My fat year: 2lb gone!

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In Eskdale. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

So we’re one week in from the diet “re-boot”, and I’m delighted to announce that I’ve lost 2lb. This is despite having loads of lovely home-baking around the house.

We’ve had several different kinds of loaf, all cooked from scratch and in the oven, rather than in the bread machine. The latest batch doesn’t have any sugar at all.

The average loaf of bread from the supermarket apparently contains around 6 teaspoons of sugar. Most of those baked by the poet only contain 1 teaspoon of sugar, some contain even less.

I struggle to match home-made bread in the various food diaries that are online, so I don’t bother counting calories as most of the rest our food is cooked ourselves anyway.

Instead, we try to stick to “no snacking” or “no food after 9pm” or “low/no sugar” . And now that we’re pretty much back to normal and settled into the new house, we should be able to manage a weekly walk again.

One of my old standards is the “fairy cake”, called the “bun” here in South Yorkshire. I use a basic recipe, but add various different flavourings or ingredients – 50g cherries, or dried fruit, or chocolate chips; vanilla essence and glacé icing; chocolate powder instead of some of the flour; etc.

I’ve always reduced the sugar content from 125g to 100g, as they’re far too sweet with fruit in as well. But now that has been reduced further, to 75g – and they’re still sweet enough.

We’ve started buying products that contain less sugar, both naturally and added. And we’re cooking more things from the low fat, calorie-counted and Weight Watchers recipe books. It’s our mission to prove that we can eat well and still lose weight.

The poet has definitely plateaued, but he’s only 2lb shy of losing 2 stone (28lb). Many of his t-shirts are hanging off him, and all of his shorts are too big and baggy. So he’ll be getting a nice shopping expedition soon. I’m not sure if he’s waiting for me to be able to join him or if he just wants to make sure he’s stable. Or maybe it’s a bit of both.

Either way, we’re not doing too bad.

How is your diet going, if you’re on one?

Walk: Bempton Cliffs

Ian, Scott and Becky (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

The new year brings a new look to the blog and it goes from being a “blog of all trades” to a “lifestyle blog”. This is mostly for the benefit of our friends and family, who perhaps aren’t as interested in the work side of my life, but also for anyone else who is still interested in what we get up to in our off-time.

There’s a new blog for the writing and editing side of things, words worth writing, which – again – those who are interested can find here. This is for those people only interested in the writing/editing side of things and, again, for those who are still interested anyway. And then the gig list is still where it’s always been – here.

Heap big thanks to those friends who made the suggestions – you know who you are.

Most of the posts on this blog will then be categorised, with the category preceding the title just before the colon: “Category: Post title”. And the various categories can be found listed in the sidebar.

Bempton Cliffs
Following the festive excesses, and the day after the poet’s family all came to visit, son #1 and his g/f stayed the night and we went for a walk on the Monday.

It took us almost 2 hours to get to Bempton, at Flamborough Head, and we stopped off to get food just in case the visitor centre was closed. The visitor centre was closed so we were glad we’d taken advantage of the facilities at a local Morrison’s too.

I came to Bempton a very long time ago, all the way from Birmingham. But in the 12 years I’ve been in Yorkshire, this was only the second time – and the second time ever for the poet too. Each time the dog has been with us so, naturally, it’s a place we hope to go to more often.

Bempton is a birding trip for us, as it’s known for the cliff birds that live there, some all year and some when they’re just visiting. It’s a good place to see gannets and guillemots all year round, but I want to go again in the spring to see the puffins.

Last Monday there was a brisk wind blowing along the cliff and the ground was quite muddy underfoot, so we didn’t stay very long. We walked one way to see what looks like the newly refurbished “grandstand” viewing point, and then the other way as far as the first station there.

I think we all enjoyed the trip out, but it was a long way to go for a stay of just under one hour, and just under a 1½-mile walk. However, it was a nice start to the new regime.

