Sunday, December 7, 2008

Headlong rush into christmas

Busy week, people, in which I:

Celebrated thanksgiving a little late with Matilda and friends. We made candied yams (!). Ate so much I had to take a day off work to recover.

Continued with reviso by getting up early and tapping on the spanking new laptop. Went back to the place with aniseed flavoured coffee, promising myself I'd just have a muffin, but habit kicked in and I ordered coffee. It was STILL BAD.

Deleted scenes from book thus reducing my books page count to a dismal number that feels like ten.

Worked. If you can call it that when all I seem to do is stagger from the coffee machine to the printer to my desk and back again.

Saw the new James Bond movie. Boy flick done - next up - girl flick AUSTRALIA. Hoping it won't be lame and that all that Hugh will make up for any atrocities.

Fell in love with a new puppy, and after much internal wrangling, decided I like it's new mumma too much to pop it into my handbag.

Started my christmas shopping. I can recommend bringing TJ along on shopping expeditions because not only does he carry all the bags, he stops you dithering and forces decisions like a Major General.

BBQ today at one of TJ's favourite people's place. No-one does a BBQ like a bunch of chefs. Once again, continued the theme of eating too much.

Have belly the size of a large watermelon.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I don't know how this works...

No idea how it works, but if you plug in your blog address to typealyzer, it will tell you what sort of person you are after scanning your blog.

Apparently I am the gentle/compassionate/quiet Artist. It mentioned NOTHING about my love of donuts which is obviously some kind of malfunction.

What are you??

Image from Typealyzer

Saturday, November 22, 2008


The pot is in the bin. I think I almost made a diamond!
It was on its tenth life anyway, having survived the great scrambled eggs debacle of 2001.

Friday, November 21, 2008

My recipe for Balsamic Toffee (don't try this at home)

I've got the crit group coming over tomorrow. We try and eat healthily between bouts of chocolate, so I'd decided on a roast pumpkin salad with fetta and pine nuts. And on top, a drizzle of sticky balsamic. Only problem was, I'd run out of the sticky and had to make a fresh batch (put balsamic vinegar in pot, reduce, voila).

Now they're a lovely bunch, the lulus, and not all that fussy when it comes to food. Keri has even been known to try 'green stuff' and survive.

However I think even THEY would baulk if I tried to serve this:

In case that photo doesn't do it justice, what you're looking at resembles hot volcanic rock, and when I took the photo it was still crackling and popping like it was about to spew lava at me.

I'm actually quite proud of it. I've never burnt something so thoroughly in my life. I couldn't help smiling when I brought the pot in from it's decontamination point outside the back door. Not that I should be smiling - I think I just killed over $200 worth of Le Creuset pot.

My gorgeous father in law said I'm more than welcome to blame him for it, since I was gabbering to him on the phone when the smell of beyond-burnt vinegar reached me on the sofa.

Maybe I can save the pot. I think it should've stopped popping by now and be safe to take to with a crow bar.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday Reviso update

18 pages further along. Not as far as I hoped to be, but I did an extra reviso of 50 pages for my Golden Heart entry. I enter this little baby every year with the same sterling result of nada, but it's such a thrill to enter that I can never resist.

I managed two early morning cafe jaunts. I got totally burned at one by adding extras onto my breakfast, not realising they were $4 dollars a pop so that I had to work half the morning just to pay off my breakfast debt. Needless to say that misleading blackboard won't be getting my custom any more! AND the bacon was awful, the eggs were done on the griddle and the toast was mushy. I think that about covers it. Oh, no, and the coffee tasted like aniseed and I still can't figure out why. I'm all for a nutty coffee, but aniseed first thing in the morning? BLERK.

But still, 18 pages is 18 pages closer. Hopefully more to report soon.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What we do when revising gets too hard

What do we do? Why take a break, of course.
And this kind of faffing is among my favorite kind and incidentally the sort that can suck HOURS out of your day.

Backstory: I bought my much anticipated and shiny new laptop last week. There it is to the left.

Pretty in all the right computer spec ways, but Oh My God, could it BE any more boring?

So off I went, in my best faffing fashion and found where they have lots of ways to pretty up your otherwise generic/boring/coma-inducing black laptop.

