A Life in the Month of...

Goodness me, those posh chocolates are a dim and distant memory now. Hopefully, thanks to those generous folks at Appliances Online, some of you will shortly be wallowing in recipe books and chocolates galore. Just remember though that if you get a washing machine I’ll be a bit miffed as mine’s still on the blink.

After a traumatic December I was hoping for a period of calm, but January’s been just as tumultuous...

Ma, feisty old bird that she is, has coped amazingly with having one arm in a sling. Her delight when she managed to put a bra on for the first time was only marred by her dismay that she’d put it on inside out. At this stage, I’d have thought ‘What the heck’ and left it, but Ma went through the whole laborious process again! The hospital lost her follow-up appointment (you knew they’d do that, didn’t you?) but she’s now back in the system. All things considered she’s been a real star.

My little sister was rushed into hospital last week with chest pains and treated for a suspected blood clot. Fortunately, it’s ‘only’ pleurisy, but it didn’t half scare the pants off everyone

When your rellies are dropping like flies, one thing you need is a reliable car. Especially when there are two buses a day from your village and the railway station is 30 miles away. So, naturally our ancient Berlingo decided to pack up. We managed to nurse it as far as the nearest garage and trade it in for a little Daihatsu that would fit in the boot of our neighbour’s 4x4. So what if it sounds like a biscuit tin when you close the door; it’s a car, it was cheap and we’re mobile again.

The house saga rolls on and will make a blog of its own. Truly, if I tell you all about it now, I’ll curl up in the foetal position and never get any writing done.

The work in progress is, well, in progress again! Hurray! I have another couple of month’s grace, but I’m in a much happier place with it. Ooh my goodness, another full-blown blog saga awaits after I’m done, but I had no idea of how much having Turning the Tide out there would affect the WIP! I’ve been very lucky and received some super reviews, emails and letters from readers, but, gosh, the odd caustic comment from one or two hardcore reviewers has nearly cut me in half! Especially when they’re unfair! Ah well, as writer Lesley Pearse, so wisely said on Twitter recently, ‘Never wrestle with a pig. You’ll get dirty and the pig will enjoy it.’

With the Llanelli half marathon approaching, pigs are about the only animals not bothering me. If farm dogs and runaway horses weren’t enough to worry about, my favourite route has now been hijacked by a pheasant! I was slightly freaked out the first time it ran a mile with me, but after it tried to stop me getting past I decided it was time to change my route.

On the very last day of January, just when I was beginning to wonder if things were ever going to get any better, my elder daughter, known here as Lily, rang me from Edinburgh where she and her boyfriend, Russ, were on holiday. It had been a cold weekend and Lily couldn’t understand why Russ kept refusing to put his hat on. In the right place, at the right time, she discovered why; Russ had been waiting for the perfect moment to propose and the ring was wrapped up in his hat! Awwwww!

Many congratulations Lily and Russ, we’re delighted! Here’s wishing you every happiness together!

Painting is County Kerry (3) by Tom Tomos


Oh, Chris! Sending you hugs as it sounds like you need them! Do hope February will be a much better month all round, but great that January ended so well! xxx
Milla said…
Great to see you back, Chris. I must get to see those paintings of Tom's in the fledh one day. WIP sounds like it's coming along well which is great.
Pondside said…
Wow Chris - when you don't post for a while the news adds up! I'm glad the WIP is coming along at a good rate - it certainly helps to have one out in the world, doesn't it?! Congrats to your daughter and son-in-law-to-be.
Fennie said…
Great - you're making progress. It's strange about caustic comments isn't it. The one's for which there is no justification whatsoever seem to hurt even more than the others. It's the being blamed for something you haven't done. I remember once reading someone who said he framed the worst comments and stuck them on the wall in his downstairs loo. That has always seemed a cheering thought to me.

We're all rooting for you madly, by the way!
Posie said…
Ah lovely to touch base with you. Glad your ma is doing so well, in spite of the frustrations of the 'system'. Loved Tom's painting this month...and talking of jogging partners I know exactly what you mean and will be blogging sometime soon about the day my jogging partner turned out to be a charolais bull....best wishes and good luck with book, not that you'll need it star that you are...
mountainear said…
Great to have you back - hope this month is a little calmer.
Edith Hope said…
Dear Chris, I am sure that you are pleased that January is now behind you. Sometimes, everything seems to go wrong all at the same time, but the news of the engagement is a happiness that surely promises better times ahead.
HelenMHunt said…
You've certainly had a lot to deal with. I've also been experiencing car failure so much empathy on that one!
Chris Stovell said…
Thanks Christina - it's been quite a challenging time, but, as you say, a brilliant ending!

