Favourite Illustrators Part 1 – Edward Ardizzone

Edward Ardizzone

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I love his work. He’s one of those illustrators I saw a lot as a child and didn’t realise it. His work was in books at schools and in the local library. I think he’s fantastic.

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So how have you been this week? What’s been happening in your world? We’ve been caught up in poor hubby feeling so unwell – he’s a bit better now – and I’ve been working. The kids went back to school on Wednesday (Yippee! Peace reigns in the house! Love them dearly, but they are really noisy and sometimes you just want quiet). You parents out there know what I mean!

 

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Remember this book? We read it in primary school during the 70s and there was a television series too. I remember it being read on Jackanory! Am showing my age now.

Maurice+Sendak+TGSo life has been pretty quiet this week – thanks mainly to the weans not being around – and I’ve gotten into True Blood this week thanks to the box set appearing on Sky. I missed it when it was on telly…well I missed the first three episodes and never picked it up. Now I have watched all but the last episode of series one and I’m totally hooked…you could say I’m a huge fang! Boom boom! Sorry terrible joke! I am just loving it. Can’t wait to get on to the next episode.

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Still reading the biography of Dickens by John Forster, but have also been reading Rich Roll’s Finding Ultra. It’s a really good book about a man who went from being an alcoholic to a vegan ultraman. It’s very inspirational. Would recommend it. The Dickens biog is great too. Am such a big fan.

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Right am going to finish up now. What did you think of the illustrations? Lovely aren’t they. I love the oldy-worldy feel of them and they are so beautifully done. Ardizzone was such an illustrator. He’s one of my art heroes.

Til next time!

Dawn xxx

PS before I go…here are a few more…

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Dreaming of travelling

Lagoon Sunrise

Just dreaming of a calming holiday just now. Of course, we can’t actually go anywhere at the moment because of hubby’s illness, but I can still dream. So the theme of today’s images is going to be calm, relaxation and travelling the world.

So how are you all? Hope you’ve  had a good week. I went back to work this week and I’d forgotten how tiring it can be. Here was me  thinking it’ll be quiet what with it getting closer to the summer holidays, but no such luck. I’ve spent all week going to bed early I’ve been that tired! But my body needs the rest, so I just go with it.

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Just finished Chris Guillebeau’s The Happiness of Pursuit which is inspiring tales of people who have gone out and pursued a quest of some sort, whether that’s travelling to every country in the world (as Chris did) or knitting 500 hats for charity. I read his Art of Non-Conformity book recently and I really enjoy how he writes. It’s a light easy-to-read style that makes you feel he’s talking to just you and that you and he are now friends. I also like his books because of the stories he tells of his own travels and the experiences of other people. It’s really, really interesting, often amusing and very refreshing to see that people are bucking the norm and just following their hearts. I kind of yearn to do something myself, go on my own quest, but I don’t yet know what that will be.

I haven’t yet finished Gormenghast, but I’ll get back to it soon.

I’m trying to think of something exciting to tell you that I’ve done this week, but as usual my life has been relatively quiet. We had to attend two appointments at two different hospitals on Wednesday for hubby. He’s doing well, which is a relief. He’s going to start chemo in about a month’s time. Things are looking good finally. Long may that last! We were both exhausted afterwards…it was a very long day. I’m afraid my plans to have a healthy diet went to pot on Wednesday because we were out of the house for so long, but we’re getting back into it.

Now I’m starting to feel a bit normal after the difficulties of the last couple of months, I’ve been thinking of getting back into writing. I had started writing another novel for children, so am planning to go back to that soon…probably tomorrow. I will get a plan started (I work when I have a plan) and then just write. I’ve got a couple of ideas mulling around my head for two other stories, so will get those ideas down too. My plan is to have my children’s novel finished by Christmas.

I’ve also started knitting again. I’m thinking of starting my Christmas knits now so that it’s not a mad rush in December. Will start browsing the web for ideas for gifts, although I have quite a few lovely knitting books that will also give me ideas.

My other plan is to get to grips with my camera. I got a lovely camera a few months ago and I’ve done nothing but take pics on auto. Maybe that’s my quest – something to do with photography? Who knows!

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Anyway, am away to start my planning for writing, knitting and general life. I’m such a list maker! I love it!

Til next time!

