Ready, steady, write!

I am about to embark on a month of writing, so I  guess I won’t be posting as many blogs during November! I’m looking forward to being creative again, having spent the past eighteen months editing work I’ve written some time ago. Tomorrow a new writing adventure will start as I try to write 50,000 words in a month… I shall be so annoyed if I get to December 1st and I’ve only written 49,999!

I’m not sure what other people who have entered the NaNoWriMo competition (National Novel Writing  Month) do with what they have written… whether it just an end in itself or whether they then use what they’ve done and finish it and form it into a proper complete work… That is what I intend to do. Maybe I won’t complete it for a while, maybe after the splurge of November I’ll let it sit and fester for a while, but I do see what I write next month as the start of a proper novel… hmmm… we’ll see!

Perhaps I should make plan…

I never plan my stories on paper, I live them in my head and I write them and I discard a lot of what I write, swishing through the fields of words with a dispassionate and cynical scythe… I don’t even make notes, I know what colour my characters eyes are, I know whether they like apple pie or detest curry,  I don’t write little biographies of them, but I do actually sometimes write a family tree, just to check out ages of the different generations, and make sure it would be possible for someone to have a child and be neither too young or too old. I do sometimes make lists of names, if there are families with several children who don’t necessarily feature but are just mentioned, then I have to make sure I don’t swap children.

I use old diaries and calendars to plan out the time scale of things, I have a tendency for things to happen too quickly, instead of a more reasonable length of time. ‘Farholm’ which covered the events of two weeks had to be quite tight in terms of time… would someone have enough time to walk from the harbour to the castle, or from the hippy village to the windmill, would the bus taking the birdwatchers to the viewing point have enough time to do the circuit, taking in all the places of interest on the island. In ‘The Double Act’ which I’m working on now, one of the characters becomes pregnant and the child seemed to develop within a couple of weeks… I had to put some extra months in  and rearrange events for the pregnancy to be realistic.

I am about to undertake writing 50,000 words in November as part of the national Novel Writing Month, and I have decided (pretty much) that I am going to write about the Radwinter family, and their exploration of their genealogy going back to when Thomas Radwinter arrives from eastern Europe in the 1830’s. He may have been named Taras Radvily, or Tomasz Radwillo… or some version of that… he marries and has children so goodness knows how many descendants he would have by 2013! This is why I need a plan, with dates, and ages, and occupations. In my own family tree research I have seen how people (men) follow their father’s trade and then how the trade itself changes as the years go by, a blacksmith becomes a white smith, a white smith begins to work for a gas company, a gas-man becomes an engineer… I’ve seen that pattern over a family and fifty odd years of census returns.  Someone works in an inn, becomes an inn-keeper, has a brewery attached, is no longer a publican but a brewer, has a large company which still exists today! It’s true, a relative of my husband had this happen in Sussex between 1840-1890.

So… I need a plan!


I’ve discovered, through trial and error a recipe for coleslaw that I like.

The ingredients aren’t precise, it depends what you have and how much you like each thing, but here it is:

  • ½ crisp hard cabbage
  • 1 red onion (or white if you haven’t red)
  • 1 carrot (or two if you like it carroty)
  • ¼ head of celery (or miss it out if you don’t like it)
  • seeds – I used chia and linseed and I used plenty!
  • lowest fat mayo you can find, or full fat if you prefer and are nice and slim!
  • plain Greek yoghurt (low-fat if you’re trying to watch your weight)
  • a good slug of sweet chilli sauce (I use Healthy Boy)
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • freshly ground spices such as coriander, cumin, caraway, fennel (miss them out if you don’t like them
  • optional extras – nuts (roast, salted or plain) grated cheese, cubed feta, grated apple, pickled gherkins finely chopped or capers, chopped dried fruit such as prunes or apricots, and anything else that appeals to you!


  1. finely chop the cabbage, onion, and celery, grate the carrot
  2. mix well and add enough mayo and yoghurt to coat the vegetables (I use half and half but you can do what is to your taste, or miss out the yoghurt altogether and just use mayo)
  3. add a good dollop of sweet chilli sauce, to taste, or miss out
  4. add your seeds, pepper and spices
  5. leave for twelve hours for the best flavour, check for seasoning, I  don’t add salt but you might like to

onion from our garden

Halloween? Herumph!

I think I posted a near identical blog last year about how much I hate Halloween. I don’t mind people having parties, themed parties, I don’t mind people dressing up – it is completely up to them and it’s probably fun, and I guess if I was a child or teenager I might want to do the same. I very much like the idea of traditional food and some of the old customs to mark the change of seasons, and to echo the old, old celebrations of Samhain… so what is it that I hate about it?

