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They've gone! And suddenly the world seems a whole lot brighter... This week the insurance-criteria was fulfilled to get rid of the trees right next to the buildings and now it's so much neater. Also the view won't be restricted nor will there be mess or damp on the roofs below. Looking forward to getting rid of the stumps at some point now. And the garden is starting to look lovely!

before and after - 


Book of the week is Samantha Shannon's Bone Season and it's another belter about a dystopian future and an alternative reality when London is ruled by underlords and supernaturals are outlawed. Refreshing, authentic and supercool! more here.

New QVC blog out on Friday - including links to the Laura Geller today's special value that is on Sunday, including with me at 1pm - yay! Early bird order links will be via the QVC tab on my website usually.

luv debs x



Published in Debbie's News

This summer we are proud to be hosting several writing retreats aimed at authors who wish to develop their writing. Do email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to discuss -


go here to see more on Julie's site. You will book with her direct.

One of the best writing tutors is author Julie Cohen, a former Richard and Judy book of the month author. I've been on most of her previous one day workshops, weekly retreats and weekends over the last seven years and enjoyed every one of them.She's currently mentoring me through my 'big one' - French or Dutch - which will be finished this summer.

Julie is offering a four night stay at our guest house Retreats for You in Sheepwash, Devon, with one to one mentoring and in depth discussion about your own work. Plus daily workshops. Full board, including endless hot drinks and snacks is on offer - own room, shared bathroom, wine at dinner - in a thatched 1600s house in picturesque North Devon with rolling hills and a river for local walks and a mini gym in the studio. A walled garden is also there for a change of scene. Comfortable rooms with tea and coffee making facilities, quaint and olde worlde, but with great wifi. 

September 25th - 29th. Prices on Julie's website (scroll down) nb - three of the seven places already gone (as at 24th March)



Themed workshop – Perfecting Your First Chapter and submission with Sara Sarre.

Your first chapter is what will sell your novel time and time again: to your agent, your publisher, the marketing team and eventually to your reader. It needs to be good. The week will be dedicated to the opening line, the first paragraph and finally, the first chapter. We’ll look at how to hook your reader and to get your characters to leap off the page. Along with this, we’ll discuss the submission process and how to summarise your story. There will be three workshops and each participant will receive an hour long, one to one session with Sara.  For more details and availability email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 07956336044 . For facilities go to tel (ansafone) 01409 231252.

£430 per person including afternoon workshops and a one to one. Direct access to an agent for exceptional work.

Two places taken (as at 24th March)  (Nb overspill into pub opposite - for B&B/en-suite )

Go here to read more on Sara's website - bluepencilagency  - then email us to book - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



email us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are keen to go on waitlist. Probably one Mon to Fri in August 2017.


For prices of regular retreats, not including tutoring at £80 per person per night, go here to our website.

Full weeks can be blocked out for writing groups too.

If you are a tutor and want to use our venue please contact us also.

best wishes

Wendy and Deb



The big question which I will have to decide in the next few weeks is how to name the bedrooms in our lovely guest house and writing retreat in Devon - see below. What do you think?

Also - stop press - the latest Decleor early bird order link for the wonderful 4pc set in Sunday's (26th) Today's Special Value on QVC is already out - go here to see it and buy it - it's going to be busy - specially the gradual glow tanning option. More Early bird order links are usually added to my tab on my website here. when i can get in to edit it!

Naming the rooms

This is a hot topic for me at the moment and one I’d like to ask you about. Firstly I’m thinking of naming the bedrooms in our guest house/writing retreat, Retreats for You, after the former residents. This is because I have copies of the census returns showing who was living here. Eg in 1881 showing the landlord of this building, which was the White Hart Inn, was one Moses Dufty. If I had a ‘Dufty’ room, would you book it?!

Other names include the Jones family – who were here from the 1930s – Brian Jones is the boy in the pic above and he still lives up the road, now aged about 80 something. Also the Martin family – from the early 1800s and Slee – another local family name still in evidence around Sheepwash – who was a landlord in the late 1800s. Plus the Cooper clan, the former owners before me. What do you think? Or if not this idea, then what? Others said names of breeds of sheep, of trees, of MDD dogs and more. Any suggestions do just email me back This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.!

Doggy Paws 

I've also managed to use a couple of pits in the kitchen floor to come up with a neat idea to immortalise Daisy and Gracie dog at Retreats for You - look at this!

We put their paw prints in the grouting! Funny and charming all at once. Better than a rotten great grey patch too ...

Book of the Week  is Kirsty Ferry's The Girl in the Painting, follow up to Some Veil did Fall, which I'm listening to on audio book at the moment. So it's a double whammy! Go here to read more about these historical novels.

Go here to see this week's new QVC blog - out now - with no less than SIX - SIX! - sneaky peeks at next week's QVC bargains! And see you on air tonight at 7, 10 and 11 with fab fashions, and a whole hour of Karcher cleaning products at 7pm (Fri 24th March.) 

And this week I've done a couple of vlogs from Devon - including a dangerously high river walk, and a meander around the house at supper time, showing the biggest culinary disaster yet! lol. clilck here to see the page and 'like' it in order not to  miss any posts in future!

Have a lovely week



Ps check out the new pic of all my paperbacks together! More about how to get your copy is here.

Ps my new Till the Fat Lady Slims book is now out on Amazon here, and there’s such an amazing support system on Facebook on theTTFLS group here - do come join us!

