‘I don’t want my book to be upstaged by cancer’ With her debut ﬁrst novel set to hit the shops Lynda Bellingham opens her heart to Yours about her passion for writing By Carole Richardson ight now, Lynda Bellingham’s biggest problem isn’t so much her cancer; more the timing of it. “Of all the things you don’t want for the debut of your ﬁrst novel is for it to be upstaged by something like this. That’s upset me a lot,” admits Lynda. As is her way, she’s worked incredibly hard writing her book Tell Me Tomorrow, a family saga about love, lies, unplanned motherhood, hope and heartache spanning ﬁve decades. As regular readers of her Yours diary will know, the book has been a passion for Lynda. Her three week ‘holiday’ in Malaysia last year was spent working from dawn to dusk penning the
120,000 words which were then subsequently lost after wrongly pressing a computer key. Retyped as quickly as possible to meet her publisher’s deadline, she then spent another ten long days patiently editing her work. Understandably nervous about how her new novel will be received, she wants it to be judged fairly and squarely, for better or for worse, without her recently diagnosed illness coming into it. “This was written precancer and has nothing to do with cancer,” she insists at her London home, having just waved husband Michael off to Florida, where he’d planned to visit friends before her sudden diagnosis. Then, she’d expected to be busy rehearsing for her UK stage tour A Passionate Woman but since those plans
had to be postponed, she’s using some of her time to promote the hardback book out on August 29. Yours diary readers who have grown to know the real Lynda through her warm, honest and open column may well spot some familiar detail in the storyline. Violets – the ﬂowers that remind her of her late adoptive mother Ruth – get a mention for instance, as does a Malaysian spa like the one she wrote the book in. Then there’s the strong theme of nature vs nurture and illegitimate babies. Of course Lynda was herself adopted. But perhaps it is Meredith, her main character and a TV personality that most readers will
‘I was advised to write about what I know for the sake of authenticity but it’s not an autobiography’
identify with Lynda – especially when late in life she meets the true love of her life complete with an endearing Somerset accent not dissimilar from the author’s beloved Mr Spain’s. “I was advised to write about what I know for the sake of authenticity but it is not another autobiography in any sense, shape or form,” Lynda promises. “One of the reasons I chose my characters to be daughters not sons was so people couldn’t say it was autobiographical. I didn’t want it to be just about my experiences in my little world. I wanted to be wider than that.”
Lynda with her sister Jean
head though she jokes perhaps she’d better wait and see how the ﬁrst saga goes down with her fans and critics. As a new writer, she’s honest enough to admit she has a lot to learn but dreams of emulating some of Barbara Taylor Bradford’s “marvellous” skill in producing “a damn good pageturner that hopefully readers will take on holiday.” Quite aside from her literary aspirations though, one day, she promises, she’ll write about her cancer in nitty gritty detail to help others facing the same battle. Just not now. “I don’t think you can write about it when you’re in the eye of the storm and going through it,” she explains. Using her own life experiences to inspire people is what she does so well after all. Whether that’s her experience of adoption, domestic violence or a family link with Alzheimer’s, she somehow always manages to hit a raw nerve to connect and make people in similar circumstances feel less alone. Her unstinting charity work and the huge number of supportive letters from Yours readers prove the point. “One day I’ll write a very honest book all about my cancer and hopefully help people going through it at that time,” she promises. “But only when the time is right.”
