Thursday, 30 April 2015

Baby Business: Week 16, the baby whisperer

Little One discovered twins. Tick
Little One studied this new phenomenon intently. Tick
Little One completely understood the concept. Ummm, not if the constant ‘double-takes’ were anything to go by!

In business the right ‘tone of voice’ is vital, not only when talking to clients, but in the communications we write and produce. Change the tone of a communication and you will completely change the message and the way it is perceived. The right communication will make a successful campaign; the wrong ‘tone’ will create completely the wrong impression.
And of course communication is all important for our babies too...
At three months, Little One merrily chats away to me, telling me just what is going through her head (apparently a lot of ‘goo’ ... goo goo goo!). I always listen carefully and try to respond in the right manner, but if I get too excited at the wrong moment she gets quite annoyed, actually frowning and grunting as if to say, “you’re not taking this seriously enough mummy”!
When I chat to Little One I have to admit that I have turned in to the cliché comedy sketch... cooing, gooing and clucking with the best of them: “Who’s a clever-wever girl then? And who’s the most boootiful girl in the world?”.
However, I am always careful to use the right tone of voice at the right time and it is with great pride and a melting heart that I got to see how this has rubbed off on my little girl. If she wakes in the night and needs her nappy changing, I do it under a dimmed light and only whisper a few soothing words so as to keep her in ‘sleep mode’. This week Little One has woken three times in the night for a nappy change and instead of her normal excitable chattering, each time I laid her on the changing mat she looked straight at me and actually whispered. A fluke? Maybe, but she did it on all three nights!
But the ultimate heart melting moment came last night. As my sleepy little girl was drifting off I whispered “I love you”, to which she smiled and said “yiy glub goo goo” [Translation: I love you too!].

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Art Forms in Nature

Ernst Haeckel. Who? Indeed, I had not heard this name before the other week when I read a Penguin Blog where Suzanne Dean, the cover illustrator of Sara Taylor's 'The Shore', talks about her inspiration and design thought process.

Great blog read (

Suzanne Dean's cover (below) is largely inspired by the biological illustrations of one Ernst Haeckel, a German biologist, naturalist, philosopher, physician, professor and artist. Haeckel discovered and produced detailed illustrations of many new species and he was a firm promoter of Charles Darwin's theories of evolution.

The beautiful cover design by Suzanne Dean for The Shore

Well, "Darwin", "Evolution", "botanic drawings", "studies of nature".... you've got my attention and excitement! I have a fascination with the natural world, the shapes and forms of all things and how they developed and for what purpose. I am constantly amazed about the power, beauty and skill of nature and yearn to know and understand more.

So, I have been swotting up on the life and works of Ernst Haeckel and have been truly mesmorised by some of his drawings. The details, the colours, the patterns. And I find myself wanting to have a go... now my drawing skills are pretty basic, so I wonder what will happen if I put my illustrator hat on and have a play?

Let's see shall we. My plan is to recreate four of Haeckel's works and then go out and about and create my own. These shall all appear on my doodle blog (i did a doodle today) over the next few days, starting with this one...

Above are my copy-doodles from the stunning study by Ernst Haeckel of Nudibranch:
nudibranch /ˈnjdɨbræŋk/[1] is a member of the Nudibranchia, a group of soft-bodiedmarine gastropod mollusks which shed their shell after their larval stage.[2]They are noted for their often extraordinary colors and striking forms. There are currently about 2,300 valid species of nudibranchs.[3]
The word "nudibranch" comes from the Latin nudus, naked, and the Greek βραγχια,brankhia, gills.
Nudibranchs are often casually called sea slugs, but many sea slugs belong to several taxonomic groups which are not closely related to nudibranchs. A number of these other sea slugs, such as the photosynthetic Sacoglossa and the colorfulAglajidae, are often confused with nudibranchs.
[Ref. Wickipedia]

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Animal Eyes

There's something about the eyes of animals, that enable them to silently speak a thousand words with a look. You can go deep in to the darkness of them and spot a twinkle in an instant and a tear in another. Maybe there is more to the expression 'windows to the soul' than many of us give credit.

