Sunday, May 31, 2009

Creative Blog Award

Lovely DJ Kirkby gave me an award a week or so ago. I didn’t get around to displaying it; so here it is. In return I must list seven things that I love and pass the award onto seven creative bloggers that I admire.

So, seven things, huh? I am going to exclude people from my list otherwise it would be a list of seven people or groups of people which mightn’t be very interesting. Should I exclude tea? And books? You all know I love them… Maybe, maybe… here’s an idea: my criteria shall be things I haven’t already told you I love…

So, drumroll please, in no particular order…
  1. Cats
  2. Custard Creams
  3. The Sea
  4. Gin
  5. Sunday lunch esp Roast Lamb and mint sauce
  6. Photoshop
  7. Lavender

Now I am supposed to pass the award on to seven creative bloggers that I admire but because I can’t do anything I’m told to do… There are five blogs that I go to… usually as a lurker… for the quality of their photos. I go and sigh a lot and wish I could take pics half as good. *Sigh* I don't know if any of them really 'do' blog awards, but at least they'll know I appreciate them even if I don't make comments on their sites.

The first site is Kingsdowner. I found this blog when I was looking for visuals of the Kent countryside for research for my novel. I might have grown up in the countryside but I’m a bit of a thicky when it comes to plants and creatures. Kingsdowner is an expert. I’ve never commented there because I’m so in awe.

The second site is Nomadic Tendencies. I think Ange found me first and I spotted her on my stat details… She’s an Aussie living in Thailand; she posts a picture a day on a Thai theme. Ange has a lovely eye for composition and a first rate eye for colour.

The third choice, some of you may already know, Uphilldowndale. I can’t remember how I found this blog. She lives in a truly gorgeous part of England and her photos are spectacular. Do go and have a look.

Fourthly, Yesbut’s pictures I found when googling ‘nude in a scarf’ for this post. The picture was so much better than mine: *sigh* I have made an assumption that Yesbut is female but I could be wrong. Update: Oh deary, deary me. I am wrong; Yesbut is a man, a most manly male man. Big apologies Yesbut. Tee hee: you were most gracious about your sex change, and I DO live in Thailand...

Finally, and fifth, is our Spiral Jen at Inspiral Daze. Living not far from where my book is set, her pictures are mostly of the natural environment: pulled right out at a landscape or right up close to the zoomed in landscape of a flower or leaf.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

My week

Despite the migraine and its aftershocks, (thanks for all the good wishes) I’ve been very busy this week - mostly while filled up with medicine.

The day after the migraine meltdown I had to go to school to watch Daughter in a Dance Extravaganza: very tough feeling so fragile but I filled myself up with pain relief and lovely neighbours gave Daughter and me a lift home.

I had a meeting at the library on Thursday and then that evening I’d promised to drag Husband along to a quiz at a pub along our road. It was organised by the St George’s Society and we were rounded up by Andrew ‘Computer’, my website teacher. We joined up with friends, C&R to make a team, R called our team ‘No Fork in Chance.’ It took me several rounds of the quiz before working out why everyone sniggered at this… but I was still a bit poorly, honest.

Regular readers might know that we did attend a quiz quite regularly a year or so ago… we were spectacularly bad and managed most weeks to come in second to last, which earned us a free round of drinks. This quiz didn’t have any of the ‘professional quiz teams’ in evidence and R was quite brilliant at the sports rounds. Husband excelled in the Thai general knowledge… C and I managed to answer a few too. There was only one literary question (Lady Chatterley’s Christian name which I knew because one of my characters is named after her: Constance.)

We had a nice evening though and to our utter amazement came in second! Woo hoo and each of us won a box of chocolate covered nuts. Obviously I gave my box to Husband and then proceeded to steal them one by one, once the packet was opened: there are no calories in stolen food, did you know that? Pictures can be seen here. I have no idea who the grinning man is next to me.

