Trying to muster up the energy and inclination…

…to write today. It’s incredibly hot already and my face is streaming thanks to particularly bad hay fever today. Hmmmm…write or lounge on sofa watching telly??? Hmmmm.

So, how are you all today? Looking forward to another fabby sunny day in the UK? I love the sun, I really do, but I can’t stand the heat. If it’s too hot, I’m inside. Am defo a northerner. I prefer cool to hot and the thought of sunbathing is abhorrent. Anyway, it’s hot today, it’s a beautiful day in fact, and I should just be enjoying it instead of moaning about the heat. Our poor guinea pigs are finding it a bit hard. I’ve got them outside at the moment enjoying some shade within an exercise pen we have for them. Poor old Darcy is long-haired and I think he’s finding the heat particularly hard. I could offer to dunk them in some cold water, but the way they give me stinkers of looks after a bath suggests that might not be such a good idea. Our ‘Ginns’ do not like water.

It’s peaceful in the house just now. My children are at a summer club run by our local church. They’ve been going every morning this week and been loving it. I’ve been loving it cos it’s given me some much needed peace and quiet and time to myself. The minute they are back, however, they revert to fighting and calling each other names. Ah siblings!!

Right, I am procrastinating. If I ever want to get Ham published I need to get it ready, so I will leave you just now to go and concentrate on my new book.

Til next time.

Dawn xxx

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Enid Blyton and the Seven Stories Centre

M'cester Seven Stories Centre  1

You know how in the film Julie and Julia when Julie goes to see an exhibition of her heroine, Julia Childs, and she’s a bit in awe of it all? Well that’s how I felt when we went to Newcastle on Thursday so that I could attend the Enid Blyton exhibition at the Seven Stories Centre – the National Centre for Children’s Books. I was in my element anyway, being in a place that celebrated children’s books, writers and illustrators, but being so close to Enid’s diaries and typewriter and stuff, and seeing all those lovely and familiar illustrations from her books, just made my day.

I am a huge fan of Enid Blyton and have read a lot of her books. My favourites were The Faraway Tree stories closely followed by The Wishing Chair.

M'cester Seven Stories Centre 2

M'cester Seven Stories Centre 3

Anyway, I just loved being there and seeing her things and reminiscing about books I had read as a child and just loving every moment. The Enid Blyton exhibition was on one floor of the centre and once my family had prized me away from it, we explored the other floors.

Seven Stories is housed in a lovely old building several stories high and on each storey there is something different. Above the Enid Blyton exhibition was one on Cressida Cowell who wrote How to Train Your Dragon, amongst many other titles. There were original texts and sketches and lots of Viking costumes for my kids (and their parents) to try on. It was fun.

Above that, the kids made dragon masks in an area for making stuff. Above that is the attic (above) where I think authors go and read to children and children can try on different costumes and sit in the big wooden chair (below).

M'cester Seven Stories Centre 4

M'cester Seven Stories Centre 5

We ate lunch there in the little café (which was really good – we had panninis and they were excellent), perused the shop, bought some books (I of course bought the biography of Enid Blyton which I am just reading now) and it was a lovely afternoon. I was sad to leave the centre, but we had to get home and we headed north after that – well after a brief stop at a scooter place for hubby.

It was a hot and dry drive home. The day was muggy and the car was really hot, but the kids did really well, not complaining too much. We had a couple of stops en route to stretch our legs and use the toilet and got home in the evening.

En route, we stopped off at Marks and Spencer’s and I picked up some snacky things for dinner. We were, by now, heartily sick of deep fried or chips-with-everything food so I bought some nice picnic type things and a salad, which we ate at home.

It was lovely waking up in our house the next morning. I like going away and visiting new places, but I like coming home more. We had a great few days away in Manchester and I would recommend it for a short break.

We had a great time, but I’m glad to be home.

Dawn xxx

New book available on Kindle and Kobo

My new e-book

My new e-book

My new book Dusting Down Alcudia will be available on Kindle tomorrow and on Kobo by Monday. Unfortunately it’s not going to be available on Nook and ITunes yet – there are a few technical issues I have to iron out with both before I can do that. But hopefully it’ll be available in these formats soon. Please note this is NOT a book for children, but is my first published book for adults.