New QVC - featuring sneaky peeks and pics of deals from the next seven days so do go look! NB any Early Bird order links will appear first on my blog page here - do go look on a regular basis!

for info about my paperbacks and ebooks for sale now, go here 

for all my social media and to keep in touch go here


Published in Debbie's News

Gosh what a busy week!

Much of my news will be on the QVC blog out Friday, it will be here.

But in this little update I wanted to discuss a topic that cropped up when my son’s big watershed birthday happened – yes, I have a 30 year old son. Yes, this week, Bradley was 30. How on earth does that even happen?! When I still feel 30 myself, to be faced with a boy who has become not only a man but a man who is getting the first signs of distinguished grey at his temples – means I’m reminded how quickly life flies by. And it got me to thinking, about the passage of time, as I watched him be stoooopid at his 30th party in London, happy-tiddly-funny and making everyone laugh. We have to make every day count, don’t we? And how we all leave our mark on the people and places we touch in our passage through this lifetime.

At my Devon retreat* where I now am when I’m not at QVC (see below for how to book to come along – full board £80 per person per night, two places free 13th march if you can come!) I often get to talking with new people about all sorts of situations, life experiences and so forth. Plus meeting new villagers who have their own tales to tell, means it helps keep things in context. One lady was telling  me during my stint volunteering in the village shop this week (it was fun!) that most of her family were all born in this house and that her great great grandfather was the one mentioned on the census I had a picture of – Moses Dufty. He was the landlord of the then ‘White Hart pub’ which was what Retreats for You was during most of the 1800s. She only recalls that it stopped being a pub when the landlord died and it reverted to a home instead. Don’t know why. If you do, let me know? Cynthia doesn’t have pics, sadly, but it makes me happy to hear about those old days.

Turns out if you didn’t buy the house you were in, from the Clinton Estate in the 1930s, it was sold off, you were turfed out and someone else bought it. My next door neighbour Caroline’s hubby Keith’s mum and dad were two such new arrivals, as it happens. Another family called the Jones’s are well known in the village and Brian Jones who is in his 80s now, and lives up the road in East Street, and they must have taken over this house, The Court, when the Dufty family moved up North Street in the early 1940s just before Cynthia was born.

Then I went along to pancake night at the village hall this week and spotted more old pics of Sheepwash on the wall – INCLUDING the back of The Court in the centre of this shot -

One of them shows the back of The Court in the early 1960s – before the new roof was put on what is now the kitchen area but what shows as being an old out building in this photo. And the garden at the back is much bigger too. The old pig farm to the east is still there, of course, that was only made into a new housing development within the last 20 years. And you can still see the little petrol pumps which used to be in the square opposite RFy. Amazing how so much is the same yet so much is different.

All in all, it’s so wonderful to be integrating into a place with so much history now. I’ve never lived in a village so old, and I really appreciate all its foibles and idiosyncrasies.

Hence keeping the kitchen floor – this week my son-in-law-to-be, Handyman Nick, came down with a soda crystal blasting machine, to get the tiles clean, so they can be re-grouted then sealed and then hopefully easier to keep clean longer term. That’s the theory anyway. Pics next week!

Other news –

If you missed my updates from the last couple of weeks, apologies, I had a change to my web set up so here are the links to the new blogs I posted in case you wanted to catch up!

Click here to read about the MDD weekend and see some fab videos and here to read Derek the dog (my little sponsor puppy) latest update about his progress on the way to becoming a medical detection dog for a diabetic owner who is yet to be chosen.

Click here to read ‘Less clutter more joy’, last week’s news update including a link to the little blog ‘escaping the inescapable’ which I did as I hope it might help some people who are suffering from emotional abuse, written after a chat with a lovely lady at one of my retreats.

*Click here to see the latest news about coming down to Retreats for You and booking some me-time away from day-to-day life whether you’re a writer, a carer, or just a busy mum in need of a break!

And click here to read about a brilliant book called The Girl Before – I’m still reading it but it’s going to be a film apparently, by Ron Howard, it’s that good!

Hope you have a good week!

I’m off to a writing retreat of my own in Bristol with ace mentor Julie Cohen this weekend – then back to welcome another batch of writers to Retreats for You here in Sheepwash. Not back on QVC till the week after as I’m using up annual leave. Getting lots done and learning how to do a bit of plastering too! Lol. Loving life at the moment, and to be honest, even though there are things going on that I wish weren’t, it’s all about focussing on what makes you happy and gives you joy – happiness is a choice after all.

Best wishes



Ps check out the new pic of all my paperbacks together! More about how to get your copy is here.


Ps my new Till the Fat Lady Slims book is now out on Amazon here, and there’s such an amazing support system on Facebook on theTTFLS group here - do come join us!

New QVC - featuring sneaky peeks and pics of deals from the next seven days so do go look! NB any Early Bird order links will appear first on my blog page here - do go look on a regular basis!

for info about my paperbacks and ebooks for sale now, go here 

for all my social media and to keep in touch go here



Published in Debbie's News

Need a writing retreat? Respite? Or just me-time? Here are upcoming dates here at RFY in the peaceful N Devon hills (As at 28/2.) Atm still just £80 per person per night, full board inc wine at dinner. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for details!


Thank you!

