Our countryside building renovation project was in full swing. I had taken the biggest gamble of my life. I had given up on my big-money job in London, uprooted my family and moved them (all six of us) to the quiet, idyllic county of Herefordshire (one of only three areas in the whole of the British Isles to be officially classified as 'An Area of Peace and Tranquillity'). And boy did our little David affect our peace and tranquillity on one (un)fateful day.
I've wanted to visit Antarctica for years. I'm not sure why, except perhaps that it's the very end of the earth. And it looks so beautiful. I yearn to see magnificent icebergs and miles of pristine white snow. Of course I'd also love to see penguins, dolphins, seals and whales in their natural habitat.
On average I take one long haul return flight a month...in economy. Over the years I have learned several key things to make the experience more pleasant, more business class rather than walk-on-cargo. As I am a novelist, it goes without saying that I will have at least one paperback with me and at least a dozen novels on my iPad for the journey. I normally have noise cancelling headphones especially when I need to work.
Living in the countryside inevitably brought us into contact with – my younger two boys in particular – guns. There are plenty of guns in use by country folk: clay pigeon shooting, shot guns (to get rid of vermin) and air rifles (for target practice), in particular. And it didn't take long for my younger two to pick up on this from their local school friends. Another (seemingly unrelated, but very much related in this case) countryside activity is bartering.
As I type this, it is pouring down, so dry January does not apply to the weather outside! On a more serious note, Fentimans are supporting #DryJanuary and have very kindly sent me a case of their fabulous drinks for me to sample. As a lover of their ginger beer for years and more recently, traditional lemonade, this will be a pleasure!
My husband and I have an iPad and I love mine, but it's the first gadgety thing I've had, that I've taken an interest in. I wonder if my lack of enthusiasm over gadgets is something that happens when you get older, a woman thing, or just me?
Exercise. It's a bit Marmite, isn't it? You either love it or you hate it. Personally I'm not averse to a dollop of Marmite spread on a lettuce leaf and rolled up, cigar fashion – it goes down a treat.
We all need a cleaning fairy!! Here is a witty poem from Suzanne Eaton
Rather than confront New Year Resolutions head-on, I think you should creep up on them and catch them by surprise. That way, you'll be more likely to keep them. (Just a theory.) That said, I've never been very good at it myself. Unfortunately, they too often involve losing ugly fat which has, somehow or other, attached itself to my slimmer self when I wasn't looking.
I picked up a book bargain the other day, ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’, by Bill Bryson.
We spent a week in Beadnell in Northumberland...our 3rd visit there.
On Saturday February 14th Helen Vereker Singers performed in Sainsburys Hereford in aid of Herefordshire Carers Support. Here is a video, directed by Helen Vereker and filmed by Ken Joel, husband of our good friend and contributor Margaret Joel.
Nudging the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman, this country — stub your toe and you'll strike oil— juxtaposing old and new, with its varied landscape of ravine, desert, mountain, ocean and wadi, advanced in just 44 years from isolation to modern state.
Whatever has happened to that quintessential treasure of Englishness the tea room? Years ago they were in abundance, but now they seem to be on the decline.
I have been sent some meals from Oakhouse Foods to evaluate and am now going to share my comments with you.
Bunged Up 'Doze'? If, like me, you appreciate a natural approach to healthcare, you might like to try this highly effective remedy for instant relief from bunged up noses.
My son told me about Georges Perec, a French author who wrote a 300 page lipogram which means he didn't use the letter e. As e is the most widely used letter I was fascinated by this. Here is my (much shorter) lipogram.
Adventures In New Zealand - A Dream Come True! -Taking In Queenstown Extreme Sports HQ Part 3, Updated
The adventure continues.....
Here is my review of some of the more unusual stories that made the headlines in 2014. This is only a snapshot, but I hope you enjoy reading the articles I have chosen.
As it is Valentine's Day, Kelly Florentia is sharing her latest blog on "Love".
The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, Covent Garden, London
Sunday 7 December 2014
Forty years ago this week a folk song about homeless people narrowly missed the Christmas number one slot in the pop charts. 'Streets of London' peaked at number two in the 1975 New Year chart, and Ralph Mctell became a TV celebrity and household name.
Adventures In New Zealand - A Dream Come True! Taking In Christchurch, Picton, Whale Watching And Robin Hood Bay. Part 2-Updated
Monday 18th November – Christchurch
The adventure continues.....
