Share Your World – 15th December 2014


I’m taking part in Share Your World today. Please click the link at the bottom of my post if you’d like to join in too!

What is your preferred hot drink: coffee, tea, water, hot chocolate, or other?

Tea. Without doubt and hands down, tea is my favourite drink. I have tea to wake me up, refresh me, revive me and send me to sleep – yes really! The best cup of tea I ever had was on the third day of our Coast to Coast bike ride a few years ago when we were battling with the elements as well as the hills. We had plenty of food and drink with us, but we got so cold and wet and tired and fed up that none of it was very comforting, so when we reached the village of Helmsley and saw a cafe open we dived in and bought two cups of tea to take with us. It was magic. Talk about a reviving brew! Totally transformed my outlook and got me back in that saddle to complete the ride.

And I have a photo of it…. you can see how fed up I was!

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What was your favourite toy as a child  . . .  and now?

My favourite toy as a child was my bike – perhaps unsurprisingly given my answer above! I also loved my pogo stick and my dolls house which my Dad made for me. Now, I would say my favourite “toy” is my Kindle.

Candy factories of the entire world have become one and will now be making only one kind of candy. Which kind, if you were calling the shots?

Minstrels. Gorgeous chocolate and an almost addictive crunch!

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Would you want $100,000 right now or $120,000 in a year (tax Free)?

Now please. We might not have the house in a year’s time!

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I am grateful that my husband finished decorating our hall and landing because we can start to do my pre-Christmas house clean, and it has really lifted the look of the house and made it look lighter and cleaner. Lovely job. I am looking forward to having my daughter home for a few nights, although I’m not looking forward to her having an operation on Wednesday.

 

Click the button below and go to the host site and join in!

Daybook Entry – 14th December


021114_2314_DaybookEntr1.jpgFOR TODAY

Outside my window… it is dark and miserable. Rain, cold, foggy, miserable miserable miserable

I am thinking…that the worst is over now in terms of commitment this Christmas and I can start to think about family and home stuff now. There is still quite a  bit to do, but the main bit is over. I think!

I am thankful… there was cheese in the fridge tonight.

In the kitchen… I made a lot of soup yesterday for our Christmas Fair at church and there was a few portions left over, which have made their way into my freezer. My boys had some left over bacon and lentil soup for tea tonight. It smelled delicious!

I am wearing… grey t-shirt and grey slack trackies. Comfy.

I am creating… sadly not very much at the minute. I would like to be creating crocheted gifts for Christmas, cards, table decorations, greetings cards etc for Christmas, and I really need to indulge in some writing too.

I am going… to bed very soon. It has been a MAMMOTH few days and I need my sleep.

I am wondering… whether my wages will go into my bank tomorrow as they should or will they go awry again.

I am reading… “The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman” by Denis Theriaux

I am hoping… it snows soon. I’m fed up of the forecast promising us snow but all we’ve got is rain, rain and more rain.

I am praying for… Rita and David, Emma, Doreen, Eddie, my Dad, and those for whom Christmas is the worst time of the year for whatever reason.

I am looking forward to… some family time over Christmas.

I am learning… that my body can’t take the punishment it used to.

Around the house… it’s still messy and in desperate need of a clean before we can decorate for Christmas.

I am pondering… what to buy for Christmas for my family. Money is tight and so is time so it is difficult to say the least.

A favourite quote for today… “Happiness is different from joy. Happiness is fleeting and depends on circumstances; joy is much deeper than that” (Thank you Eddie)

One of my favourite things… is sleep.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Tots Christmas Party tomorrow morning, shopping with Kevin in the afternoon, concert with Ethan tomorrow night; Tuesday concert for Ethan; Wednesday Emma is having an operation so will be staying with us for a few days; Thursday NO PLANS!!!!!!!; Friday funeral for a dear old man who I have known all my life and who brought me communion while I was in hospital a few years ago – Vale Ernie Armsbey.

A peek into my day:

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Now I know Christmas is just around the corner!

 

Missing In Action…!


Oh wow. What a busy week I’ve had! I am sorry I haven’t posted in a while but things have been so madly busy and involved that I have had to prioritise my time and I haven’t been able to post on her for a little bit. I received a very thoughtful comment from one of my bloggy friends today and I realised I ought to update you on what has been happening so you can see what has been on my plate recently (thank you viviellevirgule).

