Back home, seeing the boys and celebrating our anniversary

Phew and breathe! I’m home again and loving it – even in the rain and cold!

The world feels like a very small place sometimes. I sit here tip-tapping away on my laptop and this time last week I was in Kowloon in Hong Kong, enjoying the sights and smells of such a vibrant, busy city. My last week in New Zealand was wonderful. Auckland was very kind to us in terms of weather and it made working and exploring truly wonderful.

Countdown to the launch of Nadine Dorries' heart-breaking new novel

1950s Liverpool. In the tight-knit Irish Catholic community of the Four Streets, two girls are growing up.

One is motherless - and hated by the cold woman who is determined to take her dead mother's place. Will her adored father wake up to what is happening before it is too late?

The other is hiding a dreadful secret which she dare not let slip to anyone, lest it rips the heart out of the community. And yet, how long can she possibly live with it?

Dana Stabenow remembers the 1964 Alaska earthquake

Fifty years ago today, in 1964, Alaska was hit by the most powerful earthquake America had ever seen. The damage was unprecedented: 139 lives were lost, buildings were destroyed beyond repair and some areas ended up permanently underwater. Dana Stabenow was just 12 years old at the time, but can still remember every detail... 

I'm from Seldovia, a village in southcentral Alaska. There is no road, you could and still can get to it only by boat or plane.

Writing from Tutukaka harbour

I’m sitting here on the terrace, with crickets and frogs serenading me as I type - overlooking Tutukaka harbour on the North Island of New Zealand. The rugged sea is smashing against the rocks and the whole landscape is one of barren majesty.  Lush green forest swoops down until it meets the rocks and shoreline that border the most dramatic beaches.  Autumn has arrived in New Zealand and the temperature is a very pleasant 70°.

Polemic of the Year

Paddy Power Political Book Awards 2014 Polemic of the Year

And the votes are in… Daniel Hannan has won Paddy Power’s Political Book Awards Polemic of the Year with How We Invented Freedom & Why It Matters. The awards were presented last night in glorious, 85-ft 3D at the BFI IMAX.

The judges were looking for a powerfully persuasive book that covered previously uncharted territory, sparked discussion and beguiled readers. And Daniel’s book is just that – a passionate, page-turning story of how the inhabitants of a damp island on the western tip of the Eurasian landmass stumbled upon the extraordinary idea that the state was the servant, and not the master, of the individual.

We have arrived in glorious Sydney

Started the week in Blighty where the sun was making a valiant attempt to peek through the clouds – hope that weather has continued, it makes everything seem that bit brighter. I spent Monday with my best friend, which was lovely. It was a much-needed girl’s catch up (you know what I mean ladies) and to hear all about her crazy adventures flying planes.

Caroline Sandon on the real-life history behind Burnt Norton

When we moved to Burnt Norton fifteen years ago I was given an old newspaper article. It told of a night in September 1741 when Sir William Keyt then owner of Norton House set fire to his bed curtains and burnt himself to death in the house he had so recently completed.

To research the historical detail, first I contacted some of the local Keyt descendents. A direct descendent of Sir William sent me a family tree and from this I was able to build a picture of his family. Afterwards I contacted the Gloucestershire County Council who sent me an engraving of the house before the fire. Another source of information was the church. Gravestones and parish registers confirmed dates of baptism and death, they also gave me a snapshot into the past.

Love crime fiction? Download Apple's Book of the Week

Water Music, part of the Dr Clare Hart series, is the atmospheric new thriller by Margie Orford. A former investigative journalist turned police profiler, Dr Clare Hart is cerebral and intensely private. She takes the violence meted out to women and children head on, her courage, intelligence and her intimate knowledge of Cape Town her preferred weapons of choice.

Our roof disaster - time for a cuppa!

This week has lasted a couple of days. Whoooooosh…. one minute it was Monday morning and now its the weekend! How did that happen?

I’ve been having a good old think about the things that count as you do when something in your life goes belly up! We’ve had a mini crisis this week (and only a very minor hiccup in the scheme of things) but nothing that can keep us down for long.