Happy Christmas

Just what we all need for Christmas …………..

DSCF7375 crop
Our rather retro tree – and dog

…. a  Christmas Tree

 

 

….. a Chrismas Cake ….

DSCF7385 crop
Based on the idea from last week’s blog,  our  Christmas Cake ….

 

 

 

 

clem home
# 4 son – unexpectedly arrived home after 2 years away in far east – joy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…… and a Nice Surprise !!!!

 

 

 

Hope you all have a very Happy Christmas.

 

Thank you all so much for following my blog, for commenting when you feel moved to do so and for sharing and tweeting when you like something you find here.  Also a big thank you to all of you who have supported my writing in any way.  See you in the New Year – Ann

Sharing:

New experiences? … all grist to the mill

You may have heard (even literally if you live in Cornwall) that during the past week I had an interview with BBC Radio Cornwall about my new novel ‘The Angel Bug’!
I was offered a telephone interview as Radio Cornwall is situated in Truro which, for those of you out of county, is in the West of Cornwall, whereas I live so far to the East in Cornwall that another couple of miles due East and I’d be over the river Tamar and into Devon!

Well, it would mean a long trip there and back (never mind the cost of the fuel!) and all for a ten minute interview – but 1,  As a writer you garner experiences where you can, gather your feelings and impressions, make notes, take photos, and pack them away for a day when one of your characters walks into just such a situation, and 2, I felt I’d work a better interview face to face – rather than on the end of a telephone – and as it was my first I did want to mess it up. So I went to the studios instead.

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100
BBC Radio Cornwall Studios
VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100
The Truro river, looking away from the city, beside Phoenix Wharf

BBC Radio Cornwall’s studio is situated at Phoenix Wharf, on the river at the edge of the city centre – a lovely setting as you can see.

I was early … I am nearly always early … can’t bear being late! And I was nervous – I have to admit this. I can stand up and talk to a class – I can address meetings as president of the WI or as Secretary of this group or that… but to be ME as myself – Author – no other ‘hat’ to hide beneath – this makes me nervous – definitely out of my comfort zone! Add in that this was a live broadcast and, obviously, I wanted it to go well .. and well.. you may understand how I was feeling.

I had ‘packed’ for the session, a bottle of water (filled with water from our spring at home) mints, tissues, glasses, some notes, a camera, lip-balm…so my small handbag was bulging with ‘bits’ when I arrived at the studios.

I waited, chatting with the receptionist, and then the presenter popped out to say hello; Tiffany Truscott, looking younger and prettier than her official photo shows her, was warm and welcoming and that made me feel a little better!

I was soon called through to the ante-room to the studio and after a short time was taken through into the Studio.

Having been sat down by a mike, I settled my glasses and notes down where they would not rustle (not that I had time to refer to them in the end anyway).  Tiffany then asked me a few questions – to warm up – as it were, making me feel a little more relaxed. Now whether this was also being monitored for sound levels or what I have no idea, but it seems likely.

The record  she was playing finished and she introduced me and ‘The Angel Bug’ to the whole of Cornwall…. well – I’m not going to write it all here.. Just click start > and listen TO THE 10 mins YOUTUBE AUDIO CLIP BELOW !! IF YOU ARE READING THIS ON THE EMAIL CLICK ON THE MAIN BLOG TITLE ABOVE AND IT WILL TAKE YOU TO THE BLOG WHERE THE CLIP CAN BE HEARD!! (the youtube links do not go through the email version)

There will always be things I would have liked to have said, that I didn’t, or names and words I should have memorised, that eluded me at the time – but in the end I felt it went well, that it was good, and I can tell why Tiffany is so good at her job – she made the interview process feel so natural – like a conversation (albeit with time pressures).

Have you done anything recently that has taken you out of your comfort zone?

Did you feel drained or energised by the experience?

What did you think of the interview? Do share – you know I love to hear from you!

Sharing:

Celebrating small things – country life

Today, yes, today, I was at a village celebration!     …..    Excited? 

DSCF7022
People gathering before the start

Well, if I told you this was a celebration for the opening ceremony of a LAY-BY – would you still be excited?

DSCF7013
Getting the new lay-by ready for the ribbon cutting

Yeah – I know it sounds weird … but this is country life… and when they say things move slowly in the country this lay-by is a prime example.  The post-office corner is a good right-angled bend and the road is just wide enough for two cars to go round it carefully. Opposite the post-office village shop used to be a fairly high bank, seemingly grassed, but as we all know, grass banks in Cornwall hide a slate and granite hedge! There has always been a bit of roadside parking up the little lane leading down towards the ‘main’ road through the village, but not much, and you were always aware that tarrying too long meant others could not park. Then there are the Mobile Library days, when all that space it taken by the Mobile library for half an hour. Or deliveries to the shop, or the postman collecting the mail.

