Monday, 28 January 2013

There's snow business like snow snow business..

 Much as I loved the snow I am thrilled it has now gone..... sorry kids! However, I did get some lovely snow shots even if they weren't a patch on my pal's; Sue Flood's stunning arctic, wildlife photography. Check out her website here.

Roll on Spring!

[Pics are my own, please don't reproduce or use without permission. Thanks]

Another Next Big Thing......

Not a book this time but rather a wonderful talented recycler: Kate Holbrook is an ethical business woman selling the most gorgeous Hugs, a versatile, circular garment made from once loved jumpers. At her Shropshire based company Turtle Doves, she also sells elegant fingerless gloves that double as wrists warmers. She is a wonder and I think a Hug is an essential wardrobe item. Check out her demonstration here.

The Next Big Thing.... A Hug

The Next Big Thing...

I’m chuffed to have been tagged in a meme entitled 'The Next Big Thing' by the poet Elizabeth Darcy Jones. Elizabeth is an innovative poet and is Britain's Tea Poet. She is currently working on an exciting project for Mothers Day. This blog tag demands that I tell you about my next book so here I go!

What is the working title of your next book?
The Perrys at The Berries is a fictionalised account of a family of four, Sophie and James, mum and dad, and their children Izzy, 5, and Seb, 4, who decide to change their lives by moving from London to rural Shropshire. To be fair, I'm not sure of the title yet, it was born out of the blog The Archers at The Larches which is, as you know, factual not fictional.

What genre does your book fall under?
It is a romantic comedy though some of it is rather black.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Wow, really hard question. Rosamund Pike would be perfect for Sophie. Her characterisation of Jane Bennet in Pride and Prejudice was so endearing.

In my mind James looks like the actor Scott Speedman. James, thirty-something, needs to be vulnerable yet manly.... Let me know if you have any other suggestions.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Moving house from London to Shropshire may have been just 150 miles by car, but to the Perry family, it was a whole new rural world.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I will be represented by an agency for this book though my children's ebook Nancy, Peggy and Susan - First Freedom was self published under the pseudonym Pandora Butterfield and is sold through Amazon, Barnes and Nobel's Nook and Lulu in various formats.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The first draft only took 1 month. I enrolled on the NaNoWriMo challenge (National Novel Writing Month) in November 2010 and sat in my kitchen, close to the log burner, writing the 50,000 words required to complete the challenge. I loved it and would repeat it tomorrow if allowed! My family did not love it: There was scant housework done, pre-cooked dinners were the norm and it would be fair to say I was a little distracted.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I was approached by an New York agent to write this book, she had read my blog and thought a twist to a real life memoir could be a fictional account of the situation. I loved the idea and eagerly began to write.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Hopefully it will be a fun read with a good amount of self help information on how to start a smallholding; manage land, grow fruit, veg and flowers and keep sheep, chickens and the like. If the readership of my blog is anything to go by there are an awful lot of city-folk and Londoners in particular, who would love to do exactly what Sophie and James attempt to do.

Look out for The Perrys at The Berries and live vicariously through my book.

Now it's my turn to pass on a Next Best Thing recommendation: I met the most marvelous woman at a New Year party. I am in awe of her life, it's not often someone tells you that they are off to spend a stint in the Amazon as a photographer. Sue Flood has taken stunning wildlife photographs all over the world. She has worked in cold climes taking pictures of penguins, polar bears and more. She has worked for the BBC, The Discovery Channel and has supported David Attenborough in his wildlife programmes. She has swum with humpback whales and told me that once, a baby whale, (sill the size of a school bus,) managed to thwack her with his tail, knocking the camera from her grasp!

She is awesome and I envy her adventures. He wonderful book Cold Places is available through her website here. Check out her blog when she continues this meme.


Saturday, 5 January 2013

Pond Dipping....

I have been increasingly determined to clean our wildlife pond, the weed has taken over and several of our pond plants are now Amazonian, plus grass from the bank and several years of leaf fall has begun to clog the water. There is nothing better than looking into a pond to watch the wildlife but lately we've seen diddly-squat!

Though I'm feeling a bit low with a cold, the weather is fantastic and so I decided today was the day. Hubbie was more interested in lighting a fire in the garden to burn away last spring's apple tree's prunings to help me so I duly donned the thigh length waders, snapped on some yellow marigolds and my zippy mac and walked, [John Wayne like,] towards the water. One sexy lady! Not!

The sproglets weren't that interested in me, preferring dad's adventure with fire and incendiary liquids rather than my slippy, smelly task.

I stood on the edge noting that the rain had filled the pond to the brim and eyed the dark water suspiciously.

