Day out: Langsett in the Snow

Langsett dam (picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Yes, it’s been a while. Far too long. Well, we haven’t disappeared off the face of the earth since November, but we have been very busy. Hopefully, things are once again settled down.

It’s not just the blog that’s been neglected either. We just haven’t been out. Not even for a day trip.

Well, last weekend we put our foots (feet!) down and decided to have a couple of days off … hmm, and still I ended up working for half of Saturday and half of Sunday. Sacrilege! I didn’t give up the rat race to work at the weekend!

The road was closed to traffic (picture: Ian Wordsworth)

On Sunday morning we woke to snow. The poet knew I had work to do, so he ummed and ahhed about maybe mucking out the chickens. We had to go out for milk, and we wanted to go before the snow got very bad.

And so I suggested we grab his camera and his new video camera and take some pictures of the snow while it was here. The video camera was a Christmas present and he’d not really had much chance to give it a try.

We went to Langsett Reservoir, a favourite haunt and one that looks lovely in the snow. We didn’t walk all the way around it. We didn’t really have the time, we had to go and get the milk, and I had to get back and do a little work at least. So we parked in the barn car park and walked across the dam head.

Langsett (picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The poet took some scenic video images, then he set up the tripod at the opposite end of the dam. There were road works in the middle of the dam, so the road was closed to traffic.

Rufus thought it was bostin (boss-tin – Brummie for “a bit good, like”) as he was allowed off his lead. He had lots of fun galloping up and down.

We had a few funny attempts at a team photo. The poet had left his remote control behind and the timer was somehow set to 2 seconds. He worked it out in the end, though, but we had so many goes at it I think you can see in our faces which number shot this one was!

Team photo (picture: Ian Wordsworth)

It was as cold as it looks, and so we didn’t stay for very long. Just long enough to get some reasonable footage and a couple of shots.

Back home, the poet edited the video film, and he made quite a good job of it too. It looks just like the old cine film people used to take in the 1970s, but a bit more modern.

Let’s hope the next one isn’t so long away!

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Walk: Langsett Reservoir

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Langsett Reservoir (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

When the poet’s son #2 + g/f said they wanted to go for a walk last Sunday, we decided to go to an old familiar/old favourite/very local one of ours: Langsett Reservoir. This is a fairly easy 4 miles and close enough to home to not need a picnic.

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Picture: Ian Wordsworth

It really is only 10 minutes away, but when we got there, we were surprised at how many others had the same idea. The car park was packed. The overflow was packed. And a little layby on the opposite side of the road was almost packed – so that’s where we parked.

Langsett is a very dog-friendly place and we were even able to take Rufus off his lead a few times. He ran on ahead and only once ran off after another dog, which, fortunately, was a big softie and didn’t mind his fussing.

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Picture: Ian Wordsworth

There was a young girl there who really didn’t want to be. Her dad (we presume) clearly thought it was a very good way to spend a Sunday morning with the dog, but all the way around, we could hear her grizzling, asking why they couldn’t turn back, complaining about it being too far.

We were intially quite warm walking. The weather was grey and overcast, and a tad chilly. But the exercise soon warmed us up.

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Grouse (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

However, the higher we started to climb, the faster the temperature started to drop, and by the time we reached the top (banner pic along top), it started to snow! I was so happy!

So were son #2 + g/f. In fact, they both seemed delighted!

The poet, on the other hand, distinctly looked a bit “boo!” Rufus didn’t even notice. He was just having such a great time.

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The view from where we parked the car (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

All the way along the top the poet and his son were scouring the gorse for signs of grouse. They saw a few. But by the time we reached “North America”, there was one just sitting on a wall. The picture’s a bit zoomed-in, but at least he looks nice and plump.

The path underfoot was mostly very good, with the first part from the visitor centre down to the lake recently re-sanded. It was a bit muddy in places, but nothing we couldn’t easily get across or around.

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Ryan, Chloé, Rufus, Diane, Ian

By the end of the walk we’d probably all just about had enough. We were ready to get out of our walking boots/shoes/clothes and into a nice warm car.

The dog, naturally, could have gone on forever. But within only 10 minutes again, we were back home where a loaf was baking in the bread maker and 2 lamb shanks were roasting in the slow cooker.

Son #2 + g/f said they’d love to come walking with us again, and it was nice to have them with us.

