Isn't Christmas lovely once you get into the swing of it? Doesn't it make you all feel all calm and sentimental and salted-caramel soft? Mmmm.
Here's the proof:
You see, I am nice. I didn't toast the little blighter after he killed the modem and intruder alarm. I didn't send in the boys when he gobbled up all the poppadoms and antique table cloths. I even forgave him the sleepless nights caused by his rabid badger-like floorboard gnawing. Oh yes ...
But he'd better not come back or Heston Blumenthal's coming round for tea. And he'll be hungry make no mistake!
The dishwasher was officially written off, a teeny, weeny mouse ate the modem, my laptop died and finally the family PC ground to a halt as it didn't want to spoil the lovely party. Excellent.
The experience has taught me a lot, however:
1. Extended warranties and product repair insurance does work, but it certainly isn't quick.
2. I have become hugely reliant on things in the home that barely existed for the average family when my father was alive.
3.Never underestimate how valuable friends and loved ones are when things go tits up.
So, I'd like to apologise to all the people that I neglected this week, especially Talli Roland who was taking on Amazon with a web splash on the day the PC coughed its last. Sorry I missed it, Talli!
And a massive thank you to Sylvia and Joe of Horror UK who lent me a laptop, baled me out of snowy school runs and made me cups of tea. You are brilliant. As is the lovely man at Comet who's been working for over a week in a store without heat, and got the new dishwasher to fit in my car.
Finally, a lifetime pledge of smiling servitude to the man of my dreams, C, who drove home hundreds of miles in the snow to plumb the dishwasher in, dismantle and fix the PC, reload all the software and make everything wonderful again. My very own knight in shining armour.
Pop your head out of the door if you dare, face towards HMS Victory, and you will probably hear me.
I awoke this morning to discover a mouse had chewed through our modem cable, so no internet connection. It will take three to five days for a new one to be delivered, but in the interim Him Indoors has stuck it back together with some electrical tape. So no sudden movements please.
To add insult to injury my laptop will not boot up, so I am on the old coal-fired PC and praying that it will hold it together long enough for me contact the outside world. I dread to think how long it's going to take for Dell to fix it if it can't fix itself. So keep your fingers crossed for me please!
The replacement dishwasher should be available for collection by Tuesday, but the way things are going I'm not banking on it.Someone mentioned snow ...
So if I disappear for some time, you know why! And lovely editor, you have my phone number!
I love, love, LOVE playing with fire - always have. And now I'm all grown-up I don't have to hide under the dining room table table with a box of matches. Or hide in the shed blackening fallen apples with a candle flame. Or hide in the woods at the bottom of the rec with an illicit fag lighter.
It's all pukka now! Family fireworks!
And then after the sparklers we had this:
Nourishment and nostalgia in one great big steaming pot. I can still remember the comfort of tucking into my great granny's version decades ago - when all the cooking was slow, there was a cobbler on the corner by the church and the shops shut on Wednesday afternoons.
And there's another good reason for indulging in the art of slow cuisine: Mummy is less likely to burn this when she's cooking up a brand new romance. She forgets to check and stir when her mind is drifting off to imposing doorsteps and the man that opens the door. Green eyes or blue? Dark or fair? Will his house smell of beeswax or burnt toast. Or both? Or of orange blossom, sun-baked sea shells and pimenton?
Today I’m talking calendars – they’re all over the place at the moment aren’t they? A stocking-filler staple.
I think I'm going to need three next year. A calendar for for the children – school, social life, projects and endless other stuff. A calendar for the family as a whole – holidays, birthdays, business trips, appointments etc. And a calendar just for me in Writer’s World as I’m fast getting to the point where scraps of paper will not do and I’m going to start forgetting what day it actually is.
But they’re a lot more than a grid of dates, some of them are so gorgeous they would qualify as works of art: vintage photography, famous painters, stunning landscapes – the list is endless. And some are so good you never write on them and keep them for years:
David in December – what more could a girl ask for? How about a date? I hear you ask.
Well, here's a bit of luck: today is launch day for Dating Mr December by the gorgeous, award-winning Phillipa Ashley. Her website is HERE and all sorts of exciting things will be happening over on her BLOG.
Dating Mr December is the US title for the brilliant Decent Exposure which was also made into a film. It was her first ever attempt at a novel and almost the first piece of fiction she ever wrote. Talk about inspiring! So visit her as quickly as you can and don’t miss out on the fun. And just between you and me, some of the things Phillipa has done in the name of research make my toes curl …
This weekend I was an old-fashioned, traditional Mummy in that I didn't work at all. I fed and clothed everyone of course, no avoiding that, but I didn't work in a wage-slave or writerly way. In fact, I only turned on my lappy to mop up Friday's emails and then - shock horror - turned the thing off!
Scary. And not always possible, but (inhales scent of orchards and wood smoke) very therapeutic. A short walk into the Hampshire countryside revealed the most gorgeous colours ...
And simple treasures underfoot. The squeals of excitement are still ringing in my ears!
I must confess to getting a bit excited about a tripler myself!
And who needs computer games when there are hundreds of these about!:
I didn't take my camera to the garden centre we visited on Sunday, but I wish I'd remembered as there's a very special resident there. It's the second time we've stood as a family under the boughs of an enormous potted tree and watched a cheeky little robin sing its heart out. I wonder what it makes of all the fake Christmas ones about at the moment?!
