Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Lost my words again.

I'm posting today, just because I haven't posted for a few days. I haven't thought of anything nice to write about, because I've lost my words again. It's a strange thing, losing your words. You don't have any warning about it, you just wake up one morning and they're not there. You know they're around somewhere, but they're just out of sight - as if there's a big boulder right before your eyes, and you know they're hiding behind it, but you can see them and you can't see the boulder either. It's all invisible. But I find that I'm getting them back again quicker now that I know what to do about it. When I used to lose my words I would just spend a lot of time watching telly or doing nothing in particular, waiting for them to come back. But they always took a very long time to come back that way, and I would feel guilty for having spent so many days/weeks achieving absolutely nothing. Now I know that the only really proper way of finding them again is to get looking, and by that I mean that you have to just write something down. It's probably a right lot of crap that you're going to write, but it doesn't matter because it gets all the crap out of the front of your mind, and makes way for the words that got lost. That's what I have to do anyway - other people have different ways of getting over a word-drought.

I'm finding that I'm repeating myself all over the place at the moment, and that often leads to the words retreating to a secret hideaway pretty sharpish. I've got several places to write about myself, you see. I have a diary for writing in by hand, I have this blog, and I have a Book of Ahievements (in which I write about something good that I've done every day). And I have a penpal too, and I write pretty long letters to her - all about ME! So writing about myself can get a bit repetitive at times, especially if I'm not up to much. And now, Noomski and my mum have given me a challenge. We each have a beautiful, new, dinky little Moleskine Japanese concertina notebook. Noomski has to draw on every page of his, my mum has to write a poem, and I have to write prose. Getting the ideas is the hard part. I think their tasks are less challenging than mine, because they will find it easier to be interesting - though perhaps the execution of the idea will be more difficult for them, and involve more skill. But what am I going to write about?? I really have no idea. I have decided on something to write about three times, but have ended up dismissing each topic on the grounds that it was very dull. I thought about finding out about something new that I'd never thought of before, and writing about that. But that would end up being a quick search on Wikipedia once a day, and a quick copying down of random bits of information that would not stick in my head anyway. That wouldn't really be learning, just regurgitating. So, I think it's going to have to be to do with observation - I need to find something around me to write about. Perhaps I could choose a subject, and make up a backstory for it. I could sit in town, and watch one person for ten minutes (if they would keep still long enough - or I might have to follow them; but then I might get arrested for stalking!). Then I could give them a family (not no family at all), an occupation, something sensational that they do that is completely removed from reality perhaps. And I could do a little sketch of them, or a little doodle of what that person made me feel like for that ten minutes. I know I'm not the one doing the drawing, but this challenge is about creating a beautiful book. To me a beautiful book is full of words! But perhaps it would be enhanced by a bit of colour.

I haven't got a word block as far as my novel is concerned. That's coming along nicely. I wrote a chapter last week, and am well on the way with the next one. I should be able to finish it now that I've actually got a fully fleshed out synopsis, and an ending. I've got lots of characters that I care about, and I've got lots of ideas for scenes. It's amazing what a little book like Novelist's Boot Camp can do! What a splendid book that is - I'm so very pleased that I bought it. I just wished I'd read it last year. I could have had a finished manuscript by now. But no matter really - I'm doing it now, and that's the main thing. Todd A. Stone, the author of the Boot Camp, is very inspiring, and very, very funny. I laugh out loud a lot when I'm reading his drill instructions - he keeps telling me to get down and do some push-ups, and I do! He tells me to go and make a character list, so I do. He tells me to write a synopsis, using this, this, this and this to achieve the objective, so I do. I like his no nonsense approach - stop whingeing and snivelling, do not sit about being airy-fairy, get on with it and do push-ups. It's ace! No-one gets a book written by mooching around and day-dreaming. People get books written by writing down words. D'uh!

Ah, I feel refreshed now. I found a few words :) Now to get on with Chapter Five!

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Two things I love, unashamedly.

I love films. I don't like my kids to watch too much telly, but when they ask to watch a DVD I find it difficult to say no at times, because I want to watch as well. I think I'm a bit more naive about films than most people. I'm not very good at reading them or analysing them. I just take them as they are, and either like them, or don't. I was never very good at my Media Studies A-Level - I always became too attached to characters or stories to view them objectively. I could never break a film down into its component parts and analyse them separately - and that's not what we're supposed to do with them, is it? Aren't we just supposed to watch them and enjoy them? Noomski watches even more films than I do, and he's very often known to say '... that was the best film I have EVER seen'. He's said it many times, and it raises an amused smile from Kev and I whenever he says it. But Noomski and I are the same in that way. We LOVE a film when we're watching it, in a way that's still very childlike I think. I can't speak for Noomski here, but when I'm watching a film I truly do believe that what I'm watching is truth, playing out before my very eyes. I have been given the gift of a teleportation machine, and have been transported in a sort of glass elevator, to a time/place/planet where something strange and unusual, or just lovely, is taking place, and I am able to watch it in intimate detail without the characters knowing that I'm there. I'm not ashamed to love big blockbusters. Avatar was just beautiful. I was stunned, and was in love with Sam Worthington for quite some time after I'd seen that film (I did see it three times!). Last night Kev and I saw Alice in Wonderland, and it was excellent. Kev was able to criticise a couple of things, that I just didn't see. I'm so naive! But I'm glad about that. I like that I just don't see bad points in a film like the critics do. I'd never be any good as a film maker, because I'd just be constantly blown away by the wonder of it all, especially with today's technology. Did anyone see the amazing camera that James Cameron invented for Avatar? He was able to point this camera anywhere on the blue screen set and the actors were able to see, on a little screen, what the background was, and what they looked like in their blue skins. Astounding! It allowed the actors to visualise more clearly what they were working with, and what they should be imagining. That was probably of the utmost importance on a film like Avatar because the setting was really one of the characters, and not just an afterthought that was added when the filming was all done.
Anyway, I digress somewhat! Films are one of my biggest vices, and I have absolutely no qualms about watching some of my favourites over and over again. I take full advantage of my children's inability to argue when they are properly poorly, and I will usually put one of my favourite films on for us to watch when we're all snuggled up on the couch with fevers. That might be anything Jane Austeny, or something of an eighties or nineties romantic comedy, or something cheesy like Karate Kid! I love a lot of films that many people wouldn't admit to owning, too many to list. But our rather large DVD collection is not hidden, it's proudly displayed for all who visit to see :) If we had vast amounts of time at our disposal I would probably watch many more films than I do, but at times I do feel guilty for watching them and feel that I should be doing something more productive. But then relaxing is productive as well isn't it? Of course.

