Friday, 4 November 2016

Way To Go Bob ...

I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about the film "A Street Cat Called Bob"!  I first read James Bowen's brilliant book several years ago and I loved it.  It is truly a story of hope and triumph over adversity and I know from experience just how  a cat can have such a profound effect on one's life!  I have also read "The World According To Bob" and "A Gift From Bob" and every time I pick one of them up, I get a warm fuzzy feeling that reminds me of slippers and hot chocolate!  I cannot recommend it highly enough if you are looking for a warming read this winter!  I knew the film was coming but now it is here, I can hardly wait to see it!

Last weekend, Steve and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary!  Unbelievable!  We spent the weekend in London, staying at an hotel in Russell Square.  We went to see "Matilda" at the Cambridge Theatre on the Saturday night.  To me - a massive admirer of Roald Dahl and his work, this was an absolute treat.  To Steve, who has never read one of Dahl's books, it was a journey of discovery - and he absolutely loved it.  The little girl (I believe it was Clara Read at this performance) playing the lead role was an astonishing professional and she delivered a truly stonking performance - especially during the story-telling sequences - becoming more fraught as the tale of the escapologist and the gymnast reached its dramatic climax.  I have only ever seen that level of professionalism in a child-actor on stage before and that was when we saw "Billy Elliot" a few years back.  Watch out for Clara Read in the future - she is going to be a massive star one day!

Great news!  I finally finished compiling the Young Writers' book "Word magic 2"!  It just needs proof-reading then I will whip it over to the printers.  I cannot wait to show my youngsters the dummy copy at tomorrow's AYW session!  It doesn't look half bad actually although, for some reason, it has proved much more of a challenge this time than last time.  Maybe that is because with the first one, I was flying pretty much on a wing and a prayer as I had no idea how to go about it and did so with sheer willpower and an overwhelming sense of urgency for the children's sake.  It couldn't fail so it didn't!  Hopefully the second one won't either!

I can't believe it is Bonfire Night tomorrow.  I can't actually believe how fast this year has flown by, really and that I am sitting here on 4th November, in our lovely little home with its leaded windows, as fireworks snap, crackle and pop.  Yes - even with one day to go, they are alive and well and kicking up a stink outside.  I don't actually mind them - at a distance.  To me they herald the coming of winter - scarves, hats, gloves, and, of course, the fact Christmas (always my favourite time of year; something I never outgrew and never want to) is less than eight weeks away!

I am still no closer to starting a new book and I desperately want to.  There has just been so many distractions this year, so I promised myself today that, come January, I will make 2017 my Writing Year.  2016 has been my Poetry Year.  I have published a few, tweeted a lot and written a ton of them.  And one day, maybe - just maybe - I will do something with them all.  But next year I want to write something I can really sink my teeth into.  The ideas are there - the rest will just have to follow.

So that is it for now, my oh so silent readers.  I promise I will do my best not to leave it another month before I write the next post! Arrivederci!

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Finding My Write....

So much has gone on since my last Post!  The Young Writers got off to a flying start after the summer break with seven turning up for the first session and ten for the second.  Their new book Word Magic 2 is taking shape.  Be interesting to see how  this Saturday's session goes!  The old house was finally sold after several hiccups and the new house is just thriving!  We get on well with our immediate neighbours, the house itself is straight and looking lovely - very comfortable - a proper home!  Such a relief after months and months of boxes!  I think I can honestly say that we are very very happy.  And everyone who has thus far visited The Gallop has fallen in love with it at first sight.  We are very lucky.

The only thing flagging is my Writing.  I don't think it has fully recovered yet from all the disruptions of the past few months.  The ideas are still there and the poems are still coming - but anything beyond that just isn't happening.  I was kind of hoping to get back to The Epic - or to at least have a new children's book underway by now but - nothing, zilch, zero.    I am not worrying too much.  I know it will come back eventually.  But it is a tad frustrating to never leave the starting block as I am sure all fellow writers will completely understand!

