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Saturday, 30 June 2012

Happy Saturday - Helen Shapiro - Walking Back To Happiness



Although Helen was born in London, in September 1946, her parents, and grandparents were Jewish immigrants who came to England for a better life. She regularly attended the Synagogue, and both parents, encouraged music in the home.

She played Banjolele and sang with her brother in his youth band. Shapiero's voice was described as having a deep timbre to it, and this made it unusual and distinct for a girl not yet in her teens.

Best known for her 1960's chart toppers, 'You Don't Know' and 'Walking Back to Happiness' which she recorded at the young age of fourteen.

I chose 'Walking Back to Happiness' today because its a song which was often on the record player in my house when I was a child during the sixties, I remember my mum singing along as she pegged out the washing, and it always brings back happy memories whenever I hear it. I'm surprised it hasn't been covered by someone in recent years as its such an upbeat song.

As an extra treat, I've included her other number one hit 'You Don't Know' so, settle down and enjoy a nostalgic trip back to 1961, or perhaps this is your first listen to Helen's fabulous voice. Whichever, have a relaxing, happy Saturday - enjoy!


Sunday, 24 June 2012

Goal List Week Commencing 24th June 2012


Okay, the last seven days haven't been my best. I had dental work done the previous week that didn't go well, as mentioned in a previous post. I've been in hideous pain for the last ten days, and unfortunately its affected my goals.

WritingI managed to get my goal list up and that was it!

ReadingI purchased 'How To Do Everything And Be Happy' by Peter Jones, to read on my Kindle. Its a very witty read if you just want to make life a wee bit happier, and laugh out loud a lot!

Apart from that, I skimmed through a few back copies of Writing Magazine. I'm afraid my concentration wasn't up to much more.

Relaxation - Its been difficult juggling the day job in between runs to the dentist, and pharmacy as well as doing necessary household stuff like preparing meals for the family. Yesterday, I went for a walk with my camera, spent time at the spa. I need rest, but find it difficult to do nothing.

This week.

I'll be taking it easy. Therefore, I'm not setting myself any goals, other than concentrating on getting well again. Anything I get done will be a bonus! I'll let you know how I do on Sunday, but do tell me how you are getting on - I love hearing about your goals.


Saturday, 23 June 2012

Happy Saturday - Neil Diamond - "I Am... I Said" 1971



A while since I've heard this song, yet it has always stuck in my head. It was a Top 5 hit both here in the UK and over in the States, it took Neil Diamond four months to write.

Unlike Sweet Caroline which he is reported to have written within one hour, in his hotel room, after seeing a picture of Caroline Kennedy, daughter of US President, John F Kennedy, on the cover of Life magazine wearing an equestrian riding outfit.

Enjoy your Saturday

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Goal List Week Commencing 17th June 2012


Maria A Smith

Last week started out well, and continued productively until Thursday afternoon when I had a tooth removed. I knew it would slow me down but unfortunately the pain afterwards has been far worse than I ever envisaged.  I've been climbing the walls for the last three days!

Here's how things ended up last week.


Cooking - My friends came to dinner on Saturday evening, I cooked a salmon dish, the starter and pudding were both courtesy of the Tesco Finest range in the end. I was just too unwell yesterday to make everything myself. We had a pleasant evening, and I don't think my friends were too bothered that I hadn't slaved over a hot stove on their behalf.

Cake - I tried Lemon cake this week in my quest to be more adventurous. However, I lapsed and found myself returning to scoffing scones with jam and cream before too long. It was a good week for cake!

Yoga - Maybe I need a change, all I know is I didn't enjoy my yoga session very much. It was hard work, and I really wasn't motivated. I'm not sure what to do. Should I take a break? Or find a new class?

Writing - I re-wrote the chapter, and had it critiqued. It needs more work. Blog posts were written, but the assignment for my critique group didn't materialise due to feeling unwell.

Walking - Managed my three sessions.

I also played around with some of the images I've captured over the last few weeks, including the one for this post.

The week ahead then.

Writing - I'll be writing three monologues for a new project over the next few weeks, so I need to think about content. I'll also write another chapter of my novel.

Reading - Hoping to make a return to novels this week in a bid to relax, and lose myself in a good story. Any recommendations?

Relaxation - Big effort required here. I have ideas. A few hours at the spa, relaxing in the jacuzzi would be wonderful, or a long walk, or just some decent sleep!

What plans have you got for the week ahead? Remember - Its a dream until you write it down, and then its a goal.










