Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Things Fell Apart

Posting after a very long time.  It is hard to know how much to divulge so I'm going to keep it short and sweet. The last one, in September 2016, was a positive one on work being done on my house and how everything was oh-so-great. It turned out that I was living in cloud cuckoo land...

Suffice to say, the builders weren't the best. It turns out they had small print unseen by me. I made assumptions based on what they told me. I didn't ask for clarifications, references, recommendations etc. And to cap it all, every time I was asked for money, I handed it over with alacrity. Silly me. One day I woke up to the realisation that very little money remained from the quote compared with the amount of work still to do.

That's when, to use a cliche, things went pear shaped.

All-in-all, from the builders starting work in August and the legal parting of ways between us in March, it's been a horrible experience, with loads here remaining unfinished. Either because they just didn't do it, or what they did do, is hard to fix/make good.

I was fortunate enough to find a great joiner. He is constantly in demand and I'm at present waiting for a free slot from him. There are jobs inside and outside that weren't finished by the builders. A few that I've asked him to do the next time he comes are skirting boards and architraves. The outside ones such as sealing gaps between walls, I'm going to try and tackle. All I need is "a small aubergine"... I love Goodness Gracious Me. Actually there will be a step ladder involved too!

They say Karma is real. I don't want to wish bad things on anyone. Neither do I want the bad people to continue getting off without repercussions. I believe in Karma. Perhaps in putting out this post will free me to continue writing creatively and the daily procrastinating will come to an end.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

The Manner/Manor To Which We Become Accustomed

When I was little, (I'm not especially tall now), I aspired to being a good wife to the husband my parents would find me, become independent of them, have a really lovely house, and around five children. It was the typical dream for Indian females of my era. I believe, for many it still is their future, even those achieving excellence in academia.

Arriving in England, having no extended family, even though I wasn't cognisant of it, my mindset was changing. Starting infant school I was fortunate to be 'adopted' by a couple of older girls who lived a few hundred yards from me. As I learned English, I read. The more I read, the more I knew I wasn't like the other Asian children.

Anyway, I grew up. I married. I disappointed my parents. And got on with my very strange life; a mix of British and Asian. English is my first language and Punjabi my second. With my feet firmly planted in two cultures, I feel very privileged.

My last house was big, with an even bigger garden. The house that I've moved into a few months ago is less than half its size. I haven't been able to call it home; not yet.

There's a lot of work going on here. Some I can do myself and have been doing, but the larger projects are paid for others to do. The bathroom is very oddly shaped. Tiny too.  It had to be plastered and tiled and a new suite put in. Had my dad still been alive, it would have been fun trying to do it with his help.

However I did peel off wallpaper and ceiling stuff and used a hammer and chisel thingy to get the cupboard that used to house the immersion tank, out.

Hopefully by Saturday, the roof will be on the extension and the rain not washing the floor tiles, and then by the end of next week...

The very important thing is that I like the workmen that are doing the work. I know I'm qualified as a communicator but I'm also very easy to get on with. But just like life, love and friendships, it is a two-way street.

I'm going to be happy when the work is over and the guys are all gone, however, when the work is done and the house finished, I'm going to miss them all.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

All I Want Is Cake

Birthday time.

Last year, same as the last few, I asked for gift ideas. The reply was a reasonable sort of all I want is a cake...

It's never quite as simple as that.

After hours had been spent researching favourites on-line, such as music, films and fashion, I decided that for this 21st birthday, it had to be more than just memory building. So it had to be all three. Preferably homemade.

Aladdin is the film for my little princess. So it would have to be Jasmin's palace. There's a lot of information out there. Did I have grief in planning etc? Well, imagine giving birth :). I remember nothing.

She wanted a chocolate cake because she hates icing coated cakes. So my usual covering and decorating with fondant was out.

I made two cakes; a palace needs size and height. A Madeira (it's firmer) for the base because it had a lot of weight to hold and for the top, my normal sponge that I knew everybody loved.

