Monday, 29 November 2010

Ooh, this looks good though...

Just been checking out some stuff on various MAs in Creative Writing and/or English.  I'm still submitting an application for the MA at Lancaster University.  I have some work that I can show them, as they require a folder of writing (with potential for publication! Err, maybe not!).  I'm fairly confident that what I show them will be up to scratch - I think I know what they're looking for.  And having worked in the English Department at that particularly marvellous university, processing MA applications, I can remember what I thought of the standard of some of the writing, because I read a lot of it ;)  I remember thinking that I could probably write as well as most of the applicants (why, oh why, did I not extend that idea a little bit and start writing then?)  I'll put that application together as soon as I can - I now have my Creative Writing tutor to ask for a reference.  And I have my tutor from Aberystwyth to write me an academic one.  So that's fine.  Good job I did this little CW course, else I'd have no-one to write a reference on my writing!

But I've just been looking at the Open University website, and they do an MA in English.  It's not creative writing, obviously, but it would still be incredibly useful to me.  And it's more affordable.  It would be a tremendous amount of work, but what enjoyable work it would be :)  There are an awful lot of books to read in the first year, but I'm up to that.  I can apply myself a lot better these days.  The fees are not available yet, and I can't find out what last year's were.  But you can pay in installments with the OU, which you can't do with an ordinary uni.  It's not just about the money.  If it were I wouldn't even bother applying to Lancaster, because it's so expensive.  But I'm thinking of the OU as a back up really, incase Lancaster don't think I'm good enough.  It's entirely possible (I know, I know - which crazy institution wouldn't want to offer ME a place??!  Sheesh!), because Lancaster's standards are so very high.  Both start in October anyway, so I'll know whether or not I have a place at Lancaster in plenty of time to register for the OU.  You don't have to wait to be offered a place at the OU, you just register :)

The little Creative Writing course finishes tomorrow evening, last one.  It's been fun.  I might do it again after Christmas.  It has a different tutor in January.  But lots of people do the course several times.  It probably should be a continuous longer course, and be called a Certificate or something.  But the Adult College split it up into these silly little courses for some daft financial reason.  The people on the course are lovely, and I'd like to see them some more.  I'm hopefully going to see some of them for an hour this evening - a few are trying to get a writers' group going, and are meeting fortnightly in a pub on a Monday evening.  I can't stay for the whole session, because I have to pick Thomas up from aikido.  But I will drop him off, nip over to the pub for fifty minutes or so, and then collect him when I'm done.  I might not be able to participate quite as fully as I would like, but it's better than nothing.  Being around other writers is even more inspiring and wonderful than I expected.  It's just lovely to listen to other people talking about their work, even if it's not something I would read.  Writers all have such a lot in common with the ways they work, and the problems they have to work through.  It's nice to be less alone in the whole thing for a change.  I think they've set up this little group because there isn't anything else like it in Lancaster.  Maybe there is, I don't know.  But that's the impression I got from the group.  I'll have to print something off to share tonight.  I might not share it this week, or perhaps I'll just give it to someone to take away.  But I've not been to this group before, so I might just have a coffee and listen to how it works.  I'd quite like to read something that someone else has written.

Well, I'll be off now.  Didn't get my morning off this morning, as Matthew was poorly.  Of course, he could have gone to nursery and been just fine.  But he seemed very off at brekkie, having been up since 5am with a touch of croup.  But I'll still have time after Thomas's aikido to plough through some of my faerie notes.  Better to do an hour or work than none at all, right?!

aikido |ˌīkēˈdō; īˈkēdō|nouna Japanese form of self-defense and martial art that uses locks, holds, throws, and the opponent's own movements.ORIGIN 1950s: from Japanese aikidō, literally ‘way of adaptingthe spirit,’ from ai ‘together, unify’ ki ‘spirit’ dō ‘way.’

