Incompetence and lies (rant alert)

On Thursday, I placed an order with Garden Bird Supplies, also known as Garden Bird & Wildlife Co, also known as the Garden & Home Trading Company Limited trading as Garden Bird Supplies. You can find them here. Here are their delivery guidelines.

birds

It very clearly says that if you place your order before 2pm, goods in stock will be dispatched the same day for delivery. Of course, they cover this up with bluster about it may take the courier 48 – 72 hours. But what it doesn’t say is that it could take up to 2 hours before your order is actually passed on and that cancels out the 2pm pledge, and what it also doesn’t say is that they only deliver Monday to Friday. Does it? (checks again) No.

On Friday, I received an email from UK Mail advising me that my parcel would be delivered today. I thought it was spam as I wasn’t waiting for anything from UK Mail. Then I thought perhaps it was Garden Bird & Wildlife Co. Oh, okay, I thought. They must be busy. I’ll give them until today.

Meanwhile, we passed up several opportunities to buy our garden birds any food as (a) I had already paid for it (yes, they managed to take the money before 2pm on Thursday), and (b) we “knew” it would be here today.

This morning, I received an email telling me that my order would be delivered between 11:20am and 12:20pm. When that time slot passed, I checked the tracking number to find that my delivery had been made at 12:05pm. Apparently to a blue door next to a green door. All of our doors, and our neighbours’ doors are brown. There are no other houses in the vicinity.

I called UK Mail immediately and they said they would ask the driver to go back and retrieve the parcel and try to deliver it again … Apart from that already being a problem if the people he delivered it to aren’t in, I’ve since had an email from them saying they’ve not been able to contact the driver and will have to speak instead to his head office … I thought I’d already called them but I was clearly mistaken.

So then I thought I should let Garden Bird Supplies (or whatever they’re calling themselves) know about this. I sent them an email. They ignored it. I sent them a Tweet. They ignored that too. I posted on their Facebook page. They ignored that too. I sent them a message from the contact page on their website. They ignored that too. And then I called them. And they cut me off.

Aren’t they doing well?

I called them again, and by this time my blood was really starting to bubble. So the first thing I asked them was why my parcel couldn’t be delivered on Friday.

The conversation went something like this:

“Because the order wasn’t processed until 2:45pm.”
“But my order was placed before 2pm, like it says on the website.”
“But it wasn’t processed until 2:45pm.”
“Yes, but I have confirmation that my order was placed at 13:51 and 11 seconds. Look.”

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“But it wasn’t processed until 2:45pm. We can’t fulfil an order until it’s received in processing.”
“But the website doesn’t say that. It says if you order before 2pm, goods in stock will be dispatched the same day.”
“But it wasn’t processed until 2:45pm.”
“Okaaay, so why wasn’t it delivered on Saturday?”
“We only deliver Monday to Friday.”
“But it doesn’t say that on your website …”
“No, it doesn’t. You’re right. Anyway, I’ve just checked the order and it’s been delivered.”
“Erm, no it hasn’t …”
“Oh. Can you tell me, do you have a blue door and a green door at your property?”
“No we don’t. They’re all brown.”
“What about your neighbours?”
“Their doors are all brown too.”
“What about other houses in the vicinity?”
“There are no other houses in the vicinity.”
“Oh. Then I’ll have to get onto them.”
“I’ve already done that. They don’t know where it is.”
“Oh, so what would you like me to do today for you?”
“I’d like you to start by refunding me my money so that I can go out and buy my garden birds some food.”
“I’ll have to check with the courier first …”
“No. You don’t understand. I’ve already done that. They don’t know where it is. This parcel should have been here on Friday. My garden birds have no food. I want you to refund me my money NOW so I can go and buy them some food.”
“Um, okay, I’ll go and do that now.”
“Thank you.”

I also just recently finally had an email reply from the second email I sent, saying they’d refunded the money.

It’s now 14:57. I just checked with my bank account. The money hasn’t been refunded yet.

