The best laid plans …

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He hung some pictures …

… do sometimes work!

There was nothing planned for this weekend, so because we’ve been so busy recently, we decided we’d batten down the hatches and not do anything outside of the home for the whole weekend.

On Friday, the poet came home from work but left the gate open as we were having a takeaway/delivery for tea. (Friday is takeout night.)

Once our tea was delivered, the gate was closed and we didn’t open it again until the poet went to work this morning. We didn’t do a lot else Friday night, other than chill and watch telly. Oh, but the poet did make a start on the garden pond …

On Saturday, he ventured into the garden and continued to empty the old pond. It had been neglected for a long time and he needed to see (a) what was in it, and (b) what the lining was like.

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… I tidied my writing/text books …

While he did that, I did some baking. I made a Swiss Roll, with no fat and reduced-sugar jam, and a dozen sultana buns, with reduced sugar.

He picked me some rhubarb from the garden, so I made a rhubarb crumble too, but that did have sugar in as we weren’t sure how tart the rhubarb was. (It was quite tart.)

When he’d had enough in the garden – dodging heavy showers and wading in up to his knees – the poet came in and whipped up a couple of brown loaves – in the oven, not in the bread machine. (He’s getting very good at the “real” bread.)

There wasn’t a lot on telly we wanted to watch, so I suggested he have a look at 24. He’d never seen it and I quite fancied watching it again, and it was available on Sky’s box sets, series 1 – 9.

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… he picked us some rhubarb from the garden …

On Sunday, we started to tackle the boxes … emptying 7 in total. One box hasn’t survived, but we folded the others down in case we need them again.

It was nice to see all of our stuff again, but we unpacked more of the later-packed ones as those contained more of the stuff we actually use. But it meant another load of stuff went into the bins. At least we emptied one car as well, though.

Then we busied ourselves putting things away. The poet hung some pictures and a mirror. I tidied my writing books and the other books I use for reference. I think there are some in another box, but we’ll be needing another bookcase for all of the novels. We put crocks and ornaments in places we thought might be nice or useful.

And we had both dinner and tea outside, in the garden. The hot sunshine was filtered by the leaves of the trees, so we didn’t need to put the parasol up.

Finally, we finished with another few episodes of 24. And for the first time in AGES, we felt as though we’d had a proper weekend.

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… and we dug out the farm animals crockery.

We’ve been moving house – again! (*** mini rant alert x 2 ***)

OFFICEI went AWOL again, didn’t I? Sorry about that. All is well, we’ve just been moving house again, and I had a lot to do before the internet was switched off at the old house, and then they went and switched it off a day early. By the time it came back up, I had another lot to do. But now I think I might be catching up a little.

We’re spread between 2 houses at the moment. We thought it might be a good idea to keep both properties on at the same time and move in gradually. But now I’m not so sure that was the best thing. It seems to be dragging out the process rather than getting it all done in one go.

The first priority, as ever, was to get my office up and running. So even before we had the keys we had to go and choose office furniture. The office has been in action for almost 2 weeks now. We just need to fetch some curtains over to finish it off. I’m on the ground floor again, quite close to the front door, with a beautiful view across the garden to the farm we’ll be living on.

My old office furniture has gone into the poet’s new studio and his computer followed. We still have to bring the studio/music equipment over and that may be happening this evening. Then we had to get his computer connected to the internet as well, and that’s what we did last week.

We moved the spare bed over (in pieces) so we could sleep over if we needed to, but the fridge-freezer is still at the old place and when we came to use the cooker at the new place, the thermostat wasn’t working. Result – burnt dinner and a melted tray (it was a shop-bought lasagne). So last Friday we also went out and bought a new cooker and hob …

… are we ready for a mini rant?

<mini rant>
So we were in Curry’s, looking at ceramic hobs and the assistant asked if we had any questions. I asked if our lovely copper-bottom stainless-steel practically brand new Prestige pan set would work on the ceramic hob. She not only said that yes it would, but then went on to talk us into buying an induction hob instead.

We arrived home with our brand new cooker and hob, which the poet fitted (he’s also an electrician). But when we came to test the hob, OUR PANS DIDN’T WORK.

I did a bit of a Google and discovered that induction hobs really don’t like the copper bottoms, and it was a well-known issue amongst induction-hob-owners the world over.

To say I was a bit livid is putting it mildly, and had I NOT asked the question in the first place, I would have kicked myself. But I DID ask, and I WAS told that YES, my pans would work on all of their hobs.
</mini rant>*

On Saturday, then, we had to go out and buy a complete set of new pans. We had to be back at the new place by 1pm, though, as Sky was coming to fit our new telly. We were going from Sky HD+ to Sky Q 

… and guess what … I have another mini rant!