All in all, many would stop on the corner, against that high bank… and thus prevent the bus getting round the corner much to the consternation of the bus drivers ( Yes we are lucky enough to still be on a regular bus route – and I imagine each time the bus is prevented from keeping to schedule the likelihood of keeping the service diminishes)

So, for years … and I mean Y E A R S …….. the idea of having a small carpark opposite the post office village shop has been mooted.  However, up until now, nothing has ever come of the ‘idea’. It has taken a savvy person on the parish council to work though the ever tricky procedure of applying for grants and permissions, others to plan and oversee the works, for a community group to put forward some of the funds to show willing and for the grants to be actually awarded and in the end we have it!

DSCF7021
Two, of the three, vintage cars, parked in the lay-by

It was part of the stipulation of the largest funding body that there should be a formal opening ceremony with press – so it became an event – with posters drawn by children from the village primary school, with official ribbon cutting, with tea and cake, with a procession of vintage cars, one carrying the oldest village resident at 101, and a vintage bike against the bike rack with its basket filled with bunches of flowers for various people handed out by children from the village school and with speeches (short ones!) of thanks to all involved!

And so, it turned out to be a really nice country-style village celebration of something both very small and significant at the same time.  There is now room for 5 cars ( if they park tidily) plus the space for three up the side lane remains, and no excuse to block the path of the bus (or any other large vehicle that needs to turn the ‘post-office’ corner).

We all hope it makes a difference inside the shop too, with more people using it – as we are also very lucky to still have a post office and village shop and that needs the village people to use it and buy a significant amount every week to keep it going.

Lucky people!

The first lucky seven people will be getting their choice of my already published novels arriving in their email inbox on Friday!! There is still a chance to get in on the first draw if you enter before noon on Friday 7th June… but even if you enter afterwards you will be in the draw for the next three weeks draws. If you’re not sure what this is about .. just click on the link to go to my   **Pre-Launch Party** where YOU CAN WIN a copy of one of my novels. (if you haven’t got an ereader these are available as pdf – or download kindle for pc and ask for a mobi version – to read them on your computer) 

I’M GIVING AWAY ONE eNOVEL A DAY ALL THROUGH JUNE!!

Do you live in a village or tight-knit community?

What makes your community special?

Do you find pleasure in these ‘small things’?

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

 

AND NOW.. the next excerpt from THE ANGEL BUG ……

Gabbi has returned to the Foundation building…

   Andy and Naomi were heralded by their voices, obviously in heated discussion, followed by their persons as they came up the central staircase into the light and airy office space.

‘But it could be Thrips Palmi,’ Andy was saying.

‘What, with the quarantine measures all in place? Besides it isn’t as if it came from some dodgy place.’

‘Well, Kew has been known to have its own problems with diseases and vectors.’

‘Do we have a new problem?’ I cut in.

‘W04, some die-back co-incidentally right beside the new introductions.’

‘Which were quarantined for three months as usual!’ Naomi retorted.

‘Anyhow, we’ll know soon, samples coming over pronto.’

‘Well we’re going to be busy then, I’ve asked for you to see some from the Moringa as soon as they come in. It’s a bit tricky, it’s the last tree we want to have a problem with just now,’

‘Why? Any time is bad for any of them isn’t it?’ Naomi said, shrugging.

‘Ah, but Luke Adamson’s coming and he’s sure to make a bee-line for it.’

‘Why’s that?’ Andy said as he sat down.

I looked at Andy and Naomi, both of them looked puzzled, and young all of a sudden. I smiled, ‘Well back when you two were in nursery school, Luke made his name with the first comprehensive ethnobotanical study of the Moringa.’

‘Oh dear!’ Andy pulled a mournful face, waggling his head in a mocking way.

‘Oh dear, indeed,’ I almost laughed, Andy, at least didn’t seem in awe of the superstar.

The three of us busied ourselves in the portacabin laboratory at Watering Lane, Eden’s nursery a few miles west of the main site, each wearing the standard kit, lab coat, latex gloves, and, when we were cutting, goggles.

‘So,’ I said firmly, looking up from my microscope, ‘it’s definitely not a dehydration problem, these cells are as turgid as we could wish for.’

‘And so far I have found no signs of microbacterial infection,’ added Andy. ‘So I’m going to culture some sections, especially of the red cells.’

‘You just do that!’ Naomi said to his back as he went into the second half of the lab.

‘Nothing?’ I asked, looking across to her. There was an atmosphere between them that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, though it might have just been the cross accusations over the source of the plant infections.

