Thursday 31 December 2015

I am resolute

That's right.  You read it here first.  I am admirably purposeful, determined and unwavering.  The only problem is that I'm not sure exactly for what.  But I shall be resolute about it.  For at least the first five minutes of 2016.

I am terrible at New Year resolutions.  In fact I think that I am quite possibly against them.  I am what I am.  As a ghost I will be what I was.  My morphological state of being has been set and is highly unlikely to change significantly no matter how many 31st of Decembers I state that I shall become X, Y and Z.

That said I do strive towards one thing and that is happiness.  It's tricksy and wicked and false but allegedly it can be found if you don't look for it and most definitely if you resist the urge to analyse it when you find it.  It's the elusive rainbow pooping unicorn of myth and legend.

I do have goals for 2016 but I am resisting the end of year urge to state that I shall achieve them all within the next 365 days.  Let's not get carried away with additional pressure and timeframes and wotnot.  It's the wotnots that can kill you.  They're sneaky.

And so to actuality.

I will be changing abode in 2016.  I am very much excitedly looking forward to that with the same kind of bottomless dread that goes hand in hand with never knowing exactly what it is that you are going to 'do' with the rest of your life.  And there may be gainful employment options.

In opposition to sanity I shall be starting Insanity tomorrow.  Can I get a 'Hell Yeah'?  I'm thinking that I might need picking up off the floor on the 2nd of January.  But it should provide some humourous moments when I face plant on press up number two and spend the rest of the week in painful muscle spasms.

I will finally stop procrastinating around and write the goddamn query letter to the list of 55 literary agents I have researched about my book and stop being so unsure about the whole thing and just get on with it.  There will be a website.  And there are two other projects in the pipeline.  Plus a sequel. Plus some poetry because why not.

Finally I hope there will be friends and family.  New friends and maybe even new family.  Visits and fly bys.  Large, confused roast dinners and tipsy evenings playing board games.  Long distance drives in the rain met by cups of tea and homemade cakes.  Cutting and sticking and gluing and painting and glittering.  And big comfy chairs with lots and lots and lots of books.

Here's to your 2016 - cheers x

Monday 14 December 2015

Christmas Mania

'I put my tree up last week.'
'Well, I put mine up last month.'
'I never took my down from last year.'

'I've already made my Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, mincemeat and seventeen other delicacies only eaten this time of year.'
'I've imported only the finest ingredients for my Christmas feast and have a hamper being delivered on Christmas Eve with the very best the festive season can supply.'
'Well, I've already made Christmas dinner, freeze dried it and sent it up to the International Space Station so they can eat a meal that's truly out of this world.'

'I've already written and sent all my Christmas cards.'
'Oh, we aren't doing Christmas cards this year.  We are making a charitable donation and then using every possible social media platform to let everyone know about it.'
'Well we are visiting everyone personally to sign carols at their door.'

'We've bought our child the same action figure in six different colours.'
'That's nothing, we bought the entire second floor of Hamleys for our six month old child.'
'I hear what you're saying but we tracked down Santa himself and have him working in our basement on a series of truly original toys for our child.  It mean he misses delivering presents to everyone else but we're so self absorbed we're totally fine with it.'

It seems that Christmas mania and the desire to out-do everyone else is running rampant this year.  Or perhaps it's because this is the poorest I've been this festive season.  Or maybe because I have my little monster and I'm feeling the pressure (rightly or wrongly) that I haven't bought him the latest anything.  I just want to enjoy Christmas like I used to when I was a little monster.  With that in mind I am trying very hard not to get too sucked into the blatant capitalism fest December has begun.

I also dislike all the memes etc I've seen telling us to get into the Christmas spirit and be present, giving and loving without spending a fortune.  It feels like I'm being told how to behave, that is something I feel I have the write to decide for myself.  Besides, if the internet is telling me to act a certain way for the benefit of my soul perhaps it's in more danger than I thought.  And yes I appreciate that Christmas should be a christian celebration of faith but that message got lost a long time ago - fair play to those of you who do attend church on the 25th December.  

