Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Penny Legg, December 2009

Crumbs it has been a long time since the last post! My new year resolution will have to be to blog more. I wish there were a few extra hours in the day though. That would be handy.

Well, what have I been up to?

Working really. I wish I could say it was something more exotic!

Finishing the editing, proofreading and printing of my book, Folklore of Hampshire, so it can go off to the publisher, took quite a long time. I am just sorting out the final photographs for the book and then off it will go and I will move on to completing the next book, Southampton Past and Present.

The next edition of The Woman Writer has to be with the sub-editor soon, so I have been busy with that too. This is always time consuming, particularly when dates or venues for future events change at the last moment. The increase in size of the magazine, from 24 to 32 pages, means I have a lot more to do. The next edition, out in January, will be the first of five 100th Anniversary editions published in 2010 to celebrate the centenary of the magazine.

I have started tutoring on another course for The Writers Bureau. This is interesting. Proofreading and copy editing are useful skills and the new course from The Writers Bureau covers everything you need to know about the subject, with lots of hands on practice. As a tutor it is interesting to gain an insight into my students' minds. Sometimes their logic takes me unawares and I have to really stop and think! Great fun. If any of my Writers Bureau students are reading this, I have to say, it is a joy to read your work, whether it be non-fiction assignments or proofreading. You might want to look at the Writers Bureau blog pages too, I have been asked to be a guest blogger and my first blog should be up on the site soon.

I now have a copy of The Woman Writer, the history of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists by Sylvia Kent. This has been written to commemorate the centenary of
the birth of Joyce Grenfell, the Society's President of 22 years, and covers the SWWJ in all its glory. For those
interested check out page 34, where I am mentioned.

I have been sent a review copy of Courting the Bull, an anthology of expatriate literature in Spain, which features a short story by my writing buddy, Rob Innis. This book is a mixture of the best of the fiction, verse and memoir written by expats in Spain and reflects their efforts to come to terms with the new culture they have entered. It's a super read.

My story, on the Veterans events in the summer, complete with numerous photos, are in the Winter edition of This England magazine. Another story, on the Living Collection of WW2 memorabilia in Cornwall, will be published in January's edition of Cornwall Today soon.

I have also been recently to see that great country tradition, the Mummers Play. Otterbourne
Mummers perform their play on one day a year and this year they braved the snow and ice to bring this traditional entertainment to the considerable crowd who had braved the freezing
temperatures. We watched as King George and the Turkish Knight battled it out with swords and I felt very sorry for the Knight when he had to lay on the ice in the road for some time until the doctor arrived with his magic potion to bring him to life once more. Great fun and it is wonderful that this centuries old tradition is alive and well and residing in Hampshire.

I do not know if I will have time to blog again before Christmas and so wish all my readers a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Penny Legg - back again!

It has been much too long since I last blogged, so I am going to make up for lost time now.

What have I been up to? Well, working really. I am the editor of The Woman Writer, the almost 100 year old magazine published by the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. I have spent time working on that and it was published once again this month. I was pleased to see that it was in the December edition of Writers' News, along with a piece written by my colleague, Sylvia Kent, about the history of the Society. She kindly mentioned me as the magazine editor, which was good of her and I, who luckily had just finished the front cover when the magazine called for the article, supplied the image.

Sylvia has just launched her latest baby on the world. A complete history of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists, The Woman Writer, published by The History Press, features a super shot of Joyce Grenfell, our President for many years, on the front cover. This book is so new I have not seen a copy yet. I am reliably informed that I have a small place in it. I will get a copy from Sylvia shortly, so will then see for myself.

Last Wednesday I gave a talk at the Southampton Writer's Circle on the history of the Society. I stood in for Jean Morris, the Society's chair, who could not make the date at the last moment. As I am a Circle member, I was asked to give the talk and to present the prizes for the Greensleeves competition, which Jean had adjudicated. I was very pleased to present the trophy to Elizabeth Streatfield, a worthy winner.

I am coming to the end of my work for my book, Folklore of Hampshire, which needs to be with the publisher soon. This has been a major labour and, although I think I will miss researching some of the interesting facts for the book, it will be nice to move on to finish work on my next publication, Southampton Past and Present, which has to be ready by March 2010.

In the meantime, I am kept on my toes by my students! I mark scripts for the non-fiction section of the Writers Bureau Comprehensive Writing Course and great fun it is too. The students are from all walks of life, different ages and from many countries of the world. They are all united in a will to write, that drives them on to create prose which is, sometimes, a real joy to read. This is a new venture for me, having started tutoring for the Writers Bureau only in August and it is a thrill to watch my students develop and blossom.

If you are listening to the radio tomorrow, Wednesday 18th November, at 7 pm UK time, you might want to tune in to Express FM and listen to the Write On programme hosted by Rob Richardson. Readers of this blog may remember that I devoted a piece to Express FM a short while ago, when the programme was temporarily taken off the air. I am pleased to say that it is now back on again and I am the guest tomorrow. It is the first time I have been interviewed on radio, so apologies now for any nervousness you might hear on air!

Looking slightly further into the future, on Friday 20th November, Peter Lovesey, the charming crime writer and Daggar Award winner, will be a guest at my group for writers, Writing Buddies. If you fancy a cuppa and a chat, you will find the Writing Buddies in Borders, Southampton, from 2pm onwards. It is free, just pull up a chair and join in.

Well, I think that is all for now. More in my next blog!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Penny Legg in Manchester

Manchester has changed a bit in the nine or so years since I was last there. It was not cold for a start as it was the last time I was there, although I had been led to believe it would be and had packed accordingly. There were a lot more people in the streets than I remembered, the tram lines are slowly inching across the city and there is a smart, and very comfortable, new hotel, The City Inn, just a stones throw from the railway station.

Why was I there? Well, it was conference time at The Writers Bureau and I joined several of my tutor colleagues in a pilgrimage 'up north' to the company's city centre offices. I flew up on Flybe from Southampton, which I have to say, was a great way to get from A to B. No stress, no hassle and a much shorter travelling time than if I had gone by train.

I have been tutoring for The Writers Bureau since August, so am a new face on the scene. I was curious about the set up and there was a lot for me to take in. The meeting covered all kinds of things, from the latest happenings in the company to problems caused by the postal disruption. Some of my colleagues were busy filming for a forthcoming YouTube short, and had tales of multiple takes, caused by buses outside in the street going past just at the wrong moment!

Later, after the business of the day, we met up in the hotel restaurant for an excellent meal and a good gossip. Perfect!

It was great to put faces to names, to learn about the company in more depth, to network and to feel I 'belonged'. My profile will shortly be going on to the tutor listing on The Writers Bureau website. I am sure that my students will like this. It is always reassuring to know that the person teaching them actually knows a bit about the job!

Simon Whaley has posted a photo of us on his blog. If you peer really hard, you will see me!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Penny Legg at the Bournemouth Literary Festival

The 5th Bournemouth Literary Festival has seen another successful series of events, with workshops, discussions and book signings galore to keep everyone happy.

At the Wessex Hotel last night a panel, David Hay, Pam Fudge and Janine Pulford, discussed aspects of getting into print for a capacity audience. I chaired the discussion and I was delighted with the dedication to the evening shown by the panellists and by the interest of those who turned out to hear what the panellists had to say.

David Hay published his novel, The Fundamentalist, through Authorhouse. He told the audience that this was a bit like going to the 'Specsavers' of publishing. He paid a lot of money for his book to be published, the publisher set the price and he was left to market his book himself.

