Thursday, 29 December 2011

Time to send another book proposal.

Hi Folks.  Hope you had a great Christmas?

Well folks.  The manuscript is finally  complete(is a book ever finished?) and my old friend (he's younger than me), has proof read and edited it for me.    I have also paid a on-line illustrator to draw me a sketch for the front cover of the book.  I have never had such a professional approach to my writing before.  I don't know why I never had such a professional approach before?  Every day we learn something new.

I suppose its pretty naive to expect somebody to read a tatty book proposal?   Don't send your book proposal on the back of a old envelope or cornflake package.  I tend to send my proposals by email - it's easier for them to delete them, isn't it?

My manuscript is a humorous travelogue memoir of a certain part of Southern Ireland.  Yes of course there have been books written on the same area: McCarthy's Bar - Pete McCarthy for example.  We both share the same county of birth and we both had an West Cork/ Irish parent also.   I think my book proposal is funny and informative and maybe even have have a few sprinkles of pathos?

Anyway.  I am almost there folks.  Ready to share my memoirs, opinions and amusing anecdotes to the publishing world and hopefully find my 'book wooky' on Amazon.  I might even earn a few bob and have a holiday in the sun or even Scarborough.
There's nothing wrong with Scarborough.  I spent many a holiday there.  The fantastic film: Little Voice, was filmed there.  Perhaps I should write a book about Scarborough?   Anybody spent many a hour in Peasholm Park or walking round the Castle and watching the Bachelors and the Grumbleweeds...?

Viva La Scarborough!!

Happy new year to all my readers!!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Is It Time to Go Back To The Horse And Cart?

I was sat in the car the other day watching all the cars going round the town centre.  The world and his wife seem to have a car today.  I wonder how much carbon monoxide and all the other fumes are damaging our health?  Did you know that there are over 32 million cars in the UK alone?  Do you think there are too many cars on the roads?  How many will there be in twenty years time?

I would love to go to the Ukraine (rural society) or America to see the Amish people riding around in their horses and carts.  There is something noble about the horse.  Eight million horses lost their lives serving their countries during the First World War.

Years ago in the late 1960's (before) the EEC came to Ireland.  I used to go to West Cork to stay on my grandparents farm in West Cork.  We used to pike the hay by hand (pike) onto the cart and take the milk churns to the 'milk stand' by horse and cart.  It was a wonderful and sedate experience and I often wonder why did the horse and cart die out?

No longer do we see the blacksmith or the harness maker or the hay made by hand.  Harry Ferguson designed the 'three point linkage' and his tractor rarely went lame.  Did you know that it was quicker to get round London in 1830 by horse and carriage than it is by car today.  I guess we call it progress - I call it sad.

What do you think readers?  Should we only be allowed one car per household?  Does anybody really care about the environment?

Have a great Christmas readers!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Do You Know A Smallholding/Smallholder Like This?

Now and then we passed through winding valleys speckled with farms that looked romantic and pretty from a distance, but bleak and comfort less up close.  Mostly they were smallholdings with lots of rusted tin everywhere-tin sheds, tin hen huts, tin fences-looking rickety and weather battered.  We were entering one of those weird zones, always a sign of remoteness from the known world, where nothing is ever thrown away.  Every farmyard was cluttered with piles of cast-off s, as if the owner thought that one day he might need 132 half-rotted fence-posts, a ton of broken bricks and the shell of a 1964 Ford Zodiac.

BILLl BRYSON, Notes From a Small Island, 1996.

Do you live in or know one of those weird zones; allotment shed roofs held down with lumps of concrete, an old Wellington boot for a rubber gate hinge, a car for a hen house, Tesco shopping trolley for drying the onions....?

For those of you don't don't know.  I am the author of a daft book about BALING STRING and its many, many uses.  The main character in the book is called: Archie Sparrow.  He's a Lancashire smallholder and  married to his long suffering wife Jenny and shares a pint or ten of Thwaites and 'Freeman's' with his best pal Mickey Disney.  

Archie is completely daft and is the pubs un-official Sky News correspondent for his local pub: The Dog and Goldfish.  We've all know an Archie or three don't we?

"Bring back the birch!"

"And the conker tree!"

The book is for sale on Amazon for a very reasonable price (less than seven pounds) and they will even gift wrap it for you for Christmas.  But not with 'Baling String' - sadly!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Am I half way through writing my book or is it nearly finished?

My travelogue memoir is now up to 34000 words.  I have been reading and re-reading it, over and over again. It's good, informative, entertaining and also very amusing.  You see I can't write 'serious' for very long.  I could never write a serious 'how to' book.  'How not to' - no problem!  I'm one of those writer's who find life very amusing and I have a zany approach to life. What do you think dear readers?  I know I have two (three if I include myself) regular readers.  Are books far too 'serious'?  Should we be laughing our way along life's conveyor belt?  How many words do you think there should be in a travelogue?  When is a book finished?  Is it time for me to write another zany book?

