Having a Jammy time …

DSCF7517The house is feeling empty; having been jam-full for the past five weeks. It has been a joy, this big old house and garden likes to be full of young people, from the very young (grandson #3 at 17 months) through his brothers (4 & 6) – right up to their Mum and Dad – all over from Malaysia, plus two other sons of ours, and a girlfriend, then after the ‘Malaysian’ contingent left, my second cousin and boyfriend (from Australia) .. it’s been great … and busy!

And now it is quiet and the soft-fruit needs picking and the jam stocks need replenishing.

It is blackcurrant time and ours have produced a good quantity. Most of this will go into the freezer – having been carefully ‘picked over’ to remove bits of stalk, so that jam making through the year will be easier. After all, who wants to be making jam when the sun is shining? It is also useful when you want a bit of extra flavour to sharpen up an apple crumble or similar, to know you can just pull a handful from the bag in the freezer and throw them into the mix knowing they are ready to cook with.

A new comment on my ‘recipes’ on the drop-down (above) made me think I ought to put my MW recipe for Blackcurrant jam into a blog as well as just on the recipes. If you are a regular reader you may have realised by now that I use my microwave for a lot of REAL cooking – and especially for jam as I find it faster, much less of a bother (no standing over steamy pot stirring to prevent burning or sticking) and less messy – easy cleaning of bowl as there is nothing burnt on.

My MW blackcurrant recipe has proved to be very popular – in fact Google Analytics shows me that over the last week alone 89 people came to view my microwave recipe for Blackcurrant jam (and 20 the MW Apricot jam one) and, judging by the average time spent on the page, many of them chose this recipe over other recipes available on the net.

So here goes:

My microwave Blackcurrant Jam recipe (makes 5lbs)

2lbs blackcurrants (picked over to remove stalks – if using frozen, make sure they are fully defrosted overnight, defrosting by MW seems to make the skins tougher
3 dessert-spoons water
3lbs sugar

1, Place blackcurrants and water in large* Pyrex or similarly heat proof microwave safe bowl, covered, 10 mins on high power to soften fruit and release pectin. (*large enough to hold at least twice the amount of fruit you are putting in it – mine holds 6 litres)
2, Add sugar and stir in well.
3, Lid off, bring up to the boil again in MW on high – about 6 mins.
4, Stir well and put back into MW to Simmer for 8 mins ( Simmer or med > low power)
5, Stir well, and put back into MW to simmer for 4 mins and check for set (place a teaspoon of jam mix on a cold plate – pop back in fridge – will show a set if the jam skin forms wrinkles and feels thick when finger is pushed though it when cool)
6, Into well washed jars pour about 1 cm (half an inch) of boiling water, place in microwave on full power for 3 – 4 mins until the water boils in the jars. Take care and tip them out well and stand to evaporate the last bit of water while you re-heat the jam mix
7, If a set is demonstrated by your test – return jam mix to microwave and heat until bubbles appear then remove from microwave and ladle into hot jars. (if no set then simmer for another 3 mins and retest, continue until a set is demonstrated)
8, Cover with clear jam-covers as per instructions with the packet, and label.
9, Enjoy!

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This recipe makes a very intensely favoured Blackcurrant jam … which we also use to flavour our home-made yoghurt, just by stirring in a scant teaspoonful at the table – YUM!

Are you a jam maker?

Do you like to use your microwave to make jam or is this a new idea for you?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you.

6Oh – and if you are a Facebooker – there is a draw on Pendown Publishing’s page to enter where you can win a paperback copy of The Angel Bug  – please do pop over there and enter – you just Like the page and answer the fun question – ‘What genre would your life-story be?’ to enter. Thanks


Pavlova time! My ‘fool-proof’ recipe

Lovely sun, luscious strawberries … it’s the perfect time for pavlova!

Sweet, dessert, pudding, whatever you like to call it, is the topping-off of a good meal. Carefully chosen to balance the type of meal preceding it, it can be a delight … and so very, very tempting, because one thing they nearly all have in common is a high carbohydrate content.  Still, don’t you find that  no matter how filling the main meal was, there still seems to be room for the sweet treat? (in our pudding stomach ) :) And my favourite – the Pavlova – is no exception so I offer it to you again.phpG50cumAM.jpg 2

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Kiwi Blossom on our plants

This one, made last week, was loaded-up with double cream, local strawberries and the very last of our own Kiwi fruit! Yes! Our own Cornwall-grown Kiwi fruit ... kept in an outdoor vermin-proof shed – 500 odd of them lined up in egg-trays – but these were the very last. There was one tray left – but the heat of the last couple of weeks had pushed most of them over the edge (too ripe). Not bad really, considering that the blossom is just opening on the kiwi plants!

