Thursday, 29 April 2010

Who are they?!

So I've been having a look at my Clustrmap every day, and seeing that there's always someone looking at my blog. Some days I get about six or seven visits, but other days I get about sixteen. I think that's amazing, considering that I don't know that many people. I am assuming that the people who read my blog are people who know me personally, but I suppose I could have been accidentally found by strangers by now. I have only four followers though, so I have no idea who most of the other watchers are. Perhaps that is a good thing - perhaps I'd be scared to write if I knew who everyone was! I've not found this blog thing particular nerve-wracking though, apart from the first post I shared to Facebook. I did worry that I'd get lots of comments about what a silly and naive little girl I am! But since that initial sort of oh my god, everyone's going to see what I've written feeling, I've not really been bothered by that kind of stage fright. (Now that I've said that I'm a little bit nervous!) And in fact, blogging has made my actual diary redundant, which is a bit of a shame because I was enjoying keeping it. But I'm finding that I no longer feel a desperate need to write things in a book that isn't going to be read until after I'm dead! It's weird, but I do feel like I'm actually talking to people in my blog - even though I don't know exactly who's listening - whereas, in my diary, I am just talking to myself.
But the Clustrmap is a lovely thing, because I can see exactly where I'm being visited from. There's that nice big red spot over the North of England, which is where most people are looking from - they must be my family and friends. But there are a couple of medium-sized spots in the South. Not entirely sure who they are, but lots of friends from Uni are in London-and-surrounding-area. I keep hoping that I'll get some views from somewhere other than Europe and North America, but perhaps I'll have to wait until my novels have been translated into seventy-nine languages for those.

Here is me getting ready for my flying lesson. I've already posted this picture, a few entries ago. But I was just thinking of being in a little plane to go and have a look at the world, and see where my visitors are. I haven't done any of my dream flying for a while, so I might do that before I go to sleep. If any of you fancy joining me, I'm thinking of having a look at the Great Wall of China first, probably around about 11.30pm GMT.

Oh! Passports - can someone please remind me to get a passport form from the Post Office tomorrow? I don't really need it for the dream flying, but if I don't order my passport very soon I will not be able to go to Noomski and Jessica's wedding in October - since I am the Best Man I think it's important that I be there!

Night all :)

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

... erm ...

I'm posting today, because I feel like I should. It's been a few days without a post from me now, so I really should write something. I have nothing interesting to say at the moment though. It's one of those weeks that just passes. Nothing exciting has happened, nothing exciting is due to happen, and everything is just nice. It's difficult to write about nice though. Nice is quite boring really. The weather's ... nice. Erm, the boys are all behaving beautifully this week, which is ... nice. Erm. Hmm.

Oh. I've just remembered something that might be a bit interesting. When I was in the Music Spot on Saturday, buying some picks and strings, I saw a flyer on the notice board. It was asking for ladies to join a group of singers. It's a new group, not started up yet, and they are planning to sing madrigals and close harmony a cappella (although, I've just realised that they spelled a cappella wrong - can I stand to work with a group of people who cannot spell?!)

This is what a madrigal is:
madrigal |ˈmadrigəl|nouna part-song for several voices, esp. one of the Renaissance period, typically arranged in elaborate counterpoint and without instrumental accompaniment. Originally used of a genre of 14th-century Italian songs, the term now usually refers to English or Italian songs of the late 16th and early 17th c., in a free style strongly influenced by the text.

So I thought I might pop them an email, and ask for more information. Since I saw a little Baroque concert at the Cathedral with my mum before Christmas, I've been thinking that it would be lovely to sing in a sort of choir. And this style of music is very beautiful, and quite different. I don't know much about it at all, but it does appeal, nonetheless.

Apparently, this is a madrigal costume - but I just pilfered it off Google images, so I have no idea if it has anything to do with singing! I wonder if madrigal singers are required to wear such attire? Ooh, I hope so - it'd be lovely to wear a dress like that :)

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Fresh bloggings from my Day Off.

9.45am: Dalton Square

Sitting on a bench, drenched in sunlight, enjoying a little tranquility. It's funny, but for some reason, in this little patch of garden, with the rude statue of Queen Victoria in the centre, you can filter out the sound of the traffic on the main road just a few yards away, and you can hear birds and bees, and notice things growing. The square looks perfect this morning, full to bursting with golden yellow flowers. And the trees are so pretty now that the leaves are bursting forth from their buds, like scrunches of lime tissue paper, stuck on by my children with blobs of glue.
April is no longer the month of rain, is it? It's now the month that I get tanned, the month in which everyone emerges from Winter with a smile, the gateway to Summer, the month of Hope.

Mmm. Costa is calling.

10.15am: Costa Coffee

Nice little bit of banter between the barista, myself and the next customer just now. Always nice to enjoy a bit of banter in the morning. It's a small thing, but a precious thing nonetheless - a smile, a genuine smile from the person serving you. It really does make all the difference between a good day and a less good day.
Almond croissant, pot of Earl Grey, we're good to go.

2.30pm: Upstairs in Starbucks

Many things achieved in the first half of the day:
  • Lots of writing and planning of Freaky Jones
  • New guitar book and picks purchased
  • Some articles read in Mslexia (women's writing magazine)
  • Healthy lunch eaten, in the company of my mum :)
  • Advice read and digested from Novelist's Boot Camp
Lots! Still got the rest of the afternoon and evening ... good day :)

3.45pm: Starbucks still

Ugh. I feel fat and fraudulent! Sitting here, all bohemian, pretending to be a writer, thinking I'm being youthful and gorgeous having a skinny latte and some crunchy vegetable sticks!
But the place has filled up with students - eighteen-to-twenty-year-olds, and I both hate them and love them at the same time. I hate them because I am jealous, and I want to be twenty, to have smooth skin (not that I ever did!) with no sign of a wrinkle, and hair that doesn't need to be dyed. I want to have their fashion sense (not that I could afford it when I was twenty), their traumas about love and coursework.
But my goodness, they're beautiful to watch, and that is why I love them. Their friendships, their closeness, their wisdom, their confidence, their enthusiasm, their freedom. I've only recently realised that I am no longer one of them, and that I haven't been one of them for a long time.