And it is. In the book sisters Jane and Pamela – who without knowing it are only half sisters – are like “chalk and cheese” whereas Lynda herself experienced none of that growing up, knowing she wasn’t blood related to her own sisters, Jean and Barbara. And unlike Meredith, who doesn’t face her problems, Lynda has no fear of confronting whatever life throws WIN a at her head on. “That’s all copy of Lynda’s made up,” she laughs. ﬁrst novel Despite undergoing Tell Me Tomorrow is published in cancer treatment, hardback by Simon and Schuster Lynda’s managed to and is available from August 29, write ﬁve chapters priced £12.99. We have ten copies of her next book, to give away. If you’d like a chance to a very different win, send a postcard marked Lynda one set in the Bellingham Book, with your name world of theatre and address, to PO Box 57, Coates, in the 1980s. Peterborough PE7 2FF to arrive by While doing the the closing date of September 6. household chores, The ﬁrst ten entries drawn at random will win. she’s also managed ✢ If you don’t wish to receive further to plot a sequel to Tell Me Tomorrow in her information from Yours write No Further Contact on your entry. YOURS
PICS: ROBIN BECKHAM
❙ star chat ❙
❙ strap strap ❙
What’s happening to our trees?
Britain’s woodlands are in danger as never before, with diseases and a changing climate threatening the future of some of our best-loved species By Lizzy Dening ho can forget the tragedy of Dutch elm disease in the Seventies when more than 25 million trees were lost to a deadly fungus? But if we thought that was a one-off, sadly, we were mistaken. More than 40 years on, our trees seem to be under continuous assault from a range of diseases and pests. Around 15 tree diseases are currently listed as present, and another ﬁve are likely to reach our shores soon. One of the most aggressive – ash dieback – was discovered in England only last autumn, but has
already taken hold in more than 500 locations. Rudyard Kipling once wrote that the graceful ash would stand proud in our woodlands and hedgerows ‘till Judgment Tide’. But if scientists are right these magniﬁcent trees, part of our landscape for thousands of years, will be gone within a decade. Then there is acute oak decline. The condition, which causes weeping patches on stems, is on the rise in England, particularly in the Midlands and the South East, with thousands of trees thought to be infected. They can die within four or ﬁve years of symptoms becoming visible. While scientists believe a beetle may be responsible, the Government
is stepping up monitoring of the disease with a new £1.1m research drive. And if that wasn’t enough, the poor oak is also being targeted by the oak processionary moth, which has taken hold in London. The caterpillars strip the leaves and are also a threat to humans and pets as their hairs can cause rashes and breathing problems. So why do there suddenly seem to be so many new threats to our trees? Austin Brady, head of conservation at the Woodland Trust, says: “Pests and diseases have increased dramatically in recent years. While disease and decay are a natural part of ecosystems, this increase has been accelerated by imports of trees.”
❙ nature watch ❙ A diseased ash tree – could the species disappear within a decade?
WIN A TREE DEDICATION The Woodland Trust charity is offering ten tree dedications to ten lucky Yours readers in a choice of 50 specially selected woods across the UK. The prize includes a personalised certiﬁcate, information about the wood, and a map showing the dedicated area. You can also visit the tree free at any time. If you’d like a chance to win, send a postcard marked Native Trees Competition, with your name and address, to PO Box 57, Coates, Peterborough PE7 2FF to arrive by the closing date of September 6. The ﬁrst ten entries drawn at random will win a tree dedication.
TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE
A further concern for our woodlands is our increasingly unpredictable weather. Austin explains: “Climate change is perhaps the biggest uncertainty – it may alter the natural ranges of our trees, and put them out of step with other species that depend on them. More extreme weather like ﬂooding and drought will also affect vulnerable species. To make things worse, climate change may create more favourable conditions for some pests and diseases.” So what can we do to help? Austin says: “Always act in accordance with any advisory site signage in woodlands and keep to woodland paths and rides. Where possible, clean your boots/bikes of mud and leaf material between
visits to woods and don’t remove wood, twigs or leaves from sites.” It’s also important to be able to recognise tree species. A recent survey by the trust revealed that only 57 per cent of adults in Great Britain can identify an oak leaf, while 83 per cent of them are unable to recognise those from an ash. Austin says: “We are relying on people to report the signs of disease and pests in their local woods, so if more people were able to identify common trees like ash and oak it would make tracking the spread easier. We are calling for increased education on native trees and disease identiﬁcation before it’s too late. We need to learn
✢ Donations for tree dedications start from £15. The money is used to help preserve and restore the UK’s woodland heritage, and plant new woods for everyone to enjoy. For more details call 0800 0 269650.