My grandad (on the left, quite obviously!) in his aikido gear :)  My grandad Stephen is the Chief Instructor at Lancaster Aikikwai.  Thomas loves aikido, and I think he will stay with the club for a very long time.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

It's working so far

I ain't got long to write this evening, because my eyelids are drooping and I'm about to fall into oblivion...

But the timetable is working so far.  I did some work on sorting out piles of notes on Friday, and on Saturday evening.  I'll be carrying on tomorrow morning when the littlies are out.  It'll probably be quite a frustrating process, and I'll be fed up with it by the middle of this week, because I'll feel like I'm not really getting anywhere.  But there are certain processes that have to be gone through before the scribbling can start properly.  I can't just sit down and write with this story, because it's too darned big!  I've got to keep some control over it, and I have to keep notes on my ideas so that I can keep them tethered and not risk having them fly away.

Might be back on with some actual writing by the end of the week, but I'll just see how I go.  I'm not really bothered how quickly I get the book written, as long as I keep going with it, don't skive, and produce something that I can work with later.

On other things: the new Harry Potter film is very, very good indeed.  I've seen it twice this weekend, and I wouldn't even mind seeing it a couple more times!  Won't get to though, just haven't got the spare evenings at the moment.  Think I'm going to be missing a few important dates over the next couple of weeks: I know there are lots of things coming up, but I've forgotten to write everything down, so they might get missed!  Oh dear.  Well, as long as I remember to do some Christmas shopping over the next three weeks, then that'll be something.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...  oops!


®†¥¨^øπ“‘«æ…¬˚∆˙©ƒ∂ßå`Ω≈ç√∫~µ≤≥÷¡€#¢∞§¶•ªº–≠  Hmm, none of those seem right - I'm trying to find a symbol that looks like closed eyes, so I can do a sleeping smilie!  Never mind.

Thursday, 25 November 2010



That will be the key for next year.  2011, the Year of Discipline.  I think 2010 was supposed to be the Year of Achievement.  Hmm.  Didn't really anything more than any other year.  Kind of forgot about the achievements after about March.  In fact, I've only just remembered this minute.  Perhaps there's still time to achieve something great?  Oh, I did write almost a complete draft of a book - that's a very big achievement.

discipline |ˈdisəplin|nounthe practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience a lack of proper parental and school discipline.

But the Year of Discipline ties in with the themes of the Year of Achievement, the principle's the same, and is to do with getting things done.  Discipline for the kids, but discipline for me too.  Discipline with myself will mean that I'll achieve more, and then I'll have more time for fun, instead of wasting time moping about feeling guilty for not achieving anything.  I'm telling the world now, that I have 18 free hours a week in which to write - anyone could write a book with that many hours free, could they not?  Of course they could.  I've made myself a timetable, and I'm going to make myself stick to it.  (Full of good intentions, as always - I've said things like this many, many times.)

achievement |əˈ ch ēvmənt|nouna thing done successfully, typically by effort, courage, or skill to reach this stage is a great achievement.the process or fact of achieving something the achievement of professional recognition sense of achievement.

So in 2011, I will mostly thinking about dragons and faeries.  Going with the project that's the most fun, because it's most likely to hold my interest.

The plan is, to work every evening on the book, then to allow myself Saturday and Sunday evenings to catch up on other things, like letters and hubs and photo albums and things.  All it takes is for me to get into the habit of working every day - if I can do that I should be well away.

Blogs and hubs and Facebook places are the problem, because they're such a distraction and suck you in so sneakily.  That's where the discipline comes in.

Sorry, repetitive blog today, witter, witter, witter.

