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Showing posts from 2014

Good Times

We're going to be travelling and catching up with family so I will take this opportunity to thank you for reading Home Thoughts Weekly.  Like any other year, 2014 has brought its share of ups and downs but I'm going into the New Year thinking of all the happy times.  


All best wishes to you and yours for Christmas and the New Year.

Author Specification

Got a book inside you? Thinking of making 2015 the year you let it out? Here’s your author specification so you can hit the ground running.

Essential Information
Before you begin, ask yourself whether or not you’re completely and utterly in love with what you’re writing. If you don’t care about your work, why should the reader? Besides, it’s a long old slog writing 90,000 words. If you want to make a career out of this you’ve got to find the stamina to complete this journey not just once, but over and over again.

Qualifications
None. Anyone can do it, can’t they?
Please note; excuses about not having enough time are not acceptable. Everyone is busy.

Experience and Knowledge
Proven evidence of writing skills is desirable though not, unfortunately, essential. However, useful examples include writing for publication in magazines and newspapers and competition wins. Have you stamped all over the internet? Left your digital footprints on the blogosphere, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Sp…

Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On.

These are the shoes I bought for my dream life, the one where I’m far more glamorous, far more successful … and don’t actually have to fret about walking further than from car to bar. I haven’t worn them – unless you count trotting round the house a few times for the sheer joy of wearing such pretty and impractical footwear. However much I might secretly dream of topping the Sunday Times best seller list, I’m fully aware that every time I step in the shower and wash in water that’s cleaner and more abundant than many people’s drinking water, I’m already living someone else’s dream.

I’ve been knocked out by the worst cold I’ve had in ages and it’s forced me to sit passively watching the world go by. Christmas always worries me anyway; too many memories of trying to make it special on a very limited budget when my daughters were growing up, but more than ever it seems that so many seasonal messages are all about buying that festive feeling. All that debt for the fragrance,…

An Indomitable Bill

My fellow Choc Lit author and friend, the delightful Liz Harris, has invited me to join in a series of blog postings which began with Australian readers and writers of rural romance and has grown to include lovers of the great outdoors everywhere. Liz introduced us to handsome rancher Will Hyde, the hero of her novella, A Western Heart and a man more than one young lady would like to saddle up with. Liz's passion, not just for her hero but also for the American West, is evident in this novella and in her lovely novel A Bargain Struck. Bothare set in 1880s Wyoming so it's not surprising to find that Liz has stayed in a working ranch in Wyoming herself, although, as she states, rather more recently.
You can find out more about Liz and her varied and interesting books here where you’ll quickly notice that there’s no shortage of material for her novels. Most recently, Liz’s travels took her to Australia and having seen some of her beautiful photos in and around Sydney I’m hop…

St Jude and St David's

‘Can you hear that noise?’ asks Tom.
‘Isn’t it just the road surface?’ I reply because I really don’t want to acknowledge any noise that might be indicative of car trouble, especially not when we’re high in the Preseli Hills where low clouds cast a damp grey shroud across the winding road. After a brief consultation we decide the noise probably isn’t serious and decide to press on. We’re having a day out at St David’s because what is the point of living in such a beautiful part of the world if you don’t get out to see it?
The drizzle turns to rain but doesn’t dampen our spirits. We have a very good, if slightly pricey lunch, at The Refectory in the cathedral where there’s also a small display of local art and crafts. I buy a very pleasing Christmas present from the arty lady at the desk who is no longer young but is lovely to look at with her chic black polo-neck, oversize black glasses and poppy red hair and lipstick. We talk about Coast magazine and the Donna Tartt book she’s readi…

Sunshine and Showers

‘So,’ says our postman, handing me a thick wodge of A5 envelopes, ‘you’ve got a good bundle today; all these are for you!’. Smiling weakly, I wait until I’ve closed the door before giving a little sigh at the latest deluge of paperwork. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my two years assisting with the Romantic Novelists’ Association ‘Romantic Novel of the Year’ awards it’s the value of a good postman, one who’ll keep your parcels out the rain when you’re not in, takes a sensible approach to the occasional underpaid envelope and, er, provides feedback on your running times.

Last year I was fielding parcels of books; receiving them from authors and sending them out to readers for judging, but it seems I was a bit optimistic to think that taking over as official score keeper for the awards would be any less time-consuming. Every entry is read initially by three readers who award points for all aspects of the books. The totals go to three of us by email and then the paper copies com…

Walking Pace

Eye worries apart, I decide I can’t sit around like Chicken Licken waiting for the sky to fall in so I take myself out for a run. It feels good, so good in fact that I discover when I check my watch that I’ve run my fastest 5k ever. 
Hmm, so much for taking it easy.  But I also make time for plenty of reading; some new fiction and some old favourites too, like BB’s Little Grey Men and Down The Bright Stream, prescient depictions of a fragile English countryside irrevocably changed by human activity. Non-fiction draws me back to another comfort read, Roger Deakin’s Waterlog which is now on my Kindle so I can revisit the secret world of wild swimming whenever I like and his Wildwood which is a treat in store.

The weekend brings a visit from Rose and her husband Si so we decide to take a slow walk to the secret beach. Although the weather’s grey there’s a wealth of autumn colour along the way.
Then it's a slow walk home for a well-deserved cup of tea and a big slice of home-made cake!