5.45pm: Verdes, 'table for one, please'

It makes me laugh. I love coming to a restaurant by myself, having my tea cooked for me, not having to do the washing up, being able to eat in peace and having time to enjoy my food. But the look that flashes across the waiter's face when I ask for a table for myself is priceless, every time. Surprise, confusion, embarrassment, recovery, pity, understanding, all within half a second. I always struggle to keep a straight face. Perhaps they would find it easier to comprehend me eating alone if I wore a suit, had a mobile phone in a holster at my belt, and carried a briefcase and a laptop (actually, I do carry a laptop, but you can't tell as it's cleverly hidden in my charming satchel!). As it is I come in looking like right scruff, a bit disheveled after a day of drinking coffee, and loaded down with bags, looking like an escaped housewife.

Anyway. Lots more work done. Written a few thousand words today (don't worry Sazzle - writing a first draft of a book is nothing like writing a science assignment: that's 5,200 words for the bin, 800 to keep!!).
Am going to write for another hour, then am going to treat myself to an hour's read before Clash of the Titans :)

SO FUNNY!! One of the waiter's came to ask if I was okay, and then asked what I was writing. I told him it was Freaky Jones, and then a waitress came over too and asked what it was about. We chatted for a few minutes and she told me about a diary she'd written in the style of Belle Du Jour!
Since then I have been treated with something akin to reverence! The smiles are no longer smiles of pity, but nervous smiles full of bewildered awe! I feel like a celebrity, he he. I could get used to this. The waiter said he'd look forward to reading my book when it's published. I'll personally bring Verdes a free signed copy and give them an acknowledgement in it if it's published!

Oh my word - as I was writing that last paragraph, the waiter came back over and asked if I would write a little character into the book, called Guy! I'm going to leave a nice tip :)

Oh my word once more - the waitress asked if I'd put her in it too. She's called Eva. This is hilarious!

7.45pm: Vue cinema

I'm an hour early for my film, but it's nice. The cinema's a little creepy when it's empty, but I kind of like it.
I had to leave Verdes as the attention was freaking me out! The waitress who took my money at the till said 'you've caused quite a stir' and she grinned. I said I felt like a celebrity, and she said 'well, you probably will be one day'!
Time to get my head out of the clouds now :) I'm going to read the work of a proper author while I wait for Clash of the Titans.
Thank you, blog followers, for keeping me company on my Day Off. Hope you enjoyed it :)

Friday, 23 April 2010

Two things.

Guitar and politics.

Today I have been practising the guitar again. My fingers are actually a little tender today, thought not quite bleeding! I went to the music shop this morning, but it's selection of books was, to be perfectly honest, pants. There was nothing at all that appealed to me. And nothing that was at the right level for me. I'm not quite a beginner now, but I'm by no means an intermediate. So I came home and had a look online, but there was so much choice that I had no idea which book to choose - it's not so easy online either, because you can't see how it's all presented inside. It would perhaps help if I knew what kind of music I'd like to play, but I don't really - I just know that I'd eventually like to be able to play Metallica's Nothing Else Matters! He he - that won't be for a very long time, I should imagine :) So I'm still stuck with the book that I've been using for the past few weeks - it's getting a bit boring now though, practising the same chords over and over.
I did find a very good website that has free Tab on it. It's got a good forum on it, where there's lots of advice from other beginners and more experienced guitarists. It looks very good indeed. Noomski uses it too :) I did take a little peek at Nothing Else Matters - ROCK HARD!!! I'll take a look again in about ten years, ha.
But I need something more structured, so that I can see some progression in my playing, and so that I feel like I'm getting somewhere. I could do with lessons really, but they're very expensive, and I don't think there's any way I could afford them. So I'll have to just get along as best I can without. It's still fun though - I love it. I've only been playing since January, and already feel like I know quite a lot. I can play loads of chords now :) And when I pick the guitar up it all feels very familiar too, like it fits in my hands automatically and it's supposed to be there. Mmm, nice.

The other thing I was thinking about this evening was politics. This election's hotted up a bit since the live 'debate' last Thursday, eh? Mmmm, very exciting. I'm going to watch as much I can on the 6th, with Jeremy Vine and the Swingometre. For the first time I have no idea who to vote for in the Parliamentary elections. In the Council elections I vote Green if there is a candidate - usually there isn't though, so I just pick one that's not Conservative ;) But this time - I just don't know. Don't think I like David Cameron - but I don't know why I don't like him. Quite like Gordon Brown - but think he's a rubbish politician/PM. Do like Nick Clegg - might vote LibDem - but not at all certain about that. Oh, I'm not going to be voting based on which leader I like the most, don't worry! No, I do pay attention to the policies; I couldn't really tell you what any of them are, of course, but I kind of let all the random words and soundbites float around in my head and try to get a general flavour of what the party's about. I mean, really, is there anything more that we can do, since when they actually get into power and get their hands on the books, they soon find out that they can't deliver on most of their promises anyway, right?
But then I was thinking that perhaps everything in politics is going to change for the better from now on anyway, because ALL politicians know that they've been bad and that we know they've been bad and that we're fed up of them being bad.
Well, anyway, just less than two weeks left. I don't know who I'm voting for. I think I will be walking into the polling station still undecided. I don't want that to happen, I want to have decided before I go to vote, so that I don't just stick a random cross down at the candidate with the nicest name! I always feel like a bit of a numpty when it comes to politics - I wish I knew more, so that I could make a more informed choice. But where are the canvassers? Not on my street. Can't ask them what they're all about if they're not knocking. I don't want leaflets through my door - waste of money. I want someone to come round and tell me things.

