20.7.16

Wordy Wednesday with Terry Ray Hall

After a gap last week due to me being lazy off work and soaking up the relaxing vibes with my family and new puppy I have a Wordy Wednesday interview for you once again.

This week I'm pleased to hand the stage to Terry Ray Hall, as I don't know a lot about Terry and his writing I asked him to introduce himself, I'll just lurk and have a cool drink in the shade of a tree to avoid the heat while he says hello:

I have been writing and drawing since I was very little and my mum encouraged me to read almost as soon as I could talk. She grew up in the war and was moved from school to school, so she became embarrassed about reading. She made sure I never had that experience. She says I was born with a pen in one hand and a suitcase in the other...so writing a children's book about travel seems quite appropriate!

Do you have another job or are you a full time author? If you do something else (exotic dancer?) what is it and do you like it?
I am a film screenwriter and producer. I like the creativity of it, but dislike the time it takes to raise investment for the projects. That can be disheartening.
I work as a trainer for international blue chip companies, teaching staff about customer service and developing the necessary business skills for managers to run a company effectively.
I am a hypnotherapist and have teamed up with musician and movie score-writer Imran Ahmad to create "Mindtracks," downloadable audio mind entrainment MP3s, which enable people to achieve natural sleep or for business professionals to relax, meditate and alter their perspectives when dealing with issues in their day to day working environment.
I also trained as a dancer, raced in athletics meetings at Crystal Palace and have acted on screen. However, I would definitely liked to have trained as a gymnast. - busy busy!


What was the first thing you wrote (apart from your name, I mean the first story)?
I went to Cubitt Town school on the Isle of Dogs until I was about five or six. I remember I wrote a little 5-minute play for the rest of the children to act in. It was about a flying saucer and we built a cardboard box to represent the alien craft. I liked magic and sci-fi a lot - and still do!

What 3 things are guaranteed to make you smile?
The funny things animals do, a beautiful sunny beach or mountain scenery, elegant events where everyone can dress up and enjoy each other's company.

Do you have any pets?
No. But I think they would help with the writing process. (you better add one to your list of things you need then!)

Who is your favourite author? Do they influence your writing?
Bill Bryson, I love his sense of humour, his fascination with words and language, and his urge to travel. I read his entire book "The Lost Continent' on a flight from London to Los Angeles and couldn't put it down. It fits very well with me and is the sort of book I'd like to have written. - Oh I love his books too, to be informative while being funny is such a skill, and to be wry in that humour without ever being mean is even more of a skill! - My favourite of his is A Walk in the Woods. 

Which book(s) are you reading at the moment?
I actually prefer non-fiction books, filled with beautiful pictures, maps and factual information. I also like inspirational self-help, health manuals or spiritual books which help people change perspectives.

Where do you do most of your writing?
Currently at my parent's place, so that I can use the internet. Sometimes in Starbucks where they also have wi-fi!

What three words would your best friend use to describe you?
Some words I have heard so you can choose from: Electric, considerate, approachable , trustworthy, open-minded, teacher-like, avant-garde, creative, inventive, arty, quirky, weird, friendly, interesting, magnetic, futuristic, day-dreamy. My dad, when he wants my attention, often says, "Earth calling planet Zog." Says it all, I suppose.

Tell us about the character that you've written that you like the most - no spoilers!
Gwendoline. I saw her character first. She knows what she wants and she goes out to get it. Whether anyone else wants the same thing is another matter.

What is your favourite biscuit?
Anything with a minty taste. Although I like Bourbons and Ginger Nuts.

Tea or Coffee?

I prefer coffee

In the film of your life, who would play you?
Haha, I used to look like John Travolta, back in the day, and used to teach the dances in Saturday Night Fever. I even had a shiny blue shirt and white flares! So I guess it would be him. Or maybe Clive Owen!

If you could genetically cross an animal and a vegetable, what would you pick and why? I like the idea of a cauliflower sheep - you could cover it in cheese and then shear ready made cauliflower cheese!

A tree squirrel. It would be an animal that had a ready made place to live! - with a very shrubby tail!

Thanks for taking part Terry, all the best with the book!


Passports To Peril is available on Amazon in paperback or on Kindle.

Terry is also promoting a movie "The Border Guide", an inspirational war story about a young boy Aksel who guides refugees over the Norwegian/ Swedish border. He is working on getting the script produced. It is filmed in the National Geographic style, to show the beauty of Norway.

