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?

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Clockwork tomato

Catch the Rainbow

Today I’ve been finding the clockwork tomato very useful, due to being overwhelmed by the amount of washing we have lying around at the moment.

Honestly, it came to the point that we had to stand on the washing to get it all to fit in the laundry basket, but the washing machine was full, the clothes horse was full, the tumble dryer was full, and the washing baskets were full. I really had nowhere to put anything. Other than, of course, away …

Enough’s enough, though, and this morning, out came the clockwork tomato for as many 10-minute bursts as I can fit in.

First chore this morning was the dishwasher – emptying it from the wash program it was on overnight, and starting to fill it with today’s crocks and glasses. Then it was breakfast, and then I did some gig list admin. I finished that work early, though, so set the timer and blitzed the clean washing for 10 minutes. Then I had 10 minutes faffing on Facebook. Then it was back to the list of chores.

The next thing on the list was daily competitions. But I’d worked on Saturday, either side of a football game in Doncaster (and finishing at 9pm Saturday night!), and part of my warm-up was daily competitions. I don’t usually do them at the weekend as I’m not usually at the desktop. But doing them on Saturday meant less time catching up this morning. So when I finished that early, off I went to do another 10 minutes on the washing.

For the first time ever, the next job on the list was “writing work”, with the subheadings “NaNo Prep”, “Catch the Rainbow”, and a gap I filled in with “5 ideas in 7 days (7)”. This is the last of my 5 ideas in 7 days and it means I now have 35 ideas all written down – and I selected one of them for my NaNo prep. I also chose the genre for my NaNo, and I wrote over 1,600 words for CATCH THE RAINBOW. This morning! Before any other work! I’m very, very happy with that. Especially as it’s taken the word meter over the 20,000-word mark. 😀 (Diane pats herself on the back.)

I had 20 minutes left at the end of my writing time, and I toyed with setting the timer and having another bash at the washing. But I decided to bring the blog posting forward from 2pm this afternoon instead. If I finish this before the poet gets home for his dinner, I’ll have another 10 minutes on the washing and be able to start something else when he goes back to work.

But, whatever, it means I’m more than a whole hour ahead of schedule.

I do have a big editing job I want to finish, or at least make a massive dent in. So that will take up much of the afternoon. I finished one of the heavy edits on Saturday and got it sent off to the client, which was why I was working until 9pm.

I had to break off work to go to the football game. We’d been given complimentary tickets to see Doncaster Rovers play Barnsley, and so we made a nice afternoon of it, even eating in the corporate box. And on Sunday we went to Birmingham to visit my parents. While there, I sat with Mom while the poet took Dad to get his winter pansies. The pots should look nice next time we’re there.

We didn’t have time to make any apple pies or apple & elderberry crumbles, but we did go sloe-picking Friday evening before the light went. Even Domino the cat came with us, she hates to miss out on anything. He’s taken some of those sloes to work as the lady in the canteen asked him to fetch her some if we picked enough. The cooking apples, however, are still in their bag on the worktop … Maybe this evening.

The cuckoo clock downstairs has just sounded 1 o’clock, so I won’t have time to put any more washing away before lunch. I will, however, have plenty of breaks in this afternoon’s heavy edit and see how much more I can get done.

Have you tried the 10-minute sprints and bursts yet? I can highly recommend them.

Word meters

Catch the Rainbow

Have you been keeping an eye on the word meters in the sidebar? Those, and the one to the left here, are all provided by Writertopia. If you like them and would like to try them, hop along to their website. There’s a real man behind them too. Once, when I was struggling to get the widgets to work with WordPress, we had a nice email conversation.

CATCH THE RAINBOW hasn’t moved for about a week now, but some of the others have. Yesterday I met my word count challenge for July (and will exceed it even further today), so that one has gone up. I’ve been writing the ideas book this week, so that one has gone up. Each week another section is added to DIARY OF A SCAREDY CAT, so that one has gone up. And, a new one, I’ve started to collate material for TALES FROM BAGGINS BOTTOM BEST BITS BOOK THREE, so that one has appeared and also gone up this week.

BBBBB3 is currently my first hour of writing time. “Writing time” can be anything at all to do with my own writing, including research, editing and admin tasks. As 2007 starts to be collated in the new book, though, it’s starting to disappear from the blog. As I already have the best bits from 2005 and 2006, those years are no longer even in my “private” folder. They were trashed earlier this week. Once this one is done and dusted too, it’ll be going the same way.

