No wonder they’re closing stores … (*** rant alert ***)

So we had another busy weekend, with a trip planned to Birmingham and to Doncaster on Saturday. On our way we stopped at Tesco for petrol and B&Q for a barbecue and a parasol (our other one has disintegrated) (the parasol not the bbq …).

We were in a bit of a hurry but we couldn’t see anywhere on the parasol the diameter of the pole, and we couldn’t see anywhere on the parasol base any minimum or maximum pole size. So, as you do, we asked.

The person on garden furniture was so busy he really didn’t have time to talk to us, but we insisted – after all, we’re customers. And so he very hurriedly said: “Oh yes, all of those bases are universal.” I also asked if the parasol needed a table with a hole in to hold it up, but he insisted the base would be sufficient.

So, aside from being brushed off very quickly by quite a rude floorperson, we were then tapped on the shoulder and told we couldn’t have the dog in the store and would I kindly leave the premises.

Now then, I’ve been taking Rufus into that store ever since he was a puppy. He used to ride in the trolleys and everyone used to fuss him. Even on Saturday morning, a lot of the staff had fussed him too. And, as it’s a building and garden centre and not a food hall, why would he suddenly be not allowed? There weren’t any signs on the door, which I pointed out to her.

“Oh yes there are,” she argued.

“Erm, I think you’ll find there aren’t,” I replied.

“Oh yes there is,” she insisted. “It clearly says ‘guide dogs only’.”

“Show me,” I smiled.

And when she showed me … and saw that there wasn’t any such sign on the door, she said: “Oh, it must be new policy. We’re having a staff meeting this afternoon, I’ll make sure there’s a sign on the door.”

“Okay,” I said, “but we’re going now anyway,” and we started to head for the tills.

“No,” she said, “you have to go out through this door. I can’t let you walk through the store.

“We’ve been in the store for half an hour,” I pointed out. But she still tried to manhandle me from the store, which – I believe – is assault.

But anyway, off we tootled with our purchases in the car, and we visited the parents. When we got home, the poet assembled the parasol base … and the parasol didn’t fit. So that meant on Sunday morning we had to take time out of one of our very rare days off to take the parasol and base back.

When we got there, I waited in the car with the dog. But the poet checked the door and there were still no “no dogs” signs anywhere. He went to see customer services to return the parasol base, and when the most senior person there “owned” the mistake, saying it was probably she who had told us the base was universal, he disagreed and indicated the person actually responsible.

The person actually responsible (PAR) came over and started to treat the poet in a derogatory manner, saying the bases were all universal and all we had to do was tighten the screw. When the poet pointed out that there was no tightening screw, the PAR argued the toss until the poet said, like me, “Show me.” So off he toddled to get another box, in case the box we had was missing the crucial part, and very arrogantly and patronisingly indeed started to “show him”.

Only there wasn’t one there. Just like we said. His response? To say how rubbish the parasol base manufacturing company was.

The only alternative they could offer the poet was either a more expensive umbrella that would fit the base, or a more expensive base that did, indeed, have the tightening screw we needed. And when he asked who was going to pay for our petrol, time and inconvenience, they did in fact meet him half way on the difference in price.

While the poet was in the queue, there were 3 other customers returning goods to the store that staff had mis-sold them. And while I was in the car with the dog, the dog barked at 2 little Pomeranian terriers waiting outside the store, and THREE LITTLE WEST HIGHLAND TERRIERS (aka DOGS) coming OUT of the store.

We are so disappointed in this store that we very much doubt we’ll ever go back. But you would think that when a store chain is in so much trouble and stores are at risk of closure, they’d try a little harder to stay open and retain loyal customers.

As advised, I’ve written to the CEO of the parent company regarding both of these complaints. I doubt they’ll do anything about it but will let you know.

