Category Archives: Taking stock

Beyond that one day

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A couple of weeks ago, I was in the supermarket. There was baby stuff event and the merchandising sat next to various bits and pieces for Valentine’s day. I chuckled, there was a wonderfully funny link between the two. The Feast of Saint Valentine, the annual celebration, of all things hearts and flowers; you can’t miss it. There is merchandising as soon as Christmas is over.

There is an immense power in this run up. It can make you feel overjoyed, positively ecstatic if you are well and truly in love. There is the sadness, pain and feelings of being something of a social pariah if you aren’t. There is also being apathetic about it, not having any opinion on it. All of these perfectly valid.

However, there is an onus pick a camp and stay in it.

For years, I have had a dislike of February; a dislike of the fourteenth day, that is slap bang in the middle of month and unavoidable.  It has taken me a long time to understand why I have felt like this, how I might change that way of feeling and also accept how I really feel about what is effectively a massive great big marketing campaign entrenched in socially constructed gender politics.

This may well come across as a rant, and I guess in part it is. It is not, a woe is me, what is wrong with me, sort of diatribe. The latter, is the complete anti-thesis of my perspective.

I’ve grown up with the ideology and cultural values that by the time you’ve gone to school, you graduate, get a job and get married. Getting married, happens to everyone, you then produce kids. The notions of love, romance and relationships are manipulated and there is an expectation of everyone following a very linear, very much pre-determined path. This does mean, that by 25 and 30, you’ve been to a lot of bollywood weddings, heard in the following year that the bride is not expecting and then had eyes made at you, signalling that you are next.

But what if you’re not?

I’ve had those eyes made at me, and it is soul destroying. I’ve even been asked why I can’t find someone, what could possibly be wrong with me? Trust me, I raged for days, took it to therapy and wrestled with introjects that ares so deep-rooted within cultural norms and values, I decided enough was enough.

I’m doing my best to buck a massive trend. I should in theory, be married, have two and half kids, and be settled. I’m not trying to avoid the linear strand of expectations; no, I’m just re-arranging the tracks a little.  I’m trying to do what makes me happy, allows me to nurture my own actualising tendency, and consider my own valuing process.

Valentine is an introject, it has become an normalised part of that linear experience. That’s part of why I’ve found it all uncomfortable.

Just because everyone else is loved up, it’s okay if I’m not. I’m okay with it. I don’t need someone else to complete me, to be my better half. I don’t see why I have to dangle off someone else’s arm, or have someone else dangle off mine, to be perfectly honest. I’ve got to some level of acceptance; I’m okay with being single-don’t assume I’m alone, that’s different-the world will recognise that when it is ready.

Single woman are stigmatised for not being part of a duo; our value diminishes and is only increased when in the company of others. Our individuality, assertiveness and autonomy is considered to be defiance, to be disrespectful and contrary to the norm. As though we need a counter-weight and counterfoil to validate who we are. A single woman is a threat to the status-quo and that just won’t do.

I am enough. I have a lot about me-she types, oh so modestly-in my own right, to help me feel content. No one other person, should be needed an auxiliary or an accessory to contribute to my self concept, self image and self worth.

Yet, apparently, I need a boyfriend/husband to do what I do, to go wherever I go.

Above, you will see two images. The first, is me having a laugh; a plastic sword and an out-sized lid for a pan. One of my colleagues reckons I look a lot like a shield-maiden in that image.  Second. I am in Amsterdam, on something of an adventure and wondering where to adventure next.  The two images, in  my mind at least, sum up how I feel right now.

There has been a lot reflection to get that far.

The number of times I have heard the following, or words to this effect:

  1. You’re here by yourself?
  2. Where is your husband/boyfriend?
  3. Who you going with, you’re not going by yourself are you?
  4. You really should take someone with you.
  5. Oh, I’d never go by myself
  6. You should get your parents to put on your matrimonial list (This was interesting-the time of my birth, my height, my qualifications. whether I was a meat-eater, all factored in, and before I so much as got in touch with the candidate..I mean, suitor. The best response ever….We were looking for a doctor, not a teacher.)
  7. Have you tried online? (Oh, please, that’s weird window shopping and then some…swipe, swipe, swipe….)

I have also be told :

  1. It’ll happen when it is supposed to.
  2. Yeah, but being married/in a relationship, isn’t all it is cracked up to be.
  3. You’re still young!
  4. Oh, I didn’t get married until I was X, Y, Z years  old

I used the word perspective above. I do feel that this is important, given my how I’ve been raised, how I have experience the world and what I am continually learning about myself. Bend it like Beckham, East is East have a lot to flaming well answer for.