So take a look, beyond the face and the story of the surroundings, and see if you can tell what the they are thinking...

Lost in thoughts of adventure

Thursday, 23 April 2015

"Because everything changes when we read." World book night. Tonight.

It's World Book Night, tonight.

Celebrating reading, volunteers give away books tonight, hundreds of thousands of books. Everyone should be able to have the chance to read and not everyone has the means to access books, so tonight is about spreading the joy and power of reading and letting others benefit from the inspiration, revelations and journeys that books provide, fact or fiction. #WorldBookNight

Me. Well I have taken some adult and children's books down to the local community late surgery to enable those waiting to be able to see a world of imagination and information. Adults that have not had the experience or availability. Children that so very often don't have that advantage at home. It's not much, but I hope the books bring joy.

I have also written a piece of flash fiction, inspired by tonight.

I started with an A.

I have no name yet, but my journey has begun.

Every day, in the light of the big bay window, upon the old, scratched wooden desk, I grow. Letter by letter, word by word, characters entwining and vistas stretching as far as the imagination can see. I feel pain, I feel love, I feel loss and I feel adventure. My story is unravelling with every strike of the key, every burst of ink on the paper and every adjective, comma, speech mark and new page.

Born in an idea sparked from an impressionable moment in life, I have become a book. A story of words jumbled into scenes and tales of lives in places of descriptions. I stand proudly in the bookshop window, my jacket adorned with illustrations of beauty and allure. Watching, waiting for my covers to be parted and my pages turned.

The cash register rings out and I slide into a crisp, card bag, the handles shadowing across the sheen of my cover. Sounds of the street mirror the words inside me, the city a part of the story I am going to share. For days I captivate her, curled on the sofa wrapped in her warmth and firing her imagination, taking her to a world she yearns for, but fears. Night falls and I rest next to her as she sleeps, her dreams filled with the lust of my characters, the depths of their deceit and the heart of betrayal.

Finished. A silent pause as my revelation sinks in, robbing her of the anticipation and greed for more. She smiles.

I sit now on my shelf, my story out there but I am stuck. Read me. Take me. Touch me and despise me.

He is angry, the train is late. I am folded apart, strewn against his case. He hasn’t got lost inside me yet, drawn deeper and deeper in to my world of war and new lands of hope and isolation. The train rattles on, slow and purposeless, heated by the bodies trying not to touch, bump or glance. He picks me up and I take him away, take him far away, wrapping him in the world which will taint his mouth and arouse his sensations. His breath will quieten and his pulse will race. I have him. He is mine, my story all that surrounds him.

He took the climax hard. He was angry again. I had disappointed his loins, but I had lit his passion and fired ambition at him. He left the train, driven and determined. He left the train and he left me.

Kicked to the floor, I slide under the seats and dark in to the shadows. I have lost my sheen long ago, with every storytelling I lose a little outer lustre and allure. My story does not change, its power and its beauty, but I do not entice anymore, I do not glisten my secrets from my cover. I am creased. I am frayed. I am stained. I am soiled. My story hidden away inside.

He smells. Old tar, uncleansed and unkempt. He is young, but so grey he is not noticed, passed by, skirted round, avoided, unseen. His home is now my home. A crate, old papers and blankets envelope us from reality. He is a lost soul, lost in his own world. So I lose him in my world. I take him away from the cold and the hunger, the abuse and the despair, to a new world of bitter feuds and heated love, passion knotted to vistas of new moons in green skies, of angels and knights. Romance breeding death and death breeding new beginnings.

Our worlds collide. His world of no joy and my world of no limits. They collide and magic happens. Sparks flicker in his dry eyes, deep in the depths of the darkness comes light and energy. He puts me down, rummages in his crate, tossing aside the newspapers and styrofoam cups. He stops, picks it up and then opens me up. Just my cover, flattening me out. He pauses, a twitch of his lips then he writes. He fills me. New words. New imaginations. New beginnings and new directions.

He writes.

A new story is born. A new book to be.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

My week...

Hot cold hot cold, and that's just my temperature, let alone the weather. Battling a bit if a cold/temperature has made parts of this week a struggle, but I've still managed to achieve quite a bit (less than I hoped, but more than I realised).

