Last week I was interviewed for Exeter’s Execellent Magazine. The article will come out in November, but here’s how it went. They were running a piece about local Mums working from home and they wanted to chat to me about writing and blogging. I went along to their rather swanky offices in Exeter’s Southernhay. The decor was all sour lemon and steel greys and on arrival I was plied with barista coffee, San Pellegrino, chocolate cake and a goody bag (somehow I contained my excitement). I sat down and tried to make myself look comfortable (and not like a complete bumbling eejit) as my arse slid and squeaked on the high gloss canary yellow leather couch and I all but pitched my cappuccino over it.
My interviewer was Lucy, a bubbly and enthusiastic 20-something with the kind of unacceptable joie de vie that can only be maintained with a constant stream of; double lie-ins at the weekend, items of Whistles clothing in her wardrobe, regular impromptu after-work drinks and frequent European City mini-breaks. Her fresh faced cheeks hardly required the subtle pink blusher she had applied as she swished her fishtail plait. Her whole persona shouted young, on trend and *not tired*. I didn’t feel terribly at ease and wondered if she was going to ask me any tricky questions and how my answers would sound? Fortunately, I wasn’t given any time to mull this over because effervescent Lucy got straight down to business.
“Hi Hillie, it’s really great to meet you and have this opportunity to interview you.”
Cheers love, you hadn’t heard of me or my little old blog before last week but thanks for the effusive welcome.
-You are a Blogger and Writer, what is your Blog about? Chirpy Lucy was poised with a ballpoint over her notebook smiling expectantly.
surviving living in a small Devon village, family life with my husband Ted and our two children Toby (aged 8) and Lottie (6). I also blog about my writing journey as I aim to get published again………….dot dot dot.” A tuft of ‘writing career’ tumbleweed wafts by.
-You are currently working on a new novel, what is it like being a working mum at home?
“During term time I get lots of writing done while the children are at school”. Err, flagrant disregard for the truth alert! After I’ve dropped the kids off I come home and put a load of washing on, read some blogs, think about cleaning the bathroom but then prevaricate by having coffee and biscuits instead. Next I’ll flick over social media, fanny about doing some ‘writing’ research and distract myself further by looking on Rightmove. Then after some lunch, I’ll put the festering washing (that I had forgotten) on the line or in the tumble dryer, procrastinate further by making a cup of tea and half heartedly tidying the kitchen before sitting back down in front of my laptop to write and *oh crap* it’s time to pick up the kids from school. “I love being able to take a step back over the summer holidays, write when I can (up to the ruddy small hours!) and just hang out with the kids. This year we had a great holiday in a gite near La Rochelle which refreshed us all”. Apart from the intense heat, the urgent trip to A&E with Ted’s septic hornet sting, and having to pay the exorbitant repair costs for bunging up the septic tank when Lottie flushed a load of wet wipes down the ‘no unflushables’ toilet. Full story available here at 23.Turning up in France.
-What’s it like living in a rural Devon village?
Let’s just say I spend rather a lot of time looking for a property in Exeter on Rightmove. Often my darkest moments occur after the internet has dropped out for hours and I’m jittery with Twitter withdrawal shakes. Or Deirdre Snellon (from The Village Horticultural Club dictatorship regime) has popped around to helpfully inform me that my hanging baskets are a *bit dry* and would I *like* to sign up for a 5 hour slot in the Tea & Cake tent at the annual village produce show? “I feel very fortunate to be part of a small rural community. The village often comes together for events and celebrations which we all enjoy and the children love going to our little village school up the road”. Even bouncy Lucy looked like she wanted to vom in her mouth a little!
-What is the last book you read?