Answers on a postcard or maybe a comment or two.  Ta very much.  And to quote that Monty Python song:

"Always look on the bright side of life.."

Did I see you whistling then?

Friday, 25 November 2011

How Much Do We Pay For Flipping Packaging?

Have you ever thought how much do we pay for that tin that our beer or beans come in?  What do you think about recycling?  How much energy do we use washing the can and removing the label even and driving to take it to the 'Recycle centre'?

I think the shops and manufacturers should display the price of the packaging on the product:  Even 'Organic' vegetables come wrapped in plastic.  What's good about wrapping something free of chemicals - in chemicals?  I think packaging should say:

"This can cost fifty pence for the can and 50p for the contents.

We would soon put stuff back if we knew how much we paid for the packaging wouldn't we?  I heard (dunno if its true) that some German shoppers took their packaging back to the supermarkets and told them to get rid of the packaging for them.

The sad thing about it all.  Is that we pay for the packaging and then we'pay' again to get rid of it.  Then they recycle some of it and we pay for it again.

I think its time that we went back to the old corner shop.  A place where everything is sold 'loose' and in good old fashioned brown-paper.  You can't even get your Fish and Chips (why is it not Chips and Fish) wrapped in newspaper any-more.  You used to be able to get 'proper' fish and chips cooked in animal fats (beef dripping) and you had something to read while you ate your meal!

What do you think readers?

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Have you got a spare coat?

"Could you ever forgive my self-pity?
When you've got nothing and you're living on the streets of the city.
I couldn't live without my phone.
But you don't even have a home."

That's a verse from Mel C's: "If that were me".  Its a song about the homeless.  According to latest statistics (I found it on Google) I think there are over a million people homeless in the UK and 300000 people in the republic of Ireland.  These people are everywhere.  In the city, towns and countryside.

The weather is getting colder and its awful to think that there are human beings sleeping rough, on some one's couch, in a car or van or even sitting in a airport or a twenty four hours cafe like McDonald's.    We can all help a bit this week by donating our money to a charity like the Salvation Army, or even by just donating a coat.  ITV's Daybreak television is launching a 'Donate a Coat' appeal from the 21 - 25th of November.

They just want you to donate a coat to one of the 150 UK Salvation Army centres or put it in a Salvation Army  clothing bank at Asda.  These coats will be given to homeless people and people who are in need of them.  I know times are financially difficult.  But most of  us have a spare coat that will help keep somebody warm this Winter.  Go on folks.  Feel good and donate a coat and think you have helped somebody!



Thursday, 17 November 2011

The Storms.

Hi there.  I live next to the sea in the middle of the countryside in West Cork, Southern Ireland.  We get some terrible storms from the Atlantic from November to March.  Today is no different and the wind is swirling round the house and the rain is lashing against the windows and I still haven't repaired that over flowing guttering.  To quote Archie Sparrow (the character from my funny book about baling string):

"I wouldn't put a milk bottle out in this weather."

Or:

"It's that cold, even the rats are wearing fur coats."

Yes folks.  Its that time of year when we smallholders have to house the farm animals and give them hay and think about all those poor people and animals suffering in the countryside.  There are lots of poor people living a rural existence.  I have seen people living in vans and tepees in the countryside.  The countryside is not just a place for rich farmers or 'weekender's' and 'holiday house's' with Aga ovens and plastic mud on the Chelsea tractors (Range Rovers).

Here's: WIND: Ted Hughes.

This house had been far out at sea all night,
The woods crashing through darkness, the booming hills,
Winds stampeding the fields under the window
Floundering black astride and blinding wet

Till day rose; then under an orange sky
The hills had new places, and wind wielded
Blade-light, luminous black and emerald,
Flexing like the lens of a mad eye.

At noon I scaled along the house-side as far as
The coal-house door.  I dared once to look up-
Through the brunt wind that dented the balls of my eyes
The tent of the hills drummed and strained its guy-rope,

The fields quivering, the skyline a grimace,
At any second to bang and vanish with a flap:
The wind flung a magpie away and a black-
Back gull bent like an iron bar slowly.  The house

Rang like some fine green goblet in the note
That any second would shatter it.  Now deep
In chairs, in front of the great fire, we grip
Our hearts and cannot entertain book, thought,

Or each other.  We watch the fire blazing,
And feel the roots of the house move, but sit on,
Seeing the windows tremble to come in,
Hearing the stones cry out under the horizons.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Can a Smallholder make a living writing from their little house?

