The Rain Came Down and The Floods Came Up: 2013 365 Challenge #77

Nice weather for ducks and dogs apparently

Nice weather for ducks and dogs apparently

My kids sing a song they must have learned from nursery. I don’t know it* and they only know one line but it’s definitely becoming the anthem of our winter here in the UK:

The rain came down and the floods came up.

They sing the one line, together with actions, over and over when we’re in the car, until I feel like I’m in a Stephen King novel.

*Turns out it’s called The Wise Man built His House Upon the Rock. And I thought it must be from a Noah and the ark song.

Don't think I fancy the river today Mummy

Don’t think I fancy the river today Mummy

We did indoor play again today, meeting up with an old friend and her family. It’s great to combine forces at these places so you can take it in turns to be the hamster in a cage. Taking the Daddies is even better because little girls love spending time with Daddies (it doesn’t have to be their own: Amber does adopt-a-daddy all the time. Sometimes with people we don’t even know which is a bit embarrassing).

It snowed heavily while we were tucked inside but it soon turned to rain and the roads were flooded as we drove to my parents’ house. If it keeps raining we’re going to be Oundle-on-sea (we’re on the edge of the Fens which, if you don’t know the UK, is a large area of reclaimed wetland. It’s very flat.)

At least the dog likes the wet weather. She is part labrador and has webbed feet so she loves being in the water. Normally she swims in the river but, when it’s swollen with flood water, she doesn’t fancy it. Instead she races up and down the flooded fields at high speed. I tried to take pictures but I only had my phone with me. But you get the idea!

Blurry Action Shot: Even Kara loves jumping in muddy puddles

Blurry Action Shot: Kara loves muddy puddles

We saw friends of ours out puddle jumping in the afternoon: the three little kids all in waterproofs and wellies. I felt guilty because we were watching our second movie of the day, wrapped up in the lounge. Our kids have had way too much screen time this winter. I don’t mind the rain but when it’s zero degrees outside that’s too chilly to get soaked! (They have colds, so that’s my excuse sorted).

Anyway, today’s installment is going to be written in the morning as I have a date with the Got To Dance final on Sky One tonight. I’ll be bereft when it’s over but I’m very much looking foward to the final live show.

P.S. We ended up watching the final with a small child asking questions all the way through. We made the mistake of letting her watch the Little Princess episode ‘I don’t want to go to bed’ at bedtime, which is all about a little girl who doesn’t want to sleep alone. Big Mistake. HUGE. We’ll have days of her not wanting to sleep alone now. Must delete it from the Sky Plus!

Never mind, the final was still great and the right person won. If you don’t watch it, check out the video of Lukas McFarlane’s first live performance. Awesome.


Claire turned and studied the ornate building of Castleton Losehill Hall as she walked away from reception. I thought it looked like a gothic mansion when I arrived. I never imagined I’d be living one of Ann Radcliffe’s more lurid tales while I stayed here.

Meandering through the corridors and courtyards of the hostel that morning, with a bandage on her head and purple bruises on her cheek, it had been easy to picture herself in the pages of a Victorian drama. She’d ignored the giggling kids as she’d perched on a bench, lost in a nineteenth century world of mad counts and ephemeral ghosts.

Maybe Sergeant Cornhill was right, maybe I do have concussion. Claire tried to remember what the woman had told her the night before about the symptoms of a head injury. Confusion, inability to make decisions, tiredness. How is that any different to how I feel on any normal Sunday morning? Her laughter sounded fake even to her. Maybe I will pop in and see a GP before I head to the next hostel. Seeing as I don’t even know where I’m going today.

Claire stopped on the path and stared at the dirty-grey clouds scudding across the sky, strung out like dingy washing. What am I doing? I need to at least know what hostel I’m going to. Her only thought, after her morning of musing and wandering, was to get away and put the events of the previous evening behind her. Now the idea of driving past the scene with no clear intention or destination made bile rise in her throat. She hitched her rucksack up on her shoulders and headed back into the hostel. Maybe I’ll just have a quick look at the website, at least find the nearest hostel. I’m meant to have a quiet day today anyway, Sergeant’s orders.

Claire walked through the glass lobby and scurried to a corner before the manager on duty asked her what she was doing back. She wasn’t sure if she was allowed in the building after check-out and her head ached too much for a confrontation.

Within the space of a few minutes she had loaded the YHA site on her iPad, thankful that she still had it to plug the aching hole left by her stolen phone. The nearest hostel was apparently Hathersage. When Claire read the description she laughed loudly before wincing at the rattling pain it caused in her head.

A bustling Derbyshire village popular with everyone from fans of outdoor activity breaks to literature and history buffs. Walk the Charlotte Brontë Literature trail, taking in North Lees Manor featured in Jane Eyre and visit the oversized grave of Robin Hood’s sidekick, Little John.

 She smiled as she reread it. Well, I’ve lived the Gothic story, why not go and wander in the home of the finest Victorian novelists? Maybe I’ll meet the ghost of Heathcliff or the mad woman in the attic. Maybe I’ll be the mad woman locked in a garret. It might be nice to hide from the world for a while. Claire thought about the phone call she needed to make; the thank you that was going to stick in her throat like dry toast.

Yes, I think it might be nice to hide.


Relentless Revision: 2013 365 Challenge #74

This is me when faced with revision...

This is me when faced with revision…

I’ve been revising Baby Blues & Wedding Shoes all day today.

Well, no, let’s be honest. I’ve been farting about on Twitter and WordPress and getting my head around Hotmail switching to Outlook, while thinking to myself I should be doing revision.

