St Andrew’s Day; or, The End of NaNoWriMo!

Happy St Andrew’s Day, all you Scots. (And all the others for whom St Andrew is the patron saint.)

I was considering using that fact that the NaNoWriMo administration is using a time-zone eight hours behind me (I think it’s East Pacific Time, but don’t quote me on that!) as an excuse to have an extra eight hours of writing time, but fortunately, that’s not needed!

Excuse me while I dance a tired jig of happiness that I hit the 50K barrier on my novel. I don’t now plan to look at it until after Christmas.

I admit, I failed with the blogging challenge. But I feel more encouraged about blogging, and finding new and different topics to blog about. So I shall endeavour to continue with greater frequency.

But now. To St Andrew.

Apparently, according to some sources, the celebration of him as a national saint in Scotland began during the eleventh century, during the reign of Malcolm III.

And, quite honestly, I find this bit of Scottish history more interesting. Because this Malcolm is the son of the Duncan murdered by Macbeth. Yup, him of Shakespeare’s play. And, OK, obviously Shakespeare used a bit of artistic licence in reworking the story into a drama, but it’s still all good fun. 

Also, Malcolm’s second wife, Margaret of Wessex (granddaughter of Edmund Ironside, King of England for not very long in 1016, son of Aethelraed the Unready) is Scotland’s only royal saint. So, actually, it strikes me as a little strange that Andrew, and not Margaret, is the Scottish patron saint. Mind you, England has several saints of her own who aren’t the patron saint.

Also, as an aside, today, 30th November 1016, is also the death-day of Edmund Ironside, approximately six weeks after his defeat by Knut the Great of Denmark at Assandun on the 18th October 1016, and their subsequent agreement to split England. Apparently Knut was really impressed by Edmund’s fighting abilities. The North went to Knut, and Wessex went to Edmund. After Edmund’s death, Knut became King of England. (Knut then married Edmund’s stepmother, Emma of Normandy, Queen of England.)

But there. The end of trying to kill myself through lack of sleep.

To all those NaNoWriMo-ers still going, Good luck! You’re nearly there!

To those who didn’t reach 50K words, Better luck next year. You did well, anyway.

Writer’s Block; or, How to Keep Going!

It’s that bit of any writing. The Last Little Bit. I have about 10,000 words left to write. Comparatively speaking, I suppose it’s the conclusion of an essay. Plus a little bit of bolstering the arguments made earlier on.


No reason; I just quite like this photo. I like bees.

But it’s still not nearly as easy to write as the beginning 10,000 words. See, that’s what I’m good at. I can begin a story, but it’s the keeping going that I have problems with, and having a satisfactory ending. Even if I know exactly how I want it to end. It’s the expression on paper (or computer) of it that I have problems with. So I have lots of story-beginnings, and lots of story-plans. But not so many complete stories.

But it’s the last few days of the challenge. I’ve made it this far, I can press onwards. Especially as I’ll have no time to do so in December. The looming deadline. The focused mind. No distractions.


So. To break the Writer’s Block. The answer to this comes from Katie.

Instructions, should you find yourself with Writer’s Block:

Find one equally large block of chocolate and hit the Writer’s Block with it until it breaks into lots of tiny pieces. While it is thus distracted, sneak around behind it.

Mwa-ha! You have defeated the Writer’s Block! Have a cup of tea and eat the chocolate.

Stir-Up Sunday

So the countdown to Christmas begins.


Traditionally, today, the last Sunday before Advent, is the day when all the Christmas baking is done. So that’s the cake, the pudding and the pies. With home-made mincemeat, of course, which you prepared back in the Autumn when the apples fell.


I haven’t actually made my cake yet. I haven’t had time. I’m going to use a cheat’s recipe at some point in the next month (in my *ahem* copious free time…). I’ll share it when I make it…

Normally, I’ll have made it by now, and I’ll feed it brandy every week. Not that I make traditional Christmas cakes. Mark isn’t a fan of raisins (or any dried grapes), so I substitute them for various other fruits, like cranberries and blueberries. Makes it a slightly lighter sort of cake.

How early do you do your Christmas baking?

In Being Sensible

As predicted, this was the week (that was) that I sacrificed sleep to write. I still haven’t quite caught up to schedule, but I’m now not quite as far behind as I was. I’m also quite tired, having had quite a busy week at work as well.

However. To break from my fictional world, and return to the NaBloProMo challenge which has been suffering a little in my sleep-deprived dash to catch up with my words, here is a photo I took years ago, with my first digital camera.


I was still in the testing stage and playing with all the settings. Because, of course, the first thing which anyone does when a hornet flies into their room is to get the camera out and stick the lens in the face of a vicious, stinging insect.

Well, we all know quite how sane, sensible and normal I am.

