Day out: Alrewas – 26 June 2016

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Dad: “That’s the founder, there.” Diane: “Who? The one in the skirt or the one in the frock?” Dad: (fits of giggles) “The one in the frock!” (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Every year my dad is invited to the veterans’ memorial day at the National Memorial Aboretum at Alrewas.

The last Saturday in June is usually the armed services memorial day, and the veterans’ memorial day is usually the last Sunday in the month.

For the past 2 years, the poet has accompanied him. But this year, for the first time, I was able to go too.

We had VIP seats only in the second row, and the Lord Mayor of Birmingham was, quite aptly, seated right in front of us.

We arrived ahead of time and bought sandwiches and cakes to eat at our seats, and we took a doggy bag home for Dad too as he couldn’t eat all of his in one sitting – they were very big portions.

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“Veterans’ Sweetheart” Sarah Dennis. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

For half an hour we were then entertained by “veterans’ sweetheart” Sarah Dennis, who sang for the crowd and had everyone joining in with familiar songs.

Then the standard bearers, representatives of the armed forces and the guard of honour took their positions for the service.

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Standard bearers. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The service didn’t take too long, it was just the right length, and was intermingled with speeches, readings and hymns.

The last post was sounded, followed by a standing observation of silence., then everyone joined in with a few choruses of Land of Hope and Glory, once again led by Sarah Dennis.

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Following the wreath-laying. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We didn’t stay around for the march-past, as it wasn’t happening for a while after the service finished and we needed to get back for the dog.

Also, Dad was a bit tired and didn’t feel up to joining in.

Despite the threat from the sky of a storm, the weather stayed dry and mild for us.

After taking Dad home, we headed back ourselves after having a nice day out.

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.

The best laid plans …

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We might get grapes this year. The vine seems to like its new home, although I think it could do with a bigger pot.

On Friday I made very grand plans in order to get ahead with my work … but then everything went pear-shaped when I tried downloading a new file to work on from my job board.

Google insisted that Chrome needed to run the “remove software” tool in order for this file to download correctly, as I kept getting a “network failure” error message. So, trusting Chrome quite implicitly – for me – I did it. It took a while, which took a chunk out of a working slot, and when complete it prompted a reboot.

Oh, how I wish I’d just settled for the chunk taken from one working slot … When I did the reboot the pc got itself into a loop, saying it was looking for an operating system … Yup, the “software removal tool” had removed all of Windows.

Now, I’ve not done a system recovery disk, mostly because it always asks for a disk and I never had a disk big enough – apparently. Instead I opted for backing up critical data, which includes any system downloads.

However, the only option I had on Friday was a full factory reset … (groan!) Although it wasn’t so bad as we only got the computer in November and I am getting into the habit of backing up that thar critical data (heap big thanks to that man who drummed this into me).

So that took several hours out of my day, which in fact was pretty much the entire afternoon in the end. Fortunately, my last critical data backup was just over a week ago too, so any files I hadn’t saved to memory stick were still in emails or on the job board.

I reported the bug to the job board owner, as it’s the third time a file has been corrupted by them now. And, of course, they blamed my virus software. But I’m quite cute with viruses now (except for dodgy Chrome software removal tools, obviously, although that will never happen again), my virus/malware/spyware software is bang up to date, and I’m anal about deleting duplicate files and running scans. I also pointed out to them that this has only happened since they recently merged with another, far inferior (in my opinion) job board site.

Thanks to the mobile phone I was able to send an apologetic email to the client and ask him to send me another version of the file, which he did immediately. And I’ve just grabbed and saved that new file now, so it’s nice and safe (and clearly nothing to do with my virus software!).

So there’s a new job added to this week that I hoped would be cleared by the end of last week, but it’s only a small file, so shouldn’t take too much time.

Friday evening we did the shopping and nipped over to deliver greetings cards to all three kids. It was the twins’ birthday on Saturday and it’s son #1’s birthday tomorrow (same day as my brother!). Then we got a takeaway for tea and chilled in front of the telly.

We had a do-diddle-day on Saturday. We got up when we liked and did pretty much what we liked all day. It was a glorious day, which meant shorts on. And we spent the entire day in the garden, playing with the dog, wearing him out, the poet painted and finished a picture, and I read. We listened to a cricket roadshow on the radio, then we had a barbecue for tea (cheeseburgers, chicken/mushroom/pepper kebabs, sweet potato wedges) and watched another film on the telly.

Sunday was a busy day as my dad had asked the poet if he’d like to take him to Alrewas again this year. It was an extra visit to Brum, and they had a nice time while I stayed with my mom (we had a larf), but it meant a total of 6 hours of driving for the poet (I did offer to drive back …), so he was shattered by the time we got home again. And we had another evening in front of the telly.

This week, then, is another full and normal week for me. I’ve already put 2 washloads through and am about to hang the second out on the line, I’ve done gig list admin, and I’ve done the daily competitions – and I’m over an hour ahead! Then I have a full 2 hours of writing and a full 2 hours of editing. Tomorrow is more of the same, but with surfing for work having 2 hours allocated to it too.