:) That's about as deep as it goes with me and politics - I can think about it in lots of detail and depth, but I can't write about it, for fear of getting things wrong and sounding like a right fool.

It's my Day Off tomorrow. Oooooooooh, I'm so looking forward to it. The day always passes much to quickly, but that's why I stay out late :) I used to come home before tea, but didn't feel like I'd really had a day off because I had to come back and help with the kids again. So now I take myself off to a restaurant for my tea, and then go to the pictures in the evening as well - a proper, full day off. It's completely heavenly. I think I'm staying in town tomorrow. I was thinking about going to Liverpool for one of my days off, but I don't really feel like it at the moment - it would be nice to do the galleries, but I don't feel like I deserve that much of a treat yet, because I've not done any writing for ages. So it'll be writing all day tomorrow, in peace :) Delicious. If I get a few chapters drafted this month then maybe I'll go to Liverpool on the train next month.

Well, I'm going to go to sleep soon. I want to get up nice and early, to make sure that I get as many child-free hours as possible!


Thursday, 22 April 2010

Sorry in advance, for a waffly post.

It's one of those evenings, the kind when I feel like blogging, but have nothing interesting to say. What? That happens all the time, you say? I know. But I'm particularly devoid of inspiration today. I'm hoping to find some on Saturday, on my Day Off.

This evening I have been practising on my guitar. I practise every day if I can. I'm enjoying it hugely, it's such a relaxing hobby to have. The skin on my fingertips is getting nice and tough, and it really doesn't hurt to play now - not that it was ever agony. I've got to the end of the book that my brother lent me: Rhythm Guitar for Beginners :) I'm off to the music shop in Morecambe to find the next book tomorrow - might have a little browse for some easy song books too. I don't really know what I want to play, so I don't know what I'm looking for. So far I've been learning lots of nice chords, and just practising them over and over again, changing between them and trying to memorise the fingering. I'm enjoying the major seventh chords that I've just learned - they're very, very pretty. I'd quite like to learn some songs that I could sing to - but don't expect to ever hear me, because I'm learning for myself only, not to perform!

Now, there's something I miss. The stage. I haven't thought about it for a long time, and once upon a time it was all I thought about. *Deep sigh of regret* I miss the theatre. I was never on stage very much, only a few shows and a few plays at Uni. But oh, it's good! I think I was pretty good at acting, and I have often wondered whether I could've made a living out of it. Never know now. Shame. Could still do some am-dram though :D But how on earth would I fit it in now?! Got the writing to do, got college to go to in a couple of years, college to prepare for next year, kids to play with, guitar to learn, adventures to go on. I just don't know if I can spare three evenings a week for rehearsals. Mmmm. It'd be nice though :) That rush of adrenaline again - mmmm, it is good.
We'll see.

The other thing on my mind is the book. I've decided what to do, but don't hold your breathe waiting for me to stick to today's plan! I know I change my mind between the two novels that I'm working on as often as I ... do the dusting, but this time I think I've come up with a good solution to my fickleness problem. I'm going to get the manuscript ready for Freaky Jones (this is the working title for a story that grew out of some memories of my own life at senior school) over the next few months. The story is almost all there in my head, clear as anything, it just needs writing down. Easy peasy! Then I'm going to send it off to a publisher. Then, while I'm waiting to hear back about Freaky Jones (and this could take a very long time, and I could have one or two more manuscripts done by the time I ever hear anything about the first one!) I can work on the other one, about faeries. If I get the one that's easier to write out of the way then I can't be distracted by it, can I? That seems so obvious now, I don't know why I didn't think to do this months ago. D'uh. Relief, for now - but I may well change my mind again next week, he he!

Well, I'm off to read for a bit now. Night all.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Oh, the horror.

This has happened before, but it's REALLY happened this time. I was browsing the Waterstone's website yesterday evening, and came across a book that had me interested and worried at the same time. Interested, because it looked like a damn good story - about faeries, and what they're really like; worried, because it's almost exactly the same story as mine, only much, MUCH better! It looks scary and mega-imaginative, original and compelling. Mine looks very pale compared to this book. And then I start to think that even if I could make mine much grittier (I'm sure I could) and frightening, would it look like I'd just copied my story from the one that's already out? Probably. This is the thing about writing - it takes such a bloody long time! Fine, you come up with an idea; but even for an experienced writer it takes a good year to have a finished manuscript ready. In that year many more writers seem to have exactly the same idea as you and you spot books almost identical to yours popping up all over the place. It's very disheartening.

So, I've got the morning off today, and a whole Day Off on Saturday :) I'm going to have a really good think. I'm going to do some short story exercises and see if I can dig about in my mind and find out what it actually is that I really do want to write. I'll also do some exercises around the characters that I'm already writing about, and see if I can find ways to make them more readable - I think I'm afraid to write characters that people won't like. That's stupid, because every book has to have baddies. And even some of the goodies need to have annoying habits, strange tics and ugly warts, and so on. Noomski said that I shouldn't give up on my book - he's read it and he was surprised by how good it was. He's a bit biased, but he's also honest, and he would tell me if he thought it was rubbish. He tells me I'm rubbish and ugly, fat and annoying most of the time anyway :D

So, hmmm, some free writing this morning I think. After a bath :)

This is my bridal wreath, by the way :) It's in one of the borders in my garden. It's looking splendid right now, all foamy and bright. It only flowers for about a fortnight though, and then it looks quite drab, lol. But I think it's worth the wait for those two weeks of loveliness. I took this photo on my phone - amazing!

