Archive for the ‘weather’ Tag

Another Promotional Roundup

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

This blog has been a bit quiet of late, and for that I apologise.  We had an unexpected burst of Spring here in London last weekend, and we all went rushing outside to make the most of it.  Sadly it seemed to have been a blip, with normal UK weather restored in time for the working week.  After basking in the garden in a t-shirt on Sunday, I was obliged to get back into my coat and scarf on Monday.  Still, at least the rain has been holding off of late.

And in the meantime I’ve been very busy in cyberspace, with two more guest appearances in the last week or so.

First up, I was interviewed by Pete Sutton for his BRSBKBLOG blog, which is described as ‘Adventures in Publishing’.  We talked a lot about the creation of my amateur sleuth Shara Summers, and the forthcoming re-release of DEATH SCENE, and you can find the interview here.

This week, I’ve been visiting ‘Waibel’s World‘, blog of fellow MuseItUp author Mary Waibel, and talking about how being a writer is both a curse and a blessing.

And finally, it’s just over two weeks until the Sci Fi Weekender in Wales, my first Con of 2014.  This year, not only am I going, I’m on the programme.  I’m very excited to have received preliminary details this week about the panels I’ll be on.  All will be revealed soon!

In the meantime, if you’ll be at the Con, do stop by and say hello.

End of the Pity Party

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

I’ve been rather neglecting this blog of late. I don’t really have any excuses to offer – I’ve been off my game but that’s not an excuse.

Since the end of December I’ve had a lingering persistent mystery virus that’s left me feeling permanently under the weather. It’s been an unusually long cold winter in the UK. Generally by March we can expect temperatures to be rising into double figures. March this year we were still getting snow. In fact we were still getting snow in April. Now we’re into May, and it’s more like March – cold and wet.

These things have all contributed to a general feeling of malaise that has gripped me since the beginning of the year. The upshot is, I haven’t done nearly enough writing. When I’m not feeling happy I don’t sleep. When I don’t sleep it’s harder to get out of bed early, and I spend the day feeling fatigued. And this leads to not being able to concentrate.

These are all pathetic excuses. The facts are, I have two WIPs on the go (actually three, since I’ve decided to get back to the second Shara Summers book – but more about that at a later date) and I’ve not done any work on any of them for weeks.

In the meantime, my last new release was over a year ago, I have no new books out in the foreseeable future and the book-buying public has a very short memory. Sitting about feeling sorry for myself will not get any books finished. It’s time to give myself a kick up the backside.

There are no more excuses. Writing is about discipline, about getting it done, about putting in the hours for word counts and the promotion. I’m leaving this pity party now. I’ve got books to write.

Hibernation

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

My dislike of January is well known – I do a post like this about this time every year.

I don’t like the cold. I seem to have the blood of a lizard. And I really don’t like snow. When you can sit at home all day by the fire, and don’t have to be anyplace, it probably looks pretty, but when you have to go to work in it – particularly on public transport – it’s a pain in the backside. At least in London our snow fall is generally fairly short lived. If I liked snow I’d still be living in Canada, where it covers the ground for nearly six months of the year.

I spend January bundled up in thick jumpers and thermal vests and socks, shivering on the station platform waiting for a delayed train, arguing with my office mates about how hot we can have the central heating (I want it at ‘tropical’ mode – they don’t), and generally feeling tired and run down. I seem to go into a kind of hibernation. Getting out of bed in the morning is a supreme effort and I drag through each day feeling half asleep, not being able to focus my brain on anything. Moving becomes an effort. I don’t go to the gym, I don’t do much writing, and I spend as much time as possible in bed. But it doesn’t really matter because no matter how much or little sleep I get, I still struggle to stay awake during the day. And I crave sugar and carbs even more than usual, because I feel I need the energy.

When I’m not at work, I spend my time playing video games, because they don’t require too much mental energy and distract me from how tired I’m feeling. Now, I am aware of my weaknesses. I would be quite capable of spending all day, every day playing video games if I didn’t have to go to work. And there are many weekends in January when I do pretty much do that, leaving the sofa only to use the bathroom, go to bed, or get myself more chocolate. But the price you pay for being a grown-up is having to do stuff you don’t really want to do a lot of the time, like go to work every day.

