Saturday 28 April 2012

Patience and Time

I haven’t been around Blogland much lately as I’m painting. No, not the Van Gogh type, but the decorating-the-house type.

It’s something I have been putting off for far too long. So long in fact that the “white” paintwork was more of a cream and in some places almost yellow. And once you start, of course, the whole house needs to be done.

So far I’ve done the stairs and most of the landing and bits of the bedrooms, oh and the bathroom. Quite a lot really.

I did make a start in the hall a few months ago, but ran out of steam. I dislike the smell of gloss. It makes my throat sore and gives me a headache. I hate all the preparation, the cleaning and sanding etc. And most of all I hate trying to get the brushes clean.

So what has caused this new burst of enthusiasm? How am I getting it done? Well, a bit at a time, but with a difference. First of all I invested in some really good brushes and a load of masking tape. Then I bought some Crown Breatheasy quick drying satin for wood and metal. I still had the preparation to do, but wow! What a difference.

The paint washes out of brushes with water. So I can do as little as an hour of painting and know it will only take me a minute to wash out the brush. It goes on like a dream and has a lovely finish. I think it looks nicer than traditional gloss.

I’ve never used masking tape before, but I’m a convert now. I’m not a messy painter, but it gives peace of mind knowing I can go right down to the carpet without splodging or picking up any stray Indy hairs on my brush!

It says it is non-yellowing. Time will tell. But even if it does yellow, it isn’t going to be such a big job as painting with gloss. And unlike gloss, if you finish halfway round a door, you can just take up next time where you’d left off. I’ve always found gloss to be very unforgiving and an all-or-nothing affair, but this stuff is different.

We’ve bought paint to do the stairs and landing walls and the living room. I’d already bought some in the Focus closing down sale for the dining room and hall. My beloved has made a start on the walls and it’s all starting to come together.

It may take us a while, but we’ll get there! In the old days we would have forged ahead and worked on it until it was finished, but we are pacing ourselves.

And it occurred to me that it’s the same with writing a book. I used to write books – steaming along with them in a great big rush, desperate to get them finished.  When I lost the ability to work as intensely as that, I more or less gave up. But why not tackle it a bit at a time?

It’s like the paint. You can take up where you left off and gradually, bit by bit you’ll cover it all.  So instead of fretting that I’m not writing with traditional gloss – so to speak – I shall try to write with satin. Well that’s the theory anyway, whether it will work in practice is another matter.

Writing news: I went to Ipswich last week and I did not go to Staples. Yes, you heard that right. I did NOT go to Staples. Beloved said, “Shall we go to Staples?” Was I tempted? Of course I was, but I said, “No! I shall not do the stationery thing today.” So we drove right past and very virtuous I felt too.

Sadly, I did somehow find myself in WH Smith’s and, oh dear, pens and notebooks, notebooks and pens…

And I’ve joined an online writing group. I have never critiqued someone else’s work before or, indeed, been critiqued. I have read things for close friends and vice versa, but never in a group situation.

Oh and finally – I’ve got the new Blogger interface thingy. No major problems with it touch wood! No, not that bit – I’ve only just painted it – aargh!

Saturday 21 April 2012

In the Midst of Life

I loved the recent series of Call the Midwife on BBC based on the book by the same name by Jennifer Worth.

I’ve just read her final book, In the Midst of Life. It is, as you would imagine, about death and I have to say it is one of the most courageous and honest books I have ever read.

We are programmed to believe these days that death is somehow not part of life and needs to be avoided at all costs. Perhaps that is putting it too simply, but I think you probably understand what I mean.

When I was four, a neighbour saw me heading up the garden with my beach spade. He asked what I was doing and I said I was going to dig my dog, Zulu, up because my dad and grandad had buried him while he was asleep. He rushed round to alert my parents. Because of this, I have always been careful with my children and grandchildren to never use the words “Put to sleep” when explaining the death of a pet.

When my children lost pets – hamsters mainly, I always encouraged them to say goodbye, to gently stroke the little body before we had the burial. It really helped. There is something about the sight of death that is reassuring. You really can see that the life has gone and it is a much different state to sleep.

The first person I saw it in was my dad. He looked so different in death, so peaceful and regal. We went to the Chapel of Rest to see him and my mum held his hand and said that all the anguish and worry had gone from him and he was at peace. It was true.

To get back to the book, I can only say that reading it has been an exercise in reality and reassurance. I thoroughly recommend it. It is not like Jenny Worth’s other books, but it is a very good read.

Monday 16 April 2012

Drink Je Melk En Fluit

I like quirky things. Like this vase. I bought it about thirty years ago very cheap and it remains my favourite to this day. Imogen got me the pink flowers while she was staying in Yorkshire – I was incredibly touched that she’d insisted on bringing them all the way home for me.

This is something from my childhood which sits on the chest of drawers in my bedroom. I use it to store empty pens, useless emery boards, old eye shadow brushes, dead batteries, a broken door stop… not to mention a cushion of dust and fluff in the bottom.

Hm, well it occurred to me that I shouldn’t use it just as a dumping vessel for stuff. I used to have my bedtime drink in it when I was very small and despite it being glued back together after an earlier accident, the whistle still works – I know because Isabel tried it.

It isn’t the classiest of things, but I am extremely fond of it. It is full of happy memories – I can still hear my grandad urging me to drink my milk and whistle! I’m going to stop storing junk in it forthwith and start treating it with the respect it deserves.

