7 curious things about me – and some lovely blogs

one-lovely-blog-awardThank you, June Hur, for tagging me in the One Lovely Blog Award blog chase. I’m to write seven lovely things about me and tag 15 further blogs that I consider lovely.

What is the One Lovely Blog Award?

So I went and looked up this thing, and found that it started as a way to encourage new blog authors. Thanks again, June. And Miss Bluestocking (subtitle ‘Inside a Writer’s Mind) is, indeed, a lovely blog. And – with not quite five weeks on the web – this is, indeed, a brand new blog.

Here are the rules.


  1. Share 7 Lovely Facts about myself (I’m sharing 7 curious facts – you can decide whether they’re lovely or not).
  2. Link to 15 blogs (or as many as possible) that I enjoy reading
  3. Nominate the authors of those 15 blogs to participate and do the same, linking back to the original Lovely blog (that’s me, in this case).

7 curious things about me

My Dad was a Russian spy

james-bond-007-logoIn the early 60s, at the height of the Cold War, my father was a primary school teacher (elementary, to you US folk) in a outlying suburb of Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city. He had majored in Geography, and he hit upon the idea of visiting all the embassies and trade commissions in Wellington to ask for brochures and other resources for his class.

When Dad arrived at the Soviet Union’s Legation, he was greeted with open arms, all the resources he could possibly want, and a veiled suggestion that more valuable gifts, and even money, might be available if he was willing to share with the nice Russian gentleman anything he might know about New Zealand’s defence force or external relations.

Somewhat dazed, he went home and told my mum that he’d been invited to be a Russian spy.

I just love what happened next. Only in sleepy little New Zealand!

They looked the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service up in the phone book, found the address listed there, and Dad went to visit. That’s right, folks. The New Zealand secret service had an office in the city, with a number and street address in the phone book. Got to love what that tells you about my home, right?

The people at the SIS suggested that Dad play along with the Russians, and – according to my mother, who told me about this years and years later – they used Dad to pass the Russians misinformation.

All I knew at the time was that a nice Russian man and Russian lady came on picnics with us to Paekakariki Beach, bringing with them two quiet and well-behaved daughters (with whom I was not much impressed) and gherkins (which I tasted for the first time and greatly liked).

The New Zealand History website, in its key events listing for 1962, says:

Two members of the Soviet Union’s Legation in New Zealand were expelled for spying. Attempts by Commercial Counsellor V.S. Andreyev and Second Secretary N.I. Shtykov to gain information from New Zealand citizens had been reported to the Security Intelligence Service. Their expulsion was the first of its kind in New Zealand.

Either they were very forgiving or they didn’t know the part Dad played. Not long after my beloved and I married, Mr Andreyev was in New Zealand on the Motorship Shota Rustaveli, and invited us all to dinner. (Great pickled beetroot!)

I fell in love just after 11pm on 3 August 1969

BallMy personal romantic hero (PRH) and I met at a prayer meeting when I was 18, and – though we both noted the existence of one another – nothing else happened.

We went out for the first time seven months later just after I turned 19, and a week after that we attended a ball together. At around 11 in the evening, we were waltzing, when I looked up at him and he looked down at me, and I saw him fall in love with me. His eyes softened and warmed, and I felt an answering response.

We sat up talking until 4.30 in the morning, and by the time he went home to bed, we’d already discussed marriage and chosen the name of our first son. (Mum, we were just talking, honest.)

The hair cleaning scene in Farewell to Kindness really happened

kissitbetter_logoIn Farewell to Kindness, after the heroine is injured escaping from kidnappers, the hero tenderly and carefully bathes and dresses her wounds. The particulars of the scene belong to the story, but the feeling in the scene comes from history.

Not long after my PRH and I were engaged, I was in a car accident. Flung through the windscreen, I had multiple cuts to my head, face, and neck. At outpatients, they stitched up the worst of the cuts and sent me home. My PRH came to my place, and spent hours gently washing blood and glass fragments out of my hair, taking care all the while to keep the stitches dry.

If I had not already been in love with him, that would have done it.

I am a fabric and craft addict


Some of my braids, laces, and cords

I love fabrics, buttons, ribbons, braids, fancy elastics… I don’t need a project to buy them for. I just like to have them. I’m more of a looker than a crafter, though. I have cupboards and drawers full of not-yet-started, not-yet-finished, and I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-this-but-isn’t-it-pretty fabrics and notions. (Isn’t ‘notions’ a neat word for sewing stuff?)

I do sew. I’ve made heaps of stuff over the years. I recently made dresses for three granddaughters for their mother’s and father’s wedding. They looked really gorgeous, but that was mostly the girls, not my sewing.

I’m not a particularly proficient sewer, but I’m a champion unpicker after 55 years of practice. (I made my first apron and some dolls clothes way back when my year count was in single numbers.)

The black evil one is really called Ruby

CatsIn my Facebook and Twitter posts, I occasionally mention the Black Evil One and the Henchcat.

They’re sisters, and they came to us as kittens three years ago, around the time of our 40th wedding anniversary. The Black Evil One was therefore given the name Ruby, as she was my Ruby wedding anniversary present. She gained her name because she is timid and affectionate, and one of the sweetest cats you could ever wish to meet.