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Altogether, including the extra bit from and back to the car, we walked 4.18 miles and we burned 560 calories.

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A new gadget

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Bracket fungus. Langsett Reservoir. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We didn’t really plan to do much over the weekend beyond a dress fitting and a visit to Birmingham. The fitting was over and done by and we were on the road at 10:30am.

The long drive gave us the opportunity for me to iron out some reservations I have with CATCH THE RAINBOW, and the discussion helped me to focus more and get rid of a big problem, a blockage, something that wasn’t quite working.

I think there’s going to be a shift of protagonist, or maybe more than one protagonist, and the story is a lot bigger, deeper, than the original plan. Now I panic that I don’t have it in me – either the knowledge or the stamina. Or the expertise. We also discussed a few other projects and I think things are clearer in my own mind, what I want, why I’ve not been going for it.

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Looking out across Langsett Reservoir. (Picture: Diane Parkin)

I was very happy with the conversation, particularly as I get to buy more books. Much of the information I need is available online, but as we know, some of the “facts” are only as accurate as the original volunteer information. And anyway, I like books.

I did start to read one of my existing books on Friday, ARMED STRUGGLE: THE HISTORY OF THE IRA by Richard English. But it’s a bit heavy for what I want, and – following our chat on Saturday – what I actually want is a history of Sinn Féin. And even then, I’m not sure I want a very deep understanding of it, but more of a passing awareness – if you get my drift.

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Langsett. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We made good time to Birmingham and so stopped off at Elmdon Park to eat our picnic and give the dog a quick walk. Then we had a couple of hours with Mom and Dad before heading back. We dropped the dog back home and then went back out to Meadowhall.

We didn’t find any books on the new subject, but we did get a birthday present for my mom for next weekend. We also treated ourselves to a Pizza Express and our favourite, Grand Chicken Caesar Salad … very scrummy.

New gadget: MapMyWalk.

On Sunday, we made another picnic, and this time headed over to one of our favourite walks, which is less than 15 minutes from our house now: Langsett Reservoir.

I also downloaded a new gadget for my mobile phone, MapMyWalk. I’d wanted something similar before but I only had a Windows phone, and there aren’t many apps I like for those. But now I have my android, I was able to download the app and the picture to the right is just one example of what it does. I still have lots to learn, but I think I’m going to like it.

It didn’t really take us that long, by the way. I just forgot to pause it while we had our picnic …

We’re both slimming at the moment, and we burned over 1,000 calories on our walk, which meant we could enjoy a slap-up meal for tea, cooked with love by the poet. He’s lost half a stone now and is doing very well. I’ve lost a couple of pounds, but I’ve also lost a couple of inches.

This week, then, I approach the WiP with a new energy and new idea. I have editing work to do as well, but I also have a non-fiction book proposal I want to complete and send off – they’ve been waiting for it for a very long time and I don’t want to miss the boat.

The book I bought this morning is THE PROVOS: THE IRA AND SINN FÉIN by Peter Taylor. If you have any other suggestions, then please do let me know. Ta. 😀

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Diane and Ian at Langsett.

Everything in the garden’s rosy

This week I had several people around to value my little house and I was over the moon to discover that it’s actually worth slightly more now than it was a few years ago. It was also interesting to see how overpriced 3 other houses are in my street, all either gone up for sale in March or “re-valued” in March (probably as a result of the other 2 going up far too high – in my opinion).

The next piece of good news was that my redemption figure is not as high on my current mortgage as I thought it was, and there’s no penalty fee for early settlement. This is a proper double-whammy. I don’t think I’ve ever had to redeem a mortgage without some kind of financial penalty imposed.

The next house up from mine (which just happens to be next door) is up for approximately £5,000 more than anyone thinks it’s worth (apx $8,245). The one across the street and another up the road a bit are £10,000 more than anyone thinks they’re worth (apx $16,490). Apart from, obviously, the people selling them. As we’re happy to go in at what the house is actually worth, if we decide to sell, we can use these 3 overpriced houses to our advantage.

Whether we rent or sell the house is still open for discussion over the weekend, but regardless of either, any money raised will be used to clear existing debt and also go towards our Big Adventure next year. Either way, things are looking a lot rosier than they were just a month ago.

This is just the icing on the cake at the moment, as everything else is going so well and so positively. The Cosmos has certainly come up with the goods here.