I hope we get to spend a stress free couple of days with family and celebrate being together, regardless of how packed the stocking is or how many different types of stuffing were made.  Oh and Santa?  I've been good - honest!

Saturday 5 December 2015

Homeless in a Year

In November 2016, the Barking & Dagenham Council have decided, in their infinite wisdom, to knock down a series of flats on the Gascoigne Estate.  Our flat happens to be within that series.  We are private renters - some of our neighbours own their flats, others are council tenants.  All the council flats were recently given brand new bathrooms and kitchens.  Now they are all to be demolished so that a regeneration scheme can be put into place whereby the council will be building....flats.

If you are a council tenant the council will give you a couple of grand, pay for your moving costs and find you new council housing.  If you own the flat the council will buy it from you - happy days.  If you are private renters like us then, basically, jog on.

So let's review our options.  Our rent is actually ridiculously low for which we are eternally grateful to our landlady however it does mean that as we look for a new place to live we are practically outpriced everywhere.  When I rented a single room in a shared house I payed almost £500 which is the same amount we pay for our two bedroom flat.  I know.  Extremely lucky.  To rent a two bedroom flat in Barking & Dagenham will cost you about a grand.  Strike one.

To be eligible for council housing you have to claim benefits or be at risk.  We don't qualify for any benefits (bar child support) because hubby has a decent job.  We're not at risk because neither of us are abused or disabled.  The council might decide to put us at the bottom of their council house list, if we're fortunate.  Last time I checked the number of people waiting for council housing in the Barking & Dagenham area was about 14.000.  Strike two.

Why not get on the property ladder you ask.  Well . .  it's that pesky deposit.  When you live hand to mouth - month in, month out, it's difficult to save up £50 let alone £20,000.  The bank were extremely polite when they told us we could get a mortgage for £158,000.  If we look real hard, we might be able to find a one bedroom flat above a takeaway for that.  Certainly not a two bedroom flat and with a minimum of three and maximum of five people needing an abode then a one bedroom isn't really going to cut the mustard.  Strike three.

The government's Help To Buy scheme is available.  They will give you up to 20% of your mortgage and you pay nothing for the first 5 years.  Then they want repayments.  An estimate we received based on a £200,000 house was a mortgage around £800 per month with an additional £200 payment each month after 5 years.  Point one - we can't afford that much mortgage in the first place and point two - in five years time I doubt very much our wages will be robust enough to take on that additional payment.  So why not just sell up in five years.  Well.... the government will still take their slice and then once we've repaid the mortgage we could potentially be in the negatives and we still need somewhere to live.  It's not an option I feel remotely comfortable with.  Strike four.

Barking and Dagenham have very helpfully set up a affordable housing scheme for those people who can't afford to buy yet don't qualify for council housing.  Hoorah you say.  After a lengthy paperwork finding mission to register and become eligible we discovered that two bedroom flats on the scheme are £960 a month.  Hardly affordable.  Strike five.

Share to buy then - what about that one.  Two bedroom properties in the share to buy scheme in the Barking and Dagenham area start at about a grand a month with 500 on rent and 500 on mortgage. To be eligible for share to buy in a different borough you have to have lived there for a couple of years before you can apply so no opportunity to move to a cheaper borough.  Strike six.

Surely if the Council is making you homeless they have to rehouse you, you may ask.  Apparently they are under no obligation to do anything until we have the eviction notice in our hands with literally nowhere to go.  Then they can put us in a hostel.  I am not living in a hostel.  Not with my baby boy.  Please.

The key issue here is lack of money and high property prices.  Get better jobs?  I confess I don't work and yes, a second income would be amazing but who will look after the little man?  Nursery - right - at about a grand a month for full time care.  That would probably be the bulk of my wage.  Nothing left for contributing towards housing costs plus I don't see my family anymore.  Hardly a solution.   Plus with a husband who works a five-week shift pattern with different days off each week having him look after the wee one isn't feasible either.  I could work nights.  But with a toddler who no longer sleeps in the daytime and demands a lot of one-to-one, how long would it be before I burnt out?  Perhaps I am just finding excuses, I don't know.