The other thing I love, is ... being away from my children :) Oh yes. I love it. I was thinking about it last night, because the boys were sleeping over at my mum's. We will be collecting them a bit later on. But I don't ever feel guilty for being happy to be away from them. Of course, I'm not a completely cold and heartless mother! I'm as happy to see them again after they've been off with someone else, as I am to say goodbye to them. But there's something very precious to me about time alone - quiet time, time to not be needed, time to think in silence, time to leave the house without having to put lots of coats and shoes on little people, time to jump in the car and just set off without having to strap little ones in, time to take my time eating a meal or drinking a cup of tea without being interrupted to mop up spills or pour extra juice, time to work on my writing, time to be. It's just blissful to be on my own, and is one of my favourite things in the world. I try to steal bits of time to myself as often as possible - and it's important to be able to do this, because it's so restorative. I have Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings alone, when James and Matthew are at nursery, and Thomas is at school of course. I write in those mornings, and it's as though, even though I'm very busy and am never just relaxing (and absolutely NEVER do housework in that time - what a waste that would be!!!), I'm recharging, and I'm being allowed to be me. I'm very, very lucky to have that time, I know. But I have to make the most of it, because in two and a bit years, when Matthew goes to school, it's very likely that I will have to go back to work (or Uni, if midwifery is the way!) - hardly anyone makes a living at writing, so I have to expect that I won't.
I went away for a weekend last November, to visit my beloved University town of Aberystwyth. I went with my friend Eleri, who had 'studied' Drama with me. We had a beautiful weekend of reminiscences. We spent two days walking around the town, taking photos and just remembering. It was sad, but lovely. But I barely thought about my children for the whole three days! Of course, I talked about them - Eleri was interested and asked lots about them. But it never occurred to me to spend any time missing them, or dwelling on thoughts of them. I was in Aberystwyth to remember the time I had ten years ago - it was a weekend about the me that I was when I was 19/20/21/22.
I'm going to Barbados for Noomski and Jessica's wedding in October - Kev and the boys are not going because we can't afford for us all to go. Will I miss my boys? Well, I will miss them in the sense that I will think of them fondly while I'm away, he he! But I will not spend time under a palm tree crying and pining! I will be enjoying my time, and making the most of being afforded the most excellent opportunity of being Linda, not Mummy for a week!
And the year after I may well go on a writing retreat for a week - same goes for that. (Kev's allowed a week off if he wants one, any time: he just hasn't requested one yet!) I will enoy myself immensely and not feel guilty for abandoning my children at all. I'm proud to be selfish - no-one's going to offer me precious time alone, so I have to ask for it. I do believe it's allowed, for mums to enjoy being without their children, and to admit that they'd like to be away from them from time to time. Yes, I know that I signed up for a life of being constantly needed and bombarded with questions - and I do LOVE it (of course, being with my children is another thing that I do love very much - but I think that goes without saying), but it doesn't have to be the only thing I do. I'm not just a 'Primary Carer', I'm many, many other things as well. I just can't properly describe how lovely it is right now not to have to make breakfast for three messy little boys - it's just divine. Mmm, simple pleasures, eh? :)

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Wha? Hmm? Random.

Brrrl ... fribble ... woooo-woooo ... wassa ... he he!

*Slaps self in face*

Sorry about that, phew! I'm fine now. Just had to pull myself together, as I had temporarily gone a little bit mad, on account of being buried under piles of junk and rubbish and dust bunnies all day. Isn't it a strange thing that we become blinded to just how much squalor we are living in? Up until this afternoon I'd been thinking that my house was pretty messy, but that I'd get rid of some toys and do some dusting and it'd be alright in a couple of days.

Oh no.

It's much worse.

I'm sure I'm not the first person to move some bits of offending clutter, only to discover that it was put there in the first place to hide the bigger pile of clutter that got shoved behind the couch/under the bed/in the corner of the room. *Sigh* Methinks it is going to take me rather longer than I estimated to sort out this dump of a house. What it could really do with is a fresh coat of paint in every room - but I just couldn't be bothered right now! I just wish we'd never bought anything, at all, ever. I wish we'd kept the house empty, so that all I would ever have to do is hoover and polish. I've been drowning in the clutter today. But at least I've made a start, and like most horrible tasks that we don't like to face, the situation always gets worse before it gets better - doesn't it? Doesn't it??

Anyway - I'm switching off from the decluttering now. I don't do anything resembling housework in the evenings. Once the kids have gone to bed it's my time, and I do whatever I want with it. I always intend to work on my writing. I usually put the telly and computer on and waste the evening dividing my attention between the two. Useless! But I don't feel guilty relaxing in the evenings anymore because I'm very lucky to have three full mornings a week to do the writing.

This evening I'm relaxing because I've got Matthew with me. He's been poorly again today, and is just cooling down from a fever. Calpol is marvellous stuff. He had a sleep at tea time and is wide AWAKE now. When he gets drowsy again he's going back to his own bed. He's only teething though, just getting his last four baby teeth - they're killers. I thought he had mumps before, and then remembered that I'd thought that when Thomas got his. Big puffy red cheeks, high temperature, swollen tongue!

Oh, hang on ...

We interrupt this blogcast for a special announcement:
Could Linda please go to the boys' bedroom and clean up the lake of sick that has just burst forth from James?!

Right, done that. Looks like I won't be having a writing morning tomorrow afterall! James cannot go to playschool in the morning because he has just done the most enormous quantity of projectile spew I have ever seen!!! I had to phone Kev to come home from his pub quiz, because we have no washing machine - I've sent him to his mum's with a pile of spew-covered towels, pyjamas and bedsheets :D When I phone Hoover tomorrow to tell them I've had quite enough of them faffing about with my replacement washing machine, I will have some new ammunition!

Ah well. It's now well past my bedtime, but I don't think I'll get much sleep tonight as I'll be listening out in my sleep for a pained cry from Matthew, and a weak little bleat from James indicating that he is about to bring up the last little bit of his tea!

I apologise for the grossness of this post, about squalor, sick and such. But if I were you I would be thankful that I've no photos of the day to show you :D I will now promise not to blog about any more of my children's illnesses!

G'night :)

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Another cleaning post.

Yes, I know, it's not very interesting to write about cleaning, but this is what I've been doing, and what I am going to be doing for a while longer.
Yesterday I cleaned the car - well, it wasn't just me, it was also the fellas at the car cleaning place in town! But I cleaned the inside of the car. I used to see the cars of friends who had children, and feel rather alarmed at being expected to sit on a seat covered in crumbs of goodness-knew-what. I now hang my head in complete and total shame! Until yesterday afternoon our car has been a stinking mess, full of a year's worth of crumbs and grit and sand and sawdust, as well as books and toys and random bits of clothing - but in actual fact I thought it just really needed a bit of a hoover. I took two bin liners out to the car first of all, and did not expect to put much in them - imagine my shock, and absolute horror to find that both bin liners were full up to the top!!! One was filled with rubbish for the bin, and the other was filled with stuff and bits and things that are to be sorted out and put back in their proper places in the house. How did my children manage to sneak so much junk into the car without me noticing?? I thought I was a very vigilant parent, but obviously I am not. *Hangs head in shame*
So, anyway. Junk out of car, hoover into car. Yes, the hoover actually came into the car with me. It is a very big car, and I removed all of the seats, and thus was able to lift the entire Dyson into the car. It still took me three quarters of an hour to hoover the floor. That is disgusting, isn't it? I know. You may wonder why I am telling you something so shameful as this? Well, my hope is that I will be so ashamed that everyone knows how filthy we are to have such a dirty car that I will never let it get in such a state again. (We all know that this is a futile hope, but one must have hope nevertheless!)

