Wednesday, 29 June 2011

New start underway

Today was the last but one Heydays of this term and I almost didn’t go.
I thought I’d grown out of hayfever, but it’s come back with a vengeance. I was in such a bad way, I struggled through the play reading but didn’t think I could face singing in the afternoon. So at lunchtime I went into Leeds market and headed back to the herb/strange medicines stall and bought a hayfever remedy. It wasn’t cheap but the man who runs the stall is so charming, the price doesn’t hurt so much.
Ten minutes after using it, my nose was back to normal which was, frankly, amazing.
I My nose was like
A while ago I put an ad in the Lonely Hearts, after 10 days there were no replies.
I thought about trying again yesterday but didn’t want to be disappointed on my birthday. I’ve just called again and there were 5 replies. Now it’s up to me to get in touch with them. I need to make an appointment to see a counsellor tomorrow, once that’s done and I know when I’m free…… It’s very scary. They haven’t seen me, but then I haven’t seen their photos either.
Now to catch up on some tennis (not playing, watching).

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Happy Birthday to me.

I wanted to do something different today. I usually celebrate my birthday (even though I’m in my mid fifties) so this year I decided to more or less ignore it. I’m not sure it worked as I ended up feeling pretty low. I only got 5 cards, and nothing from my mother for the first time ever.
I couldn’t face working on the book so I sent out a few fillers to various magazines. The idea begin that if any of them win me any cash, I can blow it on some decent clothes. After that I finished shuffling the furniture about in my room, then sorted out my clothes and put them into my lovely new built in wardrobe/art cupboard. It does look good, even though the framework needs painting (I’ve no idea when I’ll get round to doing that).
The day seemed to be dragging. Most of Wimbledon was rained off so I couldn’t even watch that. In the end I decided to go to Tescos. I’d received a £20 gift card from them as a result of a complaint I’d made so decided to blow it on some decent food (and some extra clothes hangers).
At 3.45 p.m. I called the care home and asked to speak to Mum. They said it wouldn’t upset her as she was already a bit upset as Denis had just been to see her. She’s completely gone. Didn’t even seem to know she wasn’t at home. The only person who was upset was me.
I think I might call her once a month. She won’t know when I’ve called or how often, but it might help me to feel better.
After the call, I went into the garden and picked 2 bunches of flowers. They really do cheer the place up.
Tomorrow is another day. It’s the penultimate Heydays, next week is performance day which I might or might not attend. That will leave Wednesdays empty until September. I’m going to have to start looking for something else to do. Right now, I don’t have a purpose, a reason to live, and that can’t be a good thing.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Wardrobes and Wimbledon

Fiction Feast’s fiction editor has the annoying habit of sending stories back in large batches, rather than one at a time.
I have this picture in my mind of a tray, overflowing with rejected stories, waiting for somebody to clear them. I’ve had 8 back o 2 days, which is hardly the nicest birthday present. Some sales would be good.
I’ve been having big trouble coping with the heat today. I’m not designed for it. Once the temperature hits 26 Centigrade, I cook, feel bad, and get grumpy which is not a recipe for successful writing. I kept going until three, rewriting most of the rejected stories and sending them out again, then it all became too much. I went and watched some more tennis – after all it is only once a year.
I felt guilty, sitting there while 2 men slaved away fitting my new wardrobes! It looks really good, but it will need to be cooler before I move any more furniture.
My new blinds were meant to be coming tomorrow, but they called and postponed until Friday. That’s a shame as I rather liked the idea of having them fitted on my birthday. This year I’m not going to mark the day in any way at all, not because I’m getting old but because I’ve decided that change is good. I’ve always gone out for a meal, or gone on a trip so by changing that………
Basically this past year has not been the raging success I had hoped for. The whole business with Mum has been so hard for me. There were times when I really felt like giving up. Anything that can change things for me is worth a try and to prove how serious I am about that, I’ve already booked a Christmas break.
Now to see if the garden has cooled down a bit. If it has, it’s time to raid the strawberry patches.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Hot hot hot