In the New Year we will be trying to move.  We have to consider hubby's ability to get to work and public transport links in order to go pick up his children.  And yes - we also have no car.  That is an unaffordable luxury.  Early indicators show that there are flats available to rent for £650 a month in the Southend area which puts us closer to the children with a viable transport link for hubby's job. The only issue now is to find an additional £150 a month.  We could always take it out of the food budget - who needs to eat anyway?

Looks like 2016 is going to be a fabulous year.

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Tuesday 1 December 2015

Author Day Review

Yesterday I had the pleasure to attend Author Day organised by The Bookseller and Future Books.  It was one of those events that I just happened to see the email about at the exact right time and just happened to get a place - funded by my local library.  Three cheers for them.  Otherwise it would have completely passed me by and that would've been a real shame.

It was so encouraging to spend the day listening to movers and shakers within the publishing sphere talk about the issues faced by the writer - and indeed the publisher - and how those issues could be addressed.  Yes, there were a few horror stories and yes, negative aspects were mentioned but despite that, there was an air of positivity and excitement for what the future holds.

The host for the day, Porter Anderson from Futurebooks, was excellent - introducing each speaker with great warmth and interest, making you want to listen and find out more and become truly engaged with the day.  And it was a long day but I did my best to use my dusty old brain to soak up as much as possible and try not to think about my husband at home with our toddler - alone - all day - including meal times....

To be honest, I didn't really have time to panic about them.  I was too busy listening.  Nicola Solomon, Chief Exec from The Society of Authors gave a passionate opening talk about the state of the author in traditional publishing.  She raised all the scary details and then explained ways these could all be improved.  It seemed that there was a real drive by her, and others, to make these things happen.  And how did I not know about The Society of Authors?  Writing is a very isolated profession.  I often take far too much pleasure in the news that my other half has to work late when I have ideas bubbling in my head.  It means I can be alone and I can write without any disturbance. But that very isolation has meant that I know nothing about The Society of Authors or indeed the Alliance of Independent Authors and yes I know I can Google but I am supposed to be focused, not procrastinating.  I am already very good at that.

Prior to this conference, independent publishing was something that I viewed with vague discomfort and concern.  Surely if I were to publish independently then no-one would take me or indeed my book seriously.  Orna Ross, Founding Director at Alliance of Independent Authors and Jane Steen, an independently published author, dispelled those negatives feelings.  In fact the whole day made indie publishing much less scary and much more desirable.  The next time I hear someone tell me 'you don't want to publish independently' I will tell them that they really should do their research. Obviously it's not for everyone but if you're driven and passionate about self promotion including dancing with social media then indie publishing is certainly a very positive direction to take.

It was so interesting to hear the different viewpoints and experiences from the two authors Jane Steen and Kamila Shamsie.  Kamila focused on her trad publishing journey in her talk on industry unity and spoke with warmth about her editor.  I wish I had made more notes because I remember enjoying her talk immensely and yet my toddler atrophied brain will not let me recall every fine detail.

I do remember Authors Anonymous telling us about the common doubts authors have - it is comforting to know that you are not the only one having negative thoughts.  Harry Bingham's survey of authors was interesting in that whilst most authors had the same grumbles they also had loyalty to their publisher.  Ian Ellard for Faber Academy received an extremely enthusiastic round of applause when he suggested an end to unpaid internships and Emma Barnes from Bibliocloud & Snowbooks highlighted something I have seen many times in my previous career life - the tools are there for publishers to streamline and improve admin etc but the understanding is not and self-made databases will NEVER get the job done.

The second portion of the day was given over to panels, with one before lunch and two after.  Literary agents and authors spoke to us about their current experience in the industry and again I was left with an overall positive impression that despite challenges there are opportunities to improve. The fact that agents and publishers and authors were so willing to come together at Author Day and voice their opinions so openly can only be a good thing.  Lunch was amusing.  I had expected sandwiches but oh no, we were given a delicious hot buffet.  I had chicken with gnocchi and weirdly, cauliflower cheese.  I wondered whether such a yummy lunch would then encourage the mid afternoon snooze but the afternoon panels remained well attended and even though I missed a portion of each due to pitches, I think I got the general gist.

