The Alphabet Adventurers have been busy

We’ve not been idle here in Baggins Bottom. We’ve been starting up a new project called the Alphabet Adventurers.

We have a blog, a YouTube channel for vlogs, a Twitter account and a Facebook page.

Please follow the links to see what we’ve been up to. Thank you!


New project ahead

We’ve been a bit busy here in Baggins Bottom since the year began, and we’ve decided to start a new adventure on a new Facebook page with a new Twitter account and a new page.

This new page will eventually turn into a website with blogs (weblogs), vlogs (video logs), photographs, pictures, suggestions for great days out and walks, and possibly sponsored pages and adverts. It’s something we can do together, and it consolidates the poet’s photography and my writing with our love of walking, the great outdoors, our country, local history, sightseeing, and so on.

The eagle-eyed will have already noticed a new link at the top (or in the menu at the bottom if you’re reading this on a mobile phone), but it really is in the beginning stages at the moment. We need to get three weeks’-worth of posts in the bag to ensure continuity, and to make sure we have the stamina and staying power. We don’t want it spluttering to a standstill.

Tales from Baggins Bottom will still be here, and Words Worth Writing will still be there. The poet’s photography/art website will still be there too. And this blog post will appear over on Words Worth Writing as well. But this is a new joint (ad)venture that we hope will run into several years. We also hope some of you will come along with us for the ride.

Watch this space for updates and more information!

Camping: North Devon in September

I’ve left it such a long time to write up our camping holiday to North Devon, that it wouldn’t be realistic now to break it down day by day. Therefore, here’s an overview and some pictures to whet your appetite.

Ilfracombe on a very windy day. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

This was the poet’s first visit to North Devon, so the first day was spent giving him a bit of a tour. We drove along all of the coast, down as far as Woolacombe. It was very windy. Gales were recorded at over 60mph in our neck of the woods, but they were much, much stronger in the north of England at the same time.

Beach huts on Woolacombe Beach. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The first night was dreadful with those winds. It’s quite ironic that we weren’t able to put the windbreak up and by the time the wind dropped later in the week, the end of the tent that the windbreak usually went around was so damaged, it was held together with guy ropes. So the windbreak stayed in the roofbox on the car.

The tea rooms at Watersmeet. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We lost the only pole that goes with our tent. It snapped in a couple of places and had to be repaired with gaffer tape. Fortunately, we had a spare pole back home so we could leave this one in the bin when we left. We also lost at least one guy-tab, so that will need repairing before we take the tent out again.

Just one reason why I love Exmoor so much. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We stopped off at Ilfracombe to get something to eat, a few supplies and to take the first photographs. Back in the day, when I used to go to North Devon with my parent, we’d spend almost every evening in Ilfracombe, where my brother used to fish from the pier.

Another reason I love Exmoor so much. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
The next photo-stop was Woolacombe, which was where my family pitched their caravan for six years on the trot. We visited Little Roadway Farm, where we used to take the caravan, and we went down to the beach, where it was still incredibly windy.
Lord Rufus having fun on Putsborough Beach. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

When we were kids, this beach at Woolacombe was always, always packed. It’s a massive stretch of sand that goes a very long way out to the sea when the tide is out. There were several Land Rovers that patrolled the beach throughout the day collecting lost children. Lost children used to gravitate towards my dad too, for some reason. If it were today, he’d probably be arrested!

From the beach at Woolacombe you can see Lundy Island – sometimes. Rain used to follow my dad everywhere he went. It still does. And when we were in North Devon we had a saying: if you could see Lundy, it was going to rain; if you couldn’t see Lundy, it already was raining. It was no different on our visit this time. But we could see Lundy on the two days we were in the right place. Our problem wasn’t the rain, though. It was the wind.

The next day I took the poet to Watersmeet. This is where the West and East Lyn rivers meet, and I knew he would love the picturesque beauty spot where salmon and dippers can be seen on the babbling waters. It did rain today and there was such a massive queue to get into the tea rooms there that we abandoned the idea and carried on with our journey.