Now the car is beautiful again :D Noomski was with me for the day - helping James and Matthew 'wash' the outside of the car, and keeping an eye on them for me. Noomski still thinks that the car is dirty, and I do agree that it needs another hoover already (I know that it's really 'vacuum', but I say 'hoover', so 'hoover' I will write!), but it's much better than it was. I will give it another going over next week. I took it into town to get washed properly on the outside - bless my two littlest boys, they tried their best, but it really was still a streaky mess of dried on bubbly dustiness. I didn't have enough time left to wash it myself before collecting young Thomas from school. But my, my: what a lovely job they do at the little car wash place - what a little gold mine it must be. It's always busy. And for a fiver I don't mind supporting local business and letting them wash my car once every so often.

Isn't it interesting that seeing something clean gives you the motivation to clean more things? I'm looking forward to doing a toy purge tomorrow now, *evil laugh*! I'm going into my boys' bedroom tomorrow morning and I'm not coming out until I've almost emptied it of useless toys!!!!! I've HAD IT! No-one else is going to empty the junk from my house - it's got to be me. And since I'm having a party a week on Saturday, I think the time is nigh for decluttering! The boys have been warned that they are about to lose many, many toys. They have lots of toys that they play with a lot, and that are their absolute favourites, so of course I will not get rid of those. But they know that it's a nice thing to do to donate toys to the hospital, so they're fine with it. We've done this two times now, and they know that the world doesn't end when I give away some bits of plastic that they've never really played with anyway. Unfortunately I will also need to take some things to the tip. I hate the thought of our things having to go in a landfill, but when it's all broken there isn't anything else I can do with it. I will recycle as much as I can though.

So, I suppose we're having a Spring Clean! I've never experienced such a thing in my own house before. I don't know whether that's important or not. I've had Big Tidies before, but never specifically in the Spring.

One more thing to write, completely unrelated to cleaning: my dad found my Premium Bond certificate! It was in his loft, as I thought it was, and I'm going to collect it later and check it on the website. What if my numbers won lots of money twenty five years ago?!!! That would be a nice surprise :) The bonds are still registered to our old, old address and I never updated them. It's not likely that I've won anything, but it's nice to dream while I'm still ignorant :)

Hey ho, another lovely rainy day. I'm sitting all snuggled up in the bay window in my bedroom, and am going to write half a chapter of my book now.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Oh, I'm excited now :D

Eeeeeeeh! I collected the last payments for my birthday activity this morning, and rushed straight home to book it. I'm so excited, and we only have to wait eleven more days for it :D Me, and seven friends (and family) are going to Go Ape at Grizedale Forest. Oooooh, it's going to be great. I've done it before, and a couple of our party have too. But it was such an awesome, awesome experience that I wanted to share it with Kev, and with Noomski (and with Jessica, who is Noomski's fiancee) - they haven't done it before. I tell you, when I did the Buxton course on my friend's hen weekend I did want to live in the trees for the rest of my life :D I've always loved forests, trees, and mountains and such. An ideal place to live, for me, would be a little village in Austria, surrounded by big mountains, with a dense forest nearby where I could go climbing. Oh, heavenly. Then I would learn to ski properly too. Mm-mmm, schnapps, schnitzel, and err ... schnow?

Ooh, ooh! And I just remembered something else from today. Today is let's-do-extreme-ish-type-sports-that-we've-never-done-before-day. Kev went to look at paddles for the two canoes that we have in the back garden. He was given them by someone at work, and they've been sitting in our garden for a few weeks, waiting to be fixed because they have holes in them. He and Noomski are going to fix them up, and make them pretty - Noomski applying his considerable artistic talents to paint them with some splendid designs. So anyway, Kev asked the guy at the canoe shop about a few things. It's a bit of an initial layout for the equipment we would need, but after that it's cheap as owt, and Kev would love it if we could be a canoeing family! The canoe shop man said that we should think about joining Lancaster Canoe Club, because it's very family friendly and they have lots of equipment that we could use. It would be a great place to start, and I think I would love to canoe. I know the boys would love it - not Matthew quite yet: I think a two-and-a-half-year-old would struggle to get the idea, no? So we're going to look into that. I don't know if we can really start canoeing right now, it might have to be something we bear in mind for the future. It would involve calling upon our babysitters quite a bit, since we would be wanting to canoe at weekends presumably. I don't ever like committing myself to things that mean I have to ask someone to babysit regularly, as I feel like I'm being very cheeky. But perhaps Kev could get started right away, and the rest of us could join when Matthew's big enough to take part too. Anyway, it's another exciting thing that we've got to look forward to. I'd rather we went off at the weekends doing fun things together, than spend the afternoons standing by the side of a football pitch and cheering on the boys in all horrible weathers (yes, I know I said that I love rain, but I do not love standing in it for two hours watching a game that I have very little interest in - and I know I should be interested in it if my children are playing, but I think that I would hate it!!! I'm just being honest :D I do enjoy watching England or Liverpool play, but that is usually in the comfort of a nice pub, and I am usually accompanied by some beer!)

I think it's so important to keep doing new things, forever. I hope I don't start to stop doing new things when I reach a certain age. I shouldn't think a person's ever too old to learn, are they? Hope not. When I'm 113 - don't laugh, I told my grandma that I thought I probably had another eighty years to live, and she laughed, but I'm serious!!! - I can see myself finally getting around to finding out more about ornithology or astronomy, or any of the other million and one things that I'd like to know about. We don't have enough time to learn as much as we'd like, but that's no reason to stop learning altogether. We're here for a bit, so we might as well pack life with loads of stuff! Otherwise, what are we here for?

Right, I'm off to sleep now. It's early, but I'm bushed. Did lots of work on my book this morning, so I have earned a nice early night. Mmm, lovely.

Here are some photos: me getting ready for my first (and only, so far) flying lesson; me on a zipwire at Buxton Go Ape; me sporting a lovely harness at Buxton Go Ape.


Sunday, 21 March 2010

Summer rain.

