For a feel-good summer read featuring a crazy cream golden retriever, a handsome border collie, sunshine, beach and a mystery in the forest.
Yesterday afternoon at 2.30 pm, Poppy and I had a wonderful time at Wyre Forest Books. Poppy was the usual sociable host and greeted many who came into the shop to listen to me talk about the story behind the book, followed by a reading of the first chapter.
During this, everyone was treated to glasses of prosecco or orange juice and homemade sausage rolls and doggie-style cupcakes baked by my friends, Fai and Jackie.
Although it was hot outside with temperatures in the high 80s, we were nice and cool inside, thanks to the fans and our chilled drinks.
Poppy, the Queen for the day, had her own fan, a bowl of chilled water and a strawberry doggo ice cream. Those familiar with Poppy's crazy cream adventure books
know that strawberry ice cream is one of her favourite treats.
Bookmarks were given out, and books were signed, and we talked about my future projects, which are two books; one another crazy cream adventure and the other a spooky thriller.
To give you the best experience of what yesterday held, I'll replicate what I can here, right now 😁
Hello everyone and thank you for joining us today for the launch of our latest in the Crazy Cream Adventures; Poppy Loves Devon.
The book tour has just finished, and we've received wonderful reviews from librarians, bookbloggers, authors and the children from Year four at Sutton Valence Primary School in Kent. We've had reviews such as, 'Please write another book!' to, 'I'm so in love with Poppy.' and 'a gorgeous summer read with a delightful canine heroine.' It's great to get feedback like this and it makes all the hard work that goes into writing a book worthwhile. If you've read any of my books, please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads because it really does help - and it's also lovely to read them.
I called the book, Poppy Loves Devon because the story is set during a summer holiday on the Devonshire Coast - and we go there every year - Poppy loves it there.
The story is fiction but it's based on a place we stayed at a few years ago called Biteford Farm just outside Bideford in Devon. The drawings are from photographs I'd taken whilst staying there.
Some parts of the book are true such as the cottage and the pigs. those pigs were so friendly and Poppy loved running alongside their fence. She'd growl and howl while they grunted to her, trying their best to keep up with her. Other elements are not true though, such as the monster in the wood - thankfully.
Poppy Loves Devon is the second in the Crazy Cream Adventure Series. The first is Poppy On Safari and you'll find copies here in Wyre Forest Books. It tells the story of Poppy getting lost in the Safari Park. She meets a different animal in each chapter and each one tells a different story. Yet, the main story throughout the book is Poppy trying to find her family.
That's a snippet of what I said to everyone who joined us yesterday for the book launch. Following this, I read the opening chapter - and just for you, here it is, so grab yourself a prosecco or an orange juice, sit back and enjoy ...
POPPY LOVES DEVON Summer Holiday
Poppy, the crazy cream retriever, trotted down the hall, her tail wagging, nose twitching and stomach grumbling. What was that smell? It was delicious! By the time she reached the living room, she had recognised the tantalising tasty aroma of one of her many favourite things – toast.
She stopped in the doorway and looked around. She lifted her chin and sniffed the air. She licked her lips, lapping up the drool that was already forming around her jowls.
No one seemed to be about, even though she could hear them. Her family were busy getting their things together. Mom and Dad were gathering their bags, mobile phones, camera and keys. Amidst the hustle and bustle, Poppy sensed everyone’s excitement, and she felt it too.
Soon, they would be on the road to Devon, one of her favourite places – except for the forest, that it is.
Every year the family spent a week on the Devonshire coast. Mom always said that the fresh sea air was good for everyone – and yes, that was true. But really, Poppy liked the ice cream parlours. Deliciously cool ice cream in an array of different flavours. Vanilla, raspberry, bubble gum, cookies and cream, and of course – her favourite – strawberry.
At the thought of food, Poppy curled her tongue around another string of slobber swinging from her jowls. She stared at the plate of hot buttered toast sitting on the coffee table just waiting to be eaten.
Poppy sat down and grunted.
She remembered all too clearly what had happened last time she helped herself to food from the table…
Back then, her family had been setting off for a day at the safari park – and what a fabulous day it had turned out to be. But it hadn’t been the greatest start. Poppy’s mouth watered as she thought back to that delicious bowl of ice cream – Dad’s ice cream – that had been left on the table. How could she resist? Then she remembered Dad walking in and finding the empty bowl. Seeing how unhappy he was had made her feel miserable.
Never again would she help herself to food that was not in her bowl.
‘Is that all the bags?’ Mom called from in the kitchen.
Poppy looked over her shoulder and saw Dad walking past carrying a large bag and pulling an even bigger suitcase behind him.
‘I hope so,’ he said, breathing heavily.
Poppy trotted after him. She made her parent – or pawrent, as she liked to call her mom and dad – laugh by growling and howling at him.
‘Won’t be long now, Poppy,’ he said.
Beads of sweat glistened on Dad’s brow as he heaved the bag off his shoulder and let go of the bulging case. He stood rubbing where the strap had been.
‘We’re only going for a week,’ he grumbled, but seeing Poppy, he smiled and winked. ‘We’ll soon be back on that beach, Pop.’ He leaned down and rubbed her chin.
Poppy licked his hand, her tail wagging with excitement. She loved the beach. All that sand to dig, dig and dig. One of these days she was going to reach the bottom of that giant sandpit.
She glanced over at the small sandpit in the garden, the one little Evie still loved to play in. Evie was her human sister and one of her favourite playmates. The other was Jack, her human brother.
