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.

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.

Still no new pictures …

rufus 003a… so here’s one I made earlier to warm you on this blustery day.

We ended up having another very busy weekend, but we did take Friday evening off to chill in the end, and did as many of our errands as we could on Saturday.

We did the shopping. We returned the spare fancy dress outfit I bought last week in case the other one didn’t fit. We returned something to Meadowhall that was the wrong size. We collected the poet’s fishing pole from the pole doctor. We visited the poet’s parents. We went to a Monkey Dust gig in Doncaster.

On Sunday we had somewhere to be in the morning, but when we got home I made a parkin cake (only my second ever) and the poet made Hollandaise sauce so we could have eggs Benedict – made with home-boiled ham and chives from the garden.

He also left a brisket of beef in the slow cooker so we had that for tea with roast potatoes, veg and Yorkshire puddings.

And that was our weekend gone again. Pooff! Just like that.

Ah yes, but I still managed to do my daily NaNoWriMo, so I was quite chuffed with myself for that. I just need to update my little man in the sidebar now.

This week has been sort of busy too, although yesterday was actually a bit of a non-starter as I was shattered when we got up and hardly felt like doing anything – which is why the blog has been done today. I did do some editing, though, and I did do some more NaNoWriMo.

Today has mostly been the pro-bono job. I’ve contacted the charities concerned and I’ve updated the blog a little, and added a new post – so that’s TWO blog posts I’ve actually written today, although the other one is just a shorty. If you’re interested, you can visit the blog here and the Facebook page here.

Next up is more editing, and then I’ll do my NaNoWriMo again. I know NaNo was booked in for 11am, but I’m sort of percolating ideas and content while I’m working on other stuff so that the words flow more easily when I do sit down to do it.

And that’s it for today – busy, busy, busy! 🙂

Nice weekend off

banana loafWell, after a stressful week we wanted the weekend off and we pretty much had it, getting the shopping out of the way first and just buying some bird and dog food from the pet shop. We’ve both been fighting colds so we didn’t feel much like doing anything else.

On Saturday the poet made his own Caesar dressing and we had that, with salmon and salad, for tea.

Monkey Dust had a gig in Sheffield Saturday night, at a new venue, and it took us a while to get there. When we did, the gaffer panicked about the speakers, but by the end of the night he was converted and asking them to play again next year.

On Sunday we did more baking. The poet put another lamb shank in the slow cooker, with mint and garlic this time. Then we made a granary loaf and 4 granary rolls in the oven (the rolls and a third of the loaf have already gone), a banana tea bread (from the low fat cookbook), and another granary loaf in the bread machine.

We popped out to visit the poet’s parents on Sunday too, and on the way we stopped off to replace the bread flours – strong white, strong brown, wholemeal – and get a new tin of dried yeast.

We also bought oatmeal for parkin. We couldn’t get oatmeal from Tesco, but apparently all of the other supermarkets sell it and they don’t, so we did the baking shopping at Morrisons. And we bought cream so the poet can have a go at making his own custard – we’d already picked up a vanilla pod from Tesco.

He came back from his parents’ with a pile of art supplies and I came back with a glass pie dish, a glass quiche dish and a jar of sugared blackberries. We’ll be putting all of those to good use very soon.

And that was the weekend. The picture is of the banana tea bread and the worktop saver is the one we bought a few weeks ago. It says: “Home is where the heart is.”

The hire car went back today – it should have gone back on Friday but they only came for it today – and they should be fixing the poet’s car today.

Holly’s back at the vet on Wednesday, but we finally let her out yesterday. We didn’t let her “escape”, we just left the back door open until she noticed it. She went out about 3 times for only a few minutes before coming back in, but then went out for an hour or so. When she got back we checked her scar, and all seems intact. So we’re not keeping her in any more.

It’s my last week of NaNo prep, I have a brand new edit in today, although I’ll be doing the ones already in first, and I’ve scheduled in a couple of sessions this week on the “pro bono” work, so it isn’t dominating my time but I still get to do something with it.

What are you up to this week?

Wormy’s kitchen

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Baking day (pictures: Diane Wordsworth)

I’ve had a bit of a slow start to the week this morning.

The poet’s gone to the Midlands for the day, and within seconds of him leaving, I saw there had been a fatal accident on the M1 and thought it was very likely that the motorway was closed. Sure enough, after I warned him, he confirmed that the motorway was indeed closed, right where he usually gets off. So not only was it closed, but there would also be lots of traffic. Big traffic. And the poet really is the worst navigator in the world.