Let’s take things one at a time:

Family – there has been a little bit of illness in the house, with Ethan succumbing to the flu bug just after he played his debut solo with Todmorden Band on Friday night. Sadly, he had a rehearsal on Saturday morning, a Christmas Lights Switch On function at tea time and a concert that evening, followed by another concert tonight this weekend so he’s currently dosed up and tucked up in bed. Me myself and I managed to knock myself out last Sunday by banging my head on a door after church. I have spent the week feeling the repercussions from concussion (see what I did there?!) and only started feeling “normal” again yesterday morning. Kevin has been decorating our house and has got as far as putting the gloss paint on the stair spindles this week, but because of all the running about we have had with Ethan and various concerts through the week this week he has only ever been able to do it in bits and bobs, so the house is still in uproar with misplaced furniture all over the place. We had a joyous hour or so recording the three of us (Kevin, Ethan and myself) playing some carols on Wednesday evening because we are supporting the Salvation Army Christmas Carol Challenge. If you would like to see our finished product, I’ve posted the link here:

Music – Ethan has had 8 concerts since last Sunday; I have conducted 2 (one concert, one Christmas Lights switch on engagement for the town Mayor); Kevin has played in both of those, and all three of us did some recording. I have re-arranged White Christmas for Friday night’s concert because we needed it at the lights switch on but we only found out after our last rehearsal. I had to take a chance that a) the arrangement worked and b) the band could sight-read it! (It did, and they did). Kevin and I spent a very happy three and a half hours on Tuesday putting together a video for use in church for the Christmas song “Thorns in the straw”, which is lovely but very tricky to get the subtitles onto.

Work – I have been working every day this week, which is unusual. I usually only ever get the odd couple of hours here and there but there have been mock exams this week so I have been in every day. Which is great, but it has meant that I’ve been under time pressure to make sure that we have had food available at the right times, uniforms ironed and clean etc as well as trying to keep up with…

Studying – I have had to put aside my Creative Writing coursework for a little while because I have not had the time to put into it. I have got an assignment due for Inside Music this coming Tuesday, which has involved a lot of listening and analysing of music and it is very time consuming. I have got it about 80% done, but very little time before Tuesday to get it done because…

Church – I’ve saved the best til last! I delivered my very first sermon to my “home” church today and I took a lot of care and attention into getting it prepared this week. It was on the theme of “Give us today our daily bread” and I might post the text tomorrow, but for now here is a photo of my initial mind-map which I then worked up into notes, and then a sermon proper.

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We have done Experience Christmas this week with the local school children, and I was disappointed that I could only do one session with them after work one day. I will be delivering an assembly with a colleague from church tomorrow lunchtime to a local primary school in our area. We are in the early stages of building bridges with this school so it’s a bit of a pressured one to do, but I’m looking forward to it. We will be taking the Christmas story to them and I can’t wait to see how we get on with them.

A few other bits and pieces to share with you:

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So, all in all, it has been lots of work, lots of study, lots of running about getting to various concerts, rehearsals and engagements with Ethan’s band and our own, lots of preparation for sermons, lots of housework and ironing of uniforms and not a lot of sleep. Oh yes, and all with concussion!

The coming week is almost as busy and it includes Ethan’s college interview so no pressure THERE then….! Phew, roll on Boxing Day please.

You’ll never believe it…


You know me, things don’t go well for much of the time, and this week has not been any different. Why would it?!

dog ice packI have been feeling a little unwell this week; I have not been able to see properly because my eyes have been sore and “gammy” (meaning a bit gummed up, a bit achey, a bit sticky…you know what I mean) and I have not been able to concentrate because of an on-off headache. I have been burning up with a temperature (no, not hot flushes as I initially thought!) and I have been falling asleep literally at the drop of a hat through the day and early evenings. Different story at night, but hey ho, this is me, Mrs Insomnia.

Today I have been sore and achey, my eyes have been worse and I have developed a series of lumps and bumps inside my mouth making it sore to swallow. I fell asleep at teatime for an hour which is unusual for me but typical of this week, and when I woke up I felt like I’d been run over. I had a study group at church to lead tonight and I managed to get myself dosed up on paracetamol and codeine to get through it and it was a really good night – lots of singing and laughing and great fellowship with my church family – but I developed a pain behind my ear as the evening went on which got really uncomfortable on top of the rest of my symptoms. I have really sensitive skin on my face and scalp now too, which when you add it all together tells me I have got the edges of a virus or something. I’m ok, not desperately ill or anything, just miserable and mard really.

The reason I’m telling you this? I’ve just read on Facebook that one of the little girls I was playing with and cuddling on Monday morning at the toddler group has broken out in Chicken Pox today. Oh boy….is my virus/illness because I’ve picked up her bug too? I have had chicken pox twice already (once as a child and once as an adult) so I doubt I will develop the virus fully, but it certainly feels like I have the fringes of it going on at the minute.

