Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Guest Post: The New Forest - How New is it Anyway? by JL Merrow

I'm delighted today to have JL Merrow on my blog again. Today she's here to promote her new book Hard Tail which is available now from Samhain Publishing. Over to you, Jamie!






Hard Tail is set in and around Totton, a small town near Southampton in the South of England. Totton is just outside the New Forest, a National Park covering over 200 square miles of Hampshire and Wiltshire. It’s a popular spot for mountain bikers—and ponies, as the photo suggests. I have fond memories of being taken for days out in the forest by my grandparents, and I swear I can still taste the pub sandwiches—proper, country ham, not pre-packaged rubbish, spread with my first-ever taste of mustard.

But just how new is the New Forest?

The answer is, not very. In fact, it’s actually a remnant of the forests that covered Britain after the end of the last Ice Age, around 12,000 years ago. It was given the name “New Forest” in around 1079, when William the Conqueror decided he needed a place to do a spot of hunting. It wasn’t a popular act at the time: he pulled down several dozen small villages and their parish churches, and the death of two of his sons and one of his grandsons in separate incidents in the forest was looked on by locals—with grim satisfaction—as divine retribution.

The New Forest today is largely unchanged from William’s time, and contains several kinds of important lowland habitat including valley bogs, wet heaths, dry heaths as well as deciduous woodland. It’s a great place to see wildlife—as Tim finds out in Hard Tail, when he goes for a bike ride with Matt’s mountain biking mates. Of course, he has to force his gaze away from Matt’s more obvious charms first!




What’s your favourite place to get back to nature? And what food do you associate with the countryside?


***

 JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.

She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and the paranormal, and is frequently accused of humour.

Find JL Merrow online at: www.jlmerrow.com

***

All commenters will be entered into a draw for winner’s choice of an e-book from my backlist, PLUS a gift certificate for $25 from Amazon (or the e-book retailer of your choice). The more blog tour posts you comment on, the more chances you get! See my website here for full itinerary.

Draw closes on Wed 23rd May. Good luck! :D


Blurb for Hard Tail

Finding love can be a bumpy ride. 

His job: downsized out of existence. His marriage: dead in the water. It doesn’t take a lot of arm twisting for Tim Knight to agree to get out of London and take over his injured brother’s mountain bike shop for a while. A few weeks in Southampton is a welcome break from the wreck his life has become, even though he feels like a fish out of water in this brave new world of outdoor sports and unfamiliar technical jargon.

 The young man who falls—literally—through the door of the shop brings everything into sharp, unexpected focus. Tim barely accepts he’s even in the closet until his attraction to Matt Berridge pulls him close enough to touch the doorknob.

 There’s only one problem with the loveable klutz: his bullying boyfriend. Tim is convinced Steve is the cause of the bruises that Matt blows off as part of his risky sport. But rising to the defense of the man he’s beginning to love means coming to terms with who he is—in public—in a battle not even his black belt prepared him to fight. Until now. 

Product Warnings: Contains an out-and-proud klutz, a closeted, karate-loving accountant—and a cat who thinks it’s all about him. Watch for a cameo appearance from the Pricks and Pragmatism lovers. May inspire yearnings for fresh air, exercise, and a fit, tanned bike mechanic of your very own. 

Hard Tail is available from Samhain Publishing here.

Links:
My website: http://www.jlmerrow.com/
Blog tour itinerary: http://www.jlmerrow.com/index.html
Hard Tail: http://store.samhainpublishing.com/hard-tail-p-6805.html

36 comments:

  1. I grew up in a forest, well surrounded by forest I suppose. It was just rather normal for us, although a day trip to the "Kettle Hills" (which were really large domed rocks - 2 metres high - left by the ice age) was always a treat, especially during blueberry season. The blueberries grow right at ground level, of course as a kid it was no big deal, now I'd probably have a back ache from bending over and picking.

    There were no pubs or any kind of habitation in our forests, so it was a picnic hopefully with a wiener roast because nothing tastes as good as a hot dog skewered on a stick straight off a willow bush and roasted over an open fire.

