Sunday, 26 March 2017

Simple Things

Calke Abbey March 2017 - Maria A Smith

I'm a little late posting, and it's nothing to do with the clocks going forward either. It's been one of those days, in fact it's been one of those weeks. Actually, March hasn't been the best month, but hey ho, that's life, and I positively refuse to be beaten!

The internet has been up and down here for the last few days, and I'm caught in the loop of resetting it, in between trying to follow the online instructions my provider suggests. But of course you can only follow these helpful web pages if you have web access! And why is it so hard to find their telephone number? Argh! Having no internet is as bad as having no washing machine, mine packed up on a spin this morning, I had to  drag sopping wet laundry out of the drum, and put it on the line to drip dry. At least it's bright and cheerful here, and hopefully the clothes will dry.

Other calamities have happened this week, too many to mention. Mostly along the same lines as the above. However, I have much to be grateful for too, and I've had some lovely things mixed in with the not so nice this week.

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll know I was burgled at the beginning of the month, and amongst other things, the thieves stole my jewellery and cameras. This made me sad, mad and everything in-between, but apart from my feelings, it's a pain not having a camera or a watch!

Yesterday, at my writers group, one of the ladies gave me a watch, she said she saw me checking my wrist for the time last week, and wanted to give me one of hers. How kind is that?

The evening before I was looking for some old sneakers to wear in the garden, imagine my joy when I found an old camera in the bottom of the wardrobe. Okay, it's not as good as my stolen one, BUT, it means I can take pictures again.

I'd planned to catch up on housework on Saturday afternoon, however, I simply couldn't wait to get out and about in the gorgeous sunshine promised by the weather woman the evening before. So after my writers group session, instead of driving home as planned, I detoured and set off for one of my my most favourite places,  Calke Abbey in Derbyshire.   Just over the border into the next county, it's like a different world. The air quality for someone with asthma is fantastic, you notice it immediately, I love breathing in huge lungfuls whenever I visit. It makes you realise how polluted our towns and cities really are these days.

I nipped into a supermarket on route and got myself a picnic lunch, I ate it surrounded by beautiful countryside, watching people enjoy themselves. It's lovely to see children out and about, and there wasn't a mobile phone, or other gadget in sight either.

It's my first visit this year, and everything is waking up, and I wanted to explore as much as possible in my three hours. The park is immense, plenty of wide open spaces, lots of interesting old trees, walking routes, deer, not to mention the main attractions, the house and gardens.

It's lambing time, and this weekend, we were allowed down into the penned area on the farm to see the new arrivals. There were also lots of new mummies in waiting, and outside on the parkland lots of infant lambs grazing under watchful eyes.

The gardens do look a little spartan, you can see the staff have been kept busy. The house looks magnificent as always. I didn't go in this time as I wanted to make the most of the outdoors. It gladdened my heart to see so many people of all ages enjoying the parkland. I walked up and down hill, and clocked up three miles according to my pedometer. I wished I'd stuck my walking poles in the car, as some of the hills were a challenge, and my calves are hurting today, but it's worth it.

On my way back to the car, I visited the tea room, and had a pot of tea, but managed to resist the cake! I've put on a few pounds, so need to resist. Although, there may be cake later today. It is, after all Mothering Sunday. Well that will be my excuse.
There will also be writing later, and throughout the week too.

How did you spend your weekend?

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Finding Your Purpose

Do you want to be more intentional? It's not easy trying to juggle everything, but if you can create good habits, you have a greater chance of being successful.

Define Priorities

Sit down and think about what you really enjoy doing,  Write a short list of the three things that are most important to you. In my experience people are only ever successful in things they really feel passionate about, so get your thinking cap on, and decide if that is writing, perhaps it's poetry, flash fiction, or writing a novel, in which case, stop putting all your energy into the other stuff.

Set a Schedule

Define what you are going to do with your time. Time is precious, so plan in advance how you will be spending it. A good habit to get into is to plan in the evening what you intend to do the next day. Make a simple, don't overload yourself with a long list, keep it short, put it into practice and work through it with enthusiasm. Striking a line through a task is very satisfying.

Don't give into your excuses about not having time to write. If you want to, you'll find the time. Be committed and follow through.