I suppose I can call myself one of the lucky ones - I own my own smallholding.  Yes I have no mortgage and haven't got a lot of debt.  The old well dried up in July.  So I had to shave my head and go and see the Credit Union and do my Life Of Brian sketch:

"Shekel for an ex leper?"

It worked and the lads and lasses from ye oldie Credit Union gave me a loan for nearly five thousand.  It's nine percent interest and over five years.  That's a lot of pennies or Euro's to be paid back every month.  Isn't it eh dear readers?

So I would like to know if anybody knows how to make money working from the comfort of their own house or even cow shed?    Any successful writers?  What is a successful writer? Somebody who is published or somebody who makes lots of money?

What do you think?




Saturday, 12 November 2011

Daft Arguments.

Many moons ago I used to live in a little house in England.  One morning we arose and cooked ourselves a hearty breakfast; bacon, egg, beans, tomatoes, black pudding, white pudding (I'm getting hungry), fried bread, toast, coffee, tea, orange juice, cuddly toy, conveyor belt...eh?

The aromas must of wafted and oozed their way through the walls or even windows of my next door neighbours residence.  I think the sun was 'cracking the flags' for a change (must of been December?) and everybody had decided to leave their windows open and let the blue bottles in.  

All of a sudden the early morning peace was shattered by my neighbours having a domestic:

"Why do we never get any effing bacon?"  

What's the daftest argument you have overheard?

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

A Northern England Chip Shop Tale: Dan- dock Lemonade.

When I was knee high to a dolly tub or even a pigeon.  My mother and father used to own a grocery shop.  Every Monday morning the 'pop' man would deliver minerals every week.  He used to deliver Dan-dock (Dandelion and Burdock) and Cola and Cream Soda and Lemonade and Orange...  I think he was a frustrated comedian because he was always laughing and joking:

"Here lad.  Which nineteen fifties pop group is still going to day?"

"Dunno?"

"Ben Shaw's".  

One merry morn the pop man kept giggling and laughing while he unloaded his wares.  My mother asked him why he kept laughing?

"I've just been to this Chinese chippy and they gave me this order".

He puts on a Chinese accent:

"Me want Dan-dock (Dandelion and Burdock) lemonade, Dan-dock Orange, Dan-dock Coca Cola, Dan-dock Cream Soda..."

They thought that Dan-dock (the Lancashire name for Dandelion and Burdock) was the name of the company that made it!

Well it made me laugh any way!


Monday, 7 November 2011

Anybody recycling their baling string?

I have lived on my smallholding for nearly ten and half years.  Before that I had four vegetable allotments in England.  Allotments are great and you meet lots of like minded people.  Especially the one who 'talks' a good allotment.  They will tell you everything that you should be doing and everything that you are doing is WRONG!    Then one day you decide to take a look at their plot and it's full of WEEDS!

Smallholding farming teaches you self reliance skills and how to recycle everything  - especially baling string!  Yes I am the author of a baling string book.  Its called: Archie Sparrows book of Useful tips to Beat the Recession with..............Baling String.   Its on Amazon books and it will make a brilliant Christmas present for somebody.  I think you should rush out and order ten copies each.

Thanks for reading this!


Friday, 4 November 2011

A Great War Poet.

Today is the 4th of November.  It is also the day that Wilfred Owen was killed shepherding his company across the Sambre canal in First World War France.  He died just a week from the Armistice.  Next week will be a special day.  It will be the 11.11.11.

I once stood outside Wilfred Owen's old house: Plas Wilmot in Oswestry.  Here's one of his poems:

ANTHEM FOR DOOMED YOUTH.

What passing bells for those who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,-
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing - down of blinds.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

The Black Dog Bites Again

Winston Churchill used to call his depression "the Black Dog".  A lot of writers say that they suffer from depression from time to time.  I have suffered from depression for most of my life - especially 'writers' depression.  Have you?

"I talk to God but the sky is empty".  Sylvia Plath.

You think everything is going great and then all of a sudden the 'Black Dog' appears  and bites you.  The isolation of the countryside  (I am a smallholder) and hours and hours in solitary confinement (sat in my study tapping the computer keys) all help to make the black dog manifest.  

Depression and creativity are said to be very closely linked.  I personally think its the lack of control that makes the writer so frustrated and depressed.  We're always waiting for that email, letter, blog comment,  Amazon book rating...?  The one that says:

 "We like your work".  

The one that brings home the bacon and you feel that you have provided.

There's only one way to cure the 'Black Dog blues'.

Write through it!

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

HUMOUR AUTHOR RANT.

Hows it going al-right?

I thought I would have a rant today about 'new authors' (I'm nearly 48) not getting a fair crack of the whip in the posh newspapers (any newspapers), or even on the Book-show on Sky Arts?  Come on Marie-la Frostrup,  give us an email!  I will bring  the programme down a level or ten for you .

