Monday, 24 March 2008

This is...

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds latest offering and it's sooooo good!!! Difficult not to overplay it, especially tracks like 'Hold On To Yourself' and 'Lie Down Here (And Be My Girl)'. Oh, all right then, Nick, but just let me finish my novel first. Yes, I'm still working!!!

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Bum Back On Seat!

How's this for a good girl?
I have been to the gym.
I have been for a swim.
I have applied my bum to seat and I am working!!!

Painting is 'Ramsey Island from Port Melgan' by Tom Tomos

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Seven Not So Secret Things About Me

Lifeinthemud has tagged me to reveal seven bits of old dross about myself and since I must be one of the few people waking up in Wales without a hangover this morning (honestly, not a mention of the Welsh rugby team’s fantastic achievement on Radio Four’s early morning news – how rude!) I’ve written a quick response. The rules are over at Muddie’s blog if you, dear reader, would like to continue this game. Anyway, here we go:

1. I hate tomatoes but they started it. I was violently sick after eating a couple of them raw and over the years I’ve become quite tomato-phobic, flinching at slimy pips or anything too red and shiny – Red Nose Day is quite an ordeal, I can tell you.

2. When I was five I tobogganed downstairs in a cardboard box. The descent was terrific but the landing – into a glass front door – not quite so much fun since it involved much blood and a trip to hospital to be stitched up.

3. I fell in love with Tom at first sight, which was berludy inconvenient to say the least.

4. I can do that Vulcan, Mr Spock salutey thing but Tom can’t so I like to waggle my fingers whilst telling him to live long and prosper for the sheer fun of watching him struggle to do it back.

5. When I was a first aider at work my first ‘patient’ died. Well, to be fair, I think he was already dead when I arrived, poor chap.

6. I watched the 1999 total eclipse of the sun in Cherbourg harbour. Lily, Rose, Tom and I had sailed there in our ancient wooden boat.

7. I am the mother of two astounding, beautiful and strong young women – I still can’t believe how fortunate I am to have them in my life and nearly burst with pride every time I see them.

Now, over to you...

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

The Black Eyed Dog and Beyond

Sunday 9 March: Shades
Nick Drake once sang about a black eyed dog who knew his name. The song always resonates with me because the black eyed dog knows my name too. These days we get along companionably and don’t bother each other much but lately he’s moved a little closer to my side. I don’t want to be drawn into that downward spiral so first on set I set myself a brisk, difficult run. The steep ascent at the end of this run is a b*gger but I dig in and tell myself I’ve got to keep going. There is a nasty moment when, gasping for breath, I notice a newly-picked, pink and glistening fragment of a tiny animal backbone. I’m not usually squeamish but this nearly pushes me over the edge and I have to choke back nausea whilst forcing myself to keep running but the sense of euphoria when I achieve my goal makes up for the pain.

The quick fix of a good run enables me to focus on the triggers which have set off this black mood. For help with identifying trigger points I would recommend Grouse’s ‘Mind-boggling’ blog and her post on depression One flash point for me is what I’ve identified as ‘PTG’ or Post Traumatic Guest here at Hotel H where we’ve just waved goodbye to Mil and Dil. Mil is a dear soul but much preoccupied by what she can’t do or can’t eat and Tom and I are worried to note that the list of prohibitions has grown. It means that Mil and I have spent the week inside doing not very much whilst Dil, who is still raring to go, and Tom are off doing jobs on the boat. By the end of the week Tom and I are both at a loss as to how to change the situation; it’s frustrating and draining.

Something else bothering me is a creeping fear which I call ‘When Is It All Going To Go Wrong?’ I hate to tempt fate but life has been good since we moved to west Wales two years ago. After what seemed a never-ending run of truly awful times we have found some clear water; we live in a beautiful part of the world, we are happy in our occupations and between us we have four children of whom we are immensely proud. Why do I have to look over my shoulder wondering if something horrible is about to happen?

Thirdly… book, oh the book! Rewriting has been tougher than I ever imagined and I think a better novel is emerging for it but I have been completely wracked by self-doubt along the way. And I’ve stalled. With only a couple of chapters to revise, breaking off to sit with Mil for a week has made it difficult to pick up my thread again. Still, at least I can do something about this…I can apply my bum to seat and JUST DO IT!

Tuesday 11 March: Light Relief
Okay, I really will apply bum to seat but first a coffee with fellow blogger Preseli Mags who lives across the hills from me. We end up chatting for three hours so, yes, it went well! Mags is delightful company and we’re hoping to venture further afield to meet more PurpleCoo bloggers later in the year. And Julie 'e', if you’re reading this, get blogging again soon, will you?

Hwyl fawr!

Painting is 'Under the Castle' by Tom Tomos SOLD

Thank you, Debs.

Thank you to Debs for so kindly giving me this award. Debs is very creative in her shed so much so that I am seriously thinking of telling her to budge up so I can finish FTT there!

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Hic! Hic! Hooray!

