Category Archives: If We Were Having Coffee

Coffee, or something stronger?

Good day, dear citizens of the new world. My cup is full and there’s a socially distanced seat near the bookshelf here in our favourite coffee shop. Grab your beverage and head my way so we can catch up.

First of all, tell me all about your world. What has been happening to you over the past few weeks? I am sorry I haven’t met up for a coffee or even visited your blogs and websites. There is no valid excuse other than I didn’t feel like conversing with humans, in person or online. Do you ever feel like switching off? Maybe hibernating in a cave? Well, disconnecting is my coping mechanism. Those that know me well don’t mind and those that do…well, maybe we aren’t as close as we imagine.

My news is: the sprogs have returned to school. Apparently, the sickness and flu bugs received the same memo and were in full attendance from day one. War has commenced and our learning institutions are fighting the great fight to stay open as our invisible enemies threaten to overwhelm the system. Who will win remains to be seen. I have my money on a bottle of tequila and my bat cave door remaining shut. What’s the point of placing bets on that battle? You got to know hold off, know when to fold up, know when to walk away and know when to run. Betting against these odds is a lose/lose situation.

Would you like to hear some horror stories from the front line? Well, face masks are being worn and hands are being washed. Social distancing is adhered to during line ups and lunch times. But, someone forgot to tell these bugs to butt out during the in-between times. They love killing time in bubbles, sharing anecdotes with their oblivious asymptomatic carriers. They roller coaster up and down the stairs next to minions pushing in unison to get to classes and kick off after school with those careful kids walking cheek by jowl down the country roads. It kind of reminds me of Goldilocks and little Red Riding hood on vacation from the bears and wolves, laughing that they’ll never get caught because they are too damn clever. If only the viruses understood this winning attitude and followed the rules of carefully prescribed bubbles. The battle continues. I’ll keep you posted on progress (if I decide to come back out of my bat cave).

In other news, I managed to published my ebook, Moofy and Flo. It launched rather quietly a few weeks ago, without the pizazz of repeated sharing across social media and piggy backing off friends’ platforms. Needless to say, it fell flat on its hairy a…face! So, in the spirit of sharing, I’m attaching a pic and a link. If you feel the need to entertain your tiny sprogs with a delightful tale of friendship and frolicking fun that goes wrong, download a copy. The paperback version is on hold. I am battling with formatting and will try to get that down before the world ends. If I don’t, well..no one will care, will they?

Things don’t always go to plan when you try to help your friends. Trying is what matters in the end.

Before we end this titillating tête-à-tête, I must share a rather amusing story of what happened this weekend. It’s not funny in the hilarious sense – rather, an tale of stupidity and the loss of faith in some youths. It all went down on Saturday night at about 11.20pm. We were still up, watching some dribble on the telly, when there was a screech of brakes outside the window. Next, a swooshing with the impact sound that makes your insides go queasy. I ran to the window, trying to decipher where the sound had come from, or ended up. Nothing. So I ran to my sprog’s bedroom window where a horrible scream emanated from the front of our house. It wasn’t one of those, ‘Oh my god! Someone died!’ kind of screams. It was more of the ‘Stop him! Oh my god! Catch him!’ variation.

By the time we got downstairs and out the front door (in our pyjamas), the neighbours had already assembled around the front garden of the house adjacent to ours. We live at a road junction which has become a thorough-fair for traffic avoiding roadworks and late night speed trails. While scanning the area to see what had occurred, I noticed my neighbour’s front hedge had a gaping hole in it. The grass was smooshed down in front of it and the focus of the gathering spectators pointed to something hidden beyond that toothless green grin. Just as I was about to ask what happened, I spotted a figure climbing over the hedge and dropping like a drunk bee onto the pavement. Being the good citizen that I am, I pointed to this young fellow and asked if he was involved. The avengers raised their war cry to stop this grass seed from leaving the crime scene as his friends had done before we arrived (which explained the earlier screams). Unfortunately, the hyped up youth thought it best to run through the defense line and ended up face to face with me. We both bent forward, ready to scrum. He lunged to the right. I turned and grabbed his shirt, holding on for a mere second before releasing it. Thoughts flying throw my adrenalin-fuelled brain warned me to watch out for germs and to remember the laws of the land. He stumbled straight towards the hubble who in turn snatched and released the lad. We watched him run up the road to the harrowing sounds of rage and despair. Funny enough, no one gave chase. The joys of being an adult conscious of the limitations of our wrath. The last bumbling fool to leave the car was so drunk, he forgot his phone as he stumbled over the remnants of hedge. Halfway up the road, he staggered back to retrieve his things, then walked away without anyone batting an eyelid. So much for the avengers.

