Life is

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Life is…

Music blaring and evening sunshine pouring in through opened doors whilst baking.  sulky dogs{and not knowing why}.  Two hours of uninterrupted reading at the cinema café {currently reading a robot in the garden}.  Saying sorry.  birthday cakethe cheeky girls?!  wedding vibes …and dancing with your sober husband for the first time ever!  {“I couldn’t exactly say no to the bride, could I?!”}.  Too much wine on a Wednesday evening, but the stories were worth it…rocking brides…and rocking monkeys.  All the “Hurry up and come and cuddle me on the sofa, Mam” moments.  Friendships that pick up where you left them…and all the belly laughs.  “Only love can hurt like this” on loud.  Twins that make your insides explode.  Eight year olds who come downstairs in the morning and greet you with the line “Is Big Brother on tonight Mam?”…hashtag bad parenting ;)

Life is…the small things.

{read} Hippy Dinners by Abbie Ross…and an interview with her!

hippy dinners

There’s something very intriguing about a book being written about the village you live in and possibly with people you may know.  So when I was given the book to read, along with a few pointers as to who’s who in the book {diolch Gwen!}, I couldn’t wait to start it.  I decided it was going to be my ‘holiday read’ while we spent a week down in Pembrokeshire.  Thank God the bois bach enjoyed their lie in’s that week and we proper kicked back, as this meant I got to fully engross myself in the book with a coffee every morning, which was pure bliss.

‘Hippy Dinners: A memoir of a rural childhood’ is what it says on the cover…a brilliantly funny memoir about a family who moved from a town house in Islington to a rural house on top of a hill in Llandrillo, North Wales in the 1970’s.  {For those of you who don’t know, the village I grew up in and still live in}.  I’m not sure whether it was knowing all the places that Abbie mentions in the book or the people, but I found it irresistible and laugh out loud funny!  It tells the story about Abbie and her family moving to rural Wales and how all she wants to do is just “fit in” with everyone, despite her Dad being into yoga and her Mother not interested in wearing a bra…and let’s not forget about the boy next door who wouldn’t eat anything but orange food!  Trust me when I say it’s a great book!

After contacting Abbie on Twitter {even if it was just to clarify who Philip was in the book as I thought he was hilarious!}, she kindly agreed to answer some questions for the blog!

Firstly Abbie, tell us a bit about yourself?

Hmm, where to start? Well you know all about my childhood I guess, so after North Wales I went to school in Monmouth, Gwent, and then on to Cardiff University and after a stint in a sales job in London I settled in Bristol, where my sister was at Uni. I got a job at at Aardman Animations for several years producing animated commercials and some of the series Creature Comforts. I married a director there and after we started a family I realised that producing commercials (mainly American ones ) and bringing up kids just wouldn’t work for me: too many long hours and too much time away, and so I didn’t go back and spent I spent a few happy years bringing up the children. When they were both at nursery I started to get a yearning to work again and as I’d always wanted to write I decided it was now or never!

How did the book come about?  Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

I have a lovely family friend called Julia Gregson; she’s a novelist, and she’s always encouraged me to write. I started wanting to write when I was about fourteen, all thanks to her encouragement.  She kept telling me I should write about what I know, and pointed out that my childhood in North Wales had a rich seam of colourful interesting characters, so it was Julia who suggested that I write about that.

Yes I have always wanted to write. I started with a  Mills and Boon romance, again when I was about fourteen and utterly clueless and naive when it came to boys, so I have no idea why I thought I could tackle that! My mum read the first chapter and suggested that I needed some more ‘life experience’ which I remember feeling really offended by!

Your memory must be so good {I can just about remember what happened last year!}, how do you remember it all so well?

Ha! No, my memory is rubbish! Really truly awful, but it’s amazing what you can recollect if you just think of a certain incident, and how that made you feel,  and suddenly you can remember what someone was wearing, what something smelled like, and who said what and why.  Hippy Dinner was a linear story and each chapter was based around an incident pretty much, so that made it much easier to remember.

I laughed a lot reading the book, was it as good to write as it was to read?

