Saturday, 31 December 2011

New Years Past and Present

Don’t talk to me about resolutions. I always end up with egg all over my face. I haven’t forgotten the series of books I was going to write for children and various other projects that sounded such a brilliant idea when Big Ben chimed but had lost their sparkle before the decorations came down. That’s not to say I don’t have something special up my sleeve, but maybe if I keep my trap shut I will actually get somewhere with it!

There’s the losing weight one too. In 2012 I have added incentive to lose weight – a family wedding. I lost a stone when Tilly was ill - not through dieting, but I would rather be double my weight and have her still sitting beside me in her chair, but you know that.

November for me is the worst month of the year and January should be sitting beside it, but I cannot dislike January. Many bad, sad memories in January, but how can I ever hate a month that brought me three of my grandchildren.

It was at New Year eleven years ago that my lovely Tilly came to live with us after her first few unhappy months with people who didn’t understand the needs of an active, intelligent puppy. She thought her name was Naughty Girl (which was by no means the worst of it) and it means so much that my last words to her, the last she heard as she went to sleep were “Good girl, good girl.”.

When she joined our family it was a very happy time for us – adding her to our family at the same time that Indy was well on the road to recovery after we came so very close to losing him. That must rank as one of the best New Years ever. But I never imagined at this time last year that she would be gone by now.

Last New Year was one of the best. On New Year’s Day we will be celebrating Noah’s first birthday. What a nerve wracking time it was leading up to his birth with the worries about being snowed in and him being so late, but he was worth every bit of it.

So Happy Birthday to little Noah and Happy New Year to you. May all your dreams and wishes come true and I hope the coming year brings you much peace and happiness and of course lots of writing success.

And also there’s a cyber New Year’s Eve party going on over at Frances’ place. You can take an unwanted Christmas gift and a partner of your choice. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Lost and Found and Happy Christmas

My Poor Husband. I think what he needs for Christmas is a new missus. Just this past week I have accused him of throwing away my Fiction Feast and my rubber band. Not just any rubber band you understand, but a red rubber band that I use to hold my Special Christmas Notebook closed.

For some reason I always think the rubber band will stop anyone peeking to see what delights or otherwise I will be stuffing in their stockings this year. They wouldn’t be able to decipher my writing anyway. I know I can’t.

In my Special Christmas Notebook, I write down what I have bought and for whom. When things arrive (I do most of my Christmas shopping on t’internet – a blessing for a shopophobic like me) I tick them off the list and when I wrap them up, I strike through them in red. I also keep receipts in the book just in case something needs to be returned after the festivities.

I do tend to overdo things – I keep three separate records of the stories I submit so if I forget to note one in one place, I’ll usually have a record to refer to in another. This is not because I am uber organised, but the opposite – if I didn’t write things down I’d be right up that creek without a paddle.

So anyway, I was wrapping up downstairs a few days ago and when I’d packed away all my rolls of paper, tags etc etc I went to wrap my band round my book and it was gone. I went on about it so much that the poor man went and looked in the bin in case he really had accidentally thrown it away.

Luckily I had another red rubber band up to the job. So today I did a bit more wrapping and when I shook my gift tags out of the bag what should fall out with them but my red rubber band. Oops.

As for the Fiction Feast, I hunted high and low for it. “Have you thrown it out by mistake?” I asked darkly (this would involve use of scrunched up fierce looking eyebrows if I had any). He swore blind he hadn’t, but I later heard him rifling through the recycling just in case. There was a great deal of head scratching and “I’m sure I didn’t throw it out” every time I flung an accusing glare in his direction. I’d given up all hope of finding it when I went to scan some photos yesterday and there was the Fiction Feast in the scanner. Oops again. What makes it worse is that it isn’t the first time I’ve lost something only to find it there, nor even the second.

I’m hoping to get a sewing machine in my Christmas stocking (no comments please about it being entirely possible with the size of my stockings!).

In other news, my new Large Print book Cherish the Dream is out in January. The heroine runs an animal sanctuary and the hero is a vet and although you’re not supposed to have favourite children, this is one of mine.

And I kept meaning to post a link to a post my son did about Tilly. I go back and read it every so often as I find it comforting.

So all that is left to do is wish all my lovely friends out there in Blogland a wonderful Christmas. From the bottom of my heart I thank you for the support and kindness you have shown especially over these past few months and I wish you joy and happiness and lots of it! Love Teresa (and Indy) xx

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Tears and Laughter and Happy Ever After

I received an early Christmas gift – well that’s how it felt when Debs Carr sent me a review copy of Tears and Laughter and Happy Ever After.

It occurred to me as I read that it would make a brilliant gift for anyone who loves reading short stories and when you see the names of the writers, many of whom you will recognise, you know you are in good hands! And if you’re looking for a book to take on holiday or curl up with in front of the fire, then look no further.

The very first story by Helen Hunt draws you in with the title alone, A Single Strand of Spaghetti, A Single Drop of Olive Oil. Brilliant! That’s before you even get to the story which is a feast in itself.

Next up is How Deep Is Your Love by Cally Taylor. This one about the perils of internet dating made me laugh. And so I began a roller coaster ride as I travelled through the stories meeting a whole variety of characters. It does what it says on the cover, taking you through a range of emotions.

All the stories are enjoyable, but for the purpose of this review I picked out a few of my favourites: Hive Talking by Leigh Forbes – I liked Gerald and his quiet passion for his lovely bees and I very much liked the satisfying ending. At Death’s Door by Jill Steeples – a thought provoking tale which anyone who has suffered with a partner with the dreaded man flu will appreciate, but perhaps not in the way you’d expect. Never Too Late by Deborah Carr came close to my heart, reminding me of how much I worried about my mum after she was widowed which is something so many of us go through and identify with. Karen Clarke’s powerful story, Ghosts was beautifully written and really tugged at my heart – a story that haunted me long after I finished reading it. And the last story in the book, The Girl in the Yellow Dress by Bernadette James – a lovely one to end the book with as you say a contented “Ahhhh”.

You can read more about the writers and how the book came to be born here and buy the kindle version here .

The writers of the 26 stories are, Deborah Carr, Karen Clarke, Sarah Dunnakey, Leigh Forbes, Helen M Hunt, Bernadette James, Helen Kara, Jenny Maltby, Kathleen McGurl, Tamsyn Murray, Sally Quilford, Jill Steeples and Cally Talor.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

If You Sit Still Long Enough

Thanks everyone who signed the petition included in the last post. I’ve put a link on Facebook (thanks for the suggestion Jacula).

