>How did I do?

>Last year I had such high hopes. I was going to sort everything out in my life and get writing again. Lots of things happened meanwhile, like a major recession that stopped our pay rise and bonuses and left a question mark over whether we’d still be in work by the end of the year. And during the summer a few things happened, including Tinker disappearing, that ground me to a halt yet again.

Let’s see how I actually did, though …

2009 goals

  • at least 2 holidays away – I’d like to make it to at least week 1 of the Edinburgh Book Festival, but the other holiday can be a walking one (in this country) or a foreign one

No. Boo! Mainly due to the recession, I couldn’t afford a holiday at all during 2009.

  • secure a publisher for one of my novels

No. Boo!

  • keep the day job

Yes. Hurray!

2009 dreams

  • get a publishing contract

Yes. Hurray! I got a contract to publish a local history book, deadline 31 March 2010.

  • reduce debt (see it coming down)

Yes. Hurray! I joined a Financial Management Plan, got my debts frozen, agreed to paying so much off per month, but leaving me with money to live on again – and NO MORE CREDIT.

  • ex-husbands and ex-boyfriends to stop stalking me, online and/or in person (I can SEE you)

Yes and No, but much of this is actually beyond my control. There was only one left by the end of the year, though, and even then hardly as often as before.

2009 resolutions

writing

  • write something every single day

No. Boo!

  • complete 3 novels (Stevie Tarot 1: The Fool; Marcie Craig 2: The Beast Within; Catch the Rainbow)

No. Boo! (Didn’t even complete one.) (Although I did finalise an earlier one, Marcie Craig 1: Night Crawler. Hurray!)

  • complete 11 short stories

No. Boo! Only 1 completed.

  • complete 12 full-length articles

No. Boo!

  • submit 12 reader’s letters

No. Boo! Only submitted 4.

  • complete 12 fillers

Yes. Hurray! Actually completed and submitted 13 fillers.

  • make my desk at home a nice, motivating and inspirational place to work

Yes. Hurray!

day job

  • utilise time more efficiently
  • meet all of my appraisal objectives
  • keep the magazine going despite the credit crunch
  • make the magazine better, get more readers and people wanting to contribute

Yes. Hurray!

  • tidy my office and work out an archive system for the old magazines and newsletters

No. Boo!

  • write something for every issue

No. Boo! (Apart from the regular stuff I always do last.)

  • produce 4 magazines and 4 newsletters

Yes and No. Hurray and Boo! The newsletter was a victim of the recession.

  • assist with and produce 2 brochures

No. Boo! Recession again.

health & fitness

  • lose at least a stone (14lb)

No. Boo! I only lost 6lb.

  • walk or exercise every single day

No. Boo!

  • eat even more healthily
  • walk more and use public transport instead of rely too heavily on the car

Yes. Hurray!

  • get my cholesterol levels checked
  • arrange blood sugar test

No. Boo!

  • get broken tooth fixed

Yes. Hurray!

  • check dental abscess

Yes. Hurray! (Still there …)

  • pluck up courage to see an optician – and hope eyesight hasn’t dropped to below the recommended level for driving …

No. Boo!

moneysaving/moneymaking

  • cook more meals from scratch, in batches to freeze

Yes. Hurray! I’m actually getting quite the expert at this and don’t even like shop-bought readymeals any more.

  • USE the wool I already have to knit – don’t buy any more

Yes. Hurray! Although it’s taken me a whole year to knit an Aran and I’m still only halfway up the back.

  • WEAR the clothes I already have – don’t buy any more

Yes. Hurray! No choice anyway, no money.

  • keep weekly grocery bill to £30 or less

On average, yes. Hurray!

  • make more use of Shanks’s pony and rely less on the car

Yes. Hurray!

  • learn about alternative cleaning products and methods
  • DO SOMETHING with all the fat quarters I’ve collected

No. Boo!

  • bake more, including bread from scratch and not in the machine (don’t like the machine taste)

Yes. Hurray! Although I’ve decided to oven cook fresh bread only once a month but maybe use the bread machine every week.

