Thursday, 26 January 2012

Procrastination

With a view like this from my desk there really is absolutely no excuse for not sitting here and writing. Ok, one excuse could be that the view is way too beautiful to take your eyes off.

This was taken one morning as the sun came up. No matter what time of day it is this panorama is never boring. Whether the rain is lashing down, the wind whipping up around all sides of my house from the sea or the sun is making the sea an enormous mackerell mirrror I just can't stop watching. 

Stunning but not helpful, a bit like me in reverse!

Another is that my smallest child wants to play snakes and ladders 24/7 these days. And, although I know I should resist, I can't help playing just to hear him squeal with delight every time mummy has to walk up a ladder and he gets to slide down a snake....I know that I really should teach him the rules but I can't bear the thought of losing to a 4 year old!

People watching is another classic. Flying kites. Kicking balls. Children shrieking with excitement. 

So here I am procrastinating!

I'm not as bad as I used to be, BM (Before Manifesto). at least I have goals that I am working towards, step by step.

  • I am waiting replies from the Children's library and East Sussex County Council re: a walk round to discuss what the service users (us) would like in the new premises and whether or not a mini-makeover for the existing site is feasible.


  • I am writing SOMETHING daily. This is a major step forward for me.  
  • I have 'pitched' (sounds a bit grand but I think the right term) an idea for a column for Hastings Online Times and have been told that I can write it weekly. I am very excited about this! 
  • I have kept this blog updated regularly - again - a massive achievement for me! (Staying power of a gnat!). 
  • And....drum roll....I have the rough outline for my first three chapters for the competition! Huzzah!
  • I am NOT stagnating. These days I try to keep busy - unlike the me formally known as couch potato. Thanks to this movement and the fact that I have things occupying my mind other than which PJs I should slump into I am feeling a little fitter and my clothes are getting a little looser. A great snowball effect!  
I think, in the grand scheme of things, I shall allow myself a little procrastination. I'm worth it! Now where's that child, I'm on a winning streak! Best of 17? Hey where's he gone?


Saturday, 21 January 2012

Pants

Morning! And a jolly Saturday to one and all.

Today is a pants day. No, I'm fine....mostly (slightly hungover perhaps!) However, pants is the 'mot du jour'

I have decided to wear nice ones today, in fact I have decided that everyday will be pants and that I am going to dig out every good pair of pants I own and give them pride of place at the front of my drawer. Generally they stay curled up and ragged at the back like some long forgotten souvenir of a great date.

Every morning, up until today that is, I have pulled out the first available pair. This usually results in something resembling the before shot on '10 Years Younger' - I can just hear that smug blonde mocking me as I pull them up and they come to rest unhappily on my five-babies-later-hips.


No more the shameful undergarments for me, the ones I would be ashamed of if I were to be involved in an accident. No siree, from henceforth I shall be in the serene knowledge that my slightly chubby deriere shall be sheathed in the luxury of satin, silks and ribbons. I shall wear the smile of someone happy to be knocked over by the number 28a and whisked off to hospital, laughing in the security that comes to those of us who wear nice knickers, that when my time comes to undress, I should be almost dancing around the Accident and Emergency department flashing my drawers! If it wasn't for the hypothetically broken legs!



Don't panic, I'm not about to squeeze myself uncomfortably into VPL inducing tightness, I'd rather stick to my rice-bags than bestow that sight on my nearest and dearest. No, I have just banished the saggy, grey, unflattering unappealing remnants of a former me to the rag re-cycling bin. I do hope they can't be traced back to me....they'll probably arrive back here in a few weeks with 'Thanks, but no thanks, we're not that desperate!'
Right, I've got to get my beautifully dressed back-side into gear now. I'm supposed to be writing you know! And this hangover isn't helping; my lovely other half bought a bottle of bubbly to celebrate last night. No, not my pants epiphany..... although finding his hat in the cupboard intended for the storing of hats does now, in the cold light of day, seem like quite a spurious reason for celebration! Oh well....he's happy, I'm happy!

Swing your pants guys!





Monday, 16 January 2012

Count Your Blessings

Hey....where did the weekend go?

I shouldn't complain; I had a lovely time. Catching up with old friends and dropping in on my lovely mum and dad.

I am blessed indeed  - I was double booked by two sets of fantastic friends. My old 'mum' friends who I met when my older boys were at toddler groups, 20 or so years ago (ouch). And my 'theatre group' friends, who I met - as the description implies, when I was part of a theatre group.