'Are you sure you've been right into the middle of the pond with these waders on?' I shouted to Hubbie.

'Yes, in the summer remember?'

I couldn't really.

I started in the shallow pond, the place where the frogs and toads choose to lay their spawn. Gathering great handfuls of grass, leaf and weed I placed my harvest on the bank, hoping that disturbed creatures would crawl back into the water later. The pond gained a bit more depth and I, satisfied with my progress, moved on to the abyss, the bigger kidney shaped pond.

I first toured the edge again tearing away lengths of grass and armfuls of weed.

'Don't forget to pick up the waterlily so we can re-pot it,' called Hubbie.

'Will do' I said. This was going well. I felt very Monty-Donish.

It was tricky to see the lily, its rotting foliage was a couple of feet down towards the centre of the pond but I made my way gingerly towards it.

Ponds are slippy. [Not something of a surprise to you Dear Reader I'm sure.] I let out a sad, girly shriek as I realised my legs weren't as long as I'd like them to be.

The feeling of waders filling with sulphurous pond water is not one I'm going to forget any time soon and I was so heartened to see my delightful family on the bank as they charged over to laugh, check if I was drowning support me from the bank.

I carried on regardless, as I am a hero, though my movements were much slower as my legs felt like they'd each eaten a traditional British 3kg Christmas cake. With help from the sproglets on the bank (after they'd finally stopped giggling,) I manoeuvred a metre square island of reed grass to the side of the pond however, even with the help of Hubbie, we couldn't pull it out. In spring when the grass is less mushy to drive on, we'll put a tow rope around it and use the Discovery to yank it out.

All-in-all the job was completed well. The worst part of the task was trying to get back out of the pond and then having to lie on my back on the grass with my legs straight up, draining the fluids from my boots into my pants. At this exact moment a delivery van came to a halt on the drive; an online shopping delivery. The driver looked frightened, we didn't explain and he left very quickly. I'm glad he did leave, as the family insisted I strip on the doorstep before sending me for a shower. Apparently I didn't smell very nice. Fussy, fussy, fussy.

What's next? Bring it onnnnnnnn!

SOME DAYS LATER: Shush!! [whisper].......... I've just confessed to the Hubby that I've killed yet another mobile phone. This one was in my jeans pocket (i.e close to my pants) during the wader waterfall experience..... Dead mobile phone now resides in a jar filled with rice. Knickers! I'm banned from phone-owning.... will never get my hands on a bloody iPhone now! Bum!

Growing up...


Moon and Snowy born March '12

Pink born May '12

Moon Jan '13

Snowy Jan '13

Pink Jan '13

Friday, 4 January 2013

A New Start.....

If you [Dear Reader] were ticking off the seasons according to my blog then it may seem as if December never happened. The sproglets broke up on 7th December and are still off now...... I may have plenty of anecdotes but they are written in my notebook and haven't made it to the computer yet. Another reason I disappeared is that my trusty Kodak camera died, sad, fortunately Santa noticed and now I have a shiny new Canon.

Normal (or as normal as The Archers at The Larches can get) service to be resumed next week.

For me, 2012 felt a tricky, bitty year though there were notable highlights: The Olympics, Paralympics and antics from the then 9yo and 7yo, were of course wonderful as was raising the bottle fed lambs, publishing my first e-book and completing yet more essential work on the house, but the inclement weather put a distinct dampener on everything and our garden produce was woeful. I welcome 2013, if it behaves itself!

The New Year started well with a smashing dinner party and family sleepover at a friend's. We awoke to bright sunshine on the 1st. The weather has been fine ever since and yesterday we drove to the Carding Mill Valley (and hills) to visit with Sam at Middle Farm Cottages. As soon as we arrived we were helping to steer the biggest British Lop eared boar I've ever seen back to his pen. He must weigh a ton, only marginally ahead of me on the scales after a food fest Christmas. It transpired that Charlie had been on a love quest at another farm and was being returned home..... for a rest!

Incidentally if you are booking a mini break next year and want to be treated royally, check out Sam's website, the cottages are to die for, she and her hubbie are passionate foodies so you definitely won't starve and there's so much to do on her doorstep you'll never want to come home. (I can bear testimony to this as my two children were distinctly cool with me when I said we were leaving yesterday afternoon!)

Today the weather continues to be fine and tripping out to the wood shed in my PJs at 7am, the temperature was approximately 11° and rising. Lovely, I'm determined to do some gardening today and will try to get more broad beans in before the temperatures plummet. In the greenhouse the sweet peas have emerged from their loo roll seed trainers; we shall be assured of scent for summer. If you haven't sown any there's still time.

Roll on 2013.


The Archers at The Larches

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Snowy and Moon

Snowy and Moon