It’s hot!
Too hot for me.
I melt when it gets over 24 degrees C. The garden is like an oven and the conservatory is a furnace. I’m having blinds fitted to part of the roof on Tuesday and can’t help wondering how they’ll cope if it’s this hot. Flaming June strikes again. I’m going to have to go outside and water the raised beds otherwise my vegetables will be boiled before I’ve picked them. It should start cooling down soon, I hope.
Amazingly I’ve been sticking to my plan and concentrating on getting the book finished. Apart from a couple of fillers as light relief, that’s what I’ve been doing for most of today. I did take a break to make some date and ginger buns. Thanks to my wheat intolerance, I have to make my own cakes and biscuits. The wheat free ones in the shops are usually too sweet.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Target reached

Worked hard today, but still managed to get in an hour’s viewing. I do love my Wimbledon.
I’ve now reached 60,000 words in the book which feels like a nice milestone. Now I need to crack on with it and not get distracted by other things, like Facebook which I’ve just joined!
After dinner ( I tried a new side dish of sweet potatoes cooked with apples), I went into the garden to do some much needed tidying up. I’ve just come in, having picked some strawberries as a treat. Now to crash out for a bit.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Social Services have replied to my complaint.

I had planned to go to Manchester for the day (I Have a free rail ticket) but in the end I decided to postpone it. Thanks to feeling down, I haven’t been doing as much work as I should, and that needs to be rectified. I would have made more headway had I not allowed Facebook to tempt me to join. The site then tempted me to play a silly balloon game for more than an hour yesterday evening when I was meant to be working!
I’ve been more focussed today. Finished another 2 stories, one of which I sent to Womans Weekly first. Fiction Feast have got sixteen or more stories already which I’m waiting to hear about, so until they buy a few more, it’s probably best to spread my work around a bit.
I didn’t go to art this afternoon. I became a bit disillusioned with the subjects. The last three weeks we’ve been copying other artists’ works which for me is a- boring, and b – not very challenging. The idea is to do some art here, but of course I didn’t have time. Once the stories were done, I switched back to the book about my mother. I need to get it done and out of the way so that I don’t have to think about it anymore. Today, Social Services wrote to me. I’d complained and they said they would hold an investigation. In the end, they’ve said nothing except the same old platitudes and mutterings about confidentiality. They don’t see that they’ve been taken in by other people’s lies, nor do they seem to care.
Reading the letter made me feel ill again. It’s my birthday on Tuesday. Part of me wanted to call the home and ask to speak to Mum so that I could remind her, but what would be the point? I’m sure the best thing for me is to do nothing and say nothing. Pretend I don’t have a mother any more. After all, she’s content where she is and . seems to have forgotten about me. The same thing happened when my father lost his mind. He knew who Mum was, but I was forgotten. I wish I could forget about both of them as easily. As another year flies by, if I don’t start living for me soon, it will be too late.
On a different note, I tried a dragon fruit for the first time today. It didn’t taste of very much at all which was a disappointment, but at least I gave it a go.
In breaks between working, I’ve been watching a bit of tennis. I LOVE Wimbledon and could watch the entire fortnight, but I ration myself instead. Typically, the cheap holiday company have offered me a break to Liverpool which is just what I wanted but it’s next weekend. There’s no way I’d want to be on a coach and miss the final.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Hard at work

I was up early as I didn’t know when Angel’s owners were coming to pick her up, plus I had a new mobile phone being delivered.
I managed to type, edit and finish a story to my satisfaction so I’ve sent it off already. I’m now working on the next one. In between, a lady sent me a story for feedback. She’s definitely getting there which is great.
Angel’s owners phoned at half four, saying could they pick her up at seven as they’d only just landed. That’s fine by me, I’m not going anywhere. My lodger s out on a date tonight which is very exciting. I have this dream that he’ll fall for somebody and move out because if he doesn’t…………
Once I’ve eaten and Angel has gone home, I might be able to do some work in the garden. It certainly needs it.
I dashed out a few minutes ago to buy The Weekly News (thanks Joan for telling me I had a story in it this week) and to check Amateur Gardening. I have two letters due in there and I wasn’t sure which week it was, but it’s next week.
Now off to do some watering for the neighbours.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Taregt achieved

