Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Quiet Mousie in Happy Land

Tuesday was my absolute favourite night of the year-The Christmas play, this year-“Happy Christmas in Happy Land,” a charming play written by Quiet Mousies teacher all about a school who are visited by ‘Hector the Inspector,’ an OFSTED Inspector who wants to close the school down.
We have been rehearsing the script in our house for nearly three weeks, my youngest cast as ‘Pork Chop’ and also ‘Mr Slack’ who turns into Santa Claus (you have to be there really.) What amazed me the most was how the children’s personalities have developed and their confidence grown over the last year. His class of twenty children, aged seven to nine years old consummately acted and spoke out loud and clearly to the back of the room and beyond into the car park-a ‘proper’ presentation with oodles of humour and fun woven into a feel good storyline...and there was even a nativity scene in there too.

However the best gag of the show was when Mrs Tick the Teacher was trying to get her husband, Mr Tick out of bed one morning-
Mrs Tick: Henry! Henry! Are you out of bed yet?
Mr Tick: Yes, I’m out of bed, but I don’t really feel like going to school today.
Mrs Tick: But you have to Henry!
Mr Tick : Oh, dear. Why do I have to?
Mrs Tick: Because you’re the headmaster Henry, that’s why!”

Diddley um bum bum.

So until another day
Bye for now

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Meet the Totleigh 16

My first day of the Arvon Course does not start well.
Once shown to home for the next six days I locked the door of my room and waited nervously for the right time to come out. Half an hour later the main door opened and in burst a profusion of accents and raucous laughter, possibly a group of friends judging by the noise. What if they don’t like me? What if they all have English degrees? What if they already have a book published?
“Is someone in there?” A soft Irish Accent asked the group. Cue me. Maybe not. Better had. Cue time to pop out of my little hole, introduce myself, look them all up and down then scurry back into my room. They all look glam and ‘arty.’ What if they are journalists? What if I’m out of my depth?
I have turned into a mouse. It is time to circulate or I won’t last the day.

Into the great barn, our class and common room for the duration and everyone is younger than me. And more cosmopolitan-there are two Australians, a Brazilian, one of the two freelance journalists has come from Oslo, two girls from publishing, students studying English or creative writing-one is a model and dating a famous Aussie Rock Star. Our tutors arrive -Louise Dean is beautiful and boho chic. Patrick Neate, his quietness hinting at his eccentricity, was wearing a woolly hat and nervously pulling it down over his head constantly trying to cover his face. The last of our group joins us.
“Hey, that looks like Gilbert O’Sullivan!” I said to the girl next to me who looked at me like I was her Grandma.

It was not Gilbert O’Sullivan. It was Donovan ,the Donovan. The British Bob Dylan.
They do say that truth is stranger than fiction.
Here was the Totleigh 16.

The intros helped me relax a little. Everyone was nervous, self deprecating, humble about their writing to date and their expectations of the course. I was the only one with 90,000 words of my novel in hand. Contrary to what I thought, none of them knew each other prior to the course. We all felt much the same and that, along with the promise of tea and biscuits, stopped me from fleeing there and then.

And so to work. Exercises, one after the other, I could not do any of them. Every ounce of confidence escaped from my pores. Panic set in-totally unreasonable panic and self deformation.
“Take ten minutes to come up with.....”
Blank paper. Blank brain. The more I heard the others pens scribbling on their notepads the worse it got. Don’t cry. The mouse disappeared back into her hole by 10.30pm and barely slept a wink.

It was time to give myself a good talking to. I won’t give in. I have been looking forward to this course so long. It is good to have some time to myself. I paid £550 for this.

Progress as I actually enjoyed the dialogue work reading it aloud to the group. Everyone was charming and kind which helped.
My safe room still pulls and gets the better of me by 11pm but not wishing to be beaten, I try to do the exercises I struggled with yesterday.

Work about plots, building characters, weaving the magic in. This is when the light bulbs started to go on. This is what I am missing in my writing. The lack of self belief kicked in again as I sat down to my scheduled one to one tuition with Louise Dean, fully expecting to see huge swathes of red crossings out all the first three chapters of The Orange Man which I dared to let her read.
“There are some lovely touches. There are times when you really ‘see’ people and we have a taste of their pain. It is as if you know what they are thinking. I love your characters.”
You don’t know the half I wanted to say.
“Take out the tortured stuff. Lighten it up. Use more humour. You are funny.”
"Trust in your dialogue. Use more-especially your use of the vernacular-it is magic! Show don’t tell. That is what you do best. The little pictures you paint are wonderful!”
Did she say wonderful?
“Cut every sentence that does not progress the plot.”
Hmmm. I’m not good at paring down words.
“Be brutal.”
Ok. I get the idea. Some things will just take me time.

Louise Dean, winner of the Betty Trasker Prize for her first Novel told me that I should stop being so hard on myself. (Ok, ok. I know.) The basics are there in my manuscript. It is time now to start the crafting of it...Nuts and bolts can be learnt-from the course, books, internet, courses, I can read someone else’s book that is in the same genre as mine and learn from how they do it.

Lots of character work. I made a promise to myself to not freeze up-must ‘have a go’ at everything and read it out, even the rubbish. Our guest speaker in the evening was Bidisha. Crikey to have a book published at 16. Wow.
At least I have her enthusiasm.
All I want to do is get out my lap top and start the re-write.

Now I am starting to really enjoy it. A wonderful day. At first I was nervous about tutorial with Patrick especially when he tells me he’s not sure about the story-
“It is an archetypal love story. Therefore you must do something different if it is going to get you a book deal. Make it funny-you are really funny. You do tell a very good story and the way you paint the scenes is very vivid. ‘Show don’t tell’-that must be your mantra.”
How strange-the the second person to tell me that in two days. I don’t do funny.
Maybe Milla could ‘ghost write’ for me?

In the evening we are treated to Donovan and his ‘friend’ Kelly, (his beautiful green guitar) doing a 'minstrel' act. Amazing. I am in heaven with the music until 1.30am.
Still on a high, my laptop winks at me when I get back to the room and I stay up writing until nearly 3am.

“Let’s talk about getting published.” Patrick says to the class. We hear about book deals and ‘another world’ of publicity and bidding, launch parties and how Waterstones have the stranglehold on publishers. We do the synopsis of our novel that we will send to an agent. This is in fact more difficult than the 90,000 words of the novel done this far.
Setting free your imagination.... Patrick has never been to New Orleans. How on earth could he have writtenTwelve Bar Blues?
"Use your imagination" says the winner of the Whitbread Prize like it is easy.
"Look up the facts on Wikipedia and make the rest up, but convincingly of course."

Last night we discovered one of the girls in our group has a wonderful voice-she has sung Les Miserables. So we set her and Donovan to sing Yesterday for our last night. Amazing. Jen McDerra.Remember her name. She is looking for a band. I am sure we will hear her or read her works in years to come.
We all joined in Mellow Yellow, Monster Mash and lots more of Donovan’s hits which we knew verbatim by now. I was so happy I could have burst. Instead of that I started harmonising. Before I knew it I was scatting with Donovan. And everyone was cheering me, and Donovan, of course. The word legend is over used except in this case, it applies. How surreal...Or some might Mellow Yellow. (and take a look at the Totleigh 16.)

A bit like Purple Coo, it was a pleasure and an honour to be with a group of people where you could be ‘yourself’ for a whole week without anyone thinking you are bonkers.