Debbie Flint#


MARCH 13th – 4 nights – £320 : Mon 13th to Fri 17th , two places

MARCH 15th – 2 nights - £160 : Wed 15th to Fri 17th , one place

MARCH 20th – 2 nights - £160 : Mon 20th and Tue 21st, three places

MARCH 27th – 4 nights – £320 : Mon 27th to Fri 1st April , three places left (incl optional self-publishing advice if needed)


New dates:


10th – 4 nights - £320 – Monday 10th to Friday 14th – 5 or 6 places

24th (Easter Monday) – 4 nights – Monday 24th to Friday 28th – one place only now left

28th – 2 or 3 nights weekend - £160/£240 – Friday 28th to Sunday 30th or Bank Hol Mon 1st May – 2 places only left


MAY – we are renovating the kitchen cabinets and have selected dates only –

22nd – 4 nights – Mon 22nd to Fri 26th

29th May – 4 nights to Fri 2nd June



5th – 4 nights – themed workshop – Perfecting Your First Chapter and submission with Sara Sarre. Details on request. £430 per person including afternoon workshops and a one to one.

19th – 4 nights - £320 – Mon 19th to Fri 23rd – four places left

26th – 4 nights - £320 - Mon 19th to Fri 23rd – five places left



3rd – to Fri 7th – currently block booked out to a writing group

Other dates – just ask



7th – 4 nights - £320 – Mon 7th to Fri 11th Aug – four places left

Other dates – just ask

Check out the website too.

And some of the latest reviews left on the Facebook page - 

David Lloyd, creative writing MA student - Feb 2017

"My second visit more than lived up to expectations. It's under new management but all the best things about Retreats for You are in place. The lovely Debs and Wendy are the hosts producing great food and warm hospitality. Everything is taken care of and you can just relax into your writing or whatever has drawn you's a peaceful idyll in a beautiful Devon village which still sustains a great pub and village shop. The countryside beckons for walks that release the creative juices. Back at Retreats for You there have been some positive refinements - a dining room that now doubles as a sometime tea room but which retains a wonderful atmosphere for shared dinners and conversation in the evening.
The sitting room has new sofas which are a great place to read or write in front of a log burner with a glass of something on tap pre and after dinner.The upstairs bathroom has had a welcome makeover and the studio in the garden makes a great break out space for tutored retreats or workshops.
I came there to write poems and wrote around 10 with ideas for a further three towards a portfolio for my MA Creative Writing course at Exeter Univ. This is a great place for MA course leaders to run events for their students or if you are flying solo why not finish the first draft of your play or story ?
I end by quoting the poet George Herbert "Love bade me welcome" and this is how I feel about Retreats for You."

Do come stay and let us know what you think!

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

01409 231252

best wishes

Wendy and Deb


Published in Debbie's News
22 February 2017

Less Clutter More Joy

Apologies this blog was late being finished and did not get sent out as a newsletter! Here it is anyway....

Clutter clearing is 'modern day alchemy' apparently. And I can vouch for that after another long break in Devon - with - finally - a super new space to put all the exercise gear out, and a clear office too, there's a lot to be said for it. I got on to this subject after reading this post, including a free video apparently, about why making room for tidiness in your life is so effective - go here to read/listen to it. And if you do it too, let me know if it gives you joy also.

It's all about following the joy nowadays for me. I found a little rock on the beach when I took the dogs down for a second stint near Bude, on the most blustery day I've ever spent on the English coastline. And it had what looked like a kind of a heart pattern with a kind of an arrow through it - ahhhh bless ! See main pic.

And it made me feel good. Anything that lifts your spirits and gives your more energy afterwards is worth chasing - don't you think? And anything that lowers it, you should not feel guilty if you cut it right out of your life. Even people.......

Yes, another hot topic this week at the retreat was the subject of emotionally abusive relationships - I finally got the message from the universe about this topic having had it discussed several times at retreats, so it's time to own up to some awful secrets - as it might help someone. It's amazing what a difference it can make if you let others into your heartache, as long as by doing so you're not actually manipulating them! Anyway I've written a blog about it - it's here. Go read it and see what you think.

This week's QVC blog including latest early bird links to liz earle and skechers is here - and includes a ton of pics and videos of when the BBc came to Sheepwash, when we did our Medical Detection Dogs vintage teas weekend. it was super to see so many people come down to support us, and we raised a lot of money and more importantly awareness, for these clever canines. Plus Charlie Bears' Will and Charlie presented the £4000 cheque to the charity for the sale of little Bones bear/dog - so generous.

Lots going on - keep in touch with me via my Facebook page here for most updates, or twitter @debbieflint.

much love - more next week


Ps my new Till the Fat Lady Slims book is now out on Amazon here, and there’s such an amazing support system on Facebook on theTTFLS group here - do come join us!

New QVC - featuring sneaky peeks and pics of deals from the next seven days so do go look! NB any Early Bird order links will appear first on my blog page here - do go look on a regular basis!

for info about my paperbacks and ebooks for sale now, go here 

for all my social media and to keep in touch go here

Published in Debbie's News


What a lovely day by the seaside with Daisy dog and Gracie!

Yes it was the pogs first ever trip to see the sea this week and what an incredible day it was. I am very happy to report they loved it!

Here’s the moment they first saw the sea (click this sentence.)-


Then unfortunately we had a bit of a mishap when Alix and I got caught by a particularly long wave – funny blooper watch this! click here 

And here are some other pics showing how wonderful the scenery is down there in Cornwall. Our gang brought their bodyblades too! 


Book blog looks at the new RNA RoNA award nominees – a great way to choose a new author to read. If you love romances, go here to see some of the shortlist and also great news for kids’ reading habits! More here.

