Friday, 28 November 2008


We're off on holiday tomorrow!! A whole week without holiday cottage owners calling with stupid demands. We go to Alfriston a lot because we found out it is a mobile phone black hole. It's great because they can't get us! We went away once and were sitting having a coffee, relaxing with the peace and quiet, nice views and all that, when the mobile went. It was a cottage owner to inform us that she had taken a booking for that week and could we get the cottage ready please!! We had told them all that we were going away, but do they listen? Now we have a Wendy. Everyone should have a Wendy. She is our supervisor and takes charge when we go away, so if they decide they need someone to go down and turn the telly over for them (that has happened, no kidding), then there will be someone to do it. If, and when, we ever give this up I could write several books on the weird and wonderful things we come across, but I don't think anyone would ever believe me!

I don't mean to sound ungrateful. We have a business that is still going well, and at the moment that is a blessing. So far there are very few bookings for next season, so we might not have such a thriving business in twelve months!

Still it will all go away for seven whole days. No work and no hospital appointments.

I still have so much to learn about Jamie's new diagnosis of autism. It took long enough to get information on Sotos, now we have to start again with another condition. Still there are some lovely bloggers out there who are proving very helpful, thank you.

My word count is nearly at the magic fifty thousand! I'm hoping it will go up considerably this next week. Either that or I'll not get anything written at all! I'm determined to get the first draft finished by my birthday in Feb.
The sixty days the agent who has 'Mulberry Gin' has it to read runs out next week. Keep everything crossed that she says yes! She has to say yes, please let her say yes!

Monday, 24 November 2008

Autism confirmed

We had the call from one of Jamie's doctors the other day. He has so many different professionals involved with him, about 11 at last count. Anyway this was the local community paediatrician who had organised the autism assessment. The various bods who had been into school to meet Jamie all met up and decided that, yes, he is autistic as well. I have to say I'm still not 100% convinced. I have a first cousin with Ashburgers (spelling?) and when I look at the two of them together they are so different. For one thing Jamie does what everyone says autistics never do, shows affection. And he looks directly at you when you speak to him, and will come and give you a hug without any prompting. There are autistic traits there. He goes off in his own world, is very obsessive about certain things (although he's never bothered about any change in routine), flaps and 'sings' to himself. I don't know.

The trouble is that Sotos is still such an unknown syndrome. It is quite possible that the autism experts who came to see him have never experienced Sotos. If you read about Sotos it almost always says 'autistic like traits', but it is not part of the autistic spectrum. I would have been happier if a Sotos expert had looked at him and said that certain aspects of his behavior were not Sotos. It would be very easy for someone with no experience of Sotos to assume he must be autistic. The trouble is there are no Sotos experts out there, as far as we know. I just hope the autistic diagnosis doesn't overshadow the Sotos, which I still think is the dominant condition.

We had to cancel the lumber puncture because Jamie developed a really nasty ear infection. He's still on antibiotics three weeks later. His main paediatrician, who was going to do it, decided to cancel until it had cleared up. And as we're off on holiday on Sat I guess it won't happen this side of Christmas now. Still at least it will be done in Barnstaple rather than Bristol.

Just to make the week even more fun thee of the new fish died. The two Rams and one of the Gurami's (not Guppies as I said before) got white spot. They must have come from the shop with it because they had only been in the tank two days. Still a lot of funny blue stuff in the water and a water change seems to have done the trick, the others are all fine. And amazingly the five cats haven't taken the blindest bit of notice of them. I was expecting them to line up with napkins and cutlery!

On a positive note, the sun's out!!!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Pretty fish and bad endings.

