>Fishguard in February

>It probably won’t look like this:

(Pic from here.)

After much thought and deliberation, I think I’ve decided on my next overdue holiday. A slight come down from Christmas in Canada or New Year in New York, but I really want to spend proper time planning those trips so I can maximise their potential.

Ever since it began I’ve wanted to go to the Writers’ Holiday in Caerleon, but I’ve never managed it yet. I’ve done a writer’s retreat at home, and thoroughly enjoyed it, but I’ve never made any of the writing holidays. Well, this year I think I’m going to go for the winter writers’ holiday in Fishguard, provided by the same people. Lynne Hackles will be there and it’ll be great to catch up with her again after all of these years.

It’s only a weekend, but if it’s any good, i.e. if I find it of use or inspirational, then I might take the plunge and go for the full week in July.

I had a good weekend. Friday night I drove over to Sheffield for a friend’s birthday, and on Saturday I drove into Castleford to see some mates in their band. I had a relatively easy weekend in that I didn’t have an entire day baking, and anyway, I’ve only just caught up on the mountain of washing up from last week. I really shouldn’t have this much washing up. There’s only me, although I often think one of everything looks a bit sad and lonely. Perhaps I should give it a go.

What else did I do? A few bitty things, some admin, some diary work, lots of reading, some research, some writing bits. And the grocery shopping.

Today I have magazine stuff with me at home to work on, I have some extra work to do for confidential job #1, and I have the gig list to update. It’s December tomorrow and I’ve barely scratched the surface due to being so busy over the past fortnight. I’ve already cleared that washing up and gone around bleeding radiators. It’s going to be a long and busy day.

>Too short notice

>Last night it took me over an hour to get to the hairdresser. There was an accident in Rotherham, a truck breakdown in Barnsley, and a main road section closed back in Rotherham again. Apparently a section of railway bridge almost collapsed so they’ve closed it, at short notice, for 6 weeks. This has a knock-on effect to the surrounding routes, and that’s what held me up yesterday. This morning, coming into work, there were 2 sets of roadworks, and another section of road closed for several weeks to come. Christmas traffic is going to be such joy this year.

The Christmas in Canada trip is on hold for the moment. I do have the money and I still will have in case any good deals come up between then and now. But I need more time to think about it and plan any features, as this will help decide what I spend some of the time there doing. I can be impulsive, but not when I’m travelling 3,500 miles. However, I will keep watching and I may still do it – there’s time yet to change my mind on a whim … And I may still do New Year in New York …

Another busy day ahead today working on various things. I also have a birthday to go to tonight, a choice of 2 gigs tomorrow night, and another gig on Sunday at teatime. I’m not sure which I’ll end up at, but they’re all there. I also want to do some washing and some ironing at home, there will be shopping to do, but apart from that it’s going to be a writing weekend.

Have a good one.

>Christmas in Canada

>I started to toy with what to do over the holiday season this year and I came up with Christmas in Canada or New Year in New York. The thought had barely made its leap from my head onto Facebook when, faster than the speed of light, an invite came in from Canada. I did a quick trawl of current available flights and was astounded that many of them came in under £400, and some under £350. This is sooooo cheap. Last time I went to Canada – 10 years ago – flights were closer to the £800 mark. I WILL be able to afford this … but possibly not until later in December, so I need to do some creative accounting. If I could find a sponsor, I could probably manage New Year in New York too, seeing as Ontario is just over the border, Niagara way. I need to do some research.

I didn’t get a holiday this year. I’ve been quite strapped for cash and don’t forget, I don’t have access to any credit any more. I know I whinge about this every so often, but it’s such a liberating achievement and you learn the value of money again. I need to do some juggling, but I hope I’ll at least manage to see my brother and his family at some point over Christmas.

Christmas in Canada, New Year in New York, Thanksgiving in … I think I’d like to experience an American Thanksgiving. If flights stay this low, I might just manage them all …

Today I’m in the office but I have to scoot off early for an appointment. It’s going to be a bit of a heads down day. Once I’ve completed all of my obligations I want to start thinking of article ideas so that this break (a) can be offset against tax, and (b) will hopefully be covered. I just need to fork out the money in the first place.

I nicked the top picture from here.

A very Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American friends.

>Drained

>The furore over in clubland seems to have been resolved to some extent with the “wronged” party being offered a compensatory replacement. But it’s not the same and I think the members of the particular club will need more than that to mollify them for losing their New Year’s Eve party. BUT, enough of that. I’m not going into it other than the redirection from the post below as the people concerned – the band members – are very private and won’t appreciate it.

My headache was gone by yesterday morning but I’m still feeling a bit drained for some reason. We had the single last remaining already-agreed-to-be-late article possibly pulled due to illness. It was delayed due to something topical being required. If it were me, I would have written the rest and added the topical stuff in as it came in, maybe sent in what I had when I had it, knowing full well it was already holding up production. But hey, everyone isn’t me, this work is aside from their regular contracted job and they don’t get paid for it. However, it has made me phsysically sag, I can feel it.

We have sunshine today but it’s very cold, and poor old Cumbria has been threatened with more rain on top of floods already there. I have friends up there and I’m thinking of them.

Please go and give Toni a hug. Thank you.

