Quirky Tales Banner

Saturday 31 December 2011

New Year Already!

Well, I think I must have blinked, because after all the build up, the preparation, the stress of present buying, the anticipation of a certain rather special person coming home, it's all over. Every year the Christmas holiday seems to go faster!
And now, here we are, the old year ending, 2012 waiting in the wings. The beautiful calendar handmade for us by the aforementioned special person has been carefully filled out in my best hand writing, the stock of wrapping paper replenished from the sales - yes I know, I'm a cheapskate, but it all ends up in the bin anyway - and the news bulletins are filled with nothing but the New Year's honours list and recollections of 2011.
Now I'm going to have to remember how to plan proper meals again. Going to bed the same day I wake up would probably help in this pursuit, but it's depressing to think that we shall soon be back in our normal workaday routine. Perhaps 2012 will bring that lucrative publishing contract, or a win on the Premium Bonds, or ...
Hey ho! Wishing you all a very Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Friday 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas

The trip to the supermarket for those last minute items this morning was interesting. We weren't exactly late getting there, but we knew we were in for it when we struggled to find a space in the most distant car park. The cheese aisle was a log jam of piled-high trolleys and angry looking men who couldn't find a wedge of Stilton for love nor money. The two women having an in depth discussion about the correct cheeses for fondue didn't help either. 
It was a relief to trudge out with our straining bags, until we tried to join the queue of traffic doing battle with the two inconveniently parked car transporters. We don't need speed humps around our way. The local car dealers are supremely efficient at grinding the traffic to a halt.
Anyway, that's all done now, time to mull the wine and break the seal on the tin of chocolates. Oh, and if Santa is still uncertain what to put under my tree this year, here's a little clue:
Merry Christmas everyone.

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Special Delivery!

It's a busy time for delivery workers. We were discussing that fact only this morning as we watched one delivery guy, left with no choice but to park his van on double yellows, take a perilous dash across a busy road to deliver a parcel. It's not a job I'd want at the best of times, but trying to battle across town through the Christmas traffic to deliver my husband to his work's do was stressful enough. They're battling with it all day, every day.
One YouTube hit has shown one guy's unique solution to the frustrations of his job, providing clear footage of him lobbing a Samsung monitor over the unsuspecting customer's gates. I'm not sure if he still has a job, but I suspect he may have faced an interesting conversation with his line manager:

Monday 19 December 2011

The Magic of TV?

Jeremy Paxman is a serious sort of chap, so I'm not really surprised by the news story today that he refuses to have any Christmas decorations on the set of Newsnight. Besides, it's probably tricky to conduct a barb-laden interview with a slippery politician with Christmas lights merrily flashing by your side. What did surprise me was the revelation that Newsnight is recorded in the same studio as Breakfast. It's completely ruined my idea that TV studios were strange magical little boxes created specifically for individual shows. It's rather disappointing to think that they all share the same space, just shifting the furniture around and changing the backdrop to give the illusion of a different show.
Next thing you know they'll be telling me Father Christmas is really my Dad!

Wednesday 14 December 2011

The Journey Home

There's a new story up on Quirky Tales today. It was inspired by the thought of people journeying home for Christmas, but it turned out rather differently! It became the story of an abused and abandoned pet. Of course, there's a happy ending - can't have a sad one at Christmas! If you fancy a look, here's the link:
Hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Post Office Queues and Giant Tetris

Our hearts sank to our boots when we saw the queue in the Post Office. It snaked back beyond the theme park style metal barrier funnel, past the travel guide aisle, into the seasonal biography releases of people no-one has heard of. We looked down at the small envelope that was the sum total of our business and sighed in resignation. We would have to queue, we needed proof of postage.
That was when we spotted the man in front of us trying to wrestle too many presents into a large brown jiffy bag. It was like watching a giant game of Tetris. We found ourselves making suggestions and groaning in sympathy as each new attempt failed. He took a wry look at the long queue and noted that he at least had plenty of time to find the solution. The parcels were wedged in, removed, gathered up by others in the queue and handed back, ready for the next go.
Finally, with the watching crowd cheering heartily, he managed to fit them all in. With a little help, he sealed the envelope and borrowed my pen to scrawl the address on the front. Next year, he said, he would get all the items delivered direct and spare himself the trouble.
It was certainly an entertaining way to pass the time. And all around us similar scenes were being enacted. People even had coloured paper, sellotape, tags etc. and were industriously wrapping presents as they waited, usually with the assistance of the other customers around them. Despite the long wait, everyone was happy, helping each other, laughing and joking. Kind of reminds you what it's all about really!

Friday 9 December 2011

All They Want for Christmas

The story popping up everywhere at the moment is the 'All I Want For Christmas' video performed by the crew of HMS Ocean. It's so good that even Mariah Carey has said she thinks it's great!
I suspect there could be stage careers waiting for them when they leave the Navy.
Here's wishing all those serving in the armed forces a safe and Merry Christmas.

Thursday 8 December 2011

Mythbusters' Bouncing Bomb

For those who don't know, Mythbusters is an American programme that takes common myths and attempts to scientifically prove or disprove them. It's an interesting and funny programme, that frequently leads to the lament 'Why can't I have a job like that?' A typical approach to their work involves the use of explosives, usually with spectacular results.
Unfortunately, whilst filming yesterday, something went a little wrong and a cannonball bounced its way out of the bomb range at speed, through someone's front door, clean through their house, and the back wall, before coming to rest inside a minvan parked outside.
What tickled me was that the occupants didn't wake up until the drywall started settling on top of them!

Wednesday 7 December 2011

A Rain of Bears

I may be risking scorn and derision here, but I love teddy bears. I know, they aren't real, they can't hear what you say and they couldn't give their own stuffing whether you cuddle them or not, but there's something reassuring about a soft, cute teddy bear.
As part of an annual ice hockey tradition, the Calgary Hitmen invite their fans to bring along a teddy bear to donate to good causes. The teddy bears are thrown onto the ice after the first goal is scored, then swept up and taken away to local hospitals - presumably to the emergency room as I saw several undergo traumatic bounces on the way down, not to mention ice-induced injuries once they landed.
It looks great, but if I were to take part, I would have to elbow my way to the front and carefully drop my teddy over the side or, if I couldn't afford a ring side seat, at least provide him with a parachute. After all, teddy bears are people too!

