Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I went back last night

... And the damage wasn't as bad as I feared. I have put on 6lbs which, okay, isn't brilliant but isn't awful either. With good planning and being strict I can hopefully have that off by the time It's Got to be Perfect hits the shelves at the end of the month.
It's a strange feeling. I am cross with myself for slipping but I know I am still a good bit off where I was when I started in February so hopefully a good effort now will see a good result and see me get that little bit closet to goal.
I got an email from a friend who yesterday which reminded me that weightloss is a journey and that sometimes we take detours but as long as we get back on track that is all that matters.

So for now, my inner Sat Nav is reset and I'm back on the right road.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Random conversations with the boy - Sexical Appeal

Joseph: "Mammy, what does Ooh la la mean?"
Me: "When someone thinks someone looks nice they might say it. It's French."
Joseph: "Is it a sexical word mammy. It sounds like sexical language to me."

Hauling my sorry ass back to WeightWatchers

Did you laugh at them? All the posts where I said I was going to try really hard to be good and then, after a good week or two, go back to WeightWatchers?  You should have.
I've not been following the plan all summer and all the bad habits have kicked back in - most notably the few glasses of wine and bag of kettle crisps habit which is absolutely bloody lethal.
My clothes are feeling snugger and yesterday I went shopping for a new coat and was HORRIFIED by the site which greeted me in the mirror. I have no shape. I felt ugly - like deep to the bone ugly - and I was so horrified I went home and gave out to all around me in a very diva-ish way.
I cna hand on heart say that I was not a nice person to be around last night.
In February, when I first started WeightWatchers I was inspired by my son asking was I sure I wasn't pregnant as my tummy was so fat. I said at the time I could have got annoyed and lay down under it or I could do something about it. Seeing myself in the mirror yesterday I had that same epiphany.

I am under no illusions that it won't be damn hard work. I know I have good 10lbs to go to be back to where I was before the summer but I'm going to start because I owe it to myself.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I lied about being the outdoor type

It was four in the morning. I had been lying in a half awake/ half asleep dose for about an hour and a half knowing that I faced the thing I feared most in the world.

The wind was battering the tent and it had been raining. I was curled up in my sleeping bag, on the edge of a half deflated air mattress trying to keep warm. But it was no good, there was no way I was going to get back to sleep without getting up and going to the loo. I cursed the glass of wine I’d had before bed and I cursed the people we had ordered the portaloo from for not delivering in time.

Rolling off the mattress and trying not to wake the baby who was sleeping beside me, I crawled commando style out of our tent, donned my UGG style boots and set off for the trek across the campsite to the toilet block before walking back and trying to zip myself into the sleeping pod of the tent with an ounce of grace.

This was not the romantic outdoorsy experience I had been hoping for!

Admittedly the day had started well. We had left Derry in the sunshine with a very excited six year old and a car full of camping equipment. We arrived at the campsite and set about pitching our tent while the baby slept in the car and the boy ran around making new friends and declaring it the best day of his life ever.

Tent pitched, sun blazing, we went for a walk and stopped to chat to the animals on a nearby farm before stopping off at the onsite playpark for a wee go on the swings.

There was I, all Mother Earth, delighted with myself and thinking “this is the life”. As I chased the baby around the campsite, her all delighted with herself having a big old field to run across - I felt the cares of the world lift off my shoulders.

Already my brain was running miles ahead of me. We could do this all the time - every second weekend if necessary - and we would take on the look of very healthy and sunkissed people. I almost longed for the sun to start going down so we could light our wee fire and sit in front of it blissed out.

All we had to do first, of course, was get the increasingly cranky little girl in our care to sleep. The fresh air had left her exhausted so we went through the bedtime routine motions. What we didn’t account for is that campsites can be really very noisy. I don’t mean in an antisocial behaviour kind of a way, more a children running around, having fun and chattering way. Mix that with one very nosy little girl and you have a lethal combination.

For three hours, I hushed, soothed, sang to (in a tent that I had learned was not sound-proofed) and pleaded with our daughter to go to sleep. I was longing for my glass of wine. I was longing for a wee seat out in the great outdoors with hubby and the boy over a barbecue. Sadly the baby who never sleeps had other ideas.

Once I was finally able to escape (crawling commando style again so as to not wake her) the sun had gone down, the wind had picked up and we sat, huddled together over the fire trying to get warm.

