Knife And Death*

It’s Shabbat and Yontive but the Holmes Place gym in the mall is open. Brother takes me there and I do four sets of all my weights and a bit of Pilates. The gym is massive and busy: lots of people are not in synagogue and are at the gym instead. Most people in Israel are not religious.

Hannah’s brother and his husband visit from Tel Aviv with their nine month old baby whom they are in the process of adopting. She smiles and waves and is very active – very fast at crawling. Here we are:

Have lunch and then meditate and sleep. Have just woken up and had a coffee. Need to clean my lenses as we’re going out to dinner tonight.

Seder last night was lovely. On the walk last night we see a jay. Here they have black crests – let’s see if can find a photo. Here he is:

Unfortunately have to go to bed in their guest room at nine o’clock – Seder is tiring as there’s so much reading out loud to do before the meal about our escape from Egypt. Luckily we’d read most of the Haggadah by the time I have to lie down.

Have a bit of nausea today maybe due to late night last night: we don’t make it home till nearly midnight.

Happy Saturday everyone!

*2017. By Jay Gill. A DCI James Hardy Murder mystery novel, Book 1. Set in London.

The Passover Murder*

Gym Personal Training session with brother this morning. His trainer is thrilled to see him after he’s taken many months off.

Brother is actually gifted at training. There is an exercise where you tilt your pelvis forward whilst holding a mini-skateboard and he can do it until he’s horizontal. I suggest that trainer films him performing the exercise. He hasn’t trained for months and yet he can do everything perfectly.

There are also sideways skateboard lunges, one leg lifts up on step with kettlebell, going up and down to forearms with straight legs and triceps dips on box. Also TRX pull ups and push ups on Bosu ball:

Next do chest press with bar and lat pull downs. Many exercises in fact. We do well. Then brother has a glass of vodka as gym owner is celebrating Passover which starts tonight:

We have a coffee with brother’s trainer at Greg’s and then walk home.

After lunch, meditate and rest but can’t sleep which is annoying as will have late night tonight at Passover Seder. We will be at brother’s friends where we’ve been for the past four years.

Must have bath and shave legs as despite the inclement weather will be wearing my new Frank Lyman dress from Myla Clare. Actually ask Mum if she’s brought any tights as it’s So Cold. She hasn’t.

Chag Sameach and/or Happy Easter everyone!

*1996. By Lee Harris. An ex-nun Christine Bennett mystery, Book 7. Set in New York.

Murder In The Holy City*

My brother’s colleague, her husband and son come round for dinner last night. We have great chats and a lovely time.

This morning we drive through the Galil to the Golan Heights to visit Nimrod Fortress which was built by Saladin’s nephew in 1260AD. Back then this area was under Arab control.

Here I am with brother near the top of the fortress:

There is quite a lot of climbing upwards and my lungs protest.

Here are some more bits of the fortress. Brother says it’s not busy as Arab historical sites are not heavily promoted by the Israeli tourism board:

After we have a walk around, being careful not to fall down the uneven stone steps, brother takes us to a lovely restaurant. There is a stream and ducks, geese, a cockerel and even a peacock and guinea fowl:

In the above photo if you look right in the middle there is a jay. Here they have black heads.

After lunch we have a two hour drive home.

Meditate but don’t sleep. Wake up and have a coffee, a Diet Coke and sit out on my balcony.

It is meant to rain today but doesn’t. Which is good as we’re out and about.

Tonight we are having felafel for supper as tomorrow Passover begins and we won’t be allowed chickpeas anymore.

Tomorrow morning we are training at the beach with brother’s trainer at 9.30am. Am looking forward to it.

Happy Thursday everyone!

*1998. By Simon Beaufort. A Sir Geoffrey Mappestone Murder mystery novel, Book 1. Set in Crusader Jerusalem in 1100AD.

The New Countess*

Wake up about 7.40am and walk to the gym at 8.15am. Brother is picking us up to take us to the beach at ten o’clock and need to be back at the house by then.

Walk to gym. It’s not warm and wear my big Cyclezone hoodie which have been sporting most days here. Have brought The Wrong Clothes for the weather: three swimsuits, three bikinis and three flimsy swimsuit cover-ups for a start, plus about another six dresses. Other than my gym shorts, have worn trousers and my hoodie every day. Oh well.