Find out more about what Terry is up to on his Facebook, and don't forget to like my page too while you are there!

Until next week - keep reading!

19.7.16

What I did on my holidays

Extra points to anyone that spotted the Terry Pratchett reference in this blog post title. I haven't been to Ankh-Morpork but I have been off work for a week and having family fun, including spending time with Fizz the puppy who is finally old enough to go outside for walks.


Apparently puppies should only be excercised for 5 minutes for each month of their age so poor bouncy Fizz is limited to 20 minutes, however this hasn't stopped up taking her out an about, armed with a large bag in case she needs a rest.

We had a fun day out in Petworth for a food festival, where as usual Fizz behaved like a loon with every dog she met - she really needs to learn that leaping on someones head is not the sign of affection she thinks it should be.

border terrier puppy on shingle beach

Later we took a trip to Brighton where Fizz was universally admired (or course she was - she is gorgeous), and Mr TM and I took her for a half day out at the Weald and Downland Museum too which was fab. I plan a much fuller blog post on that over at TentSniffing for Beginners later. But here is a cute picture of her enjoying the day to keep you going.

border terrier puppy

DD has totally finished school - I have a student not a child for a daughter now - so I probably should feel like a grown up - oddly, I don't.

Luckily she doesn't seem too grown up either - so we are looking forward to our summer of festival fun. despite the fact this Minion costume in Asda is not available in her size...ah well.

minion fancy dress

Sorry to anyone that missed Wordy Wednesday last week, normal service should be resumed soon...

I do hope you are all making the most of this sunny weather!

caution i'm hot sign on cup

6.7.16

Wordy Wednesady with Oliver Clarke

Good day Wordy Wednesday fans. Another Wednesday another author to quiz, another brain to poke about in. Today it's rather a joy as I've known this author (via the medium of twitter) for quite some time and I've read a fair bit of his writing, so I know something you might not, he is a great write with a very dark, warped view of things, a creepy, disconcerting view of the world, but I'm leaping ahead, allow me to introduce Oliver Clarke, and let us ask him to tell us about himself and his books

I'm in my early 40s (just) and am married with a young son. We live in Sussex with and an overweight cat. At night, when a story grips me, I write. Genre is a tough one for me to pin down, but most of my work has an element of crime or horror in it. I've published 2 novels to date, the first 'Sunliner' is a mix of 50s noir and sci fi, the second 'One Night' is a more traditional romantic thriller about a young woman who meets a bad boy on the run.


Aside from the novels I've written a bunch of short stories, including 5 about a plucky cat. That series ('A Cat Called Hope') started life as a bit of a joke, because people kept telling me I never wrote anything nice, but has ended up being my most successful work by far. I've sold more copies of those than everything else but together (a few times over) and the first book in the series is now available in French too ('Un Chat Nomme Espoir'!)

Do you have another job or are you a full time author? If you do something else (international spy?) what is it and do you like it?
My "real" job is very dull, I'm a project manager for a big high street bank, specialising in telephony based projects. Most of the time I like it, I work with some great people and delivering something new is always satisfying.

When did you start writing?
As a child, I still remember the first short story I wrote for a school project when I was about 10 - it was a sci fi tale of an astronaut who crash lands on a planet inhabited by vicious robots. Through my teens, twenties and thirties I kept at it but never really managed to finish anything. My new year's resolution at the start of 2012 (the year I turned 39) was to stop pissing about and make it happen. The result was Sunliner, which I wrote in about 6 weeks and published in the February.


What 3 things are guaranteed to make you smile?

My son telling me about the latest crazy invention he's dreamed up

That thing where you take photos of 2 people who look alike but reverse the name captions underneath - a fan of Private Eye no doubt then!

Early Adam Sandler films


Do you have any pets? If yes, what, and do they help or hinder the writing process?

We have a cat, Venus, who is fairly saggy and lazy. I don't think she either helps or hinders my writing, but she is good company and very chatty.


Who is your favourite author? Do they influence your writing or are they a total break from the sort of thing you write?

Stephen King, without hesitation. I've struggled a bit with his more recent stuff, but I LOVED his books as a teenager and he has been a massive influence on me.Oh I totally agree, weirdly for an author I think his early stuff was better, proper fear inducing stories.

Which book(s) are you reading at the moment?

