Monday, 7 September 2009

Or maybe it's not!

Just had it pointed out to me (thanks Lola!) that I am jumping the gun somewhat, with my 100th post. Actually, I clearly can't count! I'm only up to 94 according to my posting history. I have tinkered about with my blog a bit but can't think how that would have changed the number of posts. Don't think I deleted any! (Maybe I should have!)
Must be me, but could have sworn I added it up right. Hey ho!

Anyway, all the above stuff still applies and is true. But I needn't have had all that angst over the posting of it, as it isn't even the 100th anyway!

God. Now what am I going to write for the 100th one??

Friday, 4 September 2009


I have been approaching the writing of this post with some reluctance and trepidation. For a start, this is my one hundredth post on this blog, and I kind of thought I ought to write something meaningful, rather than the usual rambling nonsense.

Secondly, I've been away from blogging for a while. There are a few reasons for this. I've been somewhat child-bound during the summer, as a lot of people are... And we have been away to France for nearly a month. Although we do have internet access there, I do tend to use the time to take a break from technology, recharge my batteries, and read. Yes, read. I probably read more when I'm in France than I do the whole rest of the year. The way I see it, the summer is for reading and the rest of the year is for writing. Although I do try to do the two things in conjunction, it isn't always easy.

Thirdly, I had this, perhaps misguided, notion that my one hundredth post should see me illustrating the numerous and abundant ways in which I have changed since beginning this blog. Of course I have changed and progressed, but perhaps not quite so dramatically as I would have liked! I have a Diploma in Creative Writing from the Open University to my name, but other than that, not much is different. I still have two small children, although they are getting bigger every day... And part of my learning has been to cherish that experience, as they grow and change so quickly. I've realised that their babyhood will too soon be over and they won't want to know me, other than as a cash machine and taxi service... Next year they will both be at school full time and I will have ample opportunity to pursue my goals. Until then, they take priority.

Having said that, I 'keep buggering on' (as Winston Churchill said) with my writing. It's slow progress - maybe I'm a slow learner. But I have goals (to try to get some short fiction published) and I'm plodding on towards them, slowly but surely. Hope 'The Hare and the Tortoise' comes true for me!

Anyway, that's my one hundredth post. Normal service and (semi) regular blogging should resume shortly. Kids are back at school/kindergarten now and writing work whispers to me from my notebook.

Hope September is a fresh start for you all.

And as Confucius said, “It doesn’t matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.”

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Most hated word?

I ws just reading a post on the Guardian Books Blog where poets at the Ledbury Festival were asked what their most hated word is.

What's best about this article are the HUGE number of comments and discussions about peoples' favourite hated word. One of the top ones was 'moist', which I definitely agree with. Especially when in conjunction with 'panties'. I can't even bear to write them down together...

And another one I hate is 'yourself' when used instead of 'you' - e.g. Insurance salesman - 'And will the car be driven by yourself?'

I could go on. And on.

Anyone else got a pet hate?

New look

You can tell I've got work to do, because I'm fiddling about with my blog instead of getting on with it.

Anyway, thought I'd change the layout round a bit - I tried rewriting some of the html code to make my other blog wider but it didn't really work properly, and my LibraryThing widget was still squashed up, so I just thought I'd change the template and be done with it.

I like it to take up all the page - doesn't feel so column-like.

Friday, 17 July 2009


Aren't there just always distractions for writers? My current ones are the following:-

  • Pain - following my wisdom teeth extraction last week, I have had a very painful mouth. The post-operative discomfort has now been added to by a shard of bone that has become loose and is trying to work its way out of my lower gum. It REALLY hurts....
  • Sun - I'm in France. It's very hot and very stormy. I just want to lie by the pool reading, and then sleep a lot.
  • Daydreaming - it's what I do - and there's ample opportunity for it at the moment.
  • Rejection - I got another rejection for a short story, but as they go, this one was encouraging. At least it said 'great idea' and 'good try' before the 'no thankyou'.
  • Facebook - need I say more? Our internet has been broken here for a week and we've only just fixed it. It feels like I'm back in the real world again, suddenly. Or have I been in the real world and am just re-entering the digital mesh we call life?
I have a few writing ideas bubbling just under the surface though - tomorrow it's time to get the notebook and pen out.