It used to encourage me to drink milk – which I hated. When they gave out free milk at school, I always declined. When we went on a school trip round Lord Raleigh’s farm he handed out milk to everyone (well I think it was him - I was only 9 at the time) and I told him I didn’t like milk, so he went off and found me a carton of orange juice. Cartons were a peculiar shape in those days. I didn’t like orange juice either, but I appreciated the gesture, thanked him and drank it.

Of course my mum got milk into me in other ways, in puddings, tea and on cereal. But for many years I haven’t had milk. Finding out I was lactose intolerant gave me the push I needed to switch to soya, but I think it’s a step I would have taken anyway, given what has to happen to put milk on our cereal and now you can buy lactose free cow’s milk – no thanks, I’ll stick to soya.

Sorry – didn’t mean to get on my soapbox there, but while I’m up here, I can’t imagine that anyone isn’t appalled by the deaths at the Grand National. Not just this year, but every year. There’s a petition on the government website to ban it – I know that isn’t likely to happen, but if enough people sign it, things might change. The link is here if you’d like to sign.

There is another petition here on the petition site which seems to be doing rather better and it includes a few facts about the racing industry that may surprise you.

And finally a brilliant piece by Brian May on his Save Me page on Facebook. He says it all so much better than I could. You can read it here.

Saturday 14 April 2012

Disney Magic

For a long time my favourite Disney film was Beauty and the Beast. Not really sure why because I don’t think much of the bloke that the Beast turns into, but while he’s the beast I think there’s something sweet and vulnerable about him.

And I like Belle too and it always helps if you warm to the heroine.

But now I have a new favourite.


I watched it twice over Easter – ahem – well what I mean to say is my granddaughters watched it twice over Easter and of course I had to sit with them didn’t I? And when they went off to play with something else – well I carried on watching.

I absolutely loved the character of Rapunzel. She was feisty without being annoyingly argumentative, sweet without being sickly and she was just so pretty! As for Flynn – well he was nicely flawed, but not too flawed.

And on the subject of romance, someone this week got The Call and anyone in the business of romance will know exactly what that means. Here is a link if you’d like to read how it happened to Maya. Reading it put a big smile on my face. Congratulations, Maya.

Anyway what’s your favourite Disney – if you have one? My youngest son’s favourite was Robin Hood and he watched it so much he used to recite great chunks of the dialogue off by heart. Not sure what that says about my parenting skills…

Wednesday 11 April 2012

Queues, Granpy Rabbit and Safety Measures

On Easter Monday we took my 4 year old granddaughter home after a few days stay with us, a journey that normally takes less than two hours but this time took closer to three.

Anyone would have thought it was a bank holiday or something – okay, a SUNNY bank holiday! In truth it was raining and everyone seemed to be heading away from the coast.

We had to queue to get on the A12 where we joined a slow moving stream of traffic. We then had to queue to get on the A120, but the going was good until we reached Braintree when we joined another queue. But once past Braintree it was plain sailing all the way to the M11.

The M11 was great until we reached the queue to join the M25. Now these queues might be bearable if you didn’t get so many people whizzing along and cutting in. Why is their time more important than anyone else’s? They save themselves 15 minutes or so, but at a cost to everyone behind them who just see their own wait getting longer and longer. What if everyone decided not to bother queuing and just to push in instead?

Apart from being slow through the roadworks, the M25 wasn't too bad and thankfully the rest of the journey went as planned.

We had Brian Blessed (otherwise known as Granpy Rabbit) on the sat nav – which was fun! If I go anywhere alone in the car, I take John Cleese along – he sounds so assured and calm and I always feel safe with him.

On the subject of roads, there is an accident blackspot near here and the solution to this has been to turn the section of dual carriageway into a single carriageway (when actually what is needed is a roundabout). Since these “safety measures” were carried out, there have been two accidents in ten days! Sigh.

Friday 6 April 2012

Chocolate Aftertaste

A while ago I read a young adult fantasy novel, Tangi’s Teardrops, by Liz Grace Davis and enjoyed it very much. When I’d read it, my first thought was that I wished she wrote for adults as I loved her style of writing – well she has done just that!

Chocolate Aftertaste (isn’t that a wonderful title?) is released today and I am looking forward very much to reading it.

At her pre-wedding dinner, Nora Darkin, the daughter of a wealthy entrepreneur, discovers her fiancé is not the man she thought he was. As her father hoists his glass to toast them, she makes an announcement: there will be no wedding to her father's right-hand man.

Due to the fresh rift driven between her and her father, Nora escapes to the quaint town of Dreara. Determined to live her life her own way, she makes new friends and pursues her lifelong desire of becoming a chef. Ethan, a neighbour with his own broken heart, helps soothe hers.

Just as Nora discovers what it means to be happy, and she begins to fall in love with Ethan, a woman from his past re-enters his life...

Liz Grace Davis is a Namibian author. She grew up in Angola, Namibia, South Africa and Germany. She now lives with her husband in Vienna, Austria. Growing up, Liz spent most of her days in school libraries, diving into the world of books. In her spare time she loves to travel as well as creating jewellery and digital scrapbooks. She's in her element when she is doing anything that requires creativity.

You can find Liz on Facebook, at her blog and at Goodreads – and you can see a trailer for Chocolate Aftertaste here.

Liz’s book is available to buy from Amazon and Smashwords.

Good luck with Chocolate Aftertaste, Liz - I can't wait to read it!

Sunday 1 April 2012

Win a Kindle!

Found this competition to win a Kindle and there are no strings!

We used to call these woods Primrose woods – but you’d be hard pressed to find a primrose there these days. However the ground is absolutely covered with wood anemones. From a distance, it almost looks as if there’s been a dusting of snow.

And what is the message on the dashboard about Blogger getting a new look in April? Upgrade now it says. All I can say is – eek!