Monday, 13 December 2010

Festive Retailing

Just back from a retail shopping trip to Belgium's only interesting city, Bruges. I confess for three days I overindulged in hot chocolate and Flemish specialities as my husband insisted on spending his hard earned salary on myself and our grateful offspring. No, I may not have needed another handbag. Or blouse. Not to mention woollen skirt. But then I've never been driven by need or necessity. And my purchases were bargains. At least I believe they were though I tend to leave the Euro-Sterling exchange issue to my husband.

Once home and checking my awaiting emails over a glass of rose, I note some pleasing comments from the learners of my second Writing for Magazines Course which finished last week. How rewarding that those eager writers are now finding their way in the heady world of freelance journalism.

Oh, and did you know that I now Tweet? Indeed, my ability and willingness to take on new technology is limitless. For I am also permanently available to editors via my latest hand held, fruit based technology. At least I will be shortly. Once my daughter has programmed it for me, to be precise.

Thursday, 18 November 2010


I so love this time of year. It brings not only my favourite array of hues but also an enviable number of social events. Only last weekend my husband insisted we fly to Stockholm for a black tie birthday bash. And, oh, how stylish those Swedes are! From our base in a hotel which boasted more stars than I can recall and overlooked the Royal Palace, we indulged ourselves among the more select strata of retail establishments. Nor should I be shy to admit how much I felt at home in such company.

And shortly we will be gracing the London Hilton for an annual charity ball for which I have felt compelled to purchase a new outfit. Its rich, bronze tones befits the season.

But do not be aghast. For I have not neglected my literary duties. My current Writing for Magazines course is proving to be tip top fun as my proteges eagerly listen and learn. And I am already planning my next Humour Writing Workshop. January may traditionally be a dull month but I promise to bring a touch of merriment to all who enrol.

Monday, 11 October 2010


I am excited to report yet more thrilling news. Angel magazine, one of Archant's premier titles and a popular choice amongst North London's somewhat eclectic readers, is running a blog by my dear self.

My Islington Friend is, indeed, based upon a close acquaintance of mine whose attitude to her life, career and family (in that order, please note) are, how shall we say, somewhat more hit and miss than my own. Still, I am grateful for her chaotic existence since it serves to fuel my imagination, not to mention my livelihood.

And that reminds me, I should perhaps inform her that she is forthwith the subject of a regular online feature . . .

Thursday, 23 September 2010


What a wealth of variety has filled my schedule these past weeks. Articles about shoe polish, press releases for the Jersey Film Festival and advice to a Best Man all agog about his forthcoming speech.

And then, of course, there are my delightful Writing for Magazine learners oozing enthusiasm yet borderline aghast at putting pen to paper. They are yet to realise their amazing creativity though I so enjoy my weekly task of coaxing their imaginations.

This morning I took great pleasure in interviewing the ever smiling Colin Dexter who quizzed me about poetry, bluebells and the first 4 minute mile before I'd even activated my laptop. He may be a touch frail physically but his mind, memory and knowledge were tip top.

And how charmingly delightful too was his dear wife. I so enjoyed our chat among the anemones.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Literary Blessings

The summer months have been a heady haze of socialising, providing an unrivalled opportunity to associate with a wonderfully diverse mix of published characters.

For instance, only recently I was a guest at a gathering hosted by the captivatingly gifted Paul Eccentric, a performance poet whose hectic schedule, I'm humbled to admit, doesn't preclude him from following my column (A Write Week) in the Tring and Berkhamsted Gazette.

And in just a few days' time I will have the privilege to interview the legendary Colin Dexter, crime writer extraordinarie and charmingly correct gentleman of the old school variety.

Ah, the literary blessings of inhabiting The Chilterns.

Friday, 16 July 2010

The Wireless

I'm freshly returned from one of our greatest cities having been a guest of the British Broadcasting Corporation. How fascinating to have infiltrated the bowels of such an established institution. Indeed I am grateful for their insight in allowing me to be interviewed on the wireless by Louisa Hannan. As you would expect, she was delightness personified, so much so that my morning listening will henceforth be divided between Radio 4 and Radio Oxford. Well, it will if only I can figure out how to retune my Roberts. Perhaps I should call the Director General and ask him . . .

Tuesday, 6 July 2010


We may be in the throes of an astonishingly warm summer but a writer is always planning ahead and forging onwards. And so, whilst I am daily enjoying the sun's rays prior to luncheon and early evening drinks on the parterre, my mind is in autumnal mode. For in just a few weeks' time my Writing for Magazines course will begin. Six weeks of unfettered guiding, teaching and motivating a select band of students. Oh, the topics we will cover, the stimulation we will share, the talent I will nurture.

I can barely wait!

Full and further details are included on the relevant page of my webby.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Sunshine and Priorities

What fun the Thame Arts and Literature Festival turned out to be: superbly organised, well attended and boasting an abundance of authors. Personally, I was thrilled that a number of fledgling writers saw fit to grace the somewhat humid conditions of the Thame Museum to benefit from my talk about freelance writing. My attendees were eagerness personified, scribbling notes, asking pertinent questions and networking at the end of the session.

But back to this week. My column for The Tring and Berkhamsted Gazette awaits my attention and I must prepare a humour writing workshop for a forthcoming Chiltern Writers' meeting. Yet I also have a piano lesson, school Sports Day and a Committee meeting, not to mention this glorious weather and Wimbledon to distract me. Hmm, I sense my priorities might easily be compromised over the next few days . . .