Pam Fudge has been published by mainstream publishers but still has to do a lot of her own marketing. She does not have to pay to be published and receives an advance on sales.

Janine Pulford had to set up her own publishing company to bring her novel, Aggracore, to the the reading public, after it was rejected by mainstream publishers.

The discussion ranged over the topics of editing manuscripts and the importance of proof reading, the question of marketing (all the writers had been shocked on discovering how much of the marketing of their books was left to themselves to do) and how to go about it, the financial side of publication with its costs and potential earnings, publishing outside the print media on blogs and e-zines, a brief look at copyright and finished with tips for those in the audience who were aspiring to write a book.

'Keep writing and submitting. If you do not, you will not get published,' said Pam.

'Spend a lot of time on the blurb for the cover,' said David.

'Join a creative writing group and accept constructive criticism on your work,' said Janine.

Questions from the audience asked David about his overall experience with Authorhouse, asked Pam what the average word length for a first novel should be and asked the panel if a newspaper advertisement was a cost effective way of marketing. The value of joining writing associations and societies, such as The Society of Authors, The Romantic Novelists Association or The Society of Women Writers and Journalists, came up. It was felt that these groups lent credibility to the writer, in addition to the practical benefits membership offered.

In all, it was an interesting evening, which I hope was of use to those who attended.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Look, It's Penny Legg!

Yes, there I am, on the front of the 'Members' News' pages in Writers' News!

The details are not quite right but it is nice to be featured. My first book, Folklore of Hampshire, is due out in July of 2010, and was not published in July this year, but I suppose you cannot get everything right all the time!

Writers' News is the subscription magazine which accompanies Writing Magazine. It is full of insider information, tips and news. If you buy Writing Magazine but do not get it on subscription, you are short changing yourself as Writers' News is a gem for any writer.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Penny Legg, Book Review 'Cocktails and Camels' by Jacqueline Carol

I notice that the review I wrote for The Woman Writer magazine, of Jacqueline Cooper's book, Cocktails and Camels, written under the pen name of Jacqueline Carol, has been printed on the Arab World Books website.

I do wish that Jacqueline would write a sequel as I was charmed by this story of her youth growing up in Egypt. The climbing lessons in the basement of her convent school, travelling in style with her parents and the gorgeous governess, Mrs James, with her tales of being adrift in the Caribbean ocean in a trunk, all combined to form a page turner I could not put down. I am delighted that my review was thought worthy enough of further publication to be reproduced on the web. If anyone would like to read more of Jacqueline Cooper, or my review of her book, click here.

Rob Innis - Courting the Bull

Readers of this blog will have noticed the name Rob Innis popping up now and again. He is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Spain and he is my writing buddy. An anthology of work written by expats, Courting the Bull, has just been published by Innoword Media, and it features some of Rob's work.

The other day Rob went to Madrid to meet the publisher and he has just blogged on the trip. To read about this, or to order the book, click here.

Many congratulations, my friend.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Penny Legg, Award Winning Writer

I was delighted to receive the Scroll Award for my article on Bernard Warner, the Commodore of the Cunard Fleet, The Ship Comes First, last night at the Southampton Writers' Circle.

Judged by Richard Ashman, Senior Librarian at Southampton's City Library, my article, which was published in the February 2009 edition of Hampshire Life magazine, was described as 'A balance of conversational style, facts on the Queen Mary II and an historical read. The amount of information packed into a thousand words was impressive. A well written article.'

I am pictured receiving the Award from Richard.

Second place went to Jan Fitzsimmons, for her short story, Hamming It Up, the tale of what can happen if you let an actor practice his lines in a bar, and third place went to Diane Sparkes, for her short story, A Narrow Escape, the tale of a ship and her crew escaping a storm.

I would like to thank Richard and his team of readers at the City Library, for judging me the winner of this award and also the Southampton Writers' Circle, for running the competition. I am thrilled to have won.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Penny Legg at the Bournemouth Literary Festival

I have been asked to chair a discussion panel at the Bournemouth Literary Festival on 15th October. The theme is 'Getting into Print - conventional versus alternative routes'.

The panel consists of writers from the area. Joanna Pulford runs a local interest magazine and has recently started her own publishing company, David Hay is currently promoting his latest novel, The Fundamentalist, published by Authorhouse, and George Stratford, former Saatchi and Saatchi advertising copywriter, has published books both conventionally and through vanity publishing.

The venue is yet to be announced, but I am looking forward to meeting these three talented authors and to chairing the discussion at the Festival.

Cornwall, As Good Today As It's Always Been!

Further to my blog about going to Cornwall to cover a story, I can report that Martin's Dairy in Looe is alive and well, now over 100 years young, and is still serving delicious Cornish ice cream wafers filled with clotted cream. Yum!

More on the reason I went to Cornwall in a later blog.

Penny Legg's Writing Buddy, Rob Innis

Readers of this blog may remember my mentioning Rob Innis from time to time. Rob is my writing buddy and lives in Spain. He is a writer and editor and recently contacted me with some good news.

He is very happy that one of his stories, he trained as a non-fiction writer, has been published in an anthology of expatriate fiction by Innoword Media. Courting the Bull is available now and is a jolly good read. Congratulations, Rob. Enjoy the excitement this publication is causing.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Penny Legg and Express FM's Rob Richardson

I received an email this morning from Rob Richardson, who runs the WriteInvite site and who has interviewed several writers on his currently off air, but hopefully soon back on air again, radio show, WriteOn, on Express FM. Rob and I have been in email contact for some time and I have been to Rosie's Wine Bar in Southsea for one of his evenings for writers, where work is read to the audience, whose members then vote for their favourite writer. The winner gets a cash prize. Rob was also recently a guest at my group for writers, Writing Buddies, at Borders bookshop in Southampton.

Anyway, Rob emailed me to tell me that the radio show, which he has invited me to be a guest on, has been taken off air for a month by the radio station. This is a real shame. Over time Rob has interviewed many writers, from locals to household names, and listeners have gained an insight into what makes a writer tick. I hope that this is only a temporary situation and that the show will come back again, soon. If anyone at Express FM reads this blog, please consider bringing Rob and his writers back. There are few such programmes, where individual wordsmiths can talk about their life and work.

Rob is hopeful and wants me to come and be interviewed. 'I instinctively know you will be a wonderful guest with all your experience in so many areas that are writing related,' he says. Now that is nice of him. He goes on to say, 'You've got a great motor on you,' and hastens to explain before I take offence to this. 'This is a compliment, I promise. You know what it means in terms of get-up-and-go, but might be more suitably applied to a premiership footballer!' Now I have never heard the expression, but I quite like the analogy!

Only time will tell whether WriteOn will be brought back to radio. If Express FM do not want the show, perhaps another radio station will? This is pure speculation on my part and not something that I have discussed with Rob. I do think though, that writers and radio is a natural association and one that is both useful and interesting, both for the writer concerned and the listener.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Penny Legg's Writing Buddies

At the last Writing Buddies meeting in Borders in Southampton, I was surprised to hear that the coffee and chat sessions have become a motivating force for the production of words. Writers are now being motivated to write because they know that a Writing Buddies meeting is coming up and they want to be able to tell the rest of the group about the writing they are currently working on. Writing Buddies are also getting fresh ideas from each other. I had not foreseen this when I started the group.