We must always remember that writing a book does not begin and end with the author.  True, they do wrestle the words into submission but often there is an unsung hero in editing, a massively talented illustrator and should you go international the translator who is very often unmentioned and those are only a few of the potential team behind you.  The general feel for the day, in my mind, was that we are all in this together and so we should stand tall and fight for equality and fairness across the board. I still feel like the tiny goldfish in the big lake but at least now I know a little more about this monstrous industry I want to be part of.

Saturday 28 November 2015


As I type this the overhead light burns into my eyes with the force of a thousand suns.  My head dances to the tune of a million jack hammers desperate to break through my cranium.  Pain lances down the front of my forehead terminating in my eye socket.  I am preparing for a big day.

On Monday I get the opportunity to pitch my novel to HarperCollins.  I still can't quite believe it and I'm hoping to come away with some excellent feedback at the very least.  And so to prepping.  I have been going over my answers to the questions I think they might ask me.  I have determined that my book has many levels and is bursting with storylines and interconnected themes making it fairly difficult to encapsulate into a few words but I'm getting there.  

I don't have the headache from prepping for the pitch, although I am excitedly nervous about it.  I have the head bursting agony from only drinking two cups of tea today and trying to use a printer. Honestly. . . . I reckon hell is an office where you teter from broken photocopiers to jammed paper trays and ink toners that have run out and not been reordered to the wrong colour/thickness/size of paper and no black pens left.  

First I ran out of ink.  Then I bought a colour cartridge by mistake. Then I couldn't find the right black ink cartridge.  Then it rained (while I was trying to carry a ream of paper back).  Then I still haven't had a god-damn cup of tea.  Then I had to share my ice cream.  Then I figured I probably ought to read the first three chapters to make sure they were actually worth submitting.  Then I did congratulate myself on a tiny bit of awesomeness.  Then I realised I printed out the first three chapters without my name in the header.  So now I have a spare copy.  I've just looked at the info bar on the bottom of the laptop and I'm almost out of battery.  And now Windows 10 wants to install.  

Deep breath.  

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Sunday 22 November 2015

30-Day Writing Challenge - Day 30

Something you're excited for

I'm excited about Author Day on 30th November because I have a 10-minute slot to pitch my book to HarperCollins so I can't really think about anything else!!  It's thrilling and scary and hopeful a great opportunity to get some excellent feedback if nothing more.  In a wonderful world they'll love the novel and I'll be on my way but let's not get too excited.

I'm also excited for January and I know you shouldn't wish your life away but in January we will be looking for somewhere new to live - due to the fact that the council are knocking down our flats. Living in a new area I am hoping that I will be able to find a little job and start building my worth up more.  And of course there is the sequel bubbling away in the crevices of my mind.

I've enjoyed this writing challenge however those with the eagle eyes will know that I forgot to post yesterday - on the last day!  Can you believe that?  I think it would be interesting to try and find another challenge to keep stretching myself and  of course to keep blogging.  Somehow I don't think I'll run out of things to say.

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Friday 20 November 2015

30-day Writing Challenge - Day 29

How you spent your 21st birthday

Do you remember that previous post about earliest memory and how awful my memory actually is? Well..I can't remember what I did for my 21st birthday.  I can remember my 18th because I was in the jungles of Borneo with classmates on a World Challenge Expedition and they gave me a slice of watermelon with a candle in it and a locally made bracelet which I still have.  The bracelet, not the watermelon.

On my 21st birthday I would have been in Peterborough, I remember getting a postcard birthday poem from Repro so I know I was working at Pims national.  I wouldn't have gone out and got wasted because that's not my style so I don't have any amusing drunk stories - those are from my friends 18th and not repeatable here.

In a ideal world I would have gone out for a delicious italian meal with all my friends and family and laughed and laughed and made world peace.  Or something equally as awesome.

