Saturday, January 20, 2018

Back to Colorado

They've gone. They went an hour ago, at 5.35 a.m. The house has never felt so quiet. I am back in my own bed, Dave is on the sofa downstairs doing a crossword, the cat is re-establishing her territory, and the washing machine is turning. It's another quiet Saturday at Hepworth Towers.

The giant puddles in Bakewell park will return to being unloved and unremarked, the lego will return to the attic, and the soft toys will return to the girls next door.

I might stay here in bed all day, only getting up to put on another load of laundry.

It's been exhausting, and soooooooo worth it. 

And I miss them already.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Bulletin from the house of jetlag

Isaac, Wendy, Lux (7) and Cecilia (5) are visiting from Boulder during this filthy, dark and freezing January weather. That's why I've been quiet. If there are 45 minutes in one block when I can be spared, I would rather hide somewhere and zone out to The Good Wife than marshal my remaining brain cells in order to blog. 

It's so wonderful to have them here - I really can't express how wonderful - and I thought things were going swimmingly as far as jetlag was concerned. There was a visit in May 2013 when Lux was almost 3 and Cece almost 1 when we had to have a 24 rota for a play and sleep schedule for everyone, as there was only one hour in the day when everyone could be depended upon to be asleep - midnight to 1 a.m. - and only four and a half hours when everyone was awake - 3.30 to 8 p.m. (It's documented on the blog right here.)

This time they arrived Saturday lunchtime after an overnight flight on which some sleep was had, but not much, and then they all crashed out at 8 p.m. and slept right through. That's what Lux reported when she bobbed downstairs with her bright eyes and her joie de vivre at 9 a.m. on Sunday. And that's what I continued to believe was happening. They are all sleeping upstairs, and I am sleeping on my study floor downstairs. Plus, as you know, I am going deaf.  The only mystery was why Isaac and Wendy continued to look as drained and wrecked as when they'd first arrived. I found out eventually that people are not sleeping through. There are actually early hour stretches (the graveyard shift)  when the girls are awake and ready for action, eager for fun. Oh dear.

photo of Lux  by Isaac

At this stage of the visit (5 days in, and they leave in 2) it's a case of endurance for I and W. Dave and I have lots of fun with Lux when she gets up at 9. Cece, who was found asleep and camping on the landing on Tuesday, tends to wake late morning like her parents.

Cece and me by Isaac

The problem with a January visit is that although we live in a tourist area, everything is closed this month - even Chatsworth adventure playground. But we have boxes of lego, the ever popular yoghurt cartons, and the gutters and marbles for marble runs. We found a trampolining place in Sheffield that was a big hit. And the kids are properly kitted out for winter weather, now they live in Colorado and not California. They are as cheerful as eskimos on trips to the park in Bakewell and the village rec, and enjoy the puddles as much as if they were toddlers. Colorado is a dry state: even the snow is dry, which is why it is good for skiing and not making snowmen. But we - oh yes - we have plenty of puddles.

And there is always the miniature Shetland pony next door to make friends with...

Lux and pony by Isaac

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Visitors from overseas

The Hepworth Towers marble run...

Me in my waxy-doodle glasses. Oh, the things you do for your grandkids..

Tuesday, January 09, 2018


'I have read the first 30 pages of your novel. I do still think there are some problems with the shifting viewpoints - and with telling instead of showing  (sorry, sorry, sorry! I know you won’t be happy). There are places where the novel comes alive, but also for me places where it still doesn’t. Shall we talk about this on Tuesday?'

Chrissie has been reading my rewrite, and this excerpt is from her Sunday email. Am I disheartened? Strangely not. This is a tough novel to write: it has a quiet subject, and has several viewpoints. I want it to work. I want it to be the best it can be. It doesn't matter to me how many rewrites it takes as long as it works in the end. I recently read that Roddy Doyle made 17 attempts at one of his recent successful novels. 

I don't think, however, that I can be asking Chrissie to read as many rewrites as it might take, so I'll need a solution to that. It's hard finding someone whose opinion you trust, someone who understands writing and can be specific about problems and who is sympathetic to the difficulties.

This week on Twitter, the writer Joanne Harris tweeted a series of excellent points about editors which are relevant. Here are some of them in the order they appeared on Twitter:

So today Chrissie and I are having lunch and she will tell me more. And we will also discuss her upcoming book launch.

Later, another writing friend is coming to visit. I have just read her first novel - at her request - and she is coming to hear what I think. I hope it's helpful.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

It's on the cards

I hope I'm not too late to ask you to do the following...

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

It's not so bad

I'm turning into my mother. I give people pots of homemade jam when I visit, and I blithely ask forthright questions of medics like And what is your job title? and How do you qualify to be that? and You speak beautifully - so clearly I can hear every word. Was speaking included in your training? ....all questions I put to the nice young man who tested my hearing before Christmas and said I had age-related hearing loss and was entitled to a free NHS hearing aid.  

I can still hear my 91 year old mother on the night before she died asking the doctor inserting the pic line into her chest to explain the procedure, and then asking him how many times he had done it before. It's not so bad being like my mother. I would just like to have inherited her stoicism.

I'm also like my mother in that when I wake up in the morning I feel like death on a biscuit until half past nine. Yesterday, however, it was New Year's Day and our ritual at New Year is to go to bed at the usual time and be woken up by the fireworks across the field at midnight, curse about it, and turn over and go back to sleep, but then be out of the house by 8 a.m. Since we moved here we've been going down to Bakewell to feed the ducks on the river while everyone else is still asleep. It's beautifully deserted and the low beams of sunshine light up the weeping willows and the gulls wheeling above.

But now it's not allowed: there's a sign up that says it is bad for the ducks. So yesterday Dave suggested we drove to Monsaldale and climbed onto the Monsal Trail and said hello to the viaduct instead. 

Here I am, looking a bit chubby, but feeling better for the fresh air:

Next year it's my turn to choose where we go, and afterwards we'll try to be the first ones at Hassop Station for our first coffee of the year.

Happy New Year, dear readers. 

I'll leave you with my dream...

p.s. the header today was the sky taken from our lane, when we got back home.