Thursday, November 20, 2014

Going Backwards

I am the proud owner of 23,000 words of original writing. (Well, not very original writing but I wrote it all myself!) That makes me 10,000 words behind my goal for today.

Yesterday I cut 7,000 words from my story. It was going in the wrong direction and I wasn't liking it. I could see where I'd taken a wrong turning, so I went back to that point and put the 7k words that came next into an "out takes" document. That was less painful than screwing them up and putting them in the bin.

I need to write 2,500 words a day now if I want to get to 50k by the end of November. I don't think I'm going to make it, but at least what I'll have written will be something I'll like. Or I can hope so anyway.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Yesterday I went skating at Somerset House with My Beloved, then we took Boris Bikes to Tate Britain and saw the Late Turner Exhibition.

There's something about seeing famous paintings in real life that you just can't beat. Some of them seem less wonderful (I'm thinking of Manet here). Most of them are more impressive. I loved the picture of a ship in a snow storm and yet the reproduction here really doesn't do it justice.

Friday, November 07, 2014


I'm eleven thousand words into NaNoWriMo and only a few hundred words behind. Which is just as well seeing that tomorrow we're going up to London to skate at Somerset House and then visit the Turner Exhibition at Tate Britain.

I started out writing in third person but after only a few paragraphs I changed to first. I can see where it happened. There was some dialogue which included the character saying "I", and after that it was "I" all the way! So I nipped back and changed the first few paragraphs to match.

It's Nano. If I'm going to write fifty thousand words this month I have to go with whatever works!

Monday, November 03, 2014

I didn't mean to

I wasn't going to do NaNoWriMo this year. When a friend posted on Facebook on November 2nd about being unprepared, I found myself in the same situation. I had no plot, no characters and no ideas. All I had was a blank spreadsheet ready for me to put in my daily word count.

But somehow my friend's post spurred me on and I wrote 2,000 words. I did the same again today. Suddenly I've got a story happening and I have no idea where it's going. It's quite exciting to see what's appearing on the screen.

I don't think I've ever tackled Nano with less preparation and I didn't think it could be done. I'm still not entirely sure but I think I might be doing Nano after all.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Second Sex Readalong

I went on a yarn crawl at the weekend and met another crocheter that I really clicked with. So I stalked him online (well, I looked at his profile on Ravelry anyway) and found his blog and he's doing a readalong of Le Deuxième Sexe by Simone de Beauvoir.

I'm planning to join in if my blood pressure will let me. I'm going to be putting some of my thoughts in a new blog so as not to overwhelm this one, and I'll also be commenting on Tom's blog; so if you want to see where I'm up to you can do it on my blog or on  his.

You might even want to join in.

What's wrong with personality tests?

The Myers/Briggs personality test is suddenly popular again on FaceBook and it made me think about what bothers me about those sorts of test.
  • I hate dividing people up into categories. At least Myers Briggs gives you 16 and not just the either/or of extrovert/introvert. But still.
  • It's easy to write a single personality description that nearly everyone will see as applying to them, especially if it's nice and general. I think this is because we mostly remember the bits that apply and ignore those that don't.  Tests that do this are meaningless.
  • The worst personality tests divide the world up into bits and then force you into a mould - everyone fits into one or the other personality type by definition. This tells you more about the author of the test than about you.
  • The best personality tests ask you questions, then take your answers and feed them back to you in paraphrased format. So you're getting back what you put in and it feels eerily accurate but it's not actually telling you anything you didn't know. Except that the author's underlying beliefs about how to divide up the world usually end up shining through anyway.
But I have to admit that personality tests can be fun. I think I prefer the ones with colours, or elves, or "which Sherlock villain are you?" because at least they don't take themselves seriously.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Warning: Doctor Who Spoilers

Here's what I thought of the latest episode (aired on 23rd August 2014).

