sinner and Stephen Mangan
Rated: 5 Stars *****

Lunch has it all. It has food and friendship, so many aspects of life between 2 characters who lead different lives and come together once a month. It has a large helping of the most wonderful humour and warmth. It also has family life, employment life, romance. It also shows that whatever you do, whatever your views, you can still be friends. It has so much that would be relatable to so many people. This is one sitcom I’ve listened to a number of times, it is that good!
I finally had a bit of time to spontaneously write a review. Also check out the link I’ve added from BBC Good Food and also the Audible Link  to the sitcom itself in the review.

Find out more in the blurb and my review.



Stephen Mangan and Claire Skinner star in all five series of the popular BBC Radio 4 comedy drama.

Bill works as an economist in a right-wing institute giving succour to bankers and businessmen. Bella teaches yoga, waters the plants in Canary Wharf and holds Proust seminars for retirees. Years ago they shared a flat before Bill got married and moved to America. Now he’s back and feeling a little off-kilter, so he decides to rekindle his friendship with Bella.

Once a month they get together for lunch, where they talk about everything from politics to Proust, parenting and the perils of online dating. The only thing they never discuss is how much they love each other….

In Marcy Kahan’s delightful “platonic romantic comedy”, we join Bill and Bella as they meet, eat and disagree about everything; and over the course of four series, we learn their hopes and dreams and listen in as their lives change direction.


I first came across Lunch on BBC Radio 4 a few years ago. It is so easy and such fun to listen to, that I’ve listened to it quite a number of times. It’s one of the most fabulously entertaining and humorous two-hander plays from BBC Radio 4 and now can be found on Audible, that is still as important then as it is now, in such divisions of countries, including the UK. It also features wonderful food as Bill (Stephen Mangan) and Bella (Claire Skinner) meet once a month in cafes as you hear their lives play out. Expect lots of mentions of glorious food from pho-ga (Vietnamese chicken soup) to eggs to salad and more… Just below is a link to a recipe that I use to make pho-ga at home. It sounds more complex than it is and is heartwarming, aromatic deliciousness. I think so anyway. I got inspired to try it out when listening to the play…

Click link for recipe:
BBC Good Food Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup (Pho-Ga) Recipe

This play is so important for our times. It shows how two people who have very different jobs, lives and opposing political views can still civily meet-up for lunch and talk about life, work, family, loves and generally have a nice time. It’s a pretty spectacular message and one of unity. This is a essentially a comedy and is really rather funny as Bill (Stephen Mangan) and Bella (Claire Skinner) get to a point of where they just aren’t admitting their feelings for each other. It also cleverly weaves wit into their differing views. There is also the coming together to help each other out by listening to each other and giving advice to even Bill trying out a bit of roleplay with Bella to practice for an interview on Newsnight. There is much wit when Bill asks what Bella is looking for out of no less than 3 lovers who she meets. The way some of the lines are said (as throughout), are pure fun! This shows what brilliant actors Stephen Mangan and Claire Skinner are. They bring Marcy Kahan’s intuitive and witty script-writing to life in such a believable way.

Both characters are easy to like and care about what happens to them. It is one of the most uplifting radio plays and one that has an important point to say, that it doesn’t matter what side of the fence you are on for jobs or politics, you can still be friends and you may even become lovers. There’s a sense of unity amongst that so-called dividing line, and that’s what makes this glorious, as well as the laugh out loud humour. There is a lot to smile about in this audio play.

Audible Link          Click here for Lunch


Food, Glorious Food – A quick focus on online foodie talks and demos @jamesmartinchef @NickNairn #Food #Recipes

A Quick Focus on Foodie Talks and Demonstrations

Food, Glorious Food! What can be better than to watch some wonderful cooking from a couple of the UK’s incredibly talented and amazing chefs – James Martin and Nick Nairn.
I was supposed to have been watching James Martin cook at The Yorkshire Dales Food Festival this year, which has been postponed until 2021, but watching him cook and talk about his plans, although, obviously not the same, has been fun.

