There are few things better than to be browsing the headlines while you take a break from writing, only to see a photo of one of your favourite people on the planet being celebrated for doing what he loves, and for doing it so danged well.

‘The Montemurro effect.’ Word.

You’re the greatest, Pepe… or should I say, ‘Joe’.

Couldn’t be happier for you and your team, even if you don’t play ‘real’ footy 🤣😘

Only now I have cook’s block, if that can be a thing (… please note… that was an ‘o’… COOK block. Get that mind out of the gutter).

Too many choices of cuisine.

Mystery box challenge tonight. What can I do with a whole cauliflower and a whole butternut pumpkin? I’ve been reading over my Emerald Tablet manuscript and it’s taking my palette to Egypt and the Middle East. So I’m thinking whole roast cauliflower with tabbouleh and homemade tahini sauce (thank you, Claudia Roden), and pumpkin soup with roast almonds, dukkah and caramelised onions.

What do you reckon?

OK. Here it is….

The Suez Canal, 1956.

The world teeters on the brink of nuclear war and the Middle East is a tinderbox.

Conversely, redeemed archaeologist Benedict Hitchens is enjoying a peaceful existence after years in the professional and personal wilderness. His recent discoveries in western Turkey secured him a place in history and the smart thing to do would be to ignore his growing fear that Britain, France and Israel’s imminent invasion of Egypt to liberate the Suez Canal is only a diversion.

But Ben’s natural inclination towards self-sabotage is never far below the surface. When he learns that the woman who betrayed him is leading a team into the Sinai Desert in search of an ancient treasure, he puts everything at risk to seek his revenge.

She is as brilliant as Benedict, but has had to fight to survive in a world dominated by men. Having aligned herself with unprincipled and ruthless people to further her own interests, her motivations are laid bare as she confronts ghosts she’d rather forget, and make amends for past wrongdoings.

Both are forced to grapple with their own personal demons as they race to unearth a secret that will, in the wrong hands, mean the annihilation of humankind.

Arriving in printed form via Pan Macmillan and as an audiobook from Bolinda in July.

For those of you who haven’t given it a stab, the process of writing a novel is, for me anyway, like having a tip truck dump a pile of LEGO blocks in your driveway, your mission being to construct the opening credits of Game of Thrones (look it up) without any instructions.

Translation: a hella big job lies before you.

So the arrival of the proof copies of my next novel, ‘The Emerald Tablet’, in the mail today caused me to shriek and jump up and down.

And if you know me well, you’ll also know how out of character that is.

So, in summary, EEEEEEEEEEEEE…..!

What do you think? Time to crack out the bubbles? 🍾🥂

No matter which faith or belief system you’ve signed up for – or lack of same – one thing you can’t deny is that the entrepreneurial spirits who crafted the early Christian Church were masters of marketing.

Want to amp up your convert numbers to keep upper management happy when your KPIs for the year are calculated? Align yourself with a popular local, non-Christian, deity.

See: Eostre – a pre-Christian goddess who oversaw springtime celebrations in Olde England, which also happened to coincide roughly with Jewish Passover and that passage of Jesus’ reported life story.

Spoiler alert – he dies. And rises again!

So what metaphors were chosen to represent new life? Spring and eggs (couldn’t be too abstract when dealing with pagans, you see. The more obvious the better).

Abundance and rebirth = bunnies, who procreate like, well, bunnies.

So, from Eostre/spring goddess, we get Easter. Which is also why English speakers have ‘Easter’ and other Euro languages have words relating to ‘Passover’… eg: Pâques in France, Pascha in Greek.

As for the Easter Bunny… Well, don’t ever accuse the Germans of being too serious – they gave us the Easter hare who brought eggs to good little children. Which became chocolate. Because… chocolate.

Though logic fails with the Easter hare’s inability to lay eggs and lack of opposable thumbs to craft same.

But, chocolate. Easy to suspend disbelief.

Anyway, happy Eostre, all. And, remember- if you’re ever at risk of thinking you’ve signed up for an exclusive club that makes you more special than everybody else, likelihood is that someone else has been there already.

How, you ask? When you’re outside fretting about the fact that it’s mid-April and you’re wearing a t-shirt and watering your plants because you literally haven’t had any meaningful rain in months, and everything seems gravely out of whack.

But then you see them.

Sweet, juicy tomatoes and plump cucumbers on bushes that should have given up the ghost a month ago.

Don’t get me wrong. What we’re doing to the planet is terrifying. I fluctuate between fury and a feeling of utter impotence at the inaction of the world’s leadership. And my vote in the upcoming election will be based on which party/ies offer the most compelling platform on climate issues.

But… tomatoes! In mid-Autumn!

To be served tonight with bocconcini and basil (also still growing nicely, thank you, disturbing weather – the basil, silly, not the cheese) with some lovely aged balsamic and EVOO.

Small mercies, right?