Monthly Archives: October 2012

In which I wobble

I am having a bit of a wobble.  A moment when I am not entirely sure I am walking down the right path.  It is a serious issue and one which could have massive financial implications. For I have seen this.

Fortunately it is desk sized and I want a personal sized one.  But now I am a woman on a mission.  To find a personal red congo Mulberry organiser.  And I think we are talking Hens Teeth and Overdrafts.
But, I hear you all cry.  What about Erin and Textagenda.  What of them I reply with the all the fickleness of a teenager throwing away her first love.  Actually it’s not quite that bad and I do still love Erin to bits and the Textagenda is a very useful notebook (did I tell anyone I have a Midori Traveller’s Notebook on it’s way from The Netherlands?) but I miss this.

She was my constant companion for many years.  A pocket size I could fit her into even the smallest handbag, but as a pocket size she was only a diary.  I couldn’t really get anything else in there.  Hence the move to Erin.

But I miss the flexibility of a binder and the Congo is so delectable.  And if I do find one it isn’t that long till Christmas ….

So the next question is which inserts?

Oh and BTW I have whooping cough and need cheering up so tracking down a red personal congo is therapy 🙂


Free to good home

I have a friend called Amanda.  I’ve not known her all that long, we became close about six months ago but she had been hovering around the edge for a couple of months before that.  The problem is that she has become a right royal pain in the backside.  She won’t do a single thing I tell her to, she has developed a mind of her own and she has managed to get herself into a long and drawn out conversation with another good friend Mrs Rossi and she’s stuck there.  There doesn’t seem to be a thing I can do to rescue her, and believe me I’ve tried.  I have a vested interest.  She is the key character in my current novel.

Following a conversation on Twitter with Seymour Jacklin I have an idea.  When my children were small I was always surprised by the comments about their wonderful behaviour and how they ate everything put in front of them when they went to visit friends.  For they were certainly no paragons of virtue at home.  It occurred to me that if we could bring our children up in other people’s houses then they would always be well behaved and clear their plates.  So I am extrapolating that theory to ill behaved characters.

I will give you Amanda and you can give me that irritating twerp who has got himself in a locked room with a psychopathic dog and a banana.  There, all sorted !

Small Stones

Writing is a lonely business.  I can’t write in cafes or libraries.  I am easily distracted and unless the force or the flow or whatever is with me I find it very easy to find something else to look at, listen to or read.  Menus can be so fascinating don’t you think?  The Boss, on the other hand, has some form of invisible shield that drops around him (he was way ahead of Bella) when he works.  A medium sized nuclear explosion is unlikely to distract him once he starts dictating, as those who have the misfortune to transcribe his work are painfully aware.

Consequently I work best at home, alone.  Not entirely alone, but the other attendees at my office party have either four legs or wings, also we can’t all sit down to dinner at once.  Noah may have managed inter species harmony but sitting three dogs, five cats, a parrot, 2 geese and assorted chickens around one table without at least one guest becoming part of the menu would be challenging.

However, there is at least one advantage to the solitary approach.  The lack of distraction means I can focus better.  So on 1st November (when cough permitting I shall be in Gay Paree) I am taking part in Mindful Writing Day and writing a small stone.  Why don’t you join in?

The end of the To Do List?

Today I am trying an experiment.  I am not writing a to do list but instead have taken a leaf out of  Homemakers’ Daily and am writing a done list instead.

I know most of the things I need to do today, I can see them scattered around my house.  Previously I have written a list the night before, added to it during the following morning and then done loads of stuff that needed doing but wasn’t actually on my list.  Consequently I got to the end of the day and discovered that despite the fact I had been on my feet all day very little of the list had been completed.  Total sense of humour failure and creation of cumulonimbus sized cloud of despondency.

Today I have done a job and written it down.  So far (2.20pm) I have written morning pages, meditated, read, watched the Panorama programme on the Newsnight/Jimmy Saville fiasco, done the washing, put away the ironing, tidied two rooms, sent some emails, paid some bills, walked the dogs, planned dinner and played around on Twitter and Facebook.  Not bad going.

Now when I get to the end of the day instead of staring at a long list of things I hoped I would do and didn’t.  I have a lovely long multicoloured (synaethesia remember?) list of things I have done today.  Most of which were red  or blue because those are house or communication jobs – because those are the colours they are that’s why.  And today is ….. Yellow, well done at the back for remembering.

I have tweaked the system just a little. No multitasking. Yes I will say that again very slowly N O   M U L T I T A S K I N G.  I didn’t even pick up the pile of clothes at the bottom of the stairs when I went upstairs to meditate.  I picked them up when I went upstairs to put away the ironing.  I did one job at a time and do you know what, I got things done a whole lot faster.  Also I didn’t forget why I had something in my hand or why I went into a room because I was only focussing on one job at a time and I finished each job because that was all I had to do at that time.

I still have a to do list.  It’s massive, but it’s rolling, I put everything I know I need or want to do on it and I refer back to it but it is the only list that ever has anything crossed off.  Now, I’m DONE, not TO BE DONE.

And just because she is gorgeous and you aren’t interested in seeing my done list here is River 🙂

Taste of the wild

Heaven… I’m in heaven,
And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak.
And I seem to find the happiness I seek,

When I go out mushrooming at the end of the week.

