Back on track

Packhorse bridge over the River Rye. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed trying to keep on top of various things. But I think I’m back on track again now. I don’t know how this metamorphosis happened, other than sitting down and giving it some thought without trying to do a million other things at the same time.

This week I’ve completed the electronic edit on one book, sent it back to the author, completed revisions back from him, and sent it to print. (Hurrah!) This means an invoice in today’s run. (Double hurrah!) I’ve also completed the manual edit on the new book sent this week from the Spanish client and will do the electronic edit on that today – and that means another invoice in today’s run. (Triple hurrah!) I think completing these 2 short books has given me something mechanical to do while the subconscious mulls over everything else.

The first full-length writing project I’m going to work on is CATCH THE RAINBOW, which is a sort of historical/Marcie Craig hybrid. I’ve lost everything I’d done on that to date, electronically, and need to get another full version (so far) completed and backed up. Fortunately I do have much of it printed out, but I can’t decide if I want a hand-written full copy or risk getting it all only on the computer again, but back it up at the end of each day’s work. I quite like sometimes sitting at the desk and sometimes sitting downstairs on a comfy settee, which is another reason why I mix computer work with hard copy work.

As the weather is getting warmer, and because we live in such a beautiful spot, I’m chomping to be working (writing, reading, editing – not gardening) in the garden again. But I do need shade in which to do that. I can proofread on my paperwhite Kindle in sunlight if I want to see how something looks on screen, and I can handwrite into a notebook or pad. But I need good shade and a comfy seat.

Today, it’s only April and already I’m in shorts, vest-T and sandals. The office/studio (Abbey Road) is already one of the warmest rooms in the house, so I don’t know how I’ll manage when summer actually arrives. It’s much, much cooler in the living room (on that comfy settee), but working in there needs me to change into a warmer tee and yoga pants or summer trousers. If only we could squeeze a reading chair into Abbey Road, eh? I could wander round half-dressed all the time then. 😉

Today, then, I have that electronic edit to complete and those invoices to raise. I also have “pc maintenance” scheduled in, which is really backing up critical data and checking the health of the computer. I want to do some rewriting/retyping of the novel too, and/or maybe make a few more notes. I’ve started to write in “scenes” rather than chapters, which is a concept I’ve never tried before but seems to be working.

Another image from our walk around Rievaulx at the weekend. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We don’t have anything planned for the weekend, which is nice, but I do think we’ll do plenty still. There’s a farmers’ market in Wentworth on Sunday, so we may go there and, if we do, we may do the short walk that was abandoned last time. We might go to the pictures. We might do something in the garden or something in the house.

BUT … we’re not planning anything. Whatever you’re doing, have a goodun. 🙂

And then there were curtains

20150202_105527I had one request at the weekend, and it was for curtains in Abbey Road. My wish being his every command, ta-daa! We have curtains. You can’t see them very well in this picture because, well, Holly seems to be stealing all of the limelight. But they’re there and they came all the way from my last house in Solihull before moving to Yorkshire 11 years ago. The gig buddy adapted them to fit here as well as another matching pair in our spare bedroom. They’re cream and they’re embossed, and we even have some spare curtain left over.

There was a slight delay in putting these up because the pole had fallen down and we needed a slightly longer one anyway. They’ve been waiting to go up for weeks, and we also put one up on the landing that matches the living room curtains. That one needed the pole refixing too, but it’s also awkward in that it needed ladders to get to it.

And I got my curtains despite the poet not feeling very bright at all. We thought he had manflu, but it’s clear now that it’s an abscess under one of his teeth. We had to take my car to be serviced this morning and on the way back we nipped to the dentist to book him an emergency appointment. As luck would have it, one appointment had failed to turn up, so the poet saw the dentist straight away. He has antibiotics now and has to go back next week, probably to have another extraction. That’s 2 in almost as many months. He’s a braver soul than me.

On Thursday I’d ordered a squirrel-proof nut feeder for the garden, a 4-perch seed feeder and some nuts. This was my first order with the Garden Bird & Wildlife Company and I didn’t pay for delivery. Friday afternoon, my delivery arrived – excellent service – and by teatime the birds were happily munching away without fear of having all their nuts stolen.

On Friday I took advantage of Amazon’s current 3-for-£10 offer and bought the next 3 Game of Thrones books. Because my order now came to £10, I was also able to ask for free standard delivery. So I lumped in another book I wanted to buy that only came to £9.35, on which I was loathe to pay delivery when I was only pennies away from the £10 free delivery thing. And those books all arrived yesterday afternoon – and a Sunday to boot. Excellent service once again.

