This week I’m joined by Chris Penhall who writes for Ruby Fiction, as she tells us about an ornament she loves.
Hi Morton, thanks for inviting me onto your blog to talk about the things I’m surrounded with every day – I don’t normally think about them, but this has reminded me of their stories. Below is the meaning behind just one.
I really don’t think of myself as someone who collects ornaments, but when I look around my house, it appears that I am!
There’s no common theme and I don’t have a collection of anything in particular, except for the tile place mats I painted when I was going through my tile painting phase. I was very prolific but there are only so many you can use, and only so many friends you can give them to. That was a short but productive part of my life. So, I wouldn’t call that a collection, more of an accidental overspill.
There are bits and bobs that were given to me as gifts, that I bought as impulse buys when out and about, and trinkets bought back from holidays like the tiny carved elephant from Thailand, the painted bowl from Hong Kong and the scented candle from Wales.
But there is one rather random item, or should I say a small group of items, that I am very fond of – and they have inspired me when I’ve written my two novels set in Portugal – The House That Alice Built, and New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun.
It appears that I love ceramic Portuguese windows and doors. I have a blue and white one on my mantlepiece, one in my bathroom, one in my bedroom and the biggest one of all in my dining room. And it all started with a decorated cobble stone that a friend painted for me and gave me as a gift not long before I left Cascais and moved back to the UK. Anyone who has visited Portugal will have enjoyed walking along the decorated pavements – the calacada Portuguesa – usually made up of white limestone and dark basalt and arranged in patterns and images, such as geometrical shapes, waves, and seahorses, for example. There’s even a pavement of the face of fado singer Amalia Rodrigues in Lisbon. I must put that on my list of things to see.
We’d lived in Cascais for three years and I loved the place. I still do. But our time there had come to an end because of work reasons and we were reluctantly moving on. So, my friend painted a cobblestone to look like a little Portuguese house. It’s white and blue, and has red flowers hanging from window boxes and in pots next to the door. On the bottom It has the date it was painted, which was just before we left.
It’s simple, beautiful, personal and very, very thoughtful and I see it every day.
I had no idea at the time that it would help me conjur up pictures of Cascais and Lisbon in my mind when I wrote my novels. That’s a lesson learned – no experience is ever wasted, no matter how long ago it was.
Now I’m writing my third novel, which is set in the UK, also by the sea, and the painting of one of my favourite beaches is on the wall opposite the mantlepiece, and when I look at that, it takes me there too.
New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun was published in August 2020 and is a sequel to The House That Alice Built, published in August 2019. Both are available on all platforms in e-book and audio.
Follow your yellow brick road ….
Alice Dorothy Matthews is on the road to paradise! She’s sold her house in London, got rid of her nasty ex and arranged her move to Portugal where friendship and romance awaits. All that’s left to do is find a place to call home.
But Alice’s dreams are called into question when complications with friends, work and new relationships make her Portuguese paradise feel far too much like reality.
Will Alice’s dream of a new home in the sun come true?
Book 2 – Portuguese Paradise. Follows The House That Alice Built
For information on where to buy the book click here http://www.chrispenhall.co.uk/new-beginnings-at-the-little-house-in-the-sun/
Home is where the heart is …
Alice Dorothy Matthews is sensible. Whilst her best friend Kathy is living it up in Portugal and her insufferable ex Adam is travelling the world, Alice is working hard to pay for the beloved London house she has put her heart and soul into renovating.
But then a postcard from Buenos Aires turns Alice’s life upside down. One very unsensible decision later and she is in Cascais, Portugal, and so begins her lesson in ‘going with the flow’; a lesson that sees her cat-sitting, paddle boarding, dancing on top of bars and rediscovering her artistic talents.
But perhaps the most important part of the lesson for Alice is that you don’t always need a house to be at home.
Book 1 – Portuguese Paradise. Followed by New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun
For more information on where to buy the book, click here http://www.chrispenhall.co.uk/the-house-that-alice-built/
About Chris Penhall
Chris Penhall is the winner of the 2019 Choc-Lit Search for a Star competition, sponsored by Your Cat Magazine, with her debut novel, The House That Alice Built. The sequel, New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun was published in August 2020. Both books are available in e-book and audio, and The House That Alice Built will be released as a paperback in May 2021.
A freelance radio producer for BBC Essex, podcast producer and writer, Chris was born in South Wales and has also lived in London and in Portugal, which is where both books are set. It was whilst living in Cascais near Lisbon that she began to dabble in writing fiction, but it was many years later that she was confident enough to start writing her first novel, and many years after that she finally finished it! She has now completed her second and is busy writing her third. A lover of books, music and cats, she is also an enthusiastic salsa dancer, a keen cook, and loves to travel. She is never happier than when she is gazing at the sea.
You can find more information about her on www.chrispenhall.co.uk
or follow her on twitter: @ChrisPenhall
Thank you for joining me this week Chris. I wish you every success with your books.