Wednesday, 29 September 2010

All Sorts, Out of Sorts

Friday 24 September
With just over a week to go before my first book signing, I phone Lovely Tim at Waterstone’s to make sure everything’s in place. ‘Er,’ says Lovely Tim, ‘remind me, what book is it again?’. After a pause, whilst I listen to some electronic pips with sinking heart, LT returns to tell me that everything to do with my book signing appears to have fallen down a black hole. Reeling, I contact Lyn at Choc Lit and in the blink of an eye everything is back on track. What a woman!

It’s a chilly evening so we break out the heating. We’ve been trying to make our oil last (1) because it’s fiendishly expensive and (2) because we were hoping to move and didn’t especially feel like donating a lavish gift of a full tank of oil to someone who was messing about. Anyway, now prospective buyer has pulled out, we treat ourselves to some heat. Except that some gremlin has got into the system. And we don’t notice until 2 a.m. when we both wake up boiling alive. Three attempts to thwart the gremlin fail and by the time we conquer it, we’re both wrung out and it’s time to get up.

Saturday 25 September
Saturday mornings are Saturday papers for me; Guardian and the Telegraph. Telegraph because it’s brilliant for crazy filler stories (like the bosom-knitting granny – classic!). Buying the papers, however, involves an 8 mile trip to our nearest shop... Tesco. So I’m not thrilled to bits on our return to discover that, once again, I have a combo paper of any old bits and pieces shoved inside a Telegraph skin. Surely I shouldn’t have to stand there every week making sure my paper’s in one piece. How berludy hard is it to put a paper together anyway??

Postman arrives with my race pack for the Cardiff half marathon. A quick look at the booklet freaks me out; it’s full of photos of serious runners all looking lean, mean and raring to go.

Sunday 26 September
Go for my LSD; my long, slow distance run. Am three years older than when ran first Cardiff half. Horribly aware that tempus is fugiting but I’m not. Wah!
In the afternoon we go house-hunting. Theoretical house-hunting because no bugger’s buying ours. Maybe there’s a reason why we haven’t sold? Although that smacks of predeterminism which bothers me. Something’s changing though. I love this part of the country, but after five years, I beginning to wish I was closer to my loved ones and worry about our parents being so far away. Is it time to move a bit nearer to them or am I just out of sorts?

And finally... Saturday 2 October
If anyone’s in Carmarthen, I’ll be in Waterstone’s from 12-2pm signing copies of my book, Turning the Tide. Do come in and say hello!

Painting is Oak Leaves, by Tom Tomos

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Cats, Dogs and Hounds at Home

Although we have four children between us, Tom and I will never have our very own bundle of joy. Pets (what else?) are not us. Specifically, they are not Tom. Whilst I’m fine with cats, heck I even gave the kiss of life to one of mine after she was hit by a motorbike (sadly her internal injuries were too severe to save her), it’s dogs I really love.

My favourite family dog was Zorba (Ma’s Greek Island period), an absolutely adorable miniature dachshund who could melt the stoniest human heart. We also had Rima, a dazzling red setter, who liked nothing better than to sneak up on unsuspecting visitors and goose them and, briefly, Sam a naughty standard dachshund. Sam came to us for a trial run when his old lady owner was finding him a bit too energetic. He shot through the house, eating soap, drinking from the toilet and jumping up the curtains before racing outside to gobble some bread left on the lawn and crunch a few snails. Then he got a bit above himself and tried to stop Dad coming in the house, growling at him furiously, soapy snail-green slobber foaming from his mouth, and that was the end of the trial.

These days I mainly meet dogs on my run. I have had the odd bad encounter with scary farm dogs, and, of course, Dorothy, the Jack Russell who bit my bum so thoroughly that I had to get patched up at hospital. But I’ve also met some lovely dogs like Ben and Whisky who got to know me before their owner, wagging their tails when they saw me approaching (actually, they were probably laughing). My absolute favourite though, because I’ve always wanted one, is Max, a beautiful and gentle rescue greyhound who loves a fuss.

Since I can’t have my own dog, reading about other people’s rescue greyhounds is the next best thing so I was very happy to support the Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare kennels at Hersham, Surrey by buying a copy of Hounds at Home a new collection of true stories about adopting and living with greyhounds, by Victoria Kingston and Hilary Johnson. It’s available from the Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare website (£4.50 plus £1.50 P&P) and describes the ups and downs, the funny and the sad of adopting a hound needing a home. There are some gorgeous photos – Darius with stegosaurus is irresistible - but it’s the stories that are so touching and one or two of them sent tears streaming down my face. If dogs are you, you might like it too.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Wardrobe Malfunctions

With clothing prices set to increase by between 5 and 8 per cent next year, it looks as if the age of ‘throwaway’ fashion is at an end. We’re all going to have to be a bit more frugal about our buying - although you don’t need to be Gok Wan to look at my shrunken T-shirts and tired jumpers to realise that I’ve never had enough disposable income to bin anything for being ‘last year’. Nevertheless there are some items lurking in the back of my wardrobe that, even in west Wales, will never see the light of day...