Putsborough Beach. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

One of my most favourite places on Earth is Exmoor. I love the wild-ness of it. I love the heather in the summer. I love to be able to see the sea one way and miles and miles of moorland the other way. Even when it’s foggy or raining I’m happy to park up on Exmoor and just gaze. Naturally this meant a drive around Exmoor, and I hope the two pictures I’ve shared demonstrate at least two of the aspects I love about the place.

The Doone Valley, Exmoor. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

After Exmoor, we dropped down into Putsborough late one day. Because the beach at Woolacombe used to get so busy, Putsborough was where we headed as a family “in the old days”. There are rocks there, and lots of places that can act as markers for children finding their way back to their families from the sea.

The Valley of the Rocks. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

One half of the beach at Putsborough was virtually empty with absolutely no dogs on there. So we took Rufus down there and took him off his lead. He had a whale of a time … it was only when we were climbing back up to the car park that we saw the sign:



Yup, you guessed it, we were on the dog-free beach. Oops. Ah well, at least he had a good time, and he behaved himself very, very well.

Clovelly. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Back up on Exmoor, we had to pay a visit to Lorna Doone country in the Doone Valley. Lorna Doone was, of course, a figment of RD Blackmore’s imagination. This doesn’t stop a small church in the middle of the moors claiming to be the one where “the shooting” took place. When we were little, there was a patch of “blood” on the floor of the church where the victim was alleged to have bled out. By the time I took the poet, this little stain was actually rust from a leaky radiator!

We camped at the Camping and Caravan Club camp site above Lynton & Lynmouth, a small town right next to the Valley of the Rocks. Here there were such spectacular sunsets that we had to have a few goes at photographing this beautiful place. So after tea at least twice we went down there to take the pictures.

Possibly one of the most southern places on this north coast of Devon is the small fishing village of Clovelly. Here a cobbled road takes the pedestrian (vehicles aren’t allowed) down a steep and winding hill to the harbour. There’s a car park at the top of the hill and an extensive visitor centre through which an admission fee is paid. There’s also a Land Rover that takes those visitors that need or want a lift down the back way to the harbour.

Hartland Point, with Lundy Island on the horizon. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We walked down into the village, but we jumped on the Land Rover to come back. And as we were in that part of the country, when we got back to the car we continued to drive to Hartland Point where there’s a lighthouse. Unfortunately, public access to the lighthouse was closed while we were there due to them doing some land-moving work. We did, however, get a cracking view of Lundy Island.

Ilfracombe Harbour. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

On our last day, we headed back to Ilfracombe for a wander around the town and harbour. I was most disappointed to see that the pier there is much smaller than I remember when my brother fished from it. I’m not sure if it was made bigger in my memory or if they’ve shortened it. It’s still, however, a very lovely place.

Lynton & Lynmouth. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Back in Lynton & Lynmouth, we had a final wander round and a trip down the Lynton & Lynton Cliff Railway and back, and we had fish and chips for tea.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this sneak preview into a part of the country that I love very much. And now the poet loves it too. I also hope the selection of pictures I’ve made does it justice. He took several hundred! So I was unable to share them all. However, you can see more on his Instagram or on his website.

Thank you for reading. 😀

Family snap on Putsborough Beach. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Baggins Bottom Best Bits book 3

Words worth writing

In recent days and weeks I’ve been busy publishing books – in paperback and on Kindle. The idea is to get all of my back-catalogue available as books by Diane Wordsworth.

Tales from Baggins Bottom: best bits book 3 is the latest to become available and can be found in paperback for £5.99. The Kindle edition will follow shortly.

If you go to my “buy my books” page you can follow the link, and you’ll also see all books currently available.

ALL of the Diane Parkin books are now retired and have been replaced with Diane Wordsworth versions. This one, however, is brand-new.

I’m currently publishing Twee Tales Too on Kindle, and then I’ll be adding Tales from Baggins Bottom Best Bits book 3 to Kindle too. Once they’re all on Kindle, I’ll look at publishing them all on multi-ebook format as well.

