Not your average birds…

Not your average birds

I took this photo with the iPad Air 2. This is a pair of grey squirrels, masquerading as birds.

I am not great at photography (although I would like to be) so I just put it on auto, zoomed, pointed and shot. I had a little fiddle around in iPiccy to make it a bit better but I really have no idea what I am doing. If anyone would like to offer me any tips on the iPad and its camera and features, then please feel free!

Thanks!

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Gosh, it really is like getting back on a bike!

BookI am not going to lie.

I was concerned that my ‘absence’ from writing would have an adverse effect on my ability to write and that when I returned to it, I would struggle. That maybe my mojo, my inspiration would have fled.

Cole

Cole

Today, I finally got to sit down and tap away again and I was thrilled when I realised that it all fell back into place. Just the same as riding a bike. My characters were exactly where I had left them, sitting patiently, waiting for me to tell them what to do next and some of them even opened up to me. Cole, it seemed, had been doing some thinking whilst I was away and he allowed me to see a side of him today that I never knew existed. And what’s more, I let them lead me. I wasn’t the puppet master, not at all. They told me what they wanted to say and how they wanted to react and where they wanted to go. It was truly magical and I suspect that only those of us lucky enough to experience that feeling, ever totally understand it.

It was a momentous day for me in more ways than one and I cannot stop smiling.

It feels so good to be back.

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Do traditions die out, or do they just change?

Generic image

Generic image – not my grandparents.

My Grandparents had a ‘front’ and ‘back’ room in their house. Both were essentially living rooms except one was at the front and one at the back. Whenever we visited we would always sit in the one at the back. This was the room where everyone congregated, usually around the single bar gas heater that was the only source of warmth. We also used to dine in this room courtesy of a large, oak table with wings on either end that pulled out. To me, visiting their home as a child, this was just the way that it was.

The ‘front’ room was always cold. It also had a gas fire but because no one ever used the room, the fire was never on. As I got older, I remember puzzling about why this room was never used. To me, it seemed strange because we used all of the rooms in my childhood home. Their front room was larger than the back, had a full three piece sofa in it and provided much greater comfort. It also had display cabinets full of glasses, trophies and trinkets.

I remember asking once why this room was never used and it was explained to me that it was because it was the ‘posh’ room. The room for entertaining. And that was true. It only ever got used on really big family occasions or if someone who didn’t usually visit called over. Then the fire would be lit a good while before, so that the room would be warm and cosy.

The distinction of rooms in this way is something that is rather quaint and has I expect, died out with my Grandparents’ generation. It could be argued that in many ways it made little sense to have a room that was barely used, however it was part of their way of life and is something that remains a very fond memory.

Image from mapichai via freedigitalphotos.net The more modern kitchen diner arrangement.

Image from mapichai via freedigitalphotos.net
The more modern kitchen diner arrangement.

You may wonder what prompted me to tell you this, apart from to share some of my family history with you. Well, in our new house we have changed from a traditional layout where rooms have individual uses, to more of an open plan layout which is currently favoured by house builders. We now have a kitchen dining room which is really the hub of the house and although we still have a lounge, we use it far less than we ever used the lounge in our previous house. Yesterday, when I opened the door to go into the lounge, the memory of my Grandparents front room suddenly hit me and I smiled.

Whilst I can never see us going back to such a formal arrangement, the way that we are choosing to live now is not dissimilar to how they lived. Open plan living means that families are increasingly spending much of their time in one multi-functional room, so perhaps some of our traditions have not died out after all? Perhaps they have just changed a little.

Does anyone else have similar memories? I would love to hear them.

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Did you know?

That New Year’s Day 2015 marked thirty years since the very first mobile phone call was made here in the UK.

The call was made by Michael Harrison to his father who was at that time, the chairman of Vodafone. The device that Michael Harrison used to make the call was a prototype, which weighed a staggering 5kg.

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The first transportable Vodafone VT1. Picture courtesy of Vodafone/PA.

How amazing to have lived through the evolution of such an iconic piece of technology. And better still, to be able to remember the old days…

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Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

I have used the iPad app to add this post as I wanted to test it out. I think however, that I prefer using the main site on the laptop. The editing options on the app seem to be very limited. If anyone has any thoughts, advice or tips on the iPad WordPress app, then please let me know!

I am overwhelmed

WordPress ImageWordPress, you have overwhelmed me.

Despite my recent absence, so many of you took the time to visit my blog and wish me every good thing for the year ahead. I cannot begin to thank you all enough. And to top it all off, I have started the New Year with just over 800 followers. You truly are a wonderful community and I feel blessed to have met every single one of you.

Here’s to 2015 and the best year yet for all of us!

Jade x

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Another year, a few more wrinkles…

Winter in the UK - from my house

Winter in the UK

2014 has been pretty hectic. This year has brought me much joy and happiness but it has also been tinged with sadness. This was the year that we found out that nocturnal epilepsy had returned to our youngest, after many years of believing him to be free from it. This, along with his growing needs have demanded much more of my time than ever before and as always, the future remains uncertain. However, I do not wish to dwell on this sadness. More, I want to look forward with excitement to 2015, and these are just some of the highlights that I hope will make it the best year yet.

  • Dedicated time to work on my books. A plan is now in place to ensure that the first stage of editing will be completed by early summer. This, as ever, remains a hugely exciting part of my life and I cannot wait to see where the journey will take me next.
  • More time with my family. I have made the decision to leave work altogether to focus on my books but also, and more importantly, to focus on the increasing needs of my family.
  • Getting fit. This is one of those things that appears on my list every year. And every year I vow this is going to be the year – yet it never is. This year though – it will be. I am determined that with the addition of a brand new treadmill, 2015 is going to be the year when I finally get myself in tip top shape.
  • Taking a step back. I have always been highly strung and some would say, overly emotional. In many ways that is not a bad thing but I have come to recognise the detrimental effect that this can have on my overall well-being. In 2015 I am aiming to take things for what they are, worry less and only about those things which I can control.
  • Finally, I am just going to get stuck into life. The years pass by so quickly and I now realise that if I don’t grab every single moment, they will be gone.

