On this day…

In an effort to jazz up my blog, today I’m not going to talk about the dogs and what I’ve been reading or watching, but am going to do a little history (I love history, so if you don’t…well, sorry!).

On this day in 1513, the oddly named Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon claimed Florida for Spain. He landed at what is now St Augustine, the oldest city in the US.

Commodore William James captured the pirate fortress of Suvarnadurg in India in 1755.

In 1982, the Falkland Wars began when Argentina invaded the islands. The conflict last ten weeks and around 1000 were killed.

Hans Christian Andersen, he of the fairytale writing fame, was born on this day on 1805 in Odense, Denmark. He wrote 168 fairytales including the fabulous Snow Queen and The Ugly Duckling.

Another writer born on this day in 1840 was Emile Zola. He was born in Paris, wrote a series of 20 books known as Rougon-Macquart novels and defended Captain Alfred Dreyfus when he was accused of treason.

Other famous folk who share this birthday include Alec Guinness (1914),  Marvin Gaye (1939) and Emmylou Harris (1947).

In 1902, the first film theatre opened in America on this day and in 1921 Albert Einstein lectured in New York on his new Theory of Relativity.

So there you go, hopefully you’ve found this interesting!! Til next time.

Dawn xx

 

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Happy Mother’s Day, Sickness in the House, a Sky Full of Diamonds and Why Giles is my Writing Hero

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Another gratuitous pic of the dog…just to cheer you up.

Oh and here’s another…

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Right enough of that. How are you all? Happy Mother’s Day. Hope all you mums out there are having a good one. I was given breakfast in bed this morning: toasted bagel, orange juice and tea. Plus lots of hugs, kisses, cards (home-made and bought) and some lovely vintage bags (bought by myself – well, I needed to ensure I would get what I wanted!!). Then I had a couple of hours to myself reading in bed…and looking on Facebook and on Pinterest. Fab.

Now it’s back to reality – there’s a pile of dishes needing done and my ironing is threatening to take over the world it’s that high. I hate ironing.

So how’s your week been? Ours has been a tiny bit quieter and it’s been good to get a bit of time to catch up with things. We’ve had fewer visitors and fewer trips to hospital which means I’ve been able to keep up with the house. It’s amazing how quickly things back up when you’ve not had the time to do them. It’s taken me all weekend to tackle the washing and there’s still a big pile slumped forlornly up against the washing machine waiting its turn.

Anyway, enough of me moaning. The boy was ill this week with a cold. He had a really sore throat at the start of the week which turned into nasty earache yesterday. He was up in the wee small hours this morning crying in pain. I had to administer more Calpol and kisses. Wee soul. He’s better now, I think the inflammation must be getting better. You might think that getting up at that time (I think it was around 3am or 5.10am, I can’t remember, it’s all a sleepy blur) is horrendous and normally it is, but it gave me the time to peek out the windows and gaze at the sky. I do this a lot at night. I always look out the back windows when it’s night-time to see what the stars are up to. Last night, the sky was stunning. There was not a cloud in sight and the stars were out in all their glory. It was as if someone had taken a handful of glittering diamonds and thrown them up into the air where they stuck to the black velvet of the sky. Gorgeous. I wish I had had a camera (and the talent) on hand to take a pic. The nice thing about it is that the image has stuck with me all day and it’s lovely.

Millie had her first walk on Thursday and had a mixed reaction to it. Once she had gotten used to the lead she walked quite well. However, I don’t know if it was a mixture of being cold (despite having her little coat on) and being a little scared, but she whined and wanted up for most of the walk. She’s not daft that dog – why walk through cold, squidgy mud when you have a giant to carry you! Anyway, the kids have been enjoying taking her out for walks around the estate and showing her off.

Just wanted to say a big thank you to my friend Ian and his brother Scott from Averton Landscapes who came and cut up the big branches that fell in the back garden. About half the tree fell down in the high winds a few weeks ago, but it was so big it was as if a tree had fallen!! Here is what it looked like:

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So thanks guys for doing the work for us! We greatly appreciate it.

