Saturday, 19 July 2014

getting to know you

Getting to know you...

22 May 2010 at 23:31
I was just tidying up some things on Facebook, and I found a couple of notes.  Do you remember notes?

I thought I'd reblog them, tumblr style, and maybe update in the process.

This one was originally written in 2010. I've made updated notes in indigo.  I would love to know your answers to this. Please copy and paste, and then give a link to your blog post (or just include what your answers are) in the comments.  Thanks!

Here we go:

1. What time did you get up this morning? 
2010:  6am as every day - woken up by two little children arguing about who gets to have the first cuddle (The boy got in there first this morning)
2014:  Things have got better. The boy is now trained and doesn't get up until 6.30am. Sometimes he sneaks downstairs and plays on the X box and I get to sleep in until 7am! This morning though it was the little girl's birthday, so I was up at 6.30am, and happy to be so.

2. How do you like your steak? 
2010:  Nut cutlet or halloumi for me please :-)
2014:  I haven't had a nut cutlet in ages, and I am no longer vegetarian, but steak is still not on my menu (I really don't like it).

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? 
2010:  What was it called? The Road I think - with Aragorn in it.
2014:  Oh! That was a great night, with lovely friends. Now I think the last film I saw was The Lego Movie. Altogether now: 'Everything is awesome!'

4. What is your favorite TV show? 
2010:  True Blood.
I didn't get to watch True Blood for a while, although I still love the series. I really like the way they used the characters Charlaine crafted and then went completely off book. I am very happy that Lafayette is still alive especially, and that Eric is still around.
TV shows I love now are Game of Thrones, The Good Wife, and Scandal (new series starting soon - yay!)

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? 
2010:  Somewhere with all of my family and friends nearby, and nice weather - Suffolk with family! 
2014:  I'm kind of sticking with that, but actually, if we could move Suffolk to Scotland (and keep the weather, but drop the accent), that would be better. I prefer the Scottish education system and commitment to the NHS. Although I do think we're better together.

6. What did you have for breakfast? 
2010:  Mini croissants with butter, marmalade, chocolate spread and jam. OJ, and decaf coffee. Yummy
2014:  Honestly, we don't do this every day, but this morning's breakfast was croissants with marmalade, pain au chocolat, OJ, and coffee

7. What is your favourite cuisine? 
2010 & 2014:  Definitely Italian.

9. Favourite Place to Eat? 
2010:  Somewhere with yummy food and someone else cooking and washing up!
2014:  Ditto. See this blog post.

10. Favourite dressing? 
2010:  blue cheese dressing
2014:  this feels like a dirty secret but I love cream of mushroom tinned soup mixed with mature cheddar as a sauce, and cold it is an awesome salad dressing.  Honest.

11.What kind of vehicle do you drive? 
2010:  Citroen C8
2014:  We needed a new car, but I miss the C8, especially the sliding doors which didn't bump into other cars. Now we have a Ford Galaxy.

12. What are your favourite clothes? 
2010 & 2014: Black ones. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance? 
2010:  Turkey, Scandinavia, Canada
2014: I fancy a big long holiday in the US, with a Winnebago (the motor home, not the people).  Anyone fancy giving me one?  I'll write about it, I promise.

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full 
2010:  Half empty
2014: Who has spilled the juice?

15. Where would you want to retire? 
2010:  Don't know... somewhere where I have plenty of friends. I'm hoping we'll settle somewhere soon.
2014: Somewhere where we can see the people we love.  But mostly I'm looking forward to gardening and cruises.  Bring it on... in about 25 years.

16. Favourite time of day? 
2010: I like morning snack time
2014: We've grown out of morning snacks, but that is still a good time of day. Everyone has finished faffing and we can get something good done.  I always like getting out of the house. Unless it's cold.

17. Where were you born? 
Yorkshire.  God's own County

18. What is your favourite sport to watch? 
Can't think of anything more tedious than watching sport!

The cat: Practicing
...skipped some Facebook specific questions...

