We’ve not been idle …

Peacocks through glass

We may still be on our Easter holiday at the moment, but we’ve not been idle. Please pop on over to see where the Alphabet Adventurers have been, and then have a look to see what I’ve been up to in my writing life.

We had heavy snow again on Monday, and the first lambs arrived. They’re gradually being moved into the nursery field next to our gate. There are still a lot more to come, though. The weather has been so bad, we’ve not had chance to take any pictures yet – the ground has been ankle-deep with mud.

On the farm, two of the chicks they rescued have turned out to be cockerels, so it’s quite noisy here now – all day, not just at the crack of dawn. All of the pea-chicks are growing well, too, and they’re not the quietest of birds either.

We’ve had a new office delivered too (you can see more of this over on Words Worth Writing), and now the office is the warmest room in the house and we never want to leave it!

Hope you had a good Easter. We’re both back to work on Monday.

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Snow pretty …

The River Don (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

For the second time in 3 weeks we were snowed in.

The first time, we were snowed in for 5 days. The snow came on Tuesday, blocking us in from Wednesday until Sunday.

On the Friday, we did make it to the end of our (private) lane and we caught a bus into the nearest town to do some shopping, as the main roads were fairly clear.

We would have walked to the main road, but the farmer saw us and ran us up there in his van, which has snow tyres on. We caught a bus back but walked to the house from the road.

The poet started a new job in January and for the first 6 months his *company* car is a hire car. When the snow came the first time, he had a Ford Galaxy, a people carrier – or the *bus*, as he called it. And it was terrible in the snow.

Icicles on the River Don (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

On the Sunday, after being stranded since the previous Wednesday, he dug the bus out and then made his way carefully down our drive to leave the bus on the farm.

He thought he’d have more chance of getting out the next day.

He did get out the next day, but coming home again he got stuck. Fortunately, the farmer, his friend and the farmer’s son were on hand to help give him a push.

Mid-week the week before last, we had another very isolated snow dump. At around 4am or 5am, we had around 3 inches (7½cm) in just one hour.

He was able to make it out and off the farm, as he was parked at the bottom again. But getting to work was a struggle. As soon as he got to the motorway, though, the snow was gone.

Viaduct over the River Don (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Later that week, on the Friday, the poet picked up his new hire company car … and this time it’s a Jaguar 4×4. Top of the range. (He won’t be allowed to keep this one for very long!)

It took him a week or so to get used to where everything was. But by last weekend, he’d sussed it.

On Saturday, we had another snow dump. Another very deep one. This time we were in fact able to get out because he has this very posh, top of the range 4-wheel drive.

We didn’t go far, though, as more snow was forecast … and after we got back, more snow did indeed come.

Yesterday morning, the poet decided to take a few pictures to show how there are worse places to be stranded.

We live very close to the River Don. It’s only a short stroll across one of the farmer’s fields.

Our house is the yellow one slightly up the hill. The farmhouse is just below ours. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The river actually comes much closer to us, but we’d have to cut through the farm to get to it.

The main farm field is like a pond at the moment. It means the farmer hasn’t been able to let his cows out yet this year.

There’s a drain in there somewhere, and they usually leave a slab over the top of it so they can find it and open it to let more water out.

It’s just not doing the job at the moment and, in fact, most of the farm is muddy or full of puddles.

Yesterday morning, I didn’t let the chickens out of their coop because they’re a bit stupid and don’t realise it could give them hypothermia. (They stand out in the rain too until they’re absolutely drenched.)

The snow was so bad, though, that it had drifted inside the coop. I opened the chicken house but put food in the coop, then closed the gate to keep the peacocks, the guinea fowl and the ducks out.

Another view of the farm. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I did give them some food too, but if they get inside the coop, they bully the chickens out and then the chickens have to go and find somewhere else to shelter.

We’ve not taken the dog out either while it’s been snowy. He has lots of fun in the garden already, but to take him on a several-mile walk when he’s already quite close to the ground is, in our opinion, a little cruel. And he would have disappeared in some of our snowdrifts.