I feel sorry for the little 2 year old who has developed the pox today and my heart goes out to her. I just wish that she hasn’t taken our lessons about “sharing” quite so literally!!

Oh, and just in case you weren’t already moved by my mardness, have a look at this picture. I caught my finger whilst putting my jeans on earlier and ripped the top off my fingernail on one of the rivets on the pocket. Yeah…mardy Pamster strikes again! (Apologies for the poor photography skills but I took it with my left hand)

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Wednesday Hodgepodge – 26th November


 
1. Besides U.S. Thanksgiving it’s also National Game and Puzzle week…what game have you played most recently, and who were you with? Have you worked a puzzle of any kind in the past week?

I love puzzles and games, and word games are my favourite. I have recently discovered Scrabble on Facebook…watch out world!

2. What is one place you were thankful for this year?

I am so thankful for the holiday time we spent as a family in the Northeast this year. My favourite time and place during that holiday was when Kevin and I got up before sunrise one morning and spent about three hours taking photos and watching the sun come up from Bamburgh beach. A few days later we went back to the same spot on the beach with the kids and while they played with the kite and went paddling in the rock pools I sat on a big rock and sketched Bamburgh Castle. It is a magical place and it was a wonderful time spent there.

3. Take a nap, watch football, go for an after dinner walk, or hit the stores…which ONE is on your must-do list for Thanksgiving day? If you aren’t in the US answer as it relates to any big holiday meal.

Napping!!

4. Besides Thanksgiving, what’s your favourite home cooked meal?

A proper Sunday roast – which here in the UK is a traditional meal of roast meat (pork, beef, lamb or chicken – my favourite is beef) with roast potatoes, peas, carrots, Yorkshire puddings, boiled potatoes, stuffing, gravy…. Delish!

5. What product from an infomercial would you most like to own?

I would have a steam mop. We have lots of uncarpeted floors in my house (laminate flooring and lino mainly) and I love the idea that I can just steam everywhere clean without the use of chemicals.

6. Christmas shopping? Have you begun? Finished? Will you shop on Black Friday? How do you feel about stores opening on Thanksgiving Day? What percentage of your Christmas shopping is done online?

ARGH!!!!!! The whole “Christmas shopping” thing drives me mad. To my mind, Christmas is far too overblown and it has become obscene just how much money people are expected to spend on it. For some reason, this year we seem to be celebrating Black Friday here in the UK. Why? WHY??? As if we need any more invitations to spend money that we don’t have! As for the question of have I started yet, no, I haven’t. Most of my gift shopping will be done online this year as we are on a very tight budget…VERY tight…and it is easier to control spending when it’s clickable and not pickable.

7. What are you most grateful for that adds beauty to your everyday life?

My garden. It isn’t very big, but it is lovely and green and we are visited by birds and squirrels most of the day. I love the colours of the sunshine on it, and I love it when it rains. I love looking at it and I love sitting in it. It is a lovely place and really does add beauty to my everyday life.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I found this video yesterday and thought it was absolutely beautiful. I haven’t heard of the group before, but I am familiar with the song as we used it in our Experience Christmas at church last year. We used the Ceelo Green version, and this is very different. Still just as moving though. It tears at my heartstrings. Let me know what you think.

 

Writing Exercise – Playing With Narrator’s Voice


This is a passage of fiction I wrote today as part of an exercise for my course. We were supposed to explore how unreliable the narrator can be, and we were asked to write a short piece where the narrator can contradict themselves with something that they say. What do you think? Did I manage to convey the contradiction in my narrator with her approach to a colleague? Any comments will be gratefully received.

I was in a bit of a daydream earlier today and I found I was staring at Janet’s hair again. The sun was streaming in through the office blinds and it lit up her hair like a halo. Running my fingers through my own frizzy tresses I realised it needed a good cut and could probably do with a bit of a deep conditioning too. Only half hearing the ringing phone on my desk, I wondered if Janet coloured hers. I decided to give mine a go over the weekend to see if it would give it some life to give me a halo like Janet’s crowning glory.

My friend Ruth mimed tipping a cup of coffee towards her mouth behind Janet’s back to me and pointed to the kitchen. Guessing she wanted a bit of a gossip I eagerly jumped up out of my seat and followed her in.

Look at that top she’s wearing today,’ she whispered insistently. I giggled and looked back out towards the office where Janet was busy with her audio typing.

‘I know! She looks like she’s been dragged through a hedge backwards and then dipped in paint!!’ I said. Janet’s horrifically clashing purple and orange top was giving me a migraine and it looked like Ruth had noticed it too.

