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Sunday, 31 March 2013

Goal List Week Commencing 31st March 2013

Highcross, Leicester - Maria A Smith

A brief post today, I'm going to be so busy with posts for the next month, as I begin the A to Z Blogging Challenge tomorrow. Do check my post for the letter A, I am aiming for an early start!

What I liked about this last week...

I'm beginning to get better.

It was a three day week!

I spent time relaxing.

I went shopping, and found a lovely new handbag.

New Handbag! - Maria A Smith

What I didn't like...

Feeling too tired to do any work on my novel.

Side effects from the drugs I'm taking. Shaky hands don't make for good writing.

What I got done...

I said I was going to take it easy, I did.

Writing  -  Blog post - I managed that, but the chapter re-write was too much. I thought on the posts I'm going to do for the challenge. Did some mind-mapping.

Rest - I went to the swimming pool, and dipped my toe in the jacuzzi a few times, it really helped. Sleep was a little evasive, I read, and listened to Nina Simone, and watched a few episodes of Elementary, the USA version of Sherlock.

The week ahead...

Writing - I'll be Blogging from A to Z and penning some flash fiction. As well as editing that chapter.

Have a good productive week. Do let me know how you get on.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

London, Liechtenstein and Lavatories

Ladies Day - London - Maria A Smith

Last Friday, I went to London with the ladies,  you might recall, if you read my blog on a regular basis, that I was very much in need of some laughter last week. I wasn't disappointed. As well as Lichtenstein, at Tate Modern, and a lack of lavatories at St Pancras International, laughter was very much the order of the day.

We set off in a light flurry of snow, in our big coats with plenty of smiles, as we left Loughborough railway station, regardless of the warnings of bad weather. We'd already decided nothing was going to stop us having fun. I perhaps should add, it was also the first full day on my new prescription drugs, and so far, so good, I felt amazingly sciatica free, and very happy!

 We sat in our reserved First Class seats, drinking tea, nibbling on biscuits, and chatting happily, we caught up on each others news. The hour and twenty minute journey flew by as it always does when you're in good company.

After a short tube journey that took far too long for two of us, with our weak bladders pushed to the limit after too much tea on the journey, and a lack of ladies loo's when we arrived at St Pancras International. All seemed temporarily closed which seemed very odd, I couldn't quite believe they were all out of order! We battled on over a very blustery Millennium Bridge towards the Tate Modern. I was so glad I'd decided to wear my big coat. The weather was grim, but the capital was wet and windy rather than white over.


LICHTENSTEIN A Retrospective


Image Credit

I hadn't really thought about the exhibition, preoccupied with other thoughts over the last few weeks, so I really hadn't much idea of what I was going to see, no clue other than a billboard with a cartoon painting I'd seen a few weeks before. Cate organised our day, and Gabrielle and I had rather lazily left all the arrangements to her - probably because we knew she'd make a good job of whatever we did.

The exhibition was definitely popular, and there were plenty of people milling around in the thirteen rooms we walked through to gaze at this important American artists works. I made lots of notes, and I thought about writing about each area here on the blog, but art is a personal thing, and my opinion is my own. I wouldn't want to force it on anyone reading this who might be thinking of visiting.

My favourite area was Room 11, Late Nudes. Lichtenstein never used live models, yet the paintings felt erotic, huge colourful works of graphic pulp. Appealing, yet I was intrigued by the females, who all had either bright yellow, blue or colourless hair. And there were no male nudes. This felt like good art.

We browsed for well over an hour, maybe two, before entering the gift shop, stuffed to the hilt with books and souvenirs. Commercially, this exhibition is huge. All proceeds from purchases go to support the Tate.

Afterwards we headed to the top of the building to admire the views across the Thames, enjoying tea, poured from brightly coloured pots, and yummy carrot and pecan cake. We sat a while, chatted and watched the world go by. In no hurry, the day was ours.

Then we walked back over the bridge to the New Change Shopping Centre, located in Cheapside, where we soared to the top in a glass lift, to admire the stunning views of St Paul's Cathedral, and the Shard in the distance. We took some pictures, before deciding to go shopping over in Oxford Street, where pennies were spent on girlie attire.

Onwards to Victoria and Albert Museum where we enjoyed drinks, and more cake! Rested our feet for an hour, before ordering an early evening meal in their restaurant, which was excellent. We had time to visit the Light from the Middle East New Photography Exhibition in the Porter Gallery, which was the work of several different photographers.