Readers of this blog will know that I set up the group in response to a need I had perceived for writers to get together and talk about what matters to them in the world of writing. It gave them a forum for discussing problems with plotting, characterisation and such like, to talk about markets and book selling, trends, successes, even the demise of the semi-colon! Anything in fact that affected them as writers. Over time we have tried to advise one writer on the problems he has had with time lines in his novel and commiserated with him when he recently announced that, after 120,000 words, he had abandoned the project. We have talked about writing courses and pooled knowledge of the good and the bad. We have always talked about the ongoing projects that we are working on. As we have a goodly sprinkle of novelists, poets, non-fiction writers, short story writers, diarists and children's writers it is good to hear of the multitude of work that we undertake. That we are now sparking ideas and motivating each other to produce work, is great to hear.

The next meeting of Writing Buddies is on Friday 28th August at 2pm. If you fancy dropping in for a cuppa and a chat, you will be very welcome.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Penny Legg - a busy life!

Crumbs, it has been some time since I last blogged. Shows I have been busy.

I heard recently that I had been successful in my proposal to write a fourth book. Southampton Past and Present will be published at the end of 2010 by The History Press. This will be an interesting project as it will involve taking archive photographs and recreating them in colour in a modern day Southampton. The contrasts will be interesting, I think.

I have been asked if I would like to tutor non-fiction writing for the Writers Bureau. As readers of this blog and my website will know, I launched a writing consultancy some weeks ago. Tutoring for a major distance learning college will be an interesting challenge, which I am looking forward to taking on.

I will be off to Cornwall soon to follow up stories in that part of the world. I grew up visiting the West Country and love it. Recently I have not been in a position to go there as often as I would have liked as I was abroad, and so to be working there for a short while will be a pleasure. I hope that Martin's dairy is still in Looe. They have, in my humble opinion, the best Cornish ice cream in the world and their clotted cream, well...... You know where I will be heading for part of the time I am in the county.

I also learnt that I had passed my latest Open University course. The Diploma in Literature and Creative Writing consists of two courses, both undergraduate level and very interesting. I took the first course in the current academic year and heard on Friday that I had a good pass, so I am pleased.

In the meantime, Writing Buddies is coming on leaps and bounds. We had a dozen writers last Friday and several new faces, which was great.

On the home front, have you ever played on a Nintendo Wii? I hadn't until yesterday when my husband and I were staying the weekend with my brother, who has just bought one. He has the Wii Fit too, which I have to say is brilliant! It told me, after I had fed in all the preliminary information, done some exercises and been scanned by the machine, that my body is that of a woman 13 years younger than my actual age! How great is that? Women everywhere, you must buy one of these machines. They are the best ego boost you will ever have!

Ok all for now. I am off to write some more folklore...

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Vigilant Divers

I am pleased to be able to announce that my friend, PADI Master Scuba Diver Instructor, Rob Willsher and his wife, Julie, have opened Vigilant Divers, their new dive business, in Anguilla, British West Indies.

Operating from beautiful Road Bay, they have a thirty feet long Boston Whaler, 'Vigilant,' which can cater for up to four divers.

Rob, formerly with Dougy Carty at Special D Divers, is offering a range of PADI Certification and Speciality Courses, as well as guided diving in some of the most beautiful dive sites in the Caribbean. Anguilla is known as the 'Wreck Diving Capital of the Caribbean' as it has an abundance of wrecks sunk to become dive sites. They offer the diver a multitude of diving experiences, from the very easy sixty feet dive to the 'Cathley H' to the more challenging, deeper wrecks, 'MV Commerce' and the 'Sarah' at eighty feet.

Rob has been mentioned several times on this blog as he was my diving instructor. He took me from a raw, and very frightened, new diver, through my PADI Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver and Master Scuba Diver Certifications. He is professional, assured, experienced and unflappable. With Julie as Boat Captain, any diver will be in good hands as she has years of experience of working on and around boats.

I wish Vigilant Divers every success and will blog more on this venture in the future.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Penny Legg - Biker Babe

Yes, this is the moment you have all been waiting for... well, some of you have anyway. The photograph of Penny Legg, Biker Babe, is here for all the world to see. (I am too old to be a Biker Chic and, although I toyed with the idea of being a Biker Moll, Rob Innis' name for me, when I checked the dictionary definition of a 'Moll,' I was not so sure that I wanted to be known as one...!)

As you can see, I like pink. I am, after all, a girl.

I braved the roads of the Isle of Wight on the back of my husband's Suzuki SV650 and, after I had got used to gear changes and not careering forward to bang crash helmets with him, quite enjoyed myself. I even got to grips with the cissy bar, which I am told, is perfectly permissible as I am a girl and it is for 'girls and cissies' to hold on to.

More on this new found pastime in later blogs.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Lit Up!

The Lit Up! literary event, to promote all aspects of writing in the Bournemouth and Poole areas was a complete success, despite Mother Nature's best efforts to rain it off.

Members of both the Society of Woman Writers and Journalists (SWWJ) and Writing Buddies were there to support the event, which featured a seminar and talks by writer, Lucy Clarke, agent, Carol Blake, and Dagger Award winning novelist, Peter Lovesey (pictured). A panel of local experts gave valuable manuscript criticism and advice.

The event took place in the pretty walled garden at Uplands Country Park and offered a platform for debate and networking, which is much needed in the area.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Simon Whaley at Writing Buddies

Simon Whaley interrupted his family holiday in the New Forest to come along to Writing Buddies, in the Borders bookshop in Southampton, on Friday.

It was great to see him. Personally, I was really excited to meet him as he and I have been corresponding by email for several years, but had never met. It was good to finally talk face to face with the person who has helped to keep my spirits up when necessary and who has suffered through my writers block, lack of inspiration, imagination failure and a million and one other trials and tribulations that are a part of life for writers. Mind you, he has also shared the highs. He was as thrilled for me as I was for myself when I got my first book contract and when ideas I have discussed with him come to fruition, he is as pleased as punch. When his recent Bluffer's Guide came out, I could not be more pleased for him and I do remember teasing him about how clean and tidy his desk was in the photograph of him in his office, in a recent writing magazine.

He came and charmed the group of Writing Buddies, aspiring and professional writers of all genres, who meet for a cuppa and a chat once a fortnight in Borders. We talked about starting out in short story writing, offered advice to one of our number who needed some help with the credibility of a stereotyped character and marvelled that the piece I had written for Writers' News about Writing Buddies had been published. It was a meeting full of fun and laughter and we left feeling that all was good with the world.

Simon, thank you for coming and we look forward to your next visit, which we hope will not be long!

In the meantime, I have been left with lots of food for thought, as Simon gave me some very sage advice. More on this in due course...

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Penny Legg Dot Com - New Writing Consultancy is Launched

It has been a long time coming, but I am pleased to announce that I have revamped my website.

It needed it. I have been busy with other projects and have had little time for my little bit of the Web. Now though I have found time, quite a lot of time over the last few days, and have added pages, photographs and links to liven it up.

The biggest difference to the site is the launch of my new Writing Consultancy. This is aimed at beginner writers, students, job seekers and the self-employed, who have problems with grammar and spelling, layout and presentation of short stories, articles, letters, CVs and essays. In addition, I now offer a one to one telephone tutorial on how to research the right market for your writing. So, if you have a spot of trouble saying what you want to say, have a look at my site. I will probably be able to help!

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The Railway Magazine

My short piece, with photographs, on women's views of the Eastleigh Centenary railway event back in May, has just been published in The Railway Magazine. It is out in shops now!

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Fame, at last!

My former writing tutor has just written about me, yet again! I have kidded Simon Whaley that I will have to start charging soon, as I seem to keep giving him things to blog about. To see what he has written about me now, click here. Thanks, Simon!

