A Strange Encounter

I realised this morning that it’s been a while since I wrote anything for the blog. I think it’s a consequence of my last post, I’ve been spending so much time working on my novels that I’ve neglected the blog. Hmmm… How do you juggle both? Especially considering that at the moment I have a few precious hours (9-11.30am) that are (almost) dedicated to my writing. Of course, that’s as long as nothing else needs doing.

I’ve found, on my writing journey, that a lot of things take priority over my writing and when I’ve had a break I find it really hard to get back into it. Last week, however, I managed to write every day! I’m so proud of myself  :) Yesterday was an especially trying day, for some reason I opened the laptop, loaded Scrivener, and… nothing. I couldn’t find the words. The page stared back at me, taunting, and I shut the laptop. I sat there staring at it for about five minutes before I decided to try again. I opened the laptop again, looked at the page and started writing. I pushed hard, struggling with words that usually come easily, and eventually I got into the swing of it. For the whole 2 hours I wrote and by the end of it I was quite pleased with what I had.

This determination reminded me of so many blogs I’ve read from other writers. They say how you should push through those hard days, write as much as you can every day, even if that’s only a few words. I’m happy I was able to do that yesterday, I felt so much better for it. The experience also reminded me of something that happened to me back in the Summer. I met my muse. 

It was a strange encounter and one I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Up until that day I didn’t really believe that there was some mythical character helping all writers along their journey. I thought all the words came from me, it’s my imagination after all. Oh how wrong I was! You see it was the middle of the night and I had words racing around my head, all scrambled. I hadn’t done any writing for weeks because of the kids being off school and I was missing it. The words didn’t make any sense but they wouldn’t go away, I tried everything I could think of to get to sleep (I do like my sleep!) but nothing worked. The next thing I knew a vision entered my mind and the words arranged into legible sentences. A woman in the dark, screaming at me. Still I didn’t listen and tried to think of other things to get to sleep but the woman persisted. She clawed and yelled until I listened and grabbed the iPad, noting down everything she was telling me. When she’d finished I put the iPad down, rested my head on the pillow and was asleep in seconds. 

The next day I read what my muse had said and it inspired me. The new story idea was brilliant and I’m so grateful to my muse for insisting. She helped me that night and although I don’t see her very often I know she is always sitting on my shoulder whispering those sweet words into my ears. 

Meeting my muse and having problems with words made me feel like I was part of something. It’s odd, this writing thing can be quite lonely, you immerse yourself in your imagination and your fingers speed across the keyboard, not once do you say a word to another human being yet you still feel part of something. So far I haven’t made many friends (apart from a select few) but I feel like I’m in a group  now, they understand and sympathise. Even though I’m on this journey on my own I don’t feel alone, if that makes any sense. I know there are people I can turn to for help and advice and I hope that I can offer that same support to others. I think we’re always learning no matter what we do and it’s nice to have a little help now and then. 

New Year, New Goals

And… Breath.

The view out of my 'office' window
The kids are back at school, routine is restored. 

Over this holiday I’ve discovered that I don’t do particularly well without routine. I tend to leave the dirty plates until the absolute last minute and then complain that there aren’t any clean plates for dinner. I wake up late in a morning and then complain about being up late and not feeling like doing anything. The house gets a mess and I get irritable. But, like I said, the kids are finally back at school and I can get back to blogging and writing (not that blogging isn’t writing!).

The canvas on my wall - inspiring?
With a new year comes new plans and resolutions. People want to lose weight, others want to get fit, others want to give up alcohol (OMG! Who are these people?!), as for me? Well, if I’m honest I can’t decide. I was already on the weight loss thing before the year started so I can’t really say that that is my New Years Resolution, having the kids back at school has kick started the diet but it’s not a new thing so that’s out.

One thing I’ve been toying with for a while is setting myself goals with my writing. Sitting here typing that scares the hell out of me! Goals? Really? You see, as I wrote more than a year ago, I’m no Supermum. I don’t even try to be. However I pride myself on being there for my kids when they need me, which means that the writing often takes a back seat. The only time I am able to concentrate on writing is when they are at school and often things pop up that mean I can’t do that, like the weekly shop. Having talked to the hubby I’ve realised something. I think I’m making excuses. I remember when I was in college, a long time ago, and I wrote stories for fun I was asked if I would ever consider sending them to a publisher, my response was always to laugh. I said I thought it was a waste of time but really I was absolutely terrified of the rejection.

Fast forward to now and that same fear still haunts me but there’s another one that sits in wait too. The fear of failing. If I set myself goals and don’t achieve them then I’ve failed and I have no one to blame but myself. I don’t have anyone to answer to but myself either but I’m a bit of a hard ass when it comes to goals. I believe if you have a plan you should stick to it. 

