Sunday, 29 August 2010

End of Summer

This picture was taken by J and his girlfriend and overlooks St Ouens Bay.

Today my son flies out with his girlfriend and together they'll be going back to England where he'll be staying with her family until starting his second year at university. I'm not feeling as cheerful as I look (maybe I'm kidding myself here, I do hope not) and will be taking them to the airport later, after we've been out for a late lunch together.

He's delighted to be going back and can't wait to move into the house he's sharing with four other friends. This year is so much easier than last year in that I know he's having a great time (as well as studying occasionally) and his girlfriend, whose been staying here for the past two weeks, is lovely. Having had him back home again for the summer it's going to take a little getting used to when he leaves again.

However, the positives are that I'm nearly at 30,000 words on a new book - loving it and have a mad crush on my hero - so I'll have more than enough to keep me busy. My daughter isn't at all fazed that her brother is off again, quite thrilled in fact. The dog is on steroids as he has sensitive skin - on his feet, so he's feeling sorry for himself, and the madness of this house will carry on, just with one less, fairly noisy, person in it. *Sighs*

Right, time to put on (another) wash and see if he's forgotten to pack anything.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Who Needs Sunshine?

I'm half way through my two weeks holiday and so far I think only two of those have been sunny. To be honest, I've spent most of the first week catching up with my writing To Do List in the shed and now I'm nearly ready to be able to disappear - mentally at least - into a book that I started writing a few months ago, but which I put aside to work on other things.

I was lucky enough to be a winner over at DJ Kirkby's blog and she very kindly sent me these pots of her delicious Hot Hedgerow Chutney and a Blackberry Jam. That woman is so talented, and can not only write a great book, but cooks beautifully too. Thanks DJ.

I've been busy seeing people, mainly in restaurants - hence the tightening waistband - and one of my favourite places for a quick evening meal this summer, has been St Catherine's Cafe. It's right on the waterfront, near an impressive breakwater that my great, great grandfather came over to the island to work on in the 1850s. I tend to walk the dog whilst daughter, son, other members of the family find a table inside and then we all sit down to enjoy our food. It's incredibly tasty and reasonable, and the spareribs are delicious. Even the grumpy one isn't forgotten. Here's a picture of his food, which I hasten to add was fed to him over two days, despite his objections.

My sister had a housewarming last week and as is the case when you have a large family in one room, the conversations change constantly. Sis was saying how much she's enjoying reading a book, but was taken aback to see the 'C' word in it.
"What did you say?" asked Granny.
"The 'C' word," she repeated. "I was horrified to see it in my book."
"What? Cardigan?"

Have a good week and may the flippin' sun start shining on us all.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Summer Holidays

I've got two weeks off work, hurray! Actually, I like my job, so I don't mind being there at all, but it's so good to have two weeks when I can get up and mooch around, doing exactly as I like with no time constraints. Bliss.

The first few days have been a little manic, but we've had a couple of meals out here and here; I've started, and finished (at 3am in the morning) Lesley Pearse's wonderful book, Stolen, and am now reading, The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society, which I've had for a while and wasn't so sure I'd enjoy until Gerry (my aunt) mentioned how good it was. I'm loving it.

Apart from eating - have also discovered Galaxy Counters - they're far too morish - and reading, and generally lazing about, I want to take in a few sights that I don't usually have time to see. It's always fun going out with my daughter, and also my son, who I want to make the most of seeing before he returns to uni with his lovely girlfriend - she's staying with us at the moment.

I'm going to give myself a couple of days mooching around in the garden, and then it's on with a book I started several months ago, but had to leave to edit a couple of others. Can't wait. I love being in the shed, especially on warm days when I can open both the front doors, lean back in my ancient, pink Lloyd Loom chair and smell the rosemary growing nearby as I gaze out through the trees into the garden. Sigh.

That said, it would be nice if the weather remembered this is August, A-U-G-U-S-T! I thought it was supposed to be a sunny month. So far, there's been a couple of summery days, but not nearly enough. Is there such thing as a sun dance?

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Awards, Anniversary & A Red Face

Thanks to DJ Kirkby, author of Without Alice for this fab award. You can follow DJ's blog tour to celebrate the publication of her book by going to Helen's blog and on Monday to Talli's.

It's my sixth wedding anniversary today, so we thought we'd go and have breakfast down at Bon Viveur in St Aubins bay. "There's a high tide," said Rob, "And we can sit outside in the sun and watch the sea lapping over the top of the seawall next to the boats." Well, naturally it was pouring, so we sat inside instead. The breakfasts were enormous and very tasty and then we popped across to the Parish Hall to see the Vintage Market stalls - all crammed inside due to the rain - and I bought a 1919 Royal Doulton mug celebrating, 'Peace & Victory' and S bought a 1930s fold up camera for £7.50. Good fun.