So long as we have food and milk and plenty of pet and chicken food, we don’t mind the snow at all.

Yes, the poet has to get to work, but if he doesn’t have any appointments or if the meetings can be postponed, it really isn’t an issue.

When we were snowed in for 5 days, he even had a Skype meeting with several of his colleagues.

We weren’t able to go out and do our letter “C” for the Alphabet Adventurers at the weekend, but perhaps we can do it this coming weekend. We’re in Birmingham on Sunday, though, so it will have to be Saturday.

The Beast from the East is supposed to be back in time for Easter, when we’re planning on having a week’s “stay-cation”. We hope to do some more work for the Alphabet Adventurers while we’re off, but if he still has the Jag, we’ll probably be okay.

I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Our house and the farm from the edge of the River Don. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

 

Easter weekend

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Baddesley Clinton (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We decided we wanted the whole of the bank holiday weekend off, so that’s what we did.

On Friday we drove down to Warwickshire and joined the National Trust. We’d worked out that if we paid a joint membership for the year, we’d get our money back after visiting just 5 properties. Baddesley Clinton is an old favourite of mine. It’s an Elizabethan moated manor house and I remember when it was taken over by the National Trust in the early 1980s. I knew the poet would love it too, and he did.

Before visiting the property we decided to wear the dog out first by going on a short walk in the surrounding area. One of the volunteers at the property gave us a map to follow, but it was pouring with rain, the map soon got soggy, and we were joining the walk part-way around. Needless to say, we got a bit lost, but we did have a great walk in the surrounding woods (once part of the Forest of Arden, I believe) and we discovered some badger setts that seem to be in use, judging from the dog’s reaction.

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Baddesley Clinton (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We were gone for about an hour and once we’d dried ourselves and settled the dog in the car (it was wet and cool and he was sleepy anyway), we went to visit the house and join the National Trust. Afterwards, we enjoyed a very expensive piece of cake and small bottle of pop each in the café (we didn’t get much change from £10 – apx $15) and headed home via my parents, as they’re only about 15 – 20 minutes away.

On Saturday we didn’t do much, but because the shops would be closed for Easter Sunday, we did nip out and get a new floodlight for the garden, which the poet fitted on Sunday afternoon. On Sunday evening we went for a walk to the lake so he could measure the depths. The dog had another great walk and the poet lost some line, a float and a weight when he caught a tree branch …

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Rievaulx Abbey (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

On Monday we decided to go to Rievaulx for a short walk around the area. The idea was to visit the terrace as it’s managed by the National Trust, but parking was so bad there we drove down instead to the abbey, which is managed by English Heritage. We had a bit of a snack in the car park, then off we tootled on our walk, which took almost 2 hours in the end, to walk about 2 miles, due to stopping to take pictures.

Along one section of the River Rye, we thought we might see dippers. Instead the poet was rewarded with a grey wagtail. I’d sat on a log while he tried to capture shots of some little grey birds that were flitting around. I  had no idea it was a grey wagtail he was paddling after!

Much of our walk was along the River Rye and through picturesque villages and hamlets. When we got back to the car we had a bird’s eye view of a birds-of-prey demonstration that was just starting, so we settled own to eat the rest of our picnic while we watched that. We’d thought to visit the abbey when we got back, followed by the terrace, but it was already 4pm by the time we’d eaten, and we decided to head home and come back another day, and another day, and another day.

It was lovely to be out and about in the fresh air, even if it was raining on Friday. At least we had glorious sunshine yesterday.

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Grey Wagtail, River Rye, Rievaulx (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

When we arrived home I was greeted with a new job from the lovely new Spanish clients, and news of many more to follow in the coming weeks. They asked me for my availability, and I gave it to them. That means that this week I now have a lovely big job in from lovely already boss, along with 2 smaller jobs already in from him, and a series of work from lovely new boss. And it’s pudding week as we apparently get married in just 24 days before heading off on our funnymoon. (I have a 14 day settlement on most jobs, but the lovely new boss always pays on completion.) I’d best crack on.