After sorting out an alternative route for him, and talking him through it (he was on hands free), I finally made it to my desk where I also had a late breakfast. He’s under very strict instructions to (a) let me know the moment he arrives safely, and/or (b) call me the second he takes a wrong turn. So now I’m on standby until he gets there. He doesn’t have his sat-nav on as it’s usually a routine run for him, and he’ll need to pull off to get it all out and set up. It’s quicker and easier, and safer, for him to just call me.

To cap things, we had a power-cut here about half-an-hour ago too. But that gave me chance to empty the dishwasher and fill it up again – and, believe me, after the weekend we’ve had, the kitchen was like a bomb site. There’s at least another dishwasher load waiting to go in.

We did have a very busy weekend too.

Friday was mostly chill time. And he was trying to recover from a cold so he could perform Saturday night. Saturday morning we had a mad tidy-up session, only for our guests to cancel later that afternoon. But at least we got back to a clean and tidy house. Saturday afternoon we were shopping. And Saturday evening his band were playing in Wakefield, at a new venue.

On Sunday, we got up early because we were determined to do something with those cooking apples before they turned, and he had 2 lots of meat he wanted to slow-cook too – a brisket of beef, in the slow cooker, and a ham joint, which he boiled slowly. Unfortunately the elderberries had already gone too far, so those went into the bin. But the apples were still fine.

To take advantage of the apples as quickly as possible, we did buy some ready-rolled pastry. But an apple pie, some jam tarts, and 4 apple turnovers later we decided that while it does the job, it’s not as nice as my pastry. The jam tarts were made with his home-made blackberry jam, and the apple turnovers were because he’d just seen rhubarb turnovers on Sunday Brunch. I also made a crumble mix (he asked for a double crumble mix) and we made an apple crumble too. (This was where the elderberries were going.)

Then we nipped out to buy more empty jam jars and preserve jars, so we can make the apple jelly, perhaps some apple & sloe jelly, and maybe some more chutney or tomato ketchup later in the week, and we ended up having a bit of a spending spree.

The kitchen scales were starting to wear, with the dish already broken and us noticing one of the feet had fallen off yesterday. So we got some new kitchen scales that can measure dry and wet ingredients. The electric hand mixer I was given as a present back in 1984 was starting to smell of burning, and the whisks were falling out. So we bought a new electric hand mixer, but with a bigger engine, more speeds, a turbo boost and 2 sets of whisks. All of the feet have fallen off the glass worktop saver, which is see-through, and it keeps skittering across the worktop and was in danger of crashing to the floor. So we bought a new glass worktop saver with a print on it so we can see it. And the poet keeps leaving his toast lying around while it cools. So we bought him a new toast rack. (It’s the little things in life …)

We did remember the jars, and bought 6 jam jars and 2 preserve jars. Ee, it were like Christmas.

For tea he cooked a proper Sunday dinner, with 3 veg and Yorkshire puddings, but we were so stuffed after that little lot, we didn’t have any of the puddings. We have those to look forward to this week.

It’s a 4-day week this week for me, and next week, as the poet has booked a long weekend off work. He might be going fishing on one of the days, though, and it depends on where he goes and what the weather’s like whether or not I go with him. If I don’t go with him, I may work a normal day anyway. But we’ll definitely have at least one of the days off together.

I’d best crack on with some work, as even the diary’s all out of synch now. How was your weekend?

(By the way, the poet recently called. He’d not even reached Derby yet, such was the volume of traffic. There’s another motorway closure further down, the M42, so by the time he gets to Tipton, he may as well turn around and come back. Although he is also dropping in on my parents if he can.)

Heavy edits

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Memorial, Moreton in Marsh (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Apart from being in the midst of another very heavy edit, yesterday I also disappeared beneath a fug of faff and almost let the entire day run away.

It all started when I tried to tidy my pictures on Facebook, and I was going so fast that FB suddenly stopped letting me update the captions, saying my “behaviour” was intolerable. (Or words to that effect.)

Well, FB, enjoy them while you have them. Because when you start to dictate to me what I can write and what I can do with MY OWN PICTURES, I start to back them up elsewhere and they start to disappear from your platform.

Anyway, once I got over my little tantrum, I left the computer (and FB) on the office desk and moved downstairs to finish the heavy manual edit. I should be doing the electronic edit on that next, but I need a rest from it so will do a quick proofread for the same client instead, and get that back to them either tonight or tomorrow night, overnight.

Last week got a bit busy as I had another 4-day week (it’s 5 days this week, I hope I can cope). All of Thursday was pretty much written off with appointments, but I did manage more editing in between at least. I just didn’t manage anything else.

At the weekend we had a Monkey Dust gig Saturday night, and we visited both lots of parents – one on Saturday, and one on Sunday. I also had a baking day, making a cherry fruit cake and some cherry buns (we needed to use up the cherries), and I made a strawberry trifle. And on Sunday the poet left a pork casserole in the slow cooker while we were out.