So, what do you think of rain? I really love it. But sometimes I do forget that I love it, and I should remind myself more. I'm thinking of rain at the moment because earlier in the week the weather was kind of glorious for the first time in a long time, but there was one day - can't remember which one - when it felt like there was some pretty low pressure around and that we might get a thunder storm. Now that, I love! I do absolutely wish for thunder storms. I have a memory, that I'm not sure is real and might in actual fact be a memory of a dream, of Noomski and me running across the park with our grandma. It started to hammer it down, and then the thunder started. I was absolutely terrified, but extremely excited at the same time. It was truly awesome. When the rain batters down and soaks you to the skin within seconds, and the wind whips around you and makes your hair stick to your face, and you become so wet that you might as well stop running to get home and just stay out and enjoy the storm, is one of the times when I feel most especially alive.
But we don't get storms much here, do we? I think it's a shame. I don't want anyone to be flooded or anything, but just a good blast of thunder and lightning, and some torrents of rain for ten minutes would be lovely. Last summer I watched the most amazing rain from my dining room. The drops were HUGE, great big pearls of fresh and cold water. I had the patio door open, and although it only rained for about five minutes before the sun came back out, the floor by the door was drenched. I was busy when it rained that time, making tea or something. But a few weeks before it happened I had said to Kev that next time we got a rain storm like that I wanted to go out for a prance about in it. Well, I missed that one, and thought that I might have to wait another year for the next one. But lo! We were treated to another a few weeks later, and even though I was making tea again, I abandoned it and legged it out the back door and had a good dance about in the pouring rain. It was glorious. Thomas and James couldn't resist joining me, and we ran about the garden like crazy people, whooping and laughing. It was just delicious. I did fancy stripping off and doing it properly, but I thought I saw a few curtains twitching so didn't try it! Maybe if we get a storm when it's dark ;)
I'm always a bit disappointed when we pick Thomas up from school and the rain stops! I'm not much of a fan of walking to school and back in the pouring rain, it gets perishing cold, especially for Matthew in the pram. But I do like when we drive to school and it starts to rain heavily as we get there. Sometimes it stops just long enough for us to collect Thomas, but sometimes it starts just as he comes out of school, and we all run back to the car screaming with laughter. It's so funny, I love it. There's something so refreshing about driving home with wet clothes and hair and getting the towels and dry clothes out as soon as we get back. It's all about being alive, and just being so blinkin' happy to be here :) And when the kids go straight into school in the morning because it's pouring I always saunter back across the playground with a big Monday-morning grin on my face, and the other parents must think I'm a right nutter, he he! I just wish I was brave enough to splash in the puddles like James and Matthew.

I have no pictures of rain. Hmmm. What can I show you today? I've only got snow pictures, but that's not right. Oh, I might have one or two from a couple of summers ago - hang on. I'll be right back.

No, the internet is not playing today, and photos are taking a ridiculously long time to upload - so, for the first time, no photos in my post!!! I'm so sorry, please forgive me. I'll post a few tomorrow :)

Night all.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

All better now :)

Ah, *deep contented sigh*, that's better. I've fixed myself properly now. I had a bit of a malfunction on Thursday, but yesterday I took charge. I took myself into town in the morning, when all the boys were at their places of education, and had a tiny bit of retail therapy. All necessary - it actually wasn't procrastination (for once!). I bought a book of squared paper to help Thomas with his maths (Parents' Evening on Thursday - was very, very good and positive; Mrs Powell is wonderful and sensible and has nothing but sympathy for Thomas's struggle with maths. We have made good plans to help him, and Mrs P is very supportive). And I bought an Encyclopedia of Spirits. Yes, I have. An Encyclopedia of Spirits, you did read correctly. It's research, for my book :) I'm writing about faeries, elves and such (Tolkien-type elves, not Disney ones!), and have been noticing huge gaps in my knowledge of folklore and mythology. This is the book I've been looking for. It will hopefully give me a wealth of ideas for characters and little sub plots. I've been working on basing my story in faerie 'fact', if you will. It would have probably been easier to completely invent my own world and history and language, so that a reader couldn't question it too much. But that's not what I wanted to do. I wanted to explore centuries-old supertitions and beliefs, and give them a link to the present. My kids believe in faeries, and so do I ;) The story is about what's been going on in the faerie world since most people stopped believing in them. There's not a right lot written about faeries though - other than passing comments or stories in history books - so it's been difficult to find out what people did actually believe a couple of centuries ago. This encyclopedia seems to be the missing link for me. I have high hopes that it can give credence to my story (yes, I do know that faeries are not actually real - I just want people to be able to get lost in the world I create while they're reading, and not find that things jar and bring them out of the book).

So, I took myself to Starbucks after the trip to Waterstone's. I got stuck into the writing-of-the-book for a couple of joyous hours. It was very productive. I did some brainstorming for a bit, and then started a new chapter. My story is getting nice and big and complex now :D Just what I wanted.

But what a difference a day makes, eh? It's a true sentiment, that. I was proper miserable on Thursday, but yesterday I woke up looking at the world from a different angle completely. It was weird to lose control of myself the other day, but I don't feel bad about it at all - I'm looking back on it now with interest. I can see what it was about and can file the rubbish away, just keep it in the reference section for use when I need to identify negative thoughts next time. Hopefully I won't need to use more than one filing cabinet for negative stuff. I'm going to need a bigger mind-office as it is to accommodate all the positive and floaty flowery thoughts I have!! (Blurgh - pass me the sick bucket!)

Oh, I also bought a Buddhist book called The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh. It's a guide to meditation, and is about slowing down time and enjoying every second. All good. I started it yesterday, and it's excellent. I've been paying attention to my breathing today, and I'm not very good at it yet, but I can already see what an amazing thing meditation is. The whole thing is still rather bizarre to me, but I like it, and I'm going to stick with it for a while and see what happens. (I do hope I'm not getting preachy with the Buddhism - I'm not expecting anyone else to try it, but it's in my life right now, so ignoring it in my writing would be odd. Try it, or don't: it's up to you!)

Oh, one more thing - Sport Relief was last night. Now, those videos of suffering children put the whole world in perspective, don't they? Makes me see even more clearly that I have no right to be unhappy, and that I must always be grateful to be alive because nothing in my life will ever be as bad as it is for millions of people in the rest of the world.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

A test (and a waffly post!).

This is what I looked like this morning - no wonder my kids got dressed superfast and behaved themselves before school!

