Attempting to make it as a writer

Archive for November, 2012

Chillaxing

When asked recently what I did for leisure I had to really think.  I don’t have a leisure past time.   I dutifully watch No 1 Son or Middle Son play rugby because they want to play, not because I gain any pleasure seeing my child or anyone else’s throwing themselves at each other in a frenzy of force.   I stand and cheer on the wet soggy sidelines, jumping up and down not through emotion but cold, as Mini Son’s football team score another goal.  I meet Sexy Sporty Dad for coffee after he has completed his weekly trial of cycling.   None of these are my sporting choices.

I don’t have a leisure sport.  In the summer when all the boys traipse off to the harbour to sail the boats, I pack the picnic, I hold the ropes then I stand thigh high in cold water to launch the boats.   Later I sit lonely and lost, pretending to read, casting surreptitious looks over the horizon to check they are all safe.  I have tried pilates and power plating, I have danced through zumba and aerobics, I have swum and cycled the length of Britain, but none of these have I done for pleasure.  Exercise is good for me; they say and so I dutifully put my body through the painful experiences expecting immediate long lasting benefits.  I am still waiting .

I do however steal an hour each morning before the world has woken, for writing.  I am quite selfish with my hour and anyone daring to approach me before the hour of 7 O’clock is risking two full barrel loads of pent up missive which should by rights be making its way to the page.     I do have to admit that I am finding writing a struggle at the moment.  I am not out of ideas; quite the opposite the concepts and notions constantly head butt each other in a duelling dance around the depths of my inner cortex; but I am out of time.

A blank screen is a scary site in any scenario particularly when I claim to be a writer.   I have spent time this week creating a magazine article, running No 1 Son to and fro with his sports activities followed by an early morning meet to send him off to Barcelona with his school.   Mini Son has after school matches and a swimming gala to attend and then Middle Son requires lifts to and from his friends because the weather is just too wet.    I have prepared meals on time for everyone to eat.  I have even managed to squeeze in the odd bit of shopping, food of course, washing and general tidying.   In between times I have gone to work as well.   What I haven’t been able to find is the extra time to write for the pleasure of writing .

Stop the world I want to get off.

So I did!  I joined a group of my close friends and we took ourselves to a Spa for a complete chillax day of just laughing and enjoying each other’s company.

Six of us managed to escape our manic worlds and off we all went.  We had in common; our 16 year old sons some already turning 17 had all played youth Rugby together.  These were friends that had seen each other through our sons’ successes, battles on and off the pitch, injuries, and growing up.

For the whole day time stood still.    We talked about us, we learnt things from each other that we did not know despite knowing every breath their boys took.  We laughed like carefree children who do not have all the worries of the world upon their shoulders.  We did nothing; well that is not strictly true we did sit and float and steam but we relaxed.

Chill out at the Spa

Relaxing is not an activity I find easy to accomplish.  My life obviously allows little me time.    I have never been a good sleeper and this does not seem to get better with age.  Letting my worries and cares stay firmly at home while I go out and have fun is a difficult and unusual occurrence.  However with help from some just as busy friends we did all enjoy the day and we had fantastic fun.

I think I have found a pastime that might appeal to me.   I think I must work at taking the time out to enjoy these excursions.   The peace and slow pace has given me much to contemplate and even more ideas are sprouting through the medulla to grow into short stories, novels and articles.   The mind is clear of mundane rituals and brimming with a world of luxury and exoticism waiting to branch out and create a new sapling of creativity.

This is not a past time that will be repeated too often but one I will certainly look forward to again.  In the meantime I will rise early tomorrow and transfer all my excited threads of stories to the screen in front of me.  Who knows one day they might just be the beginnings of the next big best seller.

Stop your world for just one day and enjoy being you.

Tiggy

Check out my cooking blog at Teatime Treats with Tiggy

 

 

Caramelised Apple Pie

Sunday lunch is when I put effort into a pudding and with the wind and rain lashing down at the moment a good old fashioned warming pie goes down so well. This would make just as popular crumble but I had some puff pastry left over. 

Rather than just sprinkling with a bit of sugar I like to caramelise the sugar first then coat all apples in the mixture softening them as they absorb the sweetness.

Ingredients
Brown Sugar
dash of Water
Sprinkling of Cinnamon
Nutmeg  a good grating 
Cooking Apples
Pastry – shop bought is fine
Beaten Egg for glazing 


In a heavy pan add the brown sugar with a dash of water and put on a high heat.




Add the Cinnamon and Nutmeg and let it boil before reducing the heat.