It is believed that the dessert we know as the Pavlova was created in honour of the Russian ballet dancer Ann Pavlova when on a tour of New Zealand in the 1920s (though Australia hotly contests this, claiming to be the nation that hosted this culinary naming)

It is one of my favourite desserts and a long time ago I found a virtually fool-proof method of making them which has become much appreciated in the family as when I make them I usually make 3 bases at a time (well, if you have the oven on you may as well fill it up, and they do keep quite well in a sealed cake tub) and this means more than one meal-time gets this treat.  These Pavlovas are also brilliant for when you have a horde of people round – each one cutting into 8 generous servings. Best when the fruit is in season – so choose in-season brightly coloured soft or softish fruit when you can (hard fruit, like sliced apple, just doesn’t sit as well with this dessert)

Ann’s Pavlova ( or Vacherin  – not the cheese!)  

This  looks like meringue but it is really an adaptation I have made of a Vacherin – which is a type of meringue made with icing sugar (usually whisked once, but over hot water – my method seems to work just as well and be less of a bother)

Makes a 9 inch Pavlova base or 40 half mini meringues

2 egg whites
4 oz of sieved icing sugar.

Method

1, Whisk the egg whites until in stiff peaks.
2, Sieve the icing sugar and add to the whipped whites.
3, Whisk again until the mixture returns to stiff peaks
4, Either scoop into a piping bag and pipe small meringues onto a  greased baking sheet  (makes about 40 halves)
Or line the base of a 9” sandwich tin and grease the sides (or line a baking tray , draw a 9” diameter  circle, grease the sheet, spread or pipe the mixture over the area of the circle – adding a little more towards the rim).

Bake at 160 C or 140 C fan oven or Gas mk 3 (until palest fawn)

15- 20 mins for the small
1 ½  – 2 hours for Pavlova

Allow to cool gradually – I usually turn the oven off and allow it to cool before removing the pavlova bases.

To decorate use either 4 – 8 oz Cornish Clotted Cream or whip at least a quarter pint of Double Cream (taking care not to make too thick – nor runny) and spread evenly and thickly over the top.  Decorate with slices of soft / softish, fruits.

For mini-meringues. Whisk 1/4 pint double cream, place in piping tube with rosette nozzle. Pipe on one half – squeeze lightly as you stick the other half on.

Hope you find this recipe works well for you too!

Food is such an important part of our lives, it brings back memories, it can brighten our day or it can be a drudge and a scourge. How people eat and what they eat can help set scenes in novels too, can tell y0u a lot about the character without spelling it out. Take this excerpt from my novel Some Kind of Synchrony

The unexpected aroma of pizza, unmistakable in its amalgam of cooked cheese and oregano, stopped her for a moment, standing in her own hall, a rabbit poised for flight.  Then Andy appeared, filling the kitchen doorway.           

       ‘Thought I heard the door,’ he said and turned back into the kitchen.  Faith grabbed up the shopping bag and her handbag, pushed the door shut with the vigour it required, and followed him.  Two large size Pizzas stood on the table, one with the lid flopped back and a ragged wedge missing.  Andy held the remains of this piece in his fingers as he lounged against the worktop.  ‘Thought we’d have a pizza tonight – got the kids a video out too,’ he smiled, shoved the thick crust into his mouth and chewed contentedly, wiping his fingers on his jeans then folding his arms. 

I hope it’s painted a picture of Andy for you – to read the first three chapters of this book, and my others, free in PDF  just click here

What is your favourite dessert?

Are you enjoying the heat summer?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you and, fingers crossed, the glitches on the comments should be sorted out now – so i will know when you have written  :)


Trouble With Numbers

I little while ago, in responding to a comment on one of my ‘Rants’, I mentioned that I was ‘dyscalcic’.  DSCF7514

For most of my life I just assumed I was ‘bad at maths’… however, when it comes to it I often understood perfectly what had to be done in maths. In fact, one of my abiding memories is meeting my friend Jenny, who had won a place at Grammar school, on the bus home and helping her understand what she needed to do to complete her maths homework. The fact that I frequently did not get my maths work correct, despite me checking it more than once, did not compute with my understanding of the method …

I could never remember my times tables, despite being at the sort of primary school that had us reciting every morning.  I would learn them, revising as I went to school, recite them.. then by lunch time I would have lost them again. I still do not know my times tables – but I have developed strategies for working them out. I use the 9 x tables trick of one number down from the times-ed number plus – whatever it takes to make nine. Even I can manage the 5 x, 10x and 11x and extrapolate from those, often adding on the extra. So, because the 5 x is easy I can manage most 6x this way quite quickly. So my biggest bug-bear; 7 x 8 will go 5×8 is 40 so 6x easily is 48, now just add another 8 = 56. Strategies.