Monday, 19 April 2010

Ugh, what to do.

What the ...?! I've returned to my writing this morning, hopeful of finding it waiting for me looking all lovely and exciting and GOOD. Usually, when I've had a little break from my novel because I hate it, I re-read it and it sounds really rather good. This time? Nah. It's crap. I'm very dismayed. The first four chapters are still fine, because they've never changed for months. But the last two chapters I wrote are horrendously dull. I've lost my mojo with this project, I really have. I can't find what it was that inspired me to write it in the first place. It's been dragging on for so long - all my own fault for not pulling my finger out and getting it written two years ago, of course - that it's like a heavy weight around my neck. Maybe I should just file it away and look at it again in a few years. I keep coming back to it, but I can't write it. I don't know if it's beyond me, or if I just don't like the story any more. But I don't think it is beyond me - like I said, the first few chapters are good, I'm very proud of them. They're not perfect, but I've been looking forward to redrafting them.

Hmmm. I'm not sure what to do at all. It's difficult to keep writing when you know that what you're producing is rubbish - it seems like a terrible waste of time to keep writing dross, when I could be spending my time more productively, developing a better idea.

Ah, but now I'm thinking about the research on supernatural beings that I was doing before Easter. There was some good stuff in there. I'd found out about some very interesting demons and demi-gods that would fit beautifully into my story; there was a wealth of characters to choose from in that Encyclopedia of Spirits that I'd been dipping into, and I could imagine some of them really giving a lift to the story in helping me to develop new directions and twists. So perhaps I'm being dramatic again? Do I need to work through the problem I'm having with my boring protagonist, and make him better? Should I persist, or give up on it as a bad job, and move on to something new and fresh? I know the answer really. Of course I should persist - otherwise the last two years' worth of research and writing have been for nothing! (That's rubbish isn't it? Five chapters in two years?! Well, I haven't actually been writing non-stop for two years - mostly I've just been thinking and fleshing out ideas. But it's still not good - I should bloody well get my head together and get on with it and stop moaning and be more focused and be more positive and drag myself out of this stupid lull.)

:) Right, thanks for that bit of therapy. I'll get back to it now. I know what to do. I'm going to fix my hero (might even change him into a girl actually, that might work better), and make him more bad - he's too good and nice right now. Thanks very much, friends - how much do I owe you for this session? Same time next week?

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Are girls actually more breakable than boys?

I was wondering about this, after a little thing that happened at The Zone the other day. I sometimes think my boys are little softies, lol, but essentially I know that they're really quite tough. We love nothing more than a good fight in our house, from time to time. You know the kind when the kids get chucked around the living room and leap off the furniture and roar and laugh their heads off right up until the point when someone cracks their head? Well, we like a bit of that :)

Anyway, when we were at The Zone, I found this teeny little girl right at the top of the soft play structure thingy. She was on her own, and looked absolutely petrified. She wasn't speaking - out of shock I think - and was just looking at me as though she was about to cry, bless her. I helped
Matthew down first, and then asked if she'd like me to help her down. Bless the little wee thing, she held her arms out to me. If I'd known her I would've immediately just grabbed her and chucked her down after my lads - but I had to have a look about first to see if there was a parent about who might be looking for her (you never know if you're allowed to touch other people's kids these days, do you?!). There was no-one around, so I hoisted her up onto my hip and took her down to the level below. When I lifted her up though, I almost laughed out loud, as I must have just picked her up as I do Matthew - she looked even more terrified, if that's possible, and threw her arms around my neck. I plonked her down when we got down the ladder, and she looked completely shocked again. I'm absolutely positive that it was because she'd never been chucked about like that before. It was so funny. I'd never really realised how rough we are in our family, but this brought it home to me - in a nice way :) But anyway, I took her right down to the bottom and her mum was there waiting for her - why her mum wasn't in there playing with her, I don't know, grrrrrr! Anyway, it all made me wonder if people generally treat girls and boys differently. If I had girls would we still have our mad half hours, or would we sit about doing girl things instead? Urgh! I suppose I know the answer to that one - I'm a girl myself, after all, and I don't really do girly stuff. If I had a daughter she'd have to put up with being roared at and hurled about the room for a laugh if she was to fit in with the rest of the family!

But what about other people? Do they treat their girls and boys differently? I have no idea. I see lots of girls dressed in pink and dresses all the time and worry for them - worry that they don't get to be boisterous and rowdy! I hope they do :)

Oh, by the way, today's pictures were Kev's idea. Last year I wrote a short story about a couple who decide to separate, but the fella decides to do his missus in at the last minute, and hits her over the head with her favourite Tiffany lamp - our pictures are a representation of that story :D I'm not sure what the ketchup was for!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

I've figured it out.

I've figured out why it is that I've been in a bad mood for most of the Easter holidays. It's because I've not achieved anything for myself. Selfish cow, eh?! Very silly of me to let myself be in a bad mood when I knew in advance that I wouldn't get to do any writing for a fortnight, or have much time alone.
Last year I planned something to do with the kids every day, and stuck to the plan. This year I never really got round to making the plan, and this was a grave mistake. This meant that I allowed myself to be lazy, to let the kids play on their own quite a lot, to snap at them for no really good reason, and be a general mardy arse! I'm thoroughly ashamed of myself. But at least I have learned that I need to do the Plan - I won't forget to do it again.