Also, as a wee taster, here’s the first three chapters for you to read…

Taster Chapters Dusting Down Aldudia by D A Nelson

I hope you enjoy it.

One more thing, can you do me a favour? Can you tell your friends about it? Ta.

Til next time.

Dawn xx

PS mind and tell your friends!

In defence of food and the lessons I’ve learned from Philanthropists

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Sorry I’ve not been around these past two weeks, been busy enjoying the nice weather and doing stuff outside. It’s difficult when you live in a normally wet and overcast country like Scotland to stay indoors and do the stuff you are supposed to do (such as write a blog) when the weather is nice outside. We’re not used to it you see, so when the sun shines and it’s warm, our heads are turned and we find ourselves drawn outside. Must-sit-in-sunshine! It’s been fabulous weather the last week or so and we’ve all been really enjoying it.

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Not a lot’s been happening lately. Just been working away as usual. Still not got my book up in e-book form yet as am waiting for my cover which my lovely illustrator friend Mandy is doing for me and I have yet to purchase an ISBN number for it. However, my other book for adults, Ham, is coming along and I hope to also launch that soon.

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Been reading In Defence of Food by Michael Pollan book which is about how bad processed food is for you and how we should all be eating home-made food as much as possible. I totally agree with what he says in the book. I too believe that man-made food such as sweeteners and processed foods like sugar are extremely damaging for the body. Although I have an extremely sweet tooth and love things with sugar in them. This book is an excellent read, it really brings home just how mixed up our food industry has become and how, despite their best efforts to state the contrary, foods made to be ‘healthy’ are often not healthy (eg margarine) and that we should all return to cooking from scratch. However – and there is a big however -while people are having to work and work long hours, while mums (who, let’s face it, a lot of whom are desperate to be at home) are having to work, it’s going to be difficult for people to do this. I struggle to cook home-made dinners every single night and I only work three days a week. I find that by the end of those three days I am so exhausted by the madness of those days (by madness I mean: getting the kids up, fed and ready; listened to them argue and fight; dropped them at breakfast club; driven the hour through horrible traffic to get to work and back; spent my three days essentially doing full-time hours; bought food; organised packed lunches; organised the kids’ clothes; got a washing on; ironed something for myself; etc) I often don’t feel like cooking…especially on the last day (we had fish n chips from a local chippy this week – guilt!). I would love to have more time to cook things from scratch, but…hey ho! I do my best. If you are at all interested in what you are eating, read the book, it’s really good.

Am still reading Robert Tressell’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. I must admit I sometimes find it hard going to read about how poor and malnourished they are. It’s horrible to think that people in this country – our families – struggled like that a hundred years ago. One of my grandfathers grew up in the Govan area of Glasgow, one of eleven (I think) children and he always used to talk about having to walk about barefoot in the summertime because he didn’t have shoes. In the winter, they had really old boots with holes in the soles that they stuffed with newspaper. As kids we used to think he was having us on, but I’m not so sure that he was. I can’t imagine living like that and I know that there are still people in this world that are that poor. Anyway, I am determined to finish the book, it’s just a tad slow for me although I do kind of like it. It certainly makes me appreciate my life more.

God, I’m on a rant today aren’t I? Anyway, I am off to make my own orange barely water. I used to love this as a kid, but can no longer drink it as the brand I used to love now contains sweeteners. I reckon home-made will be so much better anyway.

Til next time!

Dawn xxx

Read the first three chapters of my new book

Hiya.
Exciting news. I’ve uploaded the first three chapters of my new book Dusting Down Alcudia on Authonomy (look under the title of the book). I’d be keen to hear your views on it via Authonomy or get in touch: d-a-nelson@tiscali.co.uk That’s not how the new cover will look and I’ll share that and when you can buy the complete e-book as soon as I can.

So, how’s your week been? Mine has been sunny – the weather has been sunny and some days have been hot, so it’s been a nice week to get out and about.

Last weekend, we bought the kids a trampoline and they’ve barely been off it. It’s great. Hubby finished putting it up on Sunday and we hardly saw our offspring all day, although we heard them. They only came off it to get fed. The wee fella was so tired on Sunday night that he could barely climb the stairs to bed. He went to bed and was still in the exact same position the next morning when I went to get him up. He was so cute.