Thursday, 9 July 2009


To all you people out there who are reading my blog anonymously (you know who you are!), please leave me a comment when you happen to drop by, even if it's to radically contradict what I've said in a post, because you know me so well...!!

It would make me feel less like I'm talking into a vacuum...

So. Leave a comment. Otherwise, I'm going to start writing about you....!

Yours, as always...

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

I may be some time....

I'm having my wisdom teeth out today. In about an hour.
Apparently, I have to think, 'pressure not pain, pressure not pain...'

So, I don't know how I'll feel for a couple of days. May not want to do anything other than lie on the sofa and watch crap TV.

Also, we're off to France on Saturday, so future posts will be from there for a month or so...

Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Regime updates - #2!

Now for the diet update....

It's not going too badly. I had an unfortunate relapse last week, when I went for the best Italian meal I've had outside Italy. We went out for the Consultant's birthday to La Coppola in Leamington Spa ( )
We had a really fantastic meal, which was not so diet-friendly....! But well worth it! If you go, have the antipasto starter to share - it's wonderful.

Otherwise, I've been making slow, if steady progres, of losing just a little weight each week. Cutting down on the wine has helped I think. And possibly drinking the green tea. And I haven't really had any cravings for anything. And I read that green tea can help with that too. So I haven't had the urge to stuff myself with chocolate biscuits... which is good.

I can't imagine how hard it must be if you really need to radically change your eating patterns to lose a significant amount of weight. No wonder we have such a major obesity problem in the UK. Losing weight just ain't easy....

Regime updates - #1!

Ok, I have two regimes to update you on - the writing and the diet...! So here goes with the writing update.

Regimes are good. They're good for discipline. They're good for motivation. They're good for certainty and inducing feelings of security.

What they are not good at is flexibility. And adapting to the 'real world.'

So. If you remember, Stephen King's advice was to write 1000 words six days a week. On my writing days - which are mainly Mon, Tues and Wed. I have been writing well over 2000 words a day. Just having that metaphorical bar set at a minimum of 1000 words has been really good for me. So I've knocked out the rough drafts of a couple of short stories at least....

The problem for me comes on the days when I don't have specific time set aside for writing, and have kids running round the place, and a business to administrate and a home to look after. Also, my writing time has been eaten into in the last week or so, and will certainly continue to be so, by demands such as making a mermaid costume, attending 2 sports days, going to 2 school meetings, collecting a 'new-to-us' car, helping out with the school library, entertaining two sets of friends and relations, and sundry other jobs and responsibilities....

I think when you have young kids, mine are both under 5, you inevitably have to be flexible with your time, because things just happen, like Dear Daughter coming home on Monday saying she needs a mermaid costume by Friday....

I'm not doing Stephen King down, because he is clearly a very determined writer who worked hard for his success, but I can't help noting that it is he who is the more successful writer, not his wife, Tabitha.

Maybe she was looking after the kids and making the mermaid costumes, while he was banging out his 2000 words a day.....

By the way, I'm not complaining, and I'm not making excuses - my challenge is to find creative ways of squeezing writing time out of my normal days and evenings, even with the kids ripping up the place. I also have to bear in mind that my kids will be around less and less as time goes on. I have one more year with Small Son around until he's at school full time too. And then there'll be no excuse for not making my 1000 words, at least 5 days a week! But at the moment I have to be kind to myself, and also appreciate where I am at the moment. I don't want to wish away the last year of my son's babyhood, just to lever in a few more hours writing time....

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

New writing regime

(Aaarrgh! This is my second attempt to write this post. Save it, Claire, save it!)

I've been reading Stephen King 'On Writing', which I mentioned in a previous post. It's a good read - part memoir, part writing manual.

