Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year’s Eve.

I sent my wishes early for my friends down under and finally to you all everywhere: may blogship fellowship prosper throughout 2009.
The end is nigh - bookwise – three more chapters today and – hopefully the last three tomorrow. Had a little hiccup when I found a chapter in the middle of a chapter – don’t know how that happened but sorted now. I dread to think how many trees I’ve squandered.

Our TV died today – bought in 1991, a Sony and now we are on my mother’s – also a Sony. I suppose it would be a good time to buy, but they are so complicated now and I haven’t really time to research them. Looking forward to being back to normal. Too tired to stay up with Jools(Holland). Night night. Sleep tight. Hope the bugs don’t bite.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Really cracking on now. Did three chapters today – 2/3 of the way through. If I can keep it up I should have the MS completed by the end of the week. It really has paid off giving it top priority, although I miss dropping in on my blogging friends and look forward to getting back to normal before I’m forgotten.

We booked a week in May at the cottage we liked so much in October. The first time we have repeated ourselves but we couldn’t fault it. New Year’s Eve tomorrow, so all my best wishes to you all for health and happiness and peace of mind. Never mind the crunch – we’ll be fine!

Monday, December 29, 2008


Two more chapters today - 6 and 7. It strikes me that the story seems to have settled into three stages but I see nothing to be gained from arranging the chapters into Parts 1, 2 and 3 and it would muck up my page numbering. I’m not used to doing such enormous print outs.

Two treats today to lighten the load: ‘Ballet Shoes’ which I missed last year – a delight for little girls of all ages – everyone gets a happy ending, and Joanne Lumley witnessing the aurora borealis in the Arctic Circle. She’s a batty lady and an outrageous flirt but when she actually found what she was looking for it was incredibly moving.

My shoulder is getting better. The last time I saw the physio we discussed having an injection which my son was keen for me to try – having caught me at a bad time. B said there would not be a problem if I wanted one – it would deal with the pain but would do nothing towards strengthening the muscles so I decided to persevere with reassuring results.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday after Christmas.

I wish the wind would change - it's in the east - the worst for this house and the heating is on all day. Finished chapters 4 and 5 - that's 100 pages done - a third of the book. My routine is now: read a chapter, edit, read it again, correct any errors, print and read again. After the final read through today I found 'Marian' had become 'Mary' but it only involved 1 page. Then I mentioned the song 'I could have danced all night.' before it was written - again just 1 page to be altered. As they rudely say in the north 'You need eyes in your a---e.'

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Saturday – not a post.


Today I finally revised Chapters 2 and 3 and printed them out. The laser printer works well. Having read and re-read the MS fifty million times I have to concentrate like mad and can’t have any extraneous sound. I’m reading Sebastion Faulks’s ‘Devil May Care’- writing as Ian Fleming, and discover he has written 294 pages – like me - but he has 20 chapters and I have a mere 16.

During a break I watched ‘Emma ‘ on TV. Much better than the film I thought. And seeing Mr Knightley’s treatment of Emma took me back to the early days when I behaved less than well and earned MTL’s hauteur or disapproval. Hmmmm!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Writing notebook - Christmas 2008

No posts or visits until the job’s done. This is just to ensure I don’t slack off.

1. Boxing day:
a new beginning from a key point in the story. Printed out first chapter with alternate beginnings. Did further editing on first chapter, chose the briefer more pungent beginning and adapted MS.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hugs to friends far and wide and especially if you can't get home for Christmas. I'll be back in 2009 - bright eyed and bushy tailed- along with the flying pigs:)

Monday, December 22, 2008

See- saw week-end


It’s been an up and down week-end. First we had a lovely surprise with a Christmas hamper from Fortnum and Masons sent by our family in Australia – still spoiling us from the other side of the world. Then every time I tried to do anything, like visit a blog I couldn’t – even my own. I was getting an XUL Runner saying a so and so Platform Version was not compatible with min something and max something. Complete gibberish!

I had down loaded an Apple update earlier which on reflection was a bit daft as my computer is an E machine. My # 2 son who admits to knowing nothing about blogging, very sweetly visited a forum and suggested I tried re- installing Firefox. I did and it worked. I hope this may be helpful to the tiny percentage of bloggers who are as dim as me.

The only comforting thing was I could e- mail and use Word so I did wonder if it was the Muse’s way of saying ‘Get on with the book!’ I will, I will as soon as I shut for Christmas.

Ending on a very happy note – we heard this evening that we have a new great- grandchild – Philippa Rosemary – 8lbs - and mother and baba are fine.

There’s still a gremlin in the works – I tried to get on line at 6am and only just managed it after re- booting. Heigh ho!