Friday, 26 June 2009

Two more books...

I am really pleased to announce that I have just signed contracts for two more history books for The History Press.

Haunted Southampton is a look at the ghosts and ghouls who have decided to stick around, rather than move on to the here-after. From the Roman soldiers who are regularly seen in one part of the city to the little dog at a local manor house, this book will make your spine tingle! It is due out in February 2011 and I am sure I will have a lot of fun researching it.

Winchester: History You Can See is a photographic look at the ancient Saxon capital of Wessex. So often we walk past historic places or items, not realising the significance of that which we are passing. This book, filled with over a hundred photographs, will take you to parts of the city you thought you knew and allow you to look at them with new eyes. This will be published in May 2011. I love photography and this will be a chance for me to get out with my camera and really get to know the city.

More on these two projects in future posts.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Penny's Photos....

I have realised that I do not blog about photography enough. I love taking photographs and so thought that today I would take you a little into my photographic world.

I was in Swanage a couple of weekends ago to cover the events there to celebrate Britain's armed forces. In a weekend dominated by parades by the Signals Regiment and Veterans from across the country, the Devizes male majorette troupe, the Devizes Major Wrecks, put on a charity show that had their audience in stitches of laughter. Indeed, I was laughing so much some of my photographs were distinctly blurred!

The Wrecks are volunteers with steel in their backbones, it takes grit for a gentleman to don white tights, pretty frilly knickers, a little ra-ra skirt and frilled blouse, not to mention the makeup! This troupe has raised over £100,000 for special needs children in Wiltshire with their choreographed majorette routines, involving large red pom poms and the provocative use of innocent looking scarves. For a peek at some of my photographs and for more information on the excellent work this group is doing, click here.

While I was in Swanage I also met a lovely group of bikers. Bikers are, I have sometimes thought, misunderstood by the general public who see, often, hairiness, leather and power before the person underneath. In Swanage I met the Royal British Legion Rider Branch for the first time. This new Legion branch, it was formed in 2005 as an ex-services motorcycling club, has managed to raise over £11,000 for the Poppy Appeal charity so far in 2009 and numbers 2000 members. Not bad, eh? I sent some of my shots to the Rider Branch for inclusion on their site and they have been kind enough to post them. To see some of my work click here. The site covers all aspects of the Rider Branch and will answer your questions about what it is about and how to join. Since Swanage the Riders have been at Weymouth Veteran Parade, where they made an impressive showing. My husband has joined up and he has just bought me a motorcycle jacket so I can come along too. I suppose this makes me a Biker Babe now...

Friday, 19 June 2009

Weymouth Veteran's Weekend

Weymouth beach took a bit of a beating on Saturday 13th June. The Royal Engineers first gave a demonstration of how the army would storm a beach and overcome the enemy, swarming from a landing craft amidst much smoke and noise.
They then proceeded to show their mastery of bridge building as, in just ten minutes and seventeen seconds, they built a bridge strong enough to take the weight of several vintage military
vehicles which had come to the town especially for the Veterans Celebrations over the weekend.

Sunday saw the Veterans Parade, which attracted much interest with both veteran's organisations, individual organisations and spectators travelling from all over England to attend.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

SWWJ Summer Festival

The Society of Woman Writers and Journalists (SWWJ) did itself proud on Thursday 4th June, when the Summer Festival was held amidst the luxurious setting of the Royal Over-Seas League, London.

The guest speaker was Peter Snow. This well known journalist and television broadcaster brightened up the day considerably, not just with his splendid multi-coloured tie but also with his tales of luck and perseverance during his long career.

Guests, who included Patrons Lady Healey and Sir Tim Rice, enjoyed a beautifully presented lunch. The results of the various Summer Festival Competitions were then announced.

The Clemence Dane/Pat Garrod Cup for novel writing was presented to Frances Clamp for Broken Dreams. The Elizabeth Longford Poetry Competition was won by Alison Chisholm for Snowflake Message. The Lady Violet Astor Rosebowl for an article published in 2008 was won by Sally Ann Voak for My Grandfather Died a Hero and the Irene Swarbrick Silver Salver was awarded to Margaret Mounsdon for her short story, Run For Your Life, which will be published in the June edition of The Woman Writer. I am pleased to mention that my article based on an interview, DJ Richie, which was published in Anguilla Life last year, was Highly Commended.

The SWWJ Drama Group entertained us with a series of short plays written by members and performed both by members and other professional actors.

In all, the day was fun, informative and a great success. Jean Morris, the SWWJ Chairman, and her team of organisers, are to be congratulated for a job well done.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Swanage Veterans' Weekend

Swanage hosted a jam-packed weekend recently, which saw the town welcome the Royal Corps of Signals and Veterans from war zones as diverse as WW2 and the Gulf Conflict.

On Saturday 30th May, the Royal Corps of Signals exercised their right to march through the town, having been granted the freedom of Swanage in 2005.

On Sunday 31st May, Veterans converged on the town to march through the streets. Members of the Royal British Legion Motorcycle Section joined them, as well as a bevy of vintage
military vehicles. Veterans Badges were also presented.

My husband, a Falklands Veteran, was amongst those marching and I was pleased to be there to document the weekend, not just for This England magazine, but also for the family album!

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Eastleigh 100

The Eastleigh Railway Works Centenary celebrations were well attended, with thousands turning out in the hot sunshine to marvel at the engines on display and to wallow in nostalgia. The event, sponsored by The Railway Magazine, showcased the Works and featured displays of steam and diesel engines, vintage cars and stands selling everything from models to books and all things in between.

I was there for The Railway Magazine, talking to visiting ladies. It is amazing, in a male dominated field of interest, just how many ladies turned up. They were involved, fascinated and eager to partake in all that the event offered. As you can see, in return for an interview with members of the Southampton Model Engineers, I had to take a ride on a steam train!

I spoke to Jane Bibey and her lads from the 56 Group, there to raise money to preserve another Class 56 engine, Angie Bowden and members of the Solent Model Railway Group, demonstrating how to put together intricate scenery items in 'O' and 'N' Gauge, and Joe Thorp, recent winner of The Natwest Everywoman in Transport and Logistics, Industry Trainer of the Year Award (left with me, see previous blog), who was there to enjoy the day.

My article for The Railway Magazine should be in the July edition.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Writing Buddies launched successfully

Writing Buddies went well. Ten writers turned up and all had lots to say, which was great. We met in the middle of the Borders store and, I have to say, that the store staff looked after us very well indeed.

For more information see the Writing Buddies blog by clicking here.

Express FM

Things are all getting rather exciting! I have been asked to have a 'spot' on a radio show. Now this is interesting as I have never been on radio before. Yes, I have been to radio studios as I have interviewed several DJs in my time and taken photos of them 'doing their thing.' This will be quite a novelty to be on the receiving end of questions, and live too!

The station is Express FM, a local Portsmouth based station which has a writing related show on Tuesdays between 7 and 8 pm. I have no idea yet when I will be on but it is lovely to be asked and so, watch this space for more details.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Writing Buddies will launch this afternoon!

Yes, it is Writing Buddies Day! Can't wait. It will be interesting to meet those who come along and the chat is sure to be lively.

As Writing Buddies is aimed at anyone with an interest in writing, I am hoping there will be an eclectic mix of personalities. I will be there with my ever present camera to record the event for posterity.

If you fancy a cuppa and a chat, come along to Borders Bookshop in Southampton this afternoon at about 2 o'clock, pull up a chair and join in! I look forward to meeting you!

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Andark diving...

