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Gretna to Glencoe

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Falls of Falloch, on the banks of Loch Lomond. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

To illustrate today’s blog, here are some pictures of our journey from Gretna Green to Glencoe. It took us about half a day, driving via Glasgow, along the banks of Loch Lomond – where we picnicked at the Falls of Falloch and had our picture taken by one of the national park rangers there – but we made very good time.

Our hotel was “okay”, drawing on its stunning location for its 4 stars rather than its own service. It was very clean and tidy, but the bed (or 2 pushed together) was a bit uncomfortable down the middle and we had a 5-mile hike to anywhere in the hotel – pool, restaurant, reception, etc – and the room was a bit chilly. But the location was faultless and the food was very good. (Postscript: Okay, so it may not have been quite 5 miles really …)

We stayed in the Isles of Glencoe Hotel in Ballachulish for 3 nights and I’ll write more about our few days there when I post those pictures. Meanwhile, back to the blog …

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Our first picture as a married couple, after the wedding.

We’d promised ourselves at least one do-diddle-day over the weekend and that day turned out to be Saturday. We’d worked out that we hadn’t had a lie-in for about 4 weeks, because even on holiday we had to get up for breakfast. But we were still up by 10am, pottering around.

We nipped out to get some bits and bobs, and when we got back we walked up to the lake with the dog and had a chat with the one and only angler there that day.

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Our first sight of Glencoe. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

On Saturday evening we headed off to find a cinema we’ve never been to before, Cineworld at Sheffield, and decided we’d definitely be back. Parking was difficult, but there were plenty of restaurants to choose from, and we ended up in our old favourite, Pizza Express, because our film was starting at 8:20pm and we know we can always rely on them to get us in and out in time whenever we go.

We went to see Big Game, starring Samuel L Jackson, and had to go there because it wasn’t on at any of our other regular cinemas. We were very impressed with the amount of seating room we had, and the cleanliness of the place and general good service.

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Our hotel. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Sunday morning we were up and off to Birmingham to see my parents, to take them our souvenirs for them from Cyprus, and to do the same on the way home for the poet’s parents in Doncaster.

This also gave us the chance to show them all both the wedding pictures and the holiday pictures, as I took the tablet/notebook switch.

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Around the loch outside our hotel. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Yesterday was a bank holiday for us, and so we went “window shopping” for new settees (as the old ones are nearly 10 years old now and not doing our backs any favours), a new bed (as I think we both need a proper divan now to support our aching, ageing bones) and a trailer tent (because we want to hitch up and take off at a moment’s notice and I can’t really sleep on the floor in the dome tent for longer than 1 day).

I say “window shopping”, but we ended up buying 2 out of 3, and they should be delivered in 7 – 10 days. That’s the bed and the settees. We couldn’t find a single showroom in the area for trailer tents so may go off to Manchester next weekend to have a look there instead.

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The view from our hotel window, at night. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

On Saturday my lovely new 2015 – 2016 academic year diary arrived, and when we got home I spent a few hours filling that in with birthdays, bank holidays and Monkey Dust gigs we already have in.

And so to today, when we’re both back at work. It’s a short week and I have a lot to pack in. I’m starting a new edit, which has a deadline date of 3 June, and I’m cracking on with the writing. So keep an eye on those progress meters in the sidbar.

Enjoy the pictures. :-)

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3 weeks ago

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Picture: Ian Wordsworth

Three weeks ago today the poet and I tied the knot in Gretna Green, in Scotland.

We decided to go to Scotland because we already wanted to honeymoon there and we didn’t want our friends or families to feel obliged to come to yet another wedding – this is my 3rd wedding and his 2nd.

Two of our friends, however, wouldn’t let us get married either on our own or without them. And so they travelled with us and helped make our special day so much more special. (Sharon made the dress too, by the way.) We had a lovely ceremony, performed by a registrar who hailed from Barnsley too. So it was a nice little local celebration anyway.

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The Chapel at the Mill Forge. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I’m not going to bang on and on about the wedding. I’m sure all of you know how they go. But here is a small selection of photographs to give you a feel while I carry on with the rest of today’s blog post.