So far I’ve not had a terribly productive January. I’ve eaten a lot of biscuits, and made progress in ‘Dragon Age’, but not done much else. Come to think of it, I was in the same situation last year.

Roll on Spring, when I can wake up and emerge from my hibernation…

Let’s Talk About the Weather

The weather here in Britain has been somewhat depressing the last few weeks. We’ve had rain, wind and grey clouds. Occasionally the rain stops, the clouds move and the sun peeps out for a few minutes, at which point you start to feel a bit hot in your rain coat and winter sweater. But then the clouds roll over again and another torrential downpour starts up. We occasionally have a few days of hot sun, but this is invariably followed by more rain.

To be honest, this is not unusual weather for the British summer. However, as all this has been going on my family in Canada have been grumbling about relentless 40c heat and no rainfall for weeks, and it has made me think about the diversity of this small blue planet of ours.

We’ve been to places like Borneo and Vietnam, where it’s incredibly hot and humid. When it rains, the rain literally comes down in sheets, but it’s so hot that when it stops the streets dry out in a matter of minutes.

We’ve also been to the Nasca desert in Peru, where it rains once every ten years or so. We’ve seen the Nasca mummies, which are the skeletonised remains of people who died hundreds of years ago, their bones bleached white by the sun, their hair and clothing and sometimes even traces of skin still preserved because there’s no moisture in the air to rot them away.

Right now there are places on the planet that are suffering terrible droughts, and other places where there are floods. More than half of our planet is covered in water, yet still there are places that don’t get enough water to sustain life.

So we might complain about the weather – and in Britain it’s a national pastime. But it does serve to remind us that nature is a far more powerful force than humanity is. No matter how technologically advanced we get, we can’t control the weather.

…Off To Work I Go

It’s back to the day job after ten glorious days of lie-ins. And though the alarm clock going off at 6am today was a shock to the system, it’s probably just as well I get back into the habit of getting up early.

During my Christmas break, I get used to staying in bed until 10am. This time of year, it’s dark by 3:30pm. You don’t need to be a maths genius to figure out that isn’t too many hours of daylight. And then I wonder why I start every year feeling depressed. I wonder how night shift workers cope with so many hours of prolonged darkness.

So it’s not all bad to be back in the usual routine. I have no more excuses to slob around the house in my old sweat pants, eating chocolate and watching crap TV. It’s time to start moving again. It’s time to start thinking again. It’s probably even time to cut back on the cakes and biscuits and go back to the exercise classes, but I haven’t dared get on the scales yet to find out just how many of those mince pies are still with me.

How long will this new sense of optimism last? Probably until the snow returns. But at the moment, we’re still several degrees above freezing here in London and – at least for this week – the trains are relatively quiet, because not everyone’s back at work yet.

Next week might be different, but I’m trying to focus on the moment. By then, I might even be back into the habit of getting up early!

By ‘Eck It’s Parky…

…as my Lancashire grandmother might have said.

Once more London is struggling to cope with heavy snowfall. And this year it’s even earlier than usual – we’ve not had snow before Christmas here in over 30 years.

My friends and relatives in Canada are laughing a bit at the way London struggles when it snows. They cope fine with the snow, whereas here everything seems to shut down at the first sign of snow. However, most of Canada is buried under snow for nearly six months of the year. They cope because they have to, and they’re used to it. They have snow ploughs and snow boots and chains on the tyres of their cars to grip the ice. Shovelling one’s driveway is on the chores list of every Canadian household.

We don’t have such things in London. I can actually see the argument that if we get snow once every twenty years, is it really worth a council spending a huge amount of money – money that could go towards more urgent things – on a snow plough?

Living in Canada, though, taught me how to dress in the snow. This week I’ve been trudging to work in long johns, hiking pants, thermal socks and hiking boots, to get me through the ice and the slush and the snow. All these things come off when I get to work – I keep indoor shoes and a pair of work trousers in my desk drawer. My colleagues laugh at me, but I feel prepared. I seem to feel the cold more than most people do. With all these layers, at least I am staying warm.

I’ve also been leaving the house really early, expecting train delays but so far this week – and I am reluctant to declare this, in case I’m tempting providence – my journey has been relatively delay-free. Not so for my colleagues, though. It seems those who come from the North of London are having the most problems.