I’m really very busy at the moment, which is really very good, but it means I don’t have very long to stay. And this weekend is Mother’s Day in the UK, so we’ll be having a busy time then too. We also have our big shop to do and a small dog to big walk.

It’s the wrong time of year for roses, so here’s a picture of some heather taken at Langest Reservoir last summer – he’s really very proud of it. 🙂

Heather on Langsett. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
Heather on Langsett. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Have a great weekend.

What weekends were made for

Diane and Lord Rufus on Langsett. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
Diane and Lord Rufus on Langsett. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I never get sick of saying this, but what a great weekend – again.

Friday evening we stayed in and chilled in front of a football (soccer) match on telly. What made it even more special was that our team – England – actually won. I can’t remember the last time I watched a football game on telly and “my” team won. I’m usually banned from watching because I’m usually such a jinx.

Saturday was a lazy day. We walked the dog – um, to Tesco and back – and we did some shopping, then we made a home-made lasagne for tea. Well, the poet made it. He had a gig, which we headed over to, and we thought it was going to be quite a quiet one …

… until a drunk got up on stage to dance, fell over, taking the bass player’s microphone with him, then climbed up said bass player to get back on his feet … Bass player apparently didn’t drop a note …

… then a chap on crutches got up to dance to Sit Down by James …

… then a, erm, well-endowed lady started doing this erotic dancing, lifted her frock and then flashed her paps and her dental floss …

The poor (yeah, right) poet had to cover his eyes with one hand and carry on playing with the other. It was very funny. I wish we could have got a picture – of him covering his eyes rather than the well-endowed lady …

The best thing about Saturday was that I didn’t just squeeze into an old favourite pair of jeans, but they were comfortable enough for me to wear that night. And I could get both hands in both pockets too.  That made me very happy. And smug. I’ve not been able to get into these jeans for 2 years or more and even 2 weeks ago they were still only getting as far as halfway up my thighs.

I also tried on a very tight pair of WHITE jeans, that also fit but weren’t as comfortable. I thought those were a UK size 10, but both pairs are UK size 12 – one pair is rigid, the white pair is stretchy. I have another pair of white jeans I’d like to fit into next. Those are definitely a UK size 10 but are also rigid. But my next target is a favourite  pair of shorts … and then we’ll have to go somewhere I can wear them … somewhere warm.  😉

Sunday was another lazy day and the poet walked the dog … erm, to the Co-op and back.

We tried to set up my Sky via the modem so we could watch On Demand, but because I don’t have the full subscription, I can’t access the full range of products. I think this is a bit of a con because Sky do advertise that all you need is a modem and broadband and you can watch so much more. I could hardly watch anything more and would have to pay an additional £6 a month just to see boxed sets. As the poet already has all of that at his, we decided it wasn’t worth the extra and changed our minds.

I’ve managed to save £5 a month on my phone bill for 12 months this weekend, and I’ll be cancelling my LoveFilm membership and so saving a further £5 a month. I don’t then need to be paying out another £6 a month or those recent savings will be cancelled out.

Then we tried to set up my laptop so that I can have a bigger monitor (the telly upstairs), but I don’t have the right cables. I’m sure it’s the laptop that’s making my neck ache when I’m working, so that’s a job we need to do in the near future, I think.

At teatime we headed off to another gig that we had no preconceptions about (and the favourite jeans came out with us again), and we had a great time watching and dancing to a very good blues band. When we got home we “ligged” (as they say in Barnsley) on the settee in front of a film.

This really is what weekends were made for.

This week I’m down to 4 days again, with a trip to Birmingham on Thursday. I was going to crack on with a historical fiction edit, but I’ve decided to do a shorter book so I can invoice for it today. I’m on a 14 day settlement and invoices raised before today will meet most of my bills on the 28th of the month.

I need to create a sample edit with tracked changes in Word for potential clients who want to see an example of what I do. But I need to update myself with the latest Word as well so that I can work a little quicker instead of having to stop and look up the latest changes and/or functions all the time.

The poet is also revamping my job board profile and is, I think, setting me up with a Linkedin account. I don’t have time to do anything like that at the moment, while I’m frantically working and getting the work in, so as it’s what he does … Well, it’s a no-brainer. He’s doing a fantastic job, but I think he’s enjoying it too.