Meet Charlie. He's out Siamese fighter. I would love a whole tank of just these, but they kill each other. So we had to choose just one. They come in so many lovely colours. Maybe if Richard gets his way and we have a third tank we'll get another one.
I have just finished a book that had one of those endings that make you want to scream. 'The Friday Night Knitting Club' (how do you get those little thumbnails of book covers up by the way?) started well. It was the right balance between chick lit and something with a bit more bite. And then the ending just ruined it. OK give the central character cancer, one of life battles and all that. But killing her off just seemed unnecessary. It was the kind of book that should have had a happy ending, and it so easily could have. There was nothing that happened after her death that couldn't have happened if she had survived.
Bad endings was one of the reasons I started writing. So often I would read a novel and be left thinking 'Well that didn't work, it would be better if this happened'. So I thought the best way to get the narrative to go the way I wanted it to was to write it myself.
On the Jamie front. He slept all night last night!!!! The first full night for over a week. And he has become a computer whizz. I think it might be the autistic side coming out. They say that Sotos can cause heightened memory as well. But this is way more.
He as always liked to 'play' on the computer (what kid doesn't?) and so we would sit with him and help. He would point to where he wanted to go on the screen and we would navigate and do the clicking. He had watched us doing the whole start up proses endless times, but still showed no sign of being able to do it himself. He's four with learning difficulties so we didn't think it odd that he wasn't helping.
Anyway one day he comes home from school and asked to go on the computer. We were both in the middle of something and told him to wait five mins. Next think we hear the computer starting up. We both dashed to the sitting room and watched in amazement as he started up. Clicked on the tool bar and brought up Google. Clicked on the favorites list and scrolled down to the one he wanted (he's not supposed to be able to read), clicked on that, then navigated his way through the sight to where he wanted to be. Of course Jamie being Jamie he doesn't go on the children's sites. He likes the BBC iplayer and the channel trailers, intro music from the news and certain programmes, and the freeview site because it has all the logos.
The trouble is we had limited Internet time with out BT package, which he took us over. Que snotty email from BT. So now we've got a new home hub coming with unlimited broadband time!!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

More fish, more words and not enough sleep!

We now have six more fish in the tropical tank. I would post a photo but the little blighters won't keep still! So to add to the Danios and Siamese fighter we now had Guppies, Mollies and Rams. All very pretty I have to say. I just wonder how long it will be before the novelty wears off and I end up doing all the water changes. I seem to have already been given that role with the goldfish. And somehow I seem to be keeper of the sponge on a stick for cleaning the glass. Ho hum.

I'm nearly at 48thousand words! That's almost half way through the first draft. If I keep this up I might have the first draft done by my birthday in Feb. I started in the summer and I'm shocked how quickly it's coming together this time. 'Mulberry Gin' (novel one) took years! But that was on and off with months of inactivity in between. This time I've been spurred on by having an agent looking a Mulberry. I'm still not writing enough though. Not a sausage today. I had a quiet day, now cottages to do, or laundry (we can turnover 100 sets of bedding in the height of the summer). But instead of being productive I lolled around like a deflated balloon. Probably because that's how I felt.

Jamie's lovely sleep councilor came on Thursday and we've started again from scratch. This week 4am seems to be the favorite. At least that's better than 12.15 like it was on Friday! But he's so happy, and not naughty or troublesome when he wakes. He just wants to be up and doing. I just pray he's getting enough sleep for his own physical and developmental needs. Only time will tell on that one I guess.

Why is it that I have had my driving licence seven months and I still get the jitters whenever I have to drive? It's pathetic! I like driving, I'm quite good at it and I sailed though my test (OK so it was my fifth, my first four taken twelve years or more ago). And I seem to be OK when I'm on my own or with anyone else, except Richard. As soon as he gets in the car, wallop, back to a quivering learner! AGGHH! We're going on holiday to Alfriston in a couple of weeks and I'm supposed to be sharing the driving. I want to share the driving. Maybe I'll put the cases in the car and Richard in the boot!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Look! We DID have a summer!

I was looking through some photos on 'my pictures' and found this one of Jamie at Rosemoore in June. I think that day was summer. Maybe it's the way your memory plays games with you but I'm sure I can remember when we had proper summers, followed by proper winters. I can remember as a child the schools closing in the winter because the boiler had frozen! Mind you that was in Northampton where I was born. Saying that we have had snow down here, although not on the scale we got further north.
It wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the wind. We're 666 (yes I know) feet above sea level here so we should expect it. I think Cornwall is just a windy place full stop. Our main weather feature is what we call the Woolley mists. They are a strange phenomenon that start of at the end of the lane and slowly roll in off the sea. If you happen to be out for a walk it feels like you've been caught on the set of a horror film. There's this white swirling, almost living thing relentlessly pursuing you. Once it catches you you feel like you've been swallowed by a giant marshmallow.
But would we live anywhere else? Not in a million years. When we 'escaped' fifteen years ago we thought we had landed in heaven, and still do. We have neighbours who just walk in and start chatting. We have three street light and a post box in the way of facilities and a beautiful stillness that rarely exists these days. We only got broadband last summer and still have the old overhead cables that sway in the breeze, get caught up in tractors and cause regular power cuts. We don't have central heating, but have walls two foot thick so we don't need it.
When the depression hits, or when Jamie has had us up all night (he woke at 1.15am and decided it was time to get up) it's easy to forget how lucky we are to have the life we have. Then we get a call from one of the family still in the rat race and peace is restored.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Slow progress and bloody rain!