During the decorating I encountered the usual sort of problems to deal with, such as leveling.  Otherwise everything proceeded smoothly until I tried making the pillars. Neither the sponge or the Madeira wanted to be manipulated.  They had to be small, yet big enough to hold the (chocolate-coated xmas baubles) minarets. I tried baking in egg cups but they refused to come out. Shaving bits off? Nope, the stuff crumbled. 

Becoming frustrated I admitted defeat and decided to make do with the most reasonable ones. As I spread the chocolate ganache, I may have eaten a bit here and there. Towards the end I used tooth picks etc to not only position but also hold the pillars up. 

From start to finish, including taking the cake down to London, took around four days. Disclaimer; my memory isn't brilliant so it could have been more.

The fun part was eating the left over carpet. While I'd like to say I made the figurines, I reckon the truth would out.

Those of you who know me, know that I'm a great exponent of the old ways. Cards made by hand, clicking those knitting needles, looping and twisting cottons and wool with one hook etc.  Things that use up time, to me are very meaningful. After all, what is the most valuable thing you can give anybody? It shows that you care.

It was worth spending weeks on this cardigan for her. I can only crochet but am hoping to learn to knit. The look on her face said it all. Plus the gratifying 'you made this?' And 'Will you make one for...?' from others was rather reassuring.

We took her to see The Lion King and she loved it. I enjoyed it. She wants to see it again this year. I don't. Hm...

It's just a matter of weeks before birthday time and I have no clue on what to do!




Thursday, 1 September 2016

Am I Early?

Come on...this is me and the likelihood of my blogging early is like...well, like knowing I've been misbehaving and still believing Father Christmas is going to leave me a fantastic present.

'What was that you said?  He doesn't - surely not!' (I'm being very careful not to overdo the exclamation marks. Apparently women and children do. Yes, I know what my gender is, but I actually find that spotting one per page is more than enough).

The work on the house is progressing. Yippee. That could be misconstrued but I'm not being sarcastic. And, even better, a few weeks back I even managed to upload Vicious Vignettes, my ninth book.

'Yes siree, it feels mighty fine to me.'

I started work on it many moons ago when wondering whether anyone would ever come along to buy my house. Originally a collection of flash fiction, it was going to be the sequel to She Dreamed Of Flash Fiction, with every story only 200 words. However, somehow, as I edited some of them started to rhyme. This was a tad baffling. I've always cringed at the thought of writing poetry and whenever I did, I kept my head down and mumbled as I read it aloud. The other side of the coin is that I love reading it, often the same ones over and over. But writing?

'Nope...not me, gov'nor.'

In this anthology, being mean about life, people etc wasn't what the intention was. It just happened, leaving me with no choice other than to change the book's cover and the title.

'Anyways...hope someone out there will like them.'

I am going to stop now because my tub of delicious jalapeno houmous is empty. So it's bye for now.













Thursday, 4 August 2016

NEW HOME



I'm here. I'm in.

I've been here and in this house for almost three months.

Can't make any comments on whether it feels like home. Which means it doesn't. Hopefully once I've got a bathroom, kitchen, perhaps even a television? I'm doing plenty of d.i.y. but not as fast as I'd like. I get very annoyed at myself when the day has run out and jobs that in the old days I would have finished, I no longer can.

As to external help, there has been some from a few family members and some friends and I am very, very grateful to them. Their company has kept me sane and that has to be good for everyone. Yes?

Different house can be awfully lonely.

Getting quotes for work is like... I can't use the language appropriate to describing how I feel. After all, this blog is not adult rated :)

Bye for now. 

Friday, 26 February 2016

MOVING HOUSE STRESS AND TRYING TO BE LOGICAL

It would be nice to be writing about writing as usual.  Or even about my delayed post on losing virginity.  However, life has a way of mocking.

Compared to the nail biting stuff connected to lack of sales of my books, the house selling and buying stuff is enough to make one turn in ones grave.  Or make one end up in it if it weren't for a loving family and the listening ears of a good few friends.  If you're about to embark on this little travel, you need patience, beverages, lots of paper to make notes, (obviously somewhere to put them where they'll be easily seen), and the ability to not panic.  Erm, as to certain types of medicinal comforting, I'm lucky.  The alcohol will be as a last resort.