Do the the 'big' publishers have journalist contacts or do they spend tons on adverts?  Or is it the old case of:

"Its not what you know - its who you know!"

The papers and book charts seem to be full of television and sports celebrities at the moment.  Famous faces seem to sell books.

Do you think any one would interview a smallholder author who writes books about baling string and moans about the weather and spends too much writing and shouting on his computer gizmo Internet apparatus?

One day I will win the Booker prize.  Won't I?  Eh readers?

Anybody there?

Seriously.  What do you think?

Sunday, 30 October 2011

"SUN IS ALWAYS SHINING SOMEWHERE ELSE?"

"We live in the shadowlands, sun is always shining somewhere else....
around a bend in the road.... over the brow of a hill.."

That's a CS Lewis quote.  Doesn't it sum up the human condition ever so perfectly?  We spend our lives searching for something.

For x amount of years (over ten) I tried to be a writer - a published one at that.  Last year I fulfilled my dream. Am I happier now that I can call myself  Mr Author?  Not really.  Yes its brilliant to see my book on Amazon and write blogs about writing and humour.  But I still haven't got much money and my book doesn't get reviewed in the national newspapers.

Then again.  Is that why we write?

Are you a writer?

Why do you write?

 I would love to know!

Thanks.

Friday, 28 October 2011

"That's 25p an hour for the Farmer. How much an hour for a Writer?

Hi Folks.

I remember (couple of years ago) talking to a farmer about the plight of the farmer.  He said:

"If a farmer got 25p an hour, he'd be doing well!"

"So much?"

Says me.

Farming prices have been terrible for the last few years.  No we are in this dreadful recession.  Farmer's seem to be getting king's ransoms for their animals.  Only the other day a cattle dealer was telling me that 'dropped' (newly born) calves are making THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY EURO'S each.

Farmers can't afford to buy new stock.  How can cattle and sheep be making money in a recession?  Is it the ever growing world's population or are the meat factories and marts inflating the prices?  The world's gone mad!

A few years ago I sold yearling cattle for 380 Euro's a piece and the buyer expected 'Luck' money.  That's the Irish custom of giving the buyer some luck (a money note nothing less than a fiver) for his or her new purchase.

The little farmer always seems to lose out.  Even the E.E.C is going to stop paying out Single Farm Payments to Smallholders with less than two acres.  They say it costs them to much to administer this.  Doesn't it costs the Smallholder to live also?

Any way folks.  My question is:  If the Farmer is worth 25p an hour.  How much is a writer worth?  Martin Amis (famous author) once said that the lady who dusts his books in his study, earns more than him.  I think she was paid 12 quid an hour?   What hope is there for me or you or any other struggling writer/authors?

Saying that.  If I was living on a desert Island full of empty whisky bottles (I would make sure they were empty), I'd still be writing messages in them.  Money doesn't come into it if you're called to write.  Lets all have a sing song.  Altogether now:

"Message in a bottle."

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Farm Animal Housing.

The ground is saturated and my livestock are staying in today.  We don't have one of those horrid 'slatted' houses that seem to have sprang up all over the countryside. Why can't they be built with a more aesthetic appearance?  Can they not camouflage them with trees or face the concrete with stone?

On our farm, we have what is called 'loose housing'.  This consists of block walls, a concrete floor, metal doors and a corrugated metal roof.  The house (cowshed) is divided into two by a four foot wall  This used to be the'horse's' house.

Today my sheep are residing in it and my calve's are in the large area of the cow shed.  There are two hay-mangers (full of loose hay) hanging on the dividing wall and they both have tubs of clean water and troughs for the beef nut and sheep nuts.  The floor is covered in wood shavings and some hay or straw to lie on.  I clean them out regularly and make sure they are not lying in wet or cold and messy conditions.

We try to farm close to nature.  Would love to be an 'Organic' farmer.  There are no local organic butchers and most of the farm animals get sold to conventional farmers.  I also think there is far too much red tape to entice and attract most smallholder farmers.

What do you think readers?

 I know you're reading this because I have over a thousand views - thanks for passing by and having a look!!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Does anybody care about the people in the countryside?

I had never heard of Rural Isolation until I moved to West Cork just over ten years ago.  It was my life time wish to live in the countryside, next to the sea.  The silence is incredibly peaceful but it can also be quite deafening at times.  The poet Donne said:

"No man is an Island".

Rural living seems to be a life without infrastructure: no buses, pubs, shops, community centres, decent roads, street pavements, street lights, friends or even jobs.  Don't get me wrong I love the countryside and watching the different seasons like: cold rain, light rain and warm rain.  I think its other name is Summer.  Yeah I also have a sense of humour and that's why I write.

We have little crime and its a nice place to live.  But if you don't have a car or a qualification, or you are disabled or old.  There's not much down for you in the countryside.  This awful recession is making a lot of  the young people in Ireland emigrate.  Even worse the suicide rate is rising every month.  Its so sad!