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Lost Commenter

I got a long, highly knowledgeable comment today on haiku and to my discomfiture it has disappeared with all that useful info. Recently Blogger has started to send my comments to Dashboard instead of my In -Box which would be fine except that they no longer say which post it applies to, so one publishes it and then has to try to find it, to answer, if it isn't for the most recent post. Unfortunately I can't remember who sent it except it was a man. Such a nuisance!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Our Festive Meal


The Carew Arms is a genuine, simple country inn with excellent food and a great atmosphere. No frills no fuss - hooray for us. All the pictures on the walls are cows. No -one you know

I think thepale green walls are a nod to the noughties.

Father Christmas could double as Humpty Dumpty at Easter.

You could tell it was Christmas.
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Roasted butternut squash soup with a hint of chilli - this was sooo good.

Duck and pork pate with red onion marmalade and toast. Serious stuff.

Good vegetables

Turkey,bacon wrapped chipolata, chestnut and hazelnut stuffing and fresh cranberry sauce. All that delight and no sweat.
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Lemon tart - I changed my mind. I'm a woman - that's what we do.

Christmas pud -already attacked

Chocolate snowballs - truffles dusted with icing sugar. I begged MTL to leave a couple for 'manners' but he ate them!
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hey Vicar – leave our kids alone.

(Apologies to Pink Floyd)


A vicar has banned the Christmas Carol ‘Oh little town of Bethlehem’ because it does not represent the modern- day reality of the troubled city.

Another vicar has rewritten ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ so it reflects modern Britain so instead of ‘Two turtle doves, and a partridge in pear tree.’ He has written:
‘Two addicts shaking and a poor homeless refugee.

A school choir was forced to pull out of a winter festival because its carols were ‘too religious’ for the event.

Teachers are not discussing Father Christmas in the class-room because of fears they could offend pupils from other faiths, according to a report.

I don’t remember any lasting damage to me, reciting the creed, even though I was a Unitarian in a Church of England school; and the Catholics were excused prayers.

Who are these people who insist on changing the fabric of British life to the detriment of our children?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Rare Sight

Last night at our favourite table by the fish tank we were enjoying our duck (not Peking – the fish’s eyes are quite enough) my own eyes kept wandering to a table by the door. There were seven young men – quite ordinary in appearance – they could have been a lifeboat crew, dressed in uncoordinated jeans and sweaters. As the evening wore on we were having fun and eating and drinking and my interest in the young men grew. They also were eating and drinking but they were talking quietly amongst themselves. In other words their behaviour was impeccable- no yobbishness. no noise or raucous laughter and there were seven of them. The magnificent seven my son dubbed them.
After a glass or two of wine – I determined to have a word on my way out, but – to the family’s relief, they left before us.

You can’t have too many good, tried and trusted recipes at this time of year so – although I may have mentioned this one before – it bears repeating.

Roast chicken with lemon, garlic and thyme.

Chicken 1.5 kg
2 lemons quartered
2 heads of garlic, broken into unpeeled cloves
A bunch of fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Rinse chicken well, removing any giblets. Pat dry with kitchen paper and place in non stick roasting tin. (Mine stick so I added a little olive oil).
Push the lemons, garlic and thyme in to the chest side of the chicken. Not as easy as it sounds, but persevere. Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the chicken and rub it in with your fingers. Roast for 1 hour 25 minutes.

My French Grandson say even his Maman can’t do chicken like Grandma. It is really moist and tasty and because the garlic cloves are not peeled they just impart a subtle flavour. We had it for lunch today.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Faffing

I have been looking for a silver or bronze top to wear with a black skirt which has delicate silver and bronze embroidery. The local posh frock shop had a silver top which looked like a circus so I tried the up- market second- hand shop and found a great bronze silk shirt in new condition which fits perfectly. I shall just swish it gently in liquid soap for delicates, and wear it to dinner on Saturday. Result!

Don’t you find anticipation is half the fun? I’m anticipating our Festive meal on the 17th. Decisions have to be made:

Festive Menu

First Courses

Scottish smoked salmon and caper terrine with a lemon drizzle and whole meal toast
Roasted butternut squash soup with just a hint of chilli
Pan-fried chicken livers with smoked bacon lardoons and a balsamic dressing
Duck and pork pate with red onion marmalade and toast

Main Courses

Traditional roast Somerset turkey with chipolatas, chestnut and hazelnut stuffing and fresh cranberry sauce
Daube of local venison slow cooked in red wine and juniper berries, finished with bitter chocolate
Sage- crusted Somerset lamb with a red currant jus
Bouillabaisse with red mullet, mussels and scallops
Festive vegetable, apricot and Stilton strudel

