23/7/2017

OU MA first year results were out last week, available a day early, and I’m very pleased to say that I got a distinction. This means that I now have a Post Grad Cert in Humanities and can say so after my name, which is pretty cool.

Today I started writing again, after a hiatus of four weeks. During my time off, beside climbing Snowdon, spotting puffins and going to Aberystwyth; despite organising trips away for two sons to California and The Secret Garden Party, despite going to a wedding oop north and driving here there and everywhere, I’ve had several ideas for short stories. The one I started¬† writing today however, only occurred to me this morning. Worried that I’d forget some of the other ideas, in the writing of it, I also started new files for them all, so they each have a title.

I wrote for about five hours but made little progress. I’m not really match fit writing wise and need to get my eye in again I think. Also I usually just start writing without an idea in my head, to see what comes out. This time I know (ish) where I want the stories to end up, so its a wee bit different. I think tomorrow I’ll just keep writing until I have a very imperfect first draft of something finished, then do the same with all the other unwritten stories – that way, I should have many potential starting points for next year’s MA by the end of the week.

Oh yes, I should have mentioned that all this time to write has come from being on hols in Gairloch, in Scotland. Nick and I are boyless, and in wonderful seclusion – him forIMG_1453.JPG fishing – me for writing. Here’s a pic of the view I’m looking at from the sitting room window. The sound of the sea is all around me, hushing in waves. It soooo relaxing, I keep wanting to fall asleep. Maybe one of the reasons for lack of writing progress today is that its almost impossible not to stare out of the window. Maybe I should start a story set here so the staring will have purpose. Though today the sea is quite calm I keep imaging what it would be like in a storm. The gentle hushing that sounds like rest and relaxation, would become a hiss or a roar and the waves would crash on the sifting shingle. This place is two places I think, depending on the weather.

8/7/2017

Am back from a few days in Wales with my friend. We:

Climbed Snowdon, (which nearly killed me, but she is in the army reserves so kept me going despite my fat fifty-year-old hips.) Luckily it was blowing a hoolie with low lying grey cloud cover – or maybe we were just very high – and horizontal rain that fell in Mexican waves, so it wasn’t too hot.

Went puffin spotting from Beaumaris where we booked a high speed dinghy that got up to 54 miles per hour to take us to Puffin Island. The skipper was a real character who gave us a guided tour of the shoreline. His local tales were almost as tall as the mountain range which dominated the westerly horizon, and if I were to give him a nickname it would be Jackanory, but he was seriously entertaining. It was a perfect day really because we found the puffins which for me has been a lifetime search. I’ve had so many trips rained off, postponed, or attended but no puffins to be found, that I wasn’t really wasn’t expecting to see any, but on the 6th July 2017 finally, I did. Had a little tear in my eye as we went ashore with the speedwell blue sky and the thin clouds hanging over the mountains.

Went to Aberystwyth as I went to college there, and Clarey wanted to see my old haunts. It was an unusual weather day for Aber, sunny, calm and peaceful. My student memories recall raging seas and driving winds; grey summers and icy winters, but on this visit all was muted blues and hazy greens and the sea was a gentle friend lapping in and out like it had never wreaked havoc. We had a drink on the pier, played the arcade, Clarey had an ice-cream and got her fortune told by Zoltan the tacky automaton on the seafront. She paid a quid to be told she talks too much. Being a supernatural sceptic I was moved at the accuracy of this mind-reading feat, and will cock my snook less in future. We bought books in the bookshop then had paninis for lunch before heading home.

Today we are going to watch outside Shakespeare, which is put on every year at a local pub called The George by an amateur group of hobby thesps who are usually quite good. It rained last year which was okay because it was The Tempest. This year the forecast is for a hot sunny night and the play is Coriolanus.

Writing wise, I went to the writers day meeting in Ely last weekend, and came second in their short story prize. Here’s a pic of me getting my cheque from the Mayor, which was in the Ely Standard. I joined a writing club whilst I was there and am going on Monday, to see what its like. The day was actually very useful. I met two lovely writers and listened to some good talks which I will blog about on Monday, when Clarey’s gone home. Right, off to go swimming now – the over 40s session – hope its not too crowded.

 

 

3.7.2017

Am sitting on my sofa having had a mad morning dashing about, packing to go to Wales this afternoon. I’m going with my friend, Clarey who’s due to arrive about oneish. We’ve been meaning to go away for ten years or more, but have never had the opportunity due to family obligations, but now Harry has finished his GCSEs and school is out for summer, we can finally go.¬† I have this brief hiatus in which to blog, after a morning spent washing, ironing, shopping (to get things in for the family whilst I’m away), showering, shopping again (because I forgot the shampoo) and going to the cash point to make sure everyone has dosh for the gym and the guided bus whilst I’m away.

Its a bit of a watershed moment for me and Clarey as she has just passed her BA in archaeology and my kids have all officially left school. Feels like the end of an era and the start of a new phase, thus we have decided to mark the moment by climbing Snowdon and staying in Snowdonia for three sleeps. The weather looks good for tomorrow, not too hot, a bit of drizzle in the morning and clearing in the afternoon for a good chance of a clear view once we’re up there. We’re doing the longest but least inclined route (for the elderly) so hopefully we will be okay. Unfortunately, I have a cold but its not a bad one and should be much better by tomorrow.

Writing wise I have done little since I last blogged as life has been a hectic whirl, but I have had a story published in Flash Flood as part of National Flash Fiction day, had a short story published in Scribble, I was short listed and published in Brilliant Flash Fiction, and I came second in a local comp for Ely Writer’s day and won ¬£25 and attendance at a champagne reception after the final concert of Ely’s Art Festival. I was given a cheque by the mayor of Ely and had a photo taken which I’ll put on here next blog. In the meantime, here’s a pic of me and Harry just before his prom. harrypromnI’ll also link the digitally published stories so they’ll be readable here.

Last weekend I went to the Flash Festival in Bath. It was a wonderful experience. I learned lots, met many of my Flash heroes and made a genuine connection with a sister student from my Masters Forum. Ali and I spent much of the two days together and I so enjoyed her company. I felt her to be a real kindred spirit, writing wise. The winners of the Bath Flash award were announced at the end, and included the wonderful Nod Ghosh, who’s story took my breath away. So many congrats to her. Her winning a prize was the icing on the cake of a thoroughly wonderful weekend.

I intend to blog much more in the month of July as I’m hoping to get more writing time once I get back from Wales. I have a couple of good ideas for flashes too. Right off to make Clarey’s sarnie. Might blog later from lightest, highest wales.