Well, it has been a long time coming, but it is time for the Legg family to have a little fun. We seem to have been taken up with moving country, working, getting settled again, working, doing up the house, working, and oh, did I mention, working?

Well, today we have taken giant strides towards having some play time. We were driving home after a trip to find a coffee table (successful) when we noticed that there was a dive shop on the road we were travelling along. Not only that, it was having a special sales events, so we stopped and popped in.

Oh boy, were we glad we did! Andark Scuba Diving and Watersports Specialists have a deceptively unpretentious premises, which, when viewed from the road, looks a little like a shed with blacked out windows. Little does one realise that this reaches, Tardis-like, backwards and incorporates a well stocked shop and a huge training pool and classroom area. We met the staff, both dive trainers and highly competent shop staff, and were very impressed with what we heard and saw.

We left armed with leaflets on the Andark Scuba Adventurers Club, their Sunday diving programme, the courses available in the pool, the latest Andark diver's newsletter and with a receipt for a 7mm full length ladies wet suit, which is now on order.

All of a sudden our horizons have been opened and we are full of excitement about the prospect of diving again. There are more courses available through PADI now and I have been browsing these on the Andark website. We are going to get our equipment serviced, book refresher courses for us both as it was August 2008 when we last dived, and then off we will go to see what the chilly waters in England have in store for us. More on this in future posts.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Penny Legg's Writing Buddies is launched!

Well, I have just launched the new blog site for Writing Buddies. So, if you fancy having a quick peek, please feel free to do so.

So far, content is small, but it will grow as the group gets off the ground. I will keep you posted!

The Natwest Everywoman In Transport and Logistics, Industry Trainer of the Year Award

I am very pleased to announce that Joe Thorp is the 2009 winner of The Natwest Everywoman in Transport and Logistics, Industry Trainer of the Year Award.

The event, compered by Ruby Wax, was an 'inspirational celebration of the many talented women working within the transport and logistics industry.' More than 300 guests attended.

My son, who is Joe's partner, has promised photos. I will post them as soon as possible.

In the meantime, congratulations, Joe.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Nik Morton

Nik Morton's latest short story is worth much attention. 'Spend It Now, Pay Later,' is a truly chilling tale that will not let you rest until you have finished reading it. Enjoy!

Well done, Nik!

Simon Whaley and Writing Buddies

Writer, tutor, photographer and friend, Simon Whaley, has been kind enough to advertise my new Writing Buddies group at Borders, to his students. To read what he has to say, click here.

So far, reaction to the initiative has been very positive. Five professional writers have said they will be at the first meeting, with several pledging to come later in the summer, including Simon himself. All good news!

If you are interested or want more information, please do contact me.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Writing Buddies

I am pleased to announce the formation of a new, informal writers' group, Writing Buddies, which will meet fortnightly at Borders Bookshop in Southampton, from Friday 22 May.

I had been toying with the idea of starting my own writers' circle as I did not seem able to find a circle in my area. However, readers of this blog will have read about my discovery of the Southampton Writers' Circle and so the need to start my own group has died away. However, I felt that there was something missing and with the formation of Writing Buddies, I hope to fill the gap I see in services for writers in Southampton.

I know that I am new to the area and there is bound to be someone out there in Readerland who will email me and tell me I have it wrong, there is an existing group offering the services I am about to offer and asking me who do I think I am, starting something similar? Well, I apologise but the fact is, as a newcomer to the area, I have not found them.

So what am I wittering on about? Writers' Circles offer their members a place to meet and try out their writing. Members read excerpts and friendly criticism is offered. Circles run competitions and invite guest speakers to talk about their latest books or share expertise. Writing Buddies is different. Writing Buddies is open to both professional and non-professional writers of all genres and both sexes. It is basically a group which meets for a cuppa and a chat upstairs in the large Borders store in the Southampton city centre. Anyone who has an interest in writing can come along, pick up a coffee and sit down to discuss any aspect of writing they wish to. So, we might talk about the latest developments in the fiction market, an editor's view of journalism, discuss how a plot can be pushed forward, talk about writing organisations and writing courses, the latest developments in book selling or anything else the group fancies. The emphasis will not be on reading out our own work but on the wider world of writing. Thus, Writing Buddies will not overlap with existing writing circles and will, I hope, complement them.

Writing Buddies will not put people in touch with agents or publishers. Writing Buddies will not critique work. Writing Buddies may though, pass on information about where to go for such services if they are necessary. It just depends on who joins the group that week and who knows whom.

The management of Borders has been very supportive. It seems that they have wanted to have such a group within their store for a while, but did not know where to start to find writers interested in coming along. My initiative has therefore been of interest.

Depending on how we fare, I would like to see guest speakers pop in to join the group, to bring new ideas and new possibilities to our merry band.

If you fancy coming along, the meetings are free and start at 2 p.m. If you would like more information, please do contact me.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Folklore of Hampshire by Penny Legg

My new book, Folklore of Hampshire, is now available here , at the Book Depository, for pre-order. This is a real spur to getting it finished! This company has already discounted it too. Amazing, eh?

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Tony Hays and the Southampton Writers Circle

Tony Hays, American journalist and novelist, presented the Dorothy Loughran Trophy to a 'delighted' Barbara Jackson (with Tony Hays, left, and Chairman, Tony Collins) at the Southampton Writers Circle (SWC). Barbara's winning entry, The Spiral, was an eery tale set in a hospital, which sent chills up the spines of her listeners, when she read the story aloud after the award presentation.

The runner up was Dianne Sparkes for A Narrow Escape, a story of a fishing boat caught in a storm.

Tony Hays, commenting on how difficult a competition it was to judge, pointed out that all the entries had never failed to hold the attention of their reader, each having 'a vision which is beyond story.'

Hays, who came over to the UK specifically for this event, took the opportunity to speak about his latest book, The Killing Way,which came out in this country on Friday 1st May. It is described as 'an Arthurian mystery' set in Dark Ages Britain. The sequel, The Divine Sacrifice,which entailed six months of research in the UK, is due for release in March 2010.

Amongst the crowd last night was Barbi Smith, whose autobiography, So now you know, is leading her to new and unexpected places, from book signings to interviews for the BBC.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

A Busy Week...Again!

Time does fly, doesn't it?

Last Tuesday I was delighted to chat to folk singer, Sarah Morgan, who met me to talk about Hampshire Folk Music for my forthcoming book, Folklore of Hampshire (to pre-order click Here). Sarah is one third of the folk trio, Craig; Morgan; Robson. These ladies, Moira Craig, Sarah Morgan and Carolyn Robson, have been wowing audiences with their unique renditions of Scottish, Hampshire and Northumbrian folk music since 2003 when they joined forces after very successful, and continuing, solo careers.

Sarah is very interested in the work of George Gardiner (1853 - 1910), who collected over a thousand folk songs in his travels in England and Europe. He was particularly interested in Hampshire, as little work had been done to preserve the folk songs in this county. He collected eighty songs from five ladies in Axford, near Andover. Some of these are now in the repertoire of the Axford Five, a folk group which Craig; Morgan; Robson has formed with fiddle and melodeon players, the Askew Sisters, Emily and Hazel. They will be playing at the Winchester MayFest on Friday 15th May.

Talking to Sarah made me realise just how much I do not know about the folk music of Hampshire. I will be doing further research on this subject for the book. In the meantime, it was a privilege to talk to Sarah and I thank her for sparing some time from her busy schedule to pass on her knowledge to me.

