>Search party

>I got home yesterday evening and the first thing I did was get a search party out for my diary. It wasn’t in any of the places I’d expect it to be, so it’s no wonder it got left out of my bag. Once I found it, I checked to see if I’d done everything … and I hadn’t. Three crosses instead of ticks – booo.

A baked potato went into the oven and I did a 30 minute Wii-Fit workout, which actually lasted closer to 40 minutes. This isn’t good – the extra 10 minutes I mean. I understand the Wii Personal Trainer (or is it My Fitness Coach?) is better and I want to look at that and the new Wii-Fit. But before I get any more Wii stuff, I want to conquer what I have already. When I’ve activated and done all of the Yoga poses, all the muscle exercises I want to do, all the aerobics, and all the balance games, and can do them with more ease than I can at the moment, then I’ll get one or the other of the new ones.

Watched some of the Portugal v Spain game last night, then caught up with more CSI NY and Miami. I think the Miami one last night was series 7, a bit of a jump from series 3, and while I thought the NY one was series 3 too, a character appeared in last night’s that was supposed to be locked up for 4 years in the last one I watched, so I’m clearly watching all of these out of kilter.

Today I want to do the jobs I didn’t do yesterday, plus as many of today’s jobs that I can fit in. Then this is the end of the current diary as the brand spanking new one starts tomorrow. I’ll also have June Wrap Up and July To Do up by the end of tomorrow as it’s the 1st of the month.

>And panic

>I slept in this morning. Well, I was actually wide awake at stupid o’clock thanks to the kittykat shuffle and when I was about ready to shoot the next wood pigeon outside my window to open its beak by 6am, I just knew that I’d go back to sleep and forget to wake up … I should have set the alarm.

At 8am I was rudely awakened by the sound of rubble rolling down my roof and onto the street below … something on my roof was crumbling … I think it’s just the compo around the base of the chimney, but it may be the chimney pots.

Yesterday evening we had a cracking downpour, but minutes after it started my gutter was already pouring.

Once I’d got up and checked that there were no chimney pots in my street, I sent a text to the roofer saying I needed him or an alternative number NOW after all, and not in a couple of months when he originally thought he could do it and I was originally happy to wait.

Only I sent the text to my nephew instead of the roofer …

Ever had one of those days?

My chimney pots are crooked, they’ve moved and don’t look very stable. A neighbour’s friend very kindly offered to go up, cap the chimney off, and take the chimney pots back to his garden … erm, if my chimney pots are going in anyone’s garden, they’re going in mine. But when I pointed this out to him, he said I was spiteful and selfish and us Brummies never give anything away. Well, do forgive me, but they’re MY chimney pots. And so he said he’d go up there when I’m not in and take them down anyway …

Ho-hum …

I’ve already spoken to the neighbour on the other side and we’ve agreed to get some quotes for some fencing. I’ll call the council, see how high the fence can be and what access we have to leave – I don’t think we have to leave any as my neighbour is the last in the row, and so long as I leave gates for him to get to his garage, I don’t think there will be a problem. I already wanted to get this fencing done to keep the kids from leaving their bikes on my land and stop them running their go-karts into my fence. (“But your fence is already falling down.” [This from an adult, not the kids.] Then it doesn’t need any help, does it?) My neighbour wanted to fence it off to keep the kids off his garage. And now, if my other neighbour’s friend is threatening to hike up to my roof when I’m not in and help himself to my chimney pots, he can take a hike.

Historical interlude
When our houses were built, there were toilets in the back yards and several houses shared blocks of 2 toilets. When the houses were given bathrooms, the toilet blocks were demolished and coal bunkers were installed instead. As the coal man had to get to these coal bunkers, vehicular access was left and we were all given little fenced off yards, but we own the land right the way to the back, we just have to leave pedestrian access for any houses beyond ours. Because these “back-ins” are still open, there’s a lot of neighbourly … “interaction”. Good for community, but rubbish for security. If I fence my land off, I can be private and secure.
End of historical interlude

So, where was I? Oh yes, this morning.

So, with all this going on, as I was driving to work this morning I was sure I’d forgotten something, something Very Important. When I got in (to find my locked door unlocked and wide open and with the key still in the lock) I realised I’d left my pencil case at home, and my memory stick is in the pencil case. If that was all, I could live with it.

Then I went to get my diary out of my bag … and it wasn’t there. Cue PANIC.