I'd put my house up for sale almost two years ago and around Christmas, a year and half later I decided to do without the stress of waiting for the telephone for to ring and keeping it tidy for 'possible' viewings. It was wonderful and for a few weeks I was relaxed and happy.  But nothing great ever really lasts.  That doesn't mean I'm giving up hope.  Never surrender - that's me.  At least not for too long.

Early February-ish I had a knock on the door.  I recognised the couple.  They'd viewed my house last year.  They asked if I'd sold.  A brief explanation and I directed them to the estate agent.  The following week they came to view, during which I was asked about my moving out situation.  I said I could rent.  As we all know, the spoken word can be so easy.  Easy?  As if!  Not long after they made me an offer.  It was definitely one I could refuse.  It was abysmally low.  As it turns out, that's the way the system works up North.  By about another week we'd agreed on a price.  I reckoned they were the ones with the smiles on their faces, but, oh, well.


Papers started coming in.  Legal, scary stuff.  Then I found out that they want to complete the buying before the end of March, because last year the Chancellor had announced a £9k excess for certain types of home buyers.  I'd figured, based on my family commitments, that end of May was the perfect evacuation time. I said as much on the documents that I sent back to the solicitors.  The buyers reply was to point out that I'd said I could move any time and would rent.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

DETAILS DELIGHT - WARNING: ADULT CONTENT

Or as they say, the devil's in the detail.

This is the first 'Hello' from me not just for 2016 but for any of my blog posts.  At least that's what I think.  I may have mentioned my memory and its decline before, (considerably faster when I'm not testing my brain on a regular basis), and certainly I’ve noticed particular incidences in recent months.  As well as finding myself in front of the fridge and wondering why, nowadays I assure friends I’ll send important information or do something and forget!

Oh well.  Yin and Yang.  Pain and pleasure.  The positive side to it is that my friends are communicating with me more.  It's a two-way street that requires trust, honesty, a code to be followed and where each gives.  Relationships.

Similar to foreplay being crucial to a satisfying outcome for both participants, a writer should deliver on the writing.  Often the promotional media blurb promises so much and delivers little.  Is it not the same as telling the lover/partner how you’re going to ignite their fire to orgasmic fulfillment later, but instead when together all they’re given is a little kiss prior to falling asleep?

Writers - readers buy the books because they’ve been seduced/teased but once they start reading, will their stirred imaginations juices run?

Readers - sometimes writers struggle.  It's as if the plot, the characters, the research, all the tools are sharpened and ready to go, but they’re behind a locked door and the key is lost.  But you can help because in your safe keeping is the spare key.  It's name is feedback/review/praise.

Despite the output achieved for 2014 and 2015, it was low compared to what I’d planned.  No matter how I and my friends chivvied, I considered my efforts a failure.  This past week I’ve been proofreading another of my paperbacks, Devil’s Crochet.  I’m glad I have. Sight is wonderful and looking upon the ‘hind’ of a beloved is wonderful too.  Therefore, hindsight can be very uplifting.  :)

The Yule log here isn’t quite finished.  One knows it’ll taste yummy.  It’s homemade, cream-filled chocolate sponge cake, carefully rolled into a Swiss roll; an annual treat.  The brain’s receptors fire from remembered pleasure, but then...nothing. 
 
The fine sprinkling of white icing sugar contrasts with the dark of the chocolate, and therefore stimulates the senses and makes the mouth water.  Not only does it light the fuse but you know the promise of explosion and then delicious contentment is on its way.

As they say, ultimately it’s not about having the equipment, or the size of it that matters but knowing what to do with it.  If you had the idea and wrote the book, don’t just flaunt it.  Improve it.  Make sure it will deliver what you, the author, promised.  Unless of course, you’re up there with the classic greats such as Virginia Wolf, Jane Austen, Isaac Asimov or Oscar Wilde, in which case go ahead and whip it out.

Welcome to my 2016.  Full of promise?