The next time, that a relative asks me, why aren’t you married, what is wrong with me, I’m not sure what I might say. I would like to have to the audacity, the bravery, to ask what this means for them, why is my relationship status so important to them? I know, that it is important for them. That in their world, we are all neatly paired up, there are babies and all is well.  For now, I will remain stoic -‘It will happen when it happens; when I find someone, what will be, will be.’ Any other response, would most likely get me labelled and ‘told off.’

The key is, knowing what I want, and how this is different. I can recognise and respect the difference. It is not up to them, how I do things, when and with whomever I might find. I might even cite Priyanka Chopra or Deepika Padukone. Two Bollywood starlets who dared to defy convention.

I do think my animosity towards the feast of Saint Valentines has reduced somewhat. It’s cute, glittery; there are roses everywhere. I can grow my own roses, proper special ones at that, so I will shake my head at the air miles, as how they might not last more than a few days. Mine, last up to weeks, and the joy they elicits lasts longer too.

Thursday will come. I will go to work, come home, do what I do any other day of the week. The love, will be the love I have  myself; a love centred on acceptance of me being me.

Whatever you do, where ever you are and with whomever, have a good one.

The journey of a thousand miles #gdnbloggers

…starts with a single step.

A step to the allotment, and then to potter around. To survey, to soak it all; to remember what was.

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I went willingly. I went, with intention and a sense of purpose. I wanted to go, see what the literal lay of the land was. For a long time, seeing that space has felt really very overwhelming. I need to take the plot in parts, in sections to be worked on one at a time. I might also have to inveigle some help with that; I will have to find willing side-kicks.

This was a big deal. I felt that urge, where by the many different facets of me weren’t in conflict.  I went to the allotment to seek joy. Joy that has long since been absent, and has left something of hole behind.

I had spent most of the day baking. I have a bundt tin, a recipe book and the need to make something. Two cakes later-raspberry and milk chocolate, the one stuck the pan, lost its top-I resolved to go take a walk to the plot. I baked today as I feel as though I’m in a time/space vortex. My baking mojo exists as my writing mojo is fading and my gardening mojo is a spark. This in itself is slightly disorienting.

As I got to the plot, I felt resolute. I’d gone to have a look, I want to cover the top half, see what needs clearing, what is in my way. I wandered around, I took the above pictures.

Then it hit me. Sadness and guilt.

Sadness that this is what I am faced with; but know why. Guilt, as more often than not, I experience looks and tuts of disapproval at having let things lapse. There is a big part of me, that blows raspberries at that. I blow raspberries, as I have grown and developed the plot quite successfully in the past. The plot has been a mini Eden. I’m hanging onto that; I would like to return to that. This won’t happen quickly, there is no immediate gratification here. There never has been.  I can confess that I do not react well to disapproval from plot neighbours. I do try to ignore it for the most part, but that doesn’t stop bits of seeping through. Judgement and disapproval are horribly damaging, your autonomy takes a hit and you start doings that you’d rather not. That’s the bit I’m hanging onto.

This is my tenth year as an allotment gardener. A lot has happened in that decade, a lot has happened on the allotment plot. I have until April to make a dent in things, get back to a level playing field and to cultivate something.  It might only be January, but already I see folks on blogs, on social media; they are getting stuck in, they have grand plans.  I myself, feel very much at sea. The thought of going to look in my seed tin, doesn’t feel right at the moment.

That said, the chilli seeds are very much on my mind and will be sown in the next few weeks. Sowing the chillies, having a look at the plot feels like an intuitive step in the right direction.

Feeling the spark….#gdnbloggers

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…the gardening force awakens.

Over the last week or so, I have been thinking about Chilli seeds. The thought, the impetus appeared in my mind like a starburst. It came out of nowhere, I wasn’t expecting it.

I had just finished the second draft of Book 6.

The universe was sending me a signal. A signal, that I have not felt for nigh on a year. A signal, that jolted me awake as I pressed save. I switched off my computer. I had completed one form of creativity, it was time to return to another.

I want to sow chilli seeds. I want to plant seeds, I want to go back to my allotment, feel the dirt beneath my fingernails.

Just where exactly did I put my red wellingtons, though?

