Tuesday 30 November 2010

Running Time 42,617 minutes

Did it, I did it and it feels great. I even cried. That could be exhaustian.

I'd like to publically thank my husband who has really put up with a lot. I really appreciate it my love.

Now back to real life and bathing and listening to my babies and school plays and carol services and cooking and Christmas cards and reading books on my list and other people's blogs. And sleep. Bliss

Marathon ending.....

Think of all the swear words you know and multiply them ten-fold: I have 2800 words to write for NaNo and I have all but run out of steam. The deadline is midnight tonight, although, as I am sure technology will let me down, my deadline is lunchtime'ish.

Last night I came to bed late after a big 3500 word day, slept in most of my clothes.This morning when the alarm went off I couldn't open my eyes. Hubby was great, 'Get up, finish that novel,' he said. I thought he was being supportive, turns out he misses me. Awwwww.

We were NOT, I repeat NOT, due snow! But there it was, all over the garden, as I peered out into the highlighted darkness at 6am. Nightmare really, as Dizzy Disco is broken! I seriously feared that I wouldn't be able to get the kids to school in my car, my day would be scuppered. But s'OK, the roads were passable.

There was no wood in the house, but I fetched some when I fed the chickens and now, with bread and cheese and coffee.......

......Are you sitting comfortably? ......Then let the story begin, opps sorry, I mean end...

Sunday 28 November 2010


There was I, deeply engrossed in my NaNo Novel 'The Perrys at the Berries,' when I heard the cat flap, well... flap.

I carried on typing as Benny trotted by.......

Then I saw it...............ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Benny! Get out!

(Oh, I've just remembered, he's supposed to be the farm cat....) Oh yes, thank you, thank you, thank you. Good boy Benny...... Doing a great job. BUT GET OUT OF MY KITCHEN WITH THAT THING!!!

North West of London.......

It is always good when friends come to stay, and lately we have had a lovely array of visitors.

This weekend we hosted a pal from London with her wonderful hubby Fen and her two gorgeous children Cate and X. You must know her she writes the brilliant 'Cross the Pond blog.

She chose a good weekend to come, Ludlow has held street markets since the twelfth century and this weekend was no exception, the Ludlow Medievil Christmas Fayre was on too. We browsed stalls selling fresh produce, cheeses, olives, books and  local crafts while rubbing shoulders with wild, chivalrous knights and courtly ladies, soldiers, jesters and medieval musicians as well as menacing minders of King Stephen. All with the backdrop of the Norman Castle.

It was all pretty bizarre, but good.

We visited the yummy cheese shop too. Sadly I'd forgotten to bring a carrier bag, but thank goodness the weather was so chilly, as Miss 'Cross the Pond offered to store the cheese purchases in her handbag. If it had been warmer, her purse could have smelled remarkably like a french pond, so pungent were our cheese- choices! (Fortunately she was still fragrant by home-time, freezing but fragrant) Although cold, the belting sunshine made Ludlow look so pretty.

Fen and Hubby were in heaven too: Two international rugby matches on the TV on Saturday, beer and a thwacking Thanksgiving turkey - theirs was a marriage made in heaven.

It has been super-cold, a severe frost has covered the fields and frozen the water troughs for the horses. Although it's not snow, after our guests departed, Sledge Field was sufficiently frozen to allow the 8yo and the 6yo to sled for the afternoon, until their hands bottoms and knees could take the pain no longer!. It has been so cold in fact, that locally they recorded temperatires of -18 last night. Sadly, one of our chickens passed away last night. Poor thing, she hadn't looked well. Never fear however, Archie and mum are still doing well.

Well I'm off to cook dinner.

Just 7000 words between now and Tuesday midnight and I should complete the NaNoWriMo challenge. Will I do it? 'COURSE I WILL.......

Sunday 21 November 2010

Writing a Novel in novel places....

Me and the Novel went on tour this weekend.. I'm at 35,000 words and need to get to 50,000 by the 30th November... I can see the finish line, I'm just not sure if someone won't trip me up before I get there!

It was my good pal's birthday weekend in London. The hubby gave me a weekend pass, some pennies and a kiss on the cheek. 'Play nice,' he said.

Mindful that I still needed to write my novel, I set off with clean pants, a toothbrush and my computer.

The first train allowed me to write for an hour and a half before my battery went! I changed stations in South Wales (no. not the new Australian one, the original one.) So, feeling cheeky I asked to plug into the train conductors office, but was told that there was actually a plug for customers' use in the waiting room. Cool.