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Do Something Amazing

I came across a story on the BBC News website today about a woman who haemorrhaged three times her body's volume after giving birth to her daughter in 2009. She has come forward now to remind people of the importance of donating blood and to pay tribute to the 88 donors to whom she owes her life.
If you want more information about becoming a blood donor, or where you can go to donate, this is the link for the blood donor service:
or for Scotland:

Monday 5 December 2011

Humbugs, Tat and Sensory Overload

I have reached that point I arrive at each year where I decide, quite firmly, that Christmas shopping shall forever more be done online. And yet every year I make a mad foray into town and run the gauntlet of screaming children, quarrelling couples, and those people who seem to feel that progress is best made by charging full pelt into as many people as possible.
Add to that the constant assault of tannoy announcements proclaiming that this shop's special offers are by far the specialist offers in town, intermingling with truly awful music and the background hum of overworked air conditioning systems and you have a cocktail of sensory violence designed to test even the most determinedly cheerful of shoppers.
And then there's the usual seasonal tat that gets rolled out year after year. I have no idea why anyone would pay £15 for a penguin slide, optimistically named a penguin race. I watched for several minutes and I didn't see any overtaking! Then there are the miniature bottles of plonk with a branded glass, yours for £8, just don't work out the actual price per ml of alcohol, or you'll need to break the bottle open just to calm your nerves!
Bah humbug! Now I've become a seasonal grump!
I've always loved Christmas, but I suspect the only way to preserve that love may be to avoid shops for the duration.
P.S. No penguins (plastic or otherwise) were harmed in the making of this post.

Friday 2 December 2011

2012, A Case of Misinterpretation

It was with some relief that I read that the world is not now expected to end next year. According to the German expert who has been studying the Mayan tablet believed to have pegged 2012 as the end, it was simply misinterpreted. Phew! Suppose we'd better pay the mortgage after all then. Although, with the deepening financial crisis, the volcano in Iceland (whose name I can't say, let alone spell) getting ready to go kablouey again, droughts in England, and the on-going Arab Spring, I'm beginning to wonder if the Mayan's didn't know a thing or two about predictions. Maybe they trained the toads who, it has been suggested, could be used to predict earthquakes.
The world might not be about to end, but it's certainly getting stranger!

Thursday 1 December 2011

'Tis the Season to Get Writing

The Advent Calendar awaited us this morning. After a diplomatic discussion it was decided that I would open the odd numbered windows and my other half would open the evens. Of course, that didn't stop him dashing over, still clutching his bowl of Alpen, to peer over my shoulder as I wrestled the window open. Who said Christmas was just for children? Hidden behind number one was a bauble, perhaps not the most exciting Christmassy thing, but we don't want to peak too soon!
Staring longingly at the calendar yesterday prompted another story. It's called 'The Advent Calendar', and it's about an angel, Joseph, a naughty snowman and assorted others preparing for the festive season. If you fancy a look, here's the link:
Hope it makes you smile. Happy Advent!

Man's Best Friend?

I was moved to giggles by a story on the Telegraph's website today. The link rather tells the story, but basically, a man was out duck shooting when his dog got excited and stood on his shotgun, resulting in the gun firing and the man requiring medical treatment to remove 27 pellets of duckshot from his backside.
You know how ducks always sound like they're laughing? ......

Wednesday 30 November 2011

New Christmas Story

I visited the garden centre yesterday and went goggly eyed over the decorations. I came away with a rather festive advent calendar and am beginning to feel just a little more Christmassy, so this story is probably a reflection of that.
It's the story of a little girl soaking up the Christmas sights, smells and sounds on a shopping trip with her mother. If you'd like to take a look, here's the link:
Hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Publishing and E-Publishing

E-publishing is the huge news of the moment. Amazon's Kindle is probably the dominant force in the market, and offers what is becoming an increasingly viable alternative route for authors who cannot find a way through the firmly closed doors of the traditional publishers.
A visit to most of the big publishers' websites, and even a depressingly large number of agents, will reveal there are a vanishingly small number of opportunities for the debut. A deluge of rejections has always been viewed as a rite of passage for new authors, but the message coming from the industry nowadays is almost 'don't even bother'. Dispiriting indeed.
I have a raft of material just sitting in my computer, not being read, gathering digital dust. I don't expect to be the next J.K.Rowling, but I would like some readers. I'm beginning to seriously consider taking the e-pub route. Sadly, that mental image I have nursed since early childhood of my story on a shelf in the bookshop may have to undergo some adjustment.

News Archives

A new project has gone live today providing an online archive of British newspapers. It looks like one to bookmark and I imagine it will be a terrific resource for writers everywhere.
It will either be incredibly useful, or a great way to fritter away several hours! Sadly, having spent a little time exploring the site, I have to say that no struggling author could possibly afford to use it!

Monday 28 November 2011

Lost in my own Kitchen

I spent some time this morning rearranging and cleaning my kitchen. Now I can't find the bread and have a headache from walking into open cupboard doors.
It seemed like such a good idea when I started out this morning. Nothing seemed to be in the right place, electrical equipment mingled nervously with the pasta and rice, and the kitchen-waste bin lurked in the bottom of the larder, which struck me as unhygienic. I had a plan. I was going to shunt the crockery to that cupboard, the cereals would shift to there, all those electricals would decamp to one corner, the waste bin would be relegated to beneath the sink etc., etc.
The execution turned out rather differently. The bread maker was too tall for the spot I had chosen, as was the Kenwood mixer, we have far too many jars of home-made jam and bottled pears, and I still haven't found my favourite paring knife (I think I must have thrown it out with the peelings).
I have a sneaky suspicion that my time might have been better spent writing. At least then I'd be able to find my lunch.

Sunday 27 November 2011

Second Time Lucky!

The company behind the rather sudden fireworks display in Oban is making a return to the town tonight to put on a free five-minute display. The first one was supposed to last twenty minutes but a technical hiccup saw it all go up in 50 seconds, so I'm wondering what will happen tonight if the same glitch occurs. It could be over as soon as it starts!. It might be wise to avoid blinking, just in case!
Hope it all goes well and that the company and the good people of Oban have a fantastic and trouble-free display tonight.

Friday 25 November 2011

Public Sector Bashing

There's a lot of excitement in the news today about the planned public sector strike next week. What spin the story is given depends, needless to say, on individual publications. The Guardian offers support and sympathy, the Daily Mail, that champion of the new national sport of Public Sector Worker Bashing, offers spiteful and rather ill-informed sniping, the BBC, bless it, is so frightened of accusations of left wing bias, that it skips about uncertainly between the two extremes.
The truth is, the public sector is important to us all. We all use its services on a day-to-day basis, and we're all pretty much stuffed without it. Our roads would fall into total disrepair, we would have no street lights, no refuse collection, no education, no healthcare, no national security or defence, the list is endless, we take it for granted. 
Within their ranks are technologists, engineers, scientists, who earn a fraction of what they would earn in the private sector, thanks to a rather ill-conceived system for equal pay. Their salaries are a nonsense, which is why the public sector is haemorrhaging specialists and technologists at a terrifying rate.
The only perk the public sector offers is its pension. Remove that, and you're left with low pay and the warm feeling of doing something for your country as reward for public sector employment. It might be enough for some, but I suspect most would opt for high salary, bonuses, shares options, etc.
We should be very careful what we wish for. We may find that low pay and a diminished pension does not actually deliver the economically sleek, super-efficient public sector we dream of.