Hold up, a second. It’s only the second week of January. Anything I sow now, will be long, leggy and likely to keel over.

Let’s just revel in the spark, just for one moment. There is a spark, a desire to plant potential and it really does feel as though the universe has sent it.

There is more to this, however, than meets the eye.

2019 stretches before me. When I look at my diary, it is blank.  Unlike 2018, I have no plans. There is no fast, furious, chaotic sense of being that life has felt like for a long time. There is peace, serenity and the opportunity to surrender to all that makes me happy.

This time last year, I had sown seeds. Chilli seeds, at that. They failed; there was something in the air, that told me they were meant to. I was saddened, I really was. I went with it; 2018 was a big year beyond the allotment.

Christmas 2018 came. I found myself looking at the aftermath of a figurative tornado. I found myself looking at the potential to move on. I wrote a few blog posts, it all felt really bitty.  A lot like trying to start an engine, only for it to cough and splutter. The timing, the feeling, the passion wasn’t quite there. I was trying to start something that really wasn’t ready to return.

I joined in with the Garden Bloggers twitter chats, and this started to form a quiet groundswell within.  The encouragement, support and camaraderie is something that I cannot describe; there was a sense of being a part of something really beautiful. I’ve hung onto how I felt during that chat; I’ve felt buoyed about returning back to gardening.

So, how do I cultivate that spark.

Slowly.

Remember, I have a very wild allotment. The plan, that is all very tentative, is to cover half of it. Make less overwhelming; assume control of bits and pieces. To ignore, the naysayers who do not expect me to turn my allotment around. The odds, would have me turning my back and walking away.  I have not spent nearly a decade playing in the dirt, to give it all away. A big part of me want to remember what it feels like to be on that plot of land, walk around, tending to things. I feel as though I need to go back to something and rekindle things.

Bits are broken, in disarray. Yet I have felt the spark, I am feeling the force. A force that is asking me to put down my inks pen and nurture something within. The writing is certainly one outlet for the universal force. It is however, time to return another aspect.

I will shortly have chilli seeds. I think I have pellets somewhere. I might also think about tomatoes eventually.

Let’s see what happens, eh?

The Icelandic Adventure April 2018

This is by far my biggest adventure to date. I went to Iceland. Generally, I am very fortunate to have wing-people. Be it siblings or friends. This, this was very different. I did this by myself, much to the amusement of some. Why there, it’s so far away; do you know how cold it is there, Punam?

An amazing CPD opportunity arose, where by I could meet fellow Psychology teachers from across Europe. This was a conference that happens every two years, and I rather fancied making an adventure of it. It’s not that I don’t adventure alone, I do. Just not so close to the Arctic circle.

I’m glad that I did. Iceland is beautiful, Reykjavik is phenomenal. I also met some fabulous like-minded individuals. The camaraderie within the teaching fraternity really is second to none. If you are a Psychology teacher, go find the ATP and also EFPTA; you won’t be let down.

There was a bit walking on this trip, in doing the Golden circle tour. The double waterfall was one of the most soul-tingling experiences ever. I stood there, really quite mesmerised. There a couple of geysers, one big, one small. I will never, ever, complain about rain here in Britain. Icelandic rain comes down in King-size sheets and does more than drench you. Thank goodness, for a Birmingham Blue-coloured hat that Mama F had crocheted for me.  I stood between two tectonic plates, walked passed the dunking pool of unmarried mothers. That was really quite sad and eerie.

The secret lagoon. What do I say? An experience beyond words. It makes me smile as I sit here writing about it. Must have been what two, three degrees, but stepping into that water. That was something beyond magic, I tell you.

This was by far the trip of a life time. Scared the living daylights out of me, whilst giving me butterflies, but I did it. I was very lucky, to have met up with friends and colleagues; this did do something to help me get rid of the nerves.

I did have some sadness too. I actually looked at the coach seat next to me, and there wasn’t a sibling or someone significant there to elbow. That is another story, I  guess.

A year of dresses

 

This year, has  been a year of dressing up. I don’t think I ever had so many different outfits. Then again, I had fairly good reasons for wearing them.

In April I dusted off, arguably what will always be my favourite sari. It’s Imperial, Cadbury purple and always make me smile. It is also swooshes fabulously on a dance floor when busting a move to Bon Jovi.

Then came the annual international conference of the Association of Teachers of Psychology in July. Every year, I have a think about the dresses for conference, for the gala dinner amongst everything. It is always a great event, dressing up is part of the excitement. I clearly have a thing about vintage inspired swing dresses, so purple was factored in. The came the gala dinner. This was different. I actually wore an Indian outfit, and liked it.

