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Showing posts from 2014

Moving House

I mentioned in an earlier post that my parents moved house at the end of September. It really was a momentous occasion as they have lived there for the last 46 years. I left home when I was 18 and moved from student accommodation to a variety of flat / house shares until I bought my own house. At that point I was “off” men and had decided to be an independent woman living alone with my cat.  Of course as soon as I made that decision, I met my husband. Later he moved in with me. I was married from that house and brought both my babies home to it.  But when our second boy was born we felt that we had outgrown the house and moved into our current one. Because I have moved so many times, I don’t get too attached to houses, but the one constant in my life has always been my parents’ house. Me, my brother and sister-in-law went to help them move and said our final goodbyes. I took a special moment to say goodbye to my old bedroom.  A tiny box room where I spent m

Sunbed Wars

Being on holiday, having nothing to do all day makes the little things seem so important – and, yes, I am talking about sunbeds here.  Personally, just something that is comfortable suits me but my sun-seeking husband likes to achieve maximum sunlight potential.  The resort we were staying in last week only seemed to get the sun on one side of the pool so every morning it was a dash to get those towels out, even having to resort to setting the alarm.  Sheer madness!  On several mornings one of the pool attendants decided to exert his control and refused to allow anyone to put towels down until 8am. Each family’s designated sunbed acquirer (in our case my husband) stood pacing, holding their bundle of towels until on the dot of eight, were all released and then marched en-mass to their favoured spot.    Wondering what was happening on the first morning this happened, I stepped out to see what going on and was greeted by the sight of holiday makers looking as if they were ma

Exercising the Writing Muscle

I’m not a big fan of exercise but sometimes I force myself to do it out of sheer necessity.  Mostly I try to find excuses or rather find other things to do as a means to avoid it.  To my shame, I feel as though I have been doing the same thing with my writing recently.  Is it sheer madness that the very thing I say I love to do, I find 101 excuses not to? I’ve just been away for a week in the sun and lovely it was too.  As a family, we don’t tend to do highbrow or exotic holidays.  My husband is busiest at work during the summer so whilst everyone else is jetting off to luxurious destinations, I’m usually pet sitting and wondering how to juggle work with entertaining the boys during the long summer break. So by October half term we are more than ready to get away.  Destinations are fairly limited; we don’t want to travel too far as we only have a week but we do want it to be hot. We usually plump for one of the Canary Islands as the weather there is pretty much guaranteed.

I'm Back - Even Though I Haven't Been Anywhere

I can’t believe it’s over a month since my last blog post.  How can that be? And how can it already be the middle of October when it seems like only yesterday we were celebrating the New Year? I had hoped that after the disruption of the summer holidays I would be able to get back into some kind of writing routine but alas life, as ever, has conspired against me. I want to be able to get into a good writing routine but a number of life events, work and family commitments have seemed to get in the way. Since January I have been working three days a week for a local charity fitting my freelance work, which is unpredictable, around it.  Paid work obviously has to come before my writing desires and so my “hobby” gets shoved to the bottom of the list. September and October have also been challenging with family commitments several birthdays, sleepovers, appointments and the inevitable football.  My youngest had trials for a county team which added to the grey hairs but sadl

Here's Another One

It might be a bit late to be reviewing a summer read but I really loved the following book and wanted to spread the word.  It is: The Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan     Set in a remote part of Cornwall (largely unspoilt by the tourist trade).  I felt as though I was enjoying my own sojourn by the sea as I smelt the salt in the air, listened to the waves crashing against the harbour wall and saw the light from the lighthouse flashing past my bedroom window.  Perfect for anyone who has not been away or even if you want to be reminded of salty sea air. The main character, Polly, has lost everything; her business, her flat, her boyfriend and has been declared bankrupt.  The only place she can afford to rent is an almost uninhabitable flat above a disused bakery.  Polly cuts herself off from her family and friends and starts her life again.  With her skill for baking helping her to make friends, she also finds a new career.  But all does not go smoothly