Thursday 24 November 2011

London's New Attraction

When does the next train leave for St Pancras? They have a wonderful new installation - a Lego Christmas Tree! I want one! More than that, I want the job of going around building them! What a job that would be!

Scream if you Want to go ...erm, Slower?

If you've just had your breakfast you may want to leave it an hour or so before you take a look at this video! It features a single-pipe coaster in Austria. Normally this coaster is taken at a more sedate speed but the thrill-seeker in the video decided to resist his brake for the duration.
I especially liked the bouncing toes and occasional heartfelt 'Wo!' as he hurtled over the bumps and curves.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Google Doodles

I'm opening myself up to accusations of having too much time on my hands here, but the truth is, I love the Google Doodles, and today's is possibly the best one yet. This one takes a bit of time, but it's worth it, though I have to confess, I have no idea what it's really about, other than being a tribute to Stanislaw Lem.
I hardly need publish the link to Google's homepage, I'm sure you all know it, but here is a useful link to the archive of all their Doodles, for anyone stumbling across this in the future who wants to know what I'm waffling on about!
My thanks to the rather brilliant student who emailed me this morning urging me to find the five minutes necessary to run the animation.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Young Offenders

I stumbled across an article on the Guardian's website today written by Amelia Gentleman. She offers an insight into life in a young offenders' institute. It's a thoughtful and thought-provoking piece and, whilst it may not be typical of the funnier side of life that I typically look for, it's well worth a read.
One article can't change the world or offer up solutions to a perennial problem, but if it opens minds and makes people think a little then it has definitely done its job. Having read it, I'm uncertain which side gets most of my sympathy, the staff for doing a thankless and sometimes dangerous job, or the young prisoners, many of whom might have fared rather better if they'd been given a better start in life. I was also struck by the fact that some of these boys have committed such serious crimes.
Some time ago I wrote a story that ties in with the subject of youth offending. It was perhaps a rather optimistic piece, but after reading this article you might be ready for something a little lighter. If you fancy a look, here's the link:

Monday 21 November 2011

Richard's Riting Blog Puts the Economy Right!

Apparently my link to the BBC's explanation of world debt inspired one of my fellow authors! Richard has written an excellent piece, offering sage advice for our baffled world leaders:
Let's hope they read it and take note, Richard!

Fishy Handbags

I'm probably not the best person to be offering an opinion on the story that I'm featuring today, as I'm one of the few women I know of who seems to have missed out on the handbag gene. I hate handbags. I hate carrying them. They always slide off my shoulder, or flop down into whatever I'm looking at, or get stuck in doors. Besides, they severely hinder my ability to run and climb fences - not that I often need to, but I like to know that I can if necessary!
This story is about the M&S handbags that smell of fish. Now let me see, I hate handbags, and I hate fish. This is not a combination that's going to have me running to the nearest M&S store! Anyway, a lady apparently purchased a silver handbag for her poor unsuspecting mother, only to find that she can't bear to use it because of the stench.
My advice, buy a coat with big pockets and, of course, don't ever, ever buy a silver handbag, whatever it smells of.

Sunday 20 November 2011

Gender Approach to Chores

Housework is something that I typically do in a frenzied hour on a Monday morning. Today, however, I found myself with some time to spare and decided to get the chore out of the way so I can crack on with writing tomorrow. Wielding my polish, I was sprinting around the house terrifying even the hardiest of dust into submission, when I was approached by my bewildered other half who nervously asked how he could help. I suggested he could take the vacuum for a spin if he liked.
Lesson learned. In future, the house will have to make do with its usual high speed assault. There is a very marked difference between the male and female approach to a vacuum cleaner. The female sees it as a necessary tool to get the job done as fast as possible. The male sees an array of attachments to be experimented and played with, hence he takes at least twice as long to complete the job. The result is, I must confess, a much more thorough clean, even in the crankiest of corners, but I still prefer to get the housework done at breakneck speed and get on to much more interesting occupations.

Saturday 19 November 2011

Hot Hot Christmas

The Christmas Market is in full swing in our town now. We took a slow stroll around to kill time before an optician's appointment, but it felt all wrong. I was wearing a summer jacket, people around me were in shirt sleeves, the sun was shining. It's hard to feel Christmassy when it's so warm. It should be cold, nose red, fingers numb, threat of snow, cold.
I didn't find any Christmas presents there. I don't know anybody who has a particular yearning for a set of Russian dolls, pretty though they were, nor can I think of any use for the strange metal animals, beaded necklaces, novelty hats or felt bags on offer. I was, however, rather taken with the idea of bratwurst, curry sauce and accompanying gluhwein!
Perhaps I'll go back if it ever gets colder here and try to find my Christmas spirit!

Friday 18 November 2011

News Round-Up

There are some curious stories in the news today, from Boris Johnson's pollution glue, to the horror of Berlusconi's decision to release an album of love songs, to the dog who has broken records by appearing in the stageshow 'Annie' for ten years - apparently he's paid in cheese and sausages.
One story on the BBC website that caught my eye was the chart explaining who owes what to whom. I was mystified by it at first, I hadn't realised that you had to click on the countries around the circle to get to the data - in my defence, I hadn't had my first coffee of the day at this point! Once I got my brain in gear, it actually turned out to be quite an interesting demonstration, albeit slightly terrifying!
I've no doubt there's some terribly sensible reason why we can't rebalance the debt, leaving just the net owing, I'm sure banks and financiers are involved somewhere, they have a way of twisting even the straightest of thinking, but when you see all those arrows to-ing and fro-ing you can't help but think it's all really rather silly.

Thursday 17 November 2011

New Story!

Well, the escaping cow did the trick! It tickled my funny bone and prompted a story. If you fancy a look, here's the link:
Hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Extreme School Run

I used to grumble about walking to school, in part because I was lazy, probably more because I hated school! My perilous journey was a mile along a chaotic A-road, which seemed more than dangerous enough for me, but it would seem it could have been so much worse.
This story is about a group of children in a remote village in China who have a two day journey to their school at the start of each term. They traverse mountain passes and raging rivers, which makes the A41 seem a little tame by comparison!

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Mooo-ving On (sorry!)