I did a lot of ‘pairing to make 10′ work at one time (adding up columns of figures for a local village post-office) – so my ‘numbers that make 10′ is quite good. This means that I can add up a column of figures fairly well – though I will frequently have to do it more than once.

However, the biggest problem I have is in transposition. Put a list of numbers on one sheet and ask me to copy them onto another and at least one number would end up transposed incorrectly. Like when I used to write certain phone numbers in the back of my diary – copying them across each year and not realising a mistake until I phoned someone. For instance I might call using 350646  and get a wrong number, only to look back at the old diary to see the number should have been 350464!  I can now look back and see how easily I could have copied the sum incorrectly from the text book, completed the calculation correctly but, obviously, got the wrong answer when compared to the ‘answer book’. It would be an unusual teacher that checked to see if the sum had been copied correctly in the first place!

Dyscalculia involves frequent difficulties with everyday arithmetic tasks like the following:

  • Difficulty reading analog clocks  [I often look and recognise what I need to know (i.e. is it near the time I am keeping an eye on) - but ask me just after I looked what the actual time is and I will almost always have to look again to be able to tell you]
  • Difficulty stating which of two numbers is larger  [written numbers are ok - given a moment or two, obvious differences are ok, like when the starting numbers are the ones to focus on but numbers said that are similar and of a long duration in saying, ie, one million, five hundred thousand, seven hundred and forty six .... followed by a similar large number with, say the hundreds changed... I may not recall the first number accurately enough to tell you.]
  • Inability to comprehend financial planning or budgeting, sometimes even at a basic level; for example, estimating the cost of the items in a shopping basket or balancing a chequebook [Sometimes great  sometimes way-out - having somehow bunched a group of similar items and made them add up to too much or too little]
  • Difficulty with multiplication-tables, and subtraction-tables, addition tables, division tables, mental arithmetic, etc. [Yep - that's me - See above re: times tables & mental arithmetic,  for example the other day I was working-out quickly how many items I needed to sell at £5 profit to cover a £100 pitch fee and came up with 200!  Yes, written down I can see it is stupid .. but I actually thought it was right for a few minutes!]
  • Difficulty with conceptualizing time and judging the passing of time. May be chronically late or early. [I hate to be late.. so am often early  - but have to set myself alarms to make sure I am. (when did this start - was it because I knew that I could not trust myself to know how time was passing) I always assume that when I get lost in time it is just my absorption in what I am doing... I admit I didn't realise this might be something else?]
  • Problems with differentiating between left and right [Ask the OH if I have trouble with left or right ... he calls my left --'the other right'.  Thank goodness for Sat Navs!]
  • Inability to visualise mentally [No - not this one! I have extremely good mental visualisation - so good I can, at a push, do some mental maths this way - imagining the numbers written on the board]
  • Difficulty reading musical notation [I have been trying to learn to read music on and off since I was 13 - by the time my mind works out the relationship with the notation and the fingering/note the moment has passed]
  • Difficulty navigating or mentally “turning” the map to face the current direction rather than the common North=Top usage  [Well that is just logical isn't it ?? - to turn the map so that you are traveling the same way along it ... Thank goodness for Sat Navs AGAIN!]
  • Having particular difficulty mentally estimating the measurement of an object or distance (e.g., whether something is 10 or 20 feet (3 or 6 meters) away). [No, not this one either - goes with the overheated mental visualisation]
  • Often unable to grasp and remember mathematical concepts, rules, formulas, and sequences [Sequences! What is the next number in the sequence? ALWAYS totally baffled me!}
  • Inability to concentrate on mentally intensive tasks. [Unable to concentrate on mentally intensive NUMBER tasks - doing my taxes is a nightmare and so tiring!!]
  • Low latent inhibition, i.e. over-sensitivity to noise, smell, light and the inability to tune out, filtering unwanted information or impressions. Might have a well-developed sense of imagination due to this (possibly as cognitive compensation to mathematical–numeric deficits)  [Well developed sense of imagination - tick (Hey - I'm a novelist!) And - actually, rather over-sensitive to particular smells, and can find myself focusing in lense-like on certain visual patterns in nature in particular]
  • Mistaken recollection of names. Poor name/face retrieval. May substitute names beginning with same letter. [Oh! And do I do this? So often it is embarrassing - though I have developed strategies for getting over the awkwardness of this in everyday life... and even more if I meet a person out of the usual context. And woe-betide me if they have changed hair colour! (which I do seem to notice first and remember most about people oddly enough)]                                                                         (diagnostics courtesy wikipedia)

Fourteen ‘diagnostics’ – and I fit 12!  (no I won’t attempt a percentage on that thanks)  so not an official diagnosis but too good a fit to be accident and it explains a lot.

