Family Traditions…

Yesterday, I had another trip up to Worcestershire, to visit the churchyard where my mother’s side of the family mainly reside these days.

When my Nan was alive, we would be up there every few weeks, putting flowers on the graves of various relatives. I don’t remember minding that at all. It was also a way to pass on family history – my Mum and my Nan would tell me about the people who’d died before I was born or when I was too young to remember them.

When Nan died, my Mum carried on ‘doing the graves’ as she always called it. If I was around, I’d go with her, but mainly she did it on her own.

When Mum was making her Will, she was adamant that she wanted to be cremated when she died, so that my brother and I wouldn’t have the hassle of ‘doing the graves’. I don’t think this was her only reason, but I’m sure it was part of it.

But the strange thing is this. Ever since my Mum died, I have made a point of doing the hundred and sixty mile round trip, to ‘do the graves’ on certain dates that were important to our family.

The view from the bench

Mum and Dad don’t have a grave, but I find that when I visit the churchyard, I can easily feel them there with me. It was the church were they married, so a happy place for them too.

Yesterday morning while I was there, the weather was lovely, warm and sunny. It was a relaxing and somehow a cathartic thing to do.

I’m never seen anyone else doing the same thing while I’ve been there, so I don’t feel too embarrassed when I take the opportunity to talk to the family. I had to apologise to my Nan’s mother – I just couldn’t get her flowers to look right, but I don’t think she minded.

I took my sandwiches up to the bench on the hill that overlooks the churchyard and had a chat with Mum and Dad.

It’s good to take some time out to think about the people we loved and still love, to remember them and to be happy, even as the tears roll down our cheeks.

Campaign for the promotion of Shakespearean insults…

Good morning thou craven toad-spotted puttock.

My spirits were considerably lifted this morning, when amidst the huge pile of debris evicted from number 2 daughter’s school bag, I found a sheet of paper titled Shakespeare Insult Kit.

English: Title page of the First Folio, by Wil...

On two sides of A4 paper, three columns per page, are lists of words used in the works of Shakespeare to deliver insults. The idea is that you prefix any phrase with ‘thou’, then choose one word from column 1, plus one from column 3 and one from column 3.

The results are truly empowering.

Who wouldn’t want to shout ‘thou errent fen-sucked clotpole’ at the person who takes your car parking space, or ‘thou spleeny tardy-gaited skainsmate’ when the dog eats your breakfast.

Admittedly, these phrases don’t exactly trip of the tongue – but surely that’s just a question of practice.

So today I’m starting a campaign to improve the quality of my insults. I shall attempt to replace my usual ‘you plonker’ (actually it’s worse than that, but I’m not going to write what I mostly say), with a heart-felt selection from the list. Perhaps this week I’ll try to perfect;

  • thou dankish fly-bitten giglet,
  • thou gleeking boil-brained bum-bailey,
  • and thou churlish swag-bellied harpy.
How uplifting it is, to know that even in these difficult times, there are still young teachers out there, doing their bit to instil a love of Shakespeare into our digital age children.

When I was at school, (and no, despite what my daughters say, I can’t remember the man himself), we read and acted quite a lot of Shakespeare. No one told us when we were at middle school, that it was difficult, so instead, we just got on with enjoying it.

But – we also lived less than an hour drive away from Stratford-on-Avon, and in those days, could get on the night tickets for the RSC at reasonable prices. So until I left home, I went to most productions, acted by the best Shakespearean actors in the world. I’m sure that helped, because when Shakespeare’s plays are done well, you don’t need to have spent months studying the texts, the stories come to life before your eyes, you simply relax and let yourself become engrossed.

So, if an insult kit is what it takes to introduce a new generation to the treasure of Shakespeare, I’m all for it. I shall do my own bit to encourage a better class of insult – won’t you join me?

Hanbury Hall – Resurgam

A rather sad old house, comes back to life.

Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire.