I did what I wanted to do today – prepared enough skeletons of stories to see me through to the end of the month, and added a couple of thousand words to the book about Mum.
Angel goes home tomorrow. I’ll miss her. It’s more than four weeks until the next guests arrive so I’ll have to keep busy.
The garden’s growing nicely – mainly grass and weeds but I managed a saucer full of strawberries today, a few raspberries, and a turnip plus the usual peas, lettuce and radishes.
Not much more to say. Time to recharge my batteries, slump in a chair and give Angel some last minute hugs.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

ELFM Readathon

I was very impressed with East Leeds f.m.
They have been using an old rundown chapel in Seacroft to broadcast from. It was all very well run with lots of young people around, learning the ropes. Apparently they need £400,000 if they want to buy the chapel and convert it for permanent use. I’d love to help, but I’m not in the position to right now.
I caught a bus after my art class (disappointing, copying Van Gogh Irises) and was quite surprised at the fare, £.1.90 for a single and it wasn’t that far. I was there in the afternoon, reading one of my stories. I followed a poet who poems on dementia, I thought, were brilliant. Afterwards I encouraged him to try Leeds Writers Circle to make more contacts.
I went back again at nine thirty to take part in a readathon – True tales of American Life, which, at the time of writing is still going strong ( I was there until 11.45 pm and wish I could have stayed longer but my lodger was giving me a lift home and I didn’t want to push my luck.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Closing down

I’m about to shut the computer down for the rest of the day so that I can avoid its temptations and distractions.
I have my art class later, followed by 2 trips to East Leeds radio ( and I want to have time to sort through my notes to find some starting points for next week’s short stories. I need to get back on track and write 2 a week or risk the consequences.
My mobile phone has died so I also need to buy a new one.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

A productive day.

After writing something for Chat, It’s Fate, the men arrived to put in my new kitchen window. The old one was a mess. If you opened it, the slightest breath of a breeze closed it again, and the clear glass meant to have any privacy, the blind (which was broken) needed to be closed.
I was a bit worried about Angel.
I wasn’t sure how she’d cope with strangers in the house, but she didn’t seem to notice. The men were very good, quick, efficient and left no mess. It’s such an improvement. It’s taken me a while but I finally feel I’m getting the house as I want it. There are still lots of things to do but at least I know what I want now. Tomorrow the sliding doors are being delivered ready for my fitted wardrobe, which is due to be fitted on the 27th, then the conservatory blinds are being done on my birthday. I’m not going anywhere, so why not?
While the window men were here, I went through my library of tips making a list of the ones I want to take photographs for, when the mood strikes. I’ll carry on with that later while I’m watching TV.
After they’d gone, I went back to work on the book about my mother.
I stopped a month ago when she was put into the home. The whole business was so upsetting, I couldn’t even think about it without feeling ill. I was terrified I’d end up in another deep dark and lengthy period of depression. The symptoms were all too familiar. Lack of energy, feeling tired, not wanting to go out or see people.
Having Louis the Labrador come to stay when he did was a great help. He gave me some unconditional love which was just what I needed. So much so that I’m now feeling ten times better, which is why I decided to have another go at finishing the book. I managed more than two thousand words today which I’m very pleased with. Best of all, it wasn’t as upsetting as I’d feared. I’m going to spend most of Sunday working on it too and see where I am after that. Maybe I can get it finished by my birthday on the 28th. When I say finished, I don’t mean polished, I just mean at the stage where I can start to send it to agents.
I also managed to squeeze in a bit of gardening too AND I got to a couple of lovely strawberries BEFORE the thieving birds.
Tomorrow I’m reading a story on East Leeds radio then later in the evening, taking part in my first ever readathon. No idea whether it will be fun but it will at least be different.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Something different for a Wednesday