  • (if successful, offer BM to a good home – offers on a post card)

No. Boo! (I’m keeping it for now.)

  • investigate the possibility of a slow cooker

No. Boo! Couldn’t afford one anyway.

  • kick start my freelance journalism to increase my earning power

Yes. Hurray!

  • reduce number of credit cards by 2 (currently 5 + 1 store card)

Yes. Hurray! (Fanfare please – NO credit cards OR store cards.)

  • reduce debt repayments by at least 33%

Yes. Hurray! (Thanks to the FMP.)

  • keep on top of budget and remember to keep card reader with me so I can check online banking daily, wherever I am

Yes. Hurray! Although this particular bank account was a victim of the FMP.

  • think about selling stuff on ebay or similar (juicer, ornaments, books, fat quarters …)

Yes. Hurray! Sold some jewellery, some DVDs, and some CDs.

  • keep in better touch with the money saving experts, instead of in fits and starts

No. Boo! It’s very time consuming.

  • cancel all magazine subscriptions

Yes. Hurray! Although I did then take out a special offer on the Radio Times, which was an alternative to TV & Satellite Week as the former includes the radio stations.

life

  • have 3 x 2-week holidays
  • get away for at least 2 of those holidays, whether in this country or abroad
  • get to the theatre/ballet at least 4 times
  • get to the cinema at least 4 times
  • a long-distance walk every month

No. Boo!

  • read a novel a month

Yes. Hurray! I actually managed 27 novels, which is more than 2 a month even.

  • listen to more radio/music – give eyes a rest

Yes. Hurray!

  • visit every place on my Yorkshire Life calendar

No. Boo! Not a single, solitary one.

  • get home to Birmingham more often, and see my sister too

Yes. Hurray! I’m making Birmingham once a month and often see my sister at our parents’. Twice I saw her outside of our parents’, once at Sheffield Wednesday v Barnsley football game, and again at Christmas.

home

  • only spend on essential maintenance this year

Yes. Hurray! I didn’t spend a penny on home maintenance … but I may have to spend some in 2010.

  • enjoy what I’ve managed to achieve so far
  • keep it clean and tidy
  • always welcome visitors and guests

Yes. Hurray!

hobbies

  • start knitting again

Yes. Hurray!

  • knit an item from my knitting calendar every month
  • start sewing again

No. Boo!

  • be a more adventurous cook

Yes. Hurray!

  • cook something from my cookery calendar every month
  • make the most of RSPB membership

No. Boo!

  • check the Dearne Valley Ramblers’ walking calendar

Yes. Hurray! Although this stopped mid-February when I got injured.

So, that’s it. Not as good as I’d hoped, but not as bad as I feared. In 2010 Diane will try harder.

>Lazy time

>I really am having a lazy time of it this week. I’m bobbing on and doing an hour here, or an hour there on the gig list, or a bit of blog catch-up, lots of reading, a bit of work when I feel like it, and the odd film on telly.

They forecast “light snow” here yesterday but instead we had heavy rain, which washed away the last of our snow. Today we have sleet showers forecast, but it’s still raining. Yet, there are snow warnings out. I’ve looked at the forecast for Barnsley over the next 5 days, and it looks as though our coldest night will be Friday, New Year’s Day, when it’s going to dip to -6. Everyone on Facebook today is complaining how cold they are, yet my thermometer in the lounge had jumped up so much I’ve dropped my central heating down a notch, and will continue to do so on a daily basis until the thermometer is back to “normal” (about 20 degrees for me).

We didn’t get a huge amount of snow here really, and by last Wednesday the worst of it had passed, yet our dustmen (garbage men) simply didn’t bother showing up. Today our recycled bins are due to be emptied but our regular wheelie bins have been outside someone’s house for a whole week, and people have been adding to them as the days have gone by. I heard a dustcart this morning so I’m hoping I can go and collect my wheelie bin now as I’m collecting carrier bags in the yard – I made one trip out to the bins but they were already over-full.

