Attempting to make it as a writer

Archive for January, 2014

Appraising the Future

I am chasing my tail at the moment.  Work is so busy having taken on an extra job to help with the spiralling increase in costs involved with growing teenagers.  I still manage to rise early and work on my writing which seems to be prolific and productive but never gets further than my computer.  

I was asked recently how I saw myself in three years’ time.

Just think in three years’ time I may be about to have a book due to be published; but I really need to do something about sending it to an agent NOW.  I might have developed my magazine and people will be reading my monthly mini blog and following my journey.  I could be a grandmother  as one of my oldest friends has just become but I hope not yet when the children are just starting out on their adult lives.  I can always hope for that elusive win on the lottery although it may be prudent to not count on this.

Number 1 Son this week chased his own dream by travelling by train half way across the country to attend an interview with his preferred university choice.  He took with him his portfolio of works to date and a sketch pad of ideas.   Suitably impressed they offered him a place conditional on getting his grades.   It is up to him now to get those grades.

Middle son also took a huge step towards his dream as he attended an interview for an apprenticeship in a kitchen working towards his goal of becoming a chef and running his own restaurant.    He too was offered the place conditionally.   If he realises the work will be long hours, hard work and in the beginning very monotonous where he will grow to hate peeling vegetables.  He will however learn the basics of the trade and on completing the apprenticeship have options available to him.  They have offered him a day each weekend from now until August when he and they can make the final commitment.   It is up to him to wow them with his culinary prowess.

Mini Son is too young to have the burden of future upon his young shoulders and is enjoying school, football and his friendships.

So where do I see myself in three years’ time?

Well if I was honest I see myself surrounded by my best sellers in my luxury office where I would go and work creatively all day producing a fabulous new best seller each month. Attending nationwide literary festivals and judging competitions in my own right.  My name however is not JK so I need to revise my expectations I think.

I am the driver in this dream and if I want the book published I need an agent.  To that end I have researched and found a list of agents who may take my novel.  I have read what they require and how to submit my manuscript.  I need to be working on my self-confidence which is a huge barrier to any self-improvement.  I know now that I need to finish that synopsis, tidy up the spelling and grammar and press the send button……

Too scary!

Or in three years’ time, I could have the same conversation and still be hoping to start the journey to publishing.

Where did I save that synopsis?


My brother may have given me a dose of unexpected self-confidence when for my recent birthday he presented me with a self-published (by him) copy of my first years’ worth of blogs.  It does not come under the genre of novel but Tiggy Hayes has a book out; albeit a single copy currently.  It is mine and my work and could be all the confidence I need to press that button.  Dawn Chorus Volume 1, 2011 by Tiggy Hayes.   Currently I do not know if there is a way to get a copy I think it would be print on demand but will update this blog if I can get any details.

In Print

In Print


Have a look at what I am up to with my food blog at

Stuffed Avocado

Avocados are such a strange ingredient – I often buy them when they are on offer and they sit in the fridge never actually getting used.   That is exactly how this dish was created.  We were looking for something to use up what I had in the cupboard and initially I threw this together.  Although we have now had it a few times, having bought the ingredients or saved them on purpose.

So what did I have in my fridge:

2 Avocados
1/2 a large aubergine chopped to bite sized chunks
chilli  chopped finely 
onions chopped finely
garlic chopped finely
red pepper chopped in to slices

Fry the onions and as they soften add the garlic and chilli

Add in the aubergines and maybe a touch more oil followed by the peppers.  Allow all the vegetables to cook through particularly the aubergines.

Mean while  cut the avocados in half and take out the stone.  Place on a baking tray.

When the stirred vegetables are ready, fill the avocados with the mix and sprinkle liberally with cheese.  I used cheddar but stilton would go well with its strong taste.  Feta or even parmisan would both be good. 

Cook for about 20 minutes in a hot oven – if you cook straight from the preparation you could grill these but I prefer the Avocados to be piping hot all the way through.   

Bring to the table and serve.  We eat this as a complete meal; two half avocados each with a watercress salad.  You could serve just one as a starter or even as an accompaniment to cold meats and pickle.