Most of the walk posts will include a gadget/gear/clothing review or product test. If you would like us to review or test a product of yours, please use the contact form to get in touch.

This week’s “gadget of the week” is MapMyWalk, which is actually an app on my phone. I’m sure I’m not using this quite as much as I could as I’m still finding my way around it and – for example – I’ve just noticed that it tracks the terrain too. When I’ve learned more about it, I’ll revisit it in a later post.

However, if we don’t have something to review, each walk will be illustrated instead with the desktop screenshot of our walk.

bempton mapmywalkI hope you like the new ideas. Do let me know what you think, either in the comments section or via the contact form.


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Primroses at Rievaulx (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

It was another heavy weekend.

Much of Friday was spent completing the electronic edits on one client book, sending that back to the author for checking, and invoicing the client (hurrah!). In between, I also managed my first 1-mile dog-walk from the doorstep and back.

Friday teatime was a mad dash. We finished some savoury mince the poet had cooked a couple of days earlier, with a baked potato each, and then it was off to Doncaster for a private party his band were playing at.

On Saturday we did a bit of fishing shopping (he wanted some new line for his reel) and we replaced one of the hosepipes I managed to break while filling the bird bath. I’d pulled it, thinking the hosepipe was unreeled, but it wasn’t and the water supply feed thingy snapped and it was cheaper to replace the whole thing than it was to replace the little gadget-thing that snapped. After my complaint to B&Q a few weeks ago, we were sent a gift card, so we used that to help pay for the new kit.

When we got back, and he’d done what he does with his reel line, Rufus and I showed him the walk we’d been on the previous day. We went a bit further, disturbed a roosting little owl, spotted a kestrel on a fence post, and generally explored just one of our many footpaths cross-country, and we clocked up just under 2 miles. Then it was another dash to have tea and get ready for another gig over in Doncaster. We finally turned in at 3am Sunday morning …

… but had to be up again as we were visiting both lots of parents. First we were back in Doncaster, to see the poet’s parents, then we headed to Birmingham to see my parents, via Morrison’s in Sheldon where we bought them some cakes. We got home at 7:30pm, had a takeaway, watched some telly, and had an early night.

And then it was another new week again. We were both still very tired this morning.

This morning’s pre-breakfast chores included filling and starting the dishwasher, and feeding the pets and the garden birds. I’ve done a little gig list admin (1st job ticked), this blog post will be my 2nd job ticked, then I’m definitely spending a couple of hours on writing work. I’m a bit behind on the wordcount this month so far, mostly due to editing deadlines, but I start another new client book this afternoon, when I’ve done today’s dog-walk.

It’s a full week at work this week, even my replacement hair appointment from 2 weeks ago is after hours. But we do have a totally empty weekend looming, apart from a birthday party we’ll probably show our faces at. I foresee someone keeping half an eye on the weather forecast …

I’ve run out of pictures again. I know there are some on the camera, but the weather was quite bad when those were taken and I’ve not had time to transfer them over to the pc and look at them full-sized. So I’ve nicked one from an earlier jaunt this year, and flipped and cropped it (so it fits nicely). We need a few more jaunts out.

Oh, oh, but one exciting thing is, at the weekend we booked a short camping holiday for later this month. It coincides with the Evesham fishing festival, so we can fit a bit of that in with a bit of sightseeing. That’s a nice little break to look forward to as Evesham is beautiful and we enjoyed the short time we spent at the festival last year.

Another exciting thing is that we spent much of the driving time on Sunday discussing what to do with the garden over the winter. We’re planning a proper little kitchen garden with raised beds and crop rotation and fruit and vegetables and rhubarb patches and everything. But we’re keeping everything quite low-growing so we don’t spoil our gorgeous view. I’d love fruit trees, and I had a right old brain murmur on Friday when I remembered an old eighties novelty, the stepover fruit tree. We can still get those, so they’re being incorporated too.