On Friday I was in Bournemouth, on the south coast of England, to attend the 21st birthday 'Pow-Wow' of Flair for Words. Run by the
talented and energetic duo, Janie and Cass Jackson, this turned out to be a far bigger affair than I had thought it would be. Members of the writing fraternity were out in force, with novelists and journalists rubbing shoulders with those aspiring to write for publication. There was a strong contingent of Society of Woman Writers and Journalists' members with Chairperson, short story writer, Jean Morris, heading the group. Peter Lovesey, Dagger Award winning crime
writer, (wearing dark shirt and striped tie, with Cass and Janie) was the guest speaker and he entertained the company with his observations of detective thriller writer, James Corbett, who kept audiences page turning in the 1930s and 40s. There was much networking going on, as there is at such events, and the lunch laid on by The Hermitage Hotel, right on the sea front, was excellent. Janie and Cass are to be congratulated on an excellent Pow-Wow and I wish Flair for Words a very happy 21st birthday.

The Southampton Writers Circle (SWC) is 61 years young and is to welcome American journalist and novelist, Tony Hays, to speak about his forthcoming new novel, The Killing Way, set in Dark Ages Britain, this evening, at theSWC's penultimate meeting of this season. Tony will judge the Dorothy Loughran Competition, for a short story up to 1,500 words, and will present the trophy to the winner.

I went along to the SWC's last meeting and met a group of intelligent, committed and interested published and aspiring writers. The SWC is the second longest established writing group in England and it says much for the enthusiasm of its members that it has kept going for six decades. I will be going along to the meeting this evening, armed with camera and dictaphone, and will be delighted to meet both Tony Hays and further members of the SWC. In the Autumn, when the new season starts, I will regularly report the events of this group.

If you are interested in joining the group, coming to hear Tony Hays this evening (the meeting will be at the Woodman Pub, Lordswood Road, Southampton, Hampshire at 7.45 pm) or have questions about the Southampton Writers Circle, please either contact me through this blog or the SWC secretary Barbara Jackson.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Overcoming a 'Probable' Problem!

I have been invited to speak at the Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire Regional Meeting of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists (SWWJ) on 14th May. I will be talking about using photography to illustrate articles, hopefully showing that it is not as difficult as it might, perhaps, appear.

I have been working on a Powerpoint presentation, to illustrate some of my points. This is where it has got a bit tricky.

Yes, I do know how to use Powerpoint. What I need though is to have a projector and screen to physically show the presentation to the group and I was assured that the meeting's hostess would 'probably be able to help.' Well, with the 'probably' firmly in mind, I have been making contingency plans just in case.

I have not been using an Apple Mac computer for long. I am completely hooked now and wonder how I ever managed without it, but I am still learning all its many capabilities. I have a one to one training session most weeks with an Apple trainer and so I had a chat to him about putting my presentation onto a DVD, to play through a DVD player onto the television. This was uncharted territory to me. Could it be done? I had no clue, but Steve, the helpful chap in the Southampton Apple store, certainly did. "Of course," he said, "although I usually work with Apple software, I am sure that the Microsoft Powerpoint software can be used with iDVD."

He was right. Now I know that after I finish putting together my presentation in Powerpoint, I can load it onto a DVD in the wonderful iDVD, which came with the Mac and has useful tutorials to help if I get stuck in the future, and it can then be played on a DVD player to watch on a standard TV. Good, eh?

Now all I need to do is finish the presentation!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

To finish the story...

... all is now well with the car. I say this with my fingers crossed behind my back, holding my breath and standing on one leg.

The moral of the tale is always to notice when you have interior lights on, no matter how small. If you don't, you can't go far!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Some things are sent to try us...

... and, oh boy, don't they just?

At the weekend a stone hit the car and chipped the windscreen. Yesterday I called the freecall number to the insurance windscreen glass repairer and made an appointment for the repair to be made at home this afternoon. All good so far.

After I had made the appointment I thought I would take the car out and nip to the post office, the library and run a few domestic errands. This is where the fun started. The steering wheel lock was well and truly on. What's more, it did not want to come off despite my best efforts. I couldn't get out of the drive, let alone go anywhere. I called the local Nissan dealer for advice. 'Try jiggling the key in the ignition and the steering wheel at the same time,' they said. I did so. It remained stubbornly locked. I looked through the handbook. There was no mention of the steering lock. According to Nissan the car hadn't got one. Sigh. I jiggled some more. No, it did not want to play.

I looked through the warranty book that came with the car when we bought it a few months ago. It mentioned the RAC so I looked for the number, secure in the knowledge that we had breakdown cover that came with the car. No number anywhere. I called the dealer thinking I just could not find the number. Guess what? It was an optional extra, not mentioned to us at the time, and we have not got it.

By now I am getting a little cross. I called the insurance company and arranged breakdown cover over the 'phone. 'This takes three days to set up,' the clerk helpfully told me. I fumed. I certainly could not wait for three days for the car to be released. I therefore sat inside and jiggled some more. Over an hour of jiggling and it suddenly released. HURRAH! With my blood pressure considerably raised, off I went on my chores.

This afternoon surfer and PADI Diver Craig turned up from National Windscreen Repairs. I watched,
fascinated, as he drilled and filled the chip. Soon it was good as new. It really is amazing that the windscreen is now stronger than it was before and the mark that the stone left is no more. Fantastic, and really good service from the repair company. Thanks Craig.

Then I tried to start the car. Dead. Craig was still filling out the paperwork and I had jump leads, so we thought that we would push the car out on to the road and connect his van to the Nissan. But, (yes, of course there is always a 'but' in a story like this) the car was too heavy to move. Luckily Michael across the road was just coming home. Soon he was pushing too but this time the car, an automatic, would not go into neutral so we could move it. ARRRRRRGH!

'I have a trickle charger. We could use that,' said Michael. While he went to get it, Craig left for his next job. Bless him, he did not have to help and I am really pleased that he did what he could. Thanks Craig.

Back to the charger. It did not want to work with the battery still on the car and I could not find a spanner to take the battery off. I felt very old. Michael once more came to the rescue by nipping home and coming back with a set of very useful looking tools. As I write the battery is now trickle charging. Fingers crossed it will start the car later on.

Have you ever felt that the odds were against you? That is how I feel these last few days. Yes, things are sent to try us and by golly, they do indeed! I'm just glad that we have good neighbours. My heartfelt thanks to Michael, who has saved the day.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Pirate's Ahoy!

My article, 'Pirates Ahoy!' in March's edition of All At Sea magazine can be read by downloading the magazine here.

This was such fun to research and write. The children were thoroughly enjoying themselves and only the older ones really realised just how much they were learning.

Anguilla is a small island but so many of the population do not go near the sea. Many cannot swim, which to me is amazing, considering that the main means of leaving the island is by ferry. My motto is 'Be Prepared' and that means making sure I have a fighting chance if I find myself in the water. The Anguilla Youth Sailing Club staff are trying to ensure that the island's children have that chance if necessary. The skills they teach will be useful throughout their lives.

As an aside, if you fancy reading other articles I have written for this magazine, click here.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Ships Monthly

April's edition of Ships Monthly carries my interview with the Master of RFA Wave Ruler, the charming Captain Duncan Lamb. My photographs look a little dark, reflecting the changing weather the day they were taken. It was half way through Hurricane Season and in the morning the sky was blue and the sun shone hot and hard. By the afternoon the ship was shrouded in darkening clouds and the sun was a memory.

Ships Monthly has a long pedigree and I am pleased to have written an article to grace its pages. My thanks to Captain Lamb. Happy reading!