I don’t talk much about food on here, but stages are all online and during these uncertain times, are  coming in all shapes and forms during these strange times that we live in. I have on occasion, taken some time to look at what’s been going on around online in food, since restaurants and cafes closed and are now starting to re-open. Chefs have got creative and some like James Martin and Nick Nairn have been online a bit more.
I have included links and I can’t promise you won’t get hungry whilst watching what these wonderful chef’s have been doing. You may also get inspired to try something out or if you live near and have the time, visit their restaurants.

James Martin took some time to show people some cookery. He’s impressive to watch and his recipes do work incredibly well, with timings and taste, aren’t too laborious and they can be made fine at home in just an ordinary kitchen. He has also been showing on Twitter, some short films of what he did to transform his restaurant into somewhere that would be safe for customers to eat in and it sounds like staff have gone to a lot of effort to make it so.  I haven’t been though, but is somewhere I would certainly like to go to, someday. It’s at least 300 miles or so travel first though.

James Martin also has a new cookbook – James Martin’s Islands to Highlands.
He is also back filming this week and also has some exciting news about a shop he and his team are setting-up on a webpage.

Social Media Links:

Twitter: @jamesmartinchef

Nick Nairn has been doing his bit in showing people how to cook many recipes that can be made at home and also answering questions, with his wife Julie Nairn at the camera and sometimes their dog around, looking cute. The Live Features are called:
“At Home At the Nairn’s.” They are good fun and enlightening to watch and very interactive with plenty of banter amongst the cooking. Everything is explained and demonstrated very well, and if you don’t know something, you can just ask and when there’s a moment inbetween cooking, he will expertly answer.

Find details of links to where you can watch this, below.
He has also been showing  his restaurant “Nick’s” in Bridge of Allan, near Stirling. I have eaten here pre-lockdown and the food is delicious, with a great choice. He has also created “Pop-Up Pizza” at Port of Menteith.
There is also a restaurant at Dunblane Hydro.

There are some videos of these on Twitter and Facebook, that can be found. Again, you can tell that a lot of thought and effort has been put into making things safe and transforming it. I can also say pre-lockdown, the food is incredibly good here and is a place I look forward to one day having time to enjoy again.

Social Media Links:
Website for the Cook School:

#Review of Summer on a Sunny Island by Sue Moorcroft @SueMoorcroft @AvonBooksUK #BookReview #Uplit #Fiction #feelgood #RomanticFiction

Summer on a Sunny Island
By Sue Moorcroft
Rated: *****

I’ve come to really enjoy Sue Moorcroft’s books, so I was so happy to see that I was approved for reviewing Summer on a Sunny Island by Avon. This book was worth the wait.
It is perfect for some escapism at Summer Cottage. There’s sun, sea, sand, a harbour, food and characters with their reasons on why they are on such an otherwise, idyllic, beautiful island. It’s enough to sweep you away in an imaginary holiday of your very own, from the comfort of your own home.

Summer on a Sunny Island cover


The #1 bestseller is back with your perfect holiday read!

When Rosa Hammond splits up from her partner Marcus after his gambling problem becomes too much to handle, she decides to take up her mum Dora’s offer of a summer in Malta. Not one to sit back and watch her daughter be unhappy, Dora introduces Rosa to Zach, in the hope that sparks will fly under the summer sun. But Rosa’s determined not to be swayed by a handsome man – she’s in Malta to work and that needs to be her focus.

Zach, meanwhile, is a magnet for trouble and is dealing with a fair few problems of his own. Neither Rosa or Zach are ready for a romance – but does fate have other ideas? And after a summer in paradise, will Rosa ever want to leave?

A heartwarming, escapist book to lose yourself in this summer from bestselling author Sue Moorcroft, perfect for fans of Katie Fforde and Cathy Bramley.