I really prefer sci fi to horror, and this was definitely horror. It wasn't a children's story, either.
  • A sad, lonely, female dinosaur is horribly killed in flames
  • Someone is mugged and his eyes removed
  • A balloon carrying the Doctor is made of human skin
  • The Doctor mugs a tramp (although he thinks better of it and gives up his watch)
  • The Doctor may or may not have pushed a robot to his death
It was too slow and repetitive. How many times do we need to be told
  • That Madame Vastra and Jenny are married?
  • That this Doctor is really the same as the old Doctor?
  • That this Doctor is very, very old (although younger than the first Doctor)?
  • That this Doctor is not Clara's boyfriend?
Plus the "Did he fall or was he pushed?" was laboured. I got it the first time.

But there were some humorous moments, and bits of it were fun. Capaldi is brilliant and given half a chance will make a wonderful Doctor. I hope he's given that chance.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Happy Midsummer with a free book!

Happy Midsummer's Day everyone! And a freebie:

I've just finished reading the Touchstone trilogy and loved it. Book One is free for the Kindle, so although this is only the first third of the story it gives you the chance to decide if it's worth spending the £5.92 to read the whole story. (Hint: it is.)

Cass walks through a wormhole and finds herself in another world, one which is similar to Earth in many ways but with disturbing differences. She has to find a way to survive long enough to find a way home.

It's hard to do justice to this story because it's huge in scope, with so many interesting characters and settings. Luckily book one has a glossary! I was completely engrossed in this other world and felt like I was living with Cass through the events she describes. Some reviewers have complained that the story is slow in parts but I enjoyed the rest periods when things were going well for Cass. Given that the whole of the first third of the story is free, you get a real chance to decide if it's for you.

Happy reading or whatever else you're doing today!

Friday, June 06, 2014


Here is Rufus auditioning unsuccessfully for the role of Ceiling Cat.

(This is Ceiling Cat.)

Here is Rufus playing Hide and Seek.

It's quite a shock when you're on your own in the kitchen making yourself a quiet cup of tea and there is suddenly a noise above your head and there's a cat staring down at you. But cats sleep wherever they want to.

This is Bonnie. At least she is civilised.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Story Competition

Can you write a story about time travel in less than two weeks? Would you like an amazon gift voucher? Then you need to go to Indie Writers Monthly Blogspot for details of their competition.

The competition closes on 15th June. Good luck if you go in for it!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Just another Manic Monday?

Rain 2

Bank Holiday Monday in England surpassed itself. Whirlochre wrote about the "Torrential Rain Fest of Biblical Proportions" and he was right. My Beloved and I went to Surrey County Show and the mud reached the top of my thighs. (Splattered up to there, I mean. We weren't actually swimming in the stuff although a bit more rain and that might have been an option.)

While I was in the portaloo a set of dentures flew under the partition to land in the mud at my feet. This came as a bit of a surprise as it was the first time that had happened to me. I called out, "I'm a bit busy at the moment but I'll pick them up for you as soon as I can." The woman who'd lost them was grateful to get them back; she admitted that a muddy portaloo was perhaps not the best place to try to dislodge a tomato pip from under her top plate. She was rinsing them under the tap when I left but I didn't stay to see what she did with them next. I had the feeling that I really didn't want to know.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Web Designers Start Here

According to my extensive research on the T-Mobile website, these are the rules for web design:
  • Do not under any circumstances provide obvious links
  • Any coloured text must NOT be a link
  • Pictures must NOT be used as links
  • Hide all links in menus that only appear when clicked
  • Make menus as unobtrusive as possible (bonus points if no users at all are able to find them)
  • Insist that your users contact your help service for any and all details rather than allowing them to browse for themselves online
  • Make it pretty
Any rules that you would want to add?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dressing Up?

You go Eddie!

I can so relate to this because when I was a girl trousers were really meant for men. I wore ski pants and had short hair and so I got called "son" occasionally. Girls were really meant to wear dresses and have long hair, which I quite liked some of the time but dresses are rubbish for climbing trees.

