Category Archives: Lifes Challenges

Writing and eating on the toilet seat…

My days have been thrown into turmoil. A couple of days ago I had a little accident, and as a consequence I can’t sit down. How am I expected to write, eat, drive, or watch television? Of course there’s always the toilet seat, that’s comfortable!

A couple of days ago I was walking Stilton, my one year old Standard Poodle dog and was progressing down a steep grassy slope, when in a flash, my feet went from beneath me and I landed with a THUD on my coccyx. My spine jarred and a bolt of pain rushed through me. Aside a little discomfort, I was okay. Stilton, though, seemed bemused, and looked to me with questioning eyes, puzzling over my choice of resting spot.

Back at home, my first thought was to soothe myself with a cup of tea. (Isn’t it what the English always do?) It was going to plan, until I tried to sit on the sofa. I just couldn’t do it. The pain was incredible. I could sit if my weight was forward, away from my coccyx, otherwise … ooh, the agony.

Try spending one day without sitting. It’s not easy, and certainly not for someone who spends the majority of the day resting on ones backside. I can’t eat meals in a relaxed manner, I have to watch television in a horizontal pose, and I can’t even drink a cup of tea in bed.

Woe is me!!!

So what’s my solution? Play more tennis. 4 hours yesterday, and another 4 today! Well, I might as well do something useful with my time! Perhaps that grassy slope could come in useful after all …


The glories of Spring . . . and the not so good

baby robin2

Be happy, it’s Spring. Feel grateful and look for the positive. Life is to be lived.

Things I like about Spring

  1. Finding birds nests, such as the robin nest in this photo
  2. The arrival of the swallows from South Africa
  3. The process of seeds, to plants, to vegetables. It never seizes to amaze me.
  4. Sunny evenings in the garden with birdsong for company.
  5. Watching the butterflies and bees aimlessly traverse the garden.
  6. Eating lunches al fresco.
  7. The smell of blossom.
  8. Watching the honeybees return from the rapeseed on their super-highway.
  9. Finding a male toad whilst weeding.
  10. Taking extended walks and playing outdoor tennis.
  11. Clean dog paws.
  12. Clean eggs from chickens, i.e. not covered in mud.
  13. The cats stop using their litter trays.


Not so good . . .

  1. Finding remains of mice in the garden, courtesy of the cats.
  2. Never-ending weeding.
  3. Guilt relating to inability to motivate myself to doing outdoor DIY chores.
  4. Realising the cabbage white butterflies are going to devastate my brassica plants.
  5. Seeds that fail to germinate. My hope and expectation crushed.
  6. Sunny days that I am unable to enjoy because I am stuck indoors.
  7. Cats returning home with large bellies and smug faces.
  8. Cats meowing to go outside at 4 o’clock in the morning.


Even so, it’s still better than winter!










Are we free-thinking or pre-programmed?

I’m currently starting the process of researching and planning my next novel. It is a process I always enjoy since it means I can allow my imagination free-flow and come up with an assortment of ideas before eliminating the wildest and wackiest. I’m particularly enjoying it this time as I haven’t written any new material for over six months and I’m getting withdrawal symptoms.

That’s not to say I haven’t been busy. Aside from all the Internet marketing that remains a necessity, I’ve edited three books, all of which are getting closer to publication. It can be a laborious task, but it is essential and there is no time for a lazy or lax attitude. Thankfully, it’s finally nearing its end.

So, on to my next mystery/thriller. All I’m willing to say right now is that it involves identical twins, and that’s where my research is taking me. I’m looking at personality traits, and whether they’re genetic or not. It’s a fascinating subject. Views of scientists differ greatly, although from what I’ve read so far, it appears that about 40% of our behaviour is genetically influenced, with some areas being more influenced than others, such as self-control, a person’s sense of purpose, social interaction, and happiness.

How does that make us feel? If we are programmed a certain way, is there any point in fighting nature? Are we a born loser or a born winner?

For example:

I am rarely happy – it’s just how I am.
I have had an affair – I have little self-control.
I am unemployed – I have a lack of sense of purpose and struggle with motivation.
I enjoy more than the average amount of alcohol – alcoholic tendencies are genetically linked.

