Nice weekend off

banana loafWell, after a stressful week we wanted the weekend off and we pretty much had it, getting the shopping out of the way first and just buying some bird and dog food from the pet shop. We’ve both been fighting colds so we didn’t feel much like doing anything else.

On Saturday the poet made his own Caesar dressing and we had that, with salmon and salad, for tea.

Monkey Dust had a gig in Sheffield Saturday night, at a new venue, and it took us a while to get there. When we did, the gaffer panicked about the speakers, but by the end of the night he was converted and asking them to play again next year.

On Sunday we did more baking. The poet put another lamb shank in the slow cooker, with mint and garlic this time. Then we made a granary loaf and 4 granary rolls in the oven (the rolls and a third of the loaf have already gone), a banana tea bread (from the low fat cookbook), and another granary loaf in the bread machine.

We popped out to visit the poet’s parents on Sunday too, and on the way we stopped off to replace the bread flours – strong white, strong brown, wholemeal – and get a new tin of dried yeast.

We also bought oatmeal for parkin. We couldn’t get oatmeal from Tesco, but apparently all of the other supermarkets sell it and they don’t, so we did the baking shopping at Morrisons. And we bought cream so the poet can have a go at making his own custard – we’d already picked up a vanilla pod from Tesco.

He came back from his parents’ with a pile of art supplies and I came back with a glass pie dish, a glass quiche dish and a jar of sugared blackberries. We’ll be putting all of those to good use very soon.

And that was the weekend. The picture is of the banana tea bread and the worktop saver is the one we bought a few weeks ago. It says: “Home is where the heart is.”

The hire car went back today – it should have gone back on Friday but they only came for it today – and they should be fixing the poet’s car today.

Holly’s back at the vet on Wednesday, but we finally let her out yesterday. We didn’t let her “escape”, we just left the back door open until she noticed it. She went out about 3 times for only a few minutes before coming back in, but then went out for an hour or so. When she got back we checked her scar, and all seems intact. So we’re not keeping her in any more.

It’s my last week of NaNo prep, I have a brand new edit in today, although I’ll be doing the ones already in first, and I’ve scheduled in a couple of sessions this week on the “pro bono” work, so it isn’t dominating my time but I still get to do something with it.

What are you up to this week?

Fraught week

P1020866aIt’s been a long and fraught week for us this week, considering we had a long weekend too.

First the poet snapped a section of his very expensive brand new fishing pole.

Then the clutch caught fire on the car – and they’re trying to say it’s user abuse rather than covered under warranty (the car’s 8 months old …).

Then the cat came home on Tuesday night with a massive hole in her side, had it cleaned and stitched on Wednesday, and now has a 2-inch long scar.

It’s all money money money. And if we add to that a broken plectrum and a Sky remote control no longer working (and no, it’s not the batteries), I’d say we’ve pretty much had our fair share now, thank you very much.

Holly, by the way, is actually fine. But she can’t go out yet and she’s climbing the walls – she’s very much an outdoor hunter but has lost weight since Wednesday morning, so she’s not happy. I just love this picture of her so thought it might make a nice illustration on today’s post. We have no idea what she’s done or how she did it, other than it isn’t from fighting or hunting. It looks like she’s fell against something that’s spiked her in the side. But at least it’s clean.

There hasn’t been a Diary of a Freelance Writer this week. That’s because of the long weekend and because I’ve been running backwards and forwards to the vets and to the garage, so I’ve not had a lot of writing time. The Diary will return next Wednesday, though, all being well, although Holly is back at the vet again Wednesday morning.

I’ve not done much NaNo prep work either, and that’s frustrating me. I hope to remedy that today.

It also looks as though I’m chasing another late payment too. As if I don’t already have enough to do, I really hate having to chase late payments as well.

I have been doing work on what I call the “pro bono” project. I usually give my time to some good cause or another, if it’s something close to my heart or something that interests me. I just have to limit them to one at a time.

This is memorial fundraising work in memory of a friend of Monkey Dust, the poet’s band, and I’m doing the publicity. So I’ve set up a new blog and a new Facebook page and have been sourcing, saving, uploading and crediting pictures that have been pouring in as well as the initial new setups.

I’ve done next week’s diary and allocated time to “pro bono work”, and now I need to step away from the notifications that seem to be happening all the time at the moment and crack on with some of my own work. Otherwise, I could be pecking away at it the whole time. And next week, I need to be finding time for that NaNo prep work too.

Apart from one gig in Sheffield on Saturday evening, we have the whole weekend off this week. We need to do some shopping (if we have any money left), but apart from that, perhaps we’ll do some more home DIY.

What are you up to this weekend?

Our lane in February

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Our lane. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Last weekend we went for our first walk of the year down our lane. It’s usually flooded but has been quite snowy, slushy and icy more recently. This was a lovely spring-like day with the sun shining in a blue sky.

There’s a working farm down here, a 17th century manor house with farm buildings (one of which is ours), a pair of houses that are semi-detached, and a bungalow at the end of it.

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Snowdrops. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The first thing we saw were the snowdrops. These are the first we’ve seen this year, but then, we haven’t been out much and they may have been there a month already.

There are some old chinese lanterns along here too, but they’re long past their best. We also think they may have been dumped there by man as they don’t tend to grow naturally in the English countryside … do they?

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Holly. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

All of the berries have gone from the holly, but it’s still looking quite splendid. This lines the lane all the way down to the end, and probably beyond. It’s a beautiful deep green, very lush, and a great place for the woodland birds to hide in as we walk past.