So with school places given out, unpleasant texts (people should be less cowardly and just pick up the phone) and vets visits aside, it's been a eclectic week in blogland, writerland and creativeland...

  • New concept-storming for books. Have an urge to dip my toe in the YA pool, but a little nervous that forty-year-old-me is a bit out of touch... Only one way to find out!
  • Started (and can't put down) The Martian by Andy Weir
  • Also started dipping in to Aesop's Fables (as per my blog post for #IHaveNeverRead) The Five Books I've Never Read >
  • Marked the 70th anniversary of the courageous and beautiful soul Anne Frank #NotSilent Remembering the courage and inspiration of Anne Frank >
  • Finished off a little work project that is set to raise some good funds for charities
  • Got my head around Captivity v Captivate. Take a look >
  • Pondering solids in Baby Business blog. Have a read >
  • Doodled everyday: biking, nail biting, goat stew and more... Have a doodle over to the blog >
My favourite doodle this week was for the #Colour_Collective, Cobalt Turquoise:

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Baby Business: Week 15, food glorious food

Been forgiven by Little One after second set of jabs. Just about.
Survived the ongoing teething. Tick (thanks to Nelsons Granules)
Maintained a smooth sleep pattern following jabs and teething. No chance!

I am all for eating sensibly, but I have never been one to check everything re salts, fats, sugars, carbs, e-numbers... I don’t go crazy, but cakes and pork pies have never been taboo in my house. So I now find myself in yet more uncharted territories with the potential approach of solids in to Little One’s diet - can I puree the lasagne? With recent media coverage hinting that we should be getting our babies on to solids much earlier, I have started the debate, even though I’ve only just mastered the move to formula... was that three or four scoops?
The introduction of formula was one of much contemplation, mainly in the baby aisle at the supermarket reading every bit of text on all the different formula brands, and there are quite a few. Forty minutes later (the ice cream in my trolley had started to defrost) I trotted to the check out with ‘hungry baby’ formula – obvious answer for the milk monster! So how am I ever going to decide between all the baby foods out there, or will I be disciplined enough to make everything myself?
The thought of introducing solids is opening up a whole new debate amongst my friends and family: “I started mine at about 2 months and it was the best thing I ever did”; “you should wait till at least 6 months, why put extra pressure on yourself now”; “she seems happy enough – she’ll let you know when she wants more substance”; “Let’s see - shall I give her some of my gravy to try?”; “I don’t know, do what you think is best”...
Would love to know when you mums out there started your little ones on solids and what advice you’d give.
One thing that does go through my mind is the change to our nearly perfected evenings. Right now the dog’s tea is at 5.30pm (Bakers Complete); Little One’s tea is at 6pm (milk milk and milk); and then it’s time for me to cook (whatever I have the energy to rustle up). These three meals work just fine at the moment, so how will solids for Little One impact on this carefully timed routine? Just think, an extra hour needed to clean the high chair, the floor (well the dog will do that) and Little One, as I just know she’s going to think smearing food all over her head is far more fun than eating it...!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

#NotSilent - Remembering the courage and inspiration of Anne Frank

Today is the 70th anniversary of Anne Frank's death and the Anne Frank Trust have launched a campaign to remember her, #NotSilent. No one minute silence - they want us to speak up and be heard (and seen). With so much humility, bravery and beauty, Anne Frank has touched the lives of people and generations across the world. Her story, one of sorrow and horror, but humanity and depths of inspiration too.

So, let's all have our say. Information on how to get involved can be found on the |Trust's website ( where they are asking you to read aloud and record a one minute extract from Anne Frank's diary or a piece you have written yourself.

Here is the reading I chose as it hits personal notes within me. I have sent the audio of this to the trust.

“I’ve often been down in the dumps, but never desperate. I look upon our life in hiding as an interesting adventure, full of danger and romance, and every privation as an amusing addition to my diary. I’ve made up my mind to lead a different life from other girls, and not to become an ordinary housewife later on. What I’m experiencing here is a good beginning to an interesting life, and that’s the reason – the only reason – why I have to laugh at the humorous side of the most dangerous moments.

