Tag Archives: children

What Life’s All About….

April really didn’t quite go to plan for me, at least as far as my authorly existence is concerned. You may or may not know that, for reasons entirely too complicated and uninteresting to explain here, the time I have available to be “Nicky Wells, Author” has been cut in half since the beginning of February. By and large, the implications for my readers are negligible as I am abounding with ideas for books, and I am working fast and furious when I can. Moreover, I’ve had a bit of a strategic realignment in terms of how I spend my time. I mean, come on, I was a project manager in a previous lifetime—workflow management is my specialty, and crunched agendas don’t intimidate me!

So I took a long hard look at how I should spend my author time, and I made some adjustments. As a result, the time I dedicate to actually producing product—writing books for you, my friends!—has barely been affected.

However. Every now and then, life will throw up a few wrinkles, and April was one of them. Through the entire month of April, I managed a grand total of fifteen hours of work on my books, if that. Why? Grab a chair and a cuppa and find out…

5 April—Older Son’s Birthday Party
My older son celebrated his ninth birthday in style at a local leisure centre, and the grandparents came to stay with us for advance celebrations for the weekend. Lots of fun and cake was had, my gorgeous nine year old was chuffed beyond belief by all the presents and attention, and writing didn’t seem important.

Superhero cupcakes for a superhero ninth birthday party!

Superhero cupcakes for a superhero ninth birthday party!

7 April—The Big Rock Concert
Monday, 7 April, was not only the first day of the Easter holidays, but also the day of The Big Rock Concert. From about nine o’clock, I was busy dealing with the excitement of my two children as they got ready for their first rock gig ever. In the early afternoon, we drove over to Nottingham for the FM, Europe and Foreigner concert. We took the opportunity to link up with some old friends for dinner beforehand, and then we launched ourselves head over heels into the rock extravaganza.

The Big Rock Gig--the boys' first--and we loved every minute... Especially when Europe delivered The Final Countdown!

The Big Rock Gig–the boys’ first–and we loved every minute… Especially when Europe delivered The Final Countdown!

8 April—Older Son’s Actual Birthday
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that we like to party here at the Wells house. Certainly by the end of this post, you’ll be convinced of the fact. So either way, it’s no surprise that in addition to the ‘pre-party’ on Saturday, we also celebrated my son’s ninth birthday in style on the actual day.

Of course we had a proper birthday cake 'on the day'. S.H.I.E.L.D., as made by birthday boy and dad.

Of course we had a proper birthday cake ‘on the day’. S.H.I.E.L.D., as made by birthday boy and dad.

12 April—Wedding Anniversary (Number 11)
Yup! Eleven amazing years! With all our normal babysitters literally being out of the country owing to the Easter holidays, we elected to turn our anniversary day into a family celebration. We amused ourselves cooking up a feast of home-made ravioli, filled with lobsters for the adults and four cheeses for the kids. If you’ve ever made ravioli from scratch, you’ll know that this can easily take up a day. We had cake and fizz and snacks and music in between, and it was glorious. Writing? Errr…

Homemade Lobster Ravioli... the best anniversary dinner ever!

Homemade Lobster Ravioli… the best anniversary dinner ever!

19 April—Unscheduled Day Trip to Bristol
The week following our wedding anniversary passed in a blur. We made Easter decorations, baked cakes, and went on outings—work can wait, right?

On Saturday, 19 April, we travelled to Bristol for the day to visit one of our children’s best friends who was in hospital with a burst appendix. We left Lincoln at seven a.m., arrived in Bristol at just after eleven a.m., and dashed to the hospital to see the patient. Our visit lasted only twenty minutes, and those were spent in shifts as the poorly patient couldn’t have more than two visitors at a time, but it was absolutely one-hundred percent worth it to see her little pale face light up.

After we said our farewells, we dropped in on some other friends, and then some other friends… and some other friends still. We turned the day into a flying-visit-bonanza of epic proportions with three rounds of tea and cake and a big dinner, and we had an absolute blast.

20 April—Easter Sunday
The traditional egg hunt took place a little later than planned owing to our very late arrival back from Bristol the previous night. Eggs duly found and gathered by the kids, we went to church, cooked lunch, watched a movie, and ate altogether too many chocolate eggs. Did you know that you can’t possibly work on a book if you’ve overdosed on chocolate?

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

24 April—Husband’s 40th Birthday
As if April hadn’t been eventful enough already, my husband also celebrated his fortieth birthday. The kids and I spent ages making him a special commemorative present in the week leading up to the Big Day. On the day itself, I got busy organising a surprise dinner and putting the final touches to the surprise cake party. Birthday boy himself didn’t want a fuss, of course, but you’ve got to, for your fortieth, right? I arranged for several friends and their children to creep quietly into the house while the boys and I distracted Jon in the kitchen with his steak dinner. When everybody had arrived, we allowed Jon to go into the hitherto locked up dining room, and everyone jumped out and shouted ‘surprise.’ The look on my birthday husband’s face was, as the saying goes, priceless.

Happy 40th Birthday, Jon!