Do we want the countryside to be a place for holiday homes, dormitory housing and 'Weekender's'.  Or do we encourage the children to get a good education and to move to the city or even emigrate?

I would love to work from home writing articles for newspapers and magazines and even more books.  But wouldn't millions of other people?  At least I am a published author.

Does anybody care about the people in the countryside?

Sunday, 16 October 2011

ODE TO A RUIN.

Hi folks!

Most people who read this post know I write Smallholding Humour.  Well that's the genre Amazon list my book in.  One also attempts (only now and again) to write poetry.  I am fascinated with old buildings, ruins in particular.  Especially the way nature reclaims the stones and architecture.  Animals take up residence in the rooms and Ivy spreads its fingers blanketing the walls.

I often go a walk in the West Cork countryside stopping now and again and looking at the old stone roofless cabins.  Many of these old ruins inhabitants died of starvation during the Great Famine in Ireland.  Many of the people emigrated to Britain, Australia and North America and Canada.  I often think:

"If only these walls could speak".

I wrote the following poem about a Lancashire cotton mill many years ago:

ODE TO A RUIN.

Skeletal, unworkable
A mill in retirement,

Ghosts of yesterday, disarray
Pitiful natures sad lament,

Crumbling mortar, times slaughter
"King Cotton" is no more,

Boulders fall, abstract tall
Rumbling debris cascades pour,

Relic, Melancholic
History passing through stones fingers,

No workers sweat, just silhouette
Their memory still lingers.

________________

Mike Harding sings a very moving song on You Tube: King Cotton.

Thanks for reading this!  I'll write another post later in the week!




Thursday, 13 October 2011

TRYING TO WRITE HUMOUR AND PATHOS.

The new manuscript is beginning to write itself.  I think its the exercise of writing four blogs a week that is keeping me writing fit.  That's two blogs for this site and another two on my book publishers blog site.  I am eating, sleeping and drinking my writing at the moment.

Writing the amusing travel guide/ memoir is really enjoyable at the moment.  Its great to have my old friend Google to click every time I think of a new topic.  I have only been on-line for the last two years.  Now I am completely addicted to the Internet.

The manuscript contains quite a few funny anecdotes and hopefully lots of useful and useless information.  I have noticed that the two essential ingredients of a successful memoir are humour and pathos;

"Make em laugh, make em cry".

I have read Angela's Ashes and it contains plenty of humour and pathos.  If you can make people laugh and cry, you have something special.  We all have lots of rain and sunshine in our lives and should a book be any different?

Here's a joke (very old) that contains pathos and humour;

LOST DOG.

I have lost my dog.  Its got no tail, one eye and only one ear.  Answers to the name of: LUCKY!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

WRITING A FUNNY TRAVEL MEMOIR

I am busy writing a hopefully funny book about a certain area of Ireland.  Its up to 12000 words today.  I seem to be reading quite a lot of travelling books recently.  Its a genre that seems to be very popular these days.  The manuscripts got lots of anecdotes and a lot of useful and useless information.

I don't know how many words to write?  It needs to be compact enough for the traveller to fit in their pocket and for it to be big enough for the reader to think its worth the price.  I don't know whether to send it off to a traditional book publisher, make it into an E book or go for a printer who prints on demand?

My friend (A English Master) is very kindly proof reading it for me and I have just  paid a illustrator to draw me a picture for the front cover.  My English Master friend is also very kindly providing me with photographs for the book.  I realise now (it's took me years) that you have to be professional with your writing.

I would love to start my own book publishing business.  Perhaps this will be the start?

Who are your favourite travel book writers?  My favourite two travel writers are Pete McCarthy and Neil Peart.

Does anybody write funny travel books?


Thursday, 6 October 2011

A STOIC SMALLHOLDER & WRITER?

I live on a smallholding in West Cork, Southern Ireland.  Rural Isolation often gets me down.  If you haven't got a bus service, shop, bus, church, community centre... - you haven't got much.  

Farming makes you stoic and pragmatic.  There is always a problem on a farm.  Be it the lack of money, sun, rain or just ill and dying animals.  I am more of a writer than a farmer really.  They are both very similar vocations though.  A writer spends hours, days, months maybe years?  Trying to get their work published and   hoping somebody will like it?  Farmers spend hours and hours working in all weathers.  Trying to build up a decent herd and make a few pounds for their family.  

I often watch the changing seasons and the wildlife and farm animals in the fields.  It makes me think of the wonderful poem: Self Pity.  DH Lawrence was a great poet and a great novelist.  

SELF PITY.

I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.  A small bird will drop frozen from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.


Monday, 3 October 2011

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WON THE NATIONAL LOTTERY?