And here's the latest news about Retreats for You - complete with new bookings - it'll be great if you'd like to come down sometime and have a week's stay - full board at only £80 per night, per person - including wine. Can you come Monday 20th Feb - I have two last minute spaces popped up! email us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are free. If you are one of my QVC peeps I may be able to arrange a free taxi from Exeter Station (normally £45), to first come first served.

have a great week! I've got my blind date on Valentine's Day - at least I've got a date this year! lol! Enjoy yours, whatever you do. (short story to follow)




Ps my new Till the Fat Lady Slims book is now out on Amazon here, and there’s such an amazing support system on Facebook on theTTFLS group here - do come join us!

New QVC - featuring sneaky peeks and pics of deals from the next seven days so do go look! NB any Early Bird order links will appear first on my blog page here - do go look on a regular basis!

for info about my paperbacks and ebooks for sale now, go here 

for all my social media and to keep in touch go here.


Published in Debbie's News

Charlie Bears will be coming down to my Vintage Pop Up Tea Rooms in Devon Feb 18,19thHow exciting! We are doing a bit of a fundraiser for Medical Detection Dogs too that weekend and a couple of the actual dogs themselves will be coming along – am so proud to be involved and it makes me smile knowing our help is contributing to irreplaceable canine companionship which changes lives. More here. Book it in your diary if you live nearby – and come try our homemade cakes and exquisite teas in bone china cups in a vintage setting – can’t wait! Sheepwash is EX215NE if you want to check out how far away you are from Retreats For You.

Published in My Charity

Charlie Bears will be coming down to my Vintage Pop Up Tea Rooms in Devon Feb 17,18,19th! How exciting! We are doing a bit of a fundraiser for MDD too that weekend and a couple of the actual dogs themselves will be coming along – am so proud to be involved and it makes me smile knowing our help is contributing to irreplaceable canine companionship which changes lives. More here. Book it in your diary if you live nearby – and come try our homemade cakes and exquisite teas in bone china cups in a vintage setting – can’t wait! Sheepwash is EX215NE if you want to check out how far away you are from Retreats For You.

Published in My Charity

Had another super week even though I was ill and had to do something unheard of and call in sick over the weekend! Boo! Here's one of my posts about it all on Facebook (don't forget to 'like' this page on Fbk to see my updates as they happen.) But Wendy and I (my partner in crime at the guest house/writing retreat where I am now helping out half the week) went to do 'mystery shopping' to gen up on how to run a vintage tea rooms in the summer, and came across The old Forge in Chagford - it was fab.Lovely place, and Richard, or should I say Doctor Richard, was delightful. And a good cook. I did ask if he had an older brother! hehe! By the way another short romance at the bottom of this blog - specially for you in the run up to Valentine's Day!

also this week - 

My sis takes the mick out of me - in the Alps! just had to show you this video too - my sis Linda doing her version of my vlogs, whilst on her ski hol in the Alps. Well it's one reason to buy Wintertracks! Check out her intonation too - cheeky moo! lolol. Watch it here!

Daisy has designs on dinner - well, she wishes! Just watch this - what a naughty dog! Good job I made it out in time! It was a plate of dinner put out there by Deborah at Retreats for You, but we didn't know why Daisy was trying to get it till the end - just look what's under the lid, at the end of this video!

Book of the week is from my lovely Choc Lit colleague Victoria Cornwall - her book The Thief's Daughter is all about smugglers in the 1800s - coool! more here

Early Bird order links include this one for the amazing Amazon Echo - go here to get it early or see it on air from Friday midnight on QVC UK. And the Dyson one is coming too ready for Sunday on air - a new V8 cordless anyone?

Plus check out this week's QVC blog with lots of sneaky peeks of this week's upcoming deals - it will appear here on Friday pm 27th.

Have a lovely week and do try to come down to RFY if you can! More info about pricing and what's included is here on the RFY website, and just email us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have some dates in mind this year - remember two spaces are left for Feb 6th if you fancy joining us short-notice. Exercise and walks will be part of it, if you want!

Best wishes




Ps my new Till the Fat Lady Slims book is now out on Amazon here, and there’s such an amazing support system on Facebook on theTTFLS group here - do come join us!

New QVC - featuring sneaky peeks and pics of deals from the next seven days so do go look! NB any Early Bird order links will appear first on my blog page here - do go look on a regular basis!

for info about my paperbacks and ebooks for sale now, go here 

for all my social media and to keep in touch go here.



'Follow the Joy'

A short story by Debbie Flint


‘No Henrietta I told you before not to do that,’ Simone said, weary of yet more three year old’s fingerprints on her cut-glass vase. ‘Andrea when I asked you to pop by with the girls, I did kind of expect you to let me know in advance, darling, I’m a bit at sixes and sevens at the moment with everything up in the air – settling in a new place and all, you know how it is.’

‘Sorry Am-mah,’ Andrea said, reaching up and kissing her grandma’s cheek, whilst simultaneously removing a cut glass squirrel ornament from inquisitive butter- smeared hands. ‘I just ended up missing the appointment with the hairdresser due to the snow storm so we thought we’d swing by here instead.’ She cleaned the glass ornament with a baby-wipe and replaced it higher up on the shelving. ‘Here, let’s move these other things as well, madam was trying to open them. Up higher, that’ll sort little legs out, she won’t be able to reach past…’ Andrea scanned her finger across the spines of all the books … ‘Stephen King. Horror? I’ve never had you down for a horror fan?’

‘Thank you, yes, well, eclectic tastes me and your grandpa – but he was mostly the Stephen King fan, not me. That and sci-fi.’