22. Bird watcher? 
2010:  We have so many birds around here that I don't know... I keep thinking I should get a book about them. 
2014:  Back in 2010 we lived in an area with well established gardens and lots of happy birds.  Now we live in a brand spanking new house, and I am totally delighted when we manage to entice anything into the gardens.  We've been working on the garden, and we're getting more bugs, and more birds.  And mice.  Sorry mice.  Our cat will kill you, and crunch up your skulls.

23. Morning or Night Person: 

24. Do you have any pets? 
2010:  2 fish 
2014:  A great big ginger cat.  The fish died.

25. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share? 
2010:  I've ordered a new outfit for Ash's wedding :-) 
2014:  It's a shame that Ash's wedding didn't work out.  I wish her all the best.  Exciting news today is that my youngest girl, the girl I was pregnant with last time I did this questionnaire, is 4 today, and she's still life changing!

26. What did you want to be when you were little? 

27. What is your best childhood memory? 
Dancing with my brother in the kitchen to Human League . 

28. Are you a cat or dog person? 
Cats, I don't like dogs.

29. Are you married? 
Yes, to Kenny

30. Always wear your seat belt? 
Always. Why wouldn't you?

31. Been in a car accident? 

32. Any pet peeves? 
2010:  Spitting. Not communicating. Ignoring people. Parking on the pavement. Religious leaders who encourage their members to prey on the weak and scared. Swearing in front of children. Violence. Crap research. nonsense news.
2014:  All of the above, and also, not listening to people. Blaming people for the mistakes you make because you didn't listen to them.

33. Favorite pizza topping? 
2010:  Vegetarian
2014:  Lucky's pizza: Celery and blue cheese.  I miss it.

The garden, complete with Marigolds
34. Favorite Flower ? 
2010:  Bleeding hearts
2014:  We got given a load of Marigolds for the garden and they're looking great.

35. Favorite ice cream? 
2010:  Mint chocolate 
2014:  Not sure, but it's from Nardini's.  Today I had butter pecan and Scottish tablet.

36. Favorite fast food restaurant? 
2010:  We've only got the Trawlers Catch, and they're not very fast! 
2014:  I'm not a fan of the local fish and chip shops, so I'll go for McDonalds.  Their veggie wraps are tolerable.

37. How many times did you fail your driver's test? 
Once - drove into the fence at the testing centre!

38. From whom did you get your last email? 
2010:  Becky, about b.a.b.i.e.s stuff.
2014:  I miss b.a.b.i.e.s, although I wouldn't want to start something similar up here. The BfN do a great job. My last email was from Kenny, we're discussing options for a new 'phone as ours is dying.

39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? 
2010:  Just spent lots at Dorothy Perkins
2014:  I was thinner then.  I would never max out a credit card.  The very thought is stressful, but the last place I bought a few things for me from was Yours.

40. Do anything spontaneous recently? 
2010:  Went for a walk in the woods at Dunwich/Westleton on Thursday. 
2014:  Took the girls for an extra play in the barn at Kelburn today, making us late for tea!

41. Like your job? 
Yes, but I'd like a day off now please!

42. Broccoli or Gai-lain? 
I’ll stick to broccoli. 

43. What was your favourite vacation? 
2010:  Kirkcudbright, or Longtown - can't decide.
2014:  Northumberland.  Can't wait to go back.

44. Last person you went out to dinner with? 
2010:  Had lunch out with Kenny, and the two children at Sizewell cafe yesterday.
2014:  To celebrate the third child's fourth birthday today we went out for tea at Nardini's.  With Kenny, the three children, and Kenny's parents.

45. What are you listening to right now? 
2010:  Farscape is on TV - someone wants to eat Creichton.
2014:  Nothing.  It's midnight, and I'm keeping the volume down.  This is the last thing I listened to though.