I was listening to a funny tale on Irish radio the other week.  A lady was on a plane talking to a old man.  He was a farmer.  She got talking about the latest Lotto winner.  The man said he knew how they would feel.  He said he'd won it himself - but he never told his missus!

Apparently you have a one in 14 million chance of winning the lottery.  There is more chance of you randomly dialling any phone number and the queen picking up the receiver and saying;

"Hiya.  Are you coming round to our house (even Palace) for a brew?"

I wouldn't want millions.  Just enough to buy a few more cattle, start my own book publishing company, brewery, have lots of holidays, never see another Winter again, have my own box at Manchester United, buy an house in Cornwall..?

What would you do if you won the Lottery?

Saturday, 1 October 2011

TOO WET TO PLANT MY ONIONS

Today is the first day of October.  I purchased some Winter onions and garlic the other day.  I've been lifting my potatoes and making raised beds from wood I get for free from the local skip hire place.

I can't get on my plot today though because the ground is saturated.  It's rained all week in West Cork, Ireland.  I believe that the UK is having an Indian Summer.  It must be all the pollution and global warming from all those cars.  See my blog comments about me thinking of buying a bike.  I am joking.

My winter onions or "Japs" have been incredibly huge this year - perhaps it was all the snow and ice?  It was the coldest winter in Ireland since 1947.  The old people here are saying that the holly trees are full of berries.  They say it's a sure sign of another harsh winter.  It will soon be Christmas!

Friday, 30 September 2011

A WALK IN THE COUNTRY.

The rain finally stopped falling around dinner time.  That's lunch to all those people who got the heat wave in Southern England.  I saw it on Sky news the other day.  Lucky you.

So I walked up the huge hill near our little farm.  It's about 500 feet or so.  It's always been called the mountain.  There's a stone cairn on the top of it.  My grandparents used to call it the "Stony Man".  The tradition was for the walker to place a stone on top it.  The old people would say; "

If you do, you will always come back."

I am not really a big fan of walking.  It's a bit like writing - you set yourself on a journey and you're on your own!

Indifference destroys the writers spirit and the will to write.  It's like the last mile home always seems the farthest. Or the light is always darkest just before dawn.

I had a good think, walk and lots of philosophical thoughts.  I even came back with the first lines of a new poem - song.

Walking gives you the muse!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

AM I TOO OLD TO RIDE A BIKE?

I have been having another one of my midlife crisis today.  You see I live in the countryside and I don't drive.  I am too nervous to drive.  I even jump when I'm sat in the passengers seat and another car drives passed.

The public transport only operates twice a week and it goes via Tibet.  I exaggerate a little.  But it does go on a thirty mile journey instead of my usual five or so miles.

I can easily get a lift into town every day.  But I want my own autonomy - wheels.  I have even thought of starting hiking.  But that's boring on your own.  It's also very dangerous because the speed limits are crazy and there's no pavements to walk on!

So what do you think readers?

Can you start cycling when you're nearly 48?  What kind of a bike should I get?  What gears would I use?

Will I start writing about cycling?  Am I too old?

"Daisy, daisy give me you're arms..."

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

MY NEW WRITING CHALLENGE.

Hi everybody.  Thanks for keep reading folks!   Just a short blog today.

I  have set myself a target of writing 1000 words a day.  This consists of writing at least 800 words of my new book and writing this blog and my twice weekly one on my publishers blog.  I have been sticking at this for just over eight days up to now.

There's a saying; "use it or you'll lose it!"  It's true.  The more you write, the more ideas you get and the more words appear on the screen or paper.  I also find that I am a lot more happy in myself and I am starting to be able to call myself a Writer!  Procrastinating writers get nowhere.  If you want to be a writer - you have got to write!

Back to the book!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

IT'S ONLY A BOOK - MY BOOK!

I thought that when I FINALLY had my book published that I would be content.  It's nearly twelve months since I actually placed my hands on my  brainchild; ARCHIE SPARROWS BOOK OF USEFUL TIPS TO BEAT THE RECESSION with...........Baling String.  Twelve months since I held the book in my hands.

But am I content?  Yeah.  I achieved my life time dream of becoming a published author.

There are several downfalls though.  I find myself constantly checking my book rating on Amazon and seeing if my two blogs have any comments.  Things are pretty quiet on that front at the moment.  Although my view ratings are doing well and I have heard lots of people read them but don't post comments.

In the mean time.  It's back to my new book idea. I'm tapping those keys and thinking "it's only a book!"

Do you suffer this writers neurosis problem?

Monday, 26 September 2011

A CHRISTMAS CUPBOARD OR EVEN A HAMPER - CARDBOARD BOX?