Of course it took me *some time* to chose a design. And then *some more time* to discover that I wanted to design my own. Then *even more time* (and to be fair I've been sick and couldn't do much else) doing some truly awful ink drawings of flowers and leaves before FINALLY throwing my hands up in the air and tonking on over to istock to savage some photos.

This laptop is all about the writing. There will be no internet, there will be no email. So I figured the skin had to be all about writing too. My brain (not functioning on all cylinders, but still hanging in there), took me back to a particularly special time in my history when I first realised I wanted to become a published writer. I was about seventeen. Picture it. I was sitting on the floor in front of the fire at home, curled up against my mother's chair, a spot that had seen countless conversations on everything under the sun.
Mum: So, if you could do anything in the world, whatever you wanted, what would it be?
Me: I'd be a novel writer.
Mum: (rolls eyes). Not pie-in-the-sky stuff. Something real. What would it be?

Of course then I had nothing to say because I'd really given the question some thought. It set bells off in my head and made me want to cry whenever I thought about it. It still does.

It took me some years to get back to my pie in the sky, but it's always been what I wanted more than any thing else.
So I made this laptop skin and hope that the good people at whatever Cafe don't laugh too hard at me. I reassure myself that they'll have no clue what it really means.

I also find it funny which is a bonus.

I figure when I get my first publishing contract I'll have it redone to say "eating pie in the sky since xxxx"

Or maybe I should've gone with those ink drawings after all....

In any case, I think I'll be doing these on a regular basis. It feels good for the soul for some reason.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hairy for the Cause

For the past week or so, I've been looking around me at the men at work thinking 'you look different in a kind of dangerous/porn-star kind of way, but I'm not sure why'.
Then, sitting in a meeting today and gazing across at the normally squeaky clean Jan, I realised 'IT'S MOVEMBER!'
I love Movember. It's such a good cause. Prostate cancer kills just as many men as breast cancer kills women (who knew?) and Beyond Blue do some fantastic work too.
And each guy has a different reaction to his mo. Some are embarrassed, some can't stop touching it while others send a picture to everyone they know with growth updates.

If a heap of guys growing facial hair for a month draws awareness and some well needed funds - then I'm all for it! I'll even try and grow my own Mo in a statement of solidarity. I'm sure I've got it in me. Or maybe I could just grow my armpit hair, or wear my bra on the outside for all of November.
Or just donate. That's a plan.

Movember - Sponsor Me

Monday, November 10, 2008

Update for Monday

Revision Update:
Today, while sitting in a meeting where I served no other purpose than to make sure the web hookup didn't fall over, I wrote the end of my synopsis. Yay team Reviso! I'm sure they wondered what the heck I could possibly be writing when it was a Partner's meeting and let's just say I'm not exactly Partner material. More than one confused look was thrown in my direction, I can tell you that much.

Tonight: I have to proof it so I can send it through to the lulus in the lead up to our critique session this Saturday. So it's finished for now, I guess, because they always give me food for thought.

Strange happening of the day:
On my lunch break, I locked myself out on the balcony at work by mistake and had to wait for security to come unlock the door. It was the same guy who gave me a serve last week for moving one of the coffee tables so I could type on it. I think I'm his Dennis the Menace.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


It's supposed to be Nanowrimo. Write a book, or 50,000 words of a book, in the month of November.

But now is not the time for me to start a new book. I have a perfectly good old book that's begging to be finished. So I've changed it to NanoReviso.

There are two hundred pages of manuscript that need rewriting/pulling apart/binning and if I do ten or so pages a day.....well it sounds easy. But it's been like trawling through treacle these past few weeks. Which for me normally means I've taken a wrong turn somewhere, or am writing something that would be better skipped. Time to move on to the next shiny scene rather than trying to link them together far too chronologically.

Or maybe I'm just nervous about getting to the guts of the novel where I've made some big but really cool changes in my head that scare the pants off me. Somehow I have to get the good stuff on to the page.
But hold on, just typing that sentence made me realize how monumentally stupid I'm being.


I think I need to go here and get me some pep talks from my favorite writers.

But for anyone who's interested - it's not too late to start writing your first novel!
Go here for details.

