Sunday 21 April 2024

when men was iron and ships was wood...

 ...or something. It's a phrase my late father in law used—sort of. I may have it wrong. But basically he used it for as he said 'when I were a lad'. I.E a long time ago.

(Source: Freepik on pinterest)

It came to mind, because recently, on holiday, I've been reading some old favourites, which were all written well over half a century ago. As in when I was a child. 

Miss Read, (about village life) Doreen Tovey (Siamese cats), Lillian Beckwith  a middle-aged lady moving to Skye), James Heriot, (Vet in Yorkshire), Nicholas Rhea (Policeman in Yorkshire,) and so on.

Apart from loving the memories some of these stories bring back, it's fascinating to read just how life was then. Especially when you visit the areas written about and think, oh I bet that's where so and so lived. Or whatever.

It's a great way to learn about history that's not centuries ago. About people and places. Lives and living conditions. Employment and education.

I'm well over my half century. I can remember some of the things I'm reading about. I have very vague memories of Keith, the butcher who came around in his little white (I think) van. When he opened the back doors there was a set of scales and some bits of meat. As meat rationing didn't end until 1954, he was the man you gave your coupons to and you got what he had. I don't remember any of that, but my mum told me all about it.

There was also the bread van, Mr Bradshaw's mobile shop and of course the milkman and his deliveries. Which were left on the doorstep and if the sun was out, you better be at home so you didn't have curdled milk.

How things have changed.

But it's good to read about those days of over seventy years ago, from the horses mouth so to speak. Speaking of horses, the rag and bone man, Mr Smith, used to come round with his horse and cart, and beg a drop of milk and hot water for his tea can.

I've had a book fest over the last few weeks. As my lovely husband says, thank goodness for eReaders. 

Because I always used to take at least one book for each day of my holiday. Which meant a lot of my clothes had to go in his suitcase and he was sure, one day, his case would be opened and a pile of ladies undies be pulled out.

Thankfully it never happened. Now I pack my undies in my own suitcase. 

Happy reading,

love, Raven xxx

Sunday 14 April 2024

The gluten-free Authors guide to...

 What do you call it again?

Actually It's not fizz, but I felt like using that image (Source pinterest). Otherwise it would have been this one again.

Which, let's face it, does get used a lot in my blogs.

And I am thinking again here. 
About labels.
Specifically labels about whether something is gluten-free or not. 

One of the first things I started to do with diligence when I found out that gluten was a no-no, was read labels. Lists of ingredients. The various signs that denote whether something included wheat or barley or rye or oats. 

Years ago, I tried to make sure I could say please, thank you, could I have the bill and where is the toilet please, in several languages, I needed to add, 'without gluten', and Coeliac to my lists.

Sin gluten, senza glutine, sem gluten, etcetera. Checking if Trigo or Cevada is in the list of ingredients, or farine de ble—with apologies for the lack of an accent there.  Writing those important words down in the language of whatever country I'm in. 

Plus fathoming out how restaurant menus work.

Some do a blanket, 'may contain' and stick a picture of wheat on everything. Better to be safe than sorry, but I do sometimes wonder how a green salad contains gluten. Yes, I know its the chance of cross contamination!

Some do the crossed grain no gluten thing and you can tell that the chicken curry or steak and chips are safe.

Others say 'ask you server' and that can be tricky. I got told a certain brown sauce was gluten free because it had no wheat in it. It did however have barley and malt vinegar, and is not recommended. Sometimes it's easier to eat at home.

However we've recently visited the lovely island of Lanzarote, and I've been able to eat our really well. Except at Burger King, which advertises gluten free buns. Ohh I thought, I'll try one. I'm not a big burger fan, but the temptation was there. So the lovely husband ordered, paid, queued, and when they eventually called his 'number out it was to tell him they didn't have any glute free buns!

That was twenty minutes we'll never get back.

That apart, we have some great curries, lots of delicious cataplana and of course paella. To say nothing of the basics, like steak and chips.

And my Spanish, for 'gluten free please', and reading the labels is coming on a treat.

(Source Pinterest)

If you're in Playa Blanca at ny time and want a good gluten free curry, try the Mumbai Masala in the Rubicon, and for seafood, Casual Seafood in Faro Park.
For snacks (and popcorn and peanuts with a drink) try Cafe Berrugo also in the Rubicon.

