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Thursday, 23 December 2010


A new year's resolution harshly suggests itself.  After I told someone I'd mentioned their business in my blog, they said they didn't read blogs as they weren't interested in the minutiae of other people's lives, and certainly wouldn't write one.  Then I realised that this is all my blog has been.  Things will have to be different.

The other 'ouch' was a slip backwards on black ice on our slopy pavement.  Minimal damage thankfully, just a bruise which is long gone now.  Our road is steep; there is a grit bin, but one charmer nicked some of the grit to spread over his own drive, even though there was never enough for us each to grit our 'road space'.

More cheerfully, since Catherine Miller persuaded many of us Writing Buddies to have a go at Twitter, I have taken to it, upgraded to new Twitter, and won a book, a tin of posh Derwent sketching pencils (feeds my passion for stationery), and now a 'book bundle' from Orion books.  In the past, when slogan comps were plentiful, I won masses of stuff from sweets to holidays, a full set of white goods, and £5k worth of energy saving for the house including cavity wall insulation.  Those comps are now rare, sadly, but Twitter is fun and full of draws for prizes.

Talking of the Buddies, it's been an amazing year in terms of what people have achieved.  And with the rate at which we are still scribbling, 2011 promises to be great, too.  I write best when I have a scheduled time slot, and when I have already decided in some detail what will be written.  Usually there are only one or two slots per week, but they are generally productive.

I am still looking for a suitable source of critique for my children's novel, the first draft of which is done. I've entered writing competitions, and have written a Christmas poem to read for the family that evening. Also still pitching for a stocking filler book for next Christmas.

In 2011 I shall be writing, taking vitamin/mineral pills during winter months, smartening up my appearance, chucking out masses of tee shirts and sorting out my 2 expensive new pairs of varifocal specs which aren't right.

So if you're reading this after Christmas, I hope it was good for you.  Let's hope for a really happy, healthy and successful 2011, and be sure that, if you make resolutions, they are easy and fun to keep.  Very best wishes.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Keep on writing!

On the writing front, I'm still looking around for a possible home for my junior fiction book, but thinking it might be wise to spend on a professional critique and advice.  May consider joining the trend towards self-publishing, too.  Also had acceptance of my adaptation of my late aunt's memoirs of the WAAF by a national magazine.  She'd have been so delighted; when I wrote the original for her, based on conversations and photos, she showed it to anyone who would look at it - in some case, more than once.  It was typed on my Amstrad, that's how long ago.

The Southern Daily Echo has printed my opinion piece in their In My View column, ranting about the rubbish choice for vegetarians in some pubs and restaurants, and how better choice brings in not only the vegetarians but their companions too.  The Vegetarian magazine has accepted me as a mentor for people wanting to take to the lifestyle - my pic is in the current edition.  I can advise on the vegan diet as well, and also wheat intolerance, so a Jill of several trades of that kind.

My article on being a great step parent has been accepted for the How To Books website.  Writing Buddy Catherine Miller set the precedent, and then went on to win a prize.  Wasn't going to copy, but the competition kept cropping up on various tweets, sites and facebook comments, so in the end I couldn't resist.  Currently 57 articles on

Since my previous blog, we've had a good trip by train to Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth, and I have completed my last Talking Echo script for 2010.  We've seen Rich Hall live (v good but some repetition of previous sets) and the film Made in Dagenham.  Dashed up to Colchester to take John's rellies out to lunch, then next day dropped by at Jeremy's and Nikki's in London on the way back, to see them and the girls for lunch.  Great scram as usual.  Their kittens have had 'the operation' but are lively as crickets and much more charming (than crickets).

My brother was admitted to hospital for emergency major surgery; we scampered up there for a couple of nights to visit him and to be with his wife near Huntingdon.  Despite the seriousness of his original condition, and some time in intensive care, he was sent home in just under two weeks, tired, sore, and unsure about managing stairs - but cheerful and making good progress.  Phew.  We plan to go up again just for the day sometime soon.

We've lunched at the Royal Wok and the Coriander Lounge in Southampton and Strada in Portsmouth - all very satisfactory.  I detect a certain sameness about our lunches, except the excellent Cherry Tree Inn in Tendring, Essex which was great.  Must branch out once the white stuff fades.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

A good visit to The First Gallery's preview evening - their annual Christmas show of "well-made, affordable crafts & art, ideal for gifts" at 1  Burnham Chase, Bitterne (a private house).  Some nice stuff there; I bought a sculpture - block of etched wood, with two wire clownfish fixed into the top - wire and orange glass.  Show is on until 21st Nov 2-7pm, 21st-27th by appointment 023 8046 2723.