The book is set on a Maltese island, where the main characters, Yorkshire girl Rosa and Cornish guy Zach, who she is seeing on a date that isn’t really a date.
Rosa and Marcus have split and she is escaping it all in Malta, except  her mother would really like for her to have a summer romance and is trying to play cupid and has set her up with a date, in this idyllic setting with sun, coastlines and harbour and other gorgeous views. It’s almost dreamy and is very easy to slip into and escape the outside world for a bit. We may but not be able to physically go on holiday, but with this book, we certainly can in our imaginations and still return with a positive effect. The book does however carry substance. Sue Moorcroft balances it out divinely.
Zach has secrets from Rosa about not talking to his father and his grandad having dementia, who his nanna cared for.
On the night out readers meet Elsa from Edinburgh and Luccio who Zach met whilst during volunteer work for a youth organisation and has been lured into hanging out with a not so pleasant crowd.
Dory is an interesting character who is a food writer. The mediterranean food sounds delightful. This is a book that could truly make you hungry. Over delicious sounding food and wine, Rosa’s mother possibly taints the relaxed atmosphere a little by probing into the date that wasn’t a date, or as Rosa will stand firm about in her belief.
It’s interesting to read about Marci and Zach’s parents and Rosa’s parents with connections to the army and with how Dory became famous and has a bestselling Sunday Times book. It’s also interesting to read the grittier, not so wonderful parts too with Luccio heading towards trouble and with Dory’s publication issues. Elsewhere there are relationship anxieties and a disclosure of a miscarriage. It’s all sensitively written and doesn’t go too heavily into details. The book never loses that totally relaxing feel.

It’s fun seeing the relationships between the characters and seeing them develop, seeing the moving on process and romance develop and the interactions.

About the Author

Award winning author Sue Moorcroft writes contemporary women’s fiction with occasionally unexpected themes. The Wedding ProposalDream a Little Dream and Is This Love? were all nominated for Readers’ Best Romantic Read Awards. Love & Freedom won the Best Romantic Read Award 2011 and Dream a Little Dream was nominated for a RoNA in 2013. Sue’s a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner, a past vice chair of the RNA and editor of its two anthologies.

The Christmas Promise was a Kindle No.1 Best Seller and held the No.1 slot at Christmas!

Sue also writes short stories, serials, articles, writing ‘how to’ and is a creative writing tutor.

You can follow Sue on Twitter @SueMoorcroft, find her on Facebook and visit her website.

Review of Bookends by Jane Green @JaneGreen @PenguinUKBooks #uplit #chiclit #review #UK #US #bookshops #books #friendship #kindness #food

By Jane Green
Rated: 4 stars ****

About the Author


She is published in over 25 languages, and has over ten million books in print worldwide. She has been part of the ABC News team, has had her own radio show on BBC Radio London, and has made regular appearances on TV and radio.
She contributes to a number of newspapers and magazines, and has a weekly column in The Lady magazine, England’s longest running weekly magazine.
A graduate of the International Culinary Institute in New York, Green is an avid cook, amateur decorator, and passionate gardener. She is also a regular storyteller for The Moth.
A resident of Westport, Connecticut, she lives there with her husband, a small menagerie of animals, and (too) many children.


On the shelf, but still best friends . . .

Bookends CoverCath is scatty, messy and guarded. While Si is impossibly tidy, bitchy and desperate for a man of his own. They are total opposites – but equally unlucky in love. And they’ve stuck together through thick and thin. Because that’s what best friends do.

So when their beautiful friend Portia – the undisputed queen of their group of friends at university – steps back into their lives, after a ten year gap, her reappearance tests both Cath and Si’s friendship to the limit.

What does Portia want? Will she be a force for good in their lives, or something darker? And will Cath and Si ever get lucky in love?



This isn’t a brand new book, it is one I have read a few times and felt like reviewing as I raided my shelves in my book cupboard. Being published in 2000, it has topical themes and all the themes of life don’t really change and it still feels as fresh and relevant as it did then. It can still be bought and may be on some library shelves. It is interesting that the cover has changed a few times over the years. Below are some of the UK (top 3) and US (bottom 2) cover versions.

This story takes readers on life’s journey with main character Cath along with Si – her great friend, Josh – her transient friend and Portia – her soulmate. This at the beginning is how she saw these main people who are in her social circle at university.

Portia is the first character to be really introduced. She comes from a rich background and Cath had assumed all was perfect when they were students, except its readers will soon learn that was perhaps not quite so. Cath, Si and Josh drift away from her as she hurt other friends of theres.

Si is a film editor in Soho and wants to find his Mr Right. Whether there is the perfect romance for him or not, you’ll just have to find out by reading the book. He certainly looks for it and I always find myself rooting for him.

