The Montefiore Bride

I’m pleased to host another guest piece today, from novelist and poet Patricia M Osborne. This is an extract from her short story, The Montefiore Bride, published by Hedgehog Poetry Press. You can read more about it – and Patricia – below.

The Montefiore Bride

 A Sussex Fictional Tale Based on Facts

The Arrival – 19th September 1888

Mr Burr and I push past men in top hats and bonneted women hovering around Three Bridges. White and blue bunting shimmers in the autumn sun. Villagers grip red flags. Mr Burr and I wait with eager crowds for the half past four to arrive.

            Red carpet in position, Sir Francis steps outside. I remember his Pa before him, a good man, one to respect, the Bart’s inherited that gift. He escorts his child bride, ‘Ice and Snow.’

            Elegance in satin, her gown embroidered with pearls, she enchants onlookers. The footman opens the carriage, lifts the lady’s moon-lace train. She settles onto the seat. Her spouse slides close, smiles, kisses her hand. We all cheer.    

            Sir Francis gestures to the crowd, confident in his twenty-eighth year, a dignified laugh but his toothbrush tash creeps up and down. As a nipper he spent hours on our farm, watching me shear sheep and milk cows, or in the kitchen with my Mary, dipping his fingers in fruitcake mix, face blanched white with flour.

            Lady Marianne’s slim fingers slip from his palm. Her wee face pale porcelain, nought but a young gal ripped away from her Austrian family.

            Look here, it’s time. Mr Burr and I, we head the procession, he’s hereby from Worth, I be for Crawley, together we lead the bridal party. Blow, bellow, bang— tuba, French horn, drums— Crawley Band booms along the road. A horseman flicks the reins, the cab draws away. Red, yellow, pink blooms of swags and garlands drape across wellingtonia dark greens. Residents in hundreds wave hooray on either side of the flowered tunnel. The pair-horses ease to a halt, jog through an ornate iron-railed entrance, covered with burgundy ivy. I guide them into Worth Park.

Step back to 1888 and become part of the Victorian crowd waiting at Three Bridges Station.

Some background to the story, from Patricia herself:

“Back in 2017 as part of my MA in creative writing I was required to take up a writing residency. I chose my local Victorian Park, Worth Park, in Crawley, West Sussex. As part of the remit, I researched the park’s past going back to 19th September 1888 when Sir Francis Montefiore, the first and last Baronet of Worth Park, brought home his Austrian bride and created a short fictional West Sussex tale, The Montefiore Bride.

The Montefiore Bride is based on facts, filling in the gaps with fiction, which in turn brought me a winning place with The Hedgehog Poetry Press after I entered a prickly shorts competition. The story is published in print by Hedgehog Poetry Press and bound in a beautiful cover to create a prose/poetry pamphlet costing £5.99 plus postage and packaging. Also available in pdf format by email at £2.99. All proceeds of sales from The Montefiore Bride (purchased via my website) go to my local homeless shelter, Crawley Open House.”


Patricia M Osborne is married with grown-up children and grandchildren. She was born in Liverpool but now lives in West Sussex. In 2019 she graduated with an MA in Creative Writing (University of Brighton).

Patricia writes novels, poetry and short fiction, and has been published in various literary magazines and anthologies. She has two published novels, House of Grace and The Coal Miner’s Son and the third in its trilogy, ‘The Granville Legacy’ is to be published March 2021. Her debut poetry pamphlet, Taxus Baccata, and short story, The Montefiore Bride, narrated in prose poetry, were published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press in 2020.

She has a successful blog at where she features other writers and poets. When Patricia isn’t working on her own writing, she enjoys sharing her knowledge, acting as a mentor to fellow writers and as an online poetry tutor with Writers’ Bureau.




Croham Hurst in the Mist

Thought I’d share this poem – published on The Poetry Village earlier this month.

The Poetry Village

Croham Hurst in the Mist

Formless and inviolate,
bright shadow cloaks the hillside,
stealing all distance and direction,
concealing traps – the exposed root, the hidden pool.
Eyes suffused with light but seeing nothing
allow mind to concoct nameless horrors
just beyond the veil.

Enough of fairy tales:
there is a spectral beauty
in this open but secluded place
screened from the buzz of human busyness.
The land, the trees reveal themselves by inches:
outstretched hands and probing footsteps map
the pure topography of space.

Tim Taylor lives in Meltham, West Yorkshire. His poems have appeared in various magazines and anthologies, and his first collection,Sea Without a Shore,was published in 2019 by Maytree Press. He has also published two novels.

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Transcending Lockdown

I’m pleased to host a piece today from Elizabeth Ducie, novelist, publisher and author of The Business of Writing series, who shares her positive perspective on lockdown, despite its challenges.

My Lock-down Gladness Jar

Pinching the idea from a friend who keeps a jar full of positivity recorded on scraps of paper, I’ve always tried to see the positives in the strange time we are living through.

In August, I had knee replacement surgery; and I am grateful for my good health; for the wonderful NHS system which, despite everything, provides excellent care free at the point of delivery; plus enough painkillers to stock a small pharmacy; and the army of folks, both professionals and friends, who supported me, encouraged me, and put up with my moaning for the past six months.

We all complain at times about social media being a time sink; about never being able to switch off. But how much worse lock-down would have been without Zoom? From family chats, through quizzing with friends, to online literary festivals, the options are endless. And not just Zoom. There’s Facebook, Twitter and other Social Media platforms. WhatsAp is great for swapping jokes, pictures and advice. 

I’m a townie, born and bred; but in 2007, we moved to a semi-rural setting on the outskirts of a small town. Our nearest neighbours live in the cow shed across the stream. We’re within walking distance of country lanes and parkland; and a short drive from the seaside and the moors. On our walks we count squirrels; try to identify birds by sight or ear; and attempt to capture that perfect photo. When we first arrived, we took every opportunity to visit Exeter or Plymouth. You can take the girl out of the city but… Now, I’ve not been near a city for nearly a year. And I didn’t miss it one little bit.

Within hours of the lock-down announcement the town council had set up a Task Force to deal with emergencies. Food retailers switched to delivery services and restaurants became takeaways. One thing that’s been overwhelming in our little town and elsewhere is the great sense of community.

There’s a saying doing the rounds: not everything’s cancelled. So true. Sunshine’s not cancelled. Okay, it’s not here much at the moment, but we had some glorious summer days and it will soon be spring again.

Reading’s not cancelled. It’s quite nice to be able to take time during the day sometimes to curl up and lose oneself in a book.

Naps are not cancelled. When I came out of hospital, I was told to take at least an hour morning and afternoon to switch off and snooze. I dismissed the idea initially, but actually found I look forward to my naps and get quite grouchy if I miss one.

And finally, imagination’s not cancelled. Times are strange at the moment But, we can dream, plan for the future. We can imagine what life will be like after this is all over. And maybe, just maybe some of it will be a lot better than before rather than worse. And for that, we should all be truly grateful.


Elizabeth Ducie

Elizabeth Ducie gave up the day job after thirty years to become a full-time writer. She has published three collections of short prose and four novels, including a series of thrillers set in the sometimes murky world of international pharmaceuticals. She is currently working on a cosy murder mystery set in a fictional village just down the road from her home in Devon.

Elizabeth is also the author of The Business of Writing, a series of manuals on business skills for writers. Her latest, Part 4 Independent Publishing, is based on her decade of experience as an indie publisher. She also coaches new writers taking their first steps down the indie route. You can find out more about Elizabeth and her work, or sign up for her newsletter, on her website. Or you can hear her speak on Routes to Publishing at the Women in Publishing Summit online in March.