    Now I live in Ontario, there are a fewer forests but the older I get the less outdoorsy I get. Provincial parks are nice because they are protected and you can see some wildlife like deer and foxes.

    I really must get to your book. I've heard so many good things.

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    1. That sounds like a fabulous place to grow up! I've picked wild blueberries in Austria - they grow on the mountains there - and there's just something about eating wild berries, isn't there? Or anything cooked over a real fire, outdoors. :D

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  2. When I go "up nord" to my brother and SIL's cabin in Minnesota's Iron Range, my favorite things are s'mores (gluten-free, of course, so not quite the same as the ones I remember from childhood) and freshly picked wild blueberries.

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    1. You know, I've heard of s'mores, but I've no idea what they are! Are they uniquely American, or did they originate somewhere else?

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    2. Looks like they originated in the US but are also made in Canada.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%27more

      They are yummy! :)

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    3. *g* I had to click the link to find out about Graham Crackers too - I always thought they were the same as Digestives, but it seems they're not, really! Mmm, s'mores do look tasty! :)

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    4. You don't have graham crackers?!?!? There are finally gluten-free "graham" crackers available, which is quite exciting. :)

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    5. I don't care for smores as I don't like marshmallows. However chocolate and graham crackers, yummy. Didn't the guy who invented graham crackers think it would keep sexual urges at bay or something weird? Or was that Corn Flakes? You crazy Americans.

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    6. From my extensive research (ie I read Wikipedia!) I can tell you Rev Graham and Dr Kellogg BOTH thought bland food like graham crackers and cornflakes would help curb the carnal appetites!
      It's actually quite amazing they ever caught on! ;D

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  3. I love to get up in the hills, walking or mountain biking, somedays you see no one, or may be a walker or two or perhaps a horse rider.
    For food, got to be the good old British butty! If walking in the winter, with a flask of hot chocolate. If I'm biking with the girls, we either bring homemade choclate brownies or walnut&cranberry flapjack - yum, we never loose weight!
    Suze
    Littlesuze at hotmail dot com

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    1. Mmm, sounds tasty! I'm rather partial to a bit of old-fashioned Kendal mint cake myself - always makes me feel more intrepid! ;D

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  4. There's a whole wooded area just on the outskirts of my town...my father used to take us driving through there when I was young, I always loved it. In the Bay Area, Stanford University has all kinds of beautiful, pastoral areas (I hope they stop adding ugly new buildings to campus long enough to realize that, GRR!). The Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve is usually off-limits unless you're there on a class field trip, but it's really serene and has lots of rare species of plants and butterflies.

    vitajex(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Sounds lovely! I love walking through woodland--there always seems to be more to see than when you're out in the open, somehow. :D

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  5. When I was just a year old, my parents bought a little place an hour and a half north of where I grew up, sandwiched on a ridge between two little lakes (one full of motorized water vehicles and screaming children on the weekends and dead silent during the week, the other full of algae and rowboats full of disappointed fishermen at all times). We spent half of every summer up there until I graduated from high school. The trees there are so lovely, tall, green, whispery-soft in the breeze and cool in the summer heat, full of little wildflowers and the smell of life. Of course, if you stop too long to enjoy them, you become food for the deerflies and mosquitos, but it's worth it. (I'm going up for a visit this weekend, so this is a nice chance to get it all back in my mind!)

    There are so many foods I associate with being there: monkey bread (canned biscuits rolled in cinnamon sugar, tossed in a bundt pan, topped with cinnamon sugar-butter syrup, and baked), marshmallow puffs (croissant dough wrapped around marshmallow and baked until the croissant is golden brown and the marshmallow has melted away), tiny boxes of the sort of sugary cereal my mom never let us eat except in tiny boxes on vacation, watermelon juice trickling down my arms outside in the afternoon, walking to the cone shop half a mile down the dirt road, kicking up dust and licking melted mint chocolate chip from the side of a sugar cone and getting nearly as much sweat as sweet...

