• Blog

    Writers on Wednesday – Blog Tour for Alinta Bay Series by Iris Blobel

    Writers on Wednesday - Rose

    Defying Rules

    Alinta Bay Book 1

    by Iris Blobel

    Genre: Contemporary Australian Romance

     

    Sometimes one has to break rules in order to find happiness…
    Widower Logan Hendrix is puzzled by the recent series of small crimes against his son’s new teacher. It’s a mystery to him, and he offers her his help. There’s an instant attraction, and Logan wants to take their parent/teacher relationship to a more personal level.
    It doesn’t take Addison Ryker long to fall in love with Alinta Bay, the small town she’s moved to for her new teaching position at the local primary school. Her newfound haven is threatened, however, when her house is broken into and she is relying on the unbelievably stubborn but very sexy Logan for help. Although captivated by him, Addison worries her career could be compromised, because there are rules about dating a parent.

    **Only .99 cents!!**

    Goodreads * Amazon

    Tell It To My Heart

    Alinta Bay Book 2

    Confronted with the choice to care for his friend’s family on the other side of the world or to return to Alinta Bay to be with his own newfound family, how will Noah choose?

    Following the death of his grandmother, Noah Fielding returns to Alinta Bay and the first thing — or person — he finds is the next-door neighbour in his nan’s bathroom — naked no less. Still jetlagged, he doesn’t hit it off with Molly at first. Yet, over the next few weeks, as his past uncovers itself bit by bit, she becomes is anchor, his friend, and his lover.

    Molly Reid had the world at her feet, happily married with a young son … until a tragic car accident took everything away from her. With her heart broken, she moves to Alinta Bay to escape the memories of the past. Her peaceful existence, however, is interrupted after a heavy storm floods her house and she temporarily moves into her recently deceased neighbour’s house next door.

    When Noah’s friend and partner goes missing during a routine flight, Noah returns to Alaska to help, but will he come back for Molly?

    Goodreads * Amazon

     

    Between Goodbye and Hello

    Alinta Bay Book 3

    Can two seemingly incompatible people who judge each other on past events be able to find some common ground?

    Harrison Hendrix believes in second chances, but when it comes to Melody, he has every reason to doubt it’s possible. He’s conflicted when he sees her back in town and tries his best to see the change in her that other friends mention. Even more so when spending a night with her after being set up for a dinner date.

    Life hasn’t been kind to Melody Foster, and she returns to Alinta Bay for a new beginning. Hit by tragedy again, she’s determined to live life to the fullest and with no regrets. She creates a bucket list … on which #8 the very difficult, yet extremely sexy Harrison has been included. Why does it seem he’s always around when she’s in trouble?

    Maybe it’s time to take a risk and leave the past where it belongs, but will trusting their instinct be the right choice for them?

    Goodreads * Amazon

     

    Touch Me

    Alinta Bay Book 4

    She loves the feel of his skin beneath her hands …

    Lexie Marshall packs up and moves 3,000 km east with her daughter Zoe, to forget and move on. Now, all that matters is her daughter and her new job. She tries hard to stay focused, but the sexy and extremely kind park ranger, Jesse, is not making it easy. And when her husband shows up in the small coastal town creating chaos, all she can do is hang on and trust her new friends.

    After his last girlfriend walked out on him, Jesse Parker is doing just fine on his own. Until his accidental meeting with single mother Lexie, when he rescues her and her daughter from getting lost in the forest. But when her past catches up with her, he is right in the middle of it all and it might ruin his career.

    Will returning to her old life be the only chance to save his career?

    Goodreads * Amazon

    Iris Blobel was born and raised in Germany and only immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. Having had the travel bug most of her life, Iris spent quite some time living in Scotland, London, as well as Canada where she met her husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper only emerged late in life, but now her laptop is a constant companion.
    Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her beautiful two daughters as well as their dog.

    Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

    Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

    $15 Amazon

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • My daghter, Goofy and I
    Blog

    Some thoughts on my daughter’s 21st birthday

    On the occasion of my daughter’s 21st birthday, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect, because if not now, when?

    Becoming a mother was my ultimate dream in life, and the journey wasn’t easy. I was at the point of sad acceptance that I wouldn’t be a mother when I discovered I was pregnant with Charlotte. After what can only be described as a rough pregnancy, I was very excited for her to arrive.

    Every day since, I’ve tried to practice an attitude of gratitude about being a parent. Lucky for me, she made it easy. She never slept, but she also rarely got cranky, so I always looked at that as a blessing. 

    This kid came into the world with a can-do attitude and she did most things pretty early (except go to bed!). She walked early, talked early, read early…you get the picture. That meant we didn’t get too long to sit in any one space and, as my mother used to say, ‘she wasn’t a baby for long’.

    For many, many years, my husband travelled extensively for work, so Charlotte and I spent many, many days and weeks and days alone. Well, together, alone, is a better description.

    We baked a million cakes, did a million paintings, and watched a zillion episodes of Dora. We played Winnie the Pooh memory until late at night and one day I played 76 games of Uno Junior with her. I treasure every moment of that. (I don’t treasure seeing The Pacifier starring Vin Diesel 25 times, but that one’s an exception.) 

    She and I would go stay with friends a lot when he travelled and I’ve always said that – I was her home. That’s not true anymore, but she’ll always be my home.

    On the other hand, she’s also always been fiercely independent. Some of that is a reflection of us and some of it is being an only child and always facing the world alone, and some of it is just her nature. 

    We’ve always placed experiences of material possessions. We’d pay for horse riding camp, but not a fancy phone. I’m sure sometimes she might have preferred the stuff, but it meant we had some amazing adventures travelling in Australia and overseas. So many memories made.

    One of the things I admire about her most is her willingness to try new things – as a kid she did soccer, netball, field hockey, Nippers, dance, art classes, scuba diving, horse riding, karate, played the clarinet, did inter-school sports and joined a regional youth council among other things. She didn’t love them all (Nippers we’re looking at you!) but she approached everything with a great attitude. 

    She has grit. When she was the only girl in her karate class and the boys didn’t want to spar with her, the instructor told them. “Don’t worry, Charlotte could take every one of you!” And she could. 

    In Year 12, she saved up enough from her part-time job to take herself on a bus tour of Europe and headed off alone for a month after her exams. She goes after what she wants.

    Her happy place is in the water. As a family, we spent so many hours at the beach or on our boat. Give this kid a book and a beach and she’s happy as a clam. (Right now she can’t get to the ocean and my greatest wish for her is she gets her feet on some sand soon – it’s a small thing but it feeds her soul.)

    Now away at college in a self catered dorm, she’s a fully independent adult cooking and shopping and cleaning for herself for the third year. She’s a Res Staff for her dorm, works part time, is active in campus life, plays soccer and is slogging her way through a double degree during COVID. She’s a hard worker and a goal setter.

    Charlotte is also kind. She does nice things for people. She paints for people; she posts random gifts; she checks in on people. But she doesn’t suffer fools. The kid has excellent boundaries which I love about her. (She could teach me a thing or two in that area).

    Looking back, I did some things I’d do differently. More moments I’d have handled better rather  than the big stuff. I’d have eased up a little here and there, expected less, not more, noticed things she made sure I missed. Overall, looking at how great she is, at the very least, it’s safe to say I didn’t screw up too badly.

    I’d give her advice, but she doesn’t need it. She’s doing just fine – and to be fair, I’ve spent 21 years overwhelming her with advice. 

    Here’s what I told her at 16 here on the blog

    So I’ll just say as I always do that I’m proud of her and I thank her for choosing me to be her mother. 

     

  • Musical Monday
    Blog

    Musical Monday – the Meg Cabot edition.