But am I perhaps being a little hard on myself? The boys, despite being roared at several times a day for doing nothing worse than spilling a cup of juice, have had a lovely, relaxing two weeks. They've been allowed to watch telly EVERY morning; they've been allowed to eat at McDonald's twice; they've been taken out to some lovely places (Wildlife Oasis, Grizedale Forest of course, Williamson's Park, The Zone, the Stone Jetty, the beach, and the cinema today). I asked Thomas if he'd had a nice holiday, and he said that he'd had a great time. He just enjoys being able to relax and not have to be at school - and he loves playing with his brothers, who are, after all, his best friends. James and Matthew love having him home too. So, I don't think it matters very much if I'm being less than attentive with them, because their more interested in playing with each other than me anyway. But I'm still going to get back to normal in the half term holiday. I've missed out on playing with them this Easter, because I've been lazy and I've been immersed in my books - unforgivable. I LOVE playing with them.

Oh, I did play with them yesterday, at The Zone - indoor soft play place. I always play with them there. There's no way I could sit and watch them on the slide without having a go myself!! And I go the fastest on it, and almost take off on the last bump! It's fantastic - and rather a good work out as well, lol. I always come out of there with a bright red face and in great need of a shower. I'd really like to be able to play there with them more often, but it's not very cheap.

Don't know what we're doing tomorrow. I've run out of ideas. Think I might let them ride their bikes (although, that means some pain for my back, as Matthew isn't pedalling yet and needs pushing!). I'm sad that it's the last day of the holidays - I wish I could start it all over again, and never be cross with them, and keep my smile on the whole time. But everyone gets it wrong sometimes, don't they? Mmm, I know they do. I'm only human :) I'll do better next time.

By the way, I'm being very naughty and even though I finished reading the whole Twilight Saga a couple of days ago, I am reading it again!! I tried reading something else - The Book Thief - but wasn't quite ready to be without Edward! Oh dear. But I'm not letting the reading take over my life this time :) I'm taking my time, and savouring the beautiful writing. The challenge will come on Monday morning - my writing time: will I be able to do the writing, or will I cave and just pick up Twilight?! We'll see ;)

*Sigh* - very tired, night night.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Not myself - but been to the beach :)

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!! Splittin' 'eadache, foul mood, broken washing machine, unhelpful customer services people, seven spillages of juice in one day. These are not things that should have me crying over the washing up in the kitchen - quite obviously I am suffering from extreme knackeredness at the moment!


:O) Better :O)

'So, what shall we do today boys?' I asked, as I watched the boys tearing up bits of tinfoil and wrapping up random toys for no reason at all.
'Can we just make things all day?' asked Thomas, as he unrolled another huge length of foil.
'We could do - but wouldn't you like to get outside in the fresh air and sunshine?' I prompted. And then the marvellous idea came to me, as they do very occasionally. 'I know what we can do, as it's such a nice day.' All three stopped what they were doing and turned to face me as one - it was quite unnerving actually! 'We can go to the beach, collect lots of shells and pebbles and sand, and come back and make a picture with what we've found.'
As one, Thomas, James and Matthew leapt to their feet and jumped up and down and shouted 'the beach, the beach, the beach!!!' I took that as a yes.
We parked up by the lifeboat station, and stepped out onto tiny golden dunes that edged the car park. The beach was picture perfect today, with it's pretty little stretches of pale sand, and it's newly clean and crystal clear water. It was such a bright and sunshiney day that we could see as much of the Lake District as I've ever seen from Morecambe. I breathed in very deeply, and smiled, and felt instantly refreshed and awake. The boys charged onto the beach and dived into the sand, instantly covering themselves from head to toe, and making me regret not bringing towels. I got to work collecting, while the boys went wild. I soon had a bag filled with beachcombed goodies, and so settled myself down to watch my wee ones having a ball.
Thomas was dancing all over the beach, and behaving exactly as I'd wanted him to behave. Part of the reason for coming here was so that he could just go crazy and flip out and run and jump and shout at the top of his voice. He was in his element, skipping and dancing all over the sand, backwards and forwards, never, ever stopping for a breath, preferring to sing rather than talk. I laughed to myself as I thought about the fact that he would still be bouncing off the walls once we got home, despite burning off all of this energy now. As I watched he settle down a little, and went over to chase the tide with Matthew.
Matthew was getting as close to the water as he dared. He was mesmerised by it, by the way that it came towards him and then moved away. I kept hearing his hysterical little laugh as the tips of his toes almost got wet. He never looked as though he wanted to leap headlong into the sea, just seemed content to watch and be thrilled by it.
James was rolling. He lay in the sand, with a wide grin on his delighted face, and rolled, and rolled and rolled. Then he started to collect things for the picture. He found some beautiful shells, and perfectly flat and round stones, and once he'd decided to help he was completely focused on his mission. Some of the pieces of seaweed he brought to me were rather large, but on the whole he seemed to have quite the eye for pieces that would be perfect for our collage. After quite a while he decided that it was time to be buried, and asked me to cover his legs in sand.
'Cover me right up, right up to my shoes, please Mummy,' he said, very politely, and grinned in his cheeky way. As soon as I started to pile the sand up Thomas and Matthew were right by my side, chucking it about and fighting to be the first to completely bury James! It was very funny. And of course, as soon as one was buried, another had to be buried too. The sand was not very workable, being very dry today, but we managed it in the end. Thomas was a little overzealous when he came to his own burying, and dived in headfirst, covering his sticky hair gel in sand. Oh dear. We buried him right up to his neck. It was incredibly satisfying as it meant that he was still and quiet for a few minutes.