Back outside it was busy, this was London on a Friday evening, the tubes were manic, the streets packed with people trying to get around, everything seemed rushed and hectic after the slow gentle pace in the museum.

Back at St Pancras we did a little window shopping, before ending up in des Vins for drinks, there was much more laughter before we boarded the train at 8.55pm tired and ready for more tea. I was worn out in a good sort of way. Eventually, when I got home, I went straight to bed. Friday had been a very enjoyable day out.

Have you been to the exhibitions I mentioned? Or spent a day out with friends recently? If not, I urge you to do it, its so good for your soul to spend time with people who make you happy.


Sunday, 24 March 2013

Goal List Week Commencing 24th March 2013

The Week Ahead - Maria A Smith

Last week my goals were very simple. I wanted to be pain free, and productive, write anything I could concentrate on, and relax and laugh with friends.

I'm so glad I kept things simple. I wasn't pain free, in fact the sciatica got worse, I changed prescription drug with the help of my GP on Wednesday evening, and things improved with the new heavy duty pain relief. The drawback was not being able to drive. Although it is possible to enjoy life without a car.

Productivity on the writing front amounted to very little, just my Goal List, and a short 200 word piece of flash fiction for the writers group. Once again I struggled to concentrate on anything else, and found myself wanting to sleep at every opportunity.

I was determined to be as well as I could be on Friday though, as I went to London with two of my best friends. I managed it, and we had a lovely day out in London, I'll blog about that separately this week.

I'm taking things slowly, so my list is small for the week ahead.

Writing  -  Blog post, chapter re-write if I'm up to it, and some thoughts on my A to Z Blog posts for April.

Rest - In whatever form it takes, be that sleep, reading or listening to music

I hope your plans work out this week, let me know what you're up to?

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Goal List Week Commencing 17th March 2013

Clock Tower Leicester - Maria A Smith


Here is what I planned to do, and what I actually did...


  • Walk - Yes, but it was painful! The sciatica has been a trial, when I thought it had eased, it tricked me, and came back even more vengeful. I've tried resting, as well as keeping moving, hence walking in all weathers. This time, keeping moving isn't working, yet I dare not stop incase I seize up completely!
  • Read Writing Magazine - I made a start, but its been hard to concentrate.
  • Edit more of my novel -  Failed, I had three attempts, each time I simply couldn't apply myself. 
  • Swimming - I went once. The whole week was a struggle on the time front.
  • Sleep - I have slept more in the last week than I have in a month! Wishfully thinking it might cure the sciatica
I limped along to the Phoenix Writers group yesterday, and I penned the 100 word challenge the evening before. The meeting was good, lots of varied prose, and some excellent feedback for writers to take away and consider.


Phoenix Square, Leicester - Maria A Smith

Afterwards, the Subs group met, and we discussed where we had sent our work, and decided that we would all concentrate on the same competition this month for a bit of fun. I need to have a think about that one as the theme is betrayal. Once I have the details, I'll post them up incase anyone else fancies having a go too.

Outside Waterstones Leicester - Maria A Smith


That was last week, not very exciting. Oh, I got the windscreen sorted out in my car, and had my hair cut too, and now I think its much too short.

Looking ahead, I am hopeful the next week will be pain free, and productive.

Writing - Anything! Whatever I can concentrate on is all I'm hoping for this coming week.

Relaxation - Something to take the pain away.

Friends - I need some laughter.

Cottages near Newarke House, Leicester  - Maria A Smith

The images on the blog I snapped whilst hobbling around the city yesterday. Purely my observation of Leicester in the rain. All taken on my iPhone.




Friday, 15 March 2013

Blogging From A to Z April Challenge


I'm doing it again! After much thought, I decided I had a lot of fun last year doing the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge, even though it can be more of a challenge than you imagine, its an excellent thing to do to keep yourself writing everyday, and its a great excuse to visit lots of blogs and make new friends.

The A to Z Challenge is the brainchild of Arlee Bird the idea is you write a post to match the letter of the alphabet every day during the month of April, with Sundays off for good behaviour. We start with the letter A on Monday April 1st, and whether you go with a theme or freestyle is up to you, but your post must match the letter of the alphabet for that day.

Why not check it out for yourself here

I doubt I'll be pre-writing in advance as I blog for the exercise of writing, before I work on my manuscript, I have however roughed out a list of titles for each letter of the alphabet.

Some bloggers do write all their posts in advance, and this does get rid of the stress of writing each and every day, and also frees you up to visit other blogs taking part in the challenge. I'm going to visit as many as I can each day, time permitting, but one thing I won't be doing this year, is feeling guilty about not getting around them all! There are well over a thousand already signed up! This is a massive challenge, and its a great experience for everyone with a blog to have a go...

