We had an early start and a quick breakfast but the car was packed and ready to go by 10am, which was the time we were supposed to be out of the cottage. But it was still 10:20am before we actually went. We had just one more drive over the tops to see the birds and the scenery, but it was pouring with rain, visibility was poor, and we were mindful of the cats in the car.
We came home via Hawes, Leyburn, Bedale and the A1(M), and it took us 2½ hours to get home – and we didn’t even leave the county. The weather was much brighter and drier on our side of the hill, but while we were stocking up on provisions at our local supermarket, we had a cracking storm.
The animals were all happy to be home and the cats didn’t stay out for long. We’d only had to stop once for Holly on the way home this time. And the usual post-holiday chores began – aka unpacking and washing.
We didn’t take any photographs today, so here’s one of the cottage we took last year, followed by one I took the first time I visited:
Little man’s taking a breather while I post the holiday blog over the next few days. I carried on with Camp NaNo while I was away, so he’ll be back just as soon as I’ve caught up. This is the journal “what I wrote” while we were there.
The first day of our holiday was more eventful than we hoped it would be. We had a late start because we were taking the cats and wanted to drive straight there in one go. The cottage wouldn’t be available until 4pm, so that meant we didn’t have to leave before 1pm. I’d also had a very busy week and not had my usual pre-holiday errand day. Instead, once the poet arrived home from his work on Friday, off we went to do the shopping, deliver a birthday card and get something to eat.
Even though I had been busy all week, I’d still managed to clear all of the washing so we had plenty of clothes to choose from. Saturday morning, therefore, was mostly spent selecting and packing clothes. Plus, of course, our travel clothes. We also packed all of the food, cleaning things (house and personal) and goods required for 3 pets. The cats were allowed out for a couple of hours in the morning, but then they were contained on one floor to make sure they were present and correct …
… or so we thought.
The poet started to pack the car but we noticed we were a cat short. Holly. We searched the house but couldn’t find her … and then noticed that the back door was open. Wide open.
We called and whistled, but Holly wasn’t having any of it. So we decided to finish packing the car and then go looking for her if there was still no sign.
We finished packing the car and there was still no sign. So Ian went one way and I went the other.
In the car park I thought I could hear her miaowing, but I couldn’t see her. I climbed onto the wall to look over the fence just as Ian appeared on the other side, both of us calling and Holly miaowing loudly.
“Where is she?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” I replied.
“Is that Holly?” he asked.
“Where is she?”
But I didn’t know.
“Is she over that way?” he asked, pointing at the houses behind me.
“I don’t think so,” I said, turning. “I think she’s in this part somewhere —”
And there she was, right behind me, rolling around in the dust, miaowing happily.
So I grabbed her and off we went, locking the house behind us and, ensuring all the animals were secure on the back seat of the car, we headed off … via Tesco. For Paracetamol, petrol, and air for the tyres. We’d gone about 10 minutes down the road beyond Tesco when Ian realised he’d forgotten something and he turned the car around and we went back home.
By 2pm we were finally on our way again, for a hopefully undisturbed journey …
But we had to stop … 3 times … for Holly …
Domino was brilliant. She curled up in her basket, didn’t make a single sound, fell asleep, and stayed there. For the entire trip. In fact, we did wonder once or twice if she was still alive.
Rufus was brilliant. He was on his best behaviour, happy to have the cats with us for a change, and happy to be going for a ride. And every time we did stop, he had a quick walk.
Holly was not brilliant. And she got car sick. She cried a bit and, when we let her out of the basket, she prowled a bit too. But in the end we had to keep her and her car sickness contained.
At 4:30pm we arrived at our lovely little cottage in Dent. The sun was still shining and all along the route we were reminded of the previous week’s cycle race, the Tour de France in Yorkshire, as we drove through several pretty towns and villages still decorated with bunting.
It took much less time to unpack the car than it had to pack it and once the cottage door was closed, the cats were allowed to explore.
Then Ian set to work making our tea. We had bacon, sausages, fried egg, mushrooms and bread, with fruit for pudding. He built the fire (it powers the hot water), we took the dog for a quick walk, and we settled down for an evening in front of the telly. The last time we were at the cottage, last August (2013), the television had 3 channels on it. This time we had 7. Luxury! So we watched some drivel and then a film at 9pm.
