List alert: A bright new year

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At Bempton Cliffs (Picture: Scott Wordsworth)

We had a fantastic 2015. In May we were married in Gretna Green, and had a wonderful honeymoon, first in Scotland and then in Cyprus. Our very busy life started to ease off a little, and my writing work was made much more businesslike. In November, of course, I finally completed my first ever NaNoWriMo, and my first full-length story since, well, Night Crawler.

The holiday has given me time to assess how the past year went and what I’d like to achieve in the new year – workwise and personally. But I’m not going to bore everyone with a list of so-called “resolutions”. Instead, I’m just going to cover some changes to Baggins Bottom.

I’d like to have a grid on the front page with just the opening of each post visible and a continue-reading/read more-type option. But this current theme is quite a new one, and one I quite like, and it doesn’t seem to be available. I shall, however, research it further, and change it if I find it.

In the meantime, here are some new regular features that may or may not eventually be turned into non-fiction books, with added extras, such as OS maps for a walking book:

  • Wormy’s kitchen – including recipes and gadget tests/reviews
  • Walk of the week – including gear reviews and product tests
  • Kitchen garden from scratch – including step-by-step projects
  • Our lane this month
  • My fat year (fitness diary)

Each of the posts will have the topic name at the start of the post title followed by a colon, like the list alert on this one. The first post in each category will be an introduction with background where necessary. Come June, I’ll have a good idea of how much material I have and whether or not some of them can be converted into book proposals that can then go on their merry way.

The writing work is being moved up a gear in 2016. I’ve pretty much decided that I don’t want to write articles or features any more, other than nostalgia pieces that insist on being written and maybe readers’ letters. I do have some writing projects already started and I’d like to polish or finish some of those. Then I’d like to concentrate on the non-fiction ideas above.

Here is what I’d like to achieve in 2016, writing-wise:

  • polish Mardi Gras (my 2015 NaNoWriMo project)
  • finish Catch the Rainbow
  • start The Beast Within (a Marcie Craig mystery)
  • write at least one short story a month for fave short story market (and so eventually lead towards Twee Tales Twee …)
  • write at least one piece of work a month for the fiction writing course the poet bought for my birthday last year

All of this will monitored and documented and added to a new blog, Words Worth Writing … (do you see what I did there?) There’s not a lot on there at the moment, although I did secure the url a long time ago. But here is where you’ll start to see Diary of a Freelance Writer too, although I’ll probably duplicate that for a while until everyone knows how to find it. In fact, I might duplicate this post over there too, to get us started.

And then there’s the editing/self-publishing side of my work. I have 4 books to republish in 2016, under the new by-line:

  • Night Crawler (a Marcie Craig mystery)
  • Baggins Bottom Best Bits Books 1 & 2 (that’s 2 books)
  • Twee Tales

I still have the following to knock into shape:

  • Baggins Bottom Best Bits Book 3

And I have this one to start collating:

  • Baggins Bottom Best Bits Book 4

And then in February … (joke!)

So that’s it for now. All that’s left for today is to wish everyone a very merry new year. Good luck for 2016!

 

Merry Christmas from Baggins Bottom

IMG_2789aWell, I’ve more or less managed to finish everything by today. I did get an extra job land this week that I’d still like to squeeze in if I can, but they’re happy to wait until January if I don’t – but I’m going to do it this afternoon, I think.

Our Christmas really started yesterday when we went to see Roy Wood at Holmfirth, and it continues this evening when we go for a meal and to see a film. Then I think we have a busy few days, finishing the baking, visiting family and friends, dropping off pressies, etc.

I’d like to get out over the break this year, maybe a day trip to Whitby and a birding trip to Bempton Cliffs or Flamborough Head.

I also have 2015 to look back on and 2016 to look forward to, so I’ll be thinking of achievements and goals over the break too.

It’s been a great year for us two, long may it continue.

So it just remains for us to say “Happy Christmas” and “Merry New Year” to you all. I’ll see you next year. 🙂

Thanks for reading.

Lurgy 2; Wordsworths 0

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Spectacled owl (picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Not only did the poet have to cancel a gig a week ago last Saturday due to the dreaded lurgy, but we also had to cancel our trip to Birmingham yesterday.

He had a gig on Friday night and thinks it was a mistake, as he went into relapse. Meanwhile, my own cold grew much worse and by Sunday morning we were both far too snotty and feeling too lousy to make the 200-mile-plus round trip.

And anyway, we didn’t want to infect my parents, especially this close to Christmas.

The inadvertent “day off”, however, did give us chance to wrap up Christmas and write Christmas cards. All of the presents are now under the tree, and all of my cards at least are ready to go. I’ll nip down to the Co-op later, which is also our post office, and get those posted.