Some families do have more divorces, more job instability, and more of an addictive nature than others. Is this why? From what I have read, it does appear that there could be a link. Studying identical twins is what has helped scientists reach some of these conclusions. Even those twins raised apart and having never met have more similarities than what would be expected from a random meeting of two strangers. Now that is bizarre. Perhaps we aren’t as free-thinking as we thought.


Do the simple things in life make us happy?

Does it sound a little glib and clichéd to say it’s not money or acquisitions that make me happy, but being around the people I care about and doing the things I love?

Wouldn’t we all prefer to be on sailing exotic seas, drinking expensive wine and eating expensive foods, and upgrading our possessions to the latest model? Maybe so, although I believe if we had these things all of the time they would lose their value and stop providing us with the joy we expect.

I am a huge tennis fan, and have watched Wimbledon year upon year hoping for a British victory. Finally, last year, Andy Murray won. It was an amazing day, barely believable, and it will stay with me forever. However, was I more appreciative because of the 77 year wait? I believe I was. If good things come too often, we can become a little blasé. That’s not to say I wouldn’t enjoy it if Roger Federer were British, I would, I’m just not sure I would appreciate his wins quite so much. When winning is expected, its ability to provide true joy is lost. We might feel happy and maybe even a little smug when our tennis star wins another tournament, but we won’t feel the elation we felt when Andy won Wimbledon.

Therefore, do we need to go through the pain of doing without to experience happiness? Do we need to yearn for something and should we have to fight to achieve it? Does that increase its worth? Maybe so, otherwise its value is lost.

This brings me back to my initial statement, which now seems a little contradictory.

It’s not money or acquisitions that make me happy, but being around the people I care about and doing the things I love.

It’s human nature to take for granted the things we see around us all the time, whether it’s a person or a possession. Likewise, it’s understandable that we would want something more than what we have, and strive, maybe unreasonably so, to get it. As the saying goes, the grass is often greener on the other side.

So what makes us happy? The way I see it we have two choices. We either learn to enjoy what we have, or we keep upgrading our desires. The first option may seem a little negative and unambitious; the second option may lead us to a lifetime of unhappiness, and we may pass something by that was of real value.

Life, at times, can be a bit of a trudge, which is why I think something midway is more appropriate. Be happy with what you have by reminding yourself of it on a regular basis, but don’t let it stop you from wanting that little something extra.

In essence, treat yourself. Just make sure it remains a treat.




The magical stuff we take for granted


The stormy weather in the UK has persisted for the last few months, and many houses have been flooded for weeks. This has to be one of the most soul-destroying things that can happen, and I can only imagine the devastation one must feel. I am lucky. I live on the other side of the UK to where the worst of the weather had been occurring, but yesterday we had our first inconvenient experience.

The winds and rain had been building throughout the day, peaking in the middle of the afternoon. The noise was unsettling, and whilst you feel safe inside your house, you’re never quite sure of what was happening outside. Our main concern was for the beehives and the chickens.

We had weighted down the beehives with concrete blocks, so felt fairly certain they would be okay. The chickens, though, were another matter. Whilst we didn’t feel they could come to any harm, it didn’t stop us from worrying about them. Upon our inspection, they were undercover but sodden, since the wind was coming from the wrong direction. Our rooster, Stanley, was facing the corner of his shelter, and hunched up. Some of the girls were inside the house. Perhaps they were the ones with a fraction more intelligence.

So, we were all okay. But then the power went off. It made me realise how much we rely of the seemingly magical stuff that comes into our houses. Being without it was so inconvenient.

It was dark. I could not work on my computer. I could not have a warm meal or a hot drink. I could not listen to the radio. I could not read, except under torchlight, which I didn’t fancy. More importantly, I could not watch Andy Murray playing a tennis match on television! GUTTED!

So, we had cheese sandwich and a glass of cold water for dinner, and we sat by the wood-burning stove and did something often considered unusual in many households. We talked! Now there’s something new!

The break in power only lasted 5 hours, but it was long enough. It was made me realise how lucky we have been in recent weeks; parts of the UK have been having a hellish time, yet we have gone relatively unscathed.

If it weren’t for the swift response of the electrical company who battled the dark, the wind and rain to replace the snapped cable, I would still be eating cheese sandwiches and sipping cold water. Thank you guys!