Sunday, 30 November 2014

seeking quality over quantity

At the start of the month I thought that the way out of the worries I had about the blog was quantity. The more I wrote, I thought, the more useful stuff I'd have.

Done is better than good, I thought.

There's truth in that. Nobody writes good work all the time, and everything has potential, but producing lots of fluff is, I've concluded, not what I want to be doing (not on purpose anyway), so having had a little mental health break just now, I've decided that taking this forward I'm going to be blogging less and focusing on the other important things in my life. 

When I do blog it will hopefully be more useful one way or another.

When I don't, I'll have more time for making stuff, for exercise, and having fun with my kids. I'll also have more time for other writing, which immediately makes me think I should be doing more on the book, but that will come.

A friend once noted, while I was worrying that my housework wasn't up to snuff, that I was unlikely to say on my death bed that I'd not done enough housework. She was right. I also cannot imagine saying that I wish I'd blogged more. So, I'm focusing on the important things, to try to ensure I get to that death bed later, with few regrets.

This is the last day of November, and the last No[edit]vember post. But there will be more posts. Just you wait and see.

Friday, 21 November 2014

going down: stepping back a bit for mental health

Hi all

So, I'm doing pretty well because I have hardly taken to my bed at all. I am horrible to live with, and my head is not a great place to be, but I do know that I'm going to come out from under this dark cloud, and the way that I'm going to do this is:

1. Step back from social media (sorry folks, but no more daily posts), I need more space for my head, I can't filter the noise any more.

2. Go outside. I will, honest. I promise. I know I'll feel better for it. But by heck it's cold and I'm really feeling the cold at the moment.

3. Talk to people. Like with my voice. To their faces. I'm not going to talk about how I'm feeling, because a lot of it is paranoid nonsense and I don't want to give it the nutrition to be honest. Instead, I want to have conversations about lots of other things. I'm not feeling like I'm doing very well at those conversations, because of all the stuff that's going on in my head at the same time. But I'm hoping that folks will forgive me (or maybe not even notice).

4. Stop this now. If I keep writing I'll get upset. So I won't. I don't want to give it the oxygen.

In an effort to be helpful, if you sometimes feel like this, then this video by the World Health Organisation helped me.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

working for free

We decided long ago in 2006 that we were going to shake up the way our family worked. My husband, Kenny, would go for a job with a bigger salary, with the flexibility which has to go with that, and we would move our family as required. I would look after our children, and make sure that things at home worked, even as Kenny needed to work away for his job.

It's worked out well for us. Kenny's doing well in his career, and our children are happy and secure, despite having moved a few times, but nothing is all good.

Everyone has something they don't like about their work, and being a full time Mum, while being very rewarding, and completely worthwhile, can also be dull, repetitive, and frustrating. For me, I need to have another focus as well.

When we first moved for Kenny's work my other focus was on the charitable organisation I was running (in Suffolk). b.a.b.i.e.s (Babies and Birthing in East Suffolk) was fun and so very useful, and gave me plenty of adult focused things to do while I was with my children.

When we moved back to Scotland I was considering running something similar, but found there wasn't the appetite for it, so, after a brief period of obsessively playing The Sims (I still love the Sims, and am hoping for Sims 4 for Christmas), I started to write.

I have always written. I won some writing competitions as a kid, but then focused more on Sociology. While I was a social researcher though, I enjoyed writing accessible reports on research findings, and prided myself on being able to translate complicated papers for normal people to be able to understand. I loved being able to make good research more useful through writing.

When I decided to write as the 'thing I do' though, I figured I'd need a lot of practice before my work was good enough to sell. So I started practicing. I followed Neil Gaiman's advice:
"This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it's done. It's that easy, and that hard."
I joined a writing group, and wrote what I was told to. I pushed myself, I tried things.

I started blogging, and kept it up because it was good practice.

I entered competitions. I've not won one yet (not one based on skill anyway), but I've been placed, and I'm getting better. I feel like I've been serving an apprenticeship, which is coming to an end.

