Archive | March 2016

The Last Day

I was thinking about it as today is our last day in this house. I’ve lived in the Trafford area of Manchester since 1976. My family moved into the Old Trafford area and I married and moved to Stretford, then we moved to Flixton for 7 years before moving into this house where we have been for the last 28 years.

I know this area very well, every road, every short cut. I’ve seen it change over the years. I’ve seen new roads built, houses and building demolished. I could almost drive blind folded, except that would be dangerous.

I’m very familiar with everything and it feels very strange doing things and knowing it is the last time. I won’t be coming back to this area again. I will go to Stockport to my daughter’s house, which is about 15 miles from here and my son has now moved away to Norwich. So I have no reason to venture back this way and I don’t particularly want to.

We have someone in to give the kitchen and cooker a good clean. I want it to be sparkling for the young couple buying their first house. My four walls will become theirs and it feels surreal.

It’s hard to know when it will sink in exactly; I’m never coming back here; I’m never going to stand in my lounge and look out of the window again. I’m not going to see the plants change as spring turns to summer.

It’s goodbye to everything. I’m not sad. I’m melancholy. This has been a big part of my life and now it is time to move on.

Related to:

  1. Before the move
  2. This post

Withington, Where The Secret is set.

Withington in Manchester is a place that I lived in from 1968 until 1976, so I knew the area well. I wanted Kerry and Tommy to be in a place I knew so that I could describe and imagine it as I wrote. If you get the opportunity to walk down the same streets, it brings the book alive.

There are four roads in Withington that run parallel with each other; Hatherley Road, Brooklea Road, Ashdene Road and Fairholme Road.  Cutting through middle of these roads School Grove. This area is Kerry’s world and where she frequently walks, just as I once did.

Ladybarn Park is in the middle Parrsword Road, Parsonage Road and Mauldeth Road. This is where Kerry frequently goes out for a run and it also where she and Tommy have their first row. At one of the entrances to the park, Parsonage Road and Parrswood Road, there once stood at red telephone box. It is here that Kerry makes a tearful phone call to Tommy after a row with Bill.


The Cotton Tree pub was a place I frequented and used to stand near Cotton Lane, very near Alan Road where Tommy lives. This is where The Secret opens, when Kerry is out with her then boyfriend, Howard. And it is here that she first encounters Tommy.

Withington village is still a bustling area today and the building that held the Scala picture house still stands.  Kerry meets Iris, for the first time in the village and Kerry and Tommy frequently drive through it. They also went on a date to the Scala to watch a Clint Eastwood movie.

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Alan Road where Tommy lives.


Alan Road

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Another view of Alan Road.


Ladybarn Park, Lover’s Lane

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Courtesy of Google Earth, This is School Grove

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A map of the roads mentioned in the book.

Cover Story

When I had completed my first book in 2012, my editor provided suggested I give it a new name. It was incredibly difficult to come up with something, but I went with Star Struck in the end. I had no idea at that time how to find a cover and was thrilled when he provided one for me.

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 15.06.55However as I discovered the world of the Indie Author, Markie Maddon, who is also a writer, said she would make a new one for me as I was beginning to realise I wanted more from my the one I had.

A friend who is a photographer, had a great photograph of Salford Quays at night. I bought it from him and used it as the background. Markie found an illustration of a girl and put the whole thing together for me.

I was very pleased at the result.



Star Struck Final Cover

Joanna has very vibrant chestnut coloured hair and I found the girl on the front wasn’t quite what I had in mind. I didn’t know where to look for a different photograph, so I went with it. I did notice, however, that when I ordered some print copies, she came out even more ginger.

In order to get my book more exposure, I employed a virtual assistant called Karina Kantas, she provided me with book trailers and teasers as well as promoting my book.  She asked me lots of questions so that she could come up with something to entice the readers to buy the book.

One of the important questions she asked was how the front cover and title related to the book.

