Elspeth Cooper

Purveyor of fine fantasy adventures

Category: life (Page 1 of 6)

Yellow maple leaf over blue sky

Writing weather

I’ve always been the kind of person whose mood is influenced by the weather. Not in some New Age in-touch-with-nature sort of a way, I just notice things. Rainy days make me melancholy. Strong winds give me the fidgets. And sometimes I notice the seasons change.

Ever since I was small, too young to feel the relentless march of the calendar pages turning the way an adult would, I’ve associated autumn with crows. I say crows, but really I mean all the corvids we got where I grew up: rooks, jackdaws and carrion crows (no ravens or hoodies in the north east of England). In early September, they got restless, swirling across the sky in great raucous flocks before settling back into the tall trees next to my parents’ house. It always meant summer was ending for another year.

I went into the garden this morning and the first thing I heard was the rooks. The sky was still blue and patterned with housemartins, the air still warm, but that dolorous cawing made me feel change was afoot.

Now the clouds are blowing in. A fretful wind is tossing the jackdaws around, and the trees are hissing like surf over shingle beaches. It feels like autumn. That means it’s writing weather.

Featured image © Illreality | Dreamstime Stock Photos

A long short story

For those of you who don’t follow me on social media, here’s the full story of the day I said farewell to an old friend, one who’s had my back, quite literally, for over twenty years.

I’m talking about TH. TH was there with me throughout my IT career. TH was in my wedding photos. TH even accompanied me to London to meet my agent for the very first time as a newly-minted authorial entity. But all good things must come to an end, and the time had come for me and TH to part ways.

If you haven’t met me, you’re probably wondering what I’m wittering on about. Ladies and gentlemen: meet The Hair.


Me with long hair

Me and TH

Me and The Hair were kinda like Foul Ole Ron* and his Smell, in the sense that The Hair was really the rock-star in our relationship. Never self-effacing, it always took up two seats on the plane and had a tendency to make people stare. It had Personality.

Unfortunately, The Hair also had some bad habits. It choked at least one vacuum cleaner to death. It could commit actual bodily harm just by turning over in bed, and as for the shower drain, let’s not even go there *shudder*.

It was also becoming increasingly difficult to manage in terms of my MS: on most days I couldn’t stand for the 30-40 minutes required to wash and comb it. When I could manage it, I had to have no plans to walk anywhere afterwards for at least half an hour. The weight gave me headaches, and when it was wet it actually was heavy enough to affect my balance.

So something had to give. What gave was this:

My ex-braid

Yes, really. I measured it.

That’s 33 inches, y’all. THIRTY THREE. INCHES. OF HAIR. It hadn’t been cut since 2009, when I had these photos taken.

So what’s left? Not a lot. Here I am now, all shorn like a li’l lamb.

Me with my new short hair


My husband had never seen me with hair this short; when we met, some 17-anna-bit years ago, my hair was already past my waist. Amazingly, he’s still talking to me.

Do I miss it? A little bit. I used to love it all freshly curly, when I could toss it over my shoulder – swoosh! – like the girl in the shampoo commercial. However, when you have a long-hair perm, it takes something approaching a geological age to grow it out so you can go back to being curly-girl-in-a-shampoo-commercial again, and curly-girl doesn’t last long.

The vacuum cleaner, however, doesn’t miss The Hair at all.


* obligatory Terry Pratchett reference. Bugrit.

My left foot . . . again

You know what’s coming, don’t you? Something like this, perhaps? Ah, but this one’s even better.

Last night. It’s late, it’s dark, I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine. Not enough to be falling down unprompted, but certainly enough to get me out of bed needing the loo. I’m heading for the bathroom, which requires negotiating my way round the bottom of the bed, and . . .


It’s a solid oak bedstead, and my tootsies are mere flesh and bone. I woke up my husband with the swearing, but managed to make it to the bathroom and back without further mishap.

Today, well, the picture speaks for itself. That’s starting to look like a busted toe to me – or at least a hyper-extended one. My mobile has failed to capture the delicate nuances of the bruising coming out, which extends below the toe into my foot, but suffice to say I can’t scrunch my toes in the carpet just now, and both stairs and shoes are somewhat challenging.My foot, 24 hours after falling into the pond


I have to admit, it’s not quite as spectacular as the time I fell into the pond and did this (right) but my rap sheet now has a further charge of aggravated assault occasioning actual bodily harm on it.

Seriously, I should not be left unattended. This is getting embarrassing.



I harvested the first pears yesterday and today: Williams Bon Chrétien; the Conference ones on the other tree aren’t quite ready to come away, although I suspect today’s high winds may have a say in that matter. I see pear and almond crumble in my future!

It’s taken seven years from planting for the Williams to mature enough to fruit – there is some truth in the old saying ‘pears for heirs’. In previous years we’ve had plenty of blossom but that’s been it. The Conference crops heavily in alternate summers; this is its third ‘on’ year and the fruit is so heavy the lower branches are barely inches from the ground. This making it somewhat awkward to reach the shed . . .


Book porn

I’ve been threatening to do this for a while. Pile up all the unread books I’ve got and take a photograph of them, just for giggles. So I did, and slightly scared myself. Clearly, I get far too much pocket money.

Ellie's stash of unread books

Here is Ellie’s to-be-read pile, in no kind of order, just how they came off the shelves. That’s over six feet four inches of books. Yes, I have just measured it; no, I do not think that is remotely sad.

This mountain of words does include some books I was given as presents Quite Some Time Ago, and a couple of them I’ve started and put down for whatever reason (Tad Williams’ River of Blue Fire, I’m looking at you here – and Trudi Canavan’s Magician’s Guild, don’t think you can hide at the back).

What it does not include is all the books I will have to re-read before I attempt to conclude various series, like the Dresden Files, and The Wheel of Time. What can I say, I have a terrible thing for completeness.


Still, they do say that the first step in overcoming addiction is admitting you have a problem.



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