I remember my childhood as being full of laughs, but you know when you try and explain a joke, it suddenly stops being funny? So no, in all honestly it wasn’t always that fun to write!  I was too concerned about whether it scanned ok and if it made sense or was boring.

I think my favourite character {and she’s still around today!} is Sara, I always looked forward to reading how she was going to react or behave to whatever was going on in the book…have you got a favourite?

Yes, I do love Sara and she was a huge part of my childhood, so she is definitely one of my favourites, but my absolute favourite has to be ‘Phillip Brown’ who just made me laugh so much, he was proper eccentric, a completely unique child, the like of which I have never met before or since. I still can’t believe that he only wanted to eat orange food and hated wearing trousers and pants! It’s so funny that he’s grown up to be a sorted, together grown up in every way, I’m not sure I could have written about him if he hadn’t.

Have your kids had a similar upbringing?

No, and it makes me feel sad sometimes. We live in Bristol, so if you love the countryside, as I do, then I guess Bristol, with its green spaces and proximity to Devon and Cornwall is the best kind of city to live in. My parents still live in the country – in the Forest of Dean, so not far away, and we stay there often, I’m here right now  – so my my children get a fix of country living at least.

I was informed by a very good source {the mother in law!} who was who in the book, are you still in touch with anyone and do they know about the book?

Yes I am and I was so worried about what they would think. ‘Olive’ the mother of ‘Phillip Brown’ is a good friend and we are  still in touch with her and I sent her a letter when I started writing the book, telling her what I was doing and that a character, loosely based on her was in it. I was dreading her response but she loved it, she even turned up at a book reading I was doing in the Wrexham Waterstones and outed herself and her son, giving everyone their real names and telling everyone the name of the village and the local town – all the names that the publisher’s lawyers had advised we leave out! I’m also in touch with ‘Matthew Martin’ – the boy whose nickname was ‘Hippy Dinners,’ and after living in Soho for many years he’s just moved back to North Wales to very near where we all used to live.

Obviously, living in Llandrillo myself, I can relate to the book, but i didn’t expect to get as emotional as I did, when the book ended with you leaving Wales, please tell me you’ve been back since?!

Yes, many times. While my maternal grandparents were still alive we would go and visit them in the Wirral, so we would always drop in to our friends in Corwen and Llandrillo en route. My parents friends who ran the ‘Happy Pear’ health food shop, actually ended up buying our old house, which is so nice, and they still go and stay with them there.

If so, has it changed much?

Really not much at all, I don’t think; do you? The primary school has closed down though, which is so sad,

Did you learn to speak Welsh fluently?  Can you remember any of it?

Semi fluently, I definitely wrote some essays in Welsh and I can remember the odd word and some songs which I love to warble to my kids once in a while just to wind them up.

Got any favourite bits in the book?  Is that also your favourite memory of living in Wales?

I think it would have to be the spud gun incident, but I can say it was my favourite memory as Olive was so furious so it ended up being pretty traumatic.

What’s next?  Are you writing another book?

Hippy Dinners is in the process of being optioned for a television series which is really exciting, so fingers crossed. (My mum says she’d like Scarlett Johansson to play her as she’s not shy of taking her top off ).

Yes I am just about coming to the end of the first draft of my next book – fiction this time. Its working title is ‘Fortune,’ and it’s set on the Isles of Scilly, where my sister lived for a few years. It’s told through the eyes of a ten year old girl, who goes to spend the summer there with her mother, after a difficult chapter in their lives. It’s also through diary of a local teenage boy who is a selective mute, and it’s a story about their unlikely friendship. The mother has gone there to escape people, but the irony is that it’s more difficult to avoid people on a small island than it is in a big city, and ultimately humanity will push its way in.

Hippy Dinners was my holiday read this year, what type of books do you like to read on your holiday?  Have you got a favourite book of your own?  and Why?

That’s so nice to hear, thank you! I do love a childhood memoir actually, and so many have really gripped me. David Sedaris writes stories about his childhood that make me howl with laughter – he is a comic genius, and as far as favourite memoirs go I loved Running with Scissors by Augusen Burroughs, and The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, both of which are beautiful, funny stories about quirky disfunctional family set ups and told with such humour and warmth.

Get your copy here!