Now when I went to school there wasn’t even dyslexia – let along dyscalculia -  so I just became ‘poor at maths’. I struggled to get a GCE grade C in maths, yet got my A Level* in Physics. Back in a more enlightened time this is what got me over the maths hurdle entering teaching. (*other  A levels were Biology and English) When I re-trained for Primary teaching after the youngest boy was in the juniors, we were introduced to the idea of maths strategies!  I was ahead of the game – and I believe I was a more effective teacher of Maths for having struggled with numbers myself.

In retrospect, I think I am glad that no one told me I had a ‘problem’ because it made me work hard to find ways around the difficulties. However, it does help now to explain the struggle I have had with numbers all my life … and still do!

Is Dyscalculia new to you?

Have you lived a life with a hidden problem and just made the best of it?

You know I love to hear from you – do share.


The JOY of LISTS

I love a list, me.

If I have a lot to do —- or am organising something … or need to take a multifarious number of items with me somewhere …. or ….yes, even for shopping….. I make a list. And, not so long ago, when I was under a lot of pressure I found that making lists was the only way for me to get things done that I had committed to, to make sure I didn’t let other people down. I hate letting people down and beat myself up big time if I ever do.

What was worse was forgetting to do things and, with my mother suffering from dementia, I can tell you that forgetting to do things starts to feel worrying! Lists were my way of achieving the myriad of small but important things that had to be done over and above running what had become a tiring and complicated life.

However, through this I have discovered the Joy of Lists!  I had discovered that lists are life-affirming. Lists can give you a sense of achievement, they can boost your self-esteem, they can make sure you get things done!

I start the day by writing a quick list of things I know I want to do in the day – say, while drinking my morning tea. I then glance down the list and number the items in order that I think they need to be achieved. Sometimes this is self evident as some things must be done before others… sometime it is a game to play against yourself. Which one do I least want to do? Perhaps make that the second (rather than the last) on the list. Do not make it the first … you may never get going at all. Second or third means you have got yourself going.. you have CROSSED OFF one (or two) items on the list … you are on a roll … you can tackle and defeat the things you didn’t want to do more easily that way.

If you are anything like me you will add to the list as the day goes on .. or even turn the page over and add something to the next days list. Writing ‘make a list’ as number one.. and crossing it off as soon as you get to the end of the list is perhaps going a bit far … :)

Currently everyday my list contains ‘Correct 1 ch of SKOS min’ – which actually means ‘Correct one chapter of Some Kind of Synchrony, at least, for the paperback version’ which is undergoing a final scrutiny – line by line – before being prepared to be the next Ann Foweraker novel to be published in paperback!

I find a day guided by a list is often the most productive day. There is also a sense of achievement in having worked through all the tasks on the list, reinforced every time you cross one off! That is The Joy of Lists :)

Are you a list maker?

Do you find it helps in more ways than one?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you.


Down to a Tee

Well, that’s it… the five week introduction to golf course is at an end.

In the fourth week Jason took us back to the golf driving range. Here we used the same pitching wedge and a new higher and more vigorous swing to loft the ball and send it into the distance. This shot is used to get the ball from the fairway up towards the green. Whereas the one we did the week 2  was to get the ball up onto the green – but not roll too far when it got there. phpqECVaaPMThere was a certain satisfaction in hearing the ‘right’ sound as the club hit the rubber tee and lofted the ball and in seeing the ball rise high and fly off into the distance. To concentrate our swing and angle Jason placed two up-turned ball-baskets just in front and behind the trajectory that our gold club head should take. I will admit to flinging one or other of the baskets a few times! However, it was good practice for you certainly got to know the right feel and the wrong (as the wrong was marked by the flying basket!)

Between these lessons some of you will know I was at a Meet the Author event in Liskeard. This was held at the Seasons Bistro and involved three writers’ for children and two for adults plus a local writers’ group. The other authors were Jenny Alexander, with her ‘Car Mad Jack’ and ‘Peony Pinker’ series, Sally Crabtree author many books for children and performance poet extraordinare, the husband and wife writer and illustrator (respectively )  Colin and Gail Miles authors of Naughty Nicky and the Skullduggery Crew – an all Cornish pirate story for children, and finally Lliam West author of various historically based novels for adults. It was a great chance to get out and network with others authors and to meet the public (and sell a few novels too!) I also took out my new design display props – giant A3 ‘covers’ of my books – which made an effective display and made the other authors think!  I won’t be surprised if I see this idea copied elsewhere in the future.