I’m going to say it; if my parents were alive, the evening would have ended differently for those fine figures of society. Given the police still needed to catch them and test them for alcohol and drugs in their system before either substance disappeared, they were savvy enough not to stick around. Forget about taking responsibility and facing your mistakes. This is 2020. If you can lie, then ultimately get away with it on a technicality, you’re in the right. Isn’t that the modus operandi of politics and leadership these days? Let’s see what unfolds in the next few weeks. I’m not holding my breath for an apology from our future selves to my poor neighbour for the damage done.

Well, my cup is empty and so is my news basket. Send me your news and updates in the comments below and I promise to reply within the next few days. I hope we will get a chance to share a drink and enjoy each other’s company again soon.

Stay well and stay safe.

Aiding the Future Silent Killers

It’s Thursday morning and the house is bubbling with activity at seven o’clock. After six months of watching the early bird rise, eat his worm and fly home before anyone stirred in our house, this feels unnatural. It’s the first day of the autumn school term and we are all a bundle of nerves.

My son has packed and repacked his school bag over the weekend, checking his school list for any bits of stationery or equipment he might have missed. The school has been adamant in its correspondence: no equipment or stationery will be given or shared with students. They must ensure they carry what they need to avoid cross contamination. I put my coffee cup down to help him. He complains again that his tummy hurts. I know it’s the worry that he might forget something and get a detention, so I go over the prepared speech he should deliver in case of he forgets or can’t find his way to one of his classes. ‘Apologise first and ask for help. If they shout, explain you are anxious and it makes it hard for you to remember directions under duress.’ He gives me a look and tells me some of the adults he deals with don’t care. They are more concerned with moving crowds and settling the younger newcomers to the school. They won’t have time to deal with him. I give him a reassuring hug but we both know he has to grow up and just deal with getting lost in the new buildings they’ve erected during lockdown.

My daughter realises that she has not packed a mask yet and starts to panic because the only clean masks we have are the material masks with funny smiles printed across the front. She refuses to take one, breaking down into hysterics when I shout from the kitchen, where I’m dealing with her brother, that it doesn’t matter. It matters to her. It matters a lot. She doesn’t want to have a funny smile etched across her face for most of the day. She doesn’t want to be the odd one out. She’s going to be a senior and even though lockdown left her out of the social loop, she still had social media to contend with and that dictates what cool and what is not in the new accessory we carry with us just to breathe easier when we step outside into society.

I rummage through the tumble dryer, hoping the batch of masks we used over the weekend have somehow hitched a ride to the other side of the laundry. Yes! I’m in luck. Two plain black masks pop out and I silently cheer. She hugs me tight and the relief in her eyes speaks volumes.

Both children have survived lockdown without meeting up with friends or going out. Limited exposure to the outside world kept them safe. And us. Being high risk meant taking the warnings seriously and playing by the government rules. Not that it made a difference to their older siblings who pandered towards the conspiracy theories that Covid-19 was contrived, to downright refusing to stay boxed up for the summer. The division in our family life has been apparent. The younger two and ourselves now refer to our grouping as the ‘core four’, excluding the older siblings who shirked the responsibilities of helping us all stay safe. As the core four, we have watched the news and prayed for some miracle that would slow the spread of the virus down so that we wouldn’t be at risk. Now that it has, the return to the outside world feels daunting.

Time is ticking away. My daughter wants to leave. She’s promised her friends she would meet up with them and walk together to school. I mutter something about social distancing and she looks at me. We both know that, as much as the schools will try to keep their bubbles and make everyone wash their hands, stagger breaks and lunch times, and change school start times, the children will still congregate. After all, that is their culture. That is what they know. It takes years to change tradition and we are only at the beginning; the pioneers of a new world.

