Monday, 26 November 2012

100 Word Challenge - Trembling

"Chrissy," Charlotte half wailed, "we're going to be late."

"I'm doing my best." Stupid car. Stupid me.

The engine had finally coughed into shape after nearly twenty attempts. Now we were late for David's funeral.

"Left turn, Chrissy, left turn."

I took a sharp turn down a slice of solemn suburbia, ahead the crematorium.

Limp coats were already entering the old stone building.

We shuffled in at the rear, Charlotte dressed in polite black, I, an indifferent grey.

On a plinth lay the casket.

Charlotte's hands trembled, her face bloodless.

"I'm gonna throw up Chrissy."

Hand over mouth, she bolted outside.

I'm linking up with JB47's 100 Word Challenge. This week's prompt was... Grey ...

This is part of a wider story. You can read the other instalments in the series here.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Reader Appreciation Award

I am a loyal friend, I am also a loyal blogger, and maybe this is why I was recently applauded by both the wonderful Midlife Single Mum and Bibsey for encroaching upon their comment boxes with ebullient regularity. I need to add at this juncture that I'm neither a stalker nor will I go all single white female on you - does anyone remember that film? Anyway, it's good to feel appreciated. Now I just need to work on Little A. I actually think this is a lovely award, but have to admit to cheating a little; as usual with these things, you have to answer a specific set of questions, some of these I just couldn't think of interesting answers for, so I've included a selection of the award's questions and made up a few of my own. You can find the original questions here.

Where do you do most of your writing/blogging?
In a perfectly square room bedecked with crammed book shelves and a lone, distressed bureau by a window overlooking rolling hills, green pastures and a lazy river dividing the neighbouring valley. I WISH. No, I type - ahem - my magic from the kitchen table overlooking the mess of toys in the lounge and a street littered with fallen leaves and the odd page from the Metro floating on the wind. I can usually be found at this locale during nap times - when they actually happen - and on most weekday evenings when Younger Dad is buried in homework.

Lately, I've taken to writing atop a cushion on the living room floor. As you can see, it's next to the radiator so I get the added bonus of extra heat. I seem to use this location more and more when Little A has quiet time reading books on the sofa - the best alternative I could muster to the flagging nap times - and during her hourly allowance of CBeebies before tea time where she'll pull up a cushion next to me for those late afternoon mummy snuggles.    

What is your favourite time of the day and why?
In all honesty, and this is going to sound very selfish, any time of day I get five minutes to myself - so that's during Little A's nap/quiet times, and when she's clothed in sleep. I also really enjoy late afternoons with Little A; this is the time we pull out the paint, scissors and glue (just look at our recent scary creation with the googly eyes and ferocious teeth), and when we cuddle up in front of the TV.

Have you ever Googled yourself and been surprised at what you've found?
Well, if I search my actual name, Google lists my counselling website, and a variety of pages from this site. But more interestingly, according to, I am the only person with my name in the UK, so that's Internet proof I am totally unique, and why it would probably be a good idea to keep this blog anonymous, and write the novel I keep threatening to pen under a pseudonym.

One material possession  you could not live without?
My humble Dell laptop of course!

What is your dream car?
The Nissan Figaro is my Grease Lightning. It's neither fast nor practical for a toddler in tow BUT the Figaro is so aesthetically pleasing to my eyes. It's classy, rounded, quirky, for the lady wot eats cake about town, and I want one, and in olive green purlease. I don't think this car has ever been scrutinised on Top Gear, it's far too feminine!

Who would play me in a movie of my life?
Well this prompted me to ask the question - which brave actress would want to play me? Then I thought there might be a few '80's actresses dying to reinvent their career, so I thought Cher, no, not really, but Jodie Foster could pull off the roller coaster ride of my 20's and 30's with convincing aplomb. Fava beans and a nice Chianti anyone?  

Do you have any siblings?
I am the eldest of three. I have two brothers; one is a dancing doctor, the other is a rather talented fine artist and actor. But I was the one who loved books and music!