On Monday I wanted to watch The Jane Austen Book Club again, and while I was serving up my tea I thought I’d taken my last phone call. As soon as I sat down to watch the film, the phone started to go again – and texts started coming through on the mobile. Twenty minutes in I gave up on the film and decided instead to watch Australia. I’d heard poor reviews of this film so wasn’t looking forward to it a great deal, but I thought it was fantastic.

I’ve just been going through the goofs and I’m really disappointed in myself that I didn’t notice a wrong star constellation for the southern hemisphere … honestly, do some people have nothing better to do? I wasn’t watching the sky, I was watching the action. One of the goofs has been corrected as it complained of the film The Wizard of Oz being shown first in sepia and then twice in colour. If you’re going to complain about something, at least get your facts right. Surely everyone knows the start of this film was filmed in sepia? Apparently not.

Last night, because I’d missed the Jane Austen fix, I was delighted to see Miss Potter was showing on BBC2. I settled down to watch this and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was so nice to see scenes in a place I’ve actually visited. Some of it was filmed in the Lake District and I’ve actually been to Beatrix Potter’s home at Hill Top Farm.

I’m still thinking of a new title for the blog, so there’s still a chance to get some organic chocolate if you have any ideas.

>Chocolate giveaway

>Still on holiday and still enjoying doing nothing, or not having to rush and do anything or beating myself up for not doing something.

I’m thinking of a new title for the blog – well, everyone else seems to be doing it. When we started, our name was enough, but I’ve taken my personal stamp off a lot of my web presence just lately as I was starting to tire of not being anonymous, particularly in gig-land. Okay, my gig list photo did say, “say hello to me at gigs”, but it didn’t say, “hey, just shout out my name, have a good laff, say ‘told you so’ to your mates, and then not even tell me who you are”, yet that’s what many were doing. Or they would huddle in a corner pointing and whispering and then be afraid to even say hello. Why?

So I’m thinking of a new title for the blog. The address will stay the same and I bet it’ll stay the same in blogrolls too, unless it changes if you take it off the blogroll then put the new one on. The title that springs to mind is: “World Famous Nutter Magnet”. But as I’m switching off the website and this will be my main point of e-call, that’s not very professional, is it? I could still add the tag-line “for bringing out the nutter in you”, but I think I need something a bit more gooderer for the main title.

Suggestions on a postcard, and if I choose yours, I’ll also send you some organic chocolate.

>Normal service resumes

>Well, nearly normal service at any rate. I’m on holiday this week, which isn’t very normal. I do have jobs scheduled in, but I’m not going to beat myself up over them. If I do them, all well and good. If I don’t, I won’t lose any sleep – I’m on holiday.

Here is my Christmas break so far.

Christmas Day
The phone call came in at about 9:30am to say Merry Christmas, the roads seemed to be fine, Mom and Dad were going to my sister’s for Christmas dinner, and did I have any crackers? I’d avoided going in the loft myself, but I was sure I had some crackers within touching distance from the loft hatch. So I did have a quick peer up there and found that ALL of Christmas was within touching distance from the loft hatch. I could have put Christmas up after all.

I headed off to Leicester at about 10:45am, clutching my crackers and threatening to arrive at about 12:30pm. I got there at 12:30pm on the dot. The roads were great, I had the motorway to myself pretty much, it was a nice drive down.

We had a lovely dinner, as you do, opened lots of presents, and caught up on the gossip. I thought the crackers might have lost their snap as they’d been in the loft for 2 years, but they worked perfectly and the prizes were so good they disappeared into people’s pockets. I headed back at about 3:45pm, getting home by 5:30pm.

I had a cheese and pickled onion sandwich for my supper, watched a new Agatha Christie’s Poirot, and thoroughly enjoyed the whole day.

Boxing Day
I did nothing. I chilled and relaxed and rested and read and had a no-car-day all day. It was great. At teatime I watched Celebrity Come Dine With Me, then later watched Ant and Dec’s Christmas Show. If I’d known the cricket was on the radio, I would have found that.

