Sunday, 30 August 2020

Summer Picnic with Jaffareadstoo ~ Charlotte Betts ☼

☼ Jaffareadstoo is delighted to welcome you all to our Summer Picnic ☼ 

Pull up a deck chair, tie knots in your hanky and roll up your trouser legs!

☼ Summer time is here ☼ 

☼ I'm delighted to welcome author, Charlotte Betts to our picnic ☼

What favourite foods are you bringing to our summer picnic? 

I do love a picnic! Thank you for inviting me to join you. I’ll make my famous salmon tart with asparagus, a minted pea and potato salad and bring lightly salted kettle chips and dill pickles. For a desert that’s simple to transport and is beautifully summery, it has to be Eton Mess made with a raspberries as well as strawberries. And perhaps a nectarine and some shortbread for later. 

Would you like chilled white wine, a flute of Prosecco, a tumbler of Pimms, or a tall glass of sparkling elderflower cordial? 

One glass of chilled white wine with a sparkling elderflower chaser, please. Sun and too much wine give me a headache! 

Where shall we sit, by the pool, in the garden, in the countryside, at the seaside? 

Although I love to be by the sea, it can be windy and it’s always a trial eating with hair and sand blowing in your face. I’d choose to sit in the dappled shade of an ancient oak, preferably beside a stream or river and watch the ducks squabbling over any leftovers. 

Do we have a wicker hamper, tablecloth and cutlery, or is everything in a supermarket carrier bag? 

Definitely a wicker hamper, with a tablecloth and proper cutlery and glasses. The picnic and wine must be chilled and I’d include wet wipes for sticky fingers and a plastic bag to take dirty plates and cutlery home. 

Do you have favourite place to have a summer picnic? 

I visited the Highlands a few years ago and, quite by chance, discovered the Highland Titles Nature Reserve near Druror. We had a wonderful walk through a forest, following a path beside a river. We came to a magical waterfall and found picnic tables under the trees where we could sit and watch the birds bathing in the water. 

Which of your literary heroes are joining us on the picnic today? 

I’d love to chat to Daphne du Maurier and Mary Stewart about their writing. I can read their books again and again and always find something new to intrigue me. Perhaps I might ask them to comment on my plot ideas for future books! 

Which summer read are you bringing with you today? 

I’m bringing Catching the Tide by Judith Lennox. I’ve read almost of all her books and I’m sure I shall like this one, which opens in Italy in 1933 at the Villa Millefiore. 

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What is your earliest summer memory?

I remember staying with my maternal grandparents while my parents’ new house was being completed. We spent a week in a caravan on top of windy cliffs somewhere near Scarborough, I think. The ice cream cones were wonderful. I was four years old and had taken my pet hamster with me. It escaped and ate its way through the wooden panelling of the caravan and kept us all awake every night while she gnawed at the timber. On the last day, Grandpa lured her out of hiding with a piece of cheese! 

Do you have a favourite summer hideaway? 

Our C17th cottage is situated in woods. I adore walking there with my dog, Hattie, when it’s hot because there’s plenty of shade. We rarely see any people but frequently see deer and sometimes foxes. The birdsong makes it so peaceful. 

Do you have a summer music playlist for reading / writing? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you feel summery? 

I had to laugh when I read this question because I dislike music or any other distraction when I’m writing. Occasionally I’ll listen to a Sounds of the Sea recording while I’m writing because it’s very soothing in a ‘white noise’ sort of way. I don’t listen to a lot of music, preferring the spoken word for the radio. One bouncy song from the 70’s that still makes me feel cheerful is In the Summertime by Mungo Jerry. Really showing my age here! 

Do you find that your reading tastes differ between winter and summer? 

I had to think about this but decided my tastes don’t really vary by the season. I like dual time frame stories but also a good mystery to keep me wondering. Although I write historical novels I like to read contemporary stories, too. The most important thing is to find stories that take me somewhere else and make me feel I’m in the character’s heads. 

Charlottes's latest novel is book #1 in the Spindrift Trilogy.

July 2020

1891. Spindrift House, Cornwall.

Talented painter Edith Fairchild is poised to begin a life of newlywed bliss and artistic creation with her charming husband Benedict. He recently inherited Spindrift House near Port Isaac and Edith is inspired by the glorious Cornish light and the wonderful setting overlooking the sea. But then happiness turns to heartbreak. In great distress, Edith turns to an artist friend for comfort and after a bitterly-regretted moment of madness she finds herself pregnant with his child.

Too ashamed to reveal her secret, Edith devotes herself to her art. Joined at Spindrift House by her friends - Clarissa, Dora and Pascal - together they turn the house into a budding artists' community. But despite their dreams of an idyllic way of life creating beauty by the sea, it becomes clear that all is not perfect within their tight-knit community, and that the weight of their secrets could threaten to tear apart their paradise forever.

Charlotte, where can we follow you on social media

More about Charlotte

Charlotte Betts is a multi-award-winning author of eight romantic historical novels published by Piatkus. Her books are set in various eras between the Restoration and the Great War and she draws inspiration from the stories of strong women at turning points in history. Careful historical research enriches her writing with an evocative sense of time and place. A member of The Romantic Novelists’ Association, The Society of Authors and The Historical Novel Society, Charlotte lives in a C17th cottage in the woods in Hampshire. She is currently working on Book 3 of the Spindrift trilogy. 

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  1. Absolutely with you on Daphne du Maurier and Mary Stewart. And I love the sound of that food you're bringing to the picnic!

  2. I very much enjoyed reading about your picnic with Charlotte. The mention of Eton Mess is enough to make me head for the freezer for the best I can do on the spur of the moment, which is a generous dollop of ice cream. Thank you, Charlotte, Jo and Jaffa!

    1. Even better would be Eton Mess ice cream. Hope you enjoyed it !!


Thanks for taking the time to comment - Jaffa, Timmy and I appreciate your interest.