On Wednesdays I usually go to Heydays at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, but today I stayed home. I didn’t want to leave Angel by herself for too long, plus I needed to get some work done.
I was up early because I heard her padding about and didn’t want to risk an accident. When I logged on, there was an email from Australia, That’s Life wanted to buy 2 stories for a total of $1100, not a bad start to the day especially after yesterday’s disappointing news re TAB.
I then spent some time looking for stories to send to The Weekly News, and one to send as my monthly submission to My Weekly. I then sorted through some of my photos, looking for possible filler material, and possible entries for the photo section of the gardening club show.
Next I dealt with two critiques One was a quick, free, overview. The other was paid. I always find these hard to do, but very rewarding. I don’t charge much, sometimes I don’t charge at all, because it’s all about returning the help I received when I was starting out.
After that, I sent some more fillers out – two to Yours and one to Chat. Tonight, I will try to find some tips that I can take photographs for.
Angel is no trouble. The odd thing is that she looks smaller when she’s lying down than she does when she’d in the garden. I took the blind down in my kitchen, ready for the men who are coming tomorrow to fit a new window. The top part made a good stick so I was using it to ‘kick’ a ball for Angel (having come a bit too close to he teeth the other day, this seemed like a safer option). Within seconds she’d grabbed it from me. And chomped it into four pieces. Obviously she has very powerful jaws.
She can change from being completely mad and full of enormous energy, to snuggling up to me and wanting a hug. She has this habit of leaning on me so that if I moved, she’d fall over.
She managed not to eat her pill tonight so I had to wrap it in some cheese to make sure she took it. I thought she’d eaten it, but she must have spat it out when I wasn’t looking. Sneaky thing.
The plan was to potter about in the garden tonight, but it’s been heaving it down with rain. It was so loud on the conservatory roof, I couldn’t hear myself think.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Bad News

It’s been an up and down day.
I finished another new story for Take a break only to find out (indirectly through the Diamonds And Pearls chat group) that TAB aren’t going to run the Coffee Break story every week. A new editor has arrived which always means trouble. Why they have to change things, I have no idea. It’s a massive blow to me. I’ve been writing for them since 1998, and they are my best paying market. It hurts that they don’t even bother to tell me direct. From now on, my one pagers will have to be written with Womans Weekly in mind which will, at least, make a change.
I’ve also been getting back into writing fillers. I used to do well with them when I was in Devon. There I could use a friend’s and my mother’s addresses as well as my own. I can still use my previous address until November so I might as well make as much use of it as I can.
The conservatory blinds company called to say they’ll be fitting them on the 28th. That’s my birthday so, providing they work (!) that will be a nice gift to me.
Even though I’ve covered them with netting, birds are still grabbing my strawberries as soon as they start to ripen. It’s most annoying! Luckily they’re not interested in my peas.
Angel the boxer loves this warm weather and would lie in the sun all day if I let her. Sadly she gets sunburnt so I have to keep bringing her in. She must think I’m horrible.

Monday, 13 June 2011

back to fillers

The new dog, Angel the boxer, has settled in a treat. Most of the time, she’s so well behaved, you can almost forget she’s there. Then she decides to have a mad five minutes and wants to race round the garden, chasing a ball. As I can’t take her out for a walk, that works well to get her some exercise.
She’s a sorry looking creature with her stump of a tail and large bare patch on her neck and chest, and a permanent hang dog frown on her face.
I’ve been transferring a story I wrote longhand yesterday to the computer. It’s turned out well so I’ll be able to send that off tomorrow, and get started on the next. I need to write two a week, but lately, I’ve missed that target by miles.
I bought some magazines at Tescos so I can have a go at some more fillers. I used to do loads of them when I could use other people’s addresses. As I’m giving a talk on fillers at Swanwick, I could use a few new ones under my belt. That means I’m going to have to read Bella, Chat It’s Fate and Yours all the way through. I should be able to do that while watching TV later. Right now, it’s not raining so I need to spend some time in the garden.