Digital cameras have been a boon to most photographers, and most especially those who enjoy taking pictures of wildlife. The shy, contrary nature of animals in their natural habitat tends to make them tricky subjects to capture, so for the modern photographer there's real freedom in the knowledge that you can fire off hundreds of snaps at once, in the hope that one or two will turn out to be half-decent.
Adventures In New Zealand - A Dream Come True! Taking In Gisborne, Tutira And Herbertville. Part 1-Updated
My first experience of flying business class did not disappoint. I was fed and watered every air mile of the way and being able to stretch out and sleep was worth every penny I made Simon spend on my ticket!! We are now just over a week into our 'grand adventure'. It has been absolutely fantastic to date. A few minor hiccups along the way but great nonetheless.
Winter Weather In Britain - Will It Snow in the 2014/2015 Winter? Will We Get a White Christmas This Year?
The papers lately have been warning us of a cold winter again with talk of snow on Christmas Day. Will it happen I wonder.
Today Su is discussing "wheat". A complex subject at the best of times. Do read this interesting blog.
Today I am interviewing Sue Rosser of www.suerosserart.com Sue is a very talented artist and I am delighted that she has agreed to answer some questions for us.
I used to be a pretty good (well, good anyway) footballer, but this little tale is only indirectly related to my previous. Through my connections with the small rural infant/junior school my youngest two boys attended, I became chairman of the Parent Teachers Association (PTA – designed to raise money through extra-curricular activities to buy much needed supplies and equipment for the school).
Fentimans Soft Drinks Selection - Ginger Beer, Curiosity Cola, Victorian Lemonade And Many Other Flavours!
I have been a lover of all things ginger as some of you will know form aprevious article I have written. My favourite soft drink is Fentimans Ginger Beer.I contacted the company to ask if they would be interested in being featured on the website and I have been sent a case of Fentimans drinks to evaluate.
How does one define loneliness? The very word itself causes concern. In the UK, the latest statistics are frightening enough, take a look at the info below.
Back in October I finally went with my husband to Israel. Niall was there as a gap-year Kibbutz volunteer in 1985 and it's a place I've always wanted to visit but it just never seemed to be the right time to make the trip together.
Age, or rather ageing, is a strange concept to get your head around. Twelve-year-olds can't wait to be a teenager; teenagers can't wait to be eighteen or twenty-one...but many forty-nine-year olds seem terrified of reaching their half century: fifty!
We spent a good deal of time up on the observation deck or on the bridge, watching out for wildlife.When anyone spotted a swimming seal, or a dolphin or a humpback whale blowing in the distance, the shout went out on the tannoy to ensure we all got the chance to rush out on deck with our binoculars and cameras.
We always kept a stock of candles 'just in case'. After all, we were in the middle of nowhere – and you never knew whether or when the electricity supply would be interrupted (and how long it would take to be repaired if it did). And so I was always prepared – but not for what happened next!
We all love to receive flowers at any time of the year, and following on from my article last year, I am once again thinking about the bouquets I am going to send to a few special people this Christmas.
Next day was the most important day of the whole expedition for the Shackleton descendants. In the morning we were zodiaced to Stromness on the northern side of South Georgia, where we hiked up to the famous waterfall where Shackleton and his two companions clambered down on a rope after a gruelling 36 hour scramble across the icy mountain range from one side of the island to the other.
Since when did Britain become so Americanised? I know I haven't lived there for nearly eight years but come on, Black Friday? What is that all about?
Society promotes the ideal for its elders as serene and peaceful. But a new generation coming into age are increasingly viewing this as just another version of ageism, offering little more than marginalization, complacency and disempowerment.
Crackers - And Other Christmas Traditions,Including Sackposset, Christingles, The Twelve Days Of Christmas,Eating And Drinking!
It was an Englishman, Tom Smith, who introduced the world to Christmas crackers. A baker and wedding cake maker by profession, he visited Paris in 1840 and found the bonbon - sugared almonds wrapped in a twist of tissue paper.
As a lover of home made soups, I can thoroughly recommend this delicious Thai fish soup, a winter warmer and so delicious and easy to make, in just 3 steps!
I was so frustrated yesterday, trolling around and around a well known department store looking for a decent pair of warmer 'winter' trousers.When you are on limited time, and you have to visit so many different places in the store to look before you can even decide which to try on, it becomes a chore rather than a pleasure doesn't it.