One-way Ticket To Paradise

Love this review from Donna – such an unusual and fun format! And of course it helps that she enjoyed the book so much . . .🙂

Chocolatenwaffles' Blog

I love lists. Lists are handy to keep track of everything, including the essential steps for the perfect vacation. If I don’t write it down, I might forget I want a Suits marathon, or a karaoke night. And without karaoke, what’s the good in going on a holiday?

french guesthouseTitle: Return toThe Little French Guesthouse
Author: Helen Pollard
Publisher: Bookouture
Release date:
August 26th 2016
Format: eBook
Pages: 336
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

In her second book, Helen Pollard invites us to spend a few days in a small French heaven for a well-deserved break.So I packed (heavily, as usual) and wrote a list of everything I am looking for in the perfect summer story, before diving head first into Return To The Little French Guesthouse. Now let’s see if our stay at La Cour Des Roses fits the criteria!

For a perfect summer holiday, you need:

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Places in ‘Return to The Little French Guesthouse’ #1 – Château de Chenonceau

So many readers have commented on how much they have enjoyed the settings in these books, I’m enjoying sharing some of the inspiration behind them. If you want to know more about the local towns and countryside featured in both The Little French Guesthouse and the sequel, you can look back at:

Inspiration for The Little French Guesthouse #1 – Town and Country

I also wrote about some of the towns and places Emmy managed  a whistle-stop tour of in the first book at:

Inspiration for The Little French Guesthouse #2 –  A Little Sightseeing

In Return to The Little French Guesthouse, Emmy’s new life is busier than she’d anticipated, but she still has time to discover the joy of cycling past vineyards and fields of corn, and experiences an evening at a local fĂŞte in the nearby imaginary town of Pierre-la-Fontaine.

She also gets to do a little more sightseeing. Her first proper visit to a château -at Chenonceau – is everything she imagined and more!


Visiting with her French friend Sophie, they catch up with each others’ news as they wander, exploring both the inside and outside of the château.

Emmy particularly enjoys the view out across the river Cher from the windows in the long gallery – she could stand there all day, enjoying the breeze . . .


And then there are the formal gardens to admire . . .




Most especially, Emmy loves the view from the far end of the gardens, where the château is reflected in all its glory in the river!


I loved looking back at these photos to remind myself of my own visit to Chenonceau. They really made me want to go back there! I also availed myself of Google Maps street view, and the official website for the château at where I could take a virtual panoramic tour to fully remind myself of the details for Emmy and Sophie’s visit. Needless to say, I lingered far longer than I should have!  :)

Publication day for ‘Return to The Little French Guesthouse’

***          It’s here!          ***

RTTLFG 3D-mock-up

And this is what people are saying about it . . .

‘Another little slice of French heaven. Perfect reading for a summers day.’ Book Addict Rambles

‘What a fabulous sequel! I fell deeply in love with La Cour des Roses in the first book and was so happy when the sequel arrived so quickly!’ Annie’s Book Corner

‘Lovely follow-up to The Little French Guesthouse which was one of my favourite summer reads. Like its predecessor, it is a great pick-me-up read.’ Met Line Reader

‘I’ve absolutely fallen in love with the vast majority of the characters in and around the guesthouse.’ Well Read Pirate Queen

‘Helen Pollard’s writing style draws you into the story, and transports you to a world that you don’t want to leave.Rachel’s Random Reads


Available from:

Amazon UK          Amazon US  


Blue skies, new love, and a glass of Bordeaux . . . what could possibly go wrong? 

When Emmy Jamieson leaves her life behind and moves to La Cour des Roses, a gorgeous guesthouse amidst vineyards in France, everything is resting on her success as the new guesthouse manager. 

Looming in the calendar is the biggest booking ever, when the entire eccentric, demanding Thomson family will descend for a golden wedding anniversary. With airbeds on the floor and caravans in the garden, La Cour des Roses will be bursting at the seams. 

Emmy knows she’s up to the challenge, especially with the support of the gorgeous Alain, the half-French, half-English, caramel-eyed accountant. But she hadn’t counted on a naked, sleepwalking travel blogger, or the return of owner Rupert’s venomous ex-wife Gloria. 

Gloria has a few things to say about Emmy’s new role, Rupert’s finances, and the unsuspecting Alain, which send everybody reeling. Just when Emmy can see a future for herself of endless sunshine, true love and laughter, are her dreams about to be ripped at the seams? 


Books that have influenced me #2 – childhood poetry

In my last post on this subject, I talked about Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree books – if you missed the post, you can read it here.

This time, I’m concentrating on poetry from my childhood. Now, this is where I have to confess that, as an adult, I’m not particularly keen on poetry. I do like some I come across – Simon Armitage, for example – but I don’t deliberately seek it.

A Child's Garden of Verse - HPAs a child, however, poetry captured my imagination.  In particular, I remember my grandma bought me A Child’s Garden of Verses by R.L. Stevenson. I still have that copy. I loved it because each poem described life through a child’s eyes. At last! I realised I wasn’t the only child with imagined worlds in my head!

In that book, I particularly loved The Little Land, in which a child who is forced to sit and be bored in a roomful of adults simply shuts his eyes and goes “sailing away . . . To the pleasant Land of Play”, totally transported until he must come back to dull reality. Similarly, in The Land of Counterpane, a child ill in bed imagines that bed as a land
populated by his toys to keep himself occupied. The first The Land of Counterpane - HPpoem I learned off by heart was from this book – Bed in Summer. I had a lot of sympathy with the child who didn’t see why they should have to go to bed while it was still light. But my absolute favourite was The Shadow. I learned that off by heart, too, and I thought (still do) that it was such a clever poem.