    Musical Monday

    It’s a while since I did a Musical Monday post but I simply couldn’t resist this week.

    This week I want to talk about the Princess Diaries. I had no idea the Princess Diaries movie was 20 this week until the weekend and let me just say I LOVED that movie. I’m not sure if I thought it was older or younger. In fact, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen it and I’ve also lost track of how many Meg Cabot books I’ve read.

    I’m pretty sure I’ve read all her adult books – I love them – and she was definitely an inspiration for me when I started writing. She writes sweet, sometimes sexy books about fun female characters who are usually a little bit awkward and out of their depth. The kind of books I enjoy reading. Her male leads are usually pretty tolerant guys, which these ladies need. I’ve fashioned a few or my heroes on similar types of men. I especially loved the Heather Wells series and the Queen of Babble. Last week I read No Offense her latest release, after not having read any of her books for a while and it was a delightful escape.

    Ask any writer and I’m sure most of them will tell you they have a bit of a fantasy of having their books made into movies. Lots of us even cast our books. I know back when I published Mr Right and Other Mongrels I dreamed of Hugh Jackman and Rose Byrne heading the cast.

    It’s hard to imagine anyone dreaming up a more perfect movie casting than The Princess Diaries – come on Julie Andrews as a Queen, Anne Hathaway was brilliant and Hector Elizondo was amazing!

    The Princess Diaries works because it’s the ultimate Cinderella Story, but as much as anything, it’s about the character of Mia growing into herself as anything else.

    This is the perfect mother-daughter movie or sleep over movie or just a movie to cheer you up, and we all need that from time to time.

    I’ve played this song a lot over the years. Probably way more than my husband and daughter have appreciated, but I love it and I do believe miracles happen, sometimes… if you believe.

  • bookstore vector
    Blog

    My new store is open here on the website – finally!

    bookstore vectorI can’t believe my store is finally here.

    Are you a procrastinator?

    I am. Not when it comes to my writing, but I really am not a fan of admin or technical tasks. Sometimes the very thought of them stops me in my tracks.

    I’ve had  the task of creating my online bookstore on the to-do list for months and today I tackled the beast!

    My bookstore is live! (It doesn’t look quite like this in real life, but it sure does in my imagination. I kept picturing Allegra’s bookstore from Mr Right and Other Mongrels – that store is totally real in my mind.)

    The task turned out to be a whole lot easier than I expected and I’ve loaded up all the books I currently have in stock onto the site. At this stage it is only for Australian readers (postage from here would make the books cost prohibitive).

    I will be adding Bookplates which I can ship interntionally – they’re ordered and should arrive in a couple of weeks so that will be exciting!

    (All the books will be available on Amazon as well).

    So if you would like paperback copies of my books, click here and see what’s available.

    My original standalone novels have their original illustrated covers and not their updated ones. It’s kind of fun to have the past and the present merging.

    I’m looking forward to adding my Marlin Shores Trilogy  (Saltwater Song, Saltwater Tears and Saltwater Wishes) and two more No Brides Club books  (No Time for Trouble and No Time for Tears ) in August . The remaining Cinnamon Bay Books, the Jewel Sisters and Courtside Romance series will follow quickly and then the Upper Crust Series.

    Anyway, that’s my big achievement for today. The shop is a work in progress but I’m very happy with the progress thus far.

    Happy Shopping.

     

     

  • Blog

    It’s release Day for Any Way You Wish It.

    Any Way You Wish It sale banner

    Release Day grphic for anyWay You Wish It

     

    Release Day for Any Way You Wish It.

    Can you believe it. It’s finally release day for Any Way You Wish It, book  9 in the Upper Crust series. It has been a long time coming and a labor of love. I’m so thrilled that it is finally in the wild. This is Jacob’s story. We first met him as Lucy’s ex way back i Any Way You Dream It, the second book in the series. This is his redemption story and I hope a perfect way to pull all the characters together.

