Author Archives: Tricia Jones

Snap Happy

Untitled design(5)I’ve just taken up a new hobby – photography. Well, it’s not technically new since I’ve had an interest for many years, but lately I’ve been doing more of it and find it increasingly enjoyable.

Creatively, writing has become all consuming, so I wanted something I could pick up and put down as a kind of switch-off from the head-pounding that comes from battling with plot holes and building character arcs. Photography fills that role and takes me out of my head and into the lens, so to speak.

In the past, whenever I took on something new or got enthused about it, I headed straight for the how-to books, or the search engines, and threw myself in at the deep end in an effort to learn everything possible about it. But not this time. I want to learn organically. So, no books, no courses, no internet searches (well, maybe the odd one). It’ll just be me and the camera. Learning together.

20170820_113332Doors and gates have always fascinated me. They beg the question ‘what’s behind there?’ and off goes my imagination (yes, the writer is never far away). Playing around with visual effects is fun, too. This gate from a neighboring village, found while out on a walk with Vivvy, is pretty romantic, but change the hue and tone and it becomes almost spooky. Two potential stories in the offing for the price of one snap. That’s not a bad investment of time and effort.2018-03-27 15.58.00

Of course, if I’m ever in any need of visual inspiration there’s my stalwart companion and favorite photographic subject always ready and willing to oblige. Especially if there’s a treat in her immediate future. 20180326_174036

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Keeping me on my toes…

Untitled design(1)It’s been just over a year since I joined an adult ballet class and I have to say that I’ve absolutely loved every moment of every class. Like many of us, I attended dance classes as a child but put those dreams away as I grew up and the realities of life intervened.  But I never lost the love of ballet and have taken the opportunity to see as many live performances as possible over the years.

The classes I attend are friendly and relaxed with a great teacher and fab mix of fellow dancers. We always enjoy a good laugh or two, while doing our best to improve each week. Alongside the sheer joy and pleasure of dancing, it is such good exercise and has many benefits. Some benefits I’ve found are improved balance, better coordination, stronger legs and ankles, and more flexible hips. I’m sure it’s good for the memory, too, as I now seem to remember new step sequences and routines far easier than when I first started.

I’m so glad I took the plunge last year and enrolled for the class. Just goes to show it’s never too late to rekindle old loves and pleasures. Never in a million years did I ever envision that I’d be arabesque-ing and petit jete-ing (or at least attempting to) at this stage of my life.

So, this very enthusiastic amateur will leave you with a look at how the professionals do it, with my favourite dance from my favourite ballet: the Grand Pas de Deux from The Nutcracker. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

No More Bad Hair Days

I’ve been searching for months now to get the perfect hairdryer. Every model I’ve tried is just not right for some reason. Too blowy, too noisy, too hot, too whatever. But before you start thinking this woman is too picky for her own good, I should mention that the hairdryer is not for me, it’s for a certain little lady who is indeed too picky for her own good.

Vivvy has a morbid fear of hairdryers. She runs a mile as soon as she sees me enter the room advancing on her with the object of doom. But with the weather here in the UK this January consisting of rain, rain and yet more rain, the search for the perfect hairdryer has become vital if my home isn’t to smell consistently of sopping wet Golden Retriever.

When a friend suggested a heated hair brush might be the answer I jumped on the idea. And what do you know? It worked. 20180127_112536While there was some initial resistance, and I have to use it on the lowest, slowest setting, I now have a happy girl who doesn’t run away when it’s fur-drying time. In fact, she positively loves it, and actually falls asleep after a few strokes of the brush. She’ll even let me brush gently close to her ears, which is a real breakthrough. 20180127_112339

So, we now have a happy dry girl and a less smelly home. Result. All we need now is for it to stop raining…

 

 

Paddington and the Burglar

I hope everyone had a happy and safe Christmas.

Looking back to my December blogs I seem to have set up a tradition by posting a video of my favourite seasonal advert. My winner this year is the Marks and Spencer one featuring Paddington Bear. It’s a bit schmaltzy, but then I’m a sucker for a bit of that, especially at Christmas-time.

Here it is:

Did you have a favourite?

Whoosh… there goes November…

I hope everyone Stateside had a lovely Thanksgiving. November has gone by in a flash (well, let’s face it, most of this year has done the same), but since I’ve been especially busy, it has seemed the shortest month of the year so far.

First, I’ve been occupied with NaNoWriMo, and managing to keep my head above the sea of words as I battle toward the 50,000 finish line. Although I’ve done NaNo before, this year has been a bit of a struggle. The words haven’t wanted to come and sometimes it’s felt like pulling teeth. But nearly there and just a few thousand words left to write as I type this post. Although the conventional thing to do is to write the first draft of a new novel during the month, I’ve been a little unorthodox and used the 50,000 words to finish a story that’s been around for a few years now, plus written a short novella, and started another one. It feels like I’ve been very productive, but I have to admit I’ll be glad to hit that 50,000 and ease off a bit.