The poet asked me the other day when he’ll start to appear in the books. I said Book 9 … unless more than one year get collated together in the meantime.

Today I’m doing electronic edits for a client’s book. I also have more “writing time” and some admin time (invoices – hurrah! – admin & PC maintenance). Then I finish early for a hair appointment.

Tonight marks the return of Ripper Street to BBC1 and we’d both like to watch that if we can, but the poet also wants to cut the grass. Tomorrow we’re out for the day – either walking or sightseeing, depending on the weather – and he’s toying with fishing Saturday evening. On Sunday we’re in Rotherham with his band. So another fairly busy weekend ahead.

I hope we get to do some walking, and next week “daily competitions” has been replaced in the diary with “walk dog”. I’ve recently been, once again, the heaviest I’ve ever been, only  – obviously – heavier. 😦  So I changed our diet this week to a low GI one. (Do you see how “I” changed “our” diet there? I’m so good to him. 🙂 ) I’ve lost more than 4lb over the past 2 weeks, so it’s going in the right direction. My lower back has been killing me just recently, though, and the only thing I can think of, having already changed the settee and the bed, is all of this excess weight I’m carrying. Oh yes, that and the arthritis I have in it.

Wherever we go tomorrow, I’m sure there will be more photographs to choose from to illustrate the blog. We both think it looks so much more inviting when there’s a picture at the top.

Y’all have a great weekend.

Rocking the Cosmos

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Industrial Oban (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Less than 2 weeks ago, I gave the Cosmos a bit of a kick up the bum and ordered a little bit of good fortune. I asked for Holly to learn how to use the cat flap, and I asked for some work or some sales or a competition win.

Well, I can proudly announce that Holly, that very intelligent cat, who thinks she can blend into the background and hide anywhere, and can open very heavy doors, has finally learned how to use the cat flap … or at least one way she has. She has yet to work out that the cat flap actually flaps both ways, and if she can push a big, heavy door, she can certainly shift a bit of perspex. So, round of applause for Holly, please, and a please-try-a-little-harder to the Cosmos. Thank you.

Last week I received a teeny-tiny follow-up job from a very satisfied client of the week before. I submitted the work Wednesday evening (late, after the fishing match), and he paid me yesterday. He also left me a second 5-star feedback. I LOVE clients like that.

And then this morning, a client I thought I may have lost has contacted me with a Big One. One that may take 3 – 4 weeks. Of course, he still may find someone willing to do the work for less and has every option to go there instead. But he contacted me, and that’s the main thing. I think I’ll be having lots of conversations with the Cosmos today, though.

So, how has the week been? Well, I started a new word count challenge on Wednesday, but as I’m doing it over several projects, I asked the poet to create a spreadsheet for me so I can keep tabs on how much I’ve written per project and how much I’ve written per day/month. He did that within about 10 minutes. I could have done it, but it would have taken me half a day, so I outsourced that work to maximise and optimise.

We had a cracking storm yesterday afternoon. I knew it was coming because the dog was barking at anything, everything and nothing. The day before we’d had a proper, tropical storm, with thunderless lightning and big fat raindrops. That left us feeling very muggy. Yesterday, though, it was a decent downpour that left everywhere feeling fresh again.

I’m back into the swing of CATCH THE RAINBOW, I’ve started a new short story, and I’m still doing exercises for ideas and markets. I’ve been editing 2 jobs this week, one is almost complete the other was filed on Wednesday. Next week I may get time to do some extra work as the poet is off to Germany again for a couple of days on business. So in all, I’m feeling quite positive on the work side of things.

I pitched for another job this morning that I was invited to, another regular proofreading gig. I hope to file the second of those editing jobs this afternoon, and get it invoiced (hurrah!). And then we’re off to the pictures this evening. We’re going to see JURASSIC WORLD. Tomorrow we have a very local music festival to go to. And Sunday … I don’t know yet what we’re doing on Sunday. Perhaps we need to get out and take some new photographs, as I’m running out of older ones not already seen … but I like the Oban picture. I like how colourful it is, yet how industrial.

Have a great weekend.

Statistics

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The poet hates gardening, but his hanging baskets are thriving at the moment.

So I was still feeling a bit sorry for myself when the poet started to spout statistics at me, reminding me that in order to win it, you need first to be in it. He pointed out that as I’ve been so busy editing and proofreading other people’s work I’ve not really had much time to write any new work of my own, and all the stuff I’ve been submitting is stuff that was written a while ago – in the main.

