Attempting to make it as a writer

Archive for May, 2012

BBQ Side Salads

With this sudden onset of wonderfully sunny weather the planned roast was ditched in favour of a BBQ and I guess like me, many of you will have done the same.

I am not a great lover of BBQs because even though it seems a great idea at the time: the men of the house all stood round the barbie cooking up some grub.  In reality there is a lot of behind the scenes preparation that still has to go on.

Here I have just done some very basic side dishes that will be eaten by the children as well as the adults.   As it was just family we bought in some meat rather than marinade my own and kept it simple.

Pasta Salad – this is one my son loves and will make up for himself as just a snack.
Pasta Shapes – tricolour ones add colour to this dish or simple as I have done
Curry Powder
Paprika – it is more for decoration than taste

Cook the pasta according to packet, taking of the heat before it is fully cooked – then rinse it and leave it in cold water to cool (the water stops it from sticking together).
Meanwhile mix a good sprinkling of curry powder with a generous helping of mayonaise.  (I do this in my final serving dish so it is all coated as well and you don’t lose any)
Add the pasta and mix well.
Decorate with the paprika (just a sprinkling)  and parsley.

Potato Salad – another very popular dish among the children
Potatoes  –  I like to use new or salad ones but old can work just as well
Onions – again it is what you have, salad ones are great but red or normal work
Salad cream
Garnish with chopped mint / parsley / chives

Boil the potatoes until soft and then drain them and stand in cold water.
Chop the onions finely .
Cut the potatoes roughly and sprinkle over the onions in the serving dish.
Add a good dollop of salad cream and mix well with a knife to chop the potatoes a little more.
Sprinkle with your garnish

Tomato Salad  – there are many different versions of this available but here is mine
Tomatoes – again any variety  if you are entertaining the coloured mixed ones look great
Onions – red or normal
Oil / Vinegar Dressing – I used a simple french dressing I had made for a previous BBQ
Mint chopped to garnish

Cut the tomatoes, chop onions finely (I don’t use a whole onion here but may use two small salad onions).
As you take to table add the dressing.
Add the garnish 

Garlic Mushrooms –  my son had added mushrooms into the shopping basket in the hopes of a barbie.

Garlic – powder/ granules  works best with this recipe

Melt the butter in a pan, add a spinkling of Garlic
Add the mushrooms and cook until soggy.
Take off heat and drain (water comes out of them when cooked )
Leave to cool
Just before serving mix mayonaise with garlic, add the mushrooms and mix well.
Add the garnish.

There are so many variations on these dishes.  I change the curry powder for garlic.  You could add tomatoes, peas, sweetcorn to the pasta.   See what this inspires you to try and let me know. Please add your comments and let me know what works for you.

Take a look at my other blog –  Tiggy Hayes

Happy eating –  enjoy this sunny weather


Pay Back

Gosh! I have never really thought of myself as mixing in the low life world of gangs and criminals. In fact I am very naïve in many ways, probably not a good place to come from as a writer.   I may well have been wrong.  Part of the reason for writing the blog this week is an insurance policy in case my home is torched, or my car brakes slashed.  I actually do feel a very genuine threat to myself and my family from completely out of the blue.

As you all know I have spent time, money and effort setting up my new business for which things are appearing to go well and I have not only gained a lot of business, I also appear to have made a lot of friends who are supporting me in this venture.  I am learning about networking and mixing with wide and varied groups of business people all keen to get their company into the spotlight.

My remit and ethos is very much to the local community and to try and help the people around me survive; particularly during the present financial instability.  I have always been drawn to helping in and around the local community and this role defines my character well.  There is also an element of getting my writing name out there and I am hoping that Tiggy will be allowed to start writing in the magazine soon.

So it came as a bolt out of the blue when my neighbour turned up at his house last evening with his car plastered in cheap, tacky paper flyers advertising a website with my business name on it.

The history to this, as far as I am aware is when I brought my car back having had the name of the business emblazoned over it.  Our neighbour collared Sexy Sporty Dad and asked him what I was doing.   With pride ringing in his voice and pleasure glowing from each word he explained in detail my new business and how it would help the businesses of our town.  A perfectly friendly exchange between two adults: or so we thought.

Sexy Sporty Dad asked him last night what he was doing; as I sobbed uncontrollably in the kitchen wondering what was going on.

The neighbour informed him that he had bought all the websites so that I could not register my company and this was ‘Pay Back’.

Pay back for what asked Sexy Sporty Dad, “there will be consequences”.

That was that!

All night long I have been lying in bed contemplating what I did to him that was so bad I caused him to act so vengefully.    Knowing snippets of his claimed history I also kept getting up to check that he had not left the house to torch us as we slept in our beds.