Friday saw me at a lunch for the 40th anniversary of the first ever meeting of the BWG (don’t go to the website, the irritating music is still there!) I rather liked the idea of those gentile ladies, meeting to organise a group in exactly the same venue, forty years earlier. I think my next novel will feature a group of expat women in Bangkok. Watch this space. Despite requiring Migraleve in the morning, I managed 3 Pimms without any negative effects. Hoo rah.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Photo

Apologies for my absence. I've been fighting and submitting to migraines all week.

Here's today's photo: taken in Emporium Mall. Great big nearly naked people with swimming caps and shoes; no, I've no idea what they were doing there.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Man lands on the Moon

I missed a job off my list of things to do yesterday. I'd eased myself into denial and determined that I could stay there until I got another email nagging asking for the thing I had to find and telling me that Wed was the deadline.

I had to find a picture of me in 1969.

I’d like to tell you that the my tendency towards OCD means that my photographs are organised into boxed categories including Childhood, University, Before Children, After Children and Bangkok. Sadly, while my compulsive behaviour means I have to have all the light switches facing the same way, and I have push my Thyroxine out of the foil in the right pattern, my photographic memories are thrown higgledy piggledy into a large trunk.

Still, having given my self permission to slump on the writing front, I identified today as the day to go through my photographs. So this morning I set up: labelled up some containers with the above categories. I took my IPod through to listen to podcasts, and opened the box.

Oh it was horrible. It’s a lovely job if you have all the time in the world; you can sit leafing through the memories you’ve made. However, if you have to find a certain picture by the close of today, amongst 47,212 other photos… it’s not so nice. Still, about two hours in I found it:

Now… what I’m wondering is that if I’m under half way through the box… have I got to carry on and finish sorting the photos?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Now that the Slumps have been officially diagnosed and I’ve got the certificate to prove it, I’m feeling a bit better. Even though I realised it, the words of my mentor have reassured me “…they happen, it’s impossible to work at full creative speed all the time. The best thing is – as it seems to me you’re doing – to listen to it.” We’ve agreed that the last lot of words I send in can be either the next 10k of novel or the working synopsis. Thus far I’ve been writing without a plan of any sort… just knowing the story but it looks as though it’s time to prepare some sort of strategy.

In acknowledging the slumps two things have happened: I can get on and do other jobs that haven’t been done because of my anxious slumpy paralysis and secondly my subconscious has started to think about the story again and the bits of plot I might need to introduce to combat the flat feeling.

I’ve done the updated BWG website this morning … my bits of it: Book Club and the Noticeboard as well as the committee page. I’ve sent overdue emails out. Now I’m in the midst of book buying… for May. Then I have to try to sort out a beach holiday for when SiL and her family come to Thailand in the summer; that sounds fun but it’s hard trawling through the many, many options and making choices for other people. I keep opening up the internet, then faced with so many alternatives I shut it back down again.

Monday, May 18, 2009


I’ve been reminded that this is a writing blog.

It used to be much more about writing but that was in the days when mostly I was blogging about not writing. Or the posts would be about how I’d working out what the problem was and now I was on track again.

A couple of days later, I’d be posting about not writing again.

So mostly, it’s accurate to say that I when I talk here about writing … I’m not… writing, that is.

I haven’t been writing recently. There seems to be so much else to do but I recognise that I’m not using my time efficiently. I could do it all; I could certainly do more. So what is it?

There’s often talk about the 30,000 word slump or the 70,000 word slump and I’ve never been able to join in because I didn’t know (other than the No Word Slump, about which I can expound for weeks) which was my personal slump.

Anyway, I’ve got it: I think it’s the 50,000 word slump.

I’ve managed so far to weave in my various story lines between all the characters and now I’ve got all these balls in the air and I haven’t the remotest idea how to manage their coming back down to earth. And that’s what I’ve got to do… They can’t all arrive at catching height at the very same second because I’ve only got two hands and after all I have to hold out on the reader. Some of the issues have to be resolved later than others but all the subplots are tied up within the central story…

…so how to do it?