Good question

I felt I had to reply to a reader’s comment. They asked - What do you do when you don't feel like writing but know you should? This is where I have problems.

What a great question. Sometimes I give in to the feeling and go for a walk, or work in the garden. Other times I write things that are easier for me, such as fillers (tips and letters to magazines) or work on my column. For me, non fiction is easier as I know what’s going to happen. Something else I do is free writing. I just sit down and write, not stopping to think or correct or edit. The result might be meaningless or turn into a moan, but sometimes a grain of a story appears. Another thing you can do is set a specific time for writing and stick to it. It’s often easy to do something else, or persuade yourself that you’re not in the mood but if you really want to write, you will do it.
I hope this helps.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Louis goes, Angel arrives

I had to get up early as I wasn’t sure when Louis’ owners were arriving. While I was waiting I sat down and drafted a couple of stories. I don’t think they’re bad, but will know more when I get round to typing them up. I also sent a letter off to Amateur Gardening.
When his owners arrived, Louis trotted off with them without so much as a backwards glance. I think he’d be happy staying with anyone, he’s that kind of dog. I did shed a few tears when he was gone, but not for long. I think it helped that another one was due to arrive, plus, providing nothing bad happens, he’ll be coming back in October for two weeks.
After he’d gone, I had a couple of hours to clean the house, ready for my next ‘guest’. I had to strip the bed which had a liberal coating of chocolate brown hairs, then clean and tidy everywhere.
The new dog is called Angel and she’s a sorry looking Boxer with just a stump of a tail, a and a sore, furless neck, the result of a recent illness. For the first couple of hours, she kept pacing up and down, looking lost or asking to go out into the garden. It was though she was looking for her owner. The rain was absolutely pelting down so I had to keep rubbing her down with a towel, trying to avoid her painful neck area. I stroked her when she came in from the rain and my hand came away absolutely covered in damp hair.
Luckily, it wasn’t long before she quietened down. She ate all her food, and cadged a bit of my turkey dinner. All I hope is that she sleeps well, DOWNSTAIRS. After Louis, I could use an uninterrupted night’s sleep.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Getting sorted

I spent hours today, sorting out paperwork and filing so that I can find the various fillers I need to give talks. I also added some stories to ALCS and threw away a bin bag full of paper.
Next I took a photo for a gardening tip and sent it to Gardeners World.
Aware that I’m not writing anything new at the moment, I rewrote another old story so that I have something to send to Take a Break.
Took Louis for an extra long walk to the park as he’s going home tomorrow. I’m really going to miss him.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Starring Louis

Here he is.


I sent off my entry for Writing Magazine’s Adult Fairy Story competition, then checked back through my stock of stories hoping to find one that I could tweak and send to Take A Break. Fortunately I found one. While I’m not writing much new, it helps to keep the submissions going as if I want to sell four stories a month, I really need to be writing at least eight (which I’m definitely NOT doing at the moment). What I want to do right now, is go to sleep. The trouble is I’m not sure if that’s the depression talking or if it’s the simple result of not getting enough sleep thanks to Louis the Labrador.
This sounds daft, but I guess it must be a bit like having a small child. They lose you sleep, make all kinds of mess, but you can forgive them anything because you love them. After Milo, I wondered whether I’d be able to make a connection with another dog so soon, but I have. I won’t miss Louis as much because another dog’s coming to stay with me straight after him, but I will certainly look forward to his next stay. His owners are going to Florida in October for two weeks – hooray!
Two people I gave free feedback to send me their revised stories for further comment today. I always like to help if I can, but there have been times lately when I’ve regretted offering to do this. I had no idea I would get so many takers. Sadly, from now on, unless they’re friends, I’m going to have to say no, unless I get paid. I’m not doing enough new writing as it is.
I made a lovely mess with chalk pastels at the art group this afternoon, working from a Monet painting of water lilies. It’s less than two hours so fits in with my work, take a break, work routine.
I have all kinds of art materials upstairs, including water based oils, most of which have never been touched. I don’t allow myself the time for art at home which is crazy as I enjoy it and it relaxes me so much. I always think I should be doing something else.
I’ve just eaten a handful of wild strawberries from the garden. Really tasty. I’m actively encouraging the plants to take over as much of the garden as they want to. My first cultivated strawberry started to turn red yesterday, but this morning when I did the rounds, I found a bird had already eaten most of it, so I brought the remains indoors, trimmed and washed it, and ate it, even though it was still mostly white. I’ve put a net up now, but I expect the birds will find a way. I don’t mind. I have hundreds of strawberries coming, I just wish they’d let me have that first one.

