Friday, 31 May 2013

Chelsea Flower Show

I got lucky last week - a friend managed to get hold of some free guest tickets to the Chelsea Flower Show, and I was invited along :-)  Chelsea is the biggest, most prestigious annual flower show in Britain, held in a very upmarket bit of London, so I thought I'd give you an idea of what it's like.

Treebeard says, "Hrooom, don't be hasty... especially in the queue for coffee."

First of all, it's CROWDED. Really, really crowded - you pretty much have to punch some pensioner cold to get a seat when you want to eat your insanely overpriced sandwich - and everyone's trying to see the show gardens featured on the TV coverage. Some of those are really nice and you want to take them home and have a barbeque in them...

The SeeAbility Garden

Some are awesomely modernist ....

The RBC Blue Water Roof Garden

Some  are beautifully traditional....

An Alcove (Tokonoma) Garden

And some are really cool but don't look a whole lot like gardens...

The Sound of Silence Garden

There's a WALL of people around each of the gold-medal winning gardens, and you have to shuffle in slowly, take a pic and run. To be honest, you are better off watching the telly. You will certainly see more.

I prefer the plant displays inside the giant marquee, actually. Easier to see, and just as impressive:

This temple display from the Thai government, I believe

Elite-level flower-arranging

I think this is part of the Jamaican tourist board display

But the most photogenic stuff is the mad-ass garden sculptures on sale. From the sublime to the ridiculous, via all points in between:

Slate art. Love it.

Okay, the neighbours might start to look at you a bit askance...

£20,000 for something that'll be compost in a couple of years?
Nicely understated, I feel!

Because what every garden needs is a Dementor.
And finally, conclusive proof that shitloads of money cannot buy you good taste:

This is about 10ft across and comes on a 20ft plinth. Your neighbours will hate you forever.
I bought something at Chelsea! I did!
Here it is:
But I really wanted a Fat Naked Woman on a Dinosaur

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Smut by the Sea

There are many fun things to do in Scarborough. You can flash your legs on the beach:

or explore the medieval castle:

 or make yourself violently sick with candy-floss while on the funfair rides:


But on the 22nd June you can also come along all day and listen to erotica authors reading smut at you for FREE!

Victoria Blisse, irrepressible editor  of the Smut by the Sea anthologies, is hosting an adults-only event at Scarborough Library. (Do the local council know this? My mind is boggling...)

I'm not in the books, but I am taking part in the June event and will be trying to find something to read that won't get me banned from the donkey-rides forever.

All event details here

So do come along! It'd be lovely to see you beside the seaside, beside the sea...

Monday, 27 May 2013

Eyecandy Monday - Hairy Chests

I do like a hairy chest. I just can't decide which sort I like better ... This kind:

Or this kind:

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Nessun Dorma

Well, my week is not going as planned. Obeying Jo's instructions, I was all set to escape dogs and Facebook and go into my usual retreat to write. But the Travel God had other ideas.

On Thursday they cancelled all short-range flights out of London Heathrow.
On Friday I tried to get on my rescheduled flight, only to find that the 40-minute road trip to said airport was in gridlock. After 2 hours on the road I accepted that the gates had closed and we were still 5 miles away.

So my plan is now to go sit in the garden and write. Well, worse things happen at sea, eh?

Friday, 24 May 2013

Nettles yseethed

I spent last Saturday helping cook our annual medieval banquet, and decided to entertain myself by having a go at a stinging-nettle dish, something I'd never attempted before. After all, I figured, it's hard enough to get people to eat veggies at a feast - why not go the whole hog and serve something they're actually frightened to try?