I made a flying visit to Worcestershire on Monday and not having huge amounts of time to spare, but wanting a few minutes calm and culture, I drove over to Hanbury Hall, which isn’t far from Droitwich.

The little leaflet/map you’re given with your ticket says on the front, ‘Hanbury Hall, Welcome,

Do money and beauty bring happiness?’

Which to be honest, surprised me a touch. You don’t generally get presented with a philosophical question like that, when you go to these places.

Now I presume it’s actually a reference to the various unhappy people who have lived at Hanbury over the last three hundred years. And it has certainly had a few, culminating I suppose, with George Vernon, the last of the Vernon family who originally built the house, who committed suicide in the Hall in 1940.

The Hall had used to be one of the Trust’s less appealing properties. Not many rooms open to the public, uninspiring grounds. It felt dusty and neglected. Not somewhere you’d rush to spend an afternoon with the family. So I suppose, when I first went there, back in the 1980s, it was a rather sad old place.

But over the last few years, something rather wonderful has been happening at Hanbury, and I’ll tell you what I think it is.

I think someone has fallen in love with the house.

Because now when you visit, there’s a lot more to see. Many more rooms are open and they have been dressed sympathetically, so you get a really good impression of life inside the Hall.

The room guide volunteers deserve medals for being the chattiest, gossipiest (I know that word doesn’t exist, but it should), friendliest, I’ve met.

Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire, England. Mural o...
Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire, England. Mural of finding of Achilles by Odysseus. James Thornhill, c.1710. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There has obviously been a lot of effort spent in restoration around the Hall and information is always on hand to point out the odd and the eccentric highlights – so much more fun than just telling you about the artists and owners.

And the amazing things they’re doing to recreate George London’s formal garden, just have to be seen. (Both from the ground and from the Hercules bedroom windows).

Formal Gardens Hanbury Hall

The tea room is worthy of a visit all for itself, and if you can come away without buying a plant, gift or second-hand book, you’re made of stronger stuff than me.

What this house has now, is money, abundant care, and the love of many people. And it’s always been beautiful, it just hadn’t found the right partners before. I think you can tell, because the atmosphere inside Hanbury Hall is very relaxing. It feels as if the building itself has breathed a sigh of relief.

I think it’s happy.

Do go.

Wrestling With The Weather At Wrest Park

In which we bravely visit Wrest Park, near Bedford, despite evil weather conditions.

Wrest Park on a very wet day, from the Pavilion

We’ve had some glorious sunny days around here lately, very springlike. Sadly though, Sunday was one of those grim reminders that we shouldn’t yet take spring for granted and that winter could still turn round and bite us in the bottom.

Having felt that I might actually climb up the walls, across the ceiling and down the other side, I decided that I needed to ‘get out of the house’ at the weekend. We didn’t have a huge amount of time to spare, so we stayed local and paid our first visit to Wrest Park, since they’ve introduced a new visitor centre.

Now we go camping in Scotland for our holidays, so we’re not exactly unfamiliar with bad weather, and indeed, such is our spirit, that even rain which my Dad would have called stair-rods, didn’t stop us setting out on our trip.

But, perhaps we bit off just a little more than we should have.

On arrival (and let me tell you, there were half a dozen other mad people there already), we were ‘greeted’ by a poor chap with an umbrella, and told where to park. We worried about him all morning. I hope he was being paid, but I’ve an awful feeling that he was a volunteer. By the time we left, he’d gone – we hope it was to home and a nice hot lunch, not the emergency department for people with hypothermia.

The Pavilion, Wrest Park

We made our way to the new visitor centre – and decided on a fortifying cup of coffee before we set off into the garden.

Now, only a few weeks ago, we had one of the best meals ever at Goodrich Castle. What a pity that Wrest park couldn’t achieve the same standards, despite having considerably bigger facilities and more staff.

Suffice to say that the presentation of the chocolate cake was worthy of my old school dinner hall. Had they not also overcharged us, I wouldn’t have been so put out, but in my book, if someone makes a mistake, a simple apology and quickly putting it right is what’s called for, not being made to stand around while your tea goes cold and being told to sign bits of paper and provide full address details.

