“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.
Phew! What a busy few weeks we’ve been having here in Baggins Bottom. First a holiday, then a music festival swiftly followed by a beer festival, then a trip to Solihull and Tipton, then another music festival including a camping trip in major thunderstorms. And to top it all, I come in here today, and the whole interface has changed. Ooh-er. I think I need to pause and take stock.
In between all of these exciting shenanigans I’ve also been very busy. I’ve been editing and proofreading books well into the evenings to make sure I meet deadlines. I’ve fielded argumentative emails from argumentative clients. (I’ve had some proper bostin clients too, by the way.) And I’ve given my writing a good kick up the backside.
I’ve been reading a selection of books in order to get me writing, and these are filled with lots of positive, pro-active exercises that lead to finished products, rather than being exercises for exercise sake. I’ll share some of the better ones with everyone once I know which ones have actually worked.
And it is all work. As well as a part-completed Camp NaNo during July, I’ve also started several short stories and even finished the first drafts of a few. Now I need to plod on through, continue with the exercises, and get some stories polished and off into the ether to earn their keep.
So, what have you lot been up to while we’ve been gallivanting around the country? Answers below.
We both had a much better night with all of the animals settling down and the poet feeling a little better with the drugs kicking in – all over-the-counter. Breakfast today was just 2 courses – cereal followed by toast – with fruit juice for me and tea for both of us.
Sunday may have been spent in Cumbria, and we may not have left Yorkshire for our actual holiday home, but today, on Monday, the poet said he felt like a trip to the seaside (or “coast” as they say up here), and as Morecambe is the closest, we spent today over the other border – and in enemy territory – in Lancashire.
We had a lovely ride over along the western edge of the Yorkshire Dales, down to Kirkby Lonsdale. We stopped off to take some photographs and decided it might be nice to come here for a walk and a picnic beside the bubbling river – weather permitting – later in the week. We watched a shepherd herd his sheep from one side of the dale to another, and were quite surprised when a road hog in a Land Rover overtook us as we waited for the sheep and he almost ran some of the sheep off the road. We thought perhaps he lived there and was a local who knew the road and, quite possibly, the sheep and the farmer. We were still surprised, though, and would have been slammed if we’d done it.
From Kirkby Lonsdale we turned south-west and headed to Morecambe Bay, an area of special scientific interest due to the number of seabirds that migrate there every year. I love Morecambe Bay. I’ve had a holiday there and I went back and interviewed the Sandwalker of Morecambe Bay for an article I sold several times. It was nice to visit with the poet, who thought the sea, which was in, looked like “very thin mud”. Well, he is a Yorkshireman.
We both had our pictures taken with the very famous statue of comedy legend Eric Morecambe, and so did the dog. The weather stayed dry for our walk along the esplanade, and we were able to take more pictures and enjoy a fish and chip lunch – although we both had sausages instead of fish – with pop and followed by freshly fried and sugared doughnuts. We bought a jar of assorted rock and a bag of chocolate-coated honeycomb pieces before making our way back to the cottage via the same route, almost, in rain that was actually very low cloud.
We learned that the river in Lancaster is called the Lune, which is the old name for Lancashire. My Yorkshireman was very happy with that. (With apologies to all of my Lancashire buddies …) That meant the old, and therefore real, name for Lancaster would be Lunecaster and the old, and therefore real, name for Lancashire would be Lunecashire, which meant it was a county of Lune-ies … Yes, he was very happy. That made his day.
It was a bit chilly, so first job as soon as we got back was to build the fire – or the poet did. And then he made us some pasta in a cheese sauce with salad for our tea. He really is very well-trained.
Both cats seemed happy today to wander around at will. Domino had already tried to go outside, which is something she doesn’t even try to do at home. Holly had looked out of every single window, without trying to escape – so far. And Rufus … well, Rufus just acted as though he lived there and wanted to play ball. The. Whole. Time.
After tea we settled down in front of the fire and alternately watched the rain fall through the window and the screen pixelate on the telly.
First thing this morning I caught up on 3 days’ worth of Camp NaNo. I started the blog travel journal for our holiday and decided to add everything else written this month. I’ve been doing a lot of editing and proofreading work, which hasn’t left a lot of time or energy for anything else, so as there haven’t been that many other things (mostly due to the editing work), I’m adding them to Camp NaNo. I caught up with 2 days by doing that, and more than 2,000 words.
We had a disturbed night. it was very warm. We were worried about the cats and the poet managed to come down with tonsillitis. We’d bought the cats a new hooded litter tray but as they’d not used it at home yet we didn’t think they’d find it in a strange place. So, for now, I’ve taken the hood off and am delighted to say that both cats did actually find it during the night. I was up at 5am, though, to check.
The dog was a bit barky, but stayed in his basket most of the night. He only jumped on the bed twice, and jumped down again straight away. The cottage owners don’t like animals on the beds, so we like to keep him to his basket. We also brought pet blankets with us to protect the furniture.
It was warm despite the rain because the wood burner stove feeds the central heating as well as the hot water.
And what we thought was initially a sore throat woke the poet several times during the night with a raging fever. When I had a look, one of his tonsils had a septic blob on it and the other was quite swollen. Still, he said if he was going to be poorly anywhere he’d rather be poorly here.
He’s not too bad, however. We both managed a 3-course breakfast (cereal, toast and fruit) before going for a drive. They’d forecast showers too, so we decided to stock up on provisions.
The first place we went to was Sedbergh, just over the border in Cumbria. My blog buddy Diane had mentioned that Sedbergh might be a book town. Well, it isn’t quite Hay on Wye, but there were a few book shops. We bought a new 2015 road atlas for £4.99, reduced from £10.99, and an ice cream each. My old atlas was dated 2004 and I’ve been nagging for a new one for ages, and here it is.
Then we went to the Spar to get a few groceries and some throat lozenges, and then we drove through Kendal to Windermere. We parked up at Windermere but halfway down the hill to the lake we decided to go back for the car, not because we’re idle, but because the parking was only for one hour and we were going to be longer than an hour.
So we went back to the car and drove into Bowness where we dropped on lucky with the car park, and we walked down to the lake via a hat shop up hill first. We both have sun hats, but with the panic over Holly, we forgot to put them in. So we bought a new hat each in Bowness and ate prawn sandwiches and carrot cake on the lawn overlooking the lake. Rufus had a great time rolling in the grass before eventually joining us reclining on the lawn.
When the grass felt too damp we headed back to the car and then back to the cottage for tea – and rest for the poet who was starting to wilt. He rallied, though, built the fire and made us some savoury mince, which we had with basamati rice. Then we settled down in front of the World Cup final before tuning in to another film.
We took quite a few pictures today, in Sedbergh, in Windermere and in Bowness. And, of course, of our new hats.
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.
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.