I’d best go hang that washing out so I can crack on with the writing work. 🙂

Busy month ahead

We had another very busy weekend with 3 birthdays, 2 guests and 1 meal out all celebrated Friday night. We also visited parents in Doncaster twice, went shopping twice, went to 1 gig, and visited parents in Solihull. (Dad says it’s not Birmingham, which it isn’t, so …)

It was quite the mad rush as we had to tidy the house a bit on Friday and sort out additional sleeping arrangements before even going to collect 2 of the poet’s kids. We saw the third while at his parents, and his grandaughter, and took one of them to the station on Saturday to meet his girlfriend. We had a very nice meal and I got to bring home giant cake, so I was very happy. They also put some gammon into a doggy bag for us to bring back for Rufus. He enjoyed that.

On Saturday, when we got the day to ourselves back (at about 3pm), we did a little more shopping, this time for the cats, and we had a chill night in front of the telly, which was lovely.

P1020451Sunday was a very early start for us as the poet was accompanying my dad to the national service memorial day celebrations at the national arboretum in Alrewas. Ian wanted to have a look around and take some pictures before the service, as it was his first time there. Then they took their places in the VIP seats right beside the national servicemen’s memorial.

We haven’t collected the pictures from his camera yet, but here’s one that I took when I was there in June 2011. The wreath says “We Also Served”.

I had a few hours with my mom, then we collected a Chinese on our way home and had another chill evening.

This morning, before going back to work, we moved the spare “bed” out of Abbey Road again, so that I could get to my desk and work.

Today I have electronic edits to finalise, then I hope to start a new proofreading job in the next few days and a new editing job. My old diary finishes today, so tomorrow I’ll be starting a shiny new one.

Tomorrow also sees the start of Camp NaNo (July 2014) – and I’m ready.

We have a very busy month ahead as we’re off on our holidays right in the middle of it. We have lots to do before then too.

Who remembers this little guy?

Well, he’s gonna be back over the next 31 days, so keep an eye out for him. 🙂

We have guests

On Wednesday I started to think about how to make Camp NaNo (July 2014) work for me and I began by selecting one of my daily writing prompt books, Four Seasons of Creative Writing. Since then I’ve selected and bought a few magazines that publish fiction specials, to get a feel for what they’re using right now, and I’ve decided my target month.

Because this is happening in July, advance 6 months to January and that’s what most magazine writers will be thinking about – article and short story/serial writers. So my four seasons of creative writing will start in the winter.

I’m usually a planner. I usually start with a theme or an idea or a topical event, then come up with the title, then think of the storyline, and then think of characters to people my stories. And I plan the story, beginning, middle and end. Lots of other writers start with the character. I’ve tried that, but I really need to use all of the above.

But this time, in the spirit of NaNo, I’m going to write by the seat of my pants – be a pantster. I’m going to see if I can come up with around 1,000 words a day, or write for an hour, whichever is sooner – and I can often write 1,000 words in an hour if I’m on a roll. And, technically, that’s 31 x 1,000-word 1st draft stories for January.

However, we do have a holiday in the middle of July. We’re off to Dent again. But because my Four Seasons books is on Kindle, I just need that and my notepad and pen. And on Wednesday I treated myself to a lovely new notepad … well, the poet treated me to it. 🙂

One of the many beauties of Dent (and there are very many) is that I can’t get a mobile signal on my phone. That means I’ll have no pesky internet to distract me from the matter in hand. And, if the poet’s happy, I’ll still try and do my 1,000 words/1 hour a day. So not only will there be lovely pictures to share on the other side of Dent, there will also be a report on how my NaNo has gone. And, because we’re on holiday, it might also feel like a real camp.

It was always my intention to write short stories for magazines and to graduate onto writing serials and then full-length books. However, I found very early on that not only is there a (much!) bigger market for non-fiction in magazines, but I was also quite good at it. And that’s how my writing career progressed – and from there to sub- and then copy-editing and proofreading.

So July will be all about getting back onto that original treadmill and seeing how I get along. No fillers, no articles, no reader’s letters, no novels. Just short stories. Keep everything crossed for me.

Since Wednesday I started the electronic edits on the current non-fiction. A new one came in this week and I already had another one to start. This morning, the novel I’m proofreading also arrived. I’ve pitched for 7 new editing or proofreading jobs already this week and will see if there are any new ones today to go for. And I’ve chased an invoice that’s now overdue.

Today I’ll be doing more of the same until the poet arrives home. Then we’re tidying the house and off to do a bit of shopping ahead of visitors arriving this evening. He has 3 kids and 2 of them (twins) have birthdays today – they’re 25. The other is 29 on Monday. So we’re taking them for a birthday meal this evening for 2 of them (and partner if she makes it), and at least 2 will be staying over. The other one can’t make it so we’re treating her a different way.

I don’t know yet what we’re doing tomorrow, or how long the kids are staying, but Sunday the poet and I are off to my parents as he’s accompanying my dad to the national arboretum in Alrewas, and I’ll be keeping my mom company.

Y’all have a great weekend.

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