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Shaken And Stirred Book Tour – Extract

Shaken And StirredOn the book tour for the fourth novel in Bella Osborne’s ‘Ottercombe Bay’ series called ’Shaken And Stirred’, enjoy an extract from the tale.

Tamsyn was woken by the sound of Jason’s voice and by the time she’d opened her eyes he was placing a tray on her bed. It was the 22nd of March.

‘Good morning,’ he said ridiculously cheerily.

Tamsyn rubbed her eyes like a small child, yawned and blinked. ‘What’s all this?’

‘Your mum let me in. This is the start of Tamsyn Turvey Day,’ said Jason proudly.

‘Toast and tea and a yellow rose because I know you like those,’ he added pointing to the things on the tray. Tamsyn couldn’t help the beam of a smile spreading across her face. She had a feeling she was going to enjoy today very much.

Their first stop was her absolutely favourite place, the donkey sanctuary, and thanks to Jason knowing the vet’s cousin she was allowed to spend the morning being a keeper. ‘You all right?’ called Jason, from a safe distance as Tamsyn flung manure and straw into a wheelbarrow.

‘Yeah, this is great.’

‘I’ve never seen someone enjoy mucking out before.’

‘It’s ace. I definitely want my own donkey,’ said Tamsyn, her face serious.

Next there was feeding and grooming and before she knew it she was out of her green overalls and borrowed steel cap boots, and sitting with a cup of coffee in the sanctuary café.

‘This has been the best day ever,’ she said. ‘Thank you, Jason.’

‘Drink up,’ he said with a grin. ‘You’re only halfway through.’

He was so kind and thoughtful, she thought. If today was about showing her what things would be like to be his girlfriend he was selling himself well.

‘You know you don’t have to do any of this,’ she said.

‘It’s not a bribe. I’m not expecting you to declare your undying love for me or anything.’ He gave a strangled laugh.

‘You’re my friend and I want you to know how special you are. That’s all.’

The next stop was another favourite of hers. The freshest local fare from the fish and chip van eaten on the sea front with a wooden fork with seagulls swooping above them in the hope of snatching a stray chip. It was a beautifully sunny day and the sea was rolling tamely onto the beach – it didn’t come much better in Tamsyn’s book. When she thought she was too full to eat anything else Jason produced a cake box from his rucksack.

Her eyes were like a bush baby’s. ‘Is it?’

She was too excited to finish the sentence.

‘Scones and clotted cream,’ he announced, flipping open the box lid. Tamsyn was in heaven.

After a delicious fresh scone, which crumbled in her mouth, she licked her fingers and was interested by the mix of chip vinegar and clotted cream. ‘Jason, that was amazing. Thank you.’

‘Uh-uh,’ said Jason with a shake of his head. ‘Not done yet.’ He checked his watch. ‘Come on.’ He held out his hand and Tamsyn took it. His fingers were warm and curled gently around hers. They both looked at their entwined hands and grinned. Something was starting to feel right.

Did you enjoy that taster? Well, good news, you can buy Ottercombe Bay – Part Four: Shaken and Stirred from Amazon for only 95p!

The Joys Of Research By Bella Osborne

Raising The BarToday on the book tour for ‘Raising The Bar’, the third book in Bella Osborne’s ‘Ottercombe Bay’ book series, Bella talks about the joy of research.

As I writer it’s important that I do my research. Sometimes this takes me to odd places and has parental warnings flashing up on my PC but sometimes it is pure bliss. My research for Ottercombe Bay gave me a mix of all three! It is set in a fictional Devon seaside town so obviously I had to spend some time in the area and it really is a beautiful part of the country. We stayed on the Devon/Dorset border not far from Lyme Regis and got to explore the coast in both directions.

We visited the beautiful village of Beer, Devon, and I loved how the river was channelled through the streets to the sea. The beach at Beer is divided: one half filled with small fishing boats and the other side littered with tourists, but everyone seems to get along just fine. Near Budleigh Salterton, Devon, the river Otter meets the sea but unlike Beer there is no village as it’s an area of outstanding natural beauty, which got me thinking. What if there was a village here? Combe means a valley on a hillside or coastline so the town of Ottercombe Bay was born.

I spent some time talking to the lovely people at the RNLI, both their central office and volunteers from various Lifeboat stations who were so generous in sharing stories and answering my questions. As I was brought up in a seaside town I have also witnessed the lifeboat going out in the most awful storms and am in awe of the crew members who regularly risk their lives to save others.

My favourite research for Ottercombe Bay was the very serious subject of gin. Gin features in the story so I felt I needed to know more about this drink – a lot more! A YouGov poll found that gin is now the most popular spirit in the UK, with 29% of drinkers voting it their favourite and 47m bottles of it were sold in 2017, setting a new record! Gin has become very popular over the last few years since 2009 when Sipsmith, a London based distiller, won a legal battle with HMRC for the right to produce gin in small quantities via smaller stills rather than on an industrial scale. This gave rise to craft distilleries that sprung up all over the country producing their own variations of gin. I was very lucky to be able to attend a special Burleigh’s gin tasting evening at the Seven Stars pub in Rugby, Warwickshire where I learned so much about the history of gin and gin production as well as getting to try out quite a few too!

To ensure I was sufficiently qualified to write about gin I also attended a gin festival in Coventry Cathedral, a very beautiful but unusual venue for such an event, and did my own research on gin cocktails. I must say my friends have been amazingly supportive of the gin research, offering to accompany me and test out my creations over and over again – well, what are friends for?

You can buy Ottercombe Bay – Part Three: Raising the Bar (Ottercombe Bay Series) from Amazon.