This week I intend to look at my novel synopsis and see if I'm on track with the rewrite.
Produce a piece of flash fiction and sub a piece of fiction. I'll also be listening to an audio book, and catching up on podcasts. What's on your list?

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Stolen Memories

Usually, I'm upbeat and positive about things but the last week has been horrendous! This weeks post reflects my mood, and I make no apologies for trying to write it out of my system here on my blog. Feel free to skip this week.

Last Thursday, my daughter was either pick-pocketed, or she 'lost' her purse in Berlin airport, consequently, I ended up fetching her home when she got back into the UK, she had no ID, and no money. She was very distressed, and it took all weekend to begin the process of getting her sorted and back to Leeds University.

On Monday morning, I went to work, and all but passed out from the pressure and pain in my ear and sinuses. I went home unwell, ready to collapse, only to discover we'd been burgled. It was a shock.

The thieves had broken in by smashing through the kitchen window. The damage they have done is unreal, the glass shattered and large shards gouged my oak table, the place I sit and write, where my family and I share meals. It is the heart of our home. The boulder they threw went through the glass hit the closed kitchen door with force, smashing through it landed on my ceramic tiled floor doing more damage.

They went into every room in the house, pulled out every drawer and cupboard, stole cash, jewellery and my cameras amongst other things. Then they let themselves out of the front door. I have had to deal with it all...the Police, the SOCCO officer who came to dust for prints, although there weren't any as they wore gloves. And the insurance company.

The full impact of what has happened didn't sink in for a few days, but it has now and I feel utterly depressed. And vulnerable. I feel that this person, or people have stolen my memories. They took my jewellery box which contained precious photographs of me and my dad. He died young, when I was thirteen. My mother gave them to me, they can never be replaced. They stole my babies identification bracelets from when they were born, and much more besides. My engagement ring, eternity ring, jewellery my mother had given me, and other items. It has made me sad, and angry all at the same time.

None of this is helped by the fact that I'm ill again. I went to the GP next day, and have yet more antibiotics to swallow down, and now there is mention that I may have a nerve issue, which is why my jaw and teeth are so painful, and why the painkillers aren't working!

I'm totally and utterly fed up, and I know I should be relieved that I wasn't home when it happened, and that it could have been much worse. And I am grateful it isn't worse, but right now I'm out of sorts with the world. I need time to pick myself up and dust myself down.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Best Foot Forward

I can't believe it's March and we're into the third month of the year already. I always think of daffodils and spring lambs, lighter evenings and fresh air! It's time for an update.


I've blogged regularly during January and February, and enjoyed it. It's made me think about trying some non fiction writing now, rather than later on as I'd originally planned to do, when I set my goals back in January.

Flash fiction featured heavily over the past few months, and several 150 word pieces have been penned, which I'm looking to place in competitions. My novel hasn't seen much progress, I'm stalled, yet another mental block! It's hard to know what to do next and the only real solution is to keep going I suppose.

About ten days ago I swapped to a novel I started back in 2010, madness I know, as I should of carried on with the other.

#writngchat over on Twitter has been fun on Wednesday evenings over the last few months, and I've made some new friends. Feel free to join the conversation between 8pm - 9pm and don't forget to use the hashtag to keep up with the conversations.


Pilates, meditation and stretch classes have all been done, but nothing has been on a regular basis.

Other Stuff

I had a birthday last month! And went to London for the day. It was wet and cold and trying to snow, but I had a lovely day out, which included a train journey into the city, breakfast and watching a play at the Kings Head Theatre Pub, which is a fabulous venue, although they were always going to score high with me because when you ordered tea, it came out on a small china tray, in a china cup served with homemade cake! I didn't ask for any cake, it just arrived. It was delicious!

Mostly, I've been off colour the last few months, and I'm flipping fed up with it! So I'm really looking forward to good health in March.

For the month ahead I'm hopeful I'll get out and about a little more than I have over the last few months. It would be good to report on more walking and exercise, and more words of course.

Best foot forward then...

Let me know what you've done during the last few months, and what your plans are for this one?

Making Things Happen

Bluebells in the grounds of Chatsworth, Derbyshire - Maria A Smith Nearly two months ago I made this list of goals - See how I've g...