New year, new season, new month – phew!

English: Portree, Isle of Skye (Scotland)
English: Portree, Isle of Skye (Scotland) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apologies for the absence of a post last Tuesday. It was my birthday and Mr Writeanne took me out for my dinner. We went to the Bosville Hotel restaurant in Portree and as usual, it didn’t disappoint. It was especially nice to be out on a school night and made the day feel special. I’m glad we didn’t wait until the weekend.

So another year older – eek! But getting older sure beats the alternative – something I try not to let myself forget. I am still grateful to be here and in remission from the dreaded cancer. And the upside of being this age is I’m now a grandmother. I have a nine-month-old granddaughter and it’s indescribably good. I can highly recommend moving up a generation.

In the last year as well as becoming a grandmother, I attended my daughter’s wedding, moved house, went to Israel and finished writing a children’s novel – oh and I worked full time at the day job as well.

The last month alone has been pretty full on. School went back three weeks ago and has been manic from the off.

The husband and me went to see Scottish comedian, Kevin Bridges, doing his sell out show here on Skye. He was brilliant! And it’s just so cool to see such a famous person perform here on our small island.

I’ve also attended two talks by artists in the last month. These have been part of the wonderful organisation ATLAS’s ‘Talking Art’ series. The first of the two was a talk by Frances Priest, a ceramic artist who spoke about various community projects that she was involved in. She told how she liked that her way of working on these projects took art out of galleries and let people interact with and influence the works.

Frances Priest
Frances Priest (Photo credit: Craft Scotland)

The second talk was by Chris Dooks, an artist who describes himself as a polymash. He’s an audio-visual artist – highly original and quite different to any other artist I’ve come across. He was an engrossing speaker and like Frances encouraged the audience to keep open minds when viewing or engaging with art.

Another thing I did in August was sign up to Pinterest. I’m not sure how I’ll use the site and I haven’t made time to really think about it. But something about the site just grabbed me – I love all these pictures – and I will get around to dipping my toe in. I think I may use it to ‘pin’ story ideas in pictorial form. For example I may put together a board consisting of images of possible settings for future novels and/or homes of characters.

And suddenly, it’s September. Our island is becoming less busy as the tourists depart for another season. We’ve had our first Atlantic storm of the autumn over the last couple of days – wild, wild wind and lashing rain. All the garden furniture has been put away and all loose objects secured. But as well as the wildness, there’s the mellowness. The hills and hedgerows are awash with purple heather and the light is softening. Autumn is definitely my favourite season.

For my blog of the month I have chosen Alison Wells ‘Head Above Water’ which is here on wordpress http://alisonwells.wordpress.com

Below is her own introduction to her blog:

Hello my name is Alison Wells. I’m a writer of literary fiction, some science inspired and some with a dash of comedy. I’m also a mum of four kids age 11 and under.

I’ve been shortlisted in the Hennessy New Irish Writing, Bridport & Fish awards for short stories and am a resident blogger with the Irish National Writing Website http://www.writing.ie

Here I blog about writing and headspace and do interviews with busy people who write. I also post my short fiction.

My favourite mode of transport is the TARDIS.

I recently won The Big Book of Hope Ebook Fiction Prize.

I read Alison’s book ‘Housewife with a Half Life’ recently. It’s a clever and funny piece of science fiction. And her blog is a great one for writers – especially for those of us who write in our ‘spare’ time.

And I leave you with a quote from a board on Pinterest ‘If you’re lucky enough to be different, don’t ever change. Nice one.

Bill Bailey, Blouses and Blunders

It’s that time of the month – rant and rave week here on the blog – as well as time for my BLOG OF THE MONTH nomination.

I’m going to get the rants off my chest first and then we can end on a happy note.

First off –it’s buying clothes – specifically blouses. Now, me and clothes buying don’t normally get along. I’m very little – only four foot ten and a half in my socks – so trousers, skirts, dresses and coats can be a bit on the long side. But you’d think blouses wouldn’t be problematic and usually they aren’t.