What is your Star Sign?
I am a Sagittarius - enthusiastic, honest, determined - make of that what you will. It just so happens I share the same sun and moon signs as Jane Austen, mmm. I'm not sure where I stand on astrology - my character completely changed after childbirth, and I must take this moment to thank depression and trauma, two happy symbiotic friends, for twisting my melon.  

Do you have any pets?
No, but as some of my readers know, I would love a pug! I have been keeper though to ladybirds, caterpillars, hamsters, fish, a west highland white terrier, a sliver grey tabby, and a very mardy ginger tom.

Any guilty pleasures?   
Okay, so I'm into the whole vampire thing - are you still reading? - and I'm a fan of True Blood. And I don't think I will ever tire of The Apprentice - it's so cathartic. Then there's chai latte, lemon drizzle, chocolate bread and butter pudding...

Now I want to take the time to thank those readers who've really stood by me over the last year, and some newish readers who've recently come along for the ride. Don't feel you need to respond to this, I know one reader in particular who is days away from welcoming her second child! (psst Mummy Plum)

Mummy Plum
Older Single Mum
Caught Writing
Lynsey The Mother Duck
Hello Wall
Multi Layer Mummy
3 Children and It
Three Years And Home
The Puffin Diaries
The Pretty Good Life
Bachelor Mum

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

100 Word Challenge - Past Has Passed

"Stop deflecting Chrissy."

I tried not to laugh. Charlotte was handing over a frothy mug of self reproach. But guilt, I decided, wasn't a garment worth dressing in. I'd sunk my toe in David's gaze - that was all.

"Just don't understand. It's so long ago. Anyway, you dumped him remember?"

"Told him to disappear," Charlotte recoiled.

"He was so intense, so controlling."

"Still stung when I saw you both Chrissy."

"Was one time, it freaked me out. I'm sorry."

A weak smile mollified Charlotte's sour expression.

"Past has passed I guess."


Now I needed a long soak.

David's funeral couldn't come sooner.

I'm linking up with JB47's 100 Word Challenge. This week's prompt was... I tried not to laugh...

This is part of a wider story. You can read the other instalments in the series here.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

#One Week - Autumn '12 - And...

One Week pushes me into paying greater attention to the world around me; the colours, the changes, the unnoticed detail. But this project is turning out to be something else entirely, more than just a nature trail, it's becoming a kind of rite of passage - a personal festival - marking the events, crystallising my reflections, honing my intent throughout the wheel of the year...

This autumn, Little A has cuddled and demanded and lashed out and cuddled some more. She's rough and tumbled and tip toed and danced. She's learnt the difference between 'like' and 'not like', and used her new found understanding as sharpened weaponry with divisive aim. The other day, when I frustrated her with another "no", she retorted with, "I don't like you any more, I want my daddy instead."

I didn't take it personally, it's to be expected, but I was quite taken aback all the same.

As she races towards three, I suspect a new era is approaching, the dawning of a parental favourite...

'The age of daddy' 

I'm secretly hoping this is the case, it might let me off the hook for a while. I might capture some time to read that book, to buy that jumper, to watch that box set, to write that novel...

Meanwhile, I have written and written and attended Blogfest and caught a cold and made casserole after casserole and dreamt and laughed and moaned and upped my medication and had my greedy fingers in the biscuit tin and seen wonderful friend after wonderful friend, and realised..... it might be a rather good idea to chill my boots and indulge myself in a few worthwhile things, like reading a good book, like having a hot bubble bath, like seeing more friends, like going to the cinema, like S.T.O.P'ing and enjoying the moment with a fine glass of wine.

As winter beckons with bare, frozen arms, I turn to autumn to thank her for showing in such simple, fluid, colourful ways, how to reestablish my equilibrium and enjoy the fruits of this year.

This is the final day of the seasonal linky One Week. I wanted to say a big, big thank you to all those lovely bloggers who joined in, and those who commented in support of this new blogging project.