Thursday 19 November 2015

30-day Writing Challenge - Day 28

The word or phrase you use constantly

I like to think a have a good grasp of the english language and give most words their fair turn at being spoken.  I'd also love to have my very own catchphrase.  As far as I know I don't have one.

My husband and I have certain phrases that we use towards each other but I don't use them for anyone else.  I call my little boy a wide range of odd things like moo-ma and puff and poo-pa.  They don't have a particular meaning except to convey love and fondness.

I'm not a basically or an actually kinda person.  I don't say like all the time.  I may be accused of the over use of the word cool.  And possibly awesome.  But then I'm a sci-fi geek with fandoms so I have to use those words.  It would be interesting if there was a way to find out my most used word.  I hope it would be one of love and happiness and not a horrid nasty word.

I do try real hard not to swear, especially round small ears, so I have modified some swear words. Mother fudgebuckets is a favourite of mine and I do like son of a nutcracker but I don't think I use them constantly or at least I hope not.  It's probably cake you know or biscuit.  My little man picked those words up very quickly.  Oh, and cup of tea.  That is a well used phrase.  Conveys so much - oooh I'm a bit peckish so I'll have a cup of tea (and try not to eat anything)  - are you ok?  Do you want a cup of tea (sit here and tell me all about it) - long period of silence then, do you want a cup of tea? (filler for boredom) - out shopping, shall we have a sit down and a cup of tea (I only really came out for the cake so lets get to it).  That's the one.

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Wednesday 18 November 2015

30-day Writing Challenge - Day 27

What you wore today



My feet found themselves enclosed within a rather fetching black ensemble with green fringing and a black and green stripe across the toes making me think of a witches stocking.  A great find in that store of huge queues and paper bags, Primark.

Long ago I gave up on the dream of matching underwear, it's unachievable.  These days if the pants match the bra it's usually because I washed whites with darks too often and my underwear is about a 1000 years old.  It's a rather fetching shade of grey - you can't buy that.  Today however you can just about tell the difference and it's lighter on top then it is below.  A sensible M&S and Asda amalgamation.

Jeans.  I hate jeans.  They're just so.... ugh.  If you're not of the drain pipe leg persuasion then a decent pair of jeans is hard to find.  If you browse the racks of high street shops apparently everyone has skinny leg.  I don't have skinny legs.  I'm hipular and rounded with powerful thighs and a definite pear shape.  And that's when I am at my lightest.  When I'm yoyoing up I'm more of a blobette with boobs but we won't go into that.  I own one pair of jeans.  They!  And currently ripped at the bottom on both legs because they were slightly too long when I bought them.  When I purchased them from Dotty Ps I went for a larger size then I am because I was expecting some happy growth however as that wasn't to be I ended up doing my own misery growth so I guess it worked out in the end.  But don't make me run.  If I run in them they fall down.  They don't fit round the waist so I spend all day hoiking them up and they spend all day falling back down to my hips making them too long in the crotchal area which is just annoying and uncomfortable.

My delightful floral top is blue and white and grey with three quarter sleeves and a v-neck with buttons.  It flares at the bottom slightly with two slits either side of the hips so my jelly belly is nicely covered.  The v accentuates the bust.  When a good rack is all you have then accentuate accentuate accentuate.  Top is from H&M which I have to say is excellent.  I have bought many many things from them ranging from floor length dresses to hareem trousers to maternity stuff and tops of all colours and styles.  I like that they stuff their shops with so much merchandise it takes you seven trips before you realise you have actually seen everything in there and seeing as I avoid clothes shopping like the plague there is always something new.

What did you wear today?

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Tuesday 17 November 2015

30-day Writing Challenge - Day 26

Things you'd say to an ex

I actually keep in touch with a few of my ex's in the sense that we are facebook friends and send each other Happy Birthdays with the occasional thumbs up for an extremely awesome post.  I think the problem with talking about  your ex is that time warps the thoughts and feelings that you had into fuzzyness.  At the end of the day you spent a chunk of your life with that person so it can't have been all bad and if you managed to come to the end amicably it means you both took what you needed from the relationship and were both ready to move on.