We looked at each other and couldn’t help ourselves. ‘TRAMP!’ we chorused together.

 

Daybook Entry – 20th November


021114_2314_DaybookEntr1.jpgFOR TODAY
Outside my window… Oh boy, Winter is giving is a warning call! The temperature has literally halved overnight from last night and tonight we are looking at freezing fog out there. I am not complaining though and my thoughts are very much on the tonnes and tonnes of snow which is falling in the USA at the moment and the people who are suffering because of it.

I am thinking… about how even when you are side by side with someone and spilling out your guts to them about your innermost fears and worries they just don’t get it.

I am thankful… for the fellowship of my church friends tonight.

In the kitchen… Ethan made our tea tonight! Chicken, chips, tomatoes and corn. Lovely.

I am wearing… my heart on my sleeve. It’s not a good look.

I am creating… lots and lots of passages of writing from my course, and I have begun to write a song this week. Yup, a song. That’s something new for the Pamster to do!

I am going… to be cutting out the component parts for 60 Advent Wreaths tomorrow for Messy Church on Saturday. Like ya do…

I am wondering… how I’m going to get through the next couple of weeks. The family calendar is absolutely jam-packed with commitments right up to and including Christmas Day. You’ll know from previous years that we do actually cope quite well with pre-Christmas engagements, but this year is different because of our tight circumstances, which is affecting our ability to be cheerful about it. On top of that, I’m very worried – genuinely – that I am going to forget something. I have to keep reminding myself what day it is at the minute, which is not something that inspires confidence for the coming weeks.

I am reading… “Adam and Eve and Pinch Me” by Ruth Rendell. It’s a dark psychological thriller and is turning out to be a really good read. Look out for the book review in a few days!

I am hoping… my son’s chesty cough starts shifting soon. He has asthma and when his chest gets congested it really affects his breathing, which is worrying in its own right, but he has got his GSCE Mocks next week, and is sitting his Grade 5 Bass Trombone on Monday too. He obviously needs to be able to breathe properly for that.

I am praying for… Barbara who is on the verge of needed full time care after a series of falls in her home; Paula who is in hospital tonight; my mother-in-law who is very, very weak and still in hospital; my cousin Laura who is having a tough time at the minute; my daughter Emma who has had some disappointing news today.

I am looking forward to… Boxing Day. Seriously.

I am learning… lots about music, and lots about my ability to write fiction.

Around the house… ah, the house. Bless it’s little cotton socks. The house is looking a little bit unloved at the minute. Between them, my husband and my Dad are getting the hall and stairs ready for decorating and there have been some repairs needed before they can move the project along. There is no paper on the walls and there is bare plaster showing. My Dad had a lovely afternoon with a bucketful of filler making good all the little holes in the walls that were made by the previous owners and their numerous pictures, shelves, hooks and screws etc. It actually looked like there had been a gunfight in there when they got the old paper off – shotgun holes all over the place! Because of all the bare plaster there is dust, dust, dust and more dust over EVERYTHING, and all the bits and pieces from the hall have been moved elsewhere in the house, making it all unusable and cluttered as well dusty. Deep joy.

I am pondering… whether or not to flog a kidney and swan off to the Caribbean for six months on the proceeds.

A favourite quote for today: 

friends

One of my favourite things… is watching squirrels eating nuts on my bird feeder in the garden.

A few plans for the rest of the week: band tomorrow, Messy Church on Saturday, Sunday Church on Sunday where we will be baptising Rufus, Stay and Play on Monday.

A peek into my day… These two photos tell a little bit of the story of my hallway. The first is my husband trying to sort out some wiring, and the second is my Dad trying to sort out my husband’s “sorting out” of the same said wiring.

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Come and join us at  http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/ and join in!!

 

Book Review – Lamentation by C J Sansom


lamentationBackground/plot:

Trusted Serjeant at Law Matthew Shardlake is summoned by the Queen, Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife, Catherine Parr and is given the task of finding something that has been stolen from her. The official cover story is that a precious jewel has been stolen because if the truth got out and reached the King then not only her life would be in danger, but those around her who had been helping her. The stolen item is a book she had written about her past “sins”, called Lamentations of a Sinner, hence the title of this book, and the novel follows Matthew’s hunt to retrieve it to save her life. There are a couple of subplots to this too, but I won’t spoil it for readers who haven’t yet read the earlier books in the series.

My overall impression?

I absolutely loved this book, as I have the others previously written in this series. The amount of detail about Tudor England is stunning, and you can tell that C J Sansom has spent a lot of time doing his research. The use of people who actually existed brings the story to life, and it is easy to fall into the machinations and daily lives of Henry’s London. 