Being a person who reads some things about Buddhism from time to time (I don't really like to call myself a Buddhist, because it feels like stealing: stealing a label that doesn't really belong to me!), and tries to live in a fulfilling and productive and happy way every day, if possible, I was shocked to find that I did not feel HAPPY today! It was a strange feeling. I haven't felt it for a long time. I used to feel depressed in my late teens and early twenties, as pretty much everyone does at those ages when we think we are the centre of the universe and that we know everything, but yet when we are presented with evidence of our own ignorance we think that the world has turned upside-down and that we are worthless and useless and all that rubbish! Having my babies made me realise how fantastic the world is, how I'm lucky to be alive in it, how worthwhile I am, how life can be testing but that it's up to me to do good things with it. I've known how to be happy, and how to look for something good in every day for a long time now - for the last few years it's felt to me as if I've known the secret, you know, the secret that everyone's looking for, the one about the purpose of life? I've known about it for a while, and then I read the Dalai Lama's words about the purpose of life being to pursue happiness and that just confirmed it! That is the whole point of being alive - to pursue happiness, and to spread it around, and to help other people to find it. I haven't had a day in which I didn't feel happy for months, years perhaps. (Some might say that it's easy to be happy when you don't have to work - they might be right about that, I don't know, I'm not getting into it! I love my 'job' and I'm not going to feel guilty about it!)

So what happened today? Well, I had to analyse it a bit, and I've been ruminating on it all day, but I think I've had a breakthrough. I know what this Buddhism lark is all about. I needed a bad day to work it out properly. Being a Buddhist isn't just about being blissfully happy every minute of every day, and floating about on a euphoric cloud of joy and laughter! It's about life lessons, and about learning how to deal with bad days and bad things. It's about learning to not feel guilty for silly reasons, and accepting that even though I might not have had a productive day today I can start again tomorrow. It doesn't really matter what made me feel down today; what's more important is that I identified what the negative feelings were and faced them and decided how to work through them. And that's something I've never really consciously thought about before. I've always let myself feel guilty about having wasted days, and then gone on to have more of them because I'm not dealing with the problem that's making me feel worthless.

I felt down today because I was tired! Simple as that really. Tiredness was the root of it. I know, it's pathetic! I was feeling sorry for myself because I was tired, and thus I've achieved virtually nothing for a fortnight. Time is of the essence for me - I need to be producing good work now if I want to be able to write full time when all of my kiddies have gone to school. So when I spend a fortnight being poorly and looking after poorly kids I feel guilty for not writing! Bloody stupid, I know. There's not a lot you can do when your family's ill! (Then I realised that I've been eating chocolate like it's going out of fashion this week! So that made me feel guilty too.) Guilt makes me tired! Chocolate makes me tired, more guilt makes me tired, not smiling makes me tired. Being tired annoys me.
So this afternoon I realised why I was snapping at the boys, and why I was walking round with a scowl stapled to my forehead - it's because I haven't written a word on my book for a fortnight because I've been tired. It's not to do with being poorly - we've been poorly on and off for the whole of this winter, and I've still smiled every day! No, it's to do with not writing. I think that I must have become addicted to writing, and not doing it gives me withdrawal symptoms of a sort.

Once I'd identified today's negative feelings it was ace! It was as if the mystery was solved, and the credits rolled and we went to the ad break before the start of the next programme :) My little head-voice sort of went 'oh right, we've just been feeling guilty for not doing any work. Oh well, we can soon sort that out.' I still haven't done any work, ha! But I am now looking forward to tomorrow morning, when I will be able to spread all my work out infront of me and just blummin well get on with it! It will be a joyous three and a half hours and I will have produced some good stuff by the end of it, and I will be HAPPY!!! I am happy again now though, knowing that I'm back on track. Crisis averted. Guilt is rubbish, and counter-productive, so I'm banning it. Instead of feeling guilty when I don't work I just need to get on with the work! What's the point in wasting precious energy beating myself up and being miserable when I could use it to write a couple of pages?

So, not a particularly bad day by most people's standards, ha ha! But it was useful to me. It allowed me to test out my Buddhism, to see if I could drag myself out of a low patch and come up smiling. :D!!! It was very easy, but then it wasn't really actually a proper bad day. I'd like to say that it'd be interesting to see how I cope with a really Bad Day - but I don't really want to wish bad stuff on myself! Which brings me to the question - do I have an easy life, or am I just lucky to have good coping mechanisms? I have no idea!

Hmm. Sorry for the waffly post, rambling away as if no-one's reading, treating this blog like it's a proper diary! I will find something beautiful and fun to write about tomorrow, promise :D

Monday, 15 March 2010

Planting seeds ...

This is our garden, looking messy. It isn't messy now though, because I tidied it. Now it's looking lovely.

It's surprising to me that planting seeds is one of the few things that I don't feel the need to do 'properly'. By that, I mean that I don't have any little OCDs about it. I don't actually have OCD, of course, but like many perfectly sane people, I do have little quirks and rituals that accompany many of the things I do day to day. For example, I like the washing to be folded neatly, and for every item to be turned over in exactly the right ways - this obsession has its roots in practicality: clothes have less creases when they are taken from the pile to be worn if they have been folded correctly in the first place. Another one of my 'things' is that I can only have the volume on the telly adjusted to a multiple of two or five; so for example, I might turn it up to 22, 35, 40, but never 31, 27 - those odd numbers are just too untidy, and I know that they're there, so my viewing is disturbed if I know the volume is on 33 etc.. I don't know where the roots of this one are, it's just something I do!
Anyway, I was saying about seeds. I'm not like this with seeds, and I'm not sure why. My dad bought bedding plants last year, many of them. They arrived from a site on the internet, all tiny little plugs in tiny little trays. He lovingly transplanted them into small pots, labelled them, lined them up in species and colour order, in full view of the sunshine, just inside his patio doors. He watered them, tended them, watched them, waited with them, until they were ready to go outside. Then he repeated the process of transplanting, into the carefully prepared bed in his back garden. There were the little plants, all in neat rows, every one equidistant from its neighbours. He weeded, watered, watched and waited again. And he was rewarded with a feast of colour and perfume, when his carefully cultivated meadow flowers bloomed spectacularly. He planted these flowers specifically to attract butterflies and lacewings and ladybirds, and attract them he did. A victory for the aphid-eaters!
I look at my dad's regimented rows of splendid green shoots, and I am filled with a jealous longing. I want to have tiny little pots with little plant plugs in them in my dining room, all looking out of the patio doors, waiting to be allowed to play in the borders in the sun and fresh air. But it cannot be. My boys would not mean to crush the shoots, but crush them they would. It would be impossible to keep them safe in our house, there is just not enough room for them. But we do our best. We did our little bit of planting yesterday. I have a new seed box in which I keep all my packets of seeds, all in the correct order so that I can see what needs to be planted in which month. This is the only OCD bit of the process. Once the seeds leave the box, order plays no part. Compost is chucked into pots, willy-nilly. I have not sorted out my pots. I have only large pots - pots far too big for germinating. But I use what I have because I always forget to prepare properly and never remember to buy seed trays. I could wait until the next weekend, and buy the seed trays during the week - but I just don't. Once I've decided that I'm doing the seeds, then the seeds just have to be done. So, the compost is in the pots. There's also quite a lot of compost on the table, on the patio, on the soles of shoes, being walked into the house. But the boys are having fun and getting messy, and at this stage of our lives this is what it's all about. Then the seed packets are opened. Many of the seeds are spilled onto the floor and then blown who-knows-where about the garden. The birds will enjoy them. But we still have plenty of seeds for planting. I have a dibber, but since I don't have seed trays I figure that there's not much point in using it; I'll get it out next year when I do have seed trays. Instead we just sprinkle a generous handful of seeds on top of the compost in each pot. We know that there is very little hope of producing good and healthy plants this way, but this is what we do. Then we cover up the seeds with another layer of compost, squash it down, water in and that's it. That is our planting of seeds. It takes about ten minutes. This we do most years, in exactly this way. Have I ever grown anything by this method? No. I have not. I did grow some tomato plants once, in grow bags - they were looking great, right up until the point when they had to be moved because we were getting a new shed and they were in the way: then they died.
I'm not a gardener, but I have a go. My garden is a lovely place to be. It has lovely borders (although I've just pruned several shrubs to almost the point of death!), and I do take care of them in Summer. But all of my plants are very hardy and all I really have to do is weed. But I LOVE it, I really do, and isn't that the most important part? I think I could probably experiment with a few plants that are more difficult to grow - I have common sense when it comes to gardening, and know a few things and am interested enough to learn more. But I'm just not quite committed enough at the moment, with so many other things that I want to be doing. But I will try harder. I WILL buy seed trays, and I will germinate and transplant and do all of those things properly one year. Just not this year :)