When we were packing up my house, we stumbled across my old SLR camera, a Pentax MZ50 AF with 2 lenses. I’d already tried, and failed, to sell it, but the poet asked if we could keep it as he’d like to give it a go. We emptied it of any film and changed the batteries, but it took us ages to stumble upon some new film that hadn’t already expired. We did find some, though, and the Pentax came with us to Dent so he could have a practise.
The camera came out with us on our local walk as it doesn’t matter if they don’t come out. We still had the digital cameras as backup. The pop-up flash already isn’t popping up and I think the camera may have winding-on issues, but time will tell and we shall see soon enough.
A light drizzle as we walked the dog had turned into a downpour by bedtime, and so ended our first day in Paradise.
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.
I like to be able to open a book and know what I’m doing or where I’m supposed to be without having to search for the phone or boot up the laptop. Last year’s diary had a lovely touchy-feely cover on it, but this year’s is a more functional, bog standard from Tesco. Last year’s didn’t have enough spaces inside for stuff, but it was nicely touchy-feely.
I like an academic diary too, one that starts in July rather than January. This is partly to buck the trend and to be filling in a lovely new diary when everyone else’s are already scribbled in. But I think it also stems back to when I was a teacher and every year started in the summer with enrolment.
Last night I started to fill in the new academic diary (2014/2015). But it took a lot longer than usual because now it’s not just my weekends and holidays that go in first; the poet’s go in there too. And his work trips. And his gigs.
Usually the session is done in one go, but last night I only managed weekends and holidays and next year’s Big Adventure (which was the first thing to go in there), and it took me All Night.
Because I’m very anal about my diary, I also had to complete this coming week of work, so that I know what I’m doing today for a start (I wasn’t writing a blog … which is one reason the diary’s written in pencil, as it isn’t cast in stone). But also because while I still have a lot of work in I need to keep sight of of when that work runs out. I need to be looking for more work now, or reminding clients that they haven’t sent me any for a while if there’s a gap looming in the near future.
I also had to add in the Doncaster Literary Festival, something that launched last year for the first time, I believe, but something we’d both like to go to this year, especially after I saw it posted on Facebook last night. It’s at the end of May.
I still have the birthdays and anniversaries to put into the new diary, and then the poet’s gigs, our visits to Birmingham and Doncaster, his fishing trips, my Leeds write-ins … then we’ll see what’s available for actual work …
We were scheduled to go back to the Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate at “the start” of this year (i.e. July), but we decided to book another holiday to Dent instead for that week.
So this is why my diary plays such a big part in my working (and personal) life. I love to fill it in because it means I have work – and a life. And here’s this week’s to do list as a result:
write blog post x 3
daily competitions x 4
surf job boards daily x 4
pay for Big Adventure
diary work (started)
write walks report
submit walks report to 7 x local newspapers
manual edits on non-fiction #1
electronic edits on non-fiction #1
send non-fiction #1 back to author
send non-fiction #1 for typesetting
author reviews on non-fiction #2
proofreader reviews on non-fiction #2
return non-fiction #2 for 2nd proofs run
manual edits on non-fiction #3 (will become #1 next week)
I really pushed the boat out and decided to take the last week of August off, but this, of course, meant that I had less time in which to complete my work. I did it, though, went flat out, and managed to shift all save one job – and that last job is a freebie anyway …
And no, I don’t make a habit of doing freebies. It was actually a favour to a favourite client and was rewarded with 3 new paying jobs, the first of which I started yesterday, Monday. This, aside from the pro-bono-esque work I do for my local rambling group (a charity), what I can squeeze in for friends, and my own gig list, is the only free work I do. But I’m contemplating doing something with the gig list to make it start to earn its keep … more on that when it’s been thrashed out a little.
It meant, of course, that I didn’t have time for much else. I didn’t have time to surf the job boards, I didn’t have time to do the daily competitions, and I didn’t have time to blog.