The cafe was not busy – I really hope they get their customer service act together before the season heats up.

Interior, Bowling Green House, Wrest Park

We had a look around the few rooms of the house that are open to the public, then took our courage in our hands and braved the gardens.

Well, by that time, the stair-rod rain had turned to sleet.

Full marks must go to the brave buggy drivers who kept ferrying people about – I think if they’d had a St Bernard dog with them, they’d have had even more business.

Fireplace in The Orangery, Wrest Park

We walked down the canal to the pavilion. Somehow much more atmospheric than the house. My other half always thinks that rather nefarious things probably took place in this type of folly – he may be right, but certainly not in that weather.

Retracing our steps, we went back via the Bowling Green house and the Orangery.

And then, cold to the bone, we gave up and drove home – with the heater turned up very high in the car.

My coat was still wet on Monday morning. How I love the English weather.

We’ll go to Wrest again when the weather improves.

A ghostly image of a previous age?

For visitor information, see English Heritage’s page here.


Bess of Hardwick

On our recent trip to Hay-on-Wye, I picked up a copy of Mary S. Lovell’s book, Bess of Hardwick, First Lady of Chatsworth. Although I’ve known bits and pieces about Bess for a long time, this is the first time I’ve read a whole biography of this remarkable woman.

Bess was no beautiful princess like her contemporary Queen Elizabeth I, no tragic heroine like Mary Queen of Scots, but she knew both of these women very well indeed and lived a life every bit as moving.

But what I find most endearing, is that this Tudor lady was in many respects a working mother, on a scale that today’s high power executives would have trouble matching.

I won’t attempt to detail everything about her life here. If you’re interested, then there are plenty of sources. Suffice to say that Bess came from fairly humble beginnings (at least by Tudor standards) but through a series of advantageous marriages, and by extremely good management of her resources, climbed to the top of Elizabethan society, being regarded as the second most wealthy woman in England after the queen.

Bess of Hardwick (later Elizabeth Countess of ...
Image via Wikipedia

The reason why I so admire Bess, is that she really was responsible for making the very best of her lot in life, things could have turned out very differently for her on numerous occasions, but she learned how to play the system and make it work for her – and she did all this, whilst placing her commitment to the advancement of her family, firmly centre stage.

Throughout her life, she suffered periods of stress and acute worry. Deaths of loved ones, malicious gossip, spiteful lawsuits, court intrigue and plotting and more, but she survived it all, and through what must have been indredible strength of character, she triumphed.

In an age when patronage was essential to advancement, and when many ambitious nobles bankrupted themselves in their pursuit of favour with the monarch, Bess managed to build magnificent new houses, (the original building at Chatsworth and the existing Hardwick Hall are both her creations) without becoming insolvent – what could she teach us today about financial management! Apparently she was meticulous with her accounts – a true hands-on manager.

She was a adept business manager, and a fantastic networker. Over the long years of her life, she was sure to make friends with the right people at the right time – not a question of luck – she set out to do it. But she also seems to have made true and lasting friendships, which implies that she was an authentic person, appreciated for her own worth and recognised for her personal integrity.

Hardwick Hall, the house Bess built in her later years.

What I particularly love about Bess is her energy and enthusiasm for life. Fifty was pretty old in Elizabethan times, but at this age, when others were slowing down and succumbing to illness and death, Bess was as driven and sprightly as ever. She was in her sixties when she started the building at Hardwick – moving into her new house on or around her seventieth birthday. No slowing down for her.

Throughout her life, she seems to have valued and enjoyed the company of children and young people, perhaps this partly explains her joie de vivre. And at her death, Bess had left strict instructions as to the manner of her funeral – not to be too lavish – in fact she had prepared her estate better than most of us would attempt today, to provide the basis for her children’s inheritance.

She ended her life it seems, having achieved so much and still having maintained her sense of humility and integrity – what an inheritance.

