Sunday, 29 May 2016

Another Bank Holiday!!

Another Bank Holiday! Yippee!! Well, that's how it looks from my little corner of Wiltshire. I know the sun may not shine and buses will be as rare as harebells in Piccadilly - but it's still a holiday. Wrap up warm if you need to, but let's go out to play.

Okay, not everyone sees it like that. All these short weeks, they disrupt important things like work, and school, and family routines. We need to shape our days, our weeks, so we know where we are, what time to get up and go out and come home again.

The economists bleat about productivity. We need to work to make stuff or provide stuff so that other people can buy stuff or do stuff - and this generates money which goes towards taxes that pay for schools and hospitals ... blah blah blah.

I understand that, for some people, the world feels very unsafe without routines. And I also get that, if we had holidays every day, the economy would be a bit of a mess.

But me - well this is a short post because I'm in the 'throwing-my-hat-in-the-air, it's a holiday' corner. I'm out to do something wonderful - no idea what, but I'll love it when I get there.

And you? Those of you to have time to read blogs today - do you enjoy the time off or are you filling in the hours until life returns to normal?

Sunday, 22 May 2016

We have a title, thanks to you!!

Many thanks to all those lovely people who joined in my quest for a title for the ebook about Ecuador - both here and in my writing group. (If you've no idea what I'm talking about, scroll down to the previous post.)

It just shows (as if we didn't know) how impossible it is to please all the people all of the time. So I'm just going to run with the title that feels right to me. And, for those who disagree with me, here is my thinking:

I'm not going to use a title that includes 'boobies' - I floated that with tongue in cheek, knowing I'd never use it. I'm a feminist; I've signed the 'No More Page Three' petition; so I won't use female body parts just to make people titter. (And those who read this book will realise that I don't shrink from writing about hanky-panky. I'm no prude. And the birds and animals of Ecuador were having a lovely spring time while I was there!)

Which takes us on to Frogs and Frigate Birds - and the suggestion that I should drop the 'birds'. I can hear the poetry in Frogs and Frigates. But there are no warships in sight in this book. Not even one lurking in a harbour somewhere, nor creeping along the horizon. And so it feels, to me, misleading if I cut the 'birds'. I love poetry in titles as much as the next man or woman, but it also needs to give clues as to the contents of the book.

The next suggestion that needed much thinking: to add a third element. I recognise the strength of threes. But, to keep the rhythm of this, it needs a single-syllable word between the frogs and the frigate birds - making it Frogs, Fr?gs and Frigate Birds. Which, if I had met a frug or a frig or a frag would work - but I didn't. (Though wish I had ... What do you think a frug looks like ...)

So there we have it. Frogs and Frigate Birds it is.

Next stop - a cover.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

What's in a name?

I read a post the other day about about boobies - the anatomical kind. (No, I wasn't getting kinky: the post raised questions about how to name body parts and most of us, when we're writing, have to wrestle with that sometimes.)

When I was in the Galápagos Islands I saw hundreds of blue-footed boobies, and before you get to too excited, this is what they look like:

I bring this up now as I'm wrestling with a title for my new book about my trip to Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands. And here is now my thinking goes:

I saw so many birds and animals, I'm sure I can find something alliterative to make a good title. Something like Frogs and Frigate Birds - except most people don't know what frigate birds are. If you curious, they look like this:

Or maybe Bats and Boobies ... I've nothing against erotica in its place, and although I witnessed a little springtime hanky-panky I don't want mislead anyone.

Monkeys and Mocking birds ... Frogs and Finches ... Toucans and Tortoises ... Monkeys and Manta Rays ...

(The subtitle, predictably, will be Over the Hill goes to Ecuador.)

So if anyone has a great idea, or an opinion - now is the time to share it!

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Ecuador, the book?

For all the lovely people who commented and followed the three old gits and a fat bloke as they canoed down the Thames (see previous post) - they did it!  One serious stormy day, the rest hot and sweaty. They have interesting tans. And sore bums from sitting on planks of wood and paddling for hours on end. And they've raised over £2000 for MS, which is totally amazing.

So, to change tack, what have I been doing since I got back from Ecuador? Sitting about, drooling over photographs, generally eating cake and grumbling about the weather?

Well, I've done some of that (especially the weather-grumbling). And I have been writing. As usual, I've trawled through my diaries. Then came the big question of finding the narrative. It felt a bit like hacking my way through the rainforest. There were scents of story and then - puff - gone again.

So I decided to just write it and then see what I'd got. If nothing else it's a great way to relive the whole experience (I take little encouragement to do that.)

Then, half way through the writing, came the earthquake in Ecuador. Suddenly I felt a need to publish this book - mainly so people can see that there is so much more to the country than fallen-down buildings and traumatised people. There are mountains and jungles and glorious beaches. Generous, welcoming people. It was time to press on with the writing with a bit more purpose.

Phew, first draft done. But I was still unsure. Was there more to it than 'woman has great time in Ecuador' (which, let's face it, is pretty boring as stories go)? So I gave it to a hyper-critical friend, knowing that if it was truly rubbish she would tell me.

Phew - again - she loves it. There are bits that need thinking about, and she hates my working title, but I've now got a framework and can tell you that there WILL be a book. I can't give you a timescale, as it needs a serious spit-and-polish, and there's all the usual preliminaries that seem to take ages before it sees the light of day on Amazon.

Here, just to keep you going, is a photograph of a hypnotised frog. Not something you'll bump into in the supermarket.

So, don't hold your breath. But it would be good if you kept a bit of space free on your e-readers!

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Three old gits and a fat bloke.

This week three old gits and a fat bloke are canoeing down the Thames. Their words - not mine. As a feminist I know better than to comment on age or weight. (And one of them is my son-in-law; but I'm not saying which!)

But there's no getting away from it - these are not streamlined young men. They are ordinary men who have worked and drunk pints and played with their children and talked from time to time about getting fitter but let's have another beer first. So why canoe down the Thames? To raise money for people suffering from Multiple Sclerosis.

Just over a week ago thousands of men and women, of all shapes and sizes, pounded the streets of London. Some just did it for fun (not my idea of fun, but hey ho!), and many did it to raise money - for huge appeals and for small local charities. A daughter and grandson are running the Race for Life this year (she is fit, and he is nine and even fitter), contributing to Breast Cancer charities.

If they can ... can't we all?

Actually, no - we can't all run marathons or row down the Thames. Some because we will never be fit or well enough. Some because we have commitments which make it impossible to leave those we care for long enough to do the training. Some because the idea of all that effort is enough to make us reach for the smelling salts.

Most of us do our best. We put the occasional tin or packet of something in the food bank bin at the supermarket. We stop to help the old person who has dropped his shopping. We help in charity shops or do our bit for small charities that keep our rivers clean or help young families. We dip into our pockets to sponsor friends and family doing wacky things.

Today I propose that we raise a glass to all those who go that extra mile (so to speak) and actually put their effort into doing arduous physical challenges to raise money to help people they don't know. They cope with wind, rain, and bodies aching in places where they didn't know they had muscles. I couldn't do it - and I suspect a few of you who drop by here couldn't do it either?

So cheers to you, three old gits and a fat bloke. I'll cheer your exploits from the safety of my sofa this week. And if you, too, want to see how they get on, you can find out more here: And if you live near the Thames, maybe you can work out when they pass you and stand on a bridge to cheer them on.