Tuesday, 30 December 2008


'Er's up and about again. Er was well enough to stagger off to church on Christmas Eve, or stagger to the car, anyway. Happy Christmas, Gnome, she says. Blimey, she'll be talking to me snail next. Hobbled down to the river yesterday and chucked some bread at them ducks. Luckily the weather's been mild so the ducks aren't all that bothered.

It's got noisy in that house since they all come back for Christmas. There's someone warbling 'er flute in the attic and one of them lads plays a parp-parp thing in the front bedroom. And if 'er would stick to writing 'er stories and leave that piano alone we'd all be a lot happier. There's plenty of notes in there, blimey, they can't all be wrong ones. Good thing it's winter and they keep the windows shut. 30th December, and she's still playing Good King Blooming Wenceslas.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008


I haven't been blogging because I haven't been doing anything much. On Thursday night I had a sore throat, which I thought would develop into a bit of cold and go away, sharpish. I seriously underestimated the enemy. Virulent the Virus went for me with battleaxe and total war and for three days I couldn't walk further than the bathroom. Then, probably as a result of all that cowering under the duvet, my spine forgot how to bend and siezed up solid, so that now it ouches loudly if I stand up/sit down/lie down/walk/pick things up from the floor/leave things lying on the floor. This is the first day since last Thursday I've been able to sit here and type.

There is just time to wish you A VERY HAPPY AND BLESSED CHRISTMAS before I hide from Apple.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Oh, help, I am a busy Christmas person this week so I haven't blogged. Urchin and the Raven War just got a stunning review in Voya, the sort of review every author dreams of. Happy Christmas to me.

I was personally invited - by a member of the cast, no less - to a Christmas play at one of our local schools. These were the Key Stage One children (under sevens) and they were amazing. Finer poins of stagecraft include prodding your fellow actors in the back if they get lost while walking round the stage or an elbow in the ribs for missing a cue altogether.

This morning was our toddler group Christmas party, and today I was not only dogsbody and storyteller, but Santa's Helper as well. I have never done that before, and felt most important. I should put this on the CV and/or write a book about it.

Big Son came home this evening. In 24 hours the fridge will be half empty and we'll need more coffee. Who cares. He's home.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

jack and the beanstalk

With apologies to the readers in the USA, who may not know about English pantomime. By the time you've read this, you may know even less.

Tonight I went to a village amateur pantomime


Oh yes I did, and was reminded of some of the things I love about villages - like tradition, effort, and how many talented people are up for something inexpressibly silly. The Lassie what stays with us was brilliant in it, and after three days of stage fright, too. We had a giant and a demon


and a fairy queen who played the violin (because she could.) LOTS of songs, mostly led by the brilliant pantomime dame (played by a woman, which is unusual)and all the audience participation you can muster from a Yorkshire audience. The principal boy (played by a boy, which is also unusual) and the leading lady threw sweets into the audience, and Daisy the cow survived the usual jokes about 'uddersfield and moovies to be the star of the show.


OH YES SHE WAS, she was inhabited by two young lads and what a showstopper they made her. And. being a village thing, it was all seasoned with jerky curtains and jerkier cues.

Sadly, there wasn't a slapstick scene. Then again, this is a village do and the costumes will be needed next year. So, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, GO TO YOUR LOCAL VILLAGE PANTOMIME THIS WEEK, OR THE WICKED BARON WILL COME AND TURN YOU OUT OF YOUR HUMBLE COTTAGE.

Now, that's the blog finished for tonight. Or, as you might say,

IT'S BEHIND YOU !!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Oh yes it is.)

Monday, 8 December 2008

Hope helps

Staggering out of a migraine today. Hope the Hedgehog has very kindly offered to help with my blog. He says he'll tell me what to say. He obviously thinks it's just a kind of story-telling, because Mistmantle animals don't write and have no concept at all of communicating by anything more complicated than a captain's token. But Hope, being Hope, can't see me typing. He can hear the click of the keys and supposes I must be knitting. Don't try to enlighten him.

Margi of the House of Stories is much better since I made her a hot blackcurrant and put Apple's cordial in a safe place where nobody would find it unless anything lives in the drains. I'll have to persuade her to eat an apple (they're lovely apples, I've had one) before I tuck her up in her nest. The food here is very nice. It's a bit late for slugs, but the worms here are delicious and plenty of them. Last week the holly tree was covered in red berries, and now there's hardly any left because the birds were so hungry. (I don't eat holly berries, but they sometimes get stck on my prickles.) And we're starting to have those little spiced lebkuchen in the evenings. I hope Crackle knows how to make them at the tower.

Is it getting late? It smells like a frosty night. I'd better tell her to stop knitting now and go to her nest.


Thursday, 4 December 2008


Bloomin ducks

'Er's been putting out peanuts for the birds. I don't mind 'em. Bit of flutter, bit of tweet tweet, nice. Might be a problem if they took too much interest in me and the snail, but as I don't have a peanut tree growing out of me 'ead they leave me alone, and if they tried to peck the snail they'd break their beaks. Not that 'e'd notice.

But now it's ducks. Same story as last year. First thing in the morning, down to the river, off she goes with 'er 'andful of sliced 'olemeal, I swear to you, it's only them ducks that gets 'er out of bed in the morning. Thing is, you start off with a duck and a drake, waddle waddle, gobble gobble, and then you'e got a dozen of them all 'oming in on the bread and making a racket like the first rehearsal of the Clarinet Band of the Yorkshire Inebriates. That's what I object to. The racket. And if anyone makes any remarks about driving me quackers I'll run 'em over with me snail.

One of these days 'er's going to break her ankle slithering down that garden to them ducks, and then what will she do? Sit at that piano banging out Rudolf the Red-Nosed blooming Reindeer. At least them ducks know when to go to sleep.

Blimey. I'm glad the snail don't sing.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008


We've got snow! Maybe I never grew up, but I still get excited about snow. I admit I did a lot of work today and didn't go out to play in it, but if we have more I have to go and build a snowman because my god-daughter in the snowless south wants me to send her a picture of it. Sensible girl. Advent calendars, candles, the lassie coming in with her Christmas shopping, Prokofiev's sleigh ride, snow. It was my piano lesson today, so all we did was carols. (Oh, andRudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, which is dire but funny.)

If that combination of snow, music, etc, doesn't feel as sparkly as it did when you were a child, it doesn't mean that the sparkle isn't there. You just have to recognise it. Children are better at doing that than grown ups. Look at snow as if you'e never seen it before.

That's what happened when my elder son brought a friend home for Christmas a few years ago. Friend - and what a nice lad he was! - was from snowless India and couldn't get home for Christmas. While he was with us, it snowed, not very much, but enough to send him running to the door like a five year old. Between courses at Sunday lunch he was outside with his mobile phone, taking photos and sending them home to his mum. After lunch we all went for a walk in the snow which isn't necessarily a good idea when you live halfway up a very steep hill, but what might otherwise be a slither and a trudge and a grumble was the most amazing, happy, hilarious treat when shared with an excited Indian student. No bones were broken.

Sadly, there wasn't enough to go sledging. He would have loved it. But he now lives in the North-east of England, so he may soon have his chance. I

The sledge is still in the cellar. Did I mention the hills round here?
More snow is forecast. Think of me zooming down the garden, crashing through the fence and throwing bread to the ducks as I hit the river.