Attempting to make it as a writer

Archive for October, 2012

Tomato Pasta

This is such a great dish for the family.   It uses up all the old veg that didn’t quite make it into something else.  It is packed with vegetables including the ones no-one likes and the children love it.  How better to sneak some good wholesome food onto their table.


Oil – just a dash
Vegetables chopped to smallish sizes – celery, leek, carrot, pieces of squash, courgettes, whatever you have in the fridge.  Not too much of anyone thing
Tinned Tomatoes –  the plum ones are good for this (2 tins at least for  people)
Dash of Red Wine Vinegar 
Generous spoonful of Brown Sugar

Heat the oil and begin by gently frying the onions and veg such as celery or leek.

Add the other vegetables, toss together

Throw in the tomatoes, they can stay whole for the moment.

Add the red vine vinegar, you only need a little. Then sprinkle liberally with the brown sugar.  This gives a slightly sharp tang then sweetens it which makes it appealing to the children.

Bring it to the boil and leave to simmer so that all the vegetables are cooked through.    If you are adding spinach, kale or other green leaves that do not need much cooking add them at the end just before you puree the mix.
When the root vegetable are softened, but still remain firm add the green veg and then liquidise.  This should be fairly roughly done so there are a few bits of crunch left in the sauce.   I blitz quickly once and then leave.

Serve immediately with fresh or dried pasta and plenty of hard grated cheese.   A chunky fresh bread also goes well with this.  

This is so difficult to replicate as the ingredients change each time; sometimes I add a few fresh herbs or even dried.   The delight is seeing them polish of the plates no matter what is in the pot and they think it is just tomato sauce.   I have added ginger and garlic as well to give it a little more umph.  I should rename it “Mothers Prayer Answered” with all the disguised goodness in there.  It is quick and so easy.



Find out what I am up to in my other blog  Dawn Chorus

Preserving Innocence

“Good afternoon this is the school, I am a year six pupil how may I help you?”   I heard Mini Son answer assuredly.  He took a very important message and wrote it on a sheet of paper I had placed strategically in front of him, then; probably as I was around he gave it to me.

Full of pride I watched my baby now looking after the school office at lunchtimes.    A responsibility all year six children take on for a week at a time.  It gives them a significant role and allows the poor office staff a quick half hour to grab some food.   The children are unknowingly supervised from the staffroom and have training from the previous week’s monitors.

Standing at the counter was a small boy crying hysterically with two children either side of him.

“Jimmy fell over and hurt his head”

Calmly and confidently Mini Son took the boy into the medical room, asked him where it hurt and what happened.  Reassuring the lad he went across to the kitchen to get a cold pack.   His co-year six helper Olivia checked the first aid rota and went to call the staff member on duty.

Olivia returned to tell me the teacher on duty was dealing with a child and who should she call.  Although officially I had already finished for the day, I stepped in to sort Jimmy and the bumped head.   Mini Son already in control had the cold pack round the sore head and was chatting animatedly to a now laughing Jimmy.

We do have a strong first aid procedure in school and had the child been seriously hurt a teacher or mid-day assistant would have brought him in.    Sending him with friends was a code to the inside staff; he was hurt but TLC was required more than anything, a commodity Midday Assistants could not currently afford whilst watching the other 203 children playing.   Staff, also know; inside I have magic wipes to wipe all the pain away.   Opening slowly we can watch the enchantment captivating the sad faces as it starts to work its magic on their tiny cuts and bumps.  I have my big brave stickers for all those brave little soldiers who have need of my medical room and leave without their heads or limbs falling apart.  It is often just a mother’s kiss and rub they need but all we can lavish is attention to focus on them being special rather than the hurt.

It was later in the week that I was dealing with a lady on the phone who again had been passed to me following her initial enquiry at lunchtime.

“I have to just tell you that the boy who dealt with me before was so efficient and good.   He said he was year six but I expect he meant 6th form did he, doing a YTS type thing?”

“No”, I explained our office duty role for the 10 and 11 year olds.

“Please pass on my congratulations to the teachers, he was very good”

“I will” I assured her.  My heart swelling, pushing at my tight ribcage, a warm feeling spread from within till I could feel my skin glowing.   I felt so expanded with love and pride I thought I might really burst.   Wait till I tell Sexy Sporty Dad, he will be so proud as well.

It was later that day I realised that had it been any other child in the class I would have rushed down and told their teacher, but I had taken all the glory and not passed on the message.   Slightly embarrassed I saw Mini Son’s teacher at the end of the day and passed on the caller’s message.

