We left the tent behind

Pig along the Arden Way, near Coughton Court (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We dashed off on Friday for a long weekend as it was a bank holiday and, because I broke up on Thursday, I didn’t get chance to post anything before we went.

Friday was spent packing, then driving down to Evesham via my parents (for a flying visit and to break the journey).  By tea time we were pitched and the poet was frying tea and scrambling eggs.

On Saturday I took him for an orientation drive around the Cotswold villages of Chipping Camden, Moreton in Marsh, Stow on the Wold, Chipping Norton and Bourton on the Water. We stopped off at Moreton in Marsh to take pictures, and we would have stopped at Bourton too, but the place was rammed. It was a glorious day and you couldn’t see the grass for people sitting on it. I wanted to show him the River Windrush and the ornamental bridges over it, and we did get to see that. But we decided not to stay and drove on back to Evesham for the tail end of the first day of the fishing festival there. He would have cooked tea again, but we decided on a takeaway instead.

On Sunday the promised rain came. I took us to Coughton Court, as we’re members of the National Trust, who manage it on behalf of the family who still live there. Unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed in either the house or the gardens (the house, we understand; the gardens, not so sure), but there’s a 2-mile walk in the surrounding area, which is beautiful.

What the guide doesn’t tell you is that if you have a dog, then you have to walk an additional half-a-mile and then navigate a ford before you can get back to the car park, because the end of the walk crosses a teeny, tiny corner of those gardens. As it happens, the poet enjoyed a paddle across the ford, while I took Rufus over a nearby footbridge. On the other side he was greeted by several car drivers who were worried the ford might be too deep and hadn’t wanted to risk it. He was very naughty and told them that it was easy, but his first name was, after all, Jesus …

After Coughton Court we were going to visit Hanbury Hall near Droitwich Spa. But because it was raining and because the tent was already starting to show signs of expiring (we ripped one of the doors and one of the zips had broken by now, both of which the poet cleverly repaired with Gaffa Tape), we’d already pretty much decided we needed a bigger tent and went instead to Webbs of Wychbold, where Cotswold Outdoor & Leisure have a shop, to look at the tent display … only there wasn’t one. Webbs is HUGE now, and the poor tent display wasn’t there, other than relegated to a few weeks during exhibition time.

However, we were redirected to Winfields, which used to be Barretts of Feckenham, and they did have a great tent display. They also had some of these newish blow-up tents … and the poet fell instantly and deeply in love. Specifically, with this one. (Actually, he preferred another, but as I prefer this one …) Rather than make any impulsive decisions, we decided to go away, sleep on it and consider it some more … and still decided we wanted the Brean 4 Air. Imagine our joy when we discovered there’s a Winfields in Leeds too. I wonder what we’ll be doing on this upcoming rare weekend off …

Back at the tent, he cooked us another slap-up feast, and we started to pack things away. We knew there was more rain forecast and didn’t want to be doing it all in the morning … what we didn’t expect was the deluge of rain to end up inside the tent by the following morning. Because the tent was too small, our air-bed was up against one of the inner tent walls, and this pushed it onto the flysheet … mattress, sleeping bag, blanket and pillows all along that wall were soaked through. In the “porch” area, our backs brushed the roof and our heads bumped everywhere else, and more water literally rained in. The groundsheet was a lake. The food bag was drenched and most of the food in it (i.e. not in tins) had to be thrown away.

So it was a quick breakfast, everything out of the tent and into the car, and the tent taken down and left behind in one of the bins. We were back at my parents by mid-day and back home by 3:30pm. But we’d had a lovely break and came away knowing that we definitely want to camp a lot more. The poet would also like to see more of the Cotswolds, so we’ll try to go back to the same campsite.

Back to work today and I have a 4-day week this week, I had a 4-day week last week, I had a 4-day week the week before, and I had hoped that next week might be a 5-day week. However, due to my age, the hospital has invited me for the first of my new regular screenings next Thursday, and our doctor’s surgery has invited me to book a new-patient appointment, so I’m going to see if they’ll do that on the same day. That way I’ll only lose one full day next week instead of 2 part-days. Part-days are no use whatsoever as I don’t get much else done in the rest of the time. So I need them to fit me in then too.