I believe that Bess still has a lot to teach us, especially our daughters, about what can be achieved and what are the essential values to hold on to throughout life.

  • Chatsworth is still owned by Bess’s descendants, the Dukes of Devonshire, and is a wonderful place to visit, although vastly altered since Bess’s time.

  • Hardwick Hall remains very much as Bess left it and is one of the most stunning great houses of England – it is managed today by the National Trust. If you visit, make sure to see Bess’s needlework – what a woman. Hardwick Old Hall, just a step away from the new Hall is also open to the public and although ruined, is still a poignant link to Bess.

Goodrich Castle: Roaring Meg & The Best Cheese Scones Ever…

Some castles are inferior little numbers, scarcely more than a raised mound of earth or a dubious pile of stones. Not Goodrich Castle. Goodrich is A PROPER castle; solid, chunky, brooding, mysterious, exciting.

When you need a castle fix, Goodrich should be there high up on your list.

Sitting on top of a hillside, above the meandering River Wye, near Symonds Yat, Goodrich Castle has just about everything you need to get a sense of what these monsters were all about.

Take young children there and they’ll be hooked on history for good.

Roaring Meg: far too cocky for my liking.

There’s enough still standing (despite the best efforts of Roaring Meg – see the picture), who blasted the walls during the English Civil War (1646), to get a feel for life in medieval borderland.

Small but perfectly formed Norman keep

The oldest part of the existing castle is the square Keep. This somewhat diminutive keep – only about 25 x 25 feet inside, was built in the mid C12th. I imagine that the people who lived in it must have been on fairly intimate terms, as there’s not a lot of space to wield your broadsword, let alone a cat in there.

A castle with a view from every tower

But clearly the stunning position on the hillside, must have recommended itself for development. As a result, various names from medieval high society, decided to make the castle there a place fit for a king, or at least some very well placed nobles.

Sympathetic restoration

Considering that the Welsh Marches were a hot bed of violence and treachery for a few hundred years, Goodrich was remarkably untroubled by sieges and that kind of thing – although it has some impressive looking defensive systems in place. It wasn’t until the Civil War, by which time castles really were on the way out, that it saw action.

Roaring Meg, the biggest mortar of its kind in the Civil War, smashed Goodrich beyond repair. A bit unsubtle putting it back inside, I thought – does it gloat over its work? ‘Hey look at me, I did this you know…’

But, as is the way with castles, being ruined, only enhances its romantic appeal. Oh and by the way, it even has a tragic ghostly lovers story – truly the perfect castle.

What more could you want?

Well, Goodrich manages to go the extra mile. At the cafe in the visitor centre, they make their own food. On the day we were there, last week, the menu included Roasted Red Pepper and Sweet Potato Soup, with Cheese Scones. I am serious – these were the best cheese scones I’ve ever tasted (the soup was excellent too).

Inside the bijou Keep

Goodrich is managed by English Heritage. It’s open practically all year –  but check here for details. Make sure you pick up one of the audio guides (they’re free and excellent). Above all, make sure you leave time for tea and a bun in the cafe.

Castle score: 10/10







New Year, New Kindle

I haven’t been here much lately. Partly because my hands finally recovered and I was able to stitch again – see my other blog if you’re remotely interested in needlepoint – and partly because I was given a Kindle for Christmas.

Now, I could have had a Kindle last year, indeed the possibility was dangled in front of me, carrot-like, but I wasn’t convinced. The only one I’d seen, belonged to my sister-in-law and I hadn’t really had much time to look at it in action.

But as the pressies were unwrapped on Christmas Day, I was handed a rather small box – oh gosh, I thought, it must be a DVD or two – but no, it was in fact a Kindle.

My Kindle, nestling in a sexy purple leather case…

So, that’s where the journey began. I must admit, I think it was incredibly brave of my other half to even consider giving me the means to legitimately sit around ignoring everything and everyone while I simply read. I’m not entirely sure that he’d thought through all the implications. In fact, I rather think that he believes it a great way not to clutter the house – oh dear, how very naive. But I’m not complaining.

