Sunday, 29 July 2012

Heat wave...

We spent most of the first week of the summer holidays in our pyjamas. We got up late, ate when we felt like it and generally lounged about. Bliss!

On Monday, I made an apple pie - which we ate cold with vanilla ice-cream, mmm.

On Tuesday we went to La Rocca for chocolate fudge brownies, coffee and apple juice, mm-mmm.

On Wednesday we went to the activity park in Broadway - and the boys got hot and sweaty!

On Thursday I dragged them around the shops. At the vintage market I bought a summery skirt with lemons on it...

..and struggled to find citrus-sy accessories to go with it. I don't usually do brights, but this week the sunshine went to my head!

The boys got new Lego, Playdoh, some DVDs, two footballs and a couple of bubble-blowing-guns to keep them occupied for the next five weeks. Oh - and some new watercolour pencils. There's not much we get more excited about than new - untouched - colouring pencils!

On Friday we were visited by both sets of grandparents and a cousin - it was extremely noisy in the garden. The paddling pool was filled and one of the new footballs was somehow lost (no one owned up - but the cousin was suspected!) Later one of the boys from next door came round to join in - and they used the water from the paddling pool to create a giant mudslide on the lawn - it was horrendous!

Already I miss, miss, miss my writing, but I've been finding the time to read new books on my kindle and make the odd note if I read anything especially inspiring (I'm assembling ideas for September!)
I have been working my way through Christina Courtenay's back catalogue - I've finished Trade Winds and I've started The Silent Touch of Shadows. I've also been downloading lots of free samples to help me decide what I'll read next. So far I've sampled these...

...and enjoyed them all! It's been a happy week!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

More things I like...

I like these matching liquid soap and hand lotions from Heathcote and Ivory - they're pretty and they smell wonderful. And since they're currently on sale - I brought three sets!

I like Sports Day. I decided this after attending two Sports Days recently - both of which ended with a picnic surrounded by my boys and their friends and teachers. The Infants' Sports Day was a delightfully shambolic affair, with very little emphasis on winning and events which included bouncing balls around rubber rings, balancing beanbags on their heads, stepping through hoops, walking along the wooden benches and of course, the sack race which is always hilarious!
My utterly uncompetitive six year old won his running race quite calmly and the other mothers laughed at the disbelief and astonishment in my tone as I cheered him over the line.
The Juniors' Sports Day was a far more serious affair - and my nine year old really wanted to win his race. It was the hurdles. They suddenly looked very high - and lots of the hurdlers who went before slipped on the wet, muddy track and fell nastily. But he was undeterred; he hurdled high and he ran fast. It was tremendously exciting! I could see how badly he wanted to win, and his closest competitor really made him fight for it. I shouted so loudly as he went over the line that I hurt my throat and made a sort of croaking noise. It's impossible to describe that sort of pride without resorting to cliche - my heart really did seem to swell up and fill my entire chest when I heard the headmaster announcing my son's name - over the microphone - as the winner!

I like Charles Rennie Mackintosh's floral watercolours. He painted them whilst on holiday in Suffolk with his wife Margaret who was also an artist - they began to collaborate around this time. The flowers are simple yet stylish, careless yet accurate, and the colours are muted yet striking. I've been collecting them for a while now and I'm always excited to find a new one. I've mounted them in different sized frames and hung them up and down the hallway against a yellowish background for a sort of print-room effect.

I like Zooey Deschanel's retro outfits.
My six year old has downloaded 'Bridge to Terabithia' from Netflix onto his father's IPhone (impressive grasp of technology there!) and has been watching it obsessively. He's struggling with the idea that there can still be a happy ending after the death of one of the main characters. And I don't think husband or self have been particularly helpful to him since we both agreed that the film would've been much better if Leslie hadn't died.
(I can remember when the nine year old had a similar struggle with the concept of mortality - he refused to go outside for a few weeks in case a tree fell on him!)
Anyway, all this is to say that 'Bridge to Terabithia' brought Zooey Deschanel and her outfits to my attention. Who cares about mortality when you can get clothes that make you look cute and kooky?

I like summer fruits and flowers...

Friday, 20 July 2012

Ooooh - kindle!

I just won a kindle - look.
It's lovely. I'm absolutely captivated by it. I didn't believe that anyone would actually send me a kindle for FREE like that. But the publishing company Choc-Lit just did.
First they sent me an email announcing that they were going to send me a kindle and I assumed they weren't really going to - it was a cunning ploy to get hold of my banking details somehow (although I didn't really see how) and steal all my money. But no they really wanted to send me a kindle.