As it reduces add the sliced apple pieces  coating them well in the syrup.

Allow apples to begin to soften 

Transfer to pie dish



Cover with pastry, allowing a few steam holes and decorate with any left over pastry.







Brush the egg wash over the pastry.  I also like to add a sprinkling of brown sugar to sweeten the pastry slightly.



Bake in a medium hot oven for 25 – 30 mins depending on your oven.  The pastry will turn a golden brown.

Serve with Custard, Cream or even Ice Cream and watch the pie disappear off the dish.  A very popular pudding in our house which I use with a crumble topping sometimes.

Enjoy and let me know what other combinations you can come up with.

Tiggy

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



Steak and Ale Pie





As the weather turns cold and the nights draw in our tastes turn to warming food from our childhoods.  What is better than a steaming hot home baked pie to cast your taste buds back to the care free days of Mother’s cooking.

This particular day I picked up some good steak and a bottle of Ale from the supermarket and the pie was gone in minutes.

Ingredients 

Steak or Stewing Beef  cut into bite size pieces 
flour 
salt and pepper
sprigs of Thyme 
onions chopped finely 
Ale 
Butter
Mushrooms
Pastry –  I cheated and used shop bought plus egg or milk for glazing



I use a new plastic bag for preparing the meat.  I find them great for marinades as well.

   
Fill the bag with a generous couple of spoons of flour – plain is good.    This is one place where I make a point of adding salt and pepper.  I also threw in a couple of Thyme sprigs to bring out the flavour of the beef.


Add the meat and toss it around well, making sure all the little mouthfuls have some flour on them.

Meanwhile in a little butter fry the onions until they are soft 



Add in the pre-floured steak and mix well.  

It becomes quite gloopy so keep stirring till the meat is lightly browned.

   
Slowly pour in the ale.  I like to use a good quality one and usually try and get a fun named one.  It is great to get more than one bottle and drink with dinner as they compliment each other well.

Let the mixture slowly come to the boil stirring often so nothing is allowed to stick to the pan base and burn.   As soon as it is bubbling turn the heat down and let it simmer for a while.  Add the mushrooms but remember to keep stirring often though.

If you feel it is too dry add a little water.  You need it to have some liquid left to cook in while in the oven.

You can leave it to cool slightly as you roll out the pastry.  This does not have to be beautifully exact; the more rustic the more it will evoke childhood memories.  

Cover the pie  and use the odd bits of pastry to decorate.   Cut a few steam holes through the pastry.  Beating the egg or using milk glaze the top of the pastry.

Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes depending on your oven. The pastry will turn a golden brown and you will see the mixture underneath bubbling and trying to break through the cover.

Serve with lots of brightly coloured vegetables and some mash potatoes.  If you wish to add a gravy keep some of the ale back and use this to enhance the flavour.

Warming and popular and you can add kidney (take out the mushrooms), try adding bacon lardons.  Change the meat to chicken and add leeks or  mushrooms again – use white wine with this.  With game dishes making a re-appearance on dinner menus try some venison or rabbit.  Let me know what you enjoy.

  

Tiggy

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

Aspiring Ambition

I do buy a lottery ticket every week, just one for Wednesday, one for Saturday and I cannot resist the Eurolottery once the jackpot reaches over 60 million and all the hype builds about the Friday night draw.  I know the odds are low, I have over the years realised that my 6 regular numbers are the worst six numbers for putting in an appearance. I also know that on the week I did miss buying a ticket or changed my numbers that is the week all 6 would come up.

The amount I have to win grows by the day; as does the list of expenses it would be needed to cover. I would go out and by my Mercedes Convertible and a proper grown up car to match Sexy Sporty Dad’s elevated position in life.  There will of course be a few nice treats and possibly a holiday for the family; the family gets bigger and wider so the more I need to win.   What about all the lovely friends who have supported me over the years and stood by me, as I have needed them.   There are of course so many people who need help out in the wider world, just last night I heard of a poor child who is in desperate need of a new experimental life-saving operation that is not done in this country but his parents have already re-mortgaged their home and have nothing left to help him.

I know that it would take a miracle for me to win and £10 is more likely to be my total winnings but I can dream can’t I as I painfully watch other numbers appear on the screen.  What if?

Miracles are not about winning the lottery though they are about real life.   They are about the creation of a tiny baby with all those fingers, toes and inner organs all working in unison to become a human being.    It is the finding of a child still protected by her dead mother amidst the devastation and carnage left by war or weather.   It is the simple act of being there for each other and giving something back in any small way that we can.