One piece of advice that stuck with me was on productivity. I have a tendency to fiddle about on the internet, write my blog, make a few notes and tinker about with a bit of prose and then call that a morning's work. It really isn't.

King has a regime under which he writes 2000 words a day. No excuses. No get-out. He talks about the discipline of showing up for work each day and getting the words down on paper. It's a training. He advises beginner writers to have a similar rule - 1000 words six days a week. (Only one day off otherwise you lose the flow)

Here's what he says about the job of writing -

'In an early interview..a radio talk-show host asked me how I wrote. My reply - 'One word at a time' - seemingly left him without a reply. I think he was trying to decide whether or not I was joking. I wasn't. In the end, it's always that simple. Whether it's a vignette of a single page or an epic trilogy...the work is always accomplished one word at a time.'

So here I am. New regime. No excuses!

Monday, 22 June 2009


I know I said that treading on a piece of Lego was my initiation into parenthood, but I can now go one better.

Today I attended Dear Daughter's first Parents' Evening. Proud mother? Who, me?!

She has been doing fine, it seems, so big sighs of relief all round. And she's nice to teach too, apparently! So that's good.

The only criticism her teacher made was that she occasionally goes off into her own little world or gets out of her seat and wanders around for a bit - kind of zones out.

Takes after her mother...(again)

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Solstice feasting..

We had the good fortune to be invited to a lovely summer solstice BBQ at a friend's house this weekend.

Dear Daughter was most impressed by the selection of food on offer (as were we!), and nibbled her way around the table quite contentedly. Her cup runneth over when she spotted the chocolate fountain on the desert table, surrounded by piles of strawberries, marshmallows and bananas, ready to be dipped into the dark velvet liquid chocolate.

What did she select to place on a skewer to be dipped?

Black olives.

Yes. Of course she did.

Mad. Quite mad.

Takes after her mother....

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

On television...

Having spent the last few months salivating over an increasing number of books in the 'to read' pile, I finally have the luxury to get on with a few of them, thanks to the completion of the OU course.

I have just started Stephen King 'On Writing - A Memoir of the Craft'. I'm not normally a fan of his writing, not being particularly into horror etc, but I have had this book recommended so many times that I finally gave in and bought it. (Amazon love me, they really do....)

Anyway, I can't tell you too much at the moment as I've only read a few chapters but something he said about television really struck me. I don't watch a lot of TV, the reason being that I find it really hard to control. If I sit down at 7.30 or 8 for half an hour, that's me gone, sitting there like a zombie till it's bedtime and I have achieved precisely nothing. And most of what I am watching is rubbish. Entertaining? Yes. Addictive? Yes. But, like fast food, ultimately not very good for me. There are some programming exceptions to this, but they are quite few and far between. I just find TV to be, on the whole, such a time-wasting, brain-deactivating activity. (Of course, there are days when that is perfect for my needs, but not many, I hope!)

I just wanted to quote Stephen King on television, though, and see what you think? These remarks follow a story about how Stephen's brother, David, blew out the power in their apartment block, trying to make a school science project...

'But TV came relatively late to the King household, and I'm glad. I am, when you stop to think about it, a member of a fairly select group: the final handful of American novelists who learned to read and write before they learned to eat a daily helping of video bullshit. This might not be important. On the other hand, if you're just starting out as a writer, you could do worse than strip your television's electric plug-wire, wrap a spike around it, and then stick it back into the wall. See what blows, and how far.
Just an idea.'
(Stephen King, 'On Writing')

Now, where did I put those pliers....

Monday, 15 June 2009

Sorry, but..

Sorry, but my blog is now morphing from one of those diet blogs into one of those blogs about the funny things that peoples' kids say...

At the weekend we had our back fence replaced by Les, who is a mate of my dad's from down the pub who used to be a fencer but now drives buses. Because he now drives buses he only had the weekend to finish the job, so he brought his mate with him, who was a pretty scary-looking big shaven-headed, tattooed bloke. I took one look at him and thought, 'This is going to be interesting...'