A television series!!  I’ll be watching that, definitely!!  Thanks so much for your time, Abbie! X

13 things from 13 years ago

{oh, that noise?…just my ovaries exploding…}

Sticking with this theme for one more blog post…because well…my blog, my rules…and it’s been a weekend to remember, what with birthdays, weddings and all things great in between.

So, with a certain Robb Lowe turning 13 yesterday {?!?!?}…here’s 13 things I can remember from the day of his birth back on the 23rd August, 2002.

1 :: It all started whilst I was having a paned and some toast with My mam and brother, Dion.  I was convinced I wasn’t in labour…I can remember Dion pacing up and down in the living room…all he needed to do was start rubbing his head and it would have just been like having Dad there.

2 :: After deciding that it was maybe time to phone Paul and make our way to the hospital {bent over the sofa breathing really heavily might have given the game away, Cer?!}, we were ready for the off.  I was just getting into the car when Paul told me to get back out again…so that he could put a bin bag over the car seat…#priorities

3 :: I was told Mam by now was in a right mess…she could be found in a heap on the floor outside the shop crying.  And in good ol’ Jenny Sglods style, telling everyone that passed her, that I was about to have a baby.

4 ::  Paul asking the midwife after she’d just confirmed that I was in labour “Are we ok to head out to grab some lunch first?!”

5 :: Paul patting his pocket where his ‘pro plus’s’ were.

6 :: I’m in full blown labour, contractions are coming thick and fast, the gas and air is being put to good use…and I’M asking Paul if HE is ok?!

7 :: I kicked the midwife…but in my defence, she had just cut me.  Too much information?!

8 :: Three hours after arriving at the hospital, I told Paul I wanted to push.  He replied with “But the midwife said it would be a few hours yet until you’d want to start pushing”...

9 :: …sure enough, a few pushes later, Robb was here.  All 7lbs 15oz of perfection with the most gorgeous ruby red lips.

10 ::  Paul called his Mam and Dad to tell them they were now grandparents and Paul repeating “Hia TAID” down the phone to Gra who just didn’t grasp what Paul was saying for a good few minutes.

11 :: Our parents decided seeing as they hadn’t heard anything they were going to go for a spin to Wrexham Hospital to see how I was getting on, and as Robb was here by the time they arrived, they got to meet him right afterwards in the Delivery Room.  I love how later on they all went for a Fish and Chips celebratory dinner together!  Never brought me any back though! 

I’d just given them all their first grandson too… ;)

12 ::  After everything had calmed down and it was time for me to sort myself out, I went to put my shoes on only to find out where my waters had landed when they’d burst…

13 :: …that first nappy, always a bit of a shocker, isn’t it?!…

 

13 years later, and I can still remember it all like it was yesterday.

Here’s to being a teenager, Bach.

34 years ago today…

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Last night, over a glass of wine, I asked my Mam and Dad what they remembered from the day I was born.  This was their response:

“I remember your Dad going to fetch your Nain Rhosllan and she was coming down the path dressed in her blue dress and navy cardigan.  I remember thinking she looked just like a midwife”

“Your Dad didn’t get to eat his tea and was driving me mad with the way he was eating an apple in the ambulance”

“You came home in a yellow babygrow.  It was either that or white one, we weren’t given the option to find out the sex like today”

“…but your Dad and this apple…there was nothing left of it  That’s all he bloody did!  Eat that apple!”

“Paid a malu!  Aru fi rhoi dwr ar dy dalcen a popeth, yndo!”

“You’re lucky I didn’t do what Arthur did, Jen!  He walked into the wrong delivery room when his wife was in labour, didn’t he?!”

“You weighed 6lbs 8…or 6lbs 9…if you want the exact time and weight, you’ll have to go and ask your Nain Blaendre, she’s got them all written down in her book.  Every single Grandchild and Great Grandchild”

“There were no visitors allowed at the hospital, so we took you to the front door to show everyone”  {In my head, i’m imagining it’s a bit like when Prince George or Princess Charlotte were shown to everyone…!}

“I {Dad} ran a marathon on the Sunday.  I can’t remember my time, but I do remember that Rem Wyn beat me.  Monty drove us all down in a mini bus.  We stopped about half way for a break.  While Monty was sat on the loo, the whole toilet door came off it’s hinges and landed on top of him!”