And blimey, it’s been an Indian outfit summer. The weather certainly helped with a massive, Bollywood wedding. A family event that was nearly a year in the planning. With it came the outfits.  Quite a few outfits.

So let’s put this into context.

I’ve never done that before. Having these outfits for the wedding, was a big deal. From not being silver-I’ve been going grey since 16, I’m mid thirties now-so having to go back to being raven haired, to wearing outfits that only exist in movies. Outfits that tall, beautiful, model types wear.

I woke up at half two to  have my hair and make up done. Looked in the mirror at six, nearly scared myself. That woman in the photos, she really doesn’t look like me.

‘Wow, you look different.’

‘Punam, that you? I almost didn’t recognise you.’

That, that is a big point.

I don’t do glamour. I don’t do hair, make up, eyelashes and swooshing skirts.

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But for that day, I felt like a princess. I was still me beneath it all, that’s for certain.

I am not what you see in the Indian bridal mags. That’s an uncomfortable thought, when the world around us is based up on physical appearance. What we look like, is what we get judged on.

Three days after the wedding, I had a massive hair cut. I’ve not coloured my hair since either. I actually got ID’d when my hair was black. It’s been a struggle, trying to defend why I don’t dye my hair. There is sadness too, what with the ID’ing; to look that bit younger. Having silver hair as woman, is viewed as being negative. For a man, not really a problem.

Being me whilst wearing all those of outfits has been incredibly important and still is.

 

From seed to six years #gdnbloggers

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floral trug with fruit and roses

 

Six years. WordPress tells me that I’ve been writing this blog for six years. If this blog was a human, it has probably started school already and hopefully made some friends.

The whole idea of sharing started well before that, in a slightly different place with a slightly different aim. Slightly different in the way it was organised, and how I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. However, here I am; here is the blog.

A lot has been covered in that six years. There have been highs, lows, lots of things in  between that have made blogging and the writing process wonderfully human.

This blog  was quite literally founded on the seeds of an idea; a gist of which you can find on the About page. I do feel it is important to reflect upon where this blog started, what has been experienced and subsequently where it might go in the future. I do feel that it is evolving and over time things may change.

Highs, there have been a few. Gluts, for one. After three, four, five courgettes, what’s a girl to do? There have been pickles, preserves, the Petal Plonk experiments that will be really very interesting to comeback to. All in all, I’ve cultivated a piece of land that was unloved for a very long time. It was nearly five foot high with weeds when I first took it on. In it’s present state, the allotment does look rather sorry but it has already gone through a great deal. There have been glorious summers, where there has been lots fruit, vegetables, lots of glads, sunflowers and roses. There has been a lot of abundance. There have been both physical and mental benefits too. All in all, the impact of the allotment is very much holistic.

The lows experienced have always been hard to process, to understand but there has always been potential for learning and forward movement. I don’t think I will ever forger the broken cold frame and destroyed polytunnel. Those two things, were like being punched in the gut-my heart tore straight down the middle. Then there is the heavy clay that has meant raised beds. Raised beds that I built myself, much to my Dad’s amusement. I pinched his cross-head screwdriver and got blisters. He then picked up his drill to make sure everything was secure.  There are of course Human factors such as work, family, time and energy.  This year, I have felt those a great deal. At times, I have put so much on my plate, the allotment has felt very far away. Wheeling Mama F down there in a wheel chair during her post spinal surgery recovery was one of the most surreal things ever. She missed going to my allotment. She has since got her own and loves it.

The gardening, blogging and lots of other communities have been instrumental in helping. You’ll notice the Garden bloggers hashtag in the title; this is more than a homage. It is an acknowledgement of their support, their forum as well as the vibrancy and diversity.  I am always surprised by how far the gardening and blogging community stretches and therefore where the blog gets read. I am touched somewhat, that 200 square metres in the middle of England can reach so far a field. There is a pun in there somewhere. At the outset, I relied a great deal on online forums, and this is something that I will not forget.

