#DayInTheLife Judith Barrow


Today’s #DayInTheLife post is from Judith Barrow. Born and brought up in a small village at the base of the Pennines, Judith moved to Pembrokeshire with her husband, three year old daughter and one year old twins, to a half-built house they’d fallen in love with, in November 1978. She has an MA in Creative Writing, BA (Hons) in Literature, and a Diploma in Drama and Script Writing. She’s had short stories, poems, plays, reviews and articles pubished throughout the British Isles. Her play, It’s Friday so it must be Fish was performed at the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea, and a short film was made of her play, My Little Philly. Judith is also a Creative Writing tutor and runs workshops on all genres. When she is not writing, Judith spends her time doing research for her writing, walking the Pembrokeshire coastline or organising the letting of her holiday apartment.
This is a day in Judith’s life…
Judith Barrow

It’s five thirty on Sunday morning, the sun is appearing over the line of tree at the far end of the garden and I’ve just clearedthe  emails that have appeared in the Inbox overnight. These are usually notifications of the various bloggers I follow and I’ve read those that interest me today and share them all. I’ve only been blogging for a year or so – mostly interviews of authors and, over the past few weeks, of fellow Honno authors. Honno http://www.honno.co.uk/  is the small, independent press that publishes my books. I love being part of  an independent publisher; it suits my character I suppose, and it’s brilliant actually knowing  the people who are responsible for sending my  novels out into the world. Today, though, I’m waiting for an email from my editor to say (hopefully) that the last draft is just that – the last draft. This is for the final book of my family saga trilogy which is due out in July 2015.

As usual,our twelve year old Cavalier King Charles, Lucy, has plodded from her bed in our bedroom and now, with much grunting and snuffling, settles down in her bed in my study. She’s quite happy as long as I don’t ask her to go a walk, these days (Oh, and if I will carry her up and down the stairs). She’s a very lazy dog who thinks a perambulation around the garden is just the right amount of exercise, thank you very much.

saddleworth house 085


I write for four hours – I’ve started the prequel of the trilogy.

The writing is interrupted by one husband  wanting his early morning cuppa, one dog deciding she does want to go out for a wander after all,  a phone call to the care home where my ninety-three year old mother has been since January after sixty-one years in the same house (she has advanced Alzeimers and has been ill with yet another kidney infection)

This is the first week we’ve not travelled the two hundred and forty miles to visit her from here in Wales to Lancashire. Theguilt hovers constantly. I wrote about Mum twice in the past few months http://www.judithbarrow.co.uk/memories-and-what-comes-next/ and http://www.judithbarrow.co.uk/what-did-come-next/. I know she’s safe, I know she’s well looked after; as soon as we walked through the door of the home, I knew it was the right place for her. But still …

And then, finally, this morning, a phone call from eighteen year old grandson, Luke, asking if he can come for lunch; his mother, our eldest daughter is working today (she  is in the ambulance service- I’m very proud of her). Luke’s a lovely lad who’s just discovered a social life. Unfortunately just before his ‘A’levels. But he seems to be coping with  the school work. Of course, I say, ‘yes – but it’ll be on the table by twelve o’clock; be here or miss out’. (‘See, I can be firm,’ I say to husband, David!); We’re out walking this afternoon.

Coffee break. I’ve been off coffee for a full week, having overdosed on the stuff again. I can go ages without and then theintake gradually creeps up again hence the detox. I’ve gone through the headache stage and think I could just have the one today?

Followed by Lucy, go with husband to the greenhouse to admire his handiwork. The tips of the tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce , peppers, garlic are all poking their little heads up out of the soil. The plug plants for the hanging baskets (for us and our two daughters – youngest daughter is a lawyer for the Welsh Government, proud of her as well)  are thriving. Drinking second coffee (oh dear!) we go around the garden. The flowering cherry tree is in fat bud, the old hydrangea flower-heads – having protected the new growth from frost for months – are now ready to be cut off. So I do that (my token gesture to thegardening). We discuss the new shed David’s building in the back garden. I would like the drive to be clear of breeze blocks bythe time next week’s first visitors in our holiday apartment: http://saddleworth-house.co.uk/.  

