Reader Extraordinaire

Every superhero has an ‘origin’ story of how they came into being. If applied to myself, How did I begin to be a reader, and eventually a writer?

I have to say, I have loved this challenge, (last week’s Weekly Challenge from WordPress) as it’s one of the most interesting I have attempted. Some of the challenges, especially the daily ones, have become repetitive, thinking about how I began to devour books, and my faltering beginnings as a writer has brought back lots of memories, though not always good ones. Part of the challenge was not simply to answer the eight questions suggested by the writer of the prompt but to put together a tale. Predictably, my notes grew exponentially as I answered each question, never being one to be succinct. My mum said recently ‘why write in 2 what you can write in 22, eh?’

When I told this to a friend who works in fundraising, she laughed and said when they present a pitch to organisations and the like for funding they are told the complete opposite. I am so relieved I am a writer and not a fundraiser, I’d never manage it! Proving this to be true, I’ve had to split this post into two, with the second part scheduled for Wednesday.

Reading was my very favourite hobby

The image shows two young, pretty, blonde-haired little girls sitting close together, with a book on their knees which they are reading together.
The image shows two young, pretty, blonde-haired little girls sitting close together, with a book on their knees which they are reading together. image credit: Horton Web Design (view the website at:

Growing up, I do not remember which books were read to me as a small child. I have lots of early, disability, special nursery and school related memories, but not of books read at bedtime, or other times. Wondering if that reflects differences of experience rather than being a reflection on my upbringing. My mum especially must have read to us lots as she was the one at home with my brother and I.

I remember very clearly being assessed by the Educational Psychologist on reading and maths ability because of my disability, and even at age 7, I remember my reading age being ahead of my actual age. I loved that, I was so pleased… as were my family. It was something that was good progress that was not related to my disability, but showed I had some intellectual ability, especially as I was thought have such a level of learning difficulties when I was born that they questioned whether I could finish primary school, but this proved to be the start of dispelling those fears. (My parents say I was always a couple of years behind my peers in maths though.)

Writing for children wasn’t yet ‘cool’!

Enid Blyton – Classic or Controversial?

The first books I remember reading by myself at home were written by Enid Blyton. Someone gave me ‘The Enchanted Wood’ trilogy for Christmas or a birthday. Now her books are controversial, as some consider them racist. I remember names like ‘Fanny’, ‘Dick’, and ‘Moonface’. I remember the biscuits full of honey which exploded in your mouth, (perhaps an early warning of my sweet tooth!) The tales of faraway lands fuelled my young imagination, though. I was never interested in the Famous Five, oddly, even though I was interested in adventure in other stories. I read the ‘Malory Towers’ books, by Enid Blyton, I think there were several in the series, the main characters a girl called Darrell who goes off to boarding school called (handily!) Malory towers. I read also some of the later books which featured Darrell’s younger sister Felicity. Again, these books were a reflection of the time in which they were written, though for me this was part of the charm.

Roald Dahl – Prolific engaging and inspiring writer or dark and dangerous?

I remember some of the books I read at school too, around the same times as I read lots of Enid Blyton’s books. We read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in primary four, on which we were to write a story using our imaginations to dream up an amazing factory. Unfortunately I got side-tracked, writing ten A4 jotter pages of rubbish. I think we possibly read George’s Marvellous Medicine too, both books by Roald Dahl. I remember too the following year reading Danny the Champion of the World, (Roald Dahl again!!) and Stig of the Dump (Clive King). I must have loved them to remember them over 20 years later.

I went on to read other Roald Dahl books including The B.F.G and Matilda. I remember feeling sorry for both Sophie, the orphan whose life changes when she meets the BFG, and Matilda, who learns to read long complex books from age of four, while sitting in the library, the only place she feels safe. She is also famous for being able to move objects with her eyes, which she uses to her advantage, both with her dysfunctional family and draconian head teacher Miss Trunchbull. I think it was one of the first books I borrowed from a library. I remember numerous trips to the local library, though I do not remember the titles of what I read, just snippets of books.

Classics versus Contemporary

When I was about 11 or 12 I think, Mum wanted me to start reading classics. It would have been good preparation for high school, and University too. However, what I read, and Mum wanted me to read differed widely. I wanted to read what she considered rubbish, namely The Baby Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High.

Children’s literature has grown exponentially since I was young, thanks to the rise and rise of authors like Jacqueline Wilson, JK Rowling, Stephanie Myers and the likes. It would be fun to know what your memories are of reading as a

child especially, too, or maybe there was some other hobby you excelled in?

(P.S. Stay tuned for part 2 on Wednesday this week which will be live at 6am if I remember to schedule it….)

This post was written in response to last week’s Weekly Challenge from WordPress:

Every superhero has an ‘origin’ story of how they came into being. If applied to myself, How did I begin to be a reader, and eventually a writer.

To have a go yourself, click on the blue link directly above this.(or shift + tab and press space if using screen reader)I’d love to read your story! I do read others posts for hours at a time.



Book Review: The Apple Tree

I first came across Linda’s work when she began reading my blog. I had gone looking to see who had liked a post I had written, and Linda was one of them. I was curious about the title of her blog, ‘Raising 5 kids with disabilities and remaining sane’, so I checked it out. Full of stories of the 4 kids she has adopted and the scrapes they get her into, her writing is warm, funny, and educational. When I discovered Linda had written a book, I could not wait to read it!