Here’s a mad story for you. My workmate told us the tale yesterday of a moment of daftness in her life: she had gone to a local shop for some groceries. She wandered around the aisles, filled her basket with things for dinner that night and then made for the cash desk. She said she didn’t think anything of the weird look the cashier gave her until the woman said: “Um, do you know you have two pairs of glasses and a pair of sunglasses on your head?” My friend’s had flew to her head and sure enough, all three pairs of glasses were there. She was mortified, but it was a funny story to tell. What a woman!! That’s the kind of thing I would do!! Hee hee.

Right, on that note, am aff to do something else.

Til next time!

Dawn xxx

PS Watched Monday’s Game of Thrones this morning. It was fab as usual. That Joffrey needs to be brought down, he’s an evil wee git. Was glad to see Tyrion was being a gentleman where Sansa was concerned, Shay certainly seemed to like it too. And dear old Dany seems to have a new beau. He was quite handsome. But, oh what an ending, I really am rooting for Samwell and his lady friend (I forget her name) and the little nameless baby. I hope they get beyond the wall and survive to live a happy and long life. Can’t wait til next week.

Do all boys have an allergy to soap and water?

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What is it with boys and showering?? Are they all the same? Yesterday I had an argument with the boy about going for a shower. He refused to have one and before I knew it, he had gone and gotten himself dressed for school. This is from the boy who takes ages to get dressed (normally) and can never get the buttons done on his shirt because “I can’t do it!”. Well I know now what I always knew and that is: he can do it and he can do it quickly. He had a shower this morning – I forced him into it for two reasons: 1) I don’t want him thinking he can get away without washing and 2) he soaked our bed last night – he sleeps really deeply and often doesn’t feel himself peeing. Last night, around 3.45am I suddenly woke up, realised he was in beside me and his dad and then…well…you know how you just know something isn’t right? I tentatively put out a hand and patted around about the boy. The bed seemed dry. I patted his legs and bingo! He was wet. So, I got him up, cleaned and changed and put him back in his own bed. Then I had to wake hubby – who was working today – and strip our bed. No wonder we are both tired today!!!

Yesterday, spent a happy day in Glasgow with my friend Tracy looking at fabric and notions in Mandor’s store near Sauchiehall Street. It was raining on and off yesterday, but that didn’t stop us oohing and ahhing at all the lovely things the store had. Then we walked down Sauchiehall St in search of some lunch. We headed down the bottom end of the street and dropped into Dino’s restaurant for a fry up. Dino’s doesn’t look at all fancy from the outside, but is a traditional Italian restaurant that does great pizzas and pasta. I love it because the food’s good and decor doesn’t look like it’s changed since the 70s. The staff are really nice too. We had a full breakfast with tea and it was lovely. We’d been too early for pizza, but the food was good anyway.

After Dino’s, Lakeland called. Based within Buchanan Galleries, the store is one of my favourites. I know there are folk out there who won’t understand why, but if you love cooking and home-making, Lakeland’s the place for you. Picked up some rennet to give cheesemaking a go. We’ll see what happens with that!! They also have a nice range of kitchen utensils, which neither I nor Tracy could resist coohing over. It’s great having a friend who loves all that stuff too!!

On the writing front, I am about the point where I am going to publish my book for adults on Amazon as a Kindle book. I will also look at doing it in other formats too. The book is called Dusting Down Alcudia, it’s an adventure story about a female archeologist who goes treasure hunting on Mallorca. It’s inspired by a holiday hubby and I had many years ago before our two kids came along. Watch this space for more information – I am planning to put up the first chapter for you to read. While Dusting Down Alcudia is not 50 Shades, there is a bit of romance going on there…nuff said!

Right, am off to put another washing out on this lovely sunny day we are (unusually) having today and start on the housework I was supposed to do yesterday!

Until next time!

Dawn xxx

PS images are some shots I took of the garden this morning.

Spring has certainly not sprung!

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Well it’s supposed to be spring, but the way the weather has been this week, you’d think it was mid winter. Thank goodness for central heating and warm clothes!! As I write this, it’s snowing outside. Brrrrrrr!