Because, of course, we’re not already busy enough … 😉


Peak Forest

Peak Forest. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

So on Sunday, at about 4pm, we arrived at Peak Forest in the Peak District to start a 4¼-mile walk that would take us about 2½ hours. It was gloriously sunny but a tad chilly, so we had to wrap up fairly warmish but in layers that could easily be removed. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, apart from those lovely white fluffy ones, so we didn’t expect rain.

At first we started to go in the wrong direction, because the poet was reading the route map upside down … and then we had a false start when we went along the wrong footpath. But some friendly locals told us the right way to go, which was along a lightly-trod footpath across various fields and stiles. And I took control of the map …

Picture: Ian Wordsworth

The sheep were quite friendly and Rufus wasn’t at all interested in them, which is always a good thing. And the scenery was absolutely stunning. I’ve shared only six of the pictures here, but friends on Facebook can see more if they’d like.

Every few hundred feet we had to keep stopping to enjoy the view and take pictures. Only once on the way around did the dog ask for a drink of water. Then, when we offered him another towards the end of the walk, he turned his nose up – obviously a dog that knows what he wants and when he wants it.

Picture: Ian Wordsworth

About a third of the way around, at a fork in the path, we had to have another map debate as the route map said to “go up a wall-lined grassy path” but so many of the walls had tumbled down that the first uphill path that looked as though it used to be lined with walls needed some discussion.

Here, the poet took over and identified the terrain and predicted the correct path to be another few hundred yards away. And, quite right he was too. As we reached a cleft in the cliffs, sure enough another, properly wall-lined path did indeed lead up a hill. Though the grass left a bit to be desired due to …

We had company. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

… the fact it’s used by off-road bikers. We heard these guys coming (there were 3 or 4 of them, actually), and I initially thought it was a tractor in a field. But when the cows in said field promptly scarpered, I thought it wise to shorten the dog’s lead.

The bikers were very careful as they went past us and nodded acknowledgement at me keeping Rufus out of harm’s way. I didn’t know that Ian had taken a very sneaky snap of them, but I think it’s turned out quite well. Especially for an accidental shot. (He was trying to catch stonechats, I think, at the time. Or mistle thrushes.)

Picture: Ian Wordsworth

I was starting to tire of the hill (I don’t really *do* hills) and when we saw the route divert away from the lane only to join it again, we decided to cut that part out. The middle, or even towards the end, of a walk is not the most ideal of places to slip in a hill, and we were all a bit tired by now.

It was very stony terrain and quite hard going underfoot in places, but at least it wasn’t muddy.

Old iron hand pump at the start and the end of our walk. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We also decided to cut the last half a mile or so off the end of the walk and keep to the edge of the road, as by now it was also getting late. That meant our 4¼-mile walk became a 3¾-mile walk. But at least the last bit was all downhill. 🙂

At the end of the walk the poet was able to take a picture of the iron hand pump at the start of the walk, something the sun was in the wrong place for when we started. When we got back to the car, even the dog crashed out on the back seat and turned his nose up, again, at a drink of water. We had planned to nip into the pub where we’d parked the car at the end, but by the time we’d taken our boots off and had a drink, we just wanted to go home and have some tea. It had been a long day, and another busy weekend.

Enjoy the pictures, and hopefully they won’t have taken too long to render.

Busy weekend

Stile near Scholes (PIcture: Diane Parkin)

We had another very busy weekend, which included a walk in the end. But as I’ve been quite busy this morning too, I’ve not been able to upload the pictures. So here’s one I made earlier from a walk I did on my own but which we’ll be doing together as soon as we can.

The weekend was such a blur, in fact, I’m struggling to remember what we did … we didn’t do anything Friday evening because we knew we’d have a busy day Saturday and I’d already been driven half mad by incompetent bureaucrats.

Saturday we were up early and off to Birmingham because it was my mom’s birthday. We managed to sort a few jobs out for my dad while we were there and he even got to have five minutes when he took the dog for a walk to the letterbox … or the dog took him.