As it’s September, my new writing year has started. Actually, it started last week with some prep work, but the actual physical new regime starts today. This morning, too, another new book came in from lovely-already-boss (isn’t he wonderful?). That gives me 6 books now to edit, one of which I start today.

I’ve already done my chores, caught up on the daily competitions, and I’ve uploaded, edited and selected pictures from both the weekend and our aborted walk up Kinder at the beginning of August. That should give us plenty of pictures to choose from to illustrate the blog over the coming weeks.

Tomorrow is my first DIARY OF A FREELANCE WRITER, which will include last week’s prep work and this week’s planning and organisational work. I hope to see you then. 🙂


rievaulx primroses
Primroses at Rievaulx (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

It was another heavy weekend.

Much of Friday was spent completing the electronic edits on one client book, sending that back to the author for checking, and invoicing the client (hurrah!). In between, I also managed my first 1-mile dog-walk from the doorstep and back.

Friday teatime was a mad dash. We finished some savoury mince the poet had cooked a couple of days earlier, with a baked potato each, and then it was off to Doncaster for a private party his band were playing at.

On Saturday we did a bit of fishing shopping (he wanted some new line for his reel) and we replaced one of the hosepipes I managed to break while filling the bird bath. I’d pulled it, thinking the hosepipe was unreeled, but it wasn’t and the water supply feed thingy snapped and it was cheaper to replace the whole thing than it was to replace the little gadget-thing that snapped. After my complaint to B&Q a few weeks ago, we were sent a gift card, so we used that to help pay for the new kit.

When we got back, and he’d done what he does with his reel line, Rufus and I showed him the walk we’d been on the previous day. We went a bit further, disturbed a roosting little owl, spotted a kestrel on a fence post, and generally explored just one of our many footpaths cross-country, and we clocked up just under 2 miles. Then it was another dash to have tea and get ready for another gig over in Doncaster. We finally turned in at 3am Sunday morning …

… but had to be up again as we were visiting both lots of parents. First we were back in Doncaster, to see the poet’s parents, then we headed to Birmingham to see my parents, via Morrison’s in Sheldon where we bought them some cakes. We got home at 7:30pm, had a takeaway, watched some telly, and had an early night.

And then it was another new week again. We were both still very tired this morning.

This morning’s pre-breakfast chores included filling and starting the dishwasher, and feeding the pets and the garden birds. I’ve done a little gig list admin (1st job ticked), this blog post will be my 2nd job ticked, then I’m definitely spending a couple of hours on writing work. I’m a bit behind on the wordcount this month so far, mostly due to editing deadlines, but I start another new client book this afternoon, when I’ve done today’s dog-walk.

It’s a full week at work this week, even my replacement hair appointment from 2 weeks ago is after hours. But we do have a totally empty weekend looming, apart from a birthday party we’ll probably show our faces at. I foresee someone keeping half an eye on the weather forecast …

I’ve run out of pictures again. I know there are some on the camera, but the weather was quite bad when those were taken and I’ve not had time to transfer them over to the pc and look at them full-sized. So I’ve nicked one from an earlier jaunt this year, and flipped and cropped it (so it fits nicely). We need a few more jaunts out.

Oh, oh, but one exciting thing is, at the weekend we booked a short camping holiday for later this month. It coincides with the Evesham fishing festival, so we can fit a bit of that in with a bit of sightseeing. That’s a nice little break to look forward to as Evesham is beautiful and we enjoyed the short time we spent at the festival last year.

Another exciting thing is that we spent much of the driving time on Sunday discussing what to do with the garden over the winter. We’re planning a proper little kitchen garden with raised beds and crop rotation and fruit and vegetables and rhubarb patches and everything. But we’re keeping everything quite low-growing so we don’t spoil our gorgeous view. I’d love fruit trees, and I had a right old brain murmur on Friday when I remembered an old eighties novelty, the stepover fruit tree. We can still get those, so they’re being incorporated too.

