Our Yorkshire Dales Adventure Part 1 – All Creatures Great and Small

The hubby, daughter, dog and I have just returned from a week holidaying in the Yorkshire Dales. We live in North Yorkshire ourselves but it’s such a huge county with lots of slow country roads that you can easily travel for several hours and still not have left it! We stayed n a small market town called Hawes, which we’ve visited several times before.

The Yorkshire Dales is James Herriot country. I remember watching the TV series back in the 1970s/1980s and really enjoying it so I was a little unsure about the C5 remake but, my goodness, have they done an amazing job on it. I absolutely love it and the cast are fabulous. It’s heartwarming, funny and the scenery is simply stunning.

We took a drive to Grassington one day which is Darrowby in the C5 version of the programme. It’s only 22 miles from Hawes but the roads are slow and narrow so we’re talking a one-hour journey! The original series was filmed in Askrigg and Thirsk but there has been more development in these towns in recent years and the roads around them in particular did not lend themselves to the 1930s authenticity of the series.

There’s a great article in the Yorkshire Post online about some of the shop transformations here.

It was a wet soggy day (the whole holiday was wet and soggy) so the photos are a little dull but I had a chance to pose outside the building used for the exterior of Skeldale House where the veterinary practice is based and the vets live.

The actual house used in Grassington doesn’t have pillars outside – these are added for the filming along with metal railings and shrubs – but the location is so recognisable on the top corner of the market square that we knew for sure we had the right building. The scenes inside Skeldale House are shot in a studio.

‘Skeldale House’ is the one on the top right by the lamp post

I also posed outside The Drovers Arms which is really called The Devonshire. If you look closely at the frosting on the windows in the second photo, it says The Drovers Arms.

We actually had our lunch in there (and it was delicious). The walls are covered with photos of the cast. As with Skeldale House, only the exterior here is used. The inside was too modern for filming but the inside scenes are within a pub rather than a studio – The Green Dragon Inn at nearby Hardraw. We’ve been there before but didn’t get a chance to visit this time.

Grassington is a very pretty Dales village with lots of cafes and gift shops although there were quite a few closed the day we visited which was a shame. We didn’t think a Tuesday was a typical day for closures but presumably it’s not busy enough out of season (even in half term) to justify the full-time opening hours. One of the closed shops had some fabulous All Creatures Great and Small signs in the window and a wonderful painting above the door.

Although not featured in the series (or at least I don’t think it is), I couldn’t resist taking this photo of The Cake House. Who doesn’t love the idea of a Cake House? It was a café, but also closed so I couldn’t gaze at or sample the cakey loveliness.

On our journey back to Scarborough at the end of our holiday, we stopped off in Thirsk where some filming took place in the second series. James and Helen queued outside the Ritz Cinema shown here.

We would have liked to visit the James Herriot Museum in Thirsk – the World of Jame Herriot – but, being an indoor museum, dogs can’t go in (except assistance dogs), so we’ll hopefully visit another time.

And if you love All Creatures Great and Small, you might also love my Hedgehog Hollow series. There’s a vet, lots of stunning countryside, and hedgehogs.

Watch out for Part 2 of our Yorkshire Dales Adventure – It Shouldn’t Happen to an Author – coming soon.

Big hugs
Jessica xx 

Happy Yorkshire Day 2021

It’s 1st August which means it’s Yorkshire Day. Happy Yorkshire Day 2021 to everyone who who was born in Yorkshire, lives here now or has ever lived here, to all those who’ve visited this beautiful part of the country or would love to do so, to those who write about it/read about it/watch it on TV, those who drink Yorkshire Tea and anyone who has any connection to or fondness for Yorkshire.

I love Yorkshire. I was actually born in Teesside but was raised in a market town called Guisborough which borders the North Yorkshire Moors so I very much think of myself as a Yorkshire lass. And I’ve lived in North Yorkshire since 2003 and Scarborough since 2004; the longest time I’ve lived anywhere.

All my books (so far) are set in Yorkshire. North Yorkshire alone is the largest county in England. Add in East, West and South Yorkshire and we’re massive. So it’s no surprise that an area this size has so many inspiring settings from coast to country to city.