‘Nothing, certainly on this sample, I’m off to take a good look at that tree and the area, put down a few sticky pads to see what insect vectors I catch.’

‘Okay. I have to admit I’d rather we found something concrete before Adamson turns up.’

Naomi turned and gave me a quizzical look as she hung up her lab coat. ‘I don’t know why you’re worrying, Gabbi, that new senior botanist will be here tomorrow and she can talk herself out of any hang-ups Dr Adamson has about our trees.’

Naomi just about slammed the door behind her, leaving me wondering what had ruffled her feathers. There was something in the way that she had said ‘senior botanist’ that suggested that the new boss was a problem, but, as I had not been in on the day of the appointment I’d not met Dr. Ananias. I had heard that she had made an impact on all of them in different ways, some by her looks, some by her ‘air’ and some by her obvious intelligence, however, perhaps not all opinions were favourable. I recalled that Naomi had been unusually reticent at the time.

I turned the leaf over again; the under side was a definite red, not unlike many plants that have a red underside to reflect light back through to the chlorophyll-bearing leaf tissues. I began to wonder whether the Moringa had the ability to adopt this red pigment in reduced-light circumstances. After all the ETFE bubbles of the domes did not allow a hundred percent light through them, then add to that, the fact that many of the largest of the trees in the tropical biome had grown so fast, faster than had been expected, that they had already needed pruning to prevent them reaching the skin of the dome, and so they were cutting out even more light.

‘Hey, Andy,’ I called. ‘I’m going over to reception to see if I can chase up anything on Moringa and low light levels.’

‘Okay, catch you up later.’

I cleared and washed up, then hung up my lab gear and left the laboratory. I glanced up at the vast range of glasshouses that had brought on the bulk of the trees and plants needed to create Eden, and now continued that work, with the sideline of producing plants for sale in the shop. Reception was a building that looked, appropriately, like an overgrown garden shed. Inside, it had the appearance of belonging to a set of artistic hippies; six foot butterflies hung lazily on fine threads from the ceiling, a foam rubber and papier-mâché tree wound itself around a central pillar, and collection boxes for all kinds of recyclable stuff were everywhere. The reception desk itself was little more than a bare board and unmanned as usual, yet above it hung the ubiquitous picture of Luke.

‘Hiya, Jim,’ I called as I circled round to a spare computer.

‘All right?’

‘Will be if we can sort out this blessed Moringa before he comes.’ I nodded to the picture.

‘Yeah, I heard you had a problem. Anything I can help with?’

Jim was one of those truly green-fingered horticulturalists that make you believe in such things; anything he touched grew.

‘Not unless you can tell me why these Moringa leaves should turn red with no obvious reason. I’m just looking up the likelihood of a change to utilise reflected light, though there was nothing in the Forestry guide’

‘No watering problems?’

‘Nope.’

‘Hmm, light sounds like a possibility then, and that guide’s not infallible. I’ll leave you to it,’ he added as he left the building.

Half an hour later Andy broke through the trance that I’d sunk into as I flicked from article to article dealing with plants that utilised the red underside of their leaves. There were no cases where Moringa had exhibited this pattern of adaptation and the only plants where the colour changed, as opposed to always being red, had a well documented histology that demonstrated that they were always ready and willing to change as soon as the light levels decreed it.

‘Ready to go back?’ he asked.

‘Yep, might as well, not getting anything useful here. Of course I might be on to a new research paper,’ I grinned. ‘The adaptation of Moringa to life under ETFE.’

   Andy grinned back; he knew how little I wanted to do any such thing, even though progress in the scientific world was made just that way. I’d said often enough that I was so glad I didn’t have to jump through those hoops as I had no ambition now to be a botanical high-flyer. After all I’d seen at first-hand what it meant. James had been at the top of his field for decades and it had driven him to despair at times, especially when out ‘scrounging’ for research funds, yet it still amazed me when he threw it all in and retired at fifty, many of his colleagues were just getting into their stride at that age.

   We were no further on when I left for home. I drove my mini quite sedately, there being no need to hurry home, and the twists and turns of the high-banked hedges and the road between them meant that being ready and able to stop within a few yards of spying another vehicle was a distinct advantage. My mind wasn’t on my driving however; it was still on the problem of the Moringa.

