Eggstraordinary Incubator

I’ve finally put the egg incubator Father Christmas brought me to work. And at a rather appropriate time, seeing as how eggs feature rather significantly at Easter time.

incubator eggs

It’s currently housing two abandoned but still-warm duck eggs. It’s a very small, neat affair that will hold up to seven eggs. The only disappointment is that it doesn’t automatically turn the eggs, which is what Father Christmas was led to believe it would do – he feels slightly miffed. I’ve looked it up, and eggs need to be turned at least three times each day so that’s not too irksome. Somewhat bizarrely, this incubator comes with music and lights. A mini-disco for baby ducks? A duckso? You’d have thought it might be more useful to employ that computing power for something like turning eggs perhaps…


I’ve been up to check the incubator and it had reached 41 degrees, when its max was set to 38 degrees. Not good, and it’s not only Santa who’s now feeling disappointed. I removed the eggs before they got cooked and played around with the incubator for while. I ran it a few more times, each time it steadily got hotter and hotter. For the heck of it I had a quick play with the lights and music setting. There are three flashing lights at the back of the incubator and a selection of half a dozen truly awful tunes that are on a par with those awful ones you get in birthday cards.

Looks like a spaceship about to take off!

Looks like a spaceship about to take off!

So the incubator is now deactivated and the duck eggs are in a more reliable incubator – i.e. under the imaginatively-named Grey Chicken who is fortunately broody at the moment. Let’s hope we’ll have some little henlings or duckens in a few weeks’ time!

incubator reliable


London Book Fair At High Speed

This week has been busy. On Thursday our last lamb of the spring, Cowslip, arrived. Spot finally delivered her long-awaited baby.

cowslip kush

But before that, on Tuesday and Wednesday, I was in London with Benj. At the very last minute – well, with about a week to go – I decided to go to the London Book Fair, which I hadn’t been to for ten years. I used to go quite frequently when we lived in Ireland as, thanks to Ryanair, I could make the hop there and back cheaply and in one day. Not so for the Limoges-Stansted connection, so we needed to stay overnight and I thought it was about time we paid a visit on my sister. Hilary and Charlie call by most summers but again it must be ten years since I was in Oxford. So we did a lot of travelling in a short amount of time, but while exhausting, it was definitely worth it.

The London Book Fair is an annual event. As its website says, it’s a “global marketplace for rights negotiation and the sale and distribution of content across print, audio, TV, film and digital channels”. So it’s essentially for publishers to meet up with colleagues from other publishing companies all over the world and sell rights in books to them. But anyone interested in books and publishing can go and will discover hundreds of publishers and other book-related services plying their wares. Books are on display, catalogues are available, freebies can be snatched up and there are also some workshops and question and answer sessions. Benj and I attended the one on Literary Translation and it was excellent.

I was delighted to get my hands on a Books Are My Bag bag. These represent a major publicity campaign by the Booksellers’ Association, amongst others, to get people back into bookshops.



But the highlight of the Fair was meeting one of ‘my’ authors – the energetic and imaginative Grigory Ryzhakov. I’ve worked with him on three books now and enjoyed every minute. It’s been an inspiration, since Grisha is Russian so he’s writing in his second language, and doing an amazing job. Benj and I met with him at the Read Russia stand which he was helping to man.

grisha steph

Having met Grisha, I know that he and his books are destined for great things. He’s such a go-ahead and committed indie author. Do visit his website at and read his books. He creates fascinating characters and I particularly enjoy the quirkiness and liveliness in his writing.

One of my books was at the Fair too. I was chuffed to see Anna’s Secret Granny at the O’Brien stall, where we had a nice chat with Michael and Ivan O’Brien.

book fair anna

We didn’t get the chance to see much of Oxford, but here’s Carfax Tower for you which I snapped during our early morning walk to the station. Yup, it really is 7.20 in the morning!


And we mustn’t forget Paddington Bear whom we paid a visit to at the station that shares his name.

lbf paddington

I’m still recovering from the trip but it was fun and I enjoyed seeing England again after a long absence. However, it hasn’t been my home for twenty-two years now, so I felt like a tourist rather than a native. It’s strange being an ex-pat!