Using Down Time Wisely


Relax (Photo credit: Orethorn)

I work full time – *pauses for laughter* – yes, yes, very funny – I’ve heard it all before – teachers don’t work full time – go on laugh – better now? Good – right where was I?

I work full time as a primary school teacher of children with special needs. I enjoy my job but it can be exhausting at times. It can also be stressful. But I’m very lucky to have the best stress busting hobby. I write. Nowadays it’s more than a hobby. It’s an obsession. I write novels, short stories, a regular column in a writers’ magazine and of course I blog. I write for both children and adults. I go in for lots of writing competitions.

But doing all that, as well as working and being the Home Secretary – i.e. boss of my household –  and maintaining my roles of mum and grandma – and keeping up a feeble, barely breathing social life –means that – as for many of us – time is tight.

I’m a fairly good manager of time and I’ve learned to be ruthless about anything that threatens to waste it. It’s amazing how a brush with mortality makes you appreciate every second. It was a cancer diagnosis that focussed my mind on seizing the day. It was because of that diagnosis that I took up writing seriously. It was a now or never moment.

Nowadays writing is a way of life. I put my writing times in my diary and treat them as important appointments – i.e. I show up and do what I came to do.

relax (Photo credit: twicepix)

But I’m not superwoman and I do have some down time. I like watching some TV, enjoy going to the cinema and love reading. However, I’m very picky when it comes to all three.

TV Corner - After
TV Corner – After (Photo credit: Horrortaxi)

I don’t watch a lot of television but I Sky+ the stuff I do like and watch it when it suits me. At the moment I have a top three on the TV.

I’m into ‘Borgen’ – Saturday evenings BBC4 – two back to back episodes are transmitted each week. ‘Borgen’ is another of those fabulous Scandinavian dramas. It’s a Danish production and is a sort of Scandi ‘West Wing’ – telling the story of a fictitious female Danish Prime Minister. It’s superbly written and acted and, subtitles or not, it outstrips most home-grown BBC fare-  in my humble opinion.

I also enjoy Stella on Sky 1 with the very talented Ruth Jones in the title role. It’s the sort of thing the BBC used to do so well – a funny, poignant, contemporary drama.

And I have to admit to a penchant for one of the USA’s NCIS stable of programmes – namely NCIS Los Angeles. Perhaps it’s the wee lady boss played by Linda Hunt that’s the attraction. She makes me – at my towering 4ft 10 and a half inches – feel tall – and she is just the best character – with all the best lines. And again it’s sharply written and played.

Cinema… (Photo credit: m4tik)

As far as my cinema going goes, I do manage to go reasonably regularly in spite of living on a small Hebridean island. We have a small community cinema here and it went digital in December. So now we no longer have to wait for the 35mm versions to be released and get the blockbuster films at the same time as the mainland. The three films I’ve seen most recently are ‘Brave’, ‘Skyfall’ and ‘The Hobbit’ .

‘Brave’ I enjoyed more than I expected to. The animation was superb. The story was entertaining and just the right side of twee and I was absorbed the whole time.

‘Skyfall’ – was amazing! And not just because of Daniel Craig and his gorgeous – ahem – acting. I just sat with a big, silly grin on my face throughout. I loved Adele’s theme song, I loved the opening titles, I loved the long opening action sequence, I loved the story. Brilliant!

‘The Hobbit’ – no – not for me. I was bored. It took Bilbo an hour and a half to get out of the Shires and then another two hours to do b****r all. A disappointing waste of time. How they’re going to make two more episodes beats me.

bookshop (Photo credit: beckvalleybooks)

And so to reading. Over Christmas I read Ian Rankin’s the ‘Impossible Dead’. If you like crime fiction with a Scottish flavour – and more than a bit of originality – then this is for you. I found it very entertaining. Last week I finished a novel aimed at young teenagers ‘Kimi’s Fear’ by John Hudspith. This is the second in the Kimi series and is in the fantasy genre. It’s a mad, magical, monstrous read and I’m sure it will be enjoyed by Kimi’s many fans. Currently I’m reading ‘The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared’ by Jonas Jonasson. It’s so highly original, it’s difficult to describe. It’s wacky, funny, intriguing, shocking – a page turner.

So there you have it. We all need to replenish the well from time to time and should never feel guilty about doing so.

Coral Beach 02.05.11 011

And remember sometimes it’s necessary – vital – essential – to just stop and stare…