>Batten down the hatches

>It was another good weekend.

On Friday evening the gig buddy and I managed another 2 bands. On Saturday I did my walk around Phoenix Park and I uploaded the pictures for that and Calke Park. I didn’t make it to Mom’s and Dad’s on Sunday because Dad wasn’t feeling great and didn’t want to pass it on to me – it goes straight to my throat. So I blitzed the house instead and was good for nothing by yesterday.

Today is an extra day off for the bank holiday and I go walking, doubling my distance and time to see how I do.

The gig list fell over again during the night but this time when it came back everything was gone … and I was neither heartbroken nor devastated. The whole thing has been a nightmare recently, taking more time and effort than a full time job but without the remuneration. I am allowed neither an opinion nor neutrality; people think they have the right to interfere with my life and/or drag me into theirs; when I refuse to do what they want they spread malicious little lies about me and (worse!) others believe them. I don’t need that, it’s no fun, and I get nothing from it any more. So while I decide what to do, I’ve deleted it. That gives me 90 days to think about it.

While I do that I’m also contemplating a shiny new blog with a shiny new url. So make sure I have your email address if you want to keep reading as I may not add it to the search engines. I think I want some anonymity back.

Meanwhile, I’m also doing some rebuilding. The walls are going back up, the padlocks being relocked. Too many people have been getting too close and I have some self-preservation to do. I’m particularly interested to see how many so called “friends” drop off the Facebook radar as they realise I’m no longer of any use to them. And I’ll need all of my strength in case there are any shocks.

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>Walking with trees

>Last Monday I drove all the way down to Calke Park to make the short walk around the ponds. It poured with rain for much of the day, but was dry for most of the time I was out in the open.

If you can see it, these 3 trees are actually 1 tree, with a branch coming out of the one on the right, dropping underground, and then re-emerging again almost immediately:

There’s a young black headed gull in this picture:

Looking the other way:

I felt very privileged to see these deer:

Here’s another one of my textural shots:

What on earth is this? It looks a bit weird:

Ah, it’s “art”:

There are lots of huge, old trees like this one:

Serpentine Wood:

The grand “Old Man of Calke”, believed to be more than 1,000 years old:

There is something very relaxing about walking with trees. I tried talking to them too, but they weren’t listening … It all made for a nice, relaxing, navel-gazing walk.

I had a little time after to visit Calke Abbey too, although I didn’t have time to take pictures too. But it was primarily the walk I came for, and I can certainly recommend it.You can download it here if you want.

You can see the full set of 15 pictures on Photobucket or Webshots.

Alternatively, here’s a slideshow:

Calke Park Aug 2010

>Six inches off my hair?!

>Wednesday turned out quite busy with us trying to finalise as much as we could before my boss broke up, so yesterday I took the day off. I had a nice lie in, a hair appointment at tea time, and not a lot in between other than keeping a friend company for an hour or so. I even had Chinese for tea, which was very extravagent considering I still have half a roast chicken in the fridge. With half a Chinese in there now too, the fridge looks as though it belongs to a bachelor.

This morning I was late in to work – half a day late. I’ll either convert that to half a day’s annual leave, or I’ll take some work home with me over the weekend. It’s a long, bank holiday weekend anyway and I always take the Tuesday off as I don’t do Mondays so I feel as though I’ve had a bank holiday too. Kidology.

This afternoon I’ll shift as much as I can so it’s waiting for my designer when he returns from his holiday tomorrow – I’m good like that. This evening I’m going to see an AC/DC tribute band with the gig buddy in one of the villages next to mine.

Tomorrow will be part chores, part shopping, and part walking. I discovered a walk that takes in a country park that I didn’t even know was there, in another village/small town next to mine. Follow the link to see what the Forestry Commission has done to what was once a slag heap for the local coal mining industry.

On Sunday I’m going to see my mom and dad and Monday I’ll be finalising (hopefully) the gig list for September. On Tuesday I’m going to try a slightly longer walk, see how my stamina and heels get on. I couldn’t decide between Bretton County Park or Kirkstall Abbey Park, but I think it’s going to be Bretton as that’s closest and I’m using far too much petrol at the moment.

At some point over the weekend I’ll upload the pictures from my “tree walk” on Monday. Today the battery I ordered on Wednesday arrived on a 3 – 5 day delivery promise. Well done Nokia.

Last night I dreamed the hairdresser had cut 6 inches off my hair instead of 1. What a nightmare.

Have a great weekend.

>Full steam ahead

>Okay, it’s been a bit of a nightmare, but I finally got there with the magazine. With all the chopping and changing, and with us being so strict on refusing submissions more than 2 weeks beyond deadline this time (start as we mean to go on), my 32 pages are now 28. We could have done with that last 4-pager, but there was simply no time to do the translation as well. I’ve been rejigging the page plan and every time I looked at it I was either 1 page too many or 1 page too short. BUT, we’ve sorted it between us and I just this second finalised the final (says she, hopefully) page plan/running order.