Attended a public debate at the city art gallery featuring the Press Complaints Commission staff and editor of The Daily Echo.  Some interesting rants and the PCC evidently doing a good job.

Indian meal at The Great Moghul in Eastleigh - v reasonable though food not served piping hot.

On the writing front, I'm still drawing up a list of possible target publishers and agents for my children's book (first draft more or less done), but considering paying for advice first, e.g. Louise Jordan.    The Daily Echo said my piece for the "In My View" column is 'perfect for the column' and they hope to use it soon.  It's a rant about how pubs and restaurants offer poor choices for vegetarians.  If they did better at that, they'd get more trade - if a group is going out for a meal and one person is veg and doesn't fancy the menu, the group go elsewhere.  Business sense, I thought.  Currently I have one other invited piece and two pitches with national magazines, and am working on a competition entry.

If anyone reading this has an opinion on whether it's worth paying, say, £75 for advice on a part book, could you let me know please?  Thanks.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Giving in, not giving up

Oh sad, sad.  Despite the previous blog, I have had to truncate my ambitious writing plan.

It's not the commitment itself; in the first ten days I wrote 10,000 words as intended.  However, working from the plot, I found that without introduction of sub and sub-sub plots it was not going to work beyond about 12k words.  And complicating the story would not seem appropriate for the readers I have in mind.  So instead of padding or weaving, I am looking for publishers of junior fiction who work with books of that length.

I'll spend the rest of the month sending query letters to agents and publishers, and refining the story, which I think is a reasonable compromise.  As my mother-in-law used to say, "Oh, don't get on at me"!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Committing ...

Just to make a commitment that, although not joining in NaNoWriMo (50k words in November), I plan to write 1,000 words of my novel for children each day of the month.  This would more or less complete it, should the work go well.  The plot was sorted a while back, though by today (end of 2nd day) I already see flaws in it and have changed relationships, events etc.  2,100 words and counting!

Good luck to our local writers who are taking up the challenge.  Notes to be exchanged this Friday at Southampton Writing Buddies meeting.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Barely a pinprick with the flu jab - how times have changed.  A couple of days with snuffles, mind.

Another goodly meeting of Southampton Writing Buddies.  I chaired it this time; 15 lively writers but I think everyone had the chance to say their bit, celebrate their successes, and get answers to queries.  Some really helpful info, too.  We seem to follow the same path: keen on writing as a child, developing interests about which to write, then some formal writing but a crisis of confidence - is it worth sending off?  What if they don't like it?  That seems to be the tipping point.  Do we lob it out anyway and keep writing, or leave it in a drawer.  Hopefully the former.  Many of us have become more confident after some success, and once it's our very best work, off it goes in hopes while the next masterpiece gets under way.  Talking of which, I've sent a pitch for a new feature to a national mag.

I've recently finished another script for the Eastleigh Talking News.  It seems we may be getting a third editor for this team, which is great - means I'll be 'on duty' for 2 weeks out of every 6, much better than every 4.  I've also been invited to be a mentor for The Vegetarian Society, available to advise and support anyone who's thinking of becoming vegetarian.  I have periodic 'vox pops' pieces in their quarterly mag, and may be in the next one due out in November.  Have now reached 50 articles on suite101, so revenue will have a 10% bonus - and as we all know, 10% of 20 cents is 2 cents.  I shall run an extra bit of water to celebrate.

Now my favourite bit - the food.  Have been eating my mushroom, chestnut and cranberry pate since I made and photographed it for suite101.  My best pate so far, I think.  We took a recently bereaved neighbour out to the South Garden Chinese Restaurant for dinner; he did really well, and sent us a thanks note to say it had really lifted his spirits.  It helped, I think, that we weren't part of their usual social circle so there wasn't any attached awkwardness.

Also ate at the King Rufus - battered halloumi, very rich, and the batter tasted of fish so I left it and complained to Greene King (no response as yet).  I assume it was fried along with scampi, cod etc, which means it shouldn't be marked vegetarian.  Also lunched at the Royal Wok in Southampton, Bella Italia, and La Cuccina, as well as regular dose of Pinot Grigio and onion rings at Wetherspoon's.

We use the local buses quite a bit. I get cheesed with the young 'uns who sit at the back and always put their shoes on the seat opposite.  Sometimes I glare or comment and they remove them (until I'm not looking).  Or their music players treat the entire bus to ching-ching-ching backing.  One day I shall get up and jive to it - that'll embarrass them into turning it down.

Hope everyone has enjoyed the late burst of decent weather.  Get ready for Hallowe'en - we have a large carton of Thornton's Moments for any trick-or-treaters, 'cause we're scared of them.