Saturday, 13 March 2010

That was a super day.

It was. A jam-packed day today. I thought it might end up being one of those days in which all I did was make lunch, wash up and then make tea, and then wash up. But it was not at all. It was an in-the-garden day, very much so. Kev and Thomas and James made a fence panel, a very stylish one to replace the evil one that kept getting blown out in high winds. The new one is so beautiful - and absolutely does not match the rest - that Kev will now have to make nine new ones. Ha! I gave the garden its Spring clean in the afternoon. That was very refreshing. It blinkin' needed it. I threw away all of the broken toys that had been taking up space and making the garden look like a landfill for the past couple of years, and gave the patio a good sweep. Our pebble dashing is falling off so our patio is always covered in teeny stones. Hopefully the weather will be good tomorrow because I want to weed the borders and do some mulching! I'm quite excited about that because I have never mulched in my life!!! I don't really know what mulching is, but my dad says that it might be a good idea, so I'll give it a go :D Then we're READY for SPRING!!!! That is an exciting thought :)
So it was a day of grafting today. I love those days. The boys pitch in and help when they feel like it, or just go off and play if they don't. Kev and I do whatever, and then meet up for a cup of tea on the patio from time to time and watch the boys swinging dangerously from the climbing frame, or battering each other with giant foam pirate swords. It's great. And have you noticed that at this time of year it's actually warmer outside than it is inside? Get your jumper on (I donned a scarf as well), get outside and do some stuff - saves on heating bills! I love it when we can get out in the garden, and say sod off to the mess in the house for a while :D

A couple of weeks ago we bought five little ovenproof dishes with lids (two of them a bit
bigger), one each for all of us. I thought it would be a very good idea to get the boys cooking - I'm copying 'I Can Cook' on CBeebies here, totally - and knew that they would be more likely to eat all of their tea without whingeing if they had made it themselves. So I found a recipe for posh lasagne, had a lovely shopping trip with Matthew and Thomas to get the ingredients, and had a super successful tea. We all gathered around the dining table, and infront of each little boy I put an ovenproof dish, a plate with non-liquidy ingredients, and bowls with liquidy ingredients. Then Kev and I explained what to do as we went along. It was fantastic. The boys concentrated beautifully.
They were very tidy, and assembled their dishes very carefully and lovingly. The lasagne has tinned tomatoes, lovely pasta sheets, ripped up mozzarella, squidged ricotta, fresh basil leaves, fresh peppers, ripped up ham, and teeny sprinkles of salt and pepper. Oh, and a little drizzle of olive oil on top. And did they eat it?? Oh yes, they loved it. Matthew wolfed his down, and barely said a word - though this is normal for Matthew, he often doesn't talk because he's so busy stuffing his face! James ate it quite slowly, savouring, and looking lovingly at his masterpiece, and saying 'ohhh, this is good'. Thomas was a little less enthusiastic, but did do very well. He hates ham, and even if he's made the food himself he cannot bring himself to eat it, but he tries. So. Next week we are going to try a fish dish with the hugely successful ovenware! They love fish, so it should be grand.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Chicken soup

I've been very wobbly today on account of not getting my appetite back. Tt, it's annoying that a daft little chest infection can make a person so ill. But ohhhhhhhh - yum, yum! Kev, who has been off work for a few days to look after me and the boys, has just made me some proper chicken soup! How lucky am I? First of all, very lucky that he could take time off at all, and secondly, Very lucky to be given this gift of the most splendid chicken soup I have ever eaten, I can tell you. We had a roast chicken yesterday, with veggies and proper gravy (he's been looking after us super, super well!), and he boiled up the carcass this morning and turned the stock into this amazing soup. I just can't do this beautiful broth justice in words, it was truly heavenly. It was creamy, it was herby, it was chickeny, it was salt and peppery, it was soothing and delectable. It didn't have any unnecessary vegetables in it, no need for carrots and other things that would ruin it; just slurpy and succulent deliciousness. There's a little bit left, so I might finish it off!
What is it about chicken soup that is so healing? It's famously good for the soul, and many say that it's good for colds and such. Chicken soup is made all over the world in differing forms, so there must be something in it. Protein? I don't know whether it actually does make a person well, but it certainly makes my soul feel loved. Never again will I throw the chicken bones in the bin, until they have been boiled and have given up all of their flavour. Mmmmm.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Ahh, that's better :)

*Takes deep (ish) breath in, coughs a bit, breathes in again carefully*. Ah, that is better. It's wonderful waking up to find that you're not ill any more. I do not write when I am ill, anywhere, not even with a pen and paper; which is why I haven't been in cyber-contact for a few days. I've only had bronchitis, and am still getting over it, *cough, cough, wheeze*. But I'm feeling much better today because my fever has gone. And I'm looking forward to doing some stuff, such as eating a whole meal, going outside in the garden for some fresh air with the boys, reading some picture books, and just doing some laughing and tickling probably. Life is good again, so I won't dwell on the rubbish few days we've just had. Waste of time :) The sunshine is streaming in through my window, the heating is not on and I still feel warm enough - Spring is certainly here in Lancaster, and I feel refreshed. I am so incredibly glad and grateful that sicky bugs, bronchitis and colds are all we ever have to deal with - I can't imagine how I would cope if I had something much more serious to contend with, as several people I know have these past few years. Those people are amazing, and I have so much respect and awe for them.