Sorry for the lack of posts. To be honest I don’t know what I’ve been doing with myself the past few weeks. I haven’t written much, haven’t read much – haven’t really done anything at all.

But I did take Indy to see Tom this week. He agreed to do a blood test to put my mind at rest and while we were there I mentioned that he’d had some stiffness in one of his hind legs. I was worried that he was showing signs of arthritis and once my thoughts turned in that direction I started thinking of even worse things it could be - though heaven knows arthritis is devastating enough. And it’s never a good idea to look these things up on the internet.

When I got home, the phone was ringing. Tom had done the bloods straight away and was calling to say everything is fine. I was so relieved. It’s no guarantee of course, but for now there are no signs of anything sinister. He’d also checked out Indy’s vision and spent ages manipulating his legs.

The stiffness is just a minor strain – it probably happened when he was chasing the ball. He does tend to throw himself heart and soul - and four wildly flailing legs - into it.

He says Indy is in great shape for an eleven year old. Well I can’t ask for better than that can I?

I have got a copy of Tears and Laughter and Happy Ever After to review, but I haven’t been able to concentrate on reading and I want to be able to enjoy and therefore review it properly. Once I have my head back together I will and I hope to make that my next post.

Oh and Indy says “If you sit still long enough in this house, you get decorated – ho ho ho!” (he's smiling really!)

Friday, 18 November 2011

Flowers in the Window

I woke up this morning to Flowers in the Window by Travis. Nothing remarkable about that, but it brought back memories for me because my mum had loved it. In the weeks before she died, she used to say to me, “That lovely song was playing on the radio again this morning,” and she’d sing a little of it.

I don’t know why she loved it so much, but it really touched her.

The song begins, “When I first held you I was cold.” Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but perhaps it made her think of my dad and his time on the Russian Convoys on the heavy cruiser HMS Kent.

This photograph of him was taken around that time. He would have been in his early 20s. The same age as my youngest son now.

Sometime during this last horrible week I watched a BBC programme about the veterans of the convoys going on a trip to Russia. They really are forgotten heroes. I know my dad used to freeze to his gun, that a hot drink would freeze in the mug before he could drink it, that he had to watch ships going down and countless men dying in those awful icy waters.

Churchill called them suicide missions and the most dangerous of the war. Without those convoys, the outcome of the war could and probably would have been very different.

Here’s another photo from the time. I don’t know who the men are in it.

I just can’t imagine what it must have been like, the unrelenting cold, the knowledge that at any moment they could come under attack from the air or the sea. I can’t imagine it and my dad never spoke of it. All I know is what my mum told me.

The Russians awarded a medal to the men who served on the convoys. What did we give them? Well eventually, after more than 60 years, they were given the Arctic Emblem, a tiny little star, but no medal.

In January this year, David Cameron said that the veterans should receive medals. They endured “Incredibly harsh conditions.” You don’t say? But he’s changed his mind. They’ve already been recognised with the Atlantic Star apparently and that will do. No matter that 95% of the men who went on to serve on the convoys had already earned their Atlantic Star.

And in his election campaign, Cameron promised to order the Tories to introduce an Arctic medal if they came to power. So much for promises. Good job the sailors didn't turn round in 1941 and say "No thanks, we've already done our bit in the Atlantic."

I know they didn't do what they did for medals or recognition or glory - they did it because they had to. Would it really be so difficult to finally thank them properly?

There are about 200 veterans of the Arctic campaign left. My dad is not one of them. Today is the 36th anniversary of his death and I wanted to write this blog in memory of him.

There is a petition on the government website to give the veterans the medal they deserve. So far it has attracted fewer than 700 signatures. It seems a shame.

If anyone would like to sign, here’s the link to the petition.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Today we said goodbye to Tilly.

Such a special, brave, loyal little dog. I am so glad for the time we had with her.

Thursday, 3 November 2011


First of all isn’t the Woman’s Weekly Centenary Special fantastic? I got mine this morning and I can’t wait to get stuck in! I’m going to send for the free pattern and dust my old sewing machine off. It’s years since I made anything.

At a quick skim through I saw Facebook quotes from Karen and Jo and a lovely picture of my friend and visitor to this blog, Sue. And there is a complete copy of the original magazine from 100 years ago inside. How cool is that?

Now for Tilly news. We saw Tom again today and he remarked on how bright she is and how lovely and glossy her coat is, all things considered. Last time her weight had dropped to 17 kilos and this time she was up to 17.1.

Things have been very up and down. At one point I was torturing myself wondering if I was doing the right thing. It was a very bleak day and my mood was the lowest it’s been since this all began. If she turns her nose up at a meal, my spirits immediately go into free fall.

I realised I couldn’t go on like this, waiting for her to get worse or for a new symptom to manifest itself. Her treatment is palliative, but she’s doing okay at the moment so from now on I’m taking one day at a time, enjoying our time together and giving her the best life she can possibly have.

When the phone engineer called she told him to clear off and she’s even turned up at mealtimes with Indy a few times now wanting to know when hers will be ready! Today she was trying to persuade Isabel to share her beans on toast with her at lunchtime. She’s going a bit further for her walks and I’ve noticed a few times that instead of being in here with me she’s taken herself to the bedroom to sprawl out on the bed in the sun.

She had a horribly upset tum for a few days, but – touch wood – that seems to have righted itself. Now we have to try to wean her gradually off the steroids and hope her appetite doesn’t diminish. Then, all being well, back in two weeks for more blood tests. She’s still jaundiced, but as Tom says, not quite as luminous as she was.

Thank you for all the support and lovely comments over the past few weeks. You really have helped more than I can say.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Out of the Loop!

That’s where I feel I’ve been for the past few weeks. The world has passed me by. I’ve been trying to keep up with blogs and such, but my head has been elsewhere most of the time.

On the news I saw that wonderful moment when a baby was rescued from the rubble after the earthquake in Turkey. What a shining moment that was.

I have been watching Barbie DVDs. My four year old granddaughter loves them and brought them with her when she came to stay. Every night we watched one before bed and she fell asleep halfway through and I found myself sitting up to watch to the end.

I looked up the voice actors and the prince/leading man in the films is often played by the guy who is Joshua in V. I love bits of trivia like that. When I found out, I phoned my husband to tell him. He pretended to be suitably interested and amazed bless him.

When I was a child no one had Barbie dolls. It was Sindy or Tressy. Remember Tressy with the hair that grew? I had Sindy and Paul and they used to go round in Sindy’s red convertible which had a stone for a steering wheel. I’d broken the original plastic wheel and my honorary uncle said he’d have something in his shed to fix it and he emerged with a round flat yellow stone with a hole in the centre that fitted exactly on the steering column.