One of the cows in the field down the road escaped this morning. Apparently no wire cutters or pole vaults were used, nor did she dig a tunnel. Instead she chose the possibly more obvious route - she went for a paddle up the river!
I've no idea if she's been persuaded back to the fold, or if she's still wading determinedly upstream, but I'm staying inside with the door firmly closed in case the very large bull she shares her field with takes it into his head to follow her!

Monday 14 November 2011

It's a Cat's Life!

Well, the working week begins with the news that Larry the Downing Street cat is under fire for not maintaining proper control of the rodent population at the Prime Minister's digs! I shall avoid unnecessary and predictable politician jokes and merely say that I'm happy to hear that Larry is in no danger of losing his position, despite any deficiency he may have as a mouser! Perhaps he's related to my own less than successful bird control cat who has still to prove his worth.

Sunday 13 November 2011

Gadding About!

It's been a busy couple of days, which is my way of offering up an excuse for not posting! It's also been a very enjoyable couple of days, as we got to spend a little time with our beautiful daughter and her boyfriend, who I'm sure will not mind not being described as beautiful, handsome yes, beautiful probably not! They live in a wonderful part of the country and it's always so great to spend time with them, that I'll forgive their slight oversight in forgetting to order decent weather for Friday! Plenty of hugs with my precious girl compensates for anything!
Then today we visited Frances Whitman at her art exhibition. Her creations are stunning, tigers and leopards that you can almost see breathing, every hair painstakingly drawn by hand. It seems that the exhibition had drawn a fair crowd, and I'm sure there were many very happy customers leaving with some extremely special Christmas gifts.
The day was of course topped off by Hamilton winning the grand prix - great to see two British drivers on the podium!

Thursday 10 November 2011

Animal Story of the Day

To meddle, or not to meddle. In this case the decision was taken to very definitely MEDDLE! And how could they not?
Nothing like a heartwarming story to set you up for the day!

Tales From the Café - Volume One

Today's the day! Tales From the Café Volume One is now available on Amazon. And very good it looks too thanks to their brilliant designer.
An awful lot of work, late nights, and, usually, good natured debate has gone into its creation.
Great job guys!

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Soppy but Sweet!

This story is everywhere, and rightly so! It's a terrific good news story at a time when the news is full of gloom. So, cast aside your cynicism and take a look at this:
And if you're anything like me, you'll want to have a box of tissues close to hand! Good luck to them both!

Occupation and Capitalism

Occupy camps are springing up all over the country, in fact, all over the capitalist countries of the world. It's hard, in the light of the current economic turmoil, not to have some sympathy with what they are saying, but there is always that undercurrent of extremism that makes the average person feel a little uneasy.
I don't have a problem with saying that the system is far from perfect. It's certainly true that the rich run the show and have a vested interest in making themselves richer and keeping the rest of us in our dutiful place, where we have little choice but to do the necessary donkey work. It's also true that many of the super rich don't pay their fair share, using every loophole to escape taxation, whilst the rest of us are hounded for every last penny.
But is capitalism itself to blame? Would things be better if we all earned the same? Would quality of life be better if we gave up our ambition to improve our lot? Surely not.
Life would be better for the majority if the minority who take the lion's share had been taught not to be so greedy when they were children. Life would be better if directors experienced some sense of shame for taking colossal pay rises whilst at the same time telling their staff to take pay cuts.
Sadly, I don't think there's any way to legislate that into society.

Monday 7 November 2011

Oban Lights up the Sky!

So eager were the performers in the Oban Community Fireworks Display that they flat refused to await their cue, all jumping into action within seconds of each other. My heart goes out to the organisers, it must have been devastating to see all those fireworks going up in one minute instead of thirty, but I'm sure it made for a pretty awe-inspiring, albeit short, show.
Hope you all had a great night, however long or short your display was!

Saturday 5 November 2011

Toffee Apples and Rockets

I trust everyone has made sure they have a fresh supply of ooohs and aaahs in! Bonfire Night just wouldn't be the same without them! The shops today have been frantically promoting their stocks of fireworks and sparklers, as well as all manner of tooth rotting delicacies, like toffee apples, popcorn, chocolates etc. Okay, okay, I succumbed to the popcorn - got to have popcorn (toffee coated, naturally!)
So, to everyone celebrating tonight, hope the weather holds for you, looks like it should, stay safe and have fun. Oh, and be sure to brush your teeth after all that sugar!

Friday 4 November 2011

Salute to the HGV driver

Last night in the wee small hours our village was visited by three articulated lorries. I realise that articulated lorries are hardly a rare species, but when they arrive in our village, particularly in the middle of the night, they cause a degree of excitement. They only ever venture along our narrow roads by mistake, normally when they have been diverted off the motorway, or miss their turning for the industrial estate.
I have to admit, I curse the lorries on the motorway and mutter and grumble when I get stuck behind one on an A-road. But when I see a driver reversing a huge car transporter through the jumble of a car dealer's forecourt, or a lost driver turning their behemoth around in a small village in the dark of night, I feel nothing but admiration.
So, to all the HGV drivers out there, I'm sorry for being grumpy when I'm stuck behind you!

Thursday 3 November 2011

Tales from the Café

It's an exciting time for the e-publishing group Café Three Zero. Our collaborative short story book is nearing completion and is almost ready for release. This is thanks in no small part to the work of a small team of dedicated individuals who have slogged away in the small hours preparing the material. We are all greatly indebted to them for their efforts. The book is entitled 'Tales from the Café - Vol. 1' and features short stories from a variety of authors, myself included. I'll update again when a release date is confirmed, but for further information about the group, as well as progress updates, take a look at the Café Three Zero website:

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Squirrel Cam

I swear I'm not looking specifically for funny or cute animal pictures when I plough through the news sites each morning, but sometimes they're hard to resist. What caught my eye today were the pictures taken by retired post lady, Kathy Pruyn, in Tampa. Apparently she has lots of peanut butter and time on her hands - I'd say she's putting both to excellent use!
It's silly, but I like it.

Tuesday 1 November 2011

Halloween Hordes

I thought we were prepared. I'd been collecting yoghurt pots for months, the ones shaped like cauldrons, and we'd sprayed them black, then filled them with gruesome sweets. We had loads - we thought! This year though the trick or treaters were roaming in packs. Each time we opened the door there was another horde!
It's always a good natured affair around here, and they all make a massive effort with costumes and face paints, so I felt properly miserable when we ran out of cauldrons before the last couple of groups!
Next year I shall be less ambitious and go back to bags of party size sweets, cookies, and of course, jelly eyeballs! To those who arrived too late this year, I really am very sorry!