Lunch made and eaten we find our walking boots and, leaving the dog snoring, go for our walk. It’s a short one today and we need the car to get there. The Bosherston Lily Ponds are glorious. It’s not time yet for the lilies to be out but there’s plenty to see, besides the glorious views: the watery shadow of an otter, weaving in and out of the grasses under the surface,a heron, swans, a cheeky robin follows us, chirruping and challenging us for food. I crumble and sprinkle the packet of digestives I’ve been carrying around in my fleece pocket since last week’s outing with five year old granddaughter, Seren. We leave behind one happy bird and carry on to Broadhaven beach where the tide is slowly coming in and sea-birds hover over a gloriously blue sea that prefects the sky. David, an avid  amateur photographer, stops many times to take pictures. It’s a slow walk. This won’t help work off those Sunday lunch calories, I think. But say nothing. After all he’s taking them for me.today.


Home again to a still snoring dog. She’s totally deaf so it takes her a while to realise we’re here. Actually I think it’s the smell of her tea that wakes her when I place her bowl nearby.

Make a cup of nettle tea and a sandwich. Leave hubby to potter in the greenhouses and back into the study.

I tutor creative writing to adults for the local council so need to produce some lesson plans for the term. There’s an email asking me to give a talk on a book I’ve self-published, Silent Trauma.It’s fiction built on the fact of Diethylstilboestrol. I became involved on the periphery of the charity – http://www.desaction.org./ some years ago because the drug affected a relative of mine. The following  is taken from their website:-

“Diethylstilbestrol (DES) was the first synthetic oestrogen to be created. Never patented, it was cheap and easy to produce, so DES was made by hundreds of drug companies in the U.S. and around the world. DES was prescribed to millions of pregnant women in the mistaken belief that it could prevent miscarriage. It did not work but instead, DES harmed themothers, the children born of those pregnancies and possibly the grandchildren and beyond.

Prenatal DES exposure is associated with reproductive cancers (including breast cancer), infertility, and structural changes of the reproductive tract. Research is continuing with new adverse health impacts being identified. The DES experience is a true medical tragedy brought on by less than adequate drug testing, heavy promotion by pharmaceutical companies bent on making a profit and lax government regulation.  While DES is no longer prescribed for human use, those who were exposed to this endocrine disrupting drug are left dealing with the health and emotional consequences it caused.”

I accept the invitation for the talk.

No word yet from the editor, but looking through the manuscript I spot something I’d like to alter. perhaps it’s not thefinal draft, after all.

Phone the care home; Mum’s comfortable and has had a reasonable day. I wonder what that really means. I wish I’d been able to get her into a home near us but my sister wanted Mum to stay in Lancashire near her family and, as she’d been themain carer in the past, I couldn’t argue.

Finish the lesson plans, read a few more blogs, Tweets, Facebook notifications. Finish this blog.

I’ll be here for the next couple of hours. Then watch an hour of the snooker (World Championships at the moment!) And then to bed to read; I review books for a book review group. I’m a slow reader and am now behind schedule.

Hopefully I’ll sleep. But I’m an insomniac and can sometimes write for hours during the night.

Sorry for the rambling – hope you’ve not been too bored. Sometimes I wonder where the ‘cool’ girl of nineteen-seventy has gone – you know, the one whose father used to mutter under his breath, as she swanned through the door, ” That’s not a skirt, it’s a bloody belt”  (and, as I say many times when I give talks; I’m allowed to swear here as it’s a quote!)

Judith is taking part in my #DayInTheLife project, a series of posts where people write about their typical day. If you would like to take part, please fill in the form on my blog post here.

Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.

1 Comment

Lisa (mummascribbles) · 25/04/2015 at 09:26

What a brilliant insight into an authors day. It reads like stuff dreams are made of (ok maybe not the insomnia although with a toddler who suddenly is waking lots, it’s not much different to my sleep pattern right now!). That garden as well – absolutely beautiful. Thanks for sharing a wonderful day in the life – so interesting :) #weekendbloghop

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