“They kept us in the hospital for a week!  I was ready to come home the day after you were born”

And there you have it.  A birth story of sorts.  But it’s mine, told by the best.

******

Alf was sat with us, listening to it all and at the end he looked up and asked “What will my name be when I’m a Dad?”

“What do you mean, Alf?  Your name will always be Alfie”

“ALFIE!  That’s just the worst name for a Dad!”…and shook his head in disbelief!

Man, I love these people!

{captured} that time I burst my #eisteddfod cherry…and some thoughts on it.

eisteddfod

I don’t really like admitting this, but in all of my 34 years on this planet, I, Cerys Lowe, have never been to the National Eisteddfod; Wales’ largest and oldest cultural festivals.  Siomedig Iawn.

The Eisteddfod is one of the world’s greatest cultural festivals, and brings together people from all ages and backgrounds to enjoy an eclectic mix of music, literature, dance, theatre, visual arts and much more.”

After watching some of it on S4C and hearing it on the radio, I decided we were going and wanted to see for ourselves, what all the fuss was about {spoiler alert: we get it now}.  In my excitement, I tweeted about it.  The following morning, whilst taking delivery of our fruit at work, the delivery man asked how my day was at the eisteddfod.  Puzzled, I looked at him and said “I haven’t been yet, I’m going on Friday.  How do you know about that?” because I didn’t think he followed me on twitter…or even knows what twitter is to be fair.  “Oh, I heard you were going on the radio.  They said you were very excited!”.  Radio Cymru must have read my tweet out…

Day.  Made.  It’s the small things. 

Said delivery man has been in since and has asked me all about it again.  He’s lovely!

Anyway, the eisteddfod.  Here’s some photos:

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#syched – tell me about it.  Next time, I’m camping and not driving ;)

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There was so much of the eisteddfod that we didn’t get to see or do.  I’d definitely recommend at least 2 days there to make sure you get to experience it all.  Dad and I were hoping to get into the Babell Len, the Theatr and not forgetting the Tent Pinc!  Unfortunately, we didn’t…but then the bois had soo much fun in the Gwyddoniaeth {Science} and Dance areas etc,  and all of the other free activities, I repeat, FREE activities, going on that it didn’t matter.  It’s just made me want to go next year even more. We queued for a while to get into the Tent Pinc, only to realise we were queuing to go and hear the judging…so we decided, seeing as we hadn’t seen what they were judging, there wasn’t much point.  One day, I’ll get in that tent!

Speaking of those free activities, here’s a few of them:

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…the face on tha’… ;)

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“I see you baby…shakin’ that arse…shakin’ that arse…”

Also, there was only one jumper Alf was going to choose at the cowbois stand, wasn’t there?!

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There was rugby training and biking amongst other things at one area.

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Friday, 7th August 2015 – the day Alf discovered his love for table tennis…and stuck his tongue out with EVERY shot.

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On the left; Ty Gwerin – An attractive yurt, with all kinds of folk based events.  AND where we saw Dafydd Iwan singing, a highlight for me was when he sung ‘Ar Lan y Mor’…bloody great.

On the right; Alfie Lowe – an attractive 8 year old who isn’t safe to be around when he’s got some of that party string with him.

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Y Lle Celf had some quirky art going on by local artists.

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#caws

Dad: “Brysia Robb!  Dwi ddim yn aros fel hyn am rhy hir!” // “Hurry up, Robb!  I’m not staying like this for too long!”  Gotta love him…and get me some heart shaped shades while we’re at it.

standard eisteddfod

#standard steddfod photo!

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Caffi Maes B – A chilled and relaxed atmosphere for a heady mix of acoustic music and music-based events.  I could have sat here with a drink all afternoon.  Next year, this is where you will find me.  Well, between here and the main stage.

#mwncismaldwyn

 Did we enjoy it?  Yes.

Was there plenty to do?  Oh yes.

Did the sun shine all day?  Yes!

Will we go again?  We’ll see you at Abergavenny!  I’ve already eyed up the trains ;) 

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