How do I know it's coming to an end? Because it's time I got paid. I've got lots of work to do on the book, that will come in time, but I'm submitting short stories and articles to magazines, and to bigger competitions. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

I'm also now being approached to write things for people. The proper term for this is 'being commissioned', but you'll note that I'm not using that term. Why? Because the people who are approaching me aren't offering to pay me! Just this morning, I've had two people ask me to do work for them for free. One of them I don't mind. I have set a precedent there by doing work for free for them before, and while I have the time I will do it, because it's a good way to be involved in my community.

The other one was wanting me to write a blog post, promoting their company, but wanted me to do lots of research about related things too. I have no experience of their company, (and by the way, I will only promote brands I have experience of on the blog, like Hotel Chocolat or Getting Personal), and wouldn't have been averse to getting some experience, except they were not planning on paying me!

Would you place an ad in the local paper and not plan to pay them? Would you have one of those odd-job people tidy out your gutters and not pay them? It's rude, basically. I might choose to work for my family for free (and even for my mates), but if you want me to do a job for you, you're going to need to pay - it might not be in money, but you shouldn't expect me to give of my time, away from my family, without some recompense.

And breathe.

Do people expect you to work for free?

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

drowning in cushions

I was intrigued when my friend Susan posted a link on Pinterest to Tico and Tina's post on easy decluttering: 20+ things you can get rid of without even noticing.

I thought I'd give it a try, so started with point one: CUSHIONS.

Tico and Tina call them pillows, and lump them in with pillows (is that an American thing?), but I'm sure they're talking about cushions and pillows, because I've never heard of a decorative pillow. Here's what they say: 
Pillows – Do you have decorative pillows that just get in the way? Maybe you have old pillows stashed in a closet somewhere that you never bothered to get rid of. We had a few randoms floating around our house that didn’t really get used at all.
Well, since you're asking... you may recall I recently did up the boy's room, and made his bed into a proper day bed while I was at it. This is the theory of what it looks like:

 And this is the reality:

See that big pile at the foot of the bed? That's all those cushions! That's where they live now.

I was tempted to move them back to the living room, where they came from originally, but, to be honest, they haven't been missed, and the boy has over-ruled me, so they're (mostly) still there.

A bit of a fail then.

However, having admitted that we have enough in the living room, I have taken cushions off my shopping list. Which is a shame, because I had some beauties on there. Here are the fab cushions I had my heart set on. All from IKEA. You can find loads of IKEA cushions here.
Vinter 2014 cushion cover £4

Knappsav cushion £3.50
Snabbvinge cushion cover £4
Skavgras cushion £3.50

Not buying new cushions is pretty much the same as decluttering, right? Right?

How are your decluttering skills? They've got to be better than mine.

Monday, 17 November 2014

dogs with flapping tongues

Tongue flappingly good (this photo' was not taken
when I wrote this post)
You know that image of the dog leaning out of the car window with its tongue flapping in the breeze? That looks like it's a lot of fun.

Just now I was a passenger in a car with bright sunlight (in Scotland, in November) shining into my eyes, so I took advantage of my passenger status and closed them, enjoying the psychedelic light show on the inside of my eyelids.

My husband wondered why I was grinning like a loon.

The sunlight has dashed for cover now, but I'm still feeling good.

Have you had any tongue flapping moments lately?

PS. Just as I finished this and we got through Glasgow heading to Edinburgh on the motorway the chemical brothers came on. Cue a family tongue flapping moment.

Friday, 14 November 2014

travelling in time

I enjoyed listening to a podcast earlier today on the economic impact of a zombie apocalypse (you'll find it here), and it inspired me to take a bit of a leap in imagination myself.

So, my question today is, when would you travel to if you had a time machine?

Personally, I'm hoping that my time machine is like the tardis, and can move in space as well, although I'd stay on this planet.

First of all, I'd want to go back to when my Grandparents were young, and see for myself what it was like, and what their parents were like while they were still alive.

Then I'd jump back into the tardis and find out what happened to the Princes in the Tower. Or, better yet, steal them away and bring them into the future, at a point when time travel is accepted as possible. I'd then get them DNA tested, and set up their claim to the throne. I imagine some opportune marriages with the House of Windsor might be required.