One Week will return next winter for another five days, 25 February - 1 March. So get your cameras at the ready and imaginative hats on!

For more details about One Week, take a gander here. You can join in for one, two ... or the full five days...

Badge Code ...

<a href="" title="One Week"><img src="" width="225" height="169" alt="one week"></a>

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

#One Week - Autumn '12 - Clearing

When the clocks change I slow down. Or I would like to. Squeezing my foot on the break would be far simpler if I didn't have a toddler on constant acceleration, hiding from monsters, 'ironing' my knickers, whooping atop the double bed.

I find this time of year very symbolic. A client once astutely observed that a tree knows how to be a tree, a flower knows how to be a flower - unfolding, basking in its innate beauty - but us humans? The myriad complexities of the human condition separate us from the cyclical ebb and flow of the natural world. Beneath the worries, the fears, the daily hubbub, the never ending to do lists, lies a forgotten moment that exists in an boundless present. I like to think this soothing balm is nature's gift if we just allow ourselves to stop, look close enough, realign our rhythm.

The leaves are falling and I am reminded that now is the time to prune the dross, simplify my schedule, rebalance my life - to dream of new possibilities as we plunge into darkness. This time of year really is one of death and rebirth. And when I think of it, we begin our lives sheathed in the warm, night time cave of the womb. In the dormant earth, the sodden black soil, behind the decay and rot lies another day, another hope, another promise, a fresh idea.

And so I need to reset the inner clock. Slow down a little. In the frenetic run up to Christmas I would like to blog less (who am I kidding), read more, find some time for yoga, luxuriate in a hot bath or two, enjoy my birthday, eat puddings, nail the plot of my book, spend time in silence, count my blessings...

...and douse myself in gratitude for all the love and support in my life.

Autumn begs me to take a chill pill, put my feet up and reflect upon this year's personal harvest.

It's time to simmer down, and be, be, be instead of do, do, do, if that's possible with a crazy toddler.

Do you mark this time of year?
What are you grateful for?  

This is the fourth day of the seasonal linky One Week. Until Friday, I'll be posting a photograph(s) and a few words that diarises and distills my experience of autumn'12. Take a peep at the details here. You can join in for one, two ... or the full five days. And don't forget to add #oneweek on Twitter, and comment on each others posts...

Badge Code ...

<a href="" title="One Week"><img src="" width="225" height="169" alt="one week"></a>

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

#One Week - Autumn '12 - Closer

A week ago, just after nap time, Little A and I enjoyed a peaceful moment together on the sofa. She was still in that fuggy half awakened state, her body loosely curled around mine, my arms gently embracing her drowsy form. The only sign of life came came from the slow rhythmical movement of our chests. Up and down. Up and down. The only sound, apart from the tick ticking of the kitchen clock and the occasional hum from a car idly passing in the street, could be heard from the even inhaling and exhaling of our breath. In and out. In and out.

Outside, the late afternoon light waned, the grey slate on roofs just shades darker than the overcast sky, evening approaching with assured readiness. Little A slid from my lap and leaned into my side tucking herself under my arm. A soft hand placed itself tenderly on my stomach. Together we watched aeroplanes - giant airborne sharks - silently descending, their wing lights flashing in the semi darkness...

"Mummy can we hold that plane?"
"No darling, it's too big. But look at that one coming in. It's a tiddler."
"Can I hold that other one."
"No. Still too big."
"That plane can be the daddy one. And that plane can be the baby one."

This autumn, Little A has taken yet another social leap. Her world is over flowing with mummies, daddies, grannies and babies - every role playing game be it with teddies, building blocks, cutlery, aircraft, is all about family. And now she is a bigger girl, she also wants a pet."Mummy can I have a pet and a brother?" I don't quite know how to answer the part about a brother just yet.

Little A desires closer relation to everything and anything she comes into contact with, whether it's....

cuddling a bunny,

getting to grips with a tractor,

or making a new friend.