My own journey behind the blog has been woven in at times. Teaching and counselling training have impacted a great deal on how this blog, how the allotment has developed. There has been writing too. I must admit, that at times there has been a sway towards the writing projects on the blog. That has felt as though it was a big move away, but I stand by that this blog is what triggered that. If it wasn’t for this blog, there’d be no green or yellow books. Therefore, the writing is an extension of this blog; that goes for both the fiction and non-fiction. This blog, the ideas and learning are the umbrella for what I have produced. So my profuse apologies, if you do feel that I have betrayed my green-fingered roots. I have genuinely struggled with whether or not things are so divergent. I like to think of this as configurations, different aspects of me, the blog and everything in between.

It is then only natural to think of the diversification and The Petal’s Potted Preserve Umbrella. There is a lot that goes on here.  The essence of the the blog, a shop front amongst other things, an umbrella of gardening, writing, adventuring, mental health and Psychology.

As for future growth, I have no idea. I give up on making plans!! I am thinking about forward movement, of getting things going. That does in part mean looking back to see who far things have come. I have missed writing about my allotment. Sat here, I have set aside a meaty big bit of Counselling diploma work to write this. I will do it, albeit when my mind feels like it. I do have writing projects, and I am learning how to marry those into things. These are bubbling away on the other hob and will no doubt filter into the blog writing.

So, I have a list of things to write  on here. I’d quite like to share things that I have experienced over the last year, there’s some gardening stuff that I’d like revisit. I have very much a forward looking view, and that makes me hopeful.

Stand by, I guess.

To resume a love affair #gdnbloggers

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To my dearest allotment, my wonderful blog and my alter ego, Petal.

I miss you, I would like to fall in love with you again. Shall we give this another go?

As I come to the end of 2018, I look back at an eventful year. There have been adventures, a level four counselling course and one big massive Bollywood Wedding. The Punam Farmah universe has been going through huge changes.

Oh, and two books too.

So I haven’t been around as much as I could have been My brain has been full, my body stretched and my soul has been spread horribly thin. I think I have also displaced my smile and my purposeful James Bond walk. This has been painful and then some.

Quite simply, I have lost my bounce and my flow.

Two things, that I would like to get back. Two things that the plot, the blog and Petal have always given in abundace.

I should go down the plot. (I hate the word should). Given the storm currently bashing Blighty, I know it will all be a mess. There is no colour, only chaos and this pains me greatly. The once or twice that I have been there, it has felt as though I was feeling devestation. The whole thing looks ravaged and that hurts me.

How could I have let something so beautiful, so well made and cherished slip away?

Last Christmas, I planted chilli seeds. These failed, something didn’t feel right. Perhaps I knew on an intuitive level that this year wasn’t going to my year. That there wouldn’t be enough of me to use the plot.

The allotment, the blog, Petal all make me happy. I have bored so many people senseless with the tales from the alloment. Handed over jars of preserves, and then there is the Petal Plonk. I swear Gardening appears in all the books in one shape or form.

So I need to resume my love affair. Or at least flirt with the idea of having another crack at things. Admittedly, I have said this so many times this year and not acted. I guess the universe didn’t want me to.

Right now, the wind is blowing. There are big fat storm clouds. I am reminded, that big fat rain clouds will burst. Contained within their silver lining is rain, that washes things away. The droplets nourish arid earth and let greenary bloom. The rain might get caught in the sunhsine. Light splits, you get rainbows.

Every grey cloud has a silver lining.

The new year will soon be upon us. The start of another 12 months with a whole lot of potential, a whole lot of growth.

Plus, if I can get up Glastonbury Tor and then down again, I can probably do this.

So, to resume the love affair.

A time to flirt, with the seeds of an idea.

 

And if you wondered about the Big, Bollywood Wedding….

….it wasn’t mine.

 

 

 

Kangana: Light after dark

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A month ago, I was starting to pace up and down.  Book number five was lined up to go live. My fifth book in four years, there was a lot of anticipation hanging in the air. There was fear, anxiety, but also some level of excitement too.

Of all the books, Kangana makes me smile, and I am only just starting to figure out why.

Kagana is my ray of sunshine, rainbow book. A book that signals a change in me, my mind-set and subsequently my writing mojo.

It marks the end of what has felt a jumbled up, chaotic time. A time during which my life has gone through all sorts; there’s been growth, development, sadness, joy, not to mention lots of interesting adventures. The last five years have been wonderfully formative, giving rise to five very different books. Five. I still don’t know how that happened.

Previously, I have noted that writing about gardening was some of a multi-layered metaphor; this blog, has evolved and grown from the seeds of an idea and continues to do. Writing two gardening books, was much about my growth and development as much as it was about my allotment.