I generally have a few books on the go and flit between them - at the moment those are 'A Princess of Mars' by Edgar Rice Burrough, 'Shogun' by James Clavell and 'Alone in Berlin' by Hans Fallada


Where do you do most of your writing?

Anywhere I can! I used Google Drive which gives me real flexibility. Most of 'Sunliner' was written on my phone whilst walking to work and then edited at the dining room table in the evening. Writing books on your phone, what a world we live in


Tell us about the character that you've written that you like the most - no spoilers!

Tough choice, as there are a few I really like. The most popular with readers is Marx, the feline protagonist of the 'Cat Called Hope' books, who I think of as being a bit like a moggy version of Jack Bauer (he does the right thing no matter how hard it is).

My own fave is probably JJ, the villain in Sunliner. Writing someone utterly evil is great fun and really cathartic!


What is your favourite biscuit?

Custard Cream, no competition


Tea or Coffee?

Tea. I like coffee but only drink one cup a day compared to about 5 or 6 cups of tea


In the film of your life who would play you? (why)

I'd like to say Bradley Cooper, but that's probably wishful thinking. I genuinely don't know!

If you could genetically cross an animal and a vegetable, what would you pick and why? I like the idea of a potato and a sloth...could you get a lazier creature? (my soul mate)

My cat crossed with any vegetable would be lazier (trust me).

How about an onion crossed with a 3 legged puppy for when you need a good cry?


Here's the link to Oliver's Amazon UK page

It is VERY IMPORTANT to note that there is someone else called Oliver Clarke who publishes on Amazon. He writes dirty books and is not me! (I'm sensible enough to publish my dirty books under a pseudonym ;)) This made me laugh!


And here's a link to One Night, which is probably my most accessible book (and is only 99p at the moment!)

Massive thanks to Olly, and do check out his books, they are ...well good is the wrong word...fascinating maybe, creepy definitely and if you read Camera Phone v1 don't do it alone ...oh same for Doorbell, actually maybe read them all in a friendly spot ....

Do follow Olly on twitter, (I'm on Twitter too you know!) and pop over to Facebook to like my page and have a natter.

30.6.16

Summer at Camp Bestival

It's still raining. I find it hard to get excited about the summer when the long lighter evenings are so ... damp. The thought of pitching the tent and doing all the fun things that happen at festivals normally fills me with glee but I'm finding even that hard to summon up today. The only solution is to read cheerful blog posts about Camp Bestival. That glorious festivals and holiday camp by the sea in SUNNY Dorset.

So I wandered the interwebs and grabbed the best posts to read, so you don't have to hunt about. Just sit back, sip our tea and click...

First off let's zoom on our festival bus over to You Baby Me Mummy for a glorious look at photos of 2015 that will be a great start, a reminder for us all and a teaser for anyone that hasn't been before! After a few jam jar cocktails we will stagger on ...

jam jar cocktail campbestival

and would you believe it - 76 Sunflowers only has a fab set of photos too! Well now I really am getting more in the mood.

camp bestival festival flags

Seeing those gorgeous blue skies....

Now I have never taken a toddler to a festival - so struggle to think of the sorts of things that parents of young kids need to know - luckily I found a great blog with advice for you! Hooray! Grab the suncream, wet wipes and juice cartons, pack the trolley and trundle down to the main stage with your little ones. For some tips on taking babies and toddlers to a festival check out Enchanted Pixies hints.

And Louise over at My Gorgeous Boys took her little ones and wrote about her experiences. Some lovely photos there to inspire you too - look at the joy on those little faces!

I have been going to Camp Bestival both as a regular festival goer and as an official blogger every year since 2010. I love it every year, even more now that Rob Da Bank realised that the older kids needed something extra - and they now have the Den for teens, perfect for DD as she's now 16.

camp bestival over 16 swearing comedy sign

And Penny over at A Residence Blog has been going for a fair few years, checkout her video from 2012 here.

camp bestival lulworth castle

Over at The Parenting Trials excitement and planning is the order of the day! As a list of 5 things that are essential not to be missed is emerging...what would yours be? Have you seen the official Camp Bestival Line up? Amazing! I challenge you to only pick 5 'must sees'!

I'll leave you with a list of top tips of things to do see or take to Camp Bestival, have you forgotten anything? Got your glo-sticks?

glo sticks at camp bestival

OK I'm proper in the mood now - sod the rain, grab your wellies (just in case) and join us! Oh and before I go - here is a link to 2012 at Camp Bestival in which I dressed as a horse - I wonder what I should dress up as this year?