And stay tuned for updates on how I'm going with it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wicked Good

You know you're excited about something when you start counting sleeps.
So I must have been really looking forward to going to see Wicked because I'd been counting sleeps ever since L gave me the tickets for my birthday. Yipee! Fabulous show. Yipee! Yummy dinner beforehand.
We had an amazing dinner at Gingerboy. It's only a tiny restaurant, sitting maybe 50, but the walls and ceiling are like a bamboo screen with a starry night behind it. I got lucky and took the bench seat, but TJ had to put up with the prespex wonder chair that did nothing for butt comfort.

This photo is from The Age because I left my camera behind.
We had big tall fruity cocktails to start with, followed by scallops with crumbly stuff and coriander on top, son-in-law eggs (battered and deep fried egg with yummy chili dip) and then a really good duck curry. Really good. I mean, I have a problem eating duck for the same reason I have a problem eating quail and lamb - they're so cute. I don't want to eat anything I would normally fawn over. But I'm ashamed to say, it smelled so good that gobbled it down and then chased coconut rice all over the plate trying to get that last little bit of fragrant sauce. Then it was onto the dessert platter and before we knew it, it was time to roll off to the theatre.

But no.


How can I not tell you about the desert plate? I love this (now old) trend of a little bit of everything on the desert menu carefully lined up on a long plate and plonked down between the two of you. I can never choose which desert to have, and it only ever ends in a growly husband when I poach off his. So, on the plate:

1) sticky black rice w mango and jasmine tea icecream (7/10)

2) tofu cheesecake w crispy sugary thing on top (10/10). Both of us had read this on the menu and said 'blerk, no WAY are we ordering that' and yet it was divine. Smooth and cheesy in a way tofu should never be. Or should always be. One or the other.

3) pear and cinnamon pancake with red bean icecream (3/10) - This was my choice if I had an individual dessert, but it was very ordinary. Sue me, but redbean icecream should be a redder, and beanier. Don't give me Asian Lite!!

4) vanilla and apple dumpling (4/10) Was Tony's individual choice, but again, was a little disappointing in a chewy, apple wrapped in dimsum pastry kind of way.

5) white chocolate cold pudding (8/10). Really a pannacotta, so as such, very yummy. However don't make the mistake of saying to the waiter 'the pannacotta was nice' because their reply will be something like "it's not pannacotta because that's not asian. It's a cold pudding."

To which *I* say - if you simmer up cream, sugar, vanilla then add gelatin, you can *call* it whatever the heck you want -- it's panna cotta. I almost wanted to kidnap the 'cold pudding' and take it back to its Italian heritage at Pelligrini's, but then their creme caramels might have taken offence. So I gobbled it down instead.

So as you can see, it was piglets anonymous and tight trousers after the Gingerboy adventure, even after the waitress told us we'd been 'circumspect'. I'd hate to see indulgence!

Then onto Wicked, which was fabulous. Clever use of the original story and I was entranced the whole way through. We had amazing seats that only L knows how to source (how does she do it?) and the night zoomed by.
Go see it!
Go eat at Gingerboy under the starry bamboo sky on a clear perspex seat. You won't regret it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The new mantra for the treatment of characters

So I'm stuck with my darling beautiful book and I can't seem to move through it. Every paragraph feels like a page, every page a scene, every scene a book of war & peace proportions. You get the picture.

And I *love* revising my manuscripts, too much, really. Improving my sucky first draft is often more rewarding than getting the pages done in the first place. But right now, ack, I don't know, I'm bored.

And initially I'll blame anything but the scene. It's daylight savings and being unable to get up and do my pages. It's my desk, which is an old kitchen table and has never felt conducive to writing, it's the headache I can't quite seem to get rid of or maybe it's work and the fact I'm so tired when i get home that all I can do is beg TJ to make my dinner and pop me into bed.
But eventually I realise what I'm actually bored with is the scene. Ho hum, they're in a carriage. Ho hum, they arrive at a beautiful London townhouse - blah blah blah - haven't I read this a hundred times before? Yawn.

So could somebody please send a note to my characters and tell them they have to start spicing things up or i'm going to fall asleep at my keyboard? And if they could do a few things that are just WRONG, that would be good too. I don't want them treating each other all nicey nice. I want them to arrive at the London townhouse and find themselves in quarters little better than the housekeeper. I want my heroine to arrive in London only to witness the one things she's most frightened of. I want the long anticipated visit to the dressmakers not to happen, but for them to get a wardrobe of cast-me-downs that don't fit.