This is the first time in a very long while that I’ve been this ready for Christmas. Last year I missed the overseas last posting date and had to send all the domestic ones via first class. This year, last day for overseas is tomorrow, and last day for second class domestic is Saturday.

~~~

My husband is a very good cook, and yesterday the lurgy didn’t stop him. He loves to have a mess and a dabble, though, and on a Monday morning, after a Sunday cooking session, tidying the kitchen is the biggest domestic chore I have to do. For example, despite having no less than 4 (FOUR!) chopping boards, he still manages to cut bread and carve meat on the worktop.

At the moment he’s growing a ginger beer plant, and yesterday was the day for bottling the first 4 litres. But before the bottling stage was ready, he managed to get sugared water everywhere. EVERYWHERE. On the floor, over the hob, on the worktop, in the cutlery drawer … and because sugared water is quite clear, he didn’t do the best job ever of clearing up after himself.

Now we have sticky floor tiles next to highly polished floor tiles – I skated across the kitchen a few times this morning – and everything we touch that’s supposed to be clean is going straight in the washing-up bowl, sticky.

The first 4 litres of “ginger beer” resemble infected water samples at the moment. Can’t wait to try those!

He also cooked stuffed chicken breasts wrapped in bacon, Yorkshire puddings, and deep-fried battered mushrooms, so there was unused batter in the washing-up bowl too along with several roasting/cooking dishes.

So today the “messy corner” was more like a hard-hat disaster zone, and it took me ages to make a dent in it. As a result, today’s work day had a late start. Sunday dinner was gorgeous, though. 🙂

~~~

This week is a 5-day week but it’s a fairly busy one. It’s my last working week of the year and I have one more book I’d like to get back to the publisher – I managed to finish and submit last week’s book in between having a shower and drying my hair while the poet cooked tea and got ready for the gig.

We also have Roy Wood to go and see in Holmfirth on Thursday night, I have a hair appointment on Friday at 9:15am (nine-fifteen!), and on Friday night we’re off to the pictures (we hope – if there’s more than just Star Wars showing anywhere) and we have a table booked in possibly our favourite restaurant.

At some point I have to nip out and get the poet his Christmas presents. I’ll also be looking back at the past year, and thinking ahead to goals for 2016.

~~~

Today’s picture is one taken at the Matlock Victorian Christmas Market a week ago last Friday. We think it’s a spectacled owl, but no doubt if we’re wrong someone will be only to happy to help us with the identification.

The lurgy catcheth me up

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Quakers’ Bottom (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Never let it be said that the poet doesn’t share anything with me. In fact, he likes to share almost everything. Including his stinking, rotten colds.

It’s fortunate that my immune system is better than his – his is shot to pieces, actually – as I’m getting the same stages as his were, but they don’t seem to be as debilitating.

Anyway, I don’t have time to be poorly. I have work to do, places to go, people to see, etc, etc, etc.

We’ve had another busy week (hands up everyone who’s surprised …). We were even out for 2 evenings, and we spent time putting the tree up too.

The tree is on its last legs, though, I think. It’s not very stable and I’d prefer a real tree anyway. So this may be the last year for this particular one. I think we need a new door wreath too …

There’s still the Christmas shopping to wrap and place under the tree, I have 2 appointments this afternoon, and we have a gig over in Leeds this evening.

On Sunday we’ll be nipping down to Brum to see my parents. And tomorrow … tomorrow I think we only have a couple of things to bob out and get, so we might have the day off.

There’s a comedy gig in Holmfirth that we said we might go to tomorrow night, but it depends on how tired we are (or not) and how well we’re both feeling (or not).

I have a book I want to finish the electronic edit on today so I can get that submitted and invoiced before the first of my appointments, so another short post today.

Whatever you’re up to at the weekend, have a good one!

Christmas market

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Quakers’ Bottom (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Well, that was a weekend-and-a-half – and we had it as a holiday too.

We started on Friday with a trip out to the Christmas market in Matlock, which was very well-organised and laid out, and parking was free after 2pm too, as it is throughout December in the town on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. And, of course, the dog was welcome too.

We bought a small box of fudge for me and a ginger beer plant for the poet, and he nipped to one of the local shops to get us something to eat.

I had a fancy for Whitby scampi & chips, which was available inside the market at £6 for 7 pieces, plus extra for chips. At the local chip shop, scampi and chips cost only £2-odd! The poet had fish and chips and the dog helped us eat it all.

We chose a car park halfway between Matlock Bath and Matlock town and a had a nice, easy walk down and back. There are photographs, but they’re not on the computer yet, so for now we have another one from the Quakers’ Bottom walk last week.

~~~

When we got home, we took the cat to the vet (again). She was only there a few weeks ago needing an emergency operation to close up a mysterious hole that had appeared in her side, and now she had a lump at the base of the scar.