The Tiger and the Toddler

I seem to be developing a thing for tigers lately - maybe I should upgrade my failed bird catcher cat! - but I stumbled across this story that's circulating at the moment and had to share it.
Amazing pictures, though I do wonder what the tiger was really thinking. It appealed to me because the little girl made me think of my own little girl, who isn't so little anymore. She would have reacted exactly the same way at that age, totally fearless!

Monday 31 October 2011

Scary Story!

Halloween has prompted a new story on Quirky Tales today. It's a creepy one, called 'Night Walking' - that should give you a pretty good idea! It comes with a warning: it's not one for the young or the nervous. Read at your own risk!
Hope you enjoy it, and remember, it's only a story!

Saturday 29 October 2011

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is fast approaching. My favourite aspect of the festival is the smell of the Jack-O-Lanterns once their candles have been burning for a while. 
We carved ours this afternoon, with a certain degree of stressing, muttering and the odd bad word on my part! Hopefully they're suitably spooky without being scary enough to terrify the little children.

Friday 28 October 2011

Property of the Week

Here's some good news for those FTSE100 company bosses who are no doubt puzzling over where to invest this year's stonking great pay rises: Santo Spirito, an island in the Laguna Venezia is up for sale, and what's more, they only want 20 million euros for it.
Seems like a bargain to me, there are probably few better places to witness the excitement of rising sea levels, and you get your own ruined convent too!

Lapland: Heart of the Social Network

Facebook is opening a data centre in Lapland. Apparently the location was chosen for its natural cooling abilities - data centres get pretty hot, Lapland gets pretty cold, Facebook can use Lapland's cold to stop their data centre getting too hot.
It all makes perfect sense, but I just can't quite square it with my image of snow dusted trees, sleighs and reindeer.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

MOD PR Machine?

I think the MOD needs to take some beginners' lessons in public relations. Or possibly they could be held up as an example in such lessons of how not to do it. The family of a soldier killed in Afghanistan have been told they must repay £400 worth of wages that their loved one received before his death.
Makes you so proud, doesn't it? Good to know we take such good care of our soldiers and their families!

Dear Father Christmas ...

Ahh, how I remember that excitement of the countdown to Christmas. As I gazed at all those windows on my advent calendar on the 1st December it seemed as though the big day might never arrive. And the presents I dreamed of, longed for! Lego, colouring pencils, perhaps a new tractor for my toy farm, bits and bobs of stationery all wrapped in bright paper - all the things that made a Christmas stocking wonderful.
The Toy Retailers' Association has drawn up a list of this year's must haves and I suspect Santa is sitting in his grotto, shaking his head sadly and wondering where it all went wrong. Of course there are the expected items, Lego, dolls, Fireman Sam, but also prominent on the list is 'Doggy Doo' - a game where the players have to scoop as much plastic dog poop as possible. How very festive!
The least said about the toys that play themselves, such as the never-ending stream of robots and dancing animals, the better. I always hated that sort of thing. I wanted to play, not sit and watch!
So, my Christmas list for this year (just in case Father Christmas is following) pens and pencils, more notepads (I keep filling mine up, then forgetting where I've put them), an old fashioned family game (please, no dog poop), a nice box of jellied fruit, and a good book. I'd ask for Lego, but I suspect Father Christmas might think me a little too old for that now!

For this year's predicted Christmas list click the link, and start saving - the price range is £20 - £90!

Tuesday 25 October 2011

A Residence fit for a Dormouse

I tried to resist, honestly I did, but some things are just too cute to pass up:
An excellent use for a pumpkin, in my opinion. I may opt for making a dormouse home out of mine this year, and forget about the Jack-O-Lantern!

Swapped at Birth

I came across a story today about a woman who discovered that the child she has raised for 12 years is not her own. Her baby was swapped with another woman's baby in the hospital, and the mix-up only came to light when she had to fight her ex-husband for financial support for their daughter. DNA testing revealed that girl was not the biological offspring of either of them.  The woman turned to the police to help her track down her daughter and now both families have regular contact, although she admits that things are strained.
It's a fascinating story that raises so many questions. It's so hard to imagine how it could happen. I get a sense when reading her story that the mother who discovered the error would have been in some ways happy to discover that her biological child had been abandoned or orphaned so that she could legitimately offer both girls a home. I can imagine feeling a similar way.
It would be impossible to stop regarding the child you have raised as your own, and almost impossible to stop yourself from interfering in the life of your biological child. The potential for resentments on all sides is huge, and I actually find it hard to visualise a happy outcome for the people involved. On the whole, I suspect it would have been better to have never discovered the mistake.

For the full story, click the link:

Monday 24 October 2011

Mischievous Autumn

It's happened to us all, if we're honest: that heart-stopping moment when a dark and suspiciously spider-like object turns out to be nothing more sinister than a piece of fluff. If you're anything like me, you give an embarrassed little chuckle and dispatch the fluff to the bin, where it can wait to shock someone else.
Knowing the feeling all too well, I have nothing but sympathy for the star of one story appearing on the news sites today featuring the Bengal tigress who was caught unawares by a maliciously floating leaf:
At least no-one's ever photographed me standing on a chair, screaming in terror at a ball of lint. That poor tiger may never be able to show her face again!

Trilogy Rewrite

I have an idea of how to rewrite the children's trilogy but am now facing a dilemma. Do I invent new characters, new names, new everything, or do I use the characters I've already created? I know the characters I have, I love them as friends, I know their moods, their strengths, their weaknesses. But I can envisage a situation where I could be accused of plagiarising my own work!
The fact is, the story will have to be dramatically different - the old one simply won't work in the new environment I've created - but I'm mindful that I have sent the original version to a few agents. They all rejected it, prompting me to review the work, but is it a good idea to incorporate the old with the new, or should I simply start all over?
On the whole, I'm desperate to let those characters out to have their moment. They're mine - I'm going to use them!

So That's Where the Council Tax Goes!

I got a speck of dust in my eye this morning. It hurt like hell and left me blundering around a busy car park blinking furiously with tears streaming down my cheeks. It only lasted a few seconds, and I quickly forgot about it. Until I read this:
I think I could be in line for a big payout in compensation for my pain and suffering! In fact, the other day whilst in town I almost tripped over a raised paving slab. Added to which, my hair ended up completely mussed thanks to all this heavy wind. Hm, I may never need to buy a lottery ticket again!

Friday 21 October 2011

Tree Houses

Inspiration comes from the oddest places. I happened to see some pictures of tree houses on my morning trawl of the news sites. I'm a big kid at heart and have always been drawn to tree houses, but there are some truly spectacular versions out there now. I've added a link to a blog that obviously shares my fascination:
I'd move into one tomorrow if I could! It's started a fresh train of thought for my children's story. I've been considering rewriting it - I think I may now have an entirely new and very exciting angle! All that trawling of news sites might just have paid off!