In the final week we were taken out on a short golf course. Not one frequented by many other players – good for practice. We played two holes, learning that its, literally, a different ball game when yo are hitting up-hill – or down. We teed off and aimed towards the green. This was where we learnt that the player whose ball was furthest away played first ( after everyone had teed off) and so on… gradually getting closer and into the small area round the hole. Once there we changed to our putters and, unless someone was very close and likely to be in the way, again took it in turns from the furthest out.

This experience was really good as a final part to these five lessons, and I think I would not disgrace myself on a pitch and putt – should I ever come across one.

I could sign up for a further five lessons.. and then probably a further five.. and then .. more until I was safe to be let loose on a course on my own..(Jason says it usually takes at least 15 lessons)  however, I feel I have gained as much insight into the game as I need to say that it is probably not for me.

Why not, when I actually enjoyed the challenge and the control of the club and the ball?. .. Mainly it is a time thing ( though the money thing comes into it too). To enjoy golf one needs to be able to give a dedicated time to it, to spend regular times practising and further time engaging in the game with fellow players.

As may of you know I am already time-pressed and with publicising my novels and taking them out to public events I will be further time constrained… so ticked that box, decided not to continue, glad to have met some really nice people including the Masons who were kind enough to take this video of me on the last (drizzly) day, and I hope they continue to enjoy the game!

So that’s one of my 6 at 60 done!

Has this made you want to try out Golf?

What do you think might be next?


Oh NO! I feel another rant coming on…

I think I may be going  insane invisible …

I really think I ought not to use this blog to rant on about the things that drive me crazy but … but there was a further episode in the Electricity change-over saga

In our house, mainly because my OH really doesn’t like talking much on the phone (makes him go all mono-syllabic) I do all the calls to anyone and anything that needs speaking to. Not that I’m a chatterbox or anything  – moi??

pylon by YummifruitbatThe old suppliers sent a final bill dated at the start of April (yes – I know we are half way through May .. and this has just arrived). The ‘readings’ they used were ESTIMATED. Now, I had been told to take a reading at the start of April and send it to the new supplier – they would then arrange for the change over and the old supplier would send the final bill. I read the meters… I sent in the numbers…. but  …  can someone tell me why they should use an estimate for a final reading when an actual reading was sent in?

So, trying to sort out the electricity I had to speak to the old supplier.  Now back in the dim distant past when OH was the only breadwinner (as I was at home raising our 4 children) accounts were generally made in his name… and because back then (just after the ark landed) these things were only possible in one person’s name. Would they talk to me? Would they heck? I had to go running round the place to try to find OH (who was strimming) wave frantically at him until he stopped. He was hot, sweaty and none to pleased to have to go back up to the house to say ‘Yes, speak to my Wife!’ (Yes, in that tone)

So talk to me they did.  They said that it was estimated as they had not been given the data.. … I explained that if I paid their bill I’d end up being charged for the some of the electricity twice – once by them once by the new company. Oh no, don’t worry, they said, you can pay that one , you won’t get charged twice as the meter will have moved on and they will take it from our estimate.

They were a bit stumped when I told them that as of that date, a month and a half later than the date their estimate was made – one of the meters was still 60 units BELOW  their estimate! Cue back tracking and them telling me I needed to sort it out with the new company who had not supplied them with the numbers. Luckily I had kept a record of the numbers I had sent in! Still yet more time wasted! All in all this change-over has wasted almost 11 hours of my novel writing time!

Call me daft… but surely, if at not other time, a reading of your meter should be done by a meter reader (from one or other company) at the change over point – for their satisfaction and that of the householder.

As if that were not enough to make me feel a nonentity invisible , the next day I had to make an appointment for my eighty-seven year-old father to attend his medication review. All I had to do was make an appointment as the letter that came requested. My father is pretty deaf.. and also does not like talking on the phone. As it happened I wanted to ensure that I could make a double appointment – so that my own review would follow on from his (cutting down journeys and time)  This time I had to find my father.. and explaining that the person on the phone would be asking if I could make his appointment for him so he would understand what was being asked of him (he lip-reads quite well)  – before handing over the phone – set on speaker-phone for volume – and him saying ‘Yes – speak to my daughter’.