And now because its Friday, I'm sharing my favourite tune of the week with you. Dean Martin sings  That's Amore. Have a good weekend folks.



Sunday, 10 March 2013

Goal List Week Commencing 10th March 2013

Mothering Sunday Breakfast - Maria A Smith

Happy Mothering Sunday! This is the day when children pay their respects to their Mothers, in more recent years it is also known as Mothers Day, and always celebrated mid way through Lent, here in the UK. Although other nationalities and religions celebrate usually in March, April or May. The tradition has been going on since the 16th century at least.

Did you know that many years ago, young boys and girls in service would be allowed just this one day a year to go and visit their Mother? For some it would be a considerable distance away from their employment. If they were lucky, the housekeeper might have given them eggs, or some flowers from the garden as a gift to give to their Mother.

For me, motherhood is not about the gifts, it is the prize of seeing my children grow up. Becoming a Mum is a humbling experience, many emotions have  surfaced as the years pass. its the toughest thing I've ever done, but also the most rewarding.

Snowdrops & Sunshine - Maria A Smith

At last the snowdrops have started to appear in abundance between the many variations of weather, I managed to find these beauties. Have you seen any yet?

The last seven days have been as horrible as the previous week work wise. There are lots of changes happening, and its taking a while to get used to the new regime. I'm giving it my best shot.

On the personal front, here is how it went...


  • Another chapter re-write - Yes, I managed to get this done, and I'm starting to enjoy the process. I read my work at the Writers group, and my fellow writers have helped me to identify my weaknesses, which is good. I always welcome constructive critique.
  • 100 Word Flash Fiction for my writers group meeting  - I didn't get this done, preferring to work on my chapter instead.
  • Brainstorm ideas for the A to Z Blogging Challenge in April - I've got an idea for all twenty six posts, which I'm really pleased about, although I still have to write the posts!
  • Write two blog posts - Only managed one this week.
  • Read Writing Magazine - Not done, quite frustrated about this one as I picked it up several times,  only to get interruptions.
  • Spend time with my friends - I met up with some super ladies from the Leicester branch of the RNA (Romantic Novelists Association) and we had lunch. There was much chatter, and ideas swapped regarding our progress.
  • Listen to music - I did rather well on this one, possibly because I've done a lot of miles in the car this last week. There was Mozart, Nina Simone, Ellie Goulding and Emeli Sande to name but a few.
  • Go for a walk - I struggled a bit, mainly due to my work commitments, and when I was on my own time the weather was naff! However, I won't let this stop me this week. Come hail or shine, if I can stand up straight, I'll be out there.
Fog, Sleet, Snow and Rain - What A Week! - Maria A Smith


Other stuff that happened.

My windscreen went on the car! An unexpected expense I could do without.

Caught up with one of my friends who treated me to a lovely meal as a belated birthday treat

Sciatica has been plaguing me on and off all week, but came back with a vengeance on Saturday morning.

Enjoyed the company of Phoenix Writers

Had tea and cake which make most things better.

This coming week, I want to...

  • Walk
  • Read Writing Magazine
  • Edit more of my novel
  • Swimming
  • Sleep
How did you week go? Did you have unexpected happening too? Or perhaps you got it all done, or had some success? Whatever, you're planning do share, I love hearing about your plans.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Goal List Week Commencing 3rd March 2013

Afternoon Tea - Maria A Smith
A very late posting this week due to yet another heavy week at work, and an eventful weekend away.

So what did I do?


  • Had a lovely 'Afternoon Tea'
  • Enjoyed a delicious Italian meal
  • Met up with some lovely Twitter buddies
  • Walked around the lovely old town of Ludlow
  • Read the latest Writers Forum Magazine
  • Watched a DVD 
  • Re - wrote a chapter
  • Read Women's Walking Magazine
  • Critiqued someones writing
  • Took pictures with my camera
  • Drank Costa coffee and watched the world go by
  • Wrote two blog posts
  • Received a late birthday gift, a Nina Simone album
  • Worked very hard to earn a living

This week I'll be mainly concentrating on the following,

  • Another chapter re-write
  • 100 Word Flash Fiction for my writers group meeting 
  • Brainstorm ideas for the A to Z Blogging Challenge in April
  • Write two blog posts
  • Read Writing Magazine
  • Spend time with my friends
  • Listen to music
  • Go for a walk
What did you do last week? And what is your plan this week?