I'd like to say to most of my ex's - thank you for putting up with me and count yourselves lucky you don't have to put up with the old woman version as I seem to be getting worse with ripening.  Thank you for listening, for giving me your advice, for calming me down and keeping me going.  For being my strength at a time when I had none and for helping me to believe in myself when I never thought I could.

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Monday 16 November 2015

30-day Writing Challenge - Day 25

Four weird habits

1.  The correct way to eat a Mr Kiplings Fruit Pie (or Custard Tart or Mince Pie - or indeed any small pie with a lid [although I do realise custard tarts don't have lids]) is to nibble your way around the fringe, lever up and scoff the lid then lick the insides out and finally eat the empty pastry shell.  This is usually done in the privacy of my own home. Other people seem to think it pushes the boundaries of polite public behaviour.

2.  When I'm driving and the music is blaring, I have to turn it down to see better.

3.  I compulsively eat polos crunching them one after the other after the other but I won't eat the sugar free ones because they, according to urban myth, have a laxative-like side effect.

Wow - this is actually really hard.  Obviously I don't think that anything I do is weird so trying to think of 4 that I am prepared to share with the rest of you is quite tricksy.  My husband was no help at all, he said that my OCD was weird and pointless and it's my life which I took to mean my entire existence was pointless so there was a moment.  Once we cleared that up and I asked for an example he told me he thought it was idiotic I kept certain towels in certain places for certain reasons.  I merely responded with at least you always know where your towel is, something that I'm sure a lot of us would be extremely grateful for.

4.  Ok fine.  I have OCD in some odd parts of the house but struggle to actually do any cleaning.

*grumble grumble grumble*

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Sunday 15 November 2015

30-day Writing Challenge - Day 24

Something you miss

I miss my car.  I actually miss an awful lots of things but if I talk about all of them I shall probably dissolve into a puddle on the laptop which wouldn't be very good for either of us.

My car was a black Vauxhall Astra 1.8 Sport which had been owned by a boy racer and was geared low so it had great poke.  It was delightful to drive and I was distraught when I had to sell it.

I really miss having a car because of the freedom it gave you to shop wherever you wanted to shop, to just get in it and go somewhere, to pop in for a cuppa whenever you wanted to.  I could just drive over to my Mums whenever I liked and I really, really miss that.  I even miss washing it - I always felt it deserved to be washed by hand and not taken through a car wash.

I don't really like driving these days.  In fact I will do almost anything to avoid it but back then I loved going for a drive.  I had my car CD's and my travel sweets and a funky yummy smelling car freshner.  I knew how to check my oil, my tyres and my water - I even knew how to change my spare. If I still had my car I'd be driving all the time.

I had my one and only car accident in this car.  I skidded round a corner on black ice and flew into a ditch but I didn't panic and I drove into the skid and we made it in one piece.  I've been hailed on, obviously rained on, snowed on and aquaplaned in this car.  I've driven short little skits and several long hour journeys in this car.  I especially enjoyed driving the windy hill roads of Wales.  I raced motorbikes in this car, done over a 100 mph and used to follow the straight racing lines across the large roundabouts on the parkway where I used to live.

I really really miss my car.

Saturday 14 November 2015

30-day Writing Challenge - Day-23

A family member you dislike

Now I know this is a writing challenge but ...... let's look at the definition of dislike - feel distaste for or hostility towards.

Honestly I do not feel distaste or hostility towards any of my family members.  That may be because I barely know most of them so everything is kept extremely civil.  I always think I have a fairly small family but then when you sit down and work it out, it's actually a lot of people.

Mum - Step Dad - Step Sister + partner & 2 kids - Step Sister + partner - Half Sister
Aunt - Uncle - Cousin + partner
Great Aunt + partner - 2nd Cousin + partner & 2 kids - 2nd Cousin and unknown quantities
Great Aunt + partner - 2nd Cousin + partner & 2 kids x2 - 2nd Cousin
Dad + partner
Step Mum + partner - Half Sister + partner - Half Brother + partner - Half Brother

I ring my Mum everyday.  Yes, I am one of those people.  Because I ring my Mum everyday I usually speak to my Step-Dad daily as well.  We have a healthy relationship.  That means if I do something they think is idiotic they'll tell me, I'll pout and then we'll all have a good laugh about it later.