Do four sets of all my weights at the gym and fall-forwards and fall-backs on the TRX as well as triceps dips on the box. Walk home, picking up a coffee from Greg’s on the way home.

Brother drives us to the beach. It’s cold and windy but Mum photographs me in my last year’s Marks and Spencer swimsuit:

Here’s my Matthew Williamson swimsuit cover-up:

Here’s the beautiful sea 🌊:

We have brunch and then settle down on the grass to read our books. Read the whole of Book Three of Fay Weldon’s Love And Inheritance trilogy, The New Countess. It’s gripping, fascinating and brilliant:

Meditate and have a short sleep. Now must have a wash before tonight: maybe brother will let me use his bath.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

*2013. By Fay Weldon. Historical novel. Book Three in the Love and Inheritance trilogy about the Dilberne family. This one is set in 1905.

Hill Of Secrets*

We have a fantastic meal in the port last night at a new restaurant called Lux. I have aubergine carpaccio and a fattoush salad. Show you:

In England a fattoush salad has strips of pitta but here they are fried bits of bread.

Here’s the whole spread:

Mum has sea bass and brother has seared tuna:

Sleep well although wake up a few times and have bad dreams. These drowsy antihistamines are not as good as my beloved Promethazine.

Wake up at 7.20am, have coffee on my balcony:

Then walk to the gym. A shop here sells my favourite label Joseph Ribkoff and I love this dress:

Look at this beautiful Bottle Brush tree:

There is a lovely person at the gym when arrive. Cuddle her and have a Border Collie facial wash:

Trainer arrives. Request that we do Upper Body as legs and abs are sore from the last two days exertions. She sort-of listens although we start with obliques – lifting a five kilogram ball and twisting up and down:

We do Kettlebell squats with shoulder press with a ten kilogram kettlebell and then drop backs and drop forwards on the TRX machine. It’s another tough session: Functional Training is Hard Work.

Walk home via the mall where I purchase a lovely homemade protein shake with yoghurt, banana and Nutella.

My Uncle and cousin visit. We go to Biga the kosher restaurant as they are both kosher. It’s good to see them but I have a new problem: my new shoes give me a painful blister on the joint of my big toe and walking hurts. Apply plasters but to no avail.

Manage some of the huge Farmer’s Salad at Biga:

Unfortunately am tired, grumpy due to painful blister and very tired. Feel irrationally annoyed with the others for ordering unnecessary starters: the portions are huge at the restaurant as you can see.

Leave at two o’clock and then walk home for my sleep, leaving the others at the restaurant. About ten minutes into the thirty minute walk I take off my shoes and walk home barefoot.

It’s hot today and wear my yellow dress and my hat and sun cream. Feel that have caught the sun a bit.

Meditate and sleep for an hour and a half. Brother has just arrived home after taking them to see his University and then on to the station. Cousin catching train to Tel Aviv then bus to Jerusalem and Uncle taking train to Tel Aviv then flying back to England.

Sit on my balcony in the sunshine drinking my coffee. Hope no-one is going to make me go anywhere else today. Need to relax at the house. Have upset tummy: am just not used to these big meals and my body rebels against them.

Have booked Spin for next Tuesday when am back and will see my Dolly then too. Miss her today.

Am enjoying the holiday, or most of it at any rate. Just need to limit my food consumption as too much rich food has a bad effect on me. Have put new shoes aside whilst blister heals.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

*2014. By Michal Hartstein. A Jewish Israeli crime thriller starring Detective Hadas Levinger, a renegade atheist daughter of a religious family.