Right, well, I think that’s enough for one post – especially when I’m being monitored(!). I’d best crack on with that work.

Today’s picture was taken up on Langsett back in August.

The reservoir at Langsett

Langsett Reservoir. (Picture: Diane Parkin)
Langsett Reservoir. (Picture: Diane Parkin)

I’m working hard, ticking things off and actually earning proper money. Last night I even allowed myself to daydream about spending some of it.

On Wednesday I chugged through all of my to do list. I edited some photo captions for a non-fiction and got those sent off to the typesetter and I finished author and proofreader revisions on the same and posted that back while walking the dog.

On Thursday I finished the electronic edit on another non-fiction and got the tracked changes document back to the author. That filled most of the day. I also pitched for 2 jobs and communicated with lovely already boss regarding ongoing work that could take me up to 2018.

Today I’m editing a new historical fiction. It’s also invoices day (hurrah!) and blog-posting day. I surfed the job boards but there was nothing suitable this morning.

For the past few days I’ve been suffering with backache and a stiff neck, and yesterday I had a psychological toothache to go with it. The toothache has gone today and so, I thought, had the aching body. But just being hunched over the laptop for an hour or so just now is bringing it on again and I can feel my neck weakening.

I guess I’ll have to do a new ergonomic assessment of my work environment but I think it’s being crunched over the laptop despite it being on a riser. I think I need a desktop pc with a screen at eye-level and at a 90-degree angle to a window, but I can’t really manage either at the moment.

I could probably do with a proper office chair as well, but the current chair is a really good support for my back. It is a dining chair, though, so probably not suited to desk work.

Still lots to think about but I think I’m mentally moving the office now – at least into a different room, if not into a different building …

Today’s picture is another from Langsett Reservoir and one of mine. I liked all of the different lines in this shot.

Nothing planned for this weekend beyond a couple of gigs to go to. I’m starting to get cabin fever, though, so I hope we get a drive out soon. Y’all have a goodun.  🙂

Heather on Langsett

Heather on Langsett. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
Heather on Langsett. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The weekend was all about quiet, thinking and work. I was fairly occupied and wasn’t going to go out Saturday night, but when my friends asked me again to go with them, I decided I needed a break. It was nice to see them, and nice to get out.

On Monday I was very busy editing a book. I finished the manual edits and started the electronic edits, but by about 7pm I was ready to call it a day. I didn’t do much else as I wanted to crack on with this book.

Tuesday was spent down in Birmingham doing legal stuff with my family. However, when I got back there was a new job waiting for me from lovely already boss and I addressed a couple of work issues. But again I was done by about 7:30pm.

Today I have the electronic edits of that book to complete, some revisions to apply to a previous edit, that second edit to get into the post, the gig list to update and a dog to walk. I also bid for 13 jobs this morning, including one invitation to submit, and had been shortlisted for one, down to 2 from about 93 (first it was 9, then it was 5 …). Unfortunately I lost it to someone charging half as much as me. Lovely already boss has also asked me today how I’m fixed for more work.

I have plenty of work in now for at least the next 3 weeks with more promised. I need to get the invoices into the system, though, so that the money is coming in on a regular basis and I’m not swinging between feast and famine again. Time management is getting a lot of attention at the moment to ensure I keep a realistic diary and then stick to it. I’m turning work around a lot quicker and my time estimates are improving.

For the rest of this week I have another edit to start, preferably tomorrow morning. That will take me to Monday.

It’s nice being busy, it’s nice knowing I’m really earning a fair wage, and it’s nice to have a full diary. It’s horrible being broke, though, and I need to eradicate that word entirely from my vocabulary.

A few weeks before we went on holiday we went to Langsett Reservoir walking. This is one of the poet’s favourite shots of his own, if not his actual favourite. Enjoy.

Crazy few weeks

I’ve had a very crazy few weeks.

I really pushed the boat out and decided to take the last week of August off, but this, of course, meant that I had less time in which to complete my work. I did it, though, went flat out, and managed to shift all save one job – and that last job is a freebie anyway …

And no, I don’t make a habit of doing freebies. It was actually a favour to a favourite client and was rewarded with 3 new paying jobs, the first of which I started yesterday, Monday. This, aside from the pro-bono-esque work I do for my local rambling group (a charity), what I can squeeze in for friends, and my own gig list, is the only free work I do. But I’m contemplating doing something with the gig list to make it start to earn its keep … more on that when it’s been thrashed out a little.