Dear daughter takes one look at him through our patio window and runs into the kitchen like a rat up a drainpipe.
'Mummy, Mummy, there's a man with a big, fat, shiny head in our garden, with patterns on his ears!'
'Yes, he has. They're called tattooes.'
(I won't bore you with the exchange that then went on about what tattooes were, and whether or not they are a Good Thing, especially as Small Son joined in the debate, stating that he'd quite like to have one. He's three.)

Anyway, the fascination went on all weekend. The poor man couldn't move without two small children eyeing him up. The tattoo debate was livened up somewhat when the bloke revealed that the tattooes on his arms were, in fact, his childrens' names. I could see my kids processing this information and then wondering why their dad didn't have their names tatooed on his arms.

Why not, indeed?!

P.S. 2 days to go till weigh-in. Have not done well this week - 3 beers and 5 biscuits so far.... my self-control is laughable, but I don't see how anyone can resist a cold beer on a hot day... So don't get excited. I'll probably have put weight on...

Happy days..

White Russian. The drink. Love it. But only by the swimming pool in France during the summer. It's a rule - it's our 'holiday drink' and,as such, does not pass our lips at any other time of the year.

Do you know what's in it? Well, as far as I can remember it's vodka, kahlua and milk. It's like an alcoholic coffee milkshake. Just think 'The Big Lebowski' and that's us during the summer - bathrobes, board shorts and White Russians.

'Hey, careful man, there's a beverage here!'

I can't wait for summer!

Friday, 12 June 2009

The big weigh-in

I just want to let you know that this is not going to turn into some crazy diet blog where I start chuntering on about eating baby food or cabbage soup etc....


I weighed myself yesterday having been on the first week of my 'diet'. This has consisted of eating my normal three meals a day, but not drinking any booze, or eating any biscuits ('Raise your hands in the air and move away from the biscuit tin. Move away. Now!') Basically I've been trying not to snack, which is hard when you live in a house with 2 kids who would snack all day if you let them...

So. I wasn't expecting miracles. I haven't increased my exercise regime or drastically dropped my calorie intake. But I was very pleased to discover that I have lost 1.5kg this week. So that's not bad, eh? I'd like to lose about another 3 kilos or so, so it's not a major diet, but I guess it might get harder.

One thing I have been doing, which I read about, is drinking green and white tea. Apparently, there is evidence that these teas can help with weight loss, as well as being very good for you in other ways, too! I have drunk them in the past on and off, as I don't really drink coffee much, but since I've been on my mini-diet, I've been drinking green tea instead of normal or earl grey.

So, it's going ok so far. We'll see how this week pans out... Time for a green tea, I think. Off to put the kettle on.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Be updated..

I so did not have a relaxing weekend, as hoped for in my last post. Child Number 1 vomited profusely on Friday night and Child Number 2 spent Saturday night with the runs. Thanks kids.
This stomach bug, or whatever it is, is proving stubbornly resistant. The kids are still off school and likely to be for the rest of the week, unless tomorrow brings relief. I am about tearing my hair out, because they aren't really ill, apart from an occasional unusually urgent need to visit the smallest room... So finding things to occupy them in the house all week has been fun...! We have done a lot of craft, put it that way. To add insult to injury, I have been charged with the duty of collecting the stool samples (and I don't mean a three-legged sitting device) to send off for analysis. Don't mums get the best jobs?!

From one type of shit to another.... I'm also not in such a good place with the writing. I made a fatal mistake, you see. I stopped. After I finished my OU course, I had a couple of days not writing while we went on holiday, which has now stretched to a couple of weeks. The children being under my feet a lot has not helped, but I need to get back up on that horse, and pronto! It's very wierd; the less I write, the worse I feel, and the more depresesd I get, and then the less I want to write. So it's a matter of breaking the cycle, and getting back into the swing of it. I felt awful yesterday; a combination of poorly kids, nasty cold shivery weather, broken commitments, and tiredness. But today is better. The sun shone a bit, and I cheered up, especially when I read a bit in Maureen Lipman's book that made me laugh out loud. I love her. She's great!