Why Will No-One Publish My Novel?*

How To Be A Writer

  1. Read. Read everything. Good books for style, bad books so you know what mistakes to avoid. My major influences are: Martin Amis, Bret Easton Ellis, Elizabeth Jane Howard, Fay Weldon, Agatha Christie, P.D. James, Penelope Lively, Antonia Fraser, Selina Hastings, Jilly Cooper, Virginia Woolf, Stephen King, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Jonathan Franzen, Philip Roth and too many others to mention. The more you read, the better your vocabulary will be and consequently the better your writing will be.
  2. Write every day. I blog every day and this gives me the confidence to know that I can write whenever I sit down to do it. Have a pen and paper next to your bed and write down your dreams when you wake up. Write before you listen to the news or read anything by anyone else. If you’re stuck: do some automatic writing. Set a timer for ten minutes and just write whatever comes into your head. Don’t let your hand leave the paper. You’ll be surprised at what you produce.
  3. Walk. I thought of this morning’s poem on the walk back from the gym. Dickens and Virginia Woolf used to take long walks. Walking makes the brain produce Inspiration.
  4. Inspiration can strike at any time. Always keep a pen and notebook with you. I’ve written on trains, buses, waiting for a play or film to begin, waiting at stations or bus stops.
  5. If Inspiration fails, try a change of scene. Travel and experiencing new things can act as a catalyst for new ideas.
  6. Write in cafes, restaurants, on the beach or in the park.
  7. Impose a deadline by promising to send a friend two thousand words or so. This will make you produce something.
  8. Plan, but know that your story will shape itself, often spiralling into unexpected scenarios. Your characters will take on their own lives and surprise you.
  9. Have a calm, quiet, clear space in which to write.
  10. When Inspiration is absent, edit. Dostoyevsky wrote eight drafts of The Idiot. It never hurts to go through your writing with a red pen, taking out info dumps and extraneous adverbs.
  11. Experiment with different styles of writing. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to write a radio play or a film script. Give it a go. I wrote fiction for years, then a Memoir and now I mainly write poetry. It’s all worth writing.
  12. Get angry about something and then write about it. Good writing often comes from a sense of injustice, railing against the unfairness of the world.
  13. On public transport, write down conversations that you hear. This will improve your dialogue no end.
  14. Watch television. Some of the best writing these days is for television and it will help you with structure, plotting, suspense and endings.
  • Read books on how to write. Stephen King’s On Writing is wonderful. Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey is worth a look. Dorothea Brande’s classic Becoming A Writer is great, as is Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down The Bones. I lent my Scarlett Thomas Monkeys With Typewriters to Hannah years ago and she still has it, so that’s a recommendation. Fay Weldon has just published Why Will No-One Publish My Novel? Which is bound to be wonderful.
  • Hope this helps.
  • Happy Monday everyone!
  • *2018. By Fay Weldon. Book of advice for the rejected writer.

    Murder On Sheinken Street*

    This long-cherished dream of this land,

    Held by the wandering Jews for five thousand years,

    They longed to return here,

    From exile in hostile places,

    Hated for their different faces,

    Forbidding dress, unusual customs:

    Killed in pogroms, wars, ghettos –

    Finally the Holocaust:

    Britain is forced

    To return the biblical land of Israel

    To the stateless Jews.

    This arid desert landscape blooms –

    Roman irrigation revived,

    Israel thrives: a desert oasis blooms:

    Self sufficient now in fruit, vegetables, meat –

    Antirrhinum blossoms on every street,

    And outside cafes people chat and eat,

    Protected by the Iron Dome

    From Muslim powers’ rockets.

    Iran’s nuclear weapons point here –

    The only democracy in the Middle East.

    Biblical Hebrew revived – people speak it now:

    Cultural life blossoms, and how!

    This melting pot of peoples, faiths –

    Arabs, Jews and Christians mingle,

    The spine tingles with excitement here:

    Fountains flow,

    Mountains rise up from the sea.

    Arguments explode, drivers toot their horns

    In this ancient land reborn.

    On Shabbat, everything shuts down,

    And all around the town

    People walk to friends to chat and drink and eat,

    And argue, eat,

    And finally waddle home replete

    In the afternoon

    To sleep off the excess.

    Teens dress in Western fashions,

    Madonna plays here and the Rolling Stones –

    Though Roger Waters moans

    That Israel must be boycotted.

    The right holds power,

    Bibi’s rule entrenched

    For a fifth term.

    Liberals shake their heads, and bench,

    And long for peace. Which seems so far away.

    Israel sends a rocket to the moon,

    She leads the world in tech and medicine:

    A cure for cancer isn’t far away,

    Or so the papers say.

    The military’s strong,

    Intelligence the best

    Mossad leads the rest.

    Flags wave in the breeze:

    Blue on white: David’s star over the great king’s domain,

    The hopes and dreams of this proud people remain:

    To lead the world in science, industry and thought –

    Peace with her neighbours can be bought:

    Trump and Putin love Bibi,

    Saudi Arabia will come onside soon.

    In the desert, osteospermum blooms.

    Egypt and Jordan are her friends

    Though the Intifada never ends,

    But Israel, not cowed is strong.

    Though to the rest of the world, she’s always wrong.