The Apple Tree: Raising 5 kids with disabilities and remaining sane, includes some of these scrapes, including her kids histories and her battle to get proper help, as well as what led her to adopt four children with such complex needs. However, as with Linda’s blog, although her story heads to some dramatic and dark places, it is warm and funny and engaging too. I very quickly found myself absorbed in Linda’s tales about the family’s travels, and later, awestruck at the achievements of Frances biological son, and rooting for the family to survive all they face and pull through with their family intact. It really is one you should read for yourself. I read the entire book during one sleepless night!! I am reluctant to give too much away. Go and read this wonderful book for yourself, and let me know what you think of it!

English: Apples on an apple-tree. Ukraine. Рус...
English: Apples on an apple-tree. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

p.s. This is Invisible Illnesses Awareness Week. It is apt I am writing this post now, as many of Linda’s kids have invisible illnesses and disabilities which she also talks about. An extra reason to read this excellent book!

Zoning out…

A recent ‘daily prompt’ asks about getting ‘lost’ in activities. My favourite hobbies are baking, reading or card-making, and I can easily get lost in any of these. For me, it is about occupying my time in a productive way, but also allows me to forget about the ‘daily-ness’ of my life for a while. For the most part each day is the same, unless I have any appointments at the doctor or the hospital, or physiotherapy. Even these are ‘routine’ to me though as I have done them so often. I am a young ‘old-pro’. I crave variety and spontaneity. Having hobbies is one simple way of trying to vary my day as much as possible. Of course, having care/assistance to go out and about is another way of varying my routine, but sometimes, it”s not quite the same, as it can remind me of the very situation I can need to escape from. For me, this is the whole point of being so ‘in the zone’, completely focussed on what I am making or reading. It is ‘headspace’ away from everything, and time for myself, when I can be so used to having others around. Of course, I can be in the zone when i am writing too. In my opinion, this is when I have written some of my best posts, or articles, depending on what I am writing for.  What is your favourite way to escape from routine for a while? Knitting seems to be very popular these days! I’ve tried, but I am left-handed, and lack the necessary co-ordination. Just have to leave it to those who excel in it. I forget what covering objects in woollen creatures is called, so I am off to google it!!

One of life’s dreamers…

Today’s daily prompt:

The Tooth Fairy (or Easter Bunny, or Santa Claus . . .): a fun and harmless fiction, or a pointless justification for lying to children?

The tooth fairy is well remembered from my childhood, as is Santa Claus! I was eight when I asked whether he was real or not!! I still remember the conversation . As for the Easter Bunny, who needs it when Jesus is bigger than all of that?! Most of these things are a harmless part of childhood I guess, providing they’re not taken too seriously. I may no longer believe in these things but I am definitely one of life’s dreamers. It’s one of the reasons I love reading. I think if I ever had children I wouldn’t want to start these myths with them though. For me there are too many better stories, Over to you, what do you think?


Not your average room

Today’s daily post subject is welcome relief from the morbid fascination of late. These deep thinking posts are good to do once in a while just not all the time. Write your eulogy, epitaph, 5 things you would save if your house was burning, go back the next day and look for what you left… ugh!
It’s a welcome relief to think on something I ponder on in a while, if money was no object. Would have to have a calming colour on the walls, even a light yellow, if there would be any wall space left once the floor to ceiling bookshelves were finished. I’d definitely go for the best quality wood I could afford due to the cost, and for durability.

I’m trying to think how to make them accessible. I remember seeing something on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition once. This was a shelving unit too, but this one rotated at the touch of a button so that the button was held down until the required item was in reach, that would be amazing. I’m all for a quality product made in an accessible way, that appeals to everyone. This is also known as something called “Universal Design”. All it is, is a design everyone would want to use. My college tutor was fond of using the example of a part of the University where there were some steps side-by-side with a ramp. According to him, almost everyone used the ramp, rending the steps pointless and meaning the ramp could have been twice as wide, allowing more people to pass more comfortably.

The practical design would continue, with an adjustable height desk, and quality drawer space. I’d love the new windows 8 tablet that converts to a laptop, almost £1000k, without the accompanying keyboard! I’d have a proper keyboard, and as much software as I needed. As this is my dream set-up, the software would be compatible with windows 8 from the beginning of the process, instead of being a few months/ a year behind (at least) as is common. I’d save some money by not needing an office chair, obviously.

I’d use this money for either an electronically adjustable recliner armchair or a chaise-long, to be able to read comfortably, with soft overhead lighting. I’d absolutely have to have the best coffee maker and china mugs, and a popcorn machine. I would have plain popcorn, the kind a student I once knew used to live on when they were studying. It was delicious and much healthier than the salt, sugar or something in-between flavours.

What have I missed? Oh yes, the view. Given I haven’t seen the sea for such a long time, I’d love a sea view. I wouldn’t much mind which sea it was, though I’ve only ever lived near the north sea.

I wonder if I’ve missed anything?

What would any of you have in your ideal reading and writing room, if money were no object? I’d love to know 🙂