What else has been happening chez moi? Um…not a lot of exciting things, I’m afraid. We’re just trying to have a normal life at the moment. I’ve been getting a lot of paperwork and stuff sorted so that it frees me up to get back to writing.

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Talking of writing…I watched Giles Coren’s programme My Failed Novel which was his (incredibly brave) look at why his book Winkler failed to sell in great quantities. It was an excellent programme in which he talked to many famous writers and readers about his book and what it takes to be a successful writer. The crux of the position is: few writers make enough money from writing to support themselves (which I knew), even fewer make the millions that everyone seems to think writers always earn (we don’t) and that it’s bloody hard work (this I also knew). I really admire Giles for letting other people critique his book and talk to him about why they think it wasn’t a success. Good on you Giles. It’s hard to hear criticism of your writing, particularly if you spent months working on it. I would recommend this programme to anyone who wants to write, not to put you off, but to give you an insight into what it actually takes to be a writer and what the reality of it is. It’s not all champagne quaffing and doing readings to an appreciative audience. On that note, am off to quaff some champers…only joking!!

Right, I am off to get the ironing board out and a good wummin’s film on the telly to take the sting out of the huge pile I have to do. Just limbering up the old arms in readyness for the horrendous amount of work I have to do with the iron.

Til next time!

Dawn xxxx

 

 

Here she is…Get Read for the Awwwww!

Miss Millie

Miss Millie

 

By popular demand – well Elspeth – here’s a pic of my new ‘baby’ Millie. She’s a lovely natured wee dog and extremely funny. She had the second lot of her jags today and is lying in her bed exhausted from it all. She looks dead comfy…wee soul. We all love her in the house except for the guinea pigs who are NOT impressed with having a predator in the house, particularly one who is desperate to get into their cage to find out what they are. They are not as friendly to me as they usually are, objecting to being picked up or patted. It’s not like them, I think they are in a piggy huff. We shall have to be vigilant in keeping the door to their room closed to ensure Millie doesn’t get at them. I don’t know who would win at the moment as my piggy boys are about the same size as my wee girl.

We are not amused!

We are not amused!

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So how’s things in your life? Hope all is going well. Poor hubby has been really ill this week…he had his first lot of chemo last week and his white blood cell count dropped to dangerously low levels. He had to spend Monday night in hospital because he needed four pints of blood to try and bring his levels up. He got out on Tuesday afternoon and is a lot better, but is going in again next week to get more. The difference in him today compared to last weekend is like night and day. Over the weekend he became increasingly weak, he couldn’t breathe properly and had no energy. Today, he’s almost back to normal, thank goodness.

Anyway, that’s been the worry this week. The rest of the week has been okay with the exception of my flat tyre on Monday (I burst it as I was going up to the hospital and I got a local mobile tyre repair company to meet me at the hospital to replace the tyre – I think it was Lomond Tyres and Auto Care and they were great and also not expensive, so thanks guys). Monday was just NOT a good day. I was glad to get home that night I can tell you! And much better again when I could pick up hubby the next day and get him home.

We’ve not been doing much the rest of the week (except going to work – me; recovering – hubby) and it’s been just what we needed.

As part of the girl’s birthday celebrations last week, she went swimming with her friends on Saturday morning. Myself and the boy met them at the local Weatherspoon’s to buy them lunch. We weren’t allowed to sit with them – apparently I’m embarrassing! – so we sat at a nearby table. The girl and her three friends definitely enjoyed themselves. They looked (and no doubt felt) really grown up sitting at a table all by themselves, choosing from the menu, flicking their hair and comparing make-up (they are all 11!). The girl said it was the best birthday ever, which was great.

This weekend my sisters, their hubbies and weans, and my parents are coming down en masse for tea and cake and a blether. Haven’t seen my sisters for a while, so will be nice to catch up with them. Saw my parents last week, but it’s always good to see them. I will need to dig out all of my teapots to cope as we are all Tea Jennys in our family!!