I’ve watched Homes Under the Hammer, dozed on the sofa and walked the dog. I’ve stacked the dishwasher, although I haven’t hoovered or cleaned the floor like I should have (just delegated the hoovering to hubbie but now I feel guilty because domestic chores are my job).

Have I mentioned before I hate doing revision on my novels? Probably once or twice. I’m fine for a page or two but then the sheer scale of the job overwhelms me, or I come across a scene that really stinks, and that’s it. Poof. All motivation evaporates. I really really want to stop working on Baby Blues (it will never be ‘finished’!) but if I release it into the world before it’s ready it will die and maybe take my (currently non-existent) reputation as an author with it.

On a happier note my wandering through the world of WordPress has introduced me to some great new blogs. I thought I should have a look wider than the parenting/writing blogs I tend to follow, and I’ve found some lovely photography sites and other more general ones. When I have time (i.e. when I’m meant to be revising again) I’ll pick out one or two to share.

Anyway, I think it’s time to have something different happen to Claire. I have an idea or two floating around so going to open my Word doc and see what falls on the page.


Claire pulled her coat tighter and tucked her chin into the collar. After the heat of the pub the night air was bitter. She had stayed longer than intended, enjoying the open fire and the good wine, and now the sky had settled into a dusky shade of blue.

What a stupid idea to walk. I must stop listening to advice. Who cares if it’s only fifteen minutes, I got enough exercise this morning with those horrible brats and the oh-so-charming Pete.

The sun had set behind her and she knew the sky was laced with red and orange. Ahead it was dark, with only a faint glow highlighting the hills beyond the village.

I hope there are streetlamps up the lane. I didn’t think to bring a torch. Claire dug in her bag for her iPhone and used it to light the road ahead. I don’t want to step in anything nasty.

She walked on, concentrating on the pavement directly in front of her in case some careless dog owner had left something behind. These are the only shoes I’ve got that aren’t already crusted with mud. I’d like to keep them that way.

Ideas for her blog post drifted through her mind, floating on a glass of wine and settling into the rhythm of her stride. How am I going to write about this morning in a funny way without getting Pete into trouble? I guess I don’t have to name him. She thought about the weaseling trip and laughed, the sound echoing in the still night air. Too many pies. Cheeky bastard. Patting her tummy Claire thought that maybe her jeans were a little tighter than they had been a few weeks ago. It’s all these pub dinners. Why do they have to make the Fish and Chips look so yummy on the menu? Mind you, it was yummy. But it’s not exactly sushi or noodles. If there was any justice I’d be burning the calories doing stupid things like walking back to the hostel in the dark.

As if the words formed an image in her mind Claire became aware of just how dark it was. The pool of orange light cast by each streetlamp only seemed to highlight the darkness in between. Killing the light on the iPhone she tried to let her eyes adjust to the darkness. Her heart thudded loudly and she twitched at the sound of something scurrying in the hedgerow behind her.

What’s with all these looming walls and rustling trees? It’s spookier than a cemetery at Halloween. Come on girl, you’re not one to be afraid of a bit of black. Sheesh don’t add fear of the dark to your newly found phobias. Josh will piss himself laughing.

Claire opened her shoulders and raised her neck as if she was back in Madame Émile’s ballet class imagining a line pulling her head to the ceiling. It was as she was about to release the inhaled breath that she heard the footsteps. They were steady, unhurried, coming up behind her. She resisted the urge to walk faster. City life had taught her to ignore the approach of others, to remember that not every stranger on the street was out to kill you.

She strode the length of a long wall and saw the turning to the hostel driveway up ahead, past some houses set back from the road. The footsteps behind her seemed to be drawing nearer although their pace matched her own. It made her think it must be someone with a long stride. Or someone intent on catching me up.

Her heartbeat came faster now and the battered fish sat heavy in her stomach. She lengthened her own stride and glanced up and down the road ready to cross and turn up the drive. She deliberated whether to abandon the walk home and return to the safety of village. It was unlikely that the driveway had any lighting and she didn’t remember there being houses between the main road and the hostel.

Silly girl. Why didn’t I drive down for dinner? Or leave earlier. Somewhere between the thump thump of her footsteps and their unwanted echo and the timpani-pounding of her heart Claire knew why she hadn’t bothered. This is Hope Valley. People don’t get attacked out here. People get attacked in cities like Manchester. She thought about all the news stories she had seen with some poor soul sobbing, explaining that that sort of thing just didn’t happen round here. Claire felt the blood drain from her face at the thought that it has to happen somewhere.

The attack came from her right, not from behind. She had been so concerned with the footsteps she had failed to see the shadowy figure lurking on a park bench beneath the trees. Claire felt someone grab at her bag, trying to pull it from her shoulder. She swung out an elbow and let the bag slip free, knowing her phone was in her hand and her wallet in her back pocket. She’d at least learned that much. As soon as the bag was free she ran, hoping the man had what he wanted. She had forgotten about the footsteps, the fact that anyone following her would have seen her phone in her hand.

The first pursuer caught up with her as she crossed the road. Self-defence classes came to her aid and she jabbed the heel of her hand into his solar plexus before he could get a good grip. He crumpled, winded, and Claire span back to the driveway, wondering if her trembling legs would carry her the full distance before the second person arrived.

Her mind screamed at her to do something and without stopping to consider she yelled “Call Michael”. She heard her phone ringing in the pitch black of the lane. The screen lit up as the call connected.

Oh stupid girl.

The light shone bright in the darkness and the running footsteps came straight for her. Something sped through the air and she felt the impact against her temple, as a piercing pain stabbed through her head and blurred her vision.

A familiar voice rang in the darkness. “Hello? Michael speaking.”

Claire felt someone wrench the phone from her hand and then nothing.