Thursday 20 October 2011

People Watching

I struck out in search of inspiration today. I spent the morning roaming the local shops, people watching, puzzling over 'must have' union jack cushions and this season's trend for lopsided knitwear. I filled two pages of my Pukka Pad, so something in the ol' noggin must have been stirred!
Perhaps it was the cottage in the village that smelled of wood smoke - no, I'm almost certain it wasn't on fire - or maybe it was the bewildered looking gentleman standing in the middle of Sainsburys with a bag of bananas in the crook of his arm, it could even have been the woman with the desperate look in her eye who had been nabbed by one of the energy salesman - they're getting sneaky, I saw one hiding behind the Heinz soup display and managed to take avoiding action - but it seems to have been a productive morning.
When I spotted the elderly couple sharing a brownie in the coffee shop I started to feel lonely. As much as I was out there 'working' I would much rather have been sharing a cake and pondering what it could have been that had so confused banana man with my husband. I headed homewards after that. There's nothing worse than feeling lonely in a crowd!

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Thin Ends of Wedges

A charity has suggested that older people still living in family homes should be 'encouraged' to move, thereby freeing up those houses for young couples wanting to start families. I may have missed a vital point somewhere but I can feel my blood pressure shooting through the roof we've struggled to pay for.
When we were first married we lived in a ramshackle old flat converted from a Victorian terrace, battling interests rates of 15%. Over the years we've overcome the crippling interest rates, long pay freezes, endowment mortgages and negative equity, through sacrifice and work. It's been tough. Just as it was tough for our parents. It's always tough, unless you inherit or are born to money.
Young couples may feel daunted by the challenges of getting onto the housing ladder, but it's always been the same. We felt daunted. We didn't think we would ever make it. Blaming the older generations doesn't help, doesn't make the necessary sacrifices any easier and certainly doesn't make family houses any cheaper.
Having made it through the long hard years, having lavished attention, love and money on our modest family home, anyone suggesting that once our daughter leaves home it'll be time for us to shuffle off to a sensible little bungalow risks having their eyes gouged out.
If we have to give up our homes once we reach a certain age, what's next I shudder to wonder? 

Storm in a Cupcake

A woman in Chicago got into a row with her husband and, in a fit of pique, threw a barrage of cupcakes at him. She was later charged with Domestic Battery. To paraphrase Theresa May, you couldn't make it up!
I'd invite one-liners from all you punsters out there, but I'm busy whipping up cupcake batter.

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Caution: Free Speech Ahead!

I'm going to start this post by saying very clearly that I was appalled by the images of the riots in London, Birmingham and elsewhere. Businesses and properties were ruined, people died or suffered injury, and many were subjected to days and nights of terror. It was unforgivable, and it did nothing to help the rioters' 'cause', if indeed there was one. Make no mistake, I have no sympathies for those who rioted. Having made that clear, I now want to draw attention to the fact the powers-that-be seem to be using the understandable public outrage as an excuse for changing sentencing guidelines for their own benefit.
Two young men who posted 'incitements to riot' on Facebook have had their sentences upheld. On the face of it a natural response might be 'jolly good thing too', but maybe we should pause and consider. These young men were given four year sentences, pretty hefty for an online post. Car thieves, drug offenders, shoplifters, burglars etc. receive significantly lesser sentences, and yet they make a career out of causing misery to others.
These two young men were stupid. What they did was wrong, even though their actions did not actually lead to a riot, but if posting an inflammatory comment online is going to prompt such strong punishment we had all better watch out. This crosses into the murky and troublesome waters surrounding the slowly sinking island of free speech.
The government responded to the riots by demanding tough sentencing, and they got it. But was that right? There is a sense of shifting the goal posts after the game has started. Is this not simply opportunistic popular politics? It might even suggest that this is a clamp down against protest which, whilst not in anyway akin to that seen in Syria or the like, is worrying nevertheless. Our nation has proudly and bravely fought for the right to democratic rule. Part of democracy is free speech and the right to protest. I can see why a government might find that awkward, particularly at a time of economic uncertainty, but they are vital in a democratic, fair society. The rioters used protest as an excuse for criminality. That is completely unacceptable, but the behaviour of the few should not be used by the government to intimidate and cow a wider, law abiding society.
A noble sentiment, but even so, I think I may just check my old posts to ensure that nothing I've written could be misinterpreted!

Monday 17 October 2011


Samsung is trying to get the iPhone4S banned in Japan and Australia, for patent infringement. Apple managed to get the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 banned in Germany, for patent infringement.
Is it me, or is there a distinctive whiff of the playground here?

Friday 14 October 2011

Letwin's Letters

Clearly Oliver Letwin, Cabinet Office Minister, has not been following the advice I alluded to in yesterday's post on encryption and password protection. Whilst the rest of us diligently shred, burn and bury all our personal correspondence, he's taken a rather more cavalier approach, opting instead to simply chuck his in the bins of St James's Park. Here's the link for the full story:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15301859
I've probably watched too many spy movies, but I can't help picturing a shady character in mac and dark glasses leaping from the bushes to retrieve the minister's 'carelessly' discarded missives. Conspiracy theories on a postcard please!

It's a Cover-up!

Gloomy news for the nation's streakers today. Should they be seized by the compulsion to indulge in their hobby at the Olympics, they could face a fine of £20,000. I suppose that's one way to pay for the games!

Thursday 13 October 2011

Further News!

In another act of daring do Ben Fogle has completed the Alcatraz swim. This came as a surprise as I hadn't realised he'd been incarcerated. Still, it's nice to know he escaped. Congratulations Ben!


Three men filmed themselves clambering onto the roof of an external lift and riding it to the top of a hotel in Benidorm. That sounds pretty radical to me, since probably only as a means of escaping an enraged tiger would I ride such an elevator, as intended, let alone standing on top of it, but no, for these guys the ride was just a means of reaching the top. On arrival they had a very short debate about who was going first, then one by one, they base-jumped off it.
I have a colossal fear of high places, largely because there is that tiny voice in my head telling me to jump. Maybe these guys started base-jumping as a means of silencing the tiny voice. If so, it doesn't appear to have worked. I think I'll stick to good ol' dependable stairs. They don't get stuck between floors, their cables don't snap, and at least if I succumb to the tiny voice there, I won't make an unsightly blot on the pavement.
For the full story, with video, click the link:


Encrypted Inheritance

According to research, people are now leaving their passwords in their will. Whilst my initial reaction was an indignant scoff, on reflection it actually makes perfectly good sense. With concerns over personal data security at an all time high most of us now protect our work and business dealings with encryption and passwords. At the same time, all those passwords are supposed to be retained in our heads and nowhere else. After all, to write them down negates their purpose.
However, when we die it isn't possible for our loved ones to stick an SD card into our heads to download all that vital information, which means accessing vital documents (like potentially chart-topping unpublished manuscripts, ahem!) will be difficult or impossible for our loved ones.
The more I think about it, the more I see there is a need for a system for the passing on of our passwords to our benefactors. I'd get my solicitor to jot them down in my will, if only I could remember the damned things!

