Our Ella

Now, all our rescue hens are precious, but some touch your heart in a special way and Ella was one of those girls. Losing Ella was particularly hard as it came just two weeks after losing her sister, Winnie.

First day freedomOne of our Thrush Green flock – named after characters from Miss Read’s wonderful novels – Ella came to Mulberry Cottage to begin her retirement in May 2014 and she was in a bit of a state with bald patches all over her body. But she made her presence known with her very loud bawping. You could always tell when Ella was around – she was the most vocal hen I’ve ever met!


10896918_10155128395560517_103275456392567649_nLuckily, Ella grew most of her feathers back in time for her first winter!

10801807_10155023507380517_1748292371153591078_nBut I made sure she had plenty of warm cuddles just to be on the safe side!

11056893_10155949459320517_5398696429395672343_nAlways curious, always adventurous, Ella discovered that you could reach the elderberries if you jumped onto one of the nest boxes!

11535789_10155669339005517_7113838060061047799_nBut life wasn’t always fun. There were a few health problems including trouble with egg laying and a horrible sinus infection which blew up the left-hand side of her face. So in she came for extra care and attention.

IMG_5516As this summer came to an end, our Ella began to slow down, taking little naps during the day and fluffing up her feathers so that she resembled a splendid golden football. I knew her time was approaching but it didn’t make the goodbye any easier.

Goodnight darling Ella. You were so special to us and were so much a part of life at Mulberry Cottage. We’ll miss you forever.

Remembering Winnie

We lost our darling Winnie earlier this week. She’d been slowly slipping away from us for some time.

Winnie arrival 1Winnie – one of our ‘Thrush Green’ girls named after characters from the novels by Miss Read – came home with us in May 2014 with her ‘sisters’ Agnes, Ella and Violet.

Winnie arrivalShe was a bright, sparky girl who immediately embraced her new free-ranging life.

Winnie ventures outAnd it didn’t take her long to regrow all her feathers and turn a beautiful pale gold.

Winnie JulyWinnie had a strong personality and was particularly bossy when we introduced our new flock in August, putting the new girls firmly in their place.

Winnie portraitBut she was slowing down dramatically, taking little naps in the day and needing a helping hand to get into the coop each evening.

Winnie IMG_5407We’re going to miss you, darling Winnie. You made us smile and laugh and we’ll love you forever!

The Nancy Blackett

My husband did something rather wonderful last week – he chartered a boat for a day’s sailing. Now, I’ve always wanted to go sailing and any boat in the world would have made me happy, but he hadn’t booked just any old boat – he’d booked the Nancy Blackett!


The Nancy Blackett is a beautiful 1930’s cutter which belonged to the author Arthur Ransome. He called it his ‘best little ship’ and named it after his much-loved character from the Swallows and Amazon books.

02bAnd the Nancy Blackett was the boat that featured as ‘Goblin’ in my favourite Ransome novel, We Didn’t Mean to go to Sea, so it was a really special experience to be part of the crew along with our skipper and mate.

IMG_5149One of the most wonderful things about sailing is that you get to see things you wouldn’t normally see – like little glimpses of churches and beautiful homes by the water’s edge, as well as seals, cormorants and the occasional Thames barge. You are truly in a different element when you’re out on the water.

11When it came time for me to take the tiller and steer the boat, I was filled with both excitement and nerves. I’m not sure I did a very good job, but I had enormous fun.

P1250030Sailing down the River Orwell to where it meets the River Stour, we moored and had lunch in the cockpit, the September sun streaming down on us as the water lapped the sides of the boat. Then Roy took the tiller for the journey back, skillfully tacking upriver, passing Pin Mill and spotting Alma Cottage where the Walker children in Ransome’s book were staying before their big adventure out at sea.

P1250115As we arrived back at Wolverstone Marina where Nancy is moored, I couldn’t help thinking of the line from We Didn’t Mean to go to Sea: ‘Grab a chance and you won’t be sorry for a might-have-been.’ Yes, we certainly managed to do that, I think!

The Book Lovers – out now!

I’m delighted to launch a brand new series today. The Book Lovers is set in the Suffolk market town of Castle Clare which is famous for its bookshops.

The Book Lovers by Victoria ConnellyHere’s a bit more about the novel:

Author Callie Logan never expected to swap her life in London for one in rural Suffolk but, after the breakdown of her marriage, she decides that a fresh start is just what she needs. Finding Owl Cottage in the tiny village of Newton St Clare, Callie determines to give up on love and throw herself into her work. But fate seems to have other ideas and she soon has two very different men vying for her attention.

First there’s Leo who likes to live on the wild side which usually means taking his dates foraging in the local woods for their supper. Then there’s bookshop owner Sam. Recovering from a divorce, Sam has also vowed to embrace the single life. That is, until he meets Callie.

But is Callie willing to risk her heart again and, if she is, will she make the right choice?

I really hope you all love this new series. I’m writing the second book now, Rules for a Successful Book Club, and that will be out next year.

The Book Lovers – ebook

The Book Lovers – paperback

The Book Lovers – audio download

The Book Lovers – available for pre-order

The Book Lovers cover300

It’s almost here … the first book in my brand series! The Book Lovers is available to pre-order in ebook from Amazon now and the paperback will be available on 27th August.

I’m so excited about this new series and I really hope fans of my Austen Addicts series and the rest of my novels will embrace it too! I’m always being asked, ‘Will there be a sequel?’ to all of my standalone novels so I’m writing this especially for readers who love to know what happened to their favourite characters after they’ve read that final page.

The Book Lovers is a series of romantic stories focusing on the Nightingale family and their friends and there are plenty of exciting adventures ahead for them all. In fact, I’m writing the second novel, Rules for a Successful Book Club right now!

So get ordering and be the first to read it when it’s out in time for that August Bank Holiday:

Pre-order The Book Lovers ebook


They grow up so fast!

Our Hattie has been growing apace. When she first arrived at Mulberry Cottage, she almost disappeared as she trotted down the garden path for all the flowers seemed to dwarf her.

Blog 1 aAnd she looked like a little toy when sitting in front of the flowerbeds.

Blog 1 bI made the mistake of dead-heading one or two roses in front of her and she soon got the idea that that was her job, only she didn’t pick spent roses to dead-head! Oh dear!

Blog 1 cBut it’s impossible to stay mad at a little puppy with huge hazel eyes and the cutest freckle-strewn nose ever, isn’t it?

Blog 1 d

The roses of Mulberry Cottage

When we moved into Mulberry Cottage three years ago, we inherited a beautiful cottage garden full of fruit trees, flowering shrubs, honeysuckle and some beautiful perennials, but there were only a handful of rose bushes and I soon got to work rectifying this, widening borders and creating new ones to make room for some of my favourite roses.

Here’s the lovely David Austin rose, Gertrude Jekyll, whose scent is heavenly and after whom the middle sister in The Rose Girls is named.

IMG_3374And here’s the delicate Boule de Neige. I had to plant a second one in the front garden after Nancy the hen took a liking to the first one planted in the hen garden.

IMG_3434Here’s the stunning striped rose, Honorine de Brabant, nestled amongst the delicate beauty of Love in a mist. I do have a special fondness for a striped rose!

IMG_3432The trouble is, I never seem to have enough roses and I’m forever looking around our garden wondering where I can squeeze just one more in.

IMG_9021Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I wrote The Rose Girls – so that I could realise my fantasy of living in a medieval moated manor house surrounded by voluptuous rose gardens.

The Rose Girls cover - web 350