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My Top Ten Favourite Festive Activities By Heidi Swain

Christmas RoomToday on the book tour for her new book Christmas book called ‘The Winter Garden’, Heidi Swain is sharing her Top Ten Favourite Festive Activities because she is a HUGE fan of Christmas!

So, here we go…

“Heidi

Reading
I’m sure it’s no surprise that books bagged the number 1 spot! December 1st is always reserved for Mr Dickens. The month simply wouldn’t work if I hadn’t reacquainted myself with A Christmas Carol. I also read Trisha Ashley’s Twelve Days of Christmas too and treat myself to new festive fiction. Louise Marley, Sophie Claire and Victoria Walters are on the list this year and I’m starting earlier than usual because otherwise I won’t fit them all in.

Carols from King’s
My Christmas Eve revolves around this choral festive treat. My to-do list has to be completed so I can be ready to watch and listen with a cup of tea and a mince pie. As a person of Pagan persuasion, I find this much-loved tradition of mine something of a surprise, but the voices are so stirring as the light begins to fade. I love it!

Christmas shopping
I love Christmas shopping, as long as I have my trusty list. The chilly weather, bustling streets and frequent tea and cake top ups make it all the more pleasurable. I know it won’t be the same this year, but I can hang on to the memory of those wonderful excursions for now.

Finding the right gift
Nothing beats the pleasure of watching someone opening their gift and seeing their face light up. Finding the perfect present isn’t always easy, but it’s totally worth the effort.

Baking
I’m certainly no Jemma from The Cherry Tree Café, but I do love some festive baking. My repertoire is limited, but nothing says Christmas like a stint in the kitchen assembling my easy cheat mince pies and sausage rolls, with the festive tunes cranked up, a glass of mulled wine to hand and my Santa apron in place.

Scents of the season
Not strictly an activity you might argue, but it can be! Mulling your own wine with festive spices and studding oranges with cloves to release that seasonal smell feels like a pretty good way to spend an afternoon to me.

Decorating
Dressing the house is always a favourite festive activity and generally happens the second weekend in December. I know exactly what’s packed in the boxes in the loft but opening them is always a treat. The hearth is dressed with holly, ivy and mistletoe and the tree is topped with two angels, both created by my son and daughter in Year R. Given that they are 25 and 20 now, the loo rolls and pipe cleaners have certainly seen better days, but up they go!

Festive films
I love snuggling under a blanket to watch a festive film. Like everyone else, I have a teetering pile of DVD’s and it’s an annual treat working my way through them all. I also love the Hallmark channel and all the made for TV films. A totally festive indulgence! I don’t think I could pick a favourite, but ‘Love Actually’, ‘Elf’, ‘Muppets Christmas Carol’, ‘Nativity’… nope. I can’t do it! I’ll just end up listing the lot!

Winter walks
As you may already know, I’m always trying to get folk outdoors in the fresh air, whatever the weather. Although I draw the line at heading out in driving rain! I love getting wrapped up in warm layers and striding out for a bracing walk around my local patch. It’s a great mood soother and in the run up to Christmas, when it’s tempting to stay inside, a super way to recharge the batteries. Throw some snow in the mix and I’m even happier!

'The Winter Garden

Taking in the sights of the season
This is a separate trip to the shopping expedition and with a completely different purpose. Norwich always has beautiful light and window displays and I really enjoy going up to the city, towards the end of the day, to simply admire the decorations and soak up the atmosphere. We’d had the lovely of tunnel of light for the last few years and then there’s the animatronic tableau in the Forum and Jarrolds. All so superbly seasonal!

Crikey, that was the speediest Top Ten I’ve ever written and I could have easily added more favourite festive activities to the list. I know there’s nothing unusual or surprising written here, but these are all things I love to do in the run up to Christmas and beyond and this year more than ever, I’m going to take comfort in the familiarity of them all.

Wishing you all a safe and healthy festive season.

With love
Heidi x

You can buy ‘The Winter Garden’ from Amazon and is available from other good bookshops.

Heidi Swain Reveals New Book – The Winter Garden

'The Winter GardenHeidi Swain has revealed her festive book for 2020 called ‘The Winter Garden’.

What the back cover says –

Freya Fuller is living her dream, working as a live-in gardener on a beautiful Suffolk estate. But when the owner dies, Freya finds herself forced out of her job and her home with nowhere to go. However, with luck on her side, she’s soon moving to Nightingale Square and helping to create a beautiful winter garden that will be open to the public in time for Christmas.