‘Yes I knew about the Sci-fi – he made us watch all the box sets of Star Wars and Star Trek, remember?’ Andrea continued, picking up an ancient gilt-framed photograph which had fallen to the floor and handing it to Simone. ‘My first love was R2D2 because of him.’

‘My first love was him,’ said Simone, wistfully.

Andrea put her hand over the old lady’s bony fingers as she closed them around the frame. ‘That’s a lovely photograph of you and grandpa, why don’t you come through and tell me about it over tea?’

Simone would have replied but was caught by a sudden coughing fit. Andrea patted her hand affectionately and changed the subject.

‘Now what about this new teapot I bought you?’ Then turning to her little one, she added, ‘Shall we help get some sandwiches prepared, Henny? We can all have a bit of cake … yes, sweetheart, cake! … then maybe little madam here will have a tiny weeny sleepy byes and me and my grandma can have a proper catch up. I can tell you all about the new job her dad’s starting on Monday. It really looks like a permanent one this time,’ she trailed off, as she walked away into the kitchen pulling the little girl reluctantly behind her.

Simone followed slowly after them and hesitated as she gazed at the picture of her much younger self beaming ear to ear next to an amazingly broad shouldered sheep farmer in the scorching Australian outback holding the sheep SHE had just sheared. So long ago. So many memories. She sighed and put it awkwardly up on the top shelf out of the way. As she did so, the back moved, still slightly open, and a little piece of paper came drifting out from the back of it, and she felt her heart skip a beat. She hadn’t seen that for … it had to be, fifty years? Tentatively she picked it up and delicately unfolded it, almost tissue paper thin but still the note was legible. It was a series of dots and dashes and she felt a tiny tear prickle at the corner of her eye. Their code. It was how they’d communicated back in the day when she’d gone to be the cook on the sheep farm and relationships between staff were banned – specially with the only woman in the ten strong team, the bosses were particularly sensitive about risking someone as important as the cook. Ranch hands could come and go, but cooks were few and far between … the memories came flooding back. And the joy……….

Simone was just twenty four. She’d worked her way around Australia for three years already and this was her last stop before the long journey home, a journey which would take her back to her planned life as an accountant. This sojourn had been suggested by her mother, who saw the longing in her only daughter’s eyes every time the new fangled television they’d just bought showed programmes about distant lands. Her university friends had all gone travelling, so why couldn’t Simone? It simply wasn’t fair. But she was too precious, apparently, so it had taken a good deal of bargaining power to bypass the objections and end up with the compromise of following her cousin Sean around a couple of Uncle Mitch’s farms, closely guarded by Sean and his brothers, whilst she hopefully got the wanderlust out of her system. It had nearly worked. This farm was by far the biggest, the most problematic and it turned out that it held her greatest challenge of all – not just catering for hungry ranch hand gangs, but a challenge of the heart – not to fall in love with Brady - the most hunky worker she’d ever laid eyes on. One who clearly thought the same about her as she did about him, if his first reaction was anything to go by.

 ‘I know you,’ he’d said. ‘I used to watch you years ago when I was fourteen, playing rough and tumble with Sean and his brothers in the yard. Still looking just like you did back then – specially the hair.’

Self-consciously Simone had reached up to her now blonde locks, tied up in a messy bun on top of her head, hurriedly scraping the escaped bits back into place.

‘Well I’m flattered. So, you’re plumber as well as sheep shearer and general mucker-inner then are you?’

He laughed. A deep throaty laugh and her heart skipped a beat as his eyes crinkled in amusement. God he was handsome when he smiled. But he often looked so grumpy. She wondered why. ‘Whatever needs doing, I’m your man,’ he said, wiping his face on his shirt sleeve, but there was a moment – a definite moment. Hopefully uncle Mitch wasn’t watching.

‘Jack of all trades master of none then?’ Simone had teased. She couldn’t help herself – she was known for her sharp tongue and he’d asked for that one, surely. She watched his mouth quirk and felt an unexpected pang of desire course through her body. Dammit. He seemed to be looking at her mouth now, wasn’t he? Was she looking at his?

He tore his gaze away and knelt down. ‘So what did you girls block the sink up with this time?’ he demanded, as he peeled off his sweats and kneeled down on the floor at her feet, leaving on only his vest and a battered pair of denim jeans. The vest didn’t really cover very much, least of all his well-defined pecs. She tried hard not to look.

‘I didn’t block it up – it just kind of happened,’ she replied, realising how stupid that sounded. ‘Er… I don’t know, it just won’t empty any more.’ He gave her a ‘you think’ face, and continued. She shut up trying to be funny – what was it with this guy and his effect on her heart. She’d better not tell him. Because that could mean biiiiig trouble.

He spent a while poking around near the u-bend whilst she scurried around him, still trying to prepare the lunch, increasingly flustered and not happy with his proximity to her legs and the way he kept looking round at her every time she passed. Well that wasn’t true – in fact, she was MORE than pleased at the way he kept looking at her, but it didn’t help things. She’d had a spotless record as far as her uncle was concerned and she didn’t want to start muddying the waters now. And she certainly didn’t want to cause any trouble for this guy. She could wangle her way out of it, after all, it was her uncle and she was his favourite niece. His only niece. But this guy, he could be given a fine or even be fired.  She shook herself to try to shift the feeling of attraction between them. It was probably all in her mind anyway. Lord knows it had been a couple of years since her last boyfriend had ended with a damp squib exit and she was too out of touch to know if anything was real any more.