Try it with your cupboard ingredients and see how it turns out like.



see what I have been up to on my other blog Tiggy Hayes

A Large Piece of History


As anyone with a year 7 child will know or anyone with older children who have been through year 7 at the local school, the history teachers like to challenge the parents of their new intake.

It was the turn of Mini Son and being the third we should have this off to perfection now.      Over the Christmas holidays as if we did not have other things to be getting on with Min Son was set the task of creating a castle.

Having created two previous versions which had been greeted with good marks and pleasant comments from the teachers, Sexy Sporty Dad wanted to change tack.    He and Mini Son plotted together to build the most wonderful gingerbread castle.   They spent time assessing, quantifying and evaluating the task ahead.  I found them looking through my recipe books, researching on the internet and discussing the project ahead.

Finally with a week to go and all the discussions, research and searches complete they came to the conclusion as neither knew how to cook gingerbread it might be better to go back to tried and tested papier-mâché method.

With older siblings to impress, measure up to and outdo, a glut of cardboard from Christmas and some serious parental patience it began.   Glue, scissors, paper and card strewn all over the kitchen floor as the creation manifested itself, rising from the ground a lot quicker than the original castle being copied.   The following day the papier-mâché was applied having been on a reconnaissance recovery route march to retrieve substitute newspapers. We had thoughtfully taken all ours to the tip as they built their own fortress round us.

For safety reasons we moved the construction site to the kitchen table where cats could not play with it so easily, it could not be kicked or stood on and we had somewhere to walk.  The base hung over the side of the table and the monument took up all my preparation space relegating me to the already overcrowded cupboard tops.    The castle took shape and developed as the papier-mâché dried out and it only needed painting and bringing to life.

I was duly informed that as I had not made it I would need to help paint it.    I had nothing to do this week, I who was still working had to realise my work was not as important as this, looking after the children during their holidays was irrelevant in comparison, it was my turn; hadn’t I got out of the other two.   Well actually no but we probably only remember the bits we did and not all the extra put in when no-one else was around.

DSC_0003Amazingly it was painted in short bursts by Mini Son who was by now thoroughly bored with the whole project and desperate to play with his new toys and see his friends.  I imagine our wonderful kitchen pixie did the rest unseen by the rest of the world; each day as I passed by a new coat was added to the newly dried structure giving it more resemblance to the finished concept.  I am sure I will get no acknowledgment of the wonderful support and help given to our son.

The castle was finished; it stood proud and indefensible on my kitchen table.  The school expected it in as soon as they went back to school.   Suddenly a new challenge was upon us.  The weather has not been kind and these few mornings it has been lashing down.   Just the idea of the wet soggy mess that would be if he walked to school left me horror struck.  Not to mention the fact it actually took two people to carry the monster.  How were we ever going to get it to school?

I did relent and agree to take them into school with it, but it would not fit in my car.  It was left to Sexy Sporty Dad to drive them in, No 1 Son kindly helped to load it and DSC_0014to take it to the classroom for him after they had battled to negotiate passing through doors.  It had to be gently turned on its side and edged through as the tower was delicate and tall.

With delight Mini Son informed us that the teacher was pleased and he had received two credits for his and our efforts.  They were sure it was the biggest castle they had ever received in and stood out compared to all the gingerbread versions that had all arrived.

I am thankful that little task is complete but wonder how much marital strife it will have caused in other families where emotions are running high at this time of year anyway.   A plea to year 7 history teachers:  “How about a beautiful picture with a half page description taken from the internet in the future”!

Mini Son came home last night; the teachers need the castles removed as they take up so much room in the history department.


Have a look at what I am up to with my food blog at

Tip of the Week – Mashing Swede

Swede is definitely a winter vegetable but I used to find it went all mushy and no matter how well I tried to drain it, water still remained.

It is such a simple trick but add a potato to the diced swede before boiling.   Something in the starch will soak up the water and your swede is nice and firm to eat.


Check out my other blog on Tiggy Hayes


It has been a frenzy; this last few weeks; the preparations, the fever pitch of heightened expectation and the exhaustion of getting through this long drawn out term.