And finally ...  I gave her a wooden leg for Christmas.  It wasn't her main present, just a stocking filler.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

At the meeting of the So'ton Area Talking Echo editors, the inclusion of short stories in the magazine editions was again discussed.  They are keen to try this out, and I have asked Writing Buddies if they have any 500-800 stories they'd be willing to offer.  So far two have provided a story (one already broadcast), and I have given two of mine.  Really hope Buddies are able to help with this.

Since last time, we have eaten at the South Garden Chinese, Giddy Bridge, Coriander Lounge Indian, The Star at East Tytherley (highly recommended though not much for vegetarians), and the Moby Dick F&C restaurant in Shirley.  All really enjoyable.

Culture-wise, we saw The Song of the Goat's production of Macbeth at The Point, Eastleigh - a weird, 65-min presentation from this Polish company with a stringed-instrument player, modern dance moves, chanting, skilful choreography, and of course high drama.  Enjoyed very much, though the music sometimes drowned out the words, and some of the voices were very quiet.  Interesting interpretation. Two films - The Social Network (about creation of Facebook and surrounding aggro), good but sound quality uncertain, and Inception - high action crashes, huge explosions, death and destruction, but based on the premise that you can manipulate dreams on various levels.  Very weird, and long (2h22m), and not my usual kind of film, but engaging in its way and some interesting ideas to debate afterwards.  Looking forward to seeing Made in Dagenham, and also Rich Hall live in late November.  Living, or what?

Now have three articles pitched at different magazines, but thinking of entering more writing competitions.  Wake up in the night thinking about various writing projects.  Bug well and truly caught.

May get to the Gauguin exhibition in London, and hoping to meet the family soon for lunch at Zilli Green, Aldo Zilli's vegetarian restaurant in Soho.

Tip of the day: the only cashpoint I know of that dispenses fivers is the farthest machine in the dedicated foyer at Lloyds in Southampton High Street.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Getting a bit like autumn now, but at least an excuse to change to big snuggly winter-weight duvet.  Our cat Minnie is very pleased, and it means she can no longer claw our toes as through the lighter version.  She is now 17+ but cheerful and well, especially after her latest steroid injection which stimulates her appetite and stops her wretched allergy problems (grass mites apparently, and possibly house dust - but surely none here?).

About to finish my next fortnightly script for Eastleigh Talking News.  Some interesting things happening in the area, which makes it easier to fill the 30 or so pages of cuttings/printouts required each time.  Every one has to be edited, and I put the info in sections - business, fundraising, crime, health etc.  It takes ages each time but seems a rewarding thing to do as my 'voluntary job'.  We are about to change from tapes to memory sticks, which may require a different approach - editors' meeting tomorrow to discuss.

My brother and his wife came down for a day and a night; we visited our largest local garden centre which was fun and productive.  I am into these scented-oil-and-infuser-sticks things; the front room is sweet pea and the hall is lavender.

Spent a good day in Portsmouth's Gunwharf Quays shopping centre.  Came away with a set of four Viners saucepans and matching frying pan, with the outsides of them all a delightful lime green, my favourite and the colour of almost everything in the kitchen.  Never thought pans could be so much fun.  Keep looking at them - how sad is that.

Why does Matalan not stock the enticing owl fake fur jacket featured in Good Housekeeping mag?

Little writing done since last time, though waiting for responses from two magazines that expressed an interest.  If they respond positively to a pitch, it's make-or-break time for the writing of the piece.  Not sure whether to hassle them - could be counterproductive.

My most recent article on is for an easy vegetarian pasta meal for students on a budget.  This is likely to be the reason why I suddenly made 41 cents a couple of days ago - all those students clicking on the ads.  I note the highest earner on the site, who makes about $2000 a month, writes on campus life - she is a north American tutor and lecturer so I guess all her students respond.  I shall therefore concentrate on student stuff - study skills, student food, relationships - for a bit, apart from one piece in progress on the artist Stanley Spencer.

Question of the day:  Why do so many people sniff?

Monday, 13 September 2010

Just a quick one (actually two).  Really pleased to gain first place for a 500-word non-fiction piece and also for a non-rhyming poem in the Writing Buddies anthology competition.  A second place for my one-act ten-minute drama.  These will be included in the forthcoming anthology, but don't worry, family - I shan't shower you with copies.  Gained a 'highly commended' for biog of artist Dora Carrington, too, which has been edited down and published on suite101.

Talking of which, I have now made up a page on my website ( to list sample titles of my articles on - they are found by searching for Jacqueline Pye and checking 'writers'.  This is mainly for possible markets for my features where more details of what I write might be of interest.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Pleased to get tickets to see Rich Hall at The Point, Eastleigh in November - done this before and found really funny.  Also booked for a couple of other films, Inception and Made in Dagenham.