Milla, thank you... well, any time you're this way, you're welcome. And ta, I'm getting there!

Pondside, one of these days I intend to have a quiet month! Thank you - I'll pass it on!

Fennie, how very kind of you - I appreciate it. Hmm, the downstairs loo is probably a good place for the caustic comments... although not necessarily in a frame.
Chris Stovell said…
Posie, I'm really looking forwards to reading your blog about jogging with a charolais bull. Rather you than me, matey! And thank you very much!

Mountainear, thank you. A calm month would be very welcome!

Edith, yes, you're right; the month's behind me now and I'm someone who looks forwards rather than back. It's lovely to have something to celebrate right now!

Oh Helen, cars are a right pain and a complete waste of money, but there's no practical alternative. Even my bike's rusted through. Hope your car troubles are sorted soon too.
Frances said…
Chris, it's grand to have this post from you.

Best wishes to your Ma! Even give her a hug from me when she might find it comfy to receive.

What a time you have been having. I think that there are quite a few folks who've been having some not-so-great stuff going on in the past month.

Please do keep going with your WIP.

The house bit will happen when it happens.

Congrats to the newly engaged. Wow!

Tom's picture is another I really like.

Over here in New York, we almost set records for January snow depths. I have been shoveling out the shop's entranceway over and over again. My muscles ached after the first instance, but since then, not so much.

Here we are on the second step into February, a very short month. Let us hope that its 28 days will be enough to truly show us that spring is on the way. xo
Preseli Mags said…
I'm so glad to hear that Ma is still feisty and wish your sister well on her recovery from pleurisy too.

Hurrah for the new car (although the Berlingo wasn't old - not like mine!) Both of ours are currently poorly. It's been a bit of a week (rolls eyes and sighs).

Ignore the caustic comments - that's not who you're writing for - I do love the thing about not wrestling with a pig!

Lovely news about your daughter's engagement.
sheepish said…
You seem to be having a lot of ups and downs at the moment but hopefully the good news at the end of January will start a rollercoaster of many more ups than downs. I also love the painting and would love to see them in the flesh to. Good luck for the rest of the year.
Lins' lleisio said…
You are an inspiration Chris. Keeping all the balls in the air even when events try to make you drop one.

Give those pigs a good ignoring.
well - congratulations and commiserations where applicable - now just get back to the computer and give your public the much awaited sequel to TTT
Kath said…
I lost count of how many potential books and/or short stories I could have mined that blog post for... you and your family really have had a time of it! It's great that the month ended with such happy news from Edinburgh.

Ignore the snipers, I swear that's all some people do and just feel sorry that they have to live with themselves. It can't be much fun.

Keep up the good work on the current WiP!
So excited about "Lily & Russ" - that's lovely news! Sounds as though you're doing just fine with progress in all the right places. Wish I could say as much.

J xx
elizabethm said…
So much fellow feeling here. We too have been having a torrid time. So glad to hear your ma is doing better and impressed with the bra fastening! Hope it all settles down a bit now. And what lovely news about Rose xxx
elizabethm said…
Whoops - Lily not Rose!
Chris Stovell said…
Frances, we've just returned from the relly round where I gave Ma your hug which was much appreciated. Have been thinking of you in all the snow and emailed you.

Mags, thanks for your good wishes. Sorry to hear that the dreaded car sickness crossed the hills... do you think a sudden outbreak of extra funds would spread as quickly?!

Sheepish, the doors always open should you be this way! Thank you - it's been quite a start to the year!

Lins, it's all a bit nerve-wracking at the moment! It's a good job there's some good news or I'd be flagging!

SBS, hello and sorry not to have been in touch - you can see why though!! Bum firmly glued to seat, Miss!

Kath, do go ahead! Thanks for your very kind comments re the snipers - it's good that majority of readers - like you - have been hugely supportive, I appreciate it!

LBD, thank you, dear heart. I think it's been hard work for lots of people - we all need a touch of Spring and some sunshine.

Elizabeth, again, so sorry not to have been in touch. I'm sorry to hear you're going through it too. Hope all is beginning to settle down.
Leigh Russell said…
I welcome criticism as long as it makes sense to me and I think it's justified. Caustic comments aren't worth wasting your time on. I had this same discussion with Ian Rankin and Mark Billingham who said he always remembers the (few for him) negative comments from critics. I make a point of only remembering the best ones ;-)
DOT said…
Bloody hell! The complete Fosdike Saga in single post. Hope Mum is slinging her bra on with her eyes closed, your sister is well, and daughter floating on a cloud somewhere in a sunnier clime and the WIP is working with purpose.

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