Sunday, 23 August 2015

A bit of baking.

Things have been quiet here recently as I've been working, procrastinating on the novel, dabbling in skating, keeping fit and baking as well as the normal child raising malarkey.

Here's a few pictures of recent bakes.



I felt the knead urge to make bread and experiment with pizza rolls.  The pizza rolls made with pizza dough were rubbish though so I need to find a better recipe. (Although I ate them all so they couldn't have been that bad... or I could be a human dustbin!)

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Quick catch up!

For the last month or so I have been away from my blog by accident more than design.  I've enjoyed treats and socialising with friends a little more than normal.
My cats turned 5! How did that happen!


Thanks for the birthday chicken Mummy!

 The weather hasn't been amazing every day but that's ok.

Post park picture - it rained unexpectedly.
I've also tried experimenting with overnight oats and while this looks pleasing it doesn't actually work like this you have to mix it all together for the moisture to soak into the oats. Not one of my cleverer moments....
 We also acquired a new vehicle and a few golf balls.
 As well as venturing out to the main stage at Tramlines to catch a few acts.

I also met my sister Sarah, friends Tom B and Charlotte to celebrate their birthdays, saw The Dandy Warhol's at the Leadmill and had a belated birthday meal in Nottingham with my sister.  So I guess there hasn't been loads of time to blog!

I'm currently still working on the first draft of my second novel Time for Tea and have passed the 57,000 word mark.  There's still loads to do but it's getting there. 900 more words and I'll have written as many words on this as my last novel! (Which will never see the light of day.)

So this is just a virtual wave to say I'm still here busily trying to carve a niche out for myself.

Friday, 26 June 2015

So I'm 29 now... it's rather fun!


 Last week I turned 29 and was happy to enjoy spending a few days with my little family enjoying the finer things.  You know croissants, ribs, sculptures, curry, full English breakfasts/brunches, cupcakes, marvel films... it's a hard life!

I got to have a lie in on the day which is a miracle with a toddler!  Then enjoyed some nice warm buttery croissants before opening my many cards and presents.

After that we got ready and headed out for a birthday lunch at Damon's then a nice cultural walk around the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.  (Of course we weren't shouting "poo", "sheep poo", "sculpture" you must have us mistaken for someone else...)

Later after a long drive back via Aldi we enjoyed a takeaway curry.  The next day we ventured to my son's toddler Spanish class then enjoyed full English breakfasts at Fancie.  It was good! I had Paul's mushrooms and black pudding and my son had my beans.  The lovely waiting staff also gave him a giraffe toy which he adores.  Obviously we ended the visit by purchasing some cupcakes as a cake-a-way.  This resulted in a bit of a toddler meltdown on Ecclesall Road... turns out they can't handle the idea of seeing cake and not eating it. 

 We consumed the cupcakes later with a cup of tea when the sleeping beauty had awoken from his rage induced nap and enjoyed a kick about in the local park.  The day was topped off with the rest of the left over curry, a visit from my Mum who babysat so we could have a trip to the cinema to see Avengers: Age of Ultron.  It was an entertaining film and a very good day

Since then I have also returned to work, watched a couple of roller derby bouts and enjoyed a birthday lunch with my Dad, Step Mum, Sister, Grandparents as well as my small family unit.
After a couple of days of healthy eating I decided to test the Giant Cupcake mould I was given as a birthday present.  It would be rude not to wouldn't it? So obviously I have had to experiment.  The results were not quite up to the Great British Bake Off standards but still rather tasty.  Might need to practise a little more.


So it seems that being 29 is every bit as good as being 28! I've been spoilt my my friends and family with nice cards, thoughtful presents and more nice food than I should really consume in a month.  I think this will be a good year.

A short story entitled Extraction.



Extraction.