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Proud Mum

Today Husband’s playing golf with a colleague from the UK; Daughter’s gone off (voluntarily) to do some charity work through school… Son, who is considerably more difficult to motivate, was informed, by me, a week ago that he would be joining me for my stint at the library used book sale today.

I don’t think I ever uttered the words ‘I’m not asking, I’m telling’ but the gist… the picture… was well and truly got by Son. Still, he’d forgotten by midweek and I had to remind him he’d been press ganged and couldn’t go for a sleepover on the Friday night… He looked a bit disappointed but not a grumble was heard.

He was woken this morning from his teenage slumber (which would normally have gone on towards lunchtime) without a moan. He came to the sale and was charming and acted as my human calculator adding up the different prices of books, helping old people (really) and running errands.

I considered taking him by the shoulders, shaking him and asking ‘Who are you and what have you done with my son?’ Instead I beamed with pride, rewarded him and sent him off to the cinema to meet his friend.

This is the Neilson Hays Library (where I am bookbuyer) and our book sale today (and tomorrow.) Fingers crossed we raise lots of money.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Oh I ♥ my little office so very, very much.

I’ve been camping out in Husband’s office for five weeks (two weeks in England in the middle) because the wifi repeater had broken and the signal no longer reached my room. (It stopped being an oscillating alien disco light and only had one sad, steady blue light.)

Husband was kind and generous with his room, but it’s a bit, you know, male in there. And he would still play world domination computer games even when I was trying to work. If I wanted to print I had to trek down the corridor, carrying my laptop, back to my office…

Anyway, the lovely Simplicity IT people sorted me out. It did take several trips but they did it and it only cost 1000 Baht (£20.) (Their domestic service is now called for anyone searching for them.)

And I’m so happy to be back in my office which is really a dressing area that I decided to post a picture of my place of work… it’s not remotely male in here, is it?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

One down; one to go

For the second time since I’ve been in Bangkok the BWG is holding a fashion show. This time it’s to celebrate their 40th birthday.

Long term regulars might remember this from January ‘08. Newbie readers can, if they want, read about the plans for last year here and then the actual night here. Last year went really, really well, except that, as is the way with being involved backstage, I didn’t get to see the show. Rather rashly I said ‘next year, so I can watch the show, I’ll do front of house…’ NEVER EVER utter those words among expat women … they have memories like elephants and they’ll sign you up in the air and hold you to it waaaay later, long after they should have forgotten all about it.

I did the design again too… without my partner-in-crime Carol (Boo Hoo). The powers that be had decided on keeping the shoe and the title (Walk This Way) as the name of the event so at least I didn’t have to come up with an image to beat that shoe… which I still love even though it’s the sluttiest shoe I ever saw!

Last Sunday was the first rehearsal of all the groups. (Previously they’ve been working in satellite groups on their own.) It’s my first involvement as front of house too, even though in the background I’d been doing bits of design. I sat at the front watching and I got a little adrenalin frisson in my tummy at it: oh, it’s gonna be good.

That quiver of excitement must explain why, when a friend, HH, approached me with those ominous words ‘you can write, can’t you?’ I didn’t run for the hills: I must have mistaken myself for superwoman… One of the fashion show groups comprises of six male teachers from our school and HH’s idea was to put an article in the school magazine about their group. Before I realised what was happening – I’d volunteered, was talking to the chaps, checking it out with the Director… And then, J, the photographer and editor of the BWG magazine, asked, “And something for Contact maybe, too?” OH YES, I said, NO PROBLEM.

So that, if you saw my panic at the Novel Racers or on Facebook, was the first article due: a cheesy piece about the teachers’ extra curricular activities on the catwalk.

One article down, one to go.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bah humbug

Since I got back last week I’ve occasionally noticed a band of writing floating across the BBC Entertainment channel. I’m so used to ignoring subtitles that I didn’t really see it. Every occasion I remembered/noticed it I’d read it only to discover the end of the message “…for more information contact TrueVision Careline on blah blah blah.” Or even worse, I only saw the Thai bit.

