Exhibition: The Cribs, Wakefield One – 15 February to July 2017

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Drummer Ross Jarman. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

On Tuesday, Diane’s Gig List was invited to the unveiling of a new exhibition at Wakefield One.

The Cribs were formed in Wakefield in 2002 by three brothers: twins Ryan and Gary Jarman on guitar and bass, and younger brother Ross on drums.

To celebrate their award-winning achievements, a small display has been set-up at the library in Wakefield.

There are three display units containing the bands’ instruments and memorabilia, some of which will be left with the library at the end of the display.

Drummer Ross Jarman unveiled the display on Tuesday 14 February in front of a small crowd, and he subsequently carried out interviews with the press before chatting with visitors who had come to see him.

You can find more photographs on Diane’s Gig List’s Facebook page, and this report also appears on Diane’s Gig List’s reviews page.

The exhibition runs until July 2017. Entry is free.

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(Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
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(Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
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(Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Review: Wicked, Victoria Apollo, London – 24 September 2016

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Diane modelling one of the ladies’ fit official t-shirts.

At the weekend we headed off to London for a first for both of us: a live London musical. This is one Devon recommended to me a while ago and I’ve wanted to see it ever since.

We bought our train tickets well in advance, on 16 August. We were travelling from Birmingham as my dad was looking after the dog overnight for us, and return tickets to London are usually quite expensive.

However, I was able to secure 2 singles each way for £11 each (apx $14) – the returns started at sixty-odd pounds (apx $80 US) and reached as much as £143 (apx $185 US) – and the seat reservations were FREE. What a bonus those were. The 11-coach train going and the 10-coach train coming back were both rammed to the rafters.

Our train left on time and it arrived around 3 – 4 minutes ahead of schedule. Coming back it was bang on time. Well done Virgin Trains.

Our accommodation for the night was Travelodge Euston. It was reasonably priced for a central London hotel for less than £170 altogether (apx $220 US) and I don’t think we could have got much closer to our railway station, as it’s just across the road.

At the time of booking, we also booked an included breakfast, 24 hours of wi-fi and an early check-in, so we were able to go there first, dump our luggage, freshen up and get changed in good time for the matinee performance.

The hotel itself was quite warm and stuffy in the public areas, but the room was deliciously cool and not so cold that we needed an extra layer. The carpets were a little tired and grubby, but security was very good, the room was comfortable, and the food was great. You can choose from a light unlimited breakfast or a full unlimited breakfast. The poet had full-English followed by toast while I had a slightly smaller English followed by cereal. We didn’t eat in the restaurant on the evening as we had to eat mostly on the hoof in between events and places.

We could have done with some extra storage space in the room for clothes that don’t usually go on hangers. But there was a new television in there with plenty of channels to choose from, and we were high enough up, on the top floor, that the sounds of Euston didn’t reach us.

The Apollo Victoria theatre is only a few minutes away on the Victoria line tube. We weren’t sure how close to the main station it was, though, so we asked one of the tourist information officers. “Outside,” she said, pointing to one of the exits. Well, that narrowed it down, we said, but we’d already guessed it would be outside somewhere. Never mind, we’d ask someone else once we got outside

… but when we got outside, there indeed it was. Right opposite us! (We took it all back!)

What a lovely old theatre this is. It was designed in 1929 and opened in 1930, initially as a cinema, and the first thing we noticed was the wonderful art deco interior. The lighting was soft and there were fairytale-grotto-like features throughout, in the foyers and bars and inside the auditorium.

The drinks were a little expensive for us. It cost £19 (apx $25 US) for 2 glasses of pop and 2 small bottles of lager, but we did like the fact that we could order and pay for our interval drinks too (included in the £19! – we couldn’t afford much more). The theatre is a little tired-looking, needing paint touched up on the stairs, for example, with very small toilet cubicles, toilet doors that didn’t close properly let alone lock, and quite primitive plumbing. But it’s still a magical place.

The poet bought me a t-shirt, which cost £25 (apx $32 US), and I was mortified to have to buy a size XL, but they’re VERY small, and the t-shirt I chose was a “ladies’ fit” t-shirt. These usually come quite tight and quite short. I’m very happy with the fit and the length of this one, but XL? No wonder we get paranoid about our weight!