 ….. to be continued

Sharing:

Happy New Year and a Gift for YOU

Happy New Year ! – my opening salvo for 2013 is a glance back over the past year in pictures ( all the newspapers and TV programmes do this – so why not here – and I bet these are different – no Jubilee or Olympics here ( except Doglympics :))

So here are a few of Your Favourites and a few of Mine

Side view Jan 1 2012

I didn’t feel brave enough to even post the ‘before’ picture until well into 2012 – but it’s an apt start to my reminiscences of 2012 as this is the biggest thing in the year for me – to find a round-up of how I got there, losing 34lbs on the way click here:

Side view Dec 1 2012

In April Bonny, my Dog, made a you-tube Doglympics Video for me which 344 people have liked and I share again now as it’s fun!  🙂 [if you can’t see this video on the emailed version click on the title and it will take you to the blog proper where it is available]

I liked my slug study from 2012 ( though if you don’t like slugs you may not) – the ‘great year for slugs’ was headlined on the national news just before Christmas – but I got there first 😉 Intrigued? Read more here 

And 2012 was also the year of the lichen – loving all the wet. more here:

Then there was my favourite kitchen gadget of 2012 – still used nearly everyday – and how many gadgets can you say that about? more here:  where you can see a video of it working!

Finally, a surprisingly popular blog which finished by asking what this little bottle was – have a look here to find out if you, too, are curious!

 

 

 

So, there we are – a few of my favourites and a few of yours from 2012.  Have I missed your personal favourite – do tell me in the comments – I’d love to hear from you!

So it is time to Wish YOU All the Very best for 2013 – may it be peaceful, prosperous and happy for everyone!

And a reminder – that you still have until January 6th to claim your Christmas gift from me – thank you for following and commenting on my posts – Details Below!

 YOUR GIFT –  FROM ME

I hope you all had a great Christmas – and now things have calmed down a bit here I have decided to give all my readers a present – your choice of one of my e-novels – from me – to you – free 🙂  

It doesn’t matter what kind of e-reader you have or whether you have one at all – you can still request one of my novels and it will be sent to your email address. If you have an e-reader ask for the right type of file for you (mobi for kindles – epub for most other e-readers – or pdf)  if you haven’t an e-reader just ask for a pdf version and you can read it on your computer!

Just go to my other website  annmade.co.uk (BEFORE the 6th Jan 2013) and click into CONTACT ANN – there carefully enter your email address  and request the BOOK TITLE  and the FILE VERSION (MOBI / EPUB /PDF) you would like  – one e-novel free per person as a gift !  [before the twelfth day]

Your choices 🙂

The first time it happened it felt like stumbling across another avenue to an ancient monument, but this one pulled at more than just his head, there was a tightness in his chest, the lights twinkled and flashed inside his mind, the intensity giving Perran a firework of a headache. Following the line – years later in the early nineties – leads him into Liz Hawkey’s ordered life, and together they discover the source of the line.

A story of family, love and loss, Divining the Line brings the ordinary and the extraordinary together into everyday life.

Click here to read the first three Chapters

 

Living in London suddenly becomes too uncomfortable for the attractive Jo Smart and her sixteen year-old son, Alex, after he is beaten up, so when they are offered the chance to take an immediate holiday in a peaceful Cornish town they jump at it. But not all is as peaceful as it seems as they become involved in a murder enquiry, drug raid and abduction.

DI Rick Whittington has also escaped from London and the reminders of the death of his wife and child, and through his investigations finds himself meeting Jo and being drawn into the events surrounding her.

This is a love story set in the early 1990s which combines the historic Cornish love of the sea and smuggling with hard faced twentieth century crime and detection. The perfect blend for a woman’s crime novel.

Click here to read the first three Chapters

 

Faith Warren, married mother of two, is a secretary in a newspaper office. It wasn’t what she’d hoped for, but her dreams of university and becoming an author were lost long ago. Telling stories to entertain her lifelong friend on their journey to work and back is all that is left, until she tells The Story.

The real trouble began with the minor characters, just unfortunate co-incidences, but when do you stop calling them co-incidences and begin to wonder what the hell is going on – and how it can be stopped

Click here to read the first three Chapters

Don’t forget to ask for your Christmas pressie of an Ann Foweraker Novel before the twelfth day – January 6th! 

And I’d love to see your review of your choice of my novels too! Please send them to me here on my blog, for inclusion on my website, or post them on my pages on Amazon 😉 (just search for Ann Foweraker in Amazon Books) or do both! 🙂 Thanks, and Happy Christmas!

 

 

Sharing:

And a pressie for YOU, you and you!

If you’ve read this already, sorry for the repeat post – but, apparently, it didn’t get out to everyone and I really don’t want anyone to miss this opportunity to receive their Christmas present from me 🙂 and I’ve extended the time too, to the twelfth day after Christmas.

I hope you all had a great Christmas – and now things have calmed down a bit here I have decided to give all my readers a present – your choice of one of my e-novels – from me – to you – free 🙂  

It doesn’t matter what kind of e-reader you have or whether you have one at all – you can still request one of my novels and it will be sent to your email address. If you have an e-reader ask for the right type of file for you (mobi for kindles – epub for most other e-readers – or pdf)  if you haven’t an e-reader just ask for a pdf version and you can read it on your computer!

