Plums, Miss Lister and Elizabeth Gaskell

Look at this small haul of beauties. Picked these from one of my plum trees this year. A plum tree – one of two – which was ‘cut back’ more than a decade ago by my late husband who had no clue what he was doing. It’s taken them all this time to recover. And I think tree number two has not produced any fruit. Anyway, I’ve picked this lot and hope to get some more. Need to take the step ladders out to get up to the higher branches, but I’ll do that tomorrow. This is a start.

And what do I plan to do with them? Make plum jam again. Last year, my friend Jane gave myself and our other friend, Tracy, a huge amount of plums from the trees in her sister’s garden. I made them into jam and it was delicious. I couldn’t get enough of it. So am hoping for more plums from that source again (if that’s okay, Jane!) and will add them to my small haul. Will share the results once the jam is made.

So, how are you this week? Fine and dandy I hope?? Hopefully, if you’ve been reading this blog you’ll know that I’ve finally finished editing my latest in the Nina Esposito series. The Jacobite’s Share is the sequel to Dusting Down Alcudi and is set in Perthshire, Scotland. It features our favourite archaeologist and treasure hunter, Nina, her sexy beau, Jay and a whole host of other great characters. There’s an ancient castle, attempted murder and a whole lot more. I am aiming to get the book out early next year, so watch this space!

What else has been going on?

Finally finished the above book. It was really interesting and Anne’s personality shone right through it. However, I was a bit sad that it ended before she met Ann Walker, whom she went abroad with. Would love to read those diaries especially as the TV series is based on her later life with Ann. Still it gives a lovely glimpse into her life in Georgian England and all the manners and expectations someone of her class had.

She lived most of her life in Halifax, which is just over ten miles away from Haworth, home of the Brontes. It is unlikely they ever met. I believe the Brontes would have been too far down in terms of class for Miss Lister, who was keenly aware of whom she should be consorting with.

The Brontes did not print their first book until 1846 (a book of poems by all three), which is some six years after she died. And then Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey came out the following year catapulting these young women to literary stardom. It saddens me that Anne Lister never got to read these amazing books and I would have loved to have read what she thought of them. She was a keen reader and was keen to learn at every opportunity.

Anne Lister.

Anne Lister died at the age of 49 in what is now the modern country of Georgia, with her ‘wife’ Ann Walker at her side. Her body was brought back to Halifax in April 1841 where it was interred within the church.

I feel quite sad that I have finished it now. Oh well, on to my next book which will be Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell, who did know the Brontes. Charlotte Bronte was a particular friend of hers. Elizabeth also knew Charles Dickens. Anyway, having enjoyed the TV adaptation of it, I cannot wait to start the book.

So, what else have I been up to? Well, I’ve been forging ahead with setting up my small PR and social media marketing business and hopefully have more jobs coming up. My OU course starts soon, but I’m going to get a head start on it by beginning this week (cannot wait!). I am in the process of writing another stand alone book about the havoc a genie wreaks on an unsuspecting young man. I have a murder book to edit and a young adult book to go over again.

On top of that, I’m busy trying to get the garden in order. The weather has been dry enough and cool enough for me to work on it. However, as I have a back that hurts at every opportunity, I have decided the best way to tackle the garden is by doing a bit every day. And it’s been quite enjoyable except for the fact that Millie keeps trying to escape into the neighbour’s garden due to a hole in the fence made by some stupid young guys cutting down some branches for me. Humph.They knocked some slats off and didn’t even tell me. I only found out about the hole when I heard Millie’s plaintive yelp coming from my neighbour’s garden. Being a small, quick dog she was impossible to catch. We got her eventually. Sigh. Won’t be getting those guys in to do the branches again.

Right, I am going to finish up here and wish you all adieu until next time.

Dawn xxx

Advertisements

Shorn, vampires and Anne Lister

Hello my lovely followers. How are you all? Hope you are well. What have you been up to this week? Me? I’ve been really busy and there was a bit of sickness in the house – again! Brought in by one of the kids – again! But that’s what happens when you are a parent. They are little bug-meisters, kids are!

Anyway, over the last week, I have had my hair chopped into a bob. It was about time. Normally I wear my hair up and back away from my face because basically my hair annoys me. And I hate going to the hairdresser so a short do is out cos it would mean constant trips to the hair salon to get it cut. My hair grows like weeds. So, I keep it long so I can wear it up. However, as I am hurtling towards the age of 50 (next year), I wanted a softer hairstyle. Hence the bob. I quite like my new look. The pic below was taken a few days ago after I’d been out (on a wet and windy day) walking the dogs, so the style is not the best it could be.

What else have I been up to? Well, the girl was sent home last Wednesday after being sick. I had to go and get her and she was white as a sheet and green about the gills. Straight to bed for her. She was off the next day, but insisted on going to school on the Friday. By Friday, however, I was feeling exceptionally peaky and spent the day lying on the sofa catching up on television programmes and generally feeling sorry for myself. I should have been over at a friend’s house having lunch and drinking wine. Instead, I was feeling exceedingly sick. I was not a happy chappy that day I can tell you. Anyway, such is life!