Christina Courtenay

I was lurking on Christina Courtenay's website - not only because I want to be her - but also because she's just published a time-slip book called The Silent Touch of Shadows and I was wondering if it was anything like the one I'm attempting to write. They're not much alike - but once I'd started reading the excerpt from hers, I wanted to read the rest. It was excellent!
It was still a few days until its release date, though, so the quickest way of getting my hands on the rest of it seemed to be by entering her kindle and books competition. Which I promptly did. Without actually expecting to win, of course!

I lurk on a lot of writer's websites, looking for inspiration and attempting to discover all the ways my life might be transformed if I was to become a real writer. For instance, they all have far more glamorous shoes than I do. I've seen photos of Christina Courtenay in towering, pillar-box-red monster stilettoes and up-to-the-knee pale purple boots - and both pairs made me writhe with envy.

I honestly never expected her to send me a free kindle, though. And it makes me feel as if amazing things can happen after all! So why shouldn't I be published one day, hmm?

Apart from Christina Courtenay's novels, the first book I downloaded (this morning - in about two seconds - amazing!) was Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I'm only a few chapters in and it's already made me weep unrestrainedly. I want to be Jojo Moyes too - I'm going to go and look for pictures of her shoes!

I'm also fascinated by the screensavers on my new kindle. They're stylish black-and-white photographs of pens, pencils, typewriter keys, swirls of calligraphy - all things writerly. One day - when I'm a real writer - I shall have a real writer's study with a big desk and a leather chair. Two or three of the walls will be lined with bookshelves, of course - but the other one will hold row after row of these framed screensaver shots...


Thursday, 5 July 2012

Every time...

Every time I start getting excited about nearing the end of my work-in-progress, I seem to run into an invisible wall. Twice now, I've written posts enthusing about how quickly the words are coming and how I'm considering which agents I could pester with it...then I hit the wall and stop writing.
I don't think I'm aware of the wall looming ahead of me and trying to gee myself up to leap over it. It seems more as if too much excitement on my part brings about the wall.

My wordcount is still hovering around the 90,000 mark and all the excitement and enthusiasm in the world hasn't shifted it yet. Mind you, I've had both boys at home with end-of-term sickbugs and tummyaches - not to mention all the swimming galas, playdates and sports days that the end of the school year always brings.
It's really hard to keep my mind on a love story set in 1827 when my nine year old is complaining (from his sickbed on the sofa) that the Wii has frozen in the middle of his game of Super Smash Brothers - and my six year old is demanding that I make him a magic wand to take to school for tomorrow's Magic and Fantasy topic because "Everyone else is bringing one in."
("Oh, and can you make me one that really lights up?)

 There are lots of lovely reds and pinks in the garden at the moment. I remember buying these little red geraniums during the mini-heatwave we had in March. (I remember it because that was when I was forty - aaargh!) Lots of other people had mistaken the freakish heatwave for the onset of summer and were also buying geraniums, lobelia, fuschias and so on. And it was stressing out the woman who was working in the garden centre.
'You can't plant these yet,' she said, fixing me with one of those glacial, billion-yard stares.
'No, absolutely not,' I lied.
'I mean it - YOU'LL LOSE THEM!' she said (for probably the twentieth time that day.)
'No, I've no intention of taking them home and planting them,' I said, grinning all over my lying face.
We both knew I was going to go straight home and plant them.
And when the buds and leaf-tips went a bit brown and withered-looking in the ensuing frost, I thought, 'Perhaps I'll go back to that angry garden centre woman and complain about this...'
However, both plants went into hibernation for three months...then burst into summery delightfulness this week. In your face - angry garden centre woman!

I also have this slightly-weird new project to work on over the summer....

A little house was donated to the local pre-school as a prize for their Summer Fair, but one of the mums decided it was a bit too tatty and asked me to repaint and tidy it up a bit in time for the Christmas fair instead.
So I'm fighting the urge to look into Farrow and Ball paint charts...Designers Guild fabrics...tiny embroidered eiderdowns...miniature parquet, no, no! We all know that grown women who play with dolls houses are a little bit creepy...I won't give in!
Just a couple of coats of paint. Then I'll glue on all the bits my six year old son has already broken off it...
I'll post an 'After' photo when I've finished. Assuming I manage to rescue it from the clutches of the six year old, who has asked me to buy it from the pre-school.
'No!' I told him firmly. 'No dolls houses - You. Are. A. Boy!'
And off he went to play with his singing Ariel doll and his Sparkle-hair Rapunzel.