You can see other future…

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Hmm, it’s nice and cosy in here … (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Last Saturday we drove half-an-hour to Letwell, just on the other side of Rotherham, to collect 6 new additions to the family.

The British Hen Welfare Trust rescues around 50,000 hens a year and around 300 of them were coming to South Yorkshire. These are caged hens coming to the end of their commercial viability who would otherwise be heading for slaughter.

We’d already decided we wanted some chickens, and if we could rescue any, all the better. So we researched it and we bought a small hen house (houses up to 12 chickens).

We live on a free-range farm that has had chickens previously, so we knew that so long as we keep them safe from foxes, they’d hopefully enjoy a long and happy life with us.

The house was sited in a sheltered part of the front garden, with the stable to one side, a hill behind, a big tree overhead and a shed on the other side (soon to include a greenhouse). We’re gated in and there is fencing all around, mostly to contain the dog.

There are only 2 chickens left on the main farm at the moment, thanks to the fox. But there are 5 guinea fowl, 4 peacocks, 3 geese, 2 horses, a few hundred sheep and some cows.

Living in the countryside immediately around us are pheasants, badgers, woodpeckers, mallards, owls, kingfishers.

Diane tries to encourage them out with a handful of grub … (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We have a fast-running section of the River Don where the poet goes fly-fishing. And ramblers regularly use the public footpaths that cut through the land. It really is idyllic.

And so we thought the chickens would settle in nicely and enjoy their new surroundings.

We found an animal feed specialist just down the road where we can not only get our chicken supplies from, but the garden bird food is considerably cheaper too. So we have chicken food, chicken grit, straw, sawdust, a feeder, a water hopper. The extra we’re spending on the chicken supplies, we’re more than saving on the garden bird food.

On the first day, Saturday, we just got the girls home and settled them into the hen house, where we left them overnight. Monkey Dust had a gig on the evening, so we just had to make sure the house was secure in case a fox wandered by while we were out.

They were still all present and correct (and safe!) when we got home. 🙂

Egg no 6 on day no 1 … (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

On Sunday morning, still in his dressing gown, the poet went out to see them. They’d laid 5 eggs, which we were very happy about. We didn’t really get them for the eggs, we got them to rescue them. But the occasional egg is a nice thank-you gift from them.

When I got up, we went out and we let them out for the first time. They were nervous and cautious and not at all sure what to do. So we encouraged them outside in the sunshine. And that was when I found the sixth egg.

The peacocks, the guinea fowl and “Madge”, one of the farm chickens, came up to have a look at what was going on, and to scrounge the bit of food we scattered on the ground. At first they tried to bully the new arrivals, and we decided not to put food outside again until the new chickens have properly settled in.

By day 2, by the way, the biggest of our chickens was giving as much as she got with the other birds and making sure they all knew which was her territory. They still try to bully them, but if I come out or if our “big” chicken sees them, they start to back off again.

We didn’t leave them out for very long on Sunday as it was new to them and we also want them to get used to going into the house at night.

When we go camping in the summer at weekends, we will have a fox-proof enclosure up – that’s next Easter’s bank holiday weekend project. But for as long as we’re home and can shut them in at night, that’s not really a priority.

Hmm … it *does* look sunny out there … (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

As the week progressed, laying went down to just 2 eggs a day, with a possible third being eaten by them for the shell. Today, for the first time since last Sunday, we had 3 eggs. And tomorrow they get their first clean-out.

They’re all settling in very well, exploring their new surroundings, establishing a pecking order. And by yesterday (Friday), they were running to me every time they saw me, pecking at my wellies, and mostly going into their house at night by themselves.

Just now when I went out to see them, at noon, one of them pecked at the empty water dish and then glared at me. Then she waited while I went to clean and re-fill the water hopper, having a massive drink when I put it back. Naughty Diane!