Just go to my other website  annmade.co.uk (BEFORE the 6th Jan 2013) and click into CONTACT ANN – there carefully enter your email address  and request the BOOK TITLE  and the FILE VERSION (MOBI / EPUB /PDF) you would like  – one e-novel free per person as a gift !  [before the twelfth day]

Your choices 🙂

The first time it happened it felt like stumbling across another avenue to an ancient monument, but this one pulled at more than just his head, there was a tightness in his chest, the lights twinkled and flashed inside his mind, the intensity giving Perran a firework of a headache. Following the line – years later in the early nineties – leads him into Liz Hawkey’s ordered life, and together they discover the source of the line.

A story of family, love and loss, Divining the Line brings the ordinary and the extraordinary together into everyday life.

Click here to read the first three Chapters

 

Living in London suddenly becomes too uncomfortable for the attractive Jo Smart and her sixteen year-old son, Alex, after he is beaten up, so when they are offered the chance to take an immediate holiday in a peaceful Cornish town they jump at it. But not all is as peaceful as it seems as they become involved in a murder enquiry, drug raid and abduction.

DI Rick Whittington has also escaped from London and the reminders of the death of his wife and child, and through his investigations finds himself meeting Jo and being drawn into the events surrounding her.

This is a love story set in the early 1990s which combines the historic Cornish love of the sea and smuggling with hard faced twentieth century crime and detection. The perfect blend for a woman’s crime novel.

Click here to read the first three Chapters

 

Faith Warren, married mother of two, is a secretary in a newspaper office. It wasn’t what she’d hoped for, but her dreams of university and becoming an author were lost long ago. Telling stories to entertain her lifelong friend on their journey to work and back is all that is left, until she tells The Story.

The real trouble began with the minor characters, just unfortunate co-incidences, but when do you stop calling them co-incidences and begin to wonder what the hell is going on – and how it can be stopped

Click here to read the first three Chapters

 

Don’t forget to ask for your Christmas pressie of an Ann Foweraker Novel before the twelfth day – January 6th! 

And I’d love to see your review of your choice of my novels too! Please send them to me here on my blog, for inclusion on my website, or post them on my pages on Amazon 😉 (just search for Ann Foweraker in Amazon Books) or do both! 🙂 Thanks, and Happy Christmas!

 

Sharing:

One Hedgehog, two hedgehogs, three hedgehogs, four ….

I don’t really collect hedgehogs … they seem to have gravitated  towards me. Ok, so I did buy one once and I will admit to having bought some sticky-backed op-art style pictures once (One of which, at least, was stuck to the door of my room at teacher training college).

The one I bought was purchased at the Ideal Home exhibition, Earls Court when I visited it with school and aged 15.  This first hedgehog was, seemingly, carved from a light grey stone and sat nice and coolly in the palm of your hand. It was a paper weight.  Yet I did not keep it – I gave it to my boyfriend of the time, Ricky.  He lent it back to me when I was taking my exams as a good luck token (and it was great if I got cramp from writing as holding its cool surface eased my fingers and I could then write on). I can’t show you a picture of this one as I gave it back to Ricky after the exams, but here are a small selection of the ones that have arrived to take its place and that I do have standing around (many, many more are packed away)

Ever since then I became associated with hedgehogs – in their ornamental state. People started giving me hedgehogs. They came as souvenirs, gadgets and gizmos, in all sorts of materials and as mass produced or hand made items, in wood, clay and even brass, some made especially for me. These handcrafted ones are the best! From ‘thank you’ carved wooden ones (second from back – left)  to the  one made by one of my boys when quite young (front right)

To be honest, the brass ones are quite sentimental. My – at the time boyfriend, now husband – made these as part of his teacher training course (in Craft and Design Technology) and they represent – us. They were made using polystyrene which was cut and ‘picked’ into the shapes. This was then buried in casting sand and the molten brass poured in. The hot metal would then dissolve the polystyrene and take its place in the mold (letting off pretty obnoxious fumes – don’t think you are allowed to do this now-a-days) The resulting castings were then cleaned up with a file and buffed up on a buffing machine.  Guess which one is me? 

Sometimes I feel as if the hedgehogs collected me, however, I now identify with them as a symbol. The practical hedgehog for my blog – three hedgehogs in a row for my business logo.

In my novel Divining the Line, Liz has a collection of small animal ornaments made from different minerals – a tweak on the idea of my own collection – and Perran, a water diviner by profession and with a geology degree,  is able to identify the minerals for her – creating a link between them.

