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Out Like A Frisky Lamb

And so March is coming to an end and it seems set to live up to its old reputation for coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb. In common with most of the rest of the United Kingdom our little island has been having the most gorgeous weather for the last week. Apparently the Hebrides were hotter than the Balearics at the weekend. Daffodils are out in their hosts and my walk to work is scented by the coconut waft of yellow gorse flowers from the hedgerows and verges.

We’re trying not to get too comfortable without our vests and our cardis though. April often sees a fall of ‘lambing snow’ – but for now we’re soaking up the full spectrum light and giving the central heating a rest.

As for my end of month round up of my March reading and writing – well – it was tough but I’ve now got properly back into the writing groove. My second novel is back on track and I aim to have the first draft complete by mid July. Then after a bit of a break I intend to get on with the rewriting and redrafting of my novel for children.

I’ve always found that listening to music helps me get in the writing zone. All three of my books are associated with particular playlists. And playing the ‘Novel 2’ tunes definitely retuned my brain to the correct writing frequency.

My current read is the book I received as a Mothers’ Day present. It’s Mary Quant’s autobiography. I dropped heavy hints about it – i.e. said to the husband that I’d like it and to tell the kids if they asked for ideas of what to give me.

I’m a child of the sixties so Mary Quant – fashion designer, trendsetter and  feminist was a role model, heroine and figurehead for lassies of my vintage. I’m whizzing through the book. Quant is no great writer, and the book might annoy some by being a bit haphazard in its organisation and a mite repetitive here and there, but i find that to be part of its charm. There’s no airbrushing or ghost-writing. It’s honest and I’m gripped by it. It’s really like sitting down and having a right good blether – or rather, listening to anecdote after anecdote – in no particular order – but all lively, interesting and full of insight. It shows Quant’s take on her life as a wife, mother and woman as well as a grounded and highly successful businesswoman. The book is an original and refreshingly female take on an amazing era. The hardback is available now and the paperback (cover above) will be out in September.

So the first quarter of 2012 is almost gone. I began the year with a new motto – ‘NOW’ – 2012 is to be, for me a year of ‘Carpe Diem’, of less procrastination, of feeling the fear and doing stuff anyway… And so far I’m doing not a bad job of sticking to it. My main focus is on the ‘now’ – only the odd glance backwards – and no worrying about futures that only exist in my over-anxious brain.

On that chilled note, I’m off on holiday on Saturday for a week. Yes – it’s the school holidays – yes again!  The husband and I are going to Ireland with the son and his lovely lass. And when we get back the daughter, her wonderful husband and our gorgeous wee granddaughter are coming to stay for a week. Totally gle mhath (very good)

Whatever your Spring festival of choice or conviction – Enjoy and be in the moment!

Tioraidh for now…


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Rants, Raves, Reads and Writers

“Have a heart that never hardens, a temper that never tires, a touch that never hurts.” Charles Dickens

I like the above quote and although I’m nowhere near saintly enough to stick to it, it’s worth aspiring to. And I do try to remember that everyone faces a bit of a struggle –  to a greater or lesser extent  - and nobody has a perfect life, no matter what kind of face they present to the world. So I try to not to waste energy feeling resentment, envy, disappointment or annoyance with my fellow travellers through daily life.

But it’s the faceless ones – commercial organisations and bureaucracies – that I find it very hard not to get worked up about and, when faced with inefficiency and indifference on their part, I’m afraid the ranting red mist descends.

Yes there’s a rant coming on. Normally Rant & Rave Tuesday is the second Tuesday of the month but I’m afraid I didn’t post last week as I was busy being a domestic goddess and taking up curtains and hanging pictures.

So this week’s blog is a combination of R&R and my normal third Tuesday content of book review and blog of the month.

The Rant – We moved house recently so we’ve been buying bits and bobs for the new place.

First problem was companies who can’t/ won’t deliver to the Scottish islands. One UK company told me that they don’t do international deliveries! That rendered me speechless – especially as our island is joined to the mainland by a toll free road bridge.

Then, two furniture items in succession arrived without the correct components for assembly. One – a home cinema system arrived with no screws. Neither manufacturer nor supplier was willing to send the missing items. My husband had to trawl the internet and managed to source a set of the necessary fixings from the USA. The other item – a stand for the TV – came with bolts that were too short to attach the TV to the stand. Again it was down to us as the customers to sort this out and find the right bolts from elsewhere.

Next – was the saga of trying to get our electricity supplier to set me up to pay online – what a palaver – days of emailing Gary in customer in customer services. He feels like one of the family now and I’m sure the poor guy has developed a twitch and the need for tranquilising medication.

