>I interrupt this travelogue to bring you today’s update. Watch out for 2 posts per day for the next 10 days.

How many days’ worth of words and pictures did I accumulate in the end? I could only limit it to 10 pictures max per day because Blogger goes a bit daft otherwise. So you’ll be getting Lake District posts for the next 10 days – the first is beneath this post.

I had such good intentions this morning. I’d filled in my diary with various segments of work – work and household related – but when I finally dragged myself out of bed (isn’t your own bed always great the first night back?), I just didn’t feel much like doing anything. I’d uploaded most of the words and pictures last night, but there were still a few things to do, and I finally got everything done – including 2 washloads, and then it rained before I could hang them out – by about midday.

Ah yes, I also had a sort of “rejeptance” … I’d fired a short story off to a new market to me, the fiction editor of which everyone seems to love. I received an email this morning asking me to resubmit it later in the year as it’s a Christmas story … Now, is that good or is it bad? Surely she would have said if she hated it.

My dilemma now is, I wrote a bonfire night story specifically for another magazine I have had lots published in before, I was just waiting for the call for bonfire night submissions (some will know who I mean here). That call also arrived in my in box while I was away.

So, do I send the new market the bonfire night story meanwhile, while I’m still fresh in her mind, or do I fire it straight out to the magazine I wrote it for? If the magazine I’ve written for before responded a little quicker, it wouldn’t be an issue. Either way, I think I’ll crack on with one of the stories I started last week and get that off to the potential new market ASAP. Of course, I’ll email her a reply, thanking her for her time and saying yes of course I can resubmit it. But I want to be able to send her something very soon – I think she must at least like something about my writing.

I printed off the latest contributors’ guidelines for My Weekly (fiction, long and short, and non-fiction) and Woman’s Weekly (fiction, long and short), but for the rest of the day I didn’t feel like doing much. Anyway, I’m still “on holiday”, and as I was quite pleased with the final list of what I achieved while I was away, I thought I deserved the rest of the day off.

>Barnsley –> Ullswater

>I’d had such a busy day on Thursday that I was exhausted by the time I fell into bed. That didn’t necessarily mean a restful night, though – or not at first. Things kept running through my head, like did I pack the camera usb? should I leave the key in the front door in case my sister comes early? and so on. Finally, though, I did fall into a deep sleep and I got up at 8:50am.

There were still a few jobs to be done, like change my bed, pack the car, pack the food, write instructions for the cat food, etc. My sister was running a little late because my nephew was coming back to Sheffield with her (he was graduating on the Wednesday I was going to be away), but when they got to mine, we had a cuppa, a chinwag, I showed her the Wii Fit, told her where to find everything.

Finally at around 2pm I headed off, first to the M1 (drizzle), then to the M62 (glorious sunshine), the M60, and the M6 (raving mad traffic). It was Friday afternoon, the M6 was doing its impression of the biggest car park in the country, by the time I got through it I was ready for a rest, and an ice cream. So I stopped for 20 minutes.

I reached my destination at around 5:30pm where my hostess was waiting to greet me and show me around. The cottage is lovely, just like home from home with everything I could possibly need – apart from internet, but that was deliberate.

Here then is what my cottage, Robin’s Nest, looks like:

The small but perfectly adequate kitchenette:

A lovely, comfortable lounge, with Freeview on the telly and a DVD too:

My bedroom for the duration:

The owners’ garden that those hiring a cottage are permitted to share:

While I had my tea I glanced up to see my nearest neighbours:

I took photographs before I made the place untidy, grabbed a bite to eat, watched some telly, and had an early night.

>A live post from the phone

>I didn’t prepare a post for today so this one’s coming live via the mobile phone.

It’s been mostly wet with flood alerts running alongside the hosepipe ban but yesterday was glorious and I nearly bagged a Marilyn.

Mostly I’ve been lazily doing what I want when I want if I want. I’ve mixed writing days with sightseeing days and I’m collecting lots of words and lovely pictures for you all for next week. I’ll reply to all the comments next week too.

Having a lovely time! But missing the cats. 🙂

>A finance update

>In June last year I entered into a finance management plan.

I’m delighted to report that in that 13 months my overall debt has reduced by £3,500 (what could I do with that much money in my hand?!). Most of it has been by monthly payment, some has been the odd lump sum I’ve been able to push their way.

I’m posting it here to demonstrate that I’m not all spend, spend, spend, but it is possible to budget and pay for things as the need arises, not live the life of a pauper, and still reduce a debt considerably. I’ve also been living without credit for this period, i.e. if I’ve not had the cash (or very generous friends and family – who have covered the emergency stuff for me, and been paid back), I’ve not had the backup of a credit card, and have gone without.