And now women can wear trousers but men are not supposed to wear skirts. Unless they're kilts. The logic of this is, well actually there is no logic in it.

The article where I found this talks about "non-cisgendered men" wearing dresses but I don't see why anyone has to be labelled according to the clothes they sometimes like to wear. When I was a girl I didn't want to wear trousers because I wanted to be a man, I wore trousers (and still do) because I like trousers. In the same way, why on earth can't men wear skirts and dresses and sparklies without being labelled? Maybe they just like them. Sometimes I like wearing them too.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Guide to Devon Dialect Terms for Cyclists

My Beloved and I went to Devon last weekend and took our bikes; we were aiming to cycle parts of the Tarka Trail and we also cycled along by Woolacombe Bay. It's absolutely beautiful there but if you're on a bike you need to watch out for the local dialect when asking advice on where to cycle.

It's flat.
Translation: various ups and downs but nothing a novice cyclist can't manage with a bit of effort.
There's a slight incline but nothing to worry about. Translation: it's a hill. Demanding cycling but you won't need to get off and push. Probably.
It's not far, just up the hill. Translation: get your pitons out. Mountain goats would be proud to manage this ascent.

Oh, and the phrase "a country mile"? We reckon that comes from Devon too.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014


Polenth has published a book that I really enjoyed. It's a paranormal story, a cop buddy story, and a mystery story all rolled into one but somehow she's made it more than any of those. She's taken the legend of Bigfoot (which I would never have guessed could be interesting) and created a culture for them that that I found intriguing and convincing. It read to me like good science fiction where we see ourselves through the eyes (and in this case nose) of an alien, although in this case it's a terrestrial alien.

I liked the really quirky characters a lot and I enjoyed the exchanges between Ari (the Bigfoot) and her OCD human partner Ben. There is a plot but for me this was the least important aspect of the book. I just thoroughly enjoyed stepping into Ari and Ben's world and I can't wait for the next book to come out so I can join them there again. I think you might like it too.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Hey, that's mine!

This newly finished shawl was just set out to dry after a wash to soften it up when Rufus decided to come and groom himself on it. After all, the ground was wet and muddy out and he needed somewhere clean where he could get the dirt off his paws.

Did I say it was a shawl? That was what Sarah, who wrote the pattern, called it but she was wrong. Clearly it's a cat blanket. Rufus has decreed it!

Friday, April 04, 2014

Now We Are 60

I started the day with a bran tub* from my sister. Anyone else remember bran tubs? It smelt heavenly as I dived into it.

This is how we started the party. I'd decided to go for the subtle look.

Sadly, Neil didn't get the chance to play during the party.  The guitars were authentic decor though - I seem to remember a guitar in every student bedroom when I was young!

Here is my lovely friend Alex. You can see she got my memo about being subtle.

The music started and we were off! I haven't had so much fun dancing in years.

My sons. The best-looking young men in the world. No, I'm not at all biased. I'm surprised you'd even ask!

I don't know why I was looking at his feet.

Some dear friends with my daughter-in-law

And here are both lovely daughters-in-law, with a friend and my older son.

Some mad friends who write a novel every November. Yes, I do too. No, I don't know why.

The end of the party and still fresh as a daisy. Ish.

If you want to hear some of the music we danced to there's a playlist on YouTube.

*(In Britain) a tub containing bran** in which small wrapped gifts are hidden, used at parties, fairs, etc.
** except that the "bran" was always sawdust.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Books For Boys And Girls

Boys' & Girls' Book for 1938

People pressurising bookshops to stop labelling books as "for girls" or "for boys" just don't understand: gendered children's books are easier to sell than non-gendered ones.

So that's all right then.

Friday, February 28, 2014


You might remember some very good advice Simon Kewin gave a while back about writing. Well, today he's revealing the cover for his fantasy novel Hedge Witch which will be published later this year.