To this day, I cannot tell you why I made the leap into writing fiction, writing stories that couldn’t be more removed from roses, mud and raspberries. I remember the moment when; mid morning, tapping my pen-a green biro-against lined paper. I had an idea.

The genesis of Fragments came from grief, bereavement; it is not an easy, soft, all is rosy book. Fragments is a whirling tornado of emotions, humanity, tears and pain. Don’t get me wrong. In the same way that every grey cloud has a silver lining, so does Fragments.

Fragments is  a book about getting up again having fallen down; about dusting yourself off and moving on. It is a book about finding strength, even when don’t think you have any. This is a book that shook me sideways, and at a time when I was feeling broken; this was my way of finding out my depths and layers.

When Fragments went live, I remember feeling wounded. I’d written this book, eighty something thousand words, and it hurt. I had this massive great big hole, as though something had been wrenched out of me. Absolute internal pain, and it throbbed. I remember feeling as though I had been kicked in the stomach.

What the flip was a girl to do?

Well, she waited four weeks and decided to go find the Peace Novella series.

You’ve heard a lot about RTP-that’s Retreating To Peace. I feel bad writing this,  but Devan Coultrie was definitely a band-aid. A sticky plaster to fix into place what ever Fragments had done.

RTP is a romance, yes; a contemporary romance. It’s not fluffy though, Devan and I both had dents. So we both fixed them, together. I rebelled, I wasn’t willingly going to write a fluffy romance. I still couldn’t find it in my soul to do so.  I remember asking my fellow Peace writers to read it, but wincing in anticipation.

I’ve never been so scared to let anyone look at my work. (Team Farmah never get a look in, honest) I sat there, with the handwritten manuscript pressed to my chest. I didn’t want anyone to read my romance novella and then beat me with it. I struggled with the concept that all romance novellas were full of bow-chick-wow-wow that defied the laws of Physics. Full of bodice ripping country squires and doe-eyed damsels.

But I took stock, received positive feedback. I prized the manuscript from my chest, and did a really funny happy dance. The ladies of the Peace Novella series , picked me off the floor to dust me off. I stood up, held my head high.

Then I bit the bloody bullet.

Off went RTP, released into the ether and unto the masses.

There was something very nice, warm and fuzzy about having written RTP. Devan Coultrie was a lovely, faith-restoring band-aid, and I am most certainly not done with him.

The ladies of Peace, were sent to my universe for a reason.

Anyways.

I took the summer off, decided that I was I need of a break. Both Fragments and RTP had changed my head space, and now there was a scope for sunshine after the rain.

Taking a walk to Sarehole mill with my sister, I let the greenery of Middle earth talk to me. That was August. I went home, wrote three thousand words, then put my notebook away. I was not in the mood to do any more writing.

Autumn and winter passed. I got busy, and there were too many things happening for me to be creative. One Saturday, I sat with my soft pastels and decide to make rainbows. Three were created in varying configurations. Rainbows had been very much on my mind, especially with counselling therapy. I even had a set of oil paints and tried to paint one with the EMS as a reference.  In my mind, rainbows demonstrate the power of the universe. Light after dark, hopefulness. The way that light bends with water to give the different wavelengths. It makes great scientific sense, but its wonderfully magic.

Putting aside the pastel creations. I went looking for my notebook. I looked at the three thousand words and knew that one character from Fragments was my next venture.

That character was Gorbind; a bit part character that had a sliver in a chapter. You could literally blink and miss him.  As with Devan Coultrie, Gorbind was borne out of a lack of Indian romance books. This continues to annoy me, so perhaps I can do something about it.

I was writing yet another romance.

Romance.

Kangana was now being forged;  I had a chapter list, a sequence of events and also a playlist.  I had  also more than once visited Birmingham’s Museum and Art gallery, where seeing the Lucifer sculpture and Rosetti’s Porsepine fueled my imagination further.

For the next ten months, my poor parents heard Dr.Zeus’ Kagna-two versions-, Hallelujah-three different versions of that-, Eric Clapton’s ‘Layla, not to mention Cyndi Lauper’s ‘At last’ on loop. This made a huge change from Jolene, two thirds of Adele’s back catalogue and all of Maroon 5’s as used in RTP and Fragments. I do have to say though; for some daft reason, halleleujah has occured for all three fiction books.

Kangana has made me laugh, it has made me smirk. It has also made me think of Gianluigi Buffon in a whole new light.

Why?