So until another day

Bye for now

LittleBrownDog said...
Oh, Angel, I lapped up every word of that - it sounds completely wonderful. Would love to go on an Arvon course, but have always made excuses for not going this year, maybe next? I'm so glad it was everything you hoped it would be, and more. That confidence is so important. Looking forward to seeing your name on the shelves of Waterstones one day.

Thursday, November 20, 2008
ChrisH said...
WELL DONE! It's sounds as if it was a real ordeal for you at first so you were very brave to stick with it. Writing from cold like that is hard - I hate doing it! - especially when you have to read it out to other people but at least everyone was in the same boat. Take confidence from the praise you've been given - the tutors wouldn't say it if it wasn't true. Good luck with the rewrite.

Thursday, November 20, 2008
Milla said...
what a fantastic sounding time. SO exciting and reinvigorating - and, believe me, that sense of positivity DOES last, so build on it and go, girl, go (wrote go, gril, go first!)

Thursday, November 20, 2008
Pipany said...
Lord thoe idea of reading something out makes me go cold all over Angel. Well done you, feel proud and go for it! xx

Thursday, November 20, 2008
elizabethm said...
I am just so pleased it was all worthwhile and fascinated by the sound of it. I have always fancied going and never done it - it feels as if you are saying you should be taken seriously as a writer and that makes me feel uncomfortable, but you will know all about that!
Great, just great and I know all that positivity will stay with you.

Go for it!

Thursday, November 20, 2008
lampworkbeader said...
Oooh! Angel. One day I'll be able to say, 'I knew here when she first started writing on Coo.'
(Cut out every sentence that doesn't advance the plot. I''ll remember that. Though it makes for a very short novella)

Thursday, November 20, 2008
lampworkbeader said...
Oops! meant her not here,

Thursday, November 20, 2008
snailbeachshepherdess said...
there is a new animated Angel bursting out of the page - go girl go!

Thursday, November 20, 2008
mountainear said...
It sounds so exhilarating - hope you keep up the momentum and write, write, write. You've got it in you - now do it.

What a fantastic week.

Thursday, November 20, 2008
Tattie Weasle said...
Oh it sounds wonderful and you are SO brave! Some mouse though...fantastic!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008
bodran... said...
What a brilliant time you had . i can so understand the hideing away i would have done the same .
As for donovan you lucky thing i love his see you soon .

Friday, November 21, 2008
muddyboots said...
wow, angel, this sounds sooooooo cool!


Friday, November 21, 2008
Arcadian Advocate said...
In the 90's I looked at Arvon courses many times, but have not done so for a while as I have been so busy. Perhaps one day, after all, I will be brave enough to go.
Good Luck and thanks for sharing your experience, you brought the week alive for us all, and yes many of us can remember Donovan!

Friday, November 21, 2008
pinkfairygran said...
Congratulations Angel on actually doing the course, seeing it through. I know how nervous you were, but you did it, and aside from what you got out of it, you must be so proud of yourself for going.

You sound so fired up from it all, well done and more power tol your writing. And of course, I remember Donovan. What an extra treat for you!

Friday, November 21, 2008
Cait O'Connor said...
Comgratulations Angel. That was a great piece of writing in itself and good luck with your present and any future work. I am so glad it was money well spent.

Saturday, November 22, 2008
Frances said...
Please forgive me for being so late in leaving you a comment. Your experience at arvon seems to have been quite enriching.

Don't lose a bit of the energy, confidence, enthusiasm that you took home with you.

Write, rewrite, share what you've written with more folks (even those whom you fear might be critical, because they just might be excellent readers.)

I did check out the Utube segments, and those were also so much fun. First there is a mountain then there is no mountain then there is. Etc. Create!

Sunday, November 23, 2008
Exmoorjane said...
I am so so thrilled that you loved it (would have beaten self with a wooden stick over the head if you hadn't). Ah yes, show not tell.....those words echoed through our week too. But your bunch sound much younger and trendier and go-getting that our lot (who had a penchant for running away and crying -but that could have been the Philip Hensher effect!).
You go girl indeed or even gril go.....we all know you have it in you.

Monday, November 24, 2008
CAMILLA said...
Well done to you Angel, for sticking it out, if it was me I probably would have run.

Definately money worth spent though Angel, and the very best of luck with the writing for the future.

Ooh, meeting Donovan, how wonderful is that, I adore his music.


Saturday, November 29, 2008
Fennie said...
They are wonderful those courses. I went on one years and years ago - on writing comedy - Ha! (or even HaHa!) but they are hard work. Great camaraderie. Certainly it's an experience you will remember for a very long time. And meeting Donavan as well!

Sunday, November 30, 2008
Tessa said...
OMG - you are so brave. I would have run away the very first night. What an absolutely wonderful experience it turned out to be - I'm so thrilled...and excited...for you. Bravo!

Friday, December 05, 2008
blogthatmama said...
Angel I'm so glad I found this post, I'm in such a muddle these days I couldn't remember who was going on the course until I went on purplecoo today. It sounds absolutely brilliant but very scary, well done for being so brave, I think I would have pretended to be the cleaner. I would really love to go one day, when life calms down a bit! Mellow Yellow! Haven't thought about that song in ages

Friday, December 05, 2008
Marianne said...
I am so impressed that you did this. Well done for being so creative and so brave. Loved your description of your stay and good luck with the novel!

Thursday, 4 September 2008

My Teflon Nan

It is amazing how someone knows when he or she is dying.

A few weeks ago, my Nan’s legs were so swollen with oedema she bluntly announced she knew she was dying to me one day when I visited her.
“We have to face facts Debbie. I can’t go on forever and I’ve had enough. My time is up. I want you to take the victorian plate and the three handled mug from in my glass cabinet and take them to the Rural Museum.”

By pure co-incidence, the following week I was going for my second trip to Glastonbury-Nan’s hometown, this time taking my two boys. I have spent most of the last few months collating family history and annotating Nan’s memories of her life as a girl growing up between the wars in Glastonbury. Nan became so animated as she gave me her life’s review, telling her stories and sharing her knowledge of the town.

I smile as I recall the time that my Nan queued for nearly three hours when the Antiques Road show visited Leeds many years ago to show them her artefacts. She was disgusted to learn the plate was only worth twenty-five pounds and the mug just twenty or so. “All that time I queued to hear that load of rubbish! Humph! He doesn’t know what he’s talking about!” I suspect she gave the valuer a flea in his ear too. She never did appear on the Sunday night programme.
Whatever the intrinsic value, the historic appeal was obvious and the Rural Museum seemed thrilled with her donation. It is in the right place I am sure.

After I came back from Glastonbury, there were only a couple of weeks until her 90th Birthday celebrations. The oedema was advancing up her legs but Nan still stubbornly refused the doctor and district nurses attempts to get her into a home or hospital. “I’m not going anywhere until at least after my birthday!”
We invited nearly thirty people to her party at the community centre of the sheltered complex where she lives. Only eleven of her old dears turned up along with hubby, boys and me. Not even the promise of a free tea could persuade some of them to forgive her cantankerous and sometimes tyrannical ways over the years. However, the people who mattered were there and she had a marvellous time.