Simon has published a lot of excellent short, flash, and twitter fiction and had a novel Engn published by December House. Hedge Witch was accepted by a traditional publisher who was then so dilatory in getting the book out there that Simon has taken it back into his own hands.

Fifteen year-old Cait Weerd has no idea she's being sought by the undain: sorcerous creatures that feed off the spirit of the living. She doesn't know they need her blood to survive. She doesn't even know she's a witch, descended from a long line of witches. Cait Weerd doesn't know a lot, really, but all that's about to change.

At Manchester Central Library she's caught up in sudden violence. In the chaos she's given an old book that's been hidden there. Given it and told to run. Hide the book or destroy it. The book contains all the secrets of the undains' existence. They and their human servants want to find it as much as they want to find her.

Cait learns the fates of two worlds are at stake. Just what she needs. Along with definitely-not-a-boyfriend Danny, she has to decide what the hell to do. Run, fight or hope it all goes away.

It's only then she learns who she really is, along with the terrible truth of what the undain have been doing in our world all this time...

It sounds like something I really want to read. I can't wait for it to come out. Here are the links for finding out more:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Everybody Naked?

As a follow-up to my recent post Let's All Get Naked!, it seems that French booksellers decided to do just that to protest against the attempted censorship of the children's book Tous A Poil.

Good for them!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I'm sorry, Avatar!

I loved the film Avatar but I thought that it was rather spoilt by the choice of the name "unobtainium" for the mineral that was so precious to Earth but perhaps I was being rather hard on the film makers because did you know that element #118 in the periodic table has been given the (temporary) name "ununoctium"? That's not a million miles away from unobtainium, is it, so maybe I should let the film directors off the hook.

As to how I found out about ununoctium, well I came across these wonderful chopping boards on BoingBoing and you can customise the final element which just happens to be ununoctium. If P&P from the US was less exorbitant I'd be very tempted.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Let's all get naked!

Actually, let's not all get naked here in England while the cold winds blow and the flood waters rise. In France, though, in summer on the beach it sounds like a fun idea.

A charming French book for children called Tous à Poil, which translates as "Everyone (gets) Naked", is causing rather a stir  because it shows people doing just that. Its drawings of naked bodies aren't like the photos you see everywhere that are so heavily airbrushed and photoshopped that everyone looks like a Barbie doll. Instead they show children a more realistic picture of what people look like under their clothes and that sounds like a good idea to me. 

Interestingly, since politicians have denounced it on French tv, sales have rocketed. Nice work, French MPs!

Would I take it in to work? (At an after-school club for primary age children.) Probably not. I'd be too worried about the reaction from teachers and parents, which is a shame. Would I read it to my grandchildren (if I had any)? Almost certainly yes. What about you?

Friday, February 14, 2014

To Friends and Friendship!

Valentine's Wallpaper

It's Valentine's Day.

Every year I try to reclaim the day for friends and friendship, as opposed to "make single people unhappy day" or "sell more greetings cards day".

I've made some amazing friends online. Some I've met in meatspace, some I've not met there yet, and some I will never meet face-to-face because they are sadly deceased.

If you're reading this, then you're a friend and I'm very glad to know you.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Houdini Cat

Last night I left Rufus safely asleep on his cat tree in the kitchen. The door to the conservatory was locked and the door to the rest of the house was closed. The only way out was through a cat flap into the locked garage, where the cat flap that leads to the outside world was firmly shut. There was no way out.

This morning, when I opened the kitchen door Rufus had gone. There was no cat yelling accusingly, telling me that he hadn't been fed for hours and that the service in this place is terrible you just can't get the staff these days. He didn't even come when I offered food. He'd vanished.

I checked the cat flap: still firmly shut. I checked on top of cupboards, inside the cupboards, all the (very many) cat hiding places in the junk in the garage. Still no Rufus. Panicking now, I woke my daughter-in-law to see if she had let the cat out overnight. No, she hadn't. I had visions of Ru lying injured in some inaccessible place after trying one spectacular leap too many off a cupboard.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw an orange shape moving past the kitchen window catflapwards. Rufus had been out for a stroll and was now gracing us with his presence.