Actually, I did do something. I dusted off the Wii, changed all the batteries, weighed and measured myself, and worked out for, ooh, all of 16 minutes. The trouble with Wii Fit is that the trainer takes up a lot of the time waffling. A 20 minute session actually takes 30 minutes, and a 30 minute session takes closer to 50 minutes.

Sunday
Cooking day. I finally found the cricket on Radio Five Live and had that playing for much of the day. I put a loaf of bread in the bread machine, made a jelly, baked an apricot cut-and-come-again cake. I had a 20 minute session on the Wii.

For tea I defrosted one I made earlier, chicken in a lemon sauce. But it smelled disgusting so I had to clean the sauce off it with kitchen towel before I could even face it. I cooked the last of the potatoes and a pile of carrots, and made some mashed potato with the leftover spuds, and added some to the carrots to make a carrot mash. I haven’t decided yet whether to freeze those or keep them in the fridge and use them this week.

Sunday evening I went to see a band I’d not seen before at my favourite club. It was nice to catch up with so many friends in one place. Might be there again on New Year’s Day.

Today
And so to today, bank holiday Monday. I have the cricket on again at the moment and so far I’ve prepared 2 blog posts to publish on 31 December and 1 January – my wrap-up of 2009 and the plan for 2010.

Much of today, and the rest of this week, will be spent updating the gig list for January. In between, writing jobs – and I’m listing them for the week rather than on a daily basis as I’m trying to be a bit relaxed about this – are as follows. The symbol “#” stands for the word “draft”:

  • #1 Lycra Louts (short story)
  • #2 The Beast Within ch 1 (chapter of a novel)
  • #3 Barcelona (speculative article)
  • EDIT Romulus (short story)
  • OUTLINE The Beast Within ch 2 (chapter of a novel)
  • #1 Walking in the Wye Valley (speculative article)
  • Devon’s 5 in 10 (short story writing program/course)
  • Writers’ Bureau assignment 9
  • #2 Lycra Louts
  • #3 The Beast Within ch 1
  • 1 x walk review

Other stuff for this week includes:

  • put bins out/bring bins in
  • possible New Year’s Eve party
  • possible Friday night gig
  • household chores
  • laundry
  • baking/batch cooking
  • 3 mile Sunday walk
  • blog/gig list

How many ticks to you think I’ll get this week?

There’s not a lot on the telly I really fancy this evening, but The Jane Austen Book Club is on again. I half-watched this once before and decided I’d like to see it again properly. Transformers and Australia are also on, but they all clash.

>Let it snow!

>We had snow forecast at midnight last night, but it arrived 4 hours early. It snowed and snowed for about 5 hours and I thought we’d be snowed in this morning. But we’re not. We have the sum total of a grand inch on the floor. How is this so? Do we have heated mine shafts beneath us or something? Or is it just the wrong kind of snow?

I do feel sorry for anyone that has to be out driving in it, but I’m loving it, personally. I took today off and was looking forward to tramping through a few inches. Ah well, never mind. At least it means my journey south should be unhindered tomorrow.

The only jobs I have to do today are wrap presents and take library books back, but I just discovered I can renew my library books online if I want to. There is supposed to be skeleton staff there today, so I could still go down there and return the books I’ve read. But I might ring ahead first to make sure there’s someone there. If not, I’ll just renew them online and take them back next week. I was pleased about that because I wondered if they would still fine me if I tried to take my books back but couldn’t as there was no staff, but I do think they should have some disaster recovery plan in place for those that don’t have online access.

Yesterday I finished work at 4:15pm so I could get to my hair appointment for 5:15pm. The only place I hit bad traffic was Parkgate in Rotherham where there’s a big shopping centre. I’m glad I did my shopping on Tuesday. And if I can’t make the journey to see my family tomorrow, at least I have plenty of food in. I can always go down Boxing Day instead.

