Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Quality Time

Last weekend was a busy one. To be honest, most of my weekends are but it’s usually a case of trying to cram a week’s worth of chores into two days. This was different.

First of all my ten year old was off to cub camp on Friday night (indoors not outdoors thankfully).  He is the most confident, outgoing child I have ever met.   He amazes me sometimes because he is the exact opposite of his worrywart mother.  Needless to say he left me without a backwards glance, whereas I fretted over whether he would be warm enough, have enough to eat, whether he had the right clothes.  I knew of course that I would spend the weekend missing him and that he would come back full of the joys of a good time.  I did and so did he.  But he was a very tired little boy who did want a cuddle from his mum which was comforting.

It wasn’t the only parent-child event of the weekend as I went on my own little jaunt with my mum, her sister and my brother’s wife.  I love my mum (it goes without saying) and these days I feel I can tell her most things (I was a secretive teenager and young woman) but recently, well for a long time actually, we haven’t spent much quality time together.   I left home when I was 18 to live in London and only came back for brief visits over the next 9 years.   And then I had my boys and life post-children has been more about them than it has about us.

But it was my mum’s 70th birthday at the beginning of October and, as I am becoming ever more conscious of the passage of time, I decided that we needed some girl- time. My mum loves musicals but doesn’t get to go very often (my dad hates them).  She used to go with her sister (who, as I was growing up was like a second mum to me) but they haven’t been for a while.   And to make the party complete there’s my brother’s wife. She loves music and theatre but like my dad, my brother is not a fan.  So I looked around and booked tickets to see Calendar Girls which was on at the Liverpool Empire and I thought it would be just the thing for a girl’s day out.

I’d booked matinee tickets as I thought that would be nicer than travelling on a dark winter’s night and my S-I-L picked up my mum and my auntie and brought them to Chester (they live around Wilmslow) and then we got on the train to Liverpool. The theatre is just around the corner from the station which was ideal.  We pre-ordered interval drinks and took our seats, which were at the front of a new section in the stalls so we had plenty of leg room – Row J if you ever need it for future reference.

And as for the show, well, what can I say, it was brilliant!  The cast included Lynda Bellingham, Jan Harvey, Rula Lenska, Jennifer Ellison, Debbie Chazen, Ruth Madoc, Joe McGann and Bruno Langley (Todd in Corrie).  They were all brilliant and in places I was crying with laughter.  It was wonderful to hear my mum and auntie (who is eighty next year) giggling away like school girls – a real tonic.

Afterwards we admired the Christmas lights and went for a chinese, then it was back on the train home. 

I really enjoyed myself and spending time with the women who have made me into the woman I am today was a real treat. Its made me determined to organise more time together – time is precious after all. In the busy world we live in its often difficult to make the time for ourselves but last weekend has taught me how important it really is.

Take care everyone.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Too Much Clutter

Adverts are everywhere, exhorting the values of the next must have gadget. Items which will revolutionise our lives and make us wonder how you we lived without them.   Methods of payment are all too easy too – just one click and it will be on its way. So is it any wonder that we live in a “must have” society?

One of my resolutions this year was to de-clutter my house.   Well, I started but I have nowhere near finished, and over the year have probably accumulated more clutter than I have managed to dump / recycle / give away to charity.

I’m not a shoe or a handbag fiend (although on recent review of these items I do seem to have rather a lot) but my major shopping weaknesses are books and notebooks.   This year I have made a demonstrable effort curtail my notebook habit and despite the odd slip have been moderately successful.   I’ve even tried to resist the temptation to pick up a paperback (or two) whenever I’m doing the weekly food shop or happen to stray into The Works.  I still look but I try not to touch. So I should be feeling moderately pleased with myself.  But I fear that this is just an exercise in self-delusion.  

Despite diligent attention, the “to be read” pile has not depleted, in fact, it’s beginning to resemble the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and I’m expecting an imminent avalanche.  How come?  Well, it’s partly thanks to lots of lovely family and friends who know how much I love to read and who insist on lending recommended books to me – yes I do love them, but please can you just hang on to them for a while to give me a chance to catch up?  It’s also due to the fact that my husband bought me a Kindle for my birthday.

The aim of the Kindle was to reduce the amount of books entering the house.  This has clearly failed. (Do you want to know what my guilty secret is?  I’ve started storing the overflow of  books in an empty filing cabinet at work – ssh! Don’t tell hubby.)

I do love my kindle, but it is incredibly easy to download books without the physical reminder to dog my day-to-day life.  So not only is my house full to overflowing (as well as my desk) but my head is too.  As if my to do list for family and writing wasn’t long enough, the reading one has gone ever so slightly viral too.

It has got to STOP!

So, one of my resolutions for next year as well as decluttering my house, is to stop buying any more books until I’ve read at least half of the ones which currently reside chez moi.