Who are the main characters?

There is quite an extensive cast-list in this book, which could become confusing but as they are introduced slowly it is easy to keep up with who’s who. The central character is Matthew Shardlake, the main protagonist in previous books, and he has a small band of assistants who help him including Jack Barak and Nicholas Overton. They both play an important role in several scenes and without them, Matthew would certainly be up the proverbial creek without the proverbial paddle. The royal court has a whole host of other characters, but the main ones are Queen Catherine and her loyal uncle, Lord Parr. Other characters (who really existed) include Sir Richard Rich and Lord Paget, and of course, King Henry VIII himself.

Where is it set?

It is set in Tudor London and the action mostly centres on a couple of the royal palaces (Whitehall and Hampton Court) but Shardlake’s rooms at Lincoln’s Inn and his house also play a prominent role.

Will I read the next in the series?

Absolutely YES. As I said earlier, I have loved all of these books and as they progress they are getting better and better. Not only are the characters becoming more established but the detail is getting clearer too. They don’t read like history books at all, although it is impossible not to receive a history lesson from them!

Would I recommend it to my friends?

This book would suit readers who like historical fiction and those who enjoy crime fiction. The historical setting doesn’t prevent it being an excellent who-dunnit so it would suit a wide range of reading appetites.

 

 

 

 

Ye Golden Fleece


This is a piece of fiction I composed as part of an exercise for my writing course. The location is based on a pub in Middleton and is accurate in respect of its function, but the dates and the characters are completely fictional. I know I’ve missed the brief on what the exercise is about so I don’t think I will be using it for anything related to my course, but I think it stands a short-story in its own right regardless of that, and I would appreciate any feedback you kind people can offer me if you don’t mind.

Joe is the landlord of Ye Golden Fleece pub, a historic building that has been stood since around 1273. The building was originally an inn and has been added on to a couple of times over the years, the last addition coming in 1684 with the addition of the “Sessions Room” at the end of the building. Used initially as a circuit court session room, it now served as a function room for the local community. Original panelling remained on the walls and a slightly modified fireplace gave the room a cosy feeling. Although it is a little dark, it is one of Joe’s favourite rooms in the pub. He loves going in there when everyone else has gone home and the pub is all his own again. He occasionally sits at the large table at the end of the room where he imagined the judge used to sit, and sometimes played out that role with petitioners before him asking him to forgive their petty thefts or to solve their disputes over cattle and sheep that have strayed onto each other’s fields. Joe also like to sometimes sit with a peaty Scotch before the dying fire when all had gone quiet after the customers and other bar staff had left, to ponder his own problems in the peaceful room steeped in historic memory.

That all changed one Christmas Eve, when Joe sat enjoying his customary nightcap before the dying embers, and he heard a voice whisper his name.

‘Joe……’

Thinking it was the wind outside or the fire settling in the grate, he ignored it at first.

‘Jo-o-o-o-e….’ came the whisper again, this time with more urgency.

Joe felt a shiver down the back of his neck and he thought he felt the presence of someone or something behind him as the voice whispered for a third time.

‘Joooooe…help meee…’

‘Pack it in Les, you daft thing. You can’t scare me like that!’ said Joe to the darkened room. He turned slightly in his seat expecting to see his head pot-man Les having a festive joke at his expense, but Les was not there and the room was empty. The sound of metal on wood brought Joe’s attention to the end of the room near the judge’s chair. He suddenly found his mouth dry and his heart had begun to pound. Eyes straining in the dimness and ears tuning into the silence, Joe felt his legs turn rubbery and he doubted they would support him even if he found the courage to try to stand up. The darkness began to take on an oppressive quality; expectant yet threatening at the same time.

A shuffle sounded behind him and Joe caught his breath, afraid to let it out in case it disturbed whatever was behind him, or drew its attention closer to him. He dared not turn round in case he saw something he didn’t want to see, and he became frozen in his terror.

Just as he thought he could bear the tension no longer, he heard the sound of two- three-four footsteps leading towards the door and then nothing. The atmosphere immediately began to lighten and the darkness because just dim again. The embers glowed cheerfully again and the silence was comforting once more. Joe felt his heart rate slow until it was normal, and it was only a moment or two before he was confident enough to move his arm.

He tipped back his glass to drain it, and in the refracted firelight through the bottom saw the outline of a man dressed richly in a gown and long curly wig standing with a black cap in his hand. He nodded and smiled towards Joe before fading away completely.

Joe tipped the chair over in his panic to run away, and ever since that day he was careful to leave the lights on whenever he had his nightcap in the Sessions Room.