46. What is your favorite color? 

47. How many tattoos do you have? 


49. What time did you finish this quiz? 

2010:  23.29 - way past bedtime.
2014:  00:04 - way past bedtime

50. Do you believe in God? 
2010:  No. Not even slightly... apart from maybe some demigods, but nothing omnipotent.
2014:  No, but I love a good myth.  Apart from the patriarchal monotheistic ones.  Patriarchy is sooooo over ;-)

Feel like wasting your precious time answering these questions?  Please do.  I would love to know more about you!

The book challenge
Words at 18/7/14 - 103,500. I've broken the 100,000 barrier!
64,000 words done since the challenge began! 10,000 so far this month.
Where I'm at in First Draft - Chapter 36.
What I did last - Plotting. My favourite comes to an uncomfortable conclusion. The heroine will not be happy.

feeling happy inside: 10 things that bring me joy

What makes you feel happy?  I'm not talking about winning the pools here, but the simple little things that bring a warm glow.
Sunshine! And a wind turbine, which doesn't make me
especially happy, but it's better than a coal fired power
station or some fracking numpty.

Here are ten things that bring me joy:

1. Sunshine 

The warmth in your bones, and the sheer joy of a sunny day.  It might get boring in sunnier climes, but for me, in Scotland, you can't beat a glimpse of that big ball of fire in the sky.

2. Singing

I love to raise my voice and sing. I am happy to sing by myself (I've been singing along with Depeche Mode in the car today), but I really love singing in a choir. There's a Singing event in Glasgow on 27th July.  Want to come with me?

Cuddles. They're awesome
3. Cuddles

I get a lot of cuddles, and they can be annoying, especially when children are tired, and trying to cuddle your legs while you're walking. But I adore the cuddles where you just get stopped in what your doing and spend a few moments just appreciating the people you love.

4. Walking

I don't feel like doing it when I start, but I know that going for a walk will help me feel happier if I'm glum or fed up. Especially if it's a sunny day (#1).  Singing can also be involved.  It's a win all 'round.

5. Yummy food

I was going to put 'cake'. But it's not cake that makes me happy. Not unless it's really good cake. I love to eat a tasty salad too.  Really good cheese makes me very happy indeed. I just finished some Gigha Cheddar, made with milk from Jersey cows.  Beautiful texture, and a nutty, rich taste to die for.  Mmmm. Cheese.

6. Pear cider

While we're on the theme of consuming, I love pear cider. I'm so glad it's trendy at the moment, because I've always loved it, although I'm not so keen on the big success stories (Babycham and Lambrini). Pear cider used to be known as Perry, which is what I used to love, but nowadays, with big cider manufacturers getting in on the action, there is a distinction. CAMRA defines Pear Cider as any cider type drink with a pear flavour.  It can be made with pear concentrate (like Bulmers), or with apple cider, and then pear flavoured. Perry on the other hand is only the drink made with genuine perry pears. Babycham used to be genuine Perry, but it's now made from concentrate. But Lambrini is still genuine.  Shame it's so sweet. Personally I'm a big fan of Koppaberg.

7. Friends

We have moved a lot, and I've made new friends everywhere I've lived. I'm grateful for all of them. But I'm still in touch with the friends I made as a teenager. Back then we were called the Bohemian Romantics of Valhalla. Tee hee. Lots has happened, to all of us. We hardly see each other any more. But if I have something on my mind that I couldn't talk to anyone about, I can talk to them. They will listen. They will question. They will challenge. And they will support. I am profoundly grateful.

8. Family

It seems a bit harsh that they come in at number 8, but perhaps it's because it's so obvious. My family are my everything. I'm so lucky to have my three beautiful, intelligent, creative, stroppy children, and my lovely husband too. My in-laws are so supportive, and it's wonderful to see them so much. And it's such a shame that we live further away from my family than they're willing to travel much, because I would love to see more of them all.  I think we're going to have to register for house swapping or something so we can get there more.

My 'to read' pile, and my big kids, laughing at me.
I've got a lot of books on my Kindle too.
9. Books

I love getting lost in a good book, and by good I don't necessarily mean high quality. I love a well crafted world, I love fairy tales, I love things which are not real, but which contain truths nonetheless. I am a huge fan of George RR Martin, and also Kate Atkinson, Charlaine Harris, and Philippa Gregory.  There are others.