The vet wasn’t very worried about it, though, and stuck a needle in to drain most of it. She thought it must be a reaction to the internal stitches and said it would probably go away on its own but we were to monitor it into the new year.

~~~

The poet really wasn’t feeling very well on Friday either, but he didn’t want me to miss out on the Christmas market and he wanted some fresh air. But on Saturday morning when he woke up he was so ill that he cancelled Saturday night’s gig. I’ve known him to be very poorly and still not cancel a gig, but when he lost his voice as well, he didn’t really have a choice.

We managed to find another band to take their place Saturday night, and then we had a bit of an idle day and evening, and the same on Sunday. But yesterday, as he had another day off work booked, we went to Meadowhall to do the Christmas shopping and he did really well.

We had to keep going back to the car to drop things off and we did stop to have something to eat too – and book our table for mad Friday next week. And when we got home he was ready to drop as well. But we got all but about 2 gifts (apart from each other’s), including something for each of the pets, so we were very content with that.

~~~

All over the weekend we had a bit of a Harry Potter-fest. I’ve read the first book, watched the first 2 films, and played the first 3 or 4 games on Xbox, although I may have abandoned the 4th one as it was quite hard. He’s never seen any of them, or read any of them. So when I saw that the box set was available on Sky Movies for free, I talked him into watching at least the first one … and we ended up watching all but the last one so far.

We won’t be able to catch up with that one tonight as we’re going over to his parents in Doncaster to keep his dad company while his mum goes out for her annual Christmas meal with some of her colleagues. We’ll watch the last one tomorrow night, I think.

The poet still isn’t feeling great and could have done with not going to work this morning. But at least we’ll just be sat indoors this evening.

~~~

I’ve had a busy morning so far but don’t seem to have achieved much.

Saying that, I’ve pitched for 3 new jobs already and have another 10 to consider, I’ve done some pro-bono email work and I’ve done the daily competitions. I’ve also had a bit of an email-fest as I forgot to turn on my out-of-office auto-reply and had a few messages I needed to at least respond to.

I also cleaned some parts of the bird table – one of the feeders and 2 trays. They need a good jetwash and some disinfectant throwing at them, but at least it’s cleaner now than it was so I don’t have to worry about the birds catching any nasty germs.

All I have left to do today, now, is some editing. I have 2 books in I want to finish before breaking up at the end of next week.

Long weekend

IMG_4002aHad it been a much nicer day last Saturday, this would have been a cracking picture. As it is, I still love the way he caught that water droplet on the bottom of these berries.

We have tomorrow until Monday off. I was going to schedule this to post tomorrow, but decided to do it today instead. I already scheduled a post for the gig list for Monday morning. I hope that one works.

Tomorrow, we were going to Lincoln for the Christmas market. I’ve never been to Lincoln and I’ve wanted to visit the Christmas market ever since I moved up here 12 years ago. And tomorrow, we were finally going … until I found out that they don’t allow dogs.

Now, the Lincoln Christmas market is being held in the town centre, i.e. a public, open space. So I didn’t understand why they won’t allow dogs. And so, as you do, I asked, expecting them to say something along the lines of “Oh, it’s in the castle grounds and they don’t allow dogs in the castle”, which would be fair enough.

What I didn’t expect was “Because they’ll get under everyone’s feet” and “Why would you want to take your dog anyway” and “Leave your dog at home [alone, for 8, 10, 12, enter figure of choice here hours]”.

Well, if it’s simply because it gets unbearably busy, then wouldn’t a more pertinent announcement be something like “While the market is being held in a public place, it does get very busy so we don’t recommend you bring your dog”? That would have been fine.

But to ask me why we want to take our dog anyway, and why don’t we just leave him home alone for hours, like what they obviously do, is out of order. That’s like me asking why they’d want to take their child or someone who uses a wheelchair. It really is none of anybody else’s business why we want to take our dog anywhere. All I was asking was, why aren’t they allowed?

After several hours of to-ing and fro-ing, and not a single organiser from the Christmas market bothering to reply, someone suggested Matlock Victorian Christmas market instead.

So I researched it, and I called them up and they said “The only place we don’t allow dogs is in the food marquee”, which is the usual and reasonable response. And when I told her why I was asking, she said they “wouldn’t dream” of trying to ban dogs from their town centre.

Guess which one we’re heading for instead. And, weather permitting, we might have some more pictures to share next week. I don’t think I shall ever make it to Lincoln now on the back of this recent experience. Not ever. And, to rub salt in, someone else said that they would also go to the Matlock market instead, for the exact same reason.

I don’t know what else we’re doing over the weekend until Monday, apart from a gig Saturday night over in Doncaster – surprise, surprise. We might try another walk, we may do the regular weekly shopping, or we may have another go at putting the garden to bed for the winter. But on Monday we’re off to Meadowhall to do our Christmas shopping.

So that’s another 2 x 4-day weeks on the trot.

Whatever you’re up to this weekend, make sure it’s a grandun. 🙂