For many years I wanted to be a Rock Chick when I grew up. Even when I was grown up. Little did I know, as I strutted around in these leather bad boys channelling the spirit of Jim Morrison, that my daughters were cringing behind my back and suffering excruciating embarrassment every time I left the house in them. I tried them on this morning, wondering what the fuss was about, then looked in the mirror and found a short woman in waders looking back at me. Please accept my profound apologies, Rose and Lily.

Well, look at this. My investment coat, wool and cashmere, purchased after months of careful saving. Very this season, don’t you think? Strange mousey colour, military references. Lovely. It’s also like a berludy tent on me! How I ever convinced myself it fitted, I don’t know! I can only think that, costing as much as it did, I thought I’d get as much fabric as possible for my

How about these then? I know! What was I thinking of? These things happen. It was my lunch hour, I was fed up, they were in a sale and the next thing I knew they were accompanying me back to the office. I can’t even walk in them – that four inch heel is a killer.

I suppose the lesson of this morning’s rummage in my wardrobe is that there are some items that should be thrown away... but in the meantime I’ll just put them back where I found them. I’m not sure about the practical value of those boots, but if clothes prices go up that much, a pair of leather trousers and a huge military style overcoat might just come in handy!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Counting Down to the Cardiff Half Marathon

Saturday 4 September.
With six weeks to go until the Cardiff Half Marathon, my running shoes have had enough. At £50 - £60 a pop, I do have to take a deep breath when the time comes to renew them, but, hey, they do a pretty good job of pounding the roads round here. The internet, once again, seems to have run out of Asics 1150s in my size so we head for the wilds of Sports Direct at Haverfordwest. Inside it’s complete havoc; mountains of shoeboxes, zillions of mum and small daughter combos, forlorn single shoes abandoned by their other halves. I am not hopeful. With sinking heart I nab the nearest assistant, who happens to be up a ladder. To my immense surprise there is some sort of order and efficiency behind the chaos and two minutes later I’m standing at the till with my new shoes. Well done Sports Direct and a big thank you to a very helpful assistant.

When I get home I’m slightly freaked out to find that the route for the Cardiff Half Marathon is a new one this year. I tweet my distress and @Cadrieu responds out the blue with a reassuring message. How kind people can be.

Sunday 5 September.
Decide to run a practise half marathon – but not in my new shoes. All goes well until mile nine when I accidentally swallow a bug. Whilst it can’t be much fun for the bug to be sucked into an enormous black hole, it certainly doesn’t do much for me – especially when the bug fights back and flutters around in my throat – aaarrrghh! There is a tussle by the side of the road after which both of us emerge slightly worse for wear.

So whilst training has taught me that bugs are definitely not good to eat, Haribo Gold Bears are amazing – just the right size and long lasting! However something called a ‘Wild Mouse’ from Lidl is truly horrid – like eating an alien with a huge foamy body and a nasty jelly tail – nearly as bad as the fly.

Wednesday 8 September.
Take my new shoes for a six mile spin – I realise how flat my previous pair are when I set off and feel as if I’m running in platforms. Absolutely rubbish run, but at least I beat the rain and manage not to eat a bug. 38 days to go...

And finally...
A couple of thanks. Thanks for your good wishes to Rose, who has started her new job. After three years of diligently working in a silent, formal office where hardly anyone knew her, it’s now jeans, Macs, music and enthusiasm. Great – long may it last.

And thanks from me for supporting Turning the Tide. I’m very grateful to all of you who’ve bought the book or said nice things about it. Getting too hung about Amazon rankings is a very dangerous game to play – but it doesn’t half make my day when the book gets a boost. Thank you!

Monday, 6 September 2010

High Heels and Book Deals

I'm delighted to be over at High Heels and Book Deals today, because:

1. I get to chat to Mel which is always a pleasure and
2. I've been allowed - encouraged even - to talk about my favourite shiny red shoes. Yay!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Moving, Not Moving

Only a month ago, my sister was thrilled to have an offer accepted on her dream home. When I saw the details I could see exactly why she’d fallen in love with the property, a beautiful Edwardian gem, treasured not trashed by the couple who’d lived there for many happy years. Last week, my sister and her family went on holiday for a much-needed break as my youngest niece has been quite poorly. They could relax knowing that a moving date – 14th not 13th September, as her buyers were superstitious - had been set and they were about to exchange contracts. And then, the day before exchange, the buyers had second thoughts and pulled out. Just to make things even worse, it rained all week and my sister discovered that something was moving – they’d taken a family of nits on holiday with them. Where did the good luck fairy go?

Our own attempt to move has been thwarted at every turn by the most bizarre and unexpected twists; a house with a private water supply... but, it appeared, no legal entitlement to the water, houses that are for sale one minute and not the next, potential buyers who... no, don’t get me started. In the process we’re racking up legal bills and throwing money down the drain. There must be a better way of doing this?

On a happier note, my lovely younger daughter known here as Rose (or PonkyRose – do all families have their own language?) has given three years of very solid work to a company who have, quite frankly, given very little back. Tomorrow she starts a new job that she’s very excited about, with a publisher of high quality books for children, and the good news is they seem very pleased to have her too! Here’s to you, Ponky, well done, darling, we all hope you’ll be very happy!

Painting is 'Under the Pier with Nets' by Tom Tomos