Dawn xxx

PS before I go just one thing to say about Game of Thrones (apart from this series being superb!) : Jon Snow….NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

Escaping to Perthshire and enjoying the peace

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We escaped from the madhouse this weekend by taking a two night stayover at Crieff Hydro in Perthshire. We’ve been before – I’ve spoken about it before in this blog – but we’ve always taken the kids. This time round, however, hubby and I decided to leave the kids with their grandparents and go ourselves. It was great. We had a lovely relaxing time. We didn’t make use of the spa or the sporting opportunities the hotel offers, which are many and very good, but we just went with the flow about what we wanted to do.

We arrived late afternoon on Friday and after we’d settled in we had dinner, a few glasses of wine and went to see The Other Woman in the hotel’s small cinema. The film starred Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton. It’s a film where Cameron’s character Carly, a successful lawyer, discovers her boyfriend (played by the oh so handsome Nikokaj Coster-Waldau from Game of Thrones) is actually married. Anyway, the wife (Kate King, played by Leslie Mann) finds out and in her despair befriends Carly. They then find out he’s also seeing a much younger and bustier Amber (played by Kate Upton). They tell her and together the three decide to get their own back. It’s quite an enjoyable film, but predictable. Good for a Friday night film watching stint (minus the kids). Don Johnston plays Carly’s dad and Nicki Minaj is Lydia Carly’s secretary. I’d give it a seven out of ten. Anyway, it was good going to the flicks.

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The next day, we decided to get out our cameras and go photo hunting up the Knock which is the hill behind the Hydro. We really knocked it off with the weather. It was one of those sunny, frosty, gorgeous winter mornings that you read about in novels. Added to that is the loveliness of the scenery and it literally was breathtaking.

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We had a lovely morning exploring and snapping and having a good  old laugh. We must have been out a good two hours traipsing about the hillside and returned just before lunchtime. We spent a little time in our room before venturing out. Hubby wanted to take shots of the Deil’s Cauldron, a waterfall at nearby Comrie. I didn’t go with him, but waited in the car (I was knackered from the walk earlier!!). We had a late lunch at a nice little café in Comrie before returning to the hotel.

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Chilling out time!! We spent the rest of the afternoon chilling out and taking it easy. We had a few glasses of wine before dinner and then went to see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (can you tell we love going to the movies?). It was okay. It’s not my favourite type of film anyway (although I have seen the original film and tv series!). Good cast and excellent special effects. It too was predictable. It’s also quite violent. Six out of ten.

 

Anyone for golf? Don't fancy trying to hit a hole in one from here.

Anyone for golf? Don’t fancy trying to hit a hole in one from here.

Anyway, it’s top marks to Crieff Hydro for an excellent time. The room was lovely (and really big), the food was great, there was lots to do and the staff couldn’t be more helpful.

Minus 100 to the medical students who were holding their Midway Ball at the hotel and kept us up and awake a good bit of the night on Friday and Saturday night with their shouting and crying and carrying on somewhere below our third floor room (yes we were up that high and could hear them) . I don’t know where they were doing it from but we could hear every word, every expletive and every sob from them, the drunken bums. It honestly sounded like they were in the room next door to us, but they were outside. I am assuming it was them – it sounded like the group that invaded the piano bar the first night we were there. Anyway, whoever it was…I don’t appreciate being kept up til 2.30am listening to your childishness.

Phew that felt good!

Anyway, we still managed to enjoy ourselves. We feel all rested.  The kids also had a good time as my parents took them to the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Ayr. They loved it and want to go back. We’ll take them in the summer I think. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. Oh, and if you ever go there yourself, mind and pick up this book on Burns’ life…it was beautifully illustrated by my friend Mandy Sinclair.

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We picked the kids up at lunchtime today. I really missed them, but I think they had such a good time with their granny and grampa that they didn’t give us a thought!! We got lots of kisses and hugs from them though, which was lovely.

Can’t believe that’s us been and come back already. Sigh. Anyway, I must get on. Got a whole pile of washing to do (except the kids’ clothes – thanks Mum for doing that). Til next time!

Dawn xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top ten books I read last year

 

In no particular order…

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1. Miss Pettigrew lives for a day – Winifred Watson.

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2. Wonderbook: the Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction – Jan VanderMeer.

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3. Miss Buncle’s Book – D E Stevenson.

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4. Outlander – Diana Gabaldon.

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5. The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson.

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6. The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey.