I was going to watch a film again last night but didn’t get home in time. I was hoping to see Jim Carrey in Yes Man, but it started bang on time. I turned over to watch John Grisham’s The Firm instead. I got 10 minutes in and remembered every single minute to follow, so I switched off and read. I’m enjoying reading about the goofs on this internet movie database (after I’ve seen the film, of course) to see if I noticed them.

Today I start a new book, A Fairly Dangerous Thing by Reginald Hill. There are quite a lot of films on this afternoon and this evening, but I think my main Christmas Eve viewing will be the 100th episode of Taggart. I selected the story in The Sun for this one, but Google “100th episode of Taggart” and there are plenty to choose from.

That’s me done for a couple of days. Have a wonderful holiday season.

>I survived

> Yesterday wasn’t so bad. I got to Meadowhall just as it was opening so the crowds hadn’t even started yet. I had my list clutched tightly and I stuck to it rigidly. The centre opened at 9am, I was away by 11:00am, back on my train at 11:21am, on my bus at 12:02pm, and home by 12:30pm. I’d just sat down with a cup of tea when the phone call came in from the garage – my car was ready.

Off I tootled to get my car and I was back by 1:15pm, the roads were really clear so I thought I may as well go and get my groceries. I headed off to Tesco in Wath, and couldn’t find a single place to park. So I went in the other direction instead to Hemsworth, where there were loads of places to park. I did my shopping, came out just as Armageddon was clearly starting, and was home with everything done by 4pm.

On Monday I watched Changeling and was ever so slightly disappointed. It wasn’t quite as harrowing as I thought it would be. It was a good enough film and Angelina Jolie played her part admirably – okay, so she is a bit twig-like, but this was the 1920s. I know it’s based on a true story too, but for me there were too many loose ends, and I don’t just mean the main storyline as that one would be expected, I think. I just wanted to know what happened to Arthur and Stanford and who were the other boys, things like that. But it’s a good film and reminded me a bit of The Nun’s Story, starring Audrey Hepburn.

Last night I settled down in front of one of my all time favourite films, Airplane (another where I think they should have just left it without a sequel). It was easy to watch as I couldn’t be bothered much to move, but I can now predict every single pun, joke, punchline. The only things I forgot were the man in the taxi and Lloyd Bridges on the ceiling.

I’m only in for half a day today, and I’ve decided to take tomorrow off. I’d like a couple of days without having to drive anywhere or do anything. I’ve checked the roads, and will continue to check them, for my drive down to Leicestershire, and maybe Solihull if my parents haven’t made the trip, on Christmas Day. There’s a gig I could have gone to on Boxing Day, but I’ve decided to take Boxing Day off too.

I’ve sent off invitations for bloggers to rejoin us on Slimming Buddies. This is now only open to blog authors, so if you’d like an invite and would like to join us, please let me know. You can send me an email via my profile page rather than paste your email addresses in the comments section. I’m also going to set a few blog posts to post automatically over the next few days after tomorrow.

This video shows another 3 soldiers “coming home” early for Christmas in boxes. They were aged 29, 24 and 18 – the 18 year old had only been sent out to Afghanistan 2 weeks before he died. He was sent to his death.

While we watched the pictures, news filtered through of another soldier killed, this time during so-called friendly fire. So, if we’re not sending them to their death, we’re killing them ourselves, or the people we are training to kill are killing them for us – all this before the enemy even gets a pop. You can see the Telegraph news story here, where this picture came from.

How many 18 year olds do you know, have you known, or do you know of? Would you like to see them come back from a fortnight abroad like this? I know these men and women are doing their jobs, but if it were up to me I think I’d slap an age limit on armed combat service like this, maybe 21 or 25, or even while their own families are growing up. Hah, that would limit who they could send, but I still stick to my mantra: bring them home.

Today’s Christmas picture came from here.

>Braving Murderhell

>I have a very early start this morning as I’m doing my Christmas shopping at Meadowhall. I’m on the bus and train too as (a) I don’t want to drive a strange car in this weather if I don’t have to, (b) traffic may be a nightmare, and (c) parking will be nigh on impossible. I can jump on a bus at the top of my road and that will take me to the next village where I can jump on a train, then the train takes you right on in to Meadowhall. I may be standing all the way home, but that’s preferable to unnecessary stress on the roads.