‘Well, not emptying is a definite sign of a blocked sink,’ he said, eventually, speaking slowly, deliberately slowly until she realised he was teasing her. ‘That’s why I need this.’ And produced a plunger, bringing it up between them in a comedy way. It made her laugh out loud, throwing her head back, and relieving the tension. He laughed too, a low almost guttural sound, a tiny bit like a famous actor, Sid something, on the black and white programmes on that television back home. His laugh made her laugh even more. She felt as though her whole body was filled with an indescribable joy.  Then suddenly they stopped, and his eyes locked on hers. His eyes were blue, deep blue and entrancing. It felt for all the world like he was about to kiss her until all of a sudden her cousin’s voice came booming across the kitchen behind them.

‘Put her down, Brady, and get back to the plunger. We need our chow, cuz, will it be long?’

They stepped apart and got their work done, bantering the whole while, as he completed his jobs and she did hers, trying to avoid each other’s gaze for as long as possible, whilst she finished preparing the huge vat of steaming soup and bread, and got it ready to serve on the huge wooden table they all ate around each lunchtime. Brady poked, plunged and prodded until finally the sink was running clean away and he finally excused himself with a quip and left the room.

As she watched the swarthy band of brothers devour the food she’d made them, Simone’s eyes drifted over to where Brady sat slightly on his own at one end of the table. He’s a bit of a loner, her cousin had said to her. Sworn himself off women since one broke his heart and took his bank balance, apparently. Well how wild west, she thought to herself, and smiled, just at the point that he looked up at her and caught her eye. She stared at him. And so did Mitch, the owner of the ranch.

‘Brady, a word in your shell-like,’ he boomed, making the whole table shake, as the team went silent, and Brady wiped his mouth and followed Mitch outside for what was obviously a dressing down.


Later that night, Brady cursed. He was hot in his bunk and the stillness of the night didn’t help take his mind off the most amazing eyes he’d ever seen. Blue like his own. Every sense in his body told him how attracted he was to her. The moment he saw her in the kitchen, her beautiful smile, big blue eyes, the shape of her mouth and just being in her presence made him sooooo excited. He wanted to find a 100 different things wrong in the kitchen just to keep talking to her. And according to some of the other guys, whose banter he could hear late at night from his bed, he’d learned how kind she was, and understanding, patient and generous. Dammit. Next time he’d have to avoid the jobs anywhere near her, or he could be in major trouble. And trouble was the last thing he needed so close to achieving his goal of paying back every dollar he owed since his scheming ex did a runner with his cash. But not all women were the same, were they? This one definitely seemed different. And the way she was looking at him too… What had his old Am-mah said? She’d told him once when he was small that when two people meet, sometimes there was more than just cool logic, sometimes your heart fills with joy so much that even against the odds, you had to move heaven and earth to be with the person that fills your head so much that you go to sleep thinking of them every night and the next day they are the first thing on your mind. Or was that all nonsense? The next morning Brady found out it was probably exactly as his Am-mah had said, the wise old woman who helped bring him up and make him appreciate women. Once of the reasons he’d been taken for a ride with the last one – too trusting. Well no more, he decided, and went and asked for a transfer to a different team.


Over the next few weeks, as Brady was put on a different shift he rarely came into contact with Simone. She looked out every day to see if he was amongst the ranch hands joining the team at the table for chow, but only on the odd occasion did he show up, at which point her heart began racing with an unbelievable anticipation of something that just could not be. He was forbidden to spend much time with her and she was wise to stay out of his way if he wanted to keep his job. And considering it was a day’s truck journey just to get to the next ranch, it was a good idea to avoid getting him the sack.  Plus, even having him at a distance still worked, it was better than nothing. If it had to be all or nothing, she’d rather have this. She’d taken to asking the others about him and found out that the last woman had indeed treated him badly – so badly he’d lost the chance of starting his own farm and was working his way towards paying back a huge loan he’d been given by his previous boss. He was an honourable man as well then. Too bad he was proving elusive. But still Simone’s heart filled with joy whenever he was around.

Then one day she had to take the old jeep and drive out to where that day’s team were tending the sheep rather than the men taking a break to come back in. There had been a spate of thefts in the area and everyone was on red alert. In fact, they were all learning a special code to help communicate over the long distances at night. ‘I know morse code,’ she blurted out, as she distributed the food parcels. ‘My uncle taught us it during our school holidays, he was in the army and needed to…’

‘Don’t you bother with it,’ Donno, one of the older, more arrogant ranch hands had sneered at her ‘Women don’t need to know about dots and dashes for working in the kitchen.’ She turned bright red and was flustered when the others just laughed, shrugged and carried on their quizzing. That night she decided to brush up on her skills and was sitting in the kitchen late when everyone had gone to bed when Brady came in with an empty glass in his hand. She turned, skipped a beat of her heart, and locked looks with him. Neither moved for an instant. Then he smiled. He indicated to the glass and gestured to the tap, then walked across to the sink.

‘Seems Donno was a bit rude to you today. The boys told me.’ He filled the glass and drained it, all the while watching her. His eyes were bright and sparkling, and the sexy little smile lines appeared at the corner of his eyes as his face lit up whilst he looked at her.

‘I’m used to it,’ she said, ‘I ignore him. I’ll get the better of him tomorrow as I’ll know every letter off by heart and I’ll answer before he does. Mitch has said I can join the morning lesson. Just in case I ever need morse code, it might be handy.’ She told Brady about her uncle and playing secret agent games. He was impressed. He tested her a couple of times and she only slipped up once or twice. She tested him and he knew almost every reply. Before they knew it, he had been there two hours, the candle had burned low and the air had gone cold. Simone looked at the clock and gasped in surprise. ‘Oh my god – look at the time. Better stop now, early start as usual. I’ll look terrible in the morning.’