Unbeknown to her, for our present to her, I had booked a couple to come, sing, and play the piano to her. I requested her favourites-‘Jerusalem,’ or the ‘Glastonbury Hymn’ as some know it and ‘You’ll never walk alone.’ In between, they had a good old singsong to wartime and Gershwin classics and her old friends went home laden with doggy bags.

For Nan, two hours of singing and snoozing exertions proved almost too much. We were due to go to Antigua just three days later.
“How long are you going for?” She asked as I settled her back in her own bungalow afterwards.
“Only a week Nan-we’ll be back before you know it.”
“Oh, thank god.”

I rang her doctor to ask his advice as to whether I should go and checked the insurance details if the worst should happen.
“In my opinion, medically, she is not on her ‘last legs’ yet so I should go. She will have made her own decisions on when she wants to go anywhere and nothing any of us say will change that. My biggest concern is that she won’t go into hospital or a home but she is the most stubborn, difficult lady I have ever known and we can’t make her go.” Tell me about it.

I rang her from Antigua. She sounded frail and a little confused. “Are you home now?” She asked eagerly.
“No darling-just another two days-I’ll soon be there.”
“Only I’ve decided to go into respite care,” she interrupted. “I’m only going in for two weeks but I’ve told them I’m not going anywhere until you get home from holiday.”
What a relief to think she would have some proper care at last. This was what she should have had for over a year now since I gave up being her primary carer. I secretly hoped that maybe once she was in a nursing home she might find she quite enjoyed the care and company. But then again...I remembered her words a few weeks ago that once she went into hospital or a home she knew she would not come out.

The family and I travelled back from the Caribbean on Saturday evening/Sunday and as soon as I plugged my phone in the charger, I found the messages from my uncle to say she was in hospital. Half an hour home and the hospital rang to say she had deteriorated rapidly. They wanted to impress how poorly she was and advised I could visit her anytime. I left hubby and boys to unpack the cases and went straight to the hospital.

Nans eventually recognised me and then immediately proceeded to work through her wishes-Different to a few weeks ago, this time, adding personal details of her funeral arrangements such as where to scatter the ashes.
“For an extra two guineas you can make sure I’m cremated by myself-I don’t want to be burnt with other people-you don’t know whose ashes you’re getting!”
She’s a sharp one my Nan.
“Tell the boys I will be looking down on them and making sure they are ok. I’m so proud of them...and if you need me you just look up and say ‘Mam-what do I do?’ and I’ll help you. I’ll always be there for you.”

I thought she was invincible. Three heart attacks, two strokes, pacemaker fitted, five major operations...She had a will of steel, my Teflon Mam.

For a couple of hours she went through room by room, cupboard by cupboard and told me specific instructions on what do with everything...her bedroom furniture, her clothes, her curtains...even her kettle and her tinned food.
“I told you I knew this was the end for me and I needed to sort it all. Does Dr Wright know I’m going? He’s so lovely, he’ll want to know. And the Vicar-you must tell the Vicar.”
I told her “Don’t worry-I’ll take care of everything.”

That is the way it has always been with my Nan and me. This time I did not mind. I knew she needed to have everything in order... before...

Her final words to me were-“Can you stop stroking my hand please. I can’t go anywhere while you’re stroking my hand.”
That made me smile.
“Do you want me to leave?” I asked, not sure whether to leave her or not. What if?...
“Yes please. I came into this world alone and I shall leave alone.”
Some of you may know what she is quoting. I think I may have heard it before. Or maybe it was Nans own saying?

She was not alone when she came into the world. She was with her mother. I wanted to be with my ‘mother.’ Despite everything over the last, however many years, that was what she was to me, and without her my life would have been so very different.
However, she had sorted all her arrangements and wishes. In her head, the contents of her cupboards and her belonging already had new owners. She had ticked all the boxes on the checklist and could get some proper rest now.

I was only home for an hour and a half and the Hospital rang me. They said not to rush back but she was very, very poorly. I did not make it back to the hospital in time-she had already gone by the time I got there. The nursing staff told me that she wanted to be alone. She asked them for some fresh water and by the time they returned, she had gone.

She had it all planned. In control until the end eh? How was it she knew that she was dying?...You hear so many tales of people that leave the world like this, without any worries and everything organised.

Until another day...


Thursday, 12 June 2008

The power of learning to say “NO”

No" is such a simple word...Just two little letters. For years, I have unsuccessfully battled to master it. I am sure I said "No!" quite well when I was two years old. However, over the years as I grew into a child and then adult who craved to please people and be liked, the simple word somehow dropped out of my vocabulary.

Is it just me who struggles? It is just that I have always found it so much easier to say, "I'll be glad to..." (Eleven letters) or "When do you need me to..." (Seventeen letters.)

How nice it must be to be able to say a nice ‘assertive’ “NO.”
"No, I won't be able to help with that. I've already got something else I am doing on that day." Short and simple.
I think I have muted before on several occasions I do not do short and simple. My attempts at “No” in the past have usually been accompanied by weak excuses and rationalizations, which left the other person unconvinced, sure that I would ‘give in’ in the end. Predictably I usually did, unable to risk offending someone or the wrath of him or her thinking badly of me. The trouble with not being able to say no is that it can put an enormous strain on your time and resource. It can drain your energy. In addition, as I found out over recent years, it can sap your soul.

You should not need an excuse to support your stand. Why should we feel guilty saying no because we need more time to ourselves? What is wrong with not agreeing to take on a job because you really do not fancy doing it?

Take for example the approach I had a couple of weeks ago from our Parochial Church Council for me to become their Treasurer. To be fair they must have though “ex Bank Manager-she would be ideal...and she’s at home all day... (Well, I am sure that is what some people think, even my husband. Or is that my guilty conscience?) ...and she’s always getting involved with things in the village...the perfect candidate.” Except I am not.

I was a Personal Banking Manager where everything is system driven. My focus was on customer service and sales, not Trading Profit and Loss accounts. Maths was my weakest subject at school. Remember that I was the bank manager who never even got ‘O’ Level maths! Even to think of being Treasurer filled me with horror. I know I would dread that responsibility every month.

Since I retired from work, I have never been so busy-I don’t know how I ever managed to fit in work! My primary role is the family. Idle Jack takes a considerable amount of cajoling and supporting him to get anything done in a day! With Quiet Mousie it is the opposite with his demands for healthy eating (he’s on the Rooney diet) and countless trips to football coaching and training. There are packed lunches to prepare, dinners to plan, plants to water and tend, veggies to pick over, slugs to control. Then the housework and my ridiculous attempts to be the perfect domestic goddess (Well, if I bake every week, I must be a good mother.) I am currently selling off all my remaining stocks of bags to close my little craft business finally so that I can take things a little easier. I long to write but recently have let my sacrosanct two hours in a morning lapse due to everything else I have on the go.

The simple fact of the matter is that I am already spreading myself too thin and do not feel I am able to get on with anything-at least not well, or on time as I would like. I do not want to do any more.

I could go on...My point is-did I tell them that? No, I did not.

It was very nice of them really and I felt honoured that they should ask me. However, instead of saying “No” there and then, I asked for a couple of days to consider. Then I went back to them and gave a long list of excuses-my health was not very good, I already had such a lot on with campaigning for the Post Office and editing the Village News, then there was my work on the school ‘friends’ committee and trying to support them. On and on the excuses...

The Chairman of the PCC is a very nice man and said he understood. “Would you maybe just come onto the PCC then? We could do with some fresh blood and you would be a great asset to our fundraising efforts...”
Well, what could I say?