I’m delighted to present some of our local scenery and the books that are inspired by it…

The ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series, a location inspired by Scarborough, Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay
The Hedgehog Hollow series (so far) set in the stunning Yorkshire Wolds
Take a trip to Castle Street, inspired by Scarborough’s Bar Street and the cobbled streets of Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay, full of independent shops and cafes
Whitsborough Bay’s North Bay (heavily inspired by Scarborough’s North Bay) features in many of my books but especially All You Need is Love and The Secret to Happiness
Scarborough Spa at the far end of South Bay is the inspiration behind The Bay Pavilion which features in Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café
The views over Scarborough’s South Bay are stunning. This is one of the first views Tara sees when she moves to Whitsborough Bay in Starry Skies and, in new release Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café, it’s an area called Sea Cliff where heroine Hollie lives
The Starfish Café is the setting for a new series. The location is completely fictional but the beach below – Starfish Point – is a colony to 200 grey and common seals, inspired by the beach at Ravenscar
Scarborough’s harbour aka Whitsborough Bay harbour is mentioned in several books and there’s a key scene set there in Christmas at Carly’s Cupakes

I hope you’ve enjoyed a little glimpse into the real Yorkshire inspiration behind Whitsborough Bay and Hedgehog Hollow.

Do you love Yorkshire? Do you live here/have connections here/have fond memories of holidays here? I’d love to hear from you in the comments if you do.

Big Yorkshire hugs
Jessica xx

Exploring Wharram Percy – a deserted Medieval village

Yesterday, it didn’t look like the forecasted rain was going to make an appearance so we piled into the car to drive around part of the Yorkshire Wolds – Hedgehog Hollow country – to get some more photos.

It was a lovely drive out, stopping to take the occasional photo of stunning rolling countryside, and it was a bit of a mystery tour, arriving at each junction and hubby asking ‘right or left?’ We picked up signs to the English Heritage site of Wharram Percy which is somewhere we’ve wanted to visit for ages so we ended up there. You can find details about it on English Heritage’s website here.

Bit of history for you here: There are roughly 3,000 known deserted Medieval villages around Britain but this is one of the most famous because it’s one of the largest and best preserved. For the past 60 years, archeologists have worked on this site, keen to understand more about this era and why the village was deserted.

Wharram Percy can be found in a valley, surrounded by stunning Yorkshire Wolds countryside. It’s quite a remote site but was occupied for six centuries before being abandoned in the early sixteenth century (around 1520 they reckon).

You can read the full history on English Heritage’s website here and it seems a combination of various tragic and unfortunate circumstances around lack of heirs in the Percy family, forced eviction, famine and the plague resulted in the downfall of a once-thriving village. There’s also an interesting blog post about the ‘ghost village’ here from fantasy author Angus Watson.

I’d heard tales of Wharram Percy being haunted and about dogs in particular, who tend to be more attuned to these things, having strong reactions when visiting the area. So I did some research on this.

There’s a short but interesting clip from presenter Clive Anderson on YouTube about a grisly discovery archaeologists made when excavating the site in 2017 which you can watch here – a pit containing 137 human bones from 10 different people. A little strange when there’s a church with a graveyard and the villagers would all be christians and therefore buried there.

Frustratingly this clip didn’t explain why the archaeologists thought the pit was there so I did some further digging. There still isn’t a definitive answer for this discovery. There is evidence of decapitation and dismemberment with many bones being broken and/or burned after death. The only plausible explanation for the moment is that this may have happened because of Medieval folklore. Back then, it was believed that the dead could rise and spread disease or violently attack the living so this gruesome way of disposing of the bodies (presumably of those who’d died from the plague?) may have been a way of preventing that. Eek!

The Clive Anderson video shows amazing arial footage where the full extent of the remains of the village can be seen; something you don’t appreciate when on foot. Definitely worth watching to see that.

I wanted to find some ‘evidence’ of ghost encounters but all the posts I found seemed to focus on the village being abandoned and the bones rather than anything specific from visitors. I’m sure if I’d spent longer looking, I’d have eventually come across something but I have a huge to-do list today so I’ve abandoned that search!

Did we feel anything spooky? No. Just hunger pangs because we hadn’t expected to visit Wharram Percy and should have been hunting out lunch when we got distracted by a visit there! Ella (our sprocker spaniel) showed no reactions either. When I was at 19, I went to the Isle of Wight on holiday and visited Golden Hill Fort, a former army barracks near Freshwater. It’s now apartments but it was open to visitors back then and was reputed to be haunted. I felt something very strongly there which spooked me big time so I had wondered if I was susceptible to things like this… but Wharram Percy didn’t affect me at all.