This season, Little A has edged ever closer to the world around her, taking risks, finding her limits, discovering the first ties of friendship. And our relationship has become more loving, more complex, a playing field of two wills. Little A is learning that she can be many things, a playful kitten, a fire breathing dragon, a demanding bear cub, a roaring lioness, but that her sudden emotional flights between calm and angry, content and tearfully upset, don't diminish our bond, nor my love for her.

This is the third day of the seasonal linky One Week. Over the next few days (until Friday) I'll be posting a photograph(s) and a few words that diarises and distills my experience of autumn '12. Take a peep at the details here. You can join in for one, two ... or the full five days. And don't forget to add #oneweek on Twitter, and comment on each others posts...

Badge Code ...

<a href="" title="One Week"><img src="" width="225" height="169" alt="one week"></a>

Monday, 12 November 2012

#One Week - Autumn '12 - Colour

Autumn.... It's the season of conkers and casseroles. Colds and crumpets.

I love this time of year.

It starts with the turn of one audacious leaf.  

Then the biggest fare well party commences in full fiery riot..  

Earth bound confetti.

A kaleidoscope of colour. 

Decaying leaves smothered in palate rich flavours...

...of mustard, ketch-up and plum sauce. 

Nature, so adept at change. 

Dewy spiderwebs floating in air borne neighbourhoods,

as temporary as my thoughts.

Or a lone arachnid playing house under the wing mirror of my car. 

I admire peach lit morning mist,

and the fresh, cold bite of atmospheric breath on my finger tips.

Autumn disrobes,

and I wrap up warm.

I love nothing more than encasing my feet in socks warmed on radiators. 

I hanker after bangers and mash. 

I salivate over treacly sponge and custard. 

I lust after slices of lemon drizzle with tea.

I look forward to the inner adjustments this season inevitably brings.

This is the second day of the seasonal linky One Week. Over the next few days (until Friday) I'll be posting a photograph(s) and a few words that diarises and distills my experience of autumn '12. Take a peep at the details here. You can join in for one, two ... or the full five days. And don't forget to add #oneweek on Twitter, and comment on each others posts... 

Badge Code ...

<a href="" title="One Week"><img src="" width="225" height="169" alt="one week"></a>

Sunday, 11 November 2012

#One Week - Autumn '12 - Park Life (or not)

This is our bench. The wobbly bench. The bench Little A and I have shared many a ham sandwich and blueberry muffin picnic on. It sits between two large trees in the playground of our local park. The wobbly bench is a place to relax, to wonder, to dream, it's a rickety station from which to appreciate all the running, chasing, jumping, clamouring, and the very special place where our alter egos - Piggy (me) and Bunny (Little A) - come out to play.

Until a couple of weeks ago, that is, when upon returning to our favourite playground after a brief hiatus - I don't enjoy being coated in damp drizzle - we were greeted by this post apocalyptic sight...

Apart from a lone climbing frame, everything had been excavated, dismantled, removed. The toddler swings. Gone. The big children swings. Gone. The round-a-bout. Gone. The small climbing frame. Gone. Our wobbly bench. Obliterated. All that was left were heaps of upturned tarmac and rubble.

"The swings have gone Piggy."

"I know Bunny."

"Look, the big slide is still there."

"For the moment."

"Are they going to build new ones Piggy?"

"I hope so Bunny. I hope so."

The workmen eyed me with suspicion upon clocking my taking photos of their bombsite.

"Can I ask what you're doing love?" A fluorescent jacketed workman asks taking large strides in earth covered boots towards me.

"Erm, I'm just a mum, I, err, I'm taking pictures for my blog" I reply sheepishly.

"No worries, we sometimes get dodgy types taking pictures."

"Oh, okay. Fine." I'm left wondering why a 'dodgy type' would take a photo of a building site.

The playground is under renovation, which is a good thing, but according to mister workman, a job that was supposed to be completed within a month is now - surprise, surprise - taking longer than originally anticipated. Apparently the council is averse to footing the bill for digging up the tarmac. I just hope we have a new playground by next spring.

In the mean time Little A and I will have to kick leaves in another park.