It’s a sair fecht at times.

But on The Rave side – Plusnet – our broadband provider have proved efficient, communicative and reliable – and our satellite TV installer, Mario was also brilliant. And the local plumber also turned up trumps when our boiler sprung a leak. Hurrah for them.

And breathe…

Book Review – just a mini one this time – I’ve just finished ‘Sister’ by Rosamund Lupton (published by Piatkus and available on Amazon as paperback and ebook).

A friend lent it to me suspecting it was my sort of read. And she was right. This is a great suspenseful thriller. Beatrice goes in search of her missing sister. As she searches she finds out that there was a lot she didn’t know about her sister and Beatrice ends up in terrible danger. It’s scary, moving and will have you reading way past lights out time. My only reservation – not entirely satisfied by the ending – but I still felt it was worth it for the journey.

 

Next month I will review Sara Sheridan’s soon to be published new novel ‘Brighton Belle’ (to bepublished by Polygon in hardback in April and paperback in July) – sneak preview – it’s a good one.

Blog of the Month – Anne Mackle’s  ‘Is Anyone There?’ over at http://cassam-isanyonethere.blogspot.com I ‘met’ Anne on twitter (@cassam101). She’s a wife, mother, grandmother and Scot like me – yes we have a lot in common. I love her observations of life and her relaxed writing style. See her very moving post for Mothers’ Day – or go and read about her lottery win…

And finally – congratulations to another twitter writing buddy Mr Fletcher Moss (@FletcherMoss ). His children’s novel ‘Sleepwell and Fly’ (aka ‘The Poison Boys’) has just been announced as the winner of the 2012 Times/Chicken House Children’s Writing Competition. It will be published next year. He blogs beautifully at http://sleepwellandfly.blogspot.com  Nice one Mr M.

Tioraidh until next week.

 


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In like a lion…

Sea Spray

Sea Spray (Photo credit: sirwiseowl)

The first Tuesday of the month and, as the saying goes, March has come in like a lion here in the Inner Hebrides. Since the weekend we have had snow, a bracing wind and yes, rain. However, we’ve also had some spells of bright sunshine accompanied by the freshest, coldest, most revitalising air and it’s been good to get out and soak up some ‘vitamin D-making’ energy.

Portree

Portree (Photo credit: bluestardrop - Andrea Mucelli)

Mr Writeanne and I walked out with our lovely granddaughter in her pram at the weekend during one of these bracing spells of bright respite. The Mr wondered if anyone would mistake us for a couple who’d had a late baby. But I had to break it to the poor delusional chap that I reckoned it would be quite obvious that here were a pair of proud new grandparents.

English: Portree Camanachd Ground and Clubhous...

Image via Wikipedia

The shinty season starts in March and last Saturday saw the first matches played. The game of shinty is as, if not more, popular than football in highland Scotland. So, all other sports will all but disappear off the back pages of the local newspaper for the next few months, as the pundits turn their attention to the Camanachd Cup. Above is a photo of the Portree pitches and clubhouse.

Shinty game in progress

Image via Wikipedia

The tourist season will also be starting up again at the end of the month and hotels, B&Bs and self catering places are all starting to prepare. The island has done well during the last two seasons with Brits deciding to holiday at home. And international travellers continue to arrive in very healthy numbers. The deep harbour means that cruise liners can anchor in the bay and disgorge hundreds of passengers into our wee village who can then explore all the beauties of our wild and spectacular landscape and discover the island’s fascinating and ancient history. Although it can be a pain trying to drive to work behind tourists who don’t understand the etiquette and codes of motoring on single track roads with passing places and who refuse to pull over, it is good to see our businesses thriving for the relatively short season.

Deutsch: Single track road auf Isle of Skye

Image via Wikipedia

Our new home is taking shape – some of the new curtains are up, as are some of the pictures – so it all helps the homely feel. Gradually we’re finding a place for everything and offloading what’s not required. And with order beginning to appear indoors we can now begin to think about what we want to do with the garden. It is just as it was handed over by the builders a couple of years ago so consists of a fenced off rectangle of grass. I’m beginning to make a list of bird-friendly cover planting and some hardy, wind and sea-spray resistant perennials that will bring the patch to life. I enjoy gardening and it’s a good balance for all the hours I spend at both my work and my writing desks.

However, with more snow and gales forecast for the next few days, it may be some time before the garden theories get put into practice. Here’s hoping that with the lambing season getting underway that March goes out like one of those wee woolly things…

English: New Lambs

Image via Wikipedia

Meanwhile, I’m off to batten down the hatches.

Tioraidh/ Cheerio!

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