I used to order from this company a long time ago and I was very happy with their service. A few months ago, I started a new account with them, placed my first order, and it was delivered before 10am the very next day. The driver didn’t get lost. The parcel didn’t go to the wrong address. I didn’t have to wait 4 days for a next-day delivery that never arrived.

What a difference just one day can make. They have gone so far down in my estimation I never intend to use them again. And all of those recommendations I made previously? I’m now making them the opposite way.

In future I’ll stick to ordering directly from the RSPB and pay their delivery. I’ll let you know if I have more success.

And for now, I’ll just feel guilty watching my garden birds look for food that isn’t there until I can get out and buy them some.

***end of rant ***

Free food

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Blackberries and elderberries – free food. (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

We had a very tiring weekend with 2 gigs on the trot, but we were determined to do something for us as well, and so on Saturday we went shopping for jam jars, chutney jars, sloe gin bottles, jelly bags, jelly bag frames and labels.

We also bought a trug, extra ingredients for tomato and apple chutney, some art supplies, and some pet and bird food.

When we got back, we had a rest – shopping is soooo tiring – then the poet grabbed the trug and I grabbed the dog, and off we went for a walk down our lane. One of the neighbours was just pulling in, so the poet very quickly swapped his very unmanly trug for the dog and said hello to normal neighbour in one of his very manly deepest voices!

We walked for a mile, up to Little Owl Stop (our nickname for it), and filled the trug with just over a kilogram of blackberries (apx 2lb) and about half a kilo (apx 1lb) of elderberries. When the trug started to get heavy, he took control of it again, being a proper manly gentleman and all that. (The little owl was out, unfortunately.)

It was too late to do anything with any of it when we got back as he had to get ready for gig #2. But on Sunday, after a well-earned lie-in, he asked me to help him make the jam. We ended up with 3 x 500g jars of blackberry jam and 1 x 500g jar of blackberry and elderberry jam – and it looks like proper jam too, and everything. 😀

After a quick break, he then helped me make the chutney. I don’t like chutney and I’ve never made it before, so I needed him to tell me if it looked right. He did most of the chopping while I did most of the cooking and stirring, and when that was ready we got 5 jars out of it. He said it tastes right, so I presume it is.

For those interested, the recipe we used for the jam is here, adjusted to suit the amount of berries we had – but made with ordinary granulated sugar and no pectin – and the one we used for the chutney is here – but we only used 1.5kg of tomatoes and 2 of the chillies. For the blackberry and elderberry jam we just used the amount of blackberries that were left and the same again of elderberries. That jam caught a bit before the end, and almost ruined the pan (Mr Muscle to the rescue …), but it tastes all right.

We’re very proud of our produce this weekend, but still have lots of cooking apples left. I wanted to make a crumble and some pies, but we ran out of time and energy. So I’ll do those this week. We’re going to try adding some of the elderberries to the crumble.

The hedgerows were bursting with sloes and I wanted to pick those too, but the poet had heard that you’re supposed to either leave them until after the first frost, or pick them and freeze them. As we don’t have any experience with sloes just yet, we decided to leave them. But a friend assured us they’d be fine (waves towards Brum) if we picked them now and froze them, so we may go and get those this coming weekend.

jam and chutney
Five jars of tomato and apple chutney, 3 jars of blackberry jam, 1 jar of blackberry and elderberry jam. (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

Today the poet is working in the midlands, so he’s dropping in to see my parents on his way back.

I’m awaiting a bird food delivery, I have a particularly heavy edit to carry on with and another one to start ASAP. So I’ll be off for now.

Enjoy the pictures. 🙂

More writing homework

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Police house, Moreton in Marsh (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Extra homework
The house pictured above is the old police station in Moreton in Marsh. When we visited, it had recently sold.

  1. Write a short story around the building when it was still used by the police. OR …
  2. Write a short story around the new owners – who are they, what do they do for a living, why would they want an ex-police station, will they live there, will they work there, will they set up a detective agency there, enter your own ideas here … OR …
  3. Research, query and write a photo-feature on historic police stations/police houses in your county/area/state, targeting your local county magazine or any of the heritage magazines. OR …
  4. Do all 3.