It’s been a stupidly busy week not helped at all by the torrential rain that greeted us when we got back. I have piles and piles and piles of washing still to do, from both the 2 holidays but also what we left before we went and what we’ve used since we got back.

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Hand pump. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The tumble dryer has been in action, but the washing line has only been filled once this week, and still the laundry basket overflows.

I’d allowed myself half a day to do the washing, but I should have allowed (a) much longer, and (b) more time just to change my name online. I’ve had to change all of my contact details as well as username where I can, and I’ve had to find out who to write to if they need to change username.

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Waterwheel. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

This includes WordPress (for this blog), Blogger (for the gig list), Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yahoo (for the email address) …

It includes notifying everyone and hoping the email hasn’t gone into their spam. It includes 3 job boards I’m registered on. And it includes a lot of the daily competition auto-complete information. It’s taken the best part of 3 days, and still it’s not all done.

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Man of steel. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

What it doesn’t include so far is my banking details – which is the important thing – my driving licence, and my passport. But I can’t do those until the marriage certificate arrives. So I still have tons and tons to do on the name change front. And a marriage certificate to chase …

Also this week I’ve launched the new website. I’d already done the bulk of this work in downtime earlier in the year. But being a superstitious kinda gal, I didn’t want to officially launch it until after the official name change.

The website is still very much a work-in-progress and some of you have already started to give me feedback – all of which I will attend to, digest, and apply if desired. Thanks for all of the messages so far.

One new thing I have created this week is a Facebook page.

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Diane and Ian signing the register. (Picture: Billy Rodgers)

My old Facebook profile is now a joint one as the poet decided he didn’t want a FB presence any more. But as he still needs to administer the gig list (both the website/blog and the Facebook page) and his Monkey Dust page, he’s going in on mine.

The new page, which I’ve resisted creating for so long but now seems the natural thing to do, can be found here. I don’t know what it will include as yet, but presume it will be all the writerly/editing/workish stuff I already share on the profile, but which I’ll be doing less of now it’s a joint profile. Again, it will no doubt evolve.

So that’s all the admin stuff …

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Our lovely friends, Billy and Sharon, who wouldn’t let us get married on our own. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

… what about the writing side of things?

Well, I’ve been stupidly busy there too, furiously brainstorming a million and one article ideas following our recent travels. I’ve filled in pages and pages of my notebook and selected 5 – so far – to maybe concentrate on for now.

I’ve always been a natural feature writer, and while I’m desperately trying to get back into fiction (long and short), I may as well exercise the writing muscle anyway. So I’ve been very busy with that as well.

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(Picture: Ian Wordsworth – he has a remote control)

And, of course, the brain has been percolating quietly away on the fiction side of things too. Next week I start work again on CATCH THE RAINBOW.

[PAUSE]

My lovely husband just came home and treated me to lunch “out” (aka sandwich and cake from Gregg’s), and before he got here the postman brought … (ta-daa) our marriage certificate.

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Picture: Billy Rodgers (although you can see his remote in this pic)

This was particularly useful because we needed it as we were registering at our local doctor’s. He’d already tried to register several months ago online and had also returned a questionnaire to them. But it somehow got lost in transit and he needed to register in person.

So that’s where he took me during his lunch break. That’s what I like to see – a man who knows how to treat his wife! :-)

Of course, now the certificate has arrived, my workload has just jumped up again. But I think I’ve had enough this week. I’ll start again next week.

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I love this picture from the end of the evening. They’d both made speeches and everything, and I think Ian looks really relaxed. (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

Today, then – or what’s left of it – I had planned to start a new edit that arrived on the very same day that I started back at work. Unfortunately, it sat in my in box for 2 days before I spotted it. Fortunately, they knew we were going away and hadn’t offered it anywhere else yet.

I also have at least one more to do for lovely already boss, with another 2 potential jobs hopefully on their way. I already completed proofreader and author revisions on another yesterday, and we delivered it by hand yesterday evening on the way back from band practice.

We’re having at least one do-diddle-day over this coming bank holiday weekend, we’re visiting the parents in both Birmingham and in Doncaster, and we might go to the pictures. Other than that, we’re having the weekend off.