Just out of interest, I wonder what you guys think of when you imagine faeries?  Tell me, it might help me think of more characters!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Got my thoughts together now :)

My head is calm and easy, and my breathing is back to normal.  I have stopped my thoughts from zooming around like bees in a hive, and I have committed myself to a decision.  I know which writing project I am going to be working on for the next year, and I am happy about it.  I am going to make a pretty little timetable (this is not procrastinating, honest it isn't, it'll only take five minutes!), and try to stick to it as much as possible.  This creative writing course that I've been doing has taught me that writing loads of different things and trying out different styles and stories is very useful, but also very counter-productive.  This is because it encourages your mind to go off in loads of different directions, and you lose your mind a little bit.  Before I started working on my first drafts I did plenty of experimenting and idea-generating, and I'm not at that place any more.  I am now at a place where I need to focus and concentrate on my world building, my characters and my story.  I'm going to think faerie from now on.  Getting it done!

But what I will do, to stop myself from becoming completely bored, is allow myself a little look at the other project once a fortnight, just for one evening.  I can write some if I fancy, or I can just do some thinking about it.  That way it won't start to stagnate.  And also it will give me a break from thinking magical thoughts.

I am reading a very good faerie book at the moment: Herbie Brennan's Faerie Wars.  It's making me think a lot about how to make elements of my story more original, to think outside the usual parameters of magical theory (whatever am I talking about?!) and to just let my story go wherever it wants to, instead of trying to make it fit my original plan.  There's no danger of me copying Brennan's style at all, because our stories are so different (they share elements, as almost all stories in similar genres do, of course).  But very useful to read something that challenges me to think about my own work in a different way.

Next I think I will read Fablehaven, by Brandon Mull.  It was recommended to me personally, by Christopher Paolini who wrote Eragon!  Yes, personally.  In a personal letter.  Christopher Paolini, who wrote Eragon, also wrote a letter to me (I must have mentioned it in a post before, quite a while ago - or maybe it was before I started blogging), and signed a lovely photo of himself for me too :)   Photo's got my name on it, and everything.  Oh yes.  Links with famous authors here, oh yes.  Anyway, I told him about my story ideas, and he recommended that I read Mr Mull's work for some inspiration.  I haven't managed to get chance to read it yet, but I have placed it firmly at the top of the pile.  Hope it's worth the wait.

Books are good, books are ace, we love books, all up in this place...

Monday, 22 November 2010

Gathering my thoughts

So, I've had a few days off writing.  Haven't written a thing.  Can't even remember how to now.  Better get back to it, before I even forget how to spell simple words.

I've just been reading the hubs of some of the people I follow, and I must say that some of them can really make a person feel inadequate!  I do feel very stupid and ignorant sometimes.  I'm reading hubs that are very atheist-bashing, and I want to have my say and defend my position on God and the Universe, but I find it so very difficult to form my opinions into a cohesive argument.  I just don't enough scientific stuff.  My belief rests in science, and the reason for this is because it has always presented me with much more believable evidence than the Bible has.  But putting this in such a way that properly shows what I think is very difficult.  Now, I have no illusion that a hub on atheism could ever be left alone and not picked to bits and cause a huge debate.  It would attract lots of comments, and ever sentence that wasn't quite finished exquisitely would be ripped apart.  Every point that wasn't backed up with irrefutable evidence would be hammered down into dust.  Well, that's fine - you have to expect that when you attempt to discuss religion, whichever side you come down on.  It's a bit sad that people feel the need to attack the beliefs of others, but there we are - I've done it myself, but I suppose only in defence of my own position when it's been attacked first.  But what I don't want to happen is for readers to think that I'm completely stupid and that what I've written is so basic and flawed and naive that it's not worth commenting on.  So, for this reason I am not rushing into writing a hub on my beliefs - I am going to take my time over it, and maybe post something next year... or maybe the year after.

In other news, I am just finishing up my little creative writing course.  I have two weeks left, and a little homework to do for that.  I always leave it until the last minute - but the good thing about homework for a writing course is that it's absolutely fine to leave it until the last minute, or to even not do it at all!  You can say that you couldn't find your creativity this particular week, you can say that you had a severe mental block.  Marvellous.  Of course, I haven't done that - I've done my work.  I'm thinking that doing the MA would be very useful.  I'm going to apply for that as soon as I can get my personal statement together - this is going to be quite tricky, because I don't really know what to say about my creative writing.  It's just something I've been doing as a hobby.   Oh, I suppose there's the answer, right there: I've been doing it as a hobby, and now I'm ready to start taking it more seriously, taking myself and my writing more seriously.  Hmm.  Yes, I think there's something there.  I'll work on that later.