Why? Because I'm a Yorkist of course! 

So when would you go?

Thursday, 13 November 2014

shopping locally for Christmas

I know, it's November, and I shouldn't talk about Christmas yet, and I promise not to decorate this with Christmas trees or have Jingle Bells videos, but I am going to talk about Christmas shopping, because let's face it, lots of us are doing it already (and that's a very good plan in the current climate).

You're welcome to use this, but if you do, please link
back, and also say that it was created by me,
Cara McKee
The big stores have already released their tear jerking adverts, featuring overpriced penguins, and odd war/shopping conflations, and kids TV is featuring wall to wall adverts for tat. Shopping is on the mind.

It's pretty easy to go to Amazon, or use Tesco's Boost scheme, but I'm asking today for you to support your local shops at this time of the year (and hey, why not all year?).

I hear lots of grumbling about how the high street is dying, and you wouldn't know which town you were in by the shops. I am sure this must be true in some places (what's your high street like?), but it isn't the case in the towns where I've lived.

In lots of towns we have great local shops, which are sometimes cheaper than the big online retailers, and certainly than the chain shops, and which support local jobs, and also community spirit.

I don't do it enough, but going to your local shops, and chatting with the people you meet makes you feel so much more connected to your hometown, and can help you make friends, besides which it's good for you to be walking around and connecting with people.

As well as the shops, at this time of year craft fairs are great for presents, and supporting local people, and as we're all getting ready for parties don't forget all the hairdressers, manicurists, barbers, and the clothes shops.  

Also, a word on charity shops. Charity shops get discounts on how much it costs to run a shop, so no wonder there are loads of them, but that's no bad thing. The British people are great at supporting charity, and charity shops give us an excellent way of practically recycling things while making things better for people. The last present I bought was at a charity shop. I won't say what it was, but it was perfect for my good friend who has loads of stuff. I hope she likes it.

I thought I'd share with you some of my favourite shops from the towns I've lived in. I would love it if you could tell me about some of your local gems.

  • Ilkley: Opulent Designs (is it really closing!?), and the designer kids shoe shops which sold us the most awesome T-Rex slippers.
  • Otley: The market! and that little bead shop up the arcade (I need a name for that). Also the pubs in Otley are awesome, and I really miss the fantastic Victorian Christmas Fayre (when is it this year?)
  • Saxmundham: The Store of course. I loved shopping there, and I miss it. Also the ironmongers - BC Fishers.
  • Moffat. Anywhere on Well Street, but a special mention to Moffat Book Shop (which is under new management, and I hope that anyone who pops in to buy a book will remind Gillian that her writing is amazing, and she should get on it), and to Harvest Time, who went beyond the call of duty making extra Ecclefechan Tarts for us one Christmas (if you don't know what Ecclefechan Tarts are, you're missing out, but they're a bit like mince pies, and you'll find a recipe here, or, better still, pop in to Moffat and buy some from Harvest Time).
  • Largs has so much to choose from. Special mentions go to the Toy Station and the Bus Stop Toy Shop for great customer service, and smashing prices, you can't beat the butcher, fishmonger, and greengrocer for your Christmas dinner shopping, and I'm a big fan of both Largo and Bluestone for presents.
So, come on, give me your suggestions, and let's all ensure we buy at least some of our Christmas stuff locally.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

miffed with Talk Talk

I've referred to this post so many times that I thought I'd rescue it from the backwater of my old blog, and reproduce it here. It is an account of the fun we had trying to wring customer service out of Talk Talk. Have you had the 'pleasure'?

Bring me the Head of Talk Talk

It may take you by surprise when I say that I really really like to communicate...

When I was a teenager, I spent a lot of time on the 'phone. Arranging to meet people, and not being the last one to hang up in daily chats with my boyfriend (who lived far away).

When I went to University I discovered the wonders of Pegasus Mail. You could get a list of all the people who were logged in, and choose one whose name you liked the look of to email. I would have long rambling conversations about life, the universe, and everything, with people who never seemed half as interesting when I actually met them!

