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 - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/374184.stm

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.