It’s been a nightmare not having my diary just open on my desk. Perhaps I need to wean myself off it, make any future separation easier to bear … Whatever, I feel lost without my diary and I can’t remember what I’m supposed to be doing today. Not that it’s a problem, it’s been like New Street Station this morning. I’ve had so many people in and out, some even blatantly came in despite seeing I was already with someone. I’ve also been to beg for article ideas from a department head, and to return the master key to the master key holder and ask why the key was left in my lock …

Ah yes, I did manage to send the text to the right person in the end, but it was nice touching base with my nephew too. The roofer’s going to sort someone out for me ASAP. I hope it’s not going to cost a lot of money. I can budget for it, and I probably will be able to afford to, but it would have been nice to keep some of it for a little while longer for a change.

Oh, it’s been a fun day. And I still can’t remember what I should be doing.

>The best laid plans

>My weekend was pretty fantastic, as weekends go. Another busy-ish one, but one where I felt I hadn’t wasted any of it.

On Friday I got to Bellhouse Road WMC on time to see one of my favourite bands, The Rakkiteers, play the first set. Friday night is rock night at Bellhouse, and these are more punky, but I loved them and so did a lot of other people. Second set was the billed band, TopGun, who have just hired a new guitarist … who is one of my mates from another band. So I wanted to give him a bit of moral support, plus it was the first time I’d seen the keys player with this band, despite seeing him with several others. The club was full for both sets and it was nice to catch up with everyone.

Saturday was a bit of a chill day, a bit of a chores day, and a shopping day. I did really well budget-wise, coming £3 under budget on the shopping, £3 under budget on “home and garden” (bird food), and 30p under budget on petrol. I watched a really bad film about dragons, but somehow stuck it to the end (curiosity, I suppose, to see if it got any better – it didn’t), I watched a bit of CSI NY (series 3 – we’re waaaaayyyyy behind the times over here), then turned over to watch a Specials concert recorded in 1999 and a Sex Pistols concert recorded in 2007. Good chill evening.

On Sunday I was up bright and early to collect the Bellhouse Buddy from home. She was coming to The Karate Kid preview with me … but we couldn’t find the right car park, and then she couldn’t find the cinema. By the time we got there it was soooo busy they were turning people away … so we shopped. I was very good, I only bought 2 books and kept within my monthly budget for CDs/DVDs/books/games (a whopping 2p under budget). We had whipped ice cream with a flake and juice, then we went back to hers for a chinwag. I dashed home for the 3pm kick-off … and really, really, really, really wish I hadn’t bothered. Well done to Germany for knocking us out 4 – 1 (although we all think it was really 4 – 2).

I had a banging headache after the match – think it was all that noise – so went to bed for an hour. Sunday evening I batch-cooked cheese & bacon pasta and watched more CSI (the original and Miami, series 5 and series 3 respectively), and I had an early night.

Today I’m at home. I started the morning with a 40 minute workout to Hannah Waterman’s interval training DVD, then I did a washing workout (I need to step up to the line, remember), and I climbed onto the Wii to check my fitness and balance. I’ve not been on it since January, so I got a good telling off by the little Wii thing. However, I’m delighted to report that I have a Wii-Fit age of 34 – that’s 12 years younger than me. I guess that’s all the walking and the washing workouts I do. I was shattered after the DVD and had to resort to walking on the spot in some places. I suppose the next step up will be marching on the spot. Ultimately, I’ll be able to keep up with them all.

I now have my Wii-Aquarium playing on the telly, along with a selection of classical music. So I’ve brought the laptop down to the kitchen table so I can listen to the music while I work. There’s a lovely breeze blowing through the back door bead curtain.

Main jobs today are the gig list and Night Crawler proofs, and later there will be another washing workout when I fetch it in. (That step sometimes kills my thighs.)

>Feng shui for the soul

>One of the jobs on my to do list yesterday was to tidy my desk at work. I really cannot stand working in a mess and people often think I’m doing nothing because my desk space is so clear. Piles of magazines had accumulated, as well as piles of paperwork – I don’t use trays because they just pile up too. If I keep it to the desk top, the theory is I’ll put it away before I get fed up of it. But I got fed up of it and it was blocking me. So the first job I did was tidy my desk.

Now I want to tidy my office. I have boxes of magazines all over the floor and on my meeting table. If I want a proper meeting at the moment in my office, we do it at my desk, because clearing the table will be too much of an operation. I think I’ll do the office a bit at a time, for example, take the used printer cartridge to the recycling skip next time I go out – it’s only been on the table for the entire year so far.

Mess blocks me. Clutter blocks me. That cramped diary blocked me. Now my feng shui is good and getting better again.