I love evenings like that, people with whom you have shared everything with, the trials and triumphs of love, children....dress rehearsals!!

I always come home feeling totally refreshed and re-newed by the energy I share with these fantastic women. We've all had our share of crappy times and brilliant times. We've been to eachothers weddings, been there for broken hearts listened out for one anothers babies crying and some of us, sadly, have been to funerals together. These girls are my history and if  i'm lucky, my future. I am so thankful for them.

This week will have me using the re-charged batteries to:
  •  follow up contacts I got last week for library plans.
  • start a little walking (daily hopefully) in readiness for Hadrian's Wall
  • get some writing done now I have managed to recover the lost files (disaster struck last Wednesday - my computer crashed with all my stuff...much swearing to be heard throughout Hastings, apologies to anyone in the vicinity!)
Hope you all approached Monday with a little positivity....'it's better than the alternative' as my beautiful sister said earlier!




Friday, 13 January 2012

What a Week!

The manifesto is keeping me really focused. I probably would've buckled by now but I have real, achievable aims. And, most importantly, I am not stagnant!

  • I'm still hopping around excitedly from the news that my writing was highly commended. That was enough for one week really. 
  • On top of that we held our first meeting for folk wanting getting the most for our children's library.
  •  I had my very first telephone conversation with a Councillor....yes I know I should grow up but I was genuinely thrilled that he was interested in my ideas for the library. 
  • A lovely lady from East Sussex Library Service called me today and wants to meet with me at the library for a walk round to discuss what's wrong with it....and, not forgetting what's right with it. I would really appreciate it if any of you are available to come with me, I shall post the date when I have confirmed.
  • The Head Teacher at the school where I work is keen to get our student council involved in the process of improving the  library, and at some point would love them to have a chance to help in some of the decisions after consulting children from other Hastings' schools. How great would it be for our children to feel they have some ownership? (Rhetorical - please, no answers on postcards!).
  • And... I have been invited to a meeting alongside other writers with the Hastings Online Times team to discuss future writing. 
All in all a great week. Better still, this weekend I will be catching up with my old girlfriends - there will be much chatter and laughter! Life is sweet.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

An Inaugural Meeting

Hi all


Well that was quite scary! I have never called a meeting in my life. Just the word meeting is enough to send me into blind panic. Parents evening - either as a child or as a parent have always been embarrassing at best and jaw clenchingly awful at worst.


However. Lovely people turned up, that was a surprise in itself, not that they were lovely but that they came along to MY meeting.


I took a long a newspaper just in case it was a no-show and then I could pretend to be just passing by of a Monday night with my notebook and hopeful face!
 Note to self, don't forget 'Aims' from my personal manifesto.....I AM AS CLEVER AS EVERYONE ELSE....THERE IS NO SECRET CODE......start believing that I can achieve stuff too.


Here's what we discussed:


Information we need to have:

  • Contact name at Planning dept. (Erika has a contact and will follow that)
  • Time frame expectation for commencement of refurbishment
  • Whether, time-frame depending, it would be feasible to be to push for minor refurb on existing Children’s Library – our children are missing vital experiences and they grow up very fast.
  • Will we be allowed to have our say? What format will this take?

In order to attract families to use the library we all agreed that it needs to become more of a ‘destination’. It needs to be enticing and exciting for children. I mentioned ‘The Ministry for Stories’ a non-profit making organisation established in 2010 in North London. This was set up as an initiative to improve literacy and encourage young people in imaginative writing. I’m not suggesting we follow that model; however I feel we could learn a lot from them.
Please take a look: http://www.ministryofstories.org/ . It also needs to ‘work’ for parents and disabled users.


Essential Facilities:

·        CafĂ©. This should be easily accessible for families – i.e. on same floor. Affordable meals. The Bridge Community Centre offers healthy low priced meals and this should be replicated (or similar).
·        Toilet facilities appropriate for all users. Toilets MUST be available on Children’s Library level.
·        An area for older children to be able to read quietly and use computers away from toddlers, but still within Children’s library allowing parental control etc.
·        Access

Desirable Facilities/services:

  • Storyteller – available on a regular basis. If parents appear unable/unwilling/shy/busy with smaller siblings then someone should be able to share books with children. Ideally personnel who find it easy to interact with children should work in this part of the library – we need inspiring people!
  • Using the Ministry of Stories model – we feel the environment could be made more subject specific. Themes changing regularly. Pirates, monsters, princesses etc.
  • The library should have more contact with local schools especially at Primary level. Not just the Summer Reading Challenge.
  • Art/craft sessions.