So, for the last month, I’ve been getting to know my new appliance. And what is my verdict so far?

There’s no doubt in my mind that I love it. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have limitations, and it certainly doesn’t mean that I won’t buy real books anymore, but I find that it is an incredibly comfortable way to read and just because of that, I have already read more over the last four weeks than even this confirmed bibliophile would normally manage.

The negatives as I see them are these:

  • A Kindle is not really note friendly. Not a problem if you are a good book person, who would stick pins in their own eyes before even thinking of defacing a page by… writing on it.
  • Kindles are good at keeping secrets – so if you need to know what happens on the last page, before you even start to read page one, then although you can sneak a peek, it’s not as easy as flicking through to the end.
  • Books that rely on pictures for part of their enjoyment, aren’t best served by Kindles.

The positives for me are:

  • It’s much harder to flick through to the end and spoil the surprise!
  • I seem to be able to concentrate on each page, rather than thinking about how near I am to the end of a chapter or the end of the book.
  • It’s much easier to hold in bed (and with a little lamp, much less disturbing to sleeping partners).

Which leads me to summarise, that Kindles are excellent for reading fiction and also for books that want you to go off and practice something, before you read the next section. They are not good for picture books, and they are rubbish if you want to scribble notes everywhere.

In practice, since Christmas I have read (on the Kindle);

  • The Etymologicon – Mark Forsyth. Absolutely loved it – brilliant, 5 stars.
  • How To Train A Wild Elephant – Jan Chozen Bays. This is one of those chapter a week books. Obviously, I cheated, but am now happy to go back slowly. It’s about mindfulness, if it isn’t obvious. Not sure what to rate it yet.
  • If Walls Could Talk – Lucy Worsley. Simply brilliant – 5 stars and my eleven year old also adores it – a budding historian?
  • A Skeleton In The Closet – MC Beaton. OK, not high literature, but sufficient for snuggling under the duvet in the depths of winter.
  • Get Some Headspace – Andy Puddicombe. Only just finished and it’s a book about practice, so too early to rate. Have a slight issue with the intensity of the online marketing, but it’s hard to avoid these days. I’ve learned some useful things from the book, but I won’t be handing over the monthly fee.
  • Help! How To Become Slightly Happier & Get A Bit More Done – Oliver Burkeman. I loved this, but beware, it’s not really a self-help book, more like entertainment for people who’ve read too many of the real things and have come out the other side. 5 stars.
  • Emma – Jane Austen. For the umpteenth time and I still can’t really see what she sees in the laced up Mr Knightley.
  • Art & Fear – David Bayles & Ted Orland. Something to read when the arty stuff isn’t flowing. Probably good, but I’ll have to try reading it again sometime.
  • Agatha Raisin and The Quiche of Death and also Agatha Raisin and The Vicious Vet – MC Beaton. More under the duvet stuff.
  • And lastly (and I haven’t finished it yet, so don’t tell me who dunnit)…The Sittaford Mystery – Agatha Christie.

Tired of blogging?

This week, as I’ve been reading through my daily Bloglovin selection of posts, I’ve become aware of rather a lot of people complaining about how hard they’re finding it to blog regularly, how difficult it is to come up with original content and how tough it is to stick to their posting schedule.

Now, this has set me thinking. Considering that the blogosphere is the most awe-inspiring means to connect people, why would anyone get bored with it?

A few things have occurred to me, based on my totally random and non-scientific survey.

If you blog to make money, then it’s a job. Your task is indeed to provide good content on a regular basis. Your readers, followers, etc, are your potential customers, and giving them what they want, is your mission.

So, if blogging is a significant income source for you – or you’re working towards making it so, then really you have to treat it just like any other job.

Now, if I go into a shop, browsing around, with the possible intention of buying something, the last thing I want is a shop assistant telling me how bored they are with the whole shop, how hard it is to turn up every morning and open up, and how every day is the same and they’ve nothing new to show me.

