The promise of the first day

Bar near Honfleur

It’s now just under four weeks until our holiday in Brittany, and we are getting very excited. We are going for three weeks and are investing a ridiculous amount of expectation into the holiday, in terms of how relaxed we are going to feel afterwards, how much we are going to reconnect with our lost or forgotten selves, the new and exciting things we are going to see, how much our french will improve. You get the picture.

We have started making mental lists of everything we need to pack, the best route and timetable to Plymouth, how many stops on an eight hour drive with a toddler we need to make, how we can avoid being stung by the extortionate motorway services. Do we take a laptop and spend some time in an internet cafe halfway through to post pictures to facebook, blogs, etc, or do we disconnect completely from our normal lives? How many novels can I write in those three weeks? How many days can we spend on the beach? Because obviously it will be nothing but clear blue skies and warm sunshine the whole time.

The picture above was taken on the first day of last year’s holiday. We had travelled Dover to Calais (instead of Plymouth to Roscoff, which is much closer to where we are staying) and drove down the west of France to Brittany. We forgot about the restricted lunch times, and drove through packed, touristy Honfleur and a couple of other villages before realising that if we didn’t stop soon it would be four o clock before we could eat – not an option with a one year old! We found this bar and sat drinking locally brewed Normandy cider out of bolĂ©es with our food. The weather was exactly as we had hoped, the quiet village was idyllic, and we still had the whole of our holiday ahead of us. If we get a day like that this year, I will be a happy girl.

Incidentally, shortly after leaving the bar and resuming our journey, we got completely lost, ended up very stressed and upset, and arrived at our gite about three hours later than we’d hoped.

So it may be foolish to invest so much in the first day, but I’m willing to risk it.

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Poetry

Just a quick one today, because I’ve been writing a pantomime script for two days solid, it’s nearly midnight, and I need to go to sleep before my dear darling son wakes up for a couple of hours.

I just wanted to recommend a couple of things. Firstly, the book: Stephen Fry’s “The Ode Less Travelled”. I’ve been reading this book for a couple of days, between script writing, and it is the most wonderful journey into poetry I could imagine. It explains formal terms and how to use them, with a handy reference table at the end of the chapter, and includes exercises to put the theory into practice. It has opened up a world of poetry to me, and I cannot wait to finish the panto so I can get back on with the book.

Secondly, aforesaid poetry. I have been dabbling with poetry a little over the past few months without any insight or guidance to get the most from it. Now, however, I am beginning to notice poetry in everyday life. I know this sounds pretentious, but bear with me. I am picking up rhythms in speech, I am noticing alliteration in hidden places (deliberate as well as accidental). I am learning to break down language and to play with language and it is more exciting than I can ever remember it being.

Here is a link to “The Ode Less Travelled” on Amazon (UK), and I hope you get as much enjoyment from it as I have so far.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ode-Less-Travelled-Unlocking-Within/dp/009179661X

Yearly reflection

It’s coming up to the time of year again where I look back and wonder where on earth the time has gone. My son’s birthday is next week, and I have barely adjusted to the idea that I have a son.

There is hardly a day that goes by without him inspiring the strongest,most overwhelming feelings in me. Yes, some of those feelings are frustration and annoyance – “why won’t he go to sleep? Why won’t he eat his dinner? Why won’t he let me go to the toilet in peace?” – but mostly I am amazed everyday at his miraculous development.

Every day he learns a new word, says an old word a little clearer, copies something new that we do, learns a new skill. He is the world’s best builder, a Brit-winning singer, the next Picasso/Shakespeare/Shaw. He can kick a ball better than David Beckham, he is funnier than Peter Kay. All this, and he’s not even two yet.

I look back at the first picture here, taken when he was minutes old. He is battered and bruised from a brutal forceps delivery, his skin is still blue from the cord being around his neck, he is only just calming down from the trauma of being born. I love that he is, even then, looking at me as if to say “You just wait and see what I’ve got in store, Mummy!” And then I look at the next picture, taken on my mobile on his first birthday. He is full of cheek and joy and life. The last picture was taken a couple of months ago at a friend’s birthday party, and I can see all the mischief he promised as a newborn in that smile. I wonder what the difference will be in a year’s time.

It’s been an exhausting, emotional two years. But I cannot imagine life any other way.

Happy birthday, Daniel x x x

Breaking with technology – or maybe not

So, I decided, in my infinite wisdom, that I was spending WAY too much time on facebook, twitter, blogs, reading about writing, reading about reading, reading about procrastination. I decided that I needed to actually do more of the things I was reading about.I decided to avoid facebook and twitter and blogs for a few days and see how I got on.

Turns out I didn’t get on all that well actually. From being someone who didn’t have a mobile phone until I left home and only got on the internet in 2000 (ish) I am now hooked on the web. And like all bad habits and addictions it takes up all my time, prevents me from actually doing anything productive, interferes with a ‘normal’ daily life, sucks me back in to doing it more and more and, when I finally do switch the computer off, I feel dissatisfied and guilty because I just wasted so much time. I may have read thirty new blog posts on writing a bestseller, I may have read fifty thought provoking and insightful pieces of writing, but at the end of the day I have gained nothing but frustration and guilt from the experience. And yet I carry on!

So, instead of going cold turkey and hoping that I might use that time to be a better writer, wife, mother, I am going to at least try and use the time productively to improve my writing. I am also going to kill two birds with one stone and actually make use of this blog. With these aims in mind I am planning to go through the huge collection of family photos stored on my laptop without any hope of ever seeing ink and paper and post a photo with a reflection on said photo, every day that I am on the computer. Hopfeully I will also have days when I am not on the computer at all!

And I am absolutely, definitely, maybe going to stop using the word actually. Way overused. Tap on the hand and do better next time.