Let me know if you are going to be at Camp Bestival - I'm on twitter at @tattooed_mummy or like my facebook page.

29.6.16

Wordy Wednesday with Alec McQuay


Hello Wordy Wednesday fans, another Wednesday and another author, this week Alec McQuay


author Alec McQuay
Hello Alec, let's get to know you, tell us a little about yourself and your writing,

Hi, and thanks for the invite to come have a natter. Other than work and writing I’m a (rubbish and too heavy) martial artist (less Sammo Hung, more Kung Fu Panda) and a powerlifter, which makes me strong and healthy but allows me to eat a lot and call it “training.” Writing wise I don’t tend to stick very rigidly to any particular genre (I’m a bit chaotic (annoying) in my approach) but I’m mostly a sci-fi and action fan, so my writing tends to look to bleak futures and can be a little violent. My debut novel Emily Nation is a post-apocalyptic cyber-punk western about an assassin, whose arrogance almost destroys everything she cares about. I’ve toyed with horror in the past and I can’t wait to go back and sink my teeth into it. oooh I like the sound of this!



Do you have another job or are you a full time author? If you do something else (international spy?) what is it and do you like it?

Oh dear… I’m an Architectural Ironmonger. I make sure all the hardware on building projects is specified correctly so it’s safe and up to legal requirements. It can be interesting work to do, but to people outside the industry it’s generally like conversational cyanide. hahaha a man of railings...



When did you start writing?

I’ve written on and off for as long as I can remember but I started taking it seriously about six years ago when my eldest son was a baby. Can’t always get back to sleep after those night feeds so it’s good to have a quiet hobby!



What 3 things are guaranteed to make you smile?

My sons, new achievements at the gym and bunnies. If bunnies don’t make you smile there’s something up.



Do you have any pets? If yes, what, and do they help or hinder the writing process?

I’m up to my neck in pets. I have a collie / lab cross called Piran, three cats (Betty, Honey and Mordred) and a Siamese fighting fish called Thanos. We also have a pond full of Koi Carp with Disney names… Writing wise they’re mostly pretty neutral as Piran would rather be in front of the fire and two of the cats are elderly and just want somewhere quiet to snuggle down, but Mordred… he was taken from his mum too early and he’s a strange mixture of lethality and neurosis. He’ll sneak up and start licking me if he wants attention and he won’t. Ever. Stop…



Who is your favourite author? Do they influence your writing or are they a total break from the sort of thing you write?

Terry Pratchett without a doubt. His work and mine are nothing alike but from what I know of the man, some of our motivations are similar - alongside the love he had for the world and its people there was a great deal of anger about some of what there is to see out there. If I’m ever half the world builder he was, or if I were to ever receive an unprompted comparison to him in any way, I’d be delighted.  He was indeed a fine fine chap who I had the pleasure to meet several times, a sad loss to the world of writing when he died, but what an amazing legacy to leave, a whole world!



Which book(s) are you reading at the moment?

I’ve got a few open at the moment. The First Heretic by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Beyond Good and Evil by Nietzsche and Brian Blessed’s autobiography “Absolute Pandemonium.” I try and read from as broad a spectrum as possible to keep my brain churning away but I have to block out time to do nothing but read or none of them ever get finished. As needs must I’ll go a while without getting to read much, then I’ll binge until my eyes hurt.



Where do you do most of your writing?

Most of it is done either at work during my lunch break or late at night in my front room. When I can I sit up late with music on, a glass (or several) of JD and Coke and write until I can’t keep my eyes open anymore. Or I can’t see the keyboard… I thrive on sleep deprivation. It’s a good job too because it’s not like I have much choice! Probably a throwback to when the boys were first born.



Tell us about the character that you've written that you like the most - no spoilers!

Naturally Emily Nation is about its titular character but one of the side characters, Jemima Clayton, is my favourite. She’s a confident, foul mouthed girl who takes absolutely no crap from anybody and in many ways is probably the best adjusted of the whole cast. All characters have their own history and sometimes that’s pretty damn dark, but Jemima owns her past better than any of my other characters do and doesn’t let anyone else determine how she should feel about it.



What is your favourite biscuit?

Dark chocolate Hobnobs!



Tea or Coffee?

TEA!
 