But mostly, I would like to give thanks for the awesome radio station that is ClassicFM, for helping me tackle my mountain of a word back-log today. To all the other NaNoWriMo-ers out there, with access to it, stick it on!



The Hunt for The One

There’s this idea for brides that you will find, probably after an exhaustive hunt, a dress. This dress will be unlike any other. You will look and feel a bride in it. It will make you look stunning, the most beautiful that you will ever look.

It will also cost a fortune and you will likely have ordered it in a smaller size in the belief that you will lose weight for your wedding.

It will be the star of the wedding, the one thing which people will ask about.


I began my hunt with the lovely ladies at Fur Coat No Knickers, in Central London. You see, I know I want a shorter dress (there’s no way I’m having a train!), with a full skirt of lots of lovely fabric and swish, and a one-off vintage dress would be brilliant. Oh, and not too expensive. I think it’s ridiculous to spend vast sums on a dress for one day, so it’ll either be cheap, or easily dyed.

So that’s my checklist.


I wriggle in and out of dresses for a while. I swish and flick the skirts. My sister and I decide that I need lace and sleeves. My sister reckons that I need a long veil. The veil makes it bridal, she thinks. She becomes quite excited about it all.

We decide that it needs to be full to the ground or at least to mid-calf. Anything between seems just a bit odd on my admittedly short frame. I’m 5’3”.


While we don’t find ‘The One’, I get some good ideas as to what I’d like. Lace, sleeves, mid-calf length. And white. I’ve never been sure if it suits but apparently it does. I don’t decide on the length of veil though. That I’ll do once I’ve found my dress!

(And, no, none of these dresses are in the running, in case my partner reads this!)

King Haakon VII of Norway

On this day in 1905, the dissolution of the personal union between Sweden and Norway, in effect for just under 90 years, came to an end.

Prince Carl of Denmark (full name Christian Frederik Carl Georg Valdemar Axel) of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg became more simply known as King Haakon VII of Norway. He was married to Maud of Wales, the daughter of Queen Victoria’s son and heir, the future Edward the Peacemaker.

An early piece of Scandinavian film footage is a short clip of the newly elected King Haakon and his family disembarking from the ship, Heimdal, at Kristiania (Oslo, as was) for the first time. Haakon and Maud were crowned the following year at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim.

King Haakon VII reigned for 52 years until his death in September 1957, having guided Norway through two World Wars. Indeed, he threatened to abdicate if his government wished to co-operate with the invading Nazis during World War Two. Such was the respect for him, he did not have to carry out this threat, being credited with doing much to preserve the Norwegian sense of unity and leadership.

He was the first king of an independent Norway in over five centuries, Norway having joined the Kalmar Union in 1397 under Margaret of Denmark, also Queen of Norway and Sweden because she married Haakon VI of Norway, also King of Sweden, although Swedish history becomes complicated at this time and he faced a lot of rebellions and being deposed. Although the Kalmar Union was dissolved when Gustav Vasa became King of Sweden in 1523, Norway remained joined with Denmark until 1814. Fighting in the Baltic towards the end of the Napoleonic wars (during which Denmark-Norway had been compelled to join France, and the two nations had been separated, forcing Norway to establish her own variety of government), led to the break-up of established unions. That of Denmark-Norway and Sweden-Finland.

Norway was joined to Sweden, although it was effectively granted home rule for many matters; and Finland was subsumed into Russia.

Less than a century later, Norway was in a position to elect her own King and finally to be free of ‘foreign’ governance. And she seems to have chosen well in the Danish-born great-nephew of the Swedish king.

So, to King Haakon VII!


I think it was Douglas Adams who said that he rather liked deadlines. They make a nice whooshing noise as they rush by, uncaught.

I quite like them too, but for a different reason. They give me something to aim for, something to aspire to (at least they do now, when I’m not penalised for missing them!). When I wrote essays for university, deadlines had a wonderful way of focusing the mind.

Now, deadlines are more flexible. Sort of. At the moment, my deadline is the end of the month. So I have targets for each week. And they really are more flexible. I envisage a mad panic in the last week of this month, when I realise that I’m still some way off the word count and I must finish my work. When I will decide that my much-beloved sleep must be forgone in order to complete it. We will have separation issues, my bed and I, that week.

But deadlines are useful. Without them, probably little would be completed. Creativity is not that rigid. It takes discipline, persistence and mental fortitude. And becomes even trickier when Life must go on around you, distracting you from your creative work.

I am currently several thousand words behind schedule. I have missed a few blog-posts this week. I hope to catch up by next weekend. With any luck, since now that Christmas is within sight, my place of work (a card shop) has become much busier, and my presence there in greater demand. It might be this week in which I forgo my sleep…