....welcome to my blog on writing, reading and living in London ......

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Sheiks......... love 'em

A while ago, I posted photos for my new sheikh story that I am writing hoping to send it to Mills and Boon. At last it's going really well, racing along in fact. I've got more into sheikhs as I've researched them. I never realised (stupidly it's true) how fabulously, ridiculously, fantastically wealthy some of them are. But they also fit the Mills and Boon requirement of being a consummate nurturer. Here, for example is Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Ali Al-Nuaimi, of the United Arab Emirates, better known as the Green Sheikh. He's actually rather cute, don't you think, whether he's looking thoughtful and all concerned about things green, or whether he's kneeling in the snow freezing his poor old knees off and praying? He sounds almost too good to be true, as he's not only Mr Environment but is also big on charity works and is opening a hospital, looking after disadvantaged youngsters in the UAE etc. I could sooooo warm to a guy like that, particularly if he had a couple of billion in the bank, sigh.... Oops, enough of this dreaming, must put the washing on, empty the dishwasher and get showered and on my bike ready for the day job......

Monday, 18 October 2010

Such a perfect day.....

Oh joy, for my birthday, my husband said, 'I've booked a table at the Savoy.' We don't often indulge but he is a believer in marking special days with memories rather than things. In fact he finds things weigh him down and is always urging me as a hoarder to clear stuff out. So, off we tottled to the Savoy on the Strand which has been closed the last few years due to refurbishment at the staggering cost of £200 million. The original ancient site was a hospital, which eventually declined and was described by The sixteenth-century historian Stow as being misused by "loiterers, vagabonds and strumpets". Which one of those were we, I wondered, all done up to the nines?!

I really would love to set a Mills and Boon in a luxury hotel like the Savoy. There was the gorgeous art deco inspired River Restaurant where we had lunch, all the pretty girls and wonderfully handsome young men who see you to your table, there was the Russian family looking mysterious and fur-collar clad, there was the view of the Thames blazing in Autumn sunshine and there was the mouth-watering food. Finally, there was the birthday cake, complimentary and so rich we had to take it home in a little white box because neither of us could stuff any more calories in. Of course you don't have to have a special birthday to enjoy the Savoy. You can save up your pennies and go for a cup of coffee and spend ages lounging on the gorgeous sofas, lapping up the atmosphere whilst you watch the clientele and the staff bustle past giving you any number of ideas for a romantic novel. Well, that's my excuse anyway for going there as much as I possibly can! Ps - note that in my hand I hold a bag from Hotel Chocolat with a few goodies to take home. Next week, I'll diet, always next week........

Monday, 11 October 2010

Where do you get your writing ideas from?

Ever since New Voices I have been mulling over new ideas. Could I get one to work? NO. But finally, things are beginning to come together. The first thing you have to do of course is find your hero. A bout of insomnia has given me a precious hour to sift through smouldering guys and finally I found him. Zaki is a sheikh in a distant nation of sandstorms and snow tipped mountain passes. He loves his semi-desert nation more dearly than he loves his own life. And here he is on the few occasions he gets to relax.

I am desperately working on the opening chapter which will either be set in the mountains, or the blistering desert. Either way, I know I shall have fun once I finally stop procrastinating and actually get something down on paper!

Writers are often asked, 'where do you get your ideas from?' and I find the web and the newspapers are both fertile ground for starting up your imagination. So, where do you get your writing ideas from?

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Mudlarking on the Thames

My (new) husband and I celebrated our first anniversary by staying at the hotel we stayed in on our wedding night, the Grange City Hotel next to the Tower of London. Purely by chance that weekend is when they always hold the Thames Festival. It's great fun and a wonderful way of celebrating the Thames. I absolutely love the river. For our wedding reception, we took a Thames barge from Tower Hill down to Greenwich. During the Thames festival, there are stalls all the way down the South bank and they close one of the bridges, lay it up with clothed tables and have a massive open air picnic. One of the most interesting stalls was one set up by a guy who goes mudlarking. In the past, mudlarks, mainly young children would make a pathetic living raking over the mud at low tide to find anything they could sell. Rivets from the boatmaking at Limehouse to sell to scrap metal dealers, canvas and rope and even fat thrown overboard by ships cooks could all make a farthing or a halpenny. These poor destitute children would work in rags through the bitterest winters scraping a paltry living, and the mud on the Thames still tells a million stories and still makes a living for some. The guy we met digs up bits of china, old clay pipes and makes pictures of them so that people can own their own small bit of history. In the picture above you can see odd white china figures like ghostly corpses which I thought were dolls. In fact, they were some of the first 'promotional' items given away with soap powder. He has also used one of the commonest finds on the river, pins (you can see them scattered over bits of old clay pipes) which were made by children and used to fix elaborate clothing throughout the ages. Apparently, an Elizabeth neck ruff could take a thousand pins to fix into place. There will soon be a TV series made about mudlarking and then the banks of the Thames will be heaving. So if you want to get there now, while it's relatively quiet and find your own piece of history, all you need is a licence from the Port of London Authority which costs around £40 for three years.