In the film of your life who would play you? (why)

Aaron Taylor-Johnson would be a good fit – there aren’t many people who could pull off my special mixture of antisocial awkwardness and mad fighting skills. I’d love to say Henry Rollins but damn it I’m just not sexy enough.



If you could genetically cross an animal and a vegetable, what would you pick and why? I like the idea of a potato and a sloth...could you get a lazier creature? (my soul mate)

An excellent question worthy of considerable thought… I’d cross a rabbit with a carrot because I kinda want to see what would happen. We’d either end up up to our necks in tiny little chantenay bunnies or it’d be a very quick, very sad little massacre.


emily nation by alec mcQuay



Thanks for taking part in my blog series Alec, and dear reader, if you are inspired to know more why not download a copy of Emily nation for your Kindle or even treat yourself to a paperback

This is my debut novel Emily Nation, to which I am currently writing a sequel. There are buy links to get the book cheaper but they’re a big shower of lying gits. They don’t have stock and can’t get it because the paperback is print on demand and I hope all their shoes catch fire. Sadly, these entirely pointless seller links have been a bit of a pain in the butt as they promise delivery of an item that will never turn up.




Alec's Twitter wotsit is @VampiricChicken – He doesn't use Facebook at the moment.


I use Facebook though! Come and give my page a like at Tattooed Mummy's Randoms and follow me on Twitter at @Tattooed Mummy


wordy wednesday








22.6.16

Wordy Wednesday with Alasdair Stuart


Good afternoon readers! Are you bored of the EU Referendum talk? of course you are - why not settle back with a cup of your favourite beverage and get to know my author of the week, Alasadair Stuart.

Tell us about yourself Alasdair, and tell us about your books, what genre do you write?

I grew up on the Isle of Man which is a little scrap of land halfway between England and Ireland. Culturally that meant I was sort of half and half. It also gave me a rich sense of knowing how to make my own fun. My friends were all the same but where one made a mountain board and another experimented, briefly, with homemade napalm.

He’s fine by the way
I watched out the video store and was at the cinema every week.
I dove into stories and realized I wanted to write them as well as read them. So, I went to University, discovered that landmasses wider than 30 miles are a thing and started writing.
It took a long time, and still is, but it’s worked out pretty well. I work regularly as an RPG designer and wrote two of the Doctor Who incarnation sourcebooks, which was really good fun. I also write lots of pop culture journalism, most recently for Tor and Fox Spirit Books. I’m just starting to get back into fiction too.
My big job though is as the host of Pseudopod, a weekly horror fiction podcast I’ve hosted for nine years. I love that, and I love the company too, which also produces an SF show called Escape Pod, a fantasy show called Podcastle, a YA show called Cast of Wonders and a quarterly magazine called Mothership Zeta. I actually bought the company a couple of years ago too, so my fiancé and I have been getting it into shape. Its fun, and HARD and going pretty well.

Do you have another job or are you a full time author?
Right now I’m full time which is always nice when it happens and the projects line up like that. Shortly I’ll probably be looking for something part time to bring a little extra money in and that’s a system that works well for me. I’ve worked as an office cleaner, a receptionist, an office admin, a comic store manager and a few other things and all of them have been fun. But this is what I love.

When did you start writing?
When I was 10 I wrote a story about a large, friendly yellow dog. That was it, I was doomed.

I spent my teens teaching myself how to write fiction, and, slowly, realizing I needed to NOT WRITE IN BLOCK CAPITALS. Then I branched out into non fiction, and concentrated on that for a little while. Then RPG writing and podcasting came on stream and now, fiction’s coming back on as well. So for close to three decades I’ve been writing various things.

What 3 things are guaranteed to make you smile?
-Seeing my fiancé, Marguerite, at the end of the day. She’s the love of my life: )

The others vary day by day but right now the two that always work are:

-This remix of the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy theme and Journey of the Sorceror, the original music. I love this piece of music but this version is especially great.





-The line ‘Hey goons, thugs and bosses! Guess what? I BROUGHT COLOSSUS!’ in the Deadpool rap from the recent movie.




I grew up around a lot of comedy of a lot of different types and I find a lot of stuff very funny. It does change but those are the ones right now.

Do you have any pets?
No, although we are looking seriously at both a dog and a cat in the near future

Who is your favourite author? Do they influence your writing or are they a total break from the sort of thing you write?
Oh I have a bunch. Henry Rollins’ spoken word work was a huge influence on me. Also Warren Ellis, especially with Transmetropolitan and Matt Wallace with the Slingers and Sin Du Jour series.