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Sunshine and Columns

I have departed the ample bosom of my beloved family to spend a few days of sundrenched tranquility with a friend who fulfils the fundamental duties of soulmate and white wine companion. My laptop is poised under a pale parasol, the pool just a few enticing steps away with the mountainous region of Southern Spain providing a magnificent milieu. Not that my excursion entirely revolves around female frivolity for, whilst on The Continent, I intend making substantial progress with my book.

Meanwhile I am thrilled to report that readers of The Tring and Berkhamsted Gazette will henceforth benefit from my weekly column (A Write Week!) which the talented editor, clearly a man of unquestionably fine taste, has simply begged me to contribute.

But back to my book. I'm just going to marinate under the sun's rays while planning a few chapter headings . . .

Monday, 17 May 2010


What an agreeably talented group of writers attended my workshop on Saturday making the afternoon a heady mix of eager activity and industrious effort. It was a pleasure taking them all under my wing and teasing out morsels of mirth. Such a pity I can recall so little of those 3 hours, though hardly surprising given the medley of medication that was gushing through my tubes at the time. Nevertheless, I am now sufficiently returned to the real world to focus on chasing editors and planning my July workshop (From Pen to Publication), not to mention whipping up a Victoria Sponge and marinating my golden chanterelles . . .

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Freelance Workshop Extraordinaire

What joy! Another workshop in the making. How I adore sharing the fruits of my labours with fellow writers. Once again this will be held in the heart of The Chilterns, the dear village of Wendover playing host to an afternoon buzzing with creativity. Delay not in entering the date in your precious diaries: Saturday 3rd July, 2-5pm. Excellent value at £45. It is frighteningly simple to reserve your place via this unparalleled website, exclusively designed and lovingly tended by children's author Nick Halliday. Of course, I would be only too happy to undertake such tasks myself yet my precious time is taken up with a healthy balance of domesticity and writing. Not to mention teaching, piano forte, baking souffles . . .

Monday, 12 April 2010


I'm overcome with joyfulness and honoured to report that the talented members of Chiltern Writers have elected me as Chair of their esteemed group. What a privilege to be at the helm. Of course, having taken on another role, my time management must henceforth be ever more precise, my diary ever more exact, my creative energies ever more honed. But these are mere trifles. Which brings me to last Sunday. Having run out of sherry, I instead laced jelly with port producing such a flavoursome concoction of 20 year old Tawny, whipped cream and Creme Anglaise that I'm pondering the idea of producing a collection of my bespoke recipes. Perhaps a few household hints could accompany them. The Current Mrs Smith's Book of Household Management has a familiar ring about it . . .

Friday, 26 March 2010


Well, despite the distraction of plumbers, decorators and carpet fitters, my keyboard has been a hotbed of inspiration this week. Nevertheless, and between maternal duties (witnessing my offspring's starring role in a school drama production), I have also organised publicity for my forthcoming Humour Writing workshop whilst mentoring a children's author and tempting commissioning editors with a selection of irresistible ideas. Oh, the balls I have to juggle! Which reminds me, I wonder if my dear husband will be home for supper this evening . . .

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Creative Skiing

I have just returned from the delights of a skiing holiday a la Continent: snow covered peaks, charming classic clothes establishments and surprisingly good wine. Needless to say, although blessed with poise, technique and balance, I remained at ground level, leaving the deceptively simple pastime of sliding down glaciers to my husband (keen but falls over a great deal) and 12 year old (Olympic standard). The many cafes were my day time refuge. Between copious cups of hot chocolate and gateaux extraordinaire (I refused resistance), I wrote several articles and started the book about which I have procrastinated for too long. Indeed, without the distraction of domesticity, I found I was far more creative than usual. Perhaps I could fit in another skiing trip soon . . .

Sunday, 7 February 2010

I'm awash with political correctness and inconsequential bureaucracy which have dominated the last few months. And all for the sake of a tinsy winsy teaching qualification. Nevertheless, I will endeavour to extract a few snippets to inject into my forthcoming workshops whilst recycling my colourful yet boringly repetitive handouts via the wood burning stove. With my certificate just an A* away, I have already purchased a gilt edged frame. It will nestle beautifully on my oak with walnut inlay bureau. Oh, and fear not learners, my courses will focus on creative writing rather than codes or practice, diversity, session plans . . .zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Wednesday, 20 January 2010


Deadlines, workshops, festivals, where is the time to buff my brass, let alone decant the sherry? My ability to juggle domesticity with a freelance writing career never fails to astound me. Indeed, my excellent article on humour writing will shortly appear in Writing Magazine and I am delighted to announce that I will be running a humour writing workshop on Saturday 15 May in The Chilterns. Do click on my computer-address-mail to contact me and reserve your place. It will be such fun! Now do excuse me, my bechamel sauce is reaching critical point . . .

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Happy New Year!

Well, apart from a fleeting yet alarming moment when it seemed we would run out of champagne, our Noel celebrations provided family, friends and neighbours with the highlight of their social calendar. Food was aplenty, there were gifts galore and, apart from the felines sniffing out and tearing open their cat nip presents during the Christmas Eve carol singing around the Baby Grande, all went according to my finely honed plan. Now with my husband returned to corporate life and our daughter skipping off to school, I am obliged to oil my Olympia. Articles to write, the great and good awaiting interview, workshops to organise . . .