A bit of a knit.

Sometimes it can feel like life is passing you by here in Nunthorpe. It’s a typical suburb where not much happens. It seems like people get up, they go to work (somewhere else) they go to socialise (somewhere else) and they come home and go to sleep. Most of the time, it feels very far removed from the places where real things happen. Sometimes this is good. I’m not in a hurry to be at the heart of an inner-city riot or a far-right protest march, but sometimes it can make you feel a bit left out of things when all the good things that bring us together as a nation and a community happen a long, long way from Nunthorpe. image2 (1)

 

Then the knitting started to appear! A few years ago the station was yarn bombed for the first time – I’m afraid I can’t remember what the event was, possibly the 2012 Olympics? but since then the secret knitters have gone from strength to strength (and given the amount of media coverage they’ve had, they’re no longer quite so secret!). We’ve had seasonal displays – Christmas, Easter, Valentines day  and particularly Remembrance Day when knitted poppies appeared all over the village, not just at the station.

And it’s not just seasonal events that get a mention. Yesterday when I walked up to the shops, I found a row of these attached to the station fence:

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And today, the seasonal summer sheep display had gained a new addition:

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I know that the knitters’ aim to bring people together and improve that sense of community: “Some of our knitters were battling loneliness, depression, isolation or just getting over a really tough time in their lives. Our welcoming groups where the natter is just as important as the knitting has, in their own words, ‘saved them’.” (Nunthorpe and Marton Knitters Facebook Page).

But it does more than that. It gives everyone who passes the station and smiles a feeling that somehow in our own way we are all part of something bigger.

In fact, at the recent Royal Wedding, it did more than that. The knitted display brought in media crews from all round the region – and beyond – to feature the knitted balcony scene that the knitters created. It even made an appearance on the main coverage, as the knitters raced to complete a replica of Meghan’s dress. royal wedding knitting

So I’d like to commend the Nunthorpe and Marton Knitters – a fine example of how even a small and far away place like this can become a bit more tightly knit!

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GDPR compliance

I don’t wish to store any data of people who look at my blog. I have therefore turned off comments so that from now on my blog will not be collecting any contact information this way. That’s step one. I do not currently use any plugins, I do not have a newsletter to sign up for which would store personal details, I’m trying to delete my contact form or add a checkbox. I shall be writing a policy on data compliance as soon as I can find one I understand to copy and implement. I’m tempted just to turn the whole thing off. I’d rather be writing.

 

 

Happily Ever After – what a trip to Disney World did to my creativity.

I had an unusual experience at the beginning of the year. Usually I find my main inspiration for writing is the places that I visit, but for the first time, I found myself totally demotivated by having the best holiday ever!

We went to Disney World in Florida at Christmas, and it was the most fantastic holiday. We ate some wonderful food, we went on some thrilling and spectacular rides, we were awed by the amazing customer service, the ambience and the design of everything we saw. Everything was done for us, it was so easy it was positively magical. Like living in a fairy tale. Really! And I’m one of the world’s biggest sceptics! We came back with a mountain of photographs and memories, and I came back totally demotivated. Nothing in reality could compare with the magical escapism of Disney World, it was like holidaying in the legendary “happily ever after”.

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I’d like to say that I came back buzzing with ideas for new writing, but in fact the opposite was true. Everything had been too perfect, too fairytale, too pretty. Because  stories and life need a little imperfection to be interesting. Even in Disney films, the prince and the princess might meet and instantly fall in love, but something needs to get in the way of that perfect love to make it a worthwhile story. If there isn’t a wicked stepmother, or a curse or a poisoned apple there isn’t a story to tell. It’s the conflict that provides the story. And that’s what happened with Disney World; the happily ever after isn’t an interesting part of the story.

So it’s back to British reality. Cold, miserable weather, home-cooked food that at least one child will refuse to eat, laundry and cleaning and definitely no fireworks at the end of each day. But, as I keep trying to tell myself, at least there are story possibilities round every corner.

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(Photos all taken by myself or my husband. No Disney material was used in the production of this blog post.)

Nothing to report

It’s all been a bit quiet. That’s the problem with writing a winter themed book, once winter is over, there isn’t much call for books about winter. And spring is definitely here now. I even saw a daffodil in the garden today!

So, what have I been up to? Well, lots of research and writing of book number two, currently with the working title of “The manor on the moors” which I am now editing frantically. It features a crumbling stately home, a family in decline and a nervous PhD student with a thing for a long-dead artist – “the bad boy of the arts and crafts movement”.

Starting soon, I’m going to be blogging a bit more about places that inspire me. Places are usually the starting points for any story, even before the people who inhabit them. I find a place and think “what kind of person might live here”? and that’s where my stories begin.

 

I’m going to start with considering the inspiration provided by a recent trip to Walt Disney World, Florida although I will not be using that directly in any of my novels – I suspect the mouse would sue me. it was, however, like walking into a storybook for real! And if you’re wondering about the giant cinammon loaf I’m eating in the photograph – yes, that was at Disney World and no, I didn’t manage to finish it …

Marian’s mulled wine

What would Christmas be without a glass or two of mulled wine? Well, considerably more sober, as Cass finds out after a night at the Ship Inn, where Marian’s mulled wine has a secret ingredient – that she has kindly allowed me to share with you!

[Anna and Cass] were making their way beneath the criss-crossing strings of lights, across the quay and up the steps to the pub. Inside the fire roared in the hearth, the smell of mulled wine spices was heavy in the air, and every possible item in the bar was bedecked with holly, ivy and tinsel, standing out in bold colour against the dark wooden panels of the walls.

Cass found herself a safe corner where she could watch what was going on as she drank some of Marian’s home-made mulled wine.  It was good to be there watching, in amongst the life of her parish, while Anna came and went, catching up with some of her old friends, animated and luminous in dark green velvet.

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Christmas dinner for the vicar

It’s no secret that vicars are busy on Christmas Day, and as Cass is single and has four churches to look after she’s busier than most – and she has no-one to roast a turkey for her in the gap between services. Unlike the Vicar of Dibley she hasn’t had invitations to Christmas dinner with several different parishioners, and as she’s neither (as you may have noticed) an enthusiastic nor a competent cook, what does she have for her Christmas dinner?

Macaroni cheese for one!