Well, most of my main characters have faces as I write them. Gorbind was the esteemed Mr. Buffon. Devan Coultrie, was Aidan turner. In Fragments, Jamie Dornan inspired Christopher and Adelphi. One day, all the rest will have faces. Albert Finney, is Grandad Albie.

Kangana is a lighter book. It does have its dark bits. All rainbows do. Kangana is a book that marks a change; it’s a book that marks a movement forward into a different direction.

No idea what that direction is. There is a stack of writing projects sat on my desk.

Two have been pulled out for development. The one, is labelled Hades. Yes, him of the underworld. The other is identified as Aurelia and involves vampires.

That is all I have for now. I have no further details as my mojo is at rest until Spring. That doesn’t mean that I won’t be planning and gleaning the universe for inspiration in the mean time.

All in all, this means a break from intense hot-housing and slowing down to regenerate. For now, I am going to bask in a rainbow and colour my soul.

Go grab your copies, try to do the same.

 

 

Petal’s books: Plant pot tales-Happy Birthday!

 

Three years ago on this very day, Playing with Plant Pots: Tales from the allotment was released unto the ether. I had written and published my first book.

After a summer of rough ideas, and having said to my youngest sister, that I would write a book; I actually did it.

Plant pot tales was and is an extension of this blog. I used this blog to record all the lessons learned and experiences had. To put them into book was the next step. I had been encouraged by the success of Rob Smith on The Allotment Challenge, I was also invited by Michael Perry the illustrious Mr.Plantgeek to guest write some blog posts. The whole creative process was something of a swirling tornado.

This week, after two years of all sorts, I am trying to go back to the plot. Go back to the plot that this whole gardening and writing process came from. This post, the book anniversary, the return is therefore extremely poignant.

Plant pot tales was borne out of passion, creativity, out of doing something that makes me really happy; doing something with which I truly have a very meaningful relationship. The plot, gardening, writing have all become a big part of who I am, how I see myself and in turn how others see me. Plant pot tales was the keystone to the genesis of Petal’s Potted Preserve as an entity, identity and as umbrella for all things me.

It may not be perfect, but I am very proud of Plant pot tales. I put my heart, soul and green fingers into it, and tried to the best job I knew how to at the time. This was a book that allowed me to enter into the world of indie and self publishing. This, was the start of an interesting and evolving journey. A journey of creativity, self-discovery; a journey of exploring the universe and what I might be capable of.

That yellow book has a lot to answer for!

I learned valuable lessons with plant pot tales. These lessons were about both gardening and writing/publishing. I really wouldn’t change Plant Pot Tales for the world, it is a reminder of where I started and how far my journey has gone so far.

For me, this is not a traditional gardening book. I’ve not written a book about having a perfect garden, but a book that that reflects upon mistakes and uses them as learning experiences. I didn’t want to write a book that took on the mantle of an expert and passed judgement. My process is to continue learning and making judgements can be down right hurtful. Plant pot tales is about potential and positivity; about how having the seeds of an idea can lead to something truly epic.

As Plant Pot Tales turns three, I hope that it finds new readers. I hope that people come back to it, having already invested. I hope that this book continues to be useful and earns its place out there.

It was the first book, and I’m not done yet.

Petal’s books: A retrospective review

fivecovers

As the release date for the fifth book approaches, I am in something of a reflective mood. I am trying to consider, think back upon how things have moved on since I first decided to sow seeds, to write a blog and then make the move to writing books. All of which, comes under the umbrella of this blog, of Petal’s Potted Preserve as an entity.

All of the books can trace their lineage to this blog; writing here about the allotment is what inspired me to dip into another medium. I wanted to transfer what I was doing here to another way of recording, sharing and communicating.  Sharing was the key aspect; how far could my relationship with my allotment go, who might it reach, who might it help, might they learn from it?

I am and always will be a bookworm; there is something purely magic about a book. I feel that is true for most books. Be it fiction, non-fiction, be it a textbook; there is a beauty within it.

The mere thought of a library, makes me smile. I have yet to be part of one, but a girl can dream, yes?

A lot has happened since the yellow book went public. The yellow book; playing with plant pots, turns three in two days. I’ll post about that later.

Since plant pot tales was published, my job has changed. There have been two significant bereavements, I’ve trained to be a counsellor, and there has been an epic, really close family wedding. My life has been a constantly developing, evolving process and experience. All of which has meant I’ve dipped in and out of maintaining my allotment whilst also writing.

