Sunday, 22 June 2014

Why I write

I was nominated to participate in this blog hop by Christina at A Colourful Life. I was really flattered to be considered as my blog is fairly new.

I’m writing this after being on the go all day...this is not unusual...I should really think about time management some more! I wanted to post before I became busy with work this week and then a short break. So I may edit in some more when I’ve thought a little more...I’m sure there’ll be something I think of the minute I press publish!

What am I working on? At this precise moment, nothing in particular. I don’t really plan these posts in advance (can’t you tell?) They come about organically. Sometimes I have an idea and think...’ooh I’ll blog about that’ but generally I post what’s in my head at that moment.

How does my writing differ from others in my genre?
I’m not really sure what genre I fit into. I guess it’s the ‘working mum of two young children who likes books, gardens, crafty stuff, tv and wine’. I’m a little bit secretive here about who I am, mainly for professional reasons. I don’t really want random students finding my private space – it’s like when they want to ‘friend’ you on, no. I want to be able to write here about anything I like and not feel constrained.

Why do I write what I do? In a previous life I kept a written journal. Snippets of the day to day and how I felt about things. Some days I would write lots and navel gaze in great detail. Other days were just the odd line or two to remind me what I was up to at that time. My blog is a more public version of that, just me, documenting aspects of my life and allowing me to have a record of this time. This time where my children are young and where I’m balancing life as a mummy, an academic, a friend, a partner, a daughter, a woman. Seeing where my life fits in to the world and generating friendships through this.

How does my writing process work? I don’t really have a planned process but I fall into when the mood strikes me. I blog from my sofa and during breaks at work. Usually, the latter is when someone is having a loud phone conversation and I can barely concentrate. - the joys of academia in an open plan office. Sometimes I make notes on my phone if I want to blog about something specific. My photos all come from my phone - I have much to learn about light and making these much better. I think one of the reasons I don’t plan to much is I’d then think I’d need to revise and refine my writing (as I do at work) and I like this being straight from the heart.

Part of this blog hop is to nominate others to join in. It’s so hard to choose! I’m still waiting to hear from a couple of people and wanted to post before time ran away...

So I nominate Sarah from Mitenska – this was one of the first blogs I plucked up the courage  to comment on. I love Sarah’s beautiful photography and writing. Her blog is so full of inspiration and positivity. She writes beautifully about her life, home and the world around her. I love seeing snippets of her notebooks and her drawings.


Friday, 20 June 2014

Forgetting, Flowers, words and in the garden :: days 79 - 86

Day 79

:: Beautiful peony stems to delight our dining room. It’s the best place (the one with the high surfaces) for flowers these days with a very inquisitive toddler

:: Bizarrely my last Friday worked before going part time...


Day 80

:: A crisp new magazine


Day 81

:: Father’s day – my lovely Dad and my girls’ lovely Daddy.

:: A much needed and deserved glass of wine.


Day 82

:: Appreciating the library. I needed some quiet space to work and the Brotherton library at the University is one of the best places I can find to work. It’s not the library I ‘should’ work in but it’s got a lovely feeling to it and I get a 7 minute fresh air jaunt across campus. Just being in there means the stuff just goes in by diffusion...right?


:: University planting...

Day 83

:: My friend brought her new baby daughter in as she had some work to sort through. I got 15 minutes solitary baby cuddles. Delightful.


Day 84

:: The girls had the first strawberries off the plants today. There was no time to grab a picture as they were swiftly consumed. Here’s the next one that’s not quite ripe...maybe tomorrow...


:: BigR visited her school today. She loved it. Had made a couple of friends within minutes and ran off to paint a picture of some lions for their jungle project. Then she played in their outside water area and mud kitchen (Grrrr I thought we might have left this behind but no! I love that she loves to gets stuck in but not the stains!!). I was struck by how tall she is compared to children a year older! And how confident she is...I was not quite as impressed about the enormous fuss she made when it was time to leave. Don’t worry from September you can go back every day for the next 15 odd years!!


Day 85

:: On the way to work I drive past some allotments. I am always impressed and intrigued by their neat lines of planting. One in particular has some homemade windmills constructed from empty pop/water bottles. I’m assuming they’re there to deter birds from eating the produce/plants but it’s the kind of thing the girls would like to see. There must be something online on how to do it...

:: Forgetting and then remembering that this is the last Thursday I was working!

:: Forgetting that I’d preordered the new Robert Galbraith book and it appearing in my kindle list just as I finished the book I was reading.


:: The peonies I saw last time have opened into full blousy glory


:: The blueberries are coming...