I go over the list with her again before hugging her and letting her go. The front door closes, trapping me inside and her out. She is now free to roam. My mind goes wild with the possibilities and scenarios she’s going to have to face over the next five hours. Before I know it, it’s time for my son to leave. He looks so small and vulnerable and his bag makes him hunch over. I offer him a ride to school which he gladly accepts.

The village High Street looks like an overpopulated anthill teeming with worker ants scurrying to and fro. They are wearing blue uniforms and carry handbags and satchels. Packed pavements spit out random bodies onto the road, slowing the traffic down to a crawl. The scent of perfume, deodorant and pheromones waft in through the open car window. I shut it quickly, switching to aircon. Our eyes absorb the sights and sounds of the morning traffic and I despair. Parents, children, bicycles and pushchairs fight for dominance on the narrow pathways. No one is wearing a face mask. No one remembers the death toll rising each day through April and May. They have forgotten the long days of looking out of windows, wondering if the lone stranger spotted stalking the empty streets was a carrier or victim. Now, they mix like a deadly cocktail, swirling the moisture carried on their breath through open, unprotected mouths and noses. Each one trying to reach their final destination: the local schools and businesses.

We drive to the bottom of the hill that leads to my son’s place of education. I park on the side of the road and let out a big sigh. He is clutching the back seat, excited to get going now that he sees familiar faces. My fear and anxiety release in a tirade of commands: keep away from them; don’t touch the handrails; don’t touch your face or chew on your pen; wash your hands at break and lunch; be safe!

I watch his receding figure as it gets swallowed up in the sea of blue churning at the school gates. The government promised us safety at school, better mental heath for the children and a return to normal routine to free parents to work. Doubts dance in my tummy and burn in my chest. Why do I feel like I’ve just sent my kids to a factory where they will be converted into ticking time bombs then sent home? Am I looking at my silent killers filling the streets and standing at the corner shop with their friends? I guess time will tell.

Coffee, Crowing and Cravings

It has been a pretty calm Thursday, even though the children finished their lessons early and have been driving me mad with their inane chatter and squeals of laughter over trivial nonsense they find online. That, and popcorn. Continue reading

#StaySafe Monday Coffee

Come and sit next to me in our Covid-free coffee house. I can reach over and give you a big hug because, in this world, we are away from the madness, away from the social distancing that has kept us imprisoned in our homes and away from the chaos of confusing instructions on what our future holds.

The news of a lift on lock down protocols has sent ripples through our world, no matter where we live. Some of us feel exasperated by the ridiculous conflicting messages of lifting a lock down when we have no cure in sight. But, on the flip side, others are questioning how we are going to keep eating, drinking and switching on the lights and heating in our caves if the economy dies? We could sit here and enjoy the chocolate cake and finger sandwiches, but even this won’t last if the world stops. First world problems compared to those living in developing countries I hear you say – or maybe not.

I was discussing this dilemma the other day. To say that we are a mixed bag of circumstances is not a strong enough statement to capture the worrying conditions of some families locked away in high rise buildings with only the graffiti on dirty walls to entertain children. The conclusion I reached was: humans will always find a way. We are the cockroaches of the earth. Bickering, name calling, finger pointing and wearing impassioned charitable cloaks to cover our self-serving natures are all part and parcel of our nature. But so is our adaptability and enduring natures. What we need is a common enemy – something or someone that will force nations to break down their feeble fences and hold hands with neighbours to battle for our freedom and survival. Will this current destructive force be enough to evolve our muted minds and make us move towards a more cohesive future with our environment? I don’t know. History votes against us. Will our current invisible enemy win? That depends on our attitudes towards authority, their guidance and whether or not we follow it without question.

Last week, during our pregnant pause awaiting the delivery of the newly born protocols on  lock down, I noticed a rise in traffic outside my house. Cars and trucks trundled past every few minutes. Residents filled the pavements leading to the forest down the road, chatting and laughing under the warm spring sun. A gentle breeze carried conversations about coping with isolation and home schooling. Joggers took to the street, sparing irritated glances at the congregated socialites littering their paths. People forgot just how dangerous it is to travel around, to meet up with each other and to socialise in close proximity.  Their lulled sense of security made me think of the invisible enemy watching them, following them back into their lives, their homes. We won’t see their mistake, not just yet. Give it a week, or two.