Living without credit is hard, it was Very Hard for the first few months, but I don’t think I’d have it any other way now. It certainly makes you appreciate money more and feel a helluva lot better about yourself. And, when the debt is gone I’ll be able to put this money towards savings. Now there’s something to look forward to. (This year’s reduction alone is a full mini-cash ISA.)

In June of this year I increased my monthly payment by £20. I’m hoping for a bigger reduction next year.

>Twenty five years ago

>I couldn’t let today go by without a spot of … nostalgia …

Twenty-five years ago today I married my first husband, Brian. We married at St Nicholas Church in Elmdon Park, Solihull. Lindsay and Andrea were bridesmaids in peach, Neil was best man in silvery grey, my sister was heavy withchild, our grandma was still with us. I wore a borrowed dress in white meringue … and Dad hired a vintage car.

We were young, we were playing house. He decided he wanted kids, I never had and never would. After 3 years we parted. I think he found happiness, I think he had kids, I think they’re still together.

It could’ve been my silver wedding anniversary today. That’s actually quite a scary thought.

No regrets.

Thanks to Nidge for the timely reminder on Live Aid day.

>Today’s the day

>At last I’m off on my summer holiday. Ten days in the beautiful Lake District, in an isolated cottage, with no internet, no distractions, and lots of lovely walking and sightseeing country. A friend or 2 are planning on coming up to visit for the day. Oh, and I’m taking some work too. It is, after all, a writer’s retreat.

My sister is here this morning. I’m going to give her a crash course on the Wii and introduce her to her Mii, tell her all about the cats, and then at about 2pm I’ll be off.

Send me lots of good working/writing vibes.

I hope the lakes fill up enough for me to take a steamer ride on Ullswater. I’m taking an A5 project notebook with me for my travel journal – I was going to buy a dedicated travel journal, but with lots of pages, indexed tabs and pockets for tickets and postcards and things, this one’s good enough – and will upload my travel diary and pictures when I get back.

So you don’t miss me too much I’ve prepared a handful of pre-scheduled posts. Back on 27 July.

>Busy day

>Today is a very busy day, with lots of running around and chores to do. Carol knew there would be lists. :o)

  • Make up the guest room.
  • Get some washing put through, on the line, brought in, ironed.
  • Last minute grocery shopping.
  • Colour-photocopy pages of walking book and sections of map.
  • Pack writing bag, book bag, computer bag, sponge bag, clothes bag, handbag.
  • Check rucksack, walking boots/socks, coat stash in car boot.
  • Write instructions and phone numbers and things for my sister.
  • Clean house, tidy up.
  • Check car fluids and air.
  • Charge batteries.

Tomorrow I change my bed in case my parents decide to come up for a few days, pack the food, pack the car. I filled the petrol tank yesterday on my way home from work because fuel is cheaper at that petrol station.

I don’t go until about 2pm, so there will be a post in the morning.

>I narrowed down the books

>Did I seem a bit stressed yesterday? I’m sorry, I’m not. I’m just tired – and that sad feeling seems to have gone.

It was a tough choice, but I finally decided which books/projects/magazines to take with me on Friday.

  • The Dead Place by Stephen Booth
  • Comeback by Dick Francis
  • How to Write Your First Novel by Sophie King
  • Catch the Rainbow
  • How to Write for Magazines in One Weekend by Diana Cambridge
  • 5 in 10: Create 5 Short Stories in 10 Weeks by Devon Ellington
  • Writing Magazine
  • Writers’ Forum
  • Cumbria Magazine
  • Radio Times
  • DK RSPB Pocket Birds
  • Lake District: Eastern Lakeland Walks
  • OS Map OL5 The English Lakes North Eastern Area

Phew, I’ll need several book bags for that lot – a writing bag, a book bag, a computer bag, a walking bag …

I’m not taking the Voices book. Devon was right, I need to distance myself from it for a week or so, stop letting it weigh on my shoulders. If it’s not there, I can’t do anything with it so my psyche will, hopefully, stop fretting over it. My “feel good/motivational” books will be the novels and the magazines.

It’s my last day in the office for a fortnight. I have loose ends to tie up, and I’ll fill the car with petrol on the way home.

Ooh, ooh – heap big excitement. There’s a Kelly’s directory for Birmingham on CD from 1973/4, and it’s only £11.99 inc UK p&p. Guess what my first purchase is going to be when I get back. ;o) Thanks to everyone that commented on, or sent emails and messages or called as a result of, yesterday’s post. I think a Kelly’s is exactly what I need for some of those questions I have. A copy of the book itself would be wonderful, but I’ll be happy with a CD.