Everything is in as well, apart from a page that I do at the end of production (contents, etc), and a page that my boss always does at the last minute, but which he’s arranged for someone else to do this time. These are always our last 2 jobs and are usually completed once everything else has been sent off. I also have to prepare the coverlines and the deadline-for-material-for-the-next-issue box, but those are easy. My boss can now go off on his holiday this afternoon with a free conscience, having helped me as far as he could at this stage.

Oh, but am I having problems with technology.

Our server fell over yesterday at work, and when it came back the restore preceded all of my edits to date. I DO have the paper trail, which I’m pretty anal about keeping anyway for such emergencies, and my boss has some of my later versions too on his server in The Netherlands. But it’s such a faff having to go through and do everything again.

The battery on my mobile phone isn’t retaining its charge, so I’ve had to order a new one direct from Nokia because the 2 retail outlets I use don’t sell the phone any more, so they don’t sell the batteries either. Carphone Warehouse offered me a good loyalty deal on a pay-as-you-go phone in case I was desperate for a phone, but I could have bought a new one last week when my phone went in to be fixed if I didn’t like the one I already have. I really do like the one I already have, so I had to go direct to Nokia. I don’t think the battery is covered by guarantee …

I don’t think I have anything else remotely interesting to say at the moment, and I was probably scratching around for the above. I’m busy, but it’s quiet, and all seems to still be well in Baggins Bottom.

>No jousting

>Friday I worked over again and was so tired by the time I went home (taking work with me), that I flopped on the settee as soon as I got in and slept for 2 hours.

On Saturday I did some shopping for a wedding I was going to in the evening, and on my way around I dropped in to the castle to see how the land lay for photographs, etc. I had a lovely chat with one of the … “custodians”(?), but they don’t have enough room there for “proper” jousting, with horses and lances and things, so while that was a bit disappointing, it saved me a trip on Sunday.

Saturday evening was a bit rare as I donned a frock and pretty-girl war paint and everything, and 3 of us went along to the wedding where we did at least know a few people. We left early, though, and went on to the second set of a gig, feeling a bit conspicuous in our wedding gear.

I’m afraid I sulked for most of Sunday because I was looking forward to going out, but on Monday I made up for it by going all the way down to Calke Park in Derbyshire for a walk around the ponds. I was supposed to go there last weekend, but wasn’t in the mood for a 90 minute drive each way. This week, I was.

It was pouring down when I got there so I had an early dinner in their restaurant, then sat in the car for an hour or so reading while waiting for it to dry up a bit. I don’t mind the rain at all, if I’m dressed for it, but I had jeans on … (tut tut, naughty Diane). When the rain stopped I had my walk then went for a look around the house. I only have pictures of trees this time, but there are a couple of good trees in there. Oh, and some deer.

While I was out the news came in that I was in line for another 2 activity annuals, which is fantastic. This morning that’s increased to 3! Sorry for the screamer, but I’m particularly delighted about this because if the annuals keep coming in, with those and my magazine I don’t have to do anything else unless I want to. Oh, and I absolutely love the work too. On the way back I did my shopping and filled the car – that’s 3 times I’ve filled the car this month, this getting out and about is likely to cost me a fortune after all.

Today I’m in the office for a 3-day week (Thursday off) and my boss breaks up tomorrow for nearly 3 weeks, so I have to get as much to him as possible for translation and checking before he goes. My designer is back on Saturday and I want to have most of the magazine waiting for him.

Also this week I start updating the gig list for September. I had a rather interesting visitor to the guestbook during the night, so I’m hoping to go and see them in September myself.

>Chilly

>The temperature feels as though it’s dropped by about 10 degrees this morning, and they’ve forecast rain for the next 4 days. I’m hoping they’re wrong because my new favourite castle is having a jousting weekend and it’ll be a shame if the weather’s miserable. I’m toying with going along on Sunday – I don’t mind the rain, if I’m dressed for it, but I will feel sorry for everyone if that’s what we get.

One of my 2 page articles finally arrived this morning, 400 words too long and 2 weeks too late. I was willing to let it go through this time – and this time only – if they edited it down by the end of today. But it’s too late now to get the translation done, so I’ve had to throw it back at them anyway. I’m going to have to do another page plan today to accommodate all the post-deadline changes. Then I’ll carry on with editing.

I finally fixed my Facebook last night – I was having to manually add people back onto my wall. The 318 grown-ups that didn’t petulantly delete me because they thought I’d blocked them should be able to see me again now, the lucky things. And those that did childishly delete me because they thought I’d blocked them? They’ve been blocked. Oh, it feels good to clear out the dead wood.

I also collected my phone on the way home last night – it’s good to have it back, although it’s doing a couple of things I’m sure it couldn’t do before. Maybe they re-loaded the software and added some extras.

Things were going far too well, however, because my laptop died again. It froze up and I have to let the battery run down before I can use it again when that happens. I do have a budget in place to buy a new one, but I’m such an idle cow I’ve not got around to it yet. I’ll regret it, when the laptop dies forever and I don’t have a backup in place.