Several gasps rang out as the ball sailed up into the air. It was going high.  It was flying off, far further than intended. Up and up it went and for a single dazzling moment the shiny white ball seemed to glisten and touch the sun before descending over the corrugated iron and barbed wire fence.
Nine faces crumpled in disappointment as the end of the game was marked by the loss of the ball.
“Might as well go home” one girl sighed,” they don’t return balls.”
At that most of the children nodded and turned heel towards home but one just looked at the fence deep in thought.
“Come on Addy it’s time to go home. You know the rules you can’t play football without a ball now can you?”
                “But… but… it’s just over there!” Addy protested.
“And?”
                “There’s a wobbly fence panel here!  We could squeeze through, get the ball and then get out again. No one would ever know!  It’s not like we’d be doing any harm and we’d be giving them a hand removing our property from their yard” Addy argued with wildly gesticulating arms.
“But if they did find us…”
                “If” Addy smiled as she approached the fence “it’ll be an adventure, a trip into enemy territory to retrieve a fallen soldier or in this case my football.”
The retreating group turned and looked at her nervously with their hands in their pockets and curiosity in their eyes.  “Aren’t adventures a little bit risky?” One boy enquired.
                “They aren’t called colouring with Mummy for a reason Jim!” Addy laughed as she fingered the wobbly fence panel “I’m going to go in; you can follow me if you like.”
As she started to yank at the fence Jim complained “I know it’s a new football but you will get in less trouble if you tell your parents than if you got caught.”
                “Go home to your Mummy Jim!” Addy shouted derisively before slipping through the gap in the fence she created.
Once though she sought cover behind some dustbins which were clustered by the fence.  Although she had made light of going after the ball her heart was facing and all the stories of what happened to trespassers on robot territory came flooding back to her.
Some said that trespassers were dissected, others told of them being eaten, the spotty babysitter that looked after her at the weekends claimed that they liked to imprison, torture and sell off their prisoners.  Addy wasn’t sure if any or all of the stories she had heard were true.  Even so she felt  sick with fear.  It was foolish to risk her life to get the football but she didn’t want to go back home either.
Nothing was better than running and jumping and kicking a ball about.  The feeling of the wind in your hair as you raced for a goal was one of the best things she could think of.  Then again she wasn’t doing a great deal of that at the moment as Jim had belted the ball far higher than any of them had ever dared… right into the neighbouring robots garden.
Technically going after the ball was trespassing.  It violated all the robot human relational codes that had been set up thirty years ago after the big war but surely none of that mattered if she didn’t get caught… besides it wasn’t like she’d broken a window or anything.  Her Mum had told her stories of breaking a window in the neighbour’s greenhouse years before but Addy struggled to understand as she’d never seen a greenhouse and when she asked her friends they shrugged and asked if it was the colour a house was programmed to look.  Addy wondered that too but didn’t want to ask her Mum about it in case she looked silly and besides that probably wasn’t the point of the story in the first place. 
With sweat starting to bead on her forehead Addy inched her way around the bins and further into the garden stopping every few seconds to look around for danger.  The coast seemed to be clear but the ball wasn’t as easy to spot.  She had imagined that it would be right there, ripe for the picking as it had sailed over so easily but that didn’t appear to be the case.  There was a lot of long grass and some clumps of weeds up ahead so it had probably landed there and at least she could duck down into it for cover if someone or something came to get her.
Despite all the horror stories she had heard Addy found it hard to see robots as the bogey man, they packed bags in the supermarkets and helped assist the teachers in school.  Some were even made to fill the empty spaces in the classrooms that had started to appear in recent years.  It’s hard to think of people, well robots as bad when they’re very nearly your friends.  But obviously they can’t be your friends because robots don’t play. They don’t get out of breath when you play tag or football and don’t see the point of hide and seek instead they… what do they do? Charge? Addy wasn’t sure.  All she knew was that they didn’t study more as they already knew all the answers they were just there to keep the schools from shutting.  Some days she resented that and would do anything from going but on others, well it was nice to be away from all the shouting at home.
As she made her way through the long grass she stumbled on branches and large stones until she caught sight of not one shiny white ball but two! She was in luck! In her haste to get to the ball she started to run but went flying on a large stick. Except when she started to pull herself up she realised that it wasn’t a stick at all but an arm. A human arm!  Well the bones of a human arm to be more precise...  She let out a short cry before jamming her hand in to her mouth to stop herself.  If they have an arm just lying around here where is the rest of the body?  Addy knew the answer before even finishing the question.  She’d tripped and stumbled her way over the rest of the body on the way there.
