You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2007.

I’ve been thinking about this blog having some sort of focus. Apparently many tail off after a relatively short time and researchers reckon it’s because they don’t have much of a point, so I decided to find one.

It has to be about something that’s important to me, and for a little while I thought my blogging attempts would be about family as I do tend to define myself in terms of my siblings and close relatives. However the more I thought about it, the more I found that quite restrictive as, despite loving my family dearly, they also drive me to gibbering rage fairly frequently. My next thought was food which plays a large – too large – part in my life, and this was also why it was rejected. Not only is it rather sad, I’m trying to get less dependent. The odd recipe may feature, but I’m determined that my food habit won’t be the focus of my life.

Then it came to me – I love being places. My home is good, but I like to get out and about and it doesn’t matter whether it’s country, town or city, I like them all. I grew up in the country and loved it. I still desperately miss it as I now live in a market town, but at the same time I really enjoy my town life and the stuff I couldn’t do as a young country bumpkin, like walking to the shops. And I regularly go into the city, and really appreciate that it is relatively close and its facilities – universities, libraries, bookshops and good bra shops! – are available.

More on my favourite places will follow….


We’ve been to Northumberland, which has fabulous castles and beautiful beaches. I also found – and bought several packets of -possibly the best oatcakes in the world, Stockan and Gardens Original Orkney Oatcakes (thick) which, when paired with a good cheddar, make the perfect snack on the beach. Fabulous views, fresh sea smells, birdsong in the background and the perfect taste.

 I finally made it to Barter Books, an amazing secondhand bookshop in Alnwick, near the castle. I say ‘finally’ because I’ve seen it before but my husband has always driven past as quickly as he could, however this time I insisted on stopping. It’s in an old Victorian railway station, so it’s beautiful, and is packed with everything from mass market paperbacks to first editions. I found a Diana Norman hardback, Daughter of Lir, for only a fiver, a Dick Francis paperback, a History of British Native Ponies for my dad, and my youngest son was happy as he found three Star Wars novels. Then I found two more Dick Francis paperbacks in a box of books at the lifeboat station at Seahouses. So, a good holiday for my reading habit.

The weather was gorgeous, and it’s even warmer now we’re home. I gardened yesterday in a vest top, cropped trousers and bare feet, and had to keep reminding myself that it’s only April. Lord only knows how hot it’s going to get this summer.

Several years ago, when I was up to my eyeballs in small children and before I had internet access or a decent computer, one of my brothers dropped in with his laptop and said “Come on, we’ll set you up a hotmail account.”  I must have spent at least an hour trying to come up with a user name – I did a lot of gardening back then and was trying to come up with something with a favourite plant in it, but all of my suggestions had been used about 300 times already. Suddenly it came to me: I was a Jane Russell type, the dark-haired and smart mouthed opposite of the simpering blonde Marilyn Monroe I had seen in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes a couple of days earlier.

 I suggested it and my brother laughed for about 15 minutes, then typed it in and, lo and behold, no one else had come up with that particular moniker. I told my other brother and he laughed like a drain for about 30 minutes. Then I told my husband, who looked bemused, and my sister who wrinkled her nose and curled her top lip slightly and said “oh”; both are signs that I’m onto a good thing so I stuck with it.

I’m still the only Strop I know, and I’m  proud.