“I am not surprised, he is a lovely child; a very capable role model” she told me as the internal explosion erupted and tears of pure pride pressed their way out.

Unfortunately Sexy Sporty Dad is away at the moment, missed by all of us particularly me.   I know it is only short lived but I don’t actually remember us being apart for three whole nights in all our 21 years together.  Even in the confusing days of him working away before we moved to join him, he would only be gone for two nights at a time.  He returned home to a house of crises and chaos twice a week, before going back to being an important cog in his wheel of governance.

This time, left at home with my three boys to look after me it is most definitely Mini Son who is taking on the protective Alpha male role.  His love of spiders and creepy crawlies has always allowed me to depend on his Arthurian knight skills when met with a hostile eight legged enemy.  A little hug here and there to make sure I am ok.  Little jobs are being done without me even asking and his homework is not a battle of wills, he even asked if he could lay the table.

Why oh why does all this change as they go through the grumpy grunting teen years?

If only I could bottle Mini Son’s innocence and youthful willingness now.  I know like his brothers before him he will always make us proud; I also know he will go through a change and lose some of the sporadic spontaneity of his eager enthusiasm.  Before I realise it he will be coming in with



Or just a shrug with a grunt!

To encapsulate these years of growing up would be every mother’s

Preserving for Posterity


So far the only way I have found is to write the stories down in my blog.    Not all my tales will be saved but there will be a flavour of past years for me to look back on when these children of mine leave me for families of their own.

I, in my memory laden dotage can relive this passing of time and enjoy these special moments again and again and again.


Check out my cooking blog at Teatime Treats with Tiggy










Restrained Opportunity

I was not a model pupil.

Although I was not a naughty child I did not willingly fit in to the pre-formulated pathway the nuns at the convent had planned out for me.   Coming from a catholic background meant I was a “special” pupil and it was their sole purpose to convince me to follow them in to the church.  My aspirations refused to be restrained in their restrictive direction.  The nuns did have other acceptable callings for me; nursing, teaching and if all else failed housewife.

I would never take away from any of these wonderful caring and selfless vocations that take far more from a person than just intelligence.   I needed more choice and even then lacked the good grace to just conform for a peaceful life.  I was determined to leave my mark on the world.   My literacy report year in year out complained;   “She has such a vivid imagination but needs to spend less time in

such a vivid imagination

her mind and do what is asked in the question.”  I am still blessed with that wonderful imagination but now I use it creatively and one day will be awarded by seeing one of my books in print.  If the nuns were still alive now I would send them all a signed copy.  Unfortunately with no new novices joining the convent, the school closed as the nuns departed this world.

Looking back now I feel sorry for the head teacher, she tried so hard to persuade me to quash my desire to become a mechanical engineer, to keep me on the path of righteousness and steer me towards the servitude of others.    I did get away with so many rebellious defiant actions although today these would be termed as independence, initiative and inspiration.  The head did succeed in some ways; I never became an engineer.  I left school as soon as I was allowed for my own home based gap years.  Dutifully I learned to be a secretary at my mother’s insistence that I at least had something to fall back on.   Then spent a glorious year earning and spending, partying and enjoying all the freedom I then had.   Finally I did go into nursing but what the school had not prepared me for was life; real, hard and emotional life.  I didn’t stay!

Like many mothers across the country it will be another momentous heart wrenching July as my son moves schools, the preparations have already started.

We were invited to take Mini Son to an open evening at the local Top school to show him around.  Taken into the hall with hundreds of other parents, nervous 10 year olds and a few older students milling around; we were told how transition would work with his current school.  Following the initial introduction we were split into groups and two sixth formers led us around.   Unfortunately No 1 Son had too much homework to join his classmates and there was never any promise that he would have been our tour guide had he been available.

Having two boys already there we have been through this evening twice before.     There were parents of mini son’s friends who found it all new and overwhelming that their eldest would soon be moving on.    I remember the first evening we had come with No 1 to visit.  It seems only yesterday and somehow I must have missed it but he has been right the way up through the school and now settling into sixth form has his next step; university in his sights.

Standing in a neat group at the edge of the climbing wall; a teacher invited the children to step forward and have a go. A shyness that I had not seen before descended over the friends, the chatter ceased and the class mates stepped subtly behind their parents.   I pushed Mini Son forward slightly whispering that he should try.  Once he had taken the first step he was overtaken by the torrent of eager friends racing to get to the top first.