He had loads of stuff in that shed. He used to collect the silver paper off Kit-kats and make them into balls which I think used to go to Guide Dogs. He also kept rubber bands in a ball which was huge. He had the tidiest, most organised shed I have ever seen in my life.

And a new blog has been born. It is called The Pocketeers and is written by writers of Pocket Novels. A great resource with plenty of information for anyone interested in writing for My Weekly and The People’s Friend pocket novels.

Finally I want to thank everyone for all the messages about Tilly. Things change on a daily basis and one day I’m in despair and the next full of hope, but we can only do what we can do and keep hoping.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Tilly Update

We went back to the vet yesterday and saw Tom. I thought it would be a matter of yippee the steroids are working, have some more, but it doesn’t work that way.

To find out for sure what is wrong with Tilly requires a proper biopsy. She reacted badly when she had the minimum dose of sedation so a full anaesthetic would be very risky. And the chances are high that a biopsy wouldn’t be any help anyway.

So first decision – no biopsy. I cannot put her through the risk and the subsequent long stay at the surgery to recover after. Whatever time she has left, I want her to spend at home where she feels safe and happy.

We then had a talk about her quality of life. She is in no pain and is happy enough, sleeping, going for short walks, getting excited when visitors come. We had grandchildren staying from last Friday till yesterday so cuddles weren’t in short supply (and it also stopped me spending hours on the internet searching, obsessing and worrying).

Before any more medication could be issued, she had to have another blood test. Tom phoned later with the result. At her first blood test her liver enzymes were so high, they were off the scale and couldn’t be measured. This time they were very high, but measurable – so they have come down somewhat. Good, yes? The liver support pills are helping.

But – there is always a but – another enzyme has now risen as a result of the steroid. Bad.

She is still jaundiced so Tom has given her Destolit which he hopes will reduce that. He is also hopeful that it will improve her appetite – she went off eating again when the steroid injection ran out. Her protein levels are low too, so she needs more protein.

We are trying her on the Hills i/d which is the same food that Indy had to have 11 years ago when he was so very ill and close to starving to death. It smells and looks far more appetising than the liver diet which she wouldn’t touch (all this food is driving poor Indy mad – he’d eat it like a shot). But does she want to eat it? No. Warmed? No. We are trying to feed her little and often and this morning she had a small bowl of porridge which isn’t ideal, but was all I could tempt her with.

If she’s still not eating tomorrow, I have to start her on steroids.

The best case scenario is that something has damaged Tilly’s liver, but that whatever it was has gone and she now needs support to recover. At the moment all we can do is buy her time and hope it pays off and she comes through.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Good News and Bad News

Well the good news is that the bloods, scan and biopsy didn’t show up any cancer or infection. The bad news is – without a diagnosis where do we go from here?

Tilly can’t survive on a couple of dog biscuits a day. She had a bad night last night, but mid-morning she decided she wanted to go for a walk. Now! Hurry up! So off we went. Not far and she wore a woolly jumper as it was very cold, but she was very perky and waggy. She ate half a Markie and a Shape while we were out.

I made her some porridge, but she said no thanks.

There is only one thing left to try. Tomorrow she is going to have a steroid injection which may stimulate her appetite and if we can get decent food into her, well who knows. It is a controversial treatment in liver disorders for obvious reasons, but in some cases it can work wonders. Jo thinks as there is no sign of infection it’s worth a try and we should know in five days or less if it has worked.

Thank you for all your kind thoughts and wishes and messages of support. I can’t begin to tell you how much it means.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011


Nearly two weeks ago Tilly refused her breakfast and alarm bells began to ring because of what happened when my last dog, Sweep stopped eating.

We got an appointment the same day to see the vet. Becky checked her over and couldn’t find anything amiss. We came away with some tablets to settle her stomach as she’d been sick a few days before and Becky thought it might be a virus.

When we went out for a walk, Tilly kept asking for Shapes which is something I take out on walks with me. I’d tried her with chicken and rice, eggs and that expensive dog food that comes in posh little cartons, but all she wanted was Shapes, Markies – and the occasional hot dog sausage.

I normally feed her on Burns dry food, but I got some of their moist food as it is good quality too, but no, she didn’t want that either.

Clearly she wasn’t eating properly and she threw up a load of water she’d just drunk. So back we went and this time we saw Jo. She took some blood and when she shaved her, she noticed her skin was yellow. I knew that meant liver problems and jaundice is not good news.

Later she rang to say that Tilly’s liver enzymes were the highest she’d ever seen. We needed to take her for a scan and that would be at one of their other branches, a 40 minute drive away. But first they had to check her blood was clotting as they might want to take a needle biopsy. Back we went for more blood tests.

I asked if I should give her special food. I had the Hills special diet, but Tilly didn’t want to know. At this stage anything you can get into her is good, Jo said.

The blood clotting result came back fine, so her scan was booked for yesterday.

While all this was going on, Tilly was being sick a lot more and her wee was bright orange and by Sunday she wouldn’t eat anything at all. The only way I could get water into her was with a little dropper in the side of her mouth. At least she didn’t spit it out.

Sunday night she was restless. She threw up twice and we ended up sleeping downstairs with her from 3am Monday as she seemed to want to be there rather than on the bed.

Yesterday we took her in for the scan. They didn’t plan to sedate her because of her liver problems, but she got too stressed and they had to give her sedation. We should have picked her up yesterday afternoon, but she was too woozy from the sedation so we had to leave her in overnight and they put her on a drip to boost her up a bit.

When we took Sweep in, our last vet kept him in overnight and he died. Later the vet told us he’d been almost certain that would happen. That weighed heavily on my mind. What if the same thing happened to Tilly? But I’d changed to these vets a few years ago because I trusted them and I had to do just that.

She follows me everywhere. I can’t move from one room to another without my little shadow. She’s next to me now, curled up in her chair. I ached for her every moment she was away.

This morning we waited for the phone call. I was sure it would be bad news.

My husband answered the phone at 8.20. The nurse said she could come home. He said we’d be over right away. She seemed pleased. “That’s good,” she said. “She’s barking quite a lot. I think she’s ready to leave.”

Indy was very pleased to see her. He sniffed her all over and he’s been with her ever since. He’s here too, on the floor draped over the bottom of my chair. He’s been giving up the chair for Tilly since she got sick.