It’s my understanding that if a dog is not allowed, then there should be a sign up. It’s also my understanding that if dogs are not allowed, then that should include all dogs and not just on the whim of whoever’s in charge that day. If hygiene is a concern, then we’ve seen dirtier children. The company’s slant should be clearly visible to customers. If it was a food establishment, then I wouldn’t take him in anyway. But a building/gardening centre? Ideas above their station, perhaps.

What are your thoughts?

Kolossi Castle, Kourion, Apsiou, Omodos & Monagri

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Kolossi Castle (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

On Thursday we had our third and most favourite trip.

They call it “Love Cyprus”, and I think that everyone visiting the island for the first time should try to do a trip like this one on the very first day.

Maybe it would have spoiled us, but it gave us a much better understanding of the country, its people and their history.

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Kourion (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

First stop was Kolossi Castle where Richard the Lionheart made one of his strongholds during his 3rd Crusade.

The castle that can be seen on the site now isn’t the Lionheart castle but a later one built after the original was destroyed in an earthquake.

Sadly, by the time this new castle was finished, warfare had changed and it was obsolete as an effective offensive.

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Apsiou (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

After Kolossi, we drove to another ancient city, Kourion. This is quite a nice place as, now the archaeological evidence is all found, the society has used its time and money to build sun canopies to protect  visitors. They still hold classical concerts there in the amphitheatre too.  Then it was off to Apsiou, a quaint village where we were able to sample the wares and the wine in almost every single shop. (hic!)

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Wine press, Apsiou (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Apsiou is a wine-making village, surrounded by vineyards, that used to press its own grapes. The wine press there is no longer in use, but visitors can see it.

As with most of the wine-making centres in Cyprus, Apsiou makes the communion wine the country is famous for: Commandaria. I’m not a wine fan at all, it needs to be sweet and preferably pink, if anything. But the poet tried this (and the local “fire water”) at almost every place we visited, but said it tasted like Sherry. Ugh! (shudder) He wasn’t that keen on the fire water either, or Zivania, which he thought was just like the Italian Grappa.

We had free time in Apsiou, and we bought wine, nuts, nut bars, and carob syrup … we’re going to try and cook something with this instead of sugar.

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Traditional elderly Cypriot man … on his mobile phone … (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Our next stop after Apsiou was Omodos in the mountains, and a glorious lunch. We started with salad, dips and accompaniments, then we had chicken, and then we had pork slow-cooked in a kleftiko oven. The meal was gorgeous, even to finicky ol’me, and only lacked a pudding, and the poet now wants a kleftiko oven …

We had some free time in this teeny, tiny place, where they still managed to build, maintain and attend a lovely little church. Everywhere there is an active church, however small or remote the place.

Afterwards, we drove to another small village, Monagri, where the pudding craving was satisfied: dough balls dipped in syrup (loukoumades) with various jams for dipping on the side. Luvverly.

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Omodos Church (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

In Monagri, again, was the mandatory church – they’re mostly Orthodox in Cyprus – which we were welcome to look around. And then it was back to base for the remainder of our holiday.

On Friday we went into town to buy souvenirs for ourselves and gifts for those at home. It was a very hot day, and when we got back to the hotel we chilled for a few hours on the balcony. Then Saturday, our last full day, was spent on the beach, relaxing.

We didn’t need to check out of our rooms until noon on the Sunday, which was handy as our taxi was due at 1:30pm – 2pm. We had a smooth, trouble-free return home, but the flight took 30 minutes longer than the one going as there was a head wind.

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Omodos, where we had our mountain lunch (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We thoroughly enjoyed our honeymoon – both of them – and had a wonderful time. The perfect way to start married life. I hope you’ve enjoyed this small selection of photographs we’ve shared. The rest can be found on Facebook if you’re a friend of ours, and interested, of course.

Back to now, and I’m delighted to say I finished one of my jobs yesterday evening.

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Monagri Church (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I was still working when the poet got home from work, and so he kept himself busy bringing in the washing, folding washing on the clothes horse away (bless him), cutting the grass and cooking tea.