Can’t there be common sense applied to these things? Is it only me or does it sometimes feel like ‘confidentiality’ gone mad? I wasn’t trying to access information about the electricity account  … I was just querying their figures. I wasn’t trying to access my father’s medical records – just make an appointment for him as per his letter.

well… is it only me?

is it an age thing … or a woman thing?

love to hear your thoughts

no rants next week, promise :)

 


Chip Chop – getting to grips with golf

As promised, I am addressing both the last two golf-lessons sessions together as I got carried away by my subconscious last week.

The second of the five lessons saw us gathered on the edge of the practice putting green and Jason introduced us to a new way to hold the golf club. This is a Pitching-wedge or a Wedge (with P or W written on it) and is used to ‘hop’ (my technical term*) or ‘pitch’ the golf ball from just outside the putting green, up onto it.  pitching wedge*Jason called it ‘chipping’

For this our hands had to be interlocked, the forefinger of the left hand (higher on the handle) trapped between the fourth (little) and the third finger, thumbs pointing down the handle. Initially I didn’t want to let go of this grip until my hands had learnt what it felt like – it was as if I wasn’t sure I’d get it quite right again if I did.

Next we had to lean forward from the hips, bend the knees slightly and draw the golf club in towards us so that it rested on the ground just behind the ball (set up on a tee). We then had to lean ourselves towards the left, the weight bearing more on that side, 70 / 30. Keeping our left arm straight and our wrists ‘locked’ we swung the club back past our right foot and forward, through the tee to the same distance the other side, ‘cutting’ the grass as we did so and – if we got it right – causing the ball to pitch upwards and forwards to land on the putting green and roll about the same distance the other side. Theoretically placing the ball in an convenient spot for a decent putt into the hole!

chipping Ann

More suitably attired this week

You know – it worked. it was great to see all of us popping the golf-balls up and onto the green. Some with more vigour than others, some less so, but all moving the ball in a neat hop off the slightly coarser grass onto the smooth sward of the green.  The whole of the rest of the hour was taken up with ‘perfecting’ these and either making our shots slightly longer or slightly shorter – depending what we were achieving initially.

Lesson three, and we did not head for the putting green – this time we were taken off to the driving range. Here we did a recap of the previous week first, as we were using the same clubs and the same grip (which I learnt later is the only grip we will need – apart from for putting)

driving range

Driving Range

The difference this week was in the distance we were trying to achieve. This time it was as if we were within sight of the putting green but not close enough to just pop it on.. we, therefore, had to lift the ball over the rougher grass but also send it a distance to try to get it to the green – or at least close enough for the type of shot learnt the previous week to be used.

To achieve this we needed to swing the club further… taking it way past horizontal and up into the air. This has to be very controlled, and uses wrist action to take it beyond the horizontal.

So, grip in place, we first repeated our stance… but this time the shoulder/weight lean of the body over the left leg is closer to 60 / 40. The arms are brought back for the swing, keeping the left arm basically straight, when on the horizontal the knuckles should be facing forward (away from the player) and then the wrists are turned so that the club raises up vertically. The swing is taken ‘cutting’ the grass and the ball is driven in a long shallow arc forward a long distance.

driving range view

View up the driving range

We spent the rest of the time trying to get this action right… it was so tempting to look at your arms, stance, club… anything except the ball… and yet (as Jason reminded us) the eye should always be on the ball.

Another interesting lesson – showing how the correct grip and stance can result in the ball being hit far more times than it was missed and a good proportion of those times it even went in the right direction and in the correct manner… though to  see the spread of the balls in the view down the driving range – you’d not think so :)

So far I am pleased to say that, should I ever find myself on a ‘pitch and putt’ course, I could now get the ball to go in something like the right direction – which is more than I could have managed three weeks ago!

Can’t wait for the next lesson – I wonder if we get to use the ‘big-headed’ (my technical term again :) ) clubs next?

Only two more weeks to go on this 6 at 60 … I need to start sorting out the next challenge.

What type of challenges would you set for yourself?

What criteria would you use?  (mine is just that it has to be something I’ve never done before)

Do share, you know I love to hear from you

BTW I hope to get it fixed so that your comments will appear quicker – had problems ever since the spam was getting in and had to be re-filtered – my tech guy (#1 son) is coming to visit in a fortnight)

PS If you are around Liskeard in Cornwall at the weekend I shall be at the WORDS WORDS WORDS Author Event in Season’s Bistro from 10am – 1.30pm Saturday 17th May with my books, doing a short reading from them and signing and dedicating copies for customers – love to see you there :)


I LIED! The truth, the shoe truth and nothing but ..

You know how it is.You get a little older and certain things slip your mind. There was me last week listing all the types of footwear I possess, mainly sandals to be honest. Ah! and there’s the rub… to be honest!  For in the middle of the night my subconscious goes rooting round and picking up on all sorts of things I’ve been thinking, doing and writing.