I need some new blouses for work. Nothing fancy – just plain or stripey – cotton – in white or blue – or maybe even pink or green. A three quarter length sleeve is better for my wee short arms, but full length is fine as they can be turned back. Can I find anything remotely fitting the above description? No, I can’t. It’s not size that’s the problem. They just don’t seem to exist. There are plenty sleeveless, or little puff sleeved creations in flimsy, floaty material but no sensible work blouses. Apparently it’s not the season for such garments. Okay – so how come men’s work shirts are available all year round? I rest this case here.

Next up it’s blunders. Firstly, John Lewis – oh dear – they’re normally so reliable. Living relatively remotely, I do a lot of shopping online. And I often buy from John Lewis. Until recently they’d never let me down. So it was disappointing and frustrating when, having ordered a garden table and chairs, the chairs arrived promptly – but no table. I did get a text saying the table was coming and to expect it the next day. And the courier did arrive with a delivery. However, I could tell as the delivery men unloaded an enormous box from the van that it probably wasn’t my small, folding, round table. It was in fact a big, plastic, outdoor Wendy house. It was reloaded and taken back to the warehouse. It took many phone calls, two re-orders and three promised, but non-arriving, deliveries before I finally got my table. I did get a 20% goodwill repayment afterwards, but it’s left me truly hacked off with the company. I had to do all the phoning (at 40p a minute on my mobile – as I can’t make personal landline calls at work) and all the chasing up and spent a lot of time on hold. To rub salt in the wound, whilst on hold, I had to listen to an impossibly cheery wifie burbling on about how to get free next day delivery. Argh!!!

Second blunder – I had to go to hospital recently to have an investigative procedure carried out. The consultant, though competent at carrying out the procedure, was a bit of a numpty. He didn’t introduce himself when he came into the theatre. I wasn’t having anaesthetic, just sedation, so at that point I was wide awake. He dumped my notes on top of me, stood behind me where I couldn’t see him and talked to the nurse. He referred to me as the possible (sinister) diagnosis that the procedure might uncover, rather than by name. And then, after it was all over he didn’t, as I’d been promised he would, discuss what he’d found.  I endured a week of worry waiting to be contacted by letter at the very least. In the end I had to contact my GP and ask her to find out the outcome. She said that she’d received notification the day after the procedure that the tests were clear and that the notification said I’d received this information. So I’m relieved but also annoyed. My GP has since received an apology from the great man to relay to me.

Third blunder – that recent budget – granny tax, pasty pickle, the rich reprieved – no don’t get me started…

So let’s move on to more pleasant rave-worthy stuff. First off it’s the weather. Our island seems to have had the best April weather of the whole UK. Lots of warm sunshine and, most unusually, for here, very little rain. Nature is bursting out all over. There’s a local cuckoo cuckooing – as they do – and I spotted my first two swifts of the season whilst out walking yesterday. Skye is at its stunning best at the moment and it’s still pre-midgie time.

Secondly, I’m delighted to have secured tickets for Bill Bailey’s show at the end of the month. He’s coming to our small and humble community centre – as he did last year. It was so brilliant to have such a famous and talented entertainer come to us. Normally we have to travel to Glasgow or Edinburgh to see such a big name, but he has said how much he likes playing small venues and how he appreciated the welcome he was given last year. So he’s returning. Can’t wait!

AND NOW – BLOG OF THE MONTH AWARD goes to Mr London Street – I’m guessing this is not his real name. I ‘met’ Mr L. S. on Twitter and have followed his blog for a while. He recently took a month’s sabbatical from Twitter in order to concentrate on writing. And he didn’t waste his time. The month’s posts are WONDERFUL. It’s terrific, honest, moving, thought-provoking stuff. Well worth a look. You’ll find his blog here http://mrlondonstreet.blogspot.co.uk/

 

And a wee PS – a shoutout for another Twitter friend, Alison Wells, whose new book, ‘Housewife with a Half-Life’ is available on Kindle from today and as a paperback from June. See blurb below –

A Housewife’s answer to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy! In this lively space comedy, Susan Strong and her spaceman guide Fairly Dave dodge entropy hoovers, Geezers with Freezers, the Super Gnome and the Spinner’s cataclysmic converter on a mission to retrieve the lost pieces of the housewife’s disintegrating self across parallel universes. Can they save us all from Universal Devastation?

I got to read a preview of chapter one – it’s brilliant, funny and clever.

Thanks for reading this rather long epistle.

Tioraidh till next time!