    I hope you love this sweet Christmas story to pieces.

    Blurb

    Any Way You Wish It is the latest book in the Upper Crust series from USA Today Bestselling author Monique McDonell.

    Sometimes you get more than just presents at Christmas.

    After Jacob’s wife has finally leaves him and his two young daughters, help arrives in the form of a nanny named Angel. It’s like she has been sent from heaven when she takes their chaotic home and creates calm. He knows what he’s feeling is more than just gratitude, and when his wife comes back to town threatening his new life, he needs more from Angel than just a nanny.

    Working for Jacob is a dream and somehow when his ex-wife returns unannounced, she and Jacob find themselves pretending to be so much more than employee and employer. The feelings she has for him are anything but fake, but Angel has already lost one love and isn’t ready to risk her heart again.

    Can two broken people help mend each other and find love this holiday season?

    If you like second chances, fake relationships ,sexy single dads and sweet small town romances Any Way You Wish It is for you.

    This book is part of the Upper Crust Series but it can be enjoyed as a stand alone novel.

    The entire Upper Crust Series is free in Kinde Unlimited…and this week Books 1&2 are free and Books 3-8 are just 99cents so why not load up your Kindle?

  • First half 2021 food collage
    Blog

    Taste of Tuesday – a recap of the last couple of months

    Taste of Tuesday

    It’s a funny thing how when your life changes you expect certain things to be the same and they’re just not. I don’t know why that is exactly, that we don’t think change will be as universal as it often is.

    You may not be aware but for a long time I had a food blog called My Sydney Kitchen which you can visit here. I was pretty diligent in posting there. 2021 I did 72 posts. (Side bar I also started this blog in 2012 and I posted a WHOLE lot. Where did I get the extra time? I gave up volunteering on my daughter’s P&C and probably gained back 10-20 hours a week of time. Crazy right? It’s a good reminder to be nice to volunteers, they keep the world running!)

    Even though I apparently haven’t posted there in a few years, I continued to take pictures of our food and drinks in the belief I would blog there again. You should see how many unused images I have from the past five years of homemade pizzas, gozleme, cakes and salads – based on the ones from 2020 alone it was clear I intended to share them. Even with our daughter away at college, I continued to cook creatively.

    Then a funny thing happened. We moved up to Newcastle. Our kitchen is functional, but I don’t love it. The induction cook-top, something some people love, disappoints compared to the old gas one. The oven is half the size, and an ill-placed smoke alarm meant even cooking toast was annoying. Thankfully, the last problem is solved. Add in the fact the move wiped us out, and we were eating simple foods, mainly on the grill and the photos dried up.

    Another interesting difference is we eat out a lot more. We can walk to loads of restaurants, cafes and pubs. It’s fun but not all the food warrants a photo.

    It’s funny how you don’t always notice change until it passes.

    I went to get photos for a recap of the past few months and I was surprised at how few there were. Here are a few images from the past few months from homemade seafood salads, to oysters and cocktails, this is just a small taste of the past little while – and coffee of course, there’s always coffee.

    First half 2021 food collage
    Food collage

    The whole process has made me nostalgic for my food blog…maybe I’ll start it up again, with all my free time.

  • Blog

    Travel Thursday – we’re off to Boldt Castle with Jean C. Gordon

    Travel Thursday

    Today we take a journey with author Jean C. Gordon to Boldt Castle on the US/Candian Border and celebrate her new release Trusting  His Heart.

    With spring and romance in the air, what could be more romantic than a trip to a castle on a heart-shaped island? I know of one that fits the bill ~ Boldt Castle ~ which isn’t TOO far from me. I’ll admit right off that I’ve never actually been to Heart Island, but I’ve long meant to visit it. 😀 So let’s go.

    We’re headed west from Albany, NY, first on the Thruway (I-90) before we turn north toward Alexandria Bay and the Thousand Islands. The Thousand Islands are a group of more than 1,800 islands in the St. Lawrence River, straddling the border of the U.S. and Canada.