R.I.P wobbly bench.

This is the first day of the seasonal linky One Week. Over the next five days (Monday till Friday) I'll be posting a photograph(s) and a few words that diarises and distills my experience of autumn '12. Take a peep at the details here. You can join in for one, two ... or the full five days. And don't forget to add #oneweek on Twitter, and comment on each others posts...

Badge Code ...

<a href="" title="One Week"><img src="" width="225" height="169" alt="one week"></a>

Thursday, 8 November 2012


Last week I decided upon a wee break from the blogosphere. And what did I fill the empty hours with? Well, playing nurse to a cranky little girl with a chest and ear infection, and bemoaning that I too had a blocked nose and spluttering cough. Maybe succumbing to a virus has been a blessing in disguise, as it meant an enforced break, to a degree, from this here blog.

So it's time to cheer away the Autumn sniffles, return to writing, and what better way than deliberating over the many silver linings from the past few days (and coming weekend).

Restyled, therefore I am. I really should have my haircut more often. A six month gap between visits to the local coiffeurs is a gap too long. As my hair flows beyond my shoulders, it's all too easy to tie it up in a knot and forget about the tangled growth. Ashamedly, and to the tut tutting from my late Grandmother, my scalp has rarely seen the tooth of a comb. So on Saturday, I removed the hair band, sat back with an out dated, over fingered magazine, and let the hairdresser sculpt my tresses. I never seem to finish the complimentary tea and Nice biscuit, my attention always seduced by the pages of Hello. Anyway, I was delighted with the results. Three inches taken off, my hair now bounces like a newborn lamb on a trampoline. A good hair cut always make me feel good, brand new, years younger. This morning, I dyed away the grey, and with that, all my neurotic worries about ageing, and my impending *cough* *cough* 42nd birthday wafted into the ether. Now all I need is a new pair of jeans (and tops, and jumpers, and shoes, and knickers)...

Blogging Conference. This Saturday I'm attending the Mumsnet Blogfest. It was a spur of the moment decision. I really, really enjoyed Britmums Live, and when I found that a number of my blogging buddies were going, I thought why the heck not? It's a date for me and my blog. And to anyone going, please hunt me down. I'm a very friendly, approachable sort of gal. I even have a nice S.M.I.L.E. Sold? I hope so! Additionally, I'm very much looking forward to meeting the faces behind some lovely new blogs I've had the pleasure of recently discovering; Grandad Came To Tea, The Pretty Good Life.

Novel Idea. I've had bursts of inspiration for tucking and tweaking some of the plot lines of my novel, Four Gigs. I find that it's really useful to let thoughts percolate in the background, and then ta daaa, my mind surprises me with improvements to the original story lines. I've also had a canny idea for developing my characters; a scrapbook on Pinterest. Instead of a lengthy exercise of cutting images from magazines, I like the idea of quickly collating all manner of character (facial, clothes, diet, hobbies), and location (streets, buildings, landmarks) details using a Pinterest board. I'm genuinely excited at how my imagination is shaping the story, how I find myself slipping into the shoes of my main protagonist, viewing the world as she does. I'm not ready to start the writing just yet, there's still some further research to do, but nevertheless, I'm raring to unleash my fingers on the keyboard...

To buggy or not to buggy. For nearly three years now I have pushed Little A around in a three wheeled Mountain Buggy. Given that I live in London and to my knowledge there are no mountains, in fact, not a whiff of a mole hill, I never thought this was the most practical choice of pram. I don't know why, but while I was pregnant, I handed over the most important decision on baby gear - the buggy - to Younger Dad and a battered copy of Which Magazine. I was hormonal. I was completely mad. But I wasn't totally wrong in trusting my husband's judgement either. The Mountain Buggy has been reliable, sturdy, fulfilled its purpose. It's also very, very heavy. This week though, there was a new arrival in our home. I am now the proud owner - thank you ebay - of a super folding, light weight Maclaren. At last, I can manage the crowds in Westfield. At last, I can tackle The Underground. At last, the escalator is no longer the enemy. At last, a whole new social panorama has opened to me.

