An awfully big adventure

Ian n DianeAnd so the time has come to head off on our awfully big adventure.

We leave for Scotland later today where we get married tomorrow. Then we have 7 more days in Scotland, touring the western highlands, before flying to Cyprus for a week.

My dad and my sister will be looking after the animals between them, and enjoying a bit of a break themselves while they’re at it. This is a shorter post than planned, as we still have a lot to do.

Have a great couple of weeks, and I’ll see you on the other side, hopefully with lots and lots of pictures. 🙂

Peak Forest

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Peak Forest. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

So on Sunday, at about 4pm, we arrived at Peak Forest in the Peak District to start a 4¼-mile walk that would take us about 2½ hours. It was gloriously sunny but a tad chilly, so we had to wrap up fairly warmish but in layers that could easily be removed. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, apart from those lovely white fluffy ones, so we didn’t expect rain.

At first we started to go in the wrong direction, because the poet was reading the route map upside down … and then we had a false start when we went along the wrong footpath. But some friendly locals told us the right way to go, which was along a lightly-trod footpath across various fields and stiles. And I took control of the map …

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Picture: Ian Wordsworth

The sheep were quite friendly and Rufus wasn’t at all interested in them, which is always a good thing. And the scenery was absolutely stunning. I’ve shared only six of the pictures here, but friends on Facebook can see more if they’d like.

Every few hundred feet we had to keep stopping to enjoy the view and take pictures. Only once on the way around did the dog ask for a drink of water. Then, when we offered him another towards the end of the walk, he turned his nose up – obviously a dog that knows what he wants and when he wants it.

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Picture: Ian Wordsworth

About a third of the way around, at a fork in the path, we had to have another map debate as the route map said to “go up a wall-lined grassy path” but so many of the walls had tumbled down that the first uphill path that looked as though it used to be lined with walls needed some discussion.

Here, the poet took over and identified the terrain and predicted the correct path to be another few hundred yards away. And, quite right he was too. As we reached a cleft in the cliffs, sure enough another, properly wall-lined path did indeed lead up a hill. Though the grass left a bit to be desired due to …

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We had company. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

… the fact it’s used by off-road bikers. We heard these guys coming (there were 3 or 4 of them, actually), and I initially thought it was a tractor in a field. But when the cows in said field promptly scarpered, I thought it wise to shorten the dog’s lead.

The bikers were very careful as they went past us and nodded acknowledgement at me keeping Rufus out of harm’s way. I didn’t know that Ian had taken a very sneaky snap of them, but I think it’s turned out quite well. Especially for an accidental shot. (He was trying to catch stonechats, I think, at the time. Or mistle thrushes.)

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Picture: Ian Wordsworth

I was starting to tire of the hill (I don’t really *do* hills) and when we saw the route divert away from the lane only to join it again, we decided to cut that part out. The middle, or even towards the end, of a walk is not the most ideal of places to slip in a hill, and we were all a bit tired by now.

It was very stony terrain and quite hard going underfoot in places, but at least it wasn’t muddy.

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Old iron hand pump at the start and the end of our walk. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We also decided to cut the last half a mile or so off the end of the walk and keep to the edge of the road, as by now it was also getting late. That meant our 4¼-mile walk became a 3¾-mile walk. But at least the last bit was all downhill. 🙂

At the end of the walk the poet was able to take a picture of the iron hand pump at the start of the walk, something the sun was in the wrong place for when we started. When we got back to the car, even the dog crashed out on the back seat and turned his nose up, again, at a drink of water. We had planned to nip into the pub where we’d parked the car at the end, but by the time we’d taken our boots off and had a drink, we just wanted to go home and have some tea. It had been a long day, and another busy weekend.

Enjoy the pictures, and hopefully they won’t have taken too long to render.

Busy weekend

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Stile near Scholes (PIcture: Diane Parkin)

We had another very busy weekend, which included a walk in the end. But as I’ve been quite busy this morning too, I’ve not been able to upload the pictures. So here’s one I made earlier from a walk I did on my own but which we’ll be doing together as soon as we can.

The weekend was such a blur, in fact, I’m struggling to remember what we did … we didn’t do anything Friday evening because we knew we’d have a busy day Saturday and I’d already been driven half mad by incompetent bureaucrats.

Saturday we were up early and off to Birmingham because it was my mom’s birthday. We managed to sort a few jobs out for my dad while we were there and he even got to have five minutes when he took the dog for a walk to the letterbox … or the dog took him.