The Henchcat was named Tiger, for her stripes. She is the bolder of the two, and always the first through any door, into any lap, and onto any food. So naturally, perverse as we are, she became the Henchcat.


I don’t plant my veges in straight rows

vege wildI’m a rough gardener. I throw plants in wherever there’s a gap, and if it grows, it grows. Sometimes, I remember to water. Sometimes, I even give the poor plants a hand with manure tea or copper spray or even (if I’m feeling rash) a bit of weeding.

Generally, the plants win, and we tend to eat from the garden throughout late Spring, Summer and Autumn. And if the borage,  parsley, silver beet, violas, and lettuces all grow mixed together, what does that matter?

The plan was to keep the garden organised so that we had fruit and vege all year around – I even made a spreadsheet for planting and harvest times. (But I’m only a little bit obsessive, right?)

However great the plan was, implementing meant leaving undone other things that I cared about more. So we buy vege and fruit in the winter, and at other times of the year, too, when we have huge amounts of (say) brocolli and beans, and not much of anything else.

What can I say? Garden, I’m just not that into you.

I write song parodies for work parties

One of my colleagues and I collaborate on writing song lyrics for work parties, shaping the lyrics around the occasion and the person being celebrated. I have a history of doing this. Back in school, one of my parodies (the  Destruction of Sennacherib) made the yearly magazine. It began:

The teacher came down like a wolf on the fold
His compasses gleaming in silver and gold
His maths papers waved like the waves of the sea
And the sheen on his hair looked like Brylcream to me.

Later, a friend of mine and I founded a company called ‘The Message Factory’ to write song and poem parodies, joke messages, and singing telegrams. One of my favourites was a best man’s speech, all in rhyming couplets, which purported to fill in for the groom what happened during a lost weekend in Australia’s Hunter Valley. (They went off on a tour of the wineries, and have no idea what happened.)

Lovely blogs

Many of the lovely blogs I read have already received the One Lovely Blog Award. I did a google search on the One Lovely Blog Award for each site name, and made two lists. Here, in no particular order, are just a few of the blogs I visit a lot that have deservedly been tagged by someone else.

Jane Austen’s World A little bit of everything you could possibly need to know about Regency and late Georgian polite society.

English Historical Fiction Authors I’m a member of their Facebook group – great articles!

A Covent Garden Girlflurt’s Guide to Life The subtitle says it all: ‘Glorious Georgian dispatches from the long 18th Century.

Risky Regencies Some of my favourite authors, who banded together to start this site when they first moved from traditional regencies to something riskier – risque-er?

And here are some review sites I subscribe to:

And I haven’t included the blog sites of some of the authors I follow: Courtney Milan, Grace Burrowes, Mary Balogh, Eloisa James, Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Vanessa Kelly. Lots more, too. Love those guys. Check them out for yourself.

But wait; there’s more. All of the blogs that I list below have either given me a tidbit in my research, or have attracted my attention when retweeted or facebooked by someone I follow. Hey, guys, you’re tagged! By the power vested in me (by the lovely blogger June Hur) I hereby award you the One Lovely Blog Award.

In Lillian’s blog, she talks about the things she discovers in her research. Lillian writes novels set in the Victorian era. She says:

Do you think of the Victorians as rather stuffy, pompous people, draping cloths to hide the legs of the piano and swooning in horror at any breach of propriety? Well, such people may have existed, but there were others. Far more exciting others.

The other Victorians were intrepid travelers and bold adventurers. They were insatiably curious about the world around them—both its past and its future. They would dare anything.

It is among these other Victorians that you will find my heroes and heroines.


parlour 001Susana says she enjoys writing informative, thought-provoking, and hopefully entertaining blog posts, as well as corresponding with readers and authors. Here’s a quote from her online bio:

A former teacher, Susana is finally living her dream of being a full-time writer. She loves all genres of romance, but historical—Regency in particular—is her favorite. There’s just something about dashing heroes and spunky heroines waltzing in ballrooms and driving through Hyde Park that appeals to her imagination.

wertman_120116_052Janet blogs about the Tudor period that she loves, and about her experiences as a writer. She says:

There was never any question about the topic of the fiction: Janet has harbored a passion for the Tudor Kings and Queens since her parents let her stay up late to watch the televised Masterpiece Theatre series (both The Six Wives of Henry VIIIand Elizabeth R) when she was *cough* eight years old.

AntoineAntoine, the author of the Dawlish Chronicles, blogs about ‘duty and daring in the heyday of Empire. His topic is naval history, and he spreads his blogging net wide indeed within that pool. His novels are about a naval officer in the 19th century, but one recent blog post visited the Roman empire. Antoine tells us:

I write naval fiction set in the period 1859 to 1918. As such I’m dealing with a period of very rapid technological and political development, one in which “The Age of Fighting Sail” evolved somewhat painfully into “The Age of Fighting Steam”.

The hero of my fiction is an ambitious Royal Navy officer, Nicholas Dawlish (1845-1918). For me he’s a real person whose life I am continuing to research in ever greater detail.

