Northern Mummy

General thoughts and wittering about all sorts of things

A quick catch-up

on November 1, 2011

Well, whoops, is all I can say about the last 6 months.  A lot’s been happening in life – in addition to holidays, family upheavals and regular activities, several of my routines have shifted and I’ve been trying to work out how my week fits together.  I’m no longer looking after the Boy, who now has a baby sister and also, consequently, his mum at home full time at present.  So here’s a quick catch-up and a few thoughts on things that are going on at the moment!

Shine Manchester: I did complete the walk (in 9h 30m) and have the medal to prove it.  The weather was good and Manchester really is a city that never sleeps, so there was good encouragement all night from everyone who was around and about.  I’m pleased that I kept going to the end and raised about £500 for Cancer Research UK but I will never do a walk that long again!  I found it lonely (I started off walking with a relative of a friend of a friend of a relative, or something, but for various reasons we were separated about half way through), demoralising (the course was arranged so a large part of it doubled back on itself which meant we kept passing people coming the other way) and painful towards the end.  When I finished I was just so shattered that I couldn’t stop crying – everyone thought it was the emotion but honestly, I was just plain exhausted!  So that’s that, and I’m looking for alternative ways to raise money in future, having done running and walking to the furthest extent I could manage.

Shine medal

My medal - the distance is on the silver tag

Reading: Of course I’ve read a lot  – a lot of lighter stuff including 2 new finds, Cathy Woodman and Melissa Hill, and some more serious stuff.  The Bookworm and the Butterfly took part in the Reading Agency’s summer reading challenge so our frequent trips to the library over the summer resulted in my picking up several books for myself. I have enjoyed a few more titles by Dorothy Koomson (whose novels I never know whether to call light or not – are they chick-lit or do their darker themes of race, death, abuse, etc make them something weightier?  And does it matter?) and I also read David Nicholls’ One Day in the new flipback edition (incidentally, I think flipbacks are great but they’re never going to take off until they make them attractive with a more competitive price and publishing a bigger range of more up-to-date titles).  I’d been taking my time with that, as it was my “handbag read” for out and about, then finished it quickly when I realised the film was about to come out and the ending might be spoiled for me.  I then went to see the film a few weeks later and was rather disappointed by the little unnecessary changes to the plot.  Should have waited for longer after I’d finished the book, I think.

Our most recent book group read was Enigma by Robert Harris which I found very mixed: some of it was very interesting and I learned some things I hadn’t known about World War II, but on the other hand, I found it hard to care much about the characters and was very disappointed by the ending.  We’re now reading The Castle of Otranto which will go some way towards fulfilling my New Year’s Resolution to read some gothic literature.

On a relatively book-related note, this month is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which has now become International but kept its name, as far as I can tell, since it’s more catchy than InNoWriMo).  As I’ve said before, I do write – currently I have 4 short stories and a long, rambly novel, with bits missing from the middle, on my netbook – but I’m not sure NaNoWriMo is that good an idea unless you actually write for a living.  For one thing, if you don’t, you must have other responsibilities and surely (unless you take annual leave or want to get sacked) the novel writing is going to take up most of your spare time, which means neglecting family, friends and other things it’s likely you should be doing instead.  I know how easily I can get drawn into writing and forget to make my daughters’ tea, for example.  Perhaps not everyone is the same but it wouldn’t be a good thing for me, anyway. And I couldn’t actually write for a month, since I only seem to do anything productive on a few days a months when the mood seems to take me (and then, as I’ve said, it’s hard to get anything else done!).  And of course, I’m not seriously interested in publication (that is, I might be, except that I’m well aware that without advice and guidance I’m not writing well enough for publication, but I enjoy it and so am reluctant to seek any changes for now!)  But it is interesting to see and hear how many people out there (on Facebook, Twitter, etc) are involved in this and devoting some time to writing, and to pick up tips which might help me in the long run.

 

Cooking: lots of cooking been done over the last 6 months – I’ve tried new soup recipes and cakes amongst other things.  In the summer I enjoyed watching The Great British Bake-Off and have since begun to follow one or two of the contestants on Twitter and blogs, including the winner, Jo Wheatley, and have picked up some recipes and tips from these.  Her chocolate mud cake recipe in particular is a happy new find and I’ve made it several times already, including for the girls’ birthday cakes.  I’m trying to make my baking seasonal to some extent (made a lovely Delia Smith gooseberry tart in the summer and plum and cinnamon oat slices, also Delia, a couple of weeks ago) and work with the current festivals and celebrations as well as using seasonal ingredients.  So I’m now on parkin for Bonfire Night: I made a couple of loaves 2 weeks ago because it’s supposed to mature, but I might need to make some more to be eaten immediately if there’s not enough over the next couple of weeks!  I then intend to experiment with a pumpkin pie theme for Thanksgiving (not our festival, I know, but I have American friends and why not make use of all the celebrations available) by incorporating the flavours into something more portable like muffins, before moving on to Christmas baking and sweet making.  However, the baking will be for others for the time being as I’m attempting to go without snacking for the whole of November (or NaNoSnaMo, as I’ve decided to call it) – we’ll see how that goes once the weather turns colder!

 

Singing:  Rehearsals are well under way for the choir Christmas concert – this year Duruflé’s Requiem (very interesting as it’s 20th century which I’ve not heard much of in church music) plus a whole load of Christmassy stuff including carols and madrigals.  I’m already booked for another Join in and Sing day at the Sage in January too.  Lots to look forward to!

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