I hate the fact that a lot of the trappings, the buying of costumes, the shops full of Halloween themed things, are just sheer commercialisation and trying to make money out of a tradition which has been imported from somewhere else. Pumpkins in windows? Trick or treating? That’s not one of our traditional customs… a hundred years ago in some parts of Britain youngsters would go out ‘guising’ but when some child knocks on my door dressed as a witch what am I supposed to do? I know in theory I’m, supposed to give them money or sweets… but why? I know I’ll sound a real grumpy old git when I say, we didn’t do that when I was young… well we didn’t, and I don’t know of anyone who did. We might have Halloween parties in our homes, with traditional food and party games such as bobbing for apples, but going round the streets was associated with Guy Fawkes Night – Bonfire Night, which may be a seventeenth century custom grafted onto the old Samhain celebrations,

Bonfire Night is our traditional end of season, going-into-autumn fling! On bonfire night we have toffee-apples, and Parkin (gingerbread) and chestnuts, and sausages and chestnuts, and we drink hot spiced punch and we burn a figure on a bonfire which has been built by collecting firewood from the locality, and we set off fireworks and run around scaring each other in the dark!

I find a lot of the modern costumes repellent and lacking in taste… all the wounds and bandages and missing limbs and blood… what is that to do with witches and spirits and ghosties? Halloween? I hate it!

Glastonbury chic… take 2

We went to Glastonbury the other day, a nice little market town famous for its festival, but a favourite place of ours… always full of interest! People who live or visit there have a style of their own… and I think I secretly wish I wore clothes like they do, and look so comfortable and at home in them. I always fear I would just look plain silly!

Of course there is more to Glastonbury than the people who live and work and visit there; there is the famous ruined abbey, where tradition and legend has it that Joseph of Arimathea brought Jesus when he was a young lad. King Arthur and Queen Guinevere are said to be buried here, but that is more likely to be a rumour started by the monks of the middle ages to attract tourists. Glastonbury draws visitors from far and wide, it is easy to find your way there, the Tor, a hill which rises over 500 foot above the surrounding Somerset levels, can be seen from miles and miles away. On top is the ruined 15th century church of St Michael.



Surprise, surprise, Tai Chi helps the elderly

So what is news? Does it really need scientific research to prove the blindingly obvious, that practising Tai Chi helps maintain balance, strengthen muscles, helps prevent falls, and lessens injuries if someone does fall… well, well, well, who would have thought it?!

Nick Collins, the science correspondent of the Daily Telegraph writes about researchers in France who have discovered this amazing and unexpected result…  Good heavens, and I thought classes were bursting at the seams with people doing Tai Chi because they thought it might help them learn to speak Klingon! yIDoghQo'buy' ngop!*

* Klingon phrases meaning:

yIDoghQo’ – don’t be silly

buy’ ngop – that’s great news!


From Plymouth, halfway round the world…

Plymouth is a wonderful place to visit, and has much history attached to it; some is of the brave adventurers who set forth in the eighteenth century to discover distant lands in the hope of finding wealth and fortune. Many people had no choice in the matter, they were sent their as part of there sentence for crimes, some as trivial as stealing a petticoat (Barnard Walford) Their sufferings in the far distant lands of Australia and New Zealand were sometimes dreadful, but from this was forged a great nation of strong, talented and hard-working people. Among those who were sent halfway round the world were the Tolpuddle Martyrs, ordinary working men who stood up for their rights to join together against oppression and for justice.

Other people chose to leave their homes in England, and to go on a great adventure…



Captain Tobias Furnaux charted the coast of Tasmania, and 1773 became the first English man to land there.

Captain John MacArthur gave Australia prosperity through his introduction of marino sheep in the 1790’s.

Captain William Bligh survived the mutiny aboard the Bounty to become Governor of New South Wales 1806-1809

Colonel George Arthur was Lieutenant Governor of Tasmania 1823-1836

Captain Edmund Lockyer raised the British flag in Western Australia in 1827

Both Furnaux and Bligh accompanied Captain James Cook on the second of his three great voyages of discovery, all of which left from Plymouth 17768, 1772 and 1776

Unveiled by His Excellency Mr Richard Smith, The Australian High Commissioner, 1992

DSCF3850From Plymouth on 13th March 1787 sailed the transport ships ‘Friendship’ and ‘Charlotte’ carrying men and women convicts bound for Australia

On 26th January 1789 with nine other ships from England they landed at Port Jackson which became Sydney New South Wales. There they established the first British  colony under the command of Captain Arthur Philip RN the father of modern Australia

DSCF3852From near this spot thousands of Cornish people sailed for South Australia during the nineteenth century

Their contribution to the colony’s development particularly in mining and farming is acknowledged with pride by the Cornish Association of Southern Australia

unveiled 5th September 1986

DSCF3818The Tolpuddle Martyrs

This plaque placed here by members of the various trades unions affiliated to the Plymouth and district trades  council commemorates the landing near this spot 18th March 1838 of  James Loveless, James Brine, Thomas and John Stanfield (four of the 6 Dorset farm workers after exile in Australia)

Freedom and justice was their cause.

5th May 1958