Right now, I have to pop off and write five hundred words on a ghost story for tomorrow's class.  I'm not sure what I'll write, but something will come to me, I'm sure.

Better go and do that then.  Ta-ra.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Day 30! WooHoo!

YAY!!!!!   I did it :D :D :D :D :D

I have written my final hub of the thirty day challenge :)  Alright, I haven't posted it, but I have written it and it is just ready to be typed up.  I was going to sit up for another hour and get it posted, but I actually have to post the 29th as well, and it's already half past eleven.  So I hope all of my followers will forgive me, but you will actually have to wait an extra day to see the two final posts.  But rest assured that they are definitely written and I am not lying to you.  Oh, here you are, I'll take a picture of them and their titles.  Hang on...

Alright?  I don't lie about things like this, you see?  (I do lie about some things, but I'm not going to tell you what!)

So I have finished my challenge, and I think that I will miss it.  I will probably write another hub tomorrow, because I will miss it if I don't!  I should really have an evening off and just watch a film, but I think I might have made myself addicted to hubs.  That's not really anything to be ashamed of though, eh?  There are worse things to be addicted to.

I'm feeling sort of proud for finishing the challenge - and also for managing to post a blog every single day too :)  That was the easy bit though.  I'm not feeling completely proud though, as I don't think the hubs are particularly good.  I think one or two of them are very nice, but on the whole I think they're too rushed and I'd like to address some of the issues in them again and write better hubs from scratch.  If I do that then I think I will have to delete the ones I've expanded on, so that I'm not repeating myself.  HubPages has strict rules about repetitive hubbing and things like that.  It's a super site - I'm very glad that I found it.

But I'm off to bed now, because I'm very tired.  I would like to go to sleep, and perhaps sleep for a week.  Writing five hubs in one day is not really good for a person, and I have a bit of a headache!

Night all.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Day 29.

Ooh, one more day of the challenge to go.  I ain't going to do it, you know.  I've managed keeping up with the blog every day, no problem.  But there was just that one point a couple of weeks ago when I got behind with the hubs, and I haven't managed to catch up since then.  I'm still short by four and a half hubs.  I don't think I'm going to manage to write four and a half hubs in one day.  I can't really bring myself to write substandard ones just to get them done - I don't see the point of that.  But I will give it my best shot - you never know.  I've got the morning off tomorrow, so I could possibly write two then.  And maybe, just maybe, I could do another two in the evening.  I wonder if it really matter whether or not I post them on the very last day, or whether I could get away with posting them on Day 31, as long as I really did write them on Day 30.  What do you think?

Anyway, Congratulations to William and Kate!

Don't worry, you lovely little couple you, I won't be a stalker.  I just love a nice Royal occasion :)

My, but she's a pretty one, eh?  Lovely :)  Wish I had her hair.

That is all for today.  I have been at college this evening, and I am tired.  I had to do some writing that was quite tricky, about something that I would ever have chosen to write about.  I'm feeling taxed.  Night.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Day 28.

Not much doing today, Monday.  All a little tired from some sleepless nights to do with wet beds - the children's, not mine!   Perhaps not what you want to hear, but hey, it happens.  I am spending my mornings at the launderette, waiting for duvets to be washed.  Hey ho.

This is how tired Matthew was today:

He almost fell asleep in his salmon, but I moved the plate just in time.
He actually woke up when I tried to put his pyjamas on, and he did finish his tea.  He's the only child of mine to wake up cheery from this kind of sleep.  Strange.  But good!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Day 27.

