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Showing posts from June, 2011

Spuds We Like and Other Growths

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It’s a busy old time at Hotel H with every other phone caller wanting to book a visit to the new house. Down-sizing and building works is creating quite a waiting list and this week’s changeover day, when we took Stepson Two and Gorgeous Girlf to the station and collected Ma, wasn’t helped by a nine-hour power cut. It’s frantic enough running round the house changing bed linen and towels without the added frisson of wondering when I’ll be able to push a hoover round or make a cup of tea.

We may not be able to generate our own electricity – the small brook in the garden has dwindled to a tiny trickle, dashing our hopes for a micro-hydro power system– but, thanks to Tom digging a vegetable patch, we’ve been self-sufficient in salad. This week saw the very exciting digging of our first potatoes. And – fanfare of trumpets – here they are!


The moment captured on camera by Stepson Two. They’re Maris Peer – and very good too, the skin rubbing away to reveal a lovely pale flesh... hmm, t…

Taking the Plunge

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Well, our heating engineer returned from his travels and we found not one but two electricians and a builder so it looks as if July will (fingers crossed) be the month when we take the financial plunge. The current boiler’s being put out of its misery and the wiring, which seems to consist of very few sockets and very many extension leads, will be replaced. If there’s any money left in the system we may even be able to spend it something more fun like, oooh, big whoopee, a kitchen or bathroom, but I suspect that things like new paint colours and fabrics are way down the line. Never mind, I’m not complaining, I’m still feeling very fortunate that we’ve landed where we have; I’ve had enough tough times to appreciate the good times when they come along.

Many years ago, I got into difficulties in very deep water trying to swim back to a boat. Worse still, I had my small daughters with me. I remember being underwater seeing Lily’s legs kicking above me as she broke the surface and the …

Muck, Magic and a Mystery Man

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Lately, I have been mainly composting. Well, that’s the answer I gave Kath Eastman yesterday when she kindly asked during a Twitter ‘conversation’ where I was with my writing. Only, instead of a series of wooden bins in a corner of the garden, I’ve got the notebook/box file equivalent. Hopefully they’re not filled with rubbish either, but with all sorts of ideas which, with a bit of alchemy, will transform themselves into a fertile growing medium for future work.

My current notebook is the one with the raw ideas, all the base ingredients I’ve picked up and collected, hoping to make them into something sparkly. Flicking through at random, there’s a cutting on the use of external landscapes in fiction to reflect internal portraits, a poem by Simon Armitage and a picture of a hamster sitting in a mug. There are lists of names, words, messages to self and stabs at haiku:

Winter clouds sinking.
Sear yellow; summer’s last grass.
Run it in colour.

By stepping back a bit, and this is where…

Ruck it and See

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Outside it’s 2011, but inside the café Tom’s been keen to show me ever since he discovered it whilst I was running a Cardiff half marathon, it’s 1973. I keep looking up expecting to see the Welsh equivalent of Gene Hunt and Sam Tyler arguing at a table. Either the decor hasn’t been changed in decades or we’ve fallen through a time-space portal where murals, fake teak cladding and sage faux leather are all the rage. The service is old-fashioned too, in a good way; the staff are smart and courteous although I’m amused by a faint air of ‘Grace Brothers’ when one of the waiters makes an aside to his colleague about two disagreeable customers who have given him grief.

We’re here for brunch before the game, Wales v Barbarians. Despite the board outside advertising the ‘All Day Breakfast’, I’ve been told that breakfast is no longer being served, so I opt for the ‘Special Farmhouse Brunch’... sausage, egg, bacon and spaghetti, which sounds like breakfast by any other name to me. A studen…

Guest Blogger: Pauline Barclay

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Just for a change, I have a guest on my blog today, so pull up a chair, help yourself to a drink and join my delightful guest, author and blogger, Pauline Barclay...

Having read Turning the Tide, the debut novel of Christine’s, I am now looking forward to her new book. I know, Christine, you have had a year that has caused you much pain and anguish, but I also know you are now happily settled into your new home which you deserve so much. I am pleased that things are working out well again for you. Thank you for asking me to your blog and for taking time out of your frantic schedule to share your friends and followers with me.

I’m Pauline Barclay and I live in the Canary Isles on the beautiful volcanic island of Lanzarote. The sun shines most of the time, though like much of the world, our weather pattern has been strange this year. Having said this, I live in shorts, t-shirt and sandals, so you can guess it isn’t cold!


We live just a five minute stroll to the beach and from our villa w…

Choc Lit Author's Corner

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I'm blogging over at Choc Lit Author's Corner today about seizing the day, but telling you about here gives me another excuse to post this photo, taken at the bottom of our garden last night.

Shopping and Nightlife

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‘So,’ says Ma, ‘are you any closer to the shops?’ There’s a petrol station about a mile and a half away and we’re fifteen minutes closer to Carmarthen which is still some twenty-six miles away. Ma, who’s still recovering from her accident, adores shopping, but will have to be content with her next-greatest passion, gardening, when she comes to stay with us in few weeks time.

The ongoing boiler saga aside, Tom and I continue to be thrilled to bits with the location of our new home, but it’s very tucked away, as the photos show, and wouldn’t suit anyone looking for shopping malls, pubs and clubs and a choice of restaurants and theatres. What many people would regard as essential services are thin on the ground and as for transport links? Well, it’s off to Carmarthen or Aberystwyth for the nearest train.

Fortunately with Lily and Russ living at Cardiff Bay we have the perfect excuse for a city break. Last weekend we stopped off for a quick fix of shopping at the retail outlet at Sa…