I am fast approaching a significant birthday and wondering how to celebrate it.   Actually if truth be told I wish to forget all about it and return to my heady innocence of those childhood birthdays when I spent all year waiting for them to arrive.  That is never going to happen so I need to think about what I want.

I decided,  I didn’t need a party.  I am in touch with all the people I wish to see and at a party I would be so busy seeing everyone that I could not spend any quality time with any one person.    I would consider a holiday but it is so expensive to go during the holidays and all the children are in crucial years at school that taking them out is going to be difficult.  Do you know what I would like, really like is the money towards a little sporty soft top, petrol guzzling, high insurance bracket, two seater ‘me’ car.

I have told no-one what I wanted except Sexy Sporty Dad and he agreed to help me look at a few MGfs or MX5s and guide me on what I need to be wary of.   He seemed to understand that although totally impractical I needed it now while I was young enough to enjoy it rather than when I can afford it but am too old and decrepit to get into it.  He began searching out the practicalities of the idea.

The other day he came to me and informed that I did not want an MG at all.   But I did!  No he said what you really want is what you have talked about forever and if we are going to be this impractical then we will go the whole hog, do it now and enjoy it.

 

Dreams can come True!

My lovely husband has been out and bought me my dream Mercedes and given it to me as an early birthday present.  Once he had found the right one he bought it; as the opportunity may not present itself ever again.

My children may starve or have to live off gruel again.   I may never be able to buy another ‘little black dress’ or any of the accessories.   My husband will not be able to afford that rather sleek road bike he has been eyeing in the shop window.   I however, have the most beautiful sleek shiny hard top convertible in the world.   My seats are not only leather but they heat up wrapping themselves lovingly around my body.   The roof slides gracefully down into the boot of the car at the touch of a simple button.  I truly am the luckiest person in the world.

Do you remember the classic Janis Joplin song:

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
So Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ? 

Well Janice it was Sexy Sporty Dad who listened intently over the years and answered my ambition, for which I thank him.  I don’t thank him just for the most wonderful present a girl could ever be given, but also for listening.   Not a trait I usually give him credit for as his eyes glaze over and he drawls “very good” at appropriate moments to whatever story I am droning on about.

I feel the need to go somewhere, anywhere, even just round the block.  I will be taking the car on this occasion!

 Tiggy

Check out my cooking blog at Teatime Treats with Tiggy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delegated Control

I had Pizza in the boot, well to be exact they were resting on the shelf to keep them flat.   One was Pepperoni, the other Chilli and Chorizo, they had reached their sell by date and were on offer.  Sexy Sporty Dad would finish his meeting, join us for lunch before we watch the new James Bond film.

I still had a couple of letters to write and a phone call to make, I could do that while the Pizza’s cooked.  At least the rain had stopped and it was really quite a nice day.  Jeremy Vine introduced a song I like on the radio.  So close to home, but the lights turned to red.    I was about six cars back.    I must remember to take the left over Halloween sweets and popcorn to the cinema.   A prophetic thought went through my head “thank goodness I had left the children at home.”  Shopping is always so much more expensive with the children helping.

Not far now; the lights are starting to change.

Bang!  An explosion happened with that awful after sound of crunch. My body flung forward towards the windscreen in excruciatingly slow motion as a feeling of déjà vu hit me.  It was the seat belt that stopped me this time; locking firm round my chest and tightening as my neck switched direction and I was hurled back against the head rest.

Had the world ended?   Where was I?  I could not move, I was immobilised by the safety belt; my neck hurt, the back of my head hurt and the cars had begun to move off in front of me.  I did not move, I couldn’t, my legs were fixed in place one on the brake and one on the clutch pedal. I could not send a message to them.  A moment later and I would have been accelerating!  I switched the ignition off.

I turned to see what was happening to the left but that was far too painful.  I turned to the right and that was no better.   I stayed holding my neck wondering what to do. I always have a next step, a plan b and even c is usually forming.    A tap on my window made me jolt, and grab my painful neck. I tried to turn but no, I couldn’t look to open the window, reaching tentatively I opened the door.

“I am so sorry, I just don’t know what happened” she said.

I am not sure if I knew what had happened but cars were backing up and sounding their horns.  Did they not know I was unable to move, let alone drive?

“Can you move the car round the corner?”  She asked.

Slowly I switched on again and into first gear.  Unsure whether my foot could lift off the clutch I pulled it gently.  Inch by painful inch I crawled to the lights, miraculously they were still green and I turned the corner bringing the car to a stop.