Talking of telly, have any of you managed to watch What We Do in the Shadows? It’s a spoof documentary series following four vampire housemates in a city in America. It’s hilarious. Some of the things they get up to are incredibly silly, but silly in a way that’s really funny. Just watched the most recent episodes this morning as I was taking in my daughter’s dress (we’ve got a wedding coming up). I had to stop sewing to have a good old chuckle at it. Watched the original film (Australian vampires) last week and that was good too.

The cast from the original film What We Do in the Shadows.
Some of the cast from the tv version – it’s so funny.

I have also been hooked on the BBC’s new drama Gentleman Jack which is based on the life of Anne Lister. Suranne Jones takes the lead role as Anne with Sophie Rundle as her love interest, Ann Walker. It’s brilliant drama and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s also a fascinating story about Anne Lister – what a strong minded, independent woman she must have been to live the way she did at the time.

Suranne (right) and Sophie (left) as the lovers Anne Lister and Ann Walker.
The real Anne Lister.

Anyway, now I am going to have to buy a book about Anne Lister. I want to know more about this interesting woman who lived her life on her own terms.

What else? I have nothing else to report at the moment. I haven’t been writing recently. Been too busy with various social events, so I am getting back into it this week – I have scheduled it in! I’ve also been too tired to read anything when I go to bed at night. I have a growing bundle of excellent books by my bed, so I’ll be getting back into that. I know – my life is SO rock ‘n’ roll – not! I like it though.

Right, I am going to finish up here. I have a young man to pick up from school and another cup of tea to drink when I return. Til next time.

Dawn xxx

A broken hand, Dusting is out and Apple Pie

stone-sea-horses-1233336.jpg

Hello everyone, how are you all? Hope you are all well and had a good day today. I had the best day I’ve had this week, but more on that in a minute. Do you like the image above? Well, I happened to be scrolling through a free image site and stumbled across some lovely stone images. As the descendent of a stonemason (true), I really love carved stone. So, to celebrate the art of stonemasonry, today’s blog is dedicated to beautiful things carved in stone.

Right, why was today the best day this week? It’s because I am no longer in pain. And why is that? Because my right hand is not broken (as I thought it might be on Tuesday – aka extreme pain day – or even yesterday – aka very painful day) and is recovering quickly. Here’s what happened – I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday night in extreme pain from the back of my right hand. I had no idea what I had done to it. I had not bashed it or hurt it that day. So, I got up on Tuesday in extreme pain (thank God for painkillers), got the kids to school and spent the day binge watching Grace & Frankie on Netflix (love that show, so funny) and debating whether or not to go to the hospital for an x-ray.

Any of you who have been following this blog for a while will know that I have spent a lot of time up at our local hospital over the last few years what with my husband’s illness and an extremely accident prone daughter (my son, who is 10, has been up there for the Minor Injuries Unit twice; my daughter, who is 13, has been up there about ten times). Anyway, I was reluctant to go, but I eventually relented and went yesterday. One examination and an x-ray later and it’s not broken. Phew. However the nurse did ask how it happened and here’s what’s weird – the only time I hurt it was last week when a tin of beans (or something similar) fell on it from the cupboard. That was extremely painful and the air was blue with expletives. Anyway, it hurt for a while and then the pain went away. Then I went to Pilates on Monday and it felt sore, but only when I put some weight on it. Afterwards, there was no pain…until the middle of the night. I can only think I have ‘reopened’ (for want of a better word) the injury. The nurse thought that might be it too. She said when the can hit my hand I had essentially tenderised my hand.  Ew, the thought of that.

Anyway, it stopped any kind of writing for two days. Today is the first day without any real pain and that has been good.

door-details-5-1215521

The hand injury has also stopped me from doing much else this week apart from watching telly. It’s also taught me how much I use my right hand. I was seriously slowed down and it was driving me nuts, especially as I couldn’t write.

However, thanks to me setting things up…Dusting Down Alcudia is now available on Amazon here in both paperback, ebook and large print. If you haven’t already get your free character book from here.   Right, enough of the sales speak.

Regarding writing, I am still studying how to be an indie publisher, how to promote and market my books, and anything else I find useful. Currently reading Joanna Penn’s How to Make a Living From Your Writing, which will be swiftly followed by her Business for Authors. I can’t tell you how valuable I find Joanna’s books and her website, The Creative Penn. If you are a wannabe writer for both traditionally published or indie published fiction and non fiction, I would really recommend her books and website. I’m not telling you this to earn money, this is my actual opinion.

squid-1531874

I’ve been making apple pie recently. A friend in the village I live in gave me a big bag of apples from their apple tree and I made a huge pot of pie filling. I made two apple pies – one for us and one for my friend (well it’s actually her and her husband) – and I have enough leftover for another. Yum!

I have also been getting into making sour dough. My starter is started. His name is Fred and I have been feeding him all week. Fred lives on the island of my kitchen in a large Kilner jar. He sits there and bubbles and froths and generally looks happy. I am starting to think of him as a living being, which I suppose he is being all wild yeast. I will give him a couple of more days and then I am going to make sour dough bread. Wish me luck.