Thank you Muddie! Tell you what, given that I'm under siege from prunes and the Outlaws and my nerves are beginning to crack, I could really, really do with a drink! No wonder I came up with the silliest answer.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Duffy, Mummies and Celebrations

Saturday 1 March
Duffy is tiny, a slight figure in a black, nipped in, strapless cocktail dress with gorgeous red patent stilettos, but, boy, does she pack a punch! From the minute she steps on to the stage and throws single roses out to the audience, she has everyone eating out of her hand. Fresh, charming and clearly enjoying every moment she is a joy to watch. It feels churlish, therefore, to criticise but my slight niggle is that the material doesn’t quite live up to her performance. The stand-out tracks, when they come, are sublime. ‘Mercy’ sends the audience wild, indeed, squashed, as we are, in the moshpit there is some out and out bad behaviour which is downright annoying. But, my goodness, this girl is only twenty-three and bursting with talent – expect to see much more of her.

Monday 3 March
Ma rings and admits she is in pain with her back – quite extraordinary behaviour for her on both accounts. I question her closely, advise her as best I can from 250 miles away and ring again a little later to check progress. Ma says she’s fine and doesn’t need me to rush back to the south. She’s one of the strongest willed people I have ever met but her body is frail and it worries me to look too far into the future.

Here at Hotel H, Mil and Dil are our guests and Tom too is painfully aware of time passing. Amongst other mysterious ailments, Mil’s been experiencing heart palpitations for which there are no medical explanations but which make her anxious and fearful. How do you reassure someone who can’t be reassured?

Wednesday 5 March
Well I’ve had my fill of trying to soothe brows that can’t be soothed. FTT is frustratingly close to completion but I can’t write so I’m going outside to stain a fence. Says a lot, doesn’t it? However, in the midst of the doom and gloom about ageing P’s we have good news. The delightful Martin, who runs the Apple Gallery Godalming, rings to say he has sold two of Tom’s large paintings. I’m so pleased for Tom who really deserves recognition. I hope the person who bought them enjoys them… and tells all their friends!

Gawd, I’m always banging on in this blog about my nearest and dearest and how proud I am of them. It’s not a question of showing off but about celebrating the fact that their hard work is being rewarded. Stepson Two’s band, Clocks, have a new full release single out on 7 April. ‘Old Valve Radio’ is a track I’ve been playing in the car a lot. A perfect pop song, it conjures up summer but remains edgy thanks to Stepson Two’s characteristic bittersweet lyrics. For music channel fans, the video, which is just terrific, is on ‘The Hits’ now and is also on the playlist for ‘Q’ and ‘The Box’.
Hwyl fawr!
Painting is 'October below Craig Cau' SOLD

Saturday, 1 March 2008

One Wedding Anniversary, One New Job and Two New Homes

I March
St David’s Day arrives with blustery wind, sunshine and blue skies. It’s also my wedding anniversary; nine years ago Tom and I tied the knot in what started off as a small ceremony and grew! Lots of happy memories both of that day and of the intervening years. Tonight Tom and I are off to see Duffy at Aberystwyth and I’m really looking forward to it. I booked the tickets some time ago when people were still saying, ‘Who?’ so I feel particularly pleased with myself.

It’s been a good week, although very busy one. On Monday, whilst we were driving half way round Wales trying to sort cars out, I got the brilliant news that Lily has a new job with a very highly respected organisation. Apparently she was head and shoulders above the other candidates - well OF COURSE SHE WAS! This is my baby we’re talking about here, anything less than total adoration and I would have had something to say!! Yes, I know I’m having a proud mummy moment but Lily is a truly lovely girl so they’re lucky to have her!

On Wednesday it was back down south to check on Ma who has turned her renovation project of a flat into a show room in four months (where does that woman find the energy?). Then it’s over to meet my lovely Rose from work for a quick catch up with her before heading to Worthing and Mil and Dil.

The real purpose of the trip south is to help Stepson One and Girlf move into their first home together. We’re up at crack of doom the next morning and only stop for a quick refuelling break with Stepson Two who is on a rest day on his band, Clocks’, hectic tour. Then it’s on with the next vanload. As teachers, and with a bit of help, Stepson One and Girlf, been able to scrape enough funds together to take out a mortgage. Commendably they haven’t been seduced by showy d├ęcor or posh finishes but have invested in a property with potential. Their flat is scruffy with ancient wallpaper and threadbare carpets but it’s home and once we’ve arranged furniture and made the bed they are both beaming.

Well, we’ve all been there and Tom and I had to do it again when we moved into together. Having been on the receiving end of two bloody divorces there wasn’t a lot of cash left in the system. We trawled around trying to find something vaguely habitable and eventually arrived at a tiny Victorian cottage, with a narrow strip of a front garden between us and the pavement and a miniscule concrete ‘courtyard’ to the rear. Downbeat and desperate, Tom, Lily, Rose and I walked into lashings of battleship grey painted woodchip paper and a similarly grim grey carpet and fell in love with the place. Something shone out from the austere interior which made us all feel warm and welcome; it was a brilliant place to start our new life together – here’s wishing the same for Stepson One and Girlf.

Hwyl fawr!

Painting is 'Chapel Window' by Tom Tomos