    The Zionists have learned the lessons of their Nazi masters, the British Labour Party say,

    Antisemitism thrives today.

    So join with me and pray for peace,

    In G-d’s own land, the Middle East.

    *1992. By Batya Gur. Crime fiction novel set in Tel Aviv starring detective Sephardi policeman Michael Ohayon.

    Blood Oranges*

    Wake up at 7.11am and have a coffee on my balcony. Yesterday afternoon unpack furiously looking for my Promethazine tablets which I need to help me sleep. Somehow I’ve forgotten to pack them.

    Go with brother to the pharmacy. They won’t give me Promethazine without a prescription. In England it’s available over the counter. Ask my Uncle who’s on his way here to pick them up at the airport chemist but they don’t stock them. Email my pharmacy at home requesting my prescription by email but they won’t reply until Monday.

    Brother posts on Haifa English Speakers to see if anyone happens to have any Promethazine: it’s just a drowsy antihistamine. He procures a different drowsy antihistamine which will take tonight.

    By some miracle: sleep last night: it’s hot – twenty eight degrees – and do A Lot of walking yesterday so am very tired.

    Meet brother’s trainer at the gym for Functional Training at 11.30am this morning. This consists of many sets of horrible exercises using mini skateboard; body weight and kettle bells. Do Sumo Squats with kettle bell; lunges and sideways lunges on the skateboard; triceps on the box and triceps push ups. Also do various abs exercises involving rolling the skateboard back and forth whilst dipping pelvis; one leg circles with other leg straight balancing on the skateboard and push ups going up and down with hands down to elbows and back.

    Here’s my sideways lunge with skateboard:

    Here’s the gym dog:

    Brother has paid for sessions at this gym that he’s never used, so will return there for weightlifting. Trainer is impressed with the improvement in my fitness since last year when, unbeknownst to me, lungs had filled with fluid and collapsed so couldn’t breathe. Have indeed improved fitness A Lot in the last few months since have been studying and training for Pilates Instructor Course and wearing leg weights all the time.

    Walk home, picking up more protein bars and mosquito 🦟 repellent on the way as have already been bitten. Brother says mosquitos prefer O negative blood which we both possess.

    After a windy, overcast walk, arrive home for lunch. Rest and meditate but can’t sleep.

    Hotmail has locked me out of my account due to me attempting to log in from an unusual place – Israel. Dad starts the process of unlocking account but still can’t receive new emails which is frustrating.

    Have a coffee and a protein bar on my balcony overlooking the sea. Do love it here. Just wish the various problems would disappear, but these things are sent to try us.

    Yesterday, my Goddess Collective chums meet our Guru Melissa Wells at the Hay House Ignite festival. Am So Envious. Apparently Mel is just lovely: I am Desperate to meet her soon!

    Right: must have bath as we have colleagues of brother’s coming for supper soon. Brother is marking exams and Mum is cooking. Am writing this lying on my bed.

    Happy Sunday everyone!

    *2014. By Liad Shoham. Crime fiction novel set in Tel Aviv.


    It’s a pleasant flight with El-Al, which is a surprise. Luton airport is empty and so is Ben Gurion at the other end.

    On the plane I read an entire book:

    It’s set in 1901 at the time of Edward VII’s Coronation. Fay Weldon is such a wonderful writer: she brings the past alive with intricate historical detail, creating characters you can’t help but fall in love with. It’s gripping up to the last page. Highly recommend Fay Weldon’s Long Live The King, Book Two in the Love And Inheritance trilogy. Can’t wait to immerse myself in Book Three now.

    After I finish my book, have a sleep for ninety minutes. We land, pick up our baggage and my brother is there at the airport to meet us and drive us back to Haifa.

    We arrive just in time for sunset. This view never gets old:

    We attend nearby Greg’s Kitchen for dinner which is a whole cauliflower roasted with tahini and yoghurt; fried artichoke hearts a la Romana and a feta, chicory and mixed leaf salad. Walk home and pass out to the sound of jackals howling in the wadi.

    The wind booms in the trees. Wake up at seven and have a coffee. Brother comes round for breakfast. Dad is not adaptable: he’s a fish out of water away from home: fussing and faffing; unable to find the yoghurt in the front of the fridge or even the tea bags above the kettle. Lord give me strength to be patient and kind with my elderly father and don’t let me take out my irritation on him. It’s not his fault.

