Sunday, 31 July 2011

A New Addition

We both love tree ferns and now we have our very own.  Just have to make sure we protect him in the winter.  It adds a lovely touch of tropical to the garden.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

National Novel Writing Month

Ever since I heard of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWrMo) I’ve wanted to have a go.  What better incentive to write a full book than having a deadline to make.  But it runs in November and normally at this time I’m just starting an Open University course of some sort.
This year the course I’m looking at taking doesn’t start until Feb 2012, so I’d be ‘free’ in November, but looking in more detail at NaNoWrMo, even without the OU course I don’t think I can commit to it.  Over 30 days you need to write 50,000 words which would mean writing at least 1,667 words each day.  With a full time job, and a reluctance to turn my computer on after work 1,667 words or about 3 pages (typed) seems like quite a lot.  What happens if I take a day off, go Christmas shopping or something happens – I’d have to write 3334 the next day!
However if I start writing on 1 Aug but keep the 30th Nov deadline I will only have to write 410 words a day to hit the deadline.  Obviously I can’t enter NaNoWrMo as that would be cheating, but there is nothing to stop me making my own ‘Novel Writing in Four Months’ target (which doesn’t have the same ring to it, but does do as it says on the tin).
I’ve never writing anything of this size before so have no idea if I can do it or not, and I’ve no doubt that it won’t be very good, but if I don’t have a go I’ll never know. 

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

A Story About Lasers

Normally we stop the writers group for the summer, as the University gets very quiet and so many people are away.  But this year everyone agreed we should keep it going, so yesterday we met as normal.  With only 4 of us there it was a quiet meeting, but I did at least have something to read out this time.
Inspired by an article I’d read recently about capturing solar power in space and then using laser beams to bring the power to earth this is what I wrote:

As a race we have been in space all my life, but now we can’t even see the stars in the sky.
Today, and I’m only assuming it is day as it is light or as near as it gets these days, it is my turn to go to the power store.  We are all on the rota and although I dread coming up to this place, I also enjoy the escape from small rooms and spaces that always seem to be filled with people.
The landscape looks like it has snowed, although with this heat I know it can’t be snow, but I still pretend.  Kicking my feet, instead of spurts of frozen water, clouds of gray ash rise and soon my trousers are covered to the knee.  But with my face mask tight against my face I don’t care.  I can feel it sticking to my face as the sweat starts to roll, but there is no point in wiping it away as my hands are just as grubby.
I’m sure I can feel something watching me, but what could it be, there is nothing in the place except ash and angry clouds.  But I can’t help myself and keep checking behind me, the only thing to see a long messy string of foot prints leading into the gloom.
The laser when it comes makes me jump and I very nearly turn and run.  Imagine the sudden blinding glare of a laser dropping through the clouds only a mile away.  Not only the glare of the laser but the sudden reflection from the ash, so that it’s like snow on a sunny day.  But again I’m prepared and I pull down the ski goggles reducing the light to a pleasant blue summer glow.
I know I’ve still got a mile to go, and it will be finished before I am, but I still find it hard to walk towards it.  I must be so easy to see now, I have a large black shadow who stretches away behind me, using me as a shield.  And even through the blue of the goggles I can make out the red of my shirt.
I don’t know why the laser still works but we’d be dead without it.

It’s not a story but a description that may well lead to something although right now I don’t know what.  I imagine it might be the sort of thing that I will come across again in years to come and be inspired by, rather than just forgetting the image and loosing it forever.

The homework – to make personal dictionaries by timing yourself for 3 minutes and writing all the words you can think of beginning with a letter of your choice.  You can do this for as many letters as you want.

Once you have your list of words, choose your favourite 3 to inspire some writing.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Handmade Bread

My second attempt turned out much better.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Gait Analysis and Running Shoes

Finally after a long build up I’ve managed to run for 10 minutes on the treadmill.  Having completed that target I’ve also finally bought some proper running shoes, in celebration, and taken my running outside.
Everyone I’ve spoken to about running has said I should get a gait analysis done, so I visited our local sports shop to get one done.  Mistake – don’t go on a Saturday afternoon.  The shop, which is pretty small anyway, was very very full, so I tried again on a Wednesday morning and it was empty – perfect.
I’ve not had a gait analysis done before so I’ve nothing to compare it with, but I was impressed.  I don’t normally like sports shops.  I feel like they are looking down on me, wondering what business I could possible have with them.  But in this shop they were very friendly and explained exactly what we were going to be doing and why (basically they film you running to see what happens to your feet and legs as you run, then find shoes that support you).  The guy let me try on many pairs of trainers, and filmed me running in each, then showed me the video and pointed out what happened to my ankles etc each time.  Of course, as a typical woman, I ended up going with the first pair I tried on.  They also helped me with some socks too.
All in all I was happy with the experience, but the real test is in the use and I had my first run in them this morning.  First thing I’ve found is that running on a treadmill is very different from running outside on grass.  Places that I thought were flat suddenly grow huge hills, and early morning sun suddenly feels a lot warmer than I remember.  This morning I ran/walked a mile in 10 minutes.  I look forward to expanding on this.

On the subject of running I’ve just come across a running blog called My Mum Runs, which struck a cord, particularly the ‘Running Scared’ entry.  I totally agree – everything new is scary.  But I also love this sentence – “The trick is not letting your fear prevent you from trying something you may grow to love.”  Ok so Lindsay may be taking about running here, but I think it applies to many things in life.  I’ve tried to live my life so far by this rule, without it me and ‘im outdoors would not be enjoying curries on a regular basis and certainly wouldn’t have visited Egypt in January, but it is difficult at times. 
Next time you see me, maybe it will be running along the pavement with my arms out like wings…

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

An Island Holiday

I love islands.  Maybe it’s because I live on one or because of my love of the sea?  Whatever it is, I recently realised that a lot of the places on my visiting wish list are islands.  Cuba, Isles of Scilly, Lundy, Jersey and Guernsey, Skye, Greek Islands, New Zealand etc etc.

With our holiday in Egypt little more than a distant memory now, we decided we needed a long weekend away.  But where to go?  We couldn’t afford anywhere over sea’s so decided to visit the Isle of Wight.  Close to home and gazed at from afar (well across the Solent) regularly it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get to know this island better.
And we had a great time even with wind and rain and fog and brilliant sunshine.  You can read all about it at my travel blog – Not all who wander are lost