Tag Archives: holiday




Candice: I had a moment the other week were I realised I was trying to be superwoman, and I had to just give up.

The week before I went on holiday I’d been to Leeds for a meeting on the Monday, London for the same on the Tuesday and then down to London again on the Wednesday night for our speaking event.  I then had a weekend of packing and child entertaining before three more days of work, two trips to the gym and then off on hols.  I remember putting a post on Facebook saying I was a little overwhelmed by everything that needed to be done  before we went away. I then also promised Phil a blog post on our Books show off experience before the flight.

Well the morning of our holiday it was spent running around like a headless chicken packing and sorting before the parents arrived to give us a lift to the airport. There were documents to print, cats to sort and children to collect.  In the middle of it all I managed to cut my finger open on a broken glass so ended up going to the airport with dried blood still on my hand!

Two days into the holiday I had finally started to relax.  We’d sorted out sleeping arrangements (child with bedroom, parents on pull out bed in lounge), where breakfast was, the best sun loungers and optimal child entertainment. I’d even managed to crack open my first book of the trip. Then I realised… the promised blog post had not been written.

And I’m sorry, Phil, I just gave up on trying to be everything to everyone.

I had really enjoyed our event in London.  I’d been quite nervous but once I got up there, as always happens, I was fine.  I actually struggled to let Phil get a word in edgeways!


But then life took over and I think that week took its toll.

Just before Erin was born Phil gave me a signed copy of a book by a lady we had been corresponding with, writer Daisy Waugh. Called “I don’t know why she bothers”, it is all about women trying to do too much for their children; baking cakes at midnight, making costumes etc.  Well this isn’t me trying to do it for my daughter, its me trying to do it for me.

I’m glad I tried to stop being a superwoman for a week.  We had a great holiday and I now feel much more relaxed as I try and get back into work.  I’m sure that frantic nature will rear its head again but I’ll be keeping it in check as best as I can.


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So much stuff

Candice: The family Nolan are off on holiday soon and I’m in the midst of lists and planning.  I enjoy going on holiday but I find the build up enjoyable/stressful especially since I now have to pack for an extra person.  I worry that if we forget something important we will have an very unhappy child for the whole holiday.   If we went without Teddy – there would be serious drama!

Anyway, there is a spare bedroom full of clothes and stuff ready for us to go.  OMG you have never seen some much stuff.  We have our bags, bags for the pushchair and car seat, baby food, toys, airbed for child (she’s too big for a travel cot and too small for a big bed).  We are now in the days of needing a trolley at the airport and meet and greet parking.

She’s very into Peppa Pig at the moment and there is one story about ‘Baby Alexander’.  When Peppa’s Auntie and Uncle arrive with Chloe and Alexander they start unloading the car.  Daddy Pig asks “Have you come for the week?”  Uncle Pig answers, “No, we just need all this stuff for the baby” as he lifts another box from the boot. How true this cartoon is.

One of the things I am trying to shoe horn into my bag is another  book.  I only have one so far and will be picking one up at the airport the way things are going.  However, I am three quarters of the way through finishing the one I am reading so have a quandary. Do I take it with me or leave it here?

If I take it, it will be finished within a day of arrival.  Not so bad you say, just leave it in the hotel library.  But I don’t want to as it’s a good book with a very clever twist and I want to give it to Phil to read.

I suppose with everything else we have to carry it’s not going to make that much difference!!

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Holidays – the good, the bad and ugly.

Candice: Yes, as Phil would say I have been off sunning myself again.  And I’ve come to write a blog post for Thursday and found he’s already done one, but I’m going to jump in on that.

Where have I been? Off to the Algarve part of Portugal.  Nice, slightly touristy part where all the Brits go to escape the ever decreasing sunshine and temps in the UK.  And how was it? Well, if I’d written this blog post last week as I had originally planned then I’d say it hadn’t been the greatest of breaks.  Why?

Well this is my list of what I do and don’t like about holidays:


The sun – to be honest that is pretty much the only reason I go to enjoy some Vitamin D

Not being at work – that is the other important part.  I do like to work but everyone needs a break and a wind down

The atmosphere – not so much these days as we can’t take a near 2 year old yomping up some hill side to see a ruin, or swimming through tunnels, but I do like to go and get something different from the places I visit, a new food or sight.