Good Friday

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“I’m not cutting that grass.” (Picture: Diane Parkin)

“Hrmph!” said he. “I’m not cutting all of that grass.” But when we got some quotes for it, I said it would be cheaper to buy him a sit-on mower than pay someone else to do it. He had a bit of a grumble at that too, but unknown to me he’d already seen a sit-on mower on ebay that he was watching. So we discussed how much we were prepared to pay for one, and he won it.

Then the weather turned and he wasn’t able to try it out. Until last night. In between work and band practice he was finally able to get the new mower out and have a go … and he loved it! And now he’s talking about giving it another cut. Result.

I’ve been busy this week, publishing one book and sending another 2 off for proof copies. The first one of those came back yesterday, and very nice it looks too. I’ll have a browse of that to check layout and consistency, etc. I expect the other one will arrive next week.

I’ve also been having a play with a new website. You can have a look at it here if you’re interested and have the time. But I’ve not worked out if the blog facility over there allows comments, so I’m still thinking about whether or not to migrate the blog again. I also want to add tweaks like linking to the top of the page again, if I can. But it won’t properly go live until after 1 May.

We’re both off now for Easter, and we’re making sure we’re having a mini-holiday too as we’re usually so busy. We hope to manage a couple of day trips, including one in the midlands so we can see the parents as well while we’re out and about. I think, though, that we’ll also be spending some time in the garden. We need to start measuring and planning and things. I scheduled the blog to post this morning, so fingers crossed it does that.

Have a great Easter!

I forgot it was Easter …

… and I forgot it was a 4-day week last week, the second of 2 on the trot. We have a 5-day week this week, then it’s back to a 4-day week next week again, only my week will be a 2-day week.

So I promised more pictures by Wednesday, thinking it was Monday when I posted. But it was Tuesday and the rest of the week just ran away with me.

We spent a few hours in the garden and pitched a tent to see how weather-tight it was.

tent As it turned out, it wasn’t very weather-tight at all. So I took it down this morning, after doing the “dog-poo-patrol” (sorry …), and before hanging out some washing, and shoved most of it in the dustbin.

I’ve kept the tent pegs – you can never have too many tent pegs … Because we bought a new one at the weekend, another we can just chuck in the boot of the car when we feel like it and shoot off for a couple of nights.

My kind of camping. 🙂

We need to get that one pitched too so we know how to pitch it in case it’s dark when we get to wherever we’re going. But in the future we may get a bigger tent, possibly a trailer tent.

We’re hoping to go away this coming weekend, but I now have a tenant for the other house. Actually, I had 2 people fighting over it in the end, but I decided to go with someone I know because her mum lives next door (other side to Perve). And she’ll give me time to sort out the paperwork.

So we have a lot of packing to do and a removal man to arrange. By Saturday … Hopefully we can still be away by Saturday teatime.

I still have a lot of work to do – a very lot. Here’s a taster (list alert!):

  • electronic edits on non-fiction #1
  • author revisions on historical fiction
  • write weekly walks report
  • submit weekly walks report to 6 x local newspapers
  • manual edits on non-fiction #2
  • author & proofreader revisions on non-fiction #3
  • electronic edits on non-fiction #2
  • formal book proposal to write for (my own) non-fiction books 1, 2 and 3
  • sample chapter to write for (my own) non-fiction book 3
  • book optician appointment
  • attend optician appointment
  • house to empty
  • house to clean
  • tent to pitch/take down

And I only have 4 days … or 3½ now … so here are more of last week’s pictures:

Lambs. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
Lambs. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
This is how overgrown the canal is. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
This is how overgrown the canal is. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
Lord Rufus. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
Lord Rufus. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
The restored lock. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
The restored lock. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
The swing bridge. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
The swing bridge. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
Diane and Ian. (Picture: Diane Parkin - self portrait)
Diane and Ian. (Picture: Diane Parkin – self portrait)

Enjoy!