about and develop a love for our trees and woodlands, or we risk losing them. We need the public’s support to be able to spot cases of disease quickly.” The Woodland Trust is also working on projects, including restoring degraded habitats and creating diverse, resilient landscapes that will continue to provide for people and wildlife. Austin says: “We need to ensure our trees and woods, and wildlife, are resilient enough to cope with the challenges they face in the 21st Century.” ✢ For more information on tree species and diseases which threaten them, call the Woodland Trust on 01476 581135 (www. woodlandtrust.org.uk) or call the Forestry Commission on 0117 906 6000 (www.forestry.gov.uk)
DID YOU KNOW? Following near extinction, elm trees are ﬁghting back in Britain. While few mature trees remain, a single dead tree is often replaced by a thicket of vigorous young elms as the roots stay alive and reshoot. There are now many millions of young elms growing around the countryside – but, unfortunately, they still would not YOURSto Dutch EVERYelm FORTNIGHT have resistance disease.
PICS: THINKSTOCK; ALAMY
Can you identify these six leaves? (answers below)
✢ If you don’t wish to receive further information from Yours write No Further Contact on your entry.
Answers: 1 Ash; 2 English oak; 3 Beech; 4 Horse chestnut; 5 Plane; 6 Lime
Good to KNOW...
7 ways to
HELP good causes
Raising money for your charity doesn’t need to involve marathon running or skydives – here are some quirky ideas to help you by Lizzy Dening
1Walk the walk
Sponsored walks can be unimaginative affairs, but put your thinking cap on and you can create an original event. Get friends to sponsor you to visit all the locations for your favourite ﬁlms; pound the pavements where you met your partner or best pal; follow your old route to school; or, if you can get to London and have sturdy trainers, why not visit all the areas on the Monopoly board?
2Make a date
If you have lots of single friends or neighbours, play Cupid and raise money with a speed dating event. Find a local venue, advertise the event (with a suggested donation for an entry fee), set up tables and chairs, impose a time limit for each encounter and wait for romance to blossom! Or try a friendship version instead, where those looking to widen their social circle can meet new friends for a chat.
those lungs 3Stretch
If you’ve got a decent singing voice and love an excuse to show it off, host a karaoke party with a small fee to join. You could even go the whole hog with a Eurovision Song Contest theme, where participants pick a country out of a hat beforehand and have to come along in their national dress. Alternatively, if you’re feeling a little cruel, you could pick one particularly annoying song and sing it over and over until your audience raises a speciﬁed amount!
TIME IS MONEY
them packing 5Send
get quizzical 4Let’s
If you’re a hostess with the mostest, put your people skills to work by organising a quiz night. Ask a local pub, café or community centre for some space and charge a donation to take part. Then you just need to choose your topic – general knowledge; sports; nostalgia; music…it’s up to you. Offer a small prize to the winning team. Find some quiz questions using www.quiz-zone.co.uk
Approach your local grocers or supermarket and offer your services as a charity bag packer. If they’re keen, you simply stand at the end of a checkout counter and offer to pack customers’ bags for them in exchange for a few pennies in your collection jar. It’s a helpful service, plus you’ll get to give your arms a mini workout!
✢ If you love spending time with little ones, consider giving up some time to one of Barnardo’s 800 projects across the UK, including mentoring and befriending schemes. For opportunities call 0208 550 8822 or visit www.barnardos.org.uk
6 Save the planet
Another way to kill two charitable birds with one kind stone is to organise a collection of items for recycling and sell them on. That way you can help the planet and make some cash. Objects such as old mobile phones, empty printer ink cartridges and scrap gold can be cashed in with various money-back companies, and you’ll be surprised at how fast it all adds up.
