Today I’m featuring on the fab Linda Hill’s blog, talking the pros and cons of dating in the countryside

Three Pros and Cons of Dating in the Countryside

A Guest Post by Lottie Phillips

Location. Location. Location.

There are often many miles between eateries. So, you’ve agreed to go on a date with the local farmer. I warn you now that, unlike in a town or city, quite often you will be stuck at said eatery. He might choose to take you, for example, to the Five Bulls. Oh, you think excitedly, how romantic, how authentically country. You’re thinking quaint, cosy pub with roaring fire and epic Michelin-quality food. Only, you get there and it’s filthy with a fire chugging out enough soot and smoke to cause the Kyoto Protocol to fall down and your dog, Alfie, sees better food at home. On the other hand, you might strike lucky and end up at a gastro-pub sipping on Prosecco and looking up at the stars. The point is you can’t easily roll onto the next place, so if he’s in for the long haul, you might be too.


It’s a minefield. You want to impress, look sexy but remember those heels might not make it through that muddy field. That’s not to say, the countryside is uncivilised. We do have tarmac. It’s just it might be dark or the car might be parked down a track. However, I have seen heeled wellies. Just saying.

Choice of tipple.

Quite often, you will be picked up and can drink the night away, not worrying about driving later on. Bonus. Only, then you find out he is the most self-indulgent bore of a man and you are desperate for him to take you home. So it depends on the man and if you want to impress. Like any date, this will quickly become apparent. For example, say you go on a date with Lord such and such, you may want to go for your classic dry white wine, at which point he may offer to buy you champagne. If he’s boring the pants off you, start ordering Snake Bites. Works every time. Let’s say, instead, you’ve opted for the handsome stable hand who drinks Guinness like it’s his lifeline. If you like him, maybe try a pint of the Black Nectar, if you don’t, order a bottle of Taittinger and he’ll soon get you home.


Over at the fab Whispering Stories today, talking about five essential things to know when moving to the countryside

Five essential things to know when moving to the countryside

Moving to the countryside can be a bit of shock to the system. Anna in The Little Cottage in the Country leaves the bright lights of London and heads to the rural idyll of Trumpsey Blazey. She faces village life and all its eccentricities. So if you’re thinking of doing the same, remember these five pointers.

Buy wellies. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: I have to wear plastic rubber on my pedicured feet? What about the forty-odd pairs of red-soled sparkle that I own? Well, you will have the odd occasion when your Louboutins (let’s face it, they give you blisters anyway and you had to remortgage your house in order to buy them) will come in handy but, day to day, trust me it’s all about the wellies. You’re probably thinking of those green, shapeless waders but actually life in the country has got very bling: they now come in all sizes and you can even get them in pink with a flower motif. Also, let’s not forget that every A-D celeb that goes to Glastonbury wear wellies. Soon they will proudly sit by your front door: a symbol of how country you really are. *Just be careful when you’re emailing or texting friends about your wellies, AutoCorrect can play havoc…

Next, you need a tweed or wax jacket. OK, not essential, like wellies, but a great way to fit in. Yes, you’ve got your very clever roll-up mac but we don’t do clever in the countryside, we do STATEMENT. This means that when you don your tweed or wax jacket, you are literally screaming I am totally working the country look and you will want to know who I am. Now, I have to point out that said tweed or wax jacket cannot look new. It has to give the appearance of an item of clothing that’s been in your family for generations, then slept in by the dog and perhaps even rolled in by the horse. You get my drift? In the country, you buy the jacket and then aim for the been-through-hedge-backward look. I know, don’t ask.

Thirdly, you need to know how to use your Aga. It is like a rite of passage. Hopefully, your house will come with an Aga. The joyous mountain of metal that belts out heat no matter whether it’s -5 degrees or 35 degrees. Your neighbours will visit and congregate around said Aga. There is a lot of bum-warming that goes on whilst drinking gallons of tea. If you’re thinking I must get the Aga cleaned up: don’t! Oh no. A bit like the wellies, and the jacket, your neighbours will admire its ‘used’ look. Don’t forget to take photos of self in front of Aga. Think Mary Berry.

The cake tin is next on my list. Ensure you always have some sort of sweet delight in the house for anyone who pops over. Of course, if you are a superb baker this goes without saying. If you are, in fact, like me then go to the shop, remove cakes from packaging and put in said cake tin. Trust me, no one knows and of course, you baked them in your Aga.