We are in a lull at the moment. Waiting for the results of the biopsy and other blood tests. The scan didn’t show anything untoward on her liver, but that could simply mean that the whole thing is compromised. Jo has yet to examine the scans. She may be able to see something. We just don’t know.

Since she’s been home she’s had about a third of a hot dog sausage and a drink and she’s been sleeping.

I haven’t been able to do anything for the past few days. The internet, which is such a distraction when I’m trying to write, has been no distraction at all – unless you count all the hours I’ve spent looking up various liver problems in dogs. I know that some conditions are manageable with the right medication. I know that some conditions are fatal.

She’s been mostly asleep since we got home which is hardly surprising after the sedation and the fact she was probably awake early barking! She doesn’t seem to be in any pain or discomfort at all and I know if I put my dog walking stuff on, she’ll come to life and be keen to go out.

Her fur is as thick and beautiful as it ever was. The only obvious signs of her illness are the fact she won’t eat and that she throws up occasionally.

I haven’t even been able to write any of this down until now. My diary has just a few sad scribbles in it.

I am just hoping they can do something to make her better.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Friendly Bloggers

Thank you so much, Rosemary and Patsy (two of the friendliest bloggers I know) for passing on this lovely Friendly Blogger Award.

When I first started blogging I was extremely nervous about posting comments on other blogs and I still dither and worry and think I've nothing of any interest or relevance to say, but everyone in Blogland is so kind and most of all friendly!

First of all I'd say that all the bloggers I follow deserve this award. You're all lovely! If you're reading this and I'm reading you, then please take a Friendly Blogger Award. Go on - you know you deserve one!

But that's just being lazy, so here are some friendly bloggers I am passing the Friendly Blogger Award to, Eileen, Penny (oh and Gary), Karen, Maria, Joanne and Suzanne.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

If You're Going To Make Notes...

Yesterday I had one of those flashes of inspiration. Yes that would make a great idea for a story thought I. But I was too busy to make a start on it so I did the next best thing and wrote a line down to remind me.

Today when I was ready to write, I reached for my notebook. I must confess here to feeling rather smug. I’d completely forgotten my idea, but I still had that feeling that it - whatever it was – would make a great story.

Unfortunately the good feeling was all I had.

The smug was on the other side of my face when I looked at the illegible ink splat on my notebook. Normally a few words are all I need to revive an idea, but for them to do that I need to be able to read them.

What I can read is “Maybe the scrawl is the scribble

I have absolutely no idea….

Scrawl may begin with the letter "d" and scribble may start with an "s", but apart from that I'm clueless.

So if you are going to make notes, make them legible. It helps.

I also had an idea for a blog post about writing. Where is it? Well it went the same way as my story idea except I didn't bother to write it down. If you should see either of them knocking around on your travels, direct them this way, ta!

And you know where this is leading don’t you? I know I’m not the only one who fails to write things down sometimes, but please tell me I’m not the only person who can’t read their own writing!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Happy October

I want to put the record straight. I am not the helpless blind little bat that Indy makes me out to be and I’m not the only one who spends a lot of time in bed.

So there Indiana!

I rest my case – rather like he’s always resting his head – on a pillow!

I am getting along fine. They’ve solved the problem of me falling off the end of the bed by putting a huge bean bag on the floor so now instead of landing with a thud, I land with a rustle.

And they’ve been taking me to new places which used to scare me, but now I love it. I can’t see or hear danger (hearing’s gone a bit) and so I trot along in my dim little world and feel safe. Unless she lets me off the lead. Then I do panic a bit. Well a lot actually, so it’s the extendable lead for me and I love it.

But as far as that narrow log bridge goes, let’s not even go there. In fact I hope I don’t ever have to go there again. We only went there because they managed to get lost in the woods and went down the wrong path. Took a wrong turn at Albuquerque apparently. Indy went crazy, rushing about chasing leaves, squirrels and falling chestnuts – fool.

They’ve tried buddy strapping me to the dopey one, but frankly I don’t want to go in the sort of places he goes and I certainly don’t want to be there when he’s rolling around in dead stuff waving his legs in the air like an idiot.

They tell me it’s October and hot. And they talk about my eyesight being poor, but herself sat there this morning gazing out the window and admiring the misty view before realising the mist was on the window and beyond it the sun was shining.

Before I go, I must just tell you about the monster in the garden. The other night Indy went out and before I knew what was happening, this ball of fur was flying through the air. I’m told he leapt all four feet off the ground, spun round in mid-air and landed in a heap before running off and hiding behind the bushes.

Well I don’t pay much heed to his silliness so I got on with having a wee and had a little sniff at the same time – as you do – and suddenly my nose touched something prickly. Did I leap up in the air? Of course not. I carried on and just stopped sniffing the prickly thing.

It lives in our garden and from my investigative sniffing I’d say it’s the size of a small melon but not quite as round. Indy tells me it’s as big as the house, has huge pointy teeth and claws of steel. Well I tell him he’s been listening to the Gruffalo too much and he goes off and sulks.

Look at me posing here, note the raised paw - classy eh?

Herself is in a good mood today. She’s turned all her calendars over and says there’s nothing like a new month for a new start. And now she’s telling me to get off the computer so she can get started on her new start. How many times have I heard that one before?

Happy October and may the muse be with you (don’t know what that means, but herself likes it when people say it to her).

Friday, 23 September 2011

Why Can't Real Life Be Like Casualty?

Long title for a blog, but I didn’t know what else to call it.

Picture the scene. Someone collapses in the arms of her husband right outside the doors of a large (and famous) hospital. A nurse who just happens to be passing rushes to their aid, yelling for help. Before she even reaches them, a porter is hurtling out of the doors with a trolley, doctors are stringing their stethoscopes round their necks and hurrying to help.

“Don’t worry, love,” a lovely, kind nurse says. The unfortunate person is hurried into the hospital and is taken care of. Another nurse steps in to comfort the distressed husband.

Oh, if only.

Yesterday my husband was waiting outside this large, famous hospital when he saw an elderly man pressing an elderly lady up against the wall. He went over to see if he could help and saw the woman’s eyes were rolling back. “Please get help,” the man with her said. “She’s fainted.”

So he rushed into the hospital and the first people he saw were two porters. “Can you help, please,” he said. “A lady has collapsed outside.”

Sharp intake of breath. “Sorry, mate. Not our job. See the person on the desk.” Can you imagine Big Mac saying that?

So he went to the desk. “No, sorry, I can’t help you. You’ll have to go to A & E.”

So off he went to A & E, all the time aware that the poor man outside was trying to hold his wife up.

“You’ll have to wait till I’ve finished my phone call,” the person on the desk said.