‘I’ve seen you in the morning and you always look flawless,’ Brady shot back without hesitation. Simone’s jaw opened then closed again. ‘Th-thank you,’ was all she could manage. He just smiled and bowed his head, suddenly aware of what he’d said.

‘I better be turning in,’ he said, and placed the glass he was drinking from with the others on the counter just as her hand reached out to get one herself. Their hands touched and before she knew it he was holding her in his arms and holding her close, hugging her tightly their lips only inches apart. But he did not kiss her. ‘I definitely should not be doing this,’ he said, pushing back a strand of her hair from her face, ‘but big hugs often help people remember morse code. Good luck in that classroom tomorrow morning.’ Then he gently let her go and, winking, bade her goodnight and disappeared. Simone felt herself flush with overwhelming happiness. She knew in that instant, that instant of connection and warmth and a deep glow she’d never felt before, that he was the man for her. But her heart could not quite let go of the icy feeling it had, knowing that if anything happened between them he was out of a job and could not make the loan repayment deadline he faced. Nonetheless that night she fell asleep more happy than she’d been in years, knowing he felt the same way she did.

It made her more determined to do him proud and reply first to every single test question in the classroom the next day - faster than any of the men. Now the other men were laughing at Donno as she’d trounced him in every question. Pretty soon it was Simone who took on the mantle of teaching the other necomers how to recognise the code which made up letters, and then the short cuts if they needed them. Pretty soon she was fluent. It helped the team out on patrol no end, and as they all took their turn on the rota, Simone held regular quizzes to brush up their skills. Then one balmy evening as the native insects started their calling, in walked Brady’s shift.

As he entered the room, her heart dropped through her stomach. He was freshly showered, clean-shaven, handsome. By god if he was doing this deliberately she was in trouble tonight. And with only a short while left to go before she returned home for good. She called the group to order and began her reminders. They called out the answers, first to call getting a mark on the chalk board behind her. Old fashioned, but her idea of being in control. 

‘.... . .-.. .--.’ is pretty universal and it means…?’ she said.

‘Means help,’ said one of the men at the front.

‘Good. And this?’ she pointed at  ‘-.-. --- -- . / -. --- .—‘ on the board.

‘Come now,’ said Donno, to sniggers and elbows from his colleagues around him.

‘Correct, well done,’ Simone said, ignoring them.

Under his breath but not quiet enough for Simone not to hear he added ‘get you alone that’s what you’d be sayin to me.’ More laughter.

‘Why, ‘cos you couldn’t get it up?’ said a calm, deep voice from the side of the room. Brady. Leaning back against the wall by the door, cool as cucumber. Donno started to get up, but Brady leaned forward and with one quick motion, kicked the chair leg from under Donno and he stumbled sideways into his pals, who laughed at him even more. ‘Sorry Simone, ignore the children at the front. Do continue.’

‘Do continue,’ was all Donno could find to say, in a whiney voice. His mates weren’t laughing so hard now. And Simone continued.

At the end of the class, just after the last person left the room, Brady slunk back in again and closed the door behind him after checking up and down the corridor. Simone swallowed hard.

‘You’re not supposed to be alone in the same room as me,' she said. 'You asking for trouble?’

Without saying a word he scooped her up into his arms once again, and she felt the hard muscular body holding her close – yearning, her body answering its call. ‘I can’t stop myself. I just need to be near you, around you. I have been thinking of you ever since I first saw you. I just had to let you know and if you had said don’t be so daft, I would have accepted it as such.’

‘I would never have said that,’ she said, ‘I feel the same way.’

‘So I have a plan,’ he said. ‘Your cabin overlooks the lagoon, right? Well here’s what we should do…’


The next night, Simone was ready and waiting with the flashlight at the window near her bunk. Sure enough out of the distance came a flash, a mixture of short ones then long ones. She began to translate, her heart pounding out of her chest as his thoughts about her came tumbling out – without a sound, but surely the sweetest words she ever did hear. As sure as if he was saying them himself.

‘I … W..A..S….I..M..A..G..I..N..I..N..G ,’ he flashed out in code, ‘W..H..A..T….I..T…W..O..U..L..D…B..E….L..I..K..E…T..O…K..I..S..S….Y..O..U’

Simone nearly melted. Over the next two weeks they revealed inner most thoughts and dreams, sharing memories with each other, dreams for the future and a secret plan that could only be initiated the day he resigned as a ranch hand and could take the money, pay his debt, and with the little that remained, go get another loan which would help begin his life anew with a down payment on his own farm. A new start. He had to make it clear to Simone. He had to. It would be hard but without that independence what could he offer her. For Brady a new start was exactly what he needed. And he had a plan that he hoped would work. And it involved very careful handling of her uncle Mitch.