On the way home we got to the gig buddy’s shop by bang on 4pm so she could do another dress fitting. The good news is, the inch-and-a-half she had to take in the week before she had to let out again, because I’d already lost some weight since last time. And I’m under strict instructions not to lose any more … erm …

On Sunday, I had lost some more weight, and I’d lost some more inches. So somebody is going to be displeased with me when she comes for a “final” fitting tomorrow evening. 😀

Sunday morning we went over to PC World in Barnsley to get a new notebook to take on holiday with us. And we found one we liked that’s actually a tablet/switch, which is perfect for portability. There won’t be any crap on there, just stuff we both would like to access, if we can, while we’re away. We also bought a new memory stick for backups and a spare memory card for the camera, as we won’t be able to edit or store the pictures we take.

Unfortunately, the one we liked was out of stock, so we went over to PC World at Doncaster, and they had a much better one, that was slightly cheaper too. So we bought that and a small bag.

We wanted to go and see son #1 in his new house, but we were already late and we needed him to guide us in. So we went from Doncaster to the poet’s parents and offered to take them over as well. Unfortunately, we couldn’t raise son #2 on the phone for directions or the address, and we needed to be away. So we’re going to have to visit another time. He sounded very disappointed when we finally made contact again, but we don’t mind making another trip over there when we can.

It was already 2:30pm and we wanted to do a 4¼-mile walk, to maintain the fitness we’re gradually building up. But I lost track of the road signs when we reached a particularly busy village and we ended up at the start of our walk at 4pm. That was too late to do the full walk, so we cut the last half-a-mile off, and we got home at about 8pm.

We do have lots of pictures again, but I’ve been busy this morning tidying up files and pictures on the desktop computer so I can do a proper backup of critical data.

I’m busy this afternoon too, as I have to go into town to hand-deliver the poet’s proxy-vote application for the general election. After discovering the council had “lost” both of our postal application forms (very strange that, losing both of them …), I’d fired off a bit of a scathing complaint … and they miraculously “found” my postal vote application … but only realised half-way through the phone conversation that they should have miraculously found another one as well.

So, while I’m in tarn (as the locals call it), I’m doing that, paying some cheques into banks (hurrah!), and doing some more holiday shopping.

There are likely to be 5 blogs this week, then – including today’s, the weekend’s walk, this week’s diary of a scaredy cat, plans for the next 2 weeks, and a publication blog on Friday (if it auto-publishes okay). So I’ll leave this one here. 🙂

And so it begins – finally

I skipped a day this week, I missed Wednesday. That’s because apart from being really, really busy this week, I was also out running errands. Just LOOK at this week’s to-do list, though. (Link here.) There’s just one whole job that’s being carried over to next week (historical non fiction #3, which will become #2 next week) and one half a job (historical non fiction #2, which will become #1). But apart from that … didn’t she do well! I also sold a filler this week …

It’s been a wonderful week anyway, as people finally (finally!) started to pay me. And with several jobs finishing this week too, I’ve probably earned a whole month’s wages this week alone. It’s a pity it’s the wages I should have earned 3 months ago, but it’s still a start. And with the amount of work (and further wages) I have coming in the next few weeks, I can finally relax and do some of my own work as well for a change.

Yesterday I had 2 separate errands to run, and I almost decided against the 2nd one. But it was a run to the pet superstore to get his lordship a new ball. I’d already been out for one beautiful drive in the sunshine, and while on the road I managed to “write” the best part of an article in my head that I’d promised someone by the end of the day.

So as I’d earned a month’s wages already, as I’d already filed quite a few jobs, and as the drive might allow me to finish “writing” the article in my head, I decided to go for it, the dog would get his new ball, and he’d also come for a ride with me too. He ended up with TWO balls and a rubber bone, so he did very well out of it. And when I got back, the article was “finished” and I was able to dash it off in minutes, give it a quick proof, and send it on its merry way.