We began with a birthday at the beginning of December not any old birthday.  No 1 son became an adult when he finally reached 18.  I say finally it was for him.  For Sexy Sporty Dad and me it seems only a moment ago that our tiny little baby arrived, crying, cuddly and the centre of attention.  Maybe not so much has changed.

The plans had taken months of discussion and careful scrutiny by us not him, to decide and in the end it was a last minute thing nearly marred by the school having their parents evening on that very day.   The “inbetweeners” lads holiday to Ibiza or Ayia Napa was discussed but the middle of December does not have the same sunny ring to it.  We looked into a party but the cost of hosting it was prohibitive as the venue of choice was No 1 Son’s work place.  I had a plan to work around if he was set on that.  However the amount of people needed to fill the venue was more than he knew and even with my combined suggestion all the friends joined, together still would not have enough family and friends to fill it.

Late on in the year he decided on a meal but the whereabouts changed by the week until he announced a month before his birthday that he would just like to go to the pub with a couple of friends.   The choice of bar was difficult to choose,  he wasn’t used to arranging for his friends to do things so the week of his birthday he told us he would leave it and just have a drink at home with a nice meal.

I arranged a meal out with family and his close friends where he and his friends could enjoy the freedom of ordering alcohol from the bar.  A simple gesture but it opened a world of independence for them.  They began sampling beers, a few differing varieties.  Trying names rather than tastes, in a few months with a few sore heads firmly tucked in their belts they will find their own tastes.

A wonderful meal came with bottles of wine as part of the deal.  By this stage the boys were relaxed enough to make sure they shared the bottles on their table, all sampling the delights of both red and white.

Only once did I venture the information that you should really only stick to one drink be it wine or beer but not mix grape and grain.  A lesson to be learnt in the future I feel. They were uninterested and past any sense of caring.

no1 birthday cakeAfter the meal and the ceremonial cutting of the cake No 1 Son made his first eloquent speech.   Put slightly on the spot he rose to the occasion well and preceded his friend Stuart who we were also celebrating with.

The boys returned to the bar to try the next concoction on their “to try list”.   They bought rounds between them with the level of hilarity rising.  Middle son sat brooding in the corner not so content to be bought diet coke or lemonade by us while the older boys drank becoming louder and more uninhibited.

I being designated driver began my first of many trips to drop off guests returning after the last trip to find the final hardened group of 18 year olds pints in hand and waiting for the jager bomb  experience  they had been promised by the bar staff.  They no longer drink the Bacardi or Malibu with coke, or a simple mix of cinzano & lemonade I remember from my late teens, kids these days seem to sample a much more scientific cocktail. Now they enjoy a lethal cocktail of high energy drink with a shot glass of Jagermeister dropped into the larger glass.  I do mean dropped.  There are the theatrics and whole drama as you drop the tiny shot glass into your half full pint glass.  Then you knock it back in one.

A rush of sensations crash into the body as the caffeine of the energy drink explodes over the eruption of the hot fiery jager liquid in a volcanic upsurge

a crash of conflicting sensations

Jager Bomb!

of contradictory waves of feel good and alcoholic depression.

I managed to load my car one final time with those boys coming home with us and some being dropped on the way.

For No 1 Son the day had been a very long one.   A few of us also had spent many hours rushing to get the whole day perfect.   As his birthday finished and the new one began I was awakened by the hilarity still continuing downstairs.   I came down and found them in a resurrection of heightened emotion enjoying yet another bottle of wine, a present from someone.   I firmly suggested water and sent them to bed.

The following morning it was Middle Son rising early full of beans while a dribble of sore heads appeared not so sure the freedom of buying alcohol was such a great idea.    The lack of funds left in their wallets was also a stark reminder that although they may be old enough to drink they need to be able to afford it and learn to control it and not mix.

I am glad that No 1 Son allowed Sexy Sporty Dad and I to be at his adult initiation ceremony, where we could give him the freedom but still watch over  his exploration into being a grown up.   I hope this is not a template for the future but a celebratory step along the way to being a responsible adult.   Maybe he is not so independent yet as he may think and I will still have a part to play in his world for a while longer.


Have a look at what I am up to with my food blog at Tea Time Treats 

Tag Cloud