Many moons ago.  I wanted one of those Christmas Hampers.  You know the one's you see in the posh newspapers and on the telly?  The trouble was I couldn't afford one!  So I had a brainwave!   I would make my own. It's really easy.

Just clear out a cupboard or get yourself a large cardboard box.  One that you can HIDE in the living room or in the wardrobe.  That's the hamper made.

Now go to the supermarket every week or day.  Buy an extra few items.  Or even double up on them - especially if you are buying some bottles of whiskey!  You will be amazed how quickly you fill your hamper (cardboard box) up to the brim.  You also only fill it with the stuff that you like - no boxes of After Eights!

The Christmas Cupboard is also great to raid if you are skint or it's blowing a gale outside.  The only rule being that what ever you use - you have to replace.

Come Christmas Eve. You won't be going round the supermarket with an enormous shopping trolley or an enormous debt!!


Sunday, 25 September 2011

A RURAL IYDLL IN IRELAND.

One of my favourite Irish films is The Quiet Man.  Movie film director  John Ford bought the film rights for TEN Dollars!

The author of the Quiet man was called Maurice Walsh.  He was born near Listowel in county Kerry.  John Ford tried to sentimentalise rural Ireland.  He paints a picture of a farming community without social class or religious division.  He later paid Maurice Walsh six thousand dollars.  Mr Walsh described the Technicolor film as "extraordinarily fine".

It's a really beautiful film.  I some times see Maureen O'Hara in one of the West Cork towns near my little smallholding.  It's quite strange see in a Hollywood legend getting out of her car, going shopping.

My only negative comment about the film is the music.  I am not saying I don't like it, oh no!  It's when they keep playing: the Rakes of Mallow.  I can't get the tune out of my head;

Altogether now;

"Dum da, dum da, dum da diddle da".

See what I mean?

Friday, 23 September 2011

THERE'S A CROCODILE IN MY VEGETABLE PLOT.

No I am not talking about one of those reptile creatures.  I am talking about my Crocodile Azada grubbing hoe.  They are the best thing since sliced bread was invented.

You must have seen one or something similar.  I bought mine last year.  It's fantastic for clearing weeds and grass.  I suffer from a bad bad - most gardeners do!

About 12 years ago I helped somebody move a double wardrobe and they accidently let it go on the stairs.  The wardrobe decided to push me down the stairs and crush me behind the front door.  I felt my heart move and broke a rib or two.  Every time I do anything physical - my back aches like mad!

That's why I bought my Crocodile hoe.  It really is so easy to dig with.  I am currently clearing my potato area at the moment.  So I have set myself a challenge of clearing a two metres square area of weeds per day.  That's four wheelbarrows of compost material every day.  This then gets piked (four prong pike) into my trusty wheelbarrow and composted in my pallet compost area.  It's then mixed with farmyard manure and covered up with a old carpet.

My compost area consists of six wooden pallets stood up right and tied together with baling string.  Talking of baling string!! I am the author of a funny book about it's many uses.  Put Archie Sparrows book of useful tips with....BALING STRING? in Amazon books.  See if you can find it!

ARE YOU WRITING A BOOK OR TEN?

Are you writing a book at the moment?  I try to write something everyday.  It's like exercise.  The more you do it - the easier it gets!  Well that's the idea anyway.  It took me ten years or more to finally achieve my dream of becoming a fully fledged published author.

Never never stop believing.  Remember rejection slips aren't personal.  Book publishers aren't rejecting you!  They might be full up or they can't afford to publish at the moment.

I am currently writing a travel book based in Ireland.  It's a kind of McCarthy's Bar style of manuscript.  There's lots of humour and moans and it's really difficult but I am kind of enjoying it.

I think writing is like the banging your head against a wall.  Why?  Because (never start a sentence with because) it's so good when you stop banging your head!

Are you writing a book?  What's it about?  Drop me a line.  I love corresponding with writers - yeah you!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

WHAT'S HAPPENED TO MY ALLOTMENT PROGRAMMES ON THE TELLY?

It's a good job we have the old Tinternet and T'web (northern English phrase) to read about allotments and smallholdings.

The other night I was doing my usual remote control channel switching.  I can watch three programmes at once!  Not really.  Any way.  There I was thinking "There's nearly a thousand different satellite channels and not one about growing vegetables or running a smallholding."

Even the gardening programmes are repeats or very infrequent.  I used to really like watching Geoff  Hamiltons PARADISE GARDEN series.

There was also THE BIG DIG: presented by former Radio one DJ Simon Mayo. It was a wonderful fly on the wall account of allotment life in Wales and London.  I think there were three series in total.  Then the powers that be decided to scrap it.  WHY pray?

There used to be 1.4 million local authority allotments in Britain.  Now there only 300000.  These places are living lungs and need to be protected.  I have heard (read) that there is a 100000 waiting list!  The Beeb could at least repeat THE BIG DIG or make some more?