I’m young and have many hidden qualities; I’m young and strong and living through a big adventure; I’m right in the middle of it and can’t spend all day complaining because it’s impossible to have any fun! I’m blessed with many things: happiness, a cheerful disposition and strength. Every day I feel myself maturing, I feel liberation drawing near, I feel the beauty of nature and the goodness of the people around me. Every day I think what a fascinating and amusing adventure this is! With all that, why should I despair?”

–3rd May, 1944, ‘Diary of A Young Girl’

Monday, 13 April 2015


With many words evoking similar yet contrasting feelings and thoughts, I have been looking in to how animals in captivity captivate us as people.

Definition: the situation in which an animal is kept somewhere and is not allowed to leave

Definition: to hold the attention of someone/thing by being extremely interesting, exciting, pleasant, or attractive

So an animal that is trapped against their will is something that people find extremely interesting or exciting. Now that does not paint us in the best light. But it is a basic truth. 

In a number of circumstances there are positive reasons for the captivation, reasons that strive towards a greater goal for these animals. We can learn so much from animals in captivity and in many cases these animals are the chosen members of their species to facilitate research to prevent endangerment, eradicate disease, rebuild habitats, etc. They also raise awareness to 'Joe Public' of their existence, the threats to their existence and ways we can make a difference.

By captivating us they are helping their species towards freedom, survival and development.

We can strive to make a difference and support the proper programs that help animals, and we can make a difference by supporting those organisations that aim to stamp out cruelty and wrongful animal captivity. People are the captors, but people can provide the freedom.

Monkey Feet. Captivity.
April 2015

Sunday, 12 April 2015

My week(s)...

Sorry, but I completely forgot to do a weekly round up last week. Blogland, writerland and creativeland took a little holiday. Not entirely off-the-job, but more immersed in all things family and all things Easter.

Time out is good, reflection enabling inspiration, ideas and excitement to drip back in to tired grey matter. Refreshing and enlightening, I am back with a zillion whizzy sparks shooting around my head. Can't wait to get them down on paper (computer) and share them with you all.

So, with several story ideas, quite a few opinions about things that have fallen in my line of site, and some ideas of others that have got me thinking, I am raring to start a new week. Bring on Monday.

Today, I reflect quietly on what has been going on in blogland, writerland and creativeland the past two weeks...

  • American dreaming with photographic memories from Malibu and San Francisco.Take a look >
  • Busy with that old Baby Business:
  • The most popular blog posts for March where:
  • Finished reading Gone Girl and The Bees. Wow, bith excellent reads and especially enjoyed The Bees as it is so unusual. I now have a yearning to learn more about Bees...
  • Daily doodling has gone all over the place:
    • i scream
    • shape sheep
    • character creations
    • chocolate
    • Cinderella's shoe
    • IckleMonday has seen teeny tiny eggs and teeny tiny flowers
  • I've let my daughter lose on Adobe Illustrator and then turned two of her 'creations' in to new creations. Got one more to transform.


My favourite Doodle last week and this week?



Friday, 10 April 2015

Golden (Gateway) Memories

Some places make such a surprising impact on you that they linger on, long after you have left them and long before you may ever return to them. Places that you know will impress, places that are famed for their notoriety, places that are known before you get there. So to still be surprised by the unexpected is indeed a surprise.

And that was what happened in San Francisco. I was surprised. I knew I would love it, I knew it would excite and captivate me, I knew I would feast out every night on seafood and local chef's culinary delights, I knew I would go from A-to-Z and up hill and down hill on foot, rail, wheel and water, but I never expected to want to stay. To stay and be apart of it. To feel genuinely sad to be torn from the constant movement, constant buzz, constant throbbing pulse of this city. I didn't want to cross the Golden Gates.

The Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco, 2013

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Baby Business: Week 14, snuffles, snot and snuggles

Attended our first baby club. Tick
Met lots of lovely babies and mummies. Tick
Slept through almost the entire session. Tick (Little One not me)

You know the saying, ‘it never rains but it pours’? Welcome to my very soggy week...