Originally, the story spanned the 80s and 90s, but I decided to split it in two. The second part is not out yet. I realised then that the book was more about Joanna and her relationships. Karina was right, it didn’t actually relate well to the books. So a rewrite was needed. I would also need yet another cover. This time one that truly reflected the story. That was when I came across Ravensborn. I told her exactly what I wanted and who Joanna was.

Andy Hatton of AMH Photography, who provided the previous background photograph seemed a good place to start. I looked again through his collection and found one of Chester Road in Stretford, Manchester at night. I sent it to Ravensborn and the cover she produced was perfect. So good, I will never have to change it again.


Didsbury, where Joanna’s Journey is set.

Joanna’s Journey is set in Didsbury which is a suburb of Manchester. Many of the houses in  are large Victorian semi detached. In the 70s many were converted from affluent family houses to flats. When I went to the area in Autumn 2015 to take photographs for this article, I noticed many of them had been converted back to family homes.


Clydebank is derived from this road.

Back in 1974 I went to visit someone who lived in the top flat of a house in Clyde Road and the image of the room stayed with me. I transferred that image of what I remembered to make it Joanna’s flat on the top floor.


This is a typical house along Clyde Road.

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Solly and Mike go to see Manchester United play. This is what the ground would have looked like at that time.

Predictive Text

by Karen J Mossman

Over the last few weeks I’ve realised that my texts and status updates have gone really bizarre and I thought it was just me being careless. But it’s not exactly.

When I look at what I’ve just written, it’s weird, really odd and I fell like I must have lost my mind during the typing of it, but I haven’t.

Since the last IOS update on my iPhone, it now predicts words groups. So as I am typing with one finger and I just happen to pause, it then predicts what word I’m likely to use next. It gets it wrong every time and it can be so infuriating as my text just look like gobbledygook.

We should read back what we have written before any post on Twitter and Facebook, but I have to admit, I don’t always. I suddenly read it back and it looks like I’m illiterate. Along with when your finger occasionally hits the wrong key and it ‘predicts’ the word you were trying to write, and failing miserably. I just end up looking like an idiot!

Just saying!

Before The Move

It’s two weeks before our move and we went on a visit. it felt surreal standing outside our new home trying to imagine what it will be like to live there.

I’ve always wanted kerb appeal and I feel I can achieve it here. The bungalow  hasn’t been lived in for over 12 months. The driveway will come up nicely with a jet wash and we can replace the house sign and light. The front can be adorned with colourful flowers and the prospect of it all is very exciting.


We’ve been in our present house for 28 years. We’ve brought our children up here, I’ve shed tears and I’ve laughed. It’s seen the worst of times and the best of our times. My parents, my in laws, our elderly aunts and uncles have all graced this house before they moved on. I know every nook and cranny; every squeak and noise this house makes. It has been our sanctuary and where ever we go in the world, it’s the place we to which we return. It’s where we feel safe and is our castle, home, our life.

It is a semi detached building in a crowded road in a big city. We bought it because it was bigger and cheaper than the area we were living in at the time, just 5 miles down the road. Our family was expanding and we were outgrowing the house we bought when we married.

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We can only get one car on the drive, the other get parked at front. When visitors come they have to find a parking space in front of someone else’s house. I get annoyed if I can’t park  outside my own due to their visitors. It is a constant battle.

The gap between the house next door is probably about 12 feet. Our bathroom windows face each other and I can hear them, and they can probably hear us. Privacy is not always there.

It’s a complex estate with main roads, side roads and cul-de-sac all backing on to each other. Each garden fits against another, some longer some short and I often wondered how the plans were drawn up in 1925 to make it fit the way it does.

A mosque opened down the road to accommodate the growing number of Asian, families. The streets filled with cars and at certain times of the day, it’s almost impossible to move.

It’s like that all over our area because we live near an a big shopping complex, a football ground, and conference centre. Some weekend thousands of people spill into the area. Traffic is nose to tail and getting to places can be difficult.

Our house has a small kitchen, long hallway and a through lounge, with three bedrooms and a modest bathroom upstairs. We are lucky that the garden is south facing. Our tiny patch of lawn gets so much sun that in the height of summer, a full line of washing will dry within two hours.