7Help us sponsor a Yours Puppy
Why not use one of these ideas (or one of your own) to raise money for Guide Dogs? With your help we really want to raise enough money to sponsor a Yours guide dog for life. The ﬁrst donation target is £5,000 – which will allow us to name our puppy and start them on their training journey. Turn to page 30 to ﬁnd out more about this worthy cause. ✢ We’d love to share some of your interesting fundraising ideas. Write to the address on page 3 and tell us what you have done, or would do, to raise some cash. YOURS
PICS: GETTY IMAGES; ALAMY; THINKSTOCK; MASTERFILE
Don’t forget, you can also give your time to charities for all sorts of tasks: ✢ Become a Cancer Voice for Macmillan – if you’re a cancer survivor (or the friend or relative of a cancer patient) give your time and energy to the charity as a spokesperson. Apply online at opportunities.macmillan.org.uk or call 0207 840 7840. ✢ If you don’t have a particular charity in mind, try contacting RSVP, an organisation for volunteers aged 50-plus, who can match your skills to deserving causes in your area. For more information call 0207 643 1385 or visit www.csv-rsvp.org.uk ✢ Outdoors types will get a kick out of working with the Wildlife Trust. Placements range from wildlife surveys, community gardening, education work and more. Contact your local branch for more information.
Picture perfect Create this summery photo frame using pretty leftovers Compiled by Alex Frisby YOURS
& craft Materials:
✢ Old wooden picture frame ✢ Scraps of pretty paper (old giftwrap would do) ✢ Scissors ✢ Glue stick ✢ Decoupage medium (an all-in-one glue, sealer and ﬁnish, eg Mod Podge®) ✢ Foam brush ✢ Pretty fabric scrap ✢ Staples or tacks if needed for hanging
Instructions: Trim pieces of pretty paper and ﬁx to the frame, using the glue stick. Begin with hard-to-cover areas such as corners, where you may want to stick and then trim the paper to ﬁt.
Cut slits into pieces on corners, so they easily wrap around any curved parts of the frame
Continue to patch piece by piece all over the front of the frame, and along the sides if you like. You could follow a pattern, or simply place pieces at random.
When the frame is covered as preferred, brush on a coat of decoupage medium, carefully smoothing any creases. Let it dry completely. Apply more coats if desired, allowing to dry between each coat.
For added charm, rip a narrow strip of fabric and attach each end to the back of your frame with staples or tacks. Use to hang.
Project and images from Tinkered Treasures by Elyse Major. Photography by Holly Jolliffe. Published by CICO Books, rrp £12.99. Yours readers can order a copy for the special price of £10.99 with free UK p&p – call 01256 302699 and quote GLR8AV. Visit www.cicobooks.co.uk
Now visit www.yours.co.uk for many more easy craft ideas to try
Next issue: Be kind to your knees YOURS YOURS EVERY FORTNIGHT with a gardener’s kneeling mat EVERY FORTNIGHT
PIC: CICO BOOKS
0 1 BEST... of the
CASTLES on the coast ✢ Eilean Donan Castle,
Some ruined, others renovated, clinging to the cliffs or by the beach…
✢ Deal Castle, KENT Deal Castle is just yards from the beach – perfect for a relaxing morning on the sands, followed by an educational stroll. Commissioned by Henry VIII, the design looks uncannily like a Tudor Rose from the air. Open10am-6pm. Adult £5, conc £4.50, child £3, English Heritage members free. Call 01304 372762 or visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/dealcastle
✢ Oxwich Castle, The Gower,
KYLE OF LOCHALSH Perched on an island on the way out to Skye is Eilean Donan and its picturesque bridge. It’s been rebuilt several times following Scottish feuds, and sat in ruins until 1911, when it was lovingly restored by Lieutenant Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap. For those who can’t manage the steps, there’s a ‘virtual tour’ available. Open10am-5pm. Adult £6.50, conc £5.50, under-ﬁves free. Call 01599 555202 or visit www.eileandonan castle.com
SOUTH WALES This courtyard-style Tudor residence was put together by a rather ﬂashy local family, the Mansels, who actually moved out after only a few decades. You’ll ﬁnd all mod cons here, even indoor toilets! It’s in the perfect spot – beautiful wooded headland overlooking the Gower Peninsular. Open Wed-Sun,10am-5pm. Adult £3, conc/child £2.25, family £9. Dogs welcome on leads. Call 01792 390359 or visit www.cadw.wales.gov.uk and search for Oxwich.