Not much has been going on this week chez moi. Still editing DarkIsle 3, but am hoping that it will be finished soon so that I can get on with my books for adults.  Hubby came home with a huge bouquet of tulips the other day. It was our wedding anniversary and, while we don’t really buy each other anything, he bought me those because he knows how much I love tulips. They were – and still are – gorgeous!!

Received a lovely message from young Erin Fitzsimmons from Houston, Texas whose grandfather Roy created the dragon on Irvine Beach which is the inspiration for DarkIsle. So, just wanted to say a big hello to Erin, her family and her friends across the Pond and thank you for your lovely words about the book!!

Talking of books, I have finally finished Little Dorrit! I must admit, it was a little bit of a slog at times and Little Dorrit was just a bit too compliant and meek for my liking, but I loved it anyway and am glad of the ending!! I’ll not say anything else in case you want to read it some day!

Right am going to leave you with a pretty picture of a crocus and go and tackle the list of things I have to do today. Til next time…hopefully I’ll have more to tell you!

Dawn xx

crocus march 2013 1

Scarves, scarves and more scarves!

Three of 12 - sounds like a Grimm fairytale  title or the name of a Borg soldier!

Three of 12 – sounds like a Grimm fairytale title or the name of a Borg soldier!

Two days ago…

It’s amazing how one little inspiration can turn into a major project. About four weeks ago I was flicking through my knitting books looking for something that would be simple to do so that I could knit them for my kids. In Jane Brocket’s Gentle Art of Knitting she has a few scarves that are just lovely and I nearly made one of them. However, I was a tad stressed in the run up to Christmas (having had a November of birthdays to contend with including my own) and didn’t want to follow a pattern, so inspired by the Moss stitch creations in that book, I decided to do one of my own. I bought chunky wool and used size 8 needles, cast on 21 stitches and knitted in Moss stitch ’til the ball of wool was finished. Well, I actually didn’t do this at the beginning…instead I used size 6 needles and one-and-a-half balls of chunky yarn, knitting over 25 stitches. The first scarves were wider, but took longer to do. The simple pattern I ended up with was a lot faster. In the end, I knitted ten scarves as Christmas gifts for friends and family: one each for my kids and hubby; one each for my mum, dad and father-in-law; one each for two friends and their daughters. I also knitted one for me (finished yesterday) and have started another for my sister who saw the boy’s lovely green scarf and wanted one for herself. I love the green scarf and am thinking of embarking on an expedition to Glasgow to get the yarn I want to do one for myself.

Other home-made gifts including some papercut pictures for the kids and I used a Little Girl’s Rose Barrette pattern from the Purl Bee to create brooches for my friends and their two kids and hairclips (as we in sunny Scotland call barrettes) for my girl. She loves them and is currently wearing them whilst watching Phineas and Ferb.

So how was Christmas for you? Ours was great. We went over to my parents’  house where we were totally spoiled by my mother who put on an excellent spread as usual. The whole family was there and the kids (six in total) ran around in a pack…even my one-year-old nephew joined in. We had a great day, but were all exhausted. Thank goodness for Boxing Day and Marks & Spencer!! We spent that day chilling out and catching  up on Christmas Day tv (Dr Who…those snowmen were scary!) and eating M&S party food (ie shove in the oven, easy-to-make, very little effort food…which was delicious!).

In the run up to the Big Day, I was feeling exhausted, wrung out, but after a few days off and lounging about (which I don’t normally do) I am starting to feel normal…well, as normal as I can be!! Ha ha! (Said it before you could Ian!). I even made bread today. I love making bread, but had lost my bread ‘mojo’ until today when it returned with a flourish. I love the Spanish rustic loaf (tomorrow’s bread) from the Hairy Bikers’ Baking Book and the sweet breakfast bread which I made tonight. Mmmmmmmm!

Today…Hogmanay

Over the weekend, we caught up with some friends, which was fun. Although  my head feels a little fuzzy today (damn you wine!), but it was great to see them.

Regarding writing, I completed what I hope is the final final draft of DarkIsle 3 plus I put together a teachers’ pack for the second book, which I hope will be useful to teachers and their classes.  Am going to go back to the book for adults I’m halfway through. I really want to get that finished to see if I can get it published.