Due to aforementioned injury, I have been unable to hold books to read so I am still reading Radclyffe Hall’s biography. I am enjoying it, but I am yearning to get on to another book. Sigh. Maybe tonight I’ll got to bed early and get through a couple more chapters. What books are you all reading at the moment? Do any of you have any recommendations? Please message me.

hermit-crab-1531867

Okay, I am going to finish up now. It’s 7.38pm GMT and I am about to indulge in a cup of tea and a couple of chocolate digestives. My Dr Who loving son is currently watching older episodes of Dr Who (Christopher Eccleson) – thankfully it’s not that Fred movie again, hate that movie – and I am about to throw him off to watch another Grace & Frankie.

Looking forward to chatting with you again soon. Til next time!

Dawnxxx

 

 

A small death and some great books on writing

Sam

It is with mixed feelings that I announce the passing of our guinea pig, Sam. Mixed because I was quite fond of the wee guy and am a little sad. However, being the sole caretaker and shoveler of his poo, I will not miss having to clean him out. RIP Sam…you were a good piggy, an excellent pet and a delight when you had your little conversations with yourself.

I buried him in the back garden next to my guinea pig, Darcy. The kids are untroubled by his passing, so we don’t have to deal with any explosions of dramatic grief, thank goodness. They basically ignored him, which is understandable on the boy’s part because he wasn’t his pig. He belonged to my daughter. Anyway, I now live in hope that he doesn’t get dug up by Millie – who has already tried to dig up Darcy. I’ve covered his little grave with a roof tile which is too heavy (I hope) for a small white dog to remove. We shall see.

So, how has your week been? Have you been enjoying the sunshine? I have and I haven’t. Being a northern person, I find the heat too much for me. Plus me and the kids were a bit unwell yesterday (Friday). I think the girl was suffering from a bit of heat stroke – her school had them all out doing PE in that horrendous high temperatures on Thursday. The boy was sick, I don’t know if it was a bug or the heat. I felt yucky yesterday – I think it was the heat. We are all fine now. Thank goodness. It’s a cooler day and we are staying indoors for most of the day.

I’ve been continuing to write the sequel to Dusting Down Alcudia. I am planning to re-launch Dusting Down Alcudia before Christmas (watch this space) and the sequel quickly after. My murder book is still on the back burner and I will start my first edit of it soon. I’ve also been continuing to studying marketing e-books and recommend Joanna Penn’s How to Market A Book. It is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to indie publish. The Miracle Morning for Writers by Hal Elrod (Author), Honoree Corder (Author), Steve Scott (Author), S.J. Scott (Author), James Altucher (Foreword) is another great book for would-be writers. It gives you hints and tips on making writing an every day habit and has great advice on getting your book published. If you are wondering why I – as an already published author – am reading these books is because I think all authors should know how to properly market their books. My work background is journalism and PR, which gives me a great start, but I didn’t know enough about other marketing avenues such as how to reach potential audiences, using social media and other great tips.

It’s been too hot to do much of anything so I have been staying inside and knitting whilst I watch telly. Above is a little lamb I knitted for my daughter – well she’s bagsied it! I don’t yet have a name for her (the lamb, that is, not my daughter who already has a name!), so if you have any suggestions, let me know. 😉

Books I have been reading – just finished Eloisa James’ Midnight Pleasures book which is a bodice ripper and was great fun. I haven’t read any romance books for years (unless you count things like Twilight etc) and I loved it. It was a great read. Totally predictable but really enjoyable. Haven’t chosen my next book to read yet, but I have lots. It’s too warm outside to read a heavy book (I leave Dickens and Scott and even Austen to read in the cosy winter months), so it will need to be something lighter.

Plans for the summer – we have none except that we all want to go and see the film Patrick. Yes, it’s partly because we have a pug and know how funny they are. Yes, it’s also because it looks funny. Anyway, that is the extent of our plans for the summer holidays. We aren’t going on holiday this year, but are looking forward to the next six-and-a-half weeks at home. I have bought the kids a new paddling pool (it’s quite large), a slip n slide and other outdoor games in the hope that the weather will hold and the kids can be prised away from their electronics to go outside and have fun. We shall see.

Anyway, I am going to finish my blog here for this week and shall leave you with a still from the aforementioned film. Here is the lovely Patrick (I think his real name is Harley)…

Til next time!

Dawn xxx

 

Peonies and Eli Wallach

I do love flowers. This blog today is dedicated to the amazing Peony which is fast becoming my favourite flower (although I still love Tulips). In fact, there is a vase of beautiful pink peonies sitting close by as I write this. They are just big balls of beautifulness. I know that last sentence probably isn’t grammatically correct, but I don’t care. Today I celebrate the amazing Peony. My favourite summer flower.

Anyway, how are you all? Hope you are all well. We’re good at Nelson Towers. We’ve been enjoying a week of mostly hot sunny weather, which for any of you who live here or have visited, you’ll know, is very rare. I am actually sporting a light tan on my face and arms, which is good because usually I am so pale I look ill. I am not ill, just Scottish.