Let us know what you do and how you get along.

I was going to say that this past week had turned into another 4-day week – I’m starting to get used to those. But then I remembered that I worked on Sunday too, so while it should have been a 6-day week, it was actually a 5-day week.

It’s been a busy week (again!) with the poet away for 2 days in Scotland. I mean, for those 2 days I had to make my own meals and everything!

Before he went away, on Monday, he fetched home a carrier bag filled with cooking apples. There must be getting on for 10lb in there. I don’t know if he was expecting to return to apple pies and apple crumbles, but he didn’t. I’ve been wondering all week the best way to preserve said apples and I may actually do some cooking at the weekend.

While he was away, an overflow pipe started to run, which turned out to be the hot water expansion tank. On Tuesday I’d bled a stone cold radiator in the en suite bathroom. It was totally empty and took ages to refill. But now we think the hot water system may have been using that radiator as an expansion radiator. The plumber came yesterday (Tom the Gas), and he said the expansion tank has never been supported properly and the base it’s on is now bowing to the extreme that water’s sploshing over the outlet pipe.

It’s going to be a big job that will mean draining down the entire hot water system. And while I can hardly wait for the upheaval, it would have been worse had the tank come crashing down bringing half the house with it. And, fortunately, we don’t have to pay for it, although I have suggested stats for all of the radiators while he’s at it that we may have to contribute to.

I have a busy day ahead, tying up another heavy edit and getting that submitted, raising invoices (hurrah!) – note, that was plural (double hurrah!). And it’s a 2-gig weekend for the band, both in Doncaster. So not only does that mean gigor mortis, it also means 2 very late nights (2 – 3am finishes). I can’t see us squeezing much else in over the weekend, other than maybe a gentle drive to the shops, perhaps some baking (though I may cheat and get some ready-made pastry), and a visit to the poet’s parents perhaps. The poet’s working in the Midlands on Monday, so he’s going to drop into my parents on his way home – if I make apple pie, he may have to drop one in for me.

Have a great weekend.

“Gigor Mortis”

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Monkey Dust at the Horse and Groom in Doncaster (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

I don’t know which of our friends was the first to coin the phrase “gigor mortis” in our world, but if I did I’d like to credit him/her here (and you probably know who you are). I’ve tried Googling it, but it keeps defaulting to rigor mortis, or it gives me something in German, or takes me to an empty page. But anyway, basically it sums up how the poet – and many like him – feel after playing a gig.

Sore. All over.

This weekend was no different, but it was compounded by him then getting “fisho mortis”, which is something very similar but this time as a result of sitting on the banks of a fishery in rapidly decreasing temperatures without moving or shifting position.

I know how he feels, but they call mine “arthritis”. And it is made worse after standing up (or sitting uncomfortably) at a gig for several hours, or sitting on the chilly banks of a fishery. I got to sit down quite comfortably at Saturday’s private party, though, and he was fishing a match yesterday so I stayed home. But he was suffering doubly last night, poor thing, so I doped him up and sent him to bed, where he spent much of the night cocooned within the folds of a continental quilt (that’s a duvet to everyone else).

[EDIT] I have been reliably informed that the person who first used the expression in our circle of friends was Mike “Smikus” Stringer of Motus.

We did have a busy weekend again, despite secretly hoping to be doing diddly squat on Saturday (a do diddle day). We still didn’t plan anything for during the day, but when we got up we decided it was about time we went into the branch of our mutual building society to do three lots of admin that we’d been told we couldn’t do online or on the phone. “Just drop into a branch and they’ll do it there.”

Ha! They couldn’t do anything.

I wanted to change the name on my account and had to take our marriage certificate into a branch. But she couldn’t do it there, she had to send it off to head office. The poet wanted to change some details on his bank account. But they couldn’t do that for him, he had to make an appointment. And we wanted to open a joint account, as we both have individual accounts with them already. But they couldn’t do that for us either, we had to do it by phone …

I’ll pause for a moment while you go back and re-read the penultimate and last sentences of the paragraph three above this one …

It was at that point that I said, very loudly (as I apparently do when in public and wanting to make a point without actually directly addressing anyone … moi?): “Nat West said they could do this for us straight away. I think we should just go there …” To which the poet replied (also loudly): “You’re right. You’d think us both having accounts here already, and with all the ID we need with us, and them telling us to drop into branch, they’d just be able to do it. What a joke.”