>The dark ages

>It’s been dark as night during the day these past few days. Sometimes it’s been raining, sometimes it’s been foggy or misty, and sometimes, like today, it’s just overcast.

I did have quite the successful weekend off and I got lots of reading done. Hardly switched the telly on, though. Yesterday, when I was going to be quite busy, I woke with the mother of all headaches. I’d finally been to a gig the night before, my first in 3 weeks, but I’d not danced or had a drink and they’re not the loudest of bands. But I woke with this headache. And it lasted all day. All. Day. Not a migraine, just a horrible headache. Thankfully it’s gone today, but I still lost yesterday.

Today is a bit of a slow one. I was supposed to be in a meeting for 2 hours this morning, but it got condensed into a very quick highlights session that lasted all of 15 minutes. I’ve done just about all I can with just about everything I have in and I’m waiting for pictures before I can send the remaining material off to be printed. If it continues to be a slow week, I may move this Thursday in to next Thursday, as we should have lots of proofing to do by then.

Nothing much else to report at the moment. I’m feeling very dull and uninteresting at the moment …

Oh, but I had a bit of a rant on the guestbook, if anyone’s interested … Post no 15187.

>The smell of baking

>I wish I could capture how the house smells today and share it. I love the smell of baking and that’s what I’ve been doing.

I did promise myself I’d take it easy this weekend so I started with a nice long lie in. Then I began the day – or what was left of it – by making bread, proppa bread making and not in the bread maker, so that provided several different aromas throughout the day.

Also in the oven were a lime meringue pie, some jam tarts, and to finish, a farmhouse chicken casserole with dumplings.

Once I mentioned dumplings on Facebook, loads of people were hooked and there were dumplings galore for tea all over Facebookland.

Last night I stayed in to watch Children in Need but was so tired I went to bed at 10pm. Tonight is another in front of the telly until I wilt again.

And the house STILL smells delicious.

>Loadsa luvverly books

>It’s Cumbria’s turn to be flooded this time around, with more promised. Take a look here at the BBC News site.

I’ve had a very busy week and by the end of today I will have achieved each and every one of my personal objectives. That’s a great feeling. It’s been a busy fortnight, really. So this weekend, I’m taking some time off. I’m not going to give myself any chores to do or targets to meet. I’m just going to relax, maybe read, maybe cook, maybe watch telly or a film, maybe write, maybe go for a walk, maybe listen to music, maybe go to a gig. Therefore anything I do will be a bonus, and I usually find that any writing work I do settle down to under these circumstances is quite nice writing work and most enjoyable.

It’s Children in Need day in the UK – it comes around so quickly. My choice tonight is watch the telethon or go and see a band. I’ll see how I feel at 7pm.

Three of my books arrived this week.

A Fairly Dangerous Thing, Reginald Hill.

This one is out of print so I had to get it used. It’s not a Dalziel & Pascoe one, which all do seem to be in print or reprint.

One Last Breath, Stephen Booth.

I ordered this one used too, because I’m still on an economy drive and it only cost me a penny. I’ll pass it to the library when I’m done so the author at least gets plr from me.

Bite of the Mango, Mariatu Kamara and Susan McClelland.

This is probably the first one I’ll read …

… I’ll probably be blubbing the whole way through it.

Y’all have a good weekend, yeah?

>Burning the candle

>Ee, it’s been a long time since I burned the candle at both ends, but I’m doing it this week. With one deadline today and being in production on the magazine, I’m working all day at work then taking more home to work on in the evening. Last night I finished at 11pm, but as it’s stuff I’m enjoying, it’s hardly a chore at all.

Because I’m so busy it means I don’t have a lot else to talk about just now. So today I’m going to direct you to Devon for a mini tour of Washington DC. She’s been there this week and there are pictures and highlights. (I think she’s on her way home to NY now, though.) I particularly like the war memorials, and I think my dad might like to see those pictures too. So pop along for a bit of a travelogue.

Today I am the wild woman of the west again. I forgot to dry my hair before going to bed. Again.

>Putting it into perspective

>I was listening to BBC Radio 4 on my drive to work this morning. Libby Purves had 4 guests on her Midweek programme – a football referee, a merchant sailor, a famous animator, and a Sierra Leone survivor.

The programme was quite jolly and funny, even when the interview began with Mariatu Kamara. Then it started to gradually dawn that this 23 year old woman not only experienced the terrors of Sierra Leone first hand, she also watched people she knew get executed in front of her, she was beaten and raped, and she had both of her hands cut off with a machete. She was 12.

An award winning journalist helps Kamara tell her harrowing story, which is fully available in the memoir The Bite of the Mango by Mariatu Kamara and Susan McClelland. I may get this book along with the Enid Blyton biography. But doesn’t stuff like this put everything else into perspective? Kamara is such a cheerful girl, and pretty too – I Googled her when I got in.

It has been raining here for several hours, although it looks as though it may have finally stopped. There is surface water on most of the roads, up to several inches in many places. We have more gales and rain forecast, starting in the north west (top left), working its way south east (middle right), until eventually arriving in the south west (bottom left). And it’s here until Saturday. The Environment Agency has put much of the country on flood warning.

Last night I worked until 1am on both the magazine and the confidential job. I have more to do on both today.