As I write, I am listening to Classic FM, which is the station I put on when I am writing novels and blogs and stuff. I find it is a good background sound and I am not distracted by it (ie wanting to sing along). This means I actually write. Anyway, my reason for telling you this is because the theme tune to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is currently being played and it took me back to my early childhood when we had three TV channels and one of them always put on a good matinee on a Saturday or Sunday. My mother worked at the weekends, so we kids would watch what my dad watched and – you’re right – it would inevitably be a war movie or a western. These weekends are why I love a good war/western movie and that tune just brought it all back. Of course, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly was never on at the weekend matinee spot, but because I had already become addicted, when it was shown (at Christmas usually) I insisted on watching it. I have loved the Spaghetti Western ever since. And Clint Eastwood…but for different reasons!! I also think Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach were fab in this. I didn’t realise when watching The Holiday that was Eli Wallach playing the scriptwriter. The man who told Kate Winslet about the ‘meet cute’ (love that film). Images below are: Clint Eastwood (as Blondie/the man with no name) looking all handsome and in danger, Eli Wallach as Tuco, Lee Van Cleef as Sentenza/Angel Eyes and Eli Wallach in The Holiday playing Arthur Abbott.

Look at that! I’ve gone from Peonies to Spaghetti Westerns just on a memory from a tune on the radio. Now, where was I? Oh yes, peonies…

Right, so this week has been busy. I gutted out the garage, which was badly needing cleaned out, being a bit brutal with what was needed putting in the bin. So much so I accidentally had to dig our Christmas tree out of the skip I hired that is currently taking up our driveway. How daft am I ditching the Christmas tree? Anyway, I got it and put it back in the garage where it lives for most of the year. The skip is now full. I have a couple of bits and pieces to put in it and then it’ll be picked up next week and I can get my drive back. Actually it felt good clearing out. I haven’t totally gotten the garage the way I eventually want it, but that’s a work in progress.

Of course, one of the days I chose to clear out the garage was Wednesday which is fine if you have nothing else on. I go to my Zumba class on a Wednesday, so after a morning of clearing out and then my class later I wasn’t worth a button by that evening. I was sore and extremely tired. I think I must have flaked out about 9.30pm. Yesterday, I got up achy but alright. I took yesterday morning ‘off’ (ie didn’t do any heavy work in the house) as part of my recovery. 😉  Spent it watching an old episode of Monk (I have said before that I love cheesy American cop shows…you were warned of my addiction) and sorting out laundry (my life is so glamorous! Not!).

I also wrote some more of my next novel. Remember the adult novel I was writing? I have put that aside just now for a few weeks and will come back to it at a later date. I do this with every novel for one simple reason: I want to come back to it with fresh eyes with the intention of rooting out any errors and improving on the text. So I was without anything to write so I started a sequel to Dusting Down Alcudia (DDA). DDA is a romantic adventure story starring a Scottish archaeologist, Nina Esposito (her father was Spanish) and a handsome Texan called Jay Reynolds. She goes to Mallorca to seek out a fabled Roman treasure necklace and ends up finding love and more. The sequel is set in Perthshire, Scotland and is about a hunt for Jacobite treasure. I’ve written about 20,000 words already and am really getting into it. I think it helps that I’m getting up early specifically to write. I have more energy in the morning, the kids are sleeping and it’s peaceful in the house (apart from the gentle tones of classical music in the background thanks to Classic FM!).

I finished the Stephen King book The Gunslinger and, although I love Westerns (Spaghetti Westerns in particular), I do not really like this book. It’s okay. I have the sequel, but I don’t think I’ll read it.  I’m going to donate the books to my local library. Someone else will enjoy it. I am currently reading Nora Roberts’ Stars of Fortune. It’s a romantic fantasy (so right up my street) and is really good. So good, I was still up reading it at 11.30pm last night and am now bleary eyed!

Right, I am going to finish here and post this. I need to take the  boy to school and get the mutts out for their morning walk. Til next time!

Dawn xx

 

 

 

 

 

Birthdays, lunches, reading, making…but no tinsel

I am not doing it. Not yet. No sir. There will be no baubles, tinsel or elves on this blog this week. They might appear next week, but this week is strictly Christmas free. It’s not that I am being bah humbug about this, but I like to leave Christmas decorating until nearer the big day. So you’ll not be finding Christmas decs up at my house just now…that’s a job for this weekend or maybe next week.

So how are you? Hope you’ve had a good week. I’ve been really busy over the last couple of weeks with social events galore. I have barely been in. Last month, there were five family birthdays and four practically family (but not blood or marriage related) birthdays (ie close friends) to celebrate, including my own and the boy’s. Most recently me and the kids were at an 18th party at my friend’s house. Her daughter, who is just lovely and I wish I could adopt her, turned 18 and there was a big family bash. It was a great night. I thoroughly enjoyed it although I partook of too much wine and suffered for it the next day. Happy birthday E…have a great party weekend with your friends this weekend.