There are houses at the back of us and some of them look into each others windows. We are lucky that the ones behind us are at an angle, so we have a view right through the centre and more importantly, we are are not overlooked by anyone.

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When I walk the dog, I walk along the main road and I look for different places to walk down side streets where it will be quieter. We have several schools around here and bicycles can come up behind without warning, and rush hour is very noisy with the culmination of car engines and motorbikes. It quietens after 9.30, so I have to choose my times to venture outside.

Our new property is a detached bungalow. It’s front driveway is squared and we could fit four or five cars if we wanted. Although the idea was to downsize, I’m not sure we really have. All the rooms are larger, especially the kitchen and we have a garage too.

Because the bedrooms are on the same level, it will be a different way of living. I love the idea of getting up early in the morning and taking a few steps to the kitchen to make us a cup of coffee and take it back to bed.

It has three bedrooms and one of them we are turning into a dining room/office and eventually we shall have a conservatory built. Having lived in just the one through room, we will have a vast choice of places to be. With the kitchen being so large, we can spend time in it. At present when my husband cooks, he gets annoyed if I go into the kitchen as it’s so small that I get in his way. No chance of that happening here.

We have a back garden and a side garden, both large. As summer approaches we will again have a choice of where we want to spend time.

The bungalow situated in the countryside and five minutes from the beach. There are many beaches on the island of Anglesey and even in tourist season it is still never as busy as where we are now.

It’s a two and a bit hours drive from Manchester and I feel it is more of a community and all sharing something special.

On Facebook and Twitter I was able to join Anglesey groups and there is so much going on and I look forward to being part of it. I have plans for the future as our whole way of life will change. This is the perfect time of year as will turn into spring  summer and we can enjoy both the inside and the outside.

Make sure you subscribe to this blog, which you can find on the home page as I will be posting updates on our progress.

Henshaws Society For the Blind

If you have landed on this page first, this excerpt comes from a book entitled Various subjects and is dated 1889. For a full explanation, please visit the Various Subjects page.

During the 1880s, my great, great-grandfather, Charles Henry Stott, a stockbroker by trade, visited places throughout Manchester and sent them as articles to a local newspaper. In 1889, he put them together in a book. This is one such story of an institution founded by Thomas Henshaw in 1837 to provide support, advice and training to anyone affected by sight loss and other disabilities.

Written in Charles’ own words.


We received an invitation from the board of management of Henshaw’s Blind Asylum, which most people who reside in Oldham know it is situated at Old Trafford, to the annual distribution of prizes by Oliver HEYWOOD Esq., J.P., the High Sheriff of Lancashire. The invitation card bore a very attractive programme; at 2 o’clock there was to be an inspection of the workshops, schools, gymnasium and other parts of the asylum. At 3 o’clock a hymn, distribution of prizes and an address by the High Sheriff. At 4 o’clock a concert and at 5, refreshments.

Sighted visitors to the institution could not fail to be struck by the marked cleanliness that was everywhere to be seen.

In visiting the institution for the blind we always consider that visitors convey the greatest amount of pleasure to the inmates by entering into conversation with them, not as sightless beings, but as ordinary mortals. The intelligently blind appreciate, understand, and know more than many who have the assistance of sight. With the blind there is a concentration of thought, no attractions elsewhere and no wandering of ideas. Of course, there are grades of blind people, as they are grades of those who are able to see.

Our first halting point after we’d had a few words with the secretary was in what we were told was the men’s yard, where we noticed three young men arm in arm promenading, and who on our saluting them thus, “Well, young men, you are quite enjoying yourselves; it’s a nice day.” The prompt acknowledgement was, “Yes, it’s a very nice day.” Although we were told by the trio that the boys’ yard was through the door at the end, the gymnasium next commanded our attention.