Okay it doesn’t really scan but who cares.  Look what I have

The Boss took me for my birthday on a mushrooming course run by the wonderful Chris and Rose Baxter  and Keiko from and held at  No I was not overjoyed to have to get out of bed at 7.00, no more than the Dancer was delighted when I crept into her bedroom to get to my wardrobe (don’t ask) to extract my clothes which my porridge brain had forgotten to put out the night before.  But fuelled by two vast flagons of strong black tea I was ready for the off.  Even the drive down was divine, yes there was some fog, but it was pretty fog (you can tell I wasn’t driving).

When I become a famous novelist I am going to live at Swinton Park.  The Cunliffe-Lister’s don’t know this yet, but I’m sure they won’t mind.  “I thought you’d like it,” murmured the Boss.  Understatement of the year.

We were joined by one other couple and Rose, Chris and Keiko, yup that’s right three tutors to four pupils.  Beat than Eton.  Within five minutes we had several punchy looking parasols in our baskets and after that there was no stopping us.  After the Biblical weather we have had recently the sun had come out and the woods were a mycological wonderland. I can’t remember everything we found but it certainly included:

  •  Amethyst deceivers (those wonderful purple ones, who would have thought you could eat them)
  • Regular deceivers (how weird to have a name like deceiver and be edible)
  • Parasols
  • Jelly Ear
  • A couple of moth eaten boletes (I think somebody else had been there before us)
  • Puffballs
  • Stumpballs

And a wide range of inedible or downright poisonous beasties.

Chris, Rose and Keiko were superb teachers and great fun, it was like Five go mushrooming but without the ginger beer.

Back at base we went over our haul and looked at some of the finer points of mushroom identification over some canapés that had clearly been prepared in a kitchen in  Paradise.

Then it was time for lunch, all seven courses of it ….

Wild mushroom consommé before the consommé was added

And after.

Pan fried salmon on a bed of charred leek with pureed fennel and sauce vierge.

Yellison Farm Goats Cheese (Crowdie and Log) served with salt roast beets, apple jelly, watercress and pickled shallot

Pan Fried halibut with herb and almond crust,  wild mushroom chutney, almond and garlic foam and amethyst deceivers

Orange Polenta cake with orange panna cotta and lime crème fraiche

Caramel mousse with chocolate and chestnut sauce, banana jam and granola

Chocolate salted parfait, just poached pears with star anise, brambles and chocolate soil.

……. And coffee and petit fours!

John Rogers you are a weaver of spells, it surely cannot be normal to create such wonderful food (and support Liverpool FC ….. just joking!)  Here are John and the ever put upon Johnny plating up.

No, I’m not on commission, no they don’t know I have written this and yes today was one of the best days of my life.  Full stop.

And by the way, we found quite a few of of these too…


Be nice to me 😉

Osborne’s Magnificat

Henceforth to be used at all Evensongs until I can get a decent seat on the East Coast line for less than the cost of a small house in Willington

My soul doth magnify the ticket barrier
And my spirit rejoiced as it chewed my season ticket.
Because my humility was insufficient
From henceforth all generations shall call me pillock.
Because the ticket collector
Has got his beady eye on me
And his name is Adolf
His victimisation of commuters is from generation unto generations
All them that fear him
He hath showed his excess fare table.
He hath scattered the bankers and the builders
And pulled down the luggage from the rack.
He hath exalted nobody but himself
And filled the coffers of East Coast Railways with good things;
And the ticketless he hath sent empty away
He hath received a gold watch for his excess fare achievements.
Being mindful of his power
As he spoke to the pathetic
Commuters in his hold.


Prescription Pootling

Today has been a languishing at home day.  Mainly due to the fact that the Boss, in his unending generosity has shared his man flu with me.  I know it is man flu because he is a man and he gave it to me.  However, apparently it mutates when it meets two XX chromosomes and becomes a much milder beast and thus there is no possibility that I could become as seriously ill as he has been.  In the interests of evidence based medicine, about which he bangs on about quite a lot, I am going to wait this one out and take notes.

In the meantime I decided that yoga was not a good idea, quite apart from my desire not to fling my germs around all of County Durham I didn’t think that my head could cope with being upside down at any point during the following 24 hours.

I approached the to do list for today with some trepidation.  It had been written when I was not incubating the key cast members of Contagion and as I have a tendency to be somewhat overambitious in my goals for each day I was concerned that merely looking at it (all nicely colour coded nonetheless) might send me straight back under the duvet.  But the gods were smiling upon me for the first job was to pay a very small bill online.  Armed with a very large mug of tea I could probably manage that.  Ah ha, there was more in the account than I was expecting.  A very large invoice had been paid, I began to feel better than ever and managed to squash the desire to have a little peek on eBay on the strength of it.

As the wife of a doctor I know it is very important to take things slowly, one step forward and three steps back and all that.  So I identified only the gentlest of jobs and have had a pootle of a day.

I paid a few bills (piety rating went up); I meditated; I read an uplifting and wonderful book (I am Somewhere Else by Barbara Glasson); walked the dogs (without a coat – this is October in the North of England!); baked triple choc, cheesecake brownies and cooked the sauce for dinner (monkfish tails – half price in Sainsburys in spicy tomato sauce); I wrote my birthday thank you letters; I had a lovely chat to a friend on the phone; I read the paper and I even had a chat with the parrot.

Result – I am feeling a LOT better.  Cost to NHS – nowt.  Pootling should be on prescription.