So she sat in the tall grass not far from the ball she had come for but also not at all far from what she presumed was the last person to come for their ball.  The sweat that had been beading on her forehead was now starting to pore down her face and into her eyes. She started to cry at being so foolish. It was not as if it was terrible being at home alone but she had really looked forward to playing with her friends and being the star player for her team.
It was time to admit defeat and limp home without the ball and serious maiming.  Depite knowing this  Addy stubbornly  took a deep breath, rubbed away the tears on her cheek with the back of her arm then told herself that the skeletal arm probably just belonged to a Halloween prop.  With that she started to crawl once more towards the balls, the big clumps of weeds she passed were obviously overgrown plants and not landmines.  They buried landmines didn’t they? Her granddad used to tell her stories of the war all about landmines and heat seeking technology but she never paid him much attention. Why should she when she could be running around outside or playing with her toy cars?  Besides he always said to her parents that she wasn’t a proper girl, whatever that was supposed to be… it sounded boring to her!
After much uncomfortable crawling she finally got to the two balls, stopped and sat in front of them to examine them.  The one on the right was obviously hers it was white and shiny except for the small black scuff that Jim’s boot had made. And yet the other ball was silver and shiny so she waivered as she went to pick up her ball and it was at that point that the silver ball unfurled into a small robot infant. “Hello!” It exclaimed looking at her with two small blue eyes.
Addy fell backwards in shock.
                                   “Hello!” The small robot said to her again leaning forwards slightly to make eye contact.
“But… but… you’re a robot!”
                                “Yeeesss” the infant robot replied “but I was pretending to be a sphere.”
“You wanted me to think you were a ball?”
                                “No!” The robot stated in frustration “no, I wanted to try being a sphere.”
“So you weren’t trying to trick me?” Addy started to hope that maybe this robot toddler didn’t know about the rules and codes that she was breaking.
                                “Who are you?”
“I’m just a neighbour and my friend kicked my ball into your yard so I’ve come to get it back” Addy confessed hoping that honesty was the best policy.
                                “My sphere-ball now!” The little robot told her as it moved over to the white ball and extended a mechanical arm to the top of it.
Were this another child at the playground or a sibling in the garden then Addy would have snatched the ball away and pushed them into the dirt.  Instead she gritted her teeth and nodded, technically the robot was right the ball had become its property and if she wanted to leave without any trouble then she needed to respect that.  The ball was new and shiny though…
“Do you want to play with me?” Addy asked the little robot.
                                “Play?”
“Yes play” Addy repeated whilst trying to remember what the robots at school refer to play as “the act of erm doing that you aren’t programmed to do like pretending and running.”
                                “So I have been playing at being a ball?”
“I guess..” Addy had to admit that she didn’t know anyone who would pretend to be a ball but why would you? Maybe robot play was different to human play…
                                “Would you like to pretend to be a ball too?”
“Nooo... no thank you… you see balls are actually designed to be played with.  You throw or kick them then chase after them” Addy explained as best she could.
                                “I see… but why?”
“I don’t know.  Because it’s fun I guess…” Addy hazarded as playing was just something she did, school, food and sleep just got in the way of it.
                                “Fun. F u n… fun…” the robot repeated to itself.
“Is it a new word to you?”
“Not exactly but I am not sure I can experience it as you do, when you run you use your cardiovascular system and…”
“I know we’re different but have you ever tried just kicking a ball and running after it?”
                                “Nooo…” the robot replied looking more closely at the ball, then turned and stood up with a whirr looked at Addy before winking and kicking the ball just past her.  Robots can’t wink Addy thought as the little robot started tottering towards the ball, its lights must have blinked or twinkled… but by the time she pondered this she had been overtaken.
She jumped up as the robot kicked the ball once more and ran away with it so she started to chase after them and could feel the long grass whipping against her legs as she went.  In front of her she could have sworn that she had heard a toddlers laughter coming from the little robot, could she have taught it about fun?
Addy wasn’t sure about that but in spite of getting out of breath she knew that she was gaining and it would only take a few more steps.  Just as she got within tackling distance she trod on a lump of weeds that made a big clicking sound and sunk a little under her foot.
The robot stopped, grabbed the ball and backed away “uh oh!”
Suddenly Addy remembered her granddad’s tales of landmines and jerked her foot up only to be catapulted into the air with an enormous blast before falling maimed and bloodied to the ground.  The little robot had disappeared and the eyes of the children staring over the fence had widened at the sight and they had run away screaming just as quickly. 
Addy screamed and wailed for help where most of her lay as a red wetness started to cloud her vision.  Maybe, just maybe adventures weren’t always for the best after all…