That was a book that I would read alone. But I had another book of poems, an anthology called My Kind of Verse, which my older brother would sometimes read to me on the odd occasion my parents were out. Since I was only allowed two poems, I chose carefully, picking longer ones to make the treat last🙂 It might be A Song About Myself (“There was a naughty Boy, A naughty boy was he  …”) by John Keats, perhaps The Jumblies or The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear. But one of my choices was almost always The Akond of Swat (again by Lear) because I loved the way it sounded, the way my brother emphasised the end of each line, and the fact that it conjured up of a picture of … well, I didn’t know quite what, but that was the whole point! (“Who, or why, or which, or what, is the Akond of SWAT?”)

On visits to my local library, I would happily work my way through their Dr Seuss books, but since I read those alone, I had no idea how wonderful they sounded until I started reading them to my own children. I love Dr Seuss books – the way they sound, the messages behind the stories, the nonsense words, and of course those fabulous illustrations.

This post wouldn’t be complete without mention of The Lion and Albert by Marriott Edgar. As a northerner, this wonderful poem was instilled in me from an early age, when my great aunt would recite it to us. Most of our family knows it off by heart, or almost. Wonderfully witty and very northern! We have enjoyed many a happy time with other poems by Edgar, too, such as The Jubilee Sov’rin and Runcorn Ferry, but Albert’s adventure with Wallace the lion is in our blood!

Albert 'Arold and Others - HP

Why and how have these favourite childhood poems influenced me?

They showed me that it was okay to imagine, and that those imaginings could be captured by words. They taught me the pleasure of words arranged in a certain way, and that the choice of a word could  be of crucial importance to get an idea across – finding the perfect word, or sometimes using a totally unexpected word to surprise and delight the reader. And they allowed me the simple pleasure of enjoying a perfect rhythm in their recital, like a spoken music, bringing comfort and enjoyment to my childhood years.


Books that have influenced me #1 – Enid Blyton

Early influences? Stories that seep into your consciousness so young, they shape your childhood and perhaps your life?

Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree books.

These are the first books I remember reading independently – and I read them over and over and over again. I hated ‘lights out’ because it meant the end of my reading time. No way! I would sit up in bed, twitching my curtains open to read long past my bedtime by the light of the street lamp! (No wonder I wear glasses.)

Those stories fuelled my vivid imagination. I loved the way Enid Blyton created a whole world in the Enchanted Wood, and then the Magic Faraway Tree itself, populated by a host of recurring characters you came to know and love – Moonface, Silky, Saucepan Man. I was desperate to taste those pop biscuits and toffee shocks, and to take a long ride down the slippery slip.

And as if this lovely imaginary world wasn’t enough, there were whole new worlds every time the children ventured beyond the top of the tree. The land of goodies, the land of spells (my personal favourite) . . . Fabulous!

But why did these books  influence me so much?

They gave me a great deal of comfort. Whenever the real world seemed confusing or upsetting, all I had to do was lose myself in the worlds in those books, and I was transported away from my childhood troubles.

They allowed my imagination to take flight and they planted that tiny seed – the desire to be a writer when I grew up. (Yes, I know, it took an awful lot longer than that!) I wanted to be able to do what Enid Blyton did – to create my own worlds. Whenever I’d finished work ahead of time in class, the teacher would indulgently allow me to write stories. Then I got a special notebook at home and started writing stories in that, too. I still have it, although it’s a little battered now.

squirrel nut

I’m certainly not the only writer to have been influenced by Enid Blyton – I’ve read a lot of comments on social media and blogs recently along similar lines. If it wasn’t the Enchanted Wood books, then for some people it was the Famous Five. Enid Blyton obviously had an enormous influence, not only in bringing pleasure and a sense of adventurous freedom to children’s lives, but in inspiring some of those children to become writers themselves someday.

I still have those Magic Faraway Tree books somewhere. I read them to my daughter when she was little (subtly altering some of the now-rather-politically-incorrect names as I went along!) They are up in the attic. I’ve been on a very long hunt for them  so I could take a photo for this post – but if you saw the state of my attic, you’d understand why they haven’t as yet come to light!

Floor of attic

What matters is that I know they’re there, somewhere . . . and I would never part with them.

An armchair tour around Yorkshire

I have been so ridiculously busy the past couple of weeks with work and family that I simply haven’t had time to blog.

So I have decided to cheat and, in the spirit of it being summer and a time to get out and about, I’m flagging up past posts of lovely local places that I enjoy visiting on a regular basis, in case you missed them first time around and fancy a quick armchair trip to Yorkshire . . .

Bettys windowA real Yorkshire Treat . . .  a Fat Rascal!

The elegant spa town of Harrogate, Valley Gardens, the famous Bettys tea rooms (and a Fat Rascal)



Salts Mill books #2My favourite bookshop – Salts Mill

A converted mill in the industrial town of Saltaire, David Hockney, and books galore



Haworth heatherHaworth and the Yorkshire Moors

A guest post on Linda Huber’s blog about Haworth and the Yorkshire Moors as a setting for a winter romance (Please note that the book mentioned in the post is no longer on sale!)


bridge at Studley RoyalA day out at Studley Royal, North Yorkshire

Landscaped grounds, a medieval deer park, Victorian church and the seven bridges valley



Ilkley moor #5On Ilkla moor baht ‘at

A brisk walk on the moors above Ilkley (and, naturally, a trip to Bettys cafe)



If you visited any, I hope you enjoyed your day out!