I’ve also been lunching and that’s thrown my diet right out of the window so have decided to ditch it until after Christmas when, I hope, my new kitchen may be usable. Talking of that, the extension has been going on good guns: the roof is on, the windows in and they are doing the insulation as I write. Am so excited. It’s already looking amazing.

Other big news and DarkIsle is now available in a special 10th anniversary edition. So go and buy it now. If you know me personally I will be happy to sign it for you.

Also want to give a wee mention to my Uncle Ian who sadly died this month. He was a lovely man, an ex Glasgow policeman who was full of good humour and a brilliant mimic. He will be missed.

What else have I been up to? I’ve been knitting away for my new Etsy shop called CosyCosy Studio (link is here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/CosyCosyStudio?ref=shop_sugg). I’ve only got a few things on there just now, but will be adding to it. Would appreciate genuine and helpful feedback on my products if you have the time.  At the moment, there are some hand knitted lap blankets and hand-made cards, but I have some scarves to add this weekend. Am just about to add the lining to them and then they will be ready. The first is a hand knitted yellow Alpaca lap blanket, the second a hand knitted green basket weave pattern blanket and the hand stamped and hand painted Three Kings Christmas card.

Books I have been reading over the last couple of weeks include Ruth Goodman’s How to Be a Tudor (am right into the Tudor era at  the moment) and Alexander Langland’s Craeft. Both of them you may know from the Tudor Farm, Wartime Farm etc programmes (which I love). Ruth, in particular, is a lively and interesting writing and I’ve read books of hers before. This is the first time I’ve read anything of Alex’s and I’m enjoying it too. Hers is about – surprise surprise – ordinary folk in the Tudor era and his is about lost crafts. Loving reading both.

If you are wondering about the photos used in this blog today, they were taken before 9am on various mornings over the past week except for the last one, which was an afternoon pick a few weeks ago. I love the autumn colours and the blue skies. If you look carefully at the pics you’ll see three wee dogs running around having fun. The pics were taken on our daily walks around the River Clyde area where we live. They love it, I love it. Even when it’s freezing cold, it’s great to get out into the fresh air and enjoy the views of the river.

Right I am going to finish up here and wish you adieu until next time!

Dawn xxx

My favourite pic from the last couple of weeks:

 

 

Lego, Goldman and a Deep Deep Trench

Forgive me readers for I have been bad. I have not written this blog for some time and the only two excuses I can give are: The Gilmore Girls and work beginning in my garden. The former because I recently bought Netflix and have been glued to the Gilmore Girls, all seven series of it and the winter special. Finally finished it last night after around two-and-a-half weeks of watching it in between mum and housework stuff. There were loads of episodes so I blame the tv company that produced it for a) making so many episodes and b) making it so compelling that I quickly became addicted. Am now feeling bereft because not only is Gilmore Girls watched all the way through, but Game of Thrones has finished for this year. Sigh. My tv watching has suddenly gotten very dull. The second excuse is because we’re getting an extension and I’ve been moving things around in the garden. I removed the old metal swingset, laid a new patio in its place (hark me laying a patio and it actually turned out) and then, with my lovely friends (you know who you are, thank you so much for your help, it was much appreciated) moved the potting shed over so that when the extension is up it doesn’t shade out the potting shed. It was a lot of heavy work, but I am so pleased I managed to do it. Been taking on a lot more things this year, things my beloved hubby would have normally done, including cutting our hedge which is a heavy, tiring job. Feeling that I can do most DIY things now (God help us!) and  quite proud of myself. Watch this space for more makes.

Talking of Game of Thrones. Oh. My. God. Was that not the best series EVER or what? If you don’t watch it, you are so missing out on one of the most fabulous telly experiences ever. Do you remember when it first began and no-one (except me, it felt) watched it and I was bemoaning the fact that I had no one to talk to about? Then it was repeated and  loads more folk started watching it and it grew from there. Can’t wait til next year and the final series.

Right, so apart from shunting things around the garden, I’ve also been doing the odd wee escapade with the kids over the summer holidays. Apart from visiting the Riverside Museum in Glasgow (which we Glaswegians will still call the Transport Museum until we die cos that’s what the old museum used to be called), we also popped into Clydebank Town Hall to see the Lego exhibition. It cost me £13 to get the three of us in and, although it was quite cheap, I still don’t think it was worth the money. Don’t get me wrong, the models were great, but there wasn’t that many of them, I expected a bit more. Anyway, here are some of the models…

There was also a massive castle which for some reason I never took a picture of which is a pity because it was really good.

Anyway, I have also been reading a lot over the summer and most recently finished William Goldman’s Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood. I love reading about writing and am currently going through a screenwriters’ books phase. Goldman is famous for a number of film scripts and books including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Marathon Man, the Princess Bride and Which Lie Did I Tell?  The book is well written and full of great anecdotes and musings on how Hollywood works (or worked when he wrote the book…it was published in 1982). If you’re looking for an up-to-date book on Hollywood this isn’t the book for you. Instead it talks about the golden age and how things used to work comparing it to when things changed as tv became more prominent and how studio management changed in the 70s (ie how they were managed). Goldman is bluntly honest and self deprecating throughout. He takes a very measured look at Hollywood and is often funny. He’s the type of guy I think would be a great raconteur at a dinner party. Yup, liked this book. Looking forward to reading Which Lie Did I Tell?