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    1. Wow, that's some really vivid memories. I love the bit about the disappointed fishermen! ;D

      Your monkey bread sounds delicious, too. I imagine having a holiday place was a lot of work for your parents, but it sounds idyllic!

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  6. The part of Texas where I live now has few trees and nothing I would call a forest. North Georgia is where I grew up and after living with the amount and size of trees there, it's hard for Central Texas to compete.

    Camping in Georgia means fishing and roasting marshmallows around the campfire.

    Jase
    vslavetopassionv@aol.com

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    1. I can't imagine living anywhere without trees. There's something so calming about watching them sway in the breeze - and in somewhere as hot as I imagine Texas to be, I think I'd miss the shade!
      But camping in Georgia sounds lovely. :D

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  7. I live very close to the New Forest and love it. Every year when I was little we used to go on holiday to Charmouth, Swanage and other seaside places in Dorset and we always stopped in the New Forest for a picnic, so I always have happy memories of it.

    diannakayATgmailDOTcom

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    1. Yes, my memories from childhood of the New Forest always involve my grandparents, so I was pre-disposed to love the place! You're very lucky to live near there. :D

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  8. As a child, I spent most of my summers “up north” at “the cottage” that my father built. It was on a tiny lake gouged out of the Canadian Shield during the last Ice Age. No electricity, no access except by boat and trees, trees, trees EVERYWHERE! It was glorious! On sunny days they provided welcome shade and on rainy days there was nothing better than curling up on the top bunk, reading, and listening to the sough of rain through the leaves. They also gave shelter to all manner of birds and animals: chipmunks, porcupines, deer, and the occasional bear as well as owls hooting your way to the outhouse at night and whippoorwills serenading you to sleep at night! And although we were on bedrock, it always amazed me how tenacious the trees were is spreading their roots to hold on. And oh, the blueberries! There is really nothing better than sun-warmed fruit picked and eaten immediately!

    Thanks for bringing to mind such lovely memories!

    qbeeqt@yahoo.com

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    1. Oh, that sounds fabulous! That must have been so exciting for a child, going somewhere you can only get to by boat. And the wildlife sounds a bit more exciting than we get in Britain - although come to think of it, bears might just be a little TOO exciting for me! ;)

      Thanks for sharing with us!

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  9. My back to nature 'goto' is actually a golf course! I don't play (its less frustrating that way) but I like to go with my husband and enjoy the peace and quiet! Plase count me in on the contest. Thanks,

    chellebee66 at gmail dot com

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    1. Golf courses can be lovely, can't they? Sort of like having a huge back garden that somebody else looks after for you - with the downside of the neighbours' kids' balls constantly coming over the fence at you! ;D

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  10. I'd like to think I'm a nature girl, but the closest I get is out in my garden, lol.

    penumbrareads(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. I can never quite relax so much in my own garden. I'm constantly spotting work that needs doing! ;D

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  11. Wow, That sounds so nice.
    Sadly, I don't really have a place to go to to get back to nature. It's too... well, I guess 'populated' and a lot of the places where there is, It's too far away for us to ever go. (not to mention we really don't have money to spend to go anywhere) The closest I've been to getting back to wildlife/nature was when we drove to and from Sacramento and saw all those fields of farmland. We do have a few lakes and areas separated for camping but It's not exactly "getting back to nature" as there are a bunch of cars everywhere and it has all this gear for campers.
    But I do have a memory of when I was a kid in elementary, as a field trip we were taken to the Los Angeles Forest. I used to have (and still kinda do, lol) a fascination with rocks and I remember loving that trip because there were so many pretty and unique rocks everywhere. Nothing like what I see back at home. (though at the end I hated that trip because I touched Poison Ivy! lol)
    I actually really do love open field scenery and I remember loving the little paths we walked in, thinking of them as something out of a fairy tale. I think It's that memory of the LA forest that makes me want to visit places where I know still has lots of lush fields and scenery. I would just love to visit New Zeland one day. The pictures I've seen of it's lands and such... It's awe inspiring.

