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?

Gretna to Glencoe

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Falls of Falloch, on the banks of Loch Lomond. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

To illustrate today’s blog, here are some pictures of our journey from Gretna Green to Glencoe. It took us about half a day, driving via Glasgow, along the banks of Loch Lomond – where we picnicked at the Falls of Falloch and had our picture taken by one of the national park rangers there – but we made very good time.

Our hotel was “okay”, drawing on its stunning location for its 4 stars rather than its own service. It was very clean and tidy, but the bed (or 2 pushed together) was a bit uncomfortable down the middle and we had a 5-mile hike to anywhere in the hotel – pool, restaurant, reception, etc – and the room was a bit chilly. But the location was faultless and the food was very good. (Postscript: Okay, so it may not have been quite 5 miles really …)

We stayed in the Isles of Glencoe Hotel in Ballachulish for 3 nights and I’ll write more about our few days there when I post those pictures. Meanwhile, back to the blog …

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Our first picture as a married couple, after the wedding.

We’d promised ourselves at least one do-diddle-day over the weekend and that day turned out to be Saturday. We’d worked out that we hadn’t had a lie-in for about 4 weeks, because even on holiday we had to get up for breakfast. But we were still up by 10am, pottering around.

We nipped out to get some bits and bobs, and when we got back we walked up to the lake with the dog and had a chat with the one and only angler there that day.

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Our first sight of Glencoe. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

On Saturday evening we headed off to find a cinema we’ve never been to before, Cineworld at Sheffield, and decided we’d definitely be back. Parking was difficult, but there were plenty of restaurants to choose from, and we ended up in our old favourite, Pizza Express, because our film was starting at 8:20pm and we know we can always rely on them to get us in and out in time whenever we go.

We went to see Big Game, starring Samuel L Jackson, and had to go there because it wasn’t on at any of our other regular cinemas. We were very impressed with the amount of seating room we had, and the cleanliness of the place and general good service.

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Our hotel. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Sunday morning we were up and off to Birmingham to see my parents, to take them our souvenirs for them from Cyprus, and to do the same on the way home for the poet’s parents in Doncaster.

This also gave us the chance to show them all both the wedding pictures and the holiday pictures, as I took the tablet/notebook switch.

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Around the loch outside our hotel. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Yesterday was a bank holiday for us, and so we went “window shopping” for new settees (as the old ones are nearly 10 years old now and not doing our backs any favours), a new bed (as I think we both need a proper divan now to support our aching, ageing bones) and a trailer tent (because we want to hitch up and take off at a moment’s notice and I can’t really sleep on the floor in the dome tent for longer than 1 day).

I say “window shopping”, but we ended up buying 2 out of 3, and they should be delivered in 7 – 10 days. That’s the bed and the settees. We couldn’t find a single showroom in the area for trailer tents so may go off to Manchester next weekend to have a look there instead.

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The view from our hotel window, at night. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

On Saturday my lovely new 2015 – 2016 academic year diary arrived, and when we got home I spent a few hours filling that in with birthdays, bank holidays and Monkey Dust gigs we already have in.

And so to today, when we’re both back at work. It’s a short week and I have a lot to pack in. I’m starting a new edit, which has a deadline date of 3 June, and I’m cracking on with the writing. So keep an eye on those progress meters in the sidbar.

Enjoy the pictures. 🙂

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.

From the farmers’ market this week

P1030990On Friday, at noon, our fruit and veg boxes arrived. In our veg box we had: potatoes; beetroot; carrots; leeks; broccoli; tomatoes; mushrooms (in place of celery due to food allergy); courgettes. And in our fruit box we had: apples; pears; grapefruit; seedless grapes; bananas.

We tend to supplement potatoes and bananas, but the rest of it tends to last until the next box gets here. We do need a crock pot for spud, carrots and other root and tuber vegetables. But, generally, we’re using everything they send us and we have a variety of meals.

As it was the second Sunday of the month, we also nipped along to the farmers’ market at Wentworth. Here again we tend to see what’s in season or on offer, and use that as a basis for our meals and other shopping.

P1030994 This Sunday we bought: water buffalo sausages; water buffalo burgers; a giant Swiss roll; half a dozen pullet eggs; 2 ready made pies; a selection of colourful mushrooms.

