Thursday, 30 April 2015

Pen Heaven Competition: My Workstation Photo Entry

If I'm ever accidentally locked in a shop, let it be a stationery shop! I would happily spend the night scribbling and highlighting and sticking and glittering and cutting and stapling and folding and felt-tipping! Are any of those real verbs? Who cares! 

LOST - Replacement needed!
Frankly, I'm still in mourning after losing my beloved leather bound notebook after it fell out of a badly zipped up suitcase on a plane. A 3rd year wedding anniversary present and something I thought I'd have for life. I have yet to replace it, which is why I really want to win this competition!

Yes, this is my entry for Pen Heaven's Competition for Stationery Week. The photo is also going to serve as a memento of my time writing in North London. This Sunday I'm moving to Mallorca and tonight my beloved workstation will be packed up. 

I've had my £19 Ikea desk for 10 years and I've written 3 books on it, two of which have been published. The cork boards are what I plot on, one post-it note for each chapter. The mug, which reads Go Away I'm Editing, is always topped up with tea, and although half my life is online, I always, always, have a physical notebook on the go! 

I'm sure it won't take me long to recreate my work station whichever country I'm in, but some lovely stationery would be such a treat!

Check out the delicious Pen Heaven Stationery at

Monday, 20 April 2015

10 Horrible Things That Are Still Nicer Than Katie Hopkins

There's a cloud hanging over me and it's shaped like Katie Hopkins. I'm annoyed with myself for being annoyed with someone so insignificant. Or maybe I'm annoyed that someone so insignificant is being given so much significance with such a massive platform in The Sun. 

How can the language of her column be described as anything other than hate speech? I wonder how much more tolerant people would be of her if she wasn't white and wealthy. As it is, she'll probably flick her blonde locks, flash her eyelashes and say, 'so what if I sound like Hitler? Hate me, see if I care.'

To make myself feel better about living in the same country as someone so odious and lacking in humanity, I've decided to catalogue 10 things which are unpleasant to many, but still more pleasant than Ms Hopkins:

1. Mole Rats  

Katie might identify with the female mole rat since the queen mole rat isn't born queen, but fights her way up to the top. 

However, mole rats are nicer, because they don't squeak about gunning down desperate men, women and children.

2. Cracked heels 

Unpleasant? Yes. But better to have cracked heels than a cracked heart made of ice.

3. Slow Internet Connection 

A first world disaster... and yet at least it delays the possibility of Hopkins popping up in your browser and calling you a cockroach. 

4. Cockroaches 

Unpleasant but a manageable size. If Katie Hopkins skuttled out from under a cupboard I'd have difficulties trapping her under a glass.

5. Street Hot Dogs 

You can only stomach them when you've had a few drinks, but at least you can stomach them, unlike the bile spewed out in that column.  

6. Faulty goods  

I know. It's such a pain when you get home to find what you've bought is broken. But as long as you've got your receipt, you can take it back. 

Has anyone got a receipt for She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named*? 
(*I worry I'm giving her too much publicity.)

7.  Dirty Ovens 

A domestic nightmare. However, with elbow grease and will power you can transform a dirty oven from the inside and make it sparkle again. 

No amount of polish will make a rotten heart twinkle.  

8. Post Office Queues  

Often made up of people with hacking coughs, no sense of personal space, bad tempered 'tutters' and deodorant dodgers.  Still a more welcoming bunch than Ms Hopkins.

9. Damp and Mould 

A common problem in UK  flats, but as long as you're just renting, you can usually get a reluctant Landlord to remove it on threat of ringing Health and Safety. Easier than removing Ms H from The Sun... 

Or is it?

10.  Online Petitions 

My hotmail account is so choked up I've stopped using it, but still, there have been many successes and happy endings for both humans and animals thanks to online petitions... just one more then?

Saturday, 11 April 2015

To Worry or Not To Worry - Is it a choice?

It feels strange to set a novel in a place I've only ever been to once, let alone up sticks and move there!  With three weeks to go until we head off to Mallorca, I admit to feeling a little anxious. 

The longer the wait, the more time I have to wonder if we're mad to leave behind a thriving capital city in favour of a country whose economy has been in intensive care since the crisis of 2010. Then there are our beloved friends who support us when sober, then tell us not to go after a few drinks.
When I'm crushed between rucksacks and sweaty armpits on the rush hour tube, I get a thrill that it won't be for much longer. I close my eyes and dream of mountains and sea. I fantasize about rollerblading along Palma's promenade...  
Then I wonder if I'll feel isolated in a city where I know no one. I think how I'll need to learn to drive as soon as possible. I worry that in Spanish I'll mix my left and right and drive off a cliff. It's not even the language; I mix them up in English. Poor driving instructor, he had so much to live for.
I think about jobs I've applied for and feel my stomach clenching as my comfort zone slip away into the distance.  

In moments of doubt, I turn to my trusty Eckhart Tolle book Stillness Speaks and open up on a random page. Today it reads:
              "What will be left of all the fearing and wanting associated with your problematic life situation that every day takes up most of your attention? A dash - one or two inches long, between the date of birth and date of death on your gravestone.
                To the egoic self, this is a depressing thought. To you, it is liberating."
Crikey. Not as upbeat as I'd hoped. But I suppose it's putting all that worry into perspective. I've already spent too much of my life fretting over things that might never happen, or did happen and weren't worth the anxiety.  

We don't have much say over what life throws our way, but maybe we have a choice about how we deal with the present moment - the only moment we've really got. Remind me of this philosophy when I haven't found a job and I'm constructing elaborate sandcastles on the beach for spare change.  
We're not in danger of changing our minds about the move. Thanks to the wondrous eBay we sold our sofa and our bed on the Easter Weekend!  
To be honest, what makes me even more anxious than the thought of moving, is the thought of not moving.  Despite my fears, I'm hungry for adventure, eager to escape routine, determined that I'll look back one day and think:  my life might well be summed up on my gravestone as 'a dash', but it was a bloody brilliant dash...                
I'm rambling, aren't I? I'll stick the kettle on. Living in the moment is a great antidote to worry, but so is a cup of tea.

I wonder if tea will taste as good as Mallorca... Well, we can live in hope.