Second, I’ve tried to balance all the brain work with some physical activity.  Walking Ms. Vivvy is always a pleasure and trudging through fields always helps with the creative process, especially with the new voice recorder app on my phone. I often wonder what would happen if someone overheard me dictating into the machine, especially the love scenes 🙂

Then, thanks to a special monthly deal at the local sports centre (ahem* even more special if you’re a senior *ahem) we’ve been trying out a variety of teacher-led classes and also a new venture for the centre, Les Mills virtual sessions. So far we’ve sampled total body tone, fitness yoga, legs/bums/tums, coreX, body balance and sh’bam (phew, that one was a killer). This week it’s zumba, which I’m not too sure about to be honest.

But my real love has to be the adult ballet classes. There was much excitement last week when our teacher introduced some very intense foot exercises, told us we weren’t beginners any longer, and bandied around the words en pointe. That led to much speculation that we would soon be dancing on our toes like real ballerinas. Our excitement was soon dimmed when she introduced a new arm position and said ‘your left hand should be lowered to just above the height of your ‘tutu’. We all went quiet after that, as visions of prancing back to the car park after class while wearing our new ‘tutus’ took on nightmarish proportions. There were cries of ‘not in a million years‘ and ‘I’d never find one to fit me’, amongst other things.  Of course, our teacher was only joking…we hope!

Have a great last week of November …

 

 

 

Beaches, Boutiques and Beatles

20171012_145549Earlier this month, hubs and I took ourselves off for a few days to Chester (north of England). AJ had some meetings arranged, so I tagged along and we made a short break of it. Chester is a gorgeous place, very close to the border of Wales. It’s a walled city, founded as a Roman fort in 79AD. You can still walk the city walls and view the amazing medieval buildings, most of which were restored in Victorian times. The main shopping centre has The Rows, said to be unique to Chester. These are continuous galleries reached by steps and forming a second row of shops above those at street level. Pretty little boutiques and charming coffee shops are in abundance here. Some parts of The Rows still boast original 13th century buildings, making Chester a truly fascinating place.

20171012_121617We took the train from Chester into Wales and the seaside town of Rhyl. The weather was lovely, our trip being placed between the two storms which hit the UK this month: Ophelia and Brian. Rhyl has a gorgeous sandy beach and a long promenade, just perfect for dog walking. We really missed Vivvy and kept saying how she would have loved it there with all the other dogs. We did take her back a stick of doggie rock though 🙂

20171013_152317Then it was time for a trip down memory lane and a day visit to Liverpool. I absolutely love this city, it’s vibrant, friendly and steeped in culture. Naturally, the Beatles influence is everywhere, from the musicians who pepper the streets serenading the shopping public, to the restaurants and museums. Of course, we had to do the touristy things, like visiting the Cavern Club and taking that Ferry Across the Mersey. Well, you have to, don’t you?20171013_145537

It was a really lovely trip and we packed a whole lot into a short time. I’m starting to enjoy mini breaks like this one almost as much, and sometimes more than full-blown holidays/vacations. Here’s to the next one…

September…Arachnophobics Beware!

Ah, September … leading us gently into the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. But, of course, it’s also spider month, that time of year when the males begin to search for a mate and the little critters head indoors to find a place to spend the winter.

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Essential household equipment

I’m no fan of spiders and would never hurt them, but I don’t especially want to share the house with them either. Usually, the old upturned glass and cardboard removal does the trick, but so far this month these invaders have been pretty large and so I’ve been on the hunt for deterrents.

To date, I’ve tried herbs – lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint – and scattering horse chestnuts around the room, but they don’t seem to work too well, especially the chestnuts because I found a spider virtually sitting on top of one!  And they were also too attrac tiveto a certain Ms. Vivvy who thought they looked like a fun new thing to play with. But then she also finds the spiders themselves pretty interesting and pounces on them as if they are new playmates.

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Bad mummy.

She’s very disgruntled when we bring out the glass and cardboard and they’re removed from her vicinity.

Things I still plan to try out are citronella spray and lemon surface cleaners and polish, both of which have been recommended.

One of the things that really surprised me while researching the internet for natural deterrents was how many sites have photos of huge, and I mean huge, spiders on their web pages. Surely many people looking for deterrents are going to be mildly arachnophobic. The last thing they’d want is a massive spider looking out at them. Much the same as when I purchased a commercial spray to try. I bought a couple for my mum as well and had to cover the depiction of a spider on the bottle with a stick-on smiley face before I gave them to her.

Speaking of arachnophobia, be warned that the following video is probably not for you. Someone let loose a tarantula on a London tube train. They were lucky someone didn’t have a heart attack!