“But someone has collapsed.”

Shrug. He said it wouldn't have been so bad if they'd been rushed off their feet, but there were plenty of staff standing round doing nothing and they just looked the other way. Nice.

Eventually, one of the porters turned up and said it was being sorted. When my beloved went back outside, a nurse was walking out to see what was happening. The lady was now on the ground unconscious. I’m sure they took care of her, I hope they did. But why wait so long?

“I should have just helped him get her to a bench,” Beloved said. “I didn’t think it would take so long to get help.”

Maybe he should just have run into the hospital screaming and shouting until someone did something. That might have worked.

It seems to me that the people who are pushy and make the most noise are the ones who get on. Those who quietly get on with it and keep their heads down go unnoticed.

At school, the naughty kids are rewarded with stars and when they get enough stars they get a prize. What do the good kids get? The ones that don’t go round thumping people or disrupting the classroom or cheeking the teacher or swearing? They get nothing. Does that sound right to you?

Saturday, 17 September 2011

NAWG Open Writing Competition

For those who like entering competitions, here’s a good one.

The National Association of Writers’ Groups are holding their first open short story competition. The competition is open to non members and the entry fee is £5.

And if you would like a short critique of your story from judge and successful short story writer, Linda Lewis, this will only be an extra £3.

Prizes are 1st £250, 2nd £100 and 3rd £50. Entries should be between 500 and 2000 words and the all important closing date is October 31st.

Details and entry form can be found here.

What a Week!

I have had a terrible week. I have been half drowned, stabbed, insulted, you name it. You don’t know the half of it, but you will dear friends, you will.

On Monday Herself ran a bath. Tilly, who as you know is mad, woke up and rushed off to have her bath. Don’t do it, I said, but too late, she was up to her armpits in suds with a blissful look on her face. I snuck outside and hid behind the washing line. I’ve no idea how they found me. I was as still as a statue out there.

I was scrubbed to within an inch of my tail. The indignity of it. Tilly went straight back to bed after and left a damp patch. Now you’re for it I said, but all Herself did was say, Aww isn’t she sweet, she's gone back to bed, look - and took a photo of her!

On Wednesday I heard her say we were off to the v-e-t. She thinks I can’t spell, but I can. Trouble is, when we left home I’d forgotten about the v-e-t and thought we were going for a ride in the car so I dragged her out of the door and leapt onto the back seat.

We passed the fields, we passed the woods and yet still my hopeful heart insisted we were going on an adventure. I ignored the voice of doom – Tilly’s. You won’t be laughing when you’ve got a thermometer stuck up your nether regions she said.

I did my serious face – like this – to show I didn’t believe her.

No one was more surprised than me when we arrived at the v-e-t. Herself weighed Tilly who stood so still on the scales it was easy. She practically got a round of applause. Huh. When it was my turn I fidgeted a bit and it took a while. I’ve no idea what it means, but she said, He’s quite skinny under all that wool. Wool? I don’t have wool. You wouldn’t believe the insults I have to put up with. After my bath she said I looked like a Highland Cow.

You think that’s bad? Well. We then went into the surgery and saw Tom, who I like. I like all the v-e-ts really. It isn’t their fault that they are what they are.

He said he’d check Tilly out first. He spent ages looking in her eyes. I hid under a chair. He looked at me and said I would have to look after my sister now she can’t see. Me? How can I look after her when I can’t look after myself? I’ll do my best I muttered. Then – and you won’t believe this folks – he said they ought to get me a bell for my collar so that Tilly will know where I am. A bell? What am I? A cat?

He said the lump on her chest that he’d tested a couple of years ago felt different and that he’d like to do another test. You should have seen her. Talk about panic! I can’t see you fool, she squeaked when I told her to take it like a dog, I don’t know what’s happening to me.

He got all these slides out ready, then stuck a needle in Tilly’s lump. When he drew off the fluid he actually laughed. Well that’s a relief, he said, we won’t need to send it off for testing. It hasn’t changed. Still a cyst.

So she’s got a cyst, so what? I’ve got Pancreatic Insufficiency, but you don’t hear me harping on about it. I scrunched even further under the chair. Herself asked Tom if he could snip a couple of Tilly’s toenails. Well, I didn’t realise we were coming here for a manicure I thought! He started snipping and I was nearly maimed by bits of flying claw. That’s when I decided to try to escape through the door. You don’t want to go through there, Herself laughed, that’s not the way out! (Mockery you see, adding insult to injury).

It got worse. He examined Tilly all over, then he gave her a booster vaccination. All this took about 25 minutes. That’s 25 minutes of running- round-a-field time I’ll never get back.

Your turn, Indy, Tom said. Me? No, I said. You’ve got it all wrong. I’m only here as moral support for Tilly. I don’t… Too late, I was up on the table. I did what I always do in such situations and went boneless. I draped my head over Herself’s shoulder, leant against her and prepared for whatever pain and indignity was to come.

He felt me all over and do you know what he kept calling me? A fatty lump! Just a fatty lump, he kept saying and every time he said it, he was fiddling about with one of my mysterious bumps.

By that time all I needed was for Rolf do-you-know-what-it-is-yet Harris to come in with a film crew, then I’d have known I was doomed.

You’re a handsome fellow, Tom said. I’ve no idea who he was talking to. I was too busy looking for Rolf.

Next thing he stuck a needle in me and said I could go. What? But what about my manicure? What about my eyes? I’d only been on his table for a few minutes. Why did Tilly get all the attention? All I got was a jab.

Would they like a biscuit, Tom asked? Do bears do that thing that bears do in the woods? This was more like it! I remembered why I didn't mind seeing the v-e-t after all.

He gave Tilly hers and had to poke it right in her mouth (she can find half a chip in the bottom of the bin, but put food in front of her and she’s got no idea), then he offered one to me, but I was in such a state of terror, I barely managed to take it from him by the skin of my lips. He looked at me and said, Are you sure you’re a spaniel, Indy?

When we left, Tilly didn’t do her usual screaming thing. She walked sedately to the door and then tried to walk through the panel at the side. She doesn’t scream at cats when we’re out any more and she doesn’t bark at other dogs. Maybe Tom was right and I need to start looking out for her. She’s not a bad old thing as sisters go and I do love her really even if she does snore a lot.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Ten Random Things

Thanks to Patsy for the tag!

Ten random things about me - here goes.

1. My mum was a witch.

2. My great aunt owned an opal mine.

3. My grandad was born in Dublin.

4. My favourite crystal is Ocean Jasper. This is a particularly nice piece and the photo doesn’t do it justice, but you can see right into it, like looking into a glass cavern – trust me!