“You’ll be grand once you get inside your sleeping bag,” hubby assured me. I wasn’t so sure. All I could think about was the very warm, centrally heated, bedroom at home complete with kingsize bed and a 13 tog duvet. Reluctantly I changed into my pyjamas, slipped on my bedsocks (tres romantic) and fleece jacket and tried to get comfortable on the inflatable (thus also deflatable) air mattress. Zipping myself in beside the baby, while hubby and the boy snuggled in the other sleeping pod, I figured that at least the huge amounts of fresh air and wee drop of wine would send me over to sleep in record time.

I didn’t count on the wind - at one stage all I could think was that we would be lucky if we didn’t wake up surrounded by munchkins 25 miles south of the Emerald City. As the tent rattled and battered around me, I just longed to drift off to sleep. Anyone who knows me will know that with a good sleep I’m up for anything - deprive me of sleep and I become a terrifying harridan who you would be best to steer clear of.

I woke in the morning (I say woke, I mean gave up on the notion of sleep) to find that, thankfully, we were still in Fermanagh. The baby was exhausted and cranky. I had a pain in my neck from the air mattress. The rain was threatening to come down in sheets. The boys wanted to spend the day fishing (which is so not my thing).So I did what all good women would do, packed up my car, drove me and my girl home and had a lovely day with her before settling down in front of the X-Factor with a glass of wine.

I may have wimped out, but I felt better for it especially as I listened to the wind howl around the windows and watched the rain come down in buckets.

I have promised to try it again, maybe when the baby is older, or preferably in the care of a loving relative. But for now me and the great outdoors will just have to agree to disagree.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Something a little different

A colleague of mine - the girl (I say girl because she is under 30 and therefore a wain in my opinion) has MS. She writes about it here

And it is well worth a read, if you have the chance.
The same girl would often say to me "if you put all your troubles down on one table along with everyone else's, I bet you would pick your own back up". That's quite admirable given what she has to go through every day.

A long, slow labour

The characters in my new book (book five, working title of ‘The 30 Something Crisis Club’) have not been behaving recently.

Or should I say, two of them (and on particular) have not been behaving. The bubbly character of Hope has been doing exactly what I want her to do and has become her own woman - the kind of writing experience a writer loves. Her voice is strong, funny and individual.

The two others? Meh. Not so much.

It is a painful experience for a writer to reach a stage in the book where you have written yourself into a corner and you no longer know what is going on in your characters’ mind. (Yes, I know, I make them up. I control their minds... but not really. The characters become real as each book progresses.)

So I’m chopping - cutting swathes of text, reducing my wordcount instead of increasing it and trying to get into the mind of my two other leads.

With a month to go until deadline, this is not a pleasant task.

It also highlights to me just how isolating writing really is. Yes, I have a very supportive network or writerly friends who understand what such an experience is like but the simple fact is, no one else can write this book except from me.

It’s a bit like being pregnant and feeling your waters pop and knowing that the next bit is all down to you. Other people can cheer from the sidelines. They can even offer choice words of support. They may supply mind altering substances every now and again to numb the pain. They can tell you that you can do it, even when you think you are totally spent. They can advise you what to do next but the dilating, the pushing and the puffing is all down to you.

Now if only I could get some gas and air piped into my living room...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Random conversations with the boy

J: "Mammy, when you call someone an Einstein, what does it mean?
Me: "Well Einstein was somebody's name, and he was very smart. So it means people think you know a lot.
J: Well, I'm an Einstein then.
Me: You sure are.
J: And Grandad is an Einstein. He has a lot of knowledge. Abby (his cousin) is half an Einstein.
Me: And what about me Joseph? Am I an Einstein.
J: (with a dramatic roll of the eyes) Mammmeeeeee, it means you have to know stuff!

That's me put in my place!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cassidy Sez

My fellow Northern Girl., Fiona Cassidy has just set up a blog, which is well worth a read.
Have a wee duke at Cassidy Sez for a laugh and an insight into writing.

Pack up your troubles

May God save and preserve me, this weekend I am doing something which up until now has been absolutely unthinkable to a person such as me who adores her creature comforts.

I am roughing it, without running water, an electricity supply or indeed a bathroom with a locking door to go camping with my family.

Our kitchen has taken on the look of the ‘House of Value’ as our camping supplies have accumulated - a tent (family sized), a gas stove (one ring - possible disaster in the making) and assorted lights, sleeping bags and air mattresses and plastic eating utensils. The portaloo, as I write, is in the post.