This is what we did today.

Lots of running, climbing, throwing of branches and sticks into the river, make-believing about the Dark Masters spies from Terabithia, fighting of baddies, throwing of bombs made of magicified seed pods, and general sunny day craziness-inducing fun antics.  What a fantastic and fantastical afternoon :)  I got slashed on the hand by a baddy when I was trying to climb a tree to get away from it - I was slashed by a poison-tipped dagger, and I have only twenty-four hours to live, unless I can find the antidote.

Having kids is ace!  We always have an excuse to play ;)

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Day 26.

:)  Four days to go after this.

Thomas has really caught the reading bug now.  He has moved the cuddly toys from the shelf beside his bed (near the ceiling, he's on the top bunk) and replaced them with some books that he plans to read.  He has started Black Beauty and he is actually reading the words at bed time.  This is the first time he's done this.  He reads to me most days, but I've not managed to convince him to read to himself until now.  He's always pretended to read the words, but has just looked at the pictures.  But last night he read four pages, and kept calling me in to tell me what was happening.  It was all rather exciting.  I asked him if he enjoyed reading in bed, and he said that he loved it and was going to read forever now.

This morning he took Black Beauty to football, and while James was playing Thomas did a little more reading, sitting on a ball, resting again a wall, with a blanket over his legs.  He didn't read much in the end, because he got distracted by Matthew I think, but he has kept the book with him all day.  Very sweet :)

Friday, 12 November 2010

Day 25.

What a lovely day I've had.  You'll not be surprised to know that I've spent most of the day writing hubs.  I've finished two today, and have started another one.  I will catch up over the last five days I think.  So Wednesday will be the last day of the challenge.  Right, good to know that.  I've got until Wednesday to write my last hubs.  Then I'll probably want to just write another one on Thursday.  I've become a bit addicted I think.  It's quite strange, because last week I was moaning about what a pain the challenge was.  Now I'm rather fond of it, and I feel like it's been really wonderful.

Erm... I've really got nothing else to say, because I've only hubbed.  Matthew is still a bit poorly today, so he spent the afternoon sprawled on the couch emitting pathetic little whimpers, which was nice.  Nope, nothing else to say.  No photos.  Sorry.  If it wasn't for the challenge involving the blog as well, I wouldn't even be bothering to write on here today.

Night then.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Day 24.

Wowee!  I'm doing rather well on Hubpages actually.  Doing the 30 day challenge has boosted my profile quite a bit.  I've got 30 followers, and they're leaving comments every day.  Some of my followers are very talented writers - I've read their hubs, and they're fantastic, really put me to shame :S  I feel a bit daft when I look at some of my silly hubs, and then I look at some of their information-packed ones.  Oo-er, I think I should probably put more effort in.  I think that's what I'll challenge myself to after next week - to write two or three excellent hubs a week, rather than lots of sketchy ones.  When I first joined Hubpages I noticed a comment on someone else's hub that talked about how it's okay to go back and edit hubs at a later date.  I thought that that sounded very silly, because why would you post a hub if you thought it wasn't good enough.  But I can see what that person meant now - you learn a lot the more you hub, and the more hubs you read, and you start to see big flaws in your own writing.  I don't think I will go back and edit any that I've already written, but I might rewrite them and delete the old ones.

It's been one of those slow days today, because Matthew isn't very well.  He just seems to be have one of those random 'viruses', and is generally a bit poorly.  But this signifies the first of the winter illnesses.  Last year it was the same - we got the first lurgy about now, and didn't really get free of germs until the spring.  It's the same for everyone, I know.  I'm not complaining about it at all.  I think you just kind of have to embrace the cold, make it your friend, and enjoy a rest when you can.  It's difficult when the kids wake in the night with fevers, and sickness, and pain in their ears, and sore throats, and coughs, and all those things.  Tempers fray, of course, as they do when we're tired.  But winter colds have a huge plus, and that is that they give you an excuse to snuggle up on the couch with tea and toast (if you can manage it - have your toast with honey, as honey is healing, and is particularly good for coughs), and you can watch as many DVDs as you like without feeling guilty.  DVDs are my very great friends, and I do love them, dearly.