    While we’re driving, here’s the romantic/tragic history of the castle. In the late 1800s, George C. Boldt, millionaire owner of the world famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, set out to build a full-size Rhineland castle in Alexandria Bay, on Heart Island. The creation of the grand structure was a display of his love for his wife, Louise.

    Beginning in 1900, 300 workers including stonemasons, carpenters, and artists fashioned the six-story, 120 room castle, complete with tunnels, a powerhouse, Italian gardens, a drawbridge, Alster tower (children’s playhouse), and a dove cote. Not a single detail or expense was spared.

    But in January 1904, tragedy struck. Louise died suddenly. Boldt telegraphed the island and commanded the workers to immediately stop all construction. Broken hearted, Boldt couldn’t imagine his dream castle without his beloved Louise. He never returned to the island, leaving behind the structure as a monument of his love.

    For more than 70 years, the castle and various stone structures were left to decay and vandalism. Then the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority acquired the property and renovated it to be preserved for the enjoyment of future generations.

    Heart Island is accessible from the U.S. and Canada only by a tour boat or personal pleasure craft. We’re taking our personal pleasure craft. Feel that river spray. Arriving at the island’s docks, we’re off to the castle and our virtual tour starting with the Alster Tower, followed by the Castle itself, Dove-coat, Entry Arch, Garden and Grounds, and Power House: TAKE THE VIRTUAL TOUR.

    What did you think? I can’t wait to see it in person. Maybe this summer . . .

    And while we’re in the Adirondack Mountains, I invite you to take a side trip east to Paradox Lake in my new release Trusting His Heart

    After being widowed and subsequently discovering her husband’s infidelities and shaky business practices, Dr. Anne O’Conner Howard is restarting her life by teaching an environmental program at North County Community College and maintaining her company Green Spaces Environmental Engineering, LLC. The last thing Anne expects is for the boy who took her to Junior Prom to walk into her office as a prospective student.

    Neal Hazard had planned to go to college to become an environmental engineer, but instead he became a single dad at 17 and raised a terrific daughter named Autumn. With Autumn in a nursing program and doing well, electrician Neal has left the National Guard and is going back to school to finish his dream. Discovering that Anne is his student advisor is a shock and takes a little getting used to.

    Neither Neal nor Anne’s lives turned out as planned, but both are charting new directions. Then an unexpected tragedy throws Anne’s world into chaos. Neal is a strong shoulder to lean on as Anne once again reevaluates her future. Will these unexpected life changes allow them to discover what their hearts truly want?

    Welcome to Paradox Lake

    Any fan of sweet romance will love settling into the stories of small-town love in the Paradox Lake Sweet Romance series. Grab your tea or coffee, settle into your favorite chair, and be swept away into the cozy Adirondack town where complex characters navigate challenging situations as they find their way to love. Whether it’s love at first blush, old flames reuniting, or second chance romance, you’ll find pure reading enjoyment and satisfy your craving for sweet, wholesome romance.

    Part of an ongoing series full of familiar faces, each story will stand on its own. With novel and novella lengths available, there’s something for everyone. Paradox Lake is written by USA Today Bestselling sweet romance author, Jean C. Gordon, who’s penned stories for the No Brides Clubs Series, Indigo Bay Series, and Harlequin Love Inspired, as well as for multiple sweet romance collections.

    BUY: Amazon | Apple Books | B&N | Kobo | Google Books

     

    Jean C. Gordon’s writing is a natural extension of her love of reading. From that day in first grade when she realized t-h-e was the word “the,” she’s been reading everything she can put her hands on. She and her college-sweetheart husband tried the city life in Los Angeles, but quickly returned home to their native small-town Upstate New York, where she sets many of her books. She and her husband share a 175-year-old farmhouse in Upstate New York with their daughter and her family. Their son lives nearby.