Here's the recipe I made up. It is heavy on the calories and fat, and believe it or not it's delicious!
Funges and Nettles yseethed in Cream, upon Sops:
  • Sufficient fancy-ass crusty white bread (french loaf or pain du campagne or bruschetta bread) for a slice each per diner.
  • Butter
  • Single or double cream. Delia Smith says soured cream will curdle if boiled, so use fresh cream.
  • Mushrooms - chestnut or exotic woodland varieties, or little field mushrooms, or a mix as preferred.
  • Salt and pepper.
  • Stinging-nettle tops - a plastic shopping bagful will feed about 20 people.
  • Dry white wine - about a cupful. 
  1. First, pick your stinging nettles. You want to wear heavy gardening gloves for this bit, and thick trousers and long sleeves. You want the only top whorls of young, fresh growth - not the older leaves. And try to find tall ones that dogs won't have peed on.
  2. Switch to rubber gloves and wash the leaves thoroughly. Pick out all the more fibrous stems.
  3. Toast the slices of bread on each side until golden. Keep warm. In medieval meals, "sops" (stale bread used to soak up juices) were a staple.
  4. Wash and dice the mushrooms. Set aside.
  5. Slice the leek finely and fry gently in lots of butter until soft.
  6. Add wine to the leek.
  7. Add nettles to the leek. They will collapse down as they cook, just as fresh spinach does:  a huge panful will reduce in a couple of minutes. And they will stop being painful to touch at this point!
  8. In a separate frying pan, start frying the mushrooms in yet more butter, gently.
  9. Salt and pepper the greens. Add cream and bring to a simmer, for about 3 minutes.
  10. Before anything is reduced to mush, plate up a slice of bread each, topped with butter-fried mushrooms, topped by a slop of creamy nettles. Serve it forth. Yum.
    Here's some more pics of the banquet food, btw:
Roasted cockatrice.

The "subtlety" or "conceit" - a display piece in which the food is made to look like something it is not. In this case, sugar and marzipan made to look like a snow-scene. Sadly, I cannot take credit for this gorgeous artistic creation!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Sneaky Peek - Cover Him With Darkness novel

Statue of Lucifer from the Cathedral of Saint-Paul de Liège, in Belgium. Picture from Wikipedia.

Want a sneak preview of my work-in-progress novel, Cover Him With Darkness? There's an excerpt up on Sexy Reads today!

Thanks Kevin Mitnik-Blisse!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Eyecandy Monday

Hmmm. There's a story I wrote for Wild Enchantments that I think now I will have to take out and replace. It's just not right for today's female-friendly pseudo-romantic market - not being at all friendly, as it were, to females. Or indeed to anyone.

And at 8K too damn long for most anthology calls, sadly. Humph.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Believe It Or Not

Do you like weird? Do you like macabre? Do you basically have the mind of a twelve-year-old? Then you need to take out a second mortgage and spend a few hours in a Ripley's Believe It or Not. From hand-knitted Ferraris to shrunken heads, from two-headed calves to the Lord's Prayer engraved on a grain of rice ... it's a cross between an anthropology museum and a gallery of Outsider art, with extra extra cheese.

So here's some pics from my recent trip to the London Ripley's:

Horses made of spoons!

Tibetan ritual mask made out of a real skull!
Human artistry is breathtaking, and sometimes baffling:

This antique temple is carved out of solid jade.
Toast art. Seriously.
The Last Supper painted on a dragonfly. And why not...

Portrait composed entriely of lipstick kisses applied to paper. Freehand. Well, freemouth...

It was important I found you something naughty, so here it is - the penis bone of walrus.

It's right opposite the Feejee mermaid, who looks shocked:

To top it all they have a Mirror Maze, which I totally loved.

Look! I'm about to bump into MYSELF! Waaaaaaah!!

Okay, I may not actually be twelve inside. I might only be eight.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Harry's game

This picture just reminds me of Harry's story: Pages and Playthings
Haralambi Markov has been running a series on his Alternative Typewriter blog about "Women in Genre." In this instance that means the fantastical fiction genre, not erotica, by the way :-)
For Day 28 he chose to feature Shanna Germain and myself (as an "inexplicable dual-mind entity" lol). I'm so chuffed!

