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!