Rocking the Cosmos

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Industrial Oban (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Less than 2 weeks ago, I gave the Cosmos a bit of a kick up the bum and ordered a little bit of good fortune. I asked for Holly to learn how to use the cat flap, and I asked for some work or some sales or a competition win.

Well, I can proudly announce that Holly, that very intelligent cat, who thinks she can blend into the background and hide anywhere, and can open very heavy doors, has finally learned how to use the cat flap … or at least one way she has. She has yet to work out that the cat flap actually flaps both ways, and if she can push a big, heavy door, she can certainly shift a bit of perspex. So, round of applause for Holly, please, and a please-try-a-little-harder to the Cosmos. Thank you.

Last week I received a teeny-tiny follow-up job from a very satisfied client of the week before. I submitted the work Wednesday evening (late, after the fishing match), and he paid me yesterday. He also left me a second 5-star feedback. I LOVE clients like that.

And then this morning, a client I thought I may have lost has contacted me with a Big One. One that may take 3 – 4 weeks. Of course, he still may find someone willing to do the work for less and has every option to go there instead. But he contacted me, and that’s the main thing. I think I’ll be having lots of conversations with the Cosmos today, though.

So, how has the week been? Well, I started a new word count challenge on Wednesday, but as I’m doing it over several projects, I asked the poet to create a spreadsheet for me so I can keep tabs on how much I’ve written per project and how much I’ve written per day/month. He did that within about 10 minutes. I could have done it, but it would have taken me half a day, so I outsourced that work to maximise and optimise.

We had a cracking storm yesterday afternoon. I knew it was coming because the dog was barking at anything, everything and nothing. The day before we’d had a proper, tropical storm, with thunderless lightning and big fat raindrops. That left us feeling very muggy. Yesterday, though, it was a decent downpour that left everywhere feeling fresh again.

I’m back into the swing of CATCH THE RAINBOW, I’ve started a new short story, and I’m still doing exercises for ideas and markets. I’ve been editing 2 jobs this week, one is almost complete the other was filed on Wednesday. Next week I may get time to do some extra work as the poet is off to Germany again for a couple of days on business. So in all, I’m feeling quite positive on the work side of things.

I pitched for another job this morning that I was invited to, another regular proofreading gig. I hope to file the second of those editing jobs this afternoon, and get it invoiced (hurrah!). And then we’re off to the pictures this evening. We’re going to see JURASSIC WORLD. Tomorrow we have a very local music festival to go to. And Sunday … I don’t know yet what we’re doing on Sunday. Perhaps we need to get out and take some new photographs, as I’m running out of older ones not already seen … but I like the Oban picture. I like how colourful it is, yet how industrial.

Have a great weekend.

Inverary

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Inverary (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We didn’t have very long in Oban, and we spent our last full day in Scotland in Inverary, where the Duke of Argyle lives. Legend has it that one of the dukes decided he didn’t like his castle where it originally was, he wanted it where the town was. So he made them move the town so he could rebuild his castle. It’s apparently not far from the current castle, and the spot is marked near to the car park.

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The Highlander Memorial, Inverary (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

When the town was rebuilt, after it had been relocated, the builders were instructed to leave everything as plain as they could. So today it’s all black and white, with even big chains like the Co-op using a monochrome pallet for their signage. We loved the planning there, even if it is a bit presbytery.

The Highlander Memorial carries the names of those from Inverary who lost their lives in both world wars, with plaques covering the front for WW1 and 2 sides for WW2. We were amazed that such a small place could lose so many young men.

We paid to visit the old jail, which was still in use as the police station until the mid-20th century, and as we kept our receipt we were able to get a discount on entry up at the castle, where the duke and his family still live. Indeed, he was even in residence on the day that we visited.

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Black and white everything (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Sorry about the sun spots on some of the pictures. I started to remove them but it was taking too long, so I’ll let the poet do that when he’s working on them in general.

After visiting both the castle and the jail we were ready to go back to Oban and pack. Two lots of bags were staying in the car from Scotland, and 2 pre-packed cases were coming with us to Cyprus for the next leg of our honeymoon.

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Ian in the “exercise yard” at Inverary Jail (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

We were up at 5am Sunday morning. The hotel had prepared us a breakfast the night before, so we ate what we could and took the rest with us for the ride. Then, at 5:30am, we headed to Glasgow.