For an hour I tippy-typed till the next train arrived. Three and a half hours later, having typed all the way, (the seat had its very own plug,) I arrived in London Paddington.

The party was booked for a bar and restaurant on top of Waterstones book store in Piccadilly.... how apt was that? - my book was already in Waterstones and it wasn't even finished. It's fate, I'm telling you!

I was super-early so I toddled down to the coffee shop in the basement and continued to write for another hour.

It was very interesting in the coffee shop: There were masses of people drinking coffee and chatting. A group of three men, possibly an actor, a director and a producer, were reading through a very graphic mob-style movie plot.... [v. boring - so same-y - I'm not recommending it..] Distracted, I moved tables. I took a quick peek about: There were lots of characters including the usual poseurs pretending to read, [I'd like to imagine] their books upside down. Then there were the lovely studious-but-poor-looking types, drinking the same cold coffee for hours on end, reading all the store's books before stroking them goodbye and replacing them on the shelves.

Finally at six o'clock I packed up and joined the party on the 5th floor, meeting some really great women, friends of my dear friend. We eventually ended up in a Indian restaurant in Berkeley Square off Mayfair, where we drank cocktails. Mine, the Mumbai Martini, was made with vodka, passion juice and spicy Indian chutney. Bonkers but gorgeous.


The journey home was dreadful. I stood for almost two hours on the second train and it took me seven hours to get home. I feel jet-lagged but I will say that I met fantastic people on my journey: In particular a lovely couple going home to Camarthen and two tired but gorgeous-looking mums with children, going home to Liverpool after a christening. They looked particularly adorable sitting chatting to me from the loo, the only place to sit on the train! ......There really is nothing like a bit of a crisis to get us Brits laughing..... and we did laugh all the way through to my stop, after we'd first deeply the lamented the lack of jobs in the UK and seats on trains. Thank you so much for the camaraderie Mr World Wide Recession... [she said sarcastically!]

Friday 19 November 2010

Archie Archer Chick-tastic

I've just cleaned Archie (who is now twelve days old,) and Mummy Hen's coop and run. I transferred them to a holding run while I worked; a perfect opportunity to snuggle Archie. He's gorgeously warm and peeps loudly when I take him from mum even for just a few seconds but is blissfully happy when I deposit mum back beside him again.

He has a new game, he hops up on to her back and she gives him little rides around the run before tipping him off again. Hilarious to watch, hope you can see him from my kitchen window.

My own chicks are at a sleepover tonight, the 6yo's first. He's blasé and therefore I'm OK too, happy that he's happy.

To take our minds off the abandoned nest we, the parentals, are off for a Chinese meal. Freedom for one night is so sweet, but then I want my babies back please...... Dinner with hubby is so rare these days, I'm so looking forward to it.

Running a few errands in Ludlow today was wonderful. The town was Dickensian, cloaked in a gentle fog. I thought I'd stepped back in time passing the book binder store front with its panelled bay windows and ancient machinery within. Sometimes I draw up in the car at the traffic lights, often for longer than I should, just so I can watch these craftsmen and women, busy repairing leather-bound volumes.

All the butchers have their game hanging in the street now too; cock pheasants hang their heads, vibrant feathers wasted on shoppers. If I didn't know how good they tasted, I might feel sorry for them. I ordered a good sized turkey for next week, my nod to Thanksgiving, I've a lot to feel thankful for.

Tuesday 16 November 2010


NaFaWriMo is going really well. (Na.tional get Fa.t Wri.ting in the Mo.nth of November)

Stats to date:

Intake of biscuits - 1654
Slices of cake - 988
Coffee - 19000
Tea with sugar - 17,000
Chocolate Brownies - 1800
Crisps - 1300
Wine - Yes, constantly...oh, y'mean how many bottles........ ermmmm quite a lot!

Suggested cumulative intake per day - 34,000
At this rate you will keel over on  - 5th December 2010

Days till target weight and/or heart attack - 14

Monday 15 November 2010

A Struggle....

Have calculated that I have 12 days to write 30,000 words. Sob.

I can do it I can do it I can do it....

Can't move, eaten too many biscuits.

Friday 12 November 2010

Curiosity smells awful....

I'm a 'fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants' sort of girl. Don't get me wrong, I do the work, it's just that when I set my mind to doing something I generally like to get on in there, learning as I go along. I'm curious too, real curious. Which is why, this morning I tried to 'candle' my last five eggs. They are now on day 21 + 5.