So I guess that’s kind of my message – to me and to all of you out there. Take each moment and live it to the full. Life is so precious and as we are finding with our son, we just never know what is around the corner.

Thank you all for your never ending support in 2014 and I wish you all the very best for a Happy New Year and a truly amazing 2015.

See you on the other side!

Jade x

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That’s one way to get to France

njajMy husband told me that he had organised an outing for us and that all we had to do was get ready. Following his instructions, I, and the boys, arrived at the starting point for our trip which was a small pier stretching out to sea.

“We’re going to France,” he told me exictedly. I looked around for the boat but could see none. In a way, it was a relief. The last time that I had been on a boat had not been particularly pleasant and it would have been thoughtless of my husband to have planned another, similar experience.

“Great!” I replied, “but how?”

“With this.” With a flourish he pulled something out of the water which looked like a giant fan with a steering wheel attached.

“I don’t understand. What is that?”

“I’ll show you.” Eagerly he jumped into the water and started the motor. Instantly it whirred into life and he grabbed hold of the steering wheel allowing the object to pull him rapidly through the water. We stood on the pier, watching, as he made a couple of loops.

“This might seem a daft question, but how are we all going to get to France on that?” I asked when he returned.

“Simple. Jump in and I’ll show you.”

Dutifully the three of us did as he asked and on his instructions, attached ourselves to the steering wheel/fan object in an odd kind of line formation.

“Ready?” He shouted. I nodded.

A few seconds later, the four of us found ourselves being dragged through the water as my husband aimed the contraption towards the distant shoreline. France, presumably.

Happy people on nature, sun, grass and butterflies

It sounds odd even as I write this now, but in a funny kind of way, it was actually really liberating. After a while we all got used to the cold and even began to enjoy the freedom but unfortunately, my husband hadn’t considered that his arms would get tired. A short while later he pulled the fan thing towards a dock to rest and we all clambered out of the water, securing the strange object to the wooden railing.

Luckily the dock had a pub and so we crammed inside, keen to dry out. We were also starving. Ordering large, home cooked platters, we tucked greedily into the delicious food, unaware of how much time was passing. By the time we had eaten our fill, darkness had drawn in and so my husband reluctantly agreed that it would be best to rent a room for the night and continue with our journey the next day.

Image courtesy of dan / freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of dan / freedigitalphotos.net

The following morning we awoke to a ferocious storm. There were black thunder clouds overhead and lighting ripped through the sky.

“I am not going in the water on a day like today,” I said. “If you want me to go anywhere near France then you are going have to organise something better than what we had yesterday.”

My husband looked crestfallen, but he agreed. “Leave it with me.”

I watched as he went over to a group of sailors who were stood in the corner of the main room. A few moments later he returned.

“I’ve got us a boat,” he said excitedly.

“Great.” Given the weather I was less than enthusiastic but a boat had to be better than the steering wheel contraption. Dutifully we all followed him out onto the dock.

The ‘boat’ turned out to be old and wooden and more than a little rickety. It was though – according to its owner – sound. There were a few supplies on board and enough space for us all to sit in comfort but to my dismay, it lacked any kind of covering or shelter from the elements. My husband though, was not to be deterred.

“Come on, get in!” he shouted as we all looked rather dubiously at it.

One by one we climbed in and settled aboard, surprised to realise that once we had set sail, the ride was actually, quite pleasant.

“What’s the weather forecast?” I shouted as he negotiated the small exit from the dock.

“I have no idea,” he shouted back, “I thought we’d just get to the opening of the Channel and see.”

“Right.” The wind had calmed a little but the clouds were still very heavy and threatening. “I have to be honest,” I continued, “if we get there and the waves are rough, I am not going any further. You are going to have to turn this boat around.”

“It’ll be fine, I promise.”

Smoothly the craft glided ever closer to the open sea and I began to relax, believing that perhaps everything would be okay. In the distance I could see the Channel getting larger. I squinted, trying to focus on how the sea ahead was behaving.

“I see waves,” I called out. “Big ones.”

Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev via freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev via freedigitalphotos.net

Just at that moment a gust of wind hit us side on and my youngest son went flying across the deck. Nimbly I caught him.

“No – you’re imagining it. Look, the waves are as calm as anything.”

I looked again. “They are huge,” I said as we reached the mouth of the Channel, “there is no way this boat is going to stay intact once we leave this dock.”

“Piffle,” replied my husband, “it’ll be fine.”

The boat began to move ever closer to the gaping water ahead and I could feel the current beneath drawing us towards the waves. Their crashing height was only metres in front and for the first time since we had embarked on this hare-brained adventure, I felt real fear.

“Please, I can’t do this,” I pleaded, “nor can the boys.”

“It’ll be fine,” shouted my husband as he struggled to maintain control of the boat, “you want to go to France right?”

“Yes, but…”

The rest of my sentence was lost as the waves crashed over us and slowly engulfed our small boat. The last thing that I remember is being pulled safely to the shore.

A while later I woke in a warm, comfortable bed with sun streaming through the gap in the curtains. I looked around noting the room’s familiarity and as I stretched, my leg brushed against something. Another leg. My husband. Snoring contentedly.

I lay back and allowed the warmth of the sun to bathe over me and as I did so, I broke out into a massive grin.

I was happy.

Deliriously so.

Because this…

…this had all been just a dream.

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