I had to move, I had to get out of the car.  My head hadn’t fallen off, after all it was just my neck that hurt and I think that was easing a little.  Opening the door again I turned my whole body and got agonisingly from the seat.    A strong wave of dizziness hit as I leant against the car and took an incredibly long breath.  I think I am going to be sick; another breath makes that subside.

Now I could see my assailant clearly.  She was tiny, even shorter than me, a little very old lady.  Old enough to be my grandmother and she had been driving a huge great Volvo, far too big for her. She had gone straight into the back of my little runabout town flimsy Peugeot 206.   She was agitated and it was time for me to snap out of this reverie and take control.    She it turned out was not hurt at all but concerned that I seemed to be in pain.   A little understated!

What are the rules about accidents, what details should we swap.  Should I use my phone camera to photograph what?  There were no skid marks, no smashed in cars, just one very old distressed lady and me, disorientated and in pain.

We did manage to exchange some details and phone numbers.  Reassured she went on her way.  I could not see any damage on her tank and there was no dent or crunch as I had expected on mine so I could drive home.

I sat gingerly back in the car but could not turn on the ignition.  I didn’t want to drive home, I hate not being in control and I had had no control over what had happened.

I sat and burst into tears.

Not knowing who to ring and guessing Sexy Sporty Dad would still be in his meeting I called No 1 Son and told him calmly and confidently I was on my way home; there had been an accident and I would need a cup of coffee when I got in.

I managed to reach second gear on the journey home.  A few well chosen expletives crossed my thoughts as I went over the speed ramps at barely a mile-an-hour but they jarred my neck and back.  The welcome coffee was waiting my arrival.  Hardly had I got in the door before the shopping unloaded the Pizza’s put in the oven.  The phone handed to me.   Sexy Sporty Dad was waiting for me to call; No 1 Son had called to tell him that everything was OK and I was on my way home but there had been a bit of a crash so I would call as soon as I got in.

Painkillers, strong caffeine followed by a hot chilli and chorizo pizza made things much better.

James Bond was suitably brilliant, with the car chases, over the top explosive fighting a beautiful Aston Martin and lots of subtle humour.  My head and neck were a little stiff and bruised but even the noise of the cinema and the angle of watching the film did not unduly bother me.

I woke next morning in acute pain.  My head screamed at me, every time I moved. I tried to lie back as the hammers inside fought to escape.  My neck and back were so stiff and painful to turn.  I needed to get up, rolling over to push my body away from the bed I stretched and unwound.  More painkillers!

“You need to see a doctor” Sexy Sporty Dad told me.

He is right, as he so often is but I didn’t really want to disturb anyone on a Saturday.   I certainly didn’t need to spend 4 hours at A&E, haven’t I spent enough time there with the children.  Anyway being a mother you don’t really have that kind of time to spare.

I took Sexy Sporty Dad’s car and drove myself slowly and gently to the local minor injuries unit.   Prodding and poking she extracted yelps of agonised pain filled cries.  Forcing my neck to turn in unnatural positions she obtained shudders, jarring and more contained expletives as I fought to bring my body back into line.

“Severe whiplash” she diagnosed.  “Go home and take a cocktail of painkillers then rest. DO NOT do anything just rest”

Huh like that is ever going to happen!

“I mean it no rushing around, no fireworks party, no housework just rest”.  Naturally I agreed, she wasn’t going to let me out without it.  “You will become stiffer over the next few days.”

Back home and a proper look at my car has revealed that the whole of the back bumper is mis-aligned, Sexy Sporty Dad has banned me from driving it until the garage OKs it.   “What if the children are in the car?  What if the chassis is damaged and you try to brake on the motorway?  What if you hit someone else and the insurance is invalidated because we didn’t tell them?  What if…..?”

I would have to tell the lady.  Maybe we just leave it and don’t go through the insurance.   Thank God the children weren’t in the car; no, we do have to get the car checked.  We have to tell her.    A bit of control back in my life, it wasn’t my fault, she didn’t plan to hit me but now I have to be firm, forceful and frank.  I delegated the job.

NANOWRIMO month is upon us again.  I have so many ideas chasing each other round in my mind but have reluctantly decided this year not to write a new novel.  I am re-writing Memories.   It has had such positive feedback from those who have read it, now I need to get it ready for publication.   Next November I will pen a new novel; or maybe Scrum Down may see the light of day again and I can get that ready for the world to read.

Keep safe!

Tiggy

Check out my cooking blog at Teatime Treats with Tiggy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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