My sister in law has the same problem with frogs. She collected a few – but then more arrived.

Have you ever had this happen, you take an interest in a design or collection and suddenly everyone gives you them? Or do you happily collect an unusual animal ornament? I love to hear from you folks – do tell!

 

Lastly – an urgent message for DeborahKennedy2@….  please contact me back before 10/9/12 after which I must deem that you have refused the prize offered and make a re-draw.  And for my FWT? cheerleaders – the results on last Sunday was another half pound down – with which I am well pleased 🙂

Sharing:

The Spires of June and one last chance

One Last Chance .. to enter my Win a Kindle Draw – where there are now only 39  places left before this draw is called. If you’ve not entered, or know someone who hasn’t,  then just go to Win a Kindle for all the details – do share with anyone who you know who would like a chance – before they all go! ALL GONE!!

It looks as if this June is going into the records as the wettest ever in the UK – however, nature takes it all in its stride – some things suffer and some things do better.  Umbillifers and ferns and the ubiquitous and insidious bracken seem to be thriving – all working to hide the most recent flush of hedgerow flowers.

 The Spires of June are the lovely-to-look-at foxgloves, Digitalis pupurea. Lovely – but both highly poisonous and a very important medication. In some unfortunate cases, foxglove leaves  have been mistaken for comfrey leaves (which are a similar shape and texture before the flowers appear) and made into a ‘tea’ –  with deadly consequences.  Digitalin is used to treat heart conditions and has been for centuries, described in medical literature as early as 1785.  Dioxigenin, found solely in the leaves and flowers of foxgloves, is a steroid used as a molecular probe to detect DNA and RNA.

In June these bedeck our hedgerows, large enough to stand proud from all the other foliage, especially in a June like this has been.

A much humbler, and perhaps overlooked, spire of June is the flower-spike of the Wall Pennywort (or Navel-wort or Penny-Pies).

pennywort - early June
pennywort late June

The names for this plant are so descriptive – the round, penny shaped leaves have a central dimple – like a belly-button and are edible. You can see where each local name for Umbilicus rupestris comes from. Many people do not even associate the white flower spikes with the flat round leaves noticed much early in the year as the leaves seem to shrink when the spikes reach their maximum.

What else do I have for you for June, well a catch-up on the chicks – hatched in mid-May – might be an idea.  A real mixed bunch!

 

 

 

 

And a cutie shot of one of the little billy goats enjoying the long grass. nom-nom  The whole herd seem to be swimming as they wade through the long grass in the field – grass which has grown like crazy due to the extra wet, yet warm, June.  

And finally – a photograph of one of our garden plants in flower – it produces fruit for us each year – though you might not expect to see one growing and fruiting so well in the UK.  Any idea what it could be?    Post your answers in the comments – the first correct one will get an copy of  my novel ‘Some Kind of Synchrony’ (in pdf format)  Want to know what Some Kind of Synchrony is about – click this LINK to read the blurb and the first 3 chapters.  Answer at the end of the month.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed catching up with nature in our little corner of Cornwall. What has June been like where you are?  There have certainly been some sets of extreme weather in all sorts of places this year. Do tell – I love to hear from you!

 

Sharing:

Time for a Slate Clock and this week’s FWT? results

A few weeks ago I realised that one topic I had not blogged about specifically was slate-craft!  Which is strange, as it is an activity I do A LOT !

Most of you will know that this blog is also linked to the website  AnnMade.co.uk (and to the Facebook page of the same name).  Now I write whenever I can, but creating handcrafted slate-ware is my ‘day job’.   It’s a small business that I have built up from nothing over the past 5 years and AnnMade slate-ware has a good name amongst top chefs and restaurateurs as well as individuals from all over the UK and even as far afield as the USA, Holland, Eire and Australia.

My carefully hand polished and food-safe olive-oil conditioned Slate Plates were specifically asked for by Michelin starred Chef Richard Corrigan for his show on Channel 4, ‘Cookery School’, and they have been used multiple times on The Great British Menu, both in the heats and at a banquet. These and specialist shaped or sized bespoke slate cheeseboards or plates have been made for many chefs and hotels including Marcus Waverly at the Berkley. You may have guessed, I’m quite proud of my little business.

However, I also make a lot of other products for both home and garden, some of which are one-off items, sometimes made from reclaimed slates from Cornwall, notably the famous Delabole slate. This slate weathers well and after a couple of hundred years shows beautiful patterns and markings caused by inclusions of minerals like iron pyrites (fools gold)

While I was busy making a new slate ‘natural sun’ clock using a piece of reclaimed Delabole I decided to take photos as I went along to show you the process and get at least one specific blog into that topic!