But all too soon, it was time to go back home. Back at the homestead, out came the bottles of paint and glue, the paintbrushes and water, the aprons, and giant piece of paper. It was chaotic, but fun. I'd resigned myself to having lots of mess to clean up today, so I let them get completely covered in paint and glue. I drew an outline of a beach scene for them, and they were amazingly calm and focused and neat and created the most amazing picture I have actually ever seen in my life.

It was a good day today.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Oh! It really, really is here.

Thomas was off, as soon as we left the car park, up the fifty degree incline that was covered in a carpet of last year's pine needles and leafmold. He had reached the top of the hill, and was out of sight in the trees before I could shout out 'Thomas, wait for ...'. Tutting, and muttering some profanities under my breath, I grabbed Matthew firmly by the wrist, and James equally firmly by the hand, and set off up the steep face of this little mountain. It was slow going, but my razor sharp hearing told me that Thomas was alright even though I couldn't see him. I pushed a delighted Matthew up the hill ahead of me, and dragged a whimpering James up behind me. Both of them tripped and stumbled many times, miraculously never managing to take me down with them. Having three children teaches a person good balance I think! As we climbed the never-ending hillock I tried my absolute hardest to imagine that we were on a journey, an adventure, a quest, but it was tricky to stay focused whilst trying to maintain a good grip on the two small people climbing with me. It was slow going, but eventually, with our shoes full of pine needles and our seats a little muddy (alright, they brought me down once!), we made it to the summit with barely a scratch. Triumphant and breathless, we looked around for our leader. Thomas was now halfway up a rather large, and beautifully proportioned climbing tree, whose distribution of branches was so perfect for climbing that it seemed as if it must have been man made.
We explored many of the secret places in this way today, Thomas always a little way ahead, Matthew forever pulling me along, desperate to be as fast as his biggest brother. Poor James was not in the mood today, too tired and four-years-old to put in much effort. But he valiantly tried to keep up, and barely complained at all, just content to rest by my side every so often.
James and Matthew were just finishing off their ice-lollies when Thomas came hurtling over to us, from the direction of the memorial, face alight, and excitement bristling in every fibre.
'You've got to come and see this ... it's amazing!' he screeched.
'What is it? What is it?' We were all on our feet in a heartbeat, eager to follow our fearless leader into the deepest depths of any dangerous place his imagination could conjure up for us.
'I've found the place I've been looking for, for my secret hideout!' he said, leaping up into the air, then bouncing from one foot to the other, itching to show us his latest discovery.
We followed eagerly, knowing that it must be something very cool, as Thomas didn't do ordinary. We watched him disappear into the trees to the left of the memorial, looked at each other for the briefest of seconds, and then darted in after him. What we saw took my breath for a moment, and left me a little staggered
'Oh Thomas ...' I breathed, 'you've found Narnia!'
He whirled round to look at me, confusion in his eyes for a moment. And then he grinned, realising that I was right. He had led us to the ruins of Cair Paravel. We wouldn't have found it in any old trees; it had to be these trees, with the sunlight breaking through and making a mottled pattern on the pine needle carpet, and the monstrous white stones of the monument rising up through the canopy. It was perfect.
We started to look for Aslan.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Oh, what a blessed relief!

Oh, I'm so pleased - I've been released from the horrible spell of Twilight :) I'm very happy to be myself again. For the past week I've been reading in every spare minute I could find, because I was being compelled to do so by the story that had gripped me. But I'm reading the fourth book of the series now, Breaking Dawn, and it's nowhere near as good as the first three. It's okay, I'm obviously going to finish it - and I do hope that the second half is better than the first half. But I'm not really bothered now. It's been spoiled by the silly plot twist. The reason I loved the first three books was because they were, in a strange way, believable. Alongside the purely fantastical, there was a strong thread of realism, that tied the story to our world, and made it somehow relatable. I know, it's about vampires, weird! That thread has completely disappeared in the fourth book, which is a real shame. I really think Stephenie Meyer went off in the wrong direction with this one - she could have done anything with the story, but she chose to take it off in a very silly direction that I've just found annoying. I've lost sympathy for all of the characters, bar one. Even my beloved Edward is irritating me. He was deliciously frightening, though we loved him, in the first three books - but that's all gone in the fourth book. He's a very pale reflection (ha ha! Yeah, yeah, course he is, 'cause he's a vampire!!) of his former self - but not in the way that Meyer intended him to be, as far as I can see. I think we're supposed to feel sorry for him, but I just want to slap him and tell him to snap out of it. And as for our heroine, Bella - I just cannot stand her in this book. I don't like selfish characters, and she's the very selfishest I've ever read! She's proper doin' me 'ead in! It's usually fine to dislike self-serving characters, but I don't think we're meant to dislike this one - we're still meant to love her. But I wouldn't really be mind, at this point in the story, if she were killed off.

*Sighs deeply, in contentment* I'm so happy to be back in the real world - I was getting worried that I wouldn't find my way out of my daydreams! But I was like this when I read Harry Potter too, and I came out the other side of that just fine - the only difference was that HP held my attention for the full seven books. I hope Meyer doesn't write any more in this series - I'd have to read them if she did, because it's probably one of my little obsessive compulsions; but I would read them reluctantly.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow. We're hopefully spending the day at Willison's Park (Williamson's Park actually, but the boys have all called it Willison's as they've been learning to talk). Thomas and I are hoping to get up there in the morning while the others are at playschool, and we want to hide some treasures up there. Then we'll pick up the littlies after lunch and go back to the park and let James and Matthew try to find the treasures. I don't know what the treasures will be, or whether they'll stay hidden long enough for us to pick up the other two boys and get back, but it'll be nice to be out in the fresh air all day anyway. We wasted this morning's sunshine, by staying in our pyjamas and flobbing about the house. Sometimes flobbing is exactly what's required, but probably not when it's sunshiney outside.