I'm now back at home, surrounded by red roses, chocolates and a beautiful card, from lovely husband; pretty Deco picture frame and card from the three teens, and a beautiful arrangement of flowers have just arrived from dad & mum, all pinks and very pretty. So, it's been a lovely day.

I have now pretty much recovered from the humiliation of inadvertently walking ahead of a marching band as they started crossing Liberation Square, and then two roads in front of holiday makers on friday. As if that wasn't embarrassing enough, I also happened to be carrying a green sponge hand - need a photo of me with it for a competition for work, don't ask - that is bigger than my dog. The hardest part was trying not to walk in step to their banging drums and hoping no-one I knew could see me.

I'm almost finished my editing, so I'd better go and get on with it. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Blog Takeover - by Grumpy

This is me, Grumpy. To be honest *checks to see if D is nearby* that's not my real name. My real name is, a bit of a mouthful, it's Ellisteel Maxmillan. It was supposed to be Maximillian, but the breeder's husband mispelt my name and left out a couple of 'i's' when registering me (apparently).

You can call me what you like though, because I have many nicknames, and I'll answer to anything so long as you understand that bribery, of the chew/sausage/treat variety, goes a long way.

I know I'm grumpy to look at, and I never miss an opportunity to chase the teens up the stairs, or race to their rooms to give them a telling off if I think they're talking a little loudly. My mum gets fed up with me when I do it a lot and insists that they live here too and are allowed to walk around upstairs and talk, or even play music. Personally, I'd ban the singing, and think they should all be taught to sit quietly, especially when I'm trying to have one of my naps.

I also get told off when I chase the postman. He's scared of me and my mum tries to make sure I'm inside whenever he's about to deliver bills to her. I don't get it, surely if she doesn't like the mail he brings her, she'd be better off letting me sit outside and not let him in the garden to bring those envelopes to the door in the first place?

She does tell me how well behaved I am in the shed. When we're out there, I've got no reason to bark at anyone, as it's just the two of us, and she lets me sleep for as long as I want. The only interruption I don't mind is when my dad arrives to take me for a walk, usually to St Ouen's beach. Oh heck, here she comes, better pretend to be sleeping again.

Grumps was taking part in Quiller's Third Blog Takeover Day.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Without Alice by DJ Kirkby

I'm delighted to be part of Denyse Kirkby's blog tour for her debut novel, Without Alice. The blurb for Without Alice starts with these sentences, ‘Have you ever had a secret? One so important that it feels as if it will tear you in two?’ Well that caught me straight away, and there’s one thing for sure, Stephen really does have a secret.

I started reading this book when I’d already done seven hours editing, so my eyes were pretty sore, but I thought I’d have a peak and read the first page or two. I eventually stopped approximately half way through the book, simply because my eyes couldn’t keep going and it was 1am and I had to be up at 6.30am to go to work.

Without Alice begins with a prologue telling us about three different couples in July 1977, who are all at varying stages of parenthood. We then begin with Jennie having just given birth to her son, and almost straight away you realize that her relationship with husband, Stephen, isn’t a harmonious one. As much as he instinctively adores his baby son, he isn’t happy with Jennie. Stephen has a secret. It’s a big secret, and one that causes him heartache, as well as a crushing resentment towards his wife.

Stephen’s verbal cruelty to this new mother is vicious. Jennie has enough to contend with already. She’s exhausted, and trying to get to grips with the strangeness of her post-baby physique, as well as wanting to enjoy her first precious days, weeks, and months with her baby. The last thing she needs is to be made miserable by her husband.

As you read through the first half of the book, it’s hard to find much about Stephen to sympathize with, but as the reality of his secret is learnt you can’t help but want him to be okay. I’m still struck by that startling moment when the reader discovers more about his situation and gets to know Alice. I daren’t say too much about the story from this point, because I feel it would ruin the experience for the reader, but suffice to say, this was a truly memorable story and one that I won’t be able to forget in a hurry. I read the whole book in two sittings and simply couldn’t put it down, well, apart from having to sleep when I reached the half way mark.

It was only as I read this book that I realized how perfect (Like Bees to Honey Author) Caroline Smailes’s description was when she said, “Governed by duty, lost without love. A truly insightful narrative, controlled by a delicate hand.” So true. Congratulations, Denyse, this is an excellent read.

Publication day for Without Alice was 31st July and can be bought from the Punked Books Website. From 4th October Without Alice will be on general release and available from everywhere, but naturally I'm going to link to Enjoy.