City Girl


I’m grateful for a re-run this week. After years of searching we finally have a holiday home in France – more about that later. It has take up a lot of our time and I have missed chances to post anything as the internet connection at present is so slow, so very happy to offer up this post from 2012.

Thanks as ever to Rochelle who is busy being an author and getting the third book in her series ready for publication

For more stories – 

 

40again's Blog

(thanks to Piya Singh for the photo)

The auction guide said 75,000; the place was almost a ruin it would take a lot of time and money to make it habitable.

Rose pouted, her Manolos were scratched, her hair a mess. Sam smiled, “could be beautiful” he said.

Rose glowered and thought of what she could buy with 75,000+

It would never be beautiful, she frowned, it was an old ugly mess. She was a city girl.

Sam took her arm and led her inside, showing her his plans for Rose Cottage.

Rose made the front cover of ‘Homes & Gardens.’

Smiling, looking beautiful.

Friday Fictioneers devised by Madison Woods http://madison-woods.com/blog/ 

View original post

Advertisements

The Train


This week’s photo comes courtesy of Dawn Miller and is taken inside Union Station, Washington D.C.  The marble and columns speak of times gone by and thinking of this led me to my story for Friday Fictioneers. I was delighted to have at least come up with something this week, I failed miserably last week as I was so involved with work, I never seemed to find time to myself to write. Thanks as always to Rochelle 🙂

30 August

The Train

Genre: Fiction

Word Count: 100

Bathed in silvery moonlight, the train waits in the siding. It is empty, except for the ghosts.  Their fingers linger over highly polished mahogany. Fine silks and satins glide over heavily carpeted corridors. Thousands of stories have unfolded in the confines of these sumptuously elegant carriages.

It is morning. Highly trained staff will soon board, the ghosts will vanish and the magic will begin.  Windows will gleam, crystal will sparkle, silver will shine and crisp table linen bearing the world-famous cypher will be laid. The Venice Simplon-Orient Express will be made ready to beguile and charm; another adventure will begin

 

http://www.orient-express.com/web/vsoe/cabins.jsp

 

PS I have just realised that I ‘liked’ this post – I did think it was alright, but never intended to ‘like’ it publicly.  Please excuse my arthritic fingers attempting to get to grips with the new mobile App for WordPress, I promise to take more care in future and only ‘like’ your posts. (02/09/13)

Revisiting my Dream House


 

This morning for some reason I can’t explain, I took a detour from my usual route into work. Most days I take the same route and my journey passes almost as though the car is on auto-pilot, although I like to think I am still in charge!

Today though, I found myself driving past my dream house.

I first saw this house in the late ‘80’s. The house was everything I had dreamt would be mine one day. The rooms were generous, with high ceilings and large windows, letting  in lots of light.  There was a large lawn with flower beds and trees at the back of the house. Behind a hedge,  there was a vegetable garden and a small greenhouse in the corner with tomatoes and cucumbers growing inside. Beyond that, was a rough area with a compost heap and a huge water-butt to collect the rainwater, for use in the garden.

My boys were quite young then and I could see them playing in the garden with their friends; climbing the trees and running around chasing each other, having lots of fun.

I imagined entertaining our friends there too, with barbecues on lazy summer evenings, relaxing and chatting together, while our children played. There were enough bedrooms for family and friends to stay for weekends or even longer and the hall was the perfect place for the Christmas tree. I could see it, lights twinkling, baubles shining, presents stacked beneath its boughs, waiting to welcome everyone to our home for Christmas.

My husband thought the house was too big; the gardens too time consuming and the work that would be needed on the building, daunting in the least. He couldn’t begin to see the potential that I saw that first day. Yes it would take time and money, and yes we would have to employ a builder, as neither of us is much good at DIY, but it would be worth it. We would have a home we would love.

We made an offer for the house, just below the asking price. “You never give them what they ask for first time,” my husband said when I begged him to give the owners the price they wanted. I was surprised how much I wanted this house.

But this was the time of gazumping. Prices jumped not by hundreds, but in some cases by thousands of pounds. And so it was for us. Our offer was rejected, so we offered the asking price, it was rejected again. We increased our offer and had it rejected yet again. We went as far as we could and after much anger and tears on my part, we realised that the house would not be ours.

We eventually found another house we liked and we have been there ever since. It is quite old and has lots of similar features, a beautiful garden that the family enjoy, but for me it has never had that certain charm that the other house had.

