The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

I’ll be honest. I picked up Natasha Pulley’s Watchmaker of Filigree Street because of the gold etchings on the cover and the green edges to the pages. I suspect it counts as Steam Punk, which isn’t really a genre I’ve really read before.

In 1883, with Whitehall on high alert because of a bomb threat from Irish republicans, Nathaniel Steepleton, the Home Office telegraphist who picked up the threat, is mysteriously left an expensive gold watch. It doesn’t appear to work, but he carries it around anyway. And then it saves his life from the blast which destroys Scotland Yard, and he goes in search of its maker.

I really enjoyed The Watchmaker. There is a lovely cast of characters – my favourite probably being the clockwork octopus Katsu – and the plot is detailed and beautifully woven together.

It ran like clockwork…

Colour by Stitching

When I was revising for my A levels, I completed an entire colouring pad. It was one of those My First Colouring books, with large pictures of flowers, cats, scarecrows, etc. I’m not sure how much it helped, revision-wise, but I was happy and remained stress-free, so it was good for something.

I colour in less these days. I calm my troubled mind with cross stitch and crochet, but I like the pictures you can get these days for colouring in. I’d like to have a go at embroidery colouring. I like the thought of having an image picked out with big black lines and just cross stitching it in whichever colour I fancy. Like colouring in.

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I couldn’t resist this bag when I came across it in Hobbycraft, supposedly for fabric painting. Some of it might have to be stitched in something other than cross stitch, but I’ve been meaning to learn other embroidery stitches for a while, and this seems as good a project as any to practise with. Of course, I have had this bag for a while, and not yet made a start on it, but the intention is there. It has been since I first found it. I need to unpick the seams first – I’ve tried stitching on an already made up bag before: complete nightmare, I can tell you!

Stand-By Chocolate: When the Going Gets Tough

When the going gets tough, the tough hide under the table, so says Blackadder at some point in series 3, I think it is.

I like good chocolate. I generally like expensive chocolate. Good quality, lovingly made, delicious chocolate.

Sometimes, though (and women the world over will probably agree on when those times might be), times are too tough for the good stuff. Expensive chocolate needs good times and happy moments to be enjoyed properly. Sometimes, the tough times happen too frequently to afford the expensive stuff.

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And in those times, it helps to have an affordable alternative. My preferred alternative is a good fruit and nut. Preferably with hazelnuts as the nut. Almonds just aren’t the same. And peanuts are vile.

What’s your stand-by chocolate?

Going Postal

I like snail mail. I like opening envelopes to find out what’s inside. Even the post at work. I’m nosy like that.

I watched Going Postal several years ago – I think it was a TV movie, possibly by ITV, like the adaptation of The Hogfather. I’ve been trying to work my way through Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series ever since. Slowly, though. As I find them in charity shops or the library. And find the moment to read them.

This week, finally, I found the time to read Going Postal, which concerns a con-man’s attempts to resurrect the state mail service in Ankh-Morpork alongside the much faster, almost mafia-controlled clacks (think telegrams).

Come hell or high water, the mail must get through. And there’s a lot of hell for Moist von Lipwig, the new Postmaster. It wasn’t his first choice of career, but Lord Vetinari made it clear: Postmaster (with a golem for a probation officer), or be hanged for his various con-man crimes.

I remember greatly enjoying the film back then, and now I greatly enjoyed the book. It is, I feel, one of the better Discworld novels of the half dozen or so which I’ve read.

Camping and Carrot Cake

For the last few weeks, I’ve been feeling good about the fact that I’ve actually managed to plan, write, and schedule the week’s posts in advance. Productive, on top of things, organised, all sorts of other good and virtuous words I don’t normally apply to myself.

And then something went wrong this week. I mean, I still managed to plan, write, and schedule them, but...

But, my Friday post, about Marshmallows and chocolate tasting somehow, I still don’t know how, managed to be scheduled for last Friday. For two days before I wrote it. My writing day is Sunday, you see. I’m still surprised I didn’t get a pop-up box going “Really? You want to schedule this for THE PAST?! Have you a time-machine or something?”

However, such happened, and I managed to be so silly, and so, instead, I’m going on my camping trip with carrot cake, because I’ve already eaten the marshmallows. A carrot and mango cake, derived from the wonderful Delia’s Cake book.

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Camp NaNo, July 107

I made a decision a few weeks ago that the only way I am going to get to do what I want in life, as opposed to a series of pay-the-bills jobs, is by creating the job I want to do. To take control, in effect.

This might sound simple, and a bit of a Duh! thing to say, but taking control is not something I do. I am not a leader; I can only just decide what I want to eat from a menu, usually when the waiter appears to take the order because everyone else at the table has already decided. At that point I just pick something.

You may have noticed some small changes around my Cocoary. This is a part of my Taking Control.

I have found, though, since making this decision, that I am generally happier in the life and job (which I dislike) which I am currently living and doing. I have also found that something has clicked and I have more energy and enthusiasm to pursue my dreams. This is the most important change, I think. Never underestimate the power of having energy and a clear head. The job I dislike no longer gets me down like it did. My brain, which previously wasted a lot of energy thinking and dreaming of ways out, is free, now, to concentrate on the Way Out.

And so, to Camp NaNo July 2017.

I believe I have an account, but you won’t find me in the campsite. I’m not a people-person, sorry. Bit too busy for me.

Anyway, my plans for the camp which begins in the next few days are reasonably simple.

I have two story ideas currently competing for attention; they have been for the last few years. One is the story which I wrote for the first NaNoWriMo I completed in 2013, and still haven’t rewritten or polished to *er-hum* someone’s exacting standards, and the other is one which has been expanding, slowly, since the first scene wrote itself in my head on the way home from work while it was supposed to be working on the first story. Ideas are like that. However, both are at the point where they could, conceivably, be written (or rewritten in the case of the former) probably without too much difficulty.

In the spirit of taking control, though, and with the experience of writing without a plan something of a painful memory, my Camp NaNo goal is thus:

To write a plan, a synopsis, a detailed description, of both stories.