Monday, 10 March 2014
Plus, my home wifi is knackered, so if I fire the Internet up it is for work stuff.
Work is going well. I have a few commercial and private editing commissions on the go. I was hoping for a bit of time to write as well, so grabbing that when I can. This includes some stand up material that I was able to try out at my first gig for a while on Friday night for a charity night in Silverstone. That was a remarkably pleasant evening. I shan't be able to commit to a decent number of gigs just yet, so staying under the radar for now with a few open spots and not trying to push too hard. That said, if anyone has a spot for me, do let me know.
Comedy-wise I have also been bouncing again for Robin Ince and have been lucky enough to get onto the guest list for Helen Keen's new series of It is Rocket Science. These were brilliant shows and I will expand on what they were like in later posts.
Also I had free tickets to see A Tale of Two Cities at the theatre last week, which was awesome.
Writing-wise I also have a story coming out in Newcon Press' s Noir anthology... I will post pics of the cover soon.
Scratting fans, I believe I have scratted just over 30p since last mention.
I do have some thrift book reviews coming up, and craft pics, so will hopefully be back to normal service soon.
Tuesday, 4 February 2014
I am still chockablock with work, and have only a few minutes to get my words down while on the bus. But I did take a break to do a couple of nice things in the last week.
The Moon Field
Last Thursday I went to a lovely free book reading for the launch of local author Judith Allnat's new book The Moon Field.
We learned about how family stories had inspired this tale of two working class lads who ended up volunteering to fight in the First World War. It is set against the picturesque and tranquil surroundings of Keswick, contrasted with the horror and destruction of Flanders. Can't wait to read it. There was wine and nibbles too.
Why not subscribe to your local library blog to see what interesting things they are putting on?
Not Now, Chewie
It being the Chinese New Year (horse!), of course I spent a little bit of time with my family for story readings with my nephew and munching of new year cake (yum, thanks, Annie! )
However, on Friday I went to a New Year party at my friend Zoe's house. Her boyfriend is Mexican but lives in China so it seemed appropriate to celebrate... with a science fiction theme??? Yes. So OH and I dressed as rough interpretations of the Tom Baker Doctor Who and Bennie Summerfield (using our actual clothes) and joined Fliss, a couple of Neos, stormtroopers, dragons, Alien, Predator, a Dalek, Arthur Dent a character from City of Bones, Poison Ivy and Jon Pertwee. We played pass the parcel and Death Star piñata. They made that. Isn't it brilliant!
Last week's 'found money' 10p. Diminishing returns methinks...
Things that make you go grr
Other bloggers have mentioned stuff that's not terribly helpful for those looking for the frugal way. I cite the BBC's Food and Drink. Their 'budget' show had a great piece by Arabella Weir on how families might well choose biscuits over apples if down to their last 30p, but lovely Tom Kerridge and lovely Michel Roux junior were just a tad out of touch. Tom's recipe for lamb with mash and salsa verde might well have costed down to £2 per portion but I suspect that capers, anchovies and fresh herbs are not store cupboard staples for the majority. And where can you buy just 2 shallots? MRJ's recipe for souffle was even more badly thought out than that... costing a pudding at £2 per head hardly makes it budget. And he used vanilla pod... pod!
Yummy food for sure, but could have done better. I mean, if you can buy a frozen gateau for £2, why spend hours making a pudding for £8?
Still love the show. And OH tickled me by saying, "I married Tom Kerridge. Only the smaller version." Yeah, never mind that he's also bald and a man. There's a compliment in there somewhere.
Oh, and I got quoted in The Guardian last week announcing the BSFA Award nominations. Which was nice.
Sunday, 26 January 2014
|Robin Ince: dressing like he means it.|
|We're talking 8s and 9s here|
Sunday, 5 January 2014
- Remember the person serving you is a human being; never be aggressive or rude. Keep your eyes friendly, your voice calm.
- Use phrases like, I understand why you have to say that, but; I appreciate your position on that particular issue, however. Basically, soften up before you say 'but'.
- They do have to be a gatekeeper and say no, but be persistent. And persistence shouldn't become aggressively persistent. If you reach an impasse, pause before going back to an earlier point.
- A good way of getting them to understand where you are coming from is to ask questions. "If these transactions were done overnight, shouldn't I have seen them on my statement in the day?"
- Don't argue about anything you know you are wrong about - you will trip up. They've seen it all and can spot chancers a mile off.
- Remember to say thank you - a lot. Thank them for checking the facts again, looking things up for you, and thank them after they have helped.
- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C, Gas mark 4. Line and grease your tray (about 17 x 25cm - I used a lasagna dish).
- In a saucepan, slowly melt together the 100g spread, 50g sugar and 50g honey. When it's all melted, set aside to cool down a bit.
- Sift 100g self-raising flour and a pinch of salt in a bowl, add the 125g oats, 50g sunflower seeds and 40g chopped dates.
- Mash the bananas together, mix in beaten egg. Add this to the flour mixture.
- Stir in the syrupy mixture.
- Pour into the baking tray/lasagna dish/whatever you have, and bake for 25 minutes or so. It should be firm to the touch and golden brown.