Today, while I was eating my lunch, I was watching something and I saw something alarming about the notice – sort of in my peripheral vision. I waited until the message came around again and realised that it says they are discontinuing the BBC Entertainment channel (and one other) for a new Sport channel (and something else I didn’t notice) effective 1 June.

And now I’m really pissed off about it. What will I do for mindless entertainment?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Lowering the tone

This should really be a Friday photo post. But, if I don't post this, I'll start squealing hysterically about how much I've taken on... and how the paralysis has set in... and I don't want to bore you all to death.

Anyway, I tried really hard to walk past this - (the security men outside Siam Paragon department store are always telling me off for taking pictures) - but you know what? I couldn't ignore it. I had to retrace my steps, hide behind a sign and take it anyway because it made me chuckle.

I read somewhere recently that the British are ridiculed
by the rest of the world because their sense of humour includes being amused at body part/bodily function jokes... I was a bit sniffy at the time, deciding that I didn't include myself in that. I don't get Monty Python; it's silly not funny. But most boys I know (that's old and young) are definitely more into lavatorial humour than I am.

Until I moved away from the UK, I never even considered the notion of whether I was typically British or not.

But, hey, look at this; it seems I am after all.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Friday Photo is back... with some words

By rights, this should've been taken in Bangkok but I took it on the London Underground and I’m still reeling from shock.

I was on my way to the London Book Fair and I saw lots of people ‘dressed’ to be nude apart from a blue scarf. The promotion was Nude in a Scarf and I took one of their cards hoping their website might tell me what to wear, a la Trinny and Susannah. (I really do need a personal dresser.)

Sadly, when I discovered it was something to do with Peugeot I kind of lost interest (clearly I wasn't their target audience) but it's still interesting to note that their website urged you to join them on Twitter to find out what the campaign was all about. (And I'm still one of those mystified by Twitter and what it does...)

ere's a better picture of these 'nude' people here.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Before and After

My sister has a pair of shoes that she loves… these brown ones. Apparently they are lovely to dance in. Though I can barely walk in anything with a heel, much less dance… even jiggle. I am more of a comfortable shoes kind of woman. (This is Daughter modelling the brown shoes. Being thirteen, Daughter longs for the day when she can wear shoes with heels.)

Anyway, for my sister’s birthday I agreed to get them copied here in Bangkok. The brown ones keep breaking and being repaired (though I have since discovered that she slips them on and off without undoing them: WHAT else would you expect? I said, being the sensible sister.) My sister says that they are the most comfortable shoes in the world. She said that she would love to have them in red; bright, beautiful, hooker red.

So I got them made for her at Liu’s Bootery underneath the Asoke skytrain stop on Sukhumvit Road. And when I went to the UK recently I took the new shoes.

What do you think?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Being back in Bangkok

Oh, it is lovely to be back.

When I ‘phoned my parents to tell them I had arrived, I could hardly believe I had been at my childhood home, six thousand miles away, just the day before. The only evidence of this strange time travel was my dizziness and the fact that Monday was only a few hours long.

The bit of Monday I did have was a slither of the late afternoon and evening before Daughter disappeared for a sleepover (life goes on even when mum returns from two weeks away.) I caught them up by telling tales from Kent and they told me bits from Bangkok life and then Husband, Son and I watched Slumdog Millionaire. I stayed awake!

Life really began again on Tuesday. Only a couple of hours after getting up, I lay down on my bed ‘to read’ and had to sleep again: horizontal is a very dangerous position to be in after time travel. (Oh my bed! My pillow, oh they are divine and the shower, my mugs…) Having put myself back on UK time with my nap, Daughter and I went shopping and gossiping, past her bedtime… Eek (The shops stay open ‘til 10pm here.)

I do wonder if this culture hopping/time travelling will ever feel normal. Or perhaps it’s me? Am I making it worse by being conscious of it each time I do it in order to keep it alive for my writing?

Still, who cares? It might be odd, but it is lovely to be back.