The poet’s learning how to use his camera at the moment and I think he achieved the desired effect with this picture. He’s getting quite good at blurring the background now.

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Mallards skating on Wormy’s Lake. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The main purpose of the walk on this occasion, apart from to blow away the winter cobwebs, was for him to assess the lake, to see if it’s ready for fishing yet. Unfortunately it was still very much iced over, with these ducks paddling on the top.

There weren’t many birds on the water and he says the fish won’t be biting much either. So he’s filed the data away for another time.

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Lord Rufus loving his walk around Wormy’s Lake. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

They’ve started some clearance and we’re not sure if that’s so the people who live in the bungalow can see the water, or whether they’re maintaining it for when it can be fished. Because there were no anglers, however, we were able to let the dog off his lead. And he had a proper bostin time, running along, exploring the undergrowth, and even coming back when we called him. He’s getting a lot better.

We won’t be walking along the lane this weekend. Tomorrow we’re going to look at a new car for the poet as his is up for renewal, we’ll drop in on his parents while we’re over there, and tomorrow night he has a gig in Doncaster.

Because of that we’re going out for our Valentine’s Day meal tonight. We’re going Italian. Then on Sunday we’re off for a bit more of a walk to break in his new boots and for him to try out his camera some more.

What are you up to this weekend? Hope it’s a goodun. 🙂

w/c 27 Jan: to do list (and “mumbo-jumbo” alert …)

Eight years ago today I left the marital home “with just the clothes on my back and the cat under my arm”, and spent the night in a hotel. The next day I was allowed to move into a house I’d already started the rental process on (“just in case”). Six months later I bought that house, and I loved it to death.

It was such a sweet, comforting house that seemed to put its arms around you and give you a cuddle. It still does.

But a week ago last Saturday I closed that house and moved into the poet’s. We’d been living in two houses for several months and the disruption for the animals was causing me some heartache. I was also unable to settle to any work as I never seemed to be in one place long enough.

The poet’s house is bigger than mine, so it made sense, although we will be looking for somewhere we’ve both chosen in the coming months. It has a garden too, whereas mine has just a yard.

Meanwhile, the animals have settled and so has my work – and we’re saving so much money on petrol, heating bills and just buying one lot of shopping, etc, too. At the weekend we even did some baking together – the poet made bread while I made fruit buns, and I whipped up a green jelly too.

And we’re working on a freezer challenge (what-can-we-eat-from-the-freezer-for-a-week?) so that we can move his fridge/freezer into the garage (for his fishing tackle) and mine can come over (it won its own mine’s-better-than-yours battle).

It’s been an emotional and slightly traumatic week, but it’s working. And by the end of last week, work started to pour in again – which really supports the case for the law of attraction.

I know I’ve also said it before, many times, but cosmic ordering really, truly rocks. I “placed my order” with the universe a couple of weeks ago and then forgot about it. And while I may have been a little greedy (I’ve not asked for anything for a long time …), it is all starting to come in.

Anyway, “mumbo-jumbo” out of the way, whether you believe in it or not, life’s pretty good at the moment, and it seems to get better every day. Time to start tackling a few unpleasantries in life again, perhaps …

Here, then, is this week’s to do list (those of a nervous disposition may wish to turn away now …):

  • surf job boards daily x 5 
  • daily competitions x 5 
  • write and submit walks report to 6 local newspapers
  • write blog x 3 
  • walk dog daily x 5 ×√
  • write 1,000 words per day x 5 ×
  • final check through non-fiction history book before …
  • … send non-fiction history book to print
  • tackle new debt management plan daily x 5 (unpleasantry #1)
  • daily banking x 5 
  • edit new non-fiction history book before …
  • … send new non-fiction history book back to author via publisher
  • upload gig list for February
  • explore gig list Facebook page
  • diary work
  • proofread new YA book before …
  • … send new YA book back to author
  • invoices (hurrah!)
  • trip to Birmingham

What’s on your to do list this week?

Holly, still gorgeous 8 years on, finally emerging in our new home.
Holly, still gorgeous 8 years on, finally emerging in our new home.

An awfully big adventure

This week’s to do list will appear on Wednesday. This is mostly because I haven’t done it yet – which is mostly due to the fact that over the weekend I moved house and office.

We’re all settled now, although it probably will just be temporary until we find somewhere more suitable. Holly is the only one who’s still a bit nervous. The cats can’t go out yet … well, I say that, but Domino has already been out several times, explored the back garden, and come back in again. But generally, the cats should be kept in for 3 weeks.

I can’t see Holly standing for that for 3 weeks. She’s always been an outdoor cat, so I’ve been buttering her paws for when she can’t stand being cooped up inside any longer. And not just cheap margarine either. No, she’s been getting proper posh butter.

Rufus has been to visit loads of time and he’s just happy to settle in whichever basket or on whatever comfy seat is the closest. He also thinks that the garden, a real, actual, proper garden with grass and stuff, is the best thing ever.

And Domino has just taken it in her stride.

The garden has birds in as well, so the cats have enjoyed squeaking at them from the other side of windows while the dog has had the best fun ever chasing them away.

I’m finding my way around too, but the office is temporarily up and running on the kitchen table. I’ll be sharing a room eventually with the poet, who has a music room, but we have to rearrange the furniture and get all of mine in there too.

Normal service should resume very quickly.