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Another New Story

I've posted another new story on QT. It's the story of a rather eccentric but totally harmless woman who was misunderstood and even feared by those around her. It's told in the voice of her grieving son. It might seem sad, but it's also a celebration of the life of someone remarkable. Take a look if you fancy:


Hope you enjoy it.

Anyone Got a Carrier Pigeon?

I think technology is wonderful, see my Skype post for proof of that, but it's also reassuringly fallible. Which is a good thing. Its frailties ensure that we don't totally lose the ability to communicate the old fashioned way, in person, or by letter.
Blackberry users have had a lengthy reminder of this in the last couple of days, as their messager service across Europe, the Middle East and Africa has been crippled by a technical fault. Outraged BBMers are, justifiably, furiously demanding refunds and threatening to switch to iPhones. Now that's fighting talk!
The thing is the system will be repaired, everyone will spend a couple of hours frantically messaging, venting their spleen and ranting about how badly the situation has been handled, and then they'll return to normal and forget all about it. One or two might take a stand and switch allegiance, but the majority will carry on as before.
It does make you wonder though. Maybe Harry Potter had the right idea. I'm pretty sure that owls don't suffer core switching failures (whatever the heck that means) and are not prone to backlogging data. The only question is, are they MAC compatible?

Tuesday 11 October 2011

New Story

There's a new story on Quirky Tales today. It's one I've been sitting on for a little while. I decided it was time to dust it off and give it an airing!


I'll hopefully get some more new stories up there in the coming days/ weeks.

Another Thing to Worry About

Apparently we are all being assessed, classified, approved or dismissed based upon - wait for it - the font we favour! I heard one chap describe fonts as modern handwriting. Heaven forbid, please tell me we are still teaching children to write with a pencil!
And now it seems that your choice of font leads to all manner of, sometimes rather unpleasant, conclusions being drawn about your mental health, cerebral capacity and sense of humour, or lack thereof. According to some, to use Comic Sans is to announce to the world at large that you are are unstable, humourless and unimaginative. Having worked in a school I can tell you it's an incredibly useful font, as it has none of the curlicues and squiggly nonsense of some of the more dramatic types. It's the only font that comes close to handwriting - useful when your target audience are all under the age of eight. And it's a cheery sort of fellow too. It might not be what I'd choose for a manuscript, or a begging letter to a publisher or agent, but it has its uses. Leave it alone!
As part of the discussion I was interested to hear that there are people out there whose job is designing fonts; they carry the rather grand title 'typographic engineer'. Rather than worrying about what font people are using, maybe they ought to be contemplating why it is they can never give anything a straightforward recognisable name! Font designing is a noble and useful enterprise, why do you need to dress it up with a convoluted, pompous name?
As for me, well I'll stick with Times New Roman, and you can draw whatever conclusion you like from that, as long as you don't tell me! NeoOffice did recently decide it was going to default to Calibri, which led to a good deal of rather inventive swearing each morning until I finally figured out how to change the preferences. Evidently even my computer has an opinion about my font choice!

Monday 10 October 2011

Software Wizards

I believe there to be something rather magical about Skype. Despite the vagaries of flaky internet connection, clunky video and annoying fraction of second audio delay, the sheer joy of having a 'face to face' conversation with a distant loved one is one of the wonders of the modern age. To see their happy, smiling face, to watch them laugh, to get a blurry look at the new plant they've bought, or even just to recognise the outfit they're wearing is such a reassuring and heartwarming thing. Thank you Skype wizardy people!

The Science of the Beep

The other day the peace and quiet of our village was split by a furious blaring of horns. Without looking I knew what had happened. Someone had pulled out of the junction up the road in front of someone else who was carrying straight on. Happens all the time, and always leads to much disgruntled beeping.
It's curious that the beep can be made to mean so many different things and, even stranger, that we automatically interpret it. The tone doesn't change, the pitch is unwavering, the only variable is duration. 
A prolonged beeeep, particularly when accompanied by a squeal of tyres, is usually indicative of vexation. Whereas a short, curt bip tends to mean 'wake up sonny Jim, the lights have changed you know!' A double or triple bip is normally directed at an unsuspecting friend walking along the road and typically produces a brief moment of startled levitation in the recipient, followed by frantic waving as the bipper disappears in a cloud of exhaust smoke.
I suppose the science of the beep is further demonstration, as Stephen Fry would remind us, of the complexities of human communication, though I rather suspect that even he has never conducted an in depth investigation into the phenomenon.

Saturday 8 October 2011

Smelly Fridges and Useless Shredders

So far it's been one of those days. Having finally tracked down a putrid smell that has been driving me to distraction for the last fortnight to the fridge, we launched an all out assault on it this morning. Aside from finding long forgotten chutneys, pickled onions that were growing hair and a slab of feta that had turned runny, we discovered that the drain hole was blocked. It smells a lot more fragrant now, but I can't help thinking it looks a little shocked.
We rounded off that excitement by taking the new shredder for a test drive. It failed. A machine that promised to confetti cut our unwanted personal papers barely managed a ribbon cut. As a something of a jigsaw fanatic it would have taken me no time at all to piece it back together and make off with all our details - yes, I know I already know them! - so it was promptly returned to the shop. We're back to using the old one, which does a perfectly good job, as long as you only feed it one sheet of paper at a time and speak soothing words to it. The search for a shredder that can live up to its manufacturer's claims continues.

Thursday 6 October 2011

Cautious Optimism

After days/weeks of struggling to find inspiration I decided to start from a new point. I created a character, without having any particular story in mind. I don't normally work that way, but I seem to have the start of a story developing there already. I need to do a little research now, but I think I might have a project to work on at last!
I don't know if what I've had is writer's block, but it's been pretty grim, whatever it is. Let's hope this is the end of it. I've been searching for an idea for a new long work. There's going to be a lot of thinking before I can get started on this one, but it's great to actually be feeling creative again!

Traffic Update

I had to go shopping today. It's not something I like to do, but if we want to eat it has to be done. As I left Sainsburys, having inadvertently destroyed the milk shelf - don't ask - I found myself caught in a traffic jam tailing back from roadworks on the road to the right.
Firstly I was miffed at finding myself caught in someone else's jam and secondly I was staggered by the amount of traffic out there. Some of it was obviously work traffic - builder's trucks, delivery vehicles, reps in cheap suits - but there were an awful lot of private cars out there too.
It was the middle of the morning and I had expected the roads to be fairly quiet. Where did they all come from? What were they doing? And why they heck did they all have to be going the same way as me?