You asked, so....

...here is the last on the kitchen saga.

As so many people have contacted me about the kitchen, wanting to know what it looked like in the end, here is the mostly-finished article. It needs to have the ceilings and walls painted and then it will be completely finished. Time is the one thing we have in short supply, so painting will have to wait until next weekend at the earliest. In the meantime, many thanks indeed for contacting me and asking about how it is going. It is nice to know that I have readers and also, that I have not bored you with the domestic life of Penny Legg and her family! As I say in my blog introduction, 'here you will find off-the-cuff articles about my travels, my family and my hobbies, as well as more formal writing pieces.'

Having a new kitchen installed has been a very interesting experience. I had not realised just how much there is to do. As well as Vince, the fitter, there was Ian, the plasterer, Simon, the electrician and the gas fitter, whose name escapes me for a moment. Then there were the two gentlemen who picked up and took away all the rubbish (a van full) and the chaps who delivered the various parts of the kitchen. For a week and a half there was hustle and bustle at the Legg household. Now we are sorting out our things and learning how to use the new appliances and such like. Great fun! How we ever managed without the new breakfast bar, I do not know!

Many thanks to fitter, Vince Roffey, for a job well done and to B&Q and their fitting company.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Latest News...

The April 2009 edition of Hampshire Life magazine is out now and my article, on holidaying at home, covers three pages and is illustrated with several of my photographs. I must say a big 'thank you' to the editor, Claire Pitcher, for making the article look so good.

Also this week, I have been asked to speak at the Hants, Wilts and Dorset Regional Meeting of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists (SWWJ) on 14th May. I will be speaking about word/photograph packages and how to go about putting them together for publication. I will, of course, be taking along a copy of Hampshire Life to illustrate my point!

Friday, 20 March 2009

Now for something completely different!

Ok, I expect you are fed up with the saga of my kitchen. I will move on.

This week has shown me that when you can't write because of circumstances (noise, no electricity, no internet, needing to project manage or shop for a project etc.) you need to be creative about what to do to usefully employ your time.

I have ventured into writing reviews for television programmes. This is new to me but I have found it very interesting, both in terms of actually deciding what to watch and review and in the actual writing of the review.

Daytime TV is a strange world. It was a learning experience just looking at what was on offer. It seems that you can watch a couple of films if you have the time and inclination; Channel 4 yesterday was offering the 1956, Sailor Beware! and Five, The Sign of Four, made in 2001. There was the news and a selection of talk and game shows, and, of course, soaps. I settled on ITV1 and a show called Dickinson's Real Deal.

I knew nothing of the programme, its host or what I was about to see. Venturing firmly into the unknown, armed only with a remote control, notepad and pen, I settled down to watch.

What fun! For those of you who have no idea what this is all about, in a nutshell it is a televised antiques market, hosted by antique dealer, David Dickinson. Keen punters with items to sell, come along and sell their items to the resident dealers or send their items for auction. Viewers can sit in on the haggling and it is hard not to join in from your armchair, particularly when it is quite obvious that the hapless seller is selling at too low a price. I suppose it is hard not to let money go to your head when £50 notes are being slapped down on the table in front of you. I could not help a smirk when, after listening to a dealer frankly telling a lady that he had no idea of the artist who had drawn the pictures she was offering, cut to the chase by asking, 'What sorta dough yer looking for?' We later heard that he could not sell the pictures he had bought for a song.

The programme is vulgar, brash and, I fear in a recession, completely addictive! I can't wait for the next edition.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Getting There...

Today has seen the kitchen take on character. It is now possible to get a really clear idea of how it will look when it is finished. The new lighting has gone up and most of the tiling is in place, if not grouted in. The utility room has been started and I had another shopping trip, this time for breakfast bar legs and stools. For the first time since Ikea opened in Southampton a month ago, I was able to walk in and come out with what I wanted. Great!

When Vince left to go home this evening, he left behind a very happy Penny.

Day Three - Not Without Incident!

Well loyal readers, here I am again with another instalment in the continuing saga of The New Kitchen.

Day Three dawned bright and sunny in Southampton, I did not cough as much as the day before and Vince turned up as early as usual. All good stuff.

Today the oven found a new home and so did the hob. It was fascinating to watch the holes being cut in the worktops for the various bits and pieces. As you can see, Vince has
some decent kit to get the job done. Sadly, the sink, which I had ordered specially, waited weeks for and was fondly looking forward to seeing installed, turned out to be flawed and split when the tap holes were being drilled. Sigh. A telephone call to the supplier has produced a promise to send another as soon as they can, we just hope it will be soon.

In the meantime, the worktops in the kitchen area have gone in and look good. It really is amazing how little things make the greatest difference. The contrast between the stark white units, chosen to bring lightness to a dark room, and the beech coloured counters is quite startling. Yes, we can still see the old blue walls in places, but soon, they will be gone again for ever!

The pile of rubbish is growing in the garden. This is a good sign. The more there is in the garden, the less there is in the garage!

OK, I will not bore you with any more details. Enough for now. Day Four is looming and this will bring the utility side of the room into the equation. Can't wait!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

My book is on Amazon now...

Amazon is now listing my forthcoming book, Folklore of Hampshire, for pre-order. If you fancy a good read and do not mind waiting a little while for it (I have to finish writing it), click here and pre-order it today.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The Kitchen - Day 2

After yesterday's excitement, what did today hold in store? Well, actually, more excitement!

My word for the week seems to be, 'Cor!' as Vince keeps amazing me with the speed with which he works. He has not stopped all day and we have a recognisable kitchen once more. Brilliant. The first cabinet took my attention, of course. As it took shape, I could at last see the future kitchen in my mind's eye.

Of course, nothing goes smoothly. We discovered last night that the twin carousel units we thought we had ordered were not, in fact, on the order. I have been out and about to try to get them today. Of course, they are "Special Order," as the helpful staff told me. I cannot get them just by walking into a store and asking for them. Mind you, I wondered how long "Special Order" was, so asked. Three days. Excellent. All being well, they will be here by Friday and Vince, who turned up clean shaven today (!), will still be here to fit them. Keep your fingers crossed, loyal reader.

Things have been delivered again today and the garage is bulging. It's a good thing we have a garage, or the house would have burst, what with the appliances, flat packed boxes and equipment lying about.

Ok all for now. Day Three tomorrow.

Flair for Words

I really must mention Flair for Words.

21 years old in April, this refreshingly different writer's organisation, based just down the road from Southampton, in Bournemouth, is run by husband and wife authors, Janie and Cass Jackson. They have many years writing experience between them. Janie is an ex-Fleet street reporter and novelist and Cass, a teacher who now writes on complementary therapies. Between them they have written 13 books, numerous magazine and newspaper articles and have many other writing credits.

Now they run Flair for Words for both those learning the trade and writers with more experience. I will be joining Janie and Cass for their 21st birthday celebration 'Pow-Wow' on the 24th April 2009, at the Hermitage Hotel, where I look forward to meeting many of the Flair members.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Today is ‘K’ Day!

'K' for Kitchen.

Yes, today is the day we had the old kitchen taken out. I must admit that I woke up this morning in a state of high excitement! We have waited for several months for it all to happen and today is the first day of a week of activity that will see the new kitchen rising, phoenix-like, from the ashes of the old.