Driving – I do miss the independence being able to drive gives you.  Some holidays we will hire a car but often we don’t and as much as I love to walk everywhere this can be a bit of a bind when you have to go to the supermarket everyday to carry your bottles of water back.

Clothes – what I actually mean is the breadth of wardrobe.  I can only get so much in a 20kg bag and by the end of 10 days I have got bored with throwing on one of my two options of shorts with varying tops.  At least when you go somewhere hot you don’t need many outfits.

Baby stuff – what do you do with a fed up child who has a hacking cough?  It took us days to work out that she was really poorly rather than just playing up as we didn’t have enough toys or she wasn’t sleeping in her own bed.  Five nights of that and then it was off to the Doctors.  At home we would just have everything we needed to hand to sort things out.

But what I did get out of this holiday was a good read or two.  ‘Queen Mum’ by Kate Long being one.  I will write a review in the future but how did you know, Phil, when you lent me this it had the one scenario that I most worried about with Erin, being run over by a car. I don’t think that helped with the relaxation!

I will add, even after all that, I have spent the last hour looking for the next option for our holiday for next year….

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If you are making a Christmas list…

FestivePhilPhil: When the Nolan is away*, the Phil will play.

Christmas has been on my mind this week. I spent a day surrounded by fake trees on Tuesday. There was even an opportunity to wear my elf hat.

The festive season approaches fast and so I need to pull my finger out on the publishing front. We are determined that Kate vs The Dirtboffins is going to be available in some form by the time you are decking the halls with boughs of holly. It’s ready to go and just needs some technical formatting issues sorting out before Candice can launch a multi-million penny advertising campaign to see it on every Kindle out there.

The ability to say, “I’m going to publish” no matter what happens is one of the joys of the modern age. Recent train and tube trips show that e-publishing is freeing authors from the shackles of the big publishing houses. Yes, a paperback is very nice, but the ability to distribute electronic copies takes away all that complicated printing and the need to persuade a bookshop to give space over to your work. No need to drive a van full of paper around either, although I quite like driving vans but then I bet Dan Brown doesn’t do his own deliveries.

So, watch this space. We have a brilliant new cover to show off very soon for a start. In the meantime, if you are looking for something to while away a few hours with some tea and cake then I have another bookazine out, and with the Nolan out of the country I can mention it here without the eye-rolling admonishment at my nerdiness.

The British Railway Modelling guide to building your first model railway will hit WH Smiths magazine racks on October 12th. If you can’t wait (I know you are keen) then it’s available on-line now. I’ve already signed and wrapped a copy for my friend. She’s going to be so pleased. Don’t anyone tell her and spoilt the surprise.

The BRM Guide to Building Your First Model Railway

*apparently it’s easier to write when you are somewhere sunny near a swimming pool, or so I’m told…

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Summer Reading

summer-reading-ftr editCandice: Its that time of year, the schools have broken up, the roads are clear and everyone is off on holiday.  In the world of work it means that you spend your time trying to find a time for a meeting where everyone you want is working, and that can take the whole six week holiday to find a suitable slot.

It’s also is the time when the book charts will change as the summer holiday reads take over, a bit like the cinema where all the big blockbusters come out as the film companies capitalise on six weeks of bored children.  Jurassic World, Minions: they are all part of the summer push to get some money in.

So, if you look at the current top 10, it is a mixture of crime novels and holiday reads.  Some Marian Keyes with a Patricia Cornwell thrown in for good measure.  In the supermarket and at the Airport they will be lining them up ready for those last minute shoppers getting ready to jet off for a well deserved break.

An interesting comment Kate Long made at the Writing event we went to last week was that the Supermarkets rule.  She had to change the name and cover of her current book based on what the supermarket chain wanted.

Now, Phil and I are not precious about cover or name, we’d just like to be one of the options in Sainsbury’s for people to pick up.  I’d be happy if I saw our book in that line up being picked up by happy holiday makers to be read and discarded at a foreign hotel. In fact, if it 5 years time I found a battered copy in a hotel library I’d be ecstatic.  We not expecting to compete with Harper Lee and be the next English Literature read.

