Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Plastic Free updates

I've not posted about this for a while, but I've been trying to reduce how much plastic I use/buy wherever possible. I thought it was perhaps time to update you on how I'm getting on.


We try to buy our fruit and vegetables loose (or in paper bags). This is usually a win, but sometimes either the loose fruit/veg is awful or just not available.

We use loose tea, though since we started that, a couple of companies have stopped using plastic in their teabags. I'm not sure we'll rush back to teabags though. We're quite used to the loose tea now.

We use Who Gives A Crap toilet paper and have been hugely impressed so far. You can get £5 off your first order if you use this link. As well as being plastic-free, the company donates 50% of its profits to water-sanitation projects around the world, which is amazing.

Solid shampoo. This was a complete fail the first time around. My hair felt like straw. But I switched to a new product, by grüum, and my hair feels amazing! It's the only solid shampoo that has actually worked well for me. Again, if you fancy £5 off your first order with them, use this link. They do a range of shampoos and conditioners, as well as a number of other products (not all of the other products are plastic-free). I got a trial bar back in January and I would say it will last me another three months or so, so they really are worth it. I've ordered a conditioner bar and will report back on how well that works.


Wooden toothbrush. It's fine, except (like so many things in life) it's designed for a man not a woman. I find the brush-head too big in my mouth and consequently don't feel as if it's getting to my back teeth well enough. Next time around, I think I will order the child's size and see if that's any better.

Plastic-free toothpaste tablets. These are okay, but I feel as if I need two of them to get a decent clean, rather than just one (which makes them twice as expensive). I may try another brand and see if they're any better.

Trying soon:

I'm going to try Ocean Saver cleaning product tablets soon and re-use the plastic spray bottles I already have. I'll let you know how I get on.

We're replacing plastic pan-cleaners with these knitted hemp ones. Not sure how well they'll work, but I'm prepared to give it a whirl (and knit my own if they work well).


There's still too much of our food that's pre-packed in plastic and I don't know how to reduce some of it. The best I can manage at the moment is to check if the plastic is recyclable, though that isn't necessarily actually happening, even if you put it all in the correct recycling bins.

PPE. My Dad is in a care-home and in order to visit him, I have to take a lateral flow test (LOTS of single-use plastic), wear gloves (non-recyclable), a mask (ditto) and an utterly pointless apron (even the care-home staff think these are pointless as only parts of you are covered. Again, it's single-use and not recyclable). I'm hopeful that eventually I will be able to visit Dad without needing to do all of this, but until then, I take the test and wear the PPE and feel sick to my stomach about all the waste.

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Back in The Realm...

Genuinely what my head feels like!
Nope. No one will be surprised at this news.

"Book #10" - the book I'd almost finished the first draft of just before New Year - is on the back-burner. I started going back through it after "Invasion" was launched and had to check a couple of things with an historian. The things I was checking were okay, but in the course of the conversation, I realised something else in the book (a major plot point...) wouldn't work. It was around the brother of the main character being in the army and stationed at Fort George. Except, he wouldn't have been stationed there, according to the historian (who knows about these things). That, coupled with a) another minor niggle with the plot and b) an overwhelming desire to be back with Aeron and Faran and... well. As I said. No one will be surprised to know I'm currently drafting a 5th book in the Guardians of The Realm series. 😁

I know... I know!! About a year ago I said I wouldn't be writing any more Realm books. But they just won't let me go. The characters keep chattering in my ear when I'm trying to concentrate on something else. They're like Siren Songs, calling me to the rocks so that I can dash my brains out.

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Keeping track of characters

In discussions with other writers, we've talked about how to keep track of characters. There are actually two main aspects for me: the names I've used, and what those characters are like. There's a brilliant cartoon by Tom Gauld: The Indecisive Novelist, where the characters from a book are discussing their name changes:

Taken from: https://myjetpack.tumblr.com/post/64666677399/my-book-of-cartoons-youre-all-just-jealous-of-my
No copyright infringement intended

That cartoon can touch a nerve with many of us! So how do we keep track of the myriad of characters that appear in our books?

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

The census rabbit hole!

A few weeks ago I had disappeared down a map-rabbit-hole. This weekend past, I disappeared down the census rabbit-hole. Find My Past had free online access to the census data up to 1911 census over the bank holiday weekend. You needed to register (free) but then could start building a family tree. Clicking on various 'hints' took you to more census data that you could then add to your tree.

In the past, someone had done my father's family tree, going back a few generations. After burrowing around in the census data over the weekend, it became quite clear that the information at the very top of the tree was wrong!