Which book(s) are you reading at the moment?
A good spread actually:

-The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. I’m a massive foodie and very enthusiastic amateur cook and Pollan’s take on food fascinates me. He wraps it up in history and economics and speaks with the clarity of an author who has clearly thought a huge amount about each word. His Netflix series, Cooked, is pretty much a must see.

-Donnybrook by Frank Bill. A collection of monstrously awful people come together at the Donnybrook, an annual and massively illegal bareknuckle fighting tournament to settle their differences. Southern gothic with a rich vein of western to it. Beautiful language, horrible characters, both compelling.

-Afterlife by Maxximillian Dafoe. Maxximillian does these wonderful, vined, complex stories about not-quite LA and not quite now that trip you up in the best way. Mollyville, her last novel, is haunting in the same way Wild Palms or Raymond Carver is. Afterlife, which I’m most of the way through, is no exception.

-The X-Files Season 10 Volume 3-I’m an avid comics reader (And former storeowner, occasional write and frequent journalist in the field) and I’m happily chewing my way through the comic version of season 10 right now. It’s much more in line with the original show than the relaunch season was and so far way more fun.


Where do you do most of your writing?
At home in my office for the most part. However, three times a week or so I try and get out of the house and write for a couple of hours in a local coffee shop. I live in Milton Keynes and there’s a brilliant coffee shop/juice bar on the station called Peel. That’s my usual spot. Although sometimes I’ll push through to the 24 hour Starbucks nearby when I need a fix or to remind myself what Californian coffee shops look like.


Tell us about the character that you've written that you like the most - no spoilers!
My first novel, which like most first novels is going to live in a trunk forever, featured a journalist who was gloriously peppery. It wasn’t that he was a bad guy or anything, he was just a devious little sod who didn’t let little things like technically breaking the law a bit get in the way of a story. I loved writing him and while the novel may never see the light of day he probably will again.


What is your favourite biscuit?
Hovis digestives. Delicious, great with cheese and apple and they were the first snack Marguerite and I ever shared. (I approve this choice)

Tea or Coffee?
Both! Occasionally at the same time! Coffee during the day, tea in the afternoon and evening. And water, so much water. Seriously, my fiancé is Californian and she firmly believes England as a country would become much nicer overnight if everyone actually hydrated.

And…the weather improved but hey…babysteps.

In the film of your life who would play you? (why)
Dara O’Brian or Henry Rollins. O’Brian because we share a similar hairline and avuncular widebeam Celtic enthusiasm. Rollins because he’s one of the reasons I made it out of my adolescence alive and I get my work ethic, love of doing things and eloquence from him.

If you could genetically cross an animal and a vegetable, what would you pick and why? I like the idea of a potato and a sloth...could you get a lazier creature? (my soul mate)
An avocado and a bear. So when the bear shed its winter coat, we’d have unlimited (but maybe slightly furry) avocado.

And now some extra goodies and links to Alasdair's various online personas and works!

Alasdair writes for Tor.com, MCM Buzz and Fox Spirit.

Tor.com

MCM Buzz

Fox Spirit

He has a book out through Fox Spirit collecting the early essays from Pseudopod

The Pseudopod Tapes

And he also writes tabletop RPG games, most recently for the Doctor Who game

6TH Doctor Sourcebook

10th Doctor Sourcebook

Alasdair's blog which is food, exercise and enthusiasm about pop culture is at alasdairstuart.com

And he tweets at @AlasdairStuart

As always, come chat on Twitter or Facebook - my Facebook page likes your likes :-)






21.6.16

Fancy Dress for Camp Bestival

Out of this world! The theme for Camp Bestival this year is Space. I'm sort of hoping that Tim Peake will surprise us all in the big top, but whether he does or not, the theme leads to some cool fancy dress ideas.

Every Year Camp Bestival has a theme and there is a fancy dress day, It is one of my favourite bits of the festival. To see all the costumes, some fabulously homemade, some bought, and some very basic, but everyone having the best fun, being someone else for a day.

In previous years I have dressed as Cinderella in rags (with DD as a mouse for the Fairy tales theme), as a horse (with DD as a rider, for the Olympics theme), as a ring master (with DD as a tiger, for the circus theme), as a Victorian explorer, complete with pith helmet and net (with DD as a butterfly, for the Wild theme). This year DD and I are thinking of Star Wars as our theme, with her opting for an R2D2 dress while I'm trying to decide between a Storm Trooper Morphsuit (remember when I fell in love with Morphsuits?) or Captain Phasma.