I had my first meeting last week. We are having a village barn dance in three weeks time. I am helping make a chilli, selling tickets, and making bunting and creating ‘wanted’ posters. Will I never learn I hear you ask?

Two days after the PCC meeting, ‘Pervy Reg’ flagged me down in the village.
“I hear you have been voted onto the PCC, well done Debbie. You will bring a fresh perspective on the fundraising. I wonder whether you would consider coming onto the Village Hall Committee if you don’t have too much on already.”

This time I resisted asking for time to deliberate my decision. There was nothing to deliberate. I know I am running at maximum. I cannot be productive if I keep taking on more and more commitments. Something has to give. It is usually my health.

“I am very sorry. I know you are working hard to raise funds. However, I feel my plate is already rather full with commitments and I can’t take on any more at present. But thank you for asking me...”

I know it was not a perfectly executed “No.” There was still rather too much waffling and a need to apologise and be nice. And I fretted all evening about what he would say or think about me.

Still, I should at least give myself credit-it was a step in the right direction and good practise for saying such an important two letter word.

I hope you all practise it too...

Until another day
Bye for now

Thursday, June 12, 2008
Milla said...
Sounds like you have really big things to say no to - they are massive commitments and people must now that it's not just like having a couple of kids back after school for tea, but an on-going drain on your time. You could say that you'd worry you wouldn't be able to do it justice etc - yes, I know, I'm another who finds it hard to say NO (though F9 says it all the time and sometimes I quite amdire him for it) and always feel I have to provide a massive excuse. A man wouldn't think like that, I'm sure. Be strong!

Thursday, June 12, 2008
ChrisH said...
Well done! You won't get those precious two hours unless you do say no. Good for you.

Thursday, June 12, 2008
Elizabethd said...
Good for you. Sometimes 'no' is a very important word to learn!

Thursday, June 12, 2008
Working mum said...
Well done. You will find that people will respect you for saying "No" and will be all the more grateful when you do say "Yes". Keep your extra curricular stuff enjoyable and manageable I say!

Thursday, June 12, 2008
Crystal Jigsaw said...
You have taken on quite a lot there haven't you! The farmer finds it difficult to say no unless I'm asking him to do a job for me and I'm useless! I'm like you, if I say no and give my excuses I spend ages afterwards wondering if the person will still like me, that's if they ever liked me at all!!

CJ xx

Thursday, June 12, 2008
Inthemud said...
Yes, I've always struggled with the word "No", if I do say No , I tend to then feel so guilty, I change my mind to Yes, I did an assertiveness course once and did practise more of saying No , got better for a while, then slipped back.

Didn't realise you'd become just Angel instead of CCA!

Thursday, June 12, 2008
bodran... said...
I still have problems saying it so i just hide from people!
I've just been doing a catch up. your trip to glastonbry sound fascinating...
How are you fixed for sunday in ludlow instead of hiking all the way here ?? i've put a pst on the cm xx

Thursday, June 12, 2008
Frances said...
Sometimes, it occurs to me that I have a difficult time saying no to what others ask, but that the result is that I have said a quick no to what I myself might have been planning. It's good to practice saying yes to yourself!


Thursday, June 12, 2008
mountainear said...
I'm not very good at saying 'No' either - but I have noticed that when I've got a full diary things do get done - and generally it is fun and fulfilling. Honest!

Thursday, June 12, 2008
CAMILLA said...
Hi Angel,

Yep, I am just the same, I have always struggled with the NO word. I can be up to my eyes in one thing or another, and I have fear of saying that two letter word. Then if I do say NO, then feel terribly guilty afterwards.

I have to keep reminding myself that you are now Angel and not CCA.

Good for you Angel in saying the two letter word, and as they say, one can only do so much.


Thursday, June 12, 2008
Cait O'Connor said...
It's hard Angel but I have learned that less is more . in everything. Too much leads to stress....whatever it is. It's my mantra now. Saying No is so hard though but it will get easier the more you do it!

Friday, June 13, 2008
Pipany said...
Golly I could have written this Angel! Don't know if I am getting busier or just cope less well now! I think my permanently grumpy/harassed face is putting people off asking me to help with such things - worth a go?!! xx

Sunday, June 15, 2008
Preseli Mags said...
This rang so true with me too. I was asked to be treasurer of one group and reluctantly agreed. I found it so stressful! Then another group asked and I tried so hard to say no - layers of emotional blackmail later and I was a treasurer again! More stress, sleepless nights over accounts, fund-raising, grant applications etc. Never again! Next time I will say no, just as you did. But why is it such a difficult thing to say? Brilliant blog!

Monday, June 16, 2008
muddyboots said...
practice saying no in front of the bathroom mirror, no No NO! a little stamp of the foot might help.

Monday, June 16, 2008
Exmoorjane said...
How funny - have just finished writing a feature on exactly t his - how to say NO.
Apparently the key is to say it very quickly and immediately - then you can apologise all you like. So it's a brisk, 'No, sorry.....' then blah-di-blah-di-blah. I do it myself ever since I did a 'Just say no' workshop and it's fabulous. Works a treat. people don't even bother asking now! I also say that I'm allergic to committees (which is true - I come out all bright red and puffy faced and make strange spluttering noises). jxxxx

Tuesday, June 17, 2008
snailbeachshepherdess said...
The thought of a treasurers job would just leave me in gibbering heap...horrible.
How are you? How are those Xams going? have been wondering..

Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Fennie said...
I know just the feeling Angel! I am a sucker for ending up doing things I don't want and don't have time to do.
But sometimes it is easier to say 'yes' and just do it, than to pfaff about umming and I'll let you knowing. How do you avoid feeling guilty when you say 'no'- that's the problem.

Saturday, June 21, 2008
elizabethm said...
Oh I like this blog! I have learnt to say no although used to be terrible. Jane is right. If "No" is the first word that comes out, as in "No, I'm sorry..." it is amazing how much better people hear it than when it comes with prevarications running before it. Although mountainear is right that it is amazing what one can do if you want to do it - wanting ,that is the key!

Saturday, June 21, 2008
Milla said...
have just come to see if anything more on how you are? OK, I hope? And have commented on the end of chapter 3's story, too xx

Thursday, June 26, 2008
Sally's Chateau said...
It's such a simple short word isn't it ? I have trouble saying it too..........

Sunday, June 29, 2008
annakarenin said...
Good for you. It is hard to do, I made the descision when we moved here that I was not going to end up on masses of commities and have pretty much stuck to it. The pressure does come but remain firm for you and your family. Just being a mother is work enough for anyone.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Milla said...
still not a peep from you, sigh. hope all is well, D?

Friday, July 25, 2008
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Friday, 23 May 2008

The real Glastonbury-THE TOWN

So much mythology and legend surrounds Glastonbury. Stories abound and people have flocked, sometimes in their thousands, for over 4000 years. However the reality of real life in Glastonbury is very different. And the town of Glastonbury, as seen through the eyes of a young woman growing up between the First and the Second World Wars was far removed from the esoteric shops and lost souls that we see there today.

I started the Millenium Trail from the Georgian Town Hall, (next to Glastonbury Abbey) and followed thereafter in order the guide suggested-a good way to take in the main highlights and sights which I had heard about over the years as I grew up with my Nan.
The Town Hall has served many purposes over the years-as well as housing a market area, jail and Court Room and even a silk factory for some time.

