Totterdown Writers a Bristol Based Writing Group

Old books

What will your book look like on the shelf?

Please note that this group is no longer running, sadly I don’t have enough time to dedicate to it. But, another local writer is running groups. See David Lane’s site for more details

Now that I’m working on a third book and have been making my living from my words

since 2004, I thought it about time I endowed my great pearls of wisdom on the world. Or at least I decided that 10 years ago I could have done with a club like this one.

The idea behind Totterdown Writers is that budding writers will get to know how the mysterious world of publishing works by talking with published authors, agents, editors and anyone else who makes their living from words. We will also encourage published authors to climb out of their writing sheds and communicate with real people.

What I’m basically saying is that ALL ARE WELCOME.  From those who’ve written a single poem on the back of napkin and are now hooked on the idea that they will become the next George Orwell to Orwell himself, if he were still alive.

I intend to keep the atmosphere light hearted and honest yet supportive.

The group meets on the first THURSDAY of every month from 7pm-9pm at The Duchess of Totterdown Cafe, 198 Wells Road, Totterdown/Knowle Bristol, BS4 2AX (Up passed the co-op on the Wells Road but not as far as the George Pub).Andy Hamilton Writing

In order to pay for the venue and our occasional guest speakers expenses there is a fee of between £3-£10. The scale is at your discretion depending on your present financial situation.

I hope to hear about you and your work on the first THURSDAY of every month at the Duchess of Totterdown Cafe, 198 Wells Road, Totterdown/Knowle from 7pm-9pm.

What? – Totterdown Writers

Where? Duchess of Totterdown, Bristol, BS4 2AX

When? FIRST THURSDAY of every month, from 7pm-9pm

How much? £3-£10 depending on what you can afford and what you think it was worth. In other words if you are poor and hated it you don’t pay, rich (or at least doing alright for yourself) and loved it £10 and everywhere else in between.

Beer and babies a match made in heaven?

beer in a baby chair

Congratualtions its a beer!

I will admit that there are a few obvious reasons why beer and babies might not necessarily be the match made in heaven that I am about to suggest. Firstly, all that beer or wine hanging around can easily be drank both by parent and child. Rather than just mutter some sort of recognition to that fact under my breath I feel I should at least nod to responsible drinking and the virtues of the word “no” in response to a child wishing to make their way through your stash. I should also state that it’s illegal to give booze to the under 5’s. Of course I’m also not that I’m suggesting your next bit of family time for the over 5’s involves Peppa Pig drinking games or that you call your next brew a child friendly Iggle Piggle pale ale to consume only “in the beer garden”. No, I’m simply suggesting that there are some transferable skills that the good brewer will develop.

Firstly, cleanliness almost to the point of obsession. Anyone who has rendered a day’s work and a big pile of money into vinegar will almost certainly have learned the hard way that bacteria can really mess things up. As of course too will anyone who has a baby that has caught a stomach bug. The brewer will not only know which methods of sterilization work the best for them and which products to use but they will have them in quantity. Star san, for example, is approved by the FDA and is great for sterilizing bottles and Milton here in the UK can be used on beer bottles as well as baby bottles.

That said, your child is not the same as a batch of beer (breaking news) and will not only cope pretty well with a bit of dirt but they may even thrive on it. Just be sure not to let your child play with a raw chicken or let them lick the toilet bowl and I’m sure they will be ok.

Beer wasn’t brewed in a day, it takes patience to make a decent beer. A brew day is called

Sleeping like a baby

sleeping like a baby

so as it does take about a day to make an all grain beer. That’s quite a bit of dedication. What you don’t always hear about babies is that at first you might get it wrong and your baby will tell you so. You have to be patient to sit through a marathon 4am windy/colic session. It is extremely rewarding being a parent but you do have to be patient to be able to sit through the worst and appreciate the best.

A good brewer will have a great eye for detail and will know that doing something slightly different like treating the water, tweaking the hop schedule, using a different yeast or brewing at different temperatures can often make the most amazing difference. As too can doing things a bit different with your child; many things that we take for granted are totally new to them. Saying hello in as many different voices as possible seems to keep my baby fascinated for hours!

The eye for details carry onto the fermenting stage too if you want to brew good beer. In the first few weeks of my son’s life too I had 3 batches of beer brewing. This means I wanted to keep the house at 20°c-22°c (68 to 72 °F). And what’s the ideal temperature for a newborn? 18-20°c. Funnily enough my beer ferments in the room at will also become the nursery when my son gets his own room, which means I am already adapted at keeping that room at the ideal temperature whatever the weather.

But brewers also have a last very valuable skill, they know how to love one of their own creations. None of us would continue to brew if we didn’t love what we made, that’s not to say that we don’t some just love the process. But watching your beer or baby being enjoyed by friends and family. Seeing the joy he/she or it brings to them (not to mention yourself) is a great feeling and when you remind yourself that it would not be possible without your input then it can be all the more fulfilling.