    Heh, as for food I associate to the countryside, (though I'm the last person to ask for anything to do with how the country side is because I am so completely clueless lol...) Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches come to mind. Cheese and picnic baskets. lol..

    thanks so much for the contest!

    Judi
    arella3173_loveless(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Rocks are cool. We spent last summer in Iceland and came home with suitcases full of lava! ;)
      (Actually, now I come to think of it, some of the rocks in Iceland are pretty hot - it's a bit weird walking up a hill that has vents blowing warm air on your ankles!)

      I'd love to go to New Zealand one day. From what I've seen, it's got majestic AND lush, all together.

      I've never understood these peanut butter and jelly sandwiches US peeps seem so fond of. Wensleydale and strawberry jam, anyone? ;)

      http://www.wensleydale.co.uk/

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    2. Wensleydale cheese. Yummy!

      Not sure about the jam with it though. I prefer a nice caramelised onion chutney with mine :).

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  12. Thanks for entertaining us so thoroughly, Jamie! I have to confess I've never been to the New Forest. Mainly because I rarely get down to the bottom of the country :).

    As many people who follow me here know, I go camping three times a year. We go to North Yorkshire where you are far more likely to find bleak hills and lush valleys than a forest - although there are patches of trees dotted about the place and some forestry commission pieces of land. I love the peace of the countryside - except maybe at 5am when the dawn chorus wakes up and I'm trying to sleep in a thin tent!

    Camping holidays always means campfires. We don't have smores, but we do toast marshmallows, cook sausages and jacket potatoes, make toast on a stick and occasionally even cook a whole chicken in the fire. Yum.

    Of course the main delight in camp fires is sitting around, drinking wine and socialising, especially once we've put the kids to bed!

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  13. Sounds like you're a campfire Masterchef!
    Being a soft Southern Jessie, I found the Yorkshire scenery a bit of an eye-opener the first time I saw it - I'd had no idea we had anything so bleak and majestic in Britain (I probably need to watch a bit more telly!)

    This year, I'll be further north than you! We're hiring a cottage near Lindisfarne, which I can't wait to see. I'll confess to a certain fascination with Vikings, even though by all accounts they weren't very nice! :D

    Thanks so much for having me here - it's been wonderful to hear everyone's countryside reminiscences! :D

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  14. I know I'm too late for the contest (Just found out
    about it when I looked up JLMorrow.com about 10
    minutes ago), but I wanted to say that I just finished Hard Tail and really enjoyed it. I'm not sure which book to try next. It's always good to
    find a new author with a backlist. :)
    Barbra aelnova@aol.com

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  15. Hi Barbra - thanks for commenting! So glad you enjoyed Hard Tail. :D
    If you'd like a suggestion, why not try Pricks and Pragmatism, http://www.amazon.com/Pricks-and-Pragmatism-ebook/dp/B00436EZGM/, where you'll find out how Luke and Russell got together? Or if you'd like something a little different, you might like Muscling Through, http://www.amazon.com/Muscling-Through-ebook/dp/B004UHYPZK/ref=pd_sim_kstore_2?ie=UTF8&m=A7B2F8DUJ88VZ.

    I love eating my way through an author's backlist. It's just as well I discovered e-books, or my house would now be collapsing under the weight of shelf upon shelf housing rows of books with prettily matching bindings! ;)

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  16. Just about to start Hard Tail, having enjoyed several other of your offerings. Would welcome the odd one that I am still to catch up on

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  17. I have always lived in Iowa and I love to saddle up the horses and go on trail rides. The Amana's is a great place to ride and camp. We love to grill meat over the camp fire and I make potatoes and broccli in foil packets with loads of butter and cheese (not very healthy, but good).

    P.S. - Loved Hard Tail!

    summer_rose10@yahoo.com

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    1. Sounds like a lot of fun. :)

      So glad you enjoyed Hard Tail!

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