Monday, 30 December 2013

Gardening 2014

The recent storms blew over my wooden bird table and smashed it. Never mind it was very old and a bit rickety so I shall replace it instead of trying to mend it. I'm hoping for a few days mild enough to potter in the garden and greenhouse. I am looking forward to gardening in 2014. In the meantime, while the weather is too bad to be outside, I have checked my packets of seeds and disposed of those which are out of date. I shall now consult seed catalogues, order more seeds, and some perpetual strawberries.  Very soon it will be time to chit seed potatoes and sow the first tomato seeds. 

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Saturday, 28 December 2013

My Christmas

My head's reeling with Christmas cheer. One of the highlights was watching my daughter's children delving into their stockings and the 4 year old repeatedly saying: This is the best Christmas ever. And the nine year old saying the same thing but adding: Because you're here, Grandma.

The most amusing was one of my 12 year old grandson telling his father that he no longer believes in Father To which my youngest son replied. "If you don't believe, you don't get." "I believe, I believe." Later, he told me. "I don't understand why parents would want a strange man to enter their children's bedrooms while they are sleeping."

I divided my time between my children's houses and loved every minute with each one, my daughters in law and my grandchildren.

On Christmas Eve we lunched at a favourite restaurant, I spent the night at my daughter's house, Christmas Day after stockings at presents at her house, I visited son No.3 and his family and then had a wonderful vegetarian lunch at his twin brother's house.

Boxing Day is on of my granddaughter's birthday. She and her cousins celebrated it playing bowls in the late afternoon. I enjoyed watching my grandchildren and two guests bowling before we went out to dinner.

I spent yesterday at my daughter's house and went to see The Hobbit 2 with my twin sons and three grandsons.

And now, after having such a happy Christmas, back to work on my novel Monday's Child the sequel to Sunday's Child.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Christmas Greetings

My prayers go out to all those who are afflicted.

I offer the compliments of the season to all of you who celebrate Christmas, and hope those who don't will have a peaceful time.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Ideas for My Novels

I'm sure many novelists are asked where they get their ideas for their novels. I am not an exception. My novels are often inspired by historical research, reading non-fiction or visiting a place of historical interest, after which my imagination takes over.

While writing I draw inspiration from many things, including poetry. Yesterday, after reading the following verse, I went to sleep with the words in my mind.

Her gentle motion and her smiles,
Her wit, her voice my heart beguiles,
Beguiles my heart, I know not why,
And yet I love her till I die.

Anon (17th century)

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Christmas Read

I'm still staying at my youngest son's house and treasuring my time with his wife, two of my grandsons and one of my granddaughters. The Christmas lights and tree are up and we are enjoying each other's company.

I've dipped into one of the books I chose to read during the Christmas holidays The White Princess by Philippa Gregory. The fate of the Princes in the Tower is uncertain, and the personal relationship between Henry VII and his queen, Elizabeth of York is speculative, but, so far, I'm enjoying the novel.

Time Off

As a rule I'm up early in the morning and working on my laptop. However, I'm spending a long weekend with my youngest son, his wife and children. So I enjoyed the luxury of sleeping late and the afternoons in their lounge in front of a log fire. Very bad for writing my novel, Monday's Child the sequel to Sunday's Child but very enjoyable.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Infant's Library - Georgian's Revealed Exhibition

At the Georgain's Revealed Exhibition at The British Library I fell in love with The Children's Library a collection of 17 small books published c.1800. They measure approximately 55mm by 45 mm. These tiny books are covered with pretty coloured paper. They are illustrated with woodcuts, some of which are hand-coloured. Originally they were contained in a box with a pink paper lining and a sliding front with "a pretty image of a glass-fronted bookcase".

The subjects of each book are diverse: the alphabet, reading and spelling, games for boys and girls, furniture and domestic items, etc.

Two of the books on display were open. The first two facing pages. Page 62 and 63 of the "History of England". A woodcut of "Our most gracious Sovereign George III" and another woodcut of "his amiable consort Queen Charlotte. The second book was open at a page with the text "I will practice a minuet, and when Harriet and Matilda come in the evening, they will dance to it." The woodcut is of a young girl practicing on a harpsichord.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Dates for Monday's Child

I am more than halfway through Monday's Child, the sequel to my novel Sunday's Child, set in 1814.

The dates are important so I checked my chapters and added one at the beginning of every scene. When I submit the novel to MuseItUp Publishing I shall remove them, but while I'm writing they ensure I'm not in a tangle - so to speak -  with fast moving events.

Miracle of Christmas

The shops are flooded with baubles,  tinsel and many other decorations. Small children visit Santa's grotto. The competition for shopper's money is fierce. Articles about what to buy and cook for Christmas are profuse. Credit cards purchase goods which too many people will struggle to buy. So where is the miracle of Christmas? It was in the faces of the pre-school children, who enacted the nativity today, including that my four year-old granddaughter, who represented Mary and rocked the baby doll standing in for Jesus with real tenderness. 

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Christmas Greenery

My eldest granddaughter and I decorated my Christmas tree. It's something she enjoys doing with me every year.
I picked assorted greenery from my garden some with berries on it, arranged it in a large glass vase and hung small baubles on the branches. It looks gorgeous and the cuttings from evergreen trees smell gorgeous. And now to think about making a wreath for the front door using material from the garden.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Georgians Revealed

I visited The Georgians Revealed Exhibition at the British Library with a friend. The walls on the approach the gallery are lined with black and white friezes of Georgian life, and are hung with portraits of the three King Georges. From the ceiling are suspended copies of many pictures and posters of Georgian life.