Truth be told I love books so much that I'm writing one. And I adore doing that. I like the way the characters develop and have a life of their own, that characters that weren't even going to get a name because I thought that they were insignificant at first, turn out to be very important. I recently introduced a new character, and although she was a minor (if odd) character in this book, I know she's coming back in future books. It's exciting.  I'm trying to finish the first draft of the first book by the end of the holidays. Wish me luck.

Sleep: The little girl has it sussed... apart from the bit
about doing it in your own bed!
10. Sleep

I do not get enough sleep. Often, when I do get the chance to catch up on sleep (after the kids have gone to bed for instance), I resent the idea, and stay up to write things instead (I'm writing this after my bedtime), but actually, when I get enough sleep I feel a lot happier. I can appreciate good things more, and notice bad things less. Sleep is certainly A GOOD THING.

What are the things that bring you joy?

This post is part of a series of 50 I'm doing. I'd love to see your take on one of the titles.  Find the full list here.

The book challenge
Words at 18/7/14 - 103,500. I've broken the 100,000 barrier!
64,000 words done since the challenge began! 10,000 so far this month.
Where I'm at in First Draft - Chapter 36.
What I did last - Plotting. My favourite comes to an uncomfortable conclusion. The heroine will not be happy.

Friday, 18 July 2014

being cooked for

What's your favourite place to eat?

I'm not fussy (well, OK, so I am), but I really appreciate being cooked for by someone else. At someone else's house, or in a cafe (so long as the salad is acceptable). I used to quite like cooking, but that was when I had time to do it, and I could choose to make things that I liked.

It was before my lunchtime choices revolved around either cheese or ham sandwiches.

Now I cook, and someone will whine. Sometimes I choose to cook something slightly interesting and then more people whine.  It's tedious, and dispiriting, and really I'd rather not be working away in the kitchen (at least three times a day, every day), to produce food that will be whined at.

Eating out with family. The adults are happy!
So hoorah for cafes, hoorah for friends, and a special hoorah for my fabulous mother in law who has got in to the habit of making our tea on a Friday.  Thank you.

Where do you like to eat? And do you get whined at too?

Other posts you might like:

The book challenge
Words at 18/7/14 - 103,500. I've broken the 100,000 barrier!
64,000 words done since the challenge began! 10,000 so far this month.
Where I'm at in First Draft - Chapter 36.
What I did last - Plotting. My favourite comes to an uncomfortable conclusion. The heroine will not be happy.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

walking up that hill

We're enjoying the summer holidays, but we're also suffering from a severe bout of inertia. The children are clear. They do not want to get washed. They do not want to get dressed. They do not want to leave the house.

It was raining the other day and I gave in to their demands, it resulted in a giddy and grumpy day at home. Although mattress sliding was a big hit.

mutiny #1
I've come to the conclusion that whatever they say, kids, like puppies, need to be exercised. So this morning I packed up a picnic and set out with them for a walk.

The plan was to go from Douglas Park in Largs, up the hill to the viewpoint, back down, to check out the ancient burial site, and then over the incredibly busy road which could seriously use a crossing, to the play park.

When we set off only two of the three children were whining, and I was trying to rise above them. Quite literally. It's really rather enjoyable to walk away from a whining child.

A gorgeous day for a walk

We set off up the hill, and quickly came to the first set of daunting stairs.  The youngest child attempted to stage a mutiny at this point, and we agreed to have a rest. None of the children were talking to me (which was rather pleasant). So we stopped, and enjoyed the sunshine, while eating a snack. That helped give the big kids a bit of energy, and they set off up the hill, while I hauled the little girl up. She was not happy about it, although she did have happy moments.

None shall pass
It gets a bit steep, but it was a lovely day, and the views made up for the climb. The kids though were getting really grumpy when we came to a gate, with a warning on it about cows.

We have had a situation with cattle before, when the boy ran into a field of bull calfs who were at that tricky age. Eek!  He doesn't fancy that happening again.