It meant, of course, that I didn’t have time for much else. I didn’t have time to surf the job boards, I didn’t have time to do the daily competitions, and I didn’t have time to blog.

But, oh! We had a wonderful holiday. We only went away for a few days, to Dent in the western Yorkshire Dales on the border with the Lake District. I had no phone signal, I couldn’t access the internet, it was bliss. We managed a couple of walks this time. When I was there before we had snow, at Easter, and they were fetching fatal casualties down from the dales all over the holiday. I stayed indoors that time, but this time we got out and about.

We went on Wednesday and came back on Saturday, it was sunny and dry for much of it but we did have a few showers. We even had one walk in the rain, a local walk around the village that took in part of the Dales Way. We ventured up to Grasmere to visit the Wordsworth house there, and we went to see the osprey at Bassenthwaite – the female adult had already migrated, but the almost-grown chicks gave us a very good show with one of them even having a practice fish. We popped to Hawes for supplies and visited the Wensleydale Creamery there, and the jets flew over twice. I’ve yet to visit Hawes and not get a flypast. 🙂

When we came home we were chilled and relaxed, and even managed a night out.

I don’t have any photographs yet, as they’re still on someone else’s camera. But as soon as I do I’ll start posting. Meanwhile, the one at the bottom is another from our day out at Langsett Reservoir a few weeks ago.

This week, then, I have two new edits to start – one was started yesterday – and 2 articles to write. I also have 2 books to crack on with, a novel and a non-fiction. I have that freebie to complete, plus the gig list to update. And hopefully – hopefully – I’ll have time to surf the job boards and all the other computer stuff.

Oh yes, and my car has to go into the garage – again – on Thursday. 😦

An arty shot from the poet. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Aren’t friends brill!

As many of you already know I’m really very quite busy, and I’m frantically trying to keep on top of work and on top of getting money in.

Yesterday morning I made a decision that if no money hit my account that day, I’d look for a proper job. This is because I’m starting to tire of chasing people for money. WHY do people hire your services and then fanny around not paying? I think it’s disgraceful, especially when it’s a large organisation that can afford to pay more than others. But even then, if they can’t afford to pay, they shouldn’t hire you. End of. It’s like going to a café, eating their food, and then saying: “Soz, can’t afford it after all – can you hang on a week or so until I get paid?” It’s bang out of order.

However, when I checked my bank account, a reasonable sum had indeed hit it and so I didn’t need to honour the pledge to myself. Phew! Thank goodness for that.

And so I cracked on with work and was doing quite well. I chucked one job back at a client, because it needed a helluva lot more work than what she’d initially suggested and I wasn’t prepared to haggle or do extra hours for the same pay. She agreed that it needed to go to a different contractor and I billed for time already spent.

Then I was in the midst of another job that’s already a bit later than I’d like, and BANG – I got the BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH. Eek! My only work yesterday, after throwing one job back, was on screen. And it was already later than I’d like.

So, after it let me in again, I threw a request up on Facebook asking friends to let me know what to do. I started by backing up all of my critical data, which was already going to take a long time, and then, luckily for me, friends did indeed answer my plea. Two tried to help me online, even though both were at work and one was very busy, and then another busy friend, the good old virtual office buddy, squeezed me in for a remote access jobby.

That then also took some time, and so did the scheduled ChkDsk function when the pc was rebooted. In fact, the ChkDsk took hours. He thinks what he did should fix it, but if not then he reckons it’s a memory issue. Fingers crossed it’s fixed.

But aren’t friends ace? I have some brilliant mates. 🙂

And so I lost a lot of time and am catching up today. I’m still doing the electronic edit – I need to shift that one ASAP – I’ve pitched for 18 jobs this week, I have an article I need to write that’s also later than I’d like (awaiting photographs from the subject), there’s the gig list to update today, and that job I threw back? It bounced straight back just as I was going to bed last night …

And I’ve given it some thought and decided that if she’s happy for me to bill for time worked on a weekly basis, then I’m happy to continue with the project. I usually work on fixed price jobs but, actually, I wouldn’t mind an hourly one.

Enjoy the picture below. It’s another one of mine from Saturday’s walk.

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Langsett Reservoir