It’s going to be hell, I can tell. And I’ll be way too hot in my outdoor coat (I don’t normally bother with a coat when I drive as it’s all indoors). But hopefully the Sally Army or the Grimey Colliery Band will be there playing carols, hopefully the shops won’t be sold out of everything on my list, hopefully I’ll be able to grab a nice hot chocolate and a mince pie, and hopefully all that walking will do me good. I’d take my pedometer if it didn’t keep falling off.

There are lists coming with me (waves at Carol) – I have a list of the bus times, a list of the train times, a list of the shops I want to visit, a list of the gifts I hope to get. I only have 6 to buy for, plus something for the cats if I see anything, and something for me if I can afford it. I’m strangely quite excited. I can’t remember the last time I went on a shopping adventure.

Later I have to collect my car, so I’ll go home first, drop my packages off, then do battle with that crazy hire car. When I get my own car back I’ll probably do my grocery shopping on the way home, or wait until 10pm tonight when it should be quieter.

I walked up to the village yesterday and got Jehovah’s Witnessed on the way. Honestly, I have no problem with other faiths and religions, live and let live is one of my mottoes, but give me the same courtesy back, yeah? I suppose it happening in the street is better than it happening on the doorstep but, really, if I’m interested, I’ll let you know. The footpaths were quite good, not slippy at all, and it felt quite mild too.

No skimmed milk, though. Not from the mini-market, not from the petrol station, not from the corner shop. I pick up full fat milk and they say: “Surely the semi-skimmed would be better?” So I say: “This is for my cats,” and I pick up the semi-skimmed for me anyway. Then they try to sell me cat milk, which is about 4 times dearer than ordinary milk. My cats are fine with cow’s milk, thank you very much, so long as it’s full fat.

My treat was a fresh cream strawberry tart, which I had with a turkey sandwich for my midday meal. But they had no mince pies. Three days before Christmas and they have No Mince Pies? Amazing.

Today’s picture comes from Applebys Holidays. Imagine that, they do a coach tour to Murderhell.

>Oh. My. Gawd.

>I went for it. I cleared the snow off my car this morning, after first calling ahead to make sure there were people at the garage, and I made my way there.

I have a dinky little Citroen Saxo 1.1 and I thought the hire car might be the same, so when I saw another dinky little Citroen Saxo there, I was over the moon … but that wasn’t my hire car. My replacement car is actually a Vauxhall Corsa 1.2, not a lot bigger, but HUGE on the inside in comparison.

Now, for the past 6 years I’ve been telling every car mechanic I know that my brakes aren’t very good, and for 6 years they’ve been telling me to stop worrying, they’re fine. I get into this Corsa, touch the brakes, and am nearly catapulted through the window. We have snow and slush on the ground. I have brakes that actually work. So you can guess I’ve had a couple of wheel spins too. It took me hours to find Reverse, and when I pulled up outside my house – in one piece, no less – ALL THE CAR LIGHTS CAME ON. I couldn’t switch any of them off and when I opened the driver’s door, an alarm squealed at me.

Why do they not provide guidebooks with hire cars? I’d be fine with a guidebook. I can see me being on public transport until I get my own car back late tomorrow.

The roads aren’t as bad as I thought. Ours isn’t very icy at all, the snow and slush is still soft, warm and powdery, and lots of grit has been strewn across the sharp bend on the steep hill. However …

I probably drove about 3 – 4 miles to the next but one village and had to ignore the first roundabout as I knew the road was closed that way. This first roundabout is minutes from where I was going, but I used the second one due to the diversion. By the time I made my return trip, a great big massive articulated lorry was on its side on this first roundabout. There were 3 police cars already there, plus a fire engine and an ambulance on the way. And I couldn’t slow down for the ambulance in case I shot through the windscreen when I touched the brakes. Then, by the time I got back to my village, 2 smashed up cars that were parked safely on the second roundabout had already been towed away. Looks like the emergency services are working well.