Another good day out with son Jeremy and family - met at the Horniman museum which has a very nice sea creatures exhibition including my favourite, jellyfish.  Then a walk around Dulwich Park (mile or so) and lunch at Pizza Express.  Shrieking children (other people's), but excellent lunch.  Then over to their place for the afternoon.  Excited to meet their two new kittens - each very like our own (17-year-old) Minnie, and adorably playful and cute.  Both curled up happily on John's lap so couldn't possibly be disturbed.

Another enjoyable and interesting Writing Buddies meeting; the necessary cheques have been paid out and the books balanced to show - we hope - enough funds to pay for set-up of the anthology itself.  Judgments have already been made, but no-one except the organiser and secretary know them.  Grrr.  John is coming to the next meeting where results will be announced - he doesn't know whether to bring champagne or Kleenex.

Food corner: have since dined at the South Garden Chinese Restaurant (Sunday buffet - delectable), and Coriander Lounge, both firm favourites.  Chinese place in Southampton has changed hands and reopened as the Royal Wok - enjoyable lunch though the only vegetarian dish on the special menu is mixed vegetables.  The odd cashew nut or piece of tofu would have been nice, but these are only on the main menu.  Next time, I think.  Lunch on the Isle of Wight was at our favourite, Olivo (Ryde, but also Newport), where they adapted their goats' cheese salad for me.

Spent a happy afternoon at Mottisfont Abbey and House; an amazing art collection and some trompe l'oeuil artwork by Whistler.

Have now met with a kinesiologist at the Ashtara Centre about my food problems; she agreed I was very reactive to wheat but also warns mildly against wine (ouch), strawberries (oh no), oats (bye bye home-made granola), mushrooms (I 'heart' them), and tomatoes (several kilos in the fridge).  Even eggs got a bit of a sideways look.  It's an amazing system - you can feel the different reactions in the muscles.  I'll continue absolutely wheat-free (not hard these days) - already feel benefits including less appetite, starting to lose weight, rings looser on fingers - and keep mainly off the other offenders.

Horse goes into a bar; barman asks, "Why the long face?".

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Three cheers for finally getting a website up - I must be one of the last in my Writing Buddies group. It isn't flashy or arty, but is sufficiently functional for my purpose. I've managed to get my pictures cropped, resized, and in place as well as the text. Funny how you learn what you have to know.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Can it be that long since I last added a post? Lots since then. A great day out by train in Bournemouth - nice Indian lunch, lovely weather, and the seafront great as ever. I'd like to live by the sea - did for a couple of years in Southwold at age 7-9, tiny school facing the front, playtimes on the beach, Saturdays on the pier playing the slot machines. Still really love them.

Another 'grand day out', Isle of Wight by car/ferry. It's a really nice place and hope to get over again, on foot, in September. Another good trip was to Petworth House (National Trust). Masses of treasures, though the atmosphere is gloomy. The cream tea was a highlight, of course.

An interesting wedding of John's second cousin - the bride's second, the groom's third, a great day. They looked very in love, and then to the Fosse Manor Hotel (Stow on the Wold) for drinks and a sit-down meal. Gloucestershire sausages were the mainstay but for us they did a lovely goats' cheese salad and mushroom risotto. Dessert was three tiny creme brulees, one of my favourites. Wine flowing freely, too, then we stayed the night. Since then, lunch at South Garden Chinese in Romsey (twice), Coriander Lounge, Giddy Bridge (Wetherspoons, best onion rings around), King Rufus pub (fine mushroom and cheese salad plus ... onion rings), and the Moby Dick Fish & Chip Restaurant in Shirley (eggs, chips and peas, the best). Eat, eat, eat.

The National Portrait Gallery has an exhibition of their portraits of literary figures in Southampton Art Gallery; it is excellent. They include the famous only-known portrait of Shakespeare and some earlier works, right up to a 3D picture of JK Rowling.

Son and family came for the day en route to France; sunny day so we ate and drank in the garden. We'd bought a couple of small garden toys which were greatly enjoyed but not necessarily in the way intended! No plants were harmed in the making of this day. It was a lovely time, too much food as usual, including my miniature orange drizzle muffins and chocolate/courgette brownies - surprisingly they worked .

The deadline for submitting for the Writing Buddies anthology competition came and went. I entered six pieces. Penny Legg, founder, held a book publishing launch party for "Folklore of Hampshire", an interesting and fun read. Most guests dressed up for the do, which was good fun as well.

Have been having some discomfort which I think I've identified as a return of my wheat intolerance of 20 years go. Exam by doctor was negative, and I have cut wheat out of my diet which is definitely working. Even bought special flour and made a loaf in my bread machine. It's not bad, considering.