And honestly there's a lot of places to chose from. Just don't expect the gluten free roll at Burger King!

Happy eating (and label reading)

love Raven xxx

Sunday 7 April 2024

Too far fetched? Here's the details

 I was going over some old writing related emails the other day, and deleting stuff that was no longer relevant. I must admit I did wonder why I'd ever thought I'd need to keep so many that were really just notes to say something had arrived or edits would be coming in x amount of time.

So the delete button was being kept busy.


Some of those emails made me squirm, some made me laugh and some made me glad that I enjoy research. and often use things and places I know in my books.

Take for instance the time I was told that the hotel where my heroine was stopping was not correct. That no five star hotel would have catering facilities in their rooms or suites. I sent details of their website and a photo of me using said facilities. Probably didn't make me very popular but hey ho. 

Or the time I was told that if I didn't put an 'E' in whisky, it could be construed by many people as a typo. To which I replied that as my other half was a director of a whisky company (no 'E') if I did put an 'E' in the word I'd be divorced. I was of course writing about Scottish Whisky which doesn't have an 'E' in it. Now it's a standing joke amongst my friends. Plus I tend to describe the drink as a malt or whatever. 
(Source TCM Gourmet)

I know I'm lucky to be able to use so much personal knowledge as well as the ever so handy on-line sites, and also that I enjoy research. somethings you don't need to go into great details about, but others, well yes you do.
To me, there's nothing more likely to make me stop reading a  book if something is so obviously very wrong. 
It doesn't matter how an author writes a detailed description of a journey north from Perth (Scotland) to Edinburgh—it is not correct. And to be honest any map will show you that.
(Source, as shown)

A specific hospital in a certain city does not have an Accident and Emergency department. It tells you on their website. A public house in xxxx closes at midnight  (or whatever) 

There's no mountain in East Yorkshire. I could go on and on, but I won't.

Yes I get things wrong, of course I do. But some things are easily checked. And if written sources can't confirm what you want to know, there's usually someone somewhere who can.

After all so many of us have been there, done that, or if we haven't we know someone who has.

On that note I'm off to check my details about smugglers in East Yorkshire are correct. Not that to my knowledge do I know any smugglers, but I do have a fabulous library nearby.

Happy research,

love Raven xxx

Sunday 31 March 2024

Around the world in 80 loos

 A bit of an exaggeration but hey ho. 

I was queueing for the loo in a well know department store recently, and as I patiently waited for my turn, legs not quite crossed, I began to ponder.

Just how many different loos, and types of water closets (posh eh?) had I used over my years? 

(Source, pinterest)

Then darn it, where are the pictures of some of the more unusual ones?

(this pic is one my lovely husband too)

The rest are in the loft, so sorry, very few pictures in this blog.

But the memories!

(lovely and posh this one. Not one I've used alas, but thanks to pinterest) 

From the long drops in Australia and holes in the ground, filled with rubbish at the top—and bottom—of the Great Wall of China, to the do I squat lean or hop ones in various places to the ultra swish get your bottom washed and dried ones in Japan, There's been a lot of loos.

(source, also pinterest)

So many different ones.

I remember as a child going to the house of one of my mum's friends mum in a tiny village. The toilet was in an outhouse. That was fine so were my grandparents. But this one was different. How did you flush it?

I went back inside and whispered to mum. She took me back out and showed me a bucket full of earth, and handed me a small shovel. That was my first experience of an earth closet loo. 

Then the similar one in Arrass where my penfriends gran lived. That was outside as well, but had several tiny holes in the walls.

"Bullet holes from the war," I was told. "We've left them there for the history!"

Then there's sometimes the problem of do you pull a chain nad hope it doesn't break or overfill the cistern?  Push or twist a handle? Stand up fast as the loo flushes automatically? Wave your hand in front of a button?

(and again, source pinterest)

Panic because there doesn't seem to be any way to flush? 

All to spend a penny (or a fiver these days?)

Take the toilet on the landing of a house we were to rent. A long wooden board with three different sizes of holes in it. One to fit any sized bottom! Luckily it wasn't the only loo in the house, but as it has been one of the first water closets in the area, it had been kept for posterity. I hasten to add we are advised not to use it.