    Contact Jean on her website at JeanCGordon.com.

  • Writing Book Blurbs that sell
    Blog

    Writers on Wednesday with Belinda Williams author of Writing Book Blurbs that Sell

    Writers on Wednesday - Rose

    Today for Writers On Wednesday Blog I have my lovely friend Belinda Williams.

    Belinda and I met at the Romance Writers of Australia Conference a few years back. (Belinda is giving a blurb writing workshop at the RWA2021 on the Gold Coast) She lived close to me in Sydney and we’ve met up several times since for a coffee and a chat about all things publishing. Belinda writes romantic comedies, but she also has a blurb writing business and has released a book about blurb writing for authors – Writing Book Blurbs that sSell.
    I asked Belinda what are the three most common mistakes we writers make in blurb writing- check out her answers below.
    3 Book Blurbs Mistakes Writers Make
    • Your blurb reads like a synopsis. A book blurb should never detail your complete storyline. It’s as much about what you don’t say as what you do say.
    • Your blurb is too long. I recommend keeping book blurbs to under 250 words, ideally somewhere between 150 and 200 words if you can, otherwise you risk losing readers.
    • Failing to pinpoint the main conflict. Writers generally know it’s important to include stakes in a book blurb, but unless these are linked to the main conflict of your story, your blurb will most likely miss the mark with potential readers.
    Writing Book Blurbs that sell
    Writing Book Blurbs that Sell

    Now here’s the official book blurb:

    Enticing a reader to buy your book relies on an intriguing blurb that captures attention and encourages people to hit the ‘buy’ button. Unfortunately, not all book blurbs are created equal, and the difference between a good or bad book blurb can impact your sales.

    In this no-fuss, actionable book, you’ll learn the art of writing book blurbs with one main aim: to sell more books. Topics covered include:

    • What a book blurb is, and more importantly, what it isn’t
    • The essential components of a book blurb
    • What to include in a book blurb and what to leave out
    • Examples from a range of fiction genres
    • How a book blurb should look (and why)
    • The difference between fiction and non-fiction book blurbs
    • Terrific taglines, tone of voice, plus much more!

    Whether this is your first or twentieth book, your book deserves an impossible-to-resist ‘I want to read more’ book blurb that converts book browsers to readers and proves to the world that your book is worth reading. This book will show you how.

    Visit her website to learn more about her books.

    About Belinda Williams

    Belinda Williams is a copywriter turned fiction author with more than twenty years of experience in marketing. She can switch from writing steamy romance to punching out attention-grabbing sales copy before you have time to say, ‘book blurb!’ With her unique skill set, she aims to help other authors market their books.

    Belinda Williams

    Belinda Williams is a marketing copywriter who fell in love with romance and writes romantic comedy as well as romantic suspense featuring good guys. She’s occasionally tempted by bad boys, but prefers to write strong women characters and men with big hearts.

    When she’s not writing, Belinda is a music lover who sings lead vocals in cover bands, and her eclectic taste forms the foundation for many of her writing ideas.

    Her other love is the water. She can often be found counting laps instead of words at her local swimming pool. Or you might also spot her boating on the harbour with her husband and son in her home town of Sydney, Australia.

  • Happy Blogaversary
    Blog

    This blog is officially 9 years old!

    Happy Blogaversary

    So this is what 9 years of blogging looks like

    Mr Right and Other Mongrels Mug and Postcards Promotional Material
    How adorable was my original cover and swag? Pity about the poor photography skills!

    I started my blogging journey as a way to talk about my books and my writing 9 years ago because that’s almost how long it’s been since my first book, Mr Right and Other Mongrels was published. I never would have imagined back then I would have published over 40 books across multiple pen names and over thirty in my own name.

    Since then I’ve hosted hundreds of authors on here doing Q&A’s and other posts. Those have also been shared on my Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest accounts as well.

    I’ve announced many, many new releases and hosted umpteen cover reveals.