Rufus back from his travels

I still have no explanation for how he could escape from a locked room.

Rufus displaying his usual skill at opening the cat flap when it's NOT locked: 42 attempts before he can get it open
Do you think we should put him on the stage and charge admission?

Friday, February 07, 2014

Canada Poking Fun

When the text came up I snorted with laughter.

Google has got into the act as well, although rather more subtly. Apparently the rainbow background is meant to support gay sports people and has nothing to do with Noah's ark.

I just hope that Russia rethinks its anti-gay stance in the light of all this media attention.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Sexy Lady

If you like this comic there are more at Scandinavia and the World
I've just heard about Anything That Loves, which is a comic book that's just come out about being bi. I was surprised to realise that it's not just straight people who can be anti-bi, apparently gay people (who I'd have thought would know what it's like to suffer from other people's prejudice) can be firmly anti-bi too. It seems that we like to divide the world neatly into pairs of categories and if you don't fit one then you must fit the other. But reality is more complicated than that.

I do wish people wouldn't try to put us all into boxes. The only thing that should be in a box is a cat and that's because they like to be there.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Fun With Science

Just a couple of pictures that I thought were worth sharing.

And finally, I love this avatar used by one of the talented people on Ravelry. It took me a few moments to get it the first time I saw it*.

*If you don't get it, try googling for the scientific symbol for Potassium. Hint: it isn't P.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Reading With A Vengeance

Fifty Shades of Grey

I found an interesting blog that comments on books chapter by chapter and the posts on Fifty Shades of Grey are keeping me amused.

Ana tells us for the third time this chapter that Grey is, in fact, still sleeping. Riveting. I kind of wish I could join him, because at least then we’d both be unconscious.

I did try reading Fifty Shades but to me it reads like really bad fan-fiction. Strange that.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Customer Service FTW!

Dear John Lewis,

Thank you so much for my new television. It's everything I'd hoped for and more - oh, sorry, wait. You didn't make it you just delivered it. Well, thank you for delivering it. Eventually.

I know your delivery drivers are very busy, so getting a phone call at 8.20pm to say they wouldn't be delivering by 9pm was fine. We'd only been waiting since 2pm with the furniture all out of place to make their job easier when they arrived, so no worries there. I was very happy to be given a reason for the delay and "unforeseen circumstances" really clarified things for me. And of course I had the phone call from customer services to look forward to.

Which didn't actually happen, but hey! You're busy people! I understand that. So my three or four (or was it five?) phone calls to find out when our set would be delivered were obviously necessary. And you did give me another delivery date, four days after the first one. Result!

It would have been nice to get the set within the time you specified but the men did come to pick up our old one on time. Punctual or what! And it was only a few hours later that they actually managed to arrive with the telly we were waiting for. How cool is that!

So it's all good and of course an apology is not needed which is just as well really seeing as how we didn't get one.*

Looking on your FaceBook page for the last few months you seem to have a lot of angry people whose deliveries were not on time and who were fobbed off by customer services. All I can say is, what a grumpy lot. Why would anyone expect to get their goods on the day they were promised just because they'd already paid for them?

Sadly we won't be buying anything from you again unless we can pick it up and bring it home ourselves but no hard feelings, eh?


Fairy Hedgehog

 *A few days later I got a phone call from John Lewis; someone had drawn their attention to this blog so they were phoning to apologise.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Which laptop?

My Acer TravelMate is dying - James managed to get Windows to work on it again after it completely stopped booting up but all my data has vanished. It's a good job he backed it all up for me recently!

I loved it for it's light weight, long battery life, cool running, and matt screen but the hard drive had to be replaced just before the first year warranty ran out, and a year later it looks like it's gone again.

I think it's time to replace it but I don't know what with. What I really want is the same again but with a hard drive that doesn't die after a year.
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