Today, as I stood and looked at the house from across the road, I thought it looked tired. The windows had not been replaced and now were badly in need of a coat of paint. One of the gates had come of its’ hinges and was hanging at an awkward angle. The hedge, once so neatly trimmed, was overgrown and parts of it trailing on the pavement. It had a look of neglect about it that I found upsetting.

As I got back in my car, an elderly man came round the corner with a newspaper under his arm. He walked slowly towards the house. I watched as he stopped and stared at the gate, before going in through the front door. Surely he wasn’t the same, rather dapper professor, who had taken us round his home all those years ago, pointing out his favourite flowers and proudly showing us round his greenhouse?

He was about the right age. But if it was him, what happened 25 years ago? Why did the sale fall through? Did the owners change their mind? I’ll probably never know.

I felt quite sad for a moment, but then very annoyed with myself. I have been very lucky. I have a happy, healthy family, good friends and a very nice home. I drove off hoping that, regardless of whatever had happened all those year ago, the old professor had been happy, living in my dream house.

Blackberry blogging on-the-go


I have just found out that there is an Blackberry App for WordPress -how brilliant is that? How much better to be able to post-on-the-go!

Was it a secret? Why didn’t you tell me? I always associated Apps with the iPhone or iPod, but Blackberry had them all along.

I can now go out and blog wherever I am; stuck in a traffic jam, or a long queue at the supermarket, on a boring train journey – the list is endless!

Well done WordPress & Blackberry a great combination for me!

That Friday feeling…….


That’s the only trouble with Bank Holidays, it is lovely to have a day off from work, but then, for the remainder of the week you are playing catch up, trying to cram 5 days work in to 4. And, suddenly, it’s Friday again!

I have to admit that I do love Fridays. It is a feeling that has stayed with me from my schooldays, leaving school and getting on the bus to go home, lots of chatter about what people had planned for the weekend. In summer it was especially nice, the anticipation of two whole days off, staying up later, being allowed to go into town to meet up with friends and the joy of shopping, when you had a bit of pocket money or birthday money to spend. 

Friday evenings were also the time my sister and I would go to the little sweet shop across the street, to spend the money our grandmother had left for us.  She called in every Friday to see mum and left some money for us for sweeties!  We had such a selection to choose from: Refreshers, Smarties, Fizzers, McGowans Highland Toffee (anyone remember them?) there were Gobstoppers, Aniseed Balls, Rainbow Drops, Liquorice Twists, Butterscotch Tablets, Punch Bars (do they still make them?) Fruit Salad Chews…the list seemd endless.  We would buy as much as we could, quantity over quality every time, then go home and put everything on the table and share it out. Trouble was, my sister’s share would last her all weekend and mine was gone by Saturday!!

Even now, the sense of something to look forward to is still there; Fridays for me, are still the best evenings to meet  up with friends; for a drink after work, for a trip to the theatre or cinema or a meal somewhere.  Or just chilling at home, relaxing after a hectic week, knowing that you can switch off the alarm and have a lie in if you want one. 

So, I’m off home to pour myself a cool glass of wine, sit in the garden and relax.  Hope you all enjoy your Friday and have a great weekend!

Working mothers and maternity leave


According to a new report, one in three new mothers thinks that taking lengthy maternity leave has harmed her work prospects. Some think that, when they return to work the relationship they had previously with their boss has deteriorated.The research, carried out by the National Childbirth Trust found nearly four in ten mothers found things were very difficult when they returned to work after spending time off on maternity leave.

At present the amount of paid maternity leave in the UK is 39 weeks and Harriet Harman the Equality Minister is aiming to get this extended to a year. Now, whereas this may sound wonderful to some ears, to small businesses it can sound anything but.  If you own a small business, employing a few people and want to be competitive in your field, you will obviously only employ the number of staff you need for the work you have. Should one of your team become pregnant and eventually take her maternity leave, what options are open to you?

Can her workload be taken on by other members of staff?  Can you find a suitable temp who will fill in while the mother-to-be is off work? Can you add it to your already heavy workload?

If you can share her job between the other staff members, that’s great – but for how long? If she is going to be off for 39 weeks, what happens when your other staff want to take their holiday leave, or fall sick, what do you do then?  What about the temp?  If you are very lucky you may know someone who, after a minimal amount of training can do the job and things go swimmingly! Or you may have to resort to advertising for a replacement and, as we all know advertising is not cheap. If all else fails, you may go to a recruitment agency and ask them to supply a temporary worker to cover maternity leave.  Here you come up against another set of costs all together. Apart from the initial fee, you will be paying in all probability, a much higher rate for your temporary worker than you did for your soon-to-be-mum.