I’ve not another holiday planned until September and I’ll be looking forward to my reading for that break but for now I’ll dream about popping in to do the shopping and seeing ‘Kate vs the Dirtboffins’ next to the salad aisle.

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Step Back In Time by Ali McNamara

Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished… He woke to find himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not his own and driven by an unknown force to change history for the better. His only guide on this journey is Al, an observer from his own time, who appears in the form of a hologram that only Sam can see and hear. And so Dr. Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong and hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home – Opening narration from the TV series Quantum Leap.

timetunnelPhil: And there you have it. Pretty much the plot line from the book “Step Back in Time” by Ali McNamara.

OK, so the time jumping is partly to improve the lot of others and partly to teach main protagonist Jo-Jo how to live a better life, but that’s the only real difference. Well that and the Quantum Leap accelerator is a zebra crossing and white sports car. And Al is called Ringo.

Our story takes place in the World’s End area of London – a very clever move as it allows Jo-Jo to judge the time she’s arrived in by the clothes everyone, including herself, is wearing. Move away from the Kings Road and to be honest, no-one is so achingly trendy.

The other clever move is that the book is perfectly aware just home many plots it’s ripping off. Jo-Jo remembers Quantum Leap at one point for example and mentions Dr Who at another when the whole time jumping thing is being explained to her. I enjoyed that a lot, it’s a nice knowing nod to the reader.

It’s also a good thing that we don’t mess around too much with why Jo-Jo is leaping. She has a guide (he owns the record shop near where her leaps take place) who talks her through it and explains how she changed peoples lives in the previous leap. She also grasps the situation pretty much straight away providing a welcome escape from pages where the reader wishes she’d just get on with it. We’ve read the back of the book, we know what’s happening, now crack on with the story.

For Beatles fans, there are puns on song titles to be spotted throughout the story and if you don’t spot them all, a list at the back of the book.

This is a pretty undemanding read, but in a good way. The story bustles along at a pace. You know it’s all going to be OK in the end and along the way all the cultural references are great fun.

If I have one problem, it’s that the the gist of the story is, “Woman, stop spending all your time running your own successful business. You need a life beyond work and a bloke to complete yourself.” But then this is chick-lit after all so I guess it goes with the territory.

One to read on the sun lounger with a cool drink.

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Happy Bank Holiday Tuesday

Waste paper binsPhil: I know what you are thinking, “Tuesday isn’t a bank holiday you idiot.” but I’m afraid I’m not quite a stupid as I look…

Many years ago, I worked for the Ministry of Agriculture. In the office you understand, during my 5 years I only ended up on the farm half a dozen times. Partly this was because they insisted I wear a luminous green boiler suit for two of those, and there’s little the farmers laugh at more than some Ministry office ned dressed in brand new overalls.

Anyway, aside from all the cow killing I wished to arrange, one of the benefits was that most bank holidays included a Tuesday. The reasons for this were lost in the mists of time but since the pay was terrible, we weren’t going to argue.

Even better we had a day off for the Queen’s birthday and I spent a lot of time wishing she would have such a good time at the party she’d pop her clogs. Then I was sure we would get a day off for the funeral, another for the coronation and if Charlie had his official birthday late in the year, another day off for this. That concept was nearly as exciting as the chance to use the official black-edged mourning stationery I’d slid through in a large order because I was curious about it.

Anyway, fast forward a few years and I work for the County Council. There we only received the standard bank holidays and no royal birthdays. Weirdly though, the cleaning staff still got the Tuesday off.

It seems that years before, there had been a plan to ditch the Tuesday and add the extra days to our leave allowance. The cleaners union had objected so they stayed with the old system, meaning they had to take the Tuesday whether they liked it or not while the rest of us could use those days when we felt like it. OK, so the bins didn’t get emptied but our office wasn’t messy anyway.

You could argue that this was a bit daft. The freely available days could have been used to take the Tuesdays if the person preferred, but that’s the way of the Civil Service and the lunacy of some Unions.

Of course, all those rules are good news for writers who set parts of their books in the world of government and like a bit of idiocy to prove some laughs…

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