We’d booked secure parking for the duration, but the directions they sent us were from Yorkshire, and we were coming from the Highlands. So while we were pretty much on time initially, as there is only one J28 on the motorway around Glasgow on one side of the road, we had to ring the car park and get them to direct us in. But the bus waited for us, and we arrived at the airport and through customs with minutes to spare. Fortunately they hadn’t started to shout our names over the tannoy yet.

And we were off on a 5-hour flight on the next part of our adventure. Pictures to follow from Cyprus too.

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Diane in Inverary Jail (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We had another good weekend. We’d decided, when we got home from our holiday and threw some food away, that the next fruit and veg boxes we get we were definitely going to do something with. We’d had a delivery on Friday, and when the poet came home he used bunched onions and a courgette and made a gorgeous cheese omelette. I’ve never had courgette, I’ve never fancied it. But it was almost tasteless. We’ve thrown so many cougettes away that we were contemplating building our own boxes in future, but once I’d tried it, I decided it wouldn’t be so bad.

On Saturday morning he used turnips, more bunched onions, another cougette, baby carrots and mushrooms from the box and started off a turkey casserole in the slow cooker. He had a gig Saturday night and we were planning on being out for much of the day, so the slow cooker meant we wouldn’t have to worry about cooking tea.

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The “old” jail block, Inverary Jail (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Then we were off to Dronfield near Sheffield to buy him a new fishing pole, and he waited while they elasticated it for him too.

Then we drove almost to the Hope Valley, had a quick lunch in Hathersage, and carried on to Manchester to look at trailer tents. He’s been looking at second-hand tents on Ebay but wasn’t really sure what he was looking for.

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The Duke of Argyle’s car collection (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

So I dragged him to Manchester to show him the difference between a trailer tent and a folding camper, the difference between a 4+-berth and a 2-berth. The chap in the showroom even did a demonstration for us to show him how quickly a trailer tent can be erected. We can’t really afford a brand new one, and we’re not even sure we’ll like it very much. So we want to pick up a cheap but decent second-hand tent just to try it out and see how we get on.

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Our last view of Oban (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We were back in time for him to have a play with his new pole and eat the tasty casserole for tea. Then we were off to Doncaster for his gig.

Yesterday was spent watching the last of the 3 Hobbit films and the first of the 3 Lord of the Rings films. The poet had resisted watching them until he could see them back-to-back, so I bought him the Hobbit boxed set last week. I baked blueberry muffins and banana loaf from the fruit box, and we also had another do-diddle day again. 🙂

The beautiful Isle of Iona

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Southern Mull (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

On our last day on Mull we decided to explore the southern part of the island. We’d heard we might see golden eagles and thought it would be a wonderful bonus if we did. It was another long and winding drive on narrow roads, but again we spotted people on the roadside using binoculars … and when we stopped to ask what they’d seen, they said a golden eagle had just flown down the valley and they were going to catch up with it further down the road.

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Iona (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We decided to break here for a while, relax and watch the skyline … we were rewarded with not one but two golden eagles soaring above the trees. They were too far away for pictures and they didn’t stay very long anyway. But what a joy for us to see them – again – in their natural habitat. I looked at the map and decided to navigate us on a magical mystery tour, but as we drew nearer to the port, the poet realised I was taking him to Iona.

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Iona Abbey (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Although we were on foot, a car ferry was to take us across to this other island, but it wasn’t ready and so we were taken in a smaller fishing boat instead. And in less than 10 minutes we were on the beautiful Isle of Iona, and we both fell instantly in love with the place. We’d like to go back and spend a few days on the island, and maybe take a boat trip to see the puffins and the seals. They also have dolphins and porpoises in this part of Scotland, but we didn’t see any this time.

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Getting arty again … (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We walked to one end of the island, walked back to the village, had lunch and then wandered over to the abbey to take some pictures. We didn’t go in as there was an admission charge and we didn’t know how long it would take, and we needed to get back. Then it was back to Mull and then back to Tobermory for our last night. The following morning we were up and off for the drive and ferry to Oban, and the last leg of our Scotland trip.

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Duart Castle (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

As we left Mull we caught sight of Duart Castle, which we hadn’t had chance to see properly while we were on the island. Maybe next time …

In just over half an hour we were in Oban and looking for our hotel, which we found almost straight away. And what a lovely little hotel it was, probably our favourite of all the holiday. They’d upgraded us to their honeymoon suite and even left us a congratulatory gift.

