Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Summer reading...




 Summertime.
Nothing to report really. We're all lying around feeling stunned. Mostly from the intense heat, but also from the complete break from routine. No more need to get up - dressed-breakfast-teeth-hair and-out-the-door by five to nine. Phew!
Instead we're in vests and pants all day, eating biscuits. But it's taking us a while to get unwind and get used to it - the boys keep looking at me as if to say, "Isn't there something we should be doing?"
"Nope, just stay in your pants and pass me another biscuit."

 
Shady spots in the garden
The garden is full of butterflies and big fat bees. The freezer is full of ice-cream and the fridge is packed with lemons, cold chicken and salad. (To be honest, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with all those lemons, but there's nothing more summery than a lemon, is there?)
My feet are bare, my phone is switched off, my wristwatch is...actually I've no idea where my watch is - I 'll go and look for it later on. You get the idea.
 
 
Bouncing
 
 
Sprinkler
I haven't done any writing for almost a week, so I'm beginning to feel (ever-so-slightly) twitchy about it. But I know not to expect to get much done in the holidays. Instead, my plan is to tackle my towering To-Be-Read pile. After all, reading is much easier than writing  -  I can dip in and out of a book; I can read in the garden, the bath or my bed; I can even carry a book with me while I'm making drinks and snacks for the boys. And - hopefully - I'll have a sense of accomplishment when I've finished.
That is my plan.
My TBR pile is a pretty weird assortment. As a writer, I should probably say 'eclectic' or 'diverse'...but 'weird assortment' definitely describes it best.
  
 
Hmm, think this one was recommended by someone writing in the comments section of the Guardian. I was reading an article about books set in pre-Revolutionary France - since I'm planning a historical thread for my next book - and someone mentioned that this was a great YA/children's book on the subject. I enjoyed Leon Garfield's book 'Smith', so I've decided to give this one a try too.

 
Christina Courtenay's publishers sent me a free - FREE! - kindle upon which I shall be reading many of these books. I am therefore duty-bound to read ALL her books for evermore. Luckily, She is a fun writer who comes up with something different each book - exotic or historical settings, quarrelsome ghosts and even deadly ninja heroines. This is her first YA story.  

 
Another book set around the French Revolution and since it's by La Grande Daphne I have to read it. C'est research! 

 
Similarly, if it's by Neil Gaiman, I have to read it. And the reviews I've seen for this one have been spectacular.
 
 
LOVE Eva Ibbotson. I've just bought 'The Abominables' to read to my seven-year-old and found myself reaching for this one too. It's set in Vienna - with crumbling castles, pastries and coffee, dancing horses and famous jewels. Research, I tell you - research!
 
 
This one was recommended ages ago by a bubbly German friend. I think I've been putting it off because she said when I'd finished it I could keep it. So I had no deadline. And I suppose I assumed she couldn't have liked it all that much if she was happy to give it away. But again, the reviews are awesome. So maybe Germanic generosity extends much further than my own (which goes I-like-it-so-I-keep-it-grrr!)

 
Recommended - in fact, pressed upon me - by a YA writer friend, so I'm pretty sure I'm going to enjoy Miss Peregrine. More great reviews too. This is one of those books that makes me afraid it'll be so good I'll lose all confidence in my own writing and take myself down to the bottom of the garden to eat worms.

 
CJ Sansom is Actual Agent's favourite writer. Actual Agent knows so much about writing that I can't help feeling any book recommended by her must be The-Perfect-Story. However 'Winter in Madrid' looks far bleaker than the stories I usually choose for myself. And there are falangists in it. I mean, surely The-Perfect-Story would never have falangists in it. I can't see that there is a place for falangists anywhere...

 
Lawks! Unless I'm hugely-embarrassingly-wrong, this is a story about the world being attacked by jam. It's been recommended by my twenty-year-old brother who is far too clever for his own good. (Hello Charlie!) So I'm afraid this story will be something of a smartarse. But I'm just as likely to be completely wrong and love it. (Jam, though...seriously?) Husband picked it up and said it was published by the people responsible for Star Wars, Batman, Buffy and Sin City among others, so if he's interested, I'm definitely going to read it first. (Assuming I can get past the jam thing. Yep, actual jam - apparently.)

 
 This one's been recommended many times by my sister who knows everything (Hi Al!). And again, more ecstatic reviews all over the internet. Oh God, so many books and only six weeks holiday to read them in!
On my marks, get set, go...
 
 


So much sun...




Wednesday, 10 July 2013

End of term...

Feeling a bit melancholy about the passing of time...my boys growing up...loss of innocence and all that...

(Or maybe just dreading the loss of my own life for the long summer holiday ahead!) 


Both boys have had really great teachers during this last school year and they'll be sorry to say goodbye to them. We're into the rounds of school reports, sports days, swimming galas, summer fairs, open evenings and leaving parties now.


The ten-year-old's grown a lot over the last few months - suddenly he's almost as tall as I am. He wears a wristwatch now so that he can go to the park with his friends and hang out after school. His class have just finished some (quite detailed) sex education lessons. So he knows pretty much everything - although there's still a fair bit that he doesn't fully understand - I hope!

In September, he will be going into year 6 and it'll be his final year at the primary school we live almost next door to. He'll be wearing the largest sized school jumpers, taking his cycling proficiency test (so he no longer has to ride on the pavement) and going away for an entire WEEK on the PGL camping trip. After that, he'll have to walk to the insanely big senior school about a mile away - without me - yikes!

He'll probably be fine, but I'm not sure how I'm going to deal with it all...


As for the seven-year-old, he'll be leaving the infants behind and joining the juniors. And - like his brother - he's become scarily tall. He's insisting upon making his own breakfast, locking the bathroom door behind himself, shampooing his own hair, tying his laces, choosing his own outfits, even applying his own sun lotion - everything!
So, after years of moaning about having to do it all, I'm becoming redundant. Which is not a bad thing exactly...but it does feel a bit weird.


Yesterday, I walked through the park in the sunshine and saw the groups of mothers having picnics with their toddlers and babies. They sat by the baby swings and those bouncy things on giant springs. They had pushchairs and they handed out coloured beakers of juice, rice cakes and rusks. Their children all had squashy nappy-bottoms, bare feet with toes curled towards their own heels like monkey paws, and wrists so fat they looked like they had elastic bands around them.

And it all felt so familiar. Not years behind me. It's a stage that's gone like lightening.

I suppose that other (crazier) women feel all this and decide to have just one more baby. Or get a puppy. Instead, I'll try to concentrate on some of the things I enjoy that aren't connected to me being a mother - like the writing.
More and more, it's time to get on with it - and find out how far I can go.

Oh yeah...I made coloured Cookie Monster cakes for the school fair!
(because part of me will always heart the mum-stuff!)