Sad Day

As a confirmed Apple fan I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Steve Jobs. The first computers in my school were Apples and I fondly remember that colourful logo. I remain a devotee to this day. 
Rest in peace, Steve Jobs.

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Pest Control

A solution had to be found! You will perhaps have noticed the new addition to the right. I hired him, with help from my resident IT pro, as he seemed quite keen. To be honest, so far he doesn't seem to have had much effect upon my avian issue, but I suppose it's early days yet.

Irrational Fears and Amazon Therapy

According to the BBC, the nest of a venomous biting spider has been found in Bletchley. A fear of spiders is a ridiculous and utterly irrational thing. There is no sensible reason to run screaming from the room at the sight of the average British spider - and yet, I do. The thought of encountering one that has larger than average fangs and whose bite would be capable of putting me in hospital is not going to help me overcome my fear!
And so I'm all the more relieved that the new spider catcher we ordered at the weekend has arrived. We needed a new one, because the old one had a late night adventure. Having used it to bravely trap an enormous spider, the kind that wears boots, spurs and a holster, I had attempted to release it through the open window.
Convinced that, given the thorough shaking I had given it, the spider could not possibly still be in the trap, I pulled it back in, only to see the spider hanging by one leg, grinning at me in what I can only describe as a sinister manner.
What happened next occurred at some speed. I sucked in air, yanked back the curtain, and lobbed spider and catcher out of the window. The spider survived, I know, because it was back the next day. The catcher fared less well.
Now, thanks to the amazing distributive powers of Amazon, my gleaming new spider trap is assembled and waiting. So spiders, venomous or otherwise, I'm ready for you! 

Cameron to the Rescue

Cape of power flying behind him, Prime Minister David Cameron is soaring in to the rescue today. Rumour has it he has found the solution to the current economic turbulence and impending doom. Apparently all we have to do, and it's so simple now he mentions it, is pay off our debts!
I wonder why nobody else thought of that!

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Slow News Day

Two chapters edited. I decided to take a break and do a little writing but find myself uninspired. Normally a quick trawl of the news sites or a listen in to LBC triggers something, but it's hard to pick through the day's dominating story to find something curious.
Today, it's all about Amanda Knox being acquitted in Perugia. It's an endlessly fascinating story for some, but for me it's all just unutterably sad, both for the Knox family and, more so, for the Kercher family, for whom there's no happy ending.
One story that did stand out for me was the campaign to save a tree in Scarborough from the chop. For a few days now I've seen headlines about protestors taking up residence in the tree's branches but hadn't bothered to look into it. Today I decided to have a deeper look. It turns out that a couple asked for the tree to be felled after it came to their attention that it was damaging their house. I have to say, as much as I love trees, if one was threatening my home I'd be out there with a chain saw and I wouldn't have much sympathy for anyone who thought a tree was more valuable than my house.

Trials of Being a Debut Author

Today I am supposed to be continuing the fresh edit of 'Billy of Boldre Wood'. I'm having a hard time drumming up the enthusiasm for the task. I love the story, it's completely new, totally different, creative, exciting and colourful, but it's hard to keep working on something that has been rejected by ten agents.
Now I know ten isn't many. I know that a lot of people send their work to forty or fifty agents/ publishers before finding someone who recognises its potential, but do I have the resilience, the fortitude, to keep withstanding the knocks? I hope so. 
Is the basis of the story rubbish? Actually, I really don't think so, and I've asked the question repeatedly, prepared to walk away and give up on it if my answer was yes. But I genuinely don't believe it is. I think it's new, which I know is scary. I think it's imaginative, which again is scary, but I also think it's a terrific story. 
I just hope I get to tell it!

The Birds! The Birds!

You may have noticed the birds are resolutely sticking to the page. Efforts were made last night to expel them but all known remedies have thus far failed. I'm considering enlisting the services of a trained falcon, but then I'd need an eagle to get rid of the falcon ...

Monday 3 October 2011

Stocking up for Winter

Autumn has so far been a busy time in our household. The hedgerows have been bursting with fruit this year. Walks across the fields have inevitably led to yet more blackberries being picked, which have then been turned into crumble or jelly, depending on quantities picked and time available. Suffice to say we now have several jars of jelly in the store cupboard.
A friend has also very generously supplied us with pears from her garden, which have been carefully bottled and put aside for a Christmas treat. The sloes are dropping from the trees as they ripen, and plans have been muted to experiment with sloe gin this year.
With all this in mind, I am tempted to place the remaining empty jars I have outside to capture and preserve this glorious October heatwave for later use. It could come in handy in a few week's time!

Silly season

We're now into the third week of party conferences. The Lib Dems and Labour have had their party, now it's the Tories turn. The thing that strikes me most is that the rhetoric, whilst to a degree politically skewed, is largely the same across the parties. They're all on our side, nice to know, they all know we're suffering, which would have been hard to miss, and they're all keen to stand shoulder to shoulder with the hard working British public. This is all excellent news.
Things should, given the empathy our politicians have for our plight, soon be picking up. They understand that we're struggling, they know that rising prices are severely squeezing family budgets, they sympathise about the cost of running a car and heating a house. Such great understanding must signal a desire to implement policies that will make our lives better! Happy days!
Reading between the lines, they all want the hard working people's vote, and once they've got that, they all want the hard working people's money. 

Up and running!

So here I am, with my first post, and already I'm wondering if this was such a great idea! Last night's sleep was punctuated by dreams of blogs, followers, gadgets and backgrounds. I even dreamed of raiding the HTML code to root out those pesky birds – yes, I know they look very sweet, but they don't suit my image!
And then there's the question of what I should blog. Do I blog about politics? Writing? Current affairs? Arts and crafts? Daily life? Well, all of those will probably feature in one form or other. Should I blog about soaps? Big Brother? Strictly? Nope. I'm afraid those are deep and uncharted waters for me, I shall not venture to sail them!
So what is this blog all about then? Well, as a writer I'm always looking out for new ideas, new what ifs, new problems and new possibilities. Normally I stumble across something, ponder it for a while, and then either frantically hammer out a story, or forget all about it.
So I suppose this blog will be a form of journal, not so much a diary as a thought store. If one of these thoughts prompts a story worthy of my website I'll let you know and you can take a look at it if you wish to see if was all worth it!
That's it for now, I'm off to see if anyone has any idea how to get shot of the birds!