Because, of course, we’re not already busy enough … 😉


Gone fishin’

It was bank holiday weekend here in the UK just gone, and – as ever – ours was quite full and busy.

On Friday the poet had been dragged into a meeting at work, so didn’t get back as early as we’d hoped. We were up early the next day, so didn’t go out and had an early night.

On Saturday morning we headed off, earlyish, to Solihull to see my parents. We had an hour with them, and then drove on to Evesham, where they were having their annual fishing festival. We had to go cross-country because the M42 was rammed, with holiday traffic. But fortunately, as I’m a local lass, we found it in the end, and I was able to show off some of Warwickshire and Worcestershire’s beautiful villages on the way.

We had a few hours there, watching the river anglers battle the elements and the pike (the pike kept pinching their fish). It poured with rain and the wind blew a bit of a gale. But we were able to shelter beneath the heavy canopy of some trees and eat hotdogs and doughnuts.

Rufus found a whole sausage under a table, and he had a good walk down the riverbank and back, and was quite well-behaved, considering the number of other dogs there.

The beautiful River Avon. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
The river looks lovely even in the rain. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
“Will Raison, fish a bung at this stage.” (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
“Wayne Swinscoe, river legend.” (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
“Lee Kerry, willing the tip to fly round.” (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
“Mark Downs, where’s the fish? This river used to be proper bostin.” (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
“Fatha, aka Denis White, river god, on his way to a section win.” (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
“Des Shipp, on his way to victory, a class act on any venue.” (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
Ferry, ‘cross the Avon … (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Back in the day, the poet would never had entertained the idea of Evesham and back in a day, it being the other side of the world. But since he’s been coming to Birmingham we me once a fortnight, the other side of the world suddenly doesn’t seem as far. So we headed back, on the motorway this time as the traffic had dissipated, bought fish and chips on the way, and had tea with Mom and Dad.

We got back later than we usually do, and the following day we were off again. This time to fish locally-ish – down in Retford, Nottinghamshire. We went to Hallcroft because they’re dog-friendly. They even provide a big bowl of water for the dogs. And after a slow start, he finally got some bites…

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These pictures are a bit grainy as they were taken on the mobile phone. (Picture: Diane Parkin)
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The first catch of the day was apparently a beauty. (Picture: Diane Parkin)
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(Picture: Diane Parkin)
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And this one had apparently never been caught before … (Picture: Diane Parkin)

I’d taken my writing boot camp with me and, once the dog settled, managed to do some work. I have lots of plans and ideas in place now. Now it’s time to start writing.

On the way back we dropped in to see his parents, in Doncaster. And when we got home we watched The Wind that Shakes the Barley. A cracking, thought-provoking film.

On Monday we had a lazy start, but still had some running around to do, which we did in my car to keep the battery charged… for what it was worth… see later. And Monday night’s viewing was that wonderful classic, where the Germans all speak in perfectly clipped English, The Eagle Has Landed, one of my all time favourite books/films.

This morning I had to run the poet to the station again, as he’s off to Scotland again. My exhaust had been blowing since Friday, but he didn’t think it sounded any different. We got halfway to Doncaster when the exhaust fell off… Oh dear. So he had to call a taxi while I called the AA.

They said the AA man would be with me at 9:05am, but he made it at 8:36am (what a very, very nice man…). The poet missed one train and caught the next, and I was back home by 9:30am, after having another flat battery. The car’s now booked in to have the exhaust looked at, the battery examined, a new bonnet prop catch, the airbag light continually being on, and the rear windscreen washer not working… I hope I win a new car soon. (sigh).

So, that’s my weekend and my day so far. I still have lots to do, like author/proofreader revisions on several non-fictions. I have the writing boot camp work to go back to, as well as new work on that. I have jobs to search and pitch for. And I have a walks report to write and submit. I’m also quite delighted to see that I can revert back to the old WordPress editor if I want to. They must have had several complaints about the new interface.

What are you up to this week?