So let me tell you about my latest reading matter instead.  It is the first in Jodi Taylor's The Chronicles of St Mary's.  It sounds rather like an Enid Blyton book doesn't it - First Term At Mallory Towers, for example!  But really, you couldn't get further from the truth!  The first volume is entitled Just One Damned Thing After Another and tells the story of the time-hopping historians  at St Mary's Institute of Historical Research - and in particular one Madeleine Maxwell, fondly known as Max. There are three other books so far A Symphony of Echoes, A Second Chance and A Trail Through Time.  Despite the fact this first book has some deeply disturbing moments - horses burning to death on The Somme as The Historians 'observe, take notes and do not get involved', for example, it is mainly incredibly funny stuff and has had me, on occasion,  howling with laughter!  It is one of those lovely simple concepts.  Who amongst us has not found themselves caught up in a fascinating tale on a visit to an historical site somewhere and not  thought I wonder what it was really like?  So I highly recommend Jodi's books, albeit I am only half way through the first one, and would not be the east bit surprised if they pop up on our TVs at some point as a mini-series, they are that good!

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Phew ...!

I am writing this at the dining room table of our lovely new home.  We have been here two and a half weeks already and we are surprisingly straight considering it took us three trips in the removals van to get our furniture, clothes and at least three hundred boxes over here!  We have also taken delivery of several items of new furniture but - and here's the really exciting bit - we are already talking about where we can put the Christmas Tree this year!  Now that must surely mean that this was the new home for us!

Another good thing (at least whilst the weather is decent) is that I can actually walk to work from here and I am feeling the benefits of that already.  It is very hilly in these parts but every day those inclines are less and less of an effort!  And if I do decide to bus it - well the bus stop is ten minutes away and a three minute trip on the bus gets me to the office.  It hasn't been quite so easy for Steve, bless him.  Instead of getting home at 5.15 he now gets home at 5.45 - and he leaves for work at 6.45 rather than 7,15 in the evening, so it has actually added half an hour to his journey each way.  But he is getting used to it.  We are very resilient.

I am slowly getting back into the Writing.  Yesterday morning at this time, I updated the Young Writer blog and last night, I was finally able to sit down and start going through the work they have handed in for the new book Word Magic 2.   Over the next couple of weeks I will decide what order to put it all in and then I will start compiling it.  Considering we have had The Move, a Holiday, a Funeral and a Weekend Away to contend with, this book is, so far, still on schedule and I am pretty pleased about that!

It will be interesting, once the Young Writer sessions start up again in three weeks, to see how long I am going to be able to carry on with it.  My plan initially was to give it a year to realistically see if the fact it will now take me an hour rather than five minutes to get to it remains viable.  I think it will be - but only time will tell!  I am not planning to give it up; it is my Creative Writing Baby and next year it will be five years old!!!  Still - we shall see.

Ah well - 7.21 a/m GMT - time to get ready for The Day Job ...

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Almost There ...

Wasn't it Andy Williams who once sang "We're almost there ..."? I can't remember the next line but that first line is pretty apt for our current situation!  We are almost there - in fact we are going to actually be there by close of play on Friday 5th!  Yes our Big Move to our sweet little house is just two days away so it is pretty much action stations.  The packing is as good as done apart from what we need to tide us over to Friday.  I think I have told everyone who needs to know what our new address is - and I am talking mainly utilities here.  I only remembered Thames Water last night and the TV Licence the night before!  Tonight I will sit down at my laptop and do a Change of Address for family and friends then it will be go go go.

The downside to this move is that my writing has taken a terrible blow!  I simply have not had a moment to think of anything except the odd haiku and journal entry - even my two blogs have been sorely neglected of late.  Once we are settled in and the office is all set up and I can access my filing cabinets again, I will start trying to catch up.  Till then, I am afraid, you will all just have to bear with me.

Just wanted to let everyone know I haven't forgotten them - my entire world is completely upside down at the moment.  Hopefully it won't be too long till it's right side up again!

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Getting Ready To Move ...