Now I usually am glad of this, for truth to tell, (there’s that word again) some of my best work is done by my subconscious.  I am, for want of a better description what has become known in the writing world as ‘a bit of a pantser’. Now, this does not refer to wearing only my knickers (as ‘almost’ suggested in comments last week by my on-line friend Erika from the USA  – where pants are trousers and not knickers!) It refers to relying on your subconscious to help you fill in the plot-lines as you write your novel. Come to think of it -  ‘flying writing by the seat of your pants – hence ‘pantser” – must be an American saying.*

Extreme pantsers would, perhaps, not even have a plan, but just write whatever comes into their heads. Wonderful if it works. I am not extreme, I have a plan (even if my subconscious has a slightly different plan)  and within reason I stick with it. I do not always have sub-plots woven into this originals plan, that is where my subconscious really works overtime, surprising and delighting me quite often. OK … yes it sometimes even takes over and puts a neat twist in the tail… that it had been subtly laying the pointers to throughout the novel (No, I do not always spot these either, so the twist can surprise even me)

SO, usually I hope my subconscious will be busy sorting out what I am going to write next, but, for reasons of its own (probably because I have not yet written up the last section it worked on) it went off rooting round for a pair of trainers …. after I said I didn’t have any.

And it found them and the next morning told me where to look.Trainers

Now these trainers have a short but interesting history. One, they actually fit me, this may be because they were purchased when my feet were very hot (and therefore already swollen) and two, because they were very, very cheap – I did not to even think of wearing them back home.

About five years ago we were lucky enough to go to Malaysia for a five week visit to my son, daughter-in-law and young grandson who live in Kuala Lumpur. My daughter-in-law is a science lecturer at the university there and is a native of Borneo – Sabah, to be precise. It was a wonderful holiday, not least because we were taken around at the weekends and for a week by the family, benefiting from D-in-Law’s fluency in 5 languages and knowledge of the most interesting places to see and to eat in.

For a few days, however, my son, my OH and I booked into a jungle camp near Sepilok in northern Sabah – Uncle Tan’s.  Uncle Tan’s jungle camp was very basic to quote ‘What we have are rough huts with no doors or windows’ and these are shared by up to six in a hut- and just  have mattresses and mosquito nets in them. uncle tans hutThis part of the holiday would make a blog post in itself… but back to the shoes … we were advised to buy a pair of very cheap trainers as any shoes we had would be ruined by the mud in and around the camp. So this we duly did in a shoe emporium in KotaKinabalu, the capital of Sabah. The temperature was around 40 degrees C and very humid. The trainers were light-weight and cheap – even by Malaysian standards – we were not expecting to keep them.

In the end it was SO muddy that we were advised to rummage through the huge stack of wellingtons they kept at the camp, to find some to fit, and use them instead. Hence the trainers came home in relatively pristine condition, having only been worn on the trip into the jungle (mainly by small motor-driven boat) and back.

There they were, tucked right at the back corner, under the shoe shelf in my wardrobe. Would they actually be suitable for venturing out onto the golf course in?

Well, combined with the black cotton trousers that I chose to wear, they were fine. My feet got hot in them… as expected, but they didn’t pinch and hurt, so they are now (for the five weeks course) my golf shoes.

Now, this has gone on long enough – so ‘how to chip a golf ball onto the green’ will have to wait ..

Does your subconscious give you answers overnight?

Do you rely on it… or do you  have an orderly mind that knows where everything is?

Do share, you know I love to hear from you

* couldn’t leave that unresearched, apparently the saying amongst aviators of the time used to be ‘flies by the seat of his trousers’ but when written up in an American newspaper about an Irish aviator who flew from America to Ireland in a small plane without instruments in 1938 .. it became  ‘flew by the seat of his pants’ and that caught on and stuck.


The shoe dilemma – and the activity you didn’t guess.

Well, it seems no one was willing to take a guess. Perhaps the clue wasn’t big enough.

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Garden cloggies ? .. or .. Flip-flops … perhaps?

So what did I do on Friday ? … I went along at the crisp time of 9am for a golf lesson. Yes, GOLF… well at 60 that seems to me like the sort of activity people might take up. After all my friend (of whom I have spoken before) who took up belly-dancing on her sixtieth was already playing golf.  I have been belly-dancing for YEARS … so this is the the obverse of ‘what crazy thing can I try?’ -  ‘what expected thing can I try?’