Later I got into hotmail, then googlemail, and into Bebo, then Myspace, and now, glorious Facebook. I love writing, I love sharing pictures, and I love communicating with friends, and friends of friends. I think of Facebook as being like a big room where lots of friends are having conversations, which I can choose to join if I wish. Sometimes I find some of those conversations ugly, and in those circumstances I generally ignore them and move on, but sometimes I have unfriended people. I know that means I don't get an accurate view of the world, but it's my world.

I love that I've now got a smart 'phone, and it's always been fine that I have limited internet access with my package as I just go on wifi at home... so I was a bit worried that Talk Talk were going to take a couple of weeks to bring us broadband... but I figured I could manage a couple of weeks, right?

Not so much.

I quickly ran out of internet access on my 'phone, and have been using Kenny's, when I can (when he's in, not using it, and it's got enough charge), which is painfully slow, but I thought it would be alright for a bit...

Until Kenny 'phoned up Talk Talk, who had agreed to provide our telephone, broadband, and television, and helped us set up a direct debit to pay for it. We were wondering exactly when we would get our television box, and broadband, and why we still haven't got a home telephone connection...

Oh, they said, it's you, they said, erm, well, yeah, we don't cover your area, so that's why you've got no 'phone...

So, we've got to find another provider, after TWO WEEKS of nothing, and the light of communication at the end of the tunnel is still far, far away... in fact, we've not signed up with anyone yet. So what do you think? We can get BT Vision or Sky. Recommendations anyone?

Little girl is not pleased about not getting to watch her on demand programmes!

thinking out loud

I'm tired today, and it's November, so I haven't got the wherewithal to string my thoughts together coherently.

Instead, I thought I'd go for a brain dump - just share what's going on in my mind. I'd love to know what's going on in yours?
Katsuma - what's on his mind?
Fish, ham, and comfy bags

That's assuming there's something going on in my brain... is there? Of course!

1) Why I'm tired

I decided it would be a good idea to enter a novel writing competition after a friend brought it to my attention (thanks Cate). Initially I thought I wouldn't, because I figured that they wouldn't be interested in my type of novel, but then I got a couple of short story rejections.

You know it is fine, to get rejections. You're piece is not what they're after, or it covers the same ground as someone else's. It is dispiriting to wait for ages to hear, and then get a generic feedback letter, from which you can only really guess why they didn't want your story, but it's a bit like applying for a job, you don't tend to get especially useful feedback there either, and a lot of the time it's about perceived fit, rather than whether you're good or not.

But you're way more likely to be rejected if you're not good.

So, I'm moving on, I've sent a story off to a friend for some criticism, and I'm focusing on other stuff. Maybe I'm better suited to long form stories.

So last night I wrote a synopsis for my novel (which I am so not sharing with you, because then you'd know the story, but it did make me feel like the story was good), and tidied up the first 3,000 words, and sent them off for the competition.

I've had a look at the judges, and I don't think they're going to like it, because it's not really the genre they work in. That said, it's not likely to overlap with many other competitors, and writing a synopsis was a good thing to do (and really interesting that I could write different synopses for the same story, stressing different points for people with different interests). So I'm glad I did it, but not glad I stayed up until midnight faffing with it.

2) November

My mother in law has a beautiful house in a beautiful location. It's her garden that features in the picture currently at the top of my blog. Her living room has large windows looking out to sea, and you could while away the hours watching the ships and the weather go by. But she admits that she hates November, when the sea is grey and the sky is grey. Meh. It's dark, it's getting darker. It's cold (although not very), it's getting colder. It's wet. I don't like it, but I'm already looking forward to December :-) Meanwhile, here's the Art of Noise.

3) My Dad is being really thoughtful with his Christmas present this year. That sounds bad. He's always really thoughtful, but this time he's going well out of his way. It's really appreciated, but it does remind me that I miss him (and the rest of my family), and wish I could manage to see them more often. No doubt it will work out. Meanwhile I'm looking for a dirt cheap holiday home to stay in in Ilkley at some point over the next year. Let me know if you've any leads (or if you fancy doing a house swap to Largs).