Josh works within mergers and acquisitions and within this circle of friends. He is also married to Lucy, but is suspected of having an affair.

Cath is single after a 2 year distasterous relationship where she decides not to open herself up to love ever again, although whether she sticks to that vow she makes to herself or not remains to be seen.

Si is like a great best friend, he is written a bit like on a wish list of friends. He is written as caring for Cath and a lover of fashion and tries to perk her up on Bond Street, London. He also has a wonderful sense of humour. He can be moody at times and that would be frustrating. The characterisation of Si is excellent.

Lucy and Cath set up a bookshop together that’s made of so many people’s dreams. Lots of lovely books and a cafe area with the most scrumptious sounding cakes and pastries. What’s not to like? A book about frienship and how everyone interacts with each other and their lives and this lovely bookshop. The book is simply so wonderful and that is why I wanted to re-read it.

There’s romance and twists and this book is compelling. It’s one to devour and is so hard to put down once started, everything about it is so divine. The more the book goes on the more the characters almost enthrall and then there’s Portia who is mysterious and the question of what she really wants builds. She has some sort of effect on everyone’s lives one way or another.

There’s really shockingly sad heartbreak that is handled so sensitively and so believable. I won’t say to whom or what it is as it would spoil the story.

This book has everything in it. I enjoy Jane Green’s books but thus far this is my favourite of hers and one I am certain to return to again.

Uplit is the latest buzz word in literature and this book has kindness, friendship and although there is heartbreak, there are enough elements that will lift people’s spirits too.

Jane’s latest book is called The Friends We Keep and was published on June 4th 2019.

A Book for Each Day of the Week #TheStrawberryThief @Joannechocolat #SummerattheKindnessCafe @Vicky_Walters #TheHangryHamster #SealedWithADeath @JamesSilvester1 #TheLongestFarewell @nulasuchet @johnsuchet1 #summer #bookish #crime #kidslit #romance #France #UK #Thriller #summerreads #review Resume of Reviews of 7 Great Books for Summer and Beyond

A resume of 7 great books I have read over the summer and beyond.

I have read and reviewed a number of books this summer. I thought I would give a quick resume of 7 of them. Full reviews are also in my blog. I have also provided individual links to the full reviews. Please do take a look, you may be inspired or reminded of a good book.

The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris – Fiction

Strawberry thief

The Strawberry Thief is the latest part of the Chocolat series, written by Joanne Harris

This book sees Vianne Rocher back in Lansquenette-Sous Tannes during Easter with strawberries and chocolate filling the senses. There’s also a change in the wind as there is excellent writing, truth and emotion in the writing as Anouk has grown up and flown the nest. This is in contrast to Rosette who cannot do this part of life.
Roux still lives on the boat, preferring his own company and there is a new character called Morgane Dubois.
The writing of the wind is beautifully descriptive and tells the reader there’s much more than just the wind to come and that it is meaningful. The growing up of children who fly the nest and set up their own lives is relatable. The book will arouse anyone’s senses and emotions. It is just as good as the previous 3 books within this series. The descriptive writing is atmospheric and adds to the intrigue as to how this book will end.

Note, there is also an added afterward about Joanne’s own experience of her daughter leaving home and there is a poignant, well-written short story in print copies only of this book that are well-worth reading.

Link below:


Summer at the Kindness Cafe by Victoria Walters – Fiction

Summer at Kindess Cover (1)

Enter Brew – Kindness Cafe this summer and you won’t be disappointed. Enter Brew and be inspired to do your own random acts of kindness this summer, like the three women within this story.

Abbie Morgan is the main protagonist and is forced to leave London after being made redundant, something so relatable to many people.
Within the book there are sections called “Notes from the Brew Kindness Board”. This may inspire some people to follow-suit and do random acts of kindness. Get to know the characters and their personalities and see if Acts of Kindness transforms their lives or not.
Once the story has ended, turn the page for a lovely note by the author.

Link below:

The Hangry Hamster by Grace McCluskey – Fiction

hangry hamster

Have fun with this children’s book. Billy gets a hamster and takes him everywhere, until the hamster isn’t allowed on the plane when Billy is going abroad. The hamster gets left behind and becomes hangry and goes on an adventure through London. Take a read of this adventurous, exciting, humorous, well illustrated book, written by a child for children.