As parallel processes, gardening and writing both involve sowing a seed, crafting and nurturing, whilst exposing your soul whilst putting your heart into something that believe in. There is a lot vulnerability too, in going out on a limb. I don’t think I have tried to follow the rules on my allotment. I didn’t write a traditional gardening book; none, of my books are traditional.

Plant pot tales, is very much an extension of the blog. I have yet to identify the voice I use in that book. Read it out aloud, and you may just hear my paved-over Birmingham accent. It is me having a chat, telling you what I have recorded in the blog. There are recipes that carry the scent from Mama F’s kitchen. The book is a living experience, organic; it quite literally is the seeds of an idea.  It is also imperfect. A baptism, of not knowing what to do, how to do it and learning as I went along. Least of all in a gardening sense. This was my entry into the world of Indie Publishing. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I took a punt writing it, putting it out there. In having a conversation with my youngest sister, declaring that I would write an e-book about my allotment, see what happens as I had nothing to lose; I took a huge leap of faith, and couldn’t tell you if it was brave or stupid. I don’t know if I had courage. I just did it, and did my best whilst in the heady, green-fingered throes of determination.

I wouldn’t have done it differently, I wouldn’t turn back the clock. Plant pot tales was the first. It was the herald, the pre-cursor to an interesting journey.

It was six months before the arrival of the next one. I simply couldn’t sit still; there was still something in the tank, and it wanted out. The allotment had been abundant, there were courgettes all over the shop. I’d also starting making jams, jellies and spirit infusions. These were documented on the blog, but still needed to travel. I’d caught the bug, I wanted to write again.

And so the green book came to life.

After which, things become a little blurry.

There was a gap of nothingness from April til December.

From January 2016, I was locked into something altogether surreal, The blue-coloured book didn’t arrive until March 2017 but I was writing over the year. This was a furious state of productivity; I had to write, get things out, get them onto paper in black and white. There been two very close bereavements, a lot of unsettled-ness and I was embarking in Counselling training. Loss, bereavement, grief, the circles of life were crashing and colliding.

That book was Fragments. Book number three, my first foray into fiction.

There’s a lot of pain in that book; there is joy too, it’s not entirely bleak. I saw smudges of hope and light when writing, that echoes in the pages of the book. This was never going to be a happy, fluffy book. This is a book that seeps with the human condition. It is my attempt, I guess, to grapple with something that we as humans avoid. We avoid talking about grief, bereavement; the end of life.

Here I was, making it public.

As with it’s two predecessors, the book also has power. The power to reach readers, to be a part of their process, inform and assimilate into how they experience the world around them. I like to think, that people read my work and take something from it. One of friends and colleagues made a comment. “Punam, you must have had an interesting life to write a book like that.” I took that as a compliment, and continue to make life interesting.

With Fragments out, I must have sat still for all of two weeks. Fragments had been a year of working hard, and for it to be over; there was a loss. There was a pain, a detachment from something that I had become invested in, something that had more or less governed each and every waking moment. I had an emptiness at having spilled my guts out. It physically hurt to have Fragments out there; as though it had been hoiked out from the depths of my soul. I had made something really important.

What I needed to do at that point, was to heal. I needed to mend. I needed to stretch my writing muscles.

I needed a giggle. Something to feel me with a light, maybe switch it on, help me extend. Something that felt hopeful and carried light.

Along came the Peace Novella series. I had nothing to lose, a lot to gain.

Creating Devan Coultrie was a huge, experimental shot in the dark. I was amongst seasoned writers, well established in the world of romance. Romance, a whole genre that I really didn’t know a lot about; a whole genre, congested with stories and with it’s own rules and regulations.

I struggled with the idea of a happily ever after. Thankfully, a happy for now would work. I struggled with there being few characters of Indian-ascent in romance novellas. I struggled with colliding and combining British and Indian traits. I was throwing all sorts at this book, and not knowing where all the chips would land was beyond unnerving.  I still can’t tell you how I did it. How I managed to write a piece of romantic fiction.

So much so, I wrote another.

I wrote book five. This, is me having another go.

By the 3rd of September, I will have self-published 5 books. Each one has my name on it. I always look at the covers, a bit surprised to see my name.

To have published one, was exhilarating. Two, helped me find a sense of purpose. Three, was a call from the universe, an attempt to put myself together; see my scars, dents and appreciate what makes me who I am. Four, was an experiment.

No idea what Five is, just yet.

When I know, so will you.