Our seats were right at the front of the dress circle. We’d noted the requirement to “dress” for the occasion, and had done our best. But when we got there we realised we could have gone in ordinary jeans if we’d wanted. That always disappoints me if I’ve dressed up for something and didn’t need to, even if “dressing up” does only constitute a button-up shirt instead of my usual t-shirt.

We had quite a good view and were delighted to see that we could take our refreshments to our seats or have further refreshments delivered to our seats. The poet did have to ask a hen party in front of us (at the rear of the front circle) to remove their witches’ hats for us, so we could see, and I had to ask a lady next to us to keep her 2 children under control – they chattered at the top of their voices for most of the performance (which is a VERY long performance) and when the said hen party ladies in front of us even started to turn around and glare at them halfway through the second part, I decided it was a reasonable point for me to remind the parent that the rest of us were trying to listen to a show we’d paid good money for (bah, humbug). But it was a terrific show.

The sets were great. The actors were great. The music was great. Once or twice I found the whole ensemble singing and playing at the top of their voices and notes to be a bit of a cacophony. But the poet loved every single second, clapping the loudest, whistling. I thought the costumes were brilliant, they looked very well made. And the special effects were perfect.

The performance started at 2:30pm and the interval was at 4pm. It restarted again at 4:20pm and finished about an hour later. That’s quite a long time for the performers to be working, and they do it 8 times a week.

We paid £68.75 each for our seats (apx $90 US), plus booking fee, and we thought it was worth every penny.

Wicked has been playing at the Victoria Apollo in London since 2006 and is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. This will probably explain the professionalism of the sets and the costumes, they all looked so permanent. The main cast changes every few months, but we saw Suzie Mathers as Glinda, Rachel Tucker as Elphaba, Anita Dobson as Madame Morrible, Mark Curry as the Wizard of Oz, and Oliver Saville as Fiyero. The book the story is based on was published in 1995 as Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, by Gregory Maguire, and was written while the author was living in London in 1990.

(This review also appears on Diane’s Gig List.)

Walk: Bempton Cliffs

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Ian, Scott and Becky (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

The new year brings a new look to the blog and it goes from being a “blog of all trades” to a “lifestyle blog”. This is mostly for the benefit of our friends and family, who perhaps aren’t as interested in the work side of my life, but also for anyone else who is still interested in what we get up to in our off-time.

There’s a new blog for the writing and editing side of things, words worth writing, which – again – those who are interested can find here. This is for those people only interested in the writing/editing side of things and, again, for those who are still interested anyway. And then the gig list is still where it’s always been – here.

Heap big thanks to those friends who made the suggestions – you know who you are.

Most of the posts on this blog will then be categorised, with the category preceding the title just before the colon: “Category: Post title”. And the various categories can be found listed in the sidebar.

Bempton Cliffs
Following the festive excesses, and the day after the poet’s family all came to visit, son #1 and his g/f stayed the night and we went for a walk on the Monday.

It took us almost 2 hours to get to Bempton, at Flamborough Head, and we stopped off to get food just in case the visitor centre was closed. The visitor centre was closed so we were glad we’d taken advantage of the facilities at a local Morrison’s too.

I came to Bempton a very long time ago, all the way from Birmingham. But in the 12 years I’ve been in Yorkshire, this was only the second time – and the second time ever for the poet too. Each time the dog has been with us so, naturally, it’s a place we hope to go to more often.

Bempton is a birding trip for us, as it’s known for the cliff birds that live there, some all year and some when they’re just visiting. It’s a good place to see gannets and guillemots all year round, but I want to go again in the spring to see the puffins.

Last Monday there was a brisk wind blowing along the cliff and the ground was quite muddy underfoot, so we didn’t stay very long. We walked one way to see what looks like the newly refurbished “grandstand” viewing point, and then the other way as far as the first station there.

I think we all enjoyed the trip out, but it was a long way to go for a stay of just under one hour, and just under a 1½-mile walk. However, it was a nice start to the new regime.

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Most of the walk posts will include a gadget/gear/clothing review or product test. If you would like us to review or test a product of yours, please use the contact form to get in touch.

This week’s “gadget of the week” is MapMyWalk, which is actually an app on my phone. I’m sure I’m not using this quite as much as I could as I’m still finding my way around it and – for example – I’ve just noticed that it tracks the terrain too. When I’ve learned more about it, I’ll revisit it in a later post.