Sealed with a Death – Fiction

Sealed with a Death Book Cover

Would you like a great political thriller? Give Sealed with a Death by James Silvester a try.

This book has got to be placed up there in one of the most current book in fiction there currently is. James Silvester writes very well and at excellent pace, in conveying what is happening and mixing it with his fictional. Meet Lucie Musilova – an assassin working as part of the Overlappers Intelligence Team. Women across many countries in Europe start to disappear, Kasper Algers, an Independent MP disappears and there’s still the case as to what happened to Ines Aubel. Readers are also taken into the world of brothels and further into the world of espionage and fake passports.

The book takes us to the far right of British politics and also to France where there’s the Gilet Jaune movement and the author takes this element into Britain. There’s also a focus on the everyday prejudices, pay as well as the cuts to police resources.

I have to say, I was impressed by not just how current this book is, but also the calibre of writing, considering the time it takes to write a book, especially well and how politics moves along at the moment. The language and tone of all the characters is believable, there’s no holding back!

Link below:

A Summer to Remember by Sue Moorcroft – Fiction

A Summer to Remember Cover

Clancy Moss is the main character, leaving her old life to start a new one. There’s romance, there’s social, tourism and education issues that are dealt with. From beginning to end this book has so much of human life and yet it feels as light as summer, and still it skillfully has meaningful substance. It is a most enjoyable and absorbing read of break-up, romance and life’s trials and tribulations and escapism. A Summer to Remember is a book to remember this summer and for more summers to come.

Please note, there is also an added short story in physical print copies of this book that is worth reading.

Link below:


Zippy and Me by Ronnie Le Drew – Non-Fiction

zippy cover

Ronnie Le Drew is best known as being the puppeteer for Zippy in children’s TV show – Rainbow. It is a well written autobiography about becoming a puppeteer, his starting out at the The Little Angel Theatre. Some of the hard time he had to go through (not a sob-story though, it is better than that). and the people he worked with such as Jim Henson and David Bowie. Ronnie comes across as being down-to-earth as he never forgets his roots. This book is also about a bit of Rainbow scandal and what happened to the people working in it afterwards. It is nostalgic to say the least. Readers will get a look of behind the scenes of Ronnie’s puppeteer work, which makes it a fascinating read.

Link below:

The Longest Farewell by Nula Suchet – Non-Fiction

The Longest Farewell book pic

 Condensing my review down, only goes a little into what is really within the pages of this book. I will say it is a very worthy book to read, so please do take a look at the full review of it. I will also say it is the most emotional book of the summer. Nula Suchet’s husband James who, at the age of 57 had Picks disease – a form of dementia and this is chronicled very well in this book, with every heart-felt sentence. John Suchet’s wife – Bonnie also had dementia. It is heartbreaking and there is also so much love as Nula cares for James, who does go into a care home, but that is also where she meets John, who is there visiting his Bonnie. It is also about the relationship that develops between John and Nula and their travels together, that at first don’t exactly go smoothly. The writing is so amazingly strong, every aspect of the book is absorbing and all-consuming in a good way because every emotion can practically be felt and empathised and sympathised with. It is telling that it is all written from the heart and this part of both John and Nula’s life was not easy. It does however have the most happy of endings or rather shows the happiness of a continuation of their lives. 

Please do look at my full review for this book, if you haven’t done so already because just a few words only really highlights the book’s existence and a little of what it is about.

Link below:

The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris – An Exquisite, atmospheric and poignant book – 5 Stars @joannechocolat @orionbooks @gigicroft #thestrawberrythief #review #NewBook #Waterstones

The Strawberry Thief
By Joanne Harris
Rating – 5 Stars

About the Author

Joanne Harris is an Anglo-French author, whose books include fourteen novels, two cookbooks and many short stories. Her work is extremely diverse, covering aspects of magic realism, suspense, historical fiction, mythology and fantasy.

In 2000, her 1999 novel Chocolat was adapted to the screen, starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. She is an honorary Fellow at St Catherine’s College, Cambridge, and in 2013 was awarded and MBE by the Queen.