- Let it cool for a bit, then cut into 10 bars.
Thursday, 2 January 2014
I have a poor history of offering gluten-free comestibles to Kim: my wedding cake had a gluten-free chocolate layer especially for her - she didn't get any; I took snacks for her to my birthday party - they got buried under the presents and no one could find them. At least this time, I would put them in her hand, and they would be in her house. Problem solved!
For the basket, I chose one of those Top of the Pops records that always duped you into buying a load of covers because they couldn't afford to use the real versions.
|Phew! It's not really Gary Glitter!|
For the recipe, I thought I'd avoid any controversial celebrity association.So, I went for this recipe by Nigella Lawson, because you can't go wrong with Nigella. I used hazelnuts instead of walnuts as I had those, and that bit about proper quality chocolate? Yep, used basic. Good job I did...
|Ah - they smelled gorgeous!!!|
|A liberal sprinkling of |
|cling-filmed for the journey, with a pretty bow.|
However, she didn't get to try too many before Drake the Labrador took advantage of turned backs to jump up and scoff most of them off the plate. Doh!
Good job it wasn't the hard cocoa stuff- not terribly healthy for dogs. Luckily, he wasn't ill after all that. Or the cat food he'd stolen from the cats just after.
I looked into his big, sorry face, and said - right, you're going in my blog. He wagged his tail. I think that was tacit approval.
So, the 'make your own booze' aspect of the year's resolutions (try saying "New Year's resolutions" without sounding just a little bit pissed) is going well, as we have slow sloe gin and this strawberry thing on the way. We had to throw a lot of elderflower as it was practically pure alcohol.
But laying off the booze for a bit... not feeling brilliant after NYE, when OH did an accidental eyes-closed disco punch in my face and made my nose bleed. It was a bit Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon.This was post knocking my wine glass flying, and he finished the manoeuvre with a removal of dangly appendages from the ceiling light. I don't think he'd do too well on Strictly. On the plus side, I now resemble one of my favourite French actors.
Tuesday, 24 December 2013
I am scarily busy with lots of work so this may well be my last post of the year. Does no one else edit over Christmas? Er, no...
Just finished the BSFA newsletter hot on the heels of our latest magazines.
It hasn't all been work, work, work. This weekend I got to do some things to pretend I am still a comedian (I am. Just busy with books). I went out with some friends who are comedians on Friday. We had a jolly good time, although I wasn't too well after eating my curry.
|Who are they? They're all really, really famous. Don't be thick.|
And then on Sunday, I got to go to a Preview for an Edinburgh show for next year at NN Cafe - in fact I worked the door for it.
|"Oi, Acaster's mum. I don't like queue jumpers." |
"I don't like any alphabetical knitwear."
A jolly good night was had by all. The best, in fact! You can't go wrong with the Acaster. James was supported by the very affable Chris Boyd, who does interesting stuff with natural disasters and also has a dead parent he references in his routines. I may have observed our common comedic interests and said, hey, I should do that night you are putting together about that sort of thing. Then I didn't get round to giving him a business card or indeed my name. I am double rubbish.
2013... what a weird year you were. And quite, quite lovely. OH and I got married, we went to beautiful Malta. I did some of the best gigs of my life and started getting recognition just as I'd decided to concentrate more on science fiction... mind, that's paying off now. Long term plan, long term plan... And my dad has started dating again. Which is double odd... I find myself having to tell a man who is nearly chuffing 70 about dating etiquette... he's like a bloody kid! Friends have had bad news, and of course, we lost lovely people from our convention circles this year. But we carry on, with love and hope and fluffy bunnies in our hearts.
2014 is going to be weirder, I suspect. Dad will turn 70, and so we expect him to grow up a bit by then. That ain't gonna happen. I've got something being published in the New Year, too... more on that another time.
Still, what are potential challenges without more self-imposed ones to distract yourself with?
OH has some financial goals next year which are huge and I'm not going into them here, but he will need help. Aside from those, here are my 2014 goals:
- Save towards critical house repairs: roof, windows, rewiring. Need approx £13000. If we can clear one job this year I'll be happy, but we probably need to act soon for all.
- Save up for convention costs. Approx £1000 needed in total. I know... but it's important.
- Begin company pension.
- De-clutter projects - all over the house. Get organized with selling my
- Sealed Pot 2015 goal: a holiday in France.
- Less booze, more schmooze: will go to launches (free wine, free wine); home brew!; CAMRA coupons... no full price tipples in 2014. So, if we do end up in a pub, alcohol free for me. No spontaneous after work drinkies!
- Learn to sew - properly.
- Keep up with garden tidy jobs. Grow something!
- Achieve 50th Parkrun.
- Keep a list of books read.
- Earn a 'fiver' off my shopping every month without spending.
Here's to a healthy, happy, reasonably frugal year,
Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Got word on a sweet deal via Money Saving Expert from the Co-op. I downloaded an app and got this box of chocolates for nowt!
I annoyed a lot of people in the shop though because we couldn't get PayPoint to scan the bar code, so I tied up the staff's time for a while. But the assistants were very kind and patient. Brilliant customer service!