However, if we don’t have something to review, each walk will be illustrated instead with the desktop screenshot of our walk.

bempton mapmywalkI hope you like the new ideas. Do let me know what you think, either in the comments section or via the contact form.

Diary of a freelance writer, 16 December 2015

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Fishguard – see Tuesday’s entry (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

This post will be my last diary entry for 2015 as I break up on Friday until the new year. All being well, there will be a regular post on Friday, but as I’m popping out, I may run out of time.

Wednesday
On Wednesday I did some band admin, I continued with an edit for a client, and I wrote 411 words for a writing project.

Thursday
Thursday started with gig list admin and I moved on to pro-bono work. I finished the hard copy edit for the client and did the diary for the coming week.

Friday
On Friday I managed just 291 words of a writing project and spent much of the rest of the day doing the electronic edits for the client book. I also raised the invoice for this work (hurrah!) and submitted it (the work, not the invoice) to both client and author.

Friday night we had a gig in Leeds, which was … interesting to say the least. It was a work’s Christmas party and we were quite surprised at the behaviour of some of the attendees, one of whom was so drunk he fell over and broke his ankle … and people ask me if I miss corporate life …

Weekend
Unfortunately, the weekend was a bit of a wipe-out for us as the poet had a relapse on the cold he’d been suffering from (due to singing the night before, we think), and he managed to pass it on to me. We did some shopping on Saturday, but cancelled everything else and wrapped presents on Sunday.

Monday
On Monday I managed to write 650 words for one project, I did some gig list admin, I won a new editing job and I started another. Well, I printed them both off …

Tuesday
On Tuesday I thought I’d allocate an hour and sort through some photographs, specifically on Facebook. I wanted to move lots of odds and ends into existing folders and merge a lot of the same or similar (holiday photographs, fishing photographs, days out photographs, etc).

Some of the pictures went back several years, like the one above, against which I’d noted “this will be getting a lot of use”. It hardly had any use, so I’m using it today to illustrated today’s blog. Nothing to do with writing, other than it was a writing weekend I attended. I love the colours of the houses and that backdrop.

Once I realised the time, I got to a place where I felt I could leave it (some time in 2014, I think, which was actually quite good) and moved downstairs to do some editing. I’m delighted to see that the current edit is a quick and easy one, and a nice author to work with who also mentions me in his acknowledgements. 🙂

Looking ahead
I won’t be completely idle over the Christmas break. It’s all change at my favourite fiction market and I’d like to have something to send them each month. If I work really hard, I might manage a December submission. But I’d like to at least have something for her in January and again in February. So I’m mulling over a few story ideas.

I also hope we’ll manage a few research trips. We have just over a fortnight off and visiting the family won’t take up all of it. Plus, I’ll be looking back over the past year and what I’ve achieved, and looking forward to the coming year and what my plans and goals might include.

What are your plans for over the Christmas period?

A quiet weekend?

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Walter Trout, Picturedrome, Holmfirth (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

So there was me thinking we had a quiet weekend coming up … How silly of me.

Friday night we had our first assignment for the gig list, and it was the poet’s first photography assignment too. Walter Trout was playing at the Picturedrome in Holmfirth, along with a support band and his own son as special guest, and we enjoyed all of the performances.

Sadly, though, we thought the light show was very poor compared to many other times in the past that we’ve both been there. Most of the performers had their faces in darkness for much of the time, and we struggled to get some decent pictures without dazzling or distracting everyone with flash.

We also thought the venue might benefit from some TLC. It’s looking a tad tired at the moment, with paint peeling all over and evidence of roof leaks in the otherwise still ornate ceiling. We also don’t know why we have to go around the back to get in now. What’s wrong with the front door? The back entrance is up a sloped and cobbled hill, which gets quite slippery when wet. And on Friday it was cold and wet too.