And, miraculously, the lady interrupted to say: “Well, if it’s a joint account you want, [we did tell her that] you can do that yourselves just over here …”

We couldn’t. We still had to make a phone call. But at least by the time we came out we’d done at least one of the things we’d gone in to do. We had a shiny new joint account … which is where the new tent fund is going. For starters.

I wish we’d known we were going to be in Barnsley, though, as the third of my 3 errands on Friday was postponed due to the other one being brought forward and me being stuck miles away. The outstanding errand was to drop in the heavy proofread to the publisher, but we didn’t have it with us. I can see me taking that to the post office this week after all.

After the bank we had a wander round the town centre, visited the food festival that was on there, and bought some giant pears from the market. Then it was off to the tackle shop to get his bait for Sunday’s pole fishing match.

The afternoon was spent with him doing prep work, cutting the grass, and tweaking a painting, and me doing some reading, making a few notes for some short writing work, and a few hours on one of the many jobs I already have in.

Then it was off to the party in two cars, me 90 minutes after him, for the wedding of the daughter of a friend of ours. The band don’t often like doing weddings because the audience hasn’t chosen to see them or their particular music. But they went down really well with a rammed dance-floor all night. Monkey Dust would like to take that audience with them everywhere they go.

On Sunday, he was up early and drawing his peg for 9am, which was about the time I was getting up. And again, I caught up on more reading, more writing work, and more client work. He won second in his section and we had a takeaway for tea – mostly because the gigor mortis had already set in and the fisho mortis was starting, and he didn’t feel like cooking. (I would have put a ready-made pie in the oven, but he didn’t want to put me out … 😉 )

And so to today and this week. I still have lots of editing work to be getting on with, but with NaNoWriMo around the corner, I also have something percolating for that and may be ready to start prep work either this week or next. It’s all my work this morning, though, and all client work this afternoon, which is what I’ve been striving for. Then this evening I have to go back for the second part of my new patient check at our new GP, and tomorrow I’m dropping the poet off at the railway station at the crack of dawn as he’s off to Scotland for 2 days.

What are you up to this week?

Errands day

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Crowded street, beautiful view, Haworth (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Back in the day, when I was prolific and all that, Fridays were errand days. Now I’m getting back into the swing of things, Fridays are errand days again. And today is no different.

I’ve already completed one errand this morning, a banking errand (hurrah!), and I have 2 more errands to do – one of which has been brought forward from later this afternoon, so I’m hoping it doesn’t disrupt the rest of the day too much.

It’s been a very busy week again, the first of my 5-day weeks (if you include today’s errand day, as I still have to do work around the errands) in a while. And next week is a 6-day week! That’s how much work I have in.

One of my jobs was pulled yesterday by the client – they changed their mind, which they’re entitled to do so long as I haven’t already started work. I hadn’t, and they did replace it with a different job. So that’s perfectly acceptable. I still have a good, full schedule of work, and I am struggling, again, to fit my own writing work in around it.

One of this afternoon’s errands is to deliver a heavy proofread I’ve been working on this week. I interrupted a heavy edit to do it, between hard copy edits and electronic edits, which also gave me a bit of a rest from the heavy edit. But it was still time consuming and brain draining, so I may see if I have a very easy, quick job I can complete before getting back to the heavy edit.

Of course, the invoices are nice and, usually, until the jobs are finished I can’t raise the invoices. But I’m awaiting payment for 3 jobs already, including one pre-payment (which I have before I start work), and the fresh air in the bank account is starting to be exhausted too. So I need someone to pay me, and pay me quick. But I need to raise an invoice for today’s heavy proofread, and I need to complete the heavy edit so I can raise that invoice as well.

Cash-flow can still be a very big problem.

