About Me

I am a novelist and a journalist. I have two children a son born in 2001 and a daughter born in 2004. We live in London.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

New Book

I have finished a draft of my new book, and have given it to a few people to read, and only one has got back to me so far! I look at the pages and scroll through them and can't seem to find the energy to do anything with it, so I write this instead, or clean up, or ring the vet. And then I check my emails, including the junk box, and then sign into facebook and then check my bank account.

And then every time I do look at the "book" (Its not sold yet) there is something that could be improved on. Always. I don't even know if it's any good any more, because I can no longer be objective about the plot or the characters. A brilliant girl called Deborah Susman from my writing group went through it for me and made some brilliant observations, but she didn't reference her comments with any page numbers so I am desperately looking at her remarks, like "Jen tells Jack to ask Ellie directly about the boyfriend but I thought he already had" And a) I can't remember writing that and b) I don't know where I wrote it. There are 80,000 words.

Its 1031am and I have done nothing but sit here and read other people's blogs and think about ringing up the cat insurance people to give them the vets fax number.

And I'm not sure about the title of the new book, it could be The Holiday, or The Summer Holiday. Some days I think its a brilliant title perfect for reading on a summer holiday and other days I think it's boring? Is it? The story, by the way, is about a group of people on holiday and how all their lives change over the week they are together.

I suppose I'd better get back to it now. If anyone feels like reading it and making comments good and bad, please let me know.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

My new healthy lifestyle

I am sitting here, drinking fresh pear and apple juice made from my new juicer. Its delicious. I gave my husband and children a glass each at breakfast because I am worried about the onslaught of winter, and swine flu and trying to keep them healthy. Yesterday we drank carrot, apple and nectarine, although the nectarines only provided about a miniscule drop, the size of a pea, and my daughter refuses to drink carrot. She is a girl who likes “cookies” and honey and sweets.

Once years ago, when I was trying to conceive, a very nice homeopath advised me to drink truckloads of beetroot, carrot and apple juice. I seem to remember I was meant to drink it twice a day. And so I bought a small juicer and diligently set about making and drinking the juice. And God it made a mess. And it took half an hour just to chop up all the fruit and process it and then clean it. I had to scrape out great big chunks of pulp and clean everything by hand, which took ages. After a couple of months my skin was glowing, but I gave up juicing. The process of cleaning and chopping just took too long. (I finally conceived through a Polish acupuncturist who dug in the needles and twisted and some harsh Chinese herbs, and visiting a kind of celebrity nutritionist who made both of us give up alcohol, caffeine and almost all forms of enjoyment except sex!)

Anyway for the last six months, I have been buying a large glass of freshly squeezed orange and apple juice from my lovely local café, Cupboard, in a quest to give up Diet Coke, but it has cost me a fortune. So I decided to invest in a professional juicer. And wow it is good. It is designed by Antony Worrall Thompson, for Breville and it has a big chute so you can put in the fruit whole and two speeds and a separate jug that collects all the pulp, and most of the parts can be put straight into the machine. Genius. £109 from Argos and other retailers.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

The Trials and Pleasures of Camping

I am a woman who likes a hot bath, a comfortable bed, and a flushing loo. I am also someone who is prone to feeling cold in June and I am not the best sleeper, even in the comfort of my own six foot wide bed. Not the ideal candidate for camping then.

“You’ll hate it,” my husband repeated over and over again, as I suggested a camping trip a few times last year. Secretly I thought he was right, although I protested thinking that the children would have deprived childhoods if we didn’t let them sleep under the stars. But last November my friend Sophie announced that she was having a camping party for the August Bank Holiday Weekend, and because she always does things brilliantly, I said we would go. And then I promptly tried not to think about it or do anything about buying a tent, or a blow up mattress or a pump or a torch or all the other things I later discovered are needed for a camping holiday.

Then two parents from my sons class asked us to join them for a June camping weekend and because we were new parents at the school, and keen for Jude to bond with his friends, I rashly accepted. The time drew nearer and suddenly we realized we had nothing to camp with. We borrowed two small tents and a gas cooker and taking the advice of friends, we packed our car with duvets, pillows, blankets and sausages. I also telephoned my doctor and asked for sleeping pills. Packing for two nights took five hours!


Things I liked about my first camping trip: Eating a ton of bread and sausages and not caring.
Drinking quite a few glasses of wine.
Getting to know my camping friends: The lovely Jane and the gorgeous Emily.
Waking to the sound of bird song.
Children out all day from 7am
Grownups out all day from 8am
Swimming in the river
The cream tea café on the camp site.
The camping glow
Watching the Stars.

Things I don’t like:
Blow up mattresses
Taking sleeping pills
Queuing up for a shower
Washing up without gloves or a dishwasher.
Putting down and putting up the tent.
Not being able to find anything when it gets dark
Piling up the car with almost all the contents of a house.
Feeling exhausted for two days after getting home.
Having to walk across a field to pee at night.

But it can’t be that bad. We have since been camping to Glastonbury, Dorset and just back from Yorkshire for the bank holiday camping party which was the best four days ever.

My tip: Rose hip moisturizing oil is perfect for rough skin that’s been out in all weathers and the oil is extracted from rose that grows in the Andes Mountains. It’s in a roll on bottle so won’t spill if you are travelling. I used it on my cracked heels and on my dry legs, although you can use it on your hair and face. I wish Aubrey Organics would make it in a bigger bottle!