4) There is no point in being grumpy about doing all the laundry when you won't give anyone else a chance to do it. I need to face facts. I quite like doing it. Ironing on the other hand, is another matter. Ironing can get lost (and school uniform with it).

5) Are burglar alarms any use for catching burglars? Or do they just give potential burglars a chance to run away while all the neighbours are cursing the affected house?

6) We have a holiday weekend this weekend. I have no idea why.

That is all. My brain is now empty.  What's on your mind?

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

sewing on badges: where to put your Brownie patches

My big girl took her Brownie promise last night with a load of her friends. They got their badges, and also earned their first patch - for navigation. Top work ladies.

She rose above her brother taunting her that the promise could be summed up as 'I promise to do as I'm told, and to pretend to believe in your weird god', although he does have a point.

However, once you've got these badges you need to sew them on, and Brownies (as well as Rainbows and Guides) are a lot more laid back nowadays about where they should go, so there is no national/worldwide guidance, but my girl likes to look like her friends, so I sought some guidance about where to put the badges. In an effort to be useful, I'm sharing it with you!

badges on sash (please note, this is the wide
My daughter has a sash, so I used this image for guidance. It's from Girlguiding Stroud and Tetbury, and you'll find the source page here.

However, you can also sew badges onto the Brownies T-shirt (like her best friend's Mum has), or the hoodie. The guidance I've seen also talks about sewing badges on the gilet, but I've never seen anyone wear the gilet (and it wasn't in the shop where I bought my daughter's uniform). 

However, in case you've got a gilet, the 5th Wimborne Brownies have provided this guidance about where to sew your badges (see images below).

If you're sewing badges on to a hoodie or T-shirt, you can do it like the gilet, plus you've got the sleeves so it's not so crowded.

front of gilet. Please note that interest badges
can also be put where the rectangular badges are
on this gilet.
If you are planning to sew them onto the hoodie then bear in mind that she will be wearing it until she moves to Guides at age 10, so buy a big one (unless you fancy transferring all those badges!).

Of course, Brownies are free to do as they wish with their badges, they can keep them at home if they would rather, and it really doesn't matter where they are sewn. Have a look at what the other Brownies are wearing to see what your pack tends to do.

Similarly to Brownies, it doesn't really matter where Rainbow's badges are sewn, but the suggestion below from Ist Bretton Rainbows might be useful. If you've got a hoodie, you can follow the same pattern on that (or not).

back of gilet
By the time the girls are Guides, I do hope they'll be sewing their own badges on! The Scout and Guide Shop provides some guidance in a pdf you'll find here, but Guides can also have a look at what their friends have done in deciding where to sew their badges (themselves).

Were you a Brownie/Scout/Guide/Similar thing? I went to Guides for a while, but never did the promise because of the whole god-nonsense thing. Still, I'm glad my daughter goes to Brownies, because she loves it (although she loved Rainbows more).

Monday, 10 November 2014

in the dark

So, you probably know that it is actually a thing that as the nights get longer, people get glummer. It's not just for people with SAD, everyone gets a lower mood when we get less light.

This is probably why people have always had a big party at the darkest time of the year. You've got to mark that change, that the days are going to get longer, and you've also got to have something to cheer everyone up. Trouble is, you're celebrating in the dark, so it can get a bit stressy.

Did you know though, that rats, who are nocturnal (we're diurnal - even Goths), get more depressed when they don't get enough darkness! This is the good times for the rats, whereas in summer, they need to don their little ratty shades, and hide out in a nightclub for a while. There's a nice article on the study here.

Does the dark get you down? It does me.

Just to finish off I love it when I come to my blog and the stats are showing me a nice round number of readers, today I've reached 32,000, and I'm really grateful for that. If you like reading, then please, share share share. Now I'm off to watch Scandal.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

decorating the boy's room

So the boy has been bugging me for a while about painting his room.

He wants it lime green.


I got some paint swatches, and checked out some inspiration on Pinterest (I LOVE Pinterest), and managed to come to a compromise.

I'd paint part of his room lime green, the rest would remain white.