What else have I been doing? You won’t want to hear about the boring stuff, the futile attempts I’ve been making to keep the mud out of my house brought in on the little clippy cloppy paws of the dogs. Our pug, Bonya, had to undergo an operation last week to remove a tumour from her leg. The vet doesn’t think it’s cancerous, but we’re going to keep a wee eye on her. She’s made a great recovery and is, as I write, lying at my feet snoring at the same level of decibels as a full grown man. Delicate pugs ain’t.

Obligatory cute pic of Bonya making herself at home on my bed.

 

You leave your phone down and before you know it one of the kids has decorated a pic.

I have a confession. I have not been writing. Again because of the aforementioned reasons, but also cos I’m a bit stuck about how to end the book I am currently writing. I’ve also been writing up ideas for two more books which I will start writing once I have the other book’s story down. I’ve printed off the 65,000 words I have written so far to re-read in the hope that inspiration will smack me in the face and get me back to the laptop. I do have a strong hope that this will happen. I mean, look at me…I’m actually writing my blog again so that’s a good sign! Right?

Okay, I am going to end this blog here. I have three wee dogs to take out for another walk. Because the back garden is off limits and now open to the street,  I cannot let them run about the way I used to. Apart from the fact one of them will definitely make a break for the street (Millie), I fear one or all three of them will end up the trench that was dug for the foundations. This has already happened. It was my fault, I stupidly drank some wine and then late at night fancied surveying the back garden from the kitchen door. I opened it and before I could stop her Millie (our white Jack Chi cross) ran past me and sailed into fresh air. Luckily she didn’t hurt herself and my daughter managed to coax her into jumping (that dog has springs in her heels). The girl caught her and dragged her out much to my relief as I didn’t fancy climbing into the trench. Apart from the fact it was dark and muddy, I didn’t fancy my chances of getting back out having consumed some wine. I had visions of me getting stuck and having to suffer the humiliation of having the fire service come out to rescue me. Luckily that did not happen. The back door is now kept firmly shut and I haven’t touched a drop since! Damn you wine! Millie lost her lovely pristine appearance that night and it was a brown, mud caked dog that I put into the bath that night to shower down. Thankfully she was not injured and was quickly back to her bossy ways. 🙂

Millie – none the worse for her impromptu flight.

Anyway, on that note, I’ll say adieu. Til next time.

Dawn xxx

 

 

 

Writing lists and getting things done!

It’s amazing what writing a check list does for how much I actually achieve in a day. If I don’t write a list, a few things get done. If I do write a list, I get oh so much more done. It’s like that list has sorted out my head and my memory and makes me do all the jobs I have to do around the house, with the kids and, equally importantly, with my writing. I wrote a long list yesterday and laid out times next to the tasks and do you know what? I managed to achieve it all. Today I am steadily making my way through a new list and I’m doing stuff…such as this blog and I wrote more than 1000 words today, plus did a bit of yoga and cut the grass in the front garden. So, it’s nearly 5pm and I’m feeling mightily chuffed with myself for actually achieving a number of things today instead of sprawling out in from the telly drinking copious amounts of tea!

Yesterday, my list included ironing (regular readers will know how much I hate ironing, but I stuck it out and completed it), walking the dogs (which I do daily anyway) and taking the kids to the school Gala Day. Regarding the Gala Day, it was really good. A lot of time and effort had been put in by the PTA and it was a huge success. The theme was on cowboys and cowgirls so there were a lot of kids and adults dressed up. A local line dancing club did a demo for the crowd. The club consisted of older men and women, dressed up in cowboy-ish clothes line dancing. There was also some ‘gunslingers’ having a ‘fight’ which also consisted of older men and women dressed in cowboy-ish clothes pretending to shoot each other. There were loads of stalls (I got a lovely Toffee the Heilan Coo brooch from my friend Sharon’s…aka Sew Silly Lily…stall

and lovely honey bread biscuits from my friend Zuzka’s…aka Honeybread Cottage…stall. I have such talented friends!).

There were bouncy castles and a dog competition and throw sponges at the teachers and a saloon and tonnes of things for everyone to do. I helped out at the cactus hoopla stall and bash the rat game….both of which were a big hit with parents and kids (see the simple things really are the best). I also had a good old chat to lots of other mums I hadn’t seen in a while. It was a great afternoon (had to drag the boy away from it cos he wanted to stay longer) and well done to the organisers for creating it.

What else have I been doing? Well my neighbours must be thinking I’m doing an online business because quite a number of parcels arrived over the last few days. Do not worry, dear friends, I am not doing an online business merely buying up presents for Father’s Day and some birthdays that are coming up in July and September. I like to be organised because if I’m not it’s always a mad panic to buy stuff in time. My memory is not good, it never was, but has been much worse over this last year, so if I buy up cards and presents now at least I have them in for the correct dates of the aforementioned birthdays and Father’s Day. Okay, so after promising myself I would stop buying books, I did indulge in a little book buying spree for myself and the kids too. What can I say? I am a book addict! It’s my only vice (she says with an innocent look on her face!).