Also last week, I registered us for our first organic veg box delivery scheme and a few people warned us that the company I’d chosen can be inflexible on the box contents. The poet loves to cook and loves to be challenged, and I like to – where possible – use food when it’s in season. This is because it’s in abundance when it’s in season, it’s usually cheaper, and I believe that food has the necessary nutrients the body needs at the right time of the year. So we weren’t going to be very pernickerty. However, he does have a celery allergy, so I fired off an email to see if we could have celery replaced whenever it’s due in the box. This morning they emailed back to say this was fine and the celery would be replaced with “complimentary item” on our itemised list. Apart from that, we’re more than happy to trial whatever they send us whenever they send it. We’re having a medium veg box and a fruit box.

We were supposed to be going to Birmingham and Doncaster on Saturday, but both of those trips were postponed to next weekend. On Saturday we did nip out to get some anti-inflammatories and a few provisions, but the weekend was spent pretty much indoors. To keep himself busy he swapped over the double light switch at the bottom of the stairs because the wrong switches were connected to the wrong lights (he has had electrical training).

On Saturday night he made us a chicken carbonara for tea, and we had enough to freeze 2 individual portions too. Yesterday I put a malted wheat loaf into the bread machine and he made beefburgers and meatballs. We had the beefburgers for tea with cheese and bread, but the meatballs went in the freezer for another time. But that’s as adventurous as we got.

Today, then, after a late start, I have draft 2 of a short story to write, I want to do a bit more to the ideas book, and then I start the next WW1 edit. We have to go back for my car at about 4:30pm, so that will cut the day short too so, for now, here’s another shot of Abbey Road …

office 01The picture on the right was taken a few weeks ago, just after the noticeboards went up. This is what’s at my back when I work. The big noticeboard is for work-related stuff, the smaller board is a memory board for both of us, and the 2 pictures have followed me from work – the top one from the National Grid and the bottom one from Corus/Tata.

Cosy home

This week, on the home front, we’ve had a garage door repair team out, a pair of carpet fitters in the house for a whole day, another carpet fitter delivering a room-size rug and making sure it fits, I’ve been to get routine blood tests and results (all normal), the poet has been to Stockport for one day and to Scotland for 2 days – the latter of which means taxi duties for me – the boiler packed up again so the gas man had to come and fix that – again – and we had to get 6 doors planed and rehung.

In between all of this I’ve edited 3 books and pitched for 10 new jobs. Oh yes, and we finally exchanged contracts on the other house.

Phew! It’s all go.

The weather here hasn’t been as bad as in other parts of the country, but it has been bitterly cold and incredibly windy – not good when the boiler packed up. We still had a fire and a hob, and there was hot water stored in the tank. But this is quite a draughty house (it’s its nature, being an old farm building dating back to 1628 – it’s a listed building too), so the cold nipped a bit. I had to put the fire on in the living room and work in there and, when the boiler was fixed, I left the heating on quite high overnight to warm everywhere up again.

This is a picture of His Lordship enjoying the fire.

rufus 003

You can also see the rug we had made for this massive living room. We were torn between leaving the lovely stone flags exposed and in character, or covering them with a fitted carpet and making the place feel homely. So when they told us we couldn’t have our carpet of choice because the room was too big and they wouldn’t be able to join it, we asked them to make the rug instead. It’s almost 3m x 4m and still there’s lots of floor around the outside.

The picture above is also quite nice in that it represents both the poet and me. His is the guitar to the left, mine is the notebook, pencil and Kindle to the right. You can also see His Lordship’s basket. The hampers were Christmas presents that were left there during the holiday, and looked so nice we decided to keep them there.


The picture to the left shows our 3rd landing and how we carried the carpet up the open plan stairs so that the 2 parts of the house are linked.

There’s a window to the left of Abbey Road, and we have curtains to match those in the living room too, which are the ones from the other house that the gig buddy made for me and has adapted to fit the new house for us. The spare bedroom and the bathroom are off this landing. Our bedroom and an airing cupboard are off the 2nd landing, the 1st landing is a turning point on the stairs.

The Abbey Road sign was a present to the poet from son #2 and was on the door of the office/studio at the last house.

Because we have 3 landings on the stairs, and because 10 of the stairs are open plan, this job took the carpet fitters considerably longer than a regular staircase would take. They were here all day, but they did the bedroom too (in a different carpet). It’s a busy carpet, but a cottagey one that we think fits in nicely.

So that’s part of what we’ve been up to and the week isn’t even over yet. We have runs to do at the weekend to both Doncaster and Birmingham. And I have electronic edits to complete before then.

What are you up to this weekend?

Back up and running

Well, it was a bit of a slog, but we made it. We still have a lot of work to do – a lot! – but at least we have one empty ex house, two empty cars and the makings of somewhere to sit, sleep, eat and work. The spare bedroom is still packed to the rafters and so is the garage. But the setting is so, so beautiful, it really was worth all the hard work.