But it’s been this way for the last three winters. So is this the sign of winters to come and London should invest in snow ploughs? Not according to Phillip Eden of the Royal Meteorological Society in this article here from the BBC website. He says we’re just following an established pattern, and we can expect a run of mild winters from next year.

Here’s hoping he’s right. In the meantime, I’ve got another three early mornings of struggling in to work in the snow, and then I have ten days of lie-ins over the holiday period.

I don’t really mind if the snow sticks around after Christmas. Hanging around the house, with hubby and the cats, working on my WIP and blasting zombies on the Nintendo Wii, sounds like a pretty good way of spending the holidays to me.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

I am currently in Singapore and not expecting to be blogging for a little while. But the journey here was an adventure in itself, and I thought I would share it.

Our plane was scheduled to leave Heathrow at 10pm on Tuesday evening. We’d booked a cab for 5pm that afternoon – figuring, even with the predicted bad weather, that should still leave us plenty of time to get there.

The snow began to fall in London on Monday evening, and showed no signs of stopping as Tuesday progressed. I began to get a bit worried, but checks on the airport website showed that there were no significant problems with the flights. One of the reasons I hate snow in the UK (as opposed to Canada, where it’s so common everyone knows how to deal with it) is that the country grinds to a halt at the first snow fall of winter.

Then around noon the cab company phoned. They had no drivers available to take us to Heathrow. They had tried ringing other cab companies, but found no one available. They were really sorry.

After a moment of panic, we thought perhaps public transport might be an option. More internet research revealed that the trains and underground were, apparently, still running. The snow was still falling. Fortunately we were done with most of the packing – we finished hastily, bundled up with gloves and scarves and thermal socks, and left the house three hours earlier than planned.

It’s a five minute walk to our local train station, but we had to drag our suitcases through the snow, so it took rather longer. The cases have wheels, fortunately, although if we’d have known before we started packing there would be walking involved, we might have gone for the back-packer option instead. Dragging cases through snow is not recommended. And although I had been cursing the cab company, figuring that when they said they had no drivers available, that could be interpreted to mean they had no drivers prepared to drive in snow, during the walk to the station I began to understand what the problem was. The roads were gridlocked. Even struggling with our suitcases, we were still moving faster on foot than most of the traffic.

Still, we got to the station, and got on the next train to come along, which took us to Victoria Station. After that, it was a trek on the underground, which fortunately had no delays, and the fact that we were travelling mid-afternoon instead of rush hour helped immensely.

We made our way to Paddington Station (the home of the famous bear) and decided to catch the Heathrow Express. This is a very fast and convenient train, but very expensive. However, given that we were anxious to get to the airport, we decided it was the best option. And indeed it was – we found ourselves, after all the hassle, at the aiport six hours before the flight was due to take off. But we were just relieved to be at the airport. We checked in, we wandered round the shops, we had coffee. We find a place to have a leisurely dinner. I got through a complete Janet Evanovich book on my e-reader while we were waiting.

And the plane, though delayed by over an hour, took off. Safely in the air I breathed a sigh of relief. It had crossed my mind many times over the last few hours that we weren’t going to get to that stage.

After a twelve hour flight we landed in Singapore. Rolling our suitcases across the concourse and out of the airport, into 28c heat, we were hit by Singapore’s oppressive humidity. With my thermals stuffed into my hand luggage, both the jacket and fleece I was wearing to stave off the chill in London slung over my arm, I thought about how strange it was that our suitcases had started their journey, many hours before, covered in snow.

I hear on the news now that Gatwick Airport is closed. I think we were very fortunate that we managed to get on our plane, though getting there was a journey in itself. In the meantime I am going to enjoy this heat, and hope that by the time we get back to London, the snow will have gone.

Walking To Work

It’s a grey, cold, wet Autumn Monday. And there is a tube strike today. Not a good way to start the week.

My contingency plan for tube strike days (and this is the second in a series of four planned strikes over the next few weeks) is to leave the house really early, so if I have to walk to work from Victoria Station, I have sufficient time to do so. I was on the train this morning at 6:40 – the same train I catch when I come in early for my writing mornings.