There are a couple at a ferry port in Hong Kong where you join a queue and cross your fingers it's not the squatting loo that's available when it's your turn. Because of course that would be when you're in leggings or tight jeans! 

And don't forget to remember the customs of the country you're in. It's oh so true that there as many types of loos as countries.

When I was a child one of my friends went to Calais on a day trip. She sent me a post card...

"They all go to the toilet in the same place here, men and women!!!!!!!"

And in the ladies loo in a UK airport, hearing a little girl say very proudly, "Mummy, I remembered not to flush the paper but put it in the bin!

And the reply. "Very good darling, but we're back in England now."

(Source Pinterest)

Writing this, I also realised how many languages I know how to ask for the toilet in! Quite a few.

That's a handy phrase to know.

Happy reading,

love Raven xxx

Sunday 24 March 2024

Memories are for...

 Well this week it appears memories are for getting plot ideas. And do I welcome them.

It's been no secret that I've floundered lately with my writing. Everything reads to me as a bit mundane.  Boring even. 

I hate feeling like that. Writing is part of me. I hate not feeling I can or want to write.

The other day, WIP open but ignored, I was looking through some of my 'memory' photos on a certain social network site and some of the memories that popped up gave me ideas.

Not I hasten to add, or write about my life per se, but of using some of the memories I saw and remembered.

And so I made notes. Now, I'm playing with some ideas. Who knows if they will come to anything? I don't but as they have got me writing again, I'm happy.

Hope you all are,

love, Raven xxx

Ps All photos taken by me on my travels.

Sunday 17 March 2024

Should I stay or should I go now?

 I can't help singing those words, although I'm not in a singing mood. more of a hmm, should I stay with this WIP or go now and accept it's never going to get finished?

It's a dilemma. One I hate facing but at the moment I think it's needs must as the saying goes.

It's annoying. I've got the first 35k done. 

I've got the last 5k done.

But it's the bit in the middle that's defeating me and it is incredibly frustrating.

I've been messing with the story for months. It started off well, and I was racing along—well as fast as my three finger typing can let me race. 25k was written in a few weeks. Then life got in the way and I had to keep rereading what I'd written.

But still so far so good. Another 5 or so thousand words came in dribs and drabs.

Then, in a change to the way I usually write I sorted theending out. I knew it, knew what I wanted to say and also knew I needed to get it down so I didn't forget any of it .

Which was all well and good except for one thing. 

The enormous void.

The knot that connects the two threads.

I can't find how to make that knot. 

At the moment I have three options. Or I think I do.

One, accept it's not going to get the ends tied together. Leave it and write something else. (bBut I hate giving up and admitting defeat.)

Two, just keep plodding on and deleting as need be. (But plodding is boring and I don't want that)

Three, shorten it. Do a wee bow not a big knot. (But then I'd feel I was short changing everyone.)

So now I'm adding a fourth option.

Drink coffee, eat chocolate and read a book by someone else. Yes it is procrastinating, and putting off te decision. But as I've been faffing about with the thing for so long, a few days more isn't going to make much difference.

wish me luck.

Happy Reading,

love Raven xxx

(photos etc source Pinterest)

Sunday 10 March 2024

When you think I wish I was like *****

 I've been writing this last week, and as the WIP progresses, I'm discovering things about my heroine I hadn't realised. (Yes, okay because I hadn't delved that far into how I intended to 'shape' her) I also rather like her and her attitude which is a relief because I want her to feisty but nice with it.

To be the sort of person everyone likes and respects.

(Source: Pinterest)

If only we could all be like that.

I know we're all different, with our own individuality, but when I read something, or see something where a person is being at the least unpleasant and at the worst very bad or dangerous it does make me wonder. Why? What's the point?

Of course there must be a point and often it's easy to see it, but equally sometimes you can't fathom out that why.

And sometimes you never ever find out.

I was thinking about that as I reread some of my WIP and realised there was someone in it, who holds the clue to a lot of the things that happen in this book. And that person isn't nice at all.

Now I need to discover why they are as they are.

It's going to be a fun week.

Happy sleuthing,

love Raven xxx

(ps It's raining so I intend to hole myself up in my study, with coffee and write. wish me luck)