Now ‘natural sun’ is just my name for this particular design that I created, where the hours are marked by slots in the slate creating a sun-ray effect to the edge, and each one is unique as each slate is different.

Hope you found this guide to making this type of slate clock interesting.  And talking of time – there is still just time to enter my great Draw to Win a Kindle (or 1 of 4 other prizes) Just click on the link to get all the details, and if you have already signed up make sure you tell everyone you know about it, so they can have a chance too. Only 147 places left!

Finally, for my great cheerleaders who are encouraging me in my quest to lose weight through resistance weights exercises carried out at home and taking less than 15 mins a day (want to know more? click here) .. the results for this week are in. Now you will recall that last week I lost 2 pounds (and was very pleasantly surprised at this stage) well, this week there was no change on the weight front. So still at 10st 1 lb and still tantalisingly close to that 10st goal!  However, the inches moved a little – both measurements, relaxed and pulled in tight were down a quarter of an inch. Considering that the pulled in tight measurement didn’t move last week I am happy with this.

What do you think of the process of making this design of clock?  Do you work in a similar craft?  I just love to hear from you folks!

 

 

Sharing:

‘Apeeling’ gadgets and a Cake called Herman

There – now look what I have gone and done – I usually hate that, when to catch your attention words are spelled incorrectly! Krazy Kards, Kwik Fit etc …  grrr – how is any child expected to learn how to spell? Whew.. what another rant already? Enough – today I just have to tell you about my new apple peeler / corer / slicer. Though you don’t have to do all three, there is the option just to core and slice or just to peel.

I had first seen these at a WI night where we had a local producer of chutneys and mustards come to give us a talk on how his business got started and how he makes all his products. One of the gadgets he brought along to show us how he made his preparation easier was an apple peeler/ corer/ slicer: a modernised version of a Victorian invention. I was fascinated!

Wind forward about 8 months to a TV programme fronted by Stephen Fry on the 100 best gadgets. I came in when they had got down to the top 20 or so.. and there is was. ‘Ha!’ I cried ‘See that – that’s what I was telling you about from WI.’  I told the husband, ‘Absolutely brilliant, I’d love one of those!’ and then forgot all about it.

Until the other week when it arrived. ‘Not very romantic,’ he said, ‘but I guessed you’d like it.’

.. oh and I do!

(sorry that  the video is a bit wobbly – I was holding camera in my left hand whilst turning the handle with my right! Also – it ran out of memory just before I showed the spiral apple cut! (there’s some excellent vids made by others on youtube if you want to look esp. a great one by an Oz firm called Ezi)  As it was a gift I know I shouldn’t have checked up .. but I see you can buy them from around £15 on Amazon or £10 on ebay.

Bonny enjoying the 'spaghetti' peelings

 

After you have finished you have this metres-long peel and the core. Now Bonny the Dog loves apples (she helps herself to windfalls from the orchard in the Autumn) and she hoovers these peelings up like spaghetti. And even better, unlike so many kitchen gadgets, it is so easy to clean, taking very little time! Now, that is impressive – and so it has been used by one or other of the household everyday, sometimes more than once a day, since it has arrived, especially as my elderly parents don’t like eating the peel anymore and do like their apple in slices.

Peeler with ceramic blade

So, I called this appealing gadgets – and that’s because I have also recently bought a simple peeler. Until now I have been a ‘sharp knife’ sort of kitchen demon. Never really seen the need for peelers. Always found the sort with the slot up the blade took too much off and were harder work than a simple knife. Then, first, the handle on my favourite peeling knife broke – irreparable. Then I bought a replacement – well, when I say replacement, I couldn’t get one quite the same so I got one that was about the same size and looked like the handle would be comfortable. It wasn’t. I bought another (more expensive) knife. The blade does not seem to be fine enough and is hard to peel with. Yes, I ‘invested’ in another. The ‘ergonomic’ ridge, digs into my finger and makes lengthy peeling sessions uncomfortable! So when on a pre-Christmas peeling session, my Aunt brought with her a different type of simple peeler I  tried it out. It was wonderful! And it is this type I have just bought, lightweight and with a sharp ceramic blade, it’s a whiz even with our wriggly home-grown veg as well as this neat looking carrot I used for the pic.

 

 

Herman - the Friendship Cake

So where does Herman come in to this? Herman (the friendship cake) is a sourdough yeast based cake that you are given as a starter by a friend and then add flour, sugar and milk to at certain stages to make it ‘grow’, when it has quadrupled in size you divide it into 4 and give away (with the recipe sheet) the other three portions and make yourself the cake. This version required 2 cooking apples, chopped. Of course I used the apple peeler, corer, slicer and then just chopped each apple down into smaller chunks – easy!!