✢ Hurst Castle, HAMPSHIRE This fortress, on The Solent, served as a prison for Charles I. If you don’t fancy the short walk from the mainland, there’s a ferry from Keyhaven. Open10.30am-5.30pm. Adult £4.50, conc £4, child £2.50, English Heritage members free. Call 01590 642344 or visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/ hurstcastle
✢ Dunnottar Castle,
✢ Carrickfergus Castle, CO ANTRIM It’s still standing, despite sieges from the Scots, the Irish, the English and the French! You can’t miss Carrickfergus if you’re arriving in Belfast from the UK mainland – ferry routes run right past it. Enjoy historical displays, including a range of cannons dating from the 17th to the 19th centuries. Open 10am-6pm. Adult £5, conc/child £3, family £13. Call (028) 933 51273 or visit www.discovernorthernireland.com/ Carrickfergus-Castle-Carrickfergus-P2814
SUTHERLAND Close to the sands, and with truly wonderful gardens. There’s a museum and even a restaurant – Lord Strathnaver has pulled out all the stops in welcoming visitors to his home. Open10am-5pm, with daily falconry displays at11.30am and 2pm. Adult £10, conc £8, child £5.50. Call 01408 633177 or visit www.dunrobincastle.co.uk
✢ Tynemouth Castle, TYNE AND WEAR The 13th century chapel is small but perfectly formed, though if medieval is not for you, try the newly restored gun battery. Note: Access to the gun battery is down very steep stairs. Open10am-6pm. Adult £4.70, conc £4.20, child £2.80, English Heritage members free. Call 0191 2571090 or visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/tynemouth
ABERDEENSHIRE Take a torch with you – some of the chambers are positively medieval! The castle was destroyed by Vikings in the 9th century. It appears to sit on an island, despite being attached to the mainland. Be prepared for plenty of walking. Open 9am-6pm. Adult £6, child £2, family £14. Call 01330 860223, or visit www.dunnottarcastle.co.uk
✢ Caernafon Castle, GWYNEDD, NORTH WALES King Edward I was responsible for this medieval coastal fortress, still impressive enough to be awarded status as a World Heritage Site, and absolutely huge! Look out for coloured bands of stone in the walls. Open daily, 9.30am-6pm. Adult £5.25, conc/child £4.85, family £15.35. Call 01286 677617 or visit www.caernarfon-castle.co.uk
✢ Dartmouth Castle, DEVON The fort sits atop cliffs at the mouth of the River Dart. Opposite is Kingswear Castle and, during the Second World War a great chain, suspended between the two, blocked any entrance to the estuary. These days, views from the tearoom are nothing short of beautiful.
PICS: ENGLISH HERITAGE, WWW.VISITSCOTLAND. COM/NATURAL, ALAMY. WORDS: ALEX FRISBY
✢ Dunrobin Castle,
WARM WELCOME AWAITS
OFFERING GREAT VIEWS
Open10am-6pm. Adult £5, conc £4.50, child £3, English Heritage members free. Call 01803 833588 or visit www.english-heritage.org. uk/dartmouthcastle
OPENING TIMES MAY CHANGE IN AUTUMN, PLEASE CALL VENUE FOR DETAILS
Now visit www.yours.co.uk for more places to take the youngsters
Next issue: The top 10 ‘unsung’ British cathedrals…
y your stars y
Astrologer Lynne Ewart predicts what’s in store for you
Between August 21 and September 3 This is a month of surprises, as Jupiter and Uranus suddenly spring the locks on old cages and open doors. Humanitarian issues could take a step forward when least expected. Look out for news of heroic acts as August closes.