In the gallery there were also a few items of costume, china and many books on display.

The gallery is divided into three sections. No 1. Public places, private spaces. No 2 Buying luxury, Acquiring style. No 3 Pleasures of society, virtues of culture.

It took my friend and I the better part of the day to view and make notes of everything. And now, to my annoyance, I have lost my notebook. I could say some very rude words, but I won't. In future, I shall always make sure that I write my name and address in front of my notebooks.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Useful 2nd hand book

While I was in the town with no bookshops I popped into the Oxfam shop. I was delighted when I found a useful book for research: The History of Everyday Things in England Volume 1 by Marjorie & C. H. B. Quennell. It was first published in 1918.From then until 1956 it was in continuous demand and ran through ten impressions and three editions. My edition was published in 1956 - perhaps more editions followed. I already own Volume 1V 1851 - 1914 and hope to buy the other two volumes.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

No Bookshops in Town

I went from one end of the town centre to the other yesterday and also completed a tour of the large shopping mall. I finished my Christmas Shopping but was saddened because there no longer a bookshop in either. W.H. Smiths has survived but it's stock is limited compared to the independent bookshops which have shut, Borders which has closed down, and Waterstones which no longer has a branch in town.

Daughter's Fate, Karma or Kismet?

As though it was not enough of a shock for my daughter's car to be a write off, the car her friend lent her broke down, and was followed by a frantic telephone call from her asking me to pick my granddaughter up from pre-school.

The problem with the car was minor  but being stuck in the cold waiting for the AA added to the stress she is undergoing.

I pray that in her case bad luck will not come in threes.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Car was a Write Off

My daughter was driving on the motorway with her 4 year old and her 9 year old in the car. The bonnet opened and slammed against the windscreen. The glass shattered and the roof of the car buckled. She managed to see through a tiny gap at the side of the broken windscreen and stop on the hard shoulder. Thank God she was driving slowly and neither she nor the children were injured. Needless to say she and her son were shocked and he couldn't stop crying for ages. My granddaughter was O.K. One of her brothers came and then collected her eldest son from his gymnastic class, her other brother came and arranged for her car to  be taken to his house. But, as I've written thank God no one was hurt.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Carols at Westmister Cathedral

My 9 year old grandson sang with the rest of his class at Westminster Cathedral. He was a little nervous at the thought of singing in front of an audience of 6,500 people, but overcome by the beauty of the Cathedral, and the carols sung by other choirs he enjoyed the occasion.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

'Tis the Season to Be Jolly

I've nearly finished my Christmas Shopping + Birthday Presents for 3 of my grandchildren one of whom was born on Boxing Day. Presents are piled on the dining room table waiting to be wrapped and, today, I shall buy Christmas Cards and post them on Monday. Next weekend, the Christmas tree will be in place and decorated, probably with a grandchild's help. So, the season to be jolly is underway in my house.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Choosing a Title for my Novel

I have a  title for my medieval novel set in Edward II's reign but after reading an article by Alison Baverstock in Writers & Artists Yearbook 2013 I'm dissatisfied with it. She quotes: Heather-Holden Brown of the hhb agency says: "The title matters hugely I want something that excites me, and that will draw a similarly instant reaction from any publisher I mention it to." So go for something that is topical, intriguing or witty and to the point."

My characters and I have settled on 'intriguing' but I didn't appreciate them waking me up in the night giving me their input while I was half asleep. They suggested something on the lines of 'When once you practice to deceive what a tangled web you weave,' but  I told them that 'it ignores the romantic elements in my novel.' On the other hand... However, my protagonists needs to understand I am the boss and they are acting under my direction!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

What is on my Mind

First of all the Hindhu Wedding Service in which the bride and groom understand they will be joined in marriage for seven births. I've always thought that's risky. Suppose the marriage is unhappy and continues to be so for six more births.

This week I've dressed warmly and got on in my garden and greenhouse. I've sown micro greens which can be snipped when they are four inches high, and peas for shoots to be added to salad.

I cut the yellowing lower leaves off my Brussel sprouts and tied the plants to stop them from toppling over. I then raked and weeded the bed, fed the Brussels with a liquid feed and covered them with horticultural net to protect them from the beady-eyed wood pigeons that visit my garden. I have also spread manure around my fruit trees in the hope they will give the same bumper crop as last year.

Today, I hope to do a little more in the garden after a writing session followed by tidying up the house.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Father of the Bride's Farewell

At the end of the long Hindhu wedding ceremony that I attended on Sunday the bride's father spoke the following words.

"When you wake tomorrow morning there will be an empty place at our breakfast table. We will always remember you. Please, never forget us."

I admit his words brought a tear or two to my eyes.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Word Pictures

I enjoyed Sunday lunch at my youngest son and daughter-in-law's house with their three children, my daughter and her three children. The conversation turned to my paperback which they are very excited about, particularly because it is dedicated to my grandson, Harry. They asked me questions about how I write and I mentioned word pictures. Curious they asked me what I meant so I quoted from my new novel, Monday's Child the sequel to my e-book, Sunday's Child.

"The sun was low in a sky streaked with pale gold and powder-pink as though painted by God’s almighty hand."

This sparked their imaginations and they commented on it.