Wednesday 19 December 2018

What Christmas feels like to me...

Christmas smells of tangerines. For me, at least. For my Colombian husband, the smell of tangerines reminds him of the doormen in apartment blocks in Bogotá. Tangerines, mandarins, clementines - does anyone know the difference?

Christmas used to be the sound of sellotape. We didn't need Santa Claus; my mum was miraculous enough.  Hard at work running the lighting shop, or masterminding the impressive nativity at church, she wouldn't get around to packing our presents until Christmas Eve. My brother and I would listen to the crackle of tape late into the night, too excited to sleep.  

In the morning we'd feel a thrilling weight at the end of our beds. Our stockings were a pair of 40 denier black tights; a bulging boa constrictor full of surprises. We would unwrap our presents on our parents' cosy bed, which seemed gigantic back then.  At the bottom, there was always an orange.   

Christmas tastes of my Auntie Keri's perfect roast potatoes. Crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside. Christmas tastes of caramelised parsnips and those little sausages wrapped in bacon. It tastes of turkey too, though that has always seemed the least important ingredient to me. Christmas tastes of Stilton and Port, because it's the only time I eat Stilton and drink Port.

This year Christmas will taste three times as good.  We'll be celebrating a Colombian-style Christmas with lechona on Christmas Eve, a British Christmas Day in Wales with turkey, and for The Three Kings on 6th January, we'll be eating a paella cooked outside by my Uncle and Aunt in Spain.

Christmas is the sight of some of my favourite people altogether; of friends we haven't seen in a long time, and family we wish didn't live so far away. It's familiar faces sitting around the table, lifting their glasses, and saying Cheers! Salud! Salut! - to what has been, and to what is to come; to all our absent friends and family; and to all those sharing today. In the end, it's never about the stuff as much as the feeling. I hope, wherever you are, whoever you're with, Christmas brings with it a good, good, feeling.

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Tuesday 4 December 2018

The Writing Trance of a Stay-at-Home-Writer-Mum

I consider myself to be quite an observant person. I've also got a great sense of smell. But the other day I failed to noticed a soldering iron slowly burning through a plastic box right beside my desk. I only clocked onto the plume of smoke rising up under my very nose, and the terrible odour of melted plastic, when my husband appeared, and broke the spell I'd been under. That's what writing does to me. I sink into it so deeply, it's as if I'm in another dimension.

Just now I resurfaced from editing a chapter, and discovered my feet were freezing, and my slippers were on the floor just next to them. I was so concentrated on getting some writing done, I hadn't noticed my discomfort, or the ridiculously simple solution.

I have my baby to thank for this new focus. I'm calling myself a stay-at-home-writer-mum. I love spending so much time with her, and am amazed by how rapidly she's growing and changing. I'm grateful I don't need to put her into childcare as it would break my heart, but I still need to write. As well as magazine work, I'm slowly rewriting my novel and editing The Pregnancy Diaries.

Now Six months old, Baby Sol has two siestas a day. When her also freelance father is working, those are my two sacred hours for writing. When I feel tired after an early morning feed, I find my hour of writing gives me energy. I love it as much as I have ever done. So, though my social media feed suggests I'm now baby rather than writing obsessed, I am still plugging away on my books, and look forward to being able to share news of their publication next year!   

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