I found a site on the Internet that told me how to make a candling unit, so, armed with my trusty Diet Coke fridge box (yes, I had to drink all 24 cans in the pursuit of science! Not..... I can never finish a can of coke, can you?) Anyhoo I digress, so with box, high power torch and eggs I ventured down to the cellar.

Couldn't see a sodding thing. But I could smell something really unpleasant.

The Internet had said; discard eggs at 21 + 5, so I did. But it didn't tell you how. I debated for a while but eventually I decided on a post-mortem. I had to know if they had been viable.

Out to the compost bins with rubber gloves I went... (the bins are in a right sorry state I can tell you: Must sort them this weekend.... as well as write 3000 words a day, clean chickens, feed kiddies, supervise a sleepover....)  I gently tapped first egg on wood. A hateful, pongy goo dribbled out, but no chick. Number 2 was the same. Number 3 the same. Number 4 exploded all.over.me. So glad I was only wearing my most lovely pink Crew cotton rugby top. (I recalled a similar incident many years ago: I broke a whole bottle of Nam Pla Fish Sauce over my head.... complicated story...) Gagging, I still had to know about egg number 5....... stand well back..... no explosion just goo.

So it seems that from six eggs, only Archie Archer was viable... Welcome to the world Archie.

Just read on the trusty Internet, that you MUST take out the eggs at day 21 + 5 in case they explode.... wish I read that first and that I wasn't such a 'seat-of-the....-girl' after all!

Must go, sitting here a bit chilly, all clothes in wash. I'm off for a shower.

Thursday 11 November 2010

School Rules.

The 6yo was grumpy coming home from school. The girls are chasing him to try and catch him to kiss him.

'Can I have all my curls cut off?' he asked.

'Sure, if you want,' I said, meaning no. 'But why?'

'So the girls don't recognise me.'

'Ah good point. Maybe you could get an invisibility cloak?' I suggested, feeling tres literary and yet child-orientated...

'No,' he said, deadly serious. 'You're not allowed those at school...'


Hideous Weather

It is seriously windy here. Apparently we could be seeing gale force winds of up to 80mph thanks to the Gulf Stream which, according to some fella on the BBC, is travelling at 170mph above our heads and indeed, high above the clouds.

We've had to lash the new greenhouse down!

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Surreal Tea tonight...

The 6yo was most insistent that the Egyptians (present day) did not have TV.

'I think they do.' I said.

He put down his knife and fork.

'They do not!' he said. 'They can't get a signal because of the mountains!'


We left it there, though I wondered if he'd been watching the National Geographic channel or something!! 'Cept he's not allowed to watch TV during the week (evil-mother rule or evil mother's rule, you choose.) Don't get me wrong I love telly occasionally, for instance hubby is currently glued to Time Team, jolly interesting esp. with that Baldrick bloke from Slack Bladder. I like a bit of Masterchef The Professionals myself and indeed I've learned a lot. For instance I've learned that I don't aspire to eat or cook fussy food and I've also learned a new language; quennells, jus, reduction.

Tonight I treated my family to a lovely deconstructed fish cake..... that's baked potato, chive butter and tinned tuna with mayo and lemon juice to you and I....


Regarding my previous post: I may have acted rashly, removing Whitey's eggs just because she's at 21 days + 3 days. A neighbour suggested that she may have needed to leave the nest to feed Archie but that the other eggs may still hatch. Bugger! I've put them back under her tonight.

Still on the subject of chickens, hubby was swearing like a rudee-rude person tonight.... he was constructing a new coop, bought online. Apparently grown men don't cry except when assembling self-build furniture. He's desperately clever. Lookee what he's built.

Hockey, Hic! and Helping Chicks......

Gosh, the 8yo was amazing at the hockey-stuff... streaked off down the pitch twice and scored both times! In the end they won 3:1.

Last night the Ginger and Chili Beef Stew was lush and this morning the coffee morning went well. Sadly there was only six of us in attendance but this did mean I was able to offer a tiny tipple of my bright pink Plum Vodka.... just to warm the ladies up you understand! It was met with approval I'm pleased to say.

Talking of warming, Whitely seems to have given up with the other five eggs now that she has birthed Archie Archer..... see video footage....