At the grand old age of three months, Little One has started teething. I am all for having an advanced child - she’s been able to hold her head up since birth, she is already feeding herself and I am sure she said the dog’s name the other day - but when it comes to growing up, I don’t want that to happen too soon. Teeth? That’s the first step away from being a baby.

Alongside the early teething, she developed a skin irritation on her neck which became inflamed and very sore. Then the following day, a huge amount of snot arrived in the guise of a cold. Sore + snotty = soggy baby.

Nothing for it, Mummy’s TLC was not going to be enough this time, so off to the pharmacist we went. After expert advice and recommendations, we walked out with granules, gels, two types of cream and bear-shaped refrigerator teething rings (?) ... oh, and a lighter purse.

We also left with the following warning from the pharmacist: “One of the creams contains a trace of paraffin, so we recommend you do not light a cigarette next to your child or put a lit candle next to her.” Wow, thank goodness she pointed that out, as I was all set for a candlelit evening in Little One’s nursery with a fine old Cuban cigar...!

So it is with one very soggy little girl that I now have a whole new set of rituals a day: additional bathing, creams twice a day, gel four times a day, granules when cheeks are red, protective cream before each feed... just as well all Little One wants to do is sleep at the moment as I am exhausted!

The lotions and potions are all very well and are working well in their individual ways, but the one medicine that works every time is ‘snuggles with Mummy’, something I don’t need a pharmacist to prescribe. 

Thursday, 2 April 2015

And March's most popular posts were...

So another month has flown by with a doodle everyday and lots of stories and stuff. So which were the most popular posts in March?

Stories and Stuff Blog:

23rd March
The five books I've never read.
#IHaveNeverRead I'd better get on and read these now then!

I did a doodle today blog:

19th March
Customer satisfaction survey.
I guess this was a positive customer (visitor) response. Thank you

Baby Business: Week 13, the great baby get-away

Learnt the words to ‘row row row your boat’... the modern version! Tick
Mastered nappy changing in the dark. Tick
Smiled at how different my goals are in life. Tick

Our first trip away just the three of us... me, Little One and the dog.
Out came my trusty zebra-stripe holdall; in went my jeans (still in the maternity ones with the stretchy waist), a sweatshirt, a couple of tops and a wash bag. Simple.
Business came with me too in the form of a laptop, notepad and BlackBerry – love technology.
Then there’s the dog’s bag – a Tesco’s bag-for-life with dog food, pills, lead, favourite toy and blanket.
And then there’s Little One... Wowzers! One very small person and a truck load of essential (?) paraphernalia. There goes the fuel economy.

The journey down started smoothly, no hold ups or adverse weather conditions. Half way down I get a phone call to tell me that the road ahead was shut in both directions, so I needed to take a different route. No problem, built in sat nav to the rescue. I turn on the sat nav and... out blares Disney Lullabies. Doh, I’d swapped the CDs in aid of providing comfort for Little One, but sadly the sat nav cd remained at home on the kitchen table. It was a long diversion...

Thought I should mention that the whole idea of this trip away was to catch up on some sleep (family on hand to help out with Little One) and to catch up on some work... great theory! Night one in new surroundings proved too much for both Little One and the dog. I was literally up every hour and a half - woof woof then milk monster then woof woof then mummy mummy then woof woof then milk monster then... Not much of an improvement night two or night three.

Day of departure and an hour re-loading the car, balancing things precariously on the buggy in the boot with at least a spare few inches for the dog to squeeze in. Seem to have collected an additional bag, courtesy of Granny and Little One going on a shopping trip together, and a new baby bath, with room for Little One to practise for her upcoming swimming lessons. Off we set, Disney cranked up and Mummy singing along (surprised the dog howls didn’t get us stopped). 40 minutes down the road and the Milk Monster awoke. Volume up a little more, but even Mickey Mouse and Fantasia could not quench the thirst, so nothing else for it - breast feeding in a roadside parking bay it was. Can you get arrested for accidental indecent exposure?

Home. Baby to bed. Dog fed. Car unpacked. Bags unpacked. Kettle on. Asleep on sofa! Ahhhh, nothing like a break away to recharge the batteries!