When he started to ask me for figures, I decided to check my record. And he’s right. Not only have I not been writing very much new material recently, I’ve also not really been submitting very much either.

When I checked my record of submissions, I worked out that in the past 24-month period I’ve actually had a success rate of 26.6%. Some were fillers written and submitted on the spot, and pretty much instantly accepted; some were older stories still doing the rounds, although there are also 3 brand new stories in there since January of this year. I did it over 24 months because, as he says, I’ve hardly submitted anything recently so that’s the latest I have to go on.

I suppose, then, that 27% isn’t really a very poor return. It’s more than a quarter. But I am keen to change the ratio of work in favour of my own in the coming months.

Back on the wagon, then …

We went fishing on Wednesday evening. The poet had a chance to join a match and we’d already spent several hours there on Saturday in quite pleasant surroundings so I wasn’t adverse to doing the same again. I took some work with me, and some reading, and we both actually had quite a successful time. I managed to write a 50-word flash-fiction story and almost 700 words of stream of consciousness; he just missed out on a prize by coming 5th – not bad when he was up against around a dozen anglers who regularly fish the lake.

It wasn’t a flash in the pan either, or not so far. Yesterday I ticked all of the jobs on my list and in the middle of it all managed:

  • 677 words on CATCH THE RAINBOW
  • an hour of study work (fiction writing course)
  • 21 hard copy pages edited

Today I sneak in a swift editing job – just one chapter revisited of a book I edited last week – and hope to do more work on CATCH THE RAINBOW. And all those books on the Kindle? Weeded down to:

  • 5 mystery magazines – 2 x Ellery Queen; 2 x Alfred Hitchcock; 1 x Sherlock Holmes (market study)
  • 7 how-to-write books, complete with exercises (kick up the bum + exercising the writing muscle)
  • 3 collections of short stories – Arthur Conan Doyle; Teresa Ashby; Della Galton (market study)
  • 1 non-fiction book on the IRA (research)
  • 3 novels – Peter May; Robert Tressell; Jack Higgins (R, R & R – rest, relaxation & research)

I’ve just added another freebie on habits, but I’ve not looked yet to see if it’s a keeper, a saver or a deleter. But there’s plenty for me to dip into there, and the how-to-writes and the fiction writing course are keeping the ideas coming.

What’s on your Kindle/TBR pile this weekend? Y’all have a goodun!

Holiday “snaps”

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The view from our balcony (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The final leg of our honeymoon started at 5am on a Sunday morning when we got up to head off to Glasgow Airport for our flight to Cyprus. We were only going for a week.

The poet had been craving sunshine – proper sunshine – and so when we got the chance we decided to take advantage of having pet sitters and off we popped.

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The view from our balcony (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We had an all inclusive hotel, which I’m really not used to, but it was nice for our honeymoon.

I’ve never been to Cyprus but lots of friends have raved about how beautiful it is. And it is – plus, there’s still a very heavy British influence there on things like the road signs and traffic lights. I was expecting it to be a bit more Greek, but it’s actually quite cosmopolitan. We had glorious weather on all but one day.

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Ian in the pool (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

So here are some “snapshots” of our first and last days there. The more touristy pictures will follow in the next few posts.

I’m suddenly very busy again. Not only did I already have one job waiting for me when we got back off holiday, but another arrived on my first day back at work.

Two days later another arrived.

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Protaras, our closest big town (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

And I think there may be another 2 editing or proofreading jobs in the pipeline too, but one of them needs me to get a pdf editor. I’m not sure I want a free one as I need one that will do the job properly and not drop out or expire when I least expect it.

Aside from the editing work, I’ve also come back from both Scotland and Cyprus with loads and loads of ideas for articles and fillers.

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Doing his Daniel Craig impression ♥ (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

I’ve been frantically making notes and doing some market research and, once the current edit is done (due in tomorrow), I’ll probably look at getting some pitches out. I’d like to send at least a pitch a day, or maybe 5 per week. (I did say there were loads of ideas.)

Last week too was spent redrafting the outline for CATCH THE RAINBOW. I’m trying to write scene-by-scene this time, rather than chapter-by-chapter and I’m hoping that helps me to flit from one era or viewpoint to another. I now have 75 scenes, including a prologue and plus an afterword. So I’m chomping at the bit to be getting on with that as well.

Then I have 2 books in for proofreading that I’ve already edited. I usually leave those until the proofreader/author revisions come in. But I’d like to build in proper proofreading time  to my schedule if I can, so I know they’ve picked up everything that I would.