I have no photos today.  I should have had a good one of James and Matthew with mohawks in the bath, but I couldn't find my camera :(  They did look cool, with their hair spiked up with shampoo.  James had a head full of hair gel today - he put it on himself right before we had to go to school, so I didn't have time to wash it off.  He looked like he'd dipped his head in a chip pan, poor chap.  It must have been quite itchy, bless him, because when he came home this afternoon, he took himself off up to the bathroom and I found him five minutes later with a nice lather atop his head.  The lather was made from handsoap.  He'd washed his hair, with a little cold water also, every so neatly :)  There wasn't a drip of water on his clothes, and he'd been very careful not to get any soap on his face or down his neck.  Bless. I don't know how he imagined he was going to rinse the soap off!

That's all for today.  I'm off to hub some more.  Got two hubs to post today, and I've still got plenty of time left this evening to write another.  Catching up a little.  I think I'm going to do it!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Day 23.

Blah!  I'm not catching up very well with the hubs.  Only 7 days, left, and I think I've got 12 hubs to write. It's a tall order, but I think I can do it.  I do think so.  We'll see.  Wish me luck.  I've got lots of hubs titles waiting to be expanded on - it's just finding the time to get on and write them.

I didn't get to finish the two I've been working on today.  My mummy came to visit, and stayed for most of the evening.  It was very nice indeed, because mostly we talked about writing (my mummy is a poet, a very good one), and about the costumes we're going to make for the Jane Austen Festival next year.  Loveliness.  But now I am too tired to do anything except go to bed and read half a page of my book (Lords and Ladies, Terry Pratchett).

I've got lots to choose from for my next read.  I don't know what to go for.  I don't have the next Terry Pratchett novel, so I'll have to wait until I can get that.  Shall I go for Stephen Fry's Moab is my Washpot, or Brandon Mull's Fablehaven, or Cornelia Funk's Inkheart.  Oh no!  I'd forgotten - I've got to read Northanger Abbey because my mum is about to read it, and we thought we should probably read all of the Austen novels that we haven't read before we go to the festival.   Decided.  Lovely.  I will enjoy a bit of Austen, and then I might read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which I said I would read months ago but forgot about!  Good.

Night then.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Day 22.

I ate most of the raspberry cheesecake myself yesterday *grins sheepishly*.  It was very especially delicious indeed on its second day.  That cheesecake will never make it to a third day.  I am going to get ingredients for another tomorrow - I need to have one more little taste of it, you see.  Wha-at??  It's very healthy really, all fresh ingredients (apart from the biscuits and the butter, and the mascarpone from a pot, and the icing sugar, and the lemon juice out of a bottle because we didn't have any fresh).

This is Thomas, very proudly holding up his finished reading book.  It's the first one he's finished from school.  It took him rather a long time (mostly my fault for forgetting to get it done - he actually could have finished it about three weeks ago!)  He's very excited about choosing a new book tomorrow.  This weekend I think I would like to take the kids into town and get them library memberships.  I can't believe we haven't done that before now.  Terrible.  They love books, and they're always saying that they're bored of the ones we have.  Anyway - well done Thomas!  I'm very proud of you, and your reading is coming on a treat :)  I'll be buying you your very own copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in no time!

Happy Christmas :)  I went to Barton Grange garden centre today, my first bit of Christmas 'shopping'.  I couldn't really afford anything in there, but I did find the snow globe that I've been looking for for a few years.  I don't really know why I've been wanting one, but none of the globes I've seen over the past few years have been right.  It was usually the snow that fell too quickly, and it was also that the little model was a daft looking snowman with a cheesy coal grin.  This one is lovely.  My picture doesn't do it justice - it's actually much nicer than this.  It'll probably be broken within minutes of me putting it out in December, but the child that breaks it will have their pocket money nicked, and I will buy a new one (globe that is, not child).