Right am going to have to go. Got some things to do around the house before picking up the weans! Til next time!

Dawn xxx

Trying to get more veggies into ’em!

So, new year, new start and part of that for me is to get more vegetables into hubby and the kids. Last year was very much a non year healthy eating wise – because of hubby being sick and hospital visits and trying to keep everything going, it was very much a case of getting something on to the table whether that was made from scratch, made from a packet or bought at a takeaway.  Now that we’re coming out the end of that cycle of cancer treatments (yipeee! fingers crossed that’ll be it), I fully intend to get back to cooking from scratch for nearly every meal.

However, I am already hitting resistance, not just from the kids, but hubby too. I made really lovely meatballs and pasta last night from Jo Pratt’s In the Mood for Healthy Food  and everyone moaned about them. To be fair to hubby, the chemo has affected how he tastes and enjoys food. Sigh.

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Am currently making root veg falafels from the same book and when I told him what we were having, hubby screwed up his face at them. I told him to try them and see if he likes them before deciding he didn’t like them. Honestly, it sometimes feels like I have three kids instead of just two!!

Anyway, that’s enough of moaning, how are you all? Hope you are well. What’s this weather been like lately? Got up this morning and the whole place was under ice. Spent about ten minutes de-icing the car this morning before I could take the kids to school. Was really chilly. Finally it’s beginning to feel the way winter should. It has been worringly too mild for too long.

This week I’ve been back at work and started to eat and be more healthy (see last post). I haven’t touched wine or coca cola since we last spoke and intend to keep that going. Have finally finished my Christmas chocolates (well most of it…two chocolate oranges and a large bar of chocolate) so chocolate is the next thing to be reduced and chucked out. I want to get into the habit of eating only home-made biscuits and cakes because 1) I know what’s in them; 2) they are fresh; and 3) they are more filling so I won’t need to eat much of them to feel satisfied. It’s all in the masterplan!! Hee hee! Am also on the downward slope to cutting out snacking in between meals. I’ve decided to do this slowly so that I don’t crave (and give into) rubbish. Next, I’m upping my exercise starting this weekend…back to yoga first (hopefully that will sort out my back which still twinges from time to time).

On the writing side of things, I cleared out my study (it was a dumping ground for Christmas pressies and rubbish) and I aim to start back at writing. I’ve got a project to launch, which I aim to do at the end of this month, and am going to get back into a book I’ve half written. It’s aimed at young adults. I’ve been finding it really difficult to write, but I think that may have been partly because of the horrible year we had last year and partly because I just wasn’t getting my head down to get on with it!! I have no excuses this year and only myself to blame if I don’t finish the book.

Jings that’s a lot of intentions I have!

Ref the falafals…the root veg was taking it’s time cooking, so we had home-made lentil soup instead (made yesterday). We’ll have the falafals tomorrow and I’ll let you know how we get on. The kids will be able to try them so no doubt that will be another moan. Talking of lentil soup, the recipe is delicious. Here it is if you want to have a go making it for yourself…

Home-made Lentil Soup (serves 4-6)

half a turnip (swede to anyone who is not Scottish)

one potato

five carrots

one onion

four ham stock cube

Two large handfuls of red lentils (minimum 100g – I like to put loads in, I like the soup thick)

Two litres of water

Method – grate or chop all the vegetables and place with the stock cubes, water and lentils in a pot. Heat up to boiling point. Turn down so that it’s simmering and simmer for at least half an hour or until the soup is done. Serve with a side of bread/rolls and butter. Yummmm!!

Right enough of all this food talk. I will say adieu for now. Til next time!

Dawn xxx

Rosehips and swimming

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Hello! How’s things? Hope you are well. What’s been happening in your world lately? Hope it’s been a good time for you. Me? Well I’ve not much to update since the last time I blogged (a couple of days ago). The weather in the Central Belt has been mainly foggy in the morning then burning off to lovely warm sunshine later…It’s taking it’s time to burn off this afternoon, but am hopeful for a bit of sunshine soon.