I’ve not done much full writing work this week, but I have been doing a lot of reading and making plenty of notes, jotting down ideas and slants – more on that in the diary next Wednesday. Today I’ll do what I can between errands.

We don’t have anything planned for tomorrow, so it might be a bit of a do diddle day, although the poet will be prepping for a fishing match he’s joining on Sunday. We have a private party tomorrow night, where the poet’s band is playing. And while he’s at the fishing match on Sunday, I’ll be doing the first of my 6 days for next week.

What are you up to this weekend?

Heavy edits

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Memorial, Moreton in Marsh (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Apart from being in the midst of another very heavy edit, yesterday I also disappeared beneath a fug of faff and almost let the entire day run away.

It all started when I tried to tidy my pictures on Facebook, and I was going so fast that FB suddenly stopped letting me update the captions, saying my “behaviour” was intolerable. (Or words to that effect.)

Well, FB, enjoy them while you have them. Because when you start to dictate to me what I can write and what I can do with MY OWN PICTURES, I start to back them up elsewhere and they start to disappear from your platform.

Anyway, once I got over my little tantrum, I left the computer (and FB) on the office desk and moved downstairs to finish the heavy manual edit. I should be doing the electronic edit on that next, but I need a rest from it so will do a quick proofread for the same client instead, and get that back to them either tonight or tomorrow night, overnight.

Last week got a bit busy as I had another 4-day week (it’s 5 days this week, I hope I can cope). All of Thursday was pretty much written off with appointments, but I did manage more editing in between at least. I just didn’t manage anything else.

At the weekend we had a Monkey Dust gig Saturday night, and we visited both lots of parents – one on Saturday, and one on Sunday. I also had a baking day, making a cherry fruit cake and some cherry buns (we needed to use up the cherries), and I made a strawberry trifle. And on Sunday the poet left a pork casserole in the slow cooker while we were out.

I have at least 2 books I need to clear and get back to the client this week (the 2 already mentioned), but we have a meeting Wednesday evening too for the one piece of “pro-bono” work I’ve taken on. I don’t do work for free very often, but I do like to help out a good cause where I can and this one’s to do with some friends of the band, and it is a charity thing. The band will be doing something too.

Friday is back to being an errand day this week. I usually still work in the morning, but try to arrange any appointments for late afternoon onwards. This week I had to make one appointment in the morning, at 10:30am, and I already had one late afternoon, at 4:30pm. Hopefully there’s still a big enough gap in there for me to crack on with some work.

Extra homework
Today’s picture is another one from our long weekend in Evesham over the bank holiday. We had a day showing the poet some of the Cotswold villages, and this one is Moreton in Marsh. Have a look at it and see if you can come up with a story – either around the memorial or about the people who live (or do they work?) in the little house immediately behind. With Remembrance Sunday less than 2 months away, some speculation – or good, honest research – around the memorial might make something interesting. But so might whoever you decide to populate the house with.

Don’t forget to report back. 😉

Packed weekend

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Sloes (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We had another jam-packed weekend, and we didn’t even go out anywhere. Or not at night, at any rate.

Saturday began with a drive to the tackle shop for a practice fish on Sunday. I thought the match was next weekend, but it’s the weekend after, which is fortunate as we’re busy this coming weekend.

Then we drove up to Winfields near Selby to have a look at the tent we thought we’d chosen, and there was another there that we prefer, which is dearer but bigger. They have a bigger store in Hull and another, their flagship, in Haslingden. So we want to have another run out one of the days to look at accessories too. When we can afford the tent, we’ll buy one.

We’ve really become taken with the inflatable tents, so I think we’re more likely to stick with one of those now, rather than aim for a trailer tent. They’re as big as the old frame tents used to be, but much more lightweight and easier to carry. I do need a bed off the floor, but we might just go for a double-height double-width airbed (campbeds are the most uncomfortable beds in the entire world, so there’s no way I’ll be attracted to buy one of those again – ever).