Tonight I do have somewhere to go, but I’m not sure I want to. I’m going to a wedding tomorrow and we’re catching the tail end of a gig afterwards, and then on Sunday, as I say, I hope to be jousting. So I may stay in tonight and watch telly.

Have a great weekend.

>Still busy

>I’m a bit tired today and slept in.

I worked over the past 2 days, and will probably work over today as well. It’s my busiest time, and I’m not just working on the articles. I’m also arranging access to the database for our newest edtitors (in Holland and in India), I’m completing the contributors’ guidelines as I go along, as something else annoys occurs to me, and I seem to be getting involved in our new quality initiative. On top of that my office is still a regular stopping off point for many work mates and colleagues, although some do check it’s ok to come over before they do, while others simply plonk themselves down and look at me expectantly with an empty coffee mug in their hand …

The phone call came in yesterday that my mobile phone was fixed, so I headed off in that direction on my way home to collect it when I realised I didn’t have the charger with me for the loan phone they gave me. It was easy enough to get back on the right road and I got home in time to have a quick tea before getting ready to go out. I have the charger with me today and will have another go at collecting my own phone. I’m looking forward to getting it back. The loan phone is good enough and has a couple of functions on that my own doesn’t, but mine has more and I’ve missed it.

Last night I finally made it to my local Ramblers’ meeting. I’d received my joining letter a few days ago, and they’d managed to put me with the right group. Some of the people I’d already met on walks recognised me there, so after the business of the evening we were able to have a short chinwag.

This is a 4-day week and today I’m tired. I’m looking forward to a lie in at the weekend.

>Things are on the up

>Well, it was a rubbish weekend with quite a lot happening, technologically. But things seem to be improving now, the gig list, blog and Facebook are all stable, although the guestbook is still down.

I’ve resurrected the old forum for the gig list, which pretty much manages itself with 4 moderators. People were adverse to using it 2 years ago, but they might give it a go now they don’t have the guestbook (for now), and we have more control over who can use it and who to ban if necessary – right down to their ISP.

Things on the magazine have settled down slightly. Anything not in by the end of yesterday (unless previously agreed) won’t be in. I’ll re-do the page plan today, then shift what I have so it can go for translation.

And life …? Life is pretty good.

>Technology hates me

>It started on Friday morning when the guestbook fell over – I can’t put a link because it’s still not back, although it did briefly reappear yesterday. I left it for a few hours in case it was a blip, but when it became apparent that this was in for the duration, I started to add a note to the gig list to that effect when the gig list fell over. I managed to break into the gig list and get a note added to the first page, but I had to remove all the other pages to get it to load. Then, later that evening, this blog fell over. I didn’t have time to look into everything, so I got another note up and left it until Sunday. On Saturday, my Facebook wall fell over as well, and I was starting to think it was a conspiracy.

Saturday night we caught 2 bands, one new band in a new venue, and one favourite band in another new venue (new to me, not new to the scene). We had a really good time.

On Sunday I was going to visit Calke Park, but I didn’t fancy the 90+ minute drive each way so I stayed local. I did my shopping on Sunday too and had a doss evening in front of the telly. Both the blog and the gig list came back up, but the guestbook stayed resolutely on its back.

Yesterday my Facebook wall started to reappear and I started adding people to that again. The guestbook came back, we made the announcement, and then it fell over again …

On Friday evening I posted a message basically asking for no phone calls at the weekend as I wouldn’t answer them. I’ve had a busy, hectic couple of weeks and I’ve not had my days off. So I wanted to make sure I had a whole weekend off. The Cosmos must have been listening properly this time, because the crash meant I had a blissfully quiet weekend with only people I wanted to talk to keeping in touch. It gave me a taste of life without the gig list, however, and right now that’s very appealing. I’m seriously contemplating winding the whole thing down because, while it’s been a great way for me to meet people, it’s been a complete pain in the bum and the source of much personal stress and grief over the past 2 or 3 years.

Someone asked me on Friday where I’d been and when I said I’d been getting my life back, she took it personally and asked if I was suggesting she didn’t have a life. FFS, people. DO NOT ask me stuff if you’re gonna take umbrage at the answer. This is a minor example, but it’s typical of the way I have to be careful of what I say ALL THE TIME. Silly me also thought it was a question about ME. She’ll probably recognise herself again now and take offence again, but hey, I felt guilty that my perfectly innocent answer had been taken the wrong way, and I hadn’t done anything wrong. I hate having to qualify everything I say with a “I don’t mean you” or “I don’t mean it that way” or something.

So I think I want to get rid and take myself out of public scrutiny. It’s my ball after all, and I can take it home if I want to.

The guestbook is still down today. BLOODY GOOD.

I’ve come into work for a 4 day week this week and there’s another additional NIB with a 3-line whip to include it in the magazine. We’re 2 weeks into production. Space is already allocated and filled. I’ve diplomatically pointed this out to the person concerned but said as it was short, if I can find space I will. One article has been pulled, but that will make way for one of the surprises already in.

I can feel my interior spring starting to coil itself up again now, but I’m still positive, still happy, still feeling good.