On the way home we got to the gig buddy’s shop by bang on 4pm so she could do another dress fitting. The good news is, the inch-and-a-half she had to take in the week before she had to let out again, because I’d already lost some weight since last time. And I’m under strict instructions not to lose any more … erm …

On Sunday, I had lost some more weight, and I’d lost some more inches. So somebody is going to be displeased with me when she comes for a “final” fitting tomorrow evening. 😀

Sunday morning we went over to PC World in Barnsley to get a new notebook to take on holiday with us. And we found one we liked that’s actually a tablet/switch, which is perfect for portability. There won’t be any crap on there, just stuff we both would like to access, if we can, while we’re away. We also bought a new memory stick for backups and a spare memory card for the camera, as we won’t be able to edit or store the pictures we take.

Unfortunately, the one we liked was out of stock, so we went over to PC World at Doncaster, and they had a much better one, that was slightly cheaper too. So we bought that and a small bag.

We wanted to go and see son #1 in his new house, but we were already late and we needed him to guide us in. So we went from Doncaster to the poet’s parents and offered to take them over as well. Unfortunately, we couldn’t raise son #2 on the phone for directions or the address, and we needed to be away. So we’re going to have to visit another time. He sounded very disappointed when we finally made contact again, but we don’t mind making another trip over there when we can.

It was already 2:30pm and we wanted to do a 4¼-mile walk, to maintain the fitness we’re gradually building up. But I lost track of the road signs when we reached a particularly busy village and we ended up at the start of our walk at 4pm. That was too late to do the full walk, so we cut the last half-a-mile off, and we got home at about 8pm.

We do have lots of pictures again, but I’ve been busy this morning tidying up files and pictures on the desktop computer so I can do a proper backup of critical data.

I’m busy this afternoon too, as I have to go into town to hand-deliver the poet’s proxy-vote application for the general election. After discovering the council had “lost” both of our postal application forms (very strange that, losing both of them …), I’d fired off a bit of a scathing complaint … and they miraculously “found” my postal vote application … but only realised half-way through the phone conversation that they should have miraculously found another one as well.

So, while I’m in tarn (as the locals call it), I’m doing that, paying some cheques into banks (hurrah!), and doing some more holiday shopping.

There are likely to be 5 blogs this week, then – including today’s, the weekend’s walk, this week’s diary of a scaredy cat, plans for the next 2 weeks, and a publication blog on Friday (if it auto-publishes okay). So I’ll leave this one here. 🙂

Final countdown …

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These guys turned up in the field at the bottom of our garden the other day.

This time next week we’ll already be enjoying our wedding day. There is still so much to do and sort out, especially with us going off on honeymoon the very next day, and very little time in which to do it. We have another busy few days ahead, but boy, are we going to make the most of our holiday.

I’ve managed to do a lot of my own work this week, adding nicely to the word counts in the sidebar. I’ve also done a fair bit of reading work and some research. The washing basket has been hammered and we’ve made some inroads into the shopping we need to buy for both our holiday and to leave behind for my sister, who’s pet/house-sitting for us.

When these cows appeared in the field at the bottom of our garden on Wednesday, the distraction didn’t help a great deal. But it was lovely to see them run around the field with gay abandon. (Can we still say that now?) They’ve had a jolly good wander too, exploring every inch of the field, the woods, the brook, the grassed bridge over the brook. I’ve not seen them yet today, but keep looking – so there’s more distraction. 🙂

Today I have a hair appointment at 4:30pm, so a short day for me. I would have done the shopping while I was over there too, but we decided to go last night instead. That gives us the rest of this evening free.

It’s my mom’s birthday tomorrow, so we’re going to see my parents. We won’t be able to visit for 3 weeks, so we would have gone anyway. We also want to see the poet’s parents this weekend too. As we’re getting married in Scotland, none of the parents will be coming. So we want to see them all this weekend instead.

Incidentally, those who know the details and who want to come are very welcome. We’re just not putting anything special on. We didn’t want anyone to feel obliged to come, especially as it’s the third time my friends and family will have had to suffer the ordeal. But, likewise, if anyone fancies a short break, and can get there, we’re not discouraging them.

When we get back from Birmingham we may have another visit to Meadowhall to do more last minute holiday shopping, then on Sunday I think we’re hoping to get out for another walk. We’re going to be doing a lot of walking in Scotland and want to ensure a reasonable level of fitness at least.

Son #2 moves into his new house today, so we want to try and squeeze in a visit over there in the next few days. It’s all go, isn’t it?

I’m waiting for our postal ballot papers for the general election. My sister’s arrived today, but we’ve not heard anything since we registered at the new address. I’ll have to chase them today if we don’t get anything in the post. I’d be mortified if I couldn’t vote in a general election. We both would.

I also have more reading/writing/research work to do today and I also want to do a backup as the computer has crashed twice this week and each time it does I have kittens.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the cows. 🙂

A new gadget

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Bracket fungus. Langsett Reservoir. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We didn’t really plan to do much over the weekend beyond a dress fitting and a visit to Birmingham. The fitting was over and done by and we were on the road at 10:30am.

The long drive gave us the opportunity for me to iron out some reservations I have with CATCH THE RAINBOW, and the discussion helped me to focus more and get rid of a big problem, a blockage, something that wasn’t quite working.

I think there’s going to be a shift of protagonist, or maybe more than one protagonist, and the story is a lot bigger, deeper, than the original plan. Now I panic that I don’t have it in me – either the knowledge or the stamina. Or the expertise. We also discussed a few other projects and I think things are clearer in my own mind, what I want, why I’ve not been going for it.

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Looking out across Langsett Reservoir. (Picture: Diane Parkin)

I was very happy with the conversation, particularly as I get to buy more books. Much of the information I need is available online, but as we know, some of the “facts” are only as accurate as the original volunteer information. And anyway, I like books.

I did start to read one of my existing books on Friday, ARMED STRUGGLE: THE HISTORY OF THE IRA by Richard English. But it’s a bit heavy for what I want, and – following our chat on Saturday – what I actually want is a history of Sinn Féin. And even then, I’m not sure I want a very deep understanding of it, but more of a passing awareness – if you get my drift.

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Langsett. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We made good time to Birmingham and so stopped off at Elmdon Park to eat our picnic and give the dog a quick walk. Then we had a couple of hours with Mom and Dad before heading back. We dropped the dog back home and then went back out to Meadowhall.

We didn’t find any books on the new subject, but we did get a birthday present for my mom for next weekend. We also treated ourselves to a Pizza Express and our favourite, Grand Chicken Caesar Salad … very scrummy.

New gadget: MapMyWalk.

On Sunday, we made another picnic, and this time headed over to one of our favourite walks, which is less than 15 minutes from our house now: Langsett Reservoir.

I also downloaded a new gadget for my mobile phone, MapMyWalk. I’d wanted something similar before but I only had a Windows phone, and there aren’t many apps I like for those. But now I have my android, I was able to download the app and the picture to the right is just one example of what it does. I still have lots to learn, but I think I’m going to like it.

It didn’t really take us that long, by the way. I just forgot to pause it while we had our picnic …

We’re both slimming at the moment, and we burned over 1,000 calories on our walk, which meant we could enjoy a slap-up meal for tea, cooked with love by the poet. He’s lost half a stone now and is doing very well. I’ve lost a couple of pounds, but I’ve also lost a couple of inches.

This week, then, I approach the WiP with a new energy and new idea. I have editing work to do as well, but I also have a non-fiction book proposal I want to complete and send off – they’ve been waiting for it for a very long time and I don’t want to miss the boat.

The book I bought this morning is THE PROVOS: THE IRA AND SINN FÉIN by Peter Taylor. If you have any other suggestions, then please do let me know. Ta. 😀

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Diane and Ian at Langsett.

Idle week

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Farm outbuilding, Rievaulx. There was a grumpy dog in that kennel to the side of the steps. We didn’t see her, but we heard her. Perhaps she had pups. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I’ve had a bit of a lazy week this week, I don’t seem to have had very much get-up-and-go. This is the problem when I don’t have rush jobs with tight deadlines. The work languishes in a neglected pile and I work on it whenever I feel like it. And this week, I haven’t much felt like it.

All is well, though.

We both started a diet on Monday and the poet has already lost almost half a stone (7lb). The holiday clothes we bought him last week are already feeling a bit more comfortable. His stomach is flat again in the mornings. 🙂

My weight was staying static, despite keeping a strict eye on what I was eating and not eating cake (apart from puddings already in) or chocolate or anything between meals other than fruit. Yesterday, when my weight went up a pound, I decided to revert back to my old tried and tested  5:2 diet. When I did this before, I lost 20lb in a month, and kept it off until contentment set in. Then, over a period of about 18 months, it all crept back on … well, not all of it. I was still 4lb short of my heaviest weight ever when I started the 5:2 diet, but I didn’t want it to hit (or pass) that all-time-high again.

Now then, I don’t usually weigh myself every day when dieting, and hardly ever when I’m not. But I need to do it when I start a diet just to see if it’s having any effect, so that I can adjust if it isn’t and wallow if it is. This week, aside from the calorie-counting, I’d also done 2 fitness DVDs and been for a walk. But my weight went up instead of down.

Saying that, the trousers I put on for my short walk on Wednesday didn’t need me to lie down on the bed to fasten them, like that had only at the weekend. So I did measure my waist and found I’d lost an inch. But the weight had gone the wrong way, and so I had a starvation (fasting) day yesterday.

And this morning, I finally witnessed my first loss – only 1¾lb, but a loss nonetheless. So, I’m sticking to this instead of the calorie-counting, although with the poet also trying to lose weight we’re already eating healthily on my feast days. And I’ll weight myself, and measure myself, once a week again.

When I do 5:2, I don’t fast for hours on end. I graze. This is because I get a bit hypoglyceamic, but I get that way anyway without fasting having anything to do with it. And if I get hungry, I eat. I just eat carefully. Others can fast on water alone, or they can go from breakfast to supper without eating anything. But I graze. And it works.

Also this week the poet has been to buy his wedding suit. We were supposed to be going tonight, but he found himself in a shop that sells suits and he chose one. So now we have this evening spare. Tomorrow morning we go for my dress fitting, on the way to Birmingham. We’re also having the ties made in the same fabric as the dress. I’m going to ask for a fabric swatch so I can look at shoes, probably Sunday.

And he’s finally fished the lake at the end of our lane this week. He had a nice evening fish and caught about ten, saying it’s harder when the fishing is natural rather than stocked. Now, as a non-angler I, personally, would get more from fishing natural waters as it would be more of a challenge to me. But he’s a match-angler and isn’t used to working so hard. BUT, he fished, and he caught fish, and he bought new line so he can fish it again. So that’s all good too.

We have less than a fortnight before breaking up on 30 April. I still have the big book to edit and another smaller one. I’d like to get both of those done before the holiday so that I start with a fresh slate when we return.

Tomorrow we have the dress fitting and the trip to Birmingham, and maybe a gig tomorrow evening. We have nothing booked for Sunday, so that could be shopping or walking or doing something in the house.

Have a great weekend.

Do diddle weekend

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Duck enjoying the rain at Baddesley Clinton. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We didn’t do a lot at the weekend in the end. The weather forecast was a bit mixed so we couldn’t really plan anything ahead.

On Saturday, we did nip out to collect a regular prescription, get some fish bait in case he decided to go fishing, and buy our first holiday clothes and a beach towel each. Then he spent the rest of the afternoon prepping while I spent it reading.

On Sunday he decided not to go fishing in the end, so the bait is saved for later in the week. We went to the farmers’ market at Wentworth, but it had already blown away in the gales by the time we got there. So we went, instead, around the garden centre and bought a few exciting things … watering can, weed killer, path clear … And on the way home we visited his parents.

So, pretty much a do-diddle weekend. We got up, thought about what we wanted to do (or not) and then did it.

This week I have one big editing job to get on with and another smaller one to start if the big one is finished. I’ve already fielded some invitations to pitch for work, and accepted just one, but with more than 2 weeks holiday looming, I’m now telling folk I’m available for work from w/c 18 May.

I’ll also be doing more work on CATCH THE RAINBOW and I’ll be studying my next module on the fiction writing course.

Back on track

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Packhorse bridge over the River Rye. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed trying to keep on top of various things. But I think I’m back on track again now. I don’t know how this metamorphosis happened, other than sitting down and giving it some thought without trying to do a million other things at the same time.

This week I’ve completed the electronic edit on one book, sent it back to the author, completed revisions back from him, and sent it to print. (Hurrah!) This means an invoice in today’s run. (Double hurrah!) I’ve also completed the manual edit on the new book sent this week from the Spanish client and will do the electronic edit on that today – and that means another invoice in today’s run. (Triple hurrah!) I think completing these 2 short books has given me something mechanical to do while the subconscious mulls over everything else.

The first full-length writing project I’m going to work on is CATCH THE RAINBOW, which is a sort of historical/Marcie Craig hybrid. I’ve lost everything I’d done on that to date, electronically, and need to get another full version (so far) completed and backed up. Fortunately I do have much of it printed out, but I can’t decide if I want a hand-written full copy or risk getting it all only on the computer again, but back it up at the end of each day’s work. I quite like sometimes sitting at the desk and sometimes sitting downstairs on a comfy settee, which is another reason why I mix computer work with hard copy work.

As the weather is getting warmer, and because we live in such a beautiful spot, I’m chomping to be working (writing, reading, editing – not gardening) in the garden again. But I do need shade in which to do that. I can proofread on my paperwhite Kindle in sunlight if I want to see how something looks on screen, and I can handwrite into a notebook or pad. But I need good shade and a comfy seat.

Today, it’s only April and already I’m in shorts, vest-T and sandals. The office/studio (Abbey Road) is already one of the warmest rooms in the house, so I don’t know how I’ll manage when summer actually arrives. It’s much, much cooler in the living room (on that comfy settee), but working in there needs me to change into a warmer tee and yoga pants or summer trousers. If only we could squeeze a reading chair into Abbey Road, eh? I could wander round half-dressed all the time then. 😉

Today, then, I have that electronic edit to complete and those invoices to raise. I also have “pc maintenance” scheduled in, which is really backing up critical data and checking the health of the computer. I want to do some rewriting/retyping of the novel too, and/or maybe make a few more notes. I’ve started to write in “scenes” rather than chapters, which is a concept I’ve never tried before but seems to be working.

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Another image from our walk around Rievaulx at the weekend. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We don’t have anything planned for the weekend, which is nice, but I do think we’ll do plenty still. There’s a farmers’ market in Wentworth on Sunday, so we may go there and, if we do, we may do the short walk that was abandoned last time. We might go to the pictures. We might do something in the garden or something in the house.

BUT … we’re not planning anything. Whatever you’re doing, have a goodun. 🙂

Easter weekend

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Baddesley Clinton (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We decided we wanted the whole of the bank holiday weekend off, so that’s what we did.

On Friday we drove down to Warwickshire and joined the National Trust. We’d worked out that if we paid a joint membership for the year, we’d get our money back after visiting just 5 properties. Baddesley Clinton is an old favourite of mine. It’s an Elizabethan moated manor house and I remember when it was taken over by the National Trust in the early 1980s. I knew the poet would love it too, and he did.

Before visiting the property we decided to wear the dog out first by going on a short walk in the surrounding area. One of the volunteers at the property gave us a map to follow, but it was pouring with rain, the map soon got soggy, and we were joining the walk part-way around. Needless to say, we got a bit lost, but we did have a great walk in the surrounding woods (once part of the Forest of Arden, I believe) and we discovered some badger setts that seem to be in use, judging from the dog’s reaction.

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Baddesley Clinton (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We were gone for about an hour and once we’d dried ourselves and settled the dog in the car (it was wet and cool and he was sleepy anyway), we went to visit the house and join the National Trust. Afterwards, we enjoyed a very expensive piece of cake and small bottle of pop each in the café (we didn’t get much change from £10 – apx $15) and headed home via my parents, as they’re only about 15 – 20 minutes away.

On Saturday we didn’t do much, but because the shops would be closed for Easter Sunday, we did nip out and get a new floodlight for the garden, which the poet fitted on Sunday afternoon. On Sunday evening we went for a walk to the lake so he could measure the depths. The dog had another great walk and the poet lost some line, a float and a weight when he caught a tree branch …

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Rievaulx Abbey (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

On Monday we decided to go to Rievaulx for a short walk around the area. The idea was to visit the terrace as it’s managed by the National Trust, but parking was so bad there we drove down instead to the abbey, which is managed by English Heritage. We had a bit of a snack in the car park, then off we tootled on our walk, which took almost 2 hours in the end, to walk about 2 miles, due to stopping to take pictures.

Along one section of the River Rye, we thought we might see dippers. Instead the poet was rewarded with a grey wagtail. I’d sat on a log while he tried to capture shots of some little grey birds that were flitting around. I  had no idea it was a grey wagtail he was paddling after!

Much of our walk was along the River Rye and through picturesque villages and hamlets. When we got back to the car we had a bird’s eye view of a birds-of-prey demonstration that was just starting, so we settled own to eat the rest of our picnic while we watched that. We’d thought to visit the abbey when we got back, followed by the terrace, but it was already 4pm by the time we’d eaten, and we decided to head home and come back another day, and another day, and another day.

It was lovely to be out and about in the fresh air, even if it was raining on Friday. At least we had glorious sunshine yesterday.

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Grey Wagtail, River Rye, Rievaulx (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

When we arrived home I was greeted with a new job from the lovely new Spanish clients, and news of many more to follow in the coming weeks. They asked me for my availability, and I gave it to them. That means that this week I now have a lovely big job in from lovely already boss, along with 2 smaller jobs already in from him, and a series of work from lovely new boss. And it’s pudding week as we apparently get married in just 24 days before heading off on our funnymoon. (I have a 14 day settlement on most jobs, but the lovely new boss always pays on completion.) I’d best crack on.