At least we can read and write blogs and books.  Oh we can always do some WEEDING on the old allotment?

What do you think readers?

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

WRITING BLOGS; THE NEW PUNK ROCK FOR WRITERS.

I think that blogs and Internet publishing are the new Punk Rock!  Years ago people decided they were being in a band and that was that.  The band's name was more important that the ability of the musicians.

We are currently going through a technological industrial revolution.  The Internet is the best thing since sliced bread.  All you need to do is tap those keys and press PUBLISH.  You don't have to be Shakespeare to write.  Writers are people who write!

I really believe in Community Arts - do you?  Let's be like William Blake and write and paint, play instruments, grow vegetables, play Cricket and Football (or watch it anyway") and just be creative!

Not sure if William Blake played Cricket?


Tuesday, 20 September 2011

CARDBOARD BOXES IN THE VEGETABLE GARDEN.

I've been collecting cardboard boxes lately from the shops.  I can't believe how many of them have MADE IN CHINA on them.  No wonder Europe is in recession.  Does anybody make anything any more?

 Anyway.. I have been having a go at Lasagna gardening.  It's a North American term for mulching with cardboard and compost and good old farmyard manure.  It's ideal for anybody taking over a overgrown allotment.  Just lay the cardboard flat on the weeds.  Strim them down first if you can get hold of a strimmer.  Somebody will do it for you for a few pints or ten.  I'd do it for you except in live in West Cork on a little farm!

When you have finished laying your cardboard all over the grassy weed area.  Cover it with Farmyard manure, leaves, compost, grass clippings... Then leave it for old Mr and Mrs worm to work it into the soil.  Then hopefully next March or so you will have some beautiful friable compost.

You are just imitating nature really.  That's what the leaves do in the forests.  Shedding their leaves and making gorgeous leaf mould compost.  Get yourself a vegetable allotment or a smallholding!

Monday, 19 September 2011

ALLOTMENTS AND SMALLHOLDINGS ARE GREAT!!

Have you ever thought of getting a smallholding or an allotment?   If you are this is the place to share your thoughts.  I have had three ("thought it was four?") allotments and now live on my smallholding.  It's a hobby nay obsession, that rewards you with tons of chemical free veg and a bad back and gives you a pragmatic and stoic approach to life, the universe and next doors allotment!

I spent an hour or so today on my veg plot.  I thought it was too wet but it wasn't so bad.  Been digging my Orla potatoes and a swede for my tea!

The slugs have been having a field day boring and chomping my Solanum Tuberosums.  They don't win though.  I throw them and the weeds into my wheelbarrow and cart them to the ducks and hens.   The slugs and snails - not the potatoes!  The ducks and hens scratch about and leave me some wonderful compost material!

Gosh and golly it's to do some digging.  Thank God and old Mother Nature for my little vegetable plot!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

FAVOURITE NORTHERN FILMS.

What's your favourite northern English film?   Let me give you a few of my favourites to think about; BILLY LIAR, BRASSED OFF, KES, LITTLE VOICE, RITA, SUE AND BOB TOO, WUTHERING HEIGHTS, WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND, SATURDAY NIGHT SUNDAY MORNING, WITH NAIL AND I, HOBSONS CHOICE, GEORGE FORMBY films....

Hows them  for starters?  I am a published writer who loves everything to do with northern England.  I would love to write a film script would you?

I am currently writing a travel log book based on West Cork in Southern Ireland.  It's another place I have got a soft spot for you.  I also adore Herefordshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Wales, Soutwest England - especially Cornwall and Somerset.

If you want to read a couple of fantastic books about England, read : THE LONGEST CRAWL: Ian Marchant and also read ENGLAND: AN ELEGY:   Roger Scruton.

If you want to read my funny book about BALING STRING.  type ARCHIE SPARROWS BOOK OF USEFUL TIPS TO BEAT THE RECESSION............With Baling String.  

Archie is a Lancashire smallholder who decides to save England from bankruptcy by using his baling string tips.

If you are daft like me and like or write zany humour drop us a line or ten..!

Thanks!!

Friday, 16 September 2011

ANYBODY WRITE SMALLHOLDING HUMOUR OR ANY KIND OF HUMOUR?

Howdy Folks!

It's been a long time since I Rock and Rolled... Guess the rock song?

I have been busy writing on my publishers blog and trying to write a book or ten. Last year my book was published and I achieved my life time dream. CLUE: It's a funny book about Baling String!

Do you dream to be published one day? Well. If you never give up you will achieve it. Honest!

Have a look at my profile please! If you write comedy, heavy rock music (lots of music) or have an allotment or a smallholding. Please drop me a line or ten.

Anybody thinking of self publishing or setting up their own book publishers please let me know!

Thanks!!