Nans main recollection of the Town Hall was as a young girl of eleven or twelve years. In approximately 1930 a hall was added to the rear and following the renovations there was a grand re-opening. Twelve boys and girls were selected to sing at the opening. Nan was one of them. Her father was so ill (heart disease) he had to be helped up the stairs by three people. Not only was he proud to hear his daughter sing but he and the whole town wanted to hear the choral version of ‘Jerusalem’ (or Glastonbury Hymn as it was sometimes known.)

William Blake wrote the immortal words many years previously, probably inspired by the apocryphal story that a young Jesus, accompanied by Joseph of Arimithea, went to Glastonbury. However it was Charles Hubert H Parry who wrote the musical score to accompany the words in 1916 when he was asked by the poet laureate, Robert Bridges, to put it to music for a ‘Fight for Right’ campaign meeting in London’s Queen Hall. After that it continued to be tested out with different orchestral and choral versions. During the 1920’s many Women’s Institutes started to close their meetings by singing Blake’s words to Parry’s setting. Parry died in 1918 (incidentally that was the year my Nan was born.) And Edward Elgar added to the scores to create the more powerful version known and loved by so many of us today.
According to my Nan she was one of the chosen ones to be involved and it was the first time that the people of Glastonbury heard the tune when she sang it.

As you look out from the Town Hall you can see St Benedicts Church.
The adjacent school is where Nan attended her secondary school. Back then it was an all girl’s school. The year Nan sat her 11+ no one passed the exam. The following year only one girl passed-a very posh girl called Margaret Parsons who was apparently related to someone in the Clarks (shoe) family.

Back towards town on Benedicts Street is the Mitre Inn.

Nan remembers a new girl, Joy Mills coming to the school. She was plump but very well dressed and had curly dark hair with a fringe. Her parents owned the Mitre Inn.

When I went to Glastonbury I contacted the local press and they were so helpful they even put an appeal in the paper for any one who remembered my Nans family or who remembered life in the town just before the 2nd World War to contact me. I was quite disappointed not to hear from anyone throughout my stay. However the night I got home I had a telephone call from a 90 year old lady-Joy Mills, Nans friend from all those years ago. She still lives on Benedict Street with her husband and for several years took over the Mitre Inn pub after her mum and dad passed away. She is one of the few remaining ‘elders’ in the town-everyone else has now sadly died.
Iris Knight (daughter of Knights famous Knight's Fish Restaurant, the oldest (and best) fish and chip shop in Britain ) was at school with Nan and they shared exactly the same birth date. 18th August 1918. Sadly Iris died a few years ago however the fish and chip shop still exists and I ate the most delicious fish, chips and mushy peas during my stay and definitely plan a return trip with the boys!

Nan can remember shop by shop along the streets in town. I have written them all down and intend to document them along with her memoirs-the Antiquarian Society and Library said they would be very interested for their records.

The market square used to be the centre of town life and many of the buildings date from the time of the Abbey, although the shop frontage has changed over the centuries. The present cross was built in 1845 and replaced a medieval water conduit. Live cattle were sold in front of the butchers shop, where nan's Uncle Wally worked for years.

Nan came out of the dance at the town hall one New Years Eve and danced and celebrated with everyone in the square.

One of the old Glastonbury Inns, The Crown (mentioned as early as 1535)still remains. Unfortunately a bad fire a hundred years ago burnt down much of the medieval original. Nans Uncle and Aunty owned the pub for several years and Nan was very good pals with their daughter, her cousin Eileen. For some reason when Eileen died, the family never contacted Nan to tell her and the two sides of the family lost touch. However it was believed that the family continued to own the pub until more recent times. I intend on my next visit to brave and go in and enquire to the current landlord-I was a little nervous on my visit as it seemed a little intimidating from the outside. It would be interesting to see whether any of 'that side of the family' are still alive.

The George & Pilgrims Inn was built by Abbot Selwood approx 1465 to accomodate the thousands of visitors who flocked to the town.
Nearly opposite the inn used to be an ironmongers. Nans brother Douglas used to work there filling up the paraffin lamps.

By co-incidence my Granddad was billoted to the house above it during the second world war during his first stay which is when they met. Nan would go past on her bike and wave to him as he hung out of the window. They would shout the words “Three Pips!” at each other, coded message for “I love you.”

St Johns Church was very much the centre of their world. Nan was christened there and her mum and dad's burial services were there before being taken on to the cemetery on Wells Road.

The Glastonbury Thorn in the churchyard flowers at Christmas and Easter time. Every Christmas the vicar cuts some blossom and sends it to the Queen for her Christmas breakfast table.

To the rear of the church is St Johns school, Nans first school. Nan had two older brothers as well as her twin brother. One day the eldest, Jack came home with a note from the school teacher-she needed to see a copy of the twins birth certificates for the records. My Nans mother never did send her a copy despite her repeated requests-she packed the children off to school and they were barely three years old.

Nan recalls going to school with Jack Chislett (and admits she used to fancy him!) He was mayor of Glastonbury a few years ago. His brother, George (who sadly passed away a couple of years ago) had a flower shop on the high street. He was head gardener for the Abbey grounds and was one of the few people who was able to graft Holy Thorn cuttings onto the root of blackthorn.

The war memorial in front of the Church was designed by Bligh Bond and based upon a Saxon Cross he discovered when excavating the abbey. Nan recalls being a brownie and leaving a wreath on the memorial on Armistice Day .

Much of the remainder of the high street remains as it has been for over 200 years.

The post office is the only other memory of any real significance to Nan along the high street. Her beloved dad worked there as a postal clerk. And she later joined as a post person-she covered a good five mile stretch down the high street, down Benedicts Street delivering post along a round route to the Station and back.

At this point I diverted off the millenium trail to Bove Town, which until about 1791was the main medieval road to Wells.
On the left as you go up you see a beautiful cottage, Many of the other houses along this stretch still have internal features that are up to 500 years old.

I was looking for Coombe House, the house where Nan worked as an 'in-between' maid' from the age of just twelve.

I could see very little from the roadside of the house-it was masked by laurel and leyandii trees although I dared to step up a couple of the steps, maybe re-tracing the route she will have taken to the servants entrance. Nans hours of work were 7am until 9pm. She stayed at the house during the week and only went home at weekends. Woe betide her if she was not home on time-her mother would march down and collect her!

The house is now privately owned by two gentlemen, one of whom is the Chairman of Somerset County Council, Alan Gloake. I have had no luck contacting him so far. However I have just been given his telephone number so I will dare to ring and introduce myself. I do know from the website that the gardens open on 3rd August for 1 day only. Me and the boys have already planned our return visit to Glastonbury around this date, although I am rather hoping Mr Gloake may be kind enough to show me around the inside of the house some time!

Next door is a thatched cottage dated 1637. Miss Murial owned it and sold it to the Scott Stokes, a very wealthy family who were related to the Clarks of Somerset. Nan remembers as she worked in Coombe house the children next door ran and played outside in their bare feet, not of course because the family were too poor to afford shoes, but the Clarks family believed that it was more healthy and natural for childrens feet to be allowed to breathe and grow without restrictions.
If you continued past you walk through Wick Hollow and a route to Tor Hill.

Uncle Wally (the butcher) and Aunt Bess lived there and one of her errands was to go and collect cider in a heavy flagon for her dad from the cider press which Wally had.