Hold on! I feel less bored already. Excuse me while I go write.

Treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen. I have found my new character mantra.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hanging my hopes on a zucchini

I'm sure I knew how to cook. There are recipe books with pages that stick together to prove it.

I think.

I seem to remember loving cooking and adoring whipping something up for T for dinner.

Didn't I??

Hard to say, because my cooking mojo has been gone now for so long that I think a toasted cheese sandwich is 'special' effort. Nothing is turning out right.

Most dinners look like I have attention-deficit-disorder. Just look at them and you *know* I wandered away from the kitchen and got distracted by shiny things. Meat is overcooked, vegetables grey or just non existant. And everything is boring. Boring with a capital B.

Maybe it was the Tasmanian adventure. Maybe it was the kerfunctness of the fridge on return and complete lack of dollars to replace it (hey, paying a mortgage and rent is HARD). But recently I can't cook to save myself.

This has been going on for months.

Then last night I'd had enough. We had our monthly crit meeting and I'd said I'd bring a cake. Big chance to step up to the plate. The cake plate that is.

So I remember the lovely Keziah telling me about a foolproof cake recipe that everyone LOVED at her place recently. So armed with a zucchini and some mixed spices I tried to save my cooking career.

And it was YUM. No strange lumpy foreign pieces in the middle, just a dense spice cake with a lime dressing that I could've downed a whole bowl of. So THANKS Keziah and thanks Delicious Magazine...

zucchini & pistachio spice cake with lime frosting
Serves 10-12

¾ Cup (185ml) sunflower oil
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup (75g) unsalted pistachios, finely chopped, plus ¼ cup (35g) slivered unsalted pistachios to decorate
½ cup (60g) almond meal
2 cups grated zucchini (about 3-4)
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground mixed spice
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1½ cups (225g) self-raising flour
½ cup (75g) plain flour
Lime frosting
180g unsalted butter, softened
1¼ cups (200g) icing sugar, sifted
250g cream cheese, softened, chopped
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime

Preheat oven to 170°C.
Grease a 22cm springform pan and line base and sides with baking paper. Using an electric mixer with whisk attachment, beat the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla until thick. Stir in chopped nuts, meal, zucchini and spices. Sift over soda and flours, and stir to combine. Pour into pan and bake for 70 minutes or until a skewer inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack and cool completely.
For frosting, use electric beaters to beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. With motor running, gradually add cheese, beating well between additions. Add zest and juice and beat until smooth. Using a bread knife, slice the cake into two rounds and set aside top. Spread a third of the frosting over the bottom half, then replace top and spread cake with remaining frosting. Decorate with slivered pistachios.

From delicious magazine February 2007.

Friday, August 29, 2008

One hour later

USB of Great Suckiness

Dear USB stick,

I did love you.

A friend gave you to me and she had taken great effort to personalise you.

I put a ribbon on your arse so I could find you easily. It was aqua blue and I used to cut the small fraying inches off the end so you would always look glamorous.

You had a Gb of memory, more than enough for my pesky briefcase of writing back up.

I always treated you well, pushing that stupid ‘safely remove your hardware’ button to stop you freaking out.

I fretted over you, often driving back home to make sure you were always with me.

So WHY, WHY?? did you have to kamakaze from my handbag to God knows where? And I say God knows because i'm sure He watched me tear the city apart looking for you.

Where you are not:

  • Under the bar chair at the casino where we drank champagne last night
  • In the car
  • Floating in the Yarra
  • Still plugged into my work pc
  • At the convention centre
  • At the Royal Rose where we had birthday dinner with Freya
  • On the street outside her house
  • Chewed by Oliver
  • On the 5th floor of the car park in the spot by the elevator

I know you did this on purpose. I have any number of crappy lipsticks in my handbag, much the same size as you, that NEVER go astray. After much soul searching, I can only come to the conclusion you are a faithless piece of hardware. My love was enduring and strong – while you just took the chance to leave me behind for greener pastures. I hope you find what you're looking for - mp3s, DivX, .jpgs - all those things I never offered you with my boring pile of .doc files.

