Monday, 23 March 2015

Sowing the Seeds of Love

England, we are led to believe, has four seasons - although sometimes it can feel like one long, wet, grey never-ending winter.  As my Aussie husband loves to say of our weather, 'Summer is my favourite day of the year!'

I'm a great fan of winter.  I love the dark, cosy nights, the rain, hail, snow and cloud. Yes, I really do!  But I do get to a point, when we change the clocks, that I start to yearn for a bit of sun, a cool breeze and long evenings enjoying our garden.  We have a very small, typical townhouse garden but we utilise the space well and take full advantage of it whenever we can.  Dinners seem longer, chat seems less distracted and life feels better during an alfresco meal or drink.

So yesterday when we found ourselves with an unseasonably warm day for London, we set to work on preparing the garden for our long-awaited summer.  Tubs were emptied, borders cleared, leaves swept, plants chopped and seeds planted.

As I dug my fingers into the earth, covering seeds and pulling out weeds, I could almost smell the approach of warmer days.  Oh, I know we have a lot more of the grey stuff to get through before we can have that first drink outside but ... it's coming!  It's on its way!

My garden looks a bit like an empty stage awaiting its actors at the moment but it's exciting and I love the thrill of watching new shoots pop up or new life pushing its way through the soil.

I then got to thinking how much tending a garden is like writing.  It all starts with that first seed.  You plant it and give it time, love and patience.  Lots and lots of patience!  As it grows you trim it, prune it and tame it.  Sometimes it gives you a scare and you think you may lose it but then it suddenly bounces back with a surprise.  Within time, that tiny dot of nothingness has a mind of its own with strong roots and it's ready to face the world.

The only difference is, I can choose when I want to plant in my garden.  Sadly (or maybe, happily) I can't with writing.  I wasn't looking for a new plot but the germ of an idea popped into my head yesterday and I think it's already settling itself in the soil of my brain and preparing to sprout.

Ah well!  At least I'll have a lovely scented garden to work in.  Now pass me that notebook and a box of fertiliser!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Chicklit? Predictable? Hell, yeah!

How do you like your eggs in the morning?
Fried, scrambled, boiled, poached?
There are so many ways.

How do you like your chicklit?
There is only one way.

Those who devour chicklit like to know what they're going to get - a light, frothy read that takes them on the heroine's journey until she has her man/kiss/ring/epiphany.

It's really very simple.  A chicklit reader will know (sometimes from Chapter One - and I have to say, in some books I've read, Page One) who the main character will end up walking into the sunset with but they want to know how she gets there.  They don't want plague, murders, famine and mass outbreaks of smallpox.  They want humour, trials, tribulations and tittilations until they reach that magic swoon.

Pick up any successful chicklit author's work and there will always be one thing that runs through them like a stick of rock - the happy ending that the reader nailed fairly early on in the read, laced with the thrill of wondering how it will happen.

If we took our reader on so many twists and turns with various men who our heroine might end up with and then threw in a curve ball at the end, we wouldn't be trusted and she'd be called a slut.

If we wrote the final chapter awash with misery and despair we shouldn't be writing chicklit.

People can be as snooty and snobby as they like but women love to cosy up with a read that will deliver - the Mansells and Kinsellas of this world are proof of that.

So to sum up ...

How do I like my eggs?

How do I like my chicklit?
Predictable - but with humour and surprises along the way.

Otherwise, I'd opt for Dostoyevsky.  Or a self help book.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

51 is the New 50!

So, last year I hit the big five-oh and hosted a party at our house for about 30 people.  Then we decided it was such fun, we might do the same for our 20th wedding anniversary.  Becoming 51 seemed the perfect excuse to have yet another bash and so, never one to do things by halves, out came the notebook and the lists were made.
We're a little short on photos as we were all having too much fun and forgot to take many but these are a few to give you an idea of our night.
The food we'd prepared and frozen over the preceding weeks was displayed on our Laura Ashley marble boards (a little budget tip for you - they're actually floor tiles!), the house looked like a party shop had exploded inside it, the gazebo was adorned and the teen was all set for DJ duty.

DJ son with friend Tchengiz

We made 60 pop-cakes.
Never again!  Delicious but time consuming.

Sadly, flu and various other aliments attacked some of our guests but the assembled group of about 25 certainly made up for it.  We had a sterling performance of  'Cabaret' from 'Fenella' and then we moved on to the teen's friend Tchengiz, who did a couple of his own songs and wowed his audience. We only have one video to share on here as it almost killed hubbie trying to get it from his phone and edit it for the blog.

To view, click here.

At my request Tchengiz also performed his Christmas song and I thought I'd post the original video here too:

I'm sure you'll agree that he's got quite a talent and will go far.  I wish him all the luck in the world - a lovely young man who shared many happy years with my son at school and I'm sure they will continue to keep in touch.

We were then entertained by my good friend @nurseyjo, who tap-danced to an Olly Murs number.  I'm so jealous and it made me even more determined to master those moves!

Then quite out of the blue, @nurseyjo's beautiful daughter did an impromptu performance of 'Bring it on Home to Me' with Tchengiz accompanying her on guitar - they had literally disappeared upstairs for only a few minutes and then *BAM* they were in to it.  If  Simon Cowell had been at my party he would have been rubbing his hands together with glee at the plethora of talent!  Thank you so much, guys!  I'd love to post the video here but I think the process of doing so would tip hubbie over the edge!

We danced, we laughed, we ate and we drank.  It was even warm enough for people to enjoy sitting outside in our 'Bedouin' tent - mad for February! A great night was had by all and I thank my guests for making it so special.

Being 51 is just fine!

Now ... shall I throw a summer party?