Oh yes, and I'm weighing a bit heavy at the moment, so booze is out and salad is in, during the week, in a bid to lose that half stone that seems to have appeared from nowhere.... So, I'll be a bit thinner (with any luck), but will probably lose my sense of humour entirely.

Watch this space....

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Bee update!

Well it's all looking good. The bees are no longer hanging around the old site, looking lost, and are busily going in and out of the bird box on the new post. They don't seem to hvae suffered any ill-effects. And they're right next to my runner beans so they can pollinate them when they flower. Hurray!

Feeling pretty tired tonight - dear husband, or as he shall hereafter be known - 'The Consultant', has been away since last Sunday morning and I have had a very busy week, what with the bees and all...

So looking forward to a nice relaxing weekend.

Yeah. Right.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Bumbling around

We're having some new fences. Not the most exciting subject for a post, I know. But wait! Attached to the fence post on the old fence that is due to be taken down is a bird box. No problem, I thought. It's vacant. Except it isn't. Some bumble bees have taken up residence there and built a nest. Les is coming to put the new fences in next week. What to do? I definitely didn't want to have to have the bees destroyed. Bees are facing enough problems at the moment. As well as the threat from climate change, they are being systematically attacked by a parasitic mite which kills them, with many hives having been wiped out. See this link -

Bumble bees are placid creatures and no threat or nuisance, apart from where they have decided to build their nest.
So I went online (good old t'tinternet) and found instructions on how to move a bees nest. Then I rang my dad. (good old dad) And between me and dad and a torch covered with a red noodle packet (bees can't see red light very well apparently!), we moved the bees last night to a new fence post just a few metres away. There was a slight hiccup when we realised we hadn't quite covered all the holes in the bird box and a few bees escaped, but we managed to move the nest without too much difficulty. Apparently, you have to keep the nest upright, because if you don't, then their honey pots spill. Sweet.
I went out to check on them this morning and they were coming and going from the bird box seemingly unaffected. There were a few bees hanging around the old fence post looking a bit confused, but I'm hoping the others will be able to lead them back to the new location.
So, all in all, a good result, I hope. I'll keep you posted on how my little colony get on.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Reasons to be cheerful:

  • I've finished my OU course! I braved the queues at the only Post Office left in a 50 mile radius and sent my 5000 words of blood, sweat and tears off to Milton Keynes.
  • My great friend is coming to see me today. He's making an exception for me and is heading north of the Watford Gap. I hope he's prepared for the provinces...
  • We're going out for lunch, and wine will be involved, I'm sure of it...
  • My kids are both at school till 3.30 - freedom!
  • My husband should be making a guest appearance at home later today - feels like he's been away forever...
  • I've got a shelf of tasty novels lined up waiting to be read - summertime's for reading, don't you think?
  • I can't take any more doom and gloom!! So. No TV news or newspapers for me today - what you don't know can't hurt you!

Have a great day everyone!

Monday, 18 May 2009

The end in sight

Firstly, many apologies for my lack of blog in the last few weeks. Have been working on my long project for the OU Creative Writing course I have been doing this year.

It has been an interesting process. This is my second year of study with the OU and I can really see an improvement and development in my writing. In particular, this year has really seen my drafting and critical skills come along, and I can now see more clearly where I go wrong, even if I don't quite know yet how to make it right again!

So I have worked on and polished the piece of writing for my final assessment and, although I feel like I could go on forever tinkering with it, I am quite pleased that I have managed to sustain my concentration and focus to produce a more developed piece of writing.

Where to go from here? After tomorrow, when this is posted off to the OU, I am officially On My Own... My tutor this year has recommended an MA for further study, but it's a lot of money to spend.... About £4000. Seems a lot for something that may go no further than a 'hobby'.

But, writing is an increasingly 'professionalised' activity, like so many others, and if I ever wanted to teach Creative Writing, I would really need to have an MA. So maybe I'll consider it.