Enjoy the pictures. :-)

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We interrupt this broadcast …

website thumbnailYes, yes, I know I promised pictures and mini travelogue, but the new website is now up and running. And I even have a shiny new domain name anorl.

I think I’m happy with it, although there are still some tweaks that need doing. But there’s a “latest news” page where today’s “news” asks for audience participation – or interaction. That means you lot.

If anyone has the time or the inclination, I’d be very grateful if you could hop along to the website and/or the news page and let me know what you think – what you like, what you hate, what you think should be included/excluded, and how user-friendly (or not) it is (or isn’t).

The pictures and travelogue will follow, once normal service has resumed. I can’t believe how time-consuming it is to change one’s online presence.

Thank you for joining in! :-)

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Lots of news today

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Picture: Billy Rodgers

Such a lot has happened in the past few weeks, I hardly know where to start.

We got back at just before 2am Sunday night/Monday morning after a 4-hour  non-stop drive from Glasgow airport in pouring rain. The poet was straight back to work for 8:45am on Monday, and while I’d given myself the morning off to empty cases and do the washing, that clearly wasn’t enough and we’ve been in a bit of a tired whirl ever since.

So, from the beginning …

On 30 April my dad and my sister arrived to look after the animals and for Dad to have a bit of a break. The poet was at work until 5pm and I’d spent the day changing beds, washing crocks, packing suitcases, etc. By 5:30pm we were on our way to Gretna Green for our wedding the following day.

At some point along the A66 we wondered how our friends Billy and Sharon were doing. From the moment we told them we were getting married they’d said we weren’t getting married without them, and while we wanted a small, private ceremony, we were happy to have 2 friendly faces with us and the poet gave them a job each – best man and maid of honour, and also our witnesses. At almost the same moment we had a phone call from Billy. They were only in the car in front!

We all arrived just in time to have dinner in the restaurant, and we arranged to meet at breakfast the following morning too, which the poet and I managed with about 5 minutes to spare. At about 10am we all went off on an orientation drive of the area and were back by 3pm because the flowers were due at 3:30pm.

Ian and Billy went off at 5pm to be collected from the bar at 5:15pm, and we were to be collected at bang on 5:30pm. They came to see how we were doing at 5:20pm, and as we were ready and there wasn’t a ceremony before ours, they were able to fit us in a little early. And one of the nicest things of all was that our registrar’s home town was Barnsley, the same village as Sharon and Billy, in fact. So that made for a nice atmosphere.

Ten minutes later we were married.

We weren’t married in the usual centre of Gretna Green but a smaller hamlet just outside. But we all agreed that the ceremony was lovely and the accommodation and food was great.

On Saturday morning, we waved Sharon and Billy goodbye, and Gretna Green, and while they went home, we headed further north for the first leg of our honeymoon. We had 3 nights in Glencoe, 3 nights on the Isle of Mull, and 2 nights in Oban before driving down to Glasgow at 5am the following Sunday morning and catching our flight to Cyprus by the skin of our teeth. (The parking people had sent us directions from Yorkshire, not knowing we were coming from the north west of Scotland, and the M8 doesn’t have a J28a coming that way, so we got a bit lost.) Then we spent a lovely, sun-filled week in the Protaras area of the island, squeezing 3 day-long excursions in as well.

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Detail from the bouquet. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

There will be more about the places we visited, and lots of pictures, over the coming days. But, for now, I need to crack on with some work.

Yesterday, instead of my half a day I managed to spend the entire day sorting out washing into piles – we had 2 lots of cases from 2 completely different types of holiday – and I only did 2 washloads that could also be tumble-dried. Late afternoon I had to nip out to get some food, and that put paid to doing any work in the afternoon after all.

This morning has been spent mostly changing my name on as much of my online presence as I can think of. And I still need to do the official stuff, like banks, yet. I’ve also done 2 more washloads, but unable to hang any of it out.

So a busy few days ahead still, catching up on work and washing – if the rain lets me.