As we sip at our cups and wonder at mankind’s dilemma, let’s remember what the unlocking of restrictions without a cure or proper tests will release. Let’s think about the dying economy and families imprisoned in homes that can’t cope with unstable financial futures. Let’s sit here knowing that there will be no sirens to announce the tsunami of cases rising and approaching with speed in the coming weeks. Germany saw this rise  less than a week after they lifted their restrictions on lock down. Logically, this means the movement began once the whispers of change drifted on the media wind in the precluding weeks, just like my road told the tale of forgetfulness last week.

With all this in mind, I’d rather sit here, with you, sipping at my Darjeeling tea. What will you do? What choices do you have?

Stay well and stay safe. x

 

 

Monday Coffee in Lockdown

Come on in and grab a seat. I’ve taken the liberty and separating our sofas so that we adhere to the two metre rule. It’s wonderful to see you again. Grab your cup and remember to put it straight into the dishwasher to avoid contaminating anyone around you.

It’s unfortunate that our usual haunt has closed during this lockdown, but it does give me a chance to host our coffee catch up in my ethereal lounge. Time seems to have slowed and everything has taken on an apocalyptic appearance, especially venturing outside. I know it sounds terrible, and I really shouldn’t do it, but I’ve adopted the reference of ‘walkers’ used on the television show, The Walking Dead, to describe those souls traipsing past my house making their way to the forest just down the road. I fear them, each one a prospective carrier oblivious to the inhabitant that is growing within their healthy bodies.

I’m sure I can be forgiven for thinking that a trip to our local food store is not dissimilar to bathing in a septic tank filled with clean water. Chances are, you won’t see the germs but they will certainly be taking liberties with your clothes and exposed skin. Gloves are pointless as they just add to the contamination of different surfaces. You might not catch anything but the person two metres behind you won’t be thanking you when you’ve touched all the metal railings, containers and unwrapped food with those ‘safe’ gloves. If you don’t believe me, find a pair of clean gloves and spray a little paint on the fingers. Now go touch all your precious surfaces and see what happens.

My cynicism is born from spending too much time reading about the non-conformers – the free thinkers – who assume this is just a bunch of bull. ‘Scare mongering tactics’ and ‘utter nonsense’, and my favourite: ‘the government is just using this to control you’! I wonder what you think of those comments? How far should we accept what we’re told to do before saying: no, this affects my civil liberties? Do you feel the same way?

Considering I’ve been locked away for more than two weeks, I have to admit I haven’t found this lifestyle much different to my normal hermit lifestyle. The big difference is running my Writers Club Online, though my Zoom meetings have taken care of face to face group discussions. The children love it and have adapted well to the new norms. Social distancing was something I happily practiced anyway and travelling as little as possible is just sensible to reduce your carbon footprint.

Do you notice how fast technology is being developed now that we are facing a new war. Is this our version of an industrial revolution that sets a precedent for working at home to become a cultural norm, reducing travel and therefore activating a movement for climate change? I wonder if those who work from home will want to return to the office after tasting the opportunity to be closer to their families while accomplishing those same roles. I know it won’t be the case for everyone. Some will balk at the idea of being trapped at home. Others though, might appreciate it. Definitely something to think about in a future, especially with housing shortages and office blocks standing empty for years.

Maybe the future will see less office space eating up our central business districts and instead, housing estates with forests, play areas and facilities taking precedence over those spaces so that workers live closer to CBD’s but work remotely, time sharing office space. Just a thought.

Anyway, it’s nearly time for me to prepare for my webex meeting with my writers from Wooden Hill Primary. Thank you for stopping by. Let me know what you think our future holds.

Stay well and stay safe.

Monday Coffee in Isolation

Hi! I won’t hug you today as we are practicing social distancing, but I will say it’s great to see you. At a time when the world is coming to a standstill, having a chance to meet friends makes me think we are far luckier than our ancestors.