A new blog. Last Friday spontaneity got the better of me, and I created The Adventures of Parsley Pug. It's a frivolous space for the sole aim of writing children's stories. Many, many moons ago, I conjured up the character, Parsley Pug, and Younger Dad has been pressing me to write the stories ever since. I doubt I will post that often, I don't expect many page views, but then I'm not that bothered, as this blog is personal, for me, my imagination, my sense of wonder, and fun.

One Week. This week, virus permitting, I've been gearing up for One Week, which begins next Monday. I've edited my photographs and somehow managed to pen a few words through the barricades of a fuggy head, tiredness and heaps of snotty tissues. So come to think of it, I haven't strictly had a break from blogging. Anyway, if you are at a loss for inspiration, please join in!

Now that was a shameless plug!

I'm linking up this post with Reasons To Be Cheerful, it's been a while!

Thursday, 1 November 2012


The red traffic light tells me in plain language. STOP.

The slow cooker hints at a life in third gear, not fifth.

I've been told on a number of occasions now that I'm looking a little pallid.

The mirror confirms my skin isn't in the best of shape.

Yet again, I've neglected my wardrobe. Two pairs of jeans are in the bin, the third is cultivating a significant breach in the right knee.

Recently, I've fallen into a pattern of three posts a week. I don't know how this happened, although I suspect a latent desire for a surge in stats. I convinced myself writing practice is the overarching drive, which I'm sure, overall, it is. Or maybe superstition is tugging at my taupe jumper; I'm simply averse to the idea of an October tally of thirteen posts!

Still, something had to give. I can't keep up the pace I've unfairly set myself. So it was with sweet relief (and worry) that at the beginning of this week, I found myself clueless as to what to pen. My head, a blank. My imagination, in a stupor.

Between you and me, I was secretly pleased I was unable to join in this week's 100 Word Challenge as the prompt, a ghoulish recipe - in keeping with Halloween - didn't feel suited to the short story I'm telling. Then I did something liberating. I have a back log of memes I've been tagged in dating back to the beginning of this year that, embarrassingly, I haven't responded to, probably never will, and barring a chosen few, I just deleted them all. Yes, all. I do feel chastened by guilt at my impetuous action - and I am very sorry to those *bloggers who kindly thought of me - but it was the right thing to do. I felt relief. Maybe it's the time of year? Like nature in her current riotous dismantling, I'm offloading baggage. (*Please don't let this put you off tagging me, I just needed a clear out).

You see, this week, I've needed a little space, some downtime, some small separation from my laptop.

On Tuesday morning, whilst delighting at crisp blue skies, Little A and I decided an outing to Kew Gardens would be a jolly fine thing to do. There, we busied our time in the children's outdoor and indoor play areas. Apart from an alarming few moments where I thought I'd lost Little A, my feet frozen to the floor, waves of head spinning panic wracking my limbs, we had a deliciously wonderful mummy and daughter time together. We luncheoned on fish pie, ham sandwiches and a necessary slice of lemon drizzle. Little A befriended an older girl who clung to a cream teddy. And, to my surprise, she conquered the big curly wurly slide; "again, again Mummy, let me go again," she cheered triumphantly with rosy zeal in her cheeks.

But it wasn't until we strolled peacefully down paths lined with fiery autumnal bursts and the odd Japanese Pagoda Tree, that I found myself attuning to a more peaceful rhythm. And then, in the quiet, in the moment's chill, ideas for posts greeted me like welcome friends.

When my inner voice tells me to S.T.O.P, I need to pay a little more attention. Having a weighty expectation of how much I should or shouldn't write is no good for my creativity. "Just stop Older Mum", I hear the voice gently prodding. Okay, I will. Besides, I need to conserve energy for One Week!

So in an effort to trim my ambition, this will be my one and only post for the week.

Do you respond to every meme you've been tagged in?
When do you like to take a break from blogging?

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