Finally, the library needs to encourage community and be more readily accepting of volunteers.

It was a great start and I feel the momentum rolling.

Just a last note for today - thanks for following me here. I have had so many fantastic responses. Lots of people have said that they too are trying to make the most of this year - changing their mindset and endeavouring to step out of comfort zones! If you haven't been here before and want to know what i'm talking about please look back over the last couple of weeks posts! And feel free to come along for the ride!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Highly Commended

I know it's bad form to blow one's own trumpet, but what the hell...toot bloomin' toot!

I entered a global writing competition and have just recieved an email to say that I have been highly commended and have won a (very small) cash prize. There was only one first prize and one highly commended prize awarded.

The competition was judged by novelist Fiona Cooper and backed by prolific writer Bill Bryson! Wooohoo!


This is what Ms Cooper said of my piece, “This story moves with almost cinematic reality, scene by scene, painting a picture which spans many years. The inner fears and feelings of childhood are exquisitely captured and played out in a satisfying and compelling way.”  Woop woop!

Back to Earth now.
Library Plans:

Tonight I plan to be in the Jenny Lind by 7.30 and looking forward to meeting all those of you who have expressed interest in improving the library facilities and making sure that families are properly served when the new Children's Library is opened.

I am a firm believer in the power of stories and want our children to enjoy books in an exciting and inspiring environment.

I have spoken to Cllr Godfrey Daniel who has been campaigning long and hard to improve the library service in Hastings and he is keen to know how we get on. It's great to know we already have someone in the know on our side. Hopefully he will be able to attend a meeting with us in the future.

Ok, gotta fly now....I have a book to write you know!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Brilliant News! Hastings Library Plans!

Morning all, happy Sunday!

I don't know of any of you Hastings lovelies read the local Observer this week but the go ahead for refurbishment of the old library site has finally been agreed! 

This will include moving the children's library to the same site in Claremont, hurrah! It's such a beautiful building, I hope they do it justice.

Hastings Library
Initially I thought that maybe 'that's that then, they don't need us,' however, I do feel we still need to have a parents' forum (anyone actually who feels strongly) to ensure that our voice is listened to as far as appropriate facilities for family use. Historically these plans take forever with the council so we have plenty of time to be heard! 

I intend to have a casual meeting for those who want to get involved at The Jenny Lind in The Old Town (Hastings) this Monday, 9th January at 7.30pm. Please come along. If you need directions just holler! 


In other news, I have been cracking on with my entry to the writing competition and am beginning to feel as though I have story. I have written the draft for a first chapter and finding the voice of the book - so feeling pretty proud of myself.




Last but not least. My son is off to Afghanistan this weekend. If you say your prayers, please say one for him and his pals. 


Bless you x








Now it's good night from me and it's goodnight from....me. Goodnight.



Friday, 6 January 2012

I Have a First Page


Ok, so I need another three chapters but I have a first page…whoopee! Here’s the link again if you want to give it a go! http://bit.ly/w2ynXV

Today wasn’t, apart from the first page thing, the most productive of days. When I got home from work I made some soup, ate my soup and promptly fell asleep feeling as though I was coming down with something. However, a warm bath and a bit of writing have got me back on track and here I am! Tickety boo – so to speak!

I have managed to draft a few questions for the council re: the Children’s Library plan (see previous blog). I am planning another visit armed with a notebook and my sneaky mobile phone camera so that my moans are more informed and I can share them with you on here. If any of you lovely Hastings folk want to join me with this; then please get in touch. Maybe an initial get together down the pub would be a good starting point for this one!

I don’t have any experience of this type of thing and it’s quite daunting but I feel really passionately about children having access to books and that libraries for children should be inspiring spaces. Mums and dads, writers, readers, teachers if you, too, feel strongly about this please please please help me get this one rolling!




Email ms.bethdavies@hotmail.co.uk or write a comment on here and I promise to get back to you.
I have three lovely people that have already volunteered to help me with this - thank you so much! The more the merrier I say. I've also had a suggestion to volunteer as a storyteller at the library and that is definitely something I will be doing; I absolutely love telling stories!



ENJOY!
Well it's Friday night and I am about to have a lovely glass of vino and a chicken shish (I have mentioned that I have the kebab shop on redial, haven't I?). 


Have a great evening one and all.




Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Stepping Out. Looking In.

I am so chuffed with the lovely messages I have been getting about this blog. Don't get me wrong - I know this blog isn't earth-shattering and I'm unlikely to win the Orange Prize for Literature here - but it's such a boost to hear that the blog is having a, dare I say it, snowball effect.