Is it ever going to stop raining? Went to Barnstaple yesterday to the fish shop (this is becoming a Sunday pilgrimage) to get the first few fish for the new tank, and, as my grandmother would say, it didn't stop to rain! Stair rods, cats and dogs, nothing comes close. Just as we got around the corner near one of the Hartland turns off the A39 we saw a horrible accident ahead. We were about ten cars back so thankfully we couldn't see anything. It must have just happened because there were suddenly ambulances screaming past and the air ambulance overhead. We didn't hang around and took the back roads through Hartland. I pray no one was badly hurt.

My writing has become snail like. I try to do an hour or two every evening but somehow it isn't happening at the moment. I've only got up to 39 thousand words. That sounds a lot but it's only four thousand in about two weeks. Not good enough, must try harder. Hopefully once I've finished painting the kitchen I can grab a bit of time in the day when Jamie's at school. I had such plans for all this time I was going to have once he'd started school. So far none have been put into practice. Mind you it's been impossible to get up to the field to the veg beds with all this ruddy rain!

We have an appointment for Jamie's next lumber puncture. It's going to be next Tuesday. The last one was successful and we saw some improvements in his concentration for a few weeks. This time they will draw off more fluid and see if that makes more difference for longer. If so they may finally decide to go ahead with the shunt. Wish us luck.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Oh please let me sleep!!

Oh Jamie, Jamie, when will you let us sleep!?! Jamie has always had strange sleep pattens. It went from 12 hours to waking for a couple of hours and then going back to sleep. Now he's waking at stupid O'clock and not going back to sleep at all. Last night it was 12.30am, the night before 1.30am. We eventually got him to have an hour before he has to get up for school by putting him in bed with us, and holding him down! He has a lovely sleep councilor and we thought we'd got it cracked. Then we went to Butlins and it all started again. Ho Hum.

Richard had turned into a fish tank anorak. He used to keep fish as a child but hadn't shown any interest in ever keeping fish. He also used to breed buggies and rabbits. Then his sister and brother-in-law came down with a small fish tank for Jamie as a Christmas present. We set it up with plants and fish, lovely (see above). Trouble is it's given him the bug back. And because he's not allowed to do too much at the mo he's getting really into it. So, last week, I found myself handing over £150 for a huge tank for his own Christmas pressie. Now the, not very big, living room looks like a doctors waiting room! Mind you, I have to confess, I do rather like them, just don't tell Richard or he'll fill the house. I just hope he dosen't rediscover buggies and bunnies!

Monday, 3 November 2008

Writing progress

I finally had someone leave a comment on my blog!! Hurahh! It was from a fellow would be writer from Cornwall (see link on right). In her comment she talks about finding the time to write. It's something you read about in all the writing magazines. They all give lots of 'useful' tips about making writing time. I just to grab it when I can. I can't even think about writing until everything else is out the way. If there's any job still to do then it will buzz around in the back of my mind and stop the creativity dead in its tracks. There are often times when I have to really make myself do it. I learnt the art of this kind of self discipline when I did my English Literature degree with the OU. Not having a tutor constantly on your back to keep you going you have to find the time yourself, and you do. Now I try and apply the same techniques to writing. Personally I find the evenings when Jamie is in bed the best time. And now he's at school I try and make myself have a couple of afternoons a week. So far I'm nearly 35,000 words into novel number two which I started in July. When Richard had his heart attack and I had to take over the business I struggled. But I love to write, so I fit it in. It's like everything else, if you want to do it then you somehow find the time. And I'm lucky that running holiday cottages means only two days a week that are really busy, the rest can be slotted in. And it goes quite now so I'll have the winter to do more. Mind you I have eight fruit trees to plant up in the field, and all the veg beds to get ready for next year, and a pollytunnel to put up. Jamie now has his transport in place which means we don't have to do the school run, that will save two hours a day for a start.

Getting the school taxi sorted out took an age. We asked Cornwall council back in May. Oh well they got there eventually. I have to say that we have been so lucky with everything we get for Jamie. I know that in some parts of the country you have to fight for everything. So far everything has been more or less given to us. I had no idea what having a special needs child would involve or who to ask. But suddenly there were all these people offering all these different things. The latest thing we have been put in touch with is the Family Fund. They have given us some help with the cost of transport for all Jamie's various appointments. Just as well as he has just been put on the waiting list for another lumberpuncture, and that means a trip up to Bristol.

I will keep posting any news about novel number one. The agent has it on a read only basis until the end of the month. Fingers crossed!