5. I’m a Taurean.

6. I’m also a Rooster.

7. I walked round for six weeks in agony with a broken foot before I had X Rays by which time the fracture had started to heal itself.

8. I like green sweets best. Yummy. Here is a picture of some Fruit Pastilles. No green ones. I’ve eaten them all.

9. I fall over a lot.

10. The first time I rode a motorbike I was pregnant and forgot how to use the brakes. It was also the last time I drove a motorbike.

And now your mission should you wish to accept it Wanna be a Writer, Gail, Penandpaints, Suzanne and Caroline – you know the drill!


Saturday, 3 September 2011

Teresa's Adventures in Kindleland - Part 1

I don’t mind admitting that my eyes glaze over and my mind wanders off somewhere all on its own when it comes to matters of technology, but Kindle – well now. It is simple I was told. Easy as pie. Well I can make a pie along with the best of them.

So I chose a book to e-publish – one that I had in a new version of Word, already published as a pocket novel and by Linford Romance. Book chosen, I set about designing my cover at which point I learned that designing book covers isn’t easy. Easy, that word again.

I set up my account and decided to ignore the bit where it said about downloading this-and-that to convert the file so Kindle could read it. In my poor little mind I had heard that it was easy to publish straight from Word and so I thought this was what I would do. Just like that.

Oh dear.

I know patience is a virtue and all that, but I only have a small supply and I’d used it all up so I uploaded my book and checked the preview. Hm. Well some of the Tabs were there. Some weren’t. It looked terrible. No one would want to read something so badly set out. So I deleted it and went back to the drawing board where I learnt that you should save your Word file as an html (web) document before uploading.

This I did. Better. The tabs were there, but some were big tabs of several spaces and some were small ones of just a couple of spaces. Still I had ignored the advice about downloading this-and-that.

This is just the beginning of the Kindle story – I hope! I’ll let you know how I get on in part 2.

Part 2

There you weren’t expecting it to be that quick were you? Neither was I!

I downloaded this-and-that – this being Mobipocket Creator and that being Kindle Previewer. And what I found was that my book was full – nay heaving – with hidden stuff and that about three chapters at the end were underlined. No matter what I did it was still there, but only in the html copy. I don’t do well with html.

My beloved suggested I save the Word document as plain text which I did, then re-saved it as a new Word document and there it was, without all the unwanted bits.

So there it is. I think I sorted out the formatting – I hope I did because I published two books to Kindle with my own home made covers. Gulp! They looked okay on the preview anyway. Yet still I managed to make a mistake. I set the price higher than I intended because I forgot to take into consideration that they add VAT, but I’ve put that right now

One thing I have learned from this experience – no, not the good old “Read the manual” thing, I will never make life easy by doing that – is that I will always endeavour in future not to overload my Word docs with formatting. Now I understand why publishers ask for things to be presented in a certain way and I have no wish to give editors stress, angst and headaches!

Now don’t laugh, but I’ve put a link to the Kindle books at the side on the right. So far so good. All I need now is for someone to be kind enough to buy them – cue hysterical rather desperate laughter. And now I think I need to go and lie down to recover and ruminate a little on the wonders of technology.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

This is Me!

No, not that me – me me. Indy Me. She can’t type – you should see her right hand. You know when people blow up a rubber glove? That’s her hand that is!

She says something bit her. Well it wasn’t me. Her beloved asked if it could have been a snake, had she seen one at all when she was throwing the ball for me (I might have known there’d be some hint of blame thrown in my direction). She said she thought she might have noticed if she’d grabbed a snake instead of my tennis ball, apparently they don’t go as far or bounce as well. Not that she’s ever tried throwing one you understand.

Personally I think it was one of those winged buzzy things that come in the bedroom at night. It got her on the back as well

But you don’t want to hear about her.

It’s not easy for a dog of a certain age to keep little people entertained, looked after and clean, but I do my best.

So you’d think I’d get time off for a little R and R (Rolling and Rolling) without being shouted at wouldn’t you?

Well it started a couple of weeks ago when she came home with two of her little people and fell flat on her face in the front door on top of a pile of bags. Luckily she didn’t land on any little people – or me, so that was all right.

I volunteered to sleep in with her and the girls, just to keep an eye on things you understand. I hardly got any sleep the first night. She kept getting up to check the little one in her cot – presumably in case she’d decided to climb out and go wandering about or something. In the end I had to get up myself, so she took me out to the garden. Boy was I thirsty – I nearly emptied that bird bath.

Goodness knows why she was hopping round outside in her bare feet waving her arms at me and shrieking in a loud whisper. What’s wrong with birdbath water? It’s not like anyone was using it at the time. When I got in she tapped her dirty foot and pointed at my full water bowl. Huh , she just doesn’t get it. I mean why would I want to drink clean water from a bowl when I can drink smelly water full of feathers and bits of leaf from the birdbath? I ask you.

Then I got an itch. Well you’ve got to have a scratch haven’t you? And my foot needed a good licking. And then… you’re not going to believe this… she accused ME of keeping HER awake!

The next night I hardly got any sleep. She’d realised the little one was fine, but this time she reckoned she heard a mozzie buzzing. So she got up and checked the girls weren’t smothered in biting insects. Then it happened again. Up she got. Well honestly, a dog needs his beauty sleep you know. But she might have been right about the mozzie – I was very itchy.

This went on half the night, then she remembered she’d got a bottle of citronella oil so she tip-toed round the room sprinkling it everywhere. That was it. I’d had enough. I went off to sleep with someone else. Someone who doesn’t keep getting up and wandering about.

But towards the end of the holiday I decided to give her another chance. This time I took up my rightful half of the bed so I could cuddle the little person in the middle while she, for reasons best known to herself, slept with one foot on the floor moaning because I’d got all the covers – tuh! Anyway, she hadn’t given up the night time wanderings. This time she decided some passing burglar was going to climb in through the window, kill me and steal her granddaughters while she slept. Slept? So she shut the windows. So it got hot.

Honestly, what I have to put up with – you’ve no idea.

So anyway there was this dead crow. Well it was more like a pile of feathers really, but it smelled brilliant and so I got my shoulder down into it and was just about to have a good old roll about when she bellows at me and starts thundering across the field like some sort of mad cow – that’s if mad cows have red faces and bulging eyes.

Mooo she said. Or maybe it was “Get out of that you disgusting little beast!” But she wasn’t that close so I carried on until she was about two feet away when I sprang up and put on my innocent, “Oh were you talking to me?” expression. She knows she can’t tell me off once I’ve stopped doing whatever it was I was doing when she started ranting.