Finally, ensure you have a log store with gloriously seasoned wood. I once had the longest lecture known to man given to me on the merits of seasoned wood. Yes, I know, half an hour of my life I’ll never get back. Anyway, when you think country, you think roaring fire, you think warming your toes at the end of long walks. Bliss.

Interview with the wonderful Petra Quelch, discussing The Little Cottage in the Country

‘Chasing the Happily Ever After’: my feature in magazine

Chasing the Happily Ever After

When we are at school – primary school – we are allowed to start stories with ‘once upon a time’ and to end them with ‘…and they lived happily ever after’. As we progress through life we are told not to use these phrases, that stories should not be so obvious, so formulaic. Then why do we ever learn them?

I’ll tell you why. It’s not that we need to forget these phrases entirely. No. I use them, as a novelist, to remind me that I am taking my characters on a journey. The once upon a time indicates a situation, the context our heroine finds herself. The lived happily ever after is what she is aiming for. Only, is there such a thing as the happily ever after and, if there isn’t, is that why we are taught to abandon these cliche phrases? I mean, as humans, we are always part of a story, aren’t we?

I think it indicates that me, you, and my heroine are striving for something bigger, something beautiful and don’t we all do that? Don’t we all secretly, or not so secretly, harbor fantasies of alternative lives we might one day live? Even if they are rose-tinted and include Hollywood style pools and white villas (oh no, wait, that may just be me). I mean, we’ve all been there, caught daydreaming during the weekend-supermarket-mission, I mean, sorry, um, family shopping trip.

In my novel, The Little Cottage in the Country, Anna goes on a journey to better her life. Anna Compton thought that moving to Trumpsey Blazey, leaving London and her past firmly behind her was the perfect solution. Goodbye life of thirty-something, crazed single mum of two, hello country glamour queen, domestic goddess and yummy-mummy extraordinaire.

The thing is we daydream different situations, conjure up different worlds because we’ve been given the best gift possible: imagination. So whilst my ideas for my stories stem from the world around me – because there really is romance and comedy in the every day – I then take that, those brilliant, very real experiences and I start to daydream.

What does my heroine Anna Compton (The Little Cottage in the Country) really want? She wants love. We all want love but let’s daydream a life less ordinary. Well, then perhaps she meets the Lord of the Manor and as they get to know each other, and as she tries to resist his charms, romance and comedy ooze out of the most strange of places: a school bake sale, a pork pie race? So she is just an ordinary woman, like me, who gets caught up in a beautiful world and chases that happily ever after.

Does she find it? That would be telling. But whether she does, or not, she’ll keep chasing, just as I will. Just as we all will; using the glorious gift of imagination.

Counting down the days… What does it feel like when your book is days away from being published i.e. in THE BIG WIDE WORLD??!

Hello All,

It is a heady mixture of nerves and excitement but it is entirely the unknown. Finally I will be sharing my ‘little darlings’ with you and hoping (daring to hope) you enjoy them! It takes a stupendous amount of hard work to get to that point so there is a certain amount of relief but the nerves never go away.

When you receive reviews, you wait with bated breath and – if they’re positive – you are over the moon! If they’re not, you kick the cat (credit: Harry Bingham) and get up and move on, reminding yourself that reading is an entirely subjective process.

So The Little Cottage in the Country (trailer below) is out on Monday. FORTY-EIGHT hours away! Excited, scared but actually, this time, I almost forgot! Why? Because a novelist has to be a step ahead – only way to survive – and I’m already writing the next romantic adventure!

If you do buy The Little Cottage… I hope you enjoy! Let me know what you think and have a super weekend.

Lottie X



Authors for Grenfell Tower: a brilliant auction for those affected by the fire

A huge number of authors, agents, publishing houses etc. are donating items to this fabulous auction. All the money will go those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

Please visit their website here:

Authors for Grenfell Tower Auction

lottie phillips

ITEM: Signed copy of S is for Stranger by Louise Stone (Charlie Phillips) and named character in her new women’s fiction novel by Lottie Phillips (also Charlie Phillips).

DETAILS: Charlie will sign and personalise a paperback copy of S is for Stranger to you or the person of your choice. Your name or the name of your choice will feature as a character in her second women’s fiction novel published digitally by HQ, HarperCollins.

BIO: Charlie Phillips, writes under the pseudonyms Louise Stone and Lottie Phillips. She is an author with HQ, HarperCollins and her novels include the bestselling S is for Stranger. The Little Cottage in the Country is her first romantic comedy, also with HQ, HarperCollins and is out soon.

WHO CAN BID: worldwide postage.

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