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Publication day!

coverI am delighted to announce that not only is it my wedding day today, but it’s also the day I publish TWEE TALES TOO.

TWEE TALES TOO is a collection of fifteen short stories by Diane Wordsworth, previously Diane Parkin. Most are brand new, but some have been published before – either in the UK or in India – or have won prizes in competitions. This is the second volume of short stories I’ve published, but the first book with the new name.

It’s only available in paperback at the moment, but you can buy copies here. As soon as it’s available on Amazon, I’ll let you know.

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An awfully big adventure

Ian n DianeAnd so the time has come to head off on our awfully big adventure.

We leave for Scotland later today where we get married tomorrow. Then we have 7 more days in Scotland, touring the western highlands, before flying to Cyprus for a week.

My dad and my sister will be looking after the animals between them, and enjoying a bit of a break themselves while they’re at it. This is a shorter post than planned, as we still have a lot to do.

Have a great couple of weeks, and I’ll see you on the other side, hopefully with lots and lots of pictures. :-)

Diary of a scaredy cat, 29 April 2015

Writing companions of the week

outline noveloutline novel workbookTwo for the price of one this week, mostly due to the fact that there won’t be a DIARY OF A SCAREDY CAT for a few weeks, but also because these two kind of go hand-in-hand. Watch out for something similar w/c 18 May, when the diary returns.

I am a total, utter planner. I have a very logical, linear left brain. I do try to be creative every so often, and I do try to write by the seat of my pants every so often. But the fact remains, I am a planner. I’m more productive, I’m more prolific, and I personally believe the work is better. This is why I love both of these books.

If you’re going to buy just one of these books, get the first one, OUTLINING YOUR NOVEL: MAP YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS by K M Weiland. And if you’re going to get both of them, read this one first as the second one, OUTLINING YOUR NOVEL WORKBOOK: STEP-BY-STEP EXERCISES FOR PLANNING YOUR BEST BOOK, builds on the first – which is excellent marketing by the author, by the way, but nevertheless the way to do it.

Both books are available in paperback and in ebook forms, and the author herself even guarantees a refund if you’re not satisfied. These are the best books I’ve read recently that give good, step-by-step methods when outlining your novel. The author gets the reader writing straight away, or at least thinking.

General writing work
Last week I made an executive decision to blitz the writing, and I managed to get quite a lot done. Much was planning, reading, research, etc. But I got some physical writing done too.

Secret project
I was able to add another chapter to the sensitive, private project.

THE WRITERS’ IDEAS BOOK
I was also able to add a nice, hefty chapter to the ideas book.

Fiction writing course
Sadly, the study hasn’t fared so well this past week, although I did complete the next module.

Admin, etc
One big job I did get done was tidy up all of my old backup files on the desktop and make sure nothing is duplicated before doing another backup and preparing a working memory stick. I bought a lovely new notebook/tablet-switch to take on holiday with us, but as it has hardly any storage memory, I’ll be working from the memory stick. There’s also music on there so I don’t need to take the mp3, and, of course, the Kindle, so I don’t have to take any books. I will be taking the Kindle Paperwhite as well, though, as Cyprus can be very sunny at this time of year …

A new concept to me was a gantt chart project package I downloaded, free of charge, yesterday. I need to keep an eye on all of the different projects I work on so I can see, at a glance, how busy I am without having to trawl through the diary every time a work query comes in. I’ve never used a gantt chart before, so the poet had to give me a crash course. But now I know – sort of – what to do with it, I have all of the current projects on there, editing and writing. I love the colours, and – of course – it keeps the left brain very happy.

Work in progress
I don’t have a lot of time left this week. I break up tomorrow and then I’m off until Monday 18 May. I was going to get a book edited, but as that particular client is on holiday himself at the moment, and as it isn’t being published until next year, I think I’m just going to carry on pottering around, doing what writing work I can, and what’s left of the holiday shopping, packing and preparation.

Baggins Bottom takes a holiday
Baggins Bottom will also be taking a fortnight’s holiday, but there should be one tomorrow, telling you what we’re up to for the next two weeks, and another (already scheduled) on Friday regarding TWEE TALES TOO.