After that we headed cross country to the Yorkshire Dales/Pennines for the first of a series of research trips and visits. We had a lovely afternoon in Haworth. Here we took lots of pictures, soaked up the atmosphere, and snacked on sandwiches and cake.

It was late by the time we got home and the poet needed some light to prepare his rigs for the following day.

Sunday morning we were up and off with the car packed to visit the poet’s parents in Doncaster and then head off to the fishery. He had a good afternoon experimenting with various techniques and baits and is more confident about the match.

When we got home, a pork casserole was waiting for us in the slow cooker, and we also made a pudding/cake of apricot cut and come again cake and some chocolate chip cookies … well, I started to make them but he finished them. He loves to have a go at anything like that.

This week is another 4-day week and I have lots to pack in. I have one book to edit and another to proofread, both for just the one client. I also have last week’s invoice to raise – I finished and submitted last week’s biggie, but didn’t have time to raise the invoice.  I have 2 hours of study time booked in this week and I intend to use it. I have 10 hours of writing time booked in too, and I intend to use that as well.

We have lots of pictures from the weekend again, but I’m still using those from Evesham and Kinder. Today’s picture was taken on our walk around Coughton Court last weekend.

A writer’s work

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Dinnertime – dog watching swans watching dog, River Avon, Evesham (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Phew! It’s been a week and a half – and only 4 days of it too. How busy have I been?

Much of the work so far this week has been new month/new writing year admin. We had a bit of a rush on with the gig list as we were a day short, but that was all done and ready by yesterday dinnertime.

I’ve been busily editing a rush job for a fairly new client, finishing the hard copy edits yesterday and about to start the electronic copy edits today. Then that can go back to the client, along with an invoice later today. (Hurrah!)

Writing admin has mostly been the conclusion of the writing year plan, giving me a good, firm structure (hopefully) to work through throughout the year. You can find out more of what that entails by reading the new diary of a freelance writer, which you can also join in with if you wish.

Writing admin has also included the first of the research work, thinking ahead to April next year. Already I have 4 general topics for which to find as many slants as I can. I also have several “throwaways” that I’ll share here in next week’s diary, including at least one worked example. I’ll go into more detail in the diary.

Another proofreading job came in from an existing client, and that’s pretty much filled me up for at least the rest of September and probably beyond. That means I’m now taking editing and proofreading work for October onwards.

This habit of doing my work in the mornings and everyone else’s work in the afternoons seems to be working very well. I’m not feeling cheated, and I’m getting lots of admin work done too. This morning, for example, I revamped the editorial services page of my website, added a “latest news” item to the front page and asked lovely-already-boss if he’d let me have a testimonial. (He said yes, but I think he’s working on it. 🙂 )

We have a whole weekend ahead of us that, until yesterday, wasn’t filled at all. Now we’re going to look at tents in Leeds tomorrow, maybe some motorhomes (in case the poet goes for a conversion project, but he’s not very excited about that at the moment), and then we’re off on our first “research trip” for the new writing regime. The poet is bringing his camera and we’re hoping for some good photography weather. It will also be a good run out for the dog – and for us.

On Sunday I think we’re going fishing. He has a match coming up next weekend and he wants to get some practise in. If the dog comes too, and if he behaves himself, I may get some extra writing work done. OR … (more likely) I’ll catch up on some reading.

What are you up to this weekend? Have a great one.

We left the tent behind

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Pig along the Arden Way, near Coughton Court (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We dashed off on Friday for a long weekend as it was a bank holiday and, because I broke up on Thursday, I didn’t get chance to post anything before we went.

Friday was spent packing, then driving down to Evesham via my parents (for a flying visit and to break the journey).  By tea time we were pitched and the poet was frying tea and scrambling eggs.

On Saturday I took him for an orientation drive around the Cotswold villages of Chipping Camden, Moreton in Marsh, Stow on the Wold, Chipping Norton and Bourton on the Water. We stopped off at Moreton in Marsh to take pictures, and we would have stopped at Bourton too, but the place was rammed. It was a glorious day and you couldn’t see the grass for people sitting on it. I wanted to show him the River Windrush and the ornamental bridges over it, and we did get to see that. But we decided not to stay and drove on back to Evesham for the tail end of the first day of the fishing festival there. He would have cooked tea again, but we decided on a takeaway instead.