I am looking forward to Monday now - I love Monday mornings, freak that I am. It'll be good to start a new week, healthy and full of energy. Thomas has been poorly again too, with a nasty bug - has spoiled that 100% attendance record we were aiming for at school, but never mind, there's always next year. But it'll be great for him to get back on his bike to get to school (he doesn't ride it all the way to school on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays as we don't have time because we have to take James and Matthew to nursery first; he rides it from the car to school, but quite rightly, because any mileage at all on that awesome bike that is an extension of his person is better than nothing!). I bet it'll rain though, ha! But I don't mind - I could quite fancy a dance about in a good downpour right now.

No photos of us today, because I don't tend to take pictures of us lying about watching telly for hours on end, looking like zombies. So here is a picture of the sky, as it was a few nights ago, taken from our back bedroom window.

I wrote an email to Lancaster Guardian today. I asked them if they would like to publish my blog. Crikey. I'm a bit nervous. Partly nervous that they might say no - but perhaps more nervous that they might say yes! That would actually be classed as being published, I think. I could certainly put it on my C.V.. Well, we'll see.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Stuff and things, and that.

D'you know, I just don't know what I'm going to write today. I know that I've only been blogging here for a little while, but most days I've just known what I wanted to write about. Today I do not.
I should really be working on my book. I like working on my book. But it's very hard work - especially when you're doing typing up and are distracted by thoughts of Facebook updates every few minutes. Facebook might be the route of all evil actually, in terms of stopping me from getting my book written. I'm a person of very little will power, and am rubbish at preventing myself from opening a browser and clicking on the Facebook button. I really should exercise a lot more self control. I've managed very well with the not drinking (I drank this weekend, at the beer festival, but I did promise myself that little drinky when I said I was giving up!) - so surely I can manage to keep off Facebook until I've done a good couple of hours of work. I mean, I'm stupid really, because I know that the feeling I get from producing some good pages of writing can buoy me up for days - Facebook can't do that!

So. I think it's time to ban Facebook from my computer - I can only go on it if I've worked on my book for two hours. Anything less than two proper work-filled hours, and Facebook is out of bounds. I wonder if I could set myself a Facebook disabler? Hmmm. Probably not. I can't disable the internet completely, because I often use it to check things on Wikipedia and such as I'm writing. Well, exercises in will power are good. I must just get on with it and stop being pathetic!

On other things: this weekend was the first weekend in a long time when we had Kev's attention for the full two days :D It was very, very nice. He did not get distracted by The Shed, and did not try to build anything or fix anything. He did not go to work (apart from an hour yesterday evening while I was getting the kiddoes ready for bed, but he was back to tuck two of them in - Thomas was already asleep, because he had exhausted himself at the skate park). Mostly we were out in the fresh air with bikes. James has really got the hang of riding without the stabilisers now; I'm so, so proud of him. He can set off by himself, and stop, without falling over. He was exhausted yesterday, and did keep dropping the bike; but he made it from the skate park, all the way down the cycle track, to our house - I suppose that's over half a mile, maybe getting on for a mile. I felt pretty terrible, I can tell you, when he collapsed on the couch when he got home and had a temperature of 39.4˚c!!! Ah. That was why he cried the whole way home - I'd thought it was just because he was tired :S (He's fine today - just one of those random fevers that they get, seemingly for no reason.) But I'm going to let him ride his bike to school this week, in the afternoon when we have plenty of time. There are some narrow bits of pavement where he will have to push it, but there are lots of wide bits where he will be fine. And it will be good exercise for me because I will have to run with the pram to keep up!!!

And Thomas was a very brave little lad yesterday. He went into the skate park by himself. The rest of us stay around the outside of it because Matthew has a tendency to get in the way of the skaters! Thomas demonstrated his fearlessness yet again, taking his broken skateboard in amongst all the much bigger ones, and trying to do a trick or two - he has no idea how to really use it, but it's fantastic to watch him having a go. He rides his bike around in there very confidently, trying a few ramps, and getting used to the half-pipe. He doesn't get to be very adventurous when it's busy, and it's better for him when he's the only one there. But watching the teenagers is great for him all the same, and he can see what it is that he's aiming for. Here are a few pictures of Thomas in the skate park.

I think that's all I have to say today. A bit random, but never mind. I think I now have a temperature myself, having caught some chestiness from the boys. I will go and have a lemony-honey drink and relax with a book for an hour before collecting some of my children. :) Good times.

Friday, 5 March 2010

I love where I live!

Next week we're going to see the house that I saw for sale. I was driving around that area again this morning, on my way to the chemist to get some medicine for my poorly Thomas. And I felt such a sense of rightness - I don't know whether we'll buy the house that we're viewing, I suspect that the garden will be too small for us, but it still got me thinking.
The area of Lancaster that we live in is not the poshest! Well, the street I live on now is a bit more posh than those I've lived on in the past, but it's still on the scummy side of the river :D But I'm proud of where I come from, very proud. I was driving around some of the little terraced streets while I was waiting for the chemist to open, and I have such fond memories of growing up there, of noticing all of the cracks in the paving stones on Gardner Road, of playing with friends on Broadway and Pinfold Lane and Norfolk Street, of belonging to a little community of people that squash themselves and their families into those beautiful tiny terraces with their postage stamp back yards. It was nine o'clock in the morning when I was there today, and the mums were all on their way back from dropping the older kids off at school. All of the mums had prams and there were lots of little children playing dangerously close to the roads, but always still having enough road sense to not to step off the curb. I can remember being one of those kids, though I didn't go near the road and stayed by my mums legs, and listened to her chatting to the neighbours, taking it all in and learning about people. All of this morning's mums were shouting at their kids, and they were all shouting to each other across the roads, and they were all looking absolutely perfect in their Ugg boots and their skinny jeans and pushing their Quinny Buzz 3-Wheelers. And it all just made me smile. The trappings change, but the people do not. There was bright sunshine, and everyone looked happy, everyone was smiling and the scummy bit of Lancaster was up and about, alive and loud.

Before we bought this house I had put in an offer by myself for a house on Gardner Road - you know, in the days when first time buyers could just buy a house without making themselves bankrupt - and was very excited about the idea of returning to where my parents had started out, where I had spent the first eight years of my little life. I had little dreams of decorating the two-up-two-down exactly how I wanted it, of having my own huge space, which was very tiny really, but still enormous to me who had been living in a box room with only enough space on my bed to lie curled up in a ball! In the end Kev decided he'd quite like to get on the property ladder too, so we bought this big house together instead. But I have always felt that I missed an opportunity in not living on Gardner Road for a little while - an opportunity to feel like part of a little community, to make some extra friends, and to have a place that was absolutely my own and not shared with anyone else (and not to mention making a small fortune on the house, as prices rocketed soon after we became home owners!). Those little streets with their ginnels and wonky paving, stone front doorsteps scrubbed clean (as they used to be, perhaps not so much now!) and their back yards remind me of The Family From One End Street, and Cider with Rosie a bit too.

