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Showing posts from 2011

Facing the Fear

No I'm not talking about the fear of not being published,or the fear of being too successful (ha ha - as if), this is a real life fear.  It's ...... the dentist! I used to be absolutely terrified of the dentist - which backfired because I refused to go for so long that when I did I had real problems.  I go on a regular basis now and was delighted when, a few weeks ago, I went for my six monthly check up and didn't need any work at all.  It was great to be able to make an appointment for 2012! A week later one of my back teeth crumbled.  Just crumbled. On a mince pie.  Ironically it was the softest, crumbliest, yummiest mince pie I've ever eaten, and no, maker of said mince pie - I'm not blaming you or your culinery skills - it was just the tooth. (Recipe for best mince pie ever is on the Good Food website btw) Well, when I say tooth, actually I mean filling, because most of the tooth was just filling.  A few years ago it had been pinned to keep the filling in

Scoot!

It seems that children where I live have lost the ability to walk. It’s true! Even though it’s a village school, a lot of children travel to school by car – they may only live around the corner, but they can’t walk too far – obviously!   If it’s raining they might get wet, if it’s windy they’ll get cold – bless ‘em. The result is a nightmare of traffic congestion, usually enhanced by really bad drivers, I hasten to add, and parking rage. I kid you not. So, for those who have chosen not to go by car, what do they do? Ask their charming offspring to walk? Oh no, no, no.   Because children can’t walk, can they?   No, they scoot.   There’s one narrow pavement on the road up to the school.   It’s full of people, and now it’s full of maniac children, trying to go as fast as they can, with no sense of direction or consideration for others.   I have lost count of the number of times I’ve had a scooter wheel in the back of my leg, or had to jump out of the way before being run over. By a ch

Customer Service

In a post in November I wrote about how much companies put pressure on us poor, feeble consumers to buy.   But have you noticed that a lot of companies, while quite happy to take our money, aren’t quite as amenable when things go wrong? In the past I have taken out extended warranties when I have purchased electronic goods – especially for the children – and this has helped to lesson the burden on replacement.   My oldest son cracked the screen of his DS and it was replaced and last year my youngest son’s DS also broke.   As DS’s had been discontinued, we were given a full refund of the purchase and put it towards a DSI.   At that point I was keen to take out a new protection on the DSI but was horrified that the cost of this was nearly half the cost of the gadget itself. Youngest son was promptly told to look after it because there was no more where that came from. What is annoying is when things go wrong through no fault of your own (grumpy old woman coming on – things aren't

Happiness is a ticked off list - or not in my case

Yesterday, I took my last day of holiday from work and decided to go Christmas shopping.   I went to the Trafford Centre in Manchester with a friend and hoped to get the majority of the shopping done in one day.      Spot the note of false optimism? By lunchtime I had bought three items which didn’t bode well.   On the plus side, I found loads of things which I could have bought myself (books included) but resisted the temptation – gives self a pat on the back. We had a lovely lunch and launched ourselves back into the fray.   The rest of the afternoon was slightly more successful but I still went home with more presents still to buy than I had ticked off the list. The trouble was, everything seemed so expensive. There’s a lot of overpriced rubbish which seems to crawl out of the woodwork at this time of year. And I’m not falling for it. Cheap rubbish I can stomach but not rubbish which requires a second mortgage. So this weekend, it’s off to the outlet village where I hope I will

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

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 st

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

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. And: 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 ha

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).     Th

A Slow Month

October has been a bit of a slow month writing-wise.   It’s been busy everywhere else with family birthdays and families in general. I mentioned a few weeks ago that my mum was 70 and we’d planned a bit of a birthday meal with all the rest of the family including her brothers and sister and my own brother who is currently living in Spain . It was all a bit hush hush and the secret keeping a bit stressful.   It all went OK on the weekend though and she had a lovely time.   We bought her laptop. She’s never owned a computer of her own before so this was a bit of a thrill for her. She’s really gone for it and is now online.   There’ll be no stopping her once she starts!   She’s had a few lessons off me and my other brother, but I’m sure there’ll be a lot more. My niece was 10 last week too, so we went up again last weekend.   It’s lovely to see all the family so much, but when you’re working all week, it does take a big chunk out of your time.   I seem to spend my life in constant catc

A Very Frustrating Day

Technology is a wonderful thing – but only when it works.   When it doesn’t it can be very, very trying. Stupidly I transferred a lot of my work from my netbook onto a memory stick when we went on holiday as I had downloaded a load of dvd’s.   When we got back I didn’t bother putting it back on as I work from different computers and it was much easier just to use the memory stick than to continually move stuff back and forth between the computers – I have little memory myself and get easily confused!   At the back of my mind I kept telling myself to back up all my work in case I lost the stick but never got round to it.    You know what’s coming next don’t you? I’ve been working on my husband’s accounts recently – only behind by about 6 months so decided to do it in the dining room, so I could watch / listen to the X Factor.    I’ve worked hard this week on that and amazingly am almost up to date.    But when I was at work yesterday I decided to look at something on my usb in my lu

Recovery!