This afternoon I spent a couple of hours cleaning up my study which was stuffed to the gills with a lot of Christmas type stuff like packaging and some decorations and other bits and bobs that I hadn’t had the time to tidy up until today. It’s amazing what you find…my row counter for one, which I thought had been lost forever!

I also ventured outside and was nearly blown away as I walked round to our local shop to pick up some milk. Talk about blowing the cobwebs away! Mine were blown way up to the Artic!!

Anyway, I must go…my current reading book – Dodger by Terry  Prachett (bought for me by my lovely hubby who buys me the current Prachett every Christmas) – is calling to me. I am really enjoying it, particularly as Charles Dickens appears as one of the main characters in it. Never thought I’d read a Dickens/Prachett combo in one book.

Happy New Year when it comes!

Dawn xxxx

I’m in mourning…for my laptop

My laptop has given up the ghost. Remember I told you that the boy had accidentally spilled coke on the keyboard and I managed to somehow get it working? Well, that must have been a fluke because I cannot get the laptop to open now…there’s not even a squeak of life in it. I’ve tried everything I could think of, but to no avail. Sigh. I feel like my right arm has been cut off. I’ve become quite relient on it for socialising, reading other folk’s blogs and generally having a lovely time coohing and ahhing over other folk’s creations. Now, I’m being forced to borrow hubby’s laptop to get on the net. He’s at work just now, but will be back later and will want it back.

Actually maybe having restricted access to the internet will be a good thing. It’ll probably get me doing more stuff rather than sitting in front of a screen for hours.

Looking on the bright side, I have a friend who fixes computers in his spare time. I have everything crossed that maybe he can sort out mine!!

The other thing I’m missing right now is Game of Thrones. Sky Atlantic showed the last episode of series two on Monday night and I am already pining for the series. I LOVE IT. Must go and buy second book. Talking of books, am curently reading A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. I’m enjoying, but I wouldn’t say that it’s a patch on Martin’s Game of Thrones’ series. They are just simply fabulous!

Right am off to do some housework having had a lovely morning of scribbling designs for a new lino cut I want to try. Am back into that.

Dawn xx

ps if you see words highlighted in this that takes you through to a competition to win an i-phone, I defo did not put them there and I can’t get them off. It’s really annoying.

It’s beautiful outside, but the Lurgy is visiting

Today is simply gorgeous. The sun is shining. It’s roasting hot and the birds are singing in the trees. But instead of life being like this today…

Or this…

Or even this…

It’s gone a bit pear-shaped. It started this morning with the girl being sick. I told her to take the day off from school, but because it was her school sports day and because she was doing the wheelbarrow race, she wanted to go. She seemed fine, so I sent her to school. I arrived a couple of hours later to watch the races to find she had just been sick again. So I picked her up, picked up all my picnic stuff and took her home (picking up the boy from nursery en route). She’s currently sitting on a fold-up camping chair (bought yesterday for the sports day because I didn’t want to sit on the ground) watching Victorious on Sky. She’s looking peaky, has been sick again, but is otherwise okay.

I blame it all on the fact that her dad wants to go and see Hipsway’s Skin play tonight.

And here’s the reason why…  the last time she had the Lurgy, hubby was on a night out with a couple of friends. He doesn’t go out that often, bless him, but when he does something seems to always go wrong. Anyway, he doesn’t go out a lot, which is why I didn’t call him home when the girl was sick all over her bed, quickly followed by the boy and then me.

I am hoping that today is not a repeat of that night. I want him to enjoy himself without worrying about us. I am feeling a little under the weather myself, but that could be because I’ve just drunk some gassy coke… at least I hope that’s the reason!

Heard from my publisher that DarkIsle 3 (name still to be agreed) should be out around Christmas this year or early next year. I can’t wait!!

Not much else has been happening. I am about to embark on a couple of hours of cleaning the house (boo hiss!) and then I’ll settle down to Joanne Harris’ new book Peaches for Monsieur le Cure. I think it’s common knowledge that Joanne is one of my fave authors and this is the third of the Chocolat trilogy. Already started it and it’s looking good.

Okay am off to clean! Speak to you soon!

Dawn xxx

PS re the last bout of sickness… poor hubby ended up with it too! And it wasn’t a bad pint!