Shyness abandoned he gelled with the music teacher who was delighted when he discovered Mini Son is learning the saxophone.  Mini Son in turn was bursting with enthusiasm to find the tiny recording studio and drama theatre.    Finding his own way over to the pottery wheel he began turning it and demonstrating to the other young faces how to use it.  He has never to my knowledge used a potter’s wheel although he has made clay cups and pots at primary school.

He may not be my first but I felt that same pull of emotional heartstrings as I watched my youngest race around the complex trying his hand at setting fire to the strips of liquid soaked accelerant.  The awe erupting over his delighted face as the multi-coloured flames leapt into the air.

Moving over to the generator I watched Mini Son hold a shining silver surface.   As we watched and the other children round us began laughing his hair stood to attention mimicking the wonderfully eccentric Dr Emmett Brown from the Back to the Future series.   Still mad professor like he was guided to a pile of tiny screwed up paper balls the size of peas, which I had assumed were bits of paper bored pupils had played with instead of listening. As the now excitable group round him watched; the paper balls began juggling around and leaping up towards his extended hand.

I have no worries about him fitting in and loving the facilities available to him as he completes this momentous year of transition.  It will be me that will find it hard to say goodbye to primary schooling after 12 years.  Letting go and allowing him to take his own faltering steps into this wide world.  I know the school will equip him better to deal with the future than mine did.

Looking back at my schooling maybe school and I might have not have had such an antagonistic relationship if there had been a few more facilities to stretch my creative imagination.  Where would I be today with my independence encouraged, my initiative rewarded and my inspiration fuelled?


Check out my cooking blog at

she has too vivid an imagination

Teatime Treats with Tiggy

Baked Jackets

This is a very popular way of serving Jacket Potatoes.  It does need a bit of pre-planning but if you prepare this earlier in the day it becomes a fabulous food to have following a cold damp bonfire party maybe after a bowl of steaming soup.


Large Baking Potatoes – 1 per person
Onion chopped
Bacon Lardons
Mixed Herbs
Dash of Olive Oil
Dash of milk
Cheese grated – I use cheddar

Prick the potatoes and bake in a hot oven  for a good hour.

Towards the end of Baking, heat the oil in a small pan and fry the onions adding the bacon lardons.  

Add mixed herbs and cook well until the bacon is beginning to crisp.

Remove the potatoes from oven and  while still hot cut in half and empty shells into a large mixing bowl.

Add the butter and milk to mash the potatoes.

Then mix the bacon into the mashed potato.   Add half the grated cheese.

Return the potato mix back to the empty shells and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

These can then be left until about 20 minutes before you are ready to eat when they need to go into a pre-heated cooker.  

Take out and serve piping hot with baked beans, salad or other vegetables.   They are very filling and very popular.

I have done this with mackerel fillets, leeks and feta cheese but there are so many combinations you could come up with.  Let me know which one goes down best in your household.


Find out what I am up to in my other blog

Seize Your Moment

It has been a week of mixed emotions this week.  A very wonderful lady sadly passed away suddenly the other day.   Karen had been an important part of my childhood and that of my siblings.   She was a very close friend of my parents; her family and ours intertwined at many levels.

I remember a lot about the years I knew her well but she held a particularly special place in my heart because of her nails.     I was never the prettiest child in the school.  Permanently overweight despite all the sport and exercise I took part in; I lolloped around Miranda like desperately wanting to be included in the talk about boys and dates. When it came to sports I was a hero because of the hockey or netball goals I could score or the tennis matches I won for the school, but step out of the changing room and I was just plain Jane in the corner again.

All the other girls in the class had those long flowing locks of luxurious hair they wore loosely up framing their spotless and beautiful faces. A gracious flick and the locks cascaded down over their shoulders in rivulets of fine strawberry blond splendour. My hair sat thickly on my head with no shape whatsoever.  My mother battled daily to tame it but by mid-morning it had broken free and draped heavily across my face.  Underneath the mop I suffered the whole class’ share of spots and teenage torment.    It just was not fair.  To cap it all at 18 I went through a car windscreen and tore my face and particularly my chin to pieces hence ending the modelling career I was never meant to have.

Karen beautiful anyway never appeared anywhere without her long manicured nails looking immaculate. Her nails belied the fact that she ran a normal life of housework, motherhood, gardening and work.  In my mind she was placed on the pedestal I believed she lived on, with her long fingers reaching out to their striking tips.