Poppy spotted one of Jack’s footballs in the sandpit and another beside the tree. He’d discovered a new passion – football. Poppy loved playing this game with Jack and Dad. She had a feeling, though, that sometimes they didn’t appreciate her stealing the ball. But it was fun being chased by them while holding the ball in her mouth.
Two pigeons swooped down and landed in the sandpit. Poppy’s heart raced. She loved chasing pigeons. She growled softly then set off at full pelt, barking excitedly. The pigeons didn’t move. Poppy was getting closer and closer.
Oh my word, I’m actually going to catch them!
Her excitement spilt over into a succession of deep barks. But just as she was within leaping distance, the birds took off, teasingly slow but still out of Poppy’s reach.
She stopped. Tongue out. Panting. Her tail fell still. But then her nose twitched. She knew that smell. She turned just in time to see a rabbit racing across the lawn.
‘Wait!’ she barked, starting to run again. ‘Wait a minute!’
The rabbit disappeared through a small hole in the hedge.
Poppy grumbled at the hedge. She sniffed, pressing her nose against the hole, wishing she was small enough to squeeze through it. She tried digging around the hole. Yet try as she might, she just couldn’t squeeze through. She pressed her nose through the gap and then she heard Dad’s voice.
‘Aye! Stop that!’
Slowly, Poppy stepped back and looked over her shoulder. Dad had loaded the bags into the car and was now watching her.
She was about to walk over to him when she heard a scratching sound and the soft thud of something landing not too far away. Poppy turned. There, peering down at her, was Boxer, the pub’s cat.
The White Stag pub and restaurant was only a few doors down from their house. Her family went there to celebrate special occasions like birthdays and Christmas. Poppy had been there many, many times.
The White Stag was a large place with a cool tiled floor that was nice for sitting on during hot summer days. It also had thick wooden beams running from floor to ceiling that Poppy would have loved to sink her teeth into. But what she loved most of all was when the landlady gave her a bowl filled with meat from the day’s carvery. Roasted beef, lamb, turkey or chicken.
Boxer, the White Stag’s cat, liked to wander into Poppy’s garden all the time. Poppy wouldn’t have minded if the cat came to play, but he didn’t. Boxer was a tease, a big, grey and white tease. He’d march into her garden and roll on to his back, showing off his super-huge white feet.
Poppy wished that just one of these animals, who had the cheek to trespass on her turf, would play with her from time to time. But, like all the others, Boxer was never any fun. Every time he lay on his back, Poppy trotted over. Sometimes she’d run, other days she’d creep up to him. But Boxer always heard her and jumped out of reach – or would take a swipe at her with one of his huge white paws.
Now, here he was again, peering down at Poppy from the top of the fence.
‘I suppose you’re going to run away again?’ Poppy barked.
Boxer stared at her with his big, pale green eyes.
Poppy stared back.
Why didn’t he run? Could it be that Boxer finally wanted to play?
Poppy wagged her tail. She barked happily.
But as soon as she jumped up against the fence, her weight making the panel sway and creak, Boxer arched his back. He hissed at her then turned tail and leapt off the ridge and into the field behind.
Poppy stood up against the fence, staring at the now empty space where Boxer had been.
She whined, imagining the rabbit, and now the cat, having a fantastic game together in that field – the one she couldn’t get into.
‘Are we ready?’ Poppy heard Mom say.
‘Yes, I was just watching Poppy,’ Dad called back.
‘Let me guess, was she chasing the rabbits again?’
Poppy heard the laughter in Dad’s voice as he said, ‘And the pigeons, and Boxer. Honestly, Jane, Poppy needs a playmate.’
Poppy spun round.
A playmate? Share my family? Not likely!
She raced over to them.
‘I’ve already got my playmates, thank you very much,’ she barked as Dad opened the car door. She leapt inside, landing in between Jack and Evie.
First she licked Jack’s hand, then Evie’s, happy to have two of the best buddies she could wish for. Yet, there had been another, someone she missed very much.
Poppy sighed, thinking back and wondering about her little furriend. What adventures they’d had around the safari park! How she’d worried about him. Protected him. The fun they’d had together. Yet, she doubted her little furriend was that little anymore. Maybe he’d be the one protecting her – if only they could meet up again.
She rested her head against Evie’s shoulder – much to her little sister’s delight.
‘Come on then, let’s go,’ Mom said, settling into the car and fastening her seatbelt.
Dad climbed in. He turned in his seat and grinned at Jack, Evie and Poppy.
‘Are we all buckled up?’
‘Yes,’ said Jack and Evie.
‘Is Poppy all buckled up?’
‘Right then, off we go.’
Dad started the engine. The children chattered excitedly as the car turned out of the driveway.
Poppy looked out of the back window, watching their house disappear into the distance.
‘Devon, here we come!’ Poppy howled.
In my next blog, I'll talk about the wonderful time I had on the book tour and I recommend every author has one!
If you'd like to purchase a copy of either Poppy Loves Devon - or Poppy On Safari, you'll also find them on Amazon using the links below:
Alternatively, if you're lucky enough to be in Devon, you'll find copies at these fabulous Devonshire Bookshops:
Walter Henry Books, Bideford
Liznojan Books, Tiverton
DogBerry and Finch, Okehampton
The Crazy Cream Adventures is also stocked at:
Chicken and Frog Bookshop, Brentwood, Essex
Nantwich Book Shop, Nantwich, Cheshire.
Stay safe and cool during this heatwave. 😎