CarrieLisa writes contemporary and late Victorian novels, and blogs about all sorts of interesting things. She says:

I’m an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through my entire life, my first love has and always will be writing novels. I love to create interesting characters, set them loose, and scribe what happens.

33501_originalIsabel, blogger and historical costume maker, only posts occasionally – but her costumes are spectacular, and the stories of how they are made! Well worth a look, and – if you want more – she posts more regularly to her Facebook page, which you can get to from the blog. Here’s a brief sample from one post:

In the end, it was probably crazy to decide to hand-embroider the stomacher and hand-stitch every part of this ensemble in the time I had, and to the parameters of the project. But I kind of thrive on crazy. And I’m really happy with the result.

Historical Tapestry is a site for reviews and guest posts, covering all historic eras. I’ll let them tell you about themselves in their own words:

We are a group of readers who love to read Historical Fiction set in all eras. Historical Tapestry is exclusively devoted to Historical Fiction. If the book you are promoting is not in this genre, we will not be able to devote space to it on this blog. Whilst we welcome all requests for reviews we reserve the right to not accept every book offered. We will also endeavour to always give an honest review.


bronwen-evansBronwen is the author of three historical series and also writes contemporary romances. Bronwen blogs about books, her research, writing, and a heap of other things. Her blog is part of her website, so also take a look at all the other great ideas and information she has up there. In answer to the question of why she writes both historicals and contemporary, she says:

Because I have the characters in my head and I have to write them down. I read across all genres so it’s not surprising that I’d want to write in other genres too. I even have a paranormal romance floating around in my head. Gosh, there just aren’t enough hours in the day!

claire_scobie_headshot_mid-res_mediumClaire writes a blog full of helpful advice and suggestions for writers. She also uses it to post about travel, journalism, travel journalism, research, and other things. She is a journalist, a writing mentor, and a published author of both fiction and non-fiction. Her ‘About’ page says:

Her first book, Last Seen in Lhasa, is a memoir based on her friendship with a Tibetan nun, and won the Dolman Best Travel Book Award in 2007. Penguin published her first novel, The Pagoda Tree, in mid-2013.

Annabel Frage has written a series about Alex, a woman thrown back 300 years in time to Scotland – and Matthew, the man she meets and marries there. Annabel blogs about all sorts of things and all sorts of times. Further novels set in other times will follow the Graham Saga. I found her when following up on an article about languages in the time of Charlemange.

So far, I’ve published six of the eight books in the series. It has been a daunting and extremely educational process to convert the written book into a published novel, and while quite exacting it is probably one of the more exhilarating things I’ve done in my life, ending with the sheer joy of holding my book – my book! – in my hands.


Random bits of Fascination is Maria Grace’s blog. Random Bits of Fascination describes it perfectly. Look at the second row of tabs to see posts in each of her categories: stories, previews, bonus chapters, history a’la carte, interviews, and a category she calls Grace under pressure. Grace says:

If this is your first visit, I hope you will stay a few minutes and get to know a little about me,my books and my regency era research.  There is a little something for everyone.


RachelMcAlpineNew Zealand poet and writer Rachel McAlpine blogs about writing, teaching, living, and about her experiences and developing understand of growing old. Her posts are occasional, but always worth reading. Also see http://c-for-blog.blogspot.co.nz/, for what Rachel calls ‘poems on the fly’.

  • My usual daily work is in the digital sphere, creating online courses for online workers.
  • The general purpose of this blog is to experience and explore the process of growing older, in the hope of reducing its scare-value.

And now for something completely different. Kate Davies Designs is a blog largely about knitting. The writer has a background in the academic world, and writes beautiful posts about many many things, leavened with lovely images.

Some days I feel like a writer who enjoys designing knitwear, on others I seem to be a designer preoccupied with textile history. I have written books and feature articles on a wide range of topics from the American Revolution to the history of lace. I combine my interests in writing and knitwear design in my popular 2012 book, Colours of Shetland as well as in my digital magazine Textisles


And I’ll finish with two of the blogs maintained by the company I work for. (Not sure if this is cheating – but they’re full of fun facts and interesting articles, and I do love them, so here goes.)

Write Clearly is a blog for random thoughts about plain language, the writing process, how people use words, grammar, and almost any other observation on life that any of the team want to make. Fun for anyone who loves to talk about our language and how we use it.



And Standard of Excellence is the blog site of WriteMark Limited, the internationally recognised mark of document quality. The WriteMark blog is updated less often than the other, but from time to time we post about things to do with writing quality.



9 thoughts on “7 curious things about me – and some lovely blogs

  1. Pingback: One Lovely Blog... - Random Bits of Fascination

  2. That is such a romantic picture of you and your husband. <3

    We visit so many of tge same blogs and have so many of the same favourite authors that I'm surprised we haven't "met" sooner. It was lovely reading your post and visiting your blog. 🙂

  3. So many interesting facts!! Your father’s story was intriguing and also amusing. It’s hilarious that the office was actually listed in a phone book! And tour love story was so romantic. You and your husband look so lovely in the photo

    • That’s such a nice thing to say! Much better than ‘you’re so old something interesting must have happened to you some time.” 😉

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