The boy hasn’t been well the last couple of days. I think it’s just a wee stomach bug. He was off school yesterday (having woken up during the night the night before crying with stomach pain) and I was called to the school this morning to pick him up. He seemed ill earlier, but has picked up remarkably…ahem.

A view of the Clyde

A view of the Clyde.

This morning – before the school phonecall – I went to our local pool and swam 36 lengths. That’s half a mile with four lengths over. In training for next year’s triathlons and open water swims. Was really pleased as I shaved three-and-a-half minutes off my half a mile time. I felt stronger in the water too and didn’t get puffed out after ten lengths. I could have gone a bit longer, but I want to take it slowly but surely. Tonight am planning a short go on the exercise bike…again building it up slowly.

This weekend we have nothing planned. If it’s dry I may take the kids out cycling or walking for a little while. See how it goes.

Right that’s it for me today. Am away to do the housework!

Til next time!

Dawn xxx

PS the photos were taken on my Samsung phone en route to work on Tuesday. It was a lovely lovely day.

Fighting over the fridge, superheroes in garden and bat no more!

It’s amazing what amuses kids. We had to buy a new fridge freezer recently as our old fridge went kaput – the door was no longer closing properly – and the freezer was on its last legs. Anyway, the freezer has a bit for making ice cubes and the kids think this is wonderful. They’ve had ice with every drink they’ve had since we got it. They also fight over who is putting the tomato sauce back in the fridge…we’re enjoying it while the novelty lasts!

 

I should point out that this is not my fridge...it's just here as an illustration because I've been too lazy/busy to take my own photos!

I should point out that this is not my fridge…it’s just here as an illustration because I’ve been too lazy/busy to take my own photos!

So how are you all? What’s been happening in your world? This week hasn’t been as eventful in the sense we haven’t really gone anywhere, but I have been busy. Am currently all achy after cutting the grass in the front and back gardens. That’s after going food shopping this morning, baking banana bread and oat biscuits, and making granola. I also did a tonne of dishes and tidied up the kitchen. I took advantage of the dry weather by getting loads of washing out. I am shattered. It’s me old lady bones!!

Banana bread - yum! Again not my pic and not the bread I make, but it's close!

Banana bread – yum! Again not my pic and not the bread I make, but it’s close!

Had to laugh at the boy this afternoon. He and his friend were out in the garden being superheroes. They are seven and six respectively and really cute still! They were running around pretending to be Batman and a baddy and there was lots of singing and ‘Pretend I’ve got a costume on…’ ‘Pretend I’ve got a gun…’ Oh to be that age again! My boy has also discovered whistling, which would be fine if he whistled in tune. I’ve been not too bad about it today…I have a low tolerance to whistling (although I sometimes do it myself) so the boy’s attempts at cheerful little ditties have had the same effect on me as nails scraping down a blackboard. Arggggggghhhhhhh! STOP IT!!!!!! I can’t think of any occasion (or any piece of music or song) where I’ve thought to myself: ‘That whistling really adds to that!’.

Jings I’m getting moany in my old age!

Found this fab blog called ReFashionista. It’s an American lady called Jillian Owens who takes charity shop finds and turns them into lovely new togs. I’ve only just come across her and I like the blog because it’s amazing what she does with secondhand clothes and the expressions she pulls in her ‘before’ pics make me laugh. I know! It doesn’t take much to amuse me! The treasures she finds when shopping in the thrift stores are fab! A girl after my own heart!

Confession time (she says shamefaced), I still haven’t finished the Gormenghast trilogy. I’ve been that busy reading up on cancer and what we can do to improve hubby’s health, that reading fiction has fallen by the wayside. I’ve also been reading how to write books (I think it’s good to keep learning about writing) and Chris Guillebeau’s The $100 Start Up.