Ahhhhhh, joy and bliss. And life returns to normal - excellent :D

Monday, 12 April 2010

Not too bad, considering.

Went swimming with James and Matthew yesterday. I'd forgotten what it was like to only have two children. So much easier, wow. Kev and Matthew were both feeling a bit off, so I just took my two big sons. It was very nice indeed. I was able to be free in the water, without a small child clinging to me for dear life, ha. I do love swimming, when Kev's there and all three boys are able to come in. But it was just different, to not have to worry so much. You really have to keep your wits about you when you've got a few to watch in the water, especially when it's busy. And especially when the eldest is having a go at swimming without armbands and you have to save his life every couple of minutes! I'm not a confident swimmer, which doesn't really help me to relax. It would be nice for them to have swimming lessons, but we can't afford that. But yesterday I was able to get Thomas using a float to practise getting his legs up behind him in the water. He did very well, and started to get the idea. He felt like he was that little bit closer to swimming properly. He can do a lovely backstroke :) James enjoyed doing a nice doggy paddle! I didn't do much of anything except splashing around and pretending to look like I knew what I was doing :D But we had the pool to ourselves for most of the time, and it was ace.

I have done quite well today: I have not neglected my children in favour of reading a trashy vampire novel. I did pop into town to buy the last book, but I've been very disciplined and have not even read the bumph on the back :) I have played football with my children, I have bathed them, I have read them a bedtime story, I have interacted with them, and I have listened to them in rapt silence while they have wittered on about all kinds of very interesting things. I only thought about chucking them out in the garden and running for my book a couple of times, but I squashed the evil thoughts very quickly and got back to real life. Tomorrow we are hoping for more nice weather so that we can do a little gardening - we've got millions of weeds all of a sudden, so I'm going to let the boys dig them up.

I'm absolutely astounded that a book written for teenagers can have me so gripped. It's very ridiculous, and I really must snap out of it. Did I miss something in my teenage years? Hmm, I don't think so. Mind you, I do tend to get like this with books sometimes - it's not just the beautiful characters of Stephenie Meyer that I can become obsessed with. I do fall in love with fictional people quite often. I always have a little downer when I finish a book that I've particularly enjoyed, even if there's been no-one to fall in love with in it. (When I say 'a downer', I'm talking about a Linda-downer, which lasts about twenty minutes.) So don't worry about me - I'll get over my vampires pretty soon enough, when I've moved on to something else. I was going to read The Book Thief before I picked up Twilight, so that's what I'll read next.

And then I really must get back to my own writing - I get an F for effort on that this week. Tut, tut, tut.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Super Mum, where are you??

I've just realised today that I'm going to be on my own most of next week, with all three kiddies most of the time. Kev's been warning me that a little work trip is approaching, fast followed by a week of nights. It has only just dawned on me that it's next week! Idiot. I'm not worried about it at all - it's something I kind of look forward to. Nothing to do with Kev not being here - ha ha! No, but it's good to get organised. I usually find that, for some unfathomable reason, I turn into Super Mum when Kev spends any time away. The house is always very tidy, the kids are always well behaved, I always have an endless supply of patience, and the boys are always in bed by 7pm, well-fed, well-tired, and well-bedtime-storied. And then I usually get lots of my own stuff done in the evenings too. I don't know where Super Mum goes when Kev gets back - weird. Lazy and Shouty Mum comes back, he he. But anyway, next week will be lovely. We'll still see Kev a bit, before he goes off to sleep - oo-er, hope it's nice weather so that we can go out and not keep him awake with our raucousness.

Only got nine days of the holidays left, and I'd like to get out and do some fun stuff with the kids, because we've not done much in the past few days. I took them to the Stone Jetty at Morecambe yesterday afternoon, and that was great. It's funny that some stone benches and platforms can induce so much bounciness and hilarity in three small boys. All we did was walk up and down the jetty, but they had so much fun, it was lovely. My back had had it by the evening, from carrying them from bench to bench in turn, as they pretended to fly through the air, stretched out in various poses such as Superman and Ironman; it started to get very silly very quickly, as Matthew wanted to be carried across as a sheep, then a donkey, then a piece of cheese, a stick, and so on. It was very funny.

Productive day today? Nope. Had the morning all to myself, and spent it reading! Didn't even pick up a pen - just waited for Kev and Thomas to go off to golf, then rushed upstairs to snuggle up in the comfy chair in the bay window, in full glorious Spring sunshine, reading the second book of the Twilight Saga. Sad, so very sad. I've become a seventeen-year-old again :) Pah! Well, what's wrong with that, eh? I'm enjoying myself. And as soon as I've finished blogging I will unashamedly get back to my book, ner ner ne ner ner!
(I'm actually looking forward to finishing this little series of books so that I can get back to normal, and stop thinking about beautiful vampires!)

Well, I've nothing left to ramble about right now. So I'll be off. (Sometimes I wish I knew how to spell certain sounds so that I could write them in properly - like, how do you spell a whistling sound? Or a tut? Those kinds of spellings would come in handy sometimes, you know?)


Thursday, 8 April 2010

Well, what a shocker!