It’s still a good gig, though, and we’ll be back in December to see Roy Wood.

~~~

On Saturday we were back in Wormy’s kitchen with him boiling ham and making 6 jars of tomato ketchup and me making 2 of our 4 Christmas cakes. I did my NaNoWriMo, and on Saturday evening Monkey Dust had another gig over in Doncaster.

On Sunday, he put half a pork shoulder in the slow cooker and the other half went in the freezer. We were going to have a proper Sunday dinner, but we got up late (after the gig the night before) and we visited his parents, and we nipped to the shops. But we were eating cheese and biscuits at 4pm so were too full for a proper tea later. I think we’re having that one today instead. I did my NaNo again, and that was the weekend over with, again.

~~~

This morning I’ve been busy sifting through the photographs from Friday night (we try not to do work stuff at the weekend, having enough to do with the research/review trips and any gigs the band has), selecting about 26 (from around 100) for the Facebook page, cropping quite a few, and choosing just one for the review. Then I wrote and posted the review. It’s only short but it’s a start, and you can see it here if you’re interested.

I had some pro-bono work to do too, as the second of the charities we’re supporting has now been in touch.

I also did a little admin for the gig list, and more admin for the band. And before I knew it, the poet was home for an early dinner at just gone noon, which gives me a slightly longer than usual afternoon now he’s gone back to work.

~~~

This afternoon I still have today’s NaNo to do and a book to hard-copy edit. I also have the diary to do for this week, which I didn’t get around to last week. And I haven’t done the daily competitions today yet either.

I’d best get a shake on.

Thursdays

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The Kill, Barnsley Trades (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Even when I worked for a living, you know – had a “proper job” – Thursdays were always really, really bad. I was tired. I didn’t feel like getting up, let alone going to work. And when I was able to choose my part-time hours, Thursdays, along with Mondays, were the first to go.

Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed that not a lot has changed. I still don’t feel very … bright-eyed or bushy-tailed on Thursdays. Last Thursday my NaNo word-count for the day was 189, and yesterday the words were a real wrench.

So then I wondered, perhaps I should just write-off Thursdays as not-very-productive, and do something else on those days, something easy. I could make Thursday my errand day, or I could make it my admin day. So long as I do something, I don’t mind if it’s not as productive as the rest of the week because I do generally make it up anyway.

Next week, then, I’m going to give it a go. I’m going to move admin and any errands from Friday to Thursday and see if I manage not to beat myself up if I do it that way around. Or I could make Thursdays the pro-bono day of the week. Whatever, for the rest of November, at least, I still have to write. For NaNo.

Do you have days where the words come more easily? I know different people have different times of the day that they like to work. But does it apply to days of the week too? Mondays I’m very, very productive, writing-wise. Then it all seems to go downhill from there …

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An online buddy of mine has two blogs that she regularly “earns” from. Sometimes this is real, actual cash. Sometimes it’s products to review. One of her blogs is a fitness blog, the other is a cooking blog, so the products she receives to review are all pertinent to those two topics. And she gets giveaways too.

Aside from monetising my blog (which I can’t do on this one anyway, as it’s a free one and you’re not allowed), I wasn’t sure how I too could do this.

But yesterday evening I had one of those light-bulb/brain-murmur things.

We can do it with the gig list – and I think we can monetise it too, and add widgets that point to goods from which I could earn a commission.

Over the past month we’ve received invitations to concerts and even a new album to review, pre-release. We turned down several of those invitations, mostly because we’re already so busy. But the album was sent as a download attachment and we could also manage the concert that went with it.

So our names are down and tonight the poet gets his first ever official photography assignment – which also means he gets to go behind the barriers in front of the mosh pit. I’ve never been comfortable doing that, but he is quite happy on a stage anyway, so it will probably suit him a lot better. And on Monday, a review and at least one picture will be up on the gig list, and all of the pictures will be on the Facebook page.

I’m currently having a few problems with the gig list, though. Yesterday evening I bought the old domain name back that I lost when someone in China or Japan jumped on it because it was getting so many hits. I could have bought it back then, but they wanted almost £100 for it, so I told them to forget it. They didn’t even use it for anything, cheeky sods. And I’d put money on their name not being Diane either, let alone them having a gig list.

But I bought the domain via Wix, and Wix has to be the most complicated of products I’ve ever laid my eyes on. Easy enough to set up a website in the first place using their templates, but as soon as you want to do anything with them … you need to allocate several days. AND they use frames, which are horrible on mobile phones – and I don’t care what Wix say, they’re awful and there’s no getting around it.

Last night, for a brief moment, the new domain pointed at the gig list and all was hunky dory. But as soon as we tried to look at it on our mobile phones we got “this website is currently unavailable”. And I’ve been struggling ever since to get it to work. It looks as though today is going to be a gig list admin day …

I also want to change the template of the gig list. I do like the current one, but I also like to brighten things up every so often and if we’re going to get it earning its keep, it needs to look the part too. But so far I haven’t found anything that I like.

Finally, the gig list itself needs a complete overhaul. The links in the sidebar have been there for yonks and many of the links might not even work any more. So I have to set time aside to check each of the links and delete any that are broken.

And then I might also monetise it.

Meanwhile, is there a Wix Doctor in the house who can help?

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NaNoWriMo is still going well for me. Yesterday the words were tough, but I still managed 1,699 words. I still have just over 600 to catch up from last Thursday, but even that figure is coming down. Yesterday I cleared the 30,000-mark, which also brought my to-do down to just under 19,000.

On a regular month my word-count target is around the 20,000-mark and this month, not only have I already done 31,000, but what’s left is under my usual target.

I’m learning a lot from NaNo this year. For a start, it’s the furthest I’ve ever come in all the years I’ve done it. And secondly, I’m really, really enjoying using Scrivener. I’ve always flirted with writing software but never actually taken the plunge. But I doubt I’ll ever work without it again, it’s been so much fun.

The big lesson learned, however, is to stop being pernickerty when writing the first draft. So long as I have a basic cast of characters and the basic plot laid down, I’ve discovered that I can really go for it, even if the end product is tosh. After all, what’s editing for?

If you’ve ever done NaNo, what lessons, if any, did you learn?