But Space has a lot of possibilities, from proper space exploration, NASA and ESA, there are so many movies, books and cartoons. Alien, The Martian, Predator, Superman, Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvin the Martian or The Jetsons and let us not forget Star Trek or Dr Who.

I love fancy dress so much at festivals that I don't confine it just to the Saturday 'Fancy Dress Day,. I plan each day with some sort of 'out of the ordinary' atire. I have a ballgown for pointlessly swanning about the fields, and so this year I'm trying to think of ways to space theme it (it is black - so maybe stars and planets on it? a galaxy?)

I have also bought a couple of space themed T shirts, I'm also looking at gold boots for no reason other than they look amazing. Do I also need a space suit? A space helmet? Maybe I do!

I always like to get some themed accessories too, things like handbags, shoes, umbrellas, jewellery.

If you are going to be at Camp Bestival will you be joining in with fancy dress? if you need some ideas, check out my pinterest board.

20.6.16

I want my country back

Never mind the country. I have reached breaking point. I am full. I see posters stating that 'I want my country back' and 'Vote leave' everywhere I go. I see 'proud to be British' posters and 'no room' signs. I am full up with them.

I would like my country back too. But the country I know was one that learned from it's brutal beginnings where we invaded and enslaved cultures, one that realised that having a commonwealth meant responsibility as well as power. A country that saw joining a club to stop wars was a wise move. A country that could see that other cultures add to a whole to enrich it not destroy it. A tiny island that knew that bluff and bluster and xenophobia won't help us, it will make up look silly and aggressive like a yapping lap dog.

Copyright: dnkstudio / 123RF Stock Photo

I want my friendly country back, the one that can laugh at itself when we meet a foreigner who speaks perfect English while we wallow in shouting and pointing. I want the country back, the one that welcomes the lost and the scared. A country that is happy to help and knows that in the long run it's better to be friends than enemies. A country of people bright enough to see that bigger is better, that joining the right people is the right thing.

But what of those long weeks of strikes, the misery, the racism, the 'no dogs, no Irish, no blacks' signs? The days before statutory annual holidays from work? The piles of rubbish in the streets? The army manning fire engines? The power cuts? The 'women don't need as much pay as men because they won't be the main breadwinner'? Do I want that country back too? And do I want to return to a time with no free travel around so many countries right on my doorstep?

Yes, that's me.
I think that all of us, all of the people who 'want our country back' are fooling ourselves. We can't grab those past sunshine filled days and expect to slip comfortably in them like familiar slippers. We are moving on, the world is moving on. Staying in Europe, being involved in important decisions that will affect the whole world is important. We need to look ahead not back.

On Thursday I will vote to Remain in the EU. I am scared that I am in a minority, surrounded by a sea of people who 'want things how they were' without even knowing what that means.

Check out some of the myths about the EU here. And think before you vote. But whichever way you vote - if you are eligible, please do get out and make your voice heard. Afraid as I am of leaving the EU I am also afraid of apathy and my path to the future being chosen by a small part of the country. EU referendum day is 23rd June 2016

Copyright: vepar5 / 123RF Stock Photo

Download a guide to voting - showing opposing views and both sides of the campaign, here http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/203410/EU-Referendum-voting-guide_England-and-Scotland.pdf

17.6.16

Cardoo Colouring cards

I've looked at and liked Cardoo cards before. They are a fun idea that turns a card into a small gift. For a child they are great to add some fun to what can be a pretty, but ultimately only decorative, thing. Perfect to send abroad I use them to send to my sponsored child in Uganda.

cardoo colouring cards

Now Cardoo have a new range, perfect for older children, teens and adults. With the craze for adult colouring making colouring a 'cool' thing to do again, and helping lots of people to cope with stress I think they are rather a good idea. Excellent for sending to a teen coping with exams, or in hospital with nothing to do these cards are 8 pages of mandala, floral or geometric designs to colour yourslef. You could even colour half yourself first as a way to bond from miles away on a joint project and send some love.
cardoo colouring cards

Each card is slightly different style, but all have lovely metallic foil finish on the front so that even before colouring they are stylish and beautiful. They are complimented by a plain brown envelope - perfect for you to decorate before posting.
cardoo colouring cards

The cards retail at £3.50 and the range launches on 1st July 2016, with a selction available at WHSmith.
cardoo colouring cards

Find out more about all of the cards and look at the range of colouring cards at www.cardoo.com

Thanks to Cardoo who sent me a couple of cards to review

16.6.16

Puppy Stuff, advice and shit

Hello I am a puppy expert. I say expert, when what I really mean is , I'm "some woman on the internet who had two dogs that grew up fine, got old, died and now has a puppy again". See, puppy expert.