Its going to be difficult but I’m determined to do it. Might just slip in a visit or two to library if I find the temptation overwhelming.

What are your obsessions / guilty secrets?

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Where Does The Time Go?

Is it just me or is the Time Elf on the rob again?   I just don’t know what has happened to November – or the rest of the year for that matter.   I’m having a bit of a dilemma because I’m now facing the fact that I can deny the C thing no longer. It’s something to do with school nativities, Christmas fairs, football and cubs’ Christmas parties etc etc. And that’s without the thought of shopping, card writing, and who’s coming to stay for the big day? (Bit of familial negotiation going on there too!)

With two boys who are very active, the only day of the week where I usually don’t have to be the after school taxi service is on a Thursday, but at the moment I have at least two things going on each day. Also the letters and texts from school asking for a donation for this, that and the other is just about driving me insane (as well as very poor).  If you see someone fighting for breath, trying to get out from under a mound of paper – that will be me!

And of course all of this trying to remember what I’m supposed to be doing next, isn’t exactly conducive to writing. My mind is doing an impression of the Easter Bunny. (Yes, that will be here before we know it too. At least it might bring some better weather with it.)

The other day I read an article featuring a mainstream author.  He said that when he’s in the throes of writing a book he writes constantly, blocking out the rest of the world and all the menial stuff it contains.

Now, I don’t mean to be sexist but yes it was a man. How many women writers do you know who could do that? (Sorry guys). At least it’s made my mind up about what I want for Christmas.  I want a wife.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Holiday Reads

I haven't reviewed any books recently so today I thought I'd review two of the best books I read on my recent holiday.  They are:

A Weekend with Mr Darcy – Victoria Connelly

From the moment I started to read this book I was hooked.  I loved the two female characters, Dr Katherine Roberts and the younger Robyn, and wanted each of them to find true love.  
At times I did find their reactions to the situations they found themselves in a little frustrating but overall, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book.
I loved being plunged into the world of Austen mania and have been inspired to re-read her novels, and all things regency.  A perfect holiday read.


Want to Know A Secret? – Sue Moorcroft

I read Starting Over a while ago and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to reading this novel.   What can I say?  I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

I loved the main character – Diane – and really felt for her as she gradually finds out how much her husband has betrayed her.  At first she thinks he has been having an affair but the truth is so much worse than that.

The characters are drawn brilliantly. Her husband is such a manipulating, controlling and convincing liar – boo, hiss.
Diane, though, is a strong woman and the story charts how she deals with the fallout from her husband’s helicopter crash (pardon the pun) and how she becomes even stronger as a result.

I loved every minute of this book and can’t wait to read All That Mullarkey.

And now its back to the "To Be Read" pile.


Monday, 7 November 2011

It's Beginning To Feel Alot Like Winter

This time last week I was lying on a sun lounger soaking up the rays in Lanzarote. Today I had to defrost the car before I could drive to work.  It’s a bit of a culture shock and the thought of the long winter ahead is just a little depressing.  I’m also suffering with early darkness since the clocks went back and have rediscovered that I hate driving in the dark.  It really makes me want to hibernate until the spring.

I must admit though it was wonderful to get away at half term and it definitely recharged the batteries. As we didn’t get away in the summer, and on our holiday in May it rained most of the time, it felt much deserved.  The boys had three inset days tagged onto the half term so we didn’t even have to take them out of school which was even better.

We went to Playa Blanca to Flamingo Beach, a First Choice holiday village and I must admit the facilities were fabulous (the food was pretty good too which means I have come home with a serious intention to diet).   The entertainments team were brilliant, and whilst I’m not big on group fun, the boys loved it. As they were entertained, I got on with some reading and writing, which for me is the best kind of holiday.

Before I went away I was feeling a bit jaded about my writing and couldn’t seem to get anything finished. Without the usual distractions though I drafted some new stories and came back feeling much more confident.  I’ve also made a list of things I want to write for the rest of the year which appeals to the OCD side of my nature.  You know what they say, “Nothing beats the satisfaction of a ticked off list” and for me it really helps to set myself targets.

Talking of targets, its November and time for NaNoWriMo.  This year, I didn’t want to start on a big new project as I’ve got lots of editing to do. I must admit though that I’m missing it.  So I’ve decided to set myself a mini NaNoWriMo.   My aim is to write 500 words a day.  It’s a really good exercise because it makes me write even when I don’t want to and even if I don’t do anything else, knowing I have achieved that small target makes me feel good about myself.   So far I have written 1½ new stories and whilst they are a very rough first draft, at least they are there.  They are both stories which have been on my ideas list for a very long time so it feels like a small achievement.  The aim for the rest of the year is to get as many short stories out there as possible, and who knows, one or two may even hit the target.  One can only dream!

Hoping that the dark nights and cold mornings aren't getting you down too much!