The camera didn't make it to Waterstone's either, where I discovered a lovely lady and local author Sarah Haynes signing copies of her book. THINGS HE NEVER KNEW is Sarah's first novel and you can find out more about her and her book here: And of course I had to treat myself to a signed copy, didn't I? It looks really good - can't wait to get stuck in!
I also made apple crumble. And got muddy.
It's Monday now though, darlings, so normal business resumes and I've completely run out of pilchards, darn it. So, I'll be back later in the week with a tricky little task for you all. You have been warned!
W H Smith don't sell CDs any more! You know, those small, round, shiny music disc things that made vinyl obsolete. They've not had them for five months now apparently due to the market annihilation caused by HMV and the Internet. This means I have to drive out of town (population 100K plus) to Mr Sainsbury's if I need an instant fix of Top 100 music. What's the world coming to eh? It's not as if I'm asking for something unusual or exotic - like Lily of the Valley talcum powder or something. Sigh.
And that's not all I've learnt this week. What about these amazing facts:
How did I get to be as old as I am without knowing this stuff?
But there's worse than that, my friends. I discovered yesterday that typing two spaces after punctuation that ends a sentence is wrong. One space is the rule and it has been since shortly after personal computers took over the world. I always knew that RSA typing certificate was a waste of time ...
But anyway, I did get my CD in the end. Here's a snippet:
And there's a new rule I just made up: You're only as old as the man you Google. So I think I'm doing all right on that front.
Have any of you learnt something new this week? Like Dimitri Levendis is on Twitter and is being very, very, naughty perhaps? I'm sure I got to him first you know, but then again, I could be mistaken.
Both offspring have brand new schools to settle in to and I have revisions to finish and turn in. And I've never done this before, so I think we're all a little bit nervous. Well, OK, it's probably just me that's a bag of nerves then.
This bank holiday weekend was the first in a couple of years that I haven't taken as annual holiday or been working. Yep, the 'day job' is no more and I can tell you that this must be how it feels like to be let out of prison (after being wrongly convicted obviously).
We had lovely family visitors for the weekend which meant a decadent takeaway on Friday, a boozy barbecue on Saturday and a fabulous time seeing the sights in the sunshine.
This is one of the gorgeous places on the South Coast we visited: Bosham in West Sussex:
Bosham is incredibly historic and among many other things is believed to be where King Canute did his tide turning stuff. When you check out the video below you'll see why he stood no chance!
There's plenty of car parking within a few yards of the shore that doesn't flood with the tide, so don't get caught out!
And then, strolling around in the sunshine with sound of church bells filling the air, I spotted this:
Now, romance writers, doesn't that notice start a few cogs whirring? A tiny seed from which a story could grow? The questions: what, when, how...Completely irresistable, huh? I know my imagination is going into overdrive with possibilities.
I'd love to hear your ideas on what could have led to the ring ending up where it is now. And what could happen afterwards!
I'm rather liking the idea of it being found by a tall, dark, brooding marine artist actually...
So it eventually happens. You get The Call (or glowing email). You've finally done it. Your MS has been accepted. It needs a little work, but...Yippee!! OMG! Sob!
However, in real life this all happens right at the end of July. Two days into the hideously massive school holidays and your youngest child has just dropped his Nintendo DS again.This time it's fatal and both of us are in deep, deep mourning...
The 'C' word. Children. Chaos.Cacophony.
The first time I was asked how it felt to get The Email, all that came out of my mouth was 'I feel like I've been hit by a bus'. And that's no reflection on the amazing team at Embrace Books, they accepted me, I love them, but how much worse could the timing of all this been I wonder? Law of the Sod I guess!
I have notebooks, an E reader and lots of Ibuprofen. I have a head bursting with ideas and Lots Of Important Things To Do. I have quite a bit of Dolmio. But do I really have to go swimming tomorrow? And play cricket? And go crabbing ? And all the other stuff?
Yes I do.
So, lovely, professional writers with broods out there I'd love to hear your top tips for survival over the next few weeks, I really would! Please!
Will the stress make me really skinny? No I didn't think so.
I'll be back later in the week, hopefully not with green hair or anything.
So, lovely blogfiends, you're probably wondering what a tin of Spam has to do with a writing blog, a romance one at that.
Well, those of you that know me well will understand perfectly and be very understanding when I disappear over the weekend. Yep, it's the 'day job' (and you thought it was pole dancing didn't you? Sigh).
Anyway, my two children (from now on to be referred to as The Beasts) are desperate to recreate James May's aborted gourmet campervan meal. For those of you that missed that episode of Top Gear, it was a succulent tranche of Spam coated in crushed Quavers. Last week we only had Wotsits and didn't think it would be the same but now we have the essential supplies.
Should I let them do it?
What do you think, bake, grill or fry? Suggestions for side dishes gratefully received.
This bottle of champagne has been waiting around a while. It's a little bit dusty and it was reduced in Sainsbury's when I picked it up, but hey, I'm going to drink it anyway because...
It's now official!
I can announce that Andreas and Kizzy's story will be published next year by fabulous, gorgeous Embrace Books.
Now, will someone tell me how long you can live on boiled pasta and Dolmio alone? And wine obviously.