One bird in particular is straight out of the coop as soon as we open it, with another 2 following soon after. Two more tend to take their time and one of them definitely prefers to stay indoors. We’re calling that one Aggie the Agoraphobic.

We also have one that is very, very bald, and while I call her Baldy when I’m talking about her, to her face, or when she can hear, she’s Gail. We also have a Lara Croft – she’s the adventurous one.

We hope their feathers will grow again and that their plumage improves, and we will continue to be grateful for every egg they leave for us. I hope you enjoyed the pictures – perhaps as we take more, we’ll all see an improvement. They’re already looking chubbier.

… nearly … (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

If you are able to rescue any chickens, the BHWT have collections all over the country.

Our chickens came from a farm in Chesterfield, and the re-homing centre we collected them from rescued around 250 chickens that day, and over 2,500 chickens in the time they’ve been volunteering.

You have to register first and then, if there isn’t a waiting list, you could be collecting your first chickens within days. We bought our hen house from Egg Shell Online, but you can do an online search or the BHWT will point you in the right direction. They’re not the only re-homing charity in the country, either. So do your research and find the right fit for you.

We made a donation of £5 per bird, but this is completely down to the discretion of the re-homer(s). Other charities ask for a donation of just £1 per bird, but again, I think it really is up to you.

Yay! Chicken no 1 meets one of the guinea fowl. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Off to that thar big London …

wp_20160923_001-v1This weekend we’re off to that thar big London. We’re going to a “meet the authors” event with one of the clients I work for.

The company is based in Spain and the authors are based all over the world, so this is a nice opportunity to meet a few, at least, face to face.

We didn’t want to waste  a trip to London by just having one thing to go to. It’s a long way to go and we might not make it back again for a while. So we thought we’d maximise the visit and see a little more for our train fare.

I’ve never seen a show in London, and nor has the poet. So we decided quite early on that this was what we’d like to do. And as I’ve wanted to see Wicked for a good 5 years or more, we had a look to see if that was running anywhere.

It is, and it’s celebrating 10 years to boot. So we booked matinee tickets and found a train that would get us there on time.

We’re dropping the dog off at my parents and catching a train from Birmingham. We get to London around lunchtime, and we have around 2 hours to check in to our hotel, which is right next to the station, get changed, and make our way to the Victoria Apollo in time for the 2:30pm performance.

I’m not sure there will be many photographs, though, as they don’t officially allow photography in the auditorium, although I have seen friends share their pictures from the audience. I did ask the press office if it would be okay to borrow and use any official photographs or posters, but they thought I was after free tickets and I couldn’t be arsed to explain at the time as we were very, very busy just then.

After the show it’s back to Euston for tea, another quick change, and a walk to the “meet the authors” event. The event starts at 7:30pm with live streaming at 8pm, but we’re going to aim at getting there from around 6:30pm onwards.

Our train back to Brum leaves at around 11am, so we’ll collect the dog and come home again, via a visit, of course.

To say we’re both looking forward to it is an understatement. It’s a nice little break for us and we get to go on a big train anorl.

What are you up to this weekend?

It’s been a while …

Picture: Ian Wordsworth

Yes, it’s been a while. The last time I posted was 22 August … the following day wasn’t a great one in our world. We’ve had a lot going on since then too, along with more shocks (more information can be found on Words Worth Writing, so I shan’t bore anyone over here with the details again), but hopefully, once again, perhaps things will finally settle for us now.

We’ve not really been out. We’ve not really done much in the kitchen. We’ve not really had chance to do anything substantial to the garden.

A few loaves of bread have been made, along with a few pots of jam. We have more foraging to do. Our garden is resplendent with apples, plums, rhubarb, but we want to go and get some blackberries, some sloe berries and some elderberries from our old lane. There are more jams to be made, and chutneys, and ketchups, and sauces … It is, after all, that time of year.

I’ve been very busy re-publishing books. (Again, more information can be found over on the writing blog.) I’ve picked up a couple of old writing courses to complete, on top of the fiction writing course I’m already studying. I have more books to write, along with a few short stories. And I have several client books to edit too.

So I am very, very busy. And if I disappear again, you’ll know why.

I was going to give Baggins Bottom a bit of a sabbatical, but I realised that as soon as I do that, I’ll suddenly have lots to write about again. Therefore, please forgive and excuse any randomness or unreliability meanwhile. Ta. 🙂

The best laid plans …

He hung some pictures …

… do sometimes work!

There was nothing planned for this weekend, so because we’ve been so busy recently, we decided we’d batten down the hatches and not do anything outside of the home for the whole weekend.

On Friday, the poet came home from work but left the gate open as we were having a takeaway/delivery for tea. (Friday is takeout night.)

Once our tea was delivered, the gate was closed and we didn’t open it again until the poet went to work this morning. We didn’t do a lot else Friday night, other than chill and watch telly. Oh, but the poet did make a start on the garden pond …

On Saturday, he ventured into the garden and continued to empty the old pond. It had been neglected for a long time and he needed to see (a) what was in it, and (b) what the lining was like.

… I tidied my writing/text books …

While he did that, I did some baking. I made a Swiss Roll, with no fat and reduced-sugar jam, and a dozen sultana buns, with reduced sugar.

He picked me some rhubarb from the garden, so I made a rhubarb crumble too, but that did have sugar in as we weren’t sure how tart the rhubarb was. (It was quite tart.)

When he’d had enough in the garden – dodging heavy showers and wading in up to his knees – the poet came in and whipped up a couple of brown loaves – in the oven, not in the bread machine. (He’s getting very good at the “real” bread.)

There wasn’t a lot on telly we wanted to watch, so I suggested he have a look at 24. He’d never seen it and I quite fancied watching it again, and it was available on Sky’s box sets, series 1 – 9.

… he picked us some rhubarb from the garden …

On Sunday, we started to tackle the boxes … emptying 7 in total. One box hasn’t survived, but we folded the others down in case we need them again.

It was nice to see all of our stuff again, but we unpacked more of the later-packed ones as those contained more of the stuff we actually use. But it meant another load of stuff went into the bins. At least we emptied one car as well, though.

Then we busied ourselves putting things away. The poet hung some pictures and a mirror. I tidied my writing books and the other books I use for reference. I think there are some in another box, but we’ll be needing another bookcase for all of the novels. We put crocks and ornaments in places we thought might be nice or useful.

And we had both dinner and tea outside, in the garden. The hot sunshine was filtered by the leaves of the trees, so we didn’t need to put the parasol up.

Finally, we finished with another few episodes of 24. And for the first time in AGES, we felt as though we’d had a proper weekend.

… and we dug out the farm animals crockery.

Settling in

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Windswept in Whitehaven

The world finally stopped spinning for us this week and we were able to step off, have a moment, smell the roses. Both of us were hit almost immediately with … something, but it didn’t last long. We’ve had quite an idle week, though, considering how busy we’ve been recently.

The poet painted a garden bench and cut the grass. I managed to empty one very small bag and take another upstairs. Oh, and we did some shopping. And that’s it.

Aside from work, of course. We both had a nice short week and today is a nice short day. But this weekend is the first one in an age that we haven’t got to do anything. We don’t have to be anywhere, see anyone, do anything. And, boy, are we going to enjoy it.

Today I had planned on posting pictures from last Sunday’s day out to Alrewas. But they’re not on the portable hard drive, although I know they’ve been done. As any other events we attended were all as far back as May, you’re getting a bit of a waffle-post instead. 🙂

I’ve delivered a book this week, and will invoice for that later today. I’ve transferred an old novel over onto Scrivener. I’ve started to build a new novel on Scrivener. I’ve transferred more of CATCH THE RAINBOW onto Scrivener. And just this second I received an email with the latest requirements from fave short story market, so I’ll have a look at that then read a few copies of the magazine to see what they’re using at the moment.

Over the weekend we’re emptying more boxes and no doubt weeding out yet more clutter.

What are you up to this weekend?