While the media fills our heads with information and updates of doom, I take to social media to find my friends and give updates on positive events. Sharing fun ideas on how to keep the children busy has been well received and I am determined to keep it going for as long as I can.

My Writers’ Club has adapted like a chameleon to new vegetation. We’ve had two webex meetings and have managed to collate ideas and start writing projects. Considering some children are as young as six, I’m very impressed at their capabilities and can look at our teething problems as minimal. I will be opening the club to new members who will start in April. If your children enjoy creating worlds and pushing their imagination beyond the obvious, contact me. I’ve attached the flyer below.

Contact me if you would like your child to join the online Writers’ Club.

At home, the house has been full for about two weeks now. All my children are keeping busy with their schoolwork. I’m trying to supplement their work to encourage further growth while we are in isolation. Never one to waste time, my daughter has enforced school schedules, even if there aren’t any lessons planned by their teachers on the day. Instead, we make use of BBC bitesize and other programmes that offer free lessons to support children studying from home.

My biggest challenge is keeping my large family fed. Food runs have been cut to reduce exposure to the virus. My next run might be done with gloves and a mask. I’m getting paranoid over the chances that I might carry the virus in with the shopping bags or on the packaging. So everything is unpacked, cleaned and my own clothes changed with a complete decontamination of my face and hands. It’s exhausting but necessary if I want to keep the family safe. Are you following any protocols to keep your families or yourselves safe? Are you as paranoid as I am?

We have reached the days when earth’s most toxic inhabitants slow to a rumbling stop. While we complain and worry and fight to survive, remember to take a moment to appreciate all the things around you. Our greed led us here. Let’s hope this world wide experience will make us approach the future in a better way. I’m not holding my breath though.

Stay well and stay safe. x

Tuesday Catch Up

Stay well and stay safe.

That is my new catch phrase for communications. It is simple and succinct, and hopefully expounds the depth of my feelings towards those with whom I communicate. How strange it is to watch the world tilt on its unsteady axis, reeling and writhing from the threats and effects of a virus. To see the deprivations of human nature as well as its heights of generosity. Indeed, if I were a writer, I would classify this as a perfect plot line for an apocalyptic tale.

With a family of six and additions that kick the number of humans up to eight very large, hungry adults and children in a household, I am feeling the pull of peer pressure to join those panicked shoppers stripping shelves and aisles of their staple goods. Succumbing to that fear would add me to the ranks of hoarder, the selfish individuals who think of their own survival instead of the good of the whole community. Sitting on the fence though, I see both sides. My hubble is high risk and, knowing that I wouldn’t have to go out for food for a very long time, is appealing. But, looking at it from a community point of view, I couldn’t live with myself if I knew I was taking supplies away from the vulnerable members of our society. Where do you stand in all of this? Should we be questioning our morals at a time when survival seems to be key? My simple answer is: read some history books. Who do we celebrate as being the heroes during the worst of our past – the survivalists or those that sacrificed their safety and supplies for others?

With thoughts of survival in exclusion, keeping our minds and bodies active is the order of the day. I’ve had to think of ways of continuing my Writers’ Club without meeting face to face with my members. Thank goodness for the internet! I am able to offer a subscription to any family who wants something to do during school closures and isolation. Keeping children active, interested in varied, fun projects and motivating them to use their minds will stop cabin fever and stimulate continual growth of their minds and bodies, just in a different setting. Check out my Book Corner on Facebook if you are looking for ideas on how to keep your children entertained or active. Subscribe to the Writers’ Club for interactive sessions, webinars and online classes that will keep them entertained. I will add a form at the end of this post for that purpose.

Community is everything. In our area, we have some unsung heroes organising groups to care for the vulnerable on each street, making sure they have enough food and provisions for their isolation period. Keeping that outlook, no matter how tempting it is to hide away and survive on our own, is very important. For those that watch the Walking Dead, you know what I’m talking about! Community means survival and sacrificing those extra bags of pasta or toilet rolls means a family who can’t afford to bulk buy will get a chance to eat and enjoy comfortable ablutions too.

To close this Tuesday Catch Up, I would like to reiterate my initial message in this communication: stay well and stay safe. Try to limit your media intake to preserve your sanity and though it’s easy for me to say, try not to stress out. If you need help, reach out to friends and family. If you don’t have anyone to talk to, message me. I’ll be happy to chat to you from under my rock, in my cave, sipping on tequila. Feel free to join me for a chat there!