Naturally with such strong hair growth I also had unbelievable fast growing nails.  Having very little to be happy with in my own person Karen taught me to paint my nails and promised that one day I too would be proud of them.    I couldn’t wait for Friday nights when I would rush in from school and lovingly paint them with the varnish she passed on.   I spent far longer learning to paint with both hands and how to lengthen the look of my short stubby fingers with gentle shades of colour than ever I spent studying history, french or geography.

Monday morning I finally found out why the compass was a necessary piece of school equipment.  It certainly never made sense in my maths class but in assembly it was a great instrument for scraping the banned colour from my digits.

Karen was right.  I love my nails now.  To break a nail is a heart stabbing infliction which can bring irrational distress and despair to my whole family.   Every three weeks I have my nails re-coloured in the latest product or developing design thanks to my wonderful friends at The Nail Workshop. The resultant effect, photographed and posted to social media advertising the methods now available to others.  Karen I know would be proud of my nails and thanks to her my self-esteem has blossomed and bloomed.

Thank You Karen!

I attended Karen’s funeral, which as you would expect was heart-rendering and desperately sad.   She had so much to live for including a 15 week old grand-daughter who she was so excited about.  It was a stroke that out of the blue struck the vibrancy and life from her.  She did not recover.

There were many people at the funeral from her many walks of life; each holding their very own special memory of how she had touched and coloured their lives.  I was struck by how much I didn’t know of her.  She was a huge part of our childhood but behind the character that we shared she had so many different lives converging together to make up this special lady.

I drove home alone with my sadness and resolved that none of us know when our time will be up; in Karen’s memory I will seize every opportunity with both hands wide open.   Maybe it was toying with this thought that I drew alongside the car that had left me standing a few moments before.   He had been stopped by traffic lights in the inside lane.  I drove up as the lights changed and with a feeling of recklessness knowing my 206 would never normally stand a chance put my foot to the ground.

I drew level as my smile began in one corner and spread across my face.  I inched forward nudging my nose ahead.  The throaty roar of decision filled the air as the bright orange Aston Martin V8 Vantage took off. I, foot to the ground could not even bask in his exhaust fumes.  I did catch him up when the road again became single tracks and we were held up by a tractor further up the queue. I no longer had the urge to pass him.   I had seized my opportunity and knew under any circumstances I was not going to get the better of him, but in that moment I had overtaken not just a car but all that was holding me back.

Like my unexpected meeting with the Aston Martin opportunities present themselves in small insignificant ways so take the plunge, pursue the prospect and perform the impossible.   I hope that when my time comes and not too quickly; those that I have touched in some way will all agree “she seized her moments and made the most of her opportunities”.

I know many of you have followed me for a while so I am pleased to report some wonderful news.   My stalker or so called neighbour has finally moved away.  The weight lifted from my shoulders is immense.  It is the little things I can delight in such as being able to park my car on my drive way again, unloading my shopping without him checking the bags, or hanging out our washing, nothing very momentous but when you are prevented from doing them, so restrictive. Who would ever believe I would relish putting rubbish in my dustbin. His parting shot to try and destroy me was discharged on the very day I came home re-energised from Karen’s celebration of her life.

He has gone and life is so much better already, I am safe and so are my children and husband.  I now have so much material for any evil protagonist I create in future novels that may or may not get written.   Now that he has moved I have heard other stories which leave a cold chill coursing through my capillaries.  I was not his only victim, in some small way he has upset a lot of locals which might explain why he felt he had to leave the town altogether and move to new area.

Seize today!


Check out my cooking blog at Teatime Treats with Tiggy

Raspberry and Toffee Pavlova

Just picking up milk for home at the supermarket and wondering what on earth to come up with for pudding after our Sunday Roast.   Middle Son being helpful added a pavlova case and toffee sauce to the basket.   I added the raspberries and cream and together we put this very quick and simple pudding on the table later that day.

Meringue Pavlova case – we used a shop bought one
Raspberries – I used frozen and defrosted them
Toffee Sauce
Whipping Cream

Place the pavlova case in a serving dish

Take out a few whole raspberries for decoration later on.   Mix the remainder of the raspberries with most of the toffee sauce.

Add the mix to the pavlova case.

Whip the cream so it stands in peaks and then cover the raspberry mix generously.

Use the saved raspberries to decorate and then dribble toffee sauce over the whole pudding.  we added a sprig of mint to finish it all off.

Enjoy, but don’t expect any left for the next meal.   This disappeared off the plates so fast with many appreciative grunts.

See how you would do this differently and let me know.

Find out what I am up to in my other blog  Tiggy Hayes

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