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Diane doesn’t really do sunbathing … (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

And the promise of more to come … It’s very nice to be so busy. On the job boards I get so many invitations to pitch now that I don’t even trawl the wanted pages any more. So yes, lots to do on the writing and editing side of things.

There’s stuff I need to do around the house too, and I’ve only just today hit the bottom of the laundry basket following our holiday. It’s only taken 2 weeks …

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Watersports on Protaras beach (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

I want to bake more as well, though, making full use of the fresh ingredients we’re getting once a fortnight. I think the poet is using pak choi for tea this evening … I have no idea what that is or what to do with it. But hopefully he does.

The poet has one more band practice this week before other band members start their summer holidays. The next gig is in August, so it will be nice to have the summer off.

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Arty shot (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We have plans to go to a few summer festivals over the break and not having to be back on a Saturday in time for a gig will mean we don’t have to dash around.

And I think that’s it for today. I have work due in tomorrow and another job starting tomorrow, so I really need to be getting on with that now. The heating has packed up too, so I’m also hanging around waiting for the gas man.

Enjoy the pictures. 🙂

3 weeks ago

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Picture: Ian Wordsworth

Three weeks ago today the poet and I tied the knot in Gretna Green, in Scotland.

We decided to go to Scotland because we already wanted to honeymoon there and we didn’t want our friends or families to feel obliged to come to yet another wedding – this is my 3rd wedding and his 2nd.

Two of our friends, however, wouldn’t let us get married either on our own or without them. And so they travelled with us and helped make our special day so much more special. (Sharon made the dress too, by the way.) We had a lovely ceremony, performed by a registrar who hailed from Barnsley too. So it was a nice little local celebration anyway.

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The Chapel at the Mill Forge. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I’m not going to bang on and on about the wedding. I’m sure all of you know how they go. But here is a small selection of photographs to give you a feel while I carry on with the rest of today’s blog post.

It’s been a stupidly busy week not helped at all by the torrential rain that greeted us when we got back. I have piles and piles and piles of washing still to do, from both the 2 holidays but also what we left before we went and what we’ve used since we got back.

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Hand pump. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The tumble dryer has been in action, but the washing line has only been filled once this week, and still the laundry basket overflows.

I’d allowed myself half a day to do the washing, but I should have allowed (a) much longer, and (b) more time just to change my name online. I’ve had to change all of my contact details as well as username where I can, and I’ve had to find out who to write to if they need to change username.

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Waterwheel. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

This includes WordPress (for this blog), Blogger (for the gig list), Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yahoo (for the email address) …

It includes notifying everyone and hoping the email hasn’t gone into their spam. It includes 3 job boards I’m registered on. And it includes a lot of the daily competition auto-complete information. It’s taken the best part of 3 days, and still it’s not all done.

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Man of steel. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

What it doesn’t include so far is my banking details – which is the important thing – my driving licence, and my passport. But I can’t do those until the marriage certificate arrives. So I still have tons and tons to do on the name change front. And a marriage certificate to chase …

Also this week I’ve launched the new website. I’d already done the bulk of this work in downtime earlier in the year. But being a superstitious kinda gal, I didn’t want to officially launch it until after the official name change.

The website is still very much a work-in-progress and some of you have already started to give me feedback – all of which I will attend to, digest, and apply if desired. Thanks for all of the messages so far.

One new thing I have created this week is a Facebook page.

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Diane and Ian signing the register. (Picture: Billy Rodgers)

My old Facebook profile is now a joint one as the poet decided he didn’t want a FB presence any more. But as he still needs to administer the gig list (both the website/blog and the Facebook page) and his Monkey Dust page, he’s going in on mine.

The new page, which I’ve resisted creating for so long but now seems the natural thing to do, can be found here. I don’t know what it will include as yet, but presume it will be all the writerly/editing/workish stuff I already share on the profile, but which I’ll be doing less of now it’s a joint profile. Again, it will no doubt evolve.

So that’s all the admin stuff …

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Our lovely friends, Billy and Sharon, who wouldn’t let us get married on our own. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

… what about the writing side of things?

Well, I’ve been stupidly busy there too, furiously brainstorming a million and one article ideas following our recent travels. I’ve filled in pages and pages of my notebook and selected 5 – so far – to maybe concentrate on for now.

I’ve always been a natural feature writer, and while I’m desperately trying to get back into fiction (long and short), I may as well exercise the writing muscle anyway. So I’ve been very busy with that as well.

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(Picture: Ian Wordsworth – he has a remote control)

And, of course, the brain has been percolating quietly away on the fiction side of things too. Next week I start work again on CATCH THE RAINBOW.