Today has revealed new insights into the irrational behaviour of this deranged neighbour.   Apparently he registered the websites on the day after he saw my car long before he spoke to Sexy Sporty Dad.  He has spent the last two days going into all the businesses in town telling them he is launching this website and they need not pay for advertising.  He has even got hold of one of my own flyers and tried to reword my slogan.

Having calmed down from the initial shock I can see that it could work in my favour, as it will get my message out to the locality.  You pay a fortune for that kind of publicity! I also feel I have established a good and honest reputation amongst the local people. But I do hope I have done enough.

My writing has been very scarce at the moment, struggling to find inspiration particularly as this month’s homework is to write about an evil person.  I cannot get into the brain or feel that kind of venom to be able to write on this topic.   However having been introduced to the depth of depravity some people will go to hurt someone else, I may now have found the answer.  Tonight when I am lying awake trying to fathom out why someone would want to destroy me so vehemently, I need to write down my thoughts and emotions during those dark and depressing night hours.

To reassure you all; that having taken advice we have informed the police we are scared for the safety of ourselves and particularly our children. However this blog may act as an additional insurance if the unspeakable happens.

Trying to work out what is going on; I have lurched from childish prank, to complete insanity, stopping at most places in between.  I cannot understand why he is so against my business, it will not affect him in any way.  Producing a flyer and waving it in my face as a joke, although not funny I could perhaps understand.  He has gone to trouble to actually produce these flyers and deliver them to the shops and businesses of the town.  Some of whom have contacted me to ask if he was connected to me.

If I could find a reason it might help. I have, I admit, continually asked him not to spray his toxic paints when the children or I am around, a request he refuses to comply with. (See July 2011 blog – Neighbourly unease).   I would not have thought this would warrant such aggressive behaviour.

We have in the past offered him friendship, meals, help and up until this week all very amicably or so we believed.   Sexy Sporty Dad and the police believe the hatred and threat is directed at me but I worry for those around me because I do not know the scope of his savagery to bring me down.

I hope to be here next week full of news and snippets of my life.

One of the questions bothering me about my novel “Memories” was how a perfectly respectable family can suddenly find themselves immersed in something so out of their control.  Now I know real life can happen like that through no-one’s fault.  “Memories” is about an everyday family like you or me and their tale is even more believable than my neighbour losing the plot.

Happy times!


Check out my other blog on and enjoy some therapeutic chopping and stirring.




Parental Responsibility

What can you do?   Tomorrow you have a packed day full of appointments and you already know time is too precious.   Then you spend the night up with a poorly child, coughing, hot and generally not well.  You already know what the dilemma is going to be.

Working mothers struggle so much when their child is not well, commitment to employers, guilt to the child and wisdom to find the right answers.

How ill does your child have to be before you cannot chance sending them to school?  How far should you travel away from home, in case the call comes to collect?    If they are that ill can they not go shopping, in the car, to work?

Some people have the luxury of a grandparent or family member already at home with young children who depending on the illness will look after your child.   Let’s face it though where does he really want to be:  at home with mum.

These days that scenario of having family help is all too often not available.   Many grandparents are either still working themselves or too far away to be useful at times like this. Other family members fall into the same category.

My mother was nearly called upon the other morning.   The reality, however, was to get Mini Son to her for the day; I would have had to get him up, dressed and out of the house by 7 am.  We would have had an hour’s drive to her house.  I would drop and run to be back in time to take Middle Son to school and me to my appointment all for 9am.

Had any of this really been plausible, the shock to my mother of me ringing her, at what she would have considered the middle of the night may well have finished her off.  I suspect arriving on her doorstep at 8am in the morning unannounced would also have been shock enough.  Not to mention, she has tai chi or church carers lunch or was it the square coffee morning she would be going to.   There had to be a plan B.

Plan B, involved Sexy, Sporty Dad.   He could stay home and look after his offspring, nurse him through the day and tend to his various needs.   It all made perfect sense for him to take on the parental responsibility.  Sexy Sporty Dad informed me he had very important meetings all day.  I knew the kind where you drink coffee and make very important decisions.  He was obviously not going to be Plan B.

Why couldn’t I just forgo my day?  What do I do that is so important anyway?

Well the hairdresser for a start.  Not a good defence to begin with I agree.   Had I just been popping in for a trim I could have cancelled and booked again anytime; but I wasn’t.  I was down for my half yearly colour and cut, a whole three hour appointment which had been booked since the last one six months ago.     It was not something I could just move to another slot in my diary or theirs.

I had a new lead that afternoon someone I really needed to come on board with my magazine.  I had actually made the appointment to fit in with his hectic schedule.  This meeting was important not just for the immediate business it may or may not bring, but in order to avoid commercial suicide I had to turn up and be professional.