Thank you for this, and please keep your messages coming.

I've been thinking long and hard over the past couple of weeks about myself which is great, sounds a bit selfish but to make any of the changes I want to make I need to know what I am now.
You'd think we would all be pretty knowledgeable about ourselves wouldn't you? However, I think, certainly in our culture, that we are discouraged from thinking too much about our feelings, ambitions and ideals and that people who are introspective are seen as being either hippies (sounds good to me) or self obsessed.
When we say as children 'I want....' we are told that 'I want doesn't get' . So, and trying not to get too heavy here, but why do adults say these things to children? Surely, we should just see this as an opening for discussion, for encouragement and guidance. Even now I feel that by writing my wishes down and sharing them that there will be some people who will poo poo it and see it as self publicity. However I genuinely feel that this kind of public diary is massively helping me to focus and to realise what I want from life - call me  a hippy (please) or selfish (not to my face though - I'm a proper wimp!)....either way I'll carry on regardless. Questioning myself and my motives and publishing my hopes and dreams.

You may have already read my personal aims which I posted a couple of days ago and I have made a start, very small steps, to achieving those, I'll be blogging any movement (excluding the bowel type). 

Now I need to start on the wider picture. I have really wracked my brain. Obviously I would like to sort out global poverty, put an end to any form of abuse of human rights and make disease a thing of the past. Realistically though? In twelve months? Give me twenty four and I'll give it my best shot. But for 2012 I'm keeping it simple.

1) Support local. Promote local. I want to educate myself on what exactly is available locally. Produce, art, entertainment, retail everything and anything that's going on locally I aim to find out about and if it's worthy of promotion I shall promote it. With this in mind, if you are a local business (Hastings, St Leonard's etc) and would like me to look at your operation/product with a view to putting it up on here, please feel free to contact me. I can't promise to cover everything on here but I will do my best. Obviously - It would have to be something that I am not actively 'anti'.....'special massages' for example (if you get my drift).

This is more like it
2) Lobby to improve my local Children's Library, which I have to say is depressing - to say the least. Children need to be inspired to read and to be literate, to lose themselves in stories. At the moment they are more likely to lose themselves in the grey tedium of tatty books and torn plastic pouffes that have a faint smell of pee about them.
I have no idea where to start with this apart from arriving in the library with a clipboard and noting down everything that is wrong with the place....I may be gone some time! Again all offers of help gratefully accepted - our children need lovely places filled with lovely books - this is not a middle-class idealistic view - surely, is it?

For the moment, this will do. Who knows where it will end. Or what will happen in the middle or even at the start.....on your marks....I'm off. 

Now where did I put that clipboard?

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Back to Work Tuesday

Welcome back to the real world...bump!

Like many people I was dreading today. The alarm went off at 6.15am this morning....yes there is another 6.15 in the day....OUCH. It was dark, rainy and extraordinarily windy. Oh, and there was water dripping through my bedroom ceiling.

Not the most auspicious start to the new term (I work in a school so my year is split on to terms, well the countdown to the next end of term to be more precise!) but I dragged my sorry butt into the shower and got on with it.

With drooping shoulders and a mouth to match I felt decidedly sorry for myself. Until, that is, I started to think about this blog, seriously! I reminded myself of all the stuff I'm going to be doing this year and things started to look up. If nothing else this has got to be a major step forward for me.

Work, of course, was fine. In fact it was lovely to catch up with colleagues, find out about their Christmases and remind myself that I am really lucky to have a job!

Back at home I decided to tackle one of my aims; to be financially savvy. 

Christmas 2010 I ordered some things from a catalogue on a 'buy now pay later' deal. The deadline for paying the full balance was next week and, unlike my old self who would have just 'forgotten' about it and hoped it would go away, I phoned the catalogue and paid off the whole amount .Therefore not incurring any interest....yay!!

I then set up a direct debit to clear another small account so that I won't inadvertently miss payments and will, again, avoid any interest. Yippee.

I know money is a taboo subject and as dull as dishwater to tackle your own affairs; but I have FINALLY realised that I have to take control. 

Let's face it, money is not the answer to everything but it certainly helps. Tomorrow I am off to the bank to organise that savings account for next Christmas - honestly!!

Taking control is really empowering. I'm feeling all grown up and able to plan for and look forward to the future. 

I know this isn't the most exhilarating of blogs today but sorting these minor issues is a massive achievement for me. It's a step forward, it's movement and it's what I've promised myself.