It took me AGES to do the painting - mainly due to ineptitude with masking tape, but it's finished today, so I made the room look as fancy as it's going to, and took some pictures.

He loves the cushions; they came off the sofa, so I feel a trip to IKEA coming on to get replacements, although IKEA doesn't seem to be doing my colour scheme at the moment, so I'll be researching cushions shortly. I may also look for a new rug. This is his old one, which is the right colours, but is football themed, and my boy hates football.

He also fancies a white stag head for the green wall. Happily his Grandad is working on that one.

Here it is, I'd love to see your recent decorating projects too:


Saturday, 8 November 2014

helping out

I have spent my Saturday evening backstage at The Wizard of Oz, looking after 10 girls and one boy while they were in the dressing room.

I am so glad it's over.

I am a firm believer that as a parent, sending my children to be looked after by other people, I should help where I can. So I help out at school occasionally, I'm on the school parent council, and when the drama club needs people to help out backstage I put my name forward. 

In all these things I am assuming (wrongly) that all the other parents who can will be doing the same.

They're not.

Tonight there was a distinct lack of parent helpers to look after the over-tired and over-stimulated hordes of children (well, they felt like hordes anyway). It seems unlikely that all these parents were too busy or had some other reason for not helping; perhaps they just thought that someone else was doing it.

Being one of those 'someone else's I'd like to ask parents who assume it's covered if they could please offer to help when they can.

It's great for the kids to get to do these big shows, but anything big like this needs more people, and if there are too many people you'll be told.

Similarly, if you can help out with nursery kids library books, it would be much appreciated, especially by your nursery child who'll be showing you off.

Right now I'm drinking wine and eating ice cream. Thank heavens that's over!

What have you been up to this Saturday night? Please make it something more exciting than me.

Friday, 7 November 2014

risking a taxi

I saw a classic scary taxi maneuver earlier today. Unsure which house he was going to, he mounted the pavement on the wrong side of the road and drove along until he found the right one!

Why is it that taxis, and some other vehicles, act like they have a pass - that the rules of polite driving do not apply to them?

Taxi drivers are not the worst culprits, don't get me started on those people who think that the yellow zig zags outside the school don't apply to them.

I hardly go in taxis these days, as evidenced by the happy, excited faces of my children on the day in the summer holidays when they begged me to get a taxi home after a long walk... I looked at the youngest's tired eyes, and thought of the whining building up, and I said 'yes'. They didn't believe me until the taxi started moving.

But once upon a time I had a busy social life, and didn't have a car, and I mainly travelled by bus, but would often make my way home at the end of the night in a taxi.

I knew people who had much scarier experiences than me, and I am thankful I never went through that. 
One night in Leeds I got in a taxi with Kenny to get home to our manky flat in Meanwood. 

We wished we'd walked.

The taxi driver was driving really erratically, while constantly talking. We asked him the usual questions about how long his shift was, and were told he had been on duty for TWO DAYS, and that we shouldn't worry because he'd taken some 'medicine' that let him stay up long enough to do this.

Oh my goodness.

The worst thing was that we'd told him where we were going when we got in, and he had retained that bit of information.

We got home, thank heavens, but we walked a lot more after that.

Any good tales to tell of your taxi experiences?

Thursday, 6 November 2014


We are missing the Largs fireworks again this year, sadly, but for a good reason.

The kids are in a show, being staged by the Largs Youth Theatre. They are munchkins in the Wizard of Oz.

They are also lots of other things, and they, along with all the other kids, and adults involved, have been working really hard getting ready.

It starts tonight.

I'm glad the kids are having fun being in the show. It's good to work as a team, and to accomplish something together. It is also good when it comes to an end, and for the boy, this is the last thing he's intending to do in drama for now. He's fed up of being outnumbered by girls, and wants to take up fencing instead. I suspect he'll be wanting to be outnumbered by girls again in a few years.

I went to drama classes when I was a child. I loved being in shows, especially those at Ilkley Playhouse where you had to audition. My favourite was Cider with Rosie, in which I played Laurie Lee's little sister. It was brilliant to get to hang out with the older kids, and I developed a massive crush on the teenage Laurie Lee (the one who drinks cider with the aforementioned Rosie), played by one of the few boys in my drama class: John Ogden.

