Here’s why I’ll never be an especially great blogger. On Wednesday, I’m emigrating to South Africa with my family. This is my last day of full work in the UK, possibly forever. It’s a big, huge move and enormously stressful and emotional in many ways. Yet I’ve not written anything about it here.
I have many posts half written, from musings on the high cost of living in South Africa and how it’s doomed the country to be split into two economies for the foreseeable future, to things I’ll miss about the UK – like free health care, public transport and delicatessens that sell tasty Mediterranean treats.
These posts are unlikely to be finished for a while yet though, as instead of taking a few weeks off to enjoy the move, write my novel and ponder the greater significance of these things, I’ve been saying goodbye to people and working desperately hard to try and finish the work I have to do before I go.
Damn that protestant work ethic.
Tabby, a set on Flickr.
The crazy daughter loves the camera. Also, she’s learnt to shoulder surf my ATM PIN, along with other passwords and lock screen patterns. That’s my girl.
Tabby’s school has a competition going for the pupil who can be photographed reading a book in the oddest and most unexpected location. It’s a great idea and one I wholeheartedly support and will be helping Tabby prepare an entry for. I thought about shooting her reading in a library or the classroom, but I’m not sure Year 1 are ready for irony yet.
Tabby’s school is asking for “2 litre plastic bottles to build a recycled greenhouse. We need 2000 of them… Hopefully we will have a hot summer and you will have lots of bottles to bring in…”
It’s part of a ‘conservation area’ project. I can’t help but think the better message to teach the kids is not to buy the sugary drinks that come in two litre plastic bottles in the first place, from the point of view of both their health and the environment.
This site needs a lot of loving. It needs a complete makeover and turning into a proper portfolio place, where the blog is secondary or possibly just a Tumblr feed. I’ve been a busy lately, with lots of work and side projects going on.
For example, I’m now blogging regularly at PC Gamer‘s new site, acting as their hardware news puppy. That takes up most of the free time I used to have. Plus there’s a new sort of super secret launch I’m putting together for myself.
As a bit of light relief, we’re letting Tabby play around with cameras too. She’s only four and has the bug already. They’re going up at Photos by a four year old, which should have been a Tumblr blog really, but this will do. That’s one of her shots on the left, there. Got a good eye she has.
Somehow, I managed to get hold of one of Nikon’s fabulous 35mm F1.8 lenses within two days of ordering. Jessops told me they had over 100 orders they didn’t expect to fulfil for two weeks, yet mine was waiting for me when I got home. Shame I didn’t have it yesterday, but I’m very much looking forward to playing with it. I was too busy taking pics like this to take one of the lens, sorry.
Oh yeah – it’s a bargain too. I paid £160 for mine.
This year for Mothers’ Day we decided to avoid the crowded pubs and restaurants all full of feasting families. After all, since I usually cook on Sunday’s anyway, it would be more of a break for me than Tamsin.
Instead, I packed a picnic (mistake – the weather wasn’t really up to it) and took Tam and Tabby to Bignor Roman Villa, just outside of Arundel.
It’s an extraordinary place, the remains of a giant villa in what’s now the South Downs and – as of this week – a national park. Discovered by farmers in 1811, it has some of the best preserved Roman floor mosaics in the country. There are several rooms and a bath house fully excavated, and covered some time in the 19th Century with barns which are still standing, and are themselves listed buildings now too.
I didn’t get chance to ask how much of the floor is as it was found – it looks like there has been some clumsy repair work done at some stage in its history – for starters many of the holes in to the hypocaust underfloor channelling have simply been concreted in. But it’s nothing like the reconstruction work that is so disappointing at, say, Knossos on Crete.
What’s really worth going for, though, is the fact that a lot of the floor that you can actually walk on is at least the original tiling picked up, concreted under and replaced. That’s the small red clay tiles in the photo at the bottom of this post. It also has the longest complete single mosaic in Britain running along the remains of the North Corridor.
You can get up close to many of the mosaics, and most bizarre of all is the artefacts room, where a large table with a model of what the villa would have looked like is standing on the remains of a rather impressive mosaic.
Seems slightly sacrilegious to me, but I’m not an archaeologist, so what do I know?
Anyway – if you’re looking to kill a couple of hours in the South Downs, I can recommend Bignor as a way to do it.
It’s not often I read an article online and sit and nod sagely at almost every line. But while Googling for the exact wording of the famous Virginia Woolf quote – “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction” – I found this meandering muse on ‘creative time’ from David Boucher.
It’s a light, fun read and well worth it, looking at how different writers throughout history have managed their ‘work time’ – a subject I’m thinking lots about at the moment as I try to juggle an ungodly number of projects at once, very few of which actually pay any money in the short term. Today has been a case in point. I have five or six features all on the precipice of being finished, and yet only managed to actually get one done in between the phone calls, the emails, the essential news catching up, swimming lessons and so on.
I think the only example Boucher misses is the famous one of JG Ballard, who wrote prolifically while a single father of three, and never once neglected his children (read this outstanding obituary by his daughter and try not to feel a bit of shame for ever having felt you couldn’t juggle family and work well).