A Barn in Normandy by Jennie Phillips

A Barn in Normandy

Principal category Biography
Word count (approximate pages) 44,500 (105)
In Kindle, Epub or PDF formats $3.00

“The Good Life in France”

Jennie and her actor husband Conrad form part of a wave of enterprising Brits who, in the 1980’s and 1990’s, buy up property in France, restore it, and live the good life. In their case, it’s an old barn which they fall in love with. Although a beautiful and robust building, it presents them with enormous challenges as they struggle to make it into a home while at the same time retaining its unique character.

The couple are welcomed with open arms into both French and English communities, but cultural and linguistic differences give rise to many humorous happenings which Jennie’s sharp eye and delicious turn of phrase record in detail.

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The two expats are born survivors, rising above ill health and even escaping virtually unscathed from the Lothar Storm of December 1999. They take everything in their stride until one dark night a road accident undermines their confidence in their chosen country. Will they retire defeated or will they battle through to recreate their dream?

This is a book which makes you feel a part of the author’s life as she embraces her surroundings, including the primitive lifestyle which the building project necessitates in its early stages. The text is embellished by colour photographs.

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A Northern Life by A L Mottley

A Northern Life

Principal category Biography
Word count (approximate pages) 60,800 (160)
In Kindle, Epub or PDF formats $4.99
Paperback edition

What she don’t know, can’t hurt me!

Based on true life events this is a side-splittingly funny look at the life a of young mixed-race girl, Lesley, growing up in the north of England, during the 60’s and early 70’s. She lives in a noisy and cramped but nevertheless loving home along with her siblings and parents. Lesley is the eldest of six children all born within 8 years of each other and her book tells of her constant battles with her siblings and the unique relationship she shares with her ‘Mam’ – a strict and loving but, in Lesley’s eye, a ‘strange’ woman

A Northern Life covers the lives and traditions of a typical working class family, growing up on a council estate in the north of Manchester, with a twist of Caribbean flavour, courtesy of her Barbadian father.

It features typically strong northern female characters such as Mam and Nana and their outlook and views on life in general as seen from the perspective of a small child.

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Read about Whitsun and Christmas preparations and what to do when it rains – all through the author’s uniquely funny style. It also charts Lesley’s increasing ‘fed-up-ness’ at the never ending appearance of more kids in the household and her despair at having to ‘play’ with them along with her ‘hilarious’ confrontations with Mam.

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Reviews

“This author’s first book is a laugh out loud assortment of tales from her life growing up in North Manchester as the child of a mixed race marriage. She is tremendously funny in her telling of anecdotes, and stories involving her parents and grandparents, siblings and friends.”
MH, Chadderton

Aiming True by Conrad Phillips

Aiming True

 Principal category Biographies
 Word count (approximate pages) 101,200 (213)
 In Kindle, Epub or PDF formats $9.00

The autobiography of Conrad Phillips

‘Aiming True’ is the autobiography of Conrad Phillips, star of the long-running television series ‘William Tell’, who played many roles in theatre, film and television over a span of more than 40 years.

As might be expected, the book gives us anecdotes about other actors and actresses – hilarious snippets which allow us to peek into the lives of other celebrities – but it is much, much more than that. Conrad’s life encompasses experiences far removed from the world of acting – a childhood of poverty, a youth in which he saw wartime action in the Royal Navy, a divorce in which he left behind all his hard-earned wealth in order to regain his freedom, and a fresh start which he embraced with such certainty that he married his new wife only 10 weeks after they first met.

Conrad has known ups and downs like few others have in their life, and he recounts his own actions and feelings with a candour and modesty that make him at once both admirable and likeable. Humour lurks always behind the gritty realism with which hardships and heartache are described, and the upbeat ending justifies the unbroken thread of optimism.

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Over the years, Conrad has rubbed shoulders with some of the great names of the small and big screens including Frankie Howerd, Sid James, Spike Milligan, Sir Lawrence Olivier, Jennifer Jayne (his co-star from William Tell), Michael Caine, Nigel Green, Wendy Richards, Bill Franklyn, Wilfred Bramble, Donald Pleasence, Diana Fairfax and Frank Thornton to name but just a few.

Aiming True is a heart-warming and highly entertaining account of one man’s successful struggle to remain both cheerful and true to himself in the face of extreme adversity.

Conrad Phillips was born in London on 13th April, 1925.

The book contains 48 photos and a complete filmography of Conrad Phillips.

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What you say

Conrad Phillips reveals much about his eventful and interesting life in this autobiography, it is a delightful read especially so as Conrad “tells all ” in a warm, considerate and revealing way unlike so many biographies. From his childhood, through the war years , his acting career and a surprise, his years as a farmer in the remote Scottish Wilderness. A superb read, thoroughly recommended.

DJW, Southampton

A Bolt For Freedom

A Bolt For Freedom

 Principal category Biography
 Word count (approximate pages) 14,000 (30)
 In Kindle, Epub or PDF formats $0.99

The heart-warming prequel to Skeoch

This is the account of the author’s eventful and entertaining life up until the momentous decision to move to Scotland recounted in ‘Skeoch’.