The removals people were a nightmare. Despite being asked several times to let us know when they were going into the room the dog was in, they still let him escape – at the new house. They damaged the bigger of the 2 settees and got mud all over it. They dropped loads of bedding in the mud. They broke a toolbox and a tool chest. And they rammed everything in any old where despite everything being clearly labelled. We have spent three days this week just taking stuff out of rooms and putting it all back in some order, in the right place, and with room to move around it all.

On Thursday we hired a van to take a load of stuff over to son #1, and to fetch some furniture back that’s more in keeping with the new place than all the modern stuff we had between us. Friday morning we had to go and pay the deposit and everything. And we were back by 12 noon where the removals people had at least already been working for 20 minutes. After 2 trips with the van, 1 trip in my car and 2 trips for the poet in his car, it was gone 6pm by the time we finished. But we had to go back a day or so later to get a load of stuff that had been left, and that filled both cars with the backs down and the front seat pushed forward.

We have so much junk between us it’s untrue. But at least the weeding process has begun, with some of it being done along the way.

Since then we’ve been re-moving boxes and furniture, rebuilding furniture and rearranging everything. One job for the poet was to cut down my huge, mahoosive, wonderful desk to fit the new space. Abbey Road is smaller here than it was at the other house, but we still have the office at one end and the studio at the other … but because I needed the office to start work today, that’s been unpacked (although there are still shelves to go up and more boxes to unpack). The studio needs unpacking and connecting, but with 2 gigs this weekend, there are 2 guitars and a pedal board already accessible.

Yesterday we finished at gone 5pm but off we toddled to Doncaster to get my new computer system. We decided to spend some of my winnings on the latest gear and software to help me do my job in the most professional manner I can.

So here, for now, is how my new office looks:


Of course it’s totally useless when I have a cat who wants to be in my face:


But I’m up and running and raring to go.

Today, then, I have a finished book to take to the post office to send back to the client. I have a big non-fiction I’m in the process of editing. I have snagging for 2 books apparently on the way. And I have the odd box or bag to unpack. I also have a novel to kickstart, which was stalled during, and leading up to, the move. And I have a new Office package to get used to, as well as bookmarks to set up on the new pc, etc.

Oh, and I see the snow is back on the blog. It must be December. 🙂

I’d best crack on. Toodle pip.

Another lovely day in Abbey Road

After a very full and adventurous weekend and still feeling the after effects of quite a bad cold, I could have quite happily stayed in bed today. But I took one look at Abbey Road, saw how glorious it was in here again, and promptly sat down at my desk – early again for the second working day running.

We did some shopping Friday night but had an early night and then had a couple of busy days out. Saturday night we went to a gig with the gig buddies, and yesterday we were up with the larks … well, by 9am (it was Sunday …), out by 10am, buying the dog a new ball and a new lead, and walking in quite blustery sunshine for a few hours. We were both aching by the end of it so it must have been a good workout for us. There aren’t many pictures this time, so before I go today I’ll leave you with some more taken off the camera before we went to Keswick.

We were back by 2pm and still had a lot of the weekend left, so we really must try and do this again, rather than start the day at noon …

I sort of have a bit of a busy week this week. I have a Do Diddle Day on Wednesday, but – against Do Diddle Day rules – I’ve arranged to meet estate agents over at the other house. We’ve already had a rental quote from one, and we may have a potential tenant already (found privately), but it’ll be interesting to know how much the house is worth if we decide we’d like to sell it. And the poet has 2 site visits this week at least, one of them a long, long, long way away.

So I have a lot to cram in to the remaining days. Here’s this week’s to do list:

  • surf job boards daily x 5
  • write 3 x blog posts
  • doctor’s appointment
  • make optician’s appointment
  • diary work
  • enter competitions daily x 5
  • write walks report
  • submit walks report to 6 x local newspapers
  • electronic edits on non-fiction #1
  • manual edit on new fiction
  • Do Diddle Day
  • meet with estate agents x 3
  • complete proofread of non-fiction #2
  • invoices (hurrah!)
  • WRITE something
  • start non-fiction #3
  • trip to Doncaster
  • trip to Birmingham

The dog’s digestive system seems a bit awry at the moment, so we’re keeping a close eye on him and have reverted him back to the careful diet he had to go on when he was a puppy, after he had an acute case of worms immediately followed by septic gastroenteritis. I’ve found him a nice pillow to sleep on under the desk while I work, and he’s currently fast asleep.

We still have boxes and piles to go through and paperwork to reduce down before introducing everything back into Abbey Road. So we’ll try and do a little of that each evening.