I am sorely disappointed in you. I thought you were different.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway....even if you ruin your mascara

It was conference time again for Romance Writers of Australia! Fun fun stuff, with the always inspiring Barbara Samuel, all time favourite Jo Beverley and new favourite Margie Lawson. I had excellent light bulb moments in Anna Campbell's deep POV workshop, and hung on every word of Jennifer Kloester who has to be one of the foremost authorities on my favourite subject - Georgette Heyer.

But I didn't learn as much as I normally do because I was busy stressing about the fact I was MC at the awards night. Wrap me up and call me scatter brain, but I couldn't string a coherent thought together until Sunday morning, and by then it was frankly too late.

When the conference co-ordinator asked me to emcee my first reaction was unadulterated fear. But along with it was the kind of excitement that I know always means I’m on the right track. That bubbling joy and ‘this is going to be fun’ feeling. I really love the awards night, celebrating everyone’s hard work and the beautiful stories they create. We sit there like a big family that hasn’t been together in a year (probably because we haven’t been together in a year) and talk and laugh and generally have the best time. So if I could be a bigger part of it, then all good.

At the end of the day, emceeing is a really simple job. But boy did I plan my little heart out for it. I’d covered for every little thing that could go wrong. Luckily I didn’t need to use any of it, but having it there made me feel better. And after some jitters at the start where my biggest fear was that I’d succumb to ‘little lamb’ voice, I really did have the time of my life. The bubbling joy and the ‘this is going to be fun’ feeling had not let me down.

There was only one little problem I didn’t foresee. Because I’m so unco with mascara and the more makeup I put on the closer to Krusty the Clown I look, I’d asked the lovely Mia Hawkswell to come do my hair and makeup for me. All good. Looking fantastic, made up to the wazoo and feeling glamorous.

And then my crit partner Carolyn Comito won the Emerald. She’s such a talented writer and her manuscript ‘Her Majesty’s Spy’ is absolutely brilliant. I admire her in so many ways. She’s dedicated, she’s focused and she deserves not only this award but the big fat book contracts that should follow. And when I think about much she deserves this and how her two beautiful children and husband are at home waiting to hear how mummy did – of COURSE I start crying. And all that smoky and glamorous eye makeup starts to puddle up.

Then and editor came and plonked herself down next to my other crit partner Chris (who won the prestigious Romance Writers of NZ Clendon Award last week). Without a pitch or query letter in sight, the editor asked Chris to send in whatever work she has. I cried even more because Chris writes books that wrap around you like a warm blanket and we know that, and we’ve known it for years, but it seems now that everyone else is catching up and her future sparkles like a sparkly thing.

So CC's crying, Chris is crying, Keri's crying, Freya was all teary too so what the hell hope did I have?? So I’m dabbing away at my eyes with my napkin (sorry Langham, there’s one you’ll have to turf) and hoping my voice doesn’t warble.

It was a great night and not because it was the first time I was brave enough to get up in front of a hundred and fifty people and be myself, but as the night Carolyn and Chris made me so proud I almost burst out of my little white bustier.

In my news from the conference, I pitched my book to an editor and was hugely excited/relieved to hear she thought it was an original concept and would love to see some chapters. Woo hoo! Not only that, but she went above and beyond and gave me some ideas on how I could ramp up the conflict. Editors! We loves them! Revisions we loves them less because they make us sweat but if I get a better book from it, i'll roll up my sleeves and do the dirty.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

We should've burned stockings not bras

I have SO had enough of pantyhose. I know, I know, all the injustice in the world and I reach boiling point over a layer of sheer something I use to cover my legs. It seems wrong somehow. Shallow. Inconsequential. But I am reserving the kind of loathing for stockings that I usually have for animal cruelty and the girl that comes into work each day with a different fur item on (no, I do NOT care if they were your grandmothers!!!!).
But back to pantyhose. Firstly, they do NOT keep you warm in winter. Not even vaguely. I'm not sure if this was ever used as a selling proposition, but my mother always used to tell me to go put tights on because I'd freeze otherwise. Newsflash Mum - I'm still freezing. Yesterday i stood at the tramstop completely certain I had tucked my skirt into my pants, so cold was the arctic wind up my leg tunnel.
Secondly, what in the history of fashion do we pay so much for for so little return?
  • Monday - buy stockings - ladder stockings by my second coffee
  • Tuesday - buy stockings - rip a massive hole in the butt of them yanking them up. Figure I can get away with this and wear them anyway, even though hole gets bigger as the day progresses
  • Wednesday - Wear a pair I picked up at the Bonds Factory Outlet for 3.95 (marked down from 19.95, which is my only excuse for not hearing the alarm bells). Put stockings on. Think to self 'hmmm, these are a little inflexible." Stockings look lovely on the leg, but unfortunately only cover half my butt. As the day wears on and I make the fatal mistake of walking around, the stockings fall down...
    until I am forced to penguin walk to the toilets before they drop to my ankles.
  • Thursday - figuring there has to be a better way - go to specialised stocking shop and invest in a pair of thicker denier fishnetty numbers. Feel very sexy and urban until I realise my massive calves turn the fishnets into something more akin to a fish trawler. Unsexy. But at least they last the entire day with no mishap.
  • Friday - get smart and wear pants.
Really, 'get smart and wear pants' should have happened on Tuesday - but nobody every said I was a fast learner.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Winter of my Discontent