Joined Facebook and Twitter since last time. Sadly on Facebook one of the contacts I traced was posting at least daily with details of drinking, clubbing, searching for a man, and some bad language. I 'defriended' her but sent her a message to say I couldn't get on with her content and language, which I thought was a polite thing to do. She was not best pleased as it goes. Can Facebook really be this difficult? Twitter is more fun.

Enough! Thought for the day: What to do if you see an endangered animal nibbling a protected plant?

Thursday, 15 July 2010

If anyone remembers the late Adam Faith, my erstwhile hero, I've written a two-parter about his life and loves on with help from his 'autobiography' actually written by someone else. Why didn't he ask me to do it? This joins my other two-parter biog on the artist Mark Gertler, my grandmother's brother. Now reading about Gertler's great love, the artist Dora Carrington (and Nigel Slater's Toast).

Other writing projects are in progress, including work for the planned anthology by Southampton Writing Buddies. One batch of 3 entries is ready, and another 3 planned for two weeks' time when the comp closes. Another helpful and fun meeting of Writing Buddies took place on July 2nd, and the next is on the 16th.

The clock is home and going well. It's just slightly amateurish; the case bears the hallmark of having been assembled by John's late father, a really delightful man who used to call me his darling but never took to my al dente vegetables. This gives it plenty of charm, though, and we are proud to keep it going.

Had a good day in Salisbury, as usual built around lunch at ASK and a raid on the Lakeland store. Needed a new HideID (auto stamp of gobbledegook to go over address/personal details on paperwork being recycled). The old one melted when I left it next to the Remoska table-top cooker, also ironically from Lakeland.

Eat, eat, eat. Several recipes made, photographed for and then devoured. Meals out at Chinese restaurant in Romsey (my all-time favourite, lots of vegetarian choices), Coriander Lounge Indian buffet lunch in Southampton High Street, the Crown pub in Highfield, and Puccini's Italian buffet in Bedford Place.

A less dignified picnic of frittata, salad, nuts/cranberries and fresh cherries at the wonderful Yeovilton Naval Air Day near Yeovil. Thrilled to see the fabulous Vulcan flying again, with the Harrier doing its usual hover, sideways, backwards, and bowing, and a surprisingly great display by the Spanish military aerobatic team, Aguila (eagles). So good in fact that I plan to write to congratulate the Spanish first minister - maybe an invite to Spain to follow?

Thank you for reading this, if you got this far. Question of the day: are whoopie pies a worthy successor to cupcakes? I plan to make them for the granddaughters for a definitive answer. Martha will adore them if they have hundreds and thousands over them. Sprinkles, she calls them. Aaah!

Monday, 28 June 2010

Aaargh! Clock not ready yet, and not 'elected' to be editors' rep on the talking echo.

Before the AGM started, the soon-to-be-made chairperson told me that an older, long established editor 'is taking over the role'. I expressed surprise and said I'd been asked and agreed to stand. When the item came up on the agenda, there was no "any other nominations? Anyone else interested?" - instead a brief "For this post, X has agreed to take it on. Could we have a proposer and seconder please?". Before I could open my mouth the agenda moved on. Evidently every single 'post up for election' was decided among the committee before the AGM started. Democracy? I don't think so. Just had to get that off my chest!

Friday, 25 June 2010

Ah, flaming June. Shorts, mosquito bites and a listless cat, but the first crop of sugar snap peas and courgettes now in from the garden - they made a lovely stir fry.

Some nice lunches out; the Coriander Lounge (High Street, Southampton) is the local newest-but-one Indian restaurant. They do a great buffet lunch, with starters especially lovely. The newest is actually Indian Melody, more or less across the road from Coriander, and all vegetarian. Their lunch buffet can be served as a thali, and very nice too. Also lunch at the art gallery cafe, and good paninis at NV (same street) - in an old bank building, ceilings two storeys high, really elegant decor, nice staff. Talking of food, I have posted a number of my original recipes on

Now 24 articles published on suite101, over a thousand page views so far, but still not quite $2. I need to broaden my topics.

The latest Southampton Writing Buddies meeting was a very lively affair and a lot of fun. People are still asking "What's the anthology?" ... I'm working on my entries currently and aim for mid-July latest to submit. I'm treasurer for the anthology, and money has just started to come in.

Tomorrow I'm at the AGM of Southampton Area Talking Echo. I've been asked to stand for election as the editors' rep on the management committee, which I rashly agreed to do. They said I was innovative and enthusiastic - though I'm guessing the older-established editors may have been asked and refused. So far I have had two stories passed to me by Writing Buddies for the magazine editors of SATE and some others promised. The first of the two is already scheduled for reading onto tape in a couple of weeks, and the other I shall pass on to the boss editor tomorrow together with two of my own stories just to help start things off - terrified they may say 'rubbish' to mine. Does my lack of self confidence shine through, or what - occupational hazard of every writer maybe.