Thursday, 9 June 2011


I didn’t go back on line yesterday. Wednesdays are meant to be a day off as I go to Heydays, but having given a talk instead, I felt that was enough work. The talk went very well. People clapped and laughed in all the right places and the hour flew by. Next time will be so much easier.
The Playhouse was literally transformed by a visiting theatre group performing all kinds of innovative theatre. When I emerged from my talk, I went straight into the Soldier’s Song. It was a sound proof video karaoke where you sing along to a video of a serving soldier. I chose Angels. The soldier’s name was Shaun. It was a delicious, strangely moving, intimate experience. Although he was just a picture on a screen, as his eyes looked into mine, it was like stepping into another world. 
When I came home, I felt so worn out, I just slumped in a chair for two hours. 
Last night, I had a special meal to celebrate the talk going so well – lamp chops and a selection of vegetables including the first mange tout of the year and my first ever home grown baby turnip. Every time I pick fruit and vegetables from the garden, I get this strange feeling which I can’t adequately describe, a kind of delight and amazement as though I’m plundering something precious.
Louis continues to ruin my night’s sleep but I seriously think I could forgive him virtually anything. It’s made such a huge difference to my mood, having him here. He gives me something else to focus on. As the next dog arrives on the same day he goes home, I’m hoping that couple of weeks will be enough to help me out of the depression which was doing its best to pull me under.
I had a call late last night from the local WI saying their July speaker had let them down and was I free. Luckily I am so that’s another paid booking which is really good.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Wish me luck.

THREE a.m. this morning, but again, apart from waking me up, Louis was no trouble.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that some people who listen to my talk this morning will want to book me to talk to other groups. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Another long day

Louis woke me up at 4, but at least this time a- he wasn’t sick, and b – he didn’t fidget when he climbed on to my bed.
I made a sale to My Weekly today for their annual which is good. I only wish Norah would buy some more for Fiction Feast. When I don’t hear from her for a few weeks, it starts to get scary. Sometimes a fertile imagination has its downside.
I finished my Writers Forum  column and sent that off so that I’m now a month ahead. NAWG sent me lots of entry forms and flyers for the festival so that I can start taking those round with me. I also called the Little Ripon Bookshop to get more advertising material for Ripon Yarns. SO far there are just three people booked onto my workshop, but Gill didn’t seem too worried, not yet anyway.
I’ve been having trouble with a story. The theme is north and south and it’s for the new Leeds branch of Liars League. I needed to get it to less than two thousand words. I’ve more or less done that now so it should be ready to submit by Thursday latest. I hope so as I really need to get some new stories done. Other things keep cropping up, like my once a month submission to My Weekly and people sending me rewrites of stories that I’ve critiqued. When things like that happen, I prefer to do them as soon as possible so that I don’t forget.
When I was at Kath’s the other night, she gave me the Lonely Hearts page out of the paper. I had a look through but the ones that looked interesting didn’t say where they were, how old they were, and possibly most important, how tall they were. So I decided to put an ad in and see if I get any replies. I’ve no idea how long it is before the ad goes in, so will wait at least ten days before calling to see if I’ve had any responses. I hope I do better than I did at the speed dating!
I’ve just been tidying up some of the garden which means puling up weeds, trimming grass, cutting back brambles and hawthorn. Louis was out there with me. He kept wanting to play and when I wouldn’t kept finding things to chew that he shouldn’t – bits of pot, and plastic mainly. I had great fun wrestling one piece out of his mouth. Then I saw a frog. The garden is home to literally hundreds, so that’s not unusual. What worried me was what would Louis do if he saw it too. So I had to shoo the little creature back into the undergrowth before he spotted it. I can forgive dogs almost anything, But if he ate a frog….