BLOG: Roooobyn! Come and play with me.
Me: Who is this??
BLOG: It's me, remember? Your blog. I've got pretty butterflies and you are supposed to come and talk complete and utter rubbish about the unco things you do.
Me: I have a blog???

Hey I have a blog!
How could I leave something that's so much fun for such an extended period of time?
I could blame my new job taking every ounce of creative energy I have through its sheer boringness, but that wouldn't be fair, because the more boring the work is, the more hyperactive little writer brain becomes and let me tell you - there is one totally HOT rewrite of my book that's going on at the moment.

But in a nutshell --
I'm back in Melbourne and it feels strange. It's not that I'm pining for Launceston, because well, it's freaking freezing down there and there are only two movies showing at the cinema at any one time, but Melbourne is leaving me less than enchanted too. And I love this place, so I'm waiting impatiently to fall back in love with it. Maybe it's just winter. The winter of my discontent.

Although just last weekend, it was the winter of freaky snowstorms, hair raising driving through mountain ranges and feeding pademelons with apples when T and I celebrated our anniversary by going to Cradle Mountain Lodge. We flew over and hired a little hyandai Getz, that probably would've been fine if we hadn't encountered SNOW on the way there.

At first, climbing over Mt Round, we were all 'oh isn't this the most beautiful thing EVER.' because the snow floated around the car like we were in fairy land. I have never seen anything so beautiful and unexpected. Enchanted, would be a good word to describe me.

Stupid would be another.

Ten kilometres into the hundred kilometre trip I started to get worried. The road was disappearing and icy. I had to drive this tiny crappy car in other people's tracks, my heart beating like a wild thing whenever the tracks disappeared completely or I had to round a sharp corner.

In short it was the most harrowing drive I've ever done. I counted down those kilometres until we got to zero and there was still no lodge in sight.
Road signs LIE!! Who knew?

It was about then that we heard an ominous THUMP THUMP coming from the back side of the car. Flat tire goodness. It's lots of fun changing a tyre in the middle of a snow storm. At least the car was so small you barely needed the jack. TJ is a tyre changing genius.

And I am SO not a snow driving genius. When the tracks disappeared on my side a few kilometres past the flat tyre, I said "to heck with it, i'm going on the wrong side of the road" where the tracks were clear and deep.

Cue on-coming SUV.

I slide (really, the car slid) over to the other side of the road where in trying to slow down and not lose control of the car and land in the ditch - we completely stop. On a hill. Still in the blizzard. SUV couple kindly stop and PUSH us up the hill where I limp the extra few km to the lodge. Up the final tiny hill to the lodge, anyone close by would have heard my gently cajouling the little blue car:
"Come on sweetie, you can do it, come on, a little bit further darling, you know you want to you @#EE#_ hunk of @$U%R" junk!!!"

But here's what we saw when we got there. Pretty and drop dead romantic. Almost worth ditching over a cliff for.

After a few stiff drinks my hands stopped shaking and I was ready to sit by the fire.

We took Lonnie Bear with us, who we caught out frolicking in the snow instead of taking our bags to the room like he was supposed to.

So having been let down by the bear - T had to lug the suitcase up through the snow.

Then it was fun all the way, with wine chilled in the snow, good food and staring aimlessly into a log fire for hours on end.

And by the time I had beaten the pants off Tony TWICE in Scrabble (I have never beaten him before) the snow had melted like it was never there.