I never realised what a Yorkshire name that was until now!

I went to drama classes with my best friend Polly, and we were the youngest in our class. Being in shows was great, but my favourite things were the games we played. There was one where we'd use the set still on the stage from a play which had finished it's run. The teacher would call out when each of four people should come on stage, and you'd need to improvise and come up with a story. A lot of them were rubbish, some were sheer comedy genius, and it was always a thrill to be waiting in the dark, about to step into the light and slot in to a story you were making up together. The one that really sticks in the memory was coming out of a door at the top of some stairs and hearing a girl already on the stage say "Oh no! My lesbian lover! Darling! You need a towel, let me get you one." I was struck dumb, but only for a moment.

We played another game wherein there would be four actors voiced by four people off stage, we four on (I only remember being on) would have to do as directed. Once I was directed to kiss Matthew Secret, which was incredibly embarrassing (especially when he ducked out of the way).

Clearly, my memories of drama group are from an older age than my children currently are, but even if they stop now, I'm sure it is beneficial. It's so important to be able to stand up in front of people and make yourself heard, and doing drama gives you the tools to be able to do that. It doesn't mean that it's not embarrassing, but it does mean you know you can do it.

What clubs did you do as a kid? And what did you get out of them?

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

blogging for a reason (and the reason is...)

I came across this blog post the other day on the beautifully crafted blog 'To Become Mum'. You'll find it here.

Kelly (the blogger) is talking about the reasons why she blogs. She talks about wanting to save her memories, and of using her blog to express herself, as well as getting support from the blogging community.

Kelly and I don't have the same experience of blogging.

I'm not doing this to save my memories. I am a Mummy, and a blogger, and I have no objection to being called a Mummy blogger, but mainly I'm just a person who loves to write.

And write.

And write.

Sometimes I over-share, but I'm not going to write like no-one is reading, because someone is reading, and I don't see the point in retching up my innermost feelings either for people's entertainment or because I would just hurt people. People I don't want to hurt.

When I have been more open, I have had lots of kind thoughts. Lots of helpful suggestions. I appreciate those, I really do. But mostly I just feel horrified at what I have told everyone. Mostly I wish people would just ignore me and move on. Is that terribly British of me? 

I don't know.

So, why do I blog?

  • To keep pouring out the ideas that pop into my head. Some of them might even be useful.
  • To be useful, interesting. Something like that. I want people to want to read. 
  • To practice writing, and try new things.
  • Because writing helps me feel like me.
  • And lastly, stupidly, because I feel guilty if I don't.
What about you? If you blog, why do you do it? And if not, then why do you do the thing that you do?

Tuesday, 4 November 2014


I heard this the other day, and I found it really inspirational. 

I said it to my son today, when he was stressing about doing his homework.

He looked at me like I was an idiot. Of course done isn't better than good when it comes to homework. He wants to impress the teacher (and that's great, but done is better than not done).

For me it's all about being willing to take the first step, to create the first draft, to try a new thing. Rather than worrying that I won't be good enough at something, it's about having a go. It might be rubbish.

That's OK.

So maybe done is better than good, sometimes. And once its done, it can surely get better.

Monday, 3 November 2014

missing home

Thanks to my lovely sister, for
this picture of her, my
brother, and me.
I was bimbling along fine, and then it hit me. I miss home. 

I think it was a combination of things. 

I had a birthday, and celebrated it with my in-laws.

My Mum had a birthday, and we couldn't travel down for the night to celebrate it with her (it's about 5 hours each way), but I saw my sibling's pictures on Facebook, and it looked fab. Happy birthday Mum.

I went out with friends to a fashion show. It was fun, and I really like my new friends, but they're new friends, and we were surrounded by women who were hanging out with their sisters, and their friends that they went to school with. They had that easy, teasing, camaraderie.

That's what I miss.

Here nobody knows me as anything but my children's Mum, and that's a fine thing to be, but I wish that we had more that we had shared. Sometimes, if I've had a couple of drinks I start rabbiting on about my past, and it's really because I want to let them in, but of course, they weren't there, and my telling them is just stories.

