Saturday, 3 April 2010

I am considering getting a sort of dictaphone arrangement. So that I can cook and write at the same time. Retreats for you is getting busier - with the result that I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, rustling up culinary delights for our lovely guests. I adore cooking - I find it soothing and fulfilling, and of course I love the warm appreciation that comes from the recipients of home made fish cakes, warm banana bread, sticky toffee pudding and the like. But sometimes, on days when editors are snapping at my heels, and there are rooms to change and guests to look after, I wish that I could accomplish more than one task at a time. And indeed, I quite fancy the idea of twirling around the kitchen, stirring and chopping with gusto, all the while speaking words of quality into a headset comfortably in place.
I imagine that after my first foray into this kind of multitasking, it would come very naturally, and indeed, in the same way that Barbara Cartland dictated her best sellers while reclining on a pink velvet couch, I feel some of my best writing could be done in this way. After all what more natural environment for writing from the heart, than from the heart of the house - the kitchen.
Writing and cooking - my two favourite occupations. How gloriously satisfying to imagine that both could be done simultaneously - smoothly, effortlessly and in perfect tandem.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Oh so ashamed -that, among the many distractions and duties of daily life, my blog has become sadly neglected. It had foundered by the wayside, cast aside and neglected like a mouldering pile of decaying leaves as the richness of autumn slides into the bleakness of winter.
But shame, like guilt is a deeply negative and draining emotion, which serves no good purpose except to sap the individual of energy, sparkle and zest.
No dwelling then, on the misdemeanors of the past. Only gladness that my noble and trusty 12 followers have not seen fit to desert me. Thank heavens - because, lets face it, I need all the followers I can get.
Be all that as it may, what I really want to blog about at the moment is spring. At the risk of sounding deeply twee, it's here. Ok, the mornings are still chill and frosty, and the white stuff is on car windscreens, but it is light at 6.30. And I cannot tell you how that propels me out of bed - and into my running shoes. The Devon countryside is sheer breathtaking beauty in the quiet and still of the morning, lit up by the blaze of the early morning sun, cresting the hills and bathing the fields. Like so many simple things, an early morning run at this time of year, in this kind of weather, is just the best. Full of light and life and hope.
Which of course, is what we all need - at any time of year.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Bringing my house to life again

Thank goodness my house is alive again. Not that it was really dead - just in a kind of semi coma for a few days.
During the week before Christmas, none of my adult children were in residence,and Retreats for you had no guests. Bob and I were madly busy making and wrapping presents, and we both had bits of work to finish up before the holiday season - but those activities took up only a fraction of this rambling old house. I took my laptop into the kitchen and worked by the Rayburn, and in the evenings, Bob and I ate in the kitchen - and spent the evening there too. We were warm in there, and there seemed little point in heating the rest of the house.
Occasionally, as I whizzed through the gloomy sitting room and the deserted dining room, I felt a chill that had nothing to do with the temperature. And as I whisked into the tv room one evening in search of a spare lightbulb, I felt a strange pull as I closed the door behind me. Almost as if it were pleading with me not to go. Big old houses don't like being empty, I thought. They need people, and warmth and life.
Three days before Christmas, two of the children arrived. One for a brief visit and one for the Christmas break. The walls of the house seemed to curve slightly, as the central heating cranked into gear and lamps flickered alight. Bob stacked logs into the huge fireplace, and the soft glow of the flames bathed the room in gold. Delicious cooking smells wafted gently from the kitchen, and noise and laughter echoed around the walls. Warmth and companionship filled the house again, and I could feel it start to relax around me.
Christmas came and went, as did the children - only to be replaced by guests. Retreats for you is buzzing again. And the house loves it.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Making Christmas great

Everyone's in the same boat, I'm told. Nobody, but nobody has any money this year. To clarify, we are all skint. So all the people milling in and out of shops in various high streets across the land must be spending money they haven't got then. Far be it from me to pontificate on other people's finances, but I decided that to make things easier for us this year, I would impose a ban on myself - from visiting any kind of shopping area. This is actually easier than it sounds, since the only shop within several miles is of the village store variety. A great little place but mostly stocked with food items, so unlikely to tempt me when it comes to presents.
Accordingly, we have taken a brisk trip down the home made present road, and the result, I have to say, has been deeply satisfying. Home made wine, jam and biscuits, all gussied up with pretty labels, ribbons and boxes, each a tasty reminder that lovely presents don't have to cost loads, or require an exhausting process of battling hordes of tired stressed fellow shoppers.
The tree is up, the presents and home made cards wrapped and delivered, and yes we are ready for Christmas. And while I'm on the subject of being ready for Christmas, I reckon I'm also ready for the aftermath of this one day. Which of course is the rest of the year, and the nice shiny new one waiting for us. It's going to be great.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Aren't we all put on this earth to look after each other? Isn't that the way it's supposed to work? It seems sensible to me - and it also seems to me that the world is divided - into those who do and those who don't.
We hear terrible stories on the news of someone being beaten senseless in full view of a crowd of people. Or a girl being dragged by her partner screaming through a crowded precinct, while shoppers stand and stare. But last time we witnessed a clearly violent man bullying his partner outside a pub, my own partner was only prevented from stepping in by the fact that three other people had got there first. One of them a woman. And when I saw a young girl go into an epileptic fit in the street, she and her carers were immediately surrounded by offers of help, phones and blankets.
There are those who instinctively help and protect their fellow man in this world and those who don't. But I prefer to think there are more of the former.