I did go searching for a bus at Victoria Station, but there were already horrendous queues for all buses, even at 7:10 am. I can make the walk in 45 minutes, and I had left the house prepared to have to walk, so off I set.

My route takes me down Buckingham Palace Road and past the Palace (the Queen was not at home, it seems), and through Green Park. Emerging from Green Park I hang a right at Piccadilly, go past the Ritz Hotel and then turn left down Old Bond Street, which eventually becomes New Bond Street.

Bond Street is full of swanky designer shops. None of the items in the artistically arranged window displays have price tags – I guess if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it. Even walking past these shops makes me feel like a bag lady. Fortunately for me, at 7:30 am none of the shops are open, so there are no supermodel-lookalike shop assistants to glare at me for bringing down the tone by walking past their doorstep in my hiking pants, back pack and walking shoes.

At the end of New Bond Street I turn right into Oxford Street and I am back into familiar territory.

I may have had to crawl out of bed at an ungodly hour to get to work this morning, but at least the rain held off for my walk, and I started the day with some exercise. I do rather hope I can find a bus back to the station tonight, though. One 45-minute walk in a day is plenty for me.

Nothing To Do, Nowhere to Be – For Once

I’m having a busy old time at the moment. The bi-annual formal dinner I organise for work is on Friday, and the run-up to it is always hectic. The week after that, we’re off to Canada. As we know so many people there, I’ve been firing off emails to various people to find out who’s free to meet up with us and when as part of the trip organisation.

Hubby has spent the best part of the last two weeks working abroad, and when he comes back he’ll have to pack his suitcase for Canada. In fact, I think sitting at the airport waiting for the plane will be the first chance I get to have an extended conversation with him in three weeks. But because he’s not been here, I’ve also had to run errands on his behalf. Taking his suits to the dry cleaners so he has something to wear to the office when he’s back. Sorting out the tax disk for his car, which expires while we’re away. Booking an appointment for a hair cut for him, so he can get it done in the day or so he’s in the UK between flights.

And I’m still being diligent in getting up at 5:30am twice a week to get my ‘writing mornings’ in.

But in spite of all this, I’m not feeling stressed (rather exhausted, perhaps, but not stressed). After a cold winter and unusually cold May, it seems the warm weather has finally arrived in London. I love Spring. Getting up at 5:30am is not so bad at the moment because it’s broad daylight at that time in the morning. I love the extended days we get at this time of year, this far North of the equator. We pay the price with excessive hours of darkness in winter, but winter’s a long way off.

And there’s tonight. Tonight I have nowhere in particular to be – for the first time in ages. I have no urgent emails to send, no documents to hunt out, nothing important to do. So just for tonight, I am going to do nothing. I am going to be on the sofa with the cats, in my PJs by 9pm, watching ‘Supernatural’. And then ‘Dexter’.

From tomorrow, I’m busy until July. But that’s tomorrow. Tonight, I’m spending quality time with the Winchester boys. Bliss.

Springtime

I don’t like the cold, as I’ve mentioned before. I’ve been bundled up in thermal vests, sweaters and socks for months now.

Last week, I reported on signs of Spring being visible, in spite of it still being quite cold. This week, it’s arrived without notice. Last week I was still wearing my scarf and winter coat. For the last couple of days I’ve been wearing my rain coat, but I had the afternoon off today and as I arrived back home I was surprised to discover I was actually feeing quite hot.

It’s 15c in London today, and it seems that the season has changed all of a sudden. This time last week, I think it was about 7c. The winter duvet is still on the bed, and the radiators are all still cranked up to maximum.

This change of weather is refreshing, but it’s taken me by surprise. I’ve just gone through the house opening up windows. It’s the first time they’ve been open since September – some of them were a bit stiff (I’m not one of these people who sleeps with the bedroom window open all year round – I am generally opposed to fresh air if it’s cold air). My ‘slobbing at home’ outfit consists of a t-shirt with my jeans instead of a sweater, for the first time in months.

Winter seemed to go on forever this year, but I think we can finally say we’ve seen the end of it. Perhaps it’s safe to put away my sweaters and dig out all the clothes my stylist picked out for me last year, most of which I haven’t worn for months because it’s been too cold.

Springtime in England can be wonderful. I’m so happy it’s finally here.