Therefore I am going to try to hatch them; after all they must be close to hatching having been sat on for 21 days. I am not going to sit on them - no - thanks for asking! I've popped them in a Diet Coke box (not blatant advertising honestly!) which is very like a cat carrier when you look at it. They are sitting on the ledge above the log burner which is where I warm our wine..... It may not work, but it's surely worth a try.

In case you are interested, here's the beef stew recipe...... none left for picture I'm afraid!

Saute onion, garlic, carrot and whole button mushrooms in pan with oil. Then add v.lazy chillies and finely chopped fresh ginger. Add seasoning (salt, pepper, chopped rosemary) Put everything into slow cooker on high. Deglaze pan with veg stock (or cube)and red wine and add to slow cooker also.
Put cubed stewing beef in seasoned flour in a freezer bag then brown meat in a pan with heated cooking oil. Add meat to slow cooker.

Cover with water and after an hour turn to low setting.

Cook for 7 hours and serve with rice or warm naan bread and mango chutney.

Tuesday 9 November 2010

Rush, Rush, Rush

Flippin Henry, I'm writing like bedamned. But now I'm off to the 8yo's 1st EVER Hockey match - AWAY. Away is correct, - 25 miles away. I reeeeely want to see her play, apparently she's a bit of a natural. Cool. The weather is foul but that's power for the course in November.

Note to NaNo people - so wish you'd chosen a month with 31 days!!

Tomorrow I'd forgotten I was hosting a coffee morning - It will be good fun though: Got the cakes, got the firewood, got the coffee. Just have to write through the night according to the stats below!!

Slow cooker's on, Beef stew with ginger and chilli. Just what we'll need after standing in a damp field. Later tonight I think I'll save time and serve it with warm naan bread and mango chutney. Weirdo me!


Today's Stats

Words Written Today 2446
Words to Write until 1667 = 0
Suggested Daily Word Count 1667
Cumulative Word Count 12743


Current Day 9
Suggested Cumulative Word Count 15000
Average Words per Day 1416
At This Rate You Will Finish On Dec 06
Days Remaining 21
Words to Write Until 15000
Words Remaining 37257
Words per Day to Finish on Time 1775

Monday 8 November 2010

No Fire Engines Thankyou! .... All Chicks are fine!

I posted last night, tired. I read what I'd written, tired. Seemed to be an accurate reflection of the weekend, but then again, I am tired.

May I just say for the record: The mother hen and 1 black chick + 5 more eggs are doing fine. I shall post video footage if I can, as evidence. They are safe in an enclosed coop in the walled garden, far from predators AND my massivo fire, which is just a pile of smokin' ash now anyway. Guides honour, we did not roast the chickies!

As I seems to be turning into a vampire; awake all night, comatose in the day. I have decided that whenever I wake I shall get up and write, so billy bonus really - insomnia. WARNING: Re-read all blog posts from Lou, carefully factoring in a high degree of 'over-tired.'

Sunday 7 November 2010

Saturday 6 November 2010

Tonight's the Night baby....

Big fire tonight: A brilliant social way to get rid of all the foliage we've cut from the garden during the year, the bonfire is approximately 25 ft high now. Plus, a kind farmer has a trailer-load of his rubbish that he will add to the pile before he helps us to push over countless tree stumps with his tractor or low-loader. They too can be dumped on top. He's going to shake the bonfire too, to scare any creatures out. I'm predicting a burn for a week!

I captured the bonfire a week ago, arced by a rainbow. Unfortunately the pot of gold was just out of our fields. Boo hiss.

Friday 5 November 2010

Catch up.....

Gawd it's been busy.

I was a bad mother last Sunday; went on strike refused to go Trick or Treating with the sproglets, truth be told I was Birthdayed-out and we'd been to a late night brilliant Halloween Party on the Sat/Sun morning. I couldn't take any more e numbers! By Tuesday they'd worn me down and I phoned the villagers to warn them of our impending visit. Most were very kind, climbing into their compost bins to retrieve mouldy pumpkins, relighting them in their windows and along dry stone walls. I asked very politely if the Hound of the Baskervilles could be put away, at one particular household. Last Christmas I just about got away with my life when I slid down their drive to deliver a Christmas card. I think my huge fake fur confused him and he thought I was a girly dog.... cor it doesn't bare thinking about.... shudder.

Unfortunately it was blowing a hooley (spelling?) on Tuesday night and was also pitch black but the babes dressed appropriately; the 8yo as a witch, the 6yo as .... spiderman of course... My witchy hat kept blowing off but we got loads of stash. We were quite like real witches as Ben, our James Bond cat, came everywhere with us, our own familiar familiar...te,he.