My 14-year-old daughter claims to like horror films and spooky books so we got her to stand by the farmhouse which is still standing but boarded up. We couldn’t resist winding her up as she posed in the blocked-up doorway. ‘Just stand by the woman and little girl,’ hubby instructed. ‘You don’t have to hold the little girl’s hand,’ I added. Hubby then couldn’t resist photoshopping the image when we got home! (Look closely at the doorway). Mwah ha ha ha!

I’d definitely recommend a visit to Wharram Percy. It’s £2 for parking unless you’re an English Heritage member (which we are). It’s a 3/4 mile walk there which is mainly downhill although that means uphill on the way back. It’s mainly a gentle slope, though, with just one slightly steeper part.

You’ll then cover a bit more ground wandering round the site itself which is a bit hilly, as you can see on one of the photos below. It’s a lovely walk with lots of wildflowers and pretty countryside to look at as well as the remains of the site, although I realised after I got home that I’d only taken photos of the intact buildings and not the ‘footprints’.

My daughter now has an idea for a story inspired by Wharram Percy. It’s actually quite a brilliant idea and made me excited for her when she mentioned it. I just wish she’d get beyond chapter 1! She has started writing so many stories then abandoned them because it takes too much effort. Probably not going to follow in my footsteps!

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Venturing into real Hedgehog Hollow countryside

One of the things readers love about my Whitsborough Bay series is that, while the setting is fictional, it is inspired by real places. The biggest inspiration comes from Scarborough but there are elements of Whitby, Robin Hood’s Bay and a couple of other local coastal towns and villages. Readers who are familiar with the area like to guess which pubs, cafes and landmarks they think I’m referring to.

When I started writing the Hedgehog Hollow series, my intention was to to do the same thing: to create villages in the books that were inspired by specific villages on the Yorkshire Wolds. But Covid hit and we couldn’t go out and about so I couldn’t do that and I didn’t know the area well enough myself. I only live a few miles away from the northern tip of The Wolds and I have travelled through the area oodles of times but I’ve never veered from the main roads to thoroughly explore the villages. I do, however, have a really good understanding of the beauty of the countryside.

What’s been interesting is that, although I haven’t used specific villages as inspiration, some readers who live in the area think they recognise certain villages on The Wolds. I love that because it means that I have properly captured the essence of Wolds villages in my writing.

Yesterday afternoon, hubby and I planned to go exploring for the afternoon but our plans were slightly thwarted. He had a last-minute opportunity to go for his 2nd Covid jab so we set off much later than intended, but then our daughter called us from her after school photography club to say the teacher had an appointment so it was finishing half an hour earlier so we had to cut our trip short at the other end.

We managed a stop in the middle of the countryside although the photos really don’t do justice to the stunning rolling hills and fields surrounding us – the real Hedgehog Hollow countryside.

We explored a village called Wold Newton with a pretty church and a village green with a pond. Check out that blue sky! I had flip flops on so some careful navigation was needed round the pond as there was goose poo everywhere!

How fabulous is this bus shelter? It was full of books, DVDs and games. I wondered if it had started during the pandemic to keep people entertained or whether it has been a community scheme running much longer than that.

I checked the shelves but couldn’t see any Jessica Redland’s loitering! I loved this book with what we call a Steven lighthouse on it. When New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms was first issued, it was called Searching for Steven and, as the book features a red and white striped lighthouse, we have since referred to striped ones as Steven lighthouses.

We also walked around a smaller village called Thwing but I forgot to take any photos.

Our next stop was driving through Butterwick, Weaverthorpe and Helperthorpe intending to park at the furthest and explore, but that’s when we got the call to go to school early so no more photo opps. My husband’s dad was born and brought up in Helperthorpe so I definitely wanted a good look around.

I will share more photos when we return and I continue on my mission to find some villages that are how I would imagine Huggleswick, Umplesthorpe, Fimberley, Little Tilbury and Great Tilbury.

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

Celebrating Publication Day for Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow

Yesterday (4th May) was the publication day for the third book in the Hedgehog Hollow series: Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow. Woo hoo!