In the past two years I’ve drafted two novels and I don’t think I knew how hard this writing thing would be until I started. Some days the writing flows and it’s like magic as sparks fly from my fingers as they speed over the keyboard, but other days it’s difficult to even start. Those days are the worst, sitting in front of an empty page waiting for the words to come, but you have to push through it.

My little office
If I want to take this writing thing seriously then I ought to have goals right? I ought to treat it as a job and do ‘work’ every day. What have I done so far? I’ve written this blog. But, I’ve written this blog while sitting in my ‘office’ (a bedroom with a desk) and intend to move onto the novel when I’m done. After making a cup of tea, and checking if the hubby needs anything, and… oh wait, is it time to fetch little one yet?

A Tasty Start To The Year

Happy New Year!

I hope you all got what you wanted for Christmas, I know I did. I also got a surprise - a meal at Restaurant Gordon Ramsey on Royal Hospital Road in Chelsea! Having been there years ago I was quite excited when I opened my card and found that little piece of paper that said we were going. I think I might have yelped with excitement! 

Well, we went last night and I only need one word to describe it - WOW!

We walked up to the restaurant and had the door opened for us by a man standing outside. Wandering in we were instantly welcomed by someone and having taken our coats they showed us to our table. Within seconds someone else was coming over to ask if we wanted drinks. Sometimes fancy restaurants have a tendency to be too fancy, they make you uncomfortable and you feel like you have to whisper to your partner if you want to talk. Restaurant Gordon Ramsay isn’t like that at all.

The thing I noticed about this restaurant is the number of staff. There must have been ten or more constantly wandering around the dining area checking that everyone was happy. Not in the annoying way either, you know - when they come to your table, while you have a mouthful of food, to ask if everything was ok and you have to answer while covering said mouth with your hand. No, at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay the staff walk through the dining room and when you have finished a course they come over, remove the plate and ask if it was ok. Which it was.

The Maitre’d is hovering all the time and popped over to the table a few times to explain things on the menu or just have a chat while we waited for another course. He was very welcoming and made us feel like they were pleased to have us there, again not something every fancy restaurant can achieve. 

This pic was taken from a recipe book - I didn't think it was 
appropriate to starting taking pics of the food!

Now - the food. The most important part of this experience. Me and the hubby are foodies, we love to go to restaurants with and without the kids. We had high expectations. I have to say they exceeded our expectations. Every course they brought out looked amazing and was delicious. Usually my favourite course would be foie gras, it’s something I don’t get to have very often because there aren’t many restaurants we go to that serve it but I had it last night and it was yummy. However, there was one course that sticks out from all the rest.

Ravioli of Lobster, langoustine and salmon. This dish was amazing! I don’t know that I have ever eaten a meal that made me want to cry but this did, it was that perfect. The pasta wasn’t too thick or too thin, the lobster and langoustine were cooked to perfection and the sauce with it complemented the whole thing. This course made the night for me. Everything about it was right. 

After the meal, while I popped to the loo, oh on that note - their system is amazing. You don’t need to ask where the loo is, you just get up and someone immediately shows you the way while someone else is holding the door open for you! Anyway, after the meal, while I marvelled at their competence, the hubby was talking to the Maitre’d and was told that although we’d finished the meal the night wasn’t over. When I returned the Maitre’d headed over to our table to invite us into the kitchen! You have no idea how excited I was!

I’ve watched Gordon Ramsay on the TV lots, I loved Hell’s Kitchen and The F Word. Now, I didn’t expect to find him in the kitchen but I couldn’t wait to see it and watch the masters at work. We followed the Maitre’d towards the kitchen and he pushed on the door but stopped. We heard a woman shouting and the Maitre’d told us to wait a moment while she ‘had a moment’. The kitchen door had a window, I was too short to see through but the hubby said he could see what was happening and was giggling. We heard a lot of F words (hehe) and it seemed like someone had messed up. 

I don’t know why but when watching those programmes on the TV I always thought that stuff was exaggerated for effect but having seen and heard the stuff last night I can assure you it isn’t. I guess that’s what works for them and working in a 3 michelin starred restaurant ought to mean you know what you’re doing. If you mess up I guess you have to expect a bit of anger!

After the ‘moment’ had passed we were taken into the kitchen and the maitre’d pointed out where everything was prepared. The meat station, the fish station, the dessert area. The thing that struck me most about the whole place was how clean it was. Nothing was out of place, every surface sparkled and there were only one or two pans on the stove. I couldn’t believe the difference, my kitchen is never that clean and I don’t cook for more than twenty people every night. 

I’m sure these are among the many reasons why this restaurant has 3 michelin stars. It is the best restaurant I have ever been to and someone will have to work very hard to beat it. Hats off to Gordon Ramsay and Clare Smyth, the Head Chef. Last night was the best time I’ve had in a restaurant and having seen inside the kitchen I am even more amazed.

I would recommend this restaurant to everyone, if you ever get the chance to go, do it. You won’t be disappointed.