I couldn't see any cows, and suggested we go on regardless, but we couldn't get the blooming gate to open!  This was all that was needed for mutiny #2, and the children declared it lunch time and ran off down the hill to find a suitable picnic stop.

Mutiny #2
It's important to accept when you're beaten.

So we went down the hill to some benches where we had our picnic. The children decided they needed the toilet so we headed down to the toilets we'd seen signposted in Douglas Park.  Which were closed!  Honestly, why keep the signs up if the toilets are closed?  We were not impressed. Happily the children decided that they could all wait a bit longer, so we went to see the ancient burial site.

I'm glad we saw it, but it's a shame there isn't any information about it.  A little board would be good.

The kids were getting a bit fed up by this point, so we headed to the park across the road from Douglas Park. It took us ages to cross the road that needs a crossing, but then we had fun in the park, which was just the right amount of busy.

Ancient burial site.
The funny thing is that after having this exercise, the children were not only much happier in themselves, but they also volunteered to play out when we got home.  It's ended up being a rather marvellous day!

So what have you been up to?

Other posts you might like:

The book challenge
Words at 15/7/14 - 102,500. 
63,000 words done since the challenge began! 9,000 so far this month.
Where I'm at in First Draft - Chapter 34.
What I did last - Meeting the prodigal son.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

writing 100,000 words

I've had this story kicking around my head for a while now. Not tens of years like you hear some writers have, but for a while. I've got to know the characters, I lay awake at night realising that something is happening in the story that I didn't expect.

I am loving writing this story. But the thing I find really weird about it is that, although it all comes out of my imagination (which must be a mucky and twisted place), I don't know what's going to happen!

It first came into being through the first homework of my first writing group. We had to write something which really focused on place. I had already imagined my two main characters, although at that point they didn't really have names. But I didn't have a really firm idea of the place that they were in.

I concentrated on the place, and it was there, rising out of my imagination rather like the beautiful clockwork vision at the beginning of Game of Thrones.

I sketched out a rough map, which I've included here, because it's changed since this (and this is, basically the Isle of Man, which is sooooo not where it's set).

My heroine was based in Chaptershill, and I described the city, which is a little bit like Edinburgh Old Town/Robin Hood's Bay/Staithes, but surrounding a hill, bare at the top.

This was my first ever paragraph:
The high hill of Chaptershill could be seen for miles around, rising out of the plain, the city creeping up its sides. Buildings, the dark grey stone of the local rock seemed to have grown, rather than have been built, one atop the other. Vertiginous drops from high windows, with stairs rising all over the hill, branching off from each other like white roots, searching for nourishment found only, strangely, at the top.
I couldn't stop thinking about what was happening in Chaptershill, and Kenny encouraged me to write it out. So I set to work planning the story.

It was only when I was about 30,000 words into it that I realised it was the second book.

So I went back to the beginning, a book not so much about my heroine, but about my hero, and the interesting path he followed that would cause such disruption.

I've been working on it when I can for a while, and back in February I promised myself that I would finish the first draft of the first book by the end of the summer holidays. I called it the book challenge, and every blog post has the latest update of how I am getting on with it.

I am not at the end of the first story yet, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel, although the tunnel seems awfully twisty.

I had imagined that the first story would be about 100,000 words, and it might be. But the first draft is clearly going to be more than that, because my word count went over 100,000 words today, and I have not finished.

It's going to happen though. I'm going to finish the first draft, and one day you are going to get to meet all the characters that are milling around in my mind. 

I promise I won't kill them all.

They say there is a book in all of us.  What would you fancy writing?

Other posts you might like:

The book challenge
Words at 15/7/14 - 102,500. 
63,000 words done since the challenge began! 9,000 so far this month.
Where I'm at in First Draft - Chapter 34.
What I did last - Meeting the prodigal son.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

changing the UK flag?

There are a lot of things that could come about should Scotland decide to go for independence in Scotland, and one that is being discussed at the moment is changing the flag of the United Kingdom.