Monday, 6 June 2011

Another broken night

Louis got me up at half five last night, which is better than four but still not great. I still think he’s lovely though.
I spent quite a while today revising my talk for Heydays on Wednesday, making it more upbeat.  I might be depressed but I don’t need to make everyone else miserable.
The beauty of it is, if it goes well, it’s eminently adaptable to almost any audience. If I  change the readings I could even go back to the same group a year later.
The next instalment of my column is also almost ready to roll, and my north and south story is well underway. Took Louis to Temple Newsam park this afternoon as I needed a break. When we arrived, he managed to run off before John (my lodger) could grab him. Louis likes to play catch me if you can and was dodging around the car park thinking this is great fun while I was having kittens in case a car drove in.
Using a pincer movement, we managed to catch him before any harm was done, but that’s a lesson learned – next time put his lead on while he’s still in the car.
Before dinner, I forced myself to go outside and plant the last sorry looking courgettes and tomatoes. Then I found room for some black kale  and planted out some rudbeckias, and a gloxinia. So long as I feel up to it, I’ll do another hour after dinner and have a go at some of the weeds. The potatoes need earthing up too. Shame I can’t remember which ones are the earlies and which are the main crop!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

The bathroom is ALMOST done

Today started early – 4 a.m. when I heard Louis scratching the door. I went down and he’d been sick in the kitchen, not much, probably he was feeling a bit stressed. I mopped it up and went back to bed, but then he started whimpering, so back down I went. In the end he slept in my bedroom, but it wasn’t ideal. Have to see what happens to night.
I finished the report on the Pumpkin stories so that’s ready to send off tomorrow, then did some more work on my north and south story. The trouble is, I’m pretty sure Liars League won’t want it. It’s too much of a womag story.
Decorating the bathroom seems to be taking for ever so I decided to crack on with it today. I finished the last, trick bits of wallpapering (it took hours) then put up some more border tiles – only to find out I didn’t have enough. I have no idea how that happened. I checked the measurements at least three times. Now I’ll have to go back to the shop. Instead of leaving an edge of plaster showing, I covered the edge with wallpaper, lightly stuck on so that I can remove it when I get round to fishing the job. I still have quite a lot of grouting to do too, but I have to say (nobody else will ) that it looks a million times better than it did. Or would if I hadn’t managed to scratch the bath by wearing shoes to get a better grip when stretching for the awkward bits.
I was so worn out (again) I slumped in front of the TV where, luckily for me, they were showing the French Open tennis final. I’m a great Federer fan, but Nadal’s brilliant so I don’t mind too much which of them wins.
It’s raining now so any thoughts of an hour in the garden have to be shelved. I need to have another think about the talk I'm giving on Wednesday to make sure I don’t run out of material.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Two different dogs, two different old ladies.

