Wednesday, 22 January 2014

A Lovely Weekend

Last weekend we went to Leeds, which is a usual tradition for the boys' birthdays, as they love to watch their favourite team play and we stay over in a nice hotel.

The one we chose this time was the Crowne Plaza, complete with swimming pool and spa, and a couple we are friends with decided to join us, as the husband is also a Leeds supporter.  (There’s more than you think, you know!).

As it was an early kick off we set off straight after breakfast.  My youngest should have been playing football that morning, so we’d had to excuse him, but luckily for us all, that game was cancelled.

The match against Leicester was a good game, very edge of the seat, but sadly Leeds lost 1-0.  As Leicester is at the top of the league, we had expected to lose, but it was a bit disappointing because on the day it could have gone either way.

Afterwards, we checked into the hotel and then went for a swim.  I’d organised some treatments at the spa, and while my friend went for a back massage I had a facial.

It was absolute bliss.  So relaxing to lie in a darkened room with soft music while someone smoothed cream over my face.  It made me realise how we spend so much time tensed up and its made we want to have one more often.  Certainly an incentive to work harder and earn the money to afford them! Even now my skin feels and looks so much better, I feel years younger!

Later we all went out to an Italian restaurant.  After a luxurious sleep we all got up for another swim before breakfast and then went to the Leeds FC Superstore to buy the birthday boy some goodies.  As it was such a nice day we even managed a walk when we got home.

Its so wonderful to go away and be waited on.  The only downside is that for most of this week I’ve been playing catch up, where the chief cook, cleaner and bottlewasher is once again good old me

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Book Reviews

I haven’t done any book reviews recently so I thought I’d take a moment to review two books which I have particularly enjoyed reading in the past few months.

The first is

A Half Forgotten Song by Katherine Webb

This is a type of story I love, told from the point of view of a character in the present who is trying to solve a mystery in the past and from the point of view of a character in the past who gradually reveals the clues to solve that mystery.

The main character in the present day is Zach.  He is divorced and trying to run a failing art gallery.  When his ex takes his daughter to live in Boston with her new partner, Zach realises he needs to do something to stop himself from feeling like a complete failure.

Zach decides he needs to finish the biography he has been trying to write about Charles Aubrey, a painter who died during the Second World War.  Charles has always fascinated Zach, as he has been led to believe that his grandmother had a liaison with the artist before the war.

Zach’s quest leads him to Dorset, a place where Charles used to spend his summers. There he meets Mitzy, now an old lady.

As a young woman in 1937, Mitzy met and fell in love with Charles and through her, the mystery surrounding the artist’s past is revealed.

I couldn’t put this book down, as the secrets were gradually revealed to a satisfying conclusion.  Katherine Webb creates such a sense of atmosphere that I felt as though I was actually on the Dorset coast.

This is the third book I have read by Katherine Webb, and each book is better than the last.  I will definitely be reading her fourth book The Misbegotten.

The second book is:

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty.

A friend gave me this book for Christmas and I absolutely loved it.

Set in Australia it is the story of Cecilia, a  middle class mother of three who thinks her life is completely sorted.   But then Cecilia accidently finds a letter, addressed to her in her husband’s handwriting.  On the front of the envelope he has written the words “Only to be opened in the event of my death”.

Cecilia’s husband John-Paul is very much far from dead, but can Cecilia resist the temptation to open the letter?  The answer is no, but once opened, Cecilia’s life and that of her family will never be the same again.

The story is told from three points of view, set in a small town.  The three stories intertwine and the story is told brilliantly.  Written in very short chapters, I found myself unable to put this book down, as I kept telling myself, just one more chapter.  It was a good job I was reading it over the Christmas holidays. 

Have you read any good books recently?

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Winter Sunshine

The days may be dark and short but my cat Luke seems to have found a solution, and spends his days sunbathing.
This is him ensuring that the tan is even.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Back To Normal - Whatever That May Be

It was back to work this week, or it least it was on Tuesday.  On Monday my youngest had an inset day, so it meant that by the time I did go back to work, I was already playing catch up.

It was lovely for him though, because Sunday was his birthday so the day off was like an extra present.  We took him and a few of his friends swimming and then out for a meal before they all came back to ours.  Nice, but very noisy!

The other birthday event for him will be when we go to Leeds in a few weeks to watch them play and stay over.  Hope the weather improves a bit by then!

I can't believe that he is ten years old.  He's gone from this:

To this:

How the  time has flown!  It's also ten years since we moved into this house, in some ways it seems like we have been here forever and yet I remember it  as though it was yesterday.

So what with birthdays and trying to get my head around a new job and a parents' evening, so far it has been a busy old week with precious little time for writing.  

I'm trying to find some time when I can squeeze some writing in, but its not easy is it?

Ah well, maybe when things settle down a bit.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Reflections of 2013

Happy New Year to you all.  Hope you had a good Christmas and that Santa brought you everything you wished for.
I wasn't hoping for much myself this year - lets face it the house is far too cluttered already, the book mountain is steadily growing and I need to fill in some of the many collected notebooks before I get any more. What I really wanted was to spend some happy times with my family and that is exactly what I got.  Fortunately - it doesn't always work like that.   But now, I'd be quite happy for them all to disappear back to work and school and leave me in peace!
Looking back on it, 2013 was a tricky year for me.  I didn't have any major traumas but being unemployed for a year (apart from some freelance work) gave my self-confidence a major knock.   I thought that being at home would be bliss and give me loads of time to write, but I've discovered that I have to get out into the world to give me the inspiration I need, even if Idon't always find the time to actually do it.
Summing up my submissions last year I was rather dismayed to find that I only submitted 9 stories, although some were submitted more than once.  And not all of my submissions were new stories.  I did spend quite a bit of time on my novel which is something, and I've entered the Richard and Judy book competition with a novel I submitted to the RNA New Writer's Scheme the previous year.  I don't hold out much hope for it, but at least its got me back into it, and I'm going to start polishing it so that this year I will be in a position to send it out to agents.
The year ended on a much more positive note with two short story acceptances and a part time job, so at the start of this year I'm feeling much more positive than last. 
I'm looking forward to getting back into the usual routine next week, hopefully writing on a more regulat basis so that this year I can be so much more productive.
Wishing you all an inspiring 2014 and may you all achieve your writing targets!