(Harry wrote us a story, Pages and Playthings, that I knew I wanted for the Geek Love anthology as soon as I read it - even though I wasn't sure I was smart enough to understand it! A dark and distopian tale of omnisexual superheroes and malevolent books, it's one of those haunting my-head-is-exploding reads.)

So colour me delighted. Thanks Harry!

 Women in Genre, Day 28

Monday, 13 May 2013

Eyecandy Monday

Last week it was a pic too rude for Amazon.

This week, the pic I've just had censored by Pinterest:

What is the world coming to?

Sunday, 12 May 2013

25 and onward

This was the song Mr Ashbless picked for our wedding a decade back. We've been together 25 years this week! It sort of blows my mind. That's nearly as old as some of my sweaters!

Anyway, I know that you will naturally be clamouring for me to share the vast wisdom I have accumulated upon the subject of maintaining relationships. After due consideration, I have distilled my hard-won knowledge into the following step-by-step Guide to Being with Someone:

  1. Don't be a dick.
  2. Pick someone who isn't a dick.
  3. Don't try to change each other.

And there you go. Easy, huh?
Tune in next week, when I will be bringing peace to the Middle East.


Friday, 10 May 2013


Clicking makes it bigger. But do you really want that?

Ahem. This mashup features the bottom from the photoshoot I did for Geek Love (credit: Leafturner Photography). I disclaim all responsibility for the Cybermen, though...

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Bitchin Crush

I have recently developed this enormous shameful hot crush on Nadia Giosia, star of Bitchin' Kitchen.

It wasn't love at first sight. I don't even like the Food Network, which is mostly full of grotesque American men force-feeding themselves enough greasy dead animal to feed a third world country for a week. But sometimes I surf past an actual cookery show, and I lingered on Bitchin Kitchen because I was intrigued by the title. I saw Nadia G and to be absolutely honest, my first thought was "Brassy Brooklyn blonde, so totally not my type."

Then I watched her in action, because I was too tired to haul my ass off to bed. And now, late at night when Mr Ashbless isn't around, I can't help myself sneaking a lecherous peek, and watching in guilty fascination ...

Reasons to like Nadia G:

  • She is kinda scary. 
  • She isn't from Brooklyn, she's Canadian - I believe the accent is a total fake.
  • She isn't a chef, she's a comedian.
  • (But the food actually looks pretty good. Not that I'm watching for the food, but it isn't actively off-putting)
  • When she talks her face gets all screwed up and does weird things.
  • Sometimes the Crazy shows in her eyes and she goes off on a total rant.
  • She keeps a stable of underdressed male totty on the show for no reason other than their entertainment value.
  • She wears the most unsuitable clothes for cooking in, and six-inch stilletos, and ghastly nail-polish.
  • She has perfected the "come fuck me" look as she says "Let's plate this."

 So I say surrender to the schtick, and enjoy. You've got to admit it's hotter than Man versus Food.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Eyecandy Monday

It has come to my attention this week that, as well as banning nipples on book covers, Amazon also bans the Hand Bra.

So here's a pic Amazon would not approve of:

Friday, 3 May 2013

Cake and Consultation

I promised a picture of my (ginger-and-lemon-curd) cake, so there you go - my first ever attempt at baking a sponge:

I did rather a good job of disguising the not-so-brilliant cake with icing and whipped cream, I think!

I made it for Jo when she came over for her birthday weekend :-) One of the unexpected pleasures of writing erotica is the writer friends I have met. And she helped me with some notes for my novel!

Yes, I write like a seven-year-old

(One of my hero characters is Irish and I needed a few telling dialect patterns ... without him sounding like the Lucky Charms leprechaun).

We had a lovely lovely weekend of chat and theatre and DVDs and walking. We also went to the Whitby Goth Weekend and saw loads of wonderful people in goth, steampunk and Victorian costume. I want to be steampunk when I grow too old for fantasy cosplay!

If you look through the whalebone arch to the black line trailing up the far hill - that's a river of goths on their way to the graveyard and ruined abbey.