Soon it was the night before Simone was supposed to go back to the UK. A long long drive followed by a train followed by a series of flights. And in the early 1960s not many were that brave. Most stayed within their own comfort zones and few chased the dream. Or followed their joy. Simone wondered if she was his joy, truly. If it was For  Real. Or if she was just a way of spending time whilst he worked his way back to solvency. She would have sworn his feelings were genuine, and his words and the dots and dashes had all been so flattering, but still…

On the day she was supposed to go back to the UK, Simone had packed, said her goodbyes to the other kitchen staff, her favourite ranch hands and her uncle and cousin, and was ready to get into the jeep to depart back to the airport and ultimately back to England. But where was Brady. She’d asked whether, now she was leaving, Brady would be able to take her. Mitch had given her a little lecture but had done so with an amused face, now he knew she was leaving anyway. Would Brady be the one to take her back to the airport? But there was no sign of him. Or any other driver. Simone waited with her bags out by the entrance. She began to get worried. Brady surely only needed to go collect his wages and they could leave? Had there been a problem getting paid? She looked over when she heard a noise, and saw Brady being accompanied towards her by her uncle Mitch, with a face like thunder. She gulped. Oh-oh.

As he got nearer, Mitch tipped his hat upwards so he could see her better. ‘Brady here says you’ve been communicating with morse code for the last few weeks. That right?’ His voice was stern, his face surly. Simone looked at Brady who just nodded. So did she. Mitch looked angrily towards Brady, then spat ‘Give her the note.’

Simone felt the bottom fall out of her heart, a cold icy feeling infiltrating every bone in her body as Brady looked uncomfortable and pulled a small piece of paper out of his pocket. He looked at Mitch who jerked his head towards Simone. Brady stepped forwards and slowly held out the note for Simone to take. She felt foreboding in her body and hesitated.

‘Open it,’ demanded Mitch and then looked at Brady. She had to be mistaken, she could have sworn he winked at Brady. Confused, Simone opened the note and then stopped dead.

‘-- .- .-. .-. -.-- / -- .’ it read.

She digested its meaning and tears began to prickle in her eyes. ‘I don’t know what to say,’ she spluttered, barely able to see the note now for tears. ‘Is this right?’

Mitch stepped forward, and patted Brady on the back. ‘Sure is right. Go on,’ he nodded at Brady. Then turned his back.

Brady stepped closer to Simone and took her hands in his. Then he took her in his arms. Then he kissed her. He cupped her face in his hands and held her there for a moment, tenderly kissing her cheeks and her eyes and her nose. His hands were moving through her hair and suddenly his lips were upon hers, exploring her mouth with his tongue, eager, loving, passionate… hers. Hers, For Real. She felt so full of joy she thought her heart would burst.

‘Simone, you make sure you tell him your reply, OK? And tell that sister of mine when you get back home that you’re welcome back out here any time – next summer if you want to. That be long enough to learn bookeeping? I could do with a good accountant.’ And with that he was gone.

Simone turned towards Brady and could still barely speak. ‘Is this honestly, truly for real?’ she asked.

‘It’s for real,’ he replied. ‘And nothing’s going to change my mind. You’re worth it. This has never happened to me before, I didn’t go looking for it, but I just couldn’t stop it. And now it’s happened, I’m so glad. Because – if you want it to happen – I want to be a part of your life from now on.’ She didn’t reply and he looked worried. ‘Except…’ still she didn’t reply, so he continued. ‘Except if you Don’t want to. And I’ve got it all wrong. Normally I know my own mind, but you have thrown me into turmoil. This has bowled me over and goes against how I would normally behave…’ Simone just gazed into his eyes, speechless. ‘Can you help me out here? I thought we both had the same ideas about each other. I just know I need to be around you however this pans out. No one could have foreseen this.’  And with that she took her finger and placed it gently on his lips to quieten him.

‘Me neither,’ she said. ‘I just want to wrap my arms around you and hold on…’



Andrea was listening with rapt attention. Simone, Am-mah to her grandchildren, had paused, glistening eyes, her mind clearly firmly back in that day, fifty years ago and the fragile note in her hand. ‘And what happened then?’ Andrea urged. ‘Come on, what did that note mean? And what did you say?’

Simone’s now bony hands gently unfurled the little piece of ancient paper, and read it out.

‘It said ‘marry me.’’

Andrea gasped. ‘Really? That was sudden! What did you say?’

‘I said, the only thing I could have said in the circumstances,’ Simone sighed after an unbearably long pause, looking pained as though she was trying to recall something really important. ‘I said dash dot dash dash, dot, dot dot dot.’

‘Which means?’ Andrea asked, the anticipation in her face mounting.

‘Which means she told me yes,’ said an old crackly voice standing at the French doors. Simone stopped struggling to speak, and rose from the chair easily, then scurried towards him, the same old joy flooding her body, even now. He HAD followed the joy, he had come with her to England, then returned the following summer together to make their life out here, and he had been with her through thick and thin. And now he’d come back for her. Am-mah and her Brady held hands and he gently led her out through the French doors into the winter sunshine, not a sign of the snow storm from earlier, and if Simone wasn’t mistaken, she was sure she could hear the sound of sheep in the distance.


Back in the room, Andrea was still waiting. ‘Am-mah?’ she said. She reached out and rested her hand on the old lady’s, but it fell to the side of the armchair and the note fluttered to the floor. A peaceful, joyous look was on her face, and if Andrea didn’t know better, she would have said that she was finally happy once more. She gently patted her hand, tears in her eyes, and took her now sleeping little daughter out of the room to go find the care home manager. She’d been lucid almost to the end, although she’d been ill for the longest time, and now, Andrea realised with a jolt, she’d passed away exactly two years since her beloved Brady had done. Well at least they were together now, she thought, and picked up the phone to call her mother. A strange noise from the handset met her ears, and she shook herself. Surely that wasn’t the sound of dots and dashes… No, it had gone now. But stranger things have happened, she thought. In search of Joy.






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Published in Debbie's News
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