On Writing

7. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft – Stephen King.

The List

8. The List – Joanna Bolouri.

the hunger games

9. The Hunger Games (trilogy) – Suzanne Collins.

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10. Queen Lucia – E F Benson.

Also, the books of Charles Dickens, Molly Keane, Elizabeth Hunter, Deborah Harkness, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle!

 

 

Top Ten Fave Children’s Books and Authors

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  1. The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis – those books include The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian and The Silver Chair.
  2. What Katy Did and What Katy Did Next by Susan Coolidge – the stories of Katy Carr and her siblings. These are great. Can’t recommend them enough.
  3. All the Mary Poppins books by P L Travers – so much better than the film!
  4. All the Heidi books by Johanna Spyri .
  5. The Chronicles of Prydain books by Llloyd Alexander.
  6. The Wishing Chair and The Faraway Tree books by Enid Blyton.
  7. Anything by Roald Dahl, although I particularly love The Witches.
  8. The Fox Busters by Dick King Smith – one of the first books I bought with my own pocket money!
  9. All the books by E Nesbitt, but I loved The Phoenix and the Carpet and The Enchanted Garden the best.
  10. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster – a bizarre book, but very enjoyable.

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Writing, Dickens and Onion Goggles

I have discovered a great new thing that makes my cooking life so much easier…onion goggles. Yes, they do exist and they have made cooking main meals (many of which include onions) so much better for me. No longer are my eyes streaming, my make-up sliding down my face and the nipping blindness that comes from cutting up onions. I can cut them with abandon…I look daft, but I can cut onions now. Mine look a bit like this but are all black…the kids think they are hysterical. These are RSVP International goggles…onion goggles

Anyhoo, how have you been? Hope you are all well? What have you been up to? What’s the gossip? I have nothing. Nada. It’s been a quieter week, thank goodness, but has left me bereft of anything interesting to say…except the aforementioned onion goggles. I have been working, doing housework and cooking (with the goggles). Oh my God! Talking of cooking, I’ve been working my way through the Hairy Bikers’ Eat for Life Book…this week I have made Chorizo Cod (I forget it’s correct name), their Chicken Tikka Masala (which was fab) and, best of all, their Doner Kebab…fantastic! Recommend all three.

This weekend I’ve deliberately kept free because even though I didn’t have much on last weekend, because hubby and I went out on Friday, my entire week was thrown out and I spent the weekend catching up and running after the kids. This weekend I am going to put my feet up more so I can get back in the zone for writing…I think I’ve stopped writing because I don’t have time to daydream and think.

Anyway, that’s me for this week. Am away, I have a list of things to do before I sit down tonight.

Til next time!

Dawn xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

A racy new writer and catching up with friends

The List

Had an excellent night last night! Was out at the launch of my friend Joanna Bolouri’s brand new book The List at Argyle Street Waterstone’s. I’ve known Joanna since she was a child. She is the daughter of my dear friend Yvonne who was my very first editor (she basically took a chance on me and gave me my first newspaper job) on the Glasgow South & Eastwood Extra local newspaper. I’ve known Yvonne for 25 years…can’t believe it’s been that long (she still looks great!)…and Joanna for about as long.

The List is Joanna’s debut book and is a fantastically funny story about Phoebe Henderson who’s been single since she caught her boyfriend in bed with another woman. With her friend Lucy she creates a list of ten things she’s always wanted to do in bed and as the book blurb goes: ‘One year of pleasure, no strings attached. Simple, right?’ Already started this book and can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s hysterically funny, brilliantly written and one I can barely put down! If you love a great story, a good belly laugh and some brilliant capers, you’ll love The List. Available at all major outlets…and, no, Joanna has not paid me nor asked me to promote this book! It’s so good I have no qualms about doing it!! NB Not one for the kids!

Last night I also managed to catch up with a fair few folk I haven’t seen for years and it was brilliant. So thanks to Joanna for the invite…had a great time and I wish you all the best with your book!

Plus DarkIsle: The Final Battle is now out!! It’s the final one in the trilogy and just as exciting and pacy as the other two. I hope you enjoy it!

Right, that’s the excitement over. I don’t go out a lot (my choice), so any night out is extremely exciting. I don’t go out a lot because I have such a lot going on in my life at home that I am often too tired to go out. Plus home is definitely where my heart is, so I don’t need to have a lot of excitement to have a great life. It’s all here!!