    We’ve shared book recommendations, favourite songs, and some cracking recipes over the years too.

    There have been the highs and lows of my publishing career – though I tend to keep the lows to myself because nobody cares about those except me.

    It’s been a fun journey. I haven’t always been consistent, and I have certainly considered quitting. I used to think I was a quitter, but it turns out that isn’t always true – I just quit the nasty stuff.

    Anyway, a huge thank you to the many authors, editors, VA’s and friends from across the globe who have been part of my blogging journey with me. Along the way this blog has helped me feel part of a community, make friends, discover new authors and new books and learn an awful lot about publishing.

    This month, as well as the regular features I run, I’ll be revisiting some memories, running some giveaways and looking to the future. So hang on and enjoy the ride. (Or is that read?)

    Monique McDonell Kindle Digital Launch Mr Right and Other Mongrels
    Release day for Mr Right and Other Mongrels.

     

  • Travel Thursday
    Blog

    Travel Thursday – this week we’re off to Scone

    Travel Thursday

    I’m adding a new weekly theme to the Blog – Welcome to the first Travel Thursday Post

    It’s a while since I shaken things up here and I got to thinking about some fun new things to add. I know none of us has travelled much in the last year, and here in Australia we won’t be going beyond our shores, largely until 2022 but because COVID is pretty under control here we are allowed to travel internally. Not only that, but I’ve recently moved to a new area where there are lots of things for me to explore and share with you. Plus, many of my author friends feature travel in their books and I love a bit of vicarious travel every now and then so off we go on some adventures.

    A Trip to Scone in the Upper Hunter.

    A couple of weeks ago my husband and I went with a couple of friends to Scone, NSW. It’s located in the Upper Hunter about 2 hours from where we live now in Newcastle.

    We chose this place because a longtime mutual friend of ours owns a B&B in Scone. If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you might recall I was in a writing group for a long time called The Writer’s Dozen. It formed out of a writing course at the NSW Writers Centre, where we aimed to write a novel in a year. Well, my friend Angella was in that original group, as was Jen who owns the B&B, so it made sense we’d plan our overnight jaunt there.

     

    Me, jen and Angella
    L-R – Monique, Jen, Angella

    Turns out we didn’t see too much of the town itself but we saw lots of our friends so here’s a little recap.

    Pre-COVID Angella and I often met up at the Customs House Library in Sydney for a Friday writing session and lunch and we hope to get that started again soon.

    Our first stop was the Two Rivers Winery for wine tasting and a lovely charcuterie plate. We sat outside in the glorious sunshine and sampled their delicious wine. The cheese plate was so good we asked where the cheese was from and that led us to the (Cheese factory) so we could grab some cheese and crackers for our hostess, we already had the champagne on ice.

    Two Rivers Winery
    Highlights from Two Rivers Winery

    Jen’s B&B – Russley Rural Retreat is all kinds of adorable. I had been there before but not for four years and it was just as adorable as I remembered it. It was also lovely to see Jen who is hands-down one of my favourite people on the planet. She always, always brings a smile to my face.

    These are some pictures of Russley Rural Retreat.

    Russley Rural Retreat
    Images from Russley Rural Retreat

    That night we went to the Linga Longa Inn which we chose because – that name is so Australian. It was basic pub fare, nothing to write home about except the company. Afterwards we sat under the stars talking and laughing for hours. It was food the soul.

    Linga Longa

    After a delicious breakfast and a lot more talking, we headed back towards Newcastle. We stopped at the another  winery – Hollydane – which was gorgeous and I would love to have a long lunch there one day soon (Expect a blog post about that!). We tried some wine (and bought a couple of bottles) and when we were finished a family was taking off in their own private helicopter, which was fascinating to watch.

    We meandered back home after a lovely night away.

    It was a good reminder that sometimes all you need is a change of scene, lots of laughs and good friends to reinvigorate you.