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My sister Jan (AKA the Queen of Oapschat) and I are spending some time together right now and we decided to liven things up a bit by setting each other a few challenges. Everyone is scared of something, so we thought we would set about confronting some of our biggest fears.


Jan tasting sushi for the first time

Jan's first challenge was eating or at least tasting something she had never tried before. She chose sushi. A result! Every piece was eaten and enjoyed.


Ludlow blog

We have arrived!

Jan isn’t keen on public transport. She doesn’t like not being the driver and not being in control. She hates being crowded on pavements or cooped up with strangers. So standing on a busy station platform then getting on a train for even a short ride was quite a challenge - but today she did it.

She and I took the train from Hereford to Ludlow and Jan didn’t hyperventilate once!


This is scary!!


One of Ludlow Castle walls

As for me - I don’t like heights. The person who first said don’t look down was definitely talking to me!

But today was challenge day, so I braced up, climbed on the ramparts (I think they were ramparts, but my knowledge of mediaeval castle architecture and the naming of its parts is somewhat sketchy) of Ludlow Castle, and tried to stop myself hyperventilating long enough for Jan to take a photograph.


A welcome cup of coffee and a toasted teacake


Another first for Jan - lavender shortbread!

We rewarded ourselves with coffee and cakes at the castle cafe. Jan tried the lavender shortbread, which was a first. I felt I’d been challenged enough for one day so I stuck to toasted teacakes.


The courtyard of The Rose and Crown, Ludlow


Decisions, decisions!

Did we do anything else in Ludlow? Oh - yes - we trained for our challenging afternoon by stuffing ourselves with a traditional roast dinner at the Rose and Crown. It was a lovely day and we both feel somewhat self-satisfied this evening.

Ludlow blog

Photo copyright Helen Vereker

I am wondering how I can challenge Jan next time. She’s going be challenging me by taking me to choir practice with the Helen Vereker Singers and getting me to sing. I dare say quite a few people will suffer.

I was in the Croakers’ Club at school. ‘Just stand there and open your mouth in time to the music,’ the teacher would say. ‘But don’t actually sing.’

Challenge blog

Helen Vereker, choir leader

Challenge blog

Stella Jeenes, second in command!

 Challenge blog

Anthea, Elaine, me and Jan ready for the next song!

Well, I had a really good time at choir practice. Everyone was so friendly that I felt comfortable straight away. I knew some of the songs the choir was practising last night, and I joined in Dancing Queen, Come What May, Chattanooga Choo Choo - and You'll Never Walk Alone, (which I didn't!)

Thank you for making me feel so welcome, ladies and gentlemen of the Helen Vereker Singers! The next time I'm in Hereford I hope I'll see you again.

Challenge blog

Marcher Ladies

My sister is a very friendly and sociable person, but - like most of us - she's a bit nervous about meeting a crowd of new people for the first time and telling them about herself.

So her challenge today was to come along to a Marcher Ladies meeting with me and meet nearly a dozen people face to face. She already knew some of them via social media, but meeting people face to face is a bit different, don't you agree?

She had a good time and was made very welcome and the Marcher Ladies (AKA the Herefordshite chapter of of the RNA) made her feel very welcome. They were interested in her online magazine and promised to contribute some features.

So it was a good day. Well done, Jan - you met all three of the challenges I set successfully! You get a gold star!

So do I, because my final challenge was to catch and evict a behemoth of a spider. I've never seen such a whopper. But I boldly cornered it, trapped it, and now Incey Wincey is sulking at the bottom on the garden. Phew!

This means we've both met this week's three challenges and we've also had some fun. We're going to think up some more challenges for the next time we meet.

Challenge blog

Spider catcher!

Where is the picture of Incey Wincey?

He didn't want his picture taken. We didn't want to freak out any arachnophobic readers, either. So, in the best tradition of Elvis, he left the building before he could be snapped. But here is a picture of our Patent Incey Trap!

We’re not planning on going to the lengths of attempting some Bushtucker Trials or anything horrid like that - neither of us fancies spider sandwiches.


Meet The Author...
Margaret James
Who Am I?

I’m a British writer of historical and contemporary fiction. I’m also a journalist working for the UK’s Writing Magazine and I teach creative writing for the London School of Journalism. I was born in Hereford, but now I live in Devon at the seaside, which is great because it means when I am stuck for a plot I can always go for a walk along the beach and be inspired!

My latest novel is a contemporary romantic comedy, Magic Sometimes Happens.

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