I spent a very pleasant evening yesterday at a friend’s house, drinking wine and chatting. She’s 85, almost the same age as my mother and could hardly be more different. She’s given me a recipe for date and ginger buns which I plan to have a go at as soon as I find some more energy.
It feels like it’s been quite a long day as I had to get up early for the arrival of Louis, the chocolate Labrador. I was just sticking on a few more border tiles when his owner arrived early.
The difference between this dog and the last one is staggering. He’s been no trouble at all (so far!). I had a bit of trouble walking him though. When he saw two dogs on the other side of the road he pulled so hard to try and get to them, he almost had me on the floor.And the slobber isn't exactly pleasant, but at least he's cuddly and affectionate.
Workwise, I finished my judges report on the NAWG pumpkin stories, plus my short story for the Bridport prize. Now I’m working on a story for Liars league, theme North and South.
Having spent the last half hour moving furniture to accommodate a rug my lodger came home from an auction with, I’m not thoroughly done for, so it’s time for a coffee and a slump.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Hot Hot Hot

It’s like Turkey in July today. Far too hot for me. I went to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park but I started to melt and had to leave.
It would be fine if the weather changed gradually but one day it’s cold, the next it’s baking.That's England for you.
I had the men from Window Doctor coming at 11 to fix my French door, so thought I’d get the fiddly bit round the small bathroom window papered.  Of course, they arrived early!
I spent some more time on a story for the Bridport Prize. It’ s  only 2200 words so I’m not sure it’s long enough, but I said I’ll enter so I will.
A neighbour gave me a tray of peppers which, because they want the seed tray back, I had to plant straightaway. Now, a cool shower is calling!
Tomorrow, Louie, a 3.5 year old labrador arrives. I hope he’s not as mad as the last one!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Bridport or bust

Had a lie in, then did some more grouting. After that it was time for lunch and off to my crossword group.
This afternoon I worked on my Bridport Prize entries, completing a piece of flash fiction and a poem. Tomorrow I’ll finish the story I’ve been working on for the past few months. I don’t usually enter but having read recent winners, felt I might as well ‘have a go’. Now for an hour in the garden as it’s cooled down a bit.  

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Funny old day.

The people from the council came to check me out for the dog boarding licence. They arrived at 9 and left at gone 11. There were so many rules and guidelines and precautions. Nothing was left to common sense. Frankly, it was insulting and mostly a waste of time.
I had no problem with them wanting to see the house and I was perfectly happy to meet them and have a chat, but it went on so long, I was getting to the point where I’d had enough. I felt as though my smile had been nailed into place by the time they went.
They finally said all was OK, but they’re still going back to the agency again to check out a few more details with them.
I think it’s bureaucracy gone mad.  I’d already read through and checked all the rules and conditions and guidelines before I sent in the application. At least it’s over for now, until they change the rules again.
Once they’d gone I started work on planning next week talk for Heydays, the over 55s organisation that takes over the West Yorkshire playhouse on Wednesdays. I have to talk from 10.30 to 11. 45 but when I tested my material, I ran out after 45 minutes. I had to have a quick rethink. I’ve decided to pepper the talk with short pieces of my writing, some of which are quite amusing (at least I think they are) to get up to the required length. Any time at the end can be used for questions.
I’ll try out the new format a few days before the event. At least once it’s done, I can use the same framework for similar talks.
As part of the planning, I looked back through some of my old fish keeping articles. They brought back wonderful memories of the days when everything I wrote was snapped up or commissioned, my words as well as my photos.
Then a bit of a downer. I finally had an email reply from Devon Country Council saying they’d received my letter and would be getting back to me to discuss the matter further.  
I wrote straight back and told them I didn’t want to discuss it.
I also told them I wasn’t up to talking about it because the depression I’ve battled for many years has come back.
I’ve been doing well since I moved to Leeds and hate the fact that I’ve been dragged back down into the pit thanks to something that rally wasn’t my fault. I only hope I can keep doing things and going out and meeting people. I .learned the last time I was ill how important that is, so hopefully I’ll be able to climb out of this fairly soon. All I know is that talking to Devon Social Services isn’t going to make things any better. What’s done is done. All I want is to make sure that they don’t do the same thing to somebody else, then (maybe) I can  get on with my life.