If it’s your birthday this fortnight…
… you are Virgo like Stephen Fry, born August 24, 1957. Virgoans are methodical types who dislike being rushed through details. Thoroughness is their style. Ruled by Mercury, they have busy minds and active bodies as a rule, which brings a youthful disposition, although they can be worriers, too! Stephen is a classic Virgo in many respects, with a busy Mercury, an incredibly generous spirit, but with a troubled aspect to his Sun from Saturn and Pluto, he carries a heavy weight sometimes, yet the love of others will always lift him up.
Aug 24-Sept 22 Although it’s your revitalising birthday month, thanks to recently stressful tugs your energies may be lower until the 28th, after which you’ll feel a welcome boost. Thought for the fortnight: Family values and ﬁnances could be on your mind. B For a weekly update call 09044 705705
December 22-Jan20 Your wistful, yearning side is stirred, making you long for an escape, bringing creativity and artistry to the fore, too. Late in August, a youngster shares good news. Thought for the fortnight: Ofﬁcial business will be clariﬁed and then settled. B For a weekly update call 09044 705709
Apr 21-May 21 You’ll have a chance to enjoy life more this fortnight, and perhaps to get creative on the home front. A younger male relative will keep you on your toes, too. Thought for the fortnight: A test will be passed with ﬂying colours. B For a weekly update call 09044 705701
Sept 23-Oct 23 This is your time to regroup, take stock, or better still take a holiday and recharge the batteries before what looks like a busy September! Thought for the fortnight: Loose ends could be tied up around August 31. B For a weekly update call 09044 705706
Jan 21-Feb18 A hectic Aquarian full moon spells a fast-paced turnaround time, drawing you into the spotlight through a signiﬁcant chapter of change. Thought for the fortnight: Wow, you really mean business as August closes! B For a weekly update call 09044 705710
May 22-June 21 Something you really want, that spells freedom or academic achievement for you or a loved one, could come to fruition. Thought for the fortnight: You’ll take an important step forward. B For a weekly update call 09044 705702
Oct 24-Nov 22 By the time September begins, you’re more on top of something that’s been puzzling or confusing you, perhaps involving a loved one. Thought for the fortnight: The devil’s in the detail, so thoroughness pays. B For a weekly update call 09044 705707
Feb 19-Mar 20 There’s something you need to tackle, maybe something you’ve put off for a long time. There’s a feeling of wariness, followed by a wish fulﬁlled. Thought for the fortnight: Someone close will be very industrious. B For a weekly update call 09044 705711
June 22-July 22 Liberating developments surround women in your world. Expect busy times where family is concerned, during a phase of change. Thought for the fortnight: Pieces of a jigsaw are about to click into place. B For a weekly update call 09044 705703
Nov 23-Dec 21 With your status, duty and ambition sector alight, you could be tugged between two options. Late August brings a strengthening gain. Thought for the fortnight: From the 28th, you’re less the thinker, more a doer! B For a weekly update call 09044 705708
Mar 21-Apr20 Something you’ve been waiting a long time for could be happening at last. After a tricky phase you’ll ﬁnd yourself in a smoother, more successful chapter. Thought for the fortnight: It’s transformation time. B For a weekly update call 09044 705700
July 23-Aug 23 Assertive Mars enters Leo on the 28th, which may affect the balance of one particular association. Getting ﬁtter or ﬁnancially organised could be your intention. Thought for the fortnight: You’re energetic but impatient! B For a weekly update call 09044 705704
Calls cost 66p per minute from a BT landline. Calls from other operators and mobiles may vary. Weekly readings last approx ﬁve minutes, monthly readings approx nine minutes, year ahead readings approx 13 minutes. For entertainment purposes only. Users must be over 18. Service provider: Spoke. Customer services helpline: 0845 270 8302 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm). www.lynneewart.com YOURS