Day 86

:: Enjoying an hour in the garden and finally putting some of our overgrown seedlings into the flowerbeds. Still a lot to go...which is lucky as there’s lots of slugs and snails too.

:: Finding that the peppers are also coming too...

:: The most deliciously sweet and juicy nectarine eaten after the girls were in bed so I didn’t have to share. Meanie Mummy.

I cannot believe there are only 15 days left of this challenge I set for myself...

Thursday, 19 June 2014

The last Thursday

I was feeling a little bit subdued this afternoon and in need of coffee. The nursery is closed tomorrow so I’m off work, I have most of next week off (apart form one day which is a big conference locally) and we’re going away as family…and then I realised this is the last Thursday I am working (I hesitate to say ever cos things change but you know…). Result!
That is all.

Friday, 13 June 2014

New shoes, weather and conforming :: days 69 - 78

How is it ten days since I last post? I really buy into the concept that time moves more quickly as you age because each minute becomes a smaller proportion of the time you have lived. That’s why double physics on a Friday afternoon dragged then? I just hadn’t lived!

Day 69

:: Receiving the proofs though for my chapter. It’s always strange seeing my work in publication mode. I always end up thinking ‘Blimey I wrote that, how did that happen?!’ Then I send it to my Mum who doesn’t always‘get’ the subject matter (she's never studied science) but always gives great feedback!

Day 70
:: There are a family of ducks in the pond/fountain outside one of the university buildings. It’s a necessary part of our morning walk up to nursery to stop and say hello…

:: Coffee with a friend who celebrated her recent 40th in NYC. Hearing all her news. I miss working with her.

Day 71
:: Sticky toffee pudding and ice cream (neither homemade but delicious)

:: Planning to start my socks (see Christina’s pattern) but realising I couldn’t for the life of me remember how to join in a circle…so started some mitts with chunky wool (yes in June!!) as a trial. AM managing to knit indie out but will turn them when I’ve finished.

Day 72

:: On such a beautiful day we took a trip to Fountains Abbey. We went for a huge walk all around the lake and Abbey. BigR collected wild flowers and leaves and we made a ‘display’ when we got home. The flowers have really faded now but at least the photo still exists.

:: Both girls running through the sprinkler in the afternoon. Such a simple joy.

Day 73
:: After such a beautiful day of course the weather couldn’t last. It rained heavily. BigR needed new shoes and so after a very brief trip to the shoe shop (pink , check. Sparkly light, check – all her own choice!) we settled down to watch the rain (and create havoc and chaos inside!)

Day 74
:: Taking the girls swimming again. BigR tried without armbands – a success. I think she’ll need some lessons soon…LittleR loves the water but has absolutely no fear (in water or on stairs or climbing…BigR is far more cautious a person) and is more than happy to get her face and head wet! She’ll need exceptionally close watching!!

Day 75

:: A very, very early rise. Not down to children but to the ABO being on ‘earlies’. Now I could use this time to catch up on work/cleaning/sorting/ironing but I just lay in bed with my kindle and catching up with blogs!

:: Torrential rain – and being inside when it was falling.

Day 76
:: It was the evening for new parents at BigRs school. As I sat in the room on the low benches I was struck by the fact that all the people in the room would have indirect and direct influence on BigR over the next 7 years. She’ll thrive at school but for possibly the first time I had one of those completely bittersweet moments.

:: This was quickly extinguished with the thought of book bags (available from the office for a price) pump bags (available from the office for a price), uniform – most children like to wear the embroidered cardi/jumper with an embroidered polo shirt (of course they do) and please sew in the name tags; iron on tags and indelible markers aren’t good enough. Deep sigh! I’m sure it’ll be all fine when it gets going.

Day 77
:: Time in the garden when the girls were in bed. Watering the plants. They’re really coming along now. Still plenty to tackle though.

:: After a busy day – climbing into fresh sheets.

Day 78
:: Enjoying a quiet moment between the ABO leaving (another very early start) and the girls getting up.

:: Receiving my beautiful bracelet from Leanne. It was wrapped so beautifully with a lovely card. I love the colour – thank you so much!!

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

A year in books :: June

Another really good month on the book front for me.

I was swept away by Apple Tree Yard - Louise Doughty. One of the best books I've read in ages. I devoured it in a matter of days. Cleaning? Nope I'm sure neglecting the bathroom won't matter in the short term, at least we've got a dishwasher now... Sleeping? Nah no need...Screaming child? OK I stopped for that one...

I liked the background of academia and science but really that was inconsequential to the narrative. I loved the way she described the affair, their tangle of emotions and then the deceit followed by a violent change in circumstances.It was unputtdownable (a new word I've decided).

I'll be looking at Louise Doughty's other books for July!