I’m not for a minute saying that blogs shouldn’t be used for this purpose, indeed, some of my favourites do just that – all I’m suggesting is, that where money is the motive, a professional attitude is essential.


If you’re not blogging for money and you’re feeling tired or bored, then don’t worry, either take a break or stop entirely. Is there some sort of pressure we put on ourselves that says once we have a few followers, we’re letting the side down if we don’t show up, day after day?

Does it matter how often you post? I follow blogs that post daily, weekly, monthly and randomly – I appreciate them all for different qualities.

In the US, they’ve just celebrated Thanksgiving, and now Christmas is around the corner, so hell yes, most of us are up to our armpits in stuff we should be doing – so why make life any more stressful by worrying about what we’ll post about tomorrow?

Surely, if something occurs to you, and you can find time to post, then that’s great, but if not, what are we followers going to do? – run away, black list you, strike you off our Christmas card list? What sort of followers do you have anyway if they’d abandon you for so little neglect.

Quality not quantity?

‘Tis the season to be jolly (apparently), but it should also be the season to be very kind to yourself. Don’t stress.

Progress Report

My daughters have just brought home their school reports. Panic not, I am not going to regale you with their content – I’m not that sort of mother and I hope someone will take me outside and shoot me if I should ever become one.

No, what I wanted to say, is just how different they are from the ones we brought home at the same age.

Ours, written in the Middle Ages, with real ink (some of it green), made all sorts of interesting comments about us. Some I’m sure were intended to be constructive, many were the teachers’ opportunity to stick the knife in, but they were all insightful, even if only into the mindset of the teacher writing the remarks. I am delighted now to re-read some of my reports, knowing how very wrong they have turned out to be.

But there was never any doubt that they knew who they were writing about, and what they wanted to say.

Our daughters, on the other hand, are bringing home, what I would at best call impersonal computer generated reports. I am convinced that there exists some master list of approved comments, from which the teacher cuts and pastes at will. Given access to this list, I’m sure I could have fun, but would the results tell us anything about our children’s progress? In fact, is it actually possible to translate education-speak into English as it is spoken by the likes of us?

Is it possible, that running scared of litigious parents, teachers have now invented a system that is both incomprehensible and useless?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not bothered about the reports. If the only indication you have of your child’s progress comes from these computer generated lists, you’re not really playing the game are you – no, I’m just sad that our children aren’t learning the valuable lessons we learned. The clever teachers were the ones who could use innuendo with subtlety – what better way to learn how to damn with faint praise? The vindictive teachers showed their true colours in their remarks – what a great way to motivate children to achievement through revenge. These gorgeous and educational variations are now lost in the jumble of education-speak gobbledygook.

I don’t think our children will have the same delight as us in years to come, if they find their reports amongst our drawers of junk paper. How much nicer to be able to stick two fingers up at their old maths teacher who said they’d never amount to anything, than remember if they actually met their target for using fractions that term.

Progress right?


Going To Bed With Phil Rickman

I have a confession to make, for the past three nights, I’ve been taking another man to my bed – Phil Rickman. Well OK, not really – the husband would probably have noticed – in fact I’ve actually been reading Phil Rickman’s latest book, The Secrets of Pain – another in his series of novels featuring Merrily Watkins.

Now if I tell you that the main character in these books is a widowed female thirty-something vicar, living in rural Herefordshire with her teenage daughter, you might wonder what there is to get excited about, but if I tell you that she’s also the Diocesan Deliverance Minister (exorcist to you and me), and that murders and mildly supernatural happenings are the mainstay of the novels, would it tickle your fancy at all?

I suspect that this type of novel is a bit like Marmite, but I love Marmite and I’m a huge Phil Rickman fan too, although not scraped over burnt toast.

To demonstrate just how much I like these books, I should tell you that they are the only ones I’ve ever pre-ordered from Amazon – praise indeed.

Phil takes mostly real places in the Welsh Marches area, and weaves stories from local legend and real events into what his website calls ‘crime novels with a restrained element of the paranormal’.