I could of course just send the poor boy to school and hope for the best.  A sudden flash rushed into my brain;  the colourant half baked with me wrapped in foils and unable to move – that was when the inevitable call would come from the school asking me to pick him up.  That left me with no illusions about him attending that morning.

There was nothing else for it, he had to stay with me.   In a perverse sort of way I was happier; while he was feeling so bunged up and miserable I could monitor his asthma and not rely on relinquishing the responsibility to others.

Mini Son did not let me down, he was so good having taken his sketch book, DS, reading book, lunch and drink.   He entertained himself drawing a bird, which then needed a background, a few other birds and ducks appeared over the pond and in the field.  He challenged himself on the DS reaching a best ever score; for him at least.  My phone disappeared from my bag and I learnt about a lot of the game apps that have mysteriously appeared on it.  Bite by small bite the lunch and juice disappeared over the morning while his reading book lay quietly unopened in his bag.

It was certainly an alien environment to him as he wandered over to show me his latest success.  Glancing around a salon full of noisy women; all at differing stages of their individual cuts, blowdrys or colours he watched fascinated.

“Mummy why have you got tin cans on your head?”

Probably not the image I really want for my readers or my potential customers, so let’s just say I came out of the salon looking a million dollars,  it nearly cost me as much.

As we left and let’s face it I did feel a million dollars so now was the time to work my charm I realised we would pass the post office as we drove home.  Well it would save getting him out again later.  I dashed in and then popped into a couple of potential clients, one wants to come on board later and one gave me his card to design an advert.   We then returned to the car, guilt now replacing the self confidence.

A builders van was parked behind me and a young man stood gathering bits from the passenger seat.  One last wave of opportunism hit me.

“Are you Clifford?”  I asked.

“No I am Tom his son”

“No problem I am….” And it was done,  another media pack and business card given out; he even looked interested and asked the right questions.

We got in the car.

“Mummy you always say ‘don’t talk to strangers’ and you didn’t even know that man.”

Van Man Danger Stranger

Touché.  To be fair, the stranger did have his name, or rather father’s name plastered all over his transit and I was in the main street very visible.  My nine year old son is right though – you should not talk to strangers.

Mini Son then had to accompany me to my afternoon meeting which after an hour I had managed to persuade the client to come on board, not this month but as a tester next month.  What a coup!

“Why did it take so long, you said it would be only 10 minutes”

He was right, most of my meetings don’t take an hour and more to the point I usually do the talking and attempt the selling.  Not this one; my client did most of the talking and finally talked himself into coming on board. Some coup!   Take note I must learn some tips from him.

Mini Son’s learning may well have been increased that day although I am not sure how many curriculum subjects we could claim to have covered.  When he is the next Lord Sugar, Vidal or has a string of Virgin companies, my guilt at dragging him round may be assuaged.

So is Mini Son going to be fit enough tomorrow?  Let me get my diary out!  I feel a duvet day coming on……. Oh lush…

Have you had the dilemma?   What did you do and how did it work out for you?  Let me know.




Check out my tea time treat this week and serve your guests a delicious pear and ginger crumble



Pear and Ginger Crumble

This weekend why not try this wonderful pear and ginger crumble for the family or if you have friends coming round.  It is easy and any crumble goes down really well.

I rarely cook puddings as none of us in the family really eat them, but I do try on a Sunday or if I am entertaining to do something.   I was given a set of terracotta stone dishes that are perfect for single portion puds or starters and so I have made these as individuals but they would work just as well in one dish.

Small piece of ginger – chopped into very small cubes
Brown sugar
Boiling water
Couple of eating apples – peeled and cored
3 large desert pears
Butter  – not straight from the fridge
Plain flour
Porridge oats

The amount of butter /flour and sugar will depend on how many you are cooking for and how much they like crumble.  In my family (2 adults, 2 teenage boys and a hungry 9 year old) they most definitely prefer crumble to the fruit so I have used 3oz of butter / sugar and 6oz flour with a large mummy sized handful of oats for crunch.

I make the ginger juice first by putting the boiling water over the ginger and brown sugar and keep boiling.   I think you are supposed to throw away the ginger and just use the juice but I add plenty of water then boil for a long while to soften the ginger.  

When most of the juice has evaporated I then add the apple first and as it softens add the pear followed by a sprinkling more of brown sugar.

Once the fruit has softened but still kept some shape take it from the heat and lay in a layer  in dishes.   Allow it to cool.

In the meantime make the crumble by mixing the butter and flour by hand.   When it resembles breadcrumbs add the sugar and stir gently by hand.   Add the handful of oats and stir again.

Top the fruit and cook in a medium oven till browned on top. 

Serve with cream, ice cream or custard then sit back and listen to their ooohs and aahhhs of  pleasure as they tuck in.

Have a go and spoil them this weekend.  Tell me how you get on 


read my trials and tribulation on my other blog at Tiggy Hayes.

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