<mini rant #2>
When I was talking to Sky on the phone, the one question I asked was “will we still be able to watch our recorded problems when we have Sky Q?” The answer was not only a resounding “Yes!”, but we were also talked out of having another mini Q box fitted at this time with the discount included because our old box would still work.

Now this discount is worth about sixty quid. So we discussed it and decided we’d pay the full installation amount if we found we needed the extra box in the future, i.e. after we’d finished watching everything on our old box.

When the engineers arrived, they offered to take our box back so we’d get a further £10 discount. But we said we were going to keep it and use it alongside our new Q.

“Er, no you’re not,” said one. “You have a new Sky dish. There’s no connection for the old box …”

Diane (politely but icily): “Excuse me?”

He repeated himself and I’m afraid I had to leave the room. I mean, I’d ASKED again!
</mini rant #2>

It really is me, isn’t it?

Anyway, we now have Sky Q working beautifully at the new house and Sky HD working at the old house, and we’re frantically watching what we can before this Saturday, when everything moves to the new house.

But I tested the oven yesterday with some old staples, and very successfully baked a dozen cherry buns and a dozen white choc chip cookies (the poet said they even tasted like cookies …). Then the poet tested the hob yesterday evening and made a chicken dinner, frying the chicken breasts in one of the new frying pans as we didn’t have any foil to bake it in at the new house.

We settled down to watch a film on the telly too, and he was delighted to find that the new Q links to his YouTube account so he can now watch his subscribed videos on the big telly instead of on his mobile phone.

So all is well, but we still have a lot to do. We move the big stuff over this Saturday, and then we have a week to bring over anything that’s left and to give the old house a good clean.

If I disappear again, you know why. 🙂

*<mini rant> and </mini rant> nicked quite blatantly from Twitter, Facebook and NaNoWriMo mate Steven Chapman.

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.

A diary I can work with

Whilst I may have been AWOL recently, I was settling into a system I can work with, having given up on trying to get up 2 hours earlier or working into the evening.

My optimum start to the working day is 9am, and my optimum finish is 5pm. I have a coffee break in the morning, a dinner break midday, and a tea break in the afternoon. His Lordship’s dog walk is the last job of the day at 5pm. If I need to get something to the post office, however, I’ll swap the dog walk and the afternoon tea break around. If I have a brief meeting in town, or an appointment, the dog comes with me and I walk him on the way home.

This is working really well. I’m filling the time between with writing work, daily yoga practice, whichever project I’m currently working on, and one regular job every day – walk report, weekly banking, gig list, weekly diary work, invoices/book-keeping. My Friday “project time” is my own non-fiction book. When I can see gaps ahead in the diary, I’ll also slot in a surf of the job boards.

If I sleep in, for whatever reason, I don’t beat myself up. I just start the working day an hour later and carry on until every job for that day has been ticked. Likewise, if I get up earlier (for whatever reason), I’ll start earlier and, therefore, either finish earlier or give myself longer for my own writing.

If I’m up against it, deadline-wise, then I put in the extra graft. But I like having evenings and weekends in which to do other stuff, either around the house, on other hobbies or out and about.

The 30k in 30 days in April challenge is working really well for shifting my own short works. When I’ve run out of short works (to make sure I have plenty of material doing the rounds), I’ll transfer over to novel work – I have plenty to choose from, after all. I’m hoping that by then I’ll be in the habit of regularly writing 1,000 words a day, or so, and the novel writing will come more easily. Crossing off another draft of an article, story, filler or reader’s letter is really good motivation, and by the end of the month there should be a fair few winging their ways around the markets. I’ll dedicate a whole blog post to the 30k in 30 days challenge.

I recently re-activated my Sky subscription and am currently catching up on a few series I had to do without whilst tightening the belt. Once I’ve caught up, evenings will once again be novel writing time. I need to do some planning for the current novel and the book Nail Your Novel by Roz Morris is still helping with that. But my Sky time is also my fun time at the moment, and I don’t see the point in working for yourself if you don’t get to enjoy any time to yourself as well.

Due to the recent fracture, which is finally healing – and to prove it we did the 200+ mile round trip and went to visit my parents on Sunday when I wan’t planning on going until next weekend – I’m about a fortnight behind with my work and frantically trying to catch up. But with this first long-distance drive under my belt, I can now think about going to the seaside again, or up to the Yorkshire Dales or the North York Moors or over to the Peak District again.

BUT … the diary is currently working, I’m hardly changing anything (and it’s always in pencil so that things can be moved around if/when necessary), there are lots of ticks, and I’m getting stuff done. Lots of stuff. Today I’ve been steadily editing an auto-biography and I’ve done the walks report. I’ve also done my daily yoga and I’ve walked the dog.

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