I've been tippy-typing furiously for NaNo and am up to almost 10,000 words. Sometimes I liken my search for the right word or phrase to my experience of shopping in a supermarket in a foreign land; I know what I want, but I can't quite understand whether the thing I've picked up is it! Anyhoo, I'm having a couple of days off as we've a million pals (possibly slight exaggeration) arriving for Bonfire Night this weekend. It's a child-fest... no. I couldn't eat a whole one either!

Book Club was on Thursday. Sadly we had just four members turn up BUT when those four members (and that's including me) are as opinionated and feisty and fun and groovy as us four, you really don't need much more in a room. We'd finished The Book Thief - I thought it was magical. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I thought of another thing I wanted to say in book club but couldn't, as my brain was not as co-ordinated with my mouth as I would have liked.... so here it is; when I read fiction I read for entertainment, for the lure of the story. I'm happy to be sad or frightened or amused but I don't really want to be educated, I think that's the job of non-fiction. Discuss. Tomorrow I'll probably disagree with myself, but today that is my position.

Dizzy Disco is behaving most peculiarly. I don't ever drive it at night but this week hubby has had my car to pick up some big items we bought and as we're banned from his car I've driven Dizzy to and from school. High beam really is HIGH beam in Dizzy, it lights up the tops of ancient oaks, great for spotting owls... lucky the roads are almost empty 'round here. Plus the car is sounding more and more like a tractor every day.... Think it might need a bit of a look at!

Whitey is still sat on her six eggs I'm really nervous now, as the birth date is any time from Monday. Fingers crossed.

Hope you have a lovely weekend and remember the code: Stand well back.... I think that works well in any situation really.

Thursday 4 November 2010

Revealed: The Perrys at The Berries.....A Novel

9337 words.....

Synopsis: The Perrys at The Berries (A familiar Story fictionalised)

The Perry’s reach a mid-life crisis in their mid-30’s. Two professionals, Sophie and James, decide to find a bigger house in London to accommodate their family, but soon they super-size their dream when they find a neglected Victorian house with 18 acres in Shropshire: From Londoners to landowners.
This is the start of Sophie & James Perry’s life at The Berries with their two young children; Isabella and Sebastian, a picture of family life, occasionally funnier.

The book spans approximately 18 months and ends revealing whether this was the right move for the Perrys at The Berries.

......available in all good book shops in 2012..... I hope! Accepting orders and cash now!

Wednesday 3 November 2010

The Novel......

6854 words so far, may have repeated the, and, it & said quite a bit......

Monday 1 November 2010

November already?...

Blimey, it's November! I'll make this short and sweet as I'm starting NaNoWriMo today and I must write my first chapter and 2,500 words!! But while I back up my computer for the next 20 mins I thought I'd chat.

The 5yo is officially the 6yo today and I'm pleased to announce that he has backed off the idea of being called Fizzy-Whizzy. That is a relief, as today is the first day back after half term and we were forced to travel to school in Dizzy Disco (the smelly old Discovery) and, at 7:30am, I just wasn't up to saying
'Fizzy-Whizzy get in Dizzy,' one hundred times....

On the way to school the 8yo and the 6yo had a conversation:

'.........they were punished and had to do lines because they said a swear word,' said the 8yo. 'It was the worst one too........'

The 6yo sucked in breath, horrified by the very thought..... I too held my breath hoping the conversation would stop there. No. Such. Luck.

'What was the word?' The 6yo asked.

'No thank you!' I said looking at the 8yo in the rear view mirror. 'I don't want to hear any bad words!'

'Can't say,' she said to him sadly.

'Bet I know,' said he quietly. '......Was it toilet brush?'

The 8yo's face said it all. 'That's not EVEN a swear word!'

6yo corrected himself..'Oh yes, I know that! Was it Peanut Head?'

She stared icily and I prayed she wouldn't educate him further.

'I'm not even speaking to you now...' was all she could muster.



We had a splendid half term. Friends invited us to their beach house on the Welsh Coast; it was a stunning break but now I'm back, raring to write....

I'll let you know how many words I do daily and keep you abreast of Mummy Hen. By my calculations (always utterly pants!) we may have hatching chicks in 8 days!! Cute.

Have a good day nowwww.....

The Archers at The Larches

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Snowy and Moon

Snowy and Moon