I have recently purchased a puppy. She is a border terrier called Fizz, she is exceptionally cute, fast, and clever. A few people (2) that I speak to on social media asked me for puppy advice and so with the multitude (2) questions being asked I felt a blog post by a PUPPY EXPERT (me) was required.

small puppy
Puppy expert in action

Things you think you know about puppies but really don't (or have forgotten - I know I did)

Puppies bite. They do not 'nip'. People tell you that puppies nip but nipping sounds painless and fun and almost friendly . Puppies do not 'nip'. They use teeth that they borrowed from a great white shark crossed with a razor blade to puncture any and every part of your anatomy they can get a grip on. They will bite the soft skin web betwixt thumb and forefinger, there will be blood. The tiny needle teeth will grab and bite into the delicate skin of your inner arm. The puppy will appear to want to snuffle into your crotch but JUST WHEN YOU LEAST EXPECT IT will bite deep into the skin of your inner thigh (or worse!) until you squeal for mercy.
They do eventually stop biting. And this period of biting is important, they are learning 'bite inhibition', which means they are testing what hurts...your screams help in this process.

border terrier puppy

Puppies wee, and poop. They wee all the time, you might have thought leaving the back door open will mean they will wee outside, it doesn't. Puppies have no concept of 'outside'. Your job is to teach them. The simplest way is to use a crate (sounds cruel, isn't) the crate becomes the puppies den, no one likes to piss or crap in their bed, so puppies don't if they can possibly help it. You must use the crate whenever you cannot 100% supervise the puppy, do not let the puppy out of your sight when it is out of the crate or it will wee. Puppies need to go out at regular intervals, about every 30-60 minutes. BUT ALSO (and this is important) as soon as they wake after a nap, after a play time, after food. Treat the puppy or praise the puppy when it wees (or poops) outside. Clean up and ignore the screw ups YOU made by not paying attention that allowed the pup to poop in the house. Weirdly puppies over 8 weeks can go all night (11pm-5.30am) without messing up.

border terrier puppy in a crate
Puppy Prison

Puppies bite. Wait we did this! Yeah but they bite your clothes too, dressing gowns, trouser legs, shoes, anything moving. The edges of skirts will become laced with puppy ripped holes...I'm sure the bite inhibition thing is still in play. I'll be honest. This clothes biting pisses me off.

puppy sleeping
Do not be fooled - she is a velociraptor in a fur suit!
Puppies are ninjas. They can appear behind you, silently in a second. They appear in front of you equally quickly and stealthily, particularly if you are carrying a cup of tea. You will almost stand on them. You will trip over them. A lot.


Puppies can learn stuff really fast as they are like sponges. Don't be fooled by those big eyes and cute noses into thinking 'oh but they are babies, there is lots of time to learn' NO! there is now, now is the time, between 8 and 12 weeks is a window of fixed learned behaviour when puppies can learn either fear or confidence of a situation. Ensure that during this time they meet lots of new people, dogs, other puppies, children (the sort that don't mind being torn to bloody ribbons by excited puppy teeth) . Also that they have lots of new experiences and noises, banging doors, car rides, carrier bags rustling, firework sounds, TV shows etc etc
puppy party
Blurred puppy party picture
puppy in a bag
Taking her out pre-vaccinations - in a bag!
And all the time, train them! Get a decent book and decide on a style (I'm using a clicker this time around and Fizz adores it) and get on with it! Teach the basics (at 13 weeks Fizz can come to her name, sit, lay down, and give a paw when asked). We are working on the 'off' command to tell her to STOP BITING ME/MY TROUSERS/THAT CHAIR LEG and she's finally starting to get it.

border terrier puppy looking innocent
Innocent puppy face

So, that's part one of my guide to puppies, more as and when I think of something you need to know. Do you have a new puppy? Share your pictures and advice with me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, Fizz even has her own Instagram!