Who would ever have thought it, after I'd railed so vehemently against it, that I would end up loving it afterall?! I did fully expect to dislike Twilight intensely. I'd read some opinions on a few forums, and had planted myself firmly on the side of the nays. I was determined to see Edward Cullen - the devastatingly beautiful love interest of our feisty heroine, Bella - as an abuser, a tyrant, a control freak. But he's not written that way at all. I have to admit that Stephanie Meyer's writing is beautiful, flowing in such a dreamy and silky way. Her heroine is not at all a damsel, but a strong and independent young woman who makes her own choices. Edward is only possessive and jealous in the same way as we all are when we are in love for the first time - there's nothing sinister about it: which is bizarre, because he's a vampire! It's a beautifully written love story, and I'm completely engrossed in it. The romancy bits are thrilling, but my favourite parts are the conversations that Bella and Edward have. They are very often funny, but always natural. I think that Stephanie Meyer must always have been a great watcher of people; she seems to have a good eye for the subtleties of human emotion and expression.
I've just glanced at the book in front of me, and laughed as I noticed that it says 'Now a Major Motion Picture' - I didn't realise that anyone still called films Motion Pictures. Ha.

Anyway, I don't really feel like writing about anything else this evening. I'm just too eager to get back to my book, get it finished, and get on to the second part. I'll have to get into town to get the last two books soon, as it's not going to take me long to get through them!

Tomorrow I'm being given a morning off :) Kev is off, and he just asked if I'd like to be alone for a few hours. Would I??! James and Matthew are at playschool, and Kev is going to take Thomas out for a bit of golfing practise. Lovely. The house to myself, while I wait in for the washing machine engineer - I shall get to do a bit of writing, in proper peace. D'you know, I might even make a morning of it, and get myself some chocolate too!

Night :)

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Catching up.

Ahhhhhh. Lovely. Two children at nursery, one sitting on the sofa with a big pad of drawing paper and large supply of freshly sharpened pencils, a cup of tea within easy reach, a fully charged laptop and novel-writing equipment at the ready. Perfect. I've missed this - just sitting in peace and quiet (I say peace and quiet, I'm tuning out the sound of 'Dogtanian and the Muskehounds' on the TV - but it's nice to be busy working alongside Thomas all the same). It seems like I haven't blogged, or worked on my book for such a long time - it's been a whole week since I wrote anything of length. I do like to do different things from time to time, but it's good to get back into my routine of mumming and writing.

This weekend was great - Go Ape was very good. It was a shame that the difficult section of the course had been taken out - those were the bits I had been looking forward to - I was going to challenge
myself to take the hardest routes. But it was still lots of fun, and we have many, many photos and videos. The video clip I love the best is the one of me on the Tarzan Swing, and the scream that comes out of my mouth completely involuntarily is very funny! It's so loud! I had no idea that I could scream like that.
The party in the evening was nice too - not going to dwell on that too much though, as I drank two full bottles of wine and can't remember everything. I did say when I gave up drinking that I would drink at the Beer Festival, and on my birthday. No shame - everyone's had nights when they've made a prat of themselves. It's in the past now, and I'm moving on! :) One very positive thing to come from such a terrible hangover is that I'm definitely sure that giving up drinking is the right thing to do - I don't want to drink anymore, it's just stupid.

I was completely ruined on my birthday, on Monday - I was not expecting the most amazing present that Kev got me. My very own electric guitar?? Oh yes, my very own. It's just beautiful, and sounds so nice. I'm really not very good at all yet, but it does take rather a long time to become a maestro! I can play about ten chords, and my changes are getting a little faster now. But I still can't change between two chords without looking - oh, yes, I can change between an Aminor and an E without looking, but that's probably the easiest. I asked Noomski what sort of things he could play at the end of his first year, and he showed me some basic chord changes. I was pretty encouraged by that, as it didn't sound too fast or too complicated. But I'm enjoying playing the guitar a lot - it's much easier to pick up than the piano. It takes years to be able to sound impressive on the piano, but the guitar can sound impressive very quickly. Or maybe I'm easily impressed! Well, whatever. I love it. But I have no aspirations to fame and fortune with the guitar, ha ha - no, don't even want to be in a little band. I just play it for me. It's wonderful to have my own now.

Well, that was our weekend. Well, actually, we packed in quite a bit more as well - a trip to Barton Grange garden centre to see some birds of prey (that was actually very disappointing, as the bird handlers were very disorganised and seemed to be annoyed that there were so many people there to see their birds!). And yesterday we took the boys out to the park for a well-deserved Run Around. We took bikes, a frizbee, the stomp rocket and a football. We climbed trees (Noomski and I had been missing the heights, had to get up a tree and feel the wind in our hair again!), rolled around on the grass getting muddy, and breathed the fresh air in very deeply. It was very refreshing. I should try to remember to get out in the fresh air every day if the kiddies are going crazy over these holidays - we stay in the house too much. It's always the same at this time of year - we stay in a bit in the winter, and get a bit fat and lazy, and forget that there's air and exercise to be had.

The sun's out, it's warming up, and I'm feeling very alive today. Happy Wednesday everyone!

Friday, 2 April 2010

Ready now.

All ready for Go Ape in the morning :D :D :D :D :D I'm so excited, I could wee! I don't know if I'll get much sleep tonight. I think I've managed to stop worrying about whether we'll make it to Grizedale Forest on time - I'm making everyone get up half an hour earlier than I originally said, just to make sure, ha ha! I'll be up at 5am, which is why I'm going to sleep in a minute. Well, I'm going to lie down and close my eyes anyway :)

Ooooh, this time tomorrow I will be chatting with my new best buddies about the leaping and crawling and climbing and balancing and swinging that we did. If you've never done Go Ape, I would whole-heartedly recommend it. It's not the absolute scariest extreme-type sport that you can do, but if you don't do this kind of thing usually then you do get a buzzing sense of achievement afterwards. It makes you want to do more exciting stuff. Hell, it makes you want to be Robin Hood and live the rest of your life in the forest! Or, maybe that's just me :)

Just a little post from me today - going to bed now.