Happy 40th Birthday, Jon!

26 April—110 Reasons to Celebrate
To round the month off perfectly, we had a big party in the local village hall celebrating all in one go: all recent family birthdays, our wedding anniversary, and our moving-house anniversary. Family from near and far and friends old and new came together to dance, sing and make merry—kids ‘n’ all. The Higgledy Piggledy Band took us through our paces in many a round of ceilidh dancing, and everybody had brought food to turn the buffet into a veritable feast. At one point, I was invited by Tom, the caller, to demonstrate a dance (what, who, me, with my two left feet?) and a little later in the evening, the guitarist decided to go rock and launched into a rendition of ‘Mustang Sally’, for which he summoned me to be backing singer. I accepted the challenge, although I requested backup from a friend, and it was an exhilarating if possibly slightly out-of-tune stage debut for the both of us.

Let's party! Actually... I really wanted to include a party photo here, but I was so busy having a great time, I never even got the camera out of the bag. LOL!

Let’s party! Actually… I really wanted to include a party photo here, but I was so busy having a great time, I never even got the camera out of the bag. LOL!

The highlight of the evening, however, was to see the many smiling faces of parents dancing with their kids, of kids dancing, and of everybody having a whale of a time.

Getting my priorities right…
With all of these goings on, it is fair to say that during the month of April, I didn’t overachieve, as would usually be my wont. There are many things I wanted to do that I never got round to. However! Everything that needed to get done has been done to bring you my next book on time. Editing, proofing and cover design is all under control. Fallen For Rock will be out on 3 July. Watch out for the cover reveal in late May!

Meanwhile, the whole family is buzzing with happiness and memories right now. We had a truly outstanding month with many events we will never forget. When all is said and done, that’s what life is about. Rock on!

20 years in the UK today… Looks like I’m here to stay!

On this day in 1993 (a Monday, if memory serves), a historic event transpired at Dover Ferry port, at about 10 a.m. Slightly bleary-eyed after a 4 a.m. start, a long drive, and a two-hour journey on the SeaCat across a very ‘lumpy’ English Channel (the captain’s words, not mine), I emerged onto British soil for good. I was 20 years old. I brought with me: one blue hard-shell suitcase full of clothes; one hold-all full of books, CDs and assorted knick-knacks; one small boom box (gotta have music, right?); and one collapsible box full of home-making paraphernalia such as two plastic plates, three mugs, one knife, one spoon, one fork, one small pot, and a packet of clothes pegs.

My destination? Royal Holloway and Bedford New College (as it was then), University of London. My purpose: to acquire a degree in European Studies (French and Management Studies).

Previous time spent in England? Five days in London. That’s it. I came here young and naïve, and full of hopes, and dreams, and crazy ideas. Oh and, alone. Did I mention alone?

My family thought I’d never last. I know this, because they told me. They’d given me three weeks. Maybe three months. Three years later, when I embarked on my second degree course, there was a reluctant acceptance (by my family) that perhaps I would stay on this island and build my life here.

What drew me here? I can’t really say. It was like… I don’t know, fate was calling me. It was just something I had to do. I arrived here, and I felt at home. End of story. Or, the beginning, rather!

Talking about arriving… So this first day, my first few hours, were spent in a bemused daze. Driving on the wrong side of the road through the obligatory drizzle. My first experience of a motorway service station; the smell of sausage rolls and tea and Cornish pasties assaulting my nostrils. The anticipation as we neared Junction 13 on the M25 (exit for Staines) and then drove up Egham Hill towards the college.

Fresh off the boat, as it were, and insanely proud and excited: FIRST DAY.

Fresh off the boat, as it were, and insanely proud and excited: FIRST DAY.

Finding Williamson Hall of Residence and registering my person as present on Campus. Walking into the slightly sinister breeze-block building to be greeted by a pile of laundry in the corridor, illuminated (just) by a bare 20 Watt bulb… I thought, for a second, I’d perhaps arrived in the Bronx. (I found out much later that I arrived on the heels of a great turning-over of rooms between a business conference ending and the first students arriving. That would explain the laundry, I suppose.).

Moving into 'digs' in year 2. Talking of 'dig': Dig the HAIR! And there's my trust fold up box lurking in the background too...

Moving into ‘digs’ in Year 2. Talking of ‘dig’: Dig the HAIR! And there’s my trusty fold up box *and* boom box lurking in the background too…

Did I turn tail and run? Of course not. I sidestepped the laundry, firmly clutching my new room keys like a lifeline or a talisman, and I made my way to what was going to be my castle.

Pretty soon, I discovered:

~fused plugs (after my hairdryer had blown the fuse in the German-to-English plug adaptor, of course, not before)
~electric kettles
~sockets with ‘on’ and ‘off’ switches (although after 20 years, I’m still liable to be caught out by an ‘off’ socket and be left wondering why the kettle won’t boil)
~sausage rolls
~Capital Radio!!!