On the way home Nan would pick violets and primroses and other seasonal flowers from the banks and take small bunches back to her mother.

To be continued...

Friday, 16 May 2008


As I pulled back the curtains in my lovely B&B the first sight to greet me was the fornication of two doves on the Dove cote. They followed me down to breakfast –their insatiable sexual appetite clearly not sated, they continued their cavorting several more times in front of the breakfast room window with no shame.

My tired feet and I were on a mission to see whether there was more to Glastonbury than esoteric shops crammed with crystals, candles and incense sticks.

I began the day on the Millenium Trail- a series of town trail markers, set in the pavement to guide a path through the town.

The route should have taken approximately one hour and indeed it would have, had I not been distracted by a charming bookseller called Steve. I cannot resist bookshops and there are several in Glastonbury. While handing over a copy of Old Glastonbury and Arthur’s Britain I struck up a conversation and discovered that Steve was in fact a freelance writer, and had worked in publishing for most of his working life.

He has just found himself single again after thirty years of marriage and is leaving to lay down new roots in Western Australia. Someone spiritual came into his shop, touched his arm and told him they were having strong vibes for him about Australia. They left the shop but then came back- being even more insistent that they could picture him with red hill behind him...he had to go there, there was a new and exciting life awaiting him...

Steve, strongly feeling that this was his ‘guide’ sold the shop within two weeks of the meeting and plans to leave in August. He invited me to go with him. I declined his kind offer but instead agreed that the main character in my second book would come to Glastonbury in search of family history and ‘something,’ and meet and fall in love with a fifty two year old bookshop owner!

Back on the trail, I felt in need of some spiritual guidance myself, and was ‘drawn’ to another Steve, this time a tarot reader in Ying Yang who had been recommended to me by the aforesaid namesake.

I sat on my hands and gagged myself as I listened in total amazement to his accuracy on past matters and tried to glean some proof that I am doing the right thing at present and with regard to the future.

I went in feeling sceptical and more than a little wary. Whatever opinion I had on Tarots and spiritualism, I came convinced that Steve had a true gift. He gave me a quiet air of confidence that I should be happy with where I am at and where I am going to and that I am making some good decisions on grasping my chances as they come along. The experience more than achieved what I wanted it to.

A period of reflection followed with Lunch at Laluna-by now I was now on first named terms with the staff and proprietor.

My feet were starting to die on me-the previous day’s exertions and a morning walking the town had taken their toll. I was beginning to wish I had taken advantage of the ShopMobility and hired a motorised wheelchair! By now, the pain was searing like hot knives through my toes yet I knew I had to go on-there was still so much to squeeze into the day.

I decided to take a couple of hours respite in the Library-(research for my book and some family history information.) Then it was on to the Rural Life Museum, which was actually very enlightening and brought to life the side of Glastonbury-‘real’ Glastonbury that my Nan has talked about for so many years.
Finally, in the glorious sunshine I reached my final visit of the day-the Chalice Wells Garden.

I did take a couple of photos of the view from the gardens and a part of the garden well away from the wells. However, the rest of the gardens, it just didn’t feel right to be snapping away so the pictures exist only in my memory. I also took my note pad and pen-I had intended to sit quietly in the warm sunshine and spend a couple of hours scribbling, but the notepad stayed in my bag.

I think you would have to visit for yourself to get a true picture of the beauty and tranquillity of the gardens. However much I gush and pontificate I feel sure I will never convey what the gardens hold. If you click on the link above, it will take you on the virtual tour but it still doesn’t come close to seeing it for yourself.
Except I will tell you this- My feet were hurting so much by the time I got to the gardens that I had to take my shoes off to be able to hobble round. I stopped several times around the gardens to observe the ‘quiet areas of reflection.’
Through into Arthurs Courtyard I saw the much talked about Chalice Well waters and filled two bottles with it-one for me and one for my Nan. I couldn’t resist dabbling my feet over the side of the shallow pool. Apparently, in the 18th and 19th centuries, it used to be much deeper and you could totally immerse yourself.
It was cold, so cold it numbed my feet and allowed my brain receptors to notice another sensation rather than pain.

After a few moments, I stepped out of the water. Back on warm flagstones, my feet tingled. Then they became very hot and the tingling became more of a prickly feeling that radiated up to my ankles. It was the strangest feeling as I realised my feet did not hurt for the first time that day. Suddenly I remembered that the water I had dipped my feet in was the healing well water and I smiled to myself thinking what my hubby and the other cynics would have to say about my ‘little miracle.’ All I can add is that as I put my shoes back on my feet did not hurt, not one little bit and I walked back up the road to the B&B as if I was walking on air...

To be continued...

Monday, 12 May 2008


For reasons I won’t go into right now, I have just returned from a mini break to Glastonbury -three nights and four days of no kids, no workaholic hubby, no hairy yellow Labrador to walk. Just me and my chakra in the land of cider, cheese and King Arthur.

I knew I was in for a whacky time as soon as I walked down an alleyway crammed with esoteric shops-there were large red plastic mushrooms with white spots on and broomsticks propped against the walls.
A barefoot man, naked other than a pair of skimpy shorts ran past me, his long main of unruly hair billowing as he ran. His toned, tanned body was reminiscent of someone off the front of a Mills and Boon Novel or maybe her was a porn star called Troy or Colt?

Exmoor Jane, clearly accustomed to some of the weird ways of the town suggested we meet at “The Speaking Tree” at the bottom of Glastonbury High Street. Once I had got the name-“Talking Clock” out of my head and spotted the Psychic Piglet opposite I had no trouble finding it.

Milla arrived, and our trio, looking more as if we were old friends of 20 years, took refuge from the strong mid day Sun in a cafe called Laluna, which was to become my favourite haunt over the next few days.

Three hours later and we still hadn’t paused for breath but I had to go and collect the keys from my B&B. I didn’t want to cut short our fun and leave the girls to continue a deux, so I dragged them the long walk uphill to check out my home for the next three days.

First impressions didn’t disappoint-It was a stunning house set in beautiful tranquil gardens and Glastonbury Tor visible from most aspects. The owner showed us around. I was fortunate to have been allocated the ‘Dovecote Room’ so called because of a large dove house right outside the window that Faith would have been proud of.

The owner suggested we feel free to hop over the wall to climb up to the Tor. Once we had negotiated the upturned buckets and barbed wire, we were running like Laura Ingles in Little House on the Prairie up the side of the hill towards the summit. Ok, maybe we weren't running...Actually all three of us crawled, at times on all fours, up the vertical hillside-we had only one good leg between the three of us! But we were determined to make it, dodgy knees or not.

The wind came from nowhere and virtually blew our wigs off as we reached our final destination at the peak. We gasped as we were overwhelmed by the panoramic views-(actually we were panting to catch our breath. I realised later it was the only time Milla was quiet all day.) We paused to share a few moments of solitude and contemplation and reflect on how the journey must have been for Joseph of Arimathea.

The views and a single dove fluttering inside were reward enough for our efforts and we talked of Faith and her doves for the second time that day.

After some dodgy directions and what I suspect was the scenic route back to town, by the time we reached the bottom we were parched and ready to attack the tearooms (as well as find a good hairdresser.) All too soon, our delightful day ended and we said our goodbyes, each of us heading our separate ways in search of a bottle of red wine and a Babyliss foot spa.