And it’s a yummy cake too! So, what with all the apples and Herman, how is the weight going I hear you ask? (That’s if you are one of the followers of the saga of the Fat Woman Thinning, whereby I am trying to lose weight, post menopause, through a weights exercise programme that my #3 son has worked out for me, designed to burn fat not build muscle and to take minimal time (less than 15 mins a day). If you want the details you’ll have to go up to the FWT? drop-downs from the top bar where you’ll find most of the information and the ‘losing weight’ blogs where you’ll find the rest.)

OH? The results.. sorry, were you waiting.. ok then.. yeah ..2 pounds down this week!! (Yes, I know – wow…!)  waist measurements – relaxed – down a quarter of an inch, pulled-in tight – the same. Comments on this on week 20.

Once last thing that I think might appeal to you or your friends and family – my Win a Kindle Draw (or  1 of 4 other prizes including a slate cheeseboard from AnnMade and ecopies of my Novels) which anyone can enter with just a sign-up to this blog – though there are extra entries also available. As soon as one thousand people have entered the draw will be made. As of today there are only 198 places left – so don’t miss out – don’t let your friends and family miss out – it’s worth a go! Click HERE for full details

What’s your favourite kitchen gadget? Or do you have a cupboard full of those that take longer to clean than they save in time? Love to hear your stories….

 

Sharing:

Writing from What You Know – and FWT? Results!

Before we get into the headline act, a quick catch up for Fat Woman Thinning? my 52 week odyssey to lose weight after the menopause using a quick resistance weights programme.  The results are in for last week…. (here you may enter one of those awful pauses that, on TV, they seem to think creates tension and excitement – but really just annoys (or is this only me?) It was good to see on BBC Young Musician of the Year that they did no such thing and announced the winner immediately after the saying ‘the winner is  🙂  Ok, rant over

  Now, results: another one pound down! Half an inch off relaxed waist measurement, but no change on the pulled-in tight measurement. Am I pleased – Yes, I am!  More thoughts and details on the FWT? drop down for week 19.

Kindle to Win

And secondly, my Win a Kindle Draw (or 1 of 4 other prizes) is hotting up.. there are now only 225 places left – so make sure you have yours and make sure everyone you know has heard of it so they have a chance to enter too! It’s free and very easy to enter, just an email sign-up to this blog gets you in, more details from the link http://annfoweraker.com/2012/your-chance-to-win-a-kindle/

Writing from What You Know

As you will know I also write novels, and occasionally I get asked for tips from new writers or those thinking of writing so now and again I do a post on writing.  Now, one of the things you are most frequently told as a new writer is to ‘write from what you know’.

Now, I always thought this to be a strange thing to suggest –  after all most of what the average person, let alone the average author, knows is probably pretty ordinary and dull.

However, after writing for many years, I think I now have a better understanding of this stricture and for any budding writers I’ll share this little insight. It’s all to do with using things, places, feelings, you already know within your story so you do not have to re-invent the wheel world. (Yes, even when you are inventing new worlds – some of the most famous, Tolkien for example, use ancient stories, lore and familiar scenery to develop their new worlds)

Let’s just look at one of my novels as an example: In Nothing Ever Happens here, my main female character, Jo,  is a teacher (This is obviously writing from what I knew – having been a teacher)

She works in a school in London, a primary school. Using my memory I can see, feel, taste even, the primary school in the Fulham road where I did my very first teaching practice. ( again – drawing on something I knew)

What else is there in Nothing Ever Happens Here that comes from what I knew? Certainly not the violence and the drugs smuggling – not personally, but like anyone, particularly any author, I read a lot and I read reports of criminal acts as part of my research.

Once my Jo and her son are down in Cornwall I don’t have to invent the scenery, I take it from what is there – what I know – and the scenery and the lay of the land does play quite a big part in this story. Especially the smugglers’ caves, the secluded coves and the countryside.

On her holiday (to escape their troubles in London) Jo stays at a chalet on a small farm which has goats, chickens and geese, all of which we have kept on our own smallholding and Rick, my other main protagonist, works out of the main police station in Plymouth, a city where I used to live and frequently visit.

Having all this important background material and central locations already in my head frees up my imagination so that I can pursue the rest of the story, seeing it happen like watching a film, getting the words down to describe my personal movie to you the reader, hoping to recreate what I see and hear … which, in this case, became the novel ‘Nothing Ever Happens Here’ …. an ironic title that heads-up a story, which you may have guessed, is anything but ordinary and dull.

Are you a new writer  … or thinking you’d like to write one day? What things, that you have been told about how to write a novel, just confuse you, which are useful and what hints would help you? Do share and let me know, I love to hear your comments!

Sharing:

Enjoyed this blog? Please share :)