When this book is finished it will be published both in traditional form AND s an e-book. ALL royalties from sales will go to Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham

It will take some time to finish writing the text and bring it to publication. We would ask you to encourage the author as he works to write each chapter, you can become a part of he project and support Ronald McDonald House Birmingham ahead of the book's publication.

I am not the first Ashford to be a published writer. In her day Daisy Ashford was quite famous and sold a lot of copies of her works. A lot more copies than I ever will ! I guess I should get my act together and become a bit more ambitious. My publisher would like that.

Daisy Ashford wrote novelettes and most of my stories are shorter than the full-length novel. I can write and publish a story within a month, sometimes in less time. I decided to write a new story which would be a full-length novel THE BRIDGE HOUSE.

Daisy Ashford wrote using her real name, I write using the pen name of Max Robinson.  Robinson is my mother's maiden name and Max a corruption of Mack, the name of my childhood pet dog.

The Bridge House was the name of the house where my grandmother Lily grew up in the Staffordshire village of Madeley. My story is centred round my grandmother and uses so much of my family history research but is not a biographical work, some of it is fiction. I want to bring in story lines covering events which were happening in Lily’s life but I want to do more, I want to help my readers to feel what life was like to live in those times as well as simply take them through a basic story line.

The story begins just after Lily's eleventh birthday, in 1901 when Queen Victoria died. It will end when my daughter Rebekah was born in 1983.  The whole story looks forward to Rebekah and while she is not named in the story until it reaches 1983 everything is moving towards her.

Rebekah was the first Ashford girl to be born in our family for one hundred years. Please take a look at the WHO IS REBEKAH page within our website.

The picture used for the cover is not The Bridge House and the person in the image is not Lily.  This is a picture that always hung on my grandmother, Lily’s, wall at home.

When she died I had the picture which the family called The Lavender Lady in memory of my grandmother. Rebekah had asked if she could inherit the picture from me and so it is in my will with the proviso it must never leave the family. That, sadly, now has to be changed.

So much of The Bridge House has Rebekah in it when she passed away on Friday 19th May 2017 I felt I simply could not go on writing. If I stopped I would also stop my fifty year old hobby and would not write anything again.

Rebekah did not think much of my stories but I had hoped she would like The Bridge House. I asked my wife, Maureen, what I should do and she suggested I should write the story for Rebekah.

The picture below shows Lily, my Nan aged 93 holding baby Rebekah.

So now I started writing The Bridge House for my Beck. She was already a part of the story as I have explained but I am weaving into the text many other things. The cakes we are had at her celebration then taking to various special places from Beck’s life are already in the story.  Rebekah had invited Maureen and I to tea on the Sunday following the day she left us. She was going to give me an Andre Rieu CD. I have that CD and am listening to it whenever I can. One of the tracks is Santa Lucia, I love that song and have woven it into the plot.

Another member of the Ashford family is William Ashford the landscape painter.

Within my family tree notes I had this picture of his painting at Charleville in Ireland.  I have woven that into the story and made the bridge in the picture part of The Bridge House.

My wife has a book, an album of The Girls Own Paper which dates back to the times of Chapter One. She had wanted Rebekah to read it but that did not happen.  I have woven this book into the story.

Every day for a period of four weeks I either took Rebekah to a hospital clinic appointment or I went to visit her in hospital. Much of the first chapter was written while I sat in the waiting room at Milton Keynes or Oxford's Churchill Hospital.

The first day off from my hospital duties with Rebekah I took my grandson, Adam, to London to look at Thomas Ashford's Victoria Cross on display in The Tower of London.

It was Rebekah's idea that we should buy Adam a camera for his birthday.  The picture on the right below shows Adam preparing to take a photograph of the Thomas Ashford display.

Adam and I phoned Rebekah while we were in London and told her all about our visit.

Thomas Ashford does not appear in The Bridge House but mention of his Victoria Cross appears a number of times.

A very dear friend of my Nan's was Violet McGurk. I have changed her name in the story to Violet McDonald and have given her a twin brother Ronald McDonald.

Nan was not exactly a football supporter but she was a great one for the football pools and often won money. She was married at Holy Trinity Church in Aston Birmingham, just down the road from Villa Park.

Rebekah. of course, is a Sheffield Wednesday fan.  I have taken a Sheffield Wednesday player from my Nan's generation and woven him into the story.

Sheffield Wednesday has done a lot to support OurRebekah, I think as I edit the draft text I need to make more of this subplot in the story.

It was not at all intentional but I found, certainly in the first chapter of the book, that I am writing in the style of Daisy Ashford.

When I write I never have a formal plan, it is always held in my head. I did write a plan and a schedule for The Bridge House but that has long since been set aside..  This plan suggested Chapter One should be 20,000 words long. It turned out to be a little bit longer.  It also required me to finish the draft by Sunday 4th June. It was finished and was ready by Rebekah’s celebration on Tuesday 6th June. The plan, however, required me to finish and publish the whole story on Sunday 15th October. 

That is not going to happen. The work I found myself doing within the wider OurRebekah project pushed aside The Bridge House. I made many promises to myself that I would pick up the work and continue writing. I broke every one of those promises.

There was a need for some self discipline, there was a need to force myself to write and finish The Bridge House.

I visited Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham in September. I had a wonderful day. I made a promise to staff that I would finish the book. I am now promising to you that I will have the book finished by Saturday 19th May 2018, the anniversary of Rebekah's death.

If I were to ask you to name the works of writer J M Barrie you would, of course, say Peter Pan but could you name any others ? Pobably not.

The royalties from Peter Pan were given by J M Barrie to Great Ormond Street Hospital For Sick Children.

I am going to give every penny from The Bridge House to Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham. While I have not so far bothered to promote any of my stories I intend to put all of my weight behind selling both e-book and paper versions of The Bridge House.

I may not become one of Amazon’s top selling authors, wouldn’t it be wonderful if my royalties were of that magnitude, but I am here promising both Rebekah and Ronald McDonald House Charities that I will do everything I can to sell copies and to support the work of Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham.

The Bridge House is a real place, it was the childhood home of my grandmother in the village of Madeley near Crewe. The Bridge House is still there.  I have never been to Madeley although I have promised myself many, many times that I will. I certainly will point the car up the motorway before the story is finished.

A current resident of Madeley is Gordon Banks who lives not far away from The Bridge House. Gordon Banks was the goal keeper in the 1966 England World Cup Winning Team and arguably the best footballer England has ever produced.

The text I have so far written, about sixty thousand words, is still in a draft form. It is riddled with typo's and possibly belongs more in our Bureau of Silly Ideas than it does on an Amazon book list.

As I develop the project here in the web pages within OurRebekah I am going to sort out the draft, eliminate the typos and set up some sub plots to link the chapters. I do not want to give away the book's ending but everything, every word on every page in every chapter will be guiding the reader towards what I hope will be a special and unexpected ending.

I want you to help me as I write. I want you to encourage me, give constructive criticism as I write. I do not want this book to be my book, nor do I want it just to be a book for Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham. I want it to be OUR book. I want supporters of OurRebekah and supporters of Ronald McDonald House, Birmingham to feel a part of it. When I write I want you to feel you are guiding my pen.

YES, I do write using a pen. I scribble like crazy into a notebook. Later I type the scribble up using my laptop. As you make The Bridge House YOUR project as well as mine for Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham I am inviting to you make a £2 donation via our JustGiving page which will go to Birmingham. You don't have to do this but wouldn't it be a a bit nice ?