Glastonbury is a haven for lost souls and unfortunates who probably went there in search of solace and spirituality and instead found drink and drugs. But they are harmless enough with their sad eyes.

However, you will be pleased to know I didn’t join them on the benches outside St John’s Church after I’d eaten my evening meal at the Hawthorns. Instead, it was my good fortune to be heading back to the comfort of the beautiful B&B and the Princess and the Pea bed.

To be continued.....

So until another day
Bye for now

Friday, 18 April 2008

Re-inventing oneself

I’ve had to re-invent myself many times over the years, and never more so than when I retired from my job in a bank due to ill health. I didn’t face up to the gaping hole left by leaving the bank, and to all intents ending my career-not until several years later when it came back and bit me in the bum inadvertently through a challenging and difficult chain of events.

Behcets disease means I can go through periods of reasonably good health, although over latter years a good day is just ok. I always have pain somewhere-you just get used to it, and you have to get on with it.

The most frustrating thing about living with it is that my brain is still alive-it’s just that my body won’t always let me do what I want it to!
I was rather pleased when I was able to turn my magpie tendencies of collecting fabric and crafty bits into a small business, Despina Gifts. For years, friends and family told me I should sell some of the keepsakes I’d hand crafted for their birthday and Christmas presents and I eventually I plucked up the courage to go for it. However, because of the popularity of handcrafted items (and my own weakness-being such a ‘driven’ person,) the hobby became a full time job and encroached drastically on home life. Once this happened it had to be worth my while and after several months of sticking my head in the sand, I did concede that making £150 in a month was not sustainable longer term.

Nothing could be as hard as my pronouncement to ‘give in’ to the illness and leave the bank. For years, I told people-“When I lost my job in the bank due to ill health.” Because of the kind of person I am I felt a failure. In addition, I don’t like to do anything unless I do it really well and am successful at it.
The decision to give up my craft business was marginally easier because the facts were harsh-crafting was killing my hands and whilst it was nice to get a bit of pin money I was never going to be a millionaire doing it. And when the arthritis symptom of my Bechets reared its ugly head before Christmas, right at a time when the kitchen looked more like Santa’s workshop, I knew it was time to admit defeat and change what I was doing.

Always the survivor, I’ve become a dab hand at re-inventing myself over the years. As Charles Darwin once said-“The organism that adapts will survive...the organism that doesn’t will become extinct...” Fifteen years in Banking and watching the ‘old dinosaur’ Bank Managers disappear taught me that was true.

It was a hard to feel like a 'quitter' again and be reminded of my fragility, but I’m over it now and just make the personalised PE Kit and Teacher Resources Bags in my spare time and sell through a shop on E-bay called Despina Bags-of-Fun. The bags would get out of control again if I let it-I have orders on the board for 41 bags at present. I think I must be filling a gap in the market somewhere-pity I’m not well enough to exploit it! Instead I’ve told my customers that there is a 2-4 week waiting period which allows me to take my time and work designing and making bags around my other priorities.

Because the great thing about re-inventing yourself is that you get the chance to become the person you always wanted to be, and do the things that bring you joy-it’s a chance to discover your passion, (which may change constantly as circumstances in our lives change) and then live the life.

Of course no one will ever be “picture-perfect” in this life. But “fulfilled and satisfied” is the name of the game for me and I’ve got this far with very few regrets or missed opportunities so it’s got to be pursued. Which brings me to my current passion..WRITING...."Why writing?" I hear you cry.

Well, I've been telling my friends and family for over ten years that this is what I'd like to do. I have so many ideas for stories and bits of writing after ten years of thinking and daydreaming about it that it is ridiculous. My notebooks of scribbling are weighing down the loft. I have made enough excuses-been busy doing other things/nervous/putting it off/not sure where to start for too long.
I have a filofax now and a copy of Jane Wenham-Jones's book, "wannabe a writer?" about getting into print. And I want it, (to write and be published, that is.)

I’ve done enough pontificating, prevaricating and procrastinating. It's time to just get on with it. And I am getting on with it, even though there are many of you bloggers that do it better-You are funnier, more descriptive, more accomplished, maybe already a published author. I just can’t miss the chance to re-invent myself and try and live a dream once more. And it is only thanks to the bloggers on this site that I have been able to free up my mind in the last year or so and see clearly that it’s time to have a go at achieving my next ambition, and with any luck, my health shouldn’t be too much of a barrier for this one.

I’ll tell you more about where I’m up to another day, (and catch up on my homework, I promise Headmistress.)

Until then

Bye for now

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...
Ahhhhh - weird - we are both at the same point in life. Good for you. And remember as writers no one of us is better than the other - if you love to write then you write and your love of your gift and your creativity will shine through and they will touch the people they are meant to touch.

Friday, April 18, 2008

ChrisH said...
Good to have you back and best wishes for your new career.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Frances said...
Hello to you, fellow adapter!

Every time that I have been able to choose to make a change, or have been able to make an un-sought change, it has made my life much more interesting. Stretch, stretch, stretch.

Every switcheroo turn has introduced me to unknown personal aspects, but also has opened me up to meeting all sorts of new people, and learning new skills.

From reading your blogs, I know that you are indeed a writer. It is going to be fun to see where giving your writing more priority will lead.

All best wishes to you! xo

Friday, April 18, 2008

Pipany said...
Hurray, you're back! Love to hear of you reinventing yourself (while remaining the same lovely you of course); it always excites me to read of new beginnings and to follow how they go - keeps life fresh and full of possibilites, so I shall be following this closely (though not like a stalker obviously!) xx

Friday, April 18, 2008

Milla said...
good for you, CCA, keep on keeping on.

Friday, April 18, 2008

toady said...
Yippeee you're back. So sorry that your health problems are encroaching but that positive outlook is fantastic.[send some this way!]
Now don't disappear again.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Crystal Jigsaw said...
So lovely to see you blogging again. Another blog to look forward to reading. I shall read the first 2 chapters in your other blog later on when I have a little more time to sit down and concentrate. Writing is such a wonderful way to be at peace with yourself. There is no doubt you will do well and one day be a published author.

Love Crystal xx

Friday, April 18, 2008

bodran... said...
GReat to have you back and reinventions good i call it evolving and i'm always at it!
I maybe in your area next week i'mm doing a delivery to Ludlow and i've set myself a challenge to do it on the scooter, so if you want me to pop in pm me your number. if not i'll see you on the 1st xxx

Friday, April 18, 2008

elizabethm said...
welcome back and great to have you blogging again. Very best of luck with the writing.
see you soon!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Elizabethd said...
Lovely to see you again, and with such exciting news. Good luck with your new 'career', and with your sewing too. But how sensible to hold back a bit and ask people to give you time.

Friday, April 18, 2008

mountainear said...
Glad you're back - I've always enjoyed reading your blogs.

Re-invention/evolution is a terrific thing - something I think I managed when we moved here.

See you on the 1st - more news then I hope.

Best wishes, F

Saturday, April 19, 2008

CAMILLA said...
Best of luck with the writing CCA, and all the best for your new career.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Working mum said...
Just to let you know, I have starred this post in Google Reader to come back and read the start of 'Passport to Happiness' when I've got the time.