The boy has almost taken off into orbit with excitement and if the truth be told his daddy is not far behind me. Me and the baby? We’re a bit more reserved into our enthusiasm. In fairness she hasn’t a notion anything is going on and me? I think I’m in denial.

Booking the trip really was one of those ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’ type of things. The husband and the boy had gone away for a boys’ own adventure kind of a trip to Donegal for a night and had come back with great stories of a night under canvas and the joys of the entire experience. (in fairness though, they are boys - they can pee standing up in a discreet fashion and have no need for hair dryers or similar equipment).

I think I was feeling a little fragile because, in the absence of a proper summer holiday and on the only good day of the last two months, I agreed to look at a family campsite. Booking it, and looking out at the clear blue skies over Derry, I suddenly had a rose tinted view of the entire experience.

We would run about doing outdoorsy type things all day, maybe a little cycling, maybe some frisbee throwing. We would eat a picnic of warm tomato sandwiches and soggy egg and onion baps and return back to our wee tent where, once the baby was asleep and out of the way of danger, we would like a fire and maybe sing a wee chorus of ‘Kumbaya’ (or similar campfire song). The hubby and I may share a wee aperitif and then exhausted from all the fresh country air and sunshine we would sleep blissfully under canvas until the following morning.

I fear it will be different - very different. I fear the rain. I fear that we will spend two days trying not to have our wee tent wash away down a hill in Fermanagh. I fear that the children will turn their noses up at my picnic efforts - in fairness because everyone wants something warm on a cold day, and I fear it will be very cold indeed. I fear that as it has been approximately 20 years since I have sat on bicyle the cycling may end in a trip to casualty. They say you never forget, but I’m willing to bet I’ll be the exception to the rule. I fear rain will stop play as far as the barbecue is concerned and that we will sit huddled over our one ring stove trying to make a pot of tea in what is seriously the smallest kettle in the entire known universe. As for singing ‘Kumbaya’ - well, it’s a well known fact that I can’t sing a note and believe me, the husband isn’t talented in that department either.

I fear the whole experience may drive me to drink... and not in a “wee aperitif on the terrace before dinner” kind of a way.

But I will give it a go. I’ll give it a go for the Brigini I used to be who used to get really excited at the thought of going camping and was gutted when we stayed in a school hall and not under canvas. I’m doing for the child I was who used to be obsessed with the Secret Seven and the Famous Five and long for all the mad adventures they have and I’m doing it for the six year old who is more excited about this than perhaps anything else in his entire life.

Maybe I’ll surprise myself. There is something appealing about leaving behind the trappings of modern life and spending time in the country - away from the Sky Plus and the Internet and all those other distractions. There is something very appealing about spending time somewhere the boy can’t get access to a Wii and we would be able to enjoy quality family time together in an age when getting time together is not so easy.

And who knows it might even be nice. The weather forecast for Fermanagh isn’t so shabby so we might just have a great time - who needs hotels and air conditioning? I’ll report back next week.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Feels Like Norway

Am delighted to announce that my second book 'Feels Like Maybe' - which seems to be a favourite among readers - should be hitting the Norwegian market some time in the not too distant future.
I've been made a lovely offer from a very well known Norwegian publisher and I'm delighted
I will reveal all the details when we have signed on the dotted line, but I am so excited that Aoife, Beth, Dan, Tom Austin and all will be introducing themselves to a whole new audience.

Fictional places I want to live, part two...

Iris's house from The Holiday, starring Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz
This would  be my weekend retreat - strictly a no kids/ no husband zone. I would sit on the squishy chairs with his feet on the squishy footstool and the fire roaring in the hearth and I would write til my heart was content. I'd take a break every now and again just to wander around the wild garden or maybe heat some scones on the aga and then I would maybe take a snooze on the sofa with some some soft music playing gently in the background.
I don't drink tea very often but this house would make me a tea drinker. It's just oozes cosiness and relaxation and my imagination could run wild there. The bookshelves add to it, of course. I've always wanted a room just for me with loads of book shelves. When I win the Lotto this will be my purchase, I promise.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The edits are just about done...