Book Review Time

As I've been doing a lot more reading that writing recently, I thought it was time for a book review, so here goes. The Silent Tide – Rachel Hore This is Rachel’s sixth book and was published in September 2013.  So far I’ve read them all and loved each one.  The Silent Tide is no exception.  Written partly in the present day and also post WWII, The Silent Tide follows Emily, an editor in a London publishing house who is commissioned to work on a biography of  Hugh Morton, a great British Novelist, first published in the late 1940’s.  There is a mystery surrounding the first wife of Hugh Morton (Isabel) a young ambitious women who began her career editing Hugh’s first novel. It’s a mystery that Hugh’s second wife and his biographer seem keen to overlook.  Information which is being secretly passed to Emily though proves that there is someone out there who wants Isabel’s story to be told.  The novel is told from Isabel’s point of view.  Gradually we are drawn

Back To School

Not only was yesterday back to school for the boys but for me too as I attended a course in Manchester. Unfortunately it wasn’t a writing course, that would have been much more fun, but was a fundraising course for work. It was an early start, leaving the house at 7.30, and making sure that both the boys were up and ready for school before I left, and a bit of shock to the system.  But it was a lovely day, typical that the weather has turned so warm and dry now that school is back. I had a lovely hour on the train reading and writing, a rare bit of peace with no interruptions from email and technology.  I love train journeys, they are like being in your own special bubble. The course itself was very intense, lasting from 9.30 – 4.30 and by the end of it I felt as though my brain was in complete overload.  I’m just not used to studying so hard anymore and I felt complete sympathy for the boys being in school all day, I’d forgotten how tough it can be. I met some lov

A New Year!

One more day and then I can breathe a sigh of relief because the kids are going back to school on Wednesday – yeh! Part of me is sad that the summer has passed and the weather is already turning distinctly autumnal.  The nights are drawing in and we will soon be shivering by our fires and getting up in the dark – yeuck! But I find the summers really difficult to cope with, with full on work and juggling childcare and seemingly little time for writing.  Admittedly it is getting easier now that the boys are older but they are definitely ready to get back to routine – I can tell because the decibel levels of the squabbling have definitely increased recently. I’ve always thought of September as the new year – probably because I’ve spent years working in an academic environment.  But even when I was younger I looked forward to the new challenges of learning and that doesn’t seem to change even now. I’ve been mulling round the idea of writing some articles for a while no

One Hundred Years Ago

I could hardly let this day go by without making reference to the sacrifice that so many men and women made for this country as a result of World War I. No one had experienced a war like it, and at the beginning, I doubt that most people really understood the reason we had been pulled into the conflict. As with many wars a seemingly small incident can lead to many other countries becoming involved - especially if they are looking for an excuse to exert dominance over others. I find it so sad that that initial single death caused the death of so many millions - on both sides of the war.   World War I was to be the war to end all wars, sadly two decades later we were at war again and have remained in some kind of conflict ever since.  It seems that the leaders of our countries have learnt nothing by these sacrifices.  But that's another debate. To concentrate on this anniversary I wanted to post a poem which to me sums up the pointless of such hostilities. Wh

Updating The Classics

When I was studying A Level English Literature, Emma was one of our set texts. Our lecturer raved about Jane Austen’s prose, but for the life of me I didn’t get it.  Although I was an avid reader, I remember spending half term forcing myself to read a set number of chapters each day, just so I could get to the end of it. Of course, with the benefit of age and experience, I can now agree with my lecturer regarding the quality of her writing. Of all her novels, Sense and Sensibility is my favourite and a few years ago I toyed with the idea of updating the plot into a modern setting. So much has been written about Pride and Prejudice that I thought the lesser-known Sense & Sensibility might be suitable gap in the market.  I didn’t get any further than my initial musings though and then I heard that The Austen Project had commissioned well-known writers to pen their own modern versions  Joanna Trollope was asked to re-write Sense and Sensibility and whilst I was a lit