Good luck with the writing.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Exmoorjane said...
Now then, you ARE a writer - it said so in the paper so it MUST be true! You go girl!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Friday, 18 January 2008

A Typical Day in the Life of Country Craft Angel

I suppose if I was a really good wife I would have got out of bed to see Workaholic Hubby off for the train to London at 5.30am. But it was SO warm on his side of the bed after he got out and I was so tired that I couldn’t resist rolling into his space and snuggling in and back to sleep.

I stirred realising Nicky Campbell’s dulcet tones had stopped and I had long overslept. Oh my god! It’s 7am and with hubby gone I have to walk the dog and take Idle Jack down to the bus stop myself as well as the usual other morning routines! I did negotiate with Idle Jack last evening that I would only do one or the other but nothing short of an atomic bomb will get him out of his bed at present. It must be the hormones. I brace myself that I may have to do it all.

I am not at my best in a morning. I don’t mean that in a grumpy way. (although come to think of it I suppose I am rather grumpy these days in a morning.) Sleep depravation is a form of torture I’m sure. To be fair I don’t think it is just the owl or the fox or Puffer Billy lying next to me that wake me all the time. Pain robs me of deep sleep, the really deep slumber where nothing wakes you. I stir all too easily-last night the continual stabbing knives in my left shoulder woke me every time I turned over. I dreamt at one stage that I was trapped in some farm machinery. By my side, flipping 360 degrees was Workaholic Hubby, no doubt mindful of oversleeping or missing the train. I lay there for what seemed for hours, looking at the oversized illuminated digital clock that projects itself in bright red up onto our bedroom ceiling, watching the rythmic flashing on and off, on and off, as the the seconds tick away.

First job is to feed Simba, the extremely hairy yellow Labrador who's shed great clumps of hair round his bed which I must hoover up later. He hoists his great body out of his warm bed as gingerly and reluctantly as me in a morning. It takes me and him an hour or two to get ourselves moving and our bones working to optimum effect because of the pain and stiffness of our arthritis.

The creak of the kitchen door has woken Quiet Mousie despite my attempts not to disturb him. He helps himself to fresh orange and a yogurt and settles to the island with a book and piece of paper which he copies from. He has discovered the joy of reading; books, spellings, writing; word searches, his little mind like a sponge soaks up every minute he can. Well, that is if he can’t go outside and kick a football of course. I flick the kettle on as I will for the umpteenth time before the boys go to school. The trouble is I always let the tea go cold before I drink it. My pain killers in hand and I brace myself for the most challenging task of the morning, rousing Idle Jack.

He’s hidden somewhere underneath the quilt. I know he’s there as I can see his black socked feet sticking out of the end, facing down. He’s covered in the quilt, blanket and several cushions. Quite why he insists on cocooning himself up like this I don’t know, but he has done it for years now. I put the big light on and turn on his radio.
“Wakey Wakey, Cam...come on, time to wake up...We’ve overslept. Have you remembered I need your help this morning as Dad’s in London?” Nothing.
“Come on Cam, I need you up, time to wake up!” No movement. I prod the bed.
“I’ve fed the dog and he’s desperate to go out...are you coming?”
“Mmmm-m-m.” We have life. I pull his covers back, desperately trying to stay patient.
“Come on Son. I can do without this. I’m late as it is and you said you’d walk Simba. Now get up please if you want a lift down to the bus stop.”
“Ok, ok, I’m coming!” How come he’s got the attitude? I stand there mouth open in amazement. He’s still corpse-like.
“Look, I can’t stand here all day waiting for you to get up. Get yourself in the shower and liven yourself up! Split splot!” Well, it worked for Mary Poppins.

I go outside to feed the birds. Mr Robin is chattering away already in the dark. It’s a good job Hubby can’t see me. He goes mad when I go out to the birds in my dressing gown and slippers, especially if it's frosty or raining. “You and those ruddy birds, you’ll catch your death!” He doesn’t realise they will be my company for the day and I need to get the food out for the flocks that will join me after the school run.

The dog follows me wagging his tail expectantly and crossing his legs at the same time. He is desperate for his walk and won’t ‘go’ in the garden so I hurry as best I can to get dressed and yell at Idle Jack that if he is not up in the next two minutes I’m going to pour a cup of water over his head!

I grab the torch and head to the woods. I always used to be frightened of woods and being alone. Now I love it. The sheep have all been moved-I think they must be due to lamb any day now as I see the lights in the farmers shed in the bottom field on permanently day and night. A blackbird witters and flashes right in front of me startling me. I think I startled him more.

As I come back into the house I can hear Idle Jacks deep, croaky and intermittent squeaky voice yelling “Stop turning the berludy light off!” (J K Rowling has a lot to answer for-how many times does Ron Weasly say the ‘B’ word in her Harry Potter books? Or maybe it is me or his dad he got it from?)

Quiet Mousie has him cornered in the shower and is outside the bathroom door flicking the light on and off.
“Right, that’s it!” I yell. “Stop doing that to your brother and go and make your bed and tidy your bedroom!” I scold Quiet Mousie. “I’ve already done it, and brushed my teeth and washed my face” The halo pings above his head. He really is such a sweety, I can’t stay angry at him for long.

At last, after numerous reminders Idle Jack saunters out of the bathroom with his hair gelled into precision spikes.
“Have you picked the towels up?” I remind him, coughing and spluttering at the waft of the Lynx coming through the house.
“I’ll do it later, I’m off to walk the dog now” He says. The towels will still be there tonight.
“Too late, I’ve already walked him!” I state triumphantly. I’m still choking. Heavens, does that stuff really work with the ‘chics?’
“Aw, mum, I told you that I’d walk him! “ His head automatically throws back and his eyes roll upwards as his mouth parts in a loud sigh.
“I can’t walk down the lane. Please take me down, I’ve got PE today and have to carry my sports bag.”
Puppy dog eyes. Hmmm.
“I used to walk over 3 miles to school every day and when I was old enough I cycled...” He can finish the story he’s heard it enough times.

I didn’t live in ‘the sticks’ with a dark country lane measuring 1.2 miles and perverts who knows where...And anyway, by the time he’s made his bed and tidied his room and got his dinner money and things together I always end up having to chivvy him along and he’s never ready on time.
“Just get your breakfast, I’ll see...” He’s won...again.
“Thanks mum.” He knows he can twist me round his little finger.

The phone rings. It’s Workaholic Hubby sounding incredibly chipper, “Hi darling...Oh, me...yes, I’m fine...Just got was a great much better than in the car. I had a nice coffee and bacon sandwich and got loads of work done....”
”I’m just ringing to check if you’re up ok and if the boys are being good for you?”
“Oh, yes, we’re all fine, no worries.” I say breezily.
Grrr again.
“The dogs walked and the boys are just having breakfast. I’ve got the tea prepared. You have a good day.”

Twenty minutes after taking Idle Jack down the lane to the bus stop and I’m taking Quiet Mousie and the neighbour’s girl back down the lane to the bus stop.
Then it’s back up to the barn on the hill, and my dog and the birds...
What will I do today?

Maybe some sewing or a bit of crafting...

or writing...almost certainly a lot of between planning the veggies for the garden this year...I need to check how the strips of native hedging have taken. We've put them in between us an the neighbours for a little privacy. And my birds, of course.
But mostly today will be peace and quiet...that is until the boys come in from school and the chaos resumes.

Hmmm...And I’d better hoover up that dog hair too I suppose, or me and Simba will both be in the ‘dog’ house.

So until another day

Bye for now