'Well now, prove it, Sheila. As John would say, "Put your money where your mouth is." Be a depressed widow boring the arse off everyone, or get on with life. Your choice.' In The Two of Us Sheila relived her life with John Thaw - years packed with love and family, delight and despair. And then she looked ahead. What next? Gardening, grannying and grumbling, while they all had their pleasures, weren't going to fill the aching void that John had left. 'Live adventurously', a Quaker advice, was hovering around her brain. Putting her and John's much loved house in France on the market she embarked on a series of journeys. She tried holidaying alone, contending with invisibility and budget flights. She tried travelling in a group, but the questions she wanted to ask were never the ones the guide wanted to answer. She tried relaxing - harder than you might think. Finally, heading out of her comfort zone, she found her travels, and the things she discovered, led her back to her past; to consider her generation - the last to experience the Second World War - and the kind of person it made her. Just Me is a book about moving on, but it is also about looking back, and looking anew. Sheila, whether facing down burglars and Easyjet staff or making friends with waiters and taxi drivers, whether unearthing secrets in Budapest, getting arrested in Thailand, exulting in the art of Venice or searching for a decent cup of coffee in Dorset, is never less than stimulating company. Honest - because if you can't say what you think at seventy-three, when can you? - insightful and wonderfully down to earth, she is a woman seizing the future with wit, gusto and curiosity, on her own.
Sarah Raven is a broadcaster, teacher and writer. She has made regular appearances on Gardeners' World, the BBC's flagship gardening programme; she runs her own cookery and gardening school at Perch Hill in East Sussex; and she is the author of The Cutting Garden, Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook (which was the Guild of Food Writers Cookery Book of the Year 2008) and Sarah Raven's Complete Christmas.
Jonathan Buckley specialises in garden and plant photography and has been working with Sarah Raven, taking photographs at Perch Hill, for ten years. He was awarded the title Garden Writers' Guild Features Photographer of the Year in 2004.