There’s a warm welcome from all in Nightingale Square, except from local artist Finn. No matter how hard the pair try, they just can’t get along, and working together to bring the winter garden to life quickly becomes a struggle for them both.

Will Freya and Finn be able to put their differences aside in time for Christmas? Or will the arrival of a face from Freya’s past send them all spiralling?

Sounds like the perfect festive story to curl up with.

You can pre-order ‘The Winter Garden’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 1st October 2020.

The Secret Seaside Escape By Heidi Swain

The Secret Seaside Escape ‘The Secret Seaside Escape’ is the latest book by Heidi Swain.

Tess Tyler needs a break. Weighed down by her high-pressure job and her demanding father, she’s left little time to take care of herself. But after a shocking discovery sends her spiralling, she flees to Wynmouth, the seaside town she fell in love with as a child, to escape it all. With its sandy beaches, stunning rock pools and welcoming community, Tess feels like she can finally breathe again. And as she grows ever closer to local barman Sam, she dares to dream that she might never return to her real life. But when a familiar face returns to town, Tess realises that there are secrets in Wynmouth too, and that her own past may be about to catch up with her.

I’ve only read two books by Heidi and both books were exactly what I needed. Heartwarming with lovely characters against the backdrop of the seaside.

Tess decides to return to her childhood holiday retreat when life in her busy marketing role becomes too much. Recovering from her mother’s death, she needs a change of scenery and goes to the sweetly named Crow’s Nest Cottage in Wynmouth. It’s whilst she’s there that she begins to relax and enjoy life whilst making new friends and becoming part of the bustling village.

This book is the perfect book to curl up with. Tess is a lovely, kind relatable character, she’s warm and immediately fits into the village with her enthusiasm and charm wanting to share her knowledge and skills with the locals to make their businesses thrive. It’s whilst she’s away on this retreat is that she makes some discoveries about herself and her family. Tess isn’t the only lovely character in the story, there’s also Sam, Joe and Sophie, who all add their own charm and warmth to the seaside story.

Heidi has written a gorgeous heartwarming and fun love story about family secrets and new beginnings against sandy beaches, with such vivid imagery that you can almost feel the sand between your toes. The perfect escapism story to enjoy right now.

You can buy ‘The Secret Seaside Escape’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Books and the City Spring Blogger Event 2019

Books and the City Spring Blogger Event 2019With being based in Northern Ireland, I sometimes miss out on book events, so when the lovely Sara Jade Virture from Books and the City invited me to their Spring Bloggers event, I literally jumped on a plane.

It was a wonderful evening, packed with fellow book lovers and some of Books and the City authors and we got the chance to hear extracts from Iona Grey’s new book called ‘The Glittering Hour’, Alice Peterson’s ‘If You Were Here’, Claire Frost’s debut novel called ‘Living My Best Life’, Milly Johnson’s latest book ‘The Magnificent Mrs Mayhem’ and Rachel Hore’s new book ‘The Lost Child’.

As well as the delicious readings, we were also given proofs of Paige Toon’s new book called ‘If I Could Anywhere’ as well as Catherine Isaac’s new book called ‘Messy, Wonderful Us’.

As per usual Sara Jade’s goodie bags were a delight filled with samples from upcoming books, sweetie flavoured shower gel as well as beautiful book themed necklace and who can forget the cupcakes!

It was also lovely to chat to Louise Candlish about her hugely successful book called ‘Our House’ as well as meet Heidi Swain, Juliet Ashton and Alice Peterson, as well as I finally got a photograph with Milly Johnson.

A huge thank you to Sara Jade and the Books and the City team for organising a wonderful evening and the generous gifts.

Heidi Swains Reveals New Book – Poppy’s Recipe For Life

Poppy's Recipe For LifeI’m delighted to reveal the latest book by Heidi Swain called ‘Poppy’s Recipe For Life’.

What the back cover says –

Things haven’t always been straightforward in Poppy’s life but her dreams are finally within her reach.

She’s moving into a cottage in beautiful Nightingale Square, close to the local community garden, where she can indulge her passion for making preserves and pickles. She may not have the best relationship with her family but she is surrounded by loving friends, and feels sure that even her grumpy new neighbour, Jacob, has more to him than his steely exterior belies.

But the unexpected arrival of Poppy’s troubled younger brother soon threatens her new-found happiness and as the garden team works together to win community space of the year, Poppy must decide where her priorities lie and what she is prepared to fight for …

With a stunning cover, treat yourself to a gl orious novel full of food, sunshine, friendship and love.

You can pre-order ‘Poppy’s Recipe For Life’ from Amazon and will be available from good bookshops from 30th May 2019.