 

For those interested in subscribing to the Writers’ Club, fill out the form below and I’ll be in touch.

Monday Coffee

Pull up a chair and grab your cup. It’s time to relax and find out how your week has been.

Last week was one of the busiest I’ve had in months, even though I don’t have a nine-to-five post anymore. Possibly working way past reasonable hours has meant me popping up in social media at odd times or answering emails when most decent folk are fast asleep! It has been worth it. Not only have I managed to sign up four schools to my Writers’ Club, I’ve re-edited Scat The Black Cat and given the cover and illustrations a face lift. There’s more news to follow about Scat’s projection into the spotlight, so watch this space.

What has been the greatest achievement of your week? Did you manage to complete a project or work on a life goal? I’d love to know, so do share your stories in the comments below.

This week, I’ve launched a new feature on my Instagram page (@eloise_writes) – I’ve started Book of the Week. This feature will help promote indie authors’ books and hopefully share new titles with my audience. If you have a new title that you’d like to be featured, send me a link to your book and I’ll do the rest. Unfortunately I can’t promise to read all the books I promote on a timely basis to produce reviews, but I will endeavour to get to as many as I can.

Later this week, I hope to share some ridiculous clips of my cats talking. Apparently, my cat Kiki realised that if he spoke to me, I would respond. So, when I walk into the room, he meows a greeting. If he requires feeding, he comes up to me and meows with a different pitch, length of meow and slight reverberation of his voice. The other cats have cottoned on to our conditioned response to his voice and have now copied him. If you don’t believe me, look out for the posts on my social media later this week.

Kiki watching the birds.

Well, my cup is empty and, to be honest, I fancy a take out! So, I’ll love and leave you for this week. Join me for a coffee catch up next week and don’t forget to send in your weekly input.

Have a great week.

El x

Monday Coffee

It’s late – I know it. I’ve just finished my latest assignment and my brain feels like it’s about to explode. Rhyming slants and iambic pentameter beats are oozing out of my pores instead of the rich smell of coffee granules, ground and filtered through steaming water into our awaiting coffee cups.

Monday has been very busy. Mailshots had to be sent out for my Writers’ Club, which is starting this Friday, Business admin had to be taken care of before another week passed with it staring at me from the to-do list. The good news is that I actually have students signed up for the club. I hope to attract more once they settle back into the school routine and more schools offer the opportunity for a club to their students.

Who said quitting your job meant you could stay home and watch daytime television? Certainly not me! I have more jobs to complete than when I was at work? Go figure. There light at the end of the tunnel is knowing that I can expand my writing capabilities and utilise them across different areas whilst hopefully earning a decent living doing so. All it requires is hard work. So, I’m rolling up my sleeves and trying not to look at my bank account in the meantime.

In all honesty, the dream is still there, all sparkly and bright, but sometimes the hard slogging to make it a reality makes it feel like an insurmountable mountain I can’t climb. There are good days and there are very bad days. I take my hat off to those of you who have already made the jump – you are heroes in my book. Till I reach the other side, or even get halfway, I think I will be hanging on the moral support of my friends and family to keep going. Self doubt is the worst offender. It creeps in during the midnight hour when I lie awake thinking of all the tasks I need to do and all the financial hardship we might endure if I fail. Silencing that negative voice gets harder as you push further into the murky waters of the unknown possibilities of making money through writing. It does for me anyway.

Enough of that negativity! This is my quality time to catch up with you and find out what you have been doing with yourself over the past few months since I last stopped by for a coffee. Feel free to add your links or share your stories in the comments box.

Cheers! Here’s to the future and more coffee meet ups on a more regular basis.

 

Thursday, already?

I have started about three of four blog posts of the past few days, hoping to catch up with you and tell you all about the events from last week and what has been happening this week, to no avail. Sickly sprogs sprouting things that they shouldn’t, time turning the crank and speeding up every moment, my to-do list growing by the second – the cards were against me writing to you until now. Exhaustion is not an option as there is still so much to do and so little time. Continue reading