John has an nice old timepiece which we think his late father made, quite deco and a good light wood case. We have cleaned it up but it wouldn't go for long. Tomorrow hope to collect it, repaired and ticking, from our local 'horologist'. Apparently a 'clock' strikes or chimes, otherwise it's a 'timepiece'.

Point for the day: I hate young people on checkouts or at counters greeting me with 'hiya'. I always reply with good morning/afternoon. Also, 'you all right there?' - this was the greeting when I turned up at the hairdressers (reply: yes I'm fine, but I'd like a haircut please), and at the garage counter (reply: yes I'm fine, but I'd like to buy this newspaper please). Support please!

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Ah, the culture of an organ recital at Winchester Cathedral. Luckily for me, the programme was reasonably 'popular' as organ music goes, and I enjoyed most of it, though John prefers more serious stuff - he was a church organist in his late teens and still plays Bach on our electronic organ as well as on the piano. He used to play for a jazz band, and was known as John 'Fingers' Pye. He syncopates like a pro.

There's been a further meeting of Southampton Writing Buddies. Everyone has been very busy, and it was as always an interesting and motivating session. Southampton Beer Festival was a different kettle of fish; being vegetarian means that draught bitter is rarely suitable, and they don't label those that are, so I was reduced to smuggling in a bottle of Black Sheep ale which is OK and very pleasant. Two more half-pint souvenir tankards to clutter up our drinks shelf.

A trip to Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth on the bus is always like an adventure. The routine is, start with M&S outlet store, then sidle into Cadbury World (caramel creme egg, finger of fudge, or whole nut chocolate, anyone?). I love Whittards and Past Times, too. We had lunch in the Old Custom House - a lovely Fuller's pub just by the water, with great food.

I've completed and handed in my latest script for Eastleigh Talking News. At the recent editors' meeting it was agreed that very short fiction could be included with the magazine tapes, and I sent a round robin e-mail (via Penny) to the Writing Buddies to ask if anyone had anything to offer. Rapid responses resulted (good alliteration), so I am gratefully collecting work to pass on to the mag editors.

Our younger granddaughter has just had a birthday, with a splash party and sleepovers. We heard brief details (lots of splashing, lots of sleepovers!) and await further news.

I have pitched for a feature for Prima magazine, and am now up to 14 articles on and reached the dizzy heights of just under a dollar so far in revenue. But it continues to rise, and the writing is getting my brain nicely in gear after a long inactive period.

Thought for the day: why don't sheep shrink when it rains?

Friday, 28 May 2010

A few tense moments since last blog.  Our cat Minnie, seventeen but usually cheerful and sprightly, started to wail if handled, and was barely eating.  Fearing the worst, we took her to the vet; he said no 'lumps', but had her in for a day's testing.  It was a fretful time, but a full X-ray showed no problems, and the blood test was "OK for her age".  He thought a pulled muscle. We were given anti-inflammatory medication for her, and she soon perked up and started eating again.  Naturally for the time being she can get away with anything.

On the writing front, I have now published four articles on - all are about child development and parenting.  I am going to try a couple of my recipes on the site, complete with my own pictures.

For John's birthday I took him to Chichester on the train.  We visited the cathedral, then had lunch, followed by the matinee of Bingo at the Minerva Theatre, starring Patrick Stewart.  It's about the last weeks of Shakespeare's life (still don't know why the title).  Really enjoyable.

We've also had the first birthday party of Southampton Writing Buddies - a short working meeting then wine and cake and the odd speech.  I have planned my entries for our anthology competition, and hope to submit by late June.  I've also submitted an article to Saga Magazine; they invited it but said most of their features are done in-house.  Got to try, though.

Lovely day visit by our son and his family.  The girls were on very good form; they all took us out to lunch at Prezzo, then we spent the afternoon in the garden eating my home-made lemon polenta cake while the girls played at running a cafe so we all had to order from their menu.  I won't say what was actually served up on the toy tea set, but catmint leaves were present.

Thought for the day - they say you should try walking a mile in someone else's shoes.  This sounds like a good idea - at the end of it you are well away from them and have also won their shoes.

Monday, 10 May 2010

May at last - the fruit tree blossom in our garden is wonderful.  Since last blog, we have had my brother and his wife to stay - thanks for the wine, David!

Since last blog, we've been to a fete in nearby Otterbourne (Chamberlayne Park), three restaurants for lunch, and a meeting of Writers in Southampton where top crime writer Peter Lovesey gave an entertaining talk.  I bought two of his paperbacks, which he kindly signed - hadn't read his work before but intend to start within days.  We also saw Antony and Cleopatra at the Nuffield Theatre - very long but high drama towards the end and a worth while show.