    For I too struggle to adapt when away from my routine: gym; barre; Pilates; leg weights; dog walks; crime thrillers; protein drinks. Living with a chronic mental disorder is only possible if one adheres to a strict routine. So, I must make one here.

    Darling brother purchases porridge, honey and goji berries so I can consume my normal breakfast. Go for a walk with Mum where I say “we can’t keep stopping to smell the flowers Mum, this is an Exercise Walk, not a ramble so…”

    “I love having a break from my routine. Is that a large tortoiseshell?” Mum says:

    “That’s because you don’t have a mental disorder,” I say, holding my hat on my head as it’s windy on the slopes of Mount Carmel.

    “I daresay,” Mum says. “You mustn’t bully me in front of your brother, he doesn’t like it and…”

    “I’m stressed without my gyms and leg weights,” I say. “I’m sorry but…”

    “You’re going to the gym tomorrow,” Mum says. “Here we are, it’s about a twenty five minute walk. Do you want me to come with you tomorrow or…”

    “No, I like spending time on my own,” I say. “I need some space.”

    “OK darling,” Mum says as we turn back. Now she is sewing a ribbon onto the inside of my hat so I can tie it around my chin. My mother is a saint.

    We see the fountain:

    Some antirrhinum:


    We trek a little way into the wadi where there are these wild daisies:

    Here I am in the wadi:

    Am so pleased with self for losing the cancer weight and am anxious to keep it off. Must achieve plenty of exercise and must not eat too much. At least have some training sessions booked but also aiming for an hour of walking per day, including one more hour today when wake up from afternoon sleep as no cardio or weights today.

    As long as can maintain my exercise, it will all be fine.

    Need a quick wash – may even risk the dangers of a shower – argh The Shower Scene in Psycho – but have a shower here so should use it. We are invited to brother’s friends for lunch. Everyone here is so hospitable. Love Israel.

    Now am going to drink a coffee on my private balcony and gaze at the sea 🌊.

    Happy Saturday everyone!

    *1960. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The groundbreaking horror thriller. Stars Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles and John Gavin. Screenplay by Joseph Stefano, based on the novel by Robert Bloch based on the life of the serial killer Ed Gein. See this film at once if you haven’t already. The infamous Shower Scene is why I’m scared of showers!

    The Flight Attendant*

    Realise on the way out of the house at 6.25am this morning that have forgotten my furry manta ray – Ray. Stuff him into my hand luggage, wrapping his wings around his body. We’re in the cab at 6.30am.

    It’s a quick journey to Luton and the El-Al gate isn’t busy. They ask us if we live together, who packed our luggage and if anyone has given us anything to take to Israel. We assure them that we live together, we pack our own luggage and don’t leave it out of our sight. Security wave us through.

    Somehow my case weighs twenty kilograms: it must be all the cosmetics; protein bars and fifty individual bottles of anti-cancer-ulcer mouthwash.

    We make it through Fast Track Security: I have to remove all my jewellery and shoes and take out my cosmetics in their transparent bag and my phone.

    Make it to Departures where Mum buys me a new Chanel Coco Mademoiselle perfume:

    With my dog walking money I buy this hat from Oliver Bonas:

    I love it. Can’t believe I left all my sun hats at the flat.

    Now we’re having breakfast at Pret:

    Its a sunny day. We’ll be in Israel by 2.40pm which will be 4.40pm Israeli time. Can’t wait to see brother, family members, his trainer, friends and colleagues. Here I am on beautiful Haifa beach last year:

    Right: must consume breakfast, return to the loo and watch some planes taking off.

    Hope you all have a lovely Passover or Easter. I’ll be on when I have Wi-Fi: certainly at the house and maybe in the beach restaurants. Can’t wait to do functional training with brother’s amazing trainer.

    Parentals wouldn’t let me bring my leg weights so must do plenty of exercise to make up for being deprived of this easy calorie burn.

    Parentals are stressed and faffing as usual at the airport – all the security, passport control and baggage checks fluster them. As Suzy instructed: I’m in my protective bubble, which cannot be penetrated by their anxieties. Am calm and happy. I breathe.

    Will see my brother this afternoon – can’t wait!

    Happy Friday everyone!

    *2018. By Chris Bohjalian. A flight attendant wakes up next to a dead man with no clue what, if anything, she had to do with his demise. Thriller.