Tis done

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With Rufus on the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Today’s picture is for illustration.

Finally, after several very long weeks, we are done. We have moved everything from one house to the other and handed back the keys for the old house. For the first time in more than a month, we don’t have to go out this evening to take or collect stuff. It is done, it is over.

Saying that, I’m convinced we’ve left some cooking pans in the bottom of a cupboard – at least 3 roasting dishes and some loaf tin liners. But hey, if we have, and if we need them, we’ll just have to buy some more. If we have and we don’t miss them, then it’s less clutter. And if we haven’t, then that’s great.

It was a very, very busy weekend, though.

On Friday the first job we had was to drop my car off for its MOT. Then we collected a self-drive van so that we could take stuff from the garden and from the garage to the new house, and any other stuff that wouldn’t fit in one of the cars very well. We made 2 full trips in all before going back to collect my car. (It failed, but only a little bit.)

The following morning, Saturday, we filled the van for a run to the tip … but when we got to the tip they wouldn’t let us on. Long-wheel-base vehicles aren’t permitted, apparently. I thought they were, but you had to pay a tenner.

The van had to be back by 10am, so we went back to the van hire place, explained the situation, and the owner very kindly let us empty the van into the car so we could try again at the tip. We made 2 trips back to the tip in the end. And in the afternoon we did the weekly shopping and went back to the new house for tea/the evening.

On Sunday, at 9am, we headed off to Birmingham to take my dad to Alrewas for the National Service Memorial Day at the National Memorial Arboretum. The weather was a bit breezy but it stayed kind to us. And Dad had a nice time. Pictures will follow. When we got home, we had a pork dinner, having left a pork joint in the slow cooker.

Monday morning we had to go back to the old house to hand the keys over. But it was great to come back and not have to go anywhere for the rest of the day. It was a nice day, though, so the poet busied himself tidying the stable and the shed, doing a bit of petrol-strimming, and painting a fence. He also baked a loaf of bread – in the oven, not the bread machine.

I also did some bits and bobs. I’d had a hospital appointment, which I cancelled in the end. It wasn’t important and we needed some time out. I tried baking some sugar-free blueberry muffins, but the mix was too dry and they went in the bin. Instead I fell back on an old standard – individual buns or fairy cakes, making them with milk chocolate chunks.

This morning, the poet went back to work, and so did I. But we’re quite excited about not having to go anywhere this evening when he comes home. I may take the dog for a walk to post a letter – the nearest letter box is quite a walk away – but apart from that I think we’ll be emptying boxes. Deep joy.

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I promised a brilliant picture …

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Dragonfly (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

… and I always try to keep my promises. 🙂 Isn’t this a beautiful shot? It was taken at RSPB Old Moor last weekend when we went on our photography safari. He has a picture of it in flight too, but that one’s a little bit more blurred.

I’ve had a good week. I’ve been very busy and I’ve got a lot of writing work done (have you seen the word meters in the sidebars?). But the best thing is, showing up actually works. (surprised face)

I made a bit of a decision a few weeks ago to do any writing work in the mornings and any editing work in the afternoons. I’m much more creative in the mornings and have more energy for it too. Most of the time I get to the writing early, and I’ve managed a fair amount of wordage each time. Sometimes, things happen, I get into administrative wrangles, and I might turn up to my writing late. Instead of skipping it, though, I’m still turning up at least. And I’m still doing the writing work first, even if it means pushing everything else along and working late. I’m doing the writing work first.

This is a major achievement for me as my own work has always taken second, third or fourth place and often been neglected entirely. So all those “nags” who bang on about showing up? Pay attention to them. They know what they’re talking about.

I’ve been a bit light on the editing side of things anyway, having only a couple of short works in the bag with a couple of longer ones not getting here yet. But I’ve also been in negotiation all week with 3 different clients (1 existing, 2 potential new) regarding several new jobs, all of which are going to be considerably bigger than the average gig I get, and one of which I really, really would like.