It would be nice if I had fallen in love with a local boy and settled down, but then I wouldn't have lived in the places I've lived and met the people I've met. I'm glad I've done what I've done.

But I don't feel like I've engaged with Largs yet. I feel I'm paddling in the shallows. 

And today I'm sad.

But it will get better. And that starts with coffee with a friend this afternoon.

I'd best get ready.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

enjoying the silence

Anyone else got a Depeche Mode song in their heads right now?

This picture has nothing to do with this blog post. But it's so pretty, I just like to look at it.

Taken in Pitlochry, from the Hydroelectric Dam, by the way.

I dropped my 'phone into water this morning.

It's rather nerve-wracking. My tablet was nowhere to be seen (I'll find it shortly), so I had no means of finding out what to do! Obviously I fished it out straight away, but after that, all I could think of was to get it dry. Quick. And not to press any buttons.

Turns out that was the right thing to do. Although we did use a hairdryer on it, and that's the wrong thing to do, because it pushes the water in.

For future reference, what you do is take it out. Dry it. Take it to bits (get that battery out if it's not built in), and hoover it for about 20 minutes. That should pull most of the water out. After that, put it in a container with some dessicant (eg. dry rice), and cross your fingers. You can get much better instructions here.

I'm at the crossing fingers stage, and it's odd, because I am still automatically doing the things I do, to listen to the things I listen to all day. Every time I go to connect my 'phone to the bluetooth radio in the kitchen, or to physically connect it to the stereo in the bedroom, I'm reminded it's not there, and that I'm so used to listening to my podcasts, and my music (on my 'phone) that I'm a bit lost without it.

So, I'm enjoying the silence. Well, as silent as you can get with three children in the house.

It's actually quite nice, and it feels a little calmer. I'd like to say I'd build a little more silence into my life, but if that 'phone comes out alive, I will only commit to enjoying more silence near water.

Fingers crossed.

What do you listen to all day?

Saturday, 1 November 2014

introducing No[edit]vember

When you've got small children things change all the time. 

My children are getting bigger and bigger, and my youngest is at nursery now in the mornings, but this school year she has dropped her nap!

It's horrible.

During the morning, while she's at nursery, I do housework, shopping, meal preparation, and a little bit of writing, when possible. But it's only a little bit, and now I'm onto the second draft of my book, I'm finding I really need to submerge myself in it, and I can't.

It used to be that I could do a little bit more in the afternoon, while she slept. But she doesn't sleep anymore (except when I pick the big kids up from school, for half an hour sometimes), and I CAN'T GET ANYTHING DONE!

It's getting to me.

I'm feeling like I'm a bad writer because I can't concentrate, and I'm feeling like a bad Mum, because she is a cranky pants in the afternoon, and she won't go to many clubs, so I end up having to engage with boring games with her, and I want to have fun with her, but nobody is fun when they're tired.


So, instead of feeling frustrated at all the writing I'm not doing, I've been telling myself that I've only got the rest of this academic year with the little girl at home. I should stop stressing about what I'm not getting done, and enjoy the time we have.

But then it was November, and I was thinking of the 25,000 words I got written of the book in November last year, when I took part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and now I'm feeling bad again.

Truth be told, editing is necessary. First drafts are rubbish, and editing is how you make it gorgeous. However, creativity flows much better when editing isn't on your mind, so I've decided to post once a day during No[edit]vember. I shan't be editing the blog posts. 

They may not be good. They may not be long. They may not be coherent. But they will be there.

I was repeatedly told as a kid that I am rubbish at drawing. It is probably true. However, that doesn't mean I shouldn't do it. I'm hoping that pushing myself to accept mistakes, and messiness, will help me feel creative, and help get me through this frustrating hump.

Care to join me?  The rules are thus:

  • You post once a day
  • You do not edit
  • You can post musings, fiction, poetry, non-fiction, whatever.
  • You can also post photos or art work. Whatever.
  • If you're joining in, please put a link to your blog in the comments.