There have also been two meetings of Penny Legg's Southampton Writing Buddies since my last blog.  At the first, topics included the writers' community suite101, which some of us had been thinking of joining.  By the second meeting, Penny had been accepted and had published two articles, and I was nearly there with just adjustments to be made.  They are very particular about layout, length, attribution of pictures and so on, but I was delighted to hear that my first piece (about parenting) is now published on the website.  Thrilled doesn't even begin to cover it!  There are small amounts of money possibly, but writers have to submit about one piece a week, and I have plenty of ideas.  I would also say that I would never have geared up to do this, had it not been for Penny's group and her boundless energy for writing.  The meetings are highly motivational, very interesting, and great fun.  There is a blog which is usually written by Penny but which I am about to write up for last Friday.

I've nearly completed the mock-up of my latest script for the Eastleigh Talking Echo, too; a big job as always but it's surprising what I find out.  

Hope everyone is enjoying my favourite month of May.  Bring on the Jersey Royals and asparagus!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Greetings from a life member of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.  A while back I entered their limerick competition; they provided the first line.  They chose three winning entries, which included mine:
     There was a young hedgehog called Prickly
     Who ate bread and milk and got sickly;
     But luckily his Mum
     Found some Pedigree Chum,
     And then he got better quite quickly!

Does that make me a hedgehog laureate?

We enjoyed the film "Nowhere Boy" about John Lennon's life from childhood to when the Beatles went to Germany.  Music was great of course, acting convincing, but too much focus on smoking - repeated close-ups - really close up.  Food, stay down.

I now have detailed plans for two features, and am targeting a specific market.  One magazine has invited submission but with the caveat that they mainly produce in-house, and I heard from another writer that they apparently pinched some submitted material and wrote it up themselves, so unsure whether to risk it.

Made Delia's rhubarb brulee eventually; it tasted lovely but needed more demerara and a hotter grill than mine.  Planning to try making lavender brulee - didn't fancy it but decided to try it at a restaurant and it was irresistible.

Thought for the day, provided by the checkout girl at Asda during the saga of the volcanic ash:
"I never go by plane, always go by boat.  If there's trouble I can swim, but I know for a fact that I can't fly!"  

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Lots of action since the previous post.  We went to the preview of John Goodman's poetry work alongside art works inspired by it - he belongs to Writing Buddies.  Interesting and thought provoking poems, though mixed feelings about the pictures.  Some seemed to bear the hallmark of works at the neighbouring Art House gallery/cafe.  I liked the black/grey/white elongated flower pictures though.  The paper planes exhibition at Southampton Art Gallery is really good; we are considering buying one of the exhibits.

Also went to the celebration of the successful protest against Southampton City Council's plan to sell off art works including a Munnings picture and a Rodin sculpture.  It became a national issue.

Greatly enjoyed a production of The Tempest at The Point in Eastleigh, performed by a mix of resident actors, gap year drama students, and local school pupils.  Dull first ten minutes or so, then it picked up; lines were sometimes delivered at a gallop and without enough emotion, but the work with the stick puppets for Ariel and Caliban was especially engaging.  Also saw the film Me and Orson Welles at The Point - very atmospheric and carried us along with it from start to finish.  And a highlight - a trip to London to see our granddaughters (11 and 7) in a full-length show put on by their ballet/dance school at the Catford Broadway Theatre.  They are really pleased that Olivia has been offered a place at their chosen secondary school, too.

OK, OK, I give in to the hype.  I shall be trying out Delia's ubiquitous rhubarb and ginger brulee this week. Usually I resist the pressure but have fallen for this one.

Thought of the day: when you try to open a packet of biscuits, why doesn't the "tear here" thing work?  Don't you always end up using scissors?  Thank you for reading this!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Sad to relate, the third mushroom isn't growing, so it's still poached eggs for breakfast.
     I have now inserted a link to my writing CV - easier than expected, but trawling through my published work I was taken aback by the number and breadth of items, things I had totally forgotten. I have sent out yet another pitch, with a loose jellyfish theme.
     Tonight we are off to see a production of The Tempest at The Point in Eastleigh, performed by a mix of professional actors, gap year drama students, and secondary pupils.  Apparently it has a modern setting.
     Had a set-to on the bus yesterday - a chap was sounding off about something to the driver en route; everyone was tutting.  Eventually I went up and pointed to the Bluestar notice about not distracting the driver, and got a mouthful in return.  As I went back to my seat, everyone was smiling, nodding, and saying "quite agree" - I felt like saying Where were you?  A lady moved to sit next to me and congratulated me.  Even the driver thanked me as I got off!  I am forever berating teens for drinking and swearing on buses, or spitting and dropping litter in the street.  John reckons I'll get my come-uppance one day, but if everyone had a go, maybe we could improve things.
     I am coming to the end of my current two-week stint preparing and editing a script for readers for the Eastleigh Talking Echo.  Not a huge amount has been happening in Eastleigh, but there will probably be enough to fill a 90-minute tape.  Then there's Writing Buddies tomorrow.  My master plan is to update my blog every 10-14 days, and I hope you'll stay with me!