Anyway next day she forgot about the dead crow. But I didn’t. I managed to get my shoulder into it again before she stopped me. Now she’s started taking a different route round the fields, but there will be others! I know there will. And when there are, I am ready, with my shoulder for a bit of R and R.

Meantime, just wanted to let you know what a hypocrite she is, moaning about me doing something one minute, then doing it herself the next. No, I didn’t catch her slurping out of the bird bath or rolling in stinky corpses (I bet she’d like to really), but she kept Tilly awake half the night with her scratching. Maybe she should have got up and sprinkled her citronella oil round.

Just thought I’d put the record straight anyway. She’s the one with all the foibles (not sure what they are but I’m sure she eats too many of them) not me!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Sorry Indy - my turn again!

There was a comment, later deleted, made on my last post about me not posting things on my blog because I wanted to use them as short story ideas.

I realised it would be a good subject for a post – and if anyone didn’t see it, the writer said that they didn’t mind if people pinched their ideas, but seemed to think I did. Wrong. I don’t mind at all.

I’ll explain and I’m sure a lot of you will identify with this. When I get an idea for a story, the minute I start talking about it, 99 times out of 100 the story idea will die stone dead. I don’t know why. It’s as if while it’s inside, festering in my mind, it’s safe, but the minute I let it out – it’s gone!

I think only once since I’ve been writing this blog have I later successfully turned the subject of a post into a short story.

And along the same lines, if I have an idea for a blog then turn it into a story I don’t then blog about it because it’s gone. I’ve used it up.

It does work to my advantage too sometimes because if I am angry about something and I write about it, I find I can lose a lot of the anger, even if the writing is never seen by anyone else. Maybe that is what is meant by leaving something of yourself on the page.

So I’m not being precious about my ideas. A story can be written from so many different angles and in so many different ways. If anyone finds an idea from this blog, they’re welcome to it!

I have countless projects started on this computer that have stalled simply because I couldn’t keep my big mouth shut and felt I had to discuss them with – or even worse – show them to someone. I might just as well have shoved them in a wooden box and taken them up the bone yard with a shovel. They’re dead now. They sit here on my computer, corpselike and dusty.

Yet I know writers who can talk about what they’re doing in great detail, show their work to others and their ideas live on.

So, out of interest, how many of you can’t talk about what you’re working on and how many can talk as much as they want without losing it?

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Free Writing Advice

Where? Well everywhere you look! In the old days you had to go to the library, put in an order for one of the few books about writing then wait for weeks until you got to the top of the queue.

Or you could buy a book, but books were more expensive then so if you were hard up you had to put up with the dog-eared, coffee stained, cigarette smelling, crumb carrying, grease marked tomes from the library. And why do people feel they have to underline things, turn over the corners of pages and even cross things out and make comments in the margins? I wouldn’t do that with a book I owned, much less a borrowed one.

But I’m sorry, that title is a shameless device to lure unsuspecting writers to my blog. Sorry unsuspecting writers!

But it is true, there is a plethora of advice on the worldly web and it’s all free. But I don’t think you can beat a writing book if you're looking for advice to be honest. You don’t want to spend all your life trawling round t’internet when you could curl up on the sofa with a book minus distractions. So that is the free writing advice in this post - buy/borrow a book about writing and sit somewhere quiet with it, away from computers and televisions.

And of course most important of all - far more important than reading about it - just do it!

There’s been a distinct lack of blogs from me lately – mainly because every time I start one I think it might be an idea for a story, so there it goes. Like the woman with the wiggly bum walking her dogs round the playing field… She would have been a perfect star for a Take a Break story back in the day, but where to put her now? I’ll think of somewhere.

Apart from that I’ve been a wee bit busy.

Apparently when he’s stopped laughing, Indy is going to write a blog. You have been warned. Laughing at me by the way, the cruel thing! It’s not my fault I tell you in advance, I can’t help the way I am. And I still have a big bruise on my leg! I didn’t laugh at him when he fell down a hole over the fields the other day, nor did I laugh when he got his shoulder into the rotten corpse of a crow!

On a writerly note, I’ve had rejections forming a disorderly queue, acceptances arriving rather more sedately and a commission after several weeks of no news at all – and all this happened while two of my granddaughters were staying here.

And my cabbages experiment – well it didn’t seem to make any difference. The posts getting the most hits are still weird. A bit like me really.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Cabbages in Bowler Hats

Nude shoes. Apparently the Duchess of Cambridge – have you noticed how now she’s one of the royals the press don’t give her nasty little nicknames any more? – has started the trend of nude shoes. I think they’re horrible! Give me a pair of white stilettoes any day, I’m an Essex girl – no that was a joke! I am an Essex girl and I did own a pair of white stilettoes once, but I also owned black ones, grey ones and red ones. This was before I broke my foot and had to stop wearing high heels. Personally I think those nude shoes look as if someone’s pulled their tights on and forgotten to take their shoes off first.

And the cabbages in bowler hats? Tis an experiment. Frances has noticed on her blog stats how some posts get a lot more hits than others which prompted me to look at mine and it is indeed strange. Just a bit of silliness for a wet Sunday.

Tilly says she would have written a post but she’s very busy – as you can see. And yes, that chair really is as grubby as it looks!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

I Don't Believe It!

Greyfriars Bobby a myth? All made up to bring in business? I don’t believe it. I don’t want to believe it. To be honest I don’t care if it was made up. So there!

And also in the I don’t believe it category – The Royal. Anyone else watch that? I love it. I love Doctor Ormerod and his lovely wife, Doctor Weatherill. I love Sister Brigid and Matron and the pipe smoking Mr Rose. I love that it is set in kinder times.

If you’ve never watched it, well it’s too late now because it’s gone. Every series finished on a cliff hanger and the last one of the latest series ended with… well I shan’t say in case any Royal fans are reading this and haven’t watched the last one yet. But I cried buckets and I can’t believe they left us hanging like that. It would have been kinder to us faithful viewers never to have shown that last episode at all so we could imagine life in Royal-land going on as ever it did.

I know one of the nurses has got a job in Holby City – and she hasn’t aged a bit!

I received a free copy of a fat glossy magazine with a hefty price tag in the mail today and so far all I’ve found in it are adverts. I don’t believe that either. I’m going to keep looking – there must be something in there to read! But it was free, so it’s mean of me to moan isn’t it?