This week I’ve been working as usual, but am off next week for the Easter hols. Me and the kids started the hols off with a trip to a local soft play area, which was a good idea in the beginning, but hell to end with. We were meeting some friends there, which was great. The only thing that wasn’t great was the hellish racket all the kids were making as they played. Two hours of it and I’d had enough. We came home to peace and quiet. My kids had a great time and it was good to catch up with friends, but my eardrums are still recovering!!

Yesterday, had a friend over to watch Monday’s Game of Thrones. Oh my God do I love that programme! I watched it Monday night with hubby and I watched it all over again with Mac (my friend) yesterday. Fantastic! As soon as I hear the opening music, my heart starts beating faster and my stomach flips in excitement. Sad, but true. Monday’s episode didn’t disappoint and can’t wait til next week’s.

This weekend, I am planning to do a bit of writing and to clean out my car. It’s badly in need of a clean, but every time I go to do it it’s raining hard. Plus it stinks of oil which isn’t great. Took it for an MOT and service yesterday and it came back reeking of oil. Hopefully it’ll dissipate soon!!

Right, am off to do something else…like getting dressed (am writing this at 10.25am on Saturday morning!). Til next time!

Dawn xxx

On Writing

PS also reading Stephen King’s On Writing…it’s excellent. He has such a good voice when he writes and this comes across beautifully in his book which is part biog, part writing guide. I’m not a fan of his books (because I don’t like horror mainly because I can’t sleep for weeks afterwards), although I love some of the films that have been made from them (Shawshank Redemption is one of my all time favourite films), but I think he’s a great writer and story teller. Not literary, but that doesn’t matter!! I think a book should be judged on it’s story telling and not how fancy the words are! Anyway, On Writing is good.

New DarkIsle out April 11!!!!

Darkisle the final battle

Ta-daaaaaaaah!!! DarkIsle: The Final Battle is out on April 11!! Woohooo!! Am very excited. Pre-order yours now on Amazon and other outlets!

The Hairy  Bikers' bean burgers...a lot neater looking than mine!

The Hairy Bikers’ bean burgers…a lot neater looking than mine!

After all that excitement, let’s get back down to Earth with some normality (ie what my life is normally like!). Let me start first with my little success story from last night. I made the Hairy Bikers’ Eat for Life bean burgers for tea last night and they were lovely. There were three left over which I had in a pitta bread with salad for lunch. Delish!! I’ve got a few Hairy Bikers’ books and I love their recipes…they are down-to-earth, proper food for families, not the posh stuff you have to buy weird ingredients for. Unfortunately the kids weren’t as enamoured with the burgers as I was, but never mind. Hopefully, they’ll like them at some point in the future.

Yesterday afternoon I had some friends round for our craft club. Well, it was supposed to be craft club but it turned into ‘drink tea and eat cake and gab club’ instead and we got nothing done on our projects. We didn’t even have them out. That’s not the real point of craft club though…it’s really just an excuse to get together to gab and have a nice time. It was good. I’m still working on a top I was knitting for myself. It’s funny – when I’m knitting for other people I will knit and knit and knit. When I’m knitting for me…it takes ages. Still haven’t finished those socks I started over a year ago!!

Missed my walk last night as was feeling too tired and off colour. Went to bed early last night and woke up refreshed. This morning I watched the last episode of series 2 of Lilyhammer…that’s a funny series. I’m hoping there are further series…I’ll need to look it up. I also did a bit of yoga. I used to go to a class in a town near here, but it was on a night I worked and I was so stressed trying to get home, take my daughter to Rainbows, pick her up and then go to yoga, that I decided it wasn’t worth it. I have a few DVDs at home, so am trying to do a wee session every couple of days. Hopefully, I’ll eventually get back to a proper class…I really enjoyed the class when I was there, it was just getting there that was the problem!!

After this blog has been written, I am GETTING BACK INTO WRITING THE TWO BOOKS I WAS WORKING ON. I am shouting in text to give myself a metaphorical kick up the backside to get it done.

Anyway, I’m off to write. Til next time!

Dawn xxx

Starry, starry night and do Guinea Pigs sleep with their eyes closed?