I usually just buy closed or open cup mushrooms, button mushrooms and, occasionally, portabello or field mushrooms. So I had no idea what to do with this little lot. They did look pretty in their tray, though.

P1030997 The mushroom lady suggested a giant mushroom omelette, and that’s what I thought we were going to have for tea. But the poet changed his mind, having already promised me rosti potatoes one of the days. So he lightly fried the mushrooms instead.

We tend to use leeks instead of onions, and I suggested he do this for the rostis, which  he did. And I also had to go into the garage to see if I could find the steel pastry cutters, which I did.

P1040001I’ve never had potato rostis before, but from the way he described them, they sounded just like hash brownies. He made us 2 each and they were gorgeous. We’re definitely having those again.

Six bison bangers were baked in the oven to go with the rostis and the shrooms (he had 4, I had 2), and the entire meal was delicious.

We had the giant Swiss roll for pudding … well, not all of it. It usually lasts us a few days at least.

We’ve also been celebrating my birthday this weekend. On Friday evening we went to see Kingsman: The Secret Service and went to Pizza Express for our tea. We love Pizza Express. They’re always very busy, yet the staff are very, very well-trained, always seeing if we’re okay, always checking there’s nothing we need, always quick,always friendly and polite.

We got stuck in traffic going so were a little late, yet Pizza Express got us seated and served almost immediately. We both had their chicken Ceasar salad as it’s scrumptious, but we didn’t have time for pudding. Instead we had popcorn and chocolate in the cinema. We enjoyed the film too. 🙂

Saturday was spent in Birmingham and in Doncaster visiting the parents. We didn’t go out Saturday night as we were glad to be home. And Sunday we were supposed to be going for a walk after the market, but we got distracted instead by the craft village where they have a huge antiques hall. So we had about an hour rummaging around in there.

It doesn’t end there. This evening, after work, we’re off to Mexborough for a Chinese meal, and this coming Saturday we have a football game to go to. We’ve had quite a celebratory fortnight for both of our birthdays. 🙂

This week I have the “big edit” to shift electronically. I did send an email to the client to see if he wanted me to send it to the designer over the weekend, but as he didn’t reply I thought there can’t be the same rush there was. So I’ll take my time and get that gone – today, hopefully.

Last week I left gaps in the diary for editing work, and I’ll fill those in as I go along. I did, however, write in the writing work, study time and a few slots on the gig list. So I’m still, as ever, nicely busy.

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We have shelves

P1030989We’ve had a fairly productive week this week.

On Monday, after work, we nipped out to collect a routine prescription, making a mental note to register with the doctors closer to us. On the way back we went and bought the new shelves for an alcove in the living room.

On Tuesday, the poet had his annual review at work and officially received the news he’s been hearing on the grapevine and via others for about a fortnight. His role will be changing, which will mean much less travel (hurrah!), and he has roughly a 3-month handover.

He spent most of Tuesday evening fitting the new shelves, and claimed to be “happy as a pig in muck”. He does like his DIY, and I love that too. The shelves are floating shelves and, I think, look rather good and very “in keeping”.

On Wednesday we riffled through more boxes in the garage to (a) collect the rest of the books, and (b) decide what was going on the shelves. Aside from the hampers, which were Christmas presents, I think everything on the new shelves came from my old loft, and some of it hasn’t seen the light of day for nearly 10 years, such as my Alan Titchmarsh How to be a Gardener books 1 and 2, and my Discover Scotland complete partworks.

The lamp on there is currently wrong, but as soon as we see the right one, it will be replaced. And we need some bookends. But I think it all looks very nice.

That magazine rack also came out of my old loft, but was soon filled to bursting. The tall, grey pot in the top right-hand corner is one my mom bought me in Wales one year, a very long time ago (apx 1991), and the small black lacquer musical box on the bottom shelf (in front of the totem pole from Canada – 1999) was one my mom’s step-brother fetched her mother (my grandma) back from his national service in Malaya.

We only have the area beneath the stairs to sort out in the living room now, and then that’s done.

Also on Wednesday we did a mid-week weigh-in after starting our sort-of-diet on Sunday, just to see if it was having any effect. We won’t be weighing ourselves more than once a week usually, and the poet hardly ever weighs himself anyway. But we wanted to make sure we were on the right track with the not-eating-between-meals and making healthier choices. I’d lost a pound and he’d lost three! (Yay!) So we’re carrying on.

In other news this week, I’ve almost finished the “big edit”, I identified 2 more stories that were ready to be typed up, and one of those has been typed up and is currently cooling, awaiting a polish before it goes off on its merry way. I had a hair appointment yesterday afternoon, brought forward from today, so I knocked off work early and went shopping first.

When I opened the boot to load in the shopping, I was shocked to see the boot already full with 2 guitars and a foot-pedal-board, all in cases. This very valuable cargo had only been in there since last Saturday! I can’t believe we forgot to unload them and pack them away.

Then I was torn between taking them home or continuing on to my appointment. I decided to continue on with the idea that if I couldn’t park outside the salon where I could see the car, the guitars would have to come in with me, and I’d just have to risk all of the shopping being on display on the back seat. Fortunately, there was a space outside the hairdresser’s, and so we could all keep an eye on it. They came out as soon as I got home, though.

What a wake-up call.

Anyway, today I want to finish the “big edit” and get that sent off for printing. It doesn’t need any author feedback as all I’ve done is stylise it and fix any continuity issues. It’s due out later this month, so we’re cutting it fine with that one.  I’m also waiting in for our fortnightly fruit and veg box delivery, which should be here around noon.

This evening, we’re off for the first of my birthday treats – to see Kingsman: The Secret Service and have something to eat at Pizza Express. Tomorrow, we’re off to Birmingham to see my parents, and then stopping off at Doncaster on the way back to see his parents. We were thinking of going to a gig on Saturday night, but we think we may have enough on this weekend and, anyway, we’re not sure we fancy all of the company there.

On Sunday, my next birthday treat is to visit the farmers’ market at Wentworth, with, hopefully, a day out somewhere nice to follow. On Monday, my actual birthday, he’s taking me out for a Chinese. And next weekend, we have tickets to see Leeds v Nottingham Forest, which will be my first foray into Elland Road. We were going to go there for his birthday last weekend, but he had a gig Saturday night and we didn’t want to leave the dog on his own twice in one day, so we went to Derwent Reservoir instead.

Don’t forget, then, because it’s my birthday on Monday, we’re having a draw for someone to receive a free book. If you haven’t left a comment yet, there’s still time … Thanks to everyone who’s joined in so far.

Have a great weekend.

Finally on top?

I was going to have a right proper rant about something today, but I can’t for the life of me think what it was about. Either my memory’s going or I’m mellowing – whichever, old age probably has a lot to do with it.

So, what have I been doing all week? Well, mostly I’ve been feeling a bit sorry for myself. The poet’s been working away in Scotland this week, including an evening at the Edinburgh fringe. And, aside from missing him, and having to cook my own teas, I wouldn’t have minded going to the Edinburgh fringe myself. He’s back now, for the bank holiday weekend. Then he goes again on Tuesday.

The week has generally been spent plodding through the work in progress, although I seem to have lost Tuesday entirely. I’ve worked on 2 non-fiction books this week, editing and revisions, and I’ve also pegged 24 jobs to pitch for, if they’re all still available. I didn’t have time to do a walks report, and I didn’t do very much writing boot camp. But today, I’ve just finished everything I wanted to finish this week and, at 1:30pm, seem to be twiddling my thumbs. I didn’t do any blog posts because I didn’t know what to write, but maybe had I done it when the rant caught me there might have been something to read!

So, what to do now? Well, I’m about to break for dinner (aka lunch, as it’s the middle of the day, sort of), and I have a hair appointment at 4:30pm. I should have gone to that last Friday, but when I hopped into my car, the battery was flat, and I had to move the appointment to this week instead.

Ah yes, that’s some of what we did at the weekend last. Because the poet managed to flatten his car battery at the Yorkshire Rock and Bike Show, and because I also had a flat battery less than a week later, we did go shopping for jump leads last Saturday. We also wanted to spend a bit of time together as he was about to abandon me for the best part of the week, so Saturday evening we went to see Guardians of the Galaxy at the pictures, and we had a lovely meal at Pizza Express

On Sunday we went to fish, but everywhere was full or there were matches on, so Sunday turned into a bit of a scenic drive.

This weekend we’re off to Birmingham for part of it, then we’ll decide what to do with the rest of it. 

So, what to do this afternoon? I think I’ll do some writing boot camp. What are you up to this weekend?

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