Well, it’s been a busy few weeks with birthdays aplenty.    Son’s birthday sleepover went without physical mishap so that was good.   On the negative side it was very, very LOUD.   Well, I suppose it’s what you would expect with five 9 / 10 year olds a 7 year old and a 6 year old.   But I’d forgotten just how loud boys can be when they’re en-mass. Only three slept over other in addition to my two, but I am still struggling to figure out where the “sleep” in sleepover is.    I naively thought that it would be fun for them all to sleep in one room – a downstairs bedroom.   Well, it was fun for them but not for me.    In the end I had to split them up and then stand sentry on the door to prevent one individual from sneaking back downstairs again.     Then at 2.15am three of them woke me up with their noise and I got very cross.   It didn’t make me feel like a very nice person but it had to be done as four of them had football matches the next morning.    I won’t be doing it again in a hu

Birthday!

Not mine I hasten to add.  Today is my first born’s 10 th birthday.   Ten years? Where did that go then? It’s hard to reconcile the boy with the cheeky smile, dry sense of humour and an endearing sense of thoughtfulness with the tiny scrap of humanity who entered our lives all that time ago.   As births go it was pretty awful. Three and a half days of labour followed by a caesarean section under general anaesthetic.   Needless to say I wasn’t too with it for those first few vital hours, and my husband was booted out and left to pace the corridors like an old fashioned father.  But he came out perfect in the end which was a blessing.    And he is still a blessing too – more than he’ll know until he has children of his own.   I remember feeling so scared that this tiny human being was completely dependent on me for his every need. He was only just over six pounds with “legs that look like they should be hanging out of a nest”.   My husband’s words, not mine.      His legs haven’t imp

Christmas is Coming!

It’s true.   The supermarkets are full of advent calendars and other Christmas goodies. I nearly fell over when I saw them at the weekend.    I haven’t even fully recovered from the summer holidays yet.    Halloween seems ages away and yet it’s Christmas. I thought that rows of school uniforms and Back to School signs in June long before the kids had even broken up from school was bad enough but this is a step too far.   I was glad though that they were playing Christmas music in store, that would have finished me off completely. No wonder time seems to be passing even more quickly with each year.   It’s because we’re having Christmas in September!   Go away, I’m not ready yet!

Sadly Missed

I was dismayed to read in October's issue of Writing Magazine that Jean Saunders passed away in August. Jean was a prolific writer, both of short stories and novels and wrote under several names including Rowena Summers, Rachel Moore, Jean Innes, Sally Blake and Jodi Nicol. She was also a regular contributor to Writing Magazine as well as teaching creative writing courses. Her advice through the magazine has been invaluable to me over the years and in 2005 I was fortunate to attend one of her weekend courses at the Writers' News House Party in Harrogate. The weekend itself was blissful. At the time I had a very young family and to be able to indulge in a whole weekend of writing was a dream come true (still would be in fact).  I met so many lovely people including Deric Longden, a favourite author, who was guest speaker on the Saturday evening. But the highlight was Jean herself.  I found her to be a wonderful, warm person who gave me so much insight into the world of writ

Ten Random Things

Hi all Thanks to Teresa for the tag.  (Hope the link works). I don't think I've ever been tagged before so it's an honour. So here goes - here are my ten random things: 1. I can't sing, dance or play a musical instrument so I'm banking on writing as "my special talent". 2. I believe in fate and that somewhere there is a masterplan for everyone (OCD kicking in again). But I am convinced that fate has played a part in keeping me away from a few potentially life threatening situations. 3. I love to cook but never find the time to experiment. 4. I am fascinated with history and have often wondered about reincarnation.  I would love to try out past life regression under hypnosis but am too chicken. 5.  I am completely hooked on Nescafe Mocha coffee sachets. 6. I have a tendancy to be a glass half empty type of person but am doing my best this year to see a glass half full. 7. My parents weren't exactly flush when  I was growing up and I'm grat

New Term, Fresh Start

September and the boys are back in school! I’m sure they don’t view this with quite the optimism that I do (I know for a fact my eldest doesn’t) but I’ve always liked September. For the last few years it’s been a bit of a relief to be honest. The summer holidays are my busiest time at work, which also coincides with my husband’s busiest time. Whereas he assumes the mantle of work as usual, I’m the one who has to organise childcare and work as well. It’s a bit of trauma but I always manage it somehow. It does annoy me slightly that whilst everyone is going on holiday or chilling out in their jim jams until lunchtime, I’m running round like a headless chicken. But hey ho, I’ll get my own back by going somewhere hot in February while everyone else is shivering in their boots. But now it’s back to routine which, whilst including numerous after school activities and taxi service, at least allows me to plan my day better. And my routine. September has always been more of a fresh start fo

Who Do You Think You Are?