~~~

Today’s picture is from last Friday’s gig, which we really enjoyed. This weekend we may find some time to go and get some more pictures. There will be photographs from tonight, obviously, but those will be mostly kept for the gig list. Monkey Dust have a gig tomorrow night. But apart from that, we have nothing else planned for the weekend.

Perhaps this week we’ll manage that walk and be able to get some new pictures to illustrate the blog.

Have a great weekend.

A writer’s work

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Dinnertime – dog watching swans watching dog, River Avon, Evesham (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Phew! It’s been a week and a half – and only 4 days of it too. How busy have I been?

Much of the work so far this week has been new month/new writing year admin. We had a bit of a rush on with the gig list as we were a day short, but that was all done and ready by yesterday dinnertime.

I’ve been busily editing a rush job for a fairly new client, finishing the hard copy edits yesterday and about to start the electronic copy edits today. Then that can go back to the client, along with an invoice later today. (Hurrah!)

Writing admin has mostly been the conclusion of the writing year plan, giving me a good, firm structure (hopefully) to work through throughout the year. You can find out more of what that entails by reading the new diary of a freelance writer, which you can also join in with if you wish.

Writing admin has also included the first of the research work, thinking ahead to April next year. Already I have 4 general topics for which to find as many slants as I can. I also have several “throwaways” that I’ll share here in next week’s diary, including at least one worked example. I’ll go into more detail in the diary.

Another proofreading job came in from an existing client, and that’s pretty much filled me up for at least the rest of September and probably beyond. That means I’m now taking editing and proofreading work for October onwards.

This habit of doing my work in the mornings and everyone else’s work in the afternoons seems to be working very well. I’m not feeling cheated, and I’m getting lots of admin work done too. This morning, for example, I revamped the editorial services page of my website, added a “latest news” item to the front page and asked lovely-already-boss if he’d let me have a testimonial. (He said yes, but I think he’s working on it. 🙂 )

We have a whole weekend ahead of us that, until yesterday, wasn’t filled at all. Now we’re going to look at tents in Leeds tomorrow, maybe some motorhomes (in case the poet goes for a conversion project, but he’s not very excited about that at the moment), and then we’re off on our first “research trip” for the new writing regime. The poet is bringing his camera and we’re hoping for some good photography weather. It will also be a good run out for the dog – and for us.

On Sunday I think we’re going fishing. He has a match coming up next weekend and he wants to get some practise in. If the dog comes too, and if he behaves himself, I may get some extra writing work done. OR … (more likely) I’ll catch up on some reading.

What are you up to this weekend? Have a great one.