I'm about to sign off on the edits for It's Got to Be Perfect - hard to believe it will be in the shops in just over a month.
I had so much fun writing the book - and even reading it back made me laugh out loud - so hopefully that will translate to the reader as well.
I'm so excited, I could do a wee girly squeal!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fictional places I want to live, part one

I give you Stars Hollow

I could die happy here! A part of me may long for a minimalist chic interior but a bigger part of me longs for something just liek this - complete with porch and swing. I think I may have watched too much Waltons growing up.
Stars Hollow, from The Gilmore Girls, is a gorgeous, quaint town where everyone knows your name and people call you ma'am. Everything seems to be decked in fairy lights and there is a magical feel to the whole place.
The name adds to the magic. It sure beats Derry/ Londonderry/ Stroke City anyway.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Did I ever tell you how neurotic I am?

... I mean as if you didn't guess by A) the name of this blog or B) the fact that it is really quite obvious that I'm unhinged?
Well, you should also know if you read this blog regularly that I go quiet when I'm in a particular madzer phase. So guess why I'm quiet?

Well the vertigo continues and it is now accompanied by a headache which may or may not be migraine.
Of course being neurotic, I'm now convinced that it could also be a brain tumour. A big fecker of a one. I know such things are no joking matter, believe me. And I have taken to veering between "it's only a virus" to wondering how on earth I'm going to break it to my family that I'm a gonner.

Now of course I have no medical evidence whatsoever to say this is anything sinister except for regularly feeling like crap. I also, sadly, knew someone once who "had vertigo" except it actually was a brain tumour and she is no longer with us.

I don't know how to shake the feeling. I'm taking so many tablets that I rattle. I am anxious x 100.

And to top it all off, I've agreed to go camping in a fecking tent at the weekend. Perhaps communing with nature will give me back a sense of reality? In the meantime I'll just keep taking the tablets.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

To launch or not to launch?

I've never had a book launch - ever.  I'm told they don't really impact on sales so I have never felt the need to have one.
But I have wanted to celebrate bringing a new book into the world and this time, on book 4, I'm contemplating it.
But it does seem very self serving. Really it's inviting a lot of people to come along, say nice things and buy my book. Can I really justify it? (Book launches don't come in cheap, for the record, and I've checked).
Derry - the City of Culture 2013 - has a lack of independent book shops and supportive and all as Eason are (and they are FAB!) they can't accommodate a few glasses of wine and a signing out of hours in a big old shopping centre which could hardly stay open just for little old me.
And yet, don't I deserve it? A little something? A little "yay you did it. You wrote a book with a new born and here it is and sure isn't it lovely?"

I veer between saying "feck it, let's have a party" to saying "don't be so stupid" and I just can't make up my mind either way.

Do you want to make up my mind for me?

Monday, August 02, 2010

A book which will make you laugh and cry

My lovely writer friend Fiona Cassidy's second novel is released today.
Fiona is one of us three Northern Girls - all Poolbeg authors who tour the country talking about writing, reading, Simon Cowell and other such things. We are very supportive of each other but I have a feeling this book is going to make my exceptionally jealous - because I have a feeling this book is going to hit the top spot, which it rightly deserves too.

Anyone for Me? is about this...Meet feisty, fun-loving Ruby Ross thirty-four, mad red hair, mad (in general), adopted and searching for answers . . . like, precisely whose genes are responsible for the mad red hair . . . She's impulsive, compulsive and unaware of what she s about to unleash in her quest for the truth. Isobel Ross is larger than life (despite being a serial dieter) and lives in a picturesque cottage in Donegal in the grounds of a manor-house hotel but why are the new hotel-owners so keen to get rid of her? She's harbouring secrets from the past and fiercely protective of her adopted daughter Ruby. Can she stop the wilful Ruby from opening a nasty can of worms? Throw in Ruby's forthcoming nuptials to the lovely Luke, a bling-loving bridesmaid in the shape of her best friend Frankie, a wedding planner called Gabriel who wears more make-up than the bride-to-be and you have chaos. Add to the mix a dusty box found by chance which leaves many questions unanswered, and you have a bewildered and rather ferocious Ruby asking is there . . . Anyone For Me?

This funny and moving tale about adoption is told with Fiona's trademark acid sharp wit, but where it comes into its own is that Fiona knows exactly how Ruby feels. She is adopted too, you see and she is an inspiration when it comes to seeking out answers about her own past. The book is not only hilariously funny, but raw and poignant in places because Ruby's feelings are drawn from Fiona's own experiences. But as Fiona would say herself - she gives the reader the ending she would have wanted for her own search.

Read it. Laugh, cry, and then - if you haven't already - pick up a copy of Anyone for Seconds? Fiona's first book.

I promise I'll not feel that jealous, honest.
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