The characters are soothingly well observed. My own favourite is Gomer Parry – how I wish he was around for real. He’s a bit like a superhero, but older than your granddad and sporting a roll-up ciggie.

Anyway, I could probably wax lyrical until your pants fell off, so all I’ll say is, if your bedtime needs a bit of escapism, give him a go. Try and start with The Wine of Angels, if you are the obsessive type who likes to get in at the beginning – you can read them in any order, but it probably makes more sense to go in sequence if you can.

If you run out of the Merrily Watkins books, he also wrote a couple of books under the name Will KingdomThe Cold Calling and Mean Spirit – both also excellent reads.

When I first started reading his books, it was quite difficult to find them, but recently I’ve actually found a couple in local charity shops, a true sign that an author has really made it into popular culture – so well done Phil, please keep them coming.

NB: Rest assured, I’m not getting paid anything for this glowing report – it’s entirely independent and if you go out and buy everything the author’s ever written, I won’t see a penny – that’s the way it should be in my book.

Meet my new life-coach, Dr Seuss!

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.

Dr Seuss

Was Dr Seuss a part of your childhood? He never featured in mine, although I think he practically taught my husband to read. I was subject to Peter and Jane, but that’s another story altogether, and probably explains a lot.

Since we had our children, I’ve come to know Dr Seuss better and the girls loved his books when they were learning to read, but the thing is this, over the last couple of months, I’ve come across a number of Dr Seuss quotes, which I’ve discovered speaking directly to me.

The one above touched a sensitive nerve this week, with the excursion to my family’s graves and it neatly sums up what I’m sure was my Mum and Dad’s attitude to lives well lived.

Having spent more time than I should have over recent months reading what are billed as ‘self-help’ books, I was also struck by another Dr Seuss quote that I read somewhere

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.

Don’t you think it takes a kind of self-confidence and self-assurance to hold on to that thought?

This one completely sums up my thoughts on marriage

We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.

So all this has got me wondering, is Dr Seuss lost on the young? Because quite frankly, I think 90% of self-help books should be pulped and instead Dr Seuss books should be compulsory reading for mixed up adults of any age. Perhaps his books should be available on prescription?

They’re a lot more fun, say all there is to say in far fewer words and have much better pictures!

If you’re a stranger to Dr Seuss, have a look in the children’s books section of your local charity shops and see what you can pick up. Or if you can’t wait, have a look here at some classic quotes.

I’m appointing Dr Seuss my new life-coach. Whenever I feel in need of some expert guidance, I’m going to eschew the myriad of authors who’s books fill the self-help shelves and instead turn to Dr Seuss.

After all, as he says

In my world, everyone’s a pony and they all eat rainbows and poop butterflies!

You don’t get that kind of insight from any old life-coach do you.


Any Scrivener Fans Out There?

Is anyone using Scrivener for your writing projects?

My friend who is Mac mad, gave me a pile of magazines, dating back a few months, which I have in the reading room (otherwise known as the en suite bathroom). A large proportion of the content goes way over my head, but one article caught my eye, and that was a description of a piece of software to make long writing projects easier to handle; it’s called Scrivener.

Well, having had more than one brush up with Pages, I was eager to have a look.

I found the free download online, at the beginning of this week, and am having a ball playing with it, but in a way, it is a bit frustrating, because it makes you want to get on and write, but then I’m finding that it takes me quite a while to work out how some of the features work, which stops the flow.

I am gradually getting better at it I think, but I’d be interested to know if anyone else is using it, and if so, is it really as good as I hope it may be? I’m determined to give it a good try out, but it appears to have more features than I’m likely to get my head around in the test period.

The free download lasts for thirty days of use – a nice touch, the clock only ticks on the days when you use it – and so far, I’m trying to use those days as practice sessions, but it’s easy to get carried away.

At the moment I’m inclined to buy it, but any feedback from current users would be interesting.

If you haven’t seen it yourself, click here and go and have a look around.