Hope you've all taken a small step today to whatever it is you know you need to do!

Monday, 2 January 2012

The Snowflake

...although it doesn't appear as a snowflake here as I seem NOT to be able to design a scattergram in the shape of desired flake.

Anyhooooo These are my PERSONAL aims for the coming year. Community project(s) will be on here very soon. (Before the end of this week - promise)

Personal Aims:

1)  To listen and understand, to digest information before it quickly evaporates. This sounds a bit vague but I have major issues with information retention - seriously! I aim to train myself in some way to be in the moment and not off in one of my many daydreams.
This is going to enable me to USE information I am given to move forwards with other plans. I cannot hope to campaign/learn/help anyone unless I learn to listen. So this is where I begin my snowball. Collecting the snowflakes to make my ball. If any of you know of any methods to help with this I would be grateful to hear them.

2) I have decided to walk the length of Hadrian's Wall in August.  I love walking and am really looking forward to having a few days away with my other half and two lovely friends. This, of course, will need a modicum of fitness, I don't have a modicum of fitness. I don't have a minicum of fitness either - yes I realise that I just made up a word...what of it? 
So, with this in mind, I intend to improve my fitness. Another snowflake. This will, in turn, ease my chronic back problem. I think I feel a flurry. I will be needing some orange hair and matching socks apparently.

3) I will keep this blog going until at least the end of this year. This is a smallish task I guess, however by writing every day my writing habits will improve. This in turn should WILL have the added bonus of making me more focused and ready to write extended pieces. I have a competition to enter - I need 3 chapters written and a full synopsis by March 31st. Terrifying but I will do it, and even though I won't MAY NOT win, I will have succeeded in writing to deadline and submitting a good piece of work, which I can then re-work and submit somewhere else. If you fancy giving this competition a go here's the link: http://bit.ly/w2ynXV Good luck!


4) I will sort out my finances! Look for better deals and be generally more thrifty. I will be setting up a saving 'pot' for Christmas 2012, yes I winced too. this might help me begin to look forward to Christmas rather than the annual dread which begins around September 1st!


5) I will eat something that has grown on our allotment!
Ramshackle circa now!
A serene hideaway circa soon(ish)
This sounds as though I have been actively avoiding eating our produce. I haven't, we just haven't grown anything yet. We were very excited when we finally got our plot but we just don't seem to have been very motivated. This will change. In the process of tending our veggie patch I will become fitter - another little flake! At the moment the plot is completely overgrown - we have cleared it twice (I say 'we' in the Royal sense -  I actually mean my husband) and it's all a bit overwhelming. So much so that I had too lie down to think about it! So this year, in earnest, we start again....together!
Do any of you have great tips for allotmenteering - please post!


The weather hasn't exactly been inspiring here in the UK today - however - despite of the weather we braved the mist and rain and went for a cobweb exorcising walk. Right now I'm feeling rosy cheeked and content. I really hope all of you had a good start to the year too.


Off now to start a little planning for the writing competition - wish me luck!





Sunday, 1 January 2012

2012 Manifesto

Happy New Year! 

I hope when you read this that you are not too hungover and that if you are that it was worth it!

As promised here is my manifesto. It is simple. It is honest. And, unlike  the outcomes from my specific aims (to follow later today), it is NOT up for debate. This is how it will be...for me.



MANIFESTO
  • I will move myself physically - upwards, sideways, backwards - any way. In order to feel alive. I refuse to be stagnant this year. I will have goals but I will not set myself up for failure. Any movement in any direction is success.
  • I will meet suggestion with positivity - unless it's sexual suggestion from anyone other than my husband! In which case said suggestion will be met with swift knee jerk reaction to the groin area of said suggester.
  • I will make arrangements and keep to them.
  • I will make plans and I will adhere to them in principle. The fine print is allowed to be smudged. (see aims).
This, my lovelies...is it. Like I said - no weight loss plan ... er thank you , yes, quiet at the back there! No giving up drinking (Threshers went out of business last time I did that!). No refraining from swearing (bugger that for a game of soldiers!).

So as from today I will be holding daily strategy meetings with myself, did I mention I am slightly derailed? I will be discussing specific projects in more details and updating myself on any progress I have made. 
If you do not want me to slip in to complete all singing all dancing madness please join the ride. Email me ms.bethdavies@hotmail.co.uk follow me on Twitter @bethdaviescript find me on Facebook http://on.fb.me/tM3I7m