Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006


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2010 in First Lines

My longterm blog pals Dorothy and Pete both use this as a means to reflect briefly over their year in blogging, and I’m shamelessly jumping on the bandwagon. I’ve cut and pasted the first lines of each month’s first blog post for 2010. Charlotte’s Web in 12 lines. Let’s see what we have:

December: Today is World AIDS Day.

November: There are logline competitions and blogfests happening all over our strange little corner of the blogosphere today.

October: I’ve just attached five Post-its to the top of my computer screen.

September: I’ve had quite a summer; working in a real office, trying to make plans for my kids when GTH was away travelling, enjoying three separate sets of visits from grandparents, then starting two of my children at a new school all the way across town and trying to chisel my novel revisions in the spare cracks of time that I had.

August: Two posts ago, I noted my summer wish list.

July: I’ve been spending a lot of time in the pool, a great arena to observe the natives at play.

June: So I’m back from my journey.

May: I love it when a Times Online columnist espouses one of my views loudly and publically on a long weekend so as to get the attention of all the reading masses on my behalf.

April: I disappeared there, under the weight of chocolate and some great new books.

March: This post is not about diamonds, though I am not above them.

February: Ten years ago yesterday, I became a parent for the first time.

January: I’ve gone off resolutions.

It’s all there, really, the usual stuff: reading, writing, parenting, laughing at the Germans. I was forced to stop quoting India Knight when she went behind the Times’ paywall and I still really miss her and continue to believe that we were separated at birth. While cutting and pasting, I wasn’t powerfully moved to reread any of the posts, except the January one and I found that these were my goals (not resolutions!) for the year:

  • Tidy up the novel, submit it to my beta readers, then submit to literary agents. Work on the cycle of short stories that I’ve got buzzing under the radar and flesh out my other novel ideas.
  • Step up the exercise routine, and let the Christmas eating go. Eat fresh, healthy, life-giving food.
  • Keep travelling.
  • Keep reading.
  • Keep loving my family.
  • Step up my freelance writing business: build a website, do some marketing, hire a nanny if necessary.
  • Keep fighting the migraines.
  • Rediscover the joy in blogging, and tidy up my very out-of-date blogroll.
  • Keep trying to leave the Burg. It will happen, one day.

I now have a literary agent who is on my case, hunting down a publisher for Balthasar’s Gift. I travelled, read, loved my family, discovered the times of the month where I Absolutely Have To avoid alcohol, built a website, freelanced more, tidied my blogroll and changed the blog’s look, and found a way to leave the Burg. A whole lot of achievements that I feel proud of. One of my goals I didn’t really achieve, not consistently anyway. With all the work on my novel, the extra freelancing, kids starting at a new school, house-hunting and the worst  blow of all, my beloved yoga teacher upping sticks and moving to Berlin in June, my exercise routine is in tatters. Healthy eating I manage most of the time, but my sugar obsession still beats me. There’s big room for improvement there.

Now I’m off to ruminate on my goals for 2011.

While eating a piece of homemade chocolate and pistachio fudge.


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Awakening the Inner Cave-Dweller

We’re down to one car here at Fun Central. My 12-year-old Renault Scenic died unceremoniously a few weeks ago and we decided not to replace it, because we are good Germans and like to think about the environment. This does put some pressure on me and Germany’s Top Husband, though, in terms of negotiating who gets the car when. I was fondly imagining I’d go grocery shopping this morning until he pointed out that he had a suit day in Heidelberg and the car was his. Off  he went, leaving me staring into the empty fridge wondering what the hell I was going to have for breakfast.

Turns out, it was a peach. Not a peach that was lingering in the fruit-bowl, but a peach that I had to hunt down by foot and then drag home, skin and eat.

There is something intensely satisfying about bringing your food home on foot. Here’s what I managed to scavenge by going into the Burg’s thousand-year-old town centre and walking around the shops there, instead of driving to the supermarket outside town:

1. Butcher: Thuringer sausages, both plain and spicy; marinated lamb chops (got the fourth free just by chatting to the lovely lady – that wouldn’t have happened at the supermarket); free-range eggs.