Now, don’t start shouting, I am all in favour of rights for working women; I would love to see every woman paid the same as a man doing the same job, but I also own a family business and have spent many years building it up and can see all too clearly the other side of the coin. While the mum-to-be is off her holiday entitlement still accrues; you have to pay maternity pay and also a salary to her replacement and, after a set time, you have to give them paid holiday leave too. After the paid 39 weeks, in the UK the new mum can opt to take extra unpaid leave of another13 weeks, meaning she could be off for a year.  In the meantime you have to cope as best you can, hoping that she will come back and eventually things will get back to normal.

But what if when she comes back, on her existing contract of employment, she announces that she can’t work full time.  She has problems with childcare arrangments, she has to work because she needs the money, but actually quite likes having an extended weekend with hubby and child, so, please can she work part time?  What do you do?  Under the present legislation, an employee with a child under 16,  has the right to ask for flexible working and, as an employer you have a duty to consider it. You don’t have to approve the request, but there is always the possibility perhaps, of being taken to an employment tribunal if you refuse.  If you have done everything correctly, the case would be dismissed, but there is always the time and worry involved in preparing and defending it. Then when that is over, you have to hope that perhaps the temp, if you managed to find one,will stay, if not you start all over again.

So Ms Harman, on behalf of all businesses, both small and large, I would urge you to think very carefully before adding extra weeks to maternity leave, for it appears that it is not just the business owners who aren’t particularly enamoured with your ideology, the new mums don’t seem too happy either

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1231901/Maternity-leave-wrecking-womens-hopes-promotion.html

Healthy Eating


After talking to friends and reading countless articles on the subject of losing weight, I have come to the conclusion, perhaps a bit late in the day, that only I can change MY lifestyle and I have to WANT to do it.

If you have excess weight and really want to get rid of it, the most important thing you can do is to understand why you put weight on in the first place. Think about your lifestyle, what you eat and the amount of exercise that you do each day. Once you do this, you will find the reasons for the excess weight and only then can you take the steps to make a change.

Deep down inside we all know what we should be doing, we don’t need expensive books and celebrities to tell us what to eat and which exercises to do. We are all individuals and as such have different needs, we can work out an eating and exercise plan for ourselves. I think we have been so brainwashed into believing that there is a “fast fix” for losing weight that common sense goes out of the window and we rush to spend our cash on anything that has the words “Diet” or “Fast Weight Loss” plastered all over it.

The truth is, if we take in more calories than we spend, we will always, always put weight on. Once you know and accept this as fact, you can start making changes straight away. Involve your friends and family; tell them what you are doing and they will be your support group.

Dieting – what’s that about?


On my return from holiday that I discovered that I had gained a few pounds so I decided that I had better get a grip and do something about taking the weight off.
Now, in my younger days this would not have been a problem; just not eat till dinner time then have chicken and salad and, bingo, the excess pounds would just drop off. But when you are older, this is not an option! If I don’t have something to eat before lunchtime, I become a bad tempered ratbag of a woman who, if you have any sense you avoid like the plague!

So what to do to lose the holiday bulge?

Well like so many others before me, I have a gym membership, taken out in the firm belief that I would go at least three times a week and look like Elizabeth Hurley in three months’ time! Why do we do it? May as well put the money down the drain, the gym owners must be laughing all the way to the bank; is it just women who are lacking in a bit of self discipline on the excercise front, or are there men out there who have done the same thing. Anyway, I have actually been to the gym five times in the last six months, not good is it?

So, accepting that I am not and never will be a “gym bunny” I decided that I would take the healthy eating route to getting my weight under control. I think I have a healthy attitude to food already – I like it – but looked again at where I could possibly make adjustments. Butter – lovely melted on brown toast; the spread stuff just doesn’t do it for me and anyway, I read somewhere that butter is better for you, so I’ll just scrape it on and scrape it off, should do the trick. I have decided that I can live for a while without too many carbs, evidently they can raise blood sugar levels, so no potatoes except for the odd jacket and only wholewheat pasta, lots of veggies, fruit, chicken and fish, sounds like a plan!

If I lived on my own, I know that I could crack this dieting lark, but I have a “significant other” in the form of the RH (retired husband) whose main pleasure in life, apart from cigars, tv, holidays and the dog, is to sit down to a lovely home cooked dinner of all the things I am about to take off the menu. As I do the cooking I think I should choose the food, he is not going to like this one bit………………..