It's good to be alive, even when life's getting too busy and too hard. If we can just get to a place where we can think clearly and slow down and find a smile everything is easier - even if that place is only in our mind. I'm glad I can make myself find something good in every day - even if it takes a bit of searching sometimes :)

Thursday, 4 March 2010


Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I like my children to be ill, but I'm sure most parents know and guiltily love that sense of calm that only comes when the little monkeys have fevers and shivers and are generally unwell and wobbly and too weak to do anything but sit on the couch with the telly on :) This is what it's like in our house today. Thomas had a super costume ready for World Book Day today, but he is too poorly to go to school, and so is very sad. I usually send them to school when they're a bit poorly, because we all know that the wee devils feel a lot better around about 9.07am when they know the bell's gone and the register's been done and it's too late to send them! (Thomas doesn't know it yet, but I will send him in for the afternoon the next time he tries that one!) But I did pack him off to school yesterday, and his teacher came out to see me at the end of the day and said she wouldn't expect to see him this morning!

So. It's guilt-free telly and lounging this morning. And isn't that just lovely? When they are ill everything stays where you put it, things don't mysteriously break all by themselves, nothing gets spilled, everything is quiet, everyone is kind to each other, no-one whines because they don't have the energy, and the day passes in blissful harmony and I always feel refreshed. It's like being in someone else's house for a day or so. Before Matthew was born we had a day when all four of us were very, very poorly. Kev and I just managed to scrape together enough energy to bring a mattress down into the living room, and we all collapsed on it, with duvets and pillows and blankets, and it was the best thing. It's a nice memory. It was good that we were all ill together really - I hate when the kids are ill and I think I've escaped it, but then I get struck down a couple of days later and I always get it the worst and the kids have to look after themselves because I can't move off the couch!

But I can enjoy these spells of tranquility, because I am acutely aware of how lucky my family is to only suffer from flu and tonsilitis and such. I'm thankful on these days that harmless germs are all we have to deal with and that there is nothing more serious to worry about in our little lives. My washing machine might be on the blink again, my dishwasher might be temperamental, my oven door might be shattered, and my living room carpet might be covered in paint where Matthew fancied praticising his creative skills, but we have a roof over our heads and we have our health, which is more than a lot of people have. How could I not be happy? :D

Wednesday, 3 March 2010


Morning :)

I was driving back, the long way round, from dropping off Thomas at school when I spotted a house for sale on the lovely leafy avenue that I used to live on with my mum and my brother. We had such a happy time in that house, my mum's House of Independence, and Noomski and I loved being so close to the river when we lived there - the river was just across the road, we could see it from our front windows. It's a great river, though not what it was in centuries gone by of course (when our family were the owners of a big shipping company that imported wood for Waring and Gillows - they were also involved in the slave trade, but I'm not so proud of that part). Noomski and I used to scramble across the rocks on the river to the island in the middle, and we would explore and climb trees, and usually end up spooking ourselves and legging it back to shore because we thought we were being watched! It was a wonderful section of the river to live by, and I would absolutely love it if my boys could experience it too. I'm going to check out the house that's for sale.

Coincidentally, I was just at my dad's for a coffee (my dad lives on the same street as us, and Noomski is hoping to buy a house here too!), and he lent me a gorgeous book called 'Caught by the River' and it's a collection of writings by taking-time-out-enthusiasts, people who are in the music business but who love to get away from it all and enjoy some peace and quiet and a few beers and time with friends. I don't know a lot of the contributors, but Jarvis Cocker is one of them :) I'm going to really enjoy reading it, it's just my kind of book. I'm not an authority on anything at all, but I enjoy many things in my life, and that's what this book is really about, as far as I can tell. And I'm also thinking that some of the writing might be quite inspiring for my own writing.

I'm going now, to work on my fairy story. It's very precious to me, and it's been with me for the past two years, but I think it's now time to finish it and let it be read :)

Ah, lovely - I just found a good picture of exactly the stretch of river that I was talking about :) See how beautiful it is? Imagine living opposite that - divine.

Monday, 1 March 2010


Goldfinches in our garden, eating our niger seeds :) They're coming, our garden is filling up, and my mum says that I will soon be like the bird lady in Mary Poppins! Feed the birds, tuppence a bag.

Writing is much harder than I even thought it would be, and I knew it would be hard! But it's not hard for the reasons I thought it would be; the problems I have to figure out solutions for are not what I expected. I thought I would struggle to find things to write about in the first place - never did I imagine that I would have too many ideas. This isn't a moan though, it's just an observation really. I love writing, almost as much as I love my kids! It's an absolute joy to create something that I know is good. The only thing I don't like about writing is that it takes so blummin long! I have almost a fully formed book in my head, but getting it onto paper takes forever. Things don't really behave as you'd like them too once you start putting them into actual words. For example, I'm writing a story about a boy who accidentally finds himself on an amazing adventure - but I got stuck on the third chapter very early on because I couldn't get the boy to follow the path he was supposed to follow. It's ridiculous, why can't characters just behave themselves and do what they're meant to do? Very weird, how writing works :) I still love it though, I love the challenges that it throws up daily.
This past month I have been switching between one book idea and another, the two of them not quite working as I planned them to. This approach, of chopping and changing constantly, is clearly not working as I am getting nowhere with either project. So, it is time to abandon one of them once and for all, and to stop faffing about and to finish a novel!!! I am giving myself a virtually slap, now ... ouch. There. That's done, and now I feel better. I am going with the fairy story (it's good, honestly, not a bit of tweeness or disneyfication in sight: definitely no pinkness or tiaras, no flowery stuff, no tiny little creatures that fly about on gossamer wings and grant wishes, nothing to make you sick at the saccharine taste that it leaves in your mouth). The second story that I was working on needs more thinking time, so I'm putting it on the back burner until I've finished the first book. I am going to stop being such a perfectionist about my fairy story, and I'm going to just get it down on the page, even if it's awful. I can't work on it if all I've got is a blank screen to stare at, now can I? I haven't wasted the last couple of months though - from working on the second story I have learned that I need to write about eighty per cent rubbish to find that twenty per cent of good stuff that I can build on (that's a lot of wasted paper, since I write long hand - but I do recycle, so it's not quite as bad as it could be!).
Two months of this year have gone. I have ten months left to finish a manuscript. *Sharp intake of breath* - I wanted to have a full first draft finished by the end of this year, so I'd better get cracking! What am I doing on here when I should be thrashing out my story?! Get off now.
I'm going.
Go on then.
I'm going.
I'm gone!