Apocalypse NOW! I was an extra in the Lightning Seeds video for PERFECT. Try as I might, I can't spot myself but hey, you could always have a go: http://youtu.be/_oXku7W2HRU

Apocalypse NOW! I was an extra in the Lightning Seeds video for PERFECT. Try as I might, I can’t spot myself in it now, but hey, you could always have a go: http://youtu.be/_oXku7W2HRU

I learned all about:

~ milk-in-the-cup-first rituals
~lamb chops (although I no longer eat them)
~how to work a gas hob and oven (this, from the most scaredy-cat anti-gas person in the whole world, ever. Goes to prove that if needs must…)
~saying ‘cheers’ instead of ‘thank you’
~£20 telephone cards that let you make £25 worth of calls (do you remember those days?)
~saving 20p coins for the dryer and 50p coins for the washing machine!
~fitting plugs to electrical cords. I’m nifty with a pair of nail scissors and a screwdriver!

Birthday meal at Don Beni's in Englefield Green. This would have been in Year 3... How time flies!

Birthday meal at Don Beni’s in Englefield Green. This would have been in Year 3… How time flies!

Oh, and I was surprised to find that the English love their baths. As in, the actual bath tub. In my first hall of residence, there was only one shower on each floor — but four baths, which was a slight problem for this here shower fanatic. Solution? I acquired one of those plastic attachments that turn your bath into an improvised shower. Over the years, I owned at least a dozen of those, and it was only during my most recent move that I threw the last one out!

Graduation Day! @ Royal Holloway College

Graduation Day! @ Royal Holloway College

Taking Stock (Just Quickly)

What have I been up to these past 20 years? Please bear with me while indulge myself in a little personal stock-taking. I think the occasion warrants it. 🙂 Here’s a quick run-down of events:

1993 ~ arrive at Royal Holloway and Bedford New College in Egham

1996 ~ move on to St Antony’s College, Oxford

Matriculation Day at Oxford!

Matriculation Day at Oxford!

Singing in the College choir. If I hadn't dipped my toes in here, I'd never have met Jon three years later!

Singing in the College choir. If I hadn’t dipped my toes in here, I’d never have met Jon three years later!

1998 ~ find a job and move to London, where I lived in Covent Garden for six months before settling south of the river in Tooting.

2001 ~ after way too many disastrous dates with men who turned out to be rather… bizarre on second or third sight, I finally collide with Jon during a rehearsal for the Imperial College Choir summer concert. (Well. Our eyes collided. We didn’t meet until the following day.)

2003 ~ get married to Jon and move to Bristol

12 April 2003. The Big Day!

12 April 2003. The Big Day!

2004 ~ fall pregnant, quit job (not causally related to falling pregnant), and start writing a certain book!!!

2005 ~ arrival of first child

Welcome to the world, little Wells boy!

Welcome to the world, little Wells boy!

2007 ~ arrival of second child

And welcome to the world, little Wells boy 2! :-)

And welcome to the world, little Wells boy 2! 🙂

2010 ~ go back to college, in a manner of speaking, and acquire Teaching Assistant qualification from the Open University (cor, it felt good to use my brain again after all those nappies!)

2011 ~ self-publish Sophie’s Turn and start writing the sequel

2012 ~ sign with Sapphire Star publishing, move to Lincoln, republish Sophie’s Turn

2013 ~ I’m a wife, I’m a mother, I’m a writer and published author of three books, I have two-and-a-bit university qualifications to my name, I’m a rock lover, I still sing in the shower, and I have a regular turn contributing to The Midweek Drive show on Siren 107.3 FM. I’d say, that’s not bad going!

Occasional radio host...

Occasional radio host…

And that’s my life in a nutshell. I made friends, I found work, I found love, I fulfilled several childhood dreams (loving husband, gorgeous kids; still working on the thatched cottage by the sea!) and career ambitions (did I mention I wanted to be a writer since I was ten?). I still have the blue hard-shell suitcase, the hold-all and the collapsible box (’tis my laundry basket to this day!). However, the last time I moved, a humble car wasn’t enough. It took a full-size moving container with close to 200 boxes plus assorted furniture to move the Wells family from Bristol to Lincoln, not to mention four professional packers, two drivers and two unloaders,  *and* a car full of belongings. Isn’t it amazing how much ‘stuff’ I gathered in 20 years?

Not quite everything and the kitchen sink, but certainly duvets, airbeds, a kettle and a hoover... everything to get through the first night in our new home in Welton *sans* the rest of our stuff!

Not quite everything and the kitchen sink, but certainly duvets, airbeds, a kettle and a hoover… everything to get through the first night in our new home in Lincoln *sans* the rest of our stuff!

Tonight, I’m taking the family out to celebrate. I mean, 20 years, right? Surely that deserves a night out and a bottle of bubbly or two. Sometimes, just sometimes, I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t been on that SeaCat twenty years ago. I get that weird ‘Sliding Doors’ sensation when I contemplate how different everything could have turned out, and I shudder. Because I am happy here, and I wouldn’t want my life any other way. Here’s to the next 20 years, ’cause let’s face it, I’m here to stay! 🙂

CHEERS!

CHEERS!