Boxes!  At the moment we eat, sleep and dream boxes!  Boxes of Keep stuff, boxes of Charity stuff, boxes of - well - stuff .  We cannot wait to get into our new place now, I think we have both had enough of boxes.  How is it that we have accumulated such vast amounts in the eighteen years we have lived in Addiscombe?  Do you know what we found the other day?  A box full of chinaware we have not unwrapped since we actually moved to Addiscombe!  We'd just forgotten all about it until it reappeared in the dark recesses of our workshop!  Such are the woes of the soon-to-be-moved!

But never mind.  Life goes on beyond all things mundane.  A couple of weeks ago, the Young Writers had their Picnic in the Park!  It was a truly phenomenal success, with more children turning up than ever before.  It was such fun!  And I really believe the children benefit from the change of environment. You don't get swings, birdsong and the sound of the wind in the trees in the library! And then on the Saturday before my 59th birthday, as a Birthday Treat, Steve took me to see Beautiful - The Carol King Story.  It was a terrific show and we loved it - the music was very Us - all 60s and 70s stuff.  I hadn't realised before just how great an impact this clever young American composer had on the music scene!

And on the Sunday after my birthday, we went on our early summer holiday - a lovely coach trip to Bath, Bristol and the Cotswolds.  It was the first time we had seen the Cotswolds properly - we have passed through them a number of times - but this holiday gave us the opportunity to visit some of its pretty little towns and villages; places like Broadway with its sweeping thoroughfare and Bourton-on-the-Water, rather sweetly dubbed the Venice of the Cotswolds, because of its numerous low bridges crossing the charming canal.  Luckily, Steve did not almost break his ankle on this trip.  But the heavy cold he woke up with on the Tuesday did put something of a dampener on the week.  Not enough to spoil our dinner out on Wednesday with my sister and brother-in-law, who were also holidaying in the area.

Once we got home again, everything moved very quickly - the house is as good as sold, we have found our new home - and all this means we will be moving much sooner than we thought; early August in fact!  So it is all go - which exactly what I need to do now - Day Job calls!

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Love This Writer's Life

I have really had the most phenomenal few weeks by the way.  Our daughter took us out for a Father's Day meal on Sunday and my grandson said to me  "Any new books lately ...?"  and as I shook my head, I explained about the talk I recently did for Croydon Writers, the workshop with Croydon Literacy, the stall I had at Croydon heritage Festival on Saturday where I not only sold copies of "My Writer" and the AYW book "Word Magic", but I was approached by several people to do talks, an editor who is "always look for contributors" and a number of writers/poets just starting out who were eager for advice!  Only realised that everyone else at the meal was listening when they chorused "Been busy then ..." .  And I haven't even finished yet!  I have a stall at a local school fayre this Saturday (25th), have seen my article "Writing For A Younger Audience" reappear in the on-line magazine "Women Writers - Women's Books" just this morning and it isn't long till I start laying out the new "Word Magic" book!

Am I fortunate or what?  And I am so grateful for all the opportunities coming my way!

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Blame The Doctor ...

That Doctor Who has a lot to answer for!  Here I am thinking I added a new post a couple of weeks ago and it turns out to be a couple of months ago.  Time And Relative Displacement In Space - ie - an unintended time-slip - is the only thing I can think of as I grovel to beg the forgiveness of my silent and invisible blog readers!  SOOO much has been going on!  I spent a lovely week in Scotland with Steve (lovely but for the fact he almost broke his ankle on the second day, which meant a morning at A & E and the rest of the day at the hotel with only an ice-pack for company.  He is still hobbling around with a walking stick but definitely on the mend).  The weather was unbelievable!  We watched the weather report every morning.  The South East was being dellugued in rain,  battered by gale force winds and hit by storms whilst up there, the temperature was in the mid 20s every day and the sun just beat down from dawn till dusk!

We are frantically packing ready for the intended move in October, cleared the loft (thanks Sharon and Gary - your help was very gratefully received), hired a skip, cleared the shed, the workshop, the lean-to  (all of which are now just piled with boxes ready for storage) - and that is only the beginning!
The talk at Croydon Writers went really well, the Young Writers continue to go from strength to strength, there's the Workshop with Croydon Literacy coming up, the new Young Writer anthology to lay out and publish - and I now have to get to work.  Part the Second later ...