I have a confession to share.

Phillipa Ashley, A Golden Cornish Summer

Phillipa Ashley, A Golden Cornish Summer

One day in June, I spent an hour on deadline day deciding whether I needed a teapot-shaped handbag instead of finishing my novel.

To be fair, I‘d never seen a bag like it. It was shaped an actual teapot complete with a handle and spout.

I had to have it for a very special occasion. One that will truly make my summer complete.

For the first time in three long pandemic-affected years, I’d just received an invitation to my publisher’s summer party.

For years before I had my first book published by Harper Collins, I’d heard tales of this legendary happening. Authors would hang around their inboxes from January hoping for the Save the Date email.

The party is held in the garden of the V&A Museum and I don’t mind telling you, it’s lush. There’s fizz, celebrity and author guests and the chance to glam up a bit.

It’s why I wanted the teapot bag – as if it might suddenly transform me from a cave-dwelling Neanderthal in ripped jeggings to red-carpet ready.

There’s definitely a whole new level of post-pandemic excitement about this year’s party.

I reckon that it’s the realisation that gathering together with our fellow humans is a luxury never to be taken for granted again.

Through the times of anxiety and lockdown, like most of us, I was grateful to simply be alive, and for my friends and family to be OK. I accepted that my glammest outfit would involve walking boots and a padded coat. I embraced the chance to shiver by a frozen pool with a takeout coffee. Trudging through a muddy wood with a friend was a huge treat.

But thankfully, those dark days are fading away.

Suddenly, I yearn for the fun and frivolous, ‘non-essential’ occasions. There’s nothing like listening to live music with a crowd of thousands, singing and dancing together, waving our arms in the air and whipping out our mobiles as dusk falls.

I miss the buzz of catching a train to London to meet my author buddies, share a glass (or two) of fizz and celebrate the joy of being together.

I’m thrilled that at last, I have a novel coming out in a ‘normal’ world after my last three books were published under restrictions.

So I can celebrate the publication of A Golden Cornish Summer by meeting readers at book signings and literary festivals.

Now, I’m saying ‘yes’ to everything because I realise how lucky I am to be able to say yes at all.

As for the teapot… sadly it had sold out by the time I made up my mind.

My new ‘must-have’ is a silver handbag roomy enough to hold a pair of folding ballet pumps. I’m off to hunt it down now so don’t expect a new novel in summer 23 because I’m too busy trawling the Internet.

I may even show it to you at a ‘do’ somewhere this summer.

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