Now, those of you who know me will understand when I say I really wasn’t sure what to wear on my feet. I tend to live my life wearing sandals… yes even in the Winter. As I have got older I do not always wear them when it is raining (or when my feet are likely to get wet – as on grass) because this is the only time that my feet ever feel cold and I may be weird but I’m not daft. So my footwear wardrobe consists of flip-flops, everyday sandals, high-heel sandals, hiking sandals, trainer/fitness sandals (trainer type sole – but sandal top – which, incidentally they won’t let you wear in a gym ‘in case you drop something on your toes’ – I stopped going) and then a pair of ‘motor-bike’ style boots for wet weather. For the record I also possess garden cloggies (black with sparkles) and proper farmer-type green wellies (proper mud and all) and hiking boots.

Now, the hiking boots always start off fine… but very soon my feet overheat and, I presume, swell a little, as the boots then become tight and uncomfortably hot. (NB. larger sizes just flop about so not an option) This is the reason I do not ‘do’ trainers either. I thought the cloggies or Wellingtons would be going a bit too far on the casual side.. so ended up wearing the motor-bike style boots. I figured that at least they didn’t have too much of a heel (to damage the green) and they looked respectable.  The other four sensible people on the day wore trainers!

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Jason putting us through our paces – golf course scenery in the background

This is a special introduction course run by Jason, one of the the professional golf coaches, at St Mellion International golf and country club, which is less than 2 miles from where I live and, along with the special offer to try golf, was as good a reason to go there as any. This first morning was not raining, but the grass was wet and there was a chill wind blowing. The golf-course is set in the heart of the Cornish countryside and is a lovely place to spend an hour or so. It was obvious how popular it was as a steady stream of golfers set off on their rounds over the time we were on the practice putting green. For that is what we were to learn the first morning.

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Our class of wanna-be golfers

So, we learnt how to hold the putter. How to putt different distances, 5, 10, 15 and 20 ft. and then how to pace these distances out so when walking from your ball to the hole ( to remove the flag) you could also decide how to hit the ball to putt it the correct distance.

On the way we learnt various gems of golfing etiquette. Just the sort of thing that every newbie needs to know and would, perhaps, fail to ask.

I have to say – I am quite looking forward to my next lesson though may have to find something more conventional to wear on my feet :)

Golf does seem to be a very respectable sort of game … I’m wondering whether my main character in the novel I am writing at the moment (A Respectable Life) might be a player of this sport .. if not her, then perhaps her husband. You see, you never know where inspiration can come from or what information you learn on the way may find its way into a novel… the whole of life is good research material :)

Any thoughts on Golf and golfing?

or even footwear :)

Do share – you know I love to hear from you!


6 in 60

Six challenges for a Sixtieth year – Not so much a bucket list as a way to make sure I try more, learn more or experience more and different activities as the year goes through, than I managed last year.

OK … so last year (and truth be known the preceding couple of years) were not conducive to doing many new things. I really believe learning new things is life-enhancing in so many ways!

The paddle-boarding was supposed to be one of the 6 in 60 new things to try, but I got too excited about it and jumped the gun trying it out last Autumn and falling for it so much that it formed my major birthday present and some accessories became a few of the other presents too.

I was tempted to still add that one in..but I won’t, I’ll stick to the plan and as I go I’ll be adding the experiences into my blogs.

Now most of these are quite simple or everyday activities. I mean, many of you will have been doing them for years and think them quite ordinary. All it requires to be on my list, however, is for me not to have done the activity, learnt the technique etc, before – ever.DSCF7499

The process has started … to learn to use a camera properly, is one. I am an inveterate ‘point and click’ camera person, relying on my own sense of proportion and trying to get interesting compositions, but understanding next to nothing about light, speeds, exposure, etc.

As it happens my lovely boys and my OH teamed up to get me a rather nice new digital camera at Christmas – one that will allow more than merely a point and click approach. (Daft/nice thing about it is the feel – really solid / serious with nice texture and satisfying sounds) So, though it does have an AUTO mode, I have even more motivation to learn to use a camera properly.

As a reader of the blog you will know that I like to take wildlife photographs – not running cheetahs or exotic birds – more the everyday small wildlife that can go unnoticed, like the slug invasion or the lovely lichens Expect more of that sort but I hope the course will also stretch my subjects of choice as I learn to take quality photographs in many situations.

This week I completed module one theory.. and have the task of taking photographs using only the manual mode.  Some results will be forthcoming … and thereby I hope to learn.

On Friday I start the next part of my 6 in 60 … you’ll never guess what it is! I’ll give you a clue – I think of it is archetypical activity for a new 60 year-old …

So what do you think I start trying out on Friday?

Have you a ‘bucket list’ or similar made?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you!