When I was a struggling indie author, publication day was a fairly ‘normal’ day. I’d post about it on social media and a few family members and friends would congratulate me, then I’d get on with my day to day work. I might nip go out for lunch with the hubby or maybe even an evening meal to celebrate but it was fairly low key because so few readers had discovered my work. I didn’t excitedly watch the charts because there wasn’t an impressive chart entry moment.

Since joining the amazing Boldwood Books, this has completely changed. Publication days are now an excited frenzy of activity on social media, responding to loads of gorgeous congratulations messages, and the start of a blog tour. I’ve learned not to attempt to write or edit as there’s too much else going on but I did slip in an appointment with the hairdresser yesterday and that was a mistake in terms of time but, my goodness, how nice was it to have my hair cut and professionally coloured for the first time since December 2019!

I debuted it during a Facebook Live with my fabulous editor Nia Beynon last night. If you weren’t able join the Live, you can catch up with it here. Thank you to all those who joined us on the evening and for the lovely comments and questions.

It was the perfect opportunity to also debut my new hedgehog print dress (awww) and show off a couple of my soft friends. Thank you to my friend Nic for the lovely knitted sparkly hedgehog, Erin.

The blog tour has started and the reviews yesterday along with the first review I’ve seen posted today are absolutely gorgeous. I also had two lovely reviews from bloggers not on the tour. Thank you to everyone who has signed up. I’m excited and a little trepidatious (is that a word?!) to hear all the comments.

I wrote a post for Boldwood’s blog about one of the themes of this book – forgiveness – which you can find here and I wrote a post for my own blog about the risks of writing about an unlikable character which you can find here.

Fabulous publication day biscuits arrived from my publisher. I love these. It’s so adorable seeing my book in biscuit format. They’re made by a company called Enchanting Bakes if you want to check them out. Amazingly they are still unopened but I suspect they won’t last beyond the morning!

We unveiled the winner of the ‘Name the Hedgehog’ competition for Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow. A draw was made from those who’d signed up to my newsletter and the winner, Kaye, chose Prickles as the name. As we did with the amazing Snoop Hoggy Hog who appears in New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow, my hubby created a cartoon of Prickles. We saw him as a cheeky Yorkshire chappie in a flat cap, drinking his Yorkshire Tea, standing in the meadow at Hedgehog Hollow. Isn’t he fabulous?

We’ll be running another competition to name a hedgehog for book 4 so watch out for details of that late next month.

Speaking of book 4, we revealed yesterday in the Facebook Live that book 4 will be called A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow. We don’t have the blurb or cover yet but it’s available for pre-order now right here! It can only appear as a pre-order for Kindle this far in advance but it will be available for pre-order on Kobo and Apple nearer the release date. It’s out in January 2022.

Finally, let’s talk about those hedgehogs scampering up the charts! I knew I’d had a large number of pre-orders for this book – way bigger than anything I’ve experienced before – so I was hoping I might end up with a Top 100 on Amazon. The chart is meant to update hourly but that doesn’t seem to happen and yesterday it was super slow at moving. I made it to #77 by the end of the day and the full impact or those pre-orders was finally shown this morning at #38. I can’t quite believe that. Hubby had asked me what I would be happy with. Obviously I’m happy with it all and I had anticipated perhaps Top 100 on the back of pre-orders but had hoped maybe 70s. A dream would be Top 50 but I genuinely didn’t think that would happen … yet those hedgehogs went one better with Top 40! So proud!

This position has put the hedgehogs at #11 in the Hot New Releases chart and #1 in the same chart in several categories.

Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow is sporting #1 Best Seller tags in the UK, Australia, Canada and USA which is such a thrill and it was up to #59 in Australia yesterday. Even more fabulous was that 9 out of my 10 released books had a #1 Best Seller flag at the same time. Wow! Six of them are currently sporting one in the UK.

I’ve just checked the USA chart and am astonished to be a little outside the top 1,000 (#1,259) which is such a thrill knowing how enormous the US market is. And the hedgehogs have cracked the top 1,000 in Canada at #785 just now.

Over on Apple, they made it to #43 in the overall chart yesterday and #9 in the category chart of ‘Fiction and Literature’. They’re on the home page of Kobo too as ‘New and Notable’!