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Oh the Northern Lights have been making an appearance across Scotland yesterday and today. I missed yesterday, but me and the girl were out looking for them tonight. We didn’t see them, but we did get a fantastic view of the starry night. It was amazing. It’s a clear night, so you can see hundreds of stars. Orion really stands out. Fantastic! We loved it. If it hadn’t been so cold, we would have stayed out longer. Fantastic!! Can’t stop saying that.

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Have made the imagery theme the Universe today. I like sci-fi so sci-fi-y type pics are right up my street. (pauses for a moment)

Anyway, you may be wondering what on Earth I was talking about regarding Guinea Pigs sleeping with their eyes closed? Well, it’s like this. You would think they would, right? But, despite having Guinea Pigs in our lives for the last three years, it’s only recently that I’ve actually seen them close their eyes when they sleep. Honestly, I could go up to their cage and peer in and both of them would have their eyes wide open, but be so still they look as if they’d died. There was not a flinch! It was weird, which made me wonder if they didn’t have eyelids. However, on Wednesday, as I was working at my laptop, I spotted them both asleep WITH THEIR EYES CLOSED. So that proves it to me. And also proves that sometimes I’ve not got enough going on in my life! Hee hee. I wonder what they were doing ‘sleeping’ with their eyes open…for that is what it appeared they were doing? Thinking DEEP THOUGHTS? The meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything? Answer = 42 (of course! Can’t be a sci-fi fan and not know that). Creating sweet Guinea Pig poetry in their heads? Doing quantum physics? Who knows? It certainly takes them several minutes to realise I am there…daft wee things that they are!

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Anyway, how’s things with you? What’s been happening in your world? Hope it’s been a good week for you. Been a bit of a mixed bag for me, but today I met a couple of friends for lunch to celebrate Tracy’s birthday. Happy Birthday Tracy!! Was a good lunch. We had a laugh, ate nice food and generally had a lovely time. Need to do that more often!

Getting very excited about April 7 – series 4 of Game of Thrones is back on the box. Can’t wait!! I just LOVE that programme! Have also been watching The Great British Sewing Bee again. Excellent programme and absolutely compelling viewing. Am loving it again!! Roll on Tuesday!

Currently reading The Fellowship of the Ring, which is shocking really. I should have read it by now. I love fantasy, so it’s taken me a number of years to get round to this book. Most people I know read it as a child. I didn’t. Anyway, am reading it (and the other two books) now and loving it. Also currently reading Jack Monroe’s new cookery book. It’s a really nice book and I’m looking forward to trying out a number of recipes. Well done Jack!!

Right, am writing this at 8.45 pm on a Friday night. Got some Aurora Borealis to see before bed.
Til next time!

Dawn xxx

Getting back into writing and cracking at the cooker

A view from Carrick Castle - I felt we all  needed a bit of sunshine today so here you go!

A view from Carrick Castle – I felt we all needed a bit of sunshine today so here you go!

Hello, how are you? Or should I say: How do you do? Was listening to Radio 2 yesterday and one of the guests has just written a tongue-in-cheek book on etiquette and how to behave with the hoi polloi. Was quite interesting. Anyway, what’s been happening in your world this week? I’ve been busy, but don’t feel I’ve really achieved much…it’s been one of those weeks!!

Woke up on Monday morning with a really painful right hip. I don’t know what caused it but it was really debilitating. Managed to get dressed okay, but when it came time to leave I had to get the boy to pull my slippers off because I couldn’t bend to reach them. I was walking like an old woman and every time I moved a bolt of pain screeched up my hip and made me jolt with agony. I felt like I’d been stabbed. Anyway, I was lucky, by teatime everything had eased off. However, I’ve been having twinges all week since. I don’t know whether it’s been the way I’ve been sleeping or linked to the cold virus that’s been annoying me for the last couple of weeks too. Sigh. Thank goodness I’m mobile again. Such an unpleasant experience. Poor people who have to live with pain all the time.

Still working on the room. I need to get a cupboard for there and then I’ll be finished. It’s looking a lot better than before, so I can start using it again. Now I have the space and the time I’m getting back into writing. Did my work plan last night and today I’ll start planning the next bit of the two books I’m writing.

I have a quiet-ish weekend ahead, so am also planning to do a bit of baking. Haven’t baked bread for ages and I really prefer home cooked cakes and biscuits to bought, so I may just put my CD player on and get cracking at the cooker!!

Right I need to go. Til next time.

Dawn xxxx