At the moment, of course, it's the Union Flag. The Cross of St George (England), on top of the Cross of St Patrick (Ireland), on top of the Saltire (Scotland). Wales is not represented because it was officially subsumed into England at the time the Union Flag was created.

Suggested UK flag post Scottish independence, from here
So, in theory, the flag makers could simply take out the Saltire, and put in something from Wales, to create something a bit like this.

Some argue that it's a bit too Christian, and it is. But Britain is also still officially a Christian country so them's the breaks.

The trouble is of course that the Union Flag is such an icon. It's doing the job that flags are supposed to do. The Union Flag is on so many other flags around the world, because of British imperialism, that to change it would seem to me to be ridiculous.  

In addition to this, the Union Flag has never been formally adopted, so it is not as if a newly independent Scotland could demand the Saltire blue be removed from it.  I can't see them changing it myself.

And I'm hoping it doesn't become an issue.

Of course, there would be loads of stuff for a graphic designer to get busy with in an independent Scotland. I reckon they could make some pretty awesome money. I'm already a fan of the Scottish notes.

What do you think? If Scotland becomes independent, do you think they'll change the Union Flag?

Other posts you might like:

The book challenge
Words at 8/7/14 - 97,000. 
57,500 words done since the challenge began! 12,000 last month.
Where I'm at in First Draft - Chapter 29.
What I did last - Getting tattoos.

Friday, 4 July 2014

fiddling with loom bands

We've only got one band loom, between three children (and me, if I'm honest). It's not enough. You can use other things.  My daughter's best mate is adept at making chain bands on her fingers, my friend Lynn is a fan of two pencils for fishtail bands, and other people use forks! I'm considering bashing a couple of nails into a bit of wood.

I was going to get one at the toy shop the other day but it's £8! with 600 loom bands.  They are a lot cheaper at the pound shop, so I'm intending on get one there shortly.  

Loom banding is the thing of the moment, and I'm pretty chuffed about it.  The bands get everywhere, but they're cheap, and it's not hard to make bracelets that look alright.  They look really great when there are loads of them together. They get less grubby than friendship bracelets, and if they fall apart you can re-use the bits.  They're not just good for bracelets. You can make all sorts of things, like glasses chains, key-rings, and earrings.

It's not just young kids and their parents that are into it. Teens and young adults are doing it to.

My kids are great at starting loom bands.  And sometimes they finish them too. Our favourite style is a fishtail, which is really easy to do, here's a video from Ashley Steph to show you how to make it:

You can get on to some more complicated techniques too.  Lots of kids are really good at these (and YouTube is awash with videos), but a lot of the more complicated ones are completed by parents too.

Rob watched a video on YouTube and finished making his daughter's triple single chain bracelet, after both she, and her Mum failed.  We think he's a bit of a hero, but he's yet to make a starburst bracelet.

Rob, his daughter, and the bracelet. Picture from Mum, Jane.
If you want to make a triple chain bracelet on two forks there's a video tutorial here
The down side of loom bands is that the bands can get everywhere.  My friend Emma was today showing me the dividers her husband made to keep the bands in the right colour categories, so that finding them doesn't stress her out.  Bless her, she's just had a baby.  I know lots of people who've had to fish them out of their hoovers, and one friend had to take her washing machine to bits and remove bands which had got tangled in the inner workings (watch out for that, our washing machine caught fire when I was a kid due to an errant bobble).

There's also a concern about small children, and small animals eating the bands.  Vets are saying they've had to operate to remove them from cats (although our cat is more discerning, and would only eat them if they were dipped in gravy), and there's so much demand, that allegedly rubber production has had to increase, leading to pollution (more here).  I'm guessing this is from the production because rubber comes from trees doesn't it?

So, what have you been making with loom bands?

Other posts you might like:

The book challenge
Words at 8/7/14 - 96,500. 
57,000 words done since the challenge began! 12,000 last month.
Where I'm at in First Draft - Chapter 28.
What I did last - Planning chapter 29 (dress fitting).