Flashing and Dashing

‘And this,’ the A&E doctor tells us showing us into a treatment room at the end of a corridor, ‘is also our ebola room!’ There’s comfort of a sort to be had in the fact that I’m not actually surrounded by staff in protective clothing, and also that I’ve been fast-tracked through casualty … although that in itself is rather worrying. I’ve had to seek emergency treatment for a flashing light show in my right eye which could be a posterior vitreous detachment – like the one I experienced in my left eye – or it might be the start of something more sinister like a retinal detachment and the only way to know is to seek expert medical help. Fast.

The ebola room, it turns out, usually serves as The Eye Room, and after a couple of basic eyes tests, further help is summoned. After a nervous wait, I’m thoroughly and efficiently examined by the on-call ophthalmologist who declares my eyes to be in surprisingly good shape for someone so short-sighted but to seek help immediately if the sympto…

What a Difference The 'Diff Made!

The last thing I do, before leaving the car to make my way to the start of the Cardiff Half Marathon, is to tell Tom that I love him. The horrific attack on ordinary people at the Boston Marathon in April 2013 has added an unspoken, ‘What if?’ to the pre-race nerves and the Cardiff Half Marathon is now the biggest half marathon in Britain after The Great North Run. It’s a chilly morning and the rain starts to fall as I walk to Cardiff Castle and find my timing pen. The atmosphere’s subdued; not quite so much of the banter which often marks the countdown to the start. I wrap my bin bag round my shoulders to keep warm and let go of all those nagging thoughts and fears leaving a clear calm space where I can focus on the race. A klaxon sounds but it’s almost six minutes before I cross the start line – and then we’re off!

The first mile’s over before I know it. I check my watch; 8.59. 8.59? My head tells me I’ve gone out too quickly, but my body feels fine. I settle in and just keep …

Taking Stock

We’ve spent two days this week cataloguing Tom’s paintings which were rather haphazardly stored when we moved here three years ago. It’s been a joy to see old favourites, discover forgotten gems and to change the mood of our living rooms with different works. Not everyone has the chance to get a private viewing of a major retrospective of an artist’s work – nearly a hundred paintings - but my pride in Tom’s achievement has been tinged with frustration that he isn’t receiving wider recognition. He’s not alone, of course, Andrew Graham-Dixon’s BBC programme about David Bomberg, whose critical stock rose only after his death from malnutrition, was a powerful reminder of how cruel the creative Fates can be. 

Drinking my tea this morning, I ruefully listened to Radio Four’s Today programme giving author David Nicholls over four minutes of airtime to promote his new book, Us, and to tell listeners how pleased he was that his comedy about marriage and family had been long-listed for the Book…

Making Memories

‘Keep Making Memories’ reads the slogan on the Shearings coach we’re following on the motorway. An auspicious sign for our holiday break with Ma, perhaps. It also, along with treating people how you would wish to be treated, resonates with my personal philosophy of trying to make the most of every day. As a line from a particularly moving scene in one of my favourite films, Blade Runner, goes; ‘all these moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain’ - which is why every minute is precious.

Alas, our first holiday meal proves memorable for all the wrong reason. We’ve booked in to a Premier Inn at Herne Bay to explore the Kent coast. The Premier Inn itself is clean and efficient with polite, helpful staff; so helpful, in fact, that when our online reservation at the next door 'Table Table' appears to have failed, the receptionist remakes the booking and even comes to our room to assure us we have a table for three at 6.30pm.
‘Sorry guys, nothing under that name,’ says th…

Why I'm Running for Pancreatic Cancer UK

When you’re sitting, waiting with fragile hopes, in a hospital room for relatives, it’s brutal to be told instead, ‘the operation was a complete success – but we couldn’t remove the cancer.’ On October 5th I’m taking part in the Cardiff Half Marathon for the fourth time, but on this occasion I’m also aiming to raise as much money as possible for Pancreatic Cancer UK. Pancreatic cancer is known as the ‘silent’ killer because many of its symptoms reflect less serious illnesses meaning that by the time diagnosis is confirmed it’s often too late – which is what happened to my dad. The Whipple procedure, the major surgery he withstood, which might have prolonged his life, came too late. 

I’m afraid I can’t provide photos of sad kittens or cute puppies to make my chosen cause seem more appealing. Pancreatic cancer isn’t very pretty, it’s cruel, it ravages strong beautiful bodies and is no respecter of fame, talent or fortune. Here, instead, are a few illustrations of what the disease took …

Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

Having won the ‘pinch, punch, first of the month’ battle for the first time in ages, I get up to make tea to find a truly autumnal start to the month with mist obscuring Cardigan Bay. Eight years of living in the Welsh countryside have made us acutely aware of the changes marking the passing seasons. Over the last week, the colours of the leaves have changed on a daily basis; the wash of green is now tinted with reds and golds and the hedgerows are jewelled with berries. Country living’s also opened our eyes to the possibilities nature’s abundance offers. After the success of our elderflower champagne – which has added a real note of celebration to summer evenings - we went out last sunny Saturday, to gather elderberries and blackberries to make red fizz to brighten up the darker nights.Given I have extreme Tomato Phobia, I stayed out the way when Tom used our crop of tomatoes to make chutney...
But I'm always happy to see our sweet peas...

In other news,
 first reports from the …