We have sunshine forecast for the next few days so maybe that will melt the worst of the snow before it gets too treacherous here. A lorry on its side and 2 cars on the roundabout is quite good going, I think. I hope all the drivers are okay.

I had a nice and good productive day yesterday. I enjoyed my first film, The Eagle Has Landed, but I’d forgotten that even the Germans spoke with an English plum in their mouths. I was a bit disappointed with the third Mummy, but I always am with sequels – apart from Indiana Jones … and Lord of the Rings … and Harry Potter. I often think they should have just left it at the first film. But it was fun, light entertainment. And, of course, Brendan Fraser – although I wish they’d give him a different hair cut every now and then. He always, always looks like Brendan Fraser.

Who knows what I’ll end up doing for the rest of the day? I have plenty to be going on with, I may pop up to the village (on foot) to get a few provisions, and tonight Changeling is on, starring Angelina Jolie. I switched my Sky Movies back on when they offered it at half price for 4 months. I was going to switch them back on in the New Year anyway, but this offer came up and I thought, why not?

Today’s picture came from GreenFinder.

>At last

>There has been snow in many parts of the UK, but here in the Land That Time Forgot it was blowing over us again. We had a few flurries before the weekend, but our trouble really was the cold temperatures – nowhere near as cold as in some countries, but far too cold for our authorities to know what to do with it. Result = lethal roads.

Last night it started to rain very heavily, and that thawed what packed ice we did have … but then it turned to sleet and then it turned to snow and we had around 2 inches fall before 7am this morning (that’s when Holly decided she really, really didn’t want to use the litter tray I’d especially set up as they don’t want to go out, and she nagged me to let her out).

By lunchtime today the sun was melting it … and then we had some good and proper snow fall. This top picture is the view through my front window (see my lovely little car?), the picture below is the view through my kitchen window. (Hmm. Might have to do something with that fence this coming year.)

Yes folks, this is probably as good as it gets.

It’s lovely to watch and the kids have been having lots of fun throwing snowballs, but I wouldn’t want to be out driving in it. Big snow is for walking in or wondering at.

Friday night I stayed in and watched a couple of films on Sky. I loved, loved, LOVED Inkheart, starring Brendan Fraser (or perhaps it was Brendan Fraser I was loving). What a fantastic story for book lovers and storytellers. Then I watched that classic Con Air, starring Nicolas Cage, and pinpointed the origin of one of my favourite lines: Put the bunny back in the box. Brilliant.

Saturday I was supposed to be going to a gig, but the weather was very icy by then and no-one was attempting to get out of our dip at the bottom of our road and I didn’t fancy skidding all the way to Doncaster on my own. Lots of people did make it to gigs, but as I didn’t have to, I didn’t see the point in putting extra strain on the emergency services. So I stayed in and watched the grand final of Strictly Come Dancing. I do think the runner up was the better dancer, but I was chuffed for the winners. I started to watch another film just afterwards, but it was quite rubbish so I switched off and went to bed.

Today I’ve been doing my diary work – my favourite pastime – for January. My diary starts on 28 December, so that’s when I’m pulling my finger out and getting on and doing stuff. I’ll see how I go for the first month before doing February along the same lines, but I’ve got article work in there, short stories, novel work, work on the local history book, future freelance work (think, research, write, submit), the day job, gig list work, regular household chores, and a walk every week so far, apart from when I want to drive down to Birmingham.

And I’ve been watching the white stuff fall.

One of my favourite films (and novels) is on telly at teatime, The Eagle Has Landed, by Jack Higgins, so I want to stop by then and watch that. Then at 8pm Brendan Fraser’s on Sky again (whoop, whoop), this time in The Mummy: The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (no 3). I’ve seen the other 2 already, but I’ve not seen this one.

Tomorrow, weather permitting, I take my car in and pick my hire car up. I’ll do more reading/writing/admin work during the day.

Today’s main picture came from Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow.