The best laid plans …

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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.

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… 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.

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… 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.

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… 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?

Tis done

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With Rufus on the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Today’s picture is for illustration.

Finally, after several very long weeks, we are done. We have moved everything from one house to the other and handed back the keys for the old house. For the first time in more than a month, we don’t have to go out this evening to take or collect stuff. It is done, it is over.

Saying that, I’m convinced we’ve left some cooking pans in the bottom of a cupboard – at least 3 roasting dishes and some loaf tin liners. But hey, if we have, and if we need them, we’ll just have to buy some more. If we have and we don’t miss them, then it’s less clutter. And if we haven’t, then that’s great.

It was a very, very busy weekend, though.

On Friday the first job we had was to drop my car off for its MOT. Then we collected a self-drive van so that we could take stuff from the garden and from the garage to the new house, and any other stuff that wouldn’t fit in one of the cars very well. We made 2 full trips in all before going back to collect my car. (It failed, but only a little bit.)

The following morning, Saturday, we filled the van for a run to the tip … but when we got to the tip they wouldn’t let us on. Long-wheel-base vehicles aren’t permitted, apparently. I thought they were, but you had to pay a tenner.

The van had to be back by 10am, so we went back to the van hire place, explained the situation, and the owner very kindly let us empty the van into the car so we could try again at the tip. We made 2 trips back to the tip in the end. And in the afternoon we did the weekly shopping and went back to the new house for tea/the evening.

On Sunday, at 9am, we headed off to Birmingham to take my dad to Alrewas for the National Service Memorial Day at the National Memorial Arboretum. The weather was a bit breezy but it stayed kind to us. And Dad had a nice time. Pictures will follow. When we got home, we had a pork dinner, having left a pork joint in the slow cooker.

Monday morning we had to go back to the old house to hand the keys over. But it was great to come back and not have to go anywhere for the rest of the day. It was a nice day, though, so the poet busied himself tidying the stable and the shed, doing a bit of petrol-strimming, and painting a fence. He also baked a loaf of bread – in the oven, not the bread machine.

I also did some bits and bobs. I’d had a hospital appointment, which I cancelled in the end. It wasn’t important and we needed some time out. I tried baking some sugar-free blueberry muffins, but the mix was too dry and they went in the bin. Instead I fell back on an old standard – individual buns or fairy cakes, making them with milk chocolate chunks.

This morning, the poet went back to work, and so did I. But we’re quite excited about not having to go anywhere this evening when he comes home. I may take the dog for a walk to post a letter – the nearest letter box is quite a walk away – but apart from that I think we’ll be emptying boxes. Deep joy.

We’ve been moving house – again! (*** mini rant alert x 2 ***)

OFFICEI went AWOL again, didn’t I? Sorry about that. All is well, we’ve just been moving house again, and I had a lot to do before the internet was switched off at the old house, and then they went and switched it off a day early. By the time it came back up, I had another lot to do. But now I think I might be catching up a little.

We’re spread between 2 houses at the moment. We thought it might be a good idea to keep both properties on at the same time and move in gradually. But now I’m not so sure that was the best thing. It seems to be dragging out the process rather than getting it all done in one go.

The first priority, as ever, was to get my office up and running. So even before we had the keys we had to go and choose office furniture. The office has been in action for almost 2 weeks now. We just need to fetch some curtains over to finish it off. I’m on the ground floor again, quite close to the front door, with a beautiful view across the garden to the farm we’ll be living on.

My old office furniture has gone into the poet’s new studio and his computer followed. We still have to bring the studio/music equipment over and that may be happening this evening. Then we had to get his computer connected to the internet as well, and that’s what we did last week.

We moved the spare bed over (in pieces) so we could sleep over if we needed to, but the fridge-freezer is still at the old place and when we came to use the cooker at the new place, the thermostat wasn’t working. Result – burnt dinner and a melted tray (it was a shop-bought lasagne). So last Friday we also went out and bought a new cooker and hob …

… are we ready for a mini rant?

<mini rant>
So we were in Curry’s, looking at ceramic hobs and the assistant asked if we had any questions. I asked if our lovely copper-bottom stainless-steel practically brand new Prestige pan set would work on the ceramic hob. She not only said that yes it would, but then went on to talk us into buying an induction hob instead.

We arrived home with our brand new cooker and hob, which the poet fitted (he’s also an electrician). But when we came to test the hob, OUR PANS DIDN’T WORK.

I did a bit of a Google and discovered that induction hobs really don’t like the copper bottoms, and it was a well-known issue amongst induction-hob-owners the world over.

To say I was a bit livid is putting it mildly, and had I NOT asked the question in the first place, I would have kicked myself. But I DID ask, and I WAS told that YES, my pans would work on all of their hobs.
</mini rant>*

On Saturday, then, we had to go out and buy a complete set of new pans. We had to be back at the new place by 1pm, though, as Sky was coming to fit our new telly. We were going from Sky HD+ to Sky Q 

… and guess what … I have another mini rant!

<mini rant #2>
When I was talking to Sky on the phone, the one question I asked was “will we still be able to watch our recorded problems when we have Sky Q?” The answer was not only a resounding “Yes!”, but we were also talked out of having another mini Q box fitted at this time with the discount included because our old box would still work.

Now this discount is worth about sixty quid. So we discussed it and decided we’d pay the full installation amount if we found we needed the extra box in the future, i.e. after we’d finished watching everything on our old box.

When the engineers arrived, they offered to take our box back so we’d get a further £10 discount. But we said we were going to keep it and use it alongside our new Q.

“Er, no you’re not,” said one. “You have a new Sky dish. There’s no connection for the old box …”

Diane (politely but icily): “Excuse me?”

He repeated himself and I’m afraid I had to leave the room. I mean, I’d ASKED again!
</mini rant #2>

It really is me, isn’t it?

Anyway, we now have Sky Q working beautifully at the new house and Sky HD working at the old house, and we’re frantically watching what we can before this Saturday, when everything moves to the new house.

But I tested the oven yesterday with some old staples, and very successfully baked a dozen cherry buns and a dozen white choc chip cookies (the poet said they even tasted like cookies …). Then the poet tested the hob yesterday evening and made a chicken dinner, frying the chicken breasts in one of the new frying pans as we didn’t have any foil to bake it in at the new house.

We settled down to watch a film on the telly too, and he was delighted to find that the new Q links to his YouTube account so he can now watch his subscribed videos on the big telly instead of on his mobile phone.

So all is well, but we still have a lot to do. We move the big stuff over this Saturday, and then we have a week to bring over anything that’s left and to give the old house a good clean.

If I disappear again, you know why. 🙂

*<mini rant> and </mini rant> nicked quite blatantly from Twitter, Facebook and NaNoWriMo mate Steven Chapman.

Finally, some good news!

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Razorbill, Bempton Cliffs (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We’ve been having a bit of a roller-coaster of a ride for the past 2 or 3 months, but finally I feel able to share at least some of what’s been happening.

Aside from a few family things, the poet has been looking for a new job since early March and this has taken up quite a lot of our spare time.

At almost the same time we received notice on our lovely house due to the owner wanting to sell – and we didn’t want to buy (it needs too much doing to it but is listed, so that restricts what you can actually do …). But that meant even more precious time was taken up house-hunting.

Admittedly, where we live does depend a lot on where the poet works, which is why we’re currently renting. But we could have done without it at this time. It would have been much nicer if it happened once he was settled.

During this time, we did manage 2 short camping trips and we still went on a couple of walks, including another to Bempton Cliffs to see the puffins (we saw 4, so will be going again just as soon as we can).

Some good news, though … tomorrow (Wednesday) the poet starts his new job, and today we went in and applied for what will hopefully be our next home. It looks like we’ll be exchanging cows for peacocks, ducks and sheep. 🙂 And, of course, we have another camping trip booked for the late May bank holiday weekend.

So hopefully, all the planets are aligning again and things will start to settle again. We want to run the 2 properties in tandem so that the next house is as ready as we can make it before we officially move in. And as that house is bigger than this house, that means new furniture to buy!

Happy days. 😀

AWOL …

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Rufus and Diane, Langold Lake (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I’ve been a bit absent without leave just lately, mostly because we’ve been very, very busy (as ever), but also because we haven’t really done a lot in recent weeks. We’ve not managed any long walks. We’ve not manage many days out. And we’ve not had much chance to do much around the house.

We have been on a few short days out, though, including a short walk at Bempton Cliffs to see the puffins (we saw about 4 but the tripod wasn’t really stable enough to take pictures through the spotting scope), and a short walk around a local lake that has been recently renamed a county park – something the poet found amusing, as he remembers what it was like when he was a kid. While at Bempton we joined the RSPB.

Over on Words Worth Writing you can see what I’ve managed to do for work, including the publication of at least 2 new books. And as the new books have slowly been republished, the old books have been taken out of the shops – electronic and hard copy.

I won some tickets to see the Harlem Globetrotters and we’ll be going there in a couple of weeks, so there may be pictures to share. And I’ve been trialling some products that I’m sworn to secrecy about, so I can’t blog about those yet. It’s been interesting, though.

In the office I’ve rebooted Outlook on the computer to keep me on track, help me stick to hour-long work sessions and remind me to take a break from staring at the computer. I’ve also been using the Pomodoro tomato technique again to get me though a few editing jobs.

Rufus celebrated his fifth birthday on Friday, so we had a biscuit hunt. I dropped down into the next stone zone on the scales, and then crept up again – but it’s still hovering around there. And the poet has lost an impressive 22lb, dropping into the next stone zone twice! He’s looking very good. 😉

And I think that’s just about all the news I can share at the moment.

What have you been up to?

Walk: Market Bosworth Country Park

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Daffodils (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We had a very busy weekend, which included a hospital visit 100 miles away on Sunday. But we still wanted to squeeze in a walk if we could.

At first we were going to drop off at a country park closer to home off the M1, but as we approached signs on the M42 to Bosworth Battlefield, we made a snap decision to go there instead.

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Our path (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The poet (a Yorkshireman) has always wanted to see where his last true king was killed in battle and it’s been on our to-do list for a few years now.

So we veered off the motorway and headed towards Market Bosworth in Leicestershire.

We arrived at the signed car park for the battlefield at 3pm, which was also at the Market Bosworth Country Park. There was a map at the toilet block, indicating a 3-mile walk to Bosworth Battlefield.

If we did that, it would be 5pm before we got back, and that was if we managed 3 miles an hour – with pictures, we often only manage 2 miles an hour. Not only was it pushing it slightly on the distance, we also risked losing the light and getting shut into the car park.

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Rufus and Diane – both pulling very odd faces … (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

But we had lots to look at anyway, and we decided we’d see how far we’d get before we wanted to turn around and come back.

Throughout the country park there are interesting little pockets, like the community woodland planted in 1999, like various wood carvings, and like the boardwalk over the pond.

We walked over the boardwalk, but it was very windy and we almost got blown into the water. Rufus wasn’t very happy on there either … so we made him come back that way too, minus his lead. (Rotten humans!)

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Rufus didn’t like the boardwalk much … (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

It kept him calm and close for a short while at least …

We’d reached a cow field and were a bit close to the main road, so we checked our location on the MapMyWalk terrain map and saw that we’d actually gone in the opposite direction to the battlefield.

So we turned and retraced our steps, coming out at the pond and boathouse.

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Boathouse (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

On the way back we paused at a woodland where some “interesting birds” can be seen …

… and as we worked our way down the list the poet pointed out that we get ALL of them on our bird table on a regular basis.

We walked around the pond so the poet could take some pictures.

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Snowdrops (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We met a poor little pug in a pushchair because his back legs had gone. His owners were taking him to feed bread to the ducks on the pond.

We decided to head back to the car park from there as the light was starting to wane, and we made full use of the facilities while we were there – surprised they were even open at this time of year.

Now we know where it is and where to park, we’re going to head back there again. But we’re going to aim at arriving sooner so that we can do the walk to the battlefield.

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Terrific tree (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

It was about 4:30pm by the time we were settled back in the car again. The dog didn’t really want to get back in the car.

He looked as though he was saying: “Okay, comfort break over. Let’s carry on with this walk.”

Eventually he settled back down on the back seat, but he was sulking that it wasn’t a very big walk and he’d been stuck in the car a long time.

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Once again, I couldn’t get the MapMyWalk app to display properly on my phone, and at the end of the walk, it hadn’t even registered either. It may be my phone. It’s not been right since I dropped it down the toilet while we were camping last year.

The poet, however, still has it on his phone, and we walked 2.1 miles and burned 298 calories.

map my walk market bosworth

My fat year: Fruity!

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At Tetney Lock (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I didn’t have time again to post many posts last week, on any of the blogs. So here is the “my fat year” post for last week and for this.

The poet has lost 11lb so far this year – he’d lost another one too, but it snuck back on again – while I’ve lost 6lb. Last week this was closer to a 4lb loss, so there’s 2 off just this week.

We’ve had company, though, since Friday, and it’s difficult to stick to a healthy eating routine when you’re entertaining. He went back home yesterday, though, so we’re starting again today.

One big change in our diet has been the addition of fruit instead of cakes, biscuits, crisps and chocolate. And we’re starting to run out of ideas. The poet takes 3 pieces of fruit to work with him each morning, whereas I have a glass of juice with my breakfast and then 2 more portions during the day.

Bananas, apples, pears and oranges are all easy to take to work or leave on the desk or take on a walk or a day out with us. Grapes and other berries have to be counted and contained, so they’re not so easy, and melons have to be cut and wrapped or contained. Other exotic or tropical fruits also need more preparation.

The other big change is the reduction in processed foods. On Friday night, as we’d been collecting our guest, we had fish and chips for tea – and we blummin enjoyed it too. But on Saturday we had toad in the hole (with added/hidden veggies – my dad didn’t realise we were feeding him mushrooms!), on Sunday we had a roast chicken with Yorkshire puddings, on Monday we had cottage pie, and on Tuesday we had fish – all cooked from scratch by the poet.

On Saturday I made a 6-portion fruit trifle, and on Tuesday I made a low fat/low sugar 4-portion apple crumble.

But yesterday, another busy day, we succumbed to cheese & shroom or ham & cheese toasted sandwiches for tea. And we shared the last portion of the apple crumble between us. Very nice.

This evening the poet has band practice and I’ll be doing the weekly shop. So it might be another quick tea tonight. Apart from that, though, we’re back on the wagon – and still losing weight anyway. 🙂

Walk: Kingsbury Water Park

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Teasel, Kingsbury Water Park (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Kingsbury Water Park in the West Midlands is on part of my old stomping ground. It’s about half an hour from my parents, and as we were visiting them on Saturday, as we were early-ish, and as the weather was dry and mild, we decided to drop in on our way home.

We paid £3.50 to get into the car park … eventually. Both we and the person in front struggled to get the machine to accept all of our coins, and both of us also dropped money on the floor. We thought this was quite bad as, if you drop your money, you have to reverse so that you can open your door to reach it again, and if there’s a queue of people behind … We also thought there should be some kind of help facility.

First of all we parked right outside the visitor centre to pick up a map of the park, which is around 620 acres. And that cost us 50p. Then, when I asked her where was the best place to park for the bird hides, she said we could go out of the main entrance, in through another entrance, and park there instead … but we’d have to pay our £3.50 again.

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Echills Wood Railway, Kingsbury Water Park (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

While we understand that these places need to charge, and the park is quite well-maintained, we did think this additonal parking fee was a bit unfair. Why not give us a token so that we could use it in the other car park? Why not have one car park fee that covers us for several car parks owned by the same organisation?

Anyway, we stayed where we were, parked in a more suitable place, and walked the extra bit to get onto the path for the bird hides, first pausing to eat our picnic in the car.

This path took us through the Echills Wood Railway, which is currently closed for essential maintenance, and on through the woods, under the motorway, and around several of the different lakes.

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Birmingham & Fazeley Canal, Kingsbury Water Park (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Within about half an hour, with stopping for pictures, etc, we were at the first of the bird hides and the poet was able to set his telescope up.

We were rewarded with, amongst others, a cormorant, a little egret, lots of pochards, a pair of golden eye, some great crested grebe, plenty of coots and ducks, a shoveller, and a beautiful kingfisher (sorry, he was too far away for a photograph).

There are 3 hides along the hides path, all very clean and well-maintained. We were the only ones there, so I was able to let the dog off his lead while we were inside – dogs are allowed all around the park, but they are supposed to be kept on leads in the bird reserve part of the park.

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Cormorant, Kingsbury Water Park (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

On our way back to the car park we found ourselves beside the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal, where the poet was able to take some pictures of boats and locks.

Because of the time of year, by the time we were almost back at the car park, the light had dimmed considerably. It was gone 4pm and there was a storm coming in.

Incidentally, I’m very aware that pictures can take their time uploading on some readers’ connections, which is one of the reasons I don’t share very many photographs following a walk. Let me know, though, if you’d like to see more. I do try to scatter them throughout other posts over the year, but sometimes it’s nice just to have a photo-blog.

MapMyWalk
MapMyWalk recently updated on my phone and I wasn’t sure what had changed … until we started our walk. The path was shown against a plain grid, instead of against an OS-type map thing, and I was worried it wouldn’t work.

However, when I went to share it on Facebook, it showed the map no problem. So I need to look into that.

Here, though, is our walk. We walked 3.48 miles and burned 455 calories.

kingsbury water park mapmywalk