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Our lovely little hotel in Oban (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Next door was a passenger terminal for something, but it wasn’t until the last day that we found out this was a helicopter that goes out and maintains the lighthouses. There’s also a lighthouse ship based at Oban too.

We only had 2 nights in Oban so we didn’t get much chance to explore, particularly as we knew we were up early on the Sunday to get to the airport. We did manage a day in Inverary, though, and I’ll share those pictures next time.

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What was waiting for us when we arrived (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Last night the poet had band practice and I did the shopping while he was there. When I went back to pick him up, they were still rehearsing one of their new songs. It sounded really good and I’m looking forward to hearing it tomorrow night at their first and last gig in a while (next one is August). They’re almost full for gigs now this year with only a couple of free dates. But there’s a lot to pay out just now for the van, so they need the cash.

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The helicopter next to our hotel in Oban (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Today I’m still editing and still writing, but I’m hoping to be in a position by the end of the day to go to the write-in in Leeds tomorrow. I need to get back into the swing of going to a writers’ group and the poet needs to get back into the swing of going fishing. We have to organise and plan our time and our outings a lot better. We also want to go and see some trailer tents on display in Manchester and he wants to buy a new fishing pole.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the pictures. 🙂

Lots of news today

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Picture: Billy Rodgers

Such a lot has happened in the past few weeks, I hardly know where to start.

We got back at just before 2am Sunday night/Monday morning after a 4-hour  non-stop drive from Glasgow airport in pouring rain. The poet was straight back to work for 8:45am on Monday, and while I’d given myself the morning off to empty cases and do the washing, that clearly wasn’t enough and we’ve been in a bit of a tired whirl ever since.

So, from the beginning …

On 30 April my dad and my sister arrived to look after the animals and for Dad to have a bit of a break. The poet was at work until 5pm and I’d spent the day changing beds, washing crocks, packing suitcases, etc. By 5:30pm we were on our way to Gretna Green for our wedding the following day.

At some point along the A66 we wondered how our friends Billy and Sharon were doing. From the moment we told them we were getting married they’d said we weren’t getting married without them, and while we wanted a small, private ceremony, we were happy to have 2 friendly faces with us and the poet gave them a job each – best man and maid of honour, and also our witnesses. At almost the same moment we had a phone call from Billy. They were only in the car in front!

We all arrived just in time to have dinner in the restaurant, and we arranged to meet at breakfast the following morning too, which the poet and I managed with about 5 minutes to spare. At about 10am we all went off on an orientation drive of the area and were back by 3pm because the flowers were due at 3:30pm.

Ian and Billy went off at 5pm to be collected from the bar at 5:15pm, and we were to be collected at bang on 5:30pm. They came to see how we were doing at 5:20pm, and as we were ready and there wasn’t a ceremony before ours, they were able to fit us in a little early. And one of the nicest things of all was that our registrar’s home town was Barnsley, the same village as Sharon and Billy, in fact. So that made for a nice atmosphere.

Ten minutes later we were married.

We weren’t married in the usual centre of Gretna Green but a smaller hamlet just outside. But we all agreed that the ceremony was lovely and the accommodation and food was great.

On Saturday morning, we waved Sharon and Billy goodbye, and Gretna Green, and while they went home, we headed further north for the first leg of our honeymoon. We had 3 nights in Glencoe, 3 nights on the Isle of Mull, and 2 nights in Oban before driving down to Glasgow at 5am the following Sunday morning and catching our flight to Cyprus by the skin of our teeth. (The parking people had sent us directions from Yorkshire, not knowing we were coming from the north west of Scotland, and the M8 doesn’t have a J28a coming that way, so we got a bit lost.) Then we spent a lovely, sun-filled week in the Protaras area of the island, squeezing 3 day-long excursions in as well.

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Detail from the bouquet. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

There will be more about the places we visited, and lots of pictures, over the coming days. But, for now, I need to crack on with some work.

Yesterday, instead of my half a day I managed to spend the entire day sorting out washing into piles – we had 2 lots of cases from 2 completely different types of holiday – and I only did 2 washloads that could also be tumble-dried. Late afternoon I had to nip out to get some food, and that put paid to doing any work in the afternoon after all.

This morning has been spent mostly changing my name on as much of my online presence as I can think of. And I still need to do the official stuff, like banks, yet. I’ve also done 2 more washloads, but unable to hang any of it out.

So a busy few days ahead still, catching up on work and washing – if the rain lets me.