Off to bed now.  Night.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Day 21.

Oh noooooooooooooo!  I haven't left enough time to blog!  I've spent all of my evening hubbing, written two good hubs (not quite ready to publish yet), and done nothing else.  I can't wait for the hub challenge to finish, because it's stopping me from doing anything else.  I want to be getting on with my MA application, and my CW course, and my two bloody novels for chrissakes!

(Someone on Hubpages mentioned their own 30 day challenge, and then said that they went on to do 100 hubs in less than 50 days!  I was tempted for about half a minute, and then I decided that I shouldn't do that to my novels - I've neglected them for far too long, and I really would like to get them finished so that I can start to try selling them.)

So, I'm not blogging properly tonight, because it's already waaaaaaaaaaay past my bedtime.  Night friends.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Day 20.

We were supposed to go out for a walk today.  But we just didn't, lol.  We didn't have an unproductive day though.  Kev and I found a burst of energy from somewhere, and we cleaned the kitchen a bit!  Yes.  Astounding.  Then Kev's mum and dad popped in for a little visit and stayed for a few hours.  It was very nice to have their company :)  We spent most of the visit eating and drinking much tea.  Kev made lovely omelettes for us all, and then we ate chocolate.  And then we did some 'baking'.  Kev baked a carrot and walnut cake (which is just waiting for its frosting - I'll show you a picture tomorrow), and me and Thomas made a raspberry cheesecake (with the help of Nana Jackie).

Cheesecake couldn't really be any easier; it consists of these ingredients: some crushed up biscuits (we used digestives and gingers mixed together in melted butter), some raspberries, some mascarpone, some lemon juice and some icing sugar.  This is all.  Don't ask me about quantities, because I don't know.  We just guessed and tasted and added more until it all looked right.  If you crush the raspberries with a fork before you add the cheese it's better: if you whizz them in the blender they end up as liquid and the whole thing is too runny.  Once it's assembled we put more crushed biscuits on top, and some half raspberries.  It doesn't take anything like a shop bought cheesecake, it just tastes completely homemade, and very fresh.  Lovely indeed.

Here it is:

Next week I'm going to try to find time to make banoffee 'pie'.  It's not really a pie, because it doesn't have a pastry base, it just has more crushed biscuits.  It's fabulous though.  And very easy.

I don't do tricky food, I only do simple hearty stuff.  I suppose I'm a bit like Nigella in that respect.  Although, I tend to do more real cooking - none of that Marmite on spaghetti in our house!  (Sorry Nigella :) - you're fabulous, and I love you, honest.)

I tell you what - I'm looking forward to the Jane Austen Festival in Bath next year, if it's anything like Pride and Prejudice, which I'm watching right now.  Because the food looks incredible.  I want to pop into the telly and eat everything.  I can't really work out why I'm so hungry all the time at the moment - it's perhaps still a reaction to all the fresh fruit and vegetables I ate in Barbados, I may still be malnourished.

I'm going now, to investigate the noises that keep coming from the stairs!  I think we have a ghost, or an intruder.  Err, might see you later.  Unless I'm frightened out of my wits when a towel falls off the banister and lands on my head!

Day 19.

Sparklers, after the fireworks at Lancaster Castle.  We watched the fireworks from Williamson's Park.  They looked lovely.  But the sound was awful - the music was very quiet, and what we could hear was talked over by the annoying voice of the Radio Lancashire DJ.  If they sort that out for next year then it will be very good.  Still not as good as watching from the castle though.  Maybe we'll try the cycle track by the river next year.  That should be a good place to watch from, and we can just walk down to it.

Thomas and James climbing a tree, after the sparklers.  I wanted to climb the tree too, of course, but Matthew was exhausted and was clinging to my knees.  Next time.