My huge apologies to anyone who is wanting to obtain the paperback version or get it from Audible. Amazon are showing the paperback as ‘currently unavailable’ despite it being a print on demand book and very much available. This is an error on their part and my publishers are working hard to rectify it but they’ve had this with another paperback recently and it did take a week so thank you for your patience. It is showing available for order on Waterstones website here. It doesn’t appear to be on Barnes and Noble yet either but should do soon. It can also be ordered from bookshops, as can any of my paperbacks.

As for Audible, it only appeared yesterday afternoon but it appeared as a pre-order with delivery in a weeks’ time. My publisher is also working with them to rectify this and we are hopeful it will properly be available today or tomorrow. Fingers crossed. Thank you so much for your patience if you’re waiting for either of these formats.

I’ll end by saying a huge THANK YOU to all the amazing readers who pre-ordered Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow, making these amazing chart positions possible. THANK YOU to all those who bought or borrowed on publication day. I’m so grateful to everyone who has shared or commented on social media or sent me a private message wishing me a happy publication day and/or telling me how much they’ve loved reading it. It is such a thrill that readers have devoured the book in a day with some even saying they couldn’t sleep until they’d finished it. Wow! That just blows me away!

If you haven’t delved into the Hedgehog Hollow series already, I do strongly recommend starting at the beginning as, although the story in each book is complete, there are themes that carry across the series and threads that further develop. It’s a richer reading experience for starting at the beginning and the great news is that, if you read eBooks, the first two – Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow and New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow – are both still on offer. But grab them fast as the prices will go up soon. Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow is also in Prime Reading but won’t be for much longer and ALL my books (this series and the Whitsborough Bay stories) are in Kindle Unlimited.

Hope you all have a fabulous week. The hedgehogs and I send you our love and gratitude.

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

Would you like to join my Redland’s Readers Facebook group?

I’ve done it. After chatting to my good friend and fellow-author, Sharon Booth, about setting up a reader’s group for the past 18 months (maybe even 2 years), I’ve finally bitten the bullet and done it.

Sharon got her act together way before me and runs a gorgeous, cosy group called Love, Laughter, & Happy Ever After so, if you’re a fan of Sharon’s writing (or even if you’re not), you might want to check out her group. It’s lovely.

I love a bit of alliteration so I’ve called my group:

Why does Redland’s Readers exist? The ‘about’ section sums it up so I thought I’d paste that here:

The purpose of this group is to explore together the world of Whitsborough Bay and Hedgehog Hollow (without any spoilers) where I set my stories. 

WHAT WILL I SHARE WITH YOU? 
I’ll reveal some details before they’re generally available such as titles, release dates and book covers. I’ll talk about the project(s) I’m currently working on and may even ask you for inspiration around names of characters, streets, jobs etc. when my creative well runs dry. I may occasionally talk about books I’ve read, music I love and favourite films and I’d love you to join in those conversations.


WHAT WOULD I LIKE YOU TO SHARE? 
I’d love to hear your feedback on my stories (spoiler-free please) and see pictures/hear about connections with Yorkshire. For example:
Do you live here?
Have you visited the area / would you like to?
Do my settings remind you of other places?
Do any of my characters remind you of yourself or someone you know?
Do you know someone with the same name as one of my characters?


Feel free to ask me questions. If anyone follows me on social media or on my blog, you’ll know I’m always honest. I absolutely love what I do and am so very lucky to be able to do this full-time now but that doesn’t mean it’s all shiny so I’ll hopefully give you some insight into what goes on behind the scenes to get a book/ebook/audio to you.

And I’m sure it will evolve as we go… xx

And that last sentence is key. This will definitely evolve depending on the members and what they want from the group/how they’d like to interact.

I went live late yesterday afternoon and am amazed to have 89 members already. I’m having a few problems setting up notifications for myself so have to keep scrolling through as I’d hate to miss anything.

If this sounds like a group you’d like to join, please do ask on Facebook here. There are a couple of simple entry questions and you’ll be asked to accept the ‘rules’ (straightforward things like no spamming, being kind, no spoilers etc.) and then you’ll be welcomed into the fold with a warm virtual hug.

Thank you to everyone who has written a review, emailed me, messaged me, contacted me on any form of social media across the past year to say how much you’ve loved my books. It’s quite overwhelming (in a nice way). Without your kindness, I’d never have set up a group like this and I’m looking forward to getting to know you all a bit better.

If you don’t fancy joining the group but you would like to follow my author page on Facebook, you can find it here.

Big hugs
Jessica xx