Finally, it is with some sadness that I report that one of my beloved bats – those little flying ‘mice’ who skitter about high in the trees in my back garden at dusk, those little beings who look so joyful as they swoop about catching bugs – well, my neighbour’s cat managed to get one the other day. Bat no more! Although I am saddened by the demise of the bat, I can’t help but be totally impressed by the cat. How did she manage to catch one? They fly at the level of the top of the trees. Did she launch herself from the top of the garage with a ‘Jeronimo!!’?? Was she perched high in the silver birch ready to pounce? Does she have secret powers that enable her to fly? Who knows! What I do know is that my neighbour was not in the least bit impressed by the ‘present’ of the dead bat.

Finally finally…I must pose this question: is there anything other than mice/rats that would gnaw open a bag of flour? We have a small larder cupboard in our kitchen and today (with disgust and, I must admit, a teeny bit of retching) I noticed something had taken the corner out a bag of flour. I am hoping we are not infested with mice. We’ve put traps down – I know, it’s horrible, but I need to catch whatever ate the flour. I can’t afford to just leave it. We have kids. Mice (or, God forbid, rats) pose a big potential health problem. Anyway, squeamishness at murdering a little being aside, I need to catch it. Whilst cleaning out the cupboard to check it hadn’t gotten anything else (and bleaching the shelf to within an inch of its life), I must have disturbed some eight-legged beasties. They were huge spiders (I think they are common or garden spiders) with gi-normous legs and mean little eyes. Ew. I normally don’t mind spiders (I did rescue one today from the bath), but these ones turned my stomach! The memory is making me feel a little yucky even now!

Right, on that note, I am away to have a restorative cup of tea and maybe an oat biscuit. Til next time!

Dawn xxx (who is hoping she doesn’t have to deal with any gi-normous arachnids or flour eating rodents any more).

 

Ballet, piano and Bette Davis

Well, I’ve gone and voted and once I got to the ballot box I was under no doubt  which way I was voting. The last couple of weeks have been both exhilarating and a bit scary. Independence is a huge step and today is historic. Am waiting with bated breath to see what happens when they announce the result tomorrow.

This week has been overtaken with the Referendum. You just couldn’t get away from it. However, apart from that we’ve seen a few things happening. The boy had a really bad ear infection recently and it’s now cleared up. He also started piano lessons last week and seems to like them…so far. The girl is still in love with ballet. I bought a ballet exercise DVD so we can do something together (the boy and I have piano) plus it will hopefully get me fitter. Over the last five years I’ve put on more than a stone in weight. I don’t eat any more than I did before and I certainly am busier than ever. I think it’s the fact that I’m over 40 and have a sedentary job. Sigh. Anyway, ballet here we come!! Am sure a few plies will sort out my thighs!

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Hubby celebrated his 51st birthday last week too. Me and the kids took him out a local Chinese restaurant for a meal and various members of the family visited with presents or sent cards. On his actual birthday, I made him a special meal for every meal time. The kids insisted on having pancakes for breakfast, I made veggie tortillas (from The Fussy Eater’s Cookbook by Tana Ramsay) for lunch and we had Hungarian Ghoulash for dinner…yum. There was also birthday cake and custard…lovely.

Bette Davis 1

Am currently reading Bette Davis’ The Lonely Life and it’s excellent. Her voice and strong opinions ring through the book and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. As you know I am a huge fan. All About Eve is in my top ten all time films…she’s fabulous in that. Other fave Bette films include Now Voyager and Jezebel.

Bette Davis 2

While I greatly admire Ms Davis, what else rings through the book is her absolute determination to get to the top no matter the cost. I think she was used to getting her own way. She was a strong woman who didn’t put up with rubbish. Some may call her a bitch. I think she had to be to pursue her dreams. Anyway, she’s very inspiring and her book is full of great stories and truths.

What else has been happening? I took the plunge and bought myself a new sewing machine. My machine was secondhand when my parents gave it to me when I was 11 or 12, so it’s at least 30 years old! It’s not reliable. I’m hoping a new one will be so that I can get on with sewing.

Right, that’s it for this week. I am going to finish up here for now. Until next time!

Dawn xx

 

 

 

 

 

The big fish was just one of the things we saw

Through the trees and shrubs there's a lovely house...Overtoun House in Dumbarton.