Also this month was Crime thriller month (again)...I read another Ann Cleeves, Dead Water...the latest one returning to Shetland after the dramatic events in book 4 (no spoilers here) which was equally good as the first four.
I also read Lynda La Plante's Wrongful Death. The latest concerning her character Anna Travis. I enjoyed it but do wonder if there's only so much more Anna can take forward (the FBI? really?)...maybe, maybe not. We'll see what the next book brings! I do like a little of plausibility and this is now starting to verge on not being authentic.

I've started my book for June on the last day in May, is that cheating? So June's reads will include Maggie O'Farrell's After You'd Gone (this is going down very well so far) and  Mark Billingham's The Bones Beneath. Then I'll be searching out some more suggestions from others participating in a year in books. I'm so enjoying finding my reading mojo again.

Joining in with Laura and a year in books.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Long days and some rain :: days 57 - 68

Well the days and weeks seem to be slipping by…I’m already more than halfway through my 101 days challenge and we’re in June already. There’s a definite rhythm to my happinesses with lots of food being mentioned.

Day 57 – raindrops on poppies. One of the places I work at has amazing planting down the side of one building.

(Just today I noticed some peonies tightly in bud…I’m looking forward to seeing those flower.)

Day 58 – I worked from home today on some writing I needed to do. I’m actually in an open plan office which make sit really hard to do any serious concentrating. This is unusual for academia, I was kind of hoping to be in my ivory tower once I’d gotten to this point in my career but alas no, I’m in a room with 50 others!! It’s difficult as I’m always half listening to everyone else’s conversations.

My Christmas cactus has decided to flower…hurrah…only it’s not Christmas. Must be very confused…still it looks lovely! (I have now dusted the plant!!)

Day 59 – This was the start of my 4 days of solo parenting. The ABO was on earlies and long earlies at that. He’d be back for bedtime but as the bank holiday stretched out in front of me…with an extra day of University and therefore nursery closure on Tuesday and heavy rain forecast I wasn’t sure what we would do!! As it happens on Saturday I made popcorn whilst LittleR was napping and we then all watched ‘Frozen’ whilst the rain poured down! It was fun.

Day 60 – I knew that the weekend would be difficult but I didn't bank on BigR and I having a grump at the same time. I was in a poor mood to start with, it was raining and I just couldn't be bothered with any whining. We met my friend at a garden centre for a coffee but left very quickly due to moaning. Hmmm. If you say you’re going to leave if the moaning doesn't stop I guess you have to follow through…not very well thought out on my part really!

Still the moaning then stopped and we had a much better day. We picked some flowers from the garden and the girls were super pleased when Daddy came home rushing to the door as he pulled up in the car.

Day 61 – We popped out in the morning to buy some ribbon for the ballet cardigan my friend is making for BigR, she is beyond excited that she’ll be able to wear it soon.
In the afternoon we went to visit another friend who had a baby about a fortnight ago (very briefly!). She’s doing so well and adjusting to the massive change in her life. It made me realise how big my two are!!

Day 62 – It’s a constant effort not to fall into a food rut and turn around the same meals. It’s easy if everyone eats them but it can be a little dull. I saw some lamb mince on the shelf and my first thought was Shepherd’s pie then I decided on lamb burgers. The ABO and I had them for tea with extras for lunch the day after. I was going to make some coleslaw but time escaped me so I just bought some. They were delicious with some rosemary from the garden.

Loving the look on BigR’s face when she gets to wear her  new pyjamas.

Day 63 – Hosting the first seminar for work. It’s a simple thing really but I’d built it up and up into something quite unnecessary. I needed to introduce the speaker, thank them and ‘control’ the questions. It went well and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Day 64 – Another work related happiness…I had a really good meeting and will be able to push forward a research project for the future with the support of my two workplaces and a third party.

Day 65 – I worked at home again but this time took the girls to nursery so the ABO could also do some study. After a productive morning,  we went for lunch together to here. It was delicious.

Day 66 - We had a lovely trip to Harlow Carr using our membership. The gardens are so beautiful year round but it’s fantastic to see what they’ve done with their planting. They have so much colour…it’s a constant battle for me that everything comes at once and then I have periods of ‘quiet’ before the next set of plants come into flower…need to work on this. There wasn't even  too much moaning about walking!

Day 67 – *fanfares*…I've finished the knitted dog. I am so pleased with it!!It looks remarkably like the picture. I think the body is a little under-stuffed at the neck but that makes him (it’s a boy dog I think) an individual.

Day 68 – Littles Rs face when she was given the dog (by BigR). She ‘woofed’ right away so I must look like a dog!!!