My little half sister and I stalk each other on Facebook.  This is because we have similar fandoms and don't want to miss out on any epicness that the other may find on the web.  My step-sisters and I see each other about once a year.  It's comforting, we check everyone is still the same, we hug, we may imbibe and then we carry on with our separate lives confident in the knowledge that the other is there if we need them.  I don't talk to my Nan as much as I ought to.  I dislike myself for that.

You are only supposed to speak to Great-Aunts, Uncles and various forms of cousin at family events such as Births, Deaths and Weddings.  It's like the unspoken family law or something.  There is no additional requirement to speak to or engage in any way shape or form.  We have gone above and beyond said criteria and are attached via the book of face.  This helps us keep tabs on each other and instills healthy keeping up with the Joneses.  Not really - I feel quite sure we have the same apathetic reaction to each other.  And that's not a negative.  It's just normal family relations.

Flip over to my father's side.  My half sister lives in Norway and we've recently started Skyping once a month.  It's good.  We actually have things to talk about because we leave it a month between each session and as we've been siblings for a quarter of a century we don't stumble over forced politeness. My baby brother and I facebook when we need to, my older baby brother is far too busy for such old fashioned social media and as I don't snapchat we don't chat however we all meet up at least two times a year and now that older younger is practically settled down I feel sure we will be meeting up with bouncing bonny babies in tow in the not too distant future.

It's all good.  I feel if I knew my more extended family better (not parentals or siblings) I would have to start making decisions about whether I agreed with them or wanted to hang out on a regular basis. I have my friends for that kind of thing.  Plus if you ever do fall out with a family member it ripples through the rest and lines are drawn - let's just all continue to nod and smile, nod and smile, nod and smile.

Friday 13 November 2015

30-day Writing Challenge - Day 22

Your morning routine

My morning usually begins in the early hours when a small person comes pitter patter down the hallway and bangs the bedroom door open.  He stands next to me and puts a little cold hand on my arm.  I sweep him into bed whilst trying to check the mobile to see what the time is.  If it's before 5am, which it undoubtedly is, a brief cuddle ensues as the wee monster usually falls asleep instantly. He is then scooped with love and deposited back in his own bed.  If it happens to be after 5am, which is usually the second early morning visit, he is swept in and snuggled until I physically cannot restrain him any longer and he gets up.  This is usually between 6-7am.  We once slept in until 7.38. It was amazing.

I lay in a semi-doze fugue listening to the various crashes and bashes from the front room and send silent apologies to our downstairs neighbours.  Although it's not my fault they have their bedrooms where we have our front room.  Eventually (actually time frame is a couple of minutes but it feels like an age) I heave myself out of bed and stumble to the toilet.  Then I clatter back into the bedroom and unplug my phone, ipad and grab my latest book.  You can never have too many wishful thoughts. These are deposited in the kitchen with gate carefully closed while I clatter back into the bedroom and retrieve nappy, wipe and bum cream.  The items cannot be left within arms reach of the child. Ever.

After bum changing and inevitably getting dressed at stupid o'clock due to a leaky nappy, I ask the very important question.  'What would you like?'  Current favourite is Mickey Mouse Club House DVD but we have cycled through three Peppa Pigs and an Upsy Daisy one.  Once the incredibly loud and psychedelic DVD is playing the kettle goes on.  At this point I may weep quietly in the kitchen depending on how tired I feel.  Sometimes I get to drink my cup of tea.  Sometimes.

We then move on to the demands of bisfest.  This can either run very smoothly or be a sleep deprived nightmare, depends on the previous night.  It can be very difficult to accurately pour cereal and milk if you can't actually remember what the function of your limbs are.  Bisfest is eaten in high spirits whilst I continue to nurse the cup of tea.  Sometimes I get to drink my cup of tea.  Sometimes.