Through the trees and shrubs there’s a lovely house…Overtoun House near Dumbarton.

Okay, okay, so I’ve not blogged for a couple of weeks. I know! I’ve been remiss, but there’s been a lot happening chez moi lately…okay, mainly housework and work and that kind of stuff, but the boy’s had an ear infection and we’ve not been having a lot of sleep lately and blogging was the last thing I wanted to do.

But I’m back now! Yippee!! Had a lovely email from Fiona Remnant from New Zealand regarding my DarkIsle books and how much her children loved them. She made me laugh when she said the family are now blaming any unwelcome smells on Klapp demons! We do that in our house too!! Hee hee. Thank you for the email Fiona!

So, what else have I been up to?? Hmmm, what to tell. As I said the boy’s had an ear infection and I’ve gone through a fair few bottles of the Magic Calpol. Took him to the doctor’s on Monday and she gave him a prescription for Amoxicillin, the banana flavoured antibiotic which I loved as a kid, but which he grimaces at and shouts ‘ew’ every time I put it near his still gumsy mouth (he has two teeth missing at the mo’). I don’t get it. I loved the stuff! Anyway, he seems to be mending pretty well. I had to keep him off school for a couple of days (the girl mysteriously went down with a stomach illness on one of the days, but had a miraculous recovery within ten minutes of getting home…a little jealous of the boy being at home methinks! A wee bit of the green-eyed monster rearing its ugly head?). Hmmmm.

Despite the earache, we all still managed to get out and about over the weekend. We drove into Dumbarton (former capital of Strathclyde and home to the wonderful Dumbarton Castle which sits atop Dumbarton Rock, which I think is a volcanic plug…anyway, if you’re ever in Dumbarton, it’s well worth visiting), through into Milton and up to Overtoun House, which is a Victorian mansion up the back of the town. It has excellent walks. I’d never been there before, this was my first time and the kids and it was fun exploring. Below are some pics taken on our walk…

We started by the bridge and walked down the path close to the burn.

We started by the bridge and walked down the path close to the burn.

Hints of autumn…brambles anyone?

Big Fish...the title of a favourite film and this lovely specimen.

Big Fish…the title of a favourite film and this lovely specimen.

Fast flowing water.

Fast flowing water.

The local crags.

The local crags.

Mossy stones...dank and green.

Mossy stones…dank and green.

Overtoun House, Dumbarton

Back to the house again.

The lovely garden.

The lovely garden.

I think Overtoun House is currently being used as a Christian retreat, but the gardens are open to the public and there were loads of folk taking advantage of the dry weather that afternoon. The house has a café which unfortunately was closed the day we went, which was a shame because we could have done with a cup of tea! The house was once a family home for the Smith family and a few decades ago was a maternity hospital and my brother-in-law was born there. Was definitely worth the trip and the kids loved the freedom of running around, finding wee nooks and crannies and generally having fun!

If you’re wondering why I’ve not mentioned the Scottish Referendum in any recent post, it’s because it’s such a highly emotive subject here. We’ve got two weeks to go to the actual day and things are hotting up. Everywhere you go, there are Saltires flying all over the place…I must admit I’ve been impressed by the number of enormous flags flying from high rise flats all over the place. I’ve never seen so many Saltires flying…it’s not something we as a nation tend to do, which is a shame because we should. There are also many, many ‘yes’ posters and not so many ‘no’ posters. I don’t know if this is because the ‘yes’ voters are more open about their views and the ‘no’ voters are not or if it means that most of the population plans to vote ‘yes’. We shall see. Anyway, people on both sides are very emotional about their views…I have friends and family some of whom will vote yes and some no. I know how I am voting and I respect those who have a differing view. However, I’m not going to air my politics here. I want this blog to be apolitical. I will however mention the odd bit and piece about the Referendum, an event I find both exciting and a bit scary. Two weeks to go and counting!

Right on that note, I am off. As usual I have motherly/housewifey things to be getting on with. I think I will start with a little cup of tea.

Til next time.

Dawnxxxx