The sole survivor of twins, she is brought up in a house haunted by a large Alsatian dog, and works her way through various interesting and madcap jobs which are gradually more and more connected to the world of stage and films and lead her inevitably towards her first encounter with her future husband, Conrad Phillips, lead actor of the series ‘William Tell’.

Theirs is a whirlwind romance culminating in marriage after only 10 weeks. For part of the honeymoon, the groom asks the bride to choose between an extra night in a luxury hotel, or a night in his boat and a non-stick frying pan – she chooses the latter!

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This sets the tone for the couple’s married life, where they have to live in cramped accommodation – particularly a problem after the birth of their first daughter – and only get to increase their living space after surreptitious night-time dumping of vast quantities of rubbish hoarded by their landlord.

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A holiday travelling through France and thence to Menorca with their young baby gives them the thirst for space and freedom. Thus is born the yearning which leads to the ‘Skeoch’ adventure.

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Bannockburn Tartan cover image reproduced courtesy of Cameron Ross.

Skeoch – Our New Life On A Scottish Hill Farm

Skeoch - Our new life on a Scottish hill farm

 Principal category Biography
 Word count (approximate pages) 48,900 (129)
 In Kindle, Epub or PDF formats $2.99

An amazing tale of triumph over adversity

The author, her actor husband Conrad and their small daughter Kate leave London for a new life in South West Scotland. Although they know nothing about farming, they have bought Skeoch Farm, and they are determined to make it viable.

But nothing is easy. The farm is large and run down, and establishing by trial and error what crops and animals are best suited is the steepest of learning curves. While spirits are willing, the flesh is still used to the comforts of city living, and exhaustion, due both to physical work on the farm and arduous commuting to fulfill acting commitments in England, takes its toll.

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The beauty of the place and the humour of the situations shine through. After a second daughter has been born, one day the two children are discovered leaving home Dick-Whittington-fashion to ‘live with the fairies’ who according to their lore live in a wood at the foot of the property. Their parents realise with a jolt how much the relentless work has made them neglect other areas of their lives.

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This is an honest, gritty and at times tragic account of a pioneering lifestyle in which mistakes are fully and freely acknowledged. It is also a well-constructed, entertaining and often funny story which seizes the imagination on the first page and continues to hold it until the very end.

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A Postcard From Umbria (illustrated)

A postcard from Umbria

 Principal category Travel
 Word count (approximate pages) 12,500 (42)
 In Kindle, Epub or PDF formats $0.99

Italy – an expat’s view

A postcard from Umbria is an anthology of articles written by an experienced author describing her and her husband’s exploits as they emigrate nearly 2,000 km due south – a journey which takes them from the UK to the Umbria region of central Italy. Before they can live in their new house, they have to spend six fruitless hours in front of a Notary because the vendor had built an extension without planning permission and then their removal men knock down the gate pier and get snowed in. Later they relocate within Italy to a house built on the site of another house destroyed by an earthquake. It has been left abandoned and needs some very ingenious restoration.

Along the way, there are snippets about hunters, the limited Italian diet, the bitterly cold winters, and vivid descriptions of native wildlife such as wild boar, snakes, butterflies and porcupines.

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There is plenty of humour, pathos, and wit in the articles which paint a fascinating, if somewhat different picture to that portrayed by television crews in whose world the sun always shines (when temperatures down to -12C are the norm in winter) and the olive oil crop is ‘liquid gold’ (when the reality is that the cost of labour picking the olives and then pressing them grossly exceeds their value for most landowners).

Alongside the text are numerous photographs taken by the author who is also a keen natural history photographer.

Although ‘A postcard from Umbria’ is a very unique and personal account of two British expats who moved to Italy, it is also a valuable source of advice for anyone considering making the move.

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Lymphedema – Living with the disease

Lymphedema - Living with the disease

 Principal category Health
 Word count (approximate pages) 6,400 (22)
 In Kindle, Epub or PDF formats $1.50

A minority among millions – lymphedema is a terrible and misunderstood illness

I’ve suffered with lymphedema ever since a bad car crash 20 years ago. The doctors in the UK had absolutely no idea what it was or how it could be treated. The net result was that I was subjected to a great deal more misery than was necessary as well as giving the disease time to get established to such a level as that it is now incurable.

My first visit to a lymphedema clinic was strange and, because I had no idea about what was involved, I was very badly prepared. After 6 weeks I was climbing up the wall. Nowadays, I go prepared and the stay is much more beneficial and comfortable. I’ve put what I’ve learnt into this booklet which I hope will prove an invaluable to anyone finding themselves in my position. I’ve also written the book from the point of view of trying to help sufferers keep down the price of this expensive treatment which often comes with numerous hidden extras.

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With some 250m people suffering from lymphedema and this, with its propensity for creating massive weight gain and intense lymphatic fevers, it begs the question, “Why don’t most doctors know about it?”. I don’t suppose this book will be particularly welcome by the medical profession because it’s plain English and easy-to-understand advice means that it is really aimed at the ordinary person and helping make sure that they don’t get overlooked like I was.

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