On Sunday the promised rain came. I took us to Coughton Court, as we’re members of the National Trust, who manage it on behalf of the family who still live there. Unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed in either the house or the gardens (the house, we understand; the gardens, not so sure), but there’s a 2-mile walk in the surrounding area, which is beautiful.

What the guide doesn’t tell you is that if you have a dog, then you have to walk an additional half-a-mile and then navigate a ford before you can get back to the car park, because the end of the walk crosses a teeny, tiny corner of those gardens. As it happens, the poet enjoyed a paddle across the ford, while I took Rufus over a nearby footbridge. On the other side he was greeted by several car drivers who were worried the ford might be too deep and hadn’t wanted to risk it. He was very naughty and told them that it was easy, but his first name was, after all, Jesus …

After Coughton Court we were going to visit Hanbury Hall near Droitwich Spa. But because it was raining and because the tent was already starting to show signs of expiring (we ripped one of the doors and one of the zips had broken by now, both of which the poet cleverly repaired with Gaffa Tape), we’d already pretty much decided we needed a bigger tent and went instead to Webbs of Wychbold, where Cotswold Outdoor & Leisure have a shop, to look at the tent display … only there wasn’t one. Webbs is HUGE now, and the poor tent display wasn’t there, other than relegated to a few weeks during exhibition time.

However, we were redirected to Winfields, which used to be Barretts of Feckenham, and they did have a great tent display. They also had some of these newish blow-up tents … and the poet fell instantly and deeply in love. Specifically, with this one. (Actually, he preferred another, but as I prefer this one …) Rather than make any impulsive decisions, we decided to go away, sleep on it and consider it some more … and still decided we wanted the Brean 4 Air. Imagine our joy when we discovered there’s a Winfields in Leeds too. I wonder what we’ll be doing on this upcoming rare weekend off …

Back at the tent, he cooked us another slap-up feast, and we started to pack things away. We knew there was more rain forecast and didn’t want to be doing it all in the morning … what we didn’t expect was the deluge of rain to end up inside the tent by the following morning. Because the tent was too small, our air-bed was up against one of the inner tent walls, and this pushed it onto the flysheet … mattress, sleeping bag, blanket and pillows all along that wall were soaked through. In the “porch” area, our backs brushed the roof and our heads bumped everywhere else, and more water literally rained in. The groundsheet was a lake. The food bag was drenched and most of the food in it (i.e. not in tins) had to be thrown away.

So it was a quick breakfast, everything out of the tent and into the car, and the tent taken down and left behind in one of the bins. We were back at my parents by mid-day and back home by 3:30pm. But we’d had a lovely break and came away knowing that we definitely want to camp a lot more. The poet would also like to see more of the Cotswolds, so we’ll try to go back to the same campsite.

Back to work today and I have a 4-day week this week, I had a 4-day week last week, I had a 4-day week the week before, and I had hoped that next week might be a 5-day week. However, due to my age, the hospital has invited me for the first of my new regular screenings next Thursday, and our doctor’s surgery has invited me to book a new-patient appointment, so I’m going to see if they’ll do that on the same day. That way I’ll only lose one full day next week instead of 2 part-days. Part-days are no use whatsoever as I don’t get much else done in the rest of the time. So I need them to fit me in then too.

As it’s September, my new writing year has started. Actually, it started last week with some prep work, but the actual physical new regime starts today. This morning, too, another new book came in from lovely-already-boss (isn’t he wonderful?). That gives me 6 books now to edit, one of which I start today.

I’ve already done my chores, caught up on the daily competitions, and I’ve uploaded, edited and selected pictures from both the weekend and our aborted walk up Kinder at the beginning of August. That should give us plenty of pictures to choose from to illustrate the blog over the coming weeks.

Tomorrow is my first DIARY OF A FREELANCE WRITER, which will include last week’s prep work and this week’s planning and organisational work. I hope to see you then. 🙂