Does anyone remember the cosmic ordering that went on the other week? Well, it seems I’ve won not one job from one of these clients – one of the new clients –  but three. And job #1 consists of several little ones. The work should keep me busy for several weeks.

Now watch all the others come in as well … (said she hopefully).

My car had to go in for its MOT this morning. The MOT actually ran out in May, but with getting married and going on honeymoon and everything, for the first time ever I completely forgot about it. Needless to say, the car failed. But we’re going to get it through today and then look at either selling it or chopping it in for a new one before the next 12 months are up. It’s a bit of a nuisance in what’s already a 5-week month, but it’s worth more to us with the MOT than it is without.

This morning my housework-half-hour included making a strawberry flan. But we couldn’t get any Quick Jel™ from the supermarket. So I tried to use ordinary jelly for the glaze but the flan sponge soaked it up like a, well, sponge. Now I’m torn between letting the rest of the jelly set slightly before pouring it on, or making a fresh jelly glaze with less water. A friend has just this second told me on FB than she always uses regular jelly but with less water for flans, so maybe I’ll just try for that first.

We’ve cancelled our fruit and veg boxes after today as we’re not using all of the goods they send us while they’re still at their best, as we often go gallivanting in the summer months and are rarely home to cook with perishables. But we’re still going to look for fruit and veg that’s in season and that’s good for us (such as super-foods like sweet potatoes and blackcurrants) and start cooking from scratch again.

In the week the poet made a savoury mince using mince, peas and sweetcorn from the freezer and carrots, onions and mushrooms from our last box. And for the first time in ages, half of it went into the freezer to eat at another time. (Wormy’s savoury mince is legendary, by the way.) We’ll also choose when to buy courgettes, instead of having 4 sent at a time, and he’ll make just the one omelette rather than one a night.

As part of this cooking from scratch, and with seasonal berries, etc, I’m going to have a bash at fruit flans, fruit crumbles, summer puddings and steamed puddings, as well as mixing fruit with yoghurt or having it with meringue nests and yoghurt. I do the sweet stuff, he does the savoury stuff. So any suggestions of what to do with seasonal fruit other than what’s already mentioned will be gratefully received.

Once we pick the car up at the close of business today, I think we’re going fishing. This will give me a good few hours away from any distractions – apart from cows, chickens and ducks – to carry on with that short story I started last week. It’s been a while since I wrote a 2,000-word story, but I think this one is definitely heading that way.

Tomorrow we have another local music festival to go to, but I think it depends on the weather. Last year we had press passes but this year we have to pay. It’s for a good cause, though, so that’s why we’re still hoping to go.

On Sunday we’re off to Birmingham to see my parents. If it’s a nice day, and if we make good time, we may visit a National Trust property on the way home. We also want to go and see the poet’s parents as soon as we can as it’s his dad’s 80th birthday next week.

Have a great weekend.

So I ordered new pictures …

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Taken at RSPB Old Moor (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

… and I got new pictures. And they say that Cosmic Ordering doesn’t work. 🙂

We had a lovely weekend. On Friday night we had a date night at the pictures. We ate out too at one of our favourite places, Pizza Express, and then bought chocolate, pop and popcorn and sat in front of JURASSIC WORLD for a couple of hours.

We both like JURASSIC PARK and the new one is very much Jurassic Park, and nods back at the originals more than once. And we were still on our way home at 9:30pm, which is actually quite good anyway as they’ve been springing a closed motorway overnight on us for the past month or so.

On Saturday we went to see the poet’s parents, and we bought a few fresh things on the way home as we were having another barbecue. At about 6pm we dawdled down to our local recreation park for a “rock on the rec” festival, but we were a little bit disappointed. It was an evening festival and there were just too many children there, and they were being allowed to kick their footballs and throw their frisbees regardless of whether they hit anyone or not, and with no apologies either.

We don’t mind kids being at festivals at all, but not when the kids outnumber the adults, and not when the adults aren’t able to control the very unruly ones. And when the lead singer of unknown-band-number-two said “Good evening Glastonbury”, we came home. I’m sorry, but it wasn’t even funny, let alone funny enough. (Bah, humbug!)