Today, then, I’ve printed off historical non fiction #2 (which will become #1 next week) and I’ll start to edit that. I’ll also do the invoices (hurrah! – there are LOADS of them). I have to book a hair appointment (I had to cancel the last 2), and I’ll take the dog for a walk. I think we may be shopping this evening, but the poet also has 2 guitars to restring (oops – both Ds, apparently) as he has another gig tomorrow night. OR we may do the shopping tomorrow. We’re also off for a big walk, probably on Sunday.

For March I’m looking ahead to taking part in the Leeds write-ins again, hopefully on alternate Saturdays when the poet isn’t fishing. I’m also booking in a daily slot to write 1,000 words a day and we think it needs to be a novel. I picked up 4 new writing books this week (2 were free, 2 were very cheap) and I intend to do some reading too.

I feel like I deserve one of these this week …

gold star

Have a great weekend.

w/c 3 Feb: to do list

I didn’t get as much work done as I’d like on Friday, and Friday evening was initially spent shopping at the supermarket followed by a mad rush to get out to see one of our friends in his ska covers band. We made it before the end of the first set and were able to have a chat with him as well before they got up again. It was a good night and we tried their new kitchen for the first time … the poet wasn’t keen on the chips …

Saturday was mostly spent visiting my parents in Birmingham. We had a good run down and back, and a nice visit. Then Saturday evening we went out with the gig buddy and her husband for a meal and the tail end of another gig, and another good night.

On Sunday morning the “business manager” showed his face and we discussed the several novels I already have planned and mapped out, both in my head and on paper. He’d thought they were just ideas floating around the brain matter and was surprised at how much work I’ve already done on all of them. He gave me a good talking to and, supportive as ever, convinced me to just do it, just get cracking on one of them, and switch my critical brain OFF for the duration of the first draft at least.

Later that morning we went to collect the bird table and the outdoor cat kennel. We also dismantled my mini-greenhouse and made that safe and secure after the recent winds. The bird table was reassembled (again, it was damaged in the recent winds but repairable), and then we took the dog for a brisk walk around one of our local reservoirs. It was great to blow the cobwebs away for the first time in ages. The greenhouse may be coming over on the next trip.

When we got back the poet cooked a Sunday dinner and we baked. I made a fruit cake and he produced his fourth or fifth loaf of the week. He’s making bread almost every day now, and it’s very nice.

Sunday evening we chilled and recovered from a busy but very satisfying and productive weekend, where we managed to get a lot done.

This morning has so far been mostly spent trying to pay the council tax bill, but the website was down and then the payments line didn’t work. I got through to the council tax office to let them know I couldn’t pay, and within minutes the website was back up and running again.

Here are the rest of this week’s jobs so far:

  • surf job boards daily x 5
  • daily competitions x 5
  • write and submit walks report to 6 local newspapers
  • write blog x 3 
  • walk dog daily x 5
  • write 1,000 words per day x 5
  • tackle debt management plan daily x 5
  • daily banking x 5 
  • edit non-fiction history book …
  • … send non-fiction history book back to author via publisher
  • proofread YA book  …
  • … send  YA book back to author
  • gig list weekly update
  • continue to explore gig list Facebook page
  • diary work
  • edit new non-fiction history book …
  • … send new non-fiction history book back to author
  • invoices (hurrah!)

What’s on your to do list this week?

Happy Hump Day

I’ve been so busy just lately I don’t know where to start. And I would have started this over on Chrome, but for some reason WordPress doesn’t like Chrome at the moment, although I can’t say I blame them. I only use it because I don’t like everything being with Microsoft, but I also don’t like the way Google wants to know so much about you.  I’ve tried to edit the to do list from Monday over there, and I’ve tried to start today’s post, but it just isn’t working and so I’m back on Explorer.

I’ve used Firefox in the past, which meant I didn’t have to use either, but that one seemed to carry so many bugs that it was taking too long each time I tried to do something simple. And anyway, a lot of websites aren’t written with Firefox in mind. Perhaps I should look at switching to Mac and using Safari instead.

Any Mac/Safari users out there? What are you thoughts and experiences? Answers in the usual place below, ta. 🙂

Mind you, I can’t afford a Mac at the moment, but saying that, the work is piling in. Last week it had already gone mental, and this week I’ve filled up the diary for most of February. One more job and I’ll be taking bookings into March.

In the olden days, when I used to be prolific, my diary was booked up for up to 3 months in advance. I’m not sure I want to get into that position again because that was due to writing several columns for several different magazines. Of course, I’d love to get more writing assignments again, but the columns made me stale and complacent. I didn’t have to work for the work any more, if you get my drift, and so I lost the work-gathering skills I’d previously honed so well.

Filling the diary for a month in advance is good, though. Especially when they’re all good payers or even deposit-payers or up-front-payers. I love those the best, but again, that does sometimes make me a little complacent if the money’s already in.

I have a lot to do with the money that’s coming in now, and I have a lot of work to do to get organised on that side of things. Today, for example, I have several letters to write because I’ve reclaimed my debt management plan from the debt management company and have to let everyone know. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved in the last 5 years, but there’s still a way to go.

The dog got his first walk yesterday. I used to walk him every day, to the letterbox, to the post office, to the village shop, or just around the block or the fields, but he’s not had a regular walk for ages – and neither have I. Yesterday I found a letterbox, so there’s one walk I can take him on if nothing else.

I’ve been dodging showers, but I don’t mind getting caught in them. I’ve just been lucky. Today it’s raining again. Perhaps I’ll catch a shower this time.

I still have plenty to do this week, so I’d best crack on.

How’s your week going?

All coming together

It’s been another fair week.

I’m still in the midst of a client’s non-fiction book, but a regular client’s previously promised non-fiction finally arrived on Wednesday, and I also won a new job on Wednesday where my quote included a deposit, for the first time ever.

I felt a bit strange asking for the deposit, but I used to get a deposit when I first edited books freelance, and that was back in the 1990s. Since I’ve been doing it this time out, I’ve not asked for a single deposit. Until Wednesday. And I won the job. I’m very happy about that, particularly as this first deposit is due for payment today ahead of work starting next week.

Since then, all jobs over £120 (apx $200) have included a deposit and a balance, and all jobs over £300 (apx $500) have been bid for in 3 equal instalments.

I currently have 3 books in for editing or proofreading, then, which brings the money in but also allows me time to pursue some writing.

There has been an additional distraction this week in that my mobile phone didn’t work very well at the new house. It’s been hit and miss for as long as I’ve been coming here, but my provider assured me the fault was temporary. However, it obviously wasn’t temporary and the provider finally admitted that their service wasn’t great in this area and there are no imminent plans for an upgrade.

The clue being in the name (“mobile” phone), I was able to negotiate a signal boost box (for this address and for one time only) that’s normally worth £110 + VAT (apx $180 + tax) for FREE. I like FREE things. They promised that the box would arrive between 15:29 and 16:29 hrs the following day (it arrived at 15:49!), and within an hour of setting it up, my mobile phone worked perfectly.

Today the internet’s a bit hit and miss, but at least I can still make phone calls or send text messages. I have the laptop for the internet, but I think it’s the poet’s provider today that’s having a slight glitch.

Fancy them normally charging £110 (+ VAT), though, to make their mobile phones work. I think that’s a bit naughty when we’re already paying for a service and usually locked in for 2 years at a time.

Anyway, all is well now. I have phone, I have internet, I have work, I have money on its way. This is all very good.

At the weekend we’re fetching a few more things over, like my baking goods and those of my possessions that have so far won the mine’s-better-than-yours battle. I also need to fetch things like outdoor coats over and walking-wear. When we can afford it, we’ll hire a van to fetch the bigger stuff over.

What’re you up to this weekend? Whatever it is, have a goodun. 🙂

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