Let the Holidays Commence

Not mine I might add, but the children’s.  It’s a short summer break this year – only 5½ weeks, ha ha! And when most people might be looking forward to lazier days without the school run, my quandary is how to work and to keep the boys entertained for so long. As a family we don’t take holidays during the summer as my husband is usually snowed under with work.  He is currently working 7 days a week and next week will be working about 15 hours a day, so he can hardly be expected to take his share of the child care, and there’s certainly no long lazy days on the beach to look forward to. Thankfully as my boys love football, they go to a football school from Monday – Thursday for 4 weeks of the holiday, and I can cover most of my work while they are there and do the rest from home, so most of the time is covered.  I’ve decided that Fridays will be a time when the three of us will have a day out so at least we’ll get away from four walls.  I want us to have some fun time toget

Catch Up

I can't believe that its already the middle of July and I haven't managed to post a single blog this month. I just don't know where the time goes these days and its not because I've been writing. Working, yes, but not writing. I am, though, trying to slot in the odd few minutes of editing whenever I get a chance. I'm currently working my way through a novel I sent to the RNA New Writers Scheme two years ago, but its a long, slow process. Its the novel that I have done the most work on and its been in the pipeline for more years than I care to think about, but even so it has still  needed a lot of editing this time around.  My writing group have been looking at it too and giving me some valuable feedback (as ever) so I'm pleased about that.  So far they are enjoying it and say that they are disappointed that they can't read on when they get to the end of each section.  (Can't be all bad then).  I'm hoping to send them the final installmen

The 5:2 Diet

Whilst I was in Ireland I made some decisions about my life, the first of which is that I need to lose some weight. Back in the day I was a slim young thing but now I am neither.  Two children started the landslide but over the last ten years I have certainly added to it.  The thought of going on a diet though fills me with dread.  All that constant self-denial just makes me want to go out and buy a bag of chips! A friend of mine started on the 5:2 diet last year and has lost a lot of weight, and more importantly has kept it off too.  But the thought of fasting severely put me off. So when I came across Kate Harrison’s The 5:2 Diet Book I decided that I would read it and see what I thought. I put that off too for a while but when I did read it, I only got half way through before I decided to give it a go. On two days a week you “fast”.  Now fortunately it’s not a real fast in the water only sense of the word but your calorie intake is restricted to around 500 calories

It's Still All About Football!

As you can imagine football is currently on the TV in our house on a continuous loop and if I want to watch anything these days I’m relegated to the dining room. I have so far failed to generate much enthusiasm for the World Cup.  Perhaps I am all footballed out from a season of watching the boys play.  Or perhaps it’s because the England team failed to ignite any enthusiasm in the friendly games in the run up to it all kicking off. (Is that treason?  Will I soon hear a knock at the door and be taken away to have my head chopped off?) I usually only watch the England games during the first round but on Saturday night I fell asleep half way through – I do blame that on the lateness of the hour though and the fact that I had been to a barbeque and had partaken in a few glasses of wine! On Thursday we will all be watching the game in our local village club. It’s a great atmosphere for all the family and if the football proves too dire I can always have a chat with my friends

May Meltdown

May is usually a month I enjoy, mainly because the weather becomes warmer and it is the month of my birthday, but this May has been a difficult one and I can't say I'm sorry to see the back of it. It has been successful work-wise in that as well as working three days a week, I have also taken on some audio transcription work which is helping ever so slightly to fill the much depleted coffers. The only problem with it is that I never know when the work is going to come in and because it needs   a quick turn around, I have felt like I am constantly primed to work, checking my emails and often working at weekends and late into the night.   Also time which I may have set aside for writing is instantly eroded if work comes in, because you can't turn down paid work. Technology has also conspired against us too. For the first half the month my husband's van, which is essential for his own work was off the road, which meant juggling transport and trips to the g

