You never contemplate the vaguest possibility of losing a child especially when they have reached adulthood. The parents die first – it's a natural thing – the maternal heart would always be in denial at even the vaguest hint of anything contrary. When I found out my youngest daughter Rachel had cancer, it was as though ice had gripped my heart. It froze. I can honestly say I'm not sure it will ever completely thaw out.


Twenty-five years ago, I wrote a book about the complexities and of course the rewards of being hospitable. The subject has always engaged me and I've had what seems like a lifelong courtship with it.


Planning is a funny thing; it excites some people and at the same time sends others into deep, dark ponderings like: 'I can't even get out of the chair to make a list of the proposed plan'. Well, neither could I. Spoilt rotten by my well meaning parents I had never made by bed until I got married. I did protest and say I wanted to do it, but to my house proud Mother that was an insult. Her home was her domain.