I have at least 2 books I need to clear and get back to the client this week (the 2 already mentioned), but we have a meeting Wednesday evening too for the one piece of “pro-bono” work I’ve taken on. I don’t do work for free very often, but I do like to help out a good cause where I can and this one’s to do with some friends of the band, and it is a charity thing. The band will be doing something too.

Friday is back to being an errand day this week. I usually still work in the morning, but try to arrange any appointments for late afternoon onwards. This week I had to make one appointment in the morning, at 10:30am, and I already had one late afternoon, at 4:30pm. Hopefully there’s still a big enough gap in there for me to crack on with some work.

Extra homework
Today’s picture is another one from our long weekend in Evesham over the bank holiday. We had a day showing the poet some of the Cotswold villages, and this one is Moreton in Marsh. Have a look at it and see if you can come up with a story – either around the memorial or about the people who live (or do they work?) in the little house immediately behind. With Remembrance Sunday less than 2 months away, some speculation – or good, honest research – around the memorial might make something interesting. But so might whoever you decide to populate the house with.

Don’t forget to report back. 😉

Our woodpecker

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We have a pair of woodpeckers in the garden now. Here’s Mister Woody. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Yesterday I had a snow day. I do love the snow, and I do have work to do. But one of the reasons me working from home works is because I take off days that other workers might take off. This is why I don’t work weekends or bank holidays – I may as well go back to work if I’m not going to take those. And yesterday, because lots of other people were having a snow day, I had one too. I also have fag (cigarette) breaks, by the way, even though I’ve never smoked. Hey, it works. 🙂

I did start the day fairly early yesterday as we needed a few supplies and we thought the weather was going to get much worse. But already the roads were bad, so I didn’t venture very far, just to our local Co-op, which is actually within walking distance but I knew I had heavy bottles to buy too (milk, juice, pop). So at 9:15 I was washed, dressed, breakfasted, and I loaded the dog into the car (he loves to come for a ride). I was back home 20 minutes later and we were stocked up. I also bought mixed fruit and vanilla essence so we can bake some cakes, cookies and puddings.

We baked cakes on Wednesday when the poet got home from work. He put some bread on while I started some apple and cinnamon muffins. He likes to do the mixing and stuff, though, so all I had to do was tell him how much of everything he needed and let him take over when he was ready. He does, however, draw a line at spooning out, so I did that. (Sigh!) It’s such a hard life …

But back to yesterday, I couldn’t get going at work, so instead did a load of housework-ish. This consisted of putting 2 large loads of clean washing away, putting 2 more loads through, and emptying and reloading the dishwasher twice. Well, the dishwasher is still a chore, it still needs to be unloaded and loaded and the crocks put away.

For the first time yesterday I spotted our female greater spotted woodpecker. I wondered what it was at first as it was missing the red nape you can see in the above picture. But I’ve checked and she’s definitely a female. This is so cool.

This morning the poet headed off to Manchester again, but they’ve called him and told him to turn around and go back (hands-free, of course, on his phone). Apparently they’ve had a big snow dump over on that side o’ t’hill and, from what I can gather from Facebook, it hit further south overnight too. The roads between there and here are closed so he’s on his way back to the office.

I had a very good writing day on Wednesday. I wrote an outline for 1 new short story, and the 1st drafts of another 2 new short stories. Today I’d like to skip draft 2 and go straight to the typed draft of one of these 1st draft stories as it’s written itself quite well. If I can get it polished by tomorrow night (I know I don’t work at the weekend, but if it’s just a quick skim-through of something short I don’t mind), it’s on its way to favourite short story market for my January submission. The other short story needs more work, but that one might go off for my February submission. (Who can guess which market this is? 🙂 )

I thought I had the gig list to update this week, but apparently it was done a few days ago. I just need to copy and paste the details over onto Facebook so that punters and musicians know where they’re going this weekend. I’d also like to have a look through some other 1st and 2nd draft short stories to see if anything else is almost ready to go out. Oh yes, and I have an invoice to raise (hurrah!). So, all in all, a fairly busy day today.

Tomorrow I think we’re off to Birmingham, weather permitting, and coming back via Doncaster, to visit parents. Tomorrow evening, weather permitting, we’re off to Holmfirth to see some friends of mine in their band. Our names will be on the door, so we’ll also take the camera and hopefully write them a good review on Monday.

I don’t think we have anything planned for Sunday, but I need to bagsy that we put the new curtains up in Abbey Road. We’ve not had chance to do that yet as the curtain pole has fallen down and needs refixing or replacing. The sun’s starting to slant in through the window, though, and cause reflection on part of the computer screen. So I need that doing next if we can. We’ll also do some baking, I think.

What are you up to this weekend?