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Blog everyday in May - not quite.


So I took on the blog everyday in May challenge and while I wouldn't go so far as to say I failed I would say that I went into it knowing that it was unlikely that I would succeed... why would I do this you might ask?  Well what is life without challenges?  If we only ever do the things we know we could do then I might just end up sitting in bed reading novels and hiding under a cat for the rest of my life.
I think this cat is fluffy enough to hide under...

Although that would not be the worst way to live I don't think my job, the bank or my toddler would be too impressed by that course of action. So I decided to have ago at Blog Everyday in May to try to blog a bit more and in one respect it has worked as I posted more blogs last month than I often do in numerous months but I also found that I felt awkward posting many of them.  It has helped me realise that there are some things that I am happier blogging about than others.



I prefer writing about food, books and films than about myself.  That isn't because I'm not amazing, my hair is like the ocean and my imagination spans multiple genres; of course I'm brilliant!  I just prefer writing about other things I am enthusiastic about. 

So I ended up tailing off my blog posts around the middle of last month as I was focusing on work and getting ready for our family trip to Spain at the end of the month.  Now that has come and gone and it's nearly the middle of June! How did that happen?  So since May I have carried on learning Spanish with Duolingo, re-started learning code with Codecademy and plodded on with trying to finish my second novel Time for Tea.  Not bad for a working Mum in her late twenties I reckon...
One of the things I saw in May but didn't have time to blog about.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Blog Everyday in May - day 16 for the love of books. #BEDM

Today's suggested post idea was date night but that isn't a thing me and my boyfriend really do.  Sometimes we both sit in the study with our computers and chat when the toddler is in bed or watch a film together but we don't tend to schedule romance.  What I prefer is thoughtful gestures like when he brings a book back from the library which he knows I want to read.
Image from: http://www.stephen-baxter.com/books.html

For this reason I was thrilled to see a copy of The Long Mars on the kitchen table on Thursday.  I must say that I've only just started it but have enjoyed what I have read. I like how the climax of the last book has been dealt with and the new story is being introduced.

Recently I have been reading a mixture of fiction and non-fiction but have found the fiction far more enjoyable.  (Then again most of the non-fiction books and blogs I have been reading have been related to childcare so I guess it's understandable that they would mainly be less fun.)  Before reading this book I read Stardust by Neil Gaiman and Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. 

I digress... myself and my partner both enjoy reading.  We don't always enjoy the same books and authors, he won't entertain the idea of reading Harry Potter and I'm not sold on the Foundation series.  While I like to read a reasonably eclectic mix of books, he tends to stick with science fiction.  We do enjoy some of the same authors like Jasper Fforde and Terry Pratchett so it's great to be able to share these books and discuss them together.  Often I think that a well chosen book from the library is better than a bouquet of flowers and lasts slightly longer. Then again I have hay fever and flowers make me sneeze so maybe romance is lost on me!

Basically I love reading as does my partner and I think that as the toddler is very interested in books, he may enjoy reading too. When he's old enough to obviously... I think there is little better than opening the pages of a book and diving into the world contained within.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Blog Everyday in May day 15 photography - #BEDM






 It's pretty obvious that I'm no photographer although I do take at least one or two pictures most days I don't tend to share most of them on my blog as they are nearly all of my son.  (My long suffering family members are the only ones those pictures are inflicted on!)  Occasionally I consider adding pictures of him where you can't see his face but then end up in a moral quandary so I have decided against doing that on all but the rarest occasions.  I might put pictures up of him when he gets older if he gives his consent but as he hasn't quite got the hang of sentences longer than three words, that's still some way off.

The above photos have been taken using my mobile phone as most of my pictures are but I do have a compact digital camera which I hope to use more often in the future. Watch this space!