And that, my friends, is today’s blog slot almost complete. Here are those pictures I promised, taken at Cusworth Hall near Doncaster last October:

Diane and Rufus at Cusworth Hall. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
Diane and Rufus at Cusworth Hall. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
Ian and Rufus at Cusworth Hall. (Picture: Diane Parkin)
Ian and Rufus at Cusworth Hall. (Picture: Diane Parkin)
(Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
(Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
Tufted Duck. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
Tufted Duck. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
(Picture: Diane Parkin)
(Picture: Diane Parkin)
Canada Geese. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
Canada Geese. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
(Picture: Diane Parkin)
(Picture: Diane Parkin)


Everyone should have a dedicated work area

It’s such a beautiful day here today I’m at my desk a whole hour earlier and having to close the blinds against the sunshine. Since the “office” was added to “Abbey Road” I’ve been at my desk every single day. I’ve had some transitional admin work to do with the other house, but generally I’ve been here working. Every. Single. Day. And I’ve been very surprised when I’ve cleared a load of backlog to see it’s still only the middle of the morning.

Everyone should have a dedicated work area if they can. I’m certain that’s what’s doing it, and having such a lovely environment to work in too helps.

Here is how this week has panned out (list alert!):

  • surf job boards daily x 5 
  • pitch for 15 new jobs 
  • write 3 x blog posts 
  • diary work x 2 
  • enter competitions daily x 5 √××
  • write walks report 
  • submit walks report to 6 x local newspapers 
  • complete manual edits on non-fiction #1 
  • pay outstanding bills x 4 
  • set up new direct debits x 4 
  • complete electronic edits on non-fiction #1
  • start manual edit on new fiction
  • set up new annual budget for 2 new bank accounts (in and out) 
  • arrange estate agent market evaluations x 3 
  • recommence work on non-fiction #2
  • invoices (hurrah!)

Phew! But just look at all of those lovely ticks. I still have some missing, though, so I’d best get on.

Before I go, here are some pictures we found on the camera before clearing it for the Keswick trip:

Wintersett at Rye Hill. (Picture: Diane Parkin)
Wintersett at Rye Hill. (Picture: Diane Parkin)
(Picture: Diane Parkin)
(Picture: Diane Parkin)
(Picture: Diane Parkin)
(Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
Self portrait. (Picture: Diane Parkin)
Self portrait. (Picture: Diane Parkin)
(Picture: Diane Parkin)
(Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
View from the hide at Wintersett. (Picture: Diane Parkin)
View from the hide at Wintersett. (Picture: Diane Parkin)
Nice ... (Picture: Diane Parkin)
Nice … (Picture: Diane Parkin)


Welcome to Abbey Road …

P1030527Blimey, it’s not long after 9am and here I am writing a blog post already. This is mostly because I could hardly wait to get into my office this morning, which is mostly because the office is finally here.

We had a very busy Saturday, first emptying what the poet has always called the studio, and then giving it a good dust and a Hoover. (Note: He did the Hoovering …) Then we went over to the other house to empty drawers and cupboards and dismantle the entire office.

It’s a job I always dread because it’s made up of modules built from solid wood with beech veneers. It’s very heavy, and some items are very awkward. We had a narrow, steep flight of stairs to carry it all down at one end, and then another flight of stairs to carry it all up at the other end.

P1030531BUT he was like a pig in muck once he got his tools out (all one of it – a Phillips screwdriver was all he needed and he’d fetched his entire toolkit), and before long we had both cars loaded with bits of office and were headed back over the common.

It was nice to have an empty room to work with and quicker than it came down the office went back up again, and by early evening we’d moved all of the studio back in too.

P1030536We both still have loads of stuff to go through, piles of paperwork, things that need to be “filed” (in more ways than one). But the main thing is that I’m no longer camping out on the kitchen table and we can both work in the room together.

In the picture to the left you can see a chest of drawers in the bottom left-hand corner. This is filled with art supplies and photography equipment. Just above it, on the desk, is a canvas on an easel waiting to be painted on. Yes, the poet’s an artist as well. The rest of the picture is office furniture and equipment, and the current editing WIP is in a folder to the right of the laptop, which is on a riser. To the right of the desk you can just see one of the poet’s 7 guitars.

P1030537In the picture to the right you can see the poet’s studio and 2 more of his guitars. Another 2 are in cases ready to go to the next gig … or maybe not unpacked yet from the last gig … He has 2 laptops here, soon to be 3, and several mixing desks/stations, and he has 2 keyboards.

The keyboard on the bottom is ace. The keys light up and if you hit them in the right order you can play a tune, complete with chords. That’s my kind of keyboard.

P1030535Finally, for now, I’ve included a picture of the view from my desk. I’ve wanted a window for so long and now we have one each. There’s a single red rose to the left of the windowsill, bought for me by the poet Friday night, and my old office clock in the middle.

The room is a smashing size and shape, but we’re not sure what to call it. It gets referred to as the studio, the office, the music room, the creative room. The poor thing needs an identity, so maybe we’ll just call it Abbey Road.

I’d love to write more but I have work to do – a diary to update, books to edit, stories to write. So I’ll leave you with these pictures for now. Enjoy.