Saturday, 16 June 2012

Friday, 15 June 2012

5 Things This Writer Loves

1. Notebooks - Lots of lovely designs, brightly coloured, or plain black moleskines, lined or plain paper. Don't you just adore them too? All the different prints, the thickness and texture of paper? I do. I use my notebook as a place to keep my inspirations organised. Somewhere to jot down ideas. Over heard conversation, or perhaps I'll draw a mind map, or a list! I love it when I go into a stationary store, and they have a new range.



2. The feeling I get when I complete a story - When the plan finally comes together, and its there on the page. All the hard work associated with getting there finally seems worthwhile. Definitely time to relax a little.



3. Chocolate, tea and cake - Not necessarily in that order, but all essential to get this writer through those long hours spent tapping the keys.



4. Long dark winter evenings - Yep! For me they are my most productive months. I didn't know it until I checked back through my diary. I get distracted once we're into lighter evenings. Its much easier to settle down to write with good music playing softly in the background, and a fire crackling away in the wood burner.



5. Other writers - There is nothing quite like interacting with someone who understands the craft. Sharing the same problems, and the same long term goals. Its not only useful, to chit chat about what's happening in the industry, its great just to catch up with news, and generally socialise. I particularly enjoy visiting OTHER writers blog's as often as I can, I try to leave a comment whenever I can too.


What 5 things do you love as a writer?

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Sandringham House & Gardens

Sandringham House & Gardens - Maria A Smith


Last weekend I took a break in Norfolk at the Sandringham Estate Caravan Club Site. What a fabulous place to stay, it has everything required for the discerning caravanner, and is immaculately maintained. The site is right in the heart of the Royal estate, and Sandringham House is only a short distance away.

The weather wasn't at all kind - heavy rain showers lashed down on and off for three days, it seems the weather in England is out of control, yet I still managed to get out and about with my camera. Something I love to do when I'm not writing.

I couldn't wait to explore the estate, I'd already seen the magnificent rhododendrons, and azaleas growing in abundance in the woodland. Many are visible along the roadside and are quite spectacular in both size and colour. The park opens daily, and no charge is made to walk along the woodland paths and nature trails where there is much to see and explore.

It seemed somehow fitting to visit the Sandringham Estate on Jubilee weekend, it is the much-loved country retreat of Her Majesty the Queen, and while she was away celebrating her Diamond Jubilee in London, I was discovering her beautiful home in Norfolk.
Sandringham House - Maria A Smith


The house is a pleasure to look around, and the guides are very friendly and knowledgeable. I have to admit, I felt a little cheated as visitors weren't given access to very many of the rooms. Although I understand and respect the privacy of the Royal family, it is, after all their home. The rooms you can see are beautifully laid out, and you are given an incite into life in the Royal household.

Afterwards, I went into the rather delightful Sandringham Museum, housed in the former coach houses and stable block. The collection is interesting, ranging from gifts the Queen has been given on her travels abroad, to quite a lot of State and private cars the family have used in the past. There are even two fantastic children's cars's and a full size fire engine!

Sandringham Museum - Maria a Smith


There is much happening on the Sandringham estate, the Fruit Farm staff are producing and bottling cider, made from last years apple crop. It will be on sale very soon and is expected to sell out quickly. I'm rather partial to cider, and sorry I missed out on purchasing a few bottles.

The Farm staff are busy too, looking after the cereal crops, and sugar beet. The recent rain hasn't helped, and a lot of the land is saturated making it impossible to be worked.

On the way out, I called in at the Gift shop, housed in the rather splendid timber Visitor Centre, where there is also a plant shop, and a country style clothing shop. The spacious restaurant was busy, and the food looked delicious. I decided to visit the tea room in the old stable block instead where they serve a delicious cream tea!

If you get the opportunity, the Sandringham Estate is well worth a visit, I had a lovely day out. But do allow at least five hours to see everything.

Sandringham Museum  - Maria A Smith










Sunday, 10 June 2012

Goal List Week Commencing 10th June 2012



Another seven days have whizzed by in a flash! Perhaps something to do with having a few days holiday earlier in the week. This is how it panned out for me.

Walk - Really pleased with myself this week. I got out and about, and had some really long walks. Took lots of pictures too! Definitely feel more alive for the effort.

Write - Something, anything was what I said. I can report I got loads more done than usual. I started the week planning a list of all the blog posts I wanted to write this month. It took me around half an hour to decide, then whilst out walking, I thought out the content of four of those posts, and by Tuesday evening I had three of them written.

Read - I didn't get around to reading those anthologies on the Kindle, however Writing Magazine kept me busy, and motivated. Some good articles this month.

Additionally, I've worked on my photography, preparing pictures to go with my blog posts. I'm happy to report this last week has been one of my most productive for some time, and I've really enjoyed it too!

The next seven days.

Cooking - Yes, cooking - it may surprise you that I enjoy to cook, as well as my other interests in life. I'm having some friends over for a meal later in the week so I will be planning the menu, and cooking it on Saturday evening.