Here we found a large room, with gymnastic apparatus as near perfection as it is possible to approach perfection. There were girls suitably dressed, short blouses, waist belts and trousers and boys and young men ready for any athletic display. A girl who tackled the Swiss ladder, a very intricate piece of work, might almost be called a contortionist. The instructor, Sergeant Grane, kept her well before him, but there was no fear of a mishap as she understood her part well. Here were also given exercises on parallel bars, a balancing beam, horizontal bar, rope ladder, bridge ladders, spool ropes, and ladder plank. The smiles of the girl gymnasts silently but effectively told us that they consider the afternoon quite un jour de fete.

From there we went to the workshops, Here we found men making baskets. They told us there had been in the institution between seven and sixteen years.

Having spoken to the young men, we were just too late to see the work in the schoolrooms, but not too late to have a few words with the pupils. In one room there had been reading, in another writing, a third arithmetic and in a fourth the pupils had been busy with maps. There was also sewing and knitting rooms and lastly we came across some young scholars who had been building on the Kindergarten system.

The pupils were anxious, perhaps even impatient to receive their prizes. These were too be given out in the dining room, which was crowded. The recipients had distinguished themselves in Latin, general excellence, history, arithmetic, geography, general improvement, physiology, dictation, writing, general progress and general industry. All, big and little, those who were young and those who had arrived at a mature ages, there were all sizes and all ages. They seemed to be well pleased with what they had received, books and writing frames being the most numerous.

The distribution of prizes, address by the High Sheriff and the short speeches by gentlemen on the platform being over, the visitors next proceeded to the concert hall where the pupils waited eagerly for us. So that our readers may know what it was like, we repeat the programme:-

Part song             “Break, break, break, on the cold grey stones, O Sea,” Macfarren
Pianoforte           “Wellenspiel,” Spindler
Trio                       “The Flower Greeting.” Curschman
Solo pianoforte   Grand Fantasia – “Mose in Egitto,” Thalberg
Chorus and solo  “Daughter of Error”
Bishop Song         “There is Music in the Fountain,” Donizetti
Song piano           “La Source,” Blumenthal
Song                       “The Day is done,” Balfe
Glee                        “Thy Voice, O Harmony,” Webb

So charmingly and carefully did a pupil sing the “Daughter of Error” that every word seemed to have been mentally weighed before utterance had been given to it. Miss Crighton deserves words of praise for her song “The Day is Done”. We regret that thanks were not accorded to those who took part in this entertainment, but as nobody moved in the matter we may conclude that such proceedings are not encouraged.

Today, on looking at the 48th annual report which was presented at the annual meeting held in February, we read that: “Today there are 157 inmates in the asylum, 48 men, 47 boys, 29 women and 33 girls. At the end of 1886 there were 143. During the year 1887, 42 were admitted, 34 left, and three died, making the number by 31st December, 148. In November last, nine were elected, who have since this year commenced come into residence, thus making the total at the date of this report, 157, as stated above. Of these 157 we find that four came from Oldham, and one from Royton. The ages of these five persons range from 11 to 53 years. We also find that the youngest blind person, a male, in the institution is eight years old and the oldest male is 57 and came here on 17th November 1856. Another male resident, however, was admitted February 21st 1841. Of the females, the youngest is nine years old and the oldest 67, who was admitted in the 20th February 1843.

Under the heading of “The Cause of Blindness,” we find amaurosis, accident, brain disease, congenital, convulsions, cornea, from infancy, granular conjunctiva, glaucoma, inflammation, inflammation of brain, measles, neglect in infancy, ophthalmia, optic neuritis, purulent inflammation, scarlet fever, sympathetic disease, smallpox, staphyloma, ulceration of cornea, vaccination, and water on the brain. Perhaps if of all the causes of blindness that we give, that of “neglect in infancy” will command most sympathy, as preventable diseases, when they become incurable, are the saddest of all.

Those who feel anxious to visit the institution will be glad to learn that it is open to visitors weekdays from 11 o’clock to 1 o’clock and from 3 till 5, except on Friday and Saturday afternoons. Subscribers and donors, upon signing the visitor’s book have free admission. To concerts, strangers are admitted by purchase of articles that are exhibited for sale or by giving silver at the entrance.

Henshaws are still around today, although they are in a different place now. You can visit their website to find out what they are doing today.