As for this week, once this is in the post, I'm going to go and have a massage and then a large gin and tonic! Cheers!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Not enough hours...

I have precisely 3 weeks to finish my final project for my Creative Writing course. If I complete it and pass, I'll get my Diploma from the Open University, so it's the last hurdle (this year anyway). I have also promised myself that I will blog on my 'work days' before I sit down to write - to kind of get the writing juices flowing if you know what I mean... Tuesdays are my free day - both kids out of the way until 3.30pm. And so of course in usual fashion, I have volunteered to help at the school library, and have a meeting about that at lunchtime. And two friends have just texted seeing if I want to have coffee!!! Aaaarghh! There just aren't enough hours in the day! This story is never going to get finished. Maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing as I'm severely lacking in enthusiasm for it today!

Sunday, 26 April 2009

More seeds...

I am disproportionately excited by the fact that my pumpkin seeds have sprouted! I am a member of a vegetable farming co-operative - the wonderful Canalside Community Farm (see my favourite websites for a link) and last year we had pumpkins as part of our vegetable share. I kept some of the seeds and dried them and last week I planted them in compost. And they've grown! I know this might seem like a pretty obvious train of events but I'm very new to this gardening business, and it just feels so great to see that little green shoot appearing out of the soil. It makes me feel all green-fingered.
Also, this weekend, I bought a mini-pond (Lidl again...!) and so my tadpoles have a new home! I'm sure I will be keeping you updated with the development of the tadpoles.. At the moment we're at the wiggly tail, no legs stage. Will keep you posted on back leg appearance!

Monday, 20 April 2009

Planting the seeds

I did some gardening today. The weather has been beautiful, so we took the opportunity to plant out some of our seeds in the raised vegetable beds we've had put in. (these are going to be the most expensive carrots known to man...) So I planted leeks, red onions, carrots, beetroot, pumpkins and radishes. We wait with bated breath to see if they come up. They'll probably all get eaten by the birds...
It's nice though, getting your hands in the soil. Makes you feel like you've achieved something in your day.
The kids are still resisting the new back-to-school regime.They consistently and quite happily refuse to do anything I say at the moment. I have been screeching like a fishwife at them and only succeeding in getting myself in a twist. Time to think of a new tactic...

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Back to reality..

We're back in the UK. School starts next week. It's back down to earth with a bump. I'm trying to get the kids back into some kind of routine. They are resisting. Having run wild for three and a half weeks, they are not keen on early bedtimes...
We had quite an eventful journey back through France, almost (literally) bumping into a family of wild boar, complete with little piglets. Dear Daughter was screeching, 'Look at the hairy pigs, Mummy!' as they sat in the middle of the road. I was just a bit concerned about how we were going to get past them if they refused to move. Man, they're big! And pretty ugly looking too!
Anyway, they decided to trot along eventually, and we made our way northwards, through the night.
We got the day ferry and arrived back in the UK on Thursday night. Since then it's been a constant round of washing and trying to get back into gear for the new term.
Wish we could be on holiday forever...!

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Bonnes Paques!

Happy Easter from South-west France. it's a horrible day here - grey and misty and raining that really fine rain that gets you really wet..! The kids have done their Easter Egg Hunt in the barns; with the mice, woodstore, pots of paint, strimmers, spades, old carts, sets of skis, dusty, empty wine bottles with wicker around them, birds nests and a football table. (amongst other things)
We have taken refuge by the woodburning stove, and are in comfortable and quiet seclusion with some good books, a laptop and our Easter chocolate supply. Bliss!
Back to the UK on Thursday - real life beckons...

Friday, 10 April 2009

Am I getting on a bit??

Today I have been called both 'wise' and 'sensible' by two different friends. I'm not quite sure how I feel about this. On the one hand it is flattering to be thought of in this way by one's friends, however sweetly misguided they might be, but on the other hand, it does make me feel...well, a bit old!