Cake - As you know, I love cake, but, I'm a little stuck in a rut with my choices. So this week, I will break away from Victoria Sandwich and freshly baked scones, carrot cake will have to stand down too, and I'll try to be more adventurous. I've found a fantastic 'cake venue' and I've a good hit list of others. Watch this space. Of course there will be lashings of tea to accompany the cake!

Yoga - I must get back into it this week. Being away this last week has  meant I've missed a couple of classes. Although I did a lot of the poses first thing in the mornings to keep my back in check.

Writing - Goes without saying - I shall be writing. I'm returning to my novel draft. I want at least another chapter re-written. Apart from that, there will be a few more blog posts, and I have an assignment to write for my critique group meeting on Saturday. I will be busy.

Walking - Totally motivated after the last week, and intend to keep going with as much as I can manage. Three sessions pencilled into the diary. Can only have cake if I walk.

That's it! The list is written.

I can do this! So can you. Tell me what you did last week? And what your goals are for the week ahead?


Saturday, 9 June 2012

Happy Saturday - Al Green (You Ought To Be With Me)




Thank goodness its Saturday! I don't know about you,  but I feel its been a very long week - three days at work have seemed like six! Lets listen to something easy on the ear. I like Soul music, and Al Green is one of my favourites. Relax, and enjoy!


Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Enid Blyton - 6 Things You May Not Know

Enid Blyton

1. Enid Blyton may have died in 1968, but she still remains one of our all-time favourite children's authors. Hodder sells more than half a million of her Famous Five books a year, and they are amongst the most borrowed children's books from public libraries in the UK.

2. George in the Famous Five books was based on a real girl. "The real George was short haired, freckled, sturdy and snub-nosed. She was bold, and daring, hot tempered and loyal. Do you like George? I do."

It is said that Enid Blyton confessed to her literary agent Rosica Collin that George was based on herself.

3. Enid typed her stories out on a typewriter on her knee, either in the garden or in her study. She never learned to touch-type, and used her two forefingers.

4.  At fourteen years old, Enid won a children's poetry competition. It was this success that spurred her on to submit articles, stories and poems to magazines.

5. It is reported that Enid wrote around 800 books during her 40-year career.

6. Between 1942 and 1963, Enid wrote 24 original Noddy books, although the first book, Noddy goes to Toyland, wasn't published until 1949. More than 200 million copies have been sold world wide, translated into 27 different languages.


Enid Blyton was an amazing prolific writer, who wrote books that children loved to read again and again.


Monday, 4 June 2012

Goal List - Week Commencing - June 3rd 2012


Cake - M. A. Smith

Last week was possibly my worst for keeping to my goal list.

Novel - Nothing done, and I can't think of an excuse. It just didn't happen!

Walk - During the week getting out was a real issue due to the pressure of the day job, however I finished on Wednesday evening, and managed to get out and about on Friday and Saturday for some long walks.

Cake - There was cake in moderation.

Read - Writing magazine turned up, and I've enjoyed many of the articles over the last few days.

Blog - Done a couple of posts, and received feedback through comments which is great! Always a pleasure to interact with others. Keep the comments coming folks, they are appreciated.

De-Clutter - I've chipped away at the mountain of junk lying around the house. Managed to toss a dozen garments out of the wardrobe into a charity bag this week. Also started to fill another box of bric-a-brac in readiness to take to charity shop this week.

I must do a little better this week. Here's the plan then.


Walk - I'm determined to do more walking, it makes me feel more alive!

Write - Something, anything! That's how I feel about the novel at the moment. Maybe I'll have to lock myself away in a room for an hour a day. Heck, its a frustrating second draft which isn't coming together how I envisaged. Any tips?
I will be blogging of course. It keeps me sane, and its writing!

Read - I'd like to read some short stories for a change, I've got several anthologies on my Kindle to keep me busy, and I'll read the rest of Writing Magazine.

I'm loathe to add anything else this week.

How are things going with your goals - are you on track? Wishing you a successful week.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Happy Saturday - Remembering 1952

This weekend there will be lots of celebrations throughout the United Kingdom, as we mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, it is 60 years since she was crowned Queen.  Lets take a trip back through time to see what was happening on the music scene, and what the good people in England may have enjoyed on the big screen at the time.



An American comedy released in 1952 starring Gene Kelly, and Debbie Reynolds, Singin in the Rain was only a modest hit at the time, however as the years passed it's been elevated to one of the best musicals ever, by contemporary critics.



Do watch Gene Kelly performing Singin in the Rain its iconic! And afterwards listen to Dean Martin as he sings That's Amore.

Happy Saturday.