[PAUSE]

My lovely husband just came home and treated me to lunch “out” (aka sandwich and cake from Gregg’s), and before he got here the postman brought … (ta-daa) our marriage certificate.

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Picture: Billy Rodgers (although you can see his remote in this pic)

This was particularly useful because we needed it as we were registering at our local doctor’s. He’d already tried to register several months ago online and had also returned a questionnaire to them. But it somehow got lost in transit and he needed to register in person.

So that’s where he took me during his lunch break. That’s what I like to see – a man who knows how to treat his wife! 🙂

Of course, now the certificate has arrived, my workload has just jumped up again. But I think I’ve had enough this week. I’ll start again next week.

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I love this picture from the end of the evening. They’d both made speeches and everything, and I think Ian looks really relaxed. (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

Today, then – or what’s left of it – I had planned to start a new edit that arrived on the very same day that I started back at work. Unfortunately, it sat in my in box for 2 days before I spotted it. Fortunately, they knew we were going away and hadn’t offered it anywhere else yet.

I also have at least one more to do for lovely already boss, with another 2 potential jobs hopefully on their way. I already completed proofreader and author revisions on another yesterday, and we delivered it by hand yesterday evening on the way back from band practice.

We’re having at least one do-diddle-day over this coming bank holiday weekend, we’re visiting the parents in both Birmingham and in Doncaster, and we might go to the pictures. Other than that, we’re having the weekend off.

Enjoy the pictures. 🙂

A new gadget

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Bracket fungus. Langsett Reservoir. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We didn’t really plan to do much over the weekend beyond a dress fitting and a visit to Birmingham. The fitting was over and done by and we were on the road at 10:30am.

The long drive gave us the opportunity for me to iron out some reservations I have with CATCH THE RAINBOW, and the discussion helped me to focus more and get rid of a big problem, a blockage, something that wasn’t quite working.

I think there’s going to be a shift of protagonist, or maybe more than one protagonist, and the story is a lot bigger, deeper, than the original plan. Now I panic that I don’t have it in me – either the knowledge or the stamina. Or the expertise. We also discussed a few other projects and I think things are clearer in my own mind, what I want, why I’ve not been going for it.

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Looking out across Langsett Reservoir. (Picture: Diane Parkin)

I was very happy with the conversation, particularly as I get to buy more books. Much of the information I need is available online, but as we know, some of the “facts” are only as accurate as the original volunteer information. And anyway, I like books.

I did start to read one of my existing books on Friday, ARMED STRUGGLE: THE HISTORY OF THE IRA by Richard English. But it’s a bit heavy for what I want, and – following our chat on Saturday – what I actually want is a history of Sinn Féin. And even then, I’m not sure I want a very deep understanding of it, but more of a passing awareness – if you get my drift.

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Langsett. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We made good time to Birmingham and so stopped off at Elmdon Park to eat our picnic and give the dog a quick walk. Then we had a couple of hours with Mom and Dad before heading back. We dropped the dog back home and then went back out to Meadowhall.

We didn’t find any books on the new subject, but we did get a birthday present for my mom for next weekend. We also treated ourselves to a Pizza Express and our favourite, Grand Chicken Caesar Salad … very scrummy.

New gadget: MapMyWalk.

On Sunday, we made another picnic, and this time headed over to one of our favourite walks, which is less than 15 minutes from our house now: Langsett Reservoir.

I also downloaded a new gadget for my mobile phone, MapMyWalk. I’d wanted something similar before but I only had a Windows phone, and there aren’t many apps I like for those. But now I have my android, I was able to download the app and the picture to the right is just one example of what it does. I still have lots to learn, but I think I’m going to like it.

It didn’t really take us that long, by the way. I just forgot to pause it while we had our picnic …

We’re both slimming at the moment, and we burned over 1,000 calories on our walk, which meant we could enjoy a slap-up meal for tea, cooked with love by the poet. He’s lost half a stone now and is doing very well. I’ve lost a couple of pounds, but I’ve also lost a couple of inches.

This week, then, I approach the WiP with a new energy and new idea. I have editing work to do as well, but I also have a non-fiction book proposal I want to complete and send off – they’ve been waiting for it for a very long time and I don’t want to miss the boat.

The book I bought this morning is THE PROVOS: THE IRA AND SINN FÉIN by Peter Taylor. If you have any other suggestions, then please do let me know. Ta. 😀

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Diane and Ian at Langsett.