Regarding books, following last week’s confession of being totally gripped by The Dog Whisperer’s programme I went out and ordered his book (Cesar’s Way by Cesar Milan) from Amazon. I started reading it a couple of days ago and it’s fab. I am also reading Leap In: A Woman, Some Waves and the Will to Swim by Alexandra Heminsley about her bid to do wild water swimming, something I’ve always wanted to (okay so I have swam in a loch and at the seaside when I was younger and more stupid cos I didn’t have a wetsuit, but I want to go out deeper and really swim in the wild). Anyway, am enjoying reading about her trials and tribulations as she overcomes her terror of swimming in the sea.

Right, I need to go. I have some hungry weans hovering whining about being hungry and ‘when’s dinner ready?’. Apparently they are both about to fade away through lack of food. The chilli is on, but it’s not yet ready. The house smells amazing thanks to the spices and it’s sending the kids crazy…a bit like the Bisto kids of the adverts of old! Til next time.

Dawn xx

I did not pooh in the Girl’s bedroom. Nope, wasn’t me. What do you mean you saw me do it?

 

What a bloody awful day it is outside. It is pouring. Of course there are far worse things happening in this world – the terrible losses of life in Manchester, London and Syria etc (where there are far more atrocities, but we never seem to hear about them…what’s that about?) – but I don’t want to dwell on those in this post. It’s not that I don’t want to mark them, it’s just there are so many news stories and articles and blog posts about them all over the world that I wanted to write something to take my mind and your mind off it all.

Right, so, as I was saying, the weather is awful today. Bloody awful is how I actually put it and the mutts and I have been forced to stay in. They are not even keen to go out in the garden today, not even Millie who is our resident furry water baby. So we’re indoors and they were snoozing until I put on a recording of the Dog Whisperer. Have you seen this programme? It’s about a very well groomed Mexican gentleman called Cesar Millan (above) who teaches humans how to properly train their dogs and, well, he’s quite frankly a miracle worker. And he also has the loveliest eyes, but that’s a by the by. Anyway, it’s a hoot when I put it on because my three just love watching it and having a wee bark at the dogs too. I enjoy it because it gives me useful tips on dogs – let’s face it Millie needs to be a bit better behaved what with her not coming when she’s called – plus I go away thinking ‘no problem, I can do that’. Then I try it on the dogs and they give me a look like ‘who does she think she is?’ and refuse to perform. I think I need to get Cesar over here to sort out my three…well actually, again it’s just Millie. Casper and Bonya are very well behaved on the whole although Bonya got caught short this morning in the Girl’s room and did a big pooh. Cue: lots of screaming and shouts of ‘naughty girl’. Am I a bad mother for thinking it was all highly amusing?? AND I made her clean it up…heee hee heeee!! (whaaaat? it’s all payback for the times she’s refused to clean out HER guinea pig and for all the times she’s messed up the living room, en suite and other rooms in the house).

So. How have you been since the last blog? It’s been nearly two weeks and that’s my fault because I have been so busy cleaning out cupboards and the garage and other places that have been totally neglected over the past couple of years that the blog went out of my mind. Anyway, I’m here now. I’me generally good, although I’ve not been sleeping all that well recently. I am not sure of the reason. Millie keeps waking me at 2am to let her out (we’re working on that…I am now putting down dog matts so she has that option, but am not getting up to let her out. It sounds harsh, but isn’t. She needs to learn to sleep through the night like she used to. Also, this morning, when I opened the back door to let the dogs out to relieve themselves, guess who didn’t go? Yup, Millie. I supposed the urgent 2am need for outside wasn’t so urgent after all!). Anyway, am finding it difficult to drop off, so I need to get back to my Mindful Meditation which always sorts that out. Apart from that, the kids and I are good. The dogs are full of health except Bonya who is shedding like crazy all over the place…the amount of hair she is losing would stuff a pillow!!

Over the weekend we went up to the westend of Glasgow to meet my friend AJ and her daughters for lunch. We went to a wee pizza place on the corner of Great Western Road and Otago Street – I forget it’s name – and it was lovely. I knew the place when it was a bank and then a coffee shop and was pleasantly surprised at the change in decor which went from Starbucks (or the other one) to a little piece of Italy! The menu also surprised me. I’ve never seen such a small one…not physically but in the few thing you could buy on it. They had options for about eight different pizzas and about five puddings. You could also get wine and fizzy drinks, but that was essentially it. We all ordered. The pizzas arrived really quickly and were lovely (all crisp and delicious from their pizza oven). It was fab to see AJ who is one of my oldest friends and catch up. We had intended to walk up Great Western Road and go down Byres Road and look in the shops (they have lots of fab charity shops for treasure hunting in!), but it was pouring down, literally stoating off the ground, and we were reluctantly forced to call a halt to the afternoon.

Martha Gellhorn.