I really, really don't feel in the least wise. Most of the time I feel like I'm in a dark room groping around for the light switch. And I don't feel sensible, even if most of the time I'm forced to behave as though I am. The 'me' I am familiar with is at the mercy of her emotions, selfish, stubborn, argumentative and grumpy most of the time. Just as well I try not to share her with the rest of the world...

So, I guess I can work towards 'wise' and 'sensible' - Well one has to live up to one's reputation, after all!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Happy Birthday

I have just realised that I have missed celebrating the first anniversary of this blog by a few days. my first post was written on 4th April 2008, and here we are, a whole year later.

What has changed? The kids are a whole year older and bigger and are needing me less and less (and more and more in some ways) each day. So I have more time for writing now than I did a year ago. And how do I feel about that? Well, happy obviously, but a little ambivalent too. While childrearing duties kept me from my writing, it was easy to dream about it. Now the reality of doing it is here, it's easy to get scared and wonder what I was thinking... But we plod onwards as always.

Monday, 6 April 2009

It's the little things

Now I remember why I come here to this little corner of south-west France.
A wonderfully sunny warm Spring day with a soft breeze. A perfect washing day, so three or four loads of washing gets done and hung on the washing lines strung between the wild plum trees that are all in blossom. The white flowers against the bright blue sky are luscious. I always feel like I've achieved something when I've got washing done and dried!
While waiting for the sheets to dry, I wander off down the field which is all grassy meadow with daisies, clover and dandilions. I can hear the bees buzzing so loudly they sound like mini-airships. I lie down in a patch of daisies and watch an aeroplane going over at very high altitude leaving a trail of vapour across the blue.
We eat lunch outside - a simple, but fantastic, meal of homemade bread, sliced tomatoes, cheese and olives. Food always tastes better when the sun is shining.
What small simple pleasures this day has brought.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Must get on...

Have ensconsed myself in front of the wood burning stove with my laptop. I really have to get on with this assessment that was due in last Friday. I was granted an extension but I want to get it handed in as quickly as possible. However it's difficult to concentrate when the sun is shining outside, and there are 320 terracotta tiles that need seasoning with linseed oil...
Summoning up the energy to finish this OU course is proving a challenge. I've commited myself to a long project that I think I have really lost enthusiasm for. Oh well.
Have just glanced over and noticed that I have brought my writing work to France in a jute bag emblazoned with the words 'Warwickshire Waste Partnership'.
Seems somehow appropriate...

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Hello, Bonjour and Hola!

Well, I've been in three countries in the last week! Started out in the UK last week. Drove to France, and then down to Spain and then back to France, where the flag is aloft as we are in residence.
We went to Spain to ski. To a fab place called Baqueira-Beret. Took the kids and had a great time. Dear Daughter has decided she is an expert skiier requiring no tuition. Bearing in mind this is only her second time on skis, and she is only 4, she has decided to bypass snowplough almost entirely, opting insted for parallel turns and a casual style that is quite incredible. Small Son has chosen the kamikasi approach of bombing downhill with straight skis and falling over to stop... It is quite amazing to see how much they have progressed. They are going to be better than me in no time at all, although that won't really be too hard...
The Spanish are just brilliant with the kids as well - getting them on and off the ski lifts and in the restaurants and shops. They just love kids as a cultural thing, in a way that we so don't in the UK. Although you can go out in Spain, and there won't necessarily be a high chair or a changing table, they are just so welcoming and accomodating and accepting of the children. Dear Daughter and Small Son got totally over-excited, as in a lot of the shops they were giving the kids sweets or lollies!
We're back at the farm in France now. The weather has been lovely today, and my skiing tan is looking like it could spread further if the sun keeps shining. I know, I know, I should look after my skin, but I really NEED this sun! I can feel myself starting to unfurl...!

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

The longer you leave it, the harder it gets...

This could apply to so many things...

But I'm talking about writing; for the blog, and in general.