Vince, our fitter, arrived ahead of
schedule. I had been up ages, busy taking the last bits and pieces out of the cupboards, but had not yet brushed my hair or put any makeup on. Added to that I have been nursing a hacking cough (again, I love the English climate...) for a couple of days and today I felt grotty with it. Vince, full of the joy of spring after a weekend off riding his Triumph Trophy 900, took Scruffy Penny in his stride and proceeded to rip the innards out of the kitchen in record time. He was more concerned with what his mum would
say about his designer stubble in my 'action' shots, than with my messy hair.

My husband, with the day off to make sure that all started well in good Project Manager style, met with both Vince and the electrician, who had popped in to see what he had to do tomorrow, made himself useful moving the double oven (to be ebayed later) to the garage and nipping to the DIY shop for odd bits.

As you can see from the shots taken as it was taken apart, the kitchen needed to come out. We found that the walls had been painted blue before the units were put in and there were several layers of old
wallpaper, in shades of dark brown, green and mustard, lovely.

Tune in tomorrow for another instalment of the Legg's new kitchen.

Friday, 6 March 2009

A busy week...

Crumbs, it really is ages since I last blogged! Apologies, patient readers.

Truth to tell, I have been a bit busy. What with deadlines (all on the same day) for a magazine article, an Open University assignment and the Ministry of Defence OK for an article about one of its ships, not to mention ongoing research for my book, editing the next edition of The Woman Writer and meeting my History Press commissioning editor at the BBC Who Do You Think You Are Show in Olympia, it has been a bit hectic lately.

Things have not let up either. Yesterday it was my privilege to join other Society of Women Writers and Journalists members at the South East Regional Meeting in Chichester. The lovely Joan Moules hosted and Iain Pattison, author, journalist and creative writing tutor, was the guest speaker.

Iain spoke about trends in the short story. We now know, amongst other pearls of wisdom, that in order to succeed we need to be a mass murderer, able to knock off, assassinate or otherwise kill off our hapless victims in ingenious ways, before the reader falls asleep reading, or even worse, turning the page! Entering a rejected story, originally written for a magazine, to a competition is like, 'sending your Maiden Aunt to a sex party.' Unthinkable. The hero must be a babe magnet and, ideally, there must be no more than three characters to the story. Phew! We already knew that short story writing is the most difficult genre to tackle, but now we know why.

Listening to Iain talk is fun, interactive and interesting. He speaks well and judges his audience to a nicety. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing him and I know that my sentiments were echoed about the room.

So, what is next for me? An Open University Creative Writing Day School at the University of Westminster tomorrow. That should be fun!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Arts for Arts Sake

The other day I was invited to join a networking website designed by a retired literary agent turned writer, Roger W Povey, based in Hastings in the south of England.  

To be honest, I did not have time to look at his site, Arts for Arts Sake, when the invitation came in.  I was up to my ears in work and would normally have hit the delete key without bothering to investigate, as I usually do with unsolicited emails.  However, it was precisely because I was so busy that the email stayed in my inbox as I missed it when I was housekeeping.  Today I have looked at the site in detail.

It was set up in October 2008, so it is a fledgling still.  However, to date it has 409 members from all over the world. Myself being its 409th.  Most members are artists working in every conceivably medium, from conventional oils to junk.  Their profiles make interesting reading and give an idea of the scope of what is called 'art' in this day and age.  As an art historian I find this fascinating.

There are not too many writers on the site and only one other that I could find, apart from the sites' founder, who lives in England.  It will be interesting to see if my joining brings others out of the woodwork.  It is always good to hear from fellow writers and I look forward to hearing from my peers.

If you are interested in looking at the site click here and to read my page, which is brand new as of minutes ago, click here.  Let me know what you think of each!  

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

The Lady

Imagine my surprise when, first, the post was delivered before noon this morning and then, I found that there was a copy of The Lady inside the single envelope delivered!

Not only that, but on page 48 (yes, I know, a fair way into the magazine) there was my article on Eling Tide Mill, just outside Southampton, which I mentioned on this blog a little while ago. 

To say that this was unexpected is not quite true as I heard a little while ago that the article had been accepted but I did not know when it would be published.  Today is the day!

So, if you are going past a newsagent today, you might like to look in and pick up a copy of The Lady.  It really is a good read!

Monday, 9 February 2009

Penny everywhere!

Crumbs!  Hot on the heels of my name mentioned by Chris, at the Torrevieja Writers Circle, I find that I pop up on another blog!  This time it is Rob Innis' excellent read, which you can look at here.

Yes, he and I are interested in collaborating on a book together.  Fingers crossed it will work out. Watch this space!

Going Online

Further to my visit to the Torrevieja Writer's Circle, one of the group, Chris, has now set up a blogsite.  You can visit it here.

I advised the group that, in this day and age, it is professional to have an online presence.  The message seems to have gone home and I am really pleased to see Chris on the web now.  She has also kindly mentioned me, which is an added bonus!  Enjoy.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Torrevieja Writers Circle

I was made to feel very welcome at the Torrevieja Writers Circle (TWC), just outside Alicante, yesterday.

Novelist Nik Morton heads the group of local expat writers, who had come to read their latest works, chat about markets and local trends and generally talk writing. It was good to see so many enthusiastic writers and to hear a range of work read out for comments.

Freda Lightfoot, novelist and author, made the long trip from Almeria to attend and was an interesting writer to talk to. The author of over thirty sagas of life in the north of England and several other works, she was able to offer experienced advice to the TWC members.

I talked, as asked, on my life and my work for the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. It is hard to pack several decades into half an hour and so I concentrated my talk on the value of building up and utilising life experience when writing. To illustrate this point I picked out such of my interests that have been particularly invaluable to me, for example, directing amateur dramatics, fund raising for local charities and the strange chance things that can happen when you least expect it, such as meeting an elephant in Starbucks. I illustrated some of these points by circulating articles in magazines which I have recently had published.

I then spoke on the Society of Women Writers and Journalists (SWWJ) and the services this 115 year old professional organisation can offer to writers of all genres and both sexes, whether published or working towards publication. I am the new editor of The Woman Writer, the SWWJs magazine, which builds on my experience of editing ACOCI Connection in the British West Indies and other magazines in the past, most notably for the British Women´s Association in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

A short question and answer session finished the talk.

Nik Morton has written on the session for the TWC blogsite, which can be read here.

I would like to thank the Torrevieja Writers Circle for inviting me to their meeting.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Off to Spain - hopefully....

Well, today is the day I am off to Spain to speak at the Torrevieja Writers Circle.  

Or, at least, I am supposed to be.  The Legg household has awoken to find that the world is a winter wonderland with snow picturesquely covering everything.  Beautiful, but, oh dear!  Travel disruption is widespread.  Will we manage to get to the airport?  I hope so.  We are flying from Bournemouth, which, according to the airport website, is still open, unlike Southampton, Gatwick, Luton and several others.  Let us hope the roads are passable to allow us to actually get to the airport...

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Well, this is unexpected!

My first edition of The Woman Writer, the magazine of the Society of Woman Writers and Journalists (SWWJ), has hit the stands and has been very well received indeed.  I have been the recipient of calls and emails to congratulate me on the magazine and there have been a great many complimentary words said about my first effort.  

This is unexpected!  I just do my job.  I hope people like what I write, edit or photograph but I am always surprised when I hear that there are people out there in readerland who appreciate what I do.  So often there is no feedback to work and writers just hope they have it right, carrying on regardless.  It is therefore great to hear that not only is your work read but appreciated too.  

Sylvia Kent, the SWWJ's wonderful public relations member, as well as prolific author, freelance writer, journalist and photographer, has kindly blogged about me and my first edition of The Woman Writer.  To read what she has to say click here.  Thanks Sylvia!