I got through my edits (hurray!), but I suspect there may be a few more as the designers progress through the project (boo!). Lots of pages are complete, though, and they look brilliant. I can hardly wait to see some more, and it was a nice big tick on the to do list.

The weather was warm at the start of the week, too warm but okay because we could get out of it. As the week progressed, it got cooler, but now it’s clammy. I’ve been smelling rain every morning but it hasn’t come, so now I’m hoping we have a storm brewing along with the clouds that have tumbled in. If we get a storm, I won’t feel so bad about not going walking on Sunday.

Tonight I’m off out to a gig for the first time in AGES. I’m at my member club to see 2 of my favourite bands that feature 2 of my nicest friends, who happen to be identical twins but each plays in a different band. I have other good friends in the bands too, so tonight is going to be a real treat. Tomorrow it’s chores, chores, chores, then the pictures on Sunday morning.


>Yesterday I bought a new diary, an academic one that runs from July to July. I bought a diary at the end of last year but was so skint I had to get the cheapest I could work with. But it’s an A5, week to a page, and the appointments are an hour a line. I write everything down in my diary (in pencil, apart from permanent stuff like birthdays and anniversaries, which go down in pen), and it was looking so cramped I’d often look at it and think: It’s too much, I can’t do it.

I have Filo-Faxes, an A5 and an A4, but the inserts are so expensive I went for a proper diary this time and last. Now I have a fatter A5 diary with a day per page, 2 lines for every hour, and up to 4 hours for lunch. This means I can still write everything down, but the extra white space on the page cons me into thinking there’s less to do so I may as well do it.

Last night I sat in front of the telly filling in the first month of my new diary – FAVE activity as regular readers will know. And what I’ve done is ONLY include the things I want to clear before the end of July – the day job obviously gets priority, Night Crawler proofs, Catch the Rainbow, and Voices from the Dearne Valley. The Christmas annual edits didn’t go in because I want to finish those in June, today if possible. The holiday at the end of July did go in.

Devon gave me the name of a website resource that lists anthologies looking for short stories, and while I think my existing stories are far too twee, I’m feeling inspired to start adding these to my workload again. I cancelled my subscription to Writing Magazine because I don’t read it – always manage Writers’ Forum though, for some reason – but I may re-start a subscription to just Writers’ News as that also lists anthologies calling for submissions. I think my short story writing has to “grow up” if I want to continue getting published. So, heap big thanks to Devon for the inspiration (as ever) and suggestion.

Because I was hunched over the diary on the settee (I really should do this work at my desk), my lower back is in agony. But at least I’m feeling positive and motivated. It is weird, though, starting a new diary in the middle of the summer. Inside my head I’m calling it a new start after the Summer Solstice, rather than worrying that the year has turned and is on its way to its end.

Slight change of plan this weekend. I was going walking on Sunday morning, but now I have a couple of complimentary tickets to preview a film that will be out at the end of next month. It’s an 11am screening in Sheffield, and even if I go on my own I want to do this and at least write a review for the blog. I may also see if any of the local newspapers need a review of this particular film. I may go walking Sunday afternoon instead, but I shall see.

Today I’m being yelled at to get my edits done. I got distracted by the budget, the football, and strangers wandering into my office asking for sponsorship, coffee and chat. Oh, and the day job. I have to do the day job first.

Ooh, almost forgot – England won yesterday and are through to the next round of the FIFA World Cup 2010 … but they play Germany on Sunday, so our joy is short-lived. It was such a shock, it completely slipped my mind …

>This n that

>Yesterday was interesting. We had our first emergency budget from our new coalition government … and it’s gone down like a bucket of sick in most quarters, mostly because it seems election manifestos have been contradicted and party leaders have turned their coats. As usual.

Today will also be interesting. England play what could possibly be their last game in the World Cup. England expects, but England is not holding its breath, I suspect.

Work is busy. I have contributors’ guidelines to finalise and get out as standard as too many things are being allowed to slip just so we get publication on time. I have work to do for the website too, which involves writing, interviewing, more writing, checking, arranging photographs, and publishing. And planning is already underway for the next magazine despite this one only just coming out. I still have that full editorial board 3-country 4-site video conference to arrange, but also a face-to-face meeting between the 3 senior editors.

Freelance-wise, I have edits to do for the Christmas annual, more proofing on Night Crawler, and transcribing for the history book – although when I went to visit our 2 local history groups last week for photography help with this, there they were gone. I want to be writing short stories, but the market is shrinking. I do have another publication to try a couple of recent rejections with, and I’m seriously considering some of the anthology and novella markets, but I can’t see me being very successful in the short fiction market any time soon. I want to be writing articles too, but the research is just too time consuming when I already have so much to do.