But, oh! We had a wonderful holiday. We only went away for a few days, to Dent in the western Yorkshire Dales on the border with the Lake District. I had no phone signal, I couldn’t access the internet, it was bliss. We managed a couple of walks this time. When I was there before we had snow, at Easter, and they were fetching fatal casualties down from the dales all over the holiday. I stayed indoors that time, but this time we got out and about.
We went on Wednesday and came back on Saturday, it was sunny and dry for much of it but we did have a few showers. We even had one walk in the rain, a local walk around the village that took in part of the Dales Way. We ventured up to Grasmere to visit the Wordsworth house there, and we went to see the osprey at Bassenthwaite – the female adult had already migrated, but the almost-grown chicks gave us a very good show with one of them even having a practice fish. We popped to Hawes for supplies and visited the Wensleydale Creamery there, and the jets flew over twice. I’ve yet to visit Hawes and not get a flypast. 🙂
When we came home we were chilled and relaxed, and even managed a night out.
I don’t have any photographs yet, as they’re still on someone else’s camera. But as soon as I do I’ll start posting. Meanwhile, the one at the bottom is another from our day out at Langsett Reservoir a few weeks ago.
This week, then, I have two new edits to start – one was started yesterday – and 2 articles to write. I also have 2 books to crack on with, a novel and a non-fiction. I have that freebie to complete, plus the gig list to update. And hopefully – hopefully – I’ll have time to surf the job boards and all the other computer stuff.
Oh yes, and my car has to go into the garage – again – on Thursday. 😦
It’s been a busy old week, and there’s still a way to go, but halfway along I’m feeling it.
On Monday we had thunderstorms ALL DAY, and Rufus barked at the thunder ALL DAY. I do like to have the doors and windows open at this time of year and enjoy listening to any rain showers or rumbles of thunder in the distance, but Rufus wasn’t having any of that this time. No, he wanted everyone’s full attention. EVERYONE’S.
I had a busy day anyway. I wrote and submitted 3 articles, sent one of them off to 6 local newspapers and the other 2 off to a magazine. The magazine acknowledged them straight away, and one of the newspapers acknowledged the other.
I also started editing a book, and all of that reading and writing, coupled with the dog’s constant barking, left me with a grumpy headache by teatime. So I called it a day and we had a chilled evening on the settee in front of the telly with Chinese for tea. Perfick.
Yesterday the dog was quieter. I think he had a sore throat. So I was able to crack on with some more work, which I’ve continued today. I like working on my lap downstairs, and I’ve enjoyed doing that for a couple of days.
I also had to come onto the computer – when it wasn’t thundering – to do some online stuff, checking for jobs, corresponding with clients, etc.
Today has been a day of also speaking to money people. My workload has increased significantly for August and already, with still 3 weeks to fill, I’ve broken-even income-wise, with £40 to spare (apx $60). Instead of lurching from day to day, I once again have work in for 3 weeks (including this week). If I can sustain that, then I’m back on track. But I needed to let the money people know.
I have 2 budget income figures: one is “break even”; the other is “comfortable profit”. As I say, I’m already into “break even” for August, so If I can get work in for just 2 of the remaining weeks for August, I’m in more than “comfortable profit” and am considering a very short break away from it all. I usually have the August bank holiday week off anyway, and I’m getting a yearning for Dent.
I had a holiday in Dent about 4 years ago, at Easter, but the snow kept me confined to barracks as Mountain Rescue were pleading with walkers not to go out onto the hills unless they were very experienced, knew the area well, and were not alone. As I failed on all counts, I spent the week indoors until the roads cleared, and then I did some touristy stuff.
Last night I had a quick surf to see if the cottage I stayed in was still available, and it doesn’t look as though it is. However, I have found another that has a special offer for 3 nights at the end of August. I’m now working on the basis that if it’s meant to be the offer will still be available as soon as I have the funds to spare. It’s very cheap.
There are some lovely walks around Dent, plus there are some interesting characters (the terrible knitters of Dent for a start) and some nice little places to visit. A little holiday would be very nice, but I have to prioritise.
For the rest of this week, then, I have another commissioned article to write, this book to finish editing, some fillers to resubmit, the gig list to update for August, and a couple of books to write. I’ve also seen a major short story competition I’d like to have a pop at.