Saturday, 31 October 2009

The Lovely Blog Award

Ah, you meet some lovely people in this writing game. My friend Janice Horton has made my day by giving me The Lovely Blog Award which I’m so ridiculously pleased to accept, you'd think I'd won tonight's lottery!.

And now the rules say:
1) Accept the award, and don’t forget to post a link back to the awarding person.
2) Pass the award on.
3) Notify the award winners.

So I'd like to pass the award on to (trumpets and drum roll, please) Teresa Ashby because I've long admired her work and her blog is always entertaining and interesting.

Pumpkin pie

Here's Amy carving a spider!

With 4 pumpkins turned into spooky lanterns there was an awful lot of flesh to work with! We bought ready-made pastry bases and then followed the recipe below:

For the filling:

1lb pureed pumpkin
1 large tin of condensed milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 tspoon ground ginger
1/2 tspoon ground nutmeg
pinch salt

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees
To the pureed pumpkin add everything else and mix well
Bake for 15 mins at 200 degrees then turn heat down to 170 for another 35 mins.
You'll know it's done when it's set like an egg custard.

Happy Halloween

Isn't my daughter, Amy, clever? She took about half an hour to carve this last night and I think it's brilliant. Beats the usual scary face doesn't it?

Friday, 30 October 2009

Going a Bit Lynne Truss

My local corner shop/newsagent went bust a few years back and my next nearest looks to be suffering the same fate (thanks to supermarkets but don't get me started on that one). For months there has been gossip of it going into liquidation and when they stopped selling magazines and newspapers it seemed as if the rumours were true.

Today there's a big sign outside declaring 'THERE BACK - MAGAZINES/NEWSPAPERS NOW IN STOCK'.

I went in hoping to get Women's Weekly (Paula William's final serial chapter of Burying Bad News) but the shelves were bare. Feeling cheated, I couldn't resist pointing out someone had used the wrong spelling on the board outside.

'Oh yes,' said the assistant. 'Should be T-H-E-I-R shouldn't it?'

'No, it should be T-H-E-Y'R-E.' She looked at me as if I was a nutter, and admittedly I did feel a bit Lynne Truss as I vigorously signed an air apostrophe.

I suppose if folk go in just to point out it's wrong it might increase 'THERE' sales huh?

PS. I am now paranoid you're searching this blog for grammatical/spelling errors. Be assured, you'll find plenty! Just don't write to tell me!

Short Story Radio Competition

Short Story Radio is proud to announce the Short Story Radio Romance Award 2010. This exciting and innovative new writing competition offers romantic fiction writers the chance to have their work recorded and broadcast, as well as to receive a cash prize.
We are looking for an engaging and entertaining romance story (previously unpublished) , told in two parts of no more than 5,000 words in total, similar to the type of romance story you will find in a women's magazine.

Word length: synopsis (no more than one page of A4) and first part of story (2,000 minimum to 2,500 maximum words). This first part must end with a “hook” or “cliffhanger” to entice the listener to listen to the second part of the story. Only short-listed entrants will be asked to send the second part of the story.

The winning story will be recorded and broadcast, in two episodes, on the Short Story Radio website and podcast. The winner will also receive a cash prize of £150 and the title of winner of the Short Story Radio Romance Award 2010.

The short-list judge for this competition is Pat Richardson, founder of Perfectly Worded Writing and Editing Consultancy and former Fiction Editor at Best magazine (UK).

More information at

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Gather ye cheggies

Everyone's been saying what a rotten year it is for chestnuts but not up here in Notts. My kids went out gathering just a mile away and came back with this lot after only an hour's work. I didn't go with them. Getting spiny thorns out of finger ends for a week afterwards is to be avoided at all cost especially if you're a writer!

My daughter washed and dried the haul and prepared to roast them. I favoured banging them in the microwave for a few seconds but I was over-ruled. They wanted them done in the chiminea outside for that authentic taste. They had a point. As a child, I remember going shopping with my gran shortly before Christmas and on the way to the bus station stopping off at a street vendor to buy sixpence worth of chestnuts from a glowing brazier - yes, dear readers, I really am that old - then hugging the brown paper bag in my mitten-clad paws until we were on the bus home. I know hot chestnuts can still be found but I bet the open brazier's been replaced with an 'authentic barrow'.

But back from the Dickensian fantasy - we were out of coals and logs for the chiminea so several pounds of cheggies went in my electric fan oven instead. Someone should've set the timer because when they were dished up the anticipated smokey-soft kernel had shrivelled and dried (along with the obligatory maggots contained therein) making them inedible. They'd have been more succulent if they'd been put through the Hadron Collider.

Oh and here's a little blast from the past...remember Johnny Morris of Animal Magic fame? He had a regular slot on BBC Children’s TV in the 1950s as The Hot Chestnut Man, telling stories over a brazier.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


First son and his girlfriend are up from London, visiting for a week. They won't be around for our yuletide get together as they'll be off to Denmark.
I was toying with the idea of doing the whole tinsel lunch shebang but it was decided we'd go for a meal at a local Asian restaurant instead. Phew!
Jhinook came up to expectation as usual, though our request to ignore the set starter menu and 'Just bring us out a mix' cost us dearly and I don't mean cash-wise! The house still smells like a Bombay back street!

On Sunday we went off to Meadowhall (Sheffield) which is only 30 mins away and had a meal in a tapas bar followed by an hour and a half chuckle watching Pixar's newest creation, UP, in 3D.

We were handed free (at £9.70 a seat I should think so too!) viewing goggles - black-framed plastic things with polarised lenses - which are quite trendy in a Thunderbirds kind of way and a vast improvement on the paper efforts with the red and green lenses.

The 3D effects weren't the 'in yer face throw things out at the audience' sort I expected, but subtle and very realistic. I wasn't sure I'd enjoy a film about some old codger who transports his home by lifting it from its foundations using balloons, but I loved it. Especially the character Russell - very lovable and funny.

It wasn't until afterwards I realised it'd addressed infertility, death (weepy scene I thought kids might not grasp but I overheard a youngster seated in front sniffle!), single parenting, loss of childhood illusions, and the necessities of respecting nature. Not bad for a PG rated film eh?