This week I bought a heat gun which keeps cutting out. I read the reviews online after I bought it and apparently no one would recommend it. The cheaper one had much better reviews. I don’t believe it! A wise man once said “You can’t afford to buy cheap”. Well he obviously hadn’t bought a blankety-blank heat gun!!

Here’s a picture of Indy in the woods this morning. When we got out there he said I don’t believe it – new smells, squirrels, no other people – fab! Tilly said it was very nice, but she prefers the lane and the fields thank you very much.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Other People!

You know what it’s like. You flop along for ages with nothing to say, then along comes a whole ton of things you want to get off your chest.

No, it’s not about the chair. She doesn’t ask for much in life except food, walks and cuddles so I’ve decided Tilly can keep the chair.

We had a planned day out yesterday, but because one of the kids was sick – oh boy was she sick, poor little thing – we changed plans and I took the two eldest out to different places on my own leaving Grandad with the poorly one (who was feeling much better, but not up to a day out).

The day was largely unplanned, but we had fun. I packed a picnic and we set off on our adventures. There was the animal sanctuary (I could write reams about that wonderful place and maybe I will, but not today), then the play park.

It’s quite a new park, all lovely wooden structures and playthings and it’s out in one of the villages miles from anywhere. So you’d think “other people” (I am trying so hard not to use bad language here) wouldn’t be a problem wouldn’t you?

There were a lot of people on the park and I counted eleven cars including mine (you’d have to drive there as it’s only within walking distance of a few houses). Not a problem.

They wanted to go on the zip slide (well so did I if I’m honest, I’ve always fancied having a go on one, but too many people about) and queued up with the other kids, taking turns, passing the seat thing back to the next person.

It was a lovely display of sharing. On the big wooden climbing frame a little boy was lying down blocking the wobbly bridge and Imogen was waiting to pass. The little boy’s grandad said, “Move out of the way and let the little girl pass.” Imogen said a ringing, “Thank you!” as the little boy moved as soon as being asked.

All very nice don’t you think? Kids and adults behaving beautifully and considerately.

Then they declared they were starving – “Starving to death,” in fact. Both picnic tables were in use so we moved a short way from the play area and sat on the grass at the edge of the adjoining field.

I hadn’t unsnapped the lid of the lunchbox before two cars pulled into the car park and discharged a load of adults and kids. They had the whole field, but they put out their blankets near us. It’s like in car parks isn’t it – you get a whole empty car park and you park and you always get someone who has to park right beside you, so close you can’t get your door open.

Okay they weren’t right beside us, but they could have been a lot further away!!

Anyway, the kids were all of the larger variety, 10 and upwards I imagine, and the boys started a game of football and it seemed to me they were using us as goalposts! A man walking nearby with a toddler told them to be careful. Did they take any notice? No. They kicked the ball even harder. The man with the toddler moved away.

The girls in the group weren’t much better. They went off rampaging round the play area.

When the ball whizzed past my head so close I felt the whoosh of air, I packed up our picnic and said we’d move on elsewhere – to the beach maybe.

It would have been one thing if the field had been small, but there was a huge area unused they could have kicked their football round in. I’ve got nothing against older kids having fun and playing ball games, but they need to take care around smaller ones.

Just over a week ago we went to my youngest granddaughter’s belated 1st birthday party at one of those soft play areas (six hours of non-stop fun!). There were several older kids there, 9 and upwards and they ran around like kids do BUT when they were with the littler ones, they couldn’t have been more considerate or helpful. Watching them with the toddlers, helping them climb and getting them out of the tricky corners they’d got themselves into was amazing.

They didn’t have to be told to take care. They just did.

Anyway, we were going to go back on the play park after lunch, but it was so overrun by these kids now, barging all the smaller kids out of the way and not letting them get near stuff, there seemed little point. We weren’t the only ones packing up and leaving.

You wonder if such behaviour is deliberate to get rid of everyone else. Well it worked! Then again, in a week when it comes out that nearly 900 children are suspended from schools every day for attacks and abuse and there are children starting school who don’t even know their own first names – well it doesn’t bode well for the future does it.

You know I thought it was pretty bad when we got Tilly and she thought her name was “Naughty girl” – but to think of four year olds, some not even knowing they HAVE a first name. Well it makes you want to weep.

When I worked as a classroom assistant over 20 years ago, one of my main jobs was to talk to the children. “Sad fact, some of them just don’t get talked to at home,” one teacher told me. I knew some started school unable to use cutlery or dress themselves. But that was then and things are worse now.

In the grand scheme of things a few inconsiderate kids aren't that terrible and now I've written this I'm thinking that maybe I'm just too far gone into Grumpy Old Womandom. Most kids seem well behaved and able to have fun without spoiling it for everyone else don't they?

My husband said I should have said something. I know I should. But would you? What would be the point? It doesn’t change the behaviour of these people.

It wasn’t until I’d packed up and we were moving away that I realised one of the fathers was playing football as well and it was probably a kick from him that had nearly had my head off (oh I know, but I’m a writer, I’m supposed to exaggerate). Sigh.

So off to the beach, watched tiny crabs in the rock pools, found some interesting green stones with red spots. I wish I’d taken a photo. I’ve lived here all my life and I don’t remember seeing them before.

Lachlan picked up a large lump of something that looked as if it might once have been metal. We’d picked up Grandad on our way to the beach and he asked him what it could be. “Fossilised poo,” he said. It was only when I looked back and saw the lump of whatever-it-was on the sand and Lachlan staring in horror at his hands that I told him it was a joke.

We went in search of ice creams and found the LV18 – the lightship used in the film “The Boat that Rocked” now in its permanent berth off the Ha’penny Pier – so we went aboard.

Fascinating. And scary! Going up vertical ladders with a 6 year old and a 4 year old is worrisome. We went right to the top deck which feels really high once you’re up there. (The photo was taken a couple of years ago - I had my hands too full to get my camera out yesterday!)

Coming down wasn’t so easy. Imogen was scared (and who could blame her – unlike the park there was no soft landing here if you fell) so I carried her down, backwards. “Don’t drop me, Grandma,” she said as I made my slow way down, “or I will die!” I should say I don’t do ladders, I never have, but I didn’t even think about it. I was more concerned about getting her down safely.

We went down into some of the living quarters below decks. We gave the galley and other cabins a miss. Perhaps we’ll go aboard another time for a proper look round.

Oops, went on a bit there didn’t I and my name isn’t Disgusted and I’m not even from Tunbridge Wells, although I have ancestors in my family tree who were. And that’s not everything I was going to rant – er I mean talk about.

But I’m going to crawl back into my corner and shut up now.