Author of contemporary and historical fiction

Afternoon tea? Don’t mind if I do.

I don’t know why, but the words SCONES & CREAM have a way of leaping out at me, wherever they appear. Funny that.

A recent leaping-out was on the invitation extended by the Chelmsford Chapter of the RNA, who’d had the inspired idea of organising an Afternoon Tea, which was to take place in Colchester last Saturday.




Faster than you can say carrot cake, I’d emailed Fenella Jane Miller and Jean Fullerton, the organisers of the event, and booked a place. Sandwiches, scones, cakes and fizz, served up in a lovely place full of RNA friends – it sounded the perfect way to spend an April afternoon.

And indeed it was!

The tea took place in a lovely Grade II listed building, The Minories, which stands almost opposite Colchester Castle.


Natalie Hames & Lynda Stacey in front of The Minories

Arriving there, we gathered in the Batte-Lay tea room, where we caught up with ‘old’ friends and were introduced to new.

Fenella Jane Miller

Fenella Jane Miller


Jenni Keer & Sheila Norton

Ann Barleycorn

Ann Barleycorn



Heidi-Jo Swain



Sheila & Alan Norton with daughter Cheryl, &        Ann Barleycorn

Faye & Maynard Cunningham, with daughter Kim

Faye & Maynard Cunningham, with daughter Kim











Our tables were soon groaning beneath a profusion of delicious things to eat, and soon we were groaning, too!

Natalie Hames, Samantha Yagiz, Lynda Stacey & cakes

Natalie Hames, Samantha Yagiz, Lynda Stacey & cakes

Fenella and Jean did a superb job of making sure that everything went smoothly, and then, when we could eat no more, Jean introduced the guest speaker, successful author Victoria Connelly.

Jean Fullerton introduces Victoria Connelly

Jean Fullerton introduces Victoria  Connelly


Victoria, mid speech













During her highly entertaining talk, Victoria made an impassioned plea for writers to guard against distractions that took them away from their writing, which was the most precious thing, and which was where the writer’s focus should be. She recognised that writers today were no longer expected just to write a good book, but they were also now asked to do much of the promotion too; for example, to spend their days on blog tours. But, she said, ‘Readers don’t want a blog post – they’re probably not even aware of most of the blogs out there anyway – they want another book from you, so get to it!’



Sue Merritt asks Victoria a question

Liam Livings & Kelvin Woolmer

Liam Livings & Kelvin Woolmer










Victoria finished her lively speech by saying that there’d never been a better time in which to be a writer as we can now write with or without the involvement of middle men. All that’s needed is ‘the passion and determination to put one word in front of another, to create our characters and build our worlds.’

Kelvin Woolmer chats to Natalie Hames

Kelvin Woolmer chats to Natalie Hames

Smiles all round from Lynda Stacey, Jean Fullerton & me.

Smiles all round from Lynda Stacey, Jean Fullerton & me.











All that entertainment punctuated with good advice, plus cakes, fizz and friends! It was a brilliant afternoon. Thank you very much, Jean and Fenella, for organising it.





12 Responses to Afternoon tea? Don’t mind if I do.

  • Thanks for an excellent write-up of the event, Liz, and some lovely pics. It was great to see you (and all the others!) there. I brought Hubby and No.1 Daughter along as they’re both interested in writing so it was a bit of a family day out for us, but I still had time to chat to (as you said) old friends and new. A lovely afternoon indeed, and I join with you in thanking Fenella and Jean. Organising these events is never easy, as I know too well, and they did a great job.

    • It was lovely meeting you again, Sheila, and seeing your family. I won’t attempt to work out how many years it is since we had lunch at Zizzy’s in Marble Arch! Mega envy at your husband and daughter being interested in writing. The eyes of my DH and my two sons glaze over the moment I mention my books or the RNA, and they run from the room fast!

  • It sounded like a lovely afternoon. I come from Colchester although I now live on the Wirral and i wish i could have come. If there’s another event I will try to get to it.

    • I’m sure you’d enjoy any event you were able to get to, Jacqueline. The RNA knows how to give a party/have fun, and everyone is so friendly. A propos to nothing, I used to live in Frodsham, Cheshire, and went frequently to Parkgate and other places on the Wirral. 🙂

  • A great description, Liz. Just too far away for me, unfortunately.

    Some super pics, too. I can almost taste the bubbly!

    John 🙂

    • Yes, it is a long way from you, John. But you have the York Tea, which sadly I missed. I have two non-RNA friends I wanted to see, one in Suffolk and one in Essex, so I was able to make a (gluttonous) occasion of it, and stayed over. I thought the tea great fun, and drove back on an empty M25 in the evening after it. The trouble with every RNA event, as soon as it ends, you are longing for the next. Happily, the Summer Party is not far off.

  • What a lovely article and didn’t we have a good day?? xxx

    • Yes, it was a fabulous afternoon, Lynda. I’m so glad that I went there. I really enjoyed chatting to you, and look forward to doing so again before too long. 🙂

  • So glad you enjoyed the day, Liz, and thank you got the write up. I’m hoping after the York tea last year and our one this will start a trend.

    • It’s certainly an idea to foster, Jean. I thought it a super tea, and really enjoyed chatting to people I don’t often see in the most relaxed of surroundings, and with cake. It should be somewhere in the West next, since York and Colchester were the first two venues. I hope that someone in the West is listening. 🙂

  • This looks like such a super event Liz, great fun, lovely food, interesting people to chat to. I’m green with envy

    • It was, indeed, lovely, Cara. But hopefully, you and I will be jointly raising a glass to something or other in the not-too-distant future – perhaps at the RNA Summer party.

Leave a Reply to Jacqueline Webb Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

<-- 8 Jan 2020: Moved "'date,author,edit', " from before to after on Liz's request' -->