I’m really enjoying the new series of Who Do You Think You Are? The line up is just great and so far the past lives which have been revealed have had me gripped. There’s something about family history which really fascinates me, as it does a whole lot of other people. Its amazing to find out how the decisions made by people who are long since gone, have a direct impact on our lives today, sometimes even down to the fact that we are here at all. What about if your great, great grandfather hadn’t emigrated? Would the family line have died out? Or what if he hadn’t been caught stealing a chicken because the family were starving and transported to Oz to set up a whole new bunch of descendents?   Of course it helps when you’re a celebrity and you have a whole heap of historians searching for you, explaining to you the information they have found and showing you what impact it would have had on your ancestors’ lives. But perhaps that takes away the fun of becoming a private detective on you

Summer Break

We’re not going on holiday this summer. We’ve already had two holidays this year so I’m trying my best not to be greedy. It’s hard though when all around you are downing tools and jetting off to distant lands. It’s even worse when they come back tanned and relaxed from a week or two of sheer indulgence while I’m here juggling work, childcare and home and feeling decidedly stressed. To make us all feel as though we weren’t so left out, the weekend before last I booked us on a mini break. To Bromsgrove. ‘Bromsgrove!’ I hear you exclaim, ‘Why Bromsgrove?’ Well, for a start is not too far to travel but far enough away from home to feel as though you’ve had a break. Secondly I got a really good deal at the Hilton Bromsgrove; £60 a night bed and breakfast for a family of four and kids eat free in the restaurant at any time. Evening meal for the adults was moderately priced at three courses for £20. To top it all there were no family rooms left so we had two interconnecting rooms which mea

Nothing Is Ever Wasted

I’ve rambled on quite a bit in this blog about “the novel” but I thought that I would blog today on how it came to life. The novel is a contemporary romance set in central London in the world of catering and currently has a working title of Truly Scrumptious. It began life many, many years ago (ouch more than I care to remember), when I first started out writing. Then it had a title of Kitchen Dreams. It was intended for Mills and Boon and in my enthusiasm I quickly dashed off three chapters and a synopsis and sent it winging on its way. Needless to say it landed right back on my doorstep in a scarily short space of time and the answer was of course a resounding no. I promptly consigned it to a drawer and although I have moved several times and the folder has moved with me, it has never been opened. Even now. In 2009, watching the final of Masterchef I was inspired by a young woman who was a private chef working in London and so my heroine was reborn. Rather than meeting her hero so

It's In The Bag!

Finally, I’ve finished editing the novel – well, at least for the time being anyway. The package is now in a large jiffy envelope and later today will be winging its way to the RNA’s New Writer’s scheme. I feel released, like a great big boulder has been chipped off my shoulder. I will admit that the editing process has taken me rather longer than I had anticipated and at times, as each self-imposed deadline passed without a completed manuscript, I was beginning to wonder if I would even be finished by the end of August; the RNA’s final deadline. I also have to admit that it’s not the completely perfect manuscript I had envisaged it would be. But it’s the best I can do for now. I don’t expect miracles from this submission – I can’t imagine anyone snapping this novel up and giving me a three book deal, but I’m looking forward to receiving an expert’s opinion on it and at least see if I’m on the right track. This is the beauty of the New Writer’s Scheme. For £100 not only do you gain m

When Curiosity Nearly Killed The Cat

You may remember that back in November we acquired two kittens. Well the kittens have grown and turned from cute little furry balls, into lean, mean, mouse and bird catching machines. They are still a bit cute though. One of them has always had a thing about climbing into things: bags, cupboards, washing machines and tumble driers. We are quite used to listening to muffled mews and realising that he has snuck in somewhere when we haven't been looking. But I've always been really careful about the washing machine and the tumble drier - well we've all heard the stories haven't we? Last night I brought the washing in from the line and as it was still a bit damp decided to finish it off on a low heat in the tumble. I must have only turned my back for a second but when I turned the drier on I thought that it was making a bit of a bumpy noise.  Perhaps the boys have left something in their pockets I thought turning away, it wouldn't be the first time.  I w

The Bottom Line

The recession is a bit like a flood, its effect is long reaching, but only drop by drop do we realise how far it has permeated our day to day lives. To me, this latest recession seems to have been going on forever and I wonder where it will end. My husband runs his own business in the construction industry and a few years ago things were very much touch and go. Fortunately he survived and bit by bit the business seems to be clawing its way back. But as one area of industry turns a corner, another reaches its low point. I currently work in the tertiary education sector and due to finances and falling student numbers the course I run will be running its final academic year from September. I’m one of the lucky ones. I have another full year’s employment but some of my colleagues aren’t so fortunate. Post graduate education is expensive and some of the people who have been hit hardest by this recession are the very people who would normally pay for their children to receive that educati

Apologies For Absence

Two reasons for being a bad blogger: 1. Half term holiday in Majorca 2. I've being trying (trying being the operative word) to edit my novel so that I can send it in to the RNA before the deadline for the New Writers Scheme expires - OK so August sounds a long way away but I would like to get it in before then. After our wonderful family holiday in February we decided to spend a week in the sun at half term.  In the past we have visited Majorca at this time of year and had fantastic holidays, so we decided to go back.  Alas, perhaps this year was a mistake. Rain at the airport was the first sign that this was not going to be a sun filled event.  The next five days of intermittent rain and constant overcast skies tested the patience of all involved somewhat, along with the noise, too many people in one venue, greed and rudeness of fellow holiday makers. I'm not exaggerating honest - but this holiday made the sit com Benidorm seem positively sophisticated. Still, I'm