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Well, well - the third mushroom rears its tiny head above the compost.  That's breakfast sorted for a week on Tuesday, then.
     Another enjoyable meeting of Southampton Writing Buddies on Friday, with lots of progress of members' projects.  I have made a pitch to a magazine about a psychology-based feature, and submitted a short story for a (paid) detailed critique to see where I might improve this side of things.  Also submitted a short story to The Weekly News.
     Finished reading The Other Side of the Bridge by Mary Lawson - a former Richard & Judy summer read (didn't notice it was when I bought it from WHSmith).  Entertaining but not what you'd call deep.  About to start Kate Mosse's Sepulchre which is very long.  Trying to keep supporting actual bookshops rather than buying through websites - but books on jellyfish are hard to find.
     Lovely visit to son, daughter-in-law and two granddaughters in London on Saturday; they cooked a great lentil and cheese dish (we're all vegetarians).  
     Writing a blog seems very self-indulgent, but within a few days I am hoping to be able to insert into mine some information about my writing CV.  It's quite long .....

Saturday, 6 February 2010

So, two mushrooms so far in our grow box ...

No luck with getting firm cancellation of my first website host contact - once you want out they don't want to know.  As soon as I get confirmation, hope to be up and running elsewhere.

Delighted to hear that my postcard feature has been accepted for 'possible publication' by a magazine.  This hopefully means fairly soon, but they won't be specific on what they might pay. And they pay after publication, so we're not celebrating yet, but it's great to be back after several years out of the race.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

I've really enjoyed reading John Irving's "A Prayer for Owen Meany", which my son's family gave me at Christmas - highly recommended.  One of those books where, at the end, you keep saying "Ah, so that's why".

Does anyone ever reap a decent harvest of mushrooms from kits?  We've tried large boxes (about six mushrooms) and mushroom logs (fewer though v expensive), though our present smaller box seems to have started the business OK.

Frustration with setting up a website - my first choice gave me my domain but I couldn't get their site set-up system to work and they kept giving me further instructions which didn't work.  Now I'm trying to get out of the process but still waiting for their response.

I've recently submitted an article on comic postcards and a short story; keeping up my NY resolution to submit something at least once a month.  The realisation has at last dawned that I am at heart a feature writer rather than fiction - have had a huge number published in the past and want to start up again.  Full of ideas thankfully.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Thanks to my first follower!  If you set up a blog, I'll be there.
Had feedback on my two submitted poems.  The lesser not too well received - hackneyed topic. The other - The Parade, 1942 - received some positive feedback but reader thought could be cut a little and text didn't always flow.  I hope to put this poem up on my website when it is activated.
As we approach deadline for paying tax, my dilatory accountant has told me how much more I need to pay but not how to pay it.
Really enjoyed the Pinter works performed on BBC4 last night - but felt Lloyd Hutchinson could have had more of an input.  He was very good in Midsomer Murders, and can often be seen on London theatre stages in heavyweight roles.  I gather he will be in Measure for Measure soon, so hope to get there for that.
Is Will Self's ambition to send listeners/viewers running to the dictionary?  I think trope and diaspora are among his favourites.

Thursday, 21 January 2010


Today I'm starting to write a feature about my postcard collection, as a mag has expressed an interest in the idea.  Still awaiting feedback on my poem entries into a recent competition, a short story submitted to a magazine, and my late aunt's wartime WAAF memoir which I wrote for her.
Don't you hate it when people say things like "It was SAT in a cupboard", "It's impossible to UNDERESTIMATE its importance" when they mean the opposite, and current speak such as "jernowamean", "like, like, like", "lazejemen" (ladies & gentlemen)?  

Wednesday, 20 January 2010


Hello, and welcome to my very first blog.
I'm Jacqueline Pye, part time writer and retired educational psychologist.
I have a long list of published features and a few stories, and am still writing.
My voluntary work is as one of two editors of the Eastleigh Talking News for blind people.  I love doing this although it is fairly time consuming.
Hopefully there will be new posts every couple of days on this blog.
If you have visited, please do leave a message - it would be a fine reward!