All served with fresh seasonal winter vegetables

Desserts & Cheese

Christmas pudding with brandy sauce
Chestnut Meringue mess
Chocolate and orange roulade
Poaches pears in mulled wine with a ginger and cranberry coulis
Somerset cheese platter with apple chutney and oaten biscuits
(Somerset Brie, Black Tower and Exmoor Blue)

To Finish

Coffee, tea or infusions with chocolate snowballs

Those are the choices – not the whole menu:)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday Wittering

You have to laugh – my old nursing pal Vanessa rang up last night; she wanted to make sure I was still here before she sent her card. I wouldn’t mind but she’s older than I am. God forbid that a card should be wasted 

The young physio said he was pleased with the slow but steady progress – that‘s the way it should go apparently and I’m happy to take his word for it. I see him again in ten days time and I am amazed at such excellent treatment. I have been neglecting various chores in the house and garden and it will be good to get things ship shape again. # 2 son and missus are coming for the week-end which will be lovely and an early Christmas treat. We had an enormous parcel from Australia yesterday but MTL
says I mustn’t open it till Christmas Day.

Apparently one can now have free calls very evening and also at the week-end provided one promised to stay with BT for a year- no problem for us as we had no intention of leaving. Last night another old friend phoned in answer to my Christmas card and we chatted for almost an hour. It was pleasant and very helpful as she has been a published writer for years.

I have always tried not to bend the ear of professional friends but she clearly wanted to talk about my book and discussed lots of options, but more importantly urged me to get on and finish it and find the right publisher. She wasn’t overly enthusiastic about getting an agent – she has had about four over the years but lots of publishers won’t look at anything that doesn’t come from an agent.

She also voiced something I have been considering – that of starting at a key place and going back to the beginning. Early chapters in an autobiog aren’t usually the most engaging and they are the ones the agent asks to read.
My intention is to do nothing but the book over the Christmas holiday so I’ll be quiet but still here.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Take it easy on yourself.

Except for one year when we both had ‘flu this will be our first Christmas with just the two of us and we have the luxury of doing exactly as we please – which will be as little as possible. Most people have children and others to consider but the title above is my message to you. Do you remember Scott Walker’s great record of the sixties? I actually downloaded it and all hell was let loose – side bar disappeared and the page and text stretched and diminished, so I deleted pronto. Shall I sing it to you?

This is a very good year – with the credit crunch and all, to do a bit of cutting down and making life less stressful and more restful for everybody. Every religion has its special festivals and Christmas is when Christians celebrate the birth of Christ by remembering friends and family and others less fortunate; it doesn’t have to be an ordeal.

Shirley Conran –Superwoman - now in her seventies, wrote decades ago ’ Life’s too short to stuff a mushroom.’ and gave heart to all of us trying to ‘do it all.’ and look immaculate at the same time. Now she tells Becky Pugh in the Daily Telegraph:

‘Christmas is the perfect time to save a tree; hovering up all those needles is a step too far’ Her tips are:

‘Plan a budget and stick to it.
Feel free to do away with the labour intensive traditional Christmas meal with all the trimmings and opt for a simple family favourite instead.
Only give gifts to children under 12 and those dearest to you.
Save energy – yours. Don’t travel for miles just at the time when travelling is most nightmarish.
Throw away expensive mail order catalogues as soon as they arrive.
If you insist on sending cards make them yourself.’

Well we have already booked a delicious Festive menu at The Crocombe Arms – one of our favourite inns, for the week of Christmas and plan to have a simple, but delicious steak with thyme and butter on the day. The cards I feel duty bound to send as they are a way of keeping in touch, but even that can be a minefield and now only a tenth of what I send depict the Nativity- the rest are the ever popular robin. Life was much simpler before Political Correctness reared its ugly head.

I had a twinge of conscience and wondered if I was depriving MTL of lots of Christmas cheer but he said;
‘Let’s make life as simple as possible.’ I’ll drink to that!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Front cover by Charlotte Murphy
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Cover by Trevor Leighton
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Two Smart Girls.
‘Fern – my story’ by Fern Britton.

‘Dear Fatty’ by Dawn French

I have just read these two books in tandem; partly to see how other people tackled their auto biography – yes I realise they are famous and I am not – but also because I fancied some human interest reading after a long difficult book. They are both very much in the public eye – Fern as a presenter on ‘This Morning’ on ITV and Dawn as a comic actress; they are successful and very popular.

They have quite a lot in common: in their early fifties and not too worried about any weight issues; Dawn describes herself as ‘ almost entirely spherical’ and has always used her shape to great comic effect in ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ and the hilarious sketches she has done with her partner Jennifer Saunders. Jennifer is the ‘Dear Fatty’ in the title.

