In amongst everything else my pickling adventures are still in full swing, indeed as I type a 5kg bag of Dutch pickling onions sit beside me awaiting my attention. Whilst in my kitchen more onions are enjoying a brine bath ahead of being pickled tomorrow. I now have a larder filled with pickled onions, pickled shallots and pickled hen and duck eggs.  I look forward to starting on the beetroot, cabbage and piccalilli next week and before know it my pickling duties will be over and my kitchen we be filled with the aroma of Seville oranges as marmalade season begins.

Apart from pickling plenty has been going on in work and family life. There has been plenty of pie making in my kitchen and my freezer is now full for Christmas.  In addition to this I have been busily tapping away at the keyboard in an attempt to keep up with my writing deadlines and also in an attempt to get my blog sites sorted out. The saga of my blog sites sadly continues. Now, don’t worry I am not going to be rambling on for hours about the issues I have encountered with blog and websites, because to be frank about it I am somewhat war weary from SEO which I have now officially decided is a dark art. However, just to fill you lovely readers in, after the birth of Rosaleigh last October, I thought I’d treat myself to a professionally built website and a blog to showcase some of my recipes and food writing. I joined the Guild of Food Writers and commissioned a web designer to build me the sites, well all did not go to plan. The sites have never really attracted any readers and despite my best efforts I am lucky if  I get a couple of readers a day. I was posting everyday and I kept being assured that the seo was being done. When I eventually ran out of resources for the pursuit of blogging success, the web designer gave me all the login details for my blog so I could post my blogs myself and suddenly I gained enlightenment. It turns out none of my blogs were search engine friendly as  SEO keywords or tags. I am by no means social media or search engine savvy, but I have read up on a few basics and I was somewhat shocked by a sea of no SEO on my site and my website was exactly the same. So I am now busily optimizing my sites and slowly but surely I am learning to master the dark art of SEO.  I’m gaining a few more readers already, but I’m definitely looking for more so if you fancy reading some of my recipes and articles take a  look at

With the shops and indeed radio blaring out Christmas songs  and decorations and wrapping paper being visible just about everywhere it is almost possible to forget that we are still in November and that it is actually National Novel Writing Month.  Now most of us like to imagine that we have a novel in us, if only we could find time to write it. Indeed when it comes to sitting down and penning a novel it seems that everything is destined to get in the way; the reality is of course that procrastination truly is the thief of time.


I’ve fancied taking part in National Novel Writing Month for a few years, but I’m aware that undertaking the writing of any book in a month is a huge undertaking; requiring deep thought, emotional commitment and, usually, the total alienation of family and friends; which is a bit of a problem for me as I have three young daughters and a thoroughly charming husband.  However, I have been mulling over putting some old diary entries into a book format for around sixteen years now and I really did get the sense this year that it is now or never and I just had an urge to see if I could pull of knocking out a good read in a month.

So one cold and blustery evening last month I enrolled myself on the  NaNoWriMo challenge. Short for National Novel Writing Month, it’s an internet hub of budding writers who each spend the whole of November working on a book, from start to finish.


It’s a great idea, but I must confess that it is not easy, or should I say I am struggling to keep it going. No, I don’t have writers block, but I do have a lot of demands on my time. However, I am battling through and this week I am down on my target word count, but I am still in with a sporting chance of pulling it off and completing my book by the end of this month.


Fourteen years ago Chris Baty in San Francisco founded National Novel Writing Month and  NaNoWriMo now has online novelists on every continent (including Antarctica). Technically it’s now International Novel Writing Month, but the original name has stuck and the rules are that you must write a minimum of 50,000 words and complete your book in November. Now, before anyone starts arguing that 50,000 words is a short novel, you must consider that it is almost double the length of Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which is 26,532 words.

I’m really rather enjoying the challenge and I must admit that I have managed to covet a few moments each day to sit and dedicate to the task; this hasn’t always been easy and sometimes it has just been a few minutes whilst cooking dinner or whilst Rosa has been taking a nap; but I have sat with a coffee and devoted a few precious moments to a few precious lines every day and sometimes I have surprised myself by jotting out thousands of words in a very short sitting; but regardless of my output I am really rather glad I decided to take part in National Novel Writing Week and I would urge anyone that thinks they have a novel to write to take part next year.


Well, I do believe that my oven is feeling lonely and I have the urge to bake a Victoria Sponge for teatime so until next week I bid you a fond farewell from West Wales