Monday, 16 November 2009

It's so easy to be sucked into that 'what do you expect at my age?' nonsense. The assumptions by condescending medical staff that if you're over 45 you must be on some kind of medication. The temptation to blame any kind of ache and pain on your advancing age, and worst of all the insiduous and extremely creepy sensation that you are slightly less important than someone twenty years younger.
However, you may or may not be glad to know that I have resisted all this, and am very happy to say bollocks to it all. Personally I intend to remain fit healthy active and presentable until I am ready to turn up my toes - which I shall do with grace and style. And looking around me at people two decades younger, I'd rather, dare I say it, look and feel like me at my age, than them at theirs.
Age rage? Too right.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Scamming the scammer

If the working day drags a bit, why not take a leaf out of my book, and, instead of cursing the scammers, have a bit of fun with them. Sadly, this one didn't go as far as I would have liked - I planned a lot more correspondence with this would be Russian agent. But as you see, our cosy chat came to an abrupt end. I haven't given up though - I'll be emailing him on a daily basis from now on....

----- Original Message -----
From: "TOM WEST"
Sent: Thursday, November 05, 2009 9:17 AM

How are you today?
I want to make a reservation in your facility for 2 couples from
on there forth-coming honeymoon.
Date :20th to 30th January, 2010.
There are 2 couples.
1. Kindly get back to me with your total cost for 2
couples for the duration of 10 nights stay.
2. So that i can send you my credit card for immediate
Arrival Date: January 20th
Departure Date: January 30th
Number Of People: 4
Number Of Room :2
Kindest Regards

On 11/5/09, Deborah Dooley wrote:

Hello Tom, how nice to hear from you. Yes, those dates are fine. Our
are £500 per person, per night (to include champagne in the rooms), and
would ask you for a deposit of 20%. If this is acceptable, please send
your credit card details and I will make the booking.
all best
The proprieter

----- Original Message -----
From: "TOM WEST"
To: "Deborah Dooley"
Sent: Friday, November 06, 2009 4:23 AM
Subject: UPDATE
Good day,
Thanks for your reply. I am glad to tell you that cost and conditions
of your offer are acceptable by My Friends and such, they are willing
to make a deposit payment immediately. Due to there acceptance of your
offer, I have concluded payment with them also.
I have been instructed to pay you for your services and provision of a
language translator whom would be able to translate every word to them
because they are Russians and do not speak your local language.I have
arranged this with a linguist who is willing to undertake these
responsibilities on their behalf. He would be with them throughout
their stay with you.I will send you my credit card details once I
receive your confirmation email so that you would charge as
agreed/authorized by my Friends.

However upon the receipt of my credit card, confirm you will charge as
follows:Take 50% for the cost of your services plus 7500euros for the
Translator who will also take care of their travel logistics like
insurance,ticketing etc.Then, deduct your deposit and send the balance
of 7500euros to the Translator.I really need you to make the charges
for the Translator as she does not have a POS machines to process her
charge and such all money for the tour has been credited to a credit
card.So kindly Confirm this and provide me with the following

Your Company full name/address
Name of the Manager/Owner
Telephone and fax numbers
Looking forward to your reply.

On 11/6/09, Deborah Dooley wrote:

Dear Tom, that's all fine, but how can I send the money to the
In cash, or by cheque?
And will he or she need a room here too?
all best
The proprietor


Thanks for the email please confirm below the translator also will
need a room and his funds will be wired to his account.i will send you
my credit card details to process on the reciept of the total i have
outlined below. I will send you bank details of were to transfer the
funds to the translator when you have charged the card . I will pay
for the charges of the 7500euros so please so confirm to me below.

1.Cost of your service = 50%
2.Translator Fees = 7500euros card fee = ?

I await the total in other to send you my card details now
Tom West

----- Original Message -----
From: "Deborah Dooley"
Sent: Sunday, November 08, 2009 12:23 PM

Dear Tom, thankyou so much for your reply. But I still don't understand
how I will get the money to the translator. Could you please clarify?
all best
The proprietor

On 11/9/09, Deborah Dooley wrote:

Tom, did you get my email below? I'm waiting to hear more details on how I
could transfer money to the translator? Or, maybe if he/she is coming to
stay here too, he/she can just collect it on arrival.
I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.
all best

----- Original Message ----- From: "TOM WEST"
To: "Deborah Dooley"

: Monday, November 09, 2009 2:06 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: CONFIRM THIS

Hello Deb,
I tolsd you i will send his bank details for you to make the wire to
him to enable him book for there flights before then. Please send me
your number to call you and advise you my card details to process.


On 11/9/09, Deborah Dooley wrote:
Tom, one more thing - will the translator mind having a room with a single bed? I can reduce the price a little, but we only have a twin room left, so that's all I can offer him. And please advise me if any of the guests have particular dietary requirements. We can do most things, including vegetarian, vegan, Halal and kosher. Also, will they need collecting from the train station (included in the price.)
I look forward to hearing from you.
all best
The proprietor.

----- Original Message -----
To: Deborah Dooley
Sent: Monday, November 09, 2009 2:58 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: CONFIRM THIS

Hello Deborah,

Thanks for the mail, they are no need for dietary is okay. please make availabel the room for the translator and add it to the total bill to charge. They will be picked up at the train station also include the bill.

I thinbk i have answered all question please prepare the bill including the 7500euros for the translator and send to me now with your number for me to advise my card details.

Thank You

On 11/9/09, Deborah Dooley wrote:
Tom, that's all marvellous. One last question - you do realise that this is a naturist establishment? Accordingly we do require all guests to be naked. There are facilities for disrobing at the front door, the house is very well heated - and of course we are naked too, so no need for embarrassment!
If you could just confirm that's all ok, I'll go ahead and send you the number.
Have a good afternoon.
all best
The proprietor.