Fern has always been curvaceous and after giving birth to four children has found it increasingly difficult to get back in shape: she recently was pilloried by some of the press for having a gastric band fitted although it had been done as a surgical procedure on medical advice, to protect her general health. They both have strong links with Cornwall and trained at The Central School for Speech and Drama They both have been through the rigours of IVF.

Fern was trapped with three children in an unhappy marriage and suffered severe bouts of depression and Dawn had to cope with the loss of her much loved father who committed suicide when she was a teenager. Fern’s father was Tony Britton the actor who left the family home and who she didn’t get to know until she was about fourteen.

One would have thought they could be good friends but Fern interviewed Lenny Henry- the actor / comedian who is Dawn’s husband, and asked him about his stay in the Priory which he felt was inappropriate; Dawn fiercely loyal, has said – according to Fern - that she will never appear on ‘This Morning’ whilst Fern is there.

Both books are illustrated with many photos and I found both to be interesting and illuminating. Fern tells her story in the conventional way with occasional up - dates in italics and Dawn writes a series of letters to her loved ones – and she has many – but especially to her father to bring him up to speed with her life as it is now. She and Lenny have a teen- age daughter Billy.

I found both women to be good company, funny with admirable grit and determination and the good thing is they have both come through trials and tribulation and – with their families ( Fern is now married to Phil Vickery the chef) are as happy as one can expect to be in today’s world. I commend them.

In contrast I am in the middle of a spiffing book – a first novel – a psychological thriller, which I don’t want to end: ‘Out of a Clear Sky’ by Sally Hinchcliffe.
More later.

Thursday, December 04, 2008



I store my photos with Picasa and yesterday had a message they had some new addition which I hadn't time to think about, but they've done it anyway. Suddenly on my background there was a slide show of photos I have taken over the last two years and it was simply beautiful. I have been sitting mesmerised by a trip down memory lane- so much more moving that just looking at them in the Picasa file.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Idle chatter

I’m so glad I went – at last - to see the doctor. I hadn’t met him before but he was friendly, humorous and gentle as he tested the movement in my arm and shoulder and then spent quite a time getting a history. He prescribed an anti – inflammatory drug and something to prevent indigestion from the drug, which he assured me was better than Rennies. I was also to go to the hospital to make an appointment for physiotherapy.

We assumed I would be at the end of a long waiting list but I actually had my first session today. I gulped when I saw the young strong man who was assigned to me – I never imagined it would be a man. They do get everywhere these days don’t they? Needless to say he was a poppet; warned me it might hurt whilst he investigated the movement and explained most carefully what he was doing and what was happening. He showed me a model of a shoulder with bones and ligaments and it seems I have an impingement syndrome and maybe a bit of bursitis. There is a little squishy bit under the acronium bone which I probably twisted in June and because of the bone above there is no way for the swelling to go.

However both he and the doctor were encouraging and said it wasn’t anything nasty and with the drugs and special exercises it should heal well. I had my first good all night sleep last night. The most difficult part was answering questions about how much pain, on a scale of 1 to 10. I feel a wimp when I think of people who are really ill and suffer, but it is true that a continual nagging ache with occasional burning is debilitating and stops you firing on all cylinders. As you know I have been making mistakes all over the place lately. As Zed said ‘Have you something on your mind Pat?’

I posted all my abroad Christmas cards after a lengthy queueing: 81p each for Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and the States and a mere 51p for France. I’m out of touch but it does seem expensive – at least they were all charity cards.
I’d love to stay and chat but I’m meeting the three gels for lunch at the Italian.
Fortunately the weather has bucked up. Byee!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Wise words


‘I think people would be alive today if there was a death penalty’ Nancy Reagan

‘There is no such thing as fun for the whole family.’ Jerry Seinfeld.

‘I don’t think I’ll get married again. I’ll just find a woman I don’t like and give her a house.’ Lewis Grizzard.

‘Erotica is using a feather, pornography is using the whole chicken’ Isabel Allende.

‘An intellectual is someone who has discovered something more interesting than sex.’ Aldous Huxley.

‘I’ve been married so long I’m on my third bottle of Tabasco.’ Susan Vass.

‘When a thing has been said, and said well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it.’ Anatole France.

‘A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch.’ James Beard.

‘If your parents never had children, chances are you won’t either.’ Dick Cavett.

‘Did you ever walk in a room and forget why you walked in? I think that’s how dogs spend their lives.’ Sue Murphy.

Quotes from ‘Advanced Banter’ by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson