15 minutes – a long time coming


photo: mine – Boschendal


photo: mine – view of Waterfront Cape Town from The Silo rooftop bar

Shew, since my last post plenty has gone on. Evidently not a single spare 15 minutes to blog though!  Unbelievable.

Well, most importantly was going home to Cape Town for 2 weeks – got back last Tuesday.  Going back is not so much a holiday, rather shifting a life from the UK back to SA, slipping into our old ways and patterns effortlessly.  Loads of eating good food, drinking good wine and seeing all our family and friends.

Hubster was barely moments of the plane when he began questioning the reasons for living in the UK again. Prompted by being gloved in the stunning blue of the sky, and space and familiarity. If it’s possible to be gloved in space.

Back in the UK there was an abrupt reminder of winter having arrived. And how dark it is by 5pm. Honestly can’t remember this from last year. We’ve already looked for the shortest day and willing the longer days to begin again.

Jobs to do today:

  1. blog – tick and done
  2. garden – shoes are ready, need to get a warm jacket and hat
  3. go to work
  4. catch up on Strictly





Fifteen minutes with Poirot and Poldark

tukka-tukka 2, tukka-tukka 2, time to write and be amused.  What the heck rhymes with 2? And how the heck do you spell tukka?

Suppose I could have used one of these:

crew, few, true, boo, knew, new, pew, poo, who, pooh, emu – hmmm, not sure about emu.

There’s heat in the house today. That muggy, stifling heat that says no matter what I do or where I am, the old body will end up sweaty and yukky. Yesterday at work the aircon was set to 17, pretty cold. However, with the roof off the office, which is within a distribution centre with no aircon, it might as well have been set to fierce heat.

Been thinking about a character for a book. I can sort of picture him but have a suspicion of channelling Agatha Christie’s Poirot. Think I need to shake him up a bit. Have him maybe a bit more along the lines of Poldark as in ovary thumping abs, fondness of wearing not much, and gets around on a horse.

Can’t find a photo of Poldark on his horse, bare-chested.





Purpose of this blog should you have fallen upon it:

Having fallen out of love with writing, yet deep down really wanting to, decided the best way was to write whatever comes to mind in 15 mins and then stop



Freedom of speech, with respect!

Hello there,

seems a blog of mine from some time ago has within the last 24 hours garnered some trolling.

As a rule, I don’t take down any comments, believing that by blogging you put yourself out there and, take the good with the bad. However, and this is a BIG however, I draw the line at visitors deliberately leaving spiteful comments/replies to those who have previously commented and visited. Therefore I have removed the spite (left by a single individual), which had no other purpose other than to be mean and nasty. At the same time, I send an apology to those of you who indirectly received it too.




returning to pen and paper


When earlier this year we returned to the UK, after living in South Africa for a million years, I was more heart sore than I let on about leaving my girls behind. And despite them being young women, one married, one about to be, both happy, that wasn’t enough to allow me an easy “leave”.  Even before boarding the plane I was wondering how on earth we would be able to stay in touch. How would we be able to deal with not having our treasured meet up for shopping and dinner nights, or go to a movie, or visit a winery in the glorious Cape?  Even an opportunity to sit outside a changing room as they tried on clothes was going to be missed. Even harder would be the “are you home, popping round” calls.

Of course we have Skype and email and Whatsapp, which have been fantastic, and are the three things I wish had been available to me when leaving the UK for SA in the 1980s. Back then it was about pen to paper, email quality to keep the weight and cost down. Red and blue edged envelopes. Licking small, blue, airmail stickers, whose glue would leave you pulling a face, and wishing there was an easier way to communicate!

air mail envelope

And then it struck me. Why not write to them? I like writing. I can throw a few words together. Let’s give this a go. It could be good, just what I need.  And it is.


Once a week, often Monday morning, I take hold of my pen, sit in a quiet spot, and write. Not pages and pages. Instead I fill a blank card, the sort you buy in a bookshop with beautiful photo images, often purchased from places we’ve visited, or a card that caught the eye at the supermarket. It’s enough space to have a nice chat, without rambling. If there is a little more to say, and space allows, the back is also used. I tell them about what we’ve been doing, what we are planning, and even things I’ve seen which had me chuckling – a lady outside her house, covered in what looked like ash, shaking herself off while yelling at her children to go to their room was one such chuckle moment.


Writing to them somehow makes me feel as if I’m chatting directly to them, more so than taping at a keyboard. And while we continue to electronically communicate regularly, the writing to them is treasured. As is the moment I hand over the colourful envelope at my local post office. For it’s at that point I know what I’ve said is on it’s way. And as I walk away, I’m already planning my next card purchase, but never the content. That only happens on Monday morning when there is time to reflect on the last seven days.

I’ve lost count of how many cards have been written, but I’m guessing 8 to each of them so far. The aim being for them to receive a letter/card a week. Sometimes it works, and sometimes they get 2 at once. But so far so good. The SA postal system has not let me down.

And then there is a magical moment when I receive a card back. I held one in my hands today and beamed.

And as I did, I hoped they both do the same when they receive mine.










Caps and being crafty, and Brad Pitt

Something I’m going to do when I get to the UK is a millinery course. There’s quite a nice one at the London College of Fashion, which will give me some basics, and then it will be about exploring and thinking about how I can go forward with this.

Millinery! you may be thinking. Why millinery? Well I like being crafty, and I don’t mind putting hand and foot to the old sewing machine every now and again. Clothes I don’t do, that’s akin to sticking pins in my eyeballs. But accessories I can do.

This will also give me some time away from the writing, and provides the chance to complete something within a few days, as opposed to months and weeks, and even years. Gosh, writing is a long process.

My first hat, probably before I start the course will be a Flat Cap. Odd choice? Not really, I love them, on men and women. And while the usual Tweed is the classic, other fabric could be fun for summer. Floral, check, you name it, you could wear it.

So tell me, what hat or cap would you wear, and what fabric, fun or classic?





Flaying in a quagmire of doubt while seeking the return of my passion

Ever since I was a child my passion was to write. I remember my first attempt at journalism around the age of 9 or 10, give or take a couple of years that is. I wrote an entertainment piece on an A5 piece of John Dickinson writing paper. The content was light hearted, and I even took on the part of paparazzi by adding an image, albeit a coloured pencil attempt. I tucked it into the morning newspaper and waited for it to be read.

Life doesn’t always go to plan, and journalism became an unfulfilled dream as children, marriage, divorce and IT happened.  Despite this, years later I found the need to join words reappearing. I wrote a novel. I rewrote the novel. And then I rewrote it again. The problem was I didn’t have the confidence to share it with anybody – my fear of being ridiculed was deep. Yet I knew I had to do something, and with this in mind I started blogging, figuring I could hide behind an avatar and if nobody liked what I said, then so be it, I could trash it all and start making jam instead – yeah right, jam ain’t happ’nin’ in my kitchen!

Well the blogging seemed to go pretty well and I’ve met some wonderful people here, who by commenting and engaging in conversation have boosted my confidence no end. To you all I say a massive thank you while sending a virtual hug and or pat on the back.

Novel number 2 took over 2013, with my blogging suffering to the point of almost vanishing. But boy have I’ve missed you all! I can’t believe how many of your happy moments, your frustrations, your raging hormones and your  wonderful photos I have missed.

So what about both novels then. Well number 1 was professionally edited and is as we speak flaying about somewhere around the bottom of far too many Agent’s slush piles. Novel number 2 was written as part of a writers masterclass, and after receiving positive feedback over many months the final review left me confused, sending me into a quagmire of doubt that seemed content on settling around my nostrils.

That was about 6 weeks or so ago, and so far I haven’t been able to revisit number 2. I started number 3,  and then number 4, but the passion is not there anymore. I miss it though and have decided to return to my love of blogging where I can poke fun at my hubby once again. Yes it is true, hubby has still not earned his I-can-switch-on-a-laptop badge.

My plan then for 2014 is to run two blogs. Yes complete madness, but there is a reason for this. Ruth2Day will be me talking, while blog 2 will be Letters to Florrie. Letters to Florrie being a very one sided conversation from a rather eccentric elderly lady called Maud.  It will be tongue-in-cheek-daft and will hopefully help me to reignite my passion to write.

With all this in mind, hubby has placed a glass of Chardonnay next to my keyboard, my youngest daughter is cooking lunch, and Letters to Florrie is waiting for final tweaks before launching. I therefore end by sending you my very best wishes for 2014 and my hopes that your lives be full of adventure and laughter.

I raise my Chardonnay to you 🙂

Nasty Little Bu$&^s

As children at school we hand in our homework and pray that on return there will be few red marks, and with luck a Well Done! at the bottom of the page.  I had a few not so well dones in my time, and while these occasions were not my finest, I got over it and moved on.  After all, I was there to learn, but more so because I had to be.

But my pet hate were times when we handed our work to our peers for their comments.  My peers, after all, were nasty little buggers with spite and devilishness mixed with the ink in their pens. 

As an adult, I thought the spite and devilishness would no longer be present.  But how wrong could I be.  It doesn’t matter what age people are, put them on-line and they become nasty little buggers again.

I’m now at the end of two on-line writing courses, which I have enjoyed immensely.  Part of the course work is to have your submissions reviewed by your peers, which is a great way to share your writing abilities and learn from valuable feedback.  And that is where it gets interesting.  Very quickly you find the one or two who you just know are unkind just for the sake of it.  The sort of, well I can write and I’m here to let you all know and you can’t possibly be at my level.  I’m sure you’ve met the likes in other areas of your life.

And then you get the little clique who review each other’s work and only say good, when sometimes constructive criticism is needed.  And heaven forbid anybody out of the clique offers a viewpoint that is less than positive.  Then you get a bit of ganging up and harsh words.

I thought I’d share a couple of comments from the course.  The first extract is  somebody responding to a review of their work.  The review incidentally was polite and pleasant.  The second extract is somebody reviewing a submission.  And the final extracts were given to me, by a gentleman who for some unknown reason took a dislike to me, which was curious as I’d never met him, or reviewed his work before.


Thanks for your “review”…. a question: Do you always follow instructions to the letter? I’d bet you have never ever done anything just for the sake of it! I would tell you to get a life, but that would be rude. This particular assignment was done in jest and I did not think anyone would take me too seriously…. especially not my reviewers. It was done more to catch attention which I think it did!


Dear fellow ‘student’,

Please consider the following advise, before I make a decision to critique this piece or not. We have a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to be critiqued by a successful author and lecturer. The peer reviews are also an excellent opportunity to get feedback from fellow students, who are proud to be part of this course.

English is not my first language and sometimes I even question if Afrikaans is my mother tongue? So, I would understand it if someone struggles with an assignment!

But, there is something in your writing that I’ve seen before in many Forums on the Internet, and it is called “trolling”. But you should know this already! Although you might still need some exercise!

Here is a definition of trolling, so you can read and study the nuances of successful trolling.

Definition of Trolling:

Trolling is to deliberately and secretly pissing people off using dialogue (in your case ‘creative-writing?’).

Trolling requires deceiving; any trolling that doesn’t involve deceiving someone isn’t trolling at all; it’s just stupid. As such, your victim must not know that you are trolling; if he does, you are an unsuccessful troll.

I hope this helps!

Happy trolling.

Oh, I almost forgot, I won’t critique this piece, or have I already?

And these are mine

Whey would I want to read any more about such unpleasant characters in your memoir (albeit a very one-sided picture). And the narrator does not come across as an appealing character…a seemingly discontented person, no will of her own.

I can assure you that had I given your story to my language students at a teacher training college in Limpopo in the Nineties, they would have responded very differently – with hurt and outrage

It saddens me to read that reviewers find your anedotes ‘funny”, ‘humourous’, ‘endearing’, ‘delightful’

You say in reply to a reviewer ‘I’m usually the one trying to hide behind a large plant keeping myself to myself.  But I might just have to come out for a while.”  Please do so!


The classics, do you like them because you should?

I’ve been busy with a writing course for some months now, with one key area constantly rocking my boat.  And that is the classics.  Much of the course work refers to them, and many of my fellow writers on the course can quote them or have read them, and or both.  Me, well that’s a different story.  Below is a post I’ve put on one of the course forums, and I’m interested to see what replies I get.  If you have a moment, maybe you can tell me what you think.

I often feel I  have origins of a distant planet when it comes to books.  My taste being very different to so many people I know. Even at the book club I joined, the books I purchased were never read by the other ladies, with them much preferring the books, I felt, they had to say they enjoyed.  It was almost beneath them to read  Ben Elton’s, The First Casualty, which I had chucked into the pile.

As you know I’ve mentioned in several forums that the classics just don’t do it for me.  Truly, many could be cut down to novellas by removing the waffle and all, and I might be interested.

But yes I have to agree, when they were written there was little or no TV, internet, movies, Youtube etc, and few had  opportunities to travel and experience other cultures as easily as we can today.  And yes one can argue there was then a need for bulk description as entertainment.

On the other hand, current day requires a different style of writing and we do so by telling stories with a faster, quicker, snappier pace and dialogue, which, not surprisingly, is great for me.

So bearing that in mind, here are 2 questions:

1. do you say you like the classics because you feel you have to, and by doing so project a more academic and/or well read image? 

2. would you prefer to write in the style of the classics, or the snappier style of today