 

On Sunday, I made myself breakfast in bed and spent far too much time looking at Facebook before reading some more of my book, Martha Gellhorn: A Life by Caroline Moorehead. I am close to finishing this book, one chapter left, and I’ve really enjoyed it. Martha was a very well known American journalist and writer who covered a large number of stories including the Great Depression, the Spanish Civil War, the Second World War and wars in the Far East. She was also Ernest Hemingway’s second wife. She led a really interesting, exciting, often dangerous life that took her all over the world. However, she also seemed to have often been a very difficult person to be with, someone who was selfish, who went off and did her own thing no matter the cost to other people, but who was passionate about justice for others, about telling their stories and how the great event (war, depression etc) affected them and what the Governments should do about it. She was strong. She was a restless spirit. She didn’t take any crap from anyone. I’m not sure she and I would have gotten on, but I’ve greatly enjoyed reading about her. The book is really well written and goes at a good pace. I shall be sad when it’s finished, but this book will stay in my collection (as opposed to being donated to our local library as something I’ll never read again).

I’m not sure what my next read will be, but I have quite a few to choose from, which is both vexing and exciting at the same time. Vexing because it takes me ages to decide. Exciting because I love jumping into and being immersed in a new story and going places I’ve never been before.

Right, on that note, I am going to finish up here. The rain has just gone off and I am toying with the idea of getting the dogs out for a quick walk before I need to collect the boy from school.

Til next time!

Dawn xxx

 

Barcelona!

Oh my God! What can I say about Barcelona that would do this city any justice? It’s an amazing place with the most stunning architecture…I’ve included some pictures of a tiny fraction of the buildings above, but there are far bigger, better and stunning buildings in this city. We just didn’t have the time to see them all.

How we got there…the ship docked in the early hours that Friday morning at Barcelona’s port. We took a taxi to the airport, dumped our suitcases with Left Luggage (because we were flying home later that day) and then took a bus from the airport to the Plaza Espanya near the city centre.  Look how amazing this square is…

And here’s what else is near there…

It’s the Museum of Catalunya. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to go and see it. Instead we headed down a wide tree filled street (stopping at a really nice wee pizza place for lunch first) to find the Sagrada Familia (pictured at the start of this post) which is something I’ve always wanted to see. The place was hoaching with tourists, but it was well worth having a look at…the cathedral is truly inspiring and amazing to look at. Every nook and cranny is filled with exquisitely carved modern art. As you can see from the cranes, the building is still not finished more than 100 years after it was first begun. I loved it.

After that we headed for the city’s beach area which my mother assured us wasn’t that far to walk. It took us about an hour with a stop off for some drinks because the weather was so hot. Because it was Good Friday, there was a right festival atmosphere about the city and the place was jumping with locals and tourists. There were a range of street stalls and myself and the kids spent the rest of our holiday money on bits and pieces to take home – I bought two lovely fans painted in a modern style. I was really hot on holiday, but I knew I’d use them again back home…being a right Northerner, I get hot in muggy weather and stuffy offices, so the fans will come in handy. Plus we do get the odd hot day in Scotland. There are also some cheeky folk who would point out that I am a lady of a certain age who is hurtling towards 50 and therefore menopause, but as I am still only 25 (in my head) and will be forever, this will never happen!

Anyway, after the beach we walked up the packed Ramblas. It was uncomfortably busy, but didn’t put me off the city…in fact I’d love to return there for a long weekend at some point in the near future. We caught a bus at the Placa de Catalunya to get back to the airport in time for dinner and then our flight home. We only had a few hours in Barcelona, but I loved it. Verdict on Barcelona: fab. Will definitely go back. Only issue: I had the song ‘Barcelona’ by Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe ringing through my head the entire time I was there and every time I think of the word ‘Barcelona’. It’s a great song, but really annoying if you can’t get it out of your head!

Anyway, that’s the holiday. We arrived back home around midnight that night and it was great being back in Scotland, but I really loved the holiday. We all loved the holiday.

Right, so back to real life. This week is the first full week I’ve had since leaving work and it’s already Wednesday and I don’t know where my time is going? Okay so this week, I have walked the dogs every day (and got soaked on Monday), I have had lunch with a friend (down at Ardardan today) and visited my father-in-law yesterday who is very old and frail. On Monday morning I also went to a pilates class with another friend. These events took up a few hours each day, so that’s my excuse for not achieving a huge amount over the last three days. The big news is that I have gone back to writing my book for adults…the one I started last year. I can’t say it’s been easy getting back into the swing of things, but I have written up my workplan and I intend to stick to it.

The rest of the week will be spent doing the bits and pieces around the house that need doing and assembling my new bike. I have great plans to take the kids out cycling more over the summer. There are some great routes around here plus I have a cycle carrier which we can use for further afield.

Over to books and I am currently reading: Caroline Moorhead’s ‘Martha Gellhorn: A Life’, which is a great read. On holiday, I got through several books:

The first three were fantastic. You cannot beat a Pratchett for humour and a good read, and Joanna’s books are just so funny and a great beach/poolside read. I had hoped to enjoy McIlvanney’s book more because he so revered as a writer, but it was alright. I doubt I’d read it again.

Right, I think I will finish up here and say adieu until next time! See you then.

Dawn xxx