Vivienne, Mary and Gwen leave London desperate to explore some of the distant and beautiful locations of the UK. They travel to Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, then to Wales and north to Whitby. The road trip allows them the chance to develop friendship and to renew their faith in life. The three women, whose ages range from early seventies to eighty, find that travelling to different and fascinating locations gives them an opportunity to enjoy new experiences and to thrill their senses. For me, while writing the novel, the locations were central. As the three friends journey from one place to another, they revel in the beauty of the UK and Wales where they find so many interesting people and new ways to enjoy themselves.
Below, they arrive at Haytor Rock on Dartmoor at sunrise:
It was twenty to five when they left the motorhome behind them in an eerily deserted car park on the edge of the moors. One other vehicle was stationed there already, an old-fashioned camper van, the metal grimy and peppered with rust, the curtains drawn. Vivienne led the way across a narrow road and up towards Haytor Rock, which crouched above them in the shadows, dark and distant as a sitting giant. She shone a torch ahead; the ground underfoot was soft, and unexpected rocks protruded, cutting through the thin soles of their trainers.
Gwen stubbed her toe and muttered, ‘Ouch. That hurt.’
Mary puffed behind them, then she stopped still, grunting. ‘I’ll never make it. Go on without me.’
Vivienne linked an arm through Mary’s, urging her onwards. ‘We’ve got about twenty minutes or so to get to the top. Come on, Mary – we’re doing this together.’
I wanted my readers to share the holiday that Vivienne, Mary and Gwen enjoy, travelling through changing countryside that is rich in rugged beauty and interesting sights and experiences. If you’ve never visited Totnes in Devon, I advise you to do so. It’s a wonderful place for shopping and eating, surrounded by stunning countryside, with so much to see and do. In The Golden Girls’ Getaway, Vivienne calls on an old friend and they share lunch in Totnes, where Mary is amazed by the beautiful, unique town.
Mary gazed through the side window. There were several shoppers dressed in bright clothes, baggy patchwork trousers, colourful scarves. One woman had long blue dreadlocked hair to her waist. A man in pink dungarees and a cowboy hat strode past with two large wolfhounds. A man stood outside a bank, a wide-brimmed witch’s hat on his head, long dark robes, waving a thurible on a long chain, the smoke of incense rising from the metal censer.
‘There’s a fella doing a spell,’ Mary gasped.
Mary, Gwen and Vivienne have different characters and backgrounds. Vivienne is an actor, feisty and forthright, who has enjoyed a long run in a popular soap opera and is coming to terms with the limited roles available to older women. Gwen, although she’s an ex-opera singer, has a more sheltered experience of life and Mary, an ex-nurse with a big heart, is just plain fun. The three women go to a pub to drum up interest in a local fashion show and Vivienne has her own way of causing a stir:
‘I beg your pardon?’ The barman’s eyebrows shot up.
Vivienne raised her voice. ‘I’d like a Buttery Nipple. Three, if you have them. I assume you know how to make a Buttery Nipple?’ The barman stared, amazed, so Vivienne continued. ‘That’s thirty millilitres of Butterscotch Schnapps and fifteen millilitres of Irish Cream liqueur, please.’
‘I’ll have a Kahlua, Irish Cream and whiskey cocktail,’ Mary piped up. ‘Otherwise known as a Duck’s Fart.’
Gwen has not returned to her native Wales for a long time and although she wants to see the old place again, she is anxious about many aspects of a visit. I researched the beautiful coastline, visiting Rhossili and the area around Swansea, such a stunning location. Gwen’s returns to her village in the middle of a thriving Eisteddfod and, of course, she finally meets up with an old flame whom she’d found hard to forget:
He still held her hand. ‘We have this evening. Oh, I have so much to say to you, things I’ve wanted to say for fifty years.’
Gwen shook her head. ‘I don’t want to hear them, Cliff.’
‘You might,’ he said hopefully. ‘Just give me the chance, eh? The chance to speak my mind, to say what’s in my heart. Just a few hours? An hour?’
Gwen felt her resolve weakening. The only word in her mouth was yes: he had that way with him, Cliff; she’d agree, she’d bend like a willow just to please him. She took a breath. No, that had all been fifty years ago. She was different now: she was someone else.
‘No, I can’t do it,’ she blurted. ‘No more, no, no.’
The characters’ journey takes them across the UK. They visit gorgeous locations and this enables each of them the opportunity to face their own past and to live in the present. I have had many comments from readers about how they sobbed during Mary’s own revelation as she takes a train journey in North Yorkshire. Hers is a story of laughter and a few tears:
The train journey was less than two hours: she’d be in Whitby before six, when she’d meet Gwen and Vivienne. Inside the carriage, sitting with her head against the glass, Mary felt the streaming honey sunshine settle on her face and shoulders. The train’s roll and shuffle rocked her in a lullaby, the repetitive rhythm of wheels against the track in her ears, and her eyelids were heavy. Mary’s aching body relaxed, and she slipped into the warmth of a doze.
The train lurched to a sudden standstill and people were bustling, noisy, moving around. Mary blinked her eyes open and pressed her nose against the glass: the train had stopped at a pretty station called Grosmont, and more passengers were clambering on and off. She felt like she had stepped back in time as she gazed beyond the platform at a row of old cottages nestling among leafy trees and rising fields, smoke seeping from their stone chimneys….
To find out what happens to Mary next, you’ll have to read the book…
I do hope you’ll enjoy ‘The Golden Girls’ Getaway.’ It is a triumphant tale of survivors, of how each day brings new promise and new hope and how friendship and love are so important.
You can find the novel here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B09DV2TBPW/
Thanks so much, as always, for reading my books! x