2. Greengrocer: a butternut (never to be found in a German supermarket), peaches, apples, grapes, cucumber, red peppers, a tin of marinated giant beans, a lettuce.

3. Schlecker: muesli, cleaning cloths, bin bags, snacks for the kids.

4. Bakery: Brezeln, both plain and cheesy, and a free chat about Germany’s chances for Saturday.

Then I dragged the whole lot home and pounced on my peach.

I have become a fan of the caveman lifestyle idea. Those of you who have been with me a long time know that diets have come and gone. There was Shangri-La, there was low-carb and long, long ago in the mists of time, there was Weight-Watchers.

But the caveman diet, I’m telling you, is the way forward. It has various names and proponents (paleolithic, caveman, primal blueprint), but the basic idea is the same: eat the way our ancestors ate, move the way they moved, and rest the way they rested, thus becoming fitter, leaner and healthier. It makes a lot of sense to me. Without wanting to repeat what the experts say, I point you to the best blog I’ve found on the caveman lifestyle: Mark’s Daily Apple. Check out his About section for tons of useful background information.

I’ve been acting the cave-dweller for the month of June. I’ve lost kilograms and centimetres, which is always pleasing. I am also happier, better rested and far less grumpy. And right now, I’m off to the pool in my mammoth-skin bikini for some caveman-like romping.

Want to join me?


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Looking Forwards, and Back

I’ve gone off resolutions. I think they set us up for failure. As I try to live more in the moment, I think resolutions make me spend too much time regretting the past and feeling anxious about the future. However, I do believe in goals, and those are what I have for the new year – a series of goals that I can use on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Before I share these, I want to sum up last year before moving forward to this one. If you sense a resolution in this post, feel free to reach out and slap me.

Here are some of 2009’s highlights:

  • Finished my novel, twice. The first draft was literary fiction, written in third person, with three voices, and I had no idea where it was going. The second draft was crime fiction, in first person, with a strongly defined beginning, middle and end. There was a narrative arc, growing tension and a main character you could get behind.
  • Kept up 2008’s exercise and healthy eating routines, albeit patchily. I completely recognise that exercising comes in spurts for me, and healthy eating is something that comes and goes, with the wind, usually according to how many weddings I have to attend.
  • Travelled! South Africa, Crete, Berlin, Switzerland, South Africa, Dubai. Three of those trips were for weddings and each time it was more than worth it to be there and see people I love get married.
  • Applied for a job and out of the 180 applicants was one of four people interviewed. I didn’t get the position, but will start writing freelance for the company this month.
  • Read many, many books (see my incomplete list of Books 2009), the highlight of which was Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall. It’s a triumph of imagination and exacting research. I can’t wait for the sequel.
  • Watched my children grow and mature and delighted in who they are becoming.
  • Loved my husband truly, madly, deeply. It is a place where I feel both free and hugely connected, which is, I believe, how a relationship should be.
  • Visited a doctor who is helping me take control of my migraines (a gum guard and jaw massages – not pretty, but a whole lot better than having to spend two days a month in a darkened room, crying with pain and vomiting).
  • Tried to leave the Burg, but found to my surprise that I am still here and despite myself, loving it.
  • Enjoyed my blog’s fourth year and met two long-term blog pals (Jeanne, the Cooksister, and Kit, who hosted my family to a superb Sunday lunch. On a Monday.).

And here are my goals – not resolutions – for 2010:

  • Tidy up the novel, submit it to my beta readers, then submit to literary agents. Work on the cycle of short stories that I’ve got buzzing under the radar and flesh out my other novel ideas.
  • Step up the exercise routine, and let the Christmas eating go. Eat fresh, healthy, life-giving food.
  • Keep travelling.
  • Keep reading.
  • Keep loving my family.
  • Step up my freelance writing business: build a website, do some marketing, hire a nanny if necessary.
  • Keep fighting the migraines.
  • Rediscover the joy in blogging, and tidy up my very out-of-date blogroll.
  • Keep trying to leave the Burg. It will happen, one day.

Wishing you all a splendid, successful Twenty Ten.