Everyone is different. Some of us are just more different than others…

Vianne Rocher has settled down. Lansquenet-Sous-Tannes, the place that once rejected her, has finally become her home. With Rosette, her ‘special’ child, she runs her chocolate shop in the square, talks to her friends on the river, is part of the community. Even Reynaud, the priest, has become a friend.

But when old Narcisse, the florest, dies, leaving a parcel of land to Rosette and a written confession to Reynaud, the life of the sleepy village is once more thrown into disarray. The arrival of Narcisse’s relatives, the departure of an old friend and the opening of a mysterious new shop in the place of the florist’s across the square – one that mirrors the chocolaterie, and has a strange appeal of its own – all seem to herald some kind of change: a confrontation, a turbulence – even perhaps a murder…


The Strawberry Thief is the latest part of the Chocolat series, written by Joanne Harris (who also writes many other genres of books, which are also excellent). This book, even though, now as far as fourth in this series has been absolutely worth the wait. It’s atmospheric, emotional and exquistely written. It grabbed my attention from the very beginning and that never dissipated.

This book sees Vianne Rocher back in Lansquenette-Sous Tannes. Like in the first book – Chocolat, it is Lent and there’s now, what has become the comfortable familiar of Vianne making Easter treats. She seems a bit more accepted and settled in Lansquenet. There are familiar characters as well as the introduction of someone new.

The writing of the wind is beautifully descriptive and tells the reader there’s much more than just the wind to come and that it is meaningful.

There are the cacao beans and this time, also wild strawberries, filling the senses and emotions and there’s once again change. Change which every parent with growing children will be able to relate to. Anouk, Vianne’s daughter has, as expected, grown up and flown the nest. The words of this are filled with emotion. Rosette – Vianne’s winter child, as she calls her, is also growing and may not be able to say much, has vision and yet also what she and Vianne refer to as “accidents”.

I like how Rosette is written and the contrast between what people think, alongside their pity, in comparison to what Vianne, as her mother, feels, is well observed and as a reader, creates emotion inside.

Roux still lives on his boat, preferring to live on his own without the community of Lansquenet, that he does not trust, but is still a presence in Vianne’s life, who, lets face it, is also different, although accepted, from the people who originate in the area. This, throughout the books, for me, anyway, is very relatable to in small towns and villages. Things have evolved from Chocolat though and Reynaud is now no longer seeing her as the enemy come to spoil tradition and break “rules”, but as a friend.

There’s a new character for readers to become intrigued about – Morgane Dubois who unsettles Vianne. Joanne’s  writing certainly made me feel the uneasiness and suspicious of what would actually happen with this incomer. A sense of fear is deftly created.

There are wild strawberries that seem to stir up some atmosphere and emotions and conjure up lovely imagery of them growing in the strawberry wood. This story hits upon all the senses. It has a way of drawing in the reader closer and closer until you’re nearly within touching and smelling distance that lasts from the beginning to the end. The strawberries serve a purpose however, they aren’t just there to pretty things up. There’s also a strawberry thief, as you’d expect from the title and readers should continue on with the book to discover much more about this.

The writing is atmospheric and descriptive, giving a real sense of place, but cleverly also adds to the intrigue. This is worth all the wait and the buzz that surrounds books written by Joanne Harris. It is available now in bookshops, libraries and online.

Joanne Harris, in all her wisdom has done something quite wonderful in her physical books, especially for Waterstones, she has exclusive copies whereby books aren’t just signed, but also contains a very poignant afterword and a short story called The Cat Child. Joanne Harris is well-known for supporting bookshops and libraries (as well as authors) and her actions in both the past and present always speak volumes, which is admirable.

The afterword gives great insight about certain parallels between Joanne’s family life and what is written in the fictional story as well as further thoughts.

The Cat Child is poignant and resonates. It’s not some random short story, this is well thought out. It has some similar themes to The Strawberry Thief. There’s the daughter whose soul keeps soaring and the mother who is trying to keep her grounded, whereby there’s a younger daughter who is the cat child, never quite growing up and managing to leave. One night, however something “magical” occurs…

The Cat Child is also worth 5 stars. It’s concise, poignant and terrifically atmospheric.all within just a few pages, which is a skill within itself.  It also feels like it accompanies the main story very well.