On Sunday we headed off to the RSPB centre at Old Moor in Barnsley. This is a very old favourite of mine and is fast becoming a favourite of the poet’s too. We went because (a) we haven’t been for a while, (b) I wanted new pictures for the blog, and (c) because there’s been a little bittern there all week and the centre had extended its opening hours so that people could come and see it.

We didn’t see the little bittern or, in fact, the regular bittern. But we did see a little egret and an American wigeon, both of which are also quite rare. We also saw dragon- and damsel-flies. so watch out for another brilliant picture later in the week.

Incidentally, for those following the Cosmic ordering … Holly has worked out how to come IN through the cat flap now, and another potential client contacted me over the weekend with possible new big work.

This week has suddenly changed, mostly because I realised at about 10pm last night that the MOT on my car ran out in May. I’ve never, ever forgotten to MOT my car before, in all the years I’ve owned one. But the garage has said they can do it this Friday, when I was supposed to be at the dentist.

As the poet isn’t around on Friday to be my chauffeur, we’re going to have to drop it in Thursday evening and collect it Friday night (said she, hopefully). But the dental appointment has been moved along a fortnight – I couldn’t move it to next Friday as we already have something else planned.

Of course, this gives me an extra hour or so of work-time on Friday, which is good. And for those who get withdrawal symptoms, here’s my to-do list for this week:

  • twice-daily housework chores
  • gig list admin x 2
  • daily competitions
  • blog x 3
  • writing work @ 2 hours daily
  • edit book @ 2 hours x 4-daily
  • job boards x 2 hours + any ad hoc
  • 1 hour study work x 2
  • diary work
  • take car for MOT
  • invoices, admin, pc maintenance

What’s in your WiP this week?

Productive week so far (lists alert)

I had a good day on Monday.

I sifted through the archives and I found 4 short stories and 1 reader’s true experience (RTE) that just needed a quick proofread before going off on their merry ways. I also:

  • found 2 1st drafts of stories
  • identified slots for 4 potential filler ideas
  • started the new WiP notebook
  • brought my fillers markets up to date with what 3 of the red-top magazines are currently looking for
  • proofed those 4 short stories
  • chased an overdue invoice
  • and pitched for 2 new editing or proofreading jobs

The poet worked from home yesterday, which was lovely – apart from him being full of cold again. He got quite a lot done, and much more than (a) he thought he would, and (b) he would have done had he been at work. He’s always said he wouldn’t have the discipline to work from home, but perhaps me sitting there working away helped. Here’s what I managed:

  • started the non-fiction manual edit, clearing 30 pages
  • pitched for 3 new editing or proofreading jobs (and have one reply to reply to already)
  • proofed the RTE
  • and did some banking work

We also took the dog for a walk and nipped to Tesco for milk and something quick for tea.

This morning I took my car in for an MOT.

The plan was to take some work down to the library for a couple of hours, but as I pulled up at the garage, they were waiting for me and they took it down straight away, telling me to wait in the office. Half an hour later they were back, having replaced 2 lightbulbs (front nearside sidelight + registration plate light) and switched off the Air Bag warning light, and clutching my shiny new MOT certificate. With a teeny tiny bill of less than £40 this time (apx $65), I was very proud of my little car and treated it to a smelly new air freshener – last of the big spenders, that’s me. 🙂

It meant the editing work I took with me didn’t really get done, but I did manage some reading. When I got back there were author revisions waiting for me on a historical novel I’ve been editing, so I shifted that and had a late dinner (lunch).

I want to have another look at the job boards this afternoon and maybe do some more of that manual editing.

This evening, though, we’re off to see Stephen Wade (aka the babe magnet) and Phil Whyman at the Doncaster Literary Festival, so we’re going to be in a bit of a rush and I’m cooking tea. It’ll be great to catch up with Stephen and his wife, Kate Walker, this evening as I haven’t seen them for a couple of years.

What a busy week. And there are still 2 days left.