We nearly didn’t make it to Bala at the beginning of May.
It had been booked for a while, but I had the world’s worst toothache and was on antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and painkillers.
We should have gone Friday morning, but by the Friday afternoon I decided that the pills were starting to work and it would be a shame to lose a day if I woke up the following morning and felt like going.
So we packed the car and headed off at about 3pm, arriving at our destination at about 6pm – we didn’t do too badly at all, traffic-wise.
The site we’d chosen was another from the Camping & Caravanning Club. We only joined this year and are making sure we get our money’s-worth. We were lucky, though. The Bala site is beautiful and one we’ll definitely go back to.
When we arrived, the site personnel fell instantly in love with the dog, and good old Rufus netted us a different pitch as a result – a nice big corner pitch away from the main site buildings.
Our first night was freezing cold. They’d had several snow showers during the day and there was more during the night.
Fortunately, we’d booked an electric hook-up this time and had a fan heater with us. We also had the gas fire as back-up – and we definitely needed it.
For our first day we had an orientation drive around Bala, where we stopped for lunch and to buy provisions.
I was in the sandwich shop, placing my order, explaining how I couldn’t really manage a “doorstep” of bread, when the abscess I was suffering from burst. I hoped I didn’t start dribbling …
We also drove to Lake Vyrnwy, but we didn’t stop, other than to take photographs. The weather had improved, but was still a little overcast and cool.
On the Sunday we headed north to Llandudno. It’s usually so peaceful and pretty there, we were very surprised when we arrived to see they were having their busiest day of the year! A transport festival was there, and we struggled to park. In the end we went to a B&Q where we bought 2 mats for the tent to qualify us for 2 hours parking!
We had sausage baps and chips for lunch, and ice creams.
On Bank Holiday Monday we headed west, to Barmouth. We didn’t stay, but we did enjoy the drive as we passed through Harlech and the surrounding countryside. It was so beautiful there we’ve pretty much decided to see if we can find a campsite there, if we can, next time.
What we were looking for in the Barmouth area (before going up to Harlech) was RSPB Mawddach. We didn’t find the RSPB place, but we did find the Mawddach Trail, which I think was on the other side of the estuary.
As I’d thought we were going birdwatching, I admit to feeling just a tad disappointed that we didn’t see many, if any, birds. Although, to be fair, we did see shellducks. However, if we’d managed to find the right place, then I might have been much less disappointed!
The weather had warmed up nicely, and we were actually starting to feel comfortable. We’re hoping that next time we go camping we might not need the gas fire.
The next day was glorious, apart from the one time we needed it to be dry while we folded and packed the tent. Then there were the day’s only 2 showers! But we got everything packed away and headed back home.
Within hours of getting back, the poet booked our next one … for the late May bank holiday weekend, in Eskdale …
Yesterday I had a snow day. I do love the snow, and I do have work to do. But one of the reasons me working from home works is because I take off days that other workers might take off. This is why I don’t work weekends or bank holidays – I may as well go back to work if I’m not going to take those. And yesterday, because lots of other people were having a snow day, I had one too. I also have fag (cigarette) breaks, by the way, even though I’ve never smoked. Hey, it works. 🙂
I did start the day fairly early yesterday as we needed a few supplies and we thought the weather was going to get much worse. But already the roads were bad, so I didn’t venture very far, just to our local Co-op, which is actually within walking distance but I knew I had heavy bottles to buy too (milk, juice, pop). So at 9:15 I was washed, dressed, breakfasted, and I loaded the dog into the car (he loves to come for a ride). I was back home 20 minutes later and we were stocked up. I also bought mixed fruit and vanilla essence so we can bake some cakes, cookies and puddings.
We baked cakes on Wednesday when the poet got home from work. He put some bread on while I started some apple and cinnamon muffins. He likes to do the mixing and stuff, though, so all I had to do was tell him how much of everything he needed and let him take over when he was ready. He does, however, draw a line at spooning out, so I did that. (Sigh!) It’s such a hard life …
But back to yesterday, I couldn’t get going at work, so instead did a load of housework-ish. This consisted of putting 2 large loads of clean washing away, putting 2 more loads through, and emptying and reloading the dishwasher twice. Well, the dishwasher is still a chore, it still needs to be unloaded and loaded and the crocks put away.
For the first time yesterday I spotted our female greater spotted woodpecker. I wondered what it was at first as it was missing the red nape you can see in the above picture. But I’ve checked and she’s definitely a female. This is so cool.
This morning the poet headed off to Manchester again, but they’ve called him and told him to turn around and go back (hands-free, of course, on his phone). Apparently they’ve had a big snow dump over on that side o’ t’hill and, from what I can gather from Facebook, it hit further south overnight too. The roads between there and here are closed so he’s on his way back to the office.
I had a very good writing day on Wednesday. I wrote an outline for 1 new short story, and the 1st drafts of another 2 new short stories. Today I’d like to skip draft 2 and go straight to the typed draft of one of these 1st draft stories as it’s written itself quite well. If I can get it polished by tomorrow night (I know I don’t work at the weekend, but if it’s just a quick skim-through of something short I don’t mind), it’s on its way to favourite short story market for my January submission. The other short story needs more work, but that one might go off for my February submission. (Who can guess which market this is? 🙂 )
I thought I had the gig list to update this week, but apparently it was done a few days ago. I just need to copy and paste the details over onto Facebook so that punters and musicians know where they’re going this weekend. I’d also like to have a look through some other 1st and 2nd draft short stories to see if anything else is almost ready to go out. Oh yes, and I have an invoice to raise (hurrah!). So, all in all, a fairly busy day today.
Tomorrow I think we’re off to Birmingham, weather permitting, and coming back via Doncaster, to visit parents. Tomorrow evening, weather permitting, we’re off to Holmfirth to see some friends of mine in their band. Our names will be on the door, so we’ll also take the camera and hopefully write them a good review on Monday.
I don’t think we have anything planned for Sunday, but I need to bagsy that we put the new curtains up in Abbey Road. We’ve not had chance to do that yet as the curtain pole has fallen down and needs refixing or replacing. The sun’s starting to slant in through the window, though, and cause reflection on part of the computer screen. So I need that doing next if we can. We’ll also do some baking, I think.
What are you up to this weekend?
What an active weekend we had. But the work took us a little longer than we thought it would.
We headed over to the other house but had to go out again to get longer ladders. We had steps with us, but we’d forgotten how much higher the ceilings are in that old Edwardian building than in this Stuart building or the last more modern house. (I thought this current house we’re in was Jacobean but it seems it’s actually from the Caroline era … I’ve never even heard of that one.) We also picked up dustbin liners and some provisions.
Back at the old house we spent the best part of the day emptying the loft, transferring everything to the main bedroom, and identifying what was going with us and what was going straight to the tip. The stuff that was going with us still needed sorting, but there are financial and business records in there dating back to 1985 that need burning.
With no more time or energy to do anything other than that, we came back home with a view to having baths and showers – we were very dirty after crawling around the loft and lugging boxes and rubbish around – a nice tea, and then going out to see friends of ours in their ska covers band. By 8pm, though, we were still dirty, hungry and tired, so we decided to stay in and watch telly.
Sunday morning we were back. First of all we sorted out the garage here, which is still filled with boxes we haven’t gone through yet. We ended up with a full carload for the tip just from here. So we went back to the other house via the tip. When we got to the house we managed to get all the stuff we were keeping into the car first, and we managed to get all of the stuff going to the tip into the car too.
Then we took meter readings, checked everywhere was empty, grabbed a shelf unit we’d forgotten, for the garage, turned off the gas and electricity, left keys and paperwork, and headed home via the tip again. We have one set of keys left, which we’ll be getting to the estate agent Friday midday, in time for a 2pm completion. We have snow forecast later this week. I’m hoping this doesn’t hold anything up.
On the way home we also treated ourselves to a nice lunch, went to the pet shop to get the dog a new basket and some toothpaste, and nipped next door to the home bargains shop to get an incinerator. Then, when we got home, we emptied what was left in the car and put it all in the garage. A lot of stuff went to the tip this weekend, and we can now access pretty much everything still in the garage. We both went out to see if we could find something last night, and we both put our hands on what we wanted straight away. That feels so good.
The poet’s arms and shoulders are killing him as he did most of the lifting down from the loft and then down the narrow, steep stairs. We’re both quite achey and we’re both quite physically weary. But it’s another massive job ticked off the list, and a cracking weekend workout.
This week he’s working between Barnsley and Manchester – Manchester today. He’s going to get some new front tyres on his car because the journey over the Pennines in this current weather can be quite scary and we know the tyres are close to illegal. We don’t want to spend a lot, though, as the car’s due to be chopped in next month or the month after. But he still needs to be safe. And legal. Next week, weather permitting, my car goes in for its first service since I left Corus/Tata. The poor thing will feel like it’s having a birthday and will probably faint with shock.
I didn’t get any work done at the weekend, and I didn’t finish what I wanted to on Friday. So today I’m doing those electronic edits. I was going to take some time out to make some crusty bread rolls, but the poet put the bread machine on this morning before he went to work so I’ll probably make some later on in the week. That means I should also get some writing or editing of my own done too.
The week hasn’t been planned yet – shock, horror – but I know I have 2 more books in to start editing, I have a book of my own to continue editing, I have a new book to continue writing, and I have short writing work to get cracking with.
The poet didn’t get much chance to practise with his camera at the weekend, so the nuthatch above is the one I promised you last week. As you can see, this is already better than Friday’s blue tits.
What’s in your WIP this week?
For the first time in what feels like forever, this week may be the first “normal” week in a long while – although I still use the term loosely.
The weekend was good. We managed a whole day off.
Friday I was collecting the poet from the station. His train was about 10 minutes late, so that wasn’t too bad. Unfortunately the last leg of his trip had been a bit … uncomfortable, as there was a big concert in Sheffield (Slipknot) and there were a lot of people travelling from Leeds. He’d only caught the first train in Kirkcaldy by the skin of his teeth, but the rest of the journey was, apparently, quite smooth going. He needed some chill time after the Leeds – Barnsley leg though.
So Friday evening we did nothing.
Saturday was busy. We had to go to Chavsville to collect his routine prescriptions, then we went to a lovely little farm shop we know to buy a picnic and gifts. We had to put petrol in before dropping in on his mother to wish her a happy birthday. And then it was off to Birmingham – we arrived in Birmingham at about 3pm. We were supposed to be viewing some furniture while we were down there, but that had already been sold, so that gave us a bit more time with my parents. The dog was very, very disobedient and had to go back in the car for about 10 minutes before we left.
On the way back we were doing well for time, but about 30 minutes from home it started to snow. It wasn’t sticking, until we reached the last village before ours, and there it looked quite thick. Hoping to get home before the blizzard, we were surprised to see, as soon as we emerged from a tree-lined part of the main road, that the snow had actually turned to rain. And then nothing. We had a hard frost Saturday night, but lovely sunshine all day Sunday.
So Saturday evening we did nothing.
On Sunday we had a bit of a do diddle day again with the poet learning how to use his new camera. I put quite a lot of washing through and we went for a walk, with the dog, through the fields, down to the local Co-op to get a few provisions in. Then, for the first time since we got here, I made a trifle. It’s been a long time since I made a trifle or, indeed, apart from the Christmas cake (which was actually made at the last house and brought with us), since I made anything.
And on Sunday evening we did nothing.
I say this week should be normal because it’s the first week in a long time that we don’t have to go anywhere – apart from the poet who has to go to work.
This morning he had to drive to Hyde in Manchester. We didn’t even have a frost here, but only 5 minutes up the road, before he hit our closest town, he was in 2 – 3 inches of snow. This suggests that, as with Brigadoon (where I lived before), we have our own micro-climate here – and that’s within the micro-climate Barnsley already has. Even now it’s not even cold, but it is a little overcast.
There’s a carpenter here at the moment. He was due this afternoon, but as he was also due last Wednesday afternoon and again on Friday morning and only just appeared, I’ll simply thank my lucky stars.
But, apart from that … it’s a normal week. We’re not even due to go anywhere at the weekend
Today, then, I have electronic edits to do. I also have the next book to print off, and some writing to write – I just haven’t decided what yet.
I’m a tad distracted, though, as this morning already we’ve had a nuthatch on the bird table and there are currently 6 jackdaws strutting around right beneath my window. One has his head feathers all fluffed up so is either being territorial … or he’s flirting with the ladies. And, of course, there’s a carpenter here.
The poet took a lovely picture of the nuthatch at the weekend. When he’s done what he wants with it I’ll share it here too. Meanwhile, you’ll just have to make do with notebooks. Again.
What’s in your WIP this week?
So we seem to be finally settling, despite having a busy weekend and me having a shocking cold that almost completely debilitated me Friday/Saturday. It seems as though the poet may be getting this now – we do like to share so many things …
Friday was busy because he had a gig over in Doncaster and it took us 40 minutes to get there. Friday night gigs don’t give him much time to get ready when he’s been at work. Driving home in the early hours we saw our first hard frost of the winter and half-expected snow over the weekend.
On Saturday he cleaned windows and we went shopping – household and DIY shopping. We also had our first pair of woodpeckers in the garden, following a nuthatch the day before. The poet was quite chuffed, saying he’d never had a woodpecker on his nuts before … or, for that matter, a nuthatch. I, of course, have had both. 🙂 On Saturday night he had another gig, this time over towards Pontefract. That took us 40 minutes to get to too.
On Sunday he put up shelves (having first adapted them to fit the space) and 2 guitar brackets, Hoovered the stairs, baked bread, and slow-cooked us a lovely lamb dinner – he even made the mint sauce himself. I either worked on a book or put things on shelves and emptied more boxes. Here is how those shelves in the office are starting to look (I’ll share pictures of the studio when he’s more settled up there):
Both Rufus and Domino are in this picture …
The bread he baked was our first ever sour dough bread, and we weren’t sure what to eat with it or on it. We tasted it warm and dripping with butter and I, personally, think that’s fine. But he’s made sandwiches with it too, and he says that’s fine as well.
We spent some time at the living room window, watching the birds on the table, and looking for the woodpeckers again, when a pheasant bobbed over the fence and came to see what we were feeding everyone. This was a first for both of us. Apparently pheasants like nuts but they need to be ground so they don’t choke on them (thank you, Susan).
Both days we intended on going for our first walk in the area, but I wasn’t really up to it on Saturday, and we ran out of daylight and clement weather on Sunday – and yes, we did see flurries of snow. That wasn’t what put us off, it was the squally showers in between the flurries that we didn’t want to be out in.
During Sunday I was editing one of my big projects in between putting things on shelves and helping where I wouldn’t be a hindrance. I still have that book to finish then I have another that’s due back on Friday. I also have 2 books in now that need checking. I have most of my work stuff around me now and hope to get into a routine again this week.
Keep everything crossed.