I've been having what I have come to recognise as my usual winter hibernation. I think I can safely say that winter is not a good time for me. I don't know if it is the dark short days, or the cold, or what, but I have been fighting off the winter blues since Christmas, and before. In fact, once the clocks change in October, that's me done for, really. Until the days start to lengthen out and the snowdrops and crocuses appear, I just want to get into bed and sleep. And I do. But I can't get up again. I bought myself one of those alarm clocks that gradually wakes you up by simulating dawn with a light that gets slowly brighter. And this has worked to a certain extent. I have certainly been feeling a lot less groggy when I wake up.

But the motivation and desire to write just seems to leave me in the winter, and I think dark thoughts, and stew in my own depressive and pessimistic juices. However, for the first time I am remembering that it doesn't last forever, as nothing does. I can feel it starting to lift. Hence, here I am. Scribbling again. So, I'd like to welcome myself back. Hi there stranger.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Even better than that...!

Ok, so I send Husband to Lidl to get some wine. We have friends staying, and I should know better than to send two men unaccompanied to a shop, but I was a bit harrassed and I thought there would be safety in numbers. So off they go, clean handkerchiefs and shiny faces...

An hour later they're back with three boxes of wine. Sensible choices, so far so good.

Then they vanish. They're not in the garage or the garden, and not downstairs in the house. And they're very quiet. I smell a rat. I go in search. I find them in Husband's office huddled over an object.
'What's going on here then?' I enquire.
They leap apart as though caught with a bomb. No-one speaks.
'So, you got the wine, then?' I start conversationally, trying to draw them out...
Husband's eyes light up with a maniacal glow.
'Even better than that!' he says, 'We got a microscope! And it's got a camera for the computer!'

A microscope. I ask you. Never mind that we're a no-income family at the moment, until said Consultant Husband actually does some Consultancy.

Don't let them out alone with a cashcard. You're asking for trouble...

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

I am now a mother....

I now feel well and truly initiated into the world of parenthood.

I Knelt On Some Lego.

God, it hurt.

I can forsee years of stumbling through lakes and oceans of Lego.

And, as my eyesight diminishes with each passing year, so the sodding pieces of Lego get smaller and smaller....

What kind of cruelty is that...?

Monday, 12 January 2009

Reading habits...

I am a reader. I would love to be an avid reader, and used to be one when I had the luxury of time, but unfortunately there just aren't enough hours in the day. I am also a terrible buyer of books. I have a whole shelf of lovely new books waiting to be read, but if I see another one in a shop or online that I think I might like, I just have to have it. I'm definitely addicted to buying books in the same way that some people are addicted to buying face creams or designer jeans. Like them, I believe that this will change my life. Although I reckon I have a better chance of a book changing my life, than a cosmetic product... So I'm quite defiant about my addiction really....

You may ask, why doesn't she use the library? Well, I do that as well, although slashed library boook budgets are making the selection less and less appealing...

But there is something about owning the book, being the first one to open the pristine pages, smelling that new book smell, feeling the paper.... This brings to mind the fact that I am also a bit obsessed with notebooks, and actually pretty dislike having to write in a new one. So maybe I'm just fixated on paper - perhaps I should become a book binder...

Now, what do I read? This post was actually conceived of when I was reading an interview with the children's writer Eoin Colfer on the splendid Bookwitch blog (

He said that when he was in his twenties he went through a phase where he read nothing but serial killer books, but now he is older he has become squeamish and doesn't like it when people get hurt.

This is SO me! I used to read Patricia Cornwell and all sorts of murder stuff. Now, since I had my own children, I can't stomach anything like that at all. I can't even watch Prime Suspect or anything that remotely has anything bad happening to children... And I really cannot understand why anyone would want to read a misery memoir. That's just voyeuristically wierd, in my view.

I have definitely gone soft, and it doesn't bother me on a personal level, as I have adjusted my reading habits to cope. But I do worry about my writing a little, as I wonder if all my characters are just destined to be 'nice', and the main action may just involve them all having a nice cup of tea and a sit down. God forbid if I ever have to kill anyone off - they may have to live to 96 and drift away in a nice soft bed surrounded by their nearst and dearest...

Ah well, soft I may be, but children and puppies and kittens are safe with me...