Oh arse, I can’t even remember the name of the *Airport Bilge-Lit* I read on holiday…was it… *Meeting Mr Right at Love Lane’s Blueberry Bakery Cafe Book Club After Sunset*? I’d better lie and come up with something highbrow, quick think Hillie….err…… I last read ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ by Anthony Coerr, I enjoyed the detailed historic elements to the story. Ahem, extra literary points methinks for it’s Pulitzer winning status! Lucy jotted it down but her nose wrinkle suggested that she could smell a rat or perhaps she’d clocked the sequel to my holiday read poking out of the top of my handbag *Leaving Mr Right at Love Lane’s Blueberry Bakery Cafe Book Club But Getting Him Back Again Of Course After Sunset*. She probably reads nothing but Tolstoy on her European mini break weekends in her Whistles outfits after a refreshing lie-in.
-What was your last music download?
You’re joking aren’t you! I don’t get anywhere near my iPad, Lottie last downloaded ‘Company’ by Justin Beiber but I’m not ‘fessing that! What’s that band they keep mentioning on radio 1? I stalled for time – sliding forward easily (like a bob sleigh) on the slippery couch to retrieve my mineral water from the coffee table, oh yes, it came to me…..“‘Tame Impala’, their latest album, err it’s…err great…….(fade to black)” Bubbly Lucy didn’t look wholly convinced as she flicked her fishtail plait down her back, but mercifully she didn’t quiz me further on my blagged ‘cool’ music choice. I could have sworn I saw her jot down *probably Michael Buble* but I may have imagined it.
-What do you love about our beautiful city of Exeter?
The main draw is that it’s a city for starters and not a ‘provincial village’. There’s a lovely Zara – so I can feed my insatiable ‘Breton Tee’ addiction. I also like the fact that, during a few hours off from writing and parenting I can rock quietly in the John Lewis Cafe, sipping a latte, having spent half an hour previously stroking items in the handbag department that I can’t afford. “Oh it’s such a great university city, the cathedral square is a lovely spot to sit and watch the world go by (boring myself now, sorry readers of Execellent). Exeter has fabulous restaurants and cafes and is a great transport hub too”. Sparkling Lucy looked up from her scribblings, expecting me to elaborate more about Exeter without sounding like I was reading aloud from the Lonely Planet guide, but alas she gave up sighing quietly – and came up with a new question for me instead.
-Devon Apple Cake or a Traditional Devonshire Cream Tea?
That’s like asking me which one of my children I love more……not really! If I’m eating cake I certainly don’t need any *apple* in it so it would be a Cream Tea everytime (the strawberries in the jam don’t count, everybody knows that). “Oh I do love a Devonshire Cream Tea, my children are also big fans of this teatime delight!”
At least her line of questioning had lightened up a bit, what would be next? Snog, marry avoid a famous Devonian – with Josh Widdecombe (comedian), Sir Francis Drake (explorer) and Dermot Murnaghan (newsreader)? Obvs, snog Josh, marry Dermot (he’s still got it) and avoid Sir Francis on account of his deadness, ridiculous frilly collars and outdated opinions! Bouncy Lucy continued with a slightly more sensible question.
-Name a famous Devonian who has inspired you?
That’s easy! “Who other than Dawn French- fantastically funny and female!”
-Let us into a secret, what’s your best Devon discovery?
Oh gawd, ask me one on sport! Let me think, err…..“Devon has everything…from the dramatic moors to the stunning coastal paths. You can visit a spectacular waterfall, climb a tor and splash in the sea all in the same day. I was on a roll now with my hackneyed travel guide spiel, again bubbly Lucy looked a little bored at my cheesy answer. My favourite Devon discovery is Dartmoor. It’s fun to climb a Tor and get your picnic trampled by an erroneous wild pony or two. Or go for a scenic drive – on a day out recently we made a marvellous *discovery* – that there were tearooms at *both ends* of National Trust’s ‘Lydford Gorge’ ergo I was secure in the knowledge that I was never more than twenty minutes from a nice slice of cake/scone which made the walking so much more enjoyable and there are so many lovely tearooms walks to discover on the moors. Devon really has it all!”.
As you were!
PS. Before I get any letters of complaint – I’m not dissing Devon Apple Cake, if you like fruit in your cake I urge you to try it with a dollop of clotted cream on the side, just don’t blame me when you realise it’s not as good as a cream tea. You have been warned.
Note to myself: the one where I get interviewed by Execellent Magazine.