After bisfest we have CBeebies and in theory this is the optimum time of day for me to work out.  This can either run very smoothly or be a sleep deprived nightmare, depends on the previous night.  It can be very difficult to find any kind of motivation when you can't actually be bothered to breathe.  Once the workout has either been successfully knocked out of the park or sheepishly swept under the rug it is time to decide whether to run the shower gauntlet.  If I take too long the entire front room could be swallowed by lego, everything not meant to be touched moved and a small person standing on the dining room table looking rather pleased with himself.  If I make too much of the fact that I am trying to have a shower then small person will try to join in which results in the horrific wet skin shower curtain duel to the death and a soaking wet right arm of small child.

I do eventually manage to get washed and dressed.  Occasionally I remember to brush my teeth and apply lipstick - usually in the wrong order.  Next up is Mummy's bisfest.  This can either run very smooethly or be a sleep deprived nightmare, depends on the previous night.  It can be very difficult to decide what to have for breakfast when your brain has ceased to function.  A small person will demand their fair share of whatever is eventually decided upon, especially if it something they wouldn't eat themselves.  That's usually when they'll take more than half.  Sometimes I get to drink my cup of tea.  Sometimes.

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Thursday 12 November 2015

30-day Writing Challenge - Day 21

Your zodiac sign and whether it suits you

I am a proud Leo.  On the cusp to be sure but a lion through and through.  A fire sign, so mercurial and bossy with temper flare.  You know when you get on the wrong side, it might be slow to boil but you know.  Once I blow, that's it - over and done with, move on.  Fiercely protective of close friends and family until you abuse my belief in you and then there is no going back.  Need constant reassurance of my awesomeness but in return I'm there for you whenever you need me.  Get me on the right day and I'll be the life and soul of the party, get me on the wrong day and you'll wish you never knew me.  Takes time to recharge but loves being the centre of attention for the right reasons. Often feels desperately lonely and self doubts but soon swings into manic overload of all things wonderful.

Ok - that's my personal take on the sign.  Let's see what the powers that be have to say about it.

A Leo is confident, generous and loyal but also melodramatic, stubborn and vain.  Leo's are independent but they need to be in control of something and require someone to appreciate them. They prefer not to be alone.  Leo's can lift your spirits and encourage you when times are tough. A Leo is the ultimate friend.  Leo's love the new and despite dull, regular routines so they can stir up situations just for something to do.  Leo's have an amazing capacity to bounce back from any feelings of despair or unfortunate events and they do not like being unhappy.  Leos will not budge their opinion, they will accept the opinions of others but they do not appreciate those who try to impose their beliefs.  If you step on the boundaries of their kingdom they may seem like a demanding, spoilt child but they are only  being territorial.  Leos are extremely sensitive but hide it well.  They are usually full of pride.  Leos need to be needed.  Leos are very generous, kind and openhearted people. If a Leo is crossed, they will strike back with force but they are not one to hold a grudge, they easily forgive, forget and move on.   The lion symbol suits them well.  They posses a kingdom which they protect and cherish.

Sounds about right to me.

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Wednesday 11 November 2015

30-day Writing Challenge - Day 20

Put your music player on shuffle and write the first three songs that play and what your initial thoughts are:

Song One - Beauty and the Beast by Angela Lansbury

Song Two - Born to Make you Happy by Britney Spears

Song Three - Teenage Dirtbag by Wheetus

Initial thoughts - ha!  I love it actually.  Some romance, some 90s pop and a bit of alternative rock, who could ask for more?  I adore the songs from Beauty and the Beast, I think I've listened to them more times then I've watched the film and I'm delighted there's a bit of Disney in there.  Child of the eighties means I'm a teenager of the nineties so a bit of Britney actually reflects my life, plus it's not a terrible Spears number.  I could've done much worse.  Then there's that high pitched whine which takes me right back. Teenage Dirtbag is one of those songs that people tend to love or hate and many music aficionados think it's possibly one of the worst songs ever but I think it's awesome.   Chuffed to mint balls with my random selection.  Good job itunes.

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