Football Crazy

It’s getting to that time of year – the time when all the football leagues are coming to a dramatic climax.  But I’m not talking FA Cup, European Championships and the like, I’m talking about the Under 10’s local league, and the match I watched today certainly had more tension than a cup final, at least as far as I was concerned. My youngest son’s team has been neck and neck on the leader board with one other team, and are currently at the top.  The top two teams from each division will compete in the semi-final next week, with the final taking place the following week at Chester Stadium. Today, after much postponement, they played the team they have been in competition with all season.  Tensions were running high even before the match kicked off, but it was so evenly matched, with each team desperate to prove themselves, that each touch on the ball, each tackle had our hearts in our mouths.  But especially me.  As my son plays in goal, I sometimes have to remind myself to


At the moment my life is very unpredictable and I'm struggling to plan any writing time.  Or rather I plan it and then life happens to get in the way. Now that I am working three days a week (which could soon become four), a large part of my daytime writing time has gone.   My freelance work is also picking up, but it always comes in when I'm least expecting it.  I sit down at my computer with ideas brimming for a story, I have a quick check of my emails and low and behold there is work to be done. I can't knock it though, at least I'm getting some work. At the moment I'm doing some audio transcription.  Years ago when I was a secretary, my boss used to record onto a cassette, which then when into a player which had headphones and a foot pedal plugged into it. My boss then was based in London, while I was based in Chester and every day he would dictate his letters and then post me the package containing a tape.  Initially this was in the days be

Who's for Ice-Cream?

As ever with the school holidays, I'm juggling work and childcare.  But last Friday I took the day off work and spent some time with my boys.  All of them, as my husband took a rare half day holiday too. It was blissful to wake up and not to have to marshal the troops to our various destinations on time.  Instead I pootled around in my PJ's and dressing gown - aahhh! In the afternoon, we took a jaunt out in the car to nearby Nantwich to Snugburys, an ice-cream farm.  Not only do they service a fantastic variety of ice-cream, but every year they also build a massive statue in straw. Last year it was a bear, and in the Olympic year, a huge Olympic ring with a cyclist on the top of it.  A few years ago it was a mere cat which was just brilliant. This year it was a Dalek It can be seen from miles around and took 700 man hours to build the steel girders and then pack with straw. I love the sign directing people towards it. The piglets were q

Egg Gate

Last week's homework from school was to design and paint an egg. I hate these arty homeworks because not one of us in this family has an arty bone in our bodies, so its always a bit of a trauma. Unfortunately for us, we forgot all about it until Thursday morning, so I dashed to Hobbycraft to buy paints and things to stick on the egg should it all go pear-shaped. Unsurprisingly, my youngest wanted to paint the Leeds logo on his egg (he's nothing if not predictable).  So we sketched out the logo on the egg and he began to paint.  But the paint wouldn't dry and it looked a mess. We rubbed off the paint and searched out the felt tips, and this was marginally better. It was only the front of the egg though and it looked a bit sparse so we tried to stick on some football shapes I had bought.  Have you ever tried to glue things onto eggs?  The glue I had bought didn't work and even UHU didn't produced the required effect. Fortunately my husband had som

Book Review

I can't believe that its April already - this year is going even quicker than ever. As I'm now bogged down in sorting out accounts for the end of the financial year, I thought that a book review would make more interesting reading than what I'm up to at the moment. So here it is,  The Light Between Oceans by M L Steadman This is a story about a lighthouse keeper and his wife, based in Australia, and it was on a recent Richard & Judy Bookclub list. Tom and his wife Izzy live a secluded life.  They only receive provisions by boat once every six months and are allowed home leave once every three years.  But despite this, initially, they are happy. Tom is a WWI survivor, and after the horrors of the war, he is content to live a peaceful, ordered life.  And Izzy is happy with Tom. A child would make her life perfect. But Izzy has a series of miscarriages which devastate her.  Then, one day, shortly after miscarrying late in her pregnancy, a boat washes up o