As far as life goes, I need to be getting on with the gig list for July over the next few days – I can’t believe it’s almost the end of June already. I’m going to my first gig in ages on Friday, at my member club, to see 2 different but favourite bands. And I’m toying with getting that sewing machine again. After yesterday’s budget increasing VAT to a whopping 20%, and with me rarely finding summery clothes that I actually like, I’m contemplating making my own again. I got back into the cooking for myself well enough, I’m sure I could do the same with my sewing. I used to make soft furnishings too.

The weather is nice, it’s cooler today than it was yesterday, but still sunny and warm.

>Where did the time go?

>I can’t believe I’ve not been on since Thursday – I must have been very busy at work on Friday. In between work last week, the biggest job of my own that I did was enter more than 40 competitions, mostly cash prizes but a few with holidays or goods for prizes instead. I’d let those slip since my £1,000 win earlier in the year, which is why there were so many to catch up on.

At work I was waiting for the new magazine to arrive, and though I’m not there today, I assume it’s arrived because I’ve received feedback by email, which is always welcome. I’ll deal with that tomorrow when I get back in. I quite like the current magazine, I think it’s very bright and cheerful and it looks interesting.

On Friday I entertained several work colleagues, one after the other, in my office, and had positive news for the fundraising mate. Not a definite YES yet, not a NO either, more a “I’m asking around”, which was what I suggested may happen. I settled down Friday evening to watch England v Algeria and, like much of the country – and no doubt every England fan that travelled out there – I was sorely disappointed with the performance.

On Saturday I did my shopping workout with all intentions to do some baking and cooking when I got in. However, the England game on Friday was so diabolically bad, when I got distracted by a “proper” game on telly, the baking went out the window. The Australia v Ghana game was really good – I like a good sending off, even it it is a nice footballer. I stayed in Saturday evening as I wanted to be fresh to drive Sunday morning.

On Sunday it was Father’s Day so I drove down to see my dad, and my mom, and saw my sister and one of my nieces there too. We had a good laugh, as usual, and discussed the cat-sitting while I go to the Lake District, and I’m delighted that my sister was actually keen to come and have a holiday in Yorkshire so I don’t have to travel anywhere with the cats. Mom and Dad may still come and visit for a few days, but this solution kills several birds with one stone.

When I got home I had a delicious couple of hours watching Hugh Jackman in Kate and Leopold. I watched Legally Blonde 2 too, and several times wondered why I was still doing so at various intervals …

Today I’ve been working at home. I’ve done a washing workout already, and will do another when I fetch it in, and I’ve been proofing Night Crawler galleys. I’ve decided to stick to the original publishing schedule even though the first one will be late, and I’m going to add a large print version to the set. The paperback will still appear in November with the next one 6 months after that.

I have to scan in the artwork I have, but I don’t think my scanner is working at the moment. Once I’ve done that, and changed the electronic galleys, I can crop the artwork and send the book to print. I’m sorry it’s taken so long, but I’ve been so busy in the last couple of months.

I don’t know whether I’ll also do an ironing workout, but the intention is there. I also want to batch-cook a spaghetti bolognaise for tea and I’ll maybe also throw a batch of easy buns together too.

>Beautiful England


Ullswater is the second largest stretch of water in the Lake District, and many say the most lovely. I won’t get anywhere near the standard of pictures that I’m finding, but I think these are all giving an idea of where I’ll be staying.

It’s a 3 day week at the office for me so today I’m dropping in on our 2 local history groups for the local history book. I’ll also be working on the Christmas annual edits, and in between will be a washing workout.

Today’s picture came from here.

>Aira Force

>My holiday cottage is near to Aira Force, one of the Lake District’s more famous waterfalls, not far from where Wordsworth allegedly wandered lonely as a cloud. If I can’t find inspiration here, it’s nowhere to be found.

Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth, eh? I’ll be in good company. I shall have to visit Hill Top and Dove Cottage.

I’ve been having fun rejigging the diary (always my most favourite activity), but at the moment I’m doing the edits and tweaks on the Christmas annual. There aren’t many and it’s nowhere near the headache that the first annual was, but it has to be done and the sooner I clear it the better I’ll feel.

The redesign of both the blog and the gig list are now complete, but I do have tabs on the gig list that need material copying into. I’ve had good feedback, though, and traffic seems to have increased as well.

The picture came from here, © David Ross.