He decided it wasn’t pak choi we had at all but some sort of chard. But he wilted it with lemon juice, mashed some sweet potato with the last of the turnips, and cooked the pork steaks in the last of the mushrooms and the onion. And it was all very, very nice.

As I was finishing that job, another came in via email, one of the several I was expecting. So that means I now have enough work for the next 4 weeks. Today I start the first of the new jobs and tonight, while he’s at band practice, I’ll do the weekly shop.

I think Diary of a Scaredy Cat will be back tomorrow, unless something significant happens between then and now. Enjoy the pictures. 😀

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We hope you enjoyed travelling with us.

Troodos, Kykkos, Salamis & Famagusta

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Makarios III (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We arrived in Cyprus on Sunday, at around teatime, and spent our first day, Monday, getting used to the hotel and local area. The weather was glorious and we booked to go on 3 trips.

The first of the trips was to the Troodos Mountains on Tuesday, the oldest mountain range in Cyprus and the island’s highest point. And it poured and poured and poured with rain, with thunderstorms knocking out the power.

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Kykkos Monastery (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We got drenched visiting the tomb of Makarios III, first president of Cyprus when it became a republic. It wasn’t the nicest of visits, but the statue above was made in England and transported to its current spot (just above his tomb) in pieces.

And the hail came down. We thought we might get sanctuary in the local monastery, but the storm had knocked the power out there too. It was cold, dark, packed with people. So we left from there early too.

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Diane in Salamis (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Wednesday was a much nicer day, with the return of the sunshine. Our second trip was to the ancient city of Salamis, dating from the ancient Greek.

As Salamis is in Turkish-occupied Cyprus, we had to apply for temporary visas, cross the UN border, and show our passports. That was quite exciting yet a little sinister, crossing the no-man’s land between the 2 sides.

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Salamis – quite a nice arty shot (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Now, I always believed that Cyprus was half Greek and half Turkish, but one visit there has re-educated me. Greece never actually owned Cyprus, but Greeks did settle there. The Ottoman Empire did own the island, and that’s why there are Cypriots of Turkish origin too. But it’s never been Greek.

Salamis is one example of the first Greek settlers, but many of the artefacts have been replaced with copies as the originals, such as marble pillars, are in various museums around the world.

There are several statues with their heads cut off around the site, and this is because the statues were of the ancient gods and when Christianity came to the island, the heads were cut off.

Apparently.

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Venetian Famagusta back street (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

After Salamis we went to visit Famagusta, which was the centre of commerce until Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974. Now the old town stands behind barbed wire and fencing while they decide what to do with it. Several kilometres of commercial buildings remain in their bombed and deserted state, and photography is strictly prohibited …

… however, from just a mile or so down the road and, in fact, from our hotel balcony, you can also see the old town very clearly. But we don’t have any pictures to share with you here. Apparently, though, it can all be seen on Google Earth

So, down the road from “old” Famagusta is “Venetian” Famagusta, which we loved. We veered off the tourist track to explore the back streets, and wished we had longer to sample more of the local cuisine and atmosphere.

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Typical Wormy pose (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

We visited the mosque too, which used to be the cathedral, and we visited the sea gate, from where we could see “old” Famagusta. And we saw several houses that look abandoned, and may have been in 1974 when the local residents grabbed what they could and fled.

Venetian Famagusta is surrounded by a stone wall that has a sea gate and a city gate. New and old sit side by side, but it’s quite touristy, with local vendors tempting visitors with free samples of their wares. There’s a quiet garden just opposite the sea gate where some of the trees were in bloom.

At the end of of our visit it was back on the bus and back over the UN border into the rest of Cyprus again. We were glad to get back to the hotel after a very long day, but it was thoroughly enjoyable.

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Picture: Ian Wordsworth

Pictures from our third trip will be posted next time.

Back to the present and I’m still quite busy. I finished the hard copy edits on the current book yesterday, but need to get the electronic edits done today and back with the client.

Today I also have diary work to do (fave job), pdf software to research, and writing work to catch up with.

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How camp are we? (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I have washing on the line as well, so will be keeping half an eye on the weather – if anyone spots rain, shout!

We didn’t have the pak choi for tea yesterday as the poet got his strimmer out when he got home from work and we had pasta instead. So I can’t report back yet what he did with it or how it was.

Maybe next time … Enjoy the pictures.

Holiday “snaps”

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The view from our balcony (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The final leg of our honeymoon started at 5am on a Sunday morning when we got up to head off to Glasgow Airport for our flight to Cyprus. We were only going for a week.

The poet had been craving sunshine – proper sunshine – and so when we got the chance we decided to take advantage of having pet sitters and off we popped.

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The view from our balcony (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We had an all inclusive hotel, which I’m really not used to, but it was nice for our honeymoon.

I’ve never been to Cyprus but lots of friends have raved about how beautiful it is. And it is – plus, there’s still a very heavy British influence there on things like the road signs and traffic lights. I was expecting it to be a bit more Greek, but it’s actually quite cosmopolitan. We had glorious weather on all but one day.

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Ian in the pool (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

So here are some “snapshots” of our first and last days there. The more touristy pictures will follow in the next few posts.

I’m suddenly very busy again. Not only did I already have one job waiting for me when we got back off holiday, but another arrived on my first day back at work.

Two days later another arrived.

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Protaras, our closest big town (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

And I think there may be another 2 editing or proofreading jobs in the pipeline too, but one of them needs me to get a pdf editor. I’m not sure I want a free one as I need one that will do the job properly and not drop out or expire when I least expect it.

Aside from the editing work, I’ve also come back from both Scotland and Cyprus with loads and loads of ideas for articles and fillers.

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Doing his Daniel Craig impression ♥ (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

I’ve been frantically making notes and doing some market research and, once the current edit is done (due in tomorrow), I’ll probably look at getting some pitches out. I’d like to send at least a pitch a day, or maybe 5 per week. (I did say there were loads of ideas.)

Last week too was spent redrafting the outline for CATCH THE RAINBOW. I’m trying to write scene-by-scene this time, rather than chapter-by-chapter and I’m hoping that helps me to flit from one era or viewpoint to another. I now have 75 scenes, including a prologue and plus an afterword. So I’m chomping at the bit to be getting on with that as well.

Then I have 2 books in for proofreading that I’ve already edited. I usually leave those until the proofreader/author revisions come in. But I’d like to build in proper proofreading time  to my schedule if I can, so I know they’ve picked up everything that I would.

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Diane doesn’t really do sunbathing … (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

And the promise of more to come … It’s very nice to be so busy. On the job boards I get so many invitations to pitch now that I don’t even trawl the wanted pages any more. So yes, lots to do on the writing and editing side of things.

There’s stuff I need to do around the house too, and I’ve only just today hit the bottom of the laundry basket following our holiday. It’s only taken 2 weeks …

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Watersports on Protaras beach (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

I want to bake more as well, though, making full use of the fresh ingredients we’re getting once a fortnight. I think the poet is using pak choi for tea this evening … I have no idea what that is or what to do with it. But hopefully he does.

The poet has one more band practice this week before other band members start their summer holidays. The next gig is in August, so it will be nice to have the summer off.

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Arty shot (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We have plans to go to a few summer festivals over the break and not having to be back on a Saturday in time for a gig will mean we don’t have to dash around.

And I think that’s it for today. I have work due in tomorrow and another job starting tomorrow, so I really need to be getting on with that now. The heating has packed up too, so I’m also hanging around waiting for the gas man.

Enjoy the pictures. 🙂

Inverary

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Inverary (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We didn’t have very long in Oban, and we spent our last full day in Scotland in Inverary, where the Duke of Argyle lives. Legend has it that one of the dukes decided he didn’t like his castle where it originally was, he wanted it where the town was. So he made them move the town so he could rebuild his castle. It’s apparently not far from the current castle, and the spot is marked near to the car park.

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The Highlander Memorial, Inverary (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

When the town was rebuilt, after it had been relocated, the builders were instructed to leave everything as plain as they could. So today it’s all black and white, with even big chains like the Co-op using a monochrome pallet for their signage. We loved the planning there, even if it is a bit presbytery.

The Highlander Memorial carries the names of those from Inverary who lost their lives in both world wars, with plaques covering the front for WW1 and 2 sides for WW2. We were amazed that such a small place could lose so many young men.

We paid to visit the old jail, which was still in use as the police station until the mid-20th century, and as we kept our receipt we were able to get a discount on entry up at the castle, where the duke and his family still live. Indeed, he was even in residence on the day that we visited.

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Black and white everything (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Sorry about the sun spots on some of the pictures. I started to remove them but it was taking too long, so I’ll let the poet do that when he’s working on them in general.

After visiting both the castle and the jail we were ready to go back to Oban and pack. Two lots of bags were staying in the car from Scotland, and 2 pre-packed cases were coming with us to Cyprus for the next leg of our honeymoon.

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Ian in the “exercise yard” at Inverary Jail (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

We were up at 5am Sunday morning. The hotel had prepared us a breakfast the night before, so we ate what we could and took the rest with us for the ride. Then, at 5:30am, we headed to Glasgow.

We’d booked secure parking for the duration, but the directions they sent us were from Yorkshire, and we were coming from the Highlands. So while we were pretty much on time initially, as there is only one J28 on the motorway around Glasgow on one side of the road, we had to ring the car park and get them to direct us in. But the bus waited for us, and we arrived at the airport and through customs with minutes to spare. Fortunately they hadn’t started to shout our names over the tannoy yet.

And we were off on a 5-hour flight on the next part of our adventure. Pictures to follow from Cyprus too.

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Diane in Inverary Jail (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We had another good weekend. We’d decided, when we got home from our holiday and threw some food away, that the next fruit and veg boxes we get we were definitely going to do something with. We’d had a delivery on Friday, and when the poet came home he used bunched onions and a courgette and made a gorgeous cheese omelette. I’ve never had courgette, I’ve never fancied it. But it was almost tasteless. We’ve thrown so many cougettes away that we were contemplating building our own boxes in future, but once I’d tried it, I decided it wouldn’t be so bad.

On Saturday morning he used turnips, more bunched onions, another cougette, baby carrots and mushrooms from the box and started off a turkey casserole in the slow cooker. He had a gig Saturday night and we were planning on being out for much of the day, so the slow cooker meant we wouldn’t have to worry about cooking tea.

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The “old” jail block, Inverary Jail (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Then we were off to Dronfield near Sheffield to buy him a new fishing pole, and he waited while they elasticated it for him too.

Then we drove almost to the Hope Valley, had a quick lunch in Hathersage, and carried on to Manchester to look at trailer tents. He’s been looking at second-hand tents on Ebay but wasn’t really sure what he was looking for.

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The Duke of Argyle’s car collection (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

So I dragged him to Manchester to show him the difference between a trailer tent and a folding camper, the difference between a 4+-berth and a 2-berth. The chap in the showroom even did a demonstration for us to show him how quickly a trailer tent can be erected. We can’t really afford a brand new one, and we’re not even sure we’ll like it very much. So we want to pick up a cheap but decent second-hand tent just to try it out and see how we get on.

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Our last view of Oban (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We were back in time for him to have a play with his new pole and eat the tasty casserole for tea. Then we were off to Doncaster for his gig.

Yesterday was spent watching the last of the 3 Hobbit films and the first of the 3 Lord of the Rings films. The poet had resisted watching them until he could see them back-to-back, so I bought him the Hobbit boxed set last week. I baked blueberry muffins and banana loaf from the fruit box, and we also had another do-diddle day again. 🙂