Making progress?

It’s difficult to know what to write about. Should I remind everyone of Donald’s notable successes in his first 90 days? Should I talk about the weather? Both have been rays of sunshines!

Well, what can we say about Donald? Best, perhaps, summed up in his Florida rally yesterday. He wants to reach the American (adoring) public avoiding the liars and fake news that those so-and-sos The Washington Post, CNN and the BBC have been proffering. So the best way to do that is to hold a rally in Florida for a few thousand people and let the national media report it. Mmm, makes sense to me. This is his third weekend in a row that he’s headed for his holiday mansion in Florida, where, if you’ve got the kind of money that buys you a private jet, you can purchase a condo and rub shoulders with Donald on his days off. Not sure that’s wholly ethical…

Now we’ve watched all of the West Wing, three times. So we know how to govern in the US. And if Donald is in Florida soaking up the adulation of his adoring fans and rubbing shoulders with people who have spent a fortune on buying some of his property, then who’s running the country? And call me old fashioned, but why isn’t he in California helping out with the flood defences? Oh, of course. They didn’t vote for him.

It’s going to end in tears. My worry is that it may not be Donald shedding them. Let’s hope the Dutch, then the French, then the Germans all vote with some intelligence. We, of course, started this with the Brexit vote. I do worry…

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However, Mrs Sun has been omnipresent and, after a couple of days with C’s sister down in Wool, we’re now Day 3 of 3 on a small CL next to Dorset coastal path. It’s been fabulous. Two long, up and down walks, and today hopefully a run.

We’re also in Lost – now Season 2. It ain’t half bad. As Jen said, if you suspend disbelief it’s quite a lot of fun. Certainly, with the way things are at the moment I think I’d rather be fending off savages on a remote island than sitting here waiting for Armageddon.

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Back to Bristol tomorrow, then Mary’s next weekend for a trip to Liverpool. I’m over halfway on the old screenplay, so should be finished by early March – well ahead of schedule. It remains fun, but I think I have a lot of work in draft 2 to sharpen it up before I show it to my director friend.

It’s all good!

Weather’s turning…

Thankfully the weather seems to be changing. Today, at Lulworth Cove after a morning of torrential rain, Mrs Sun came out and almost started to brown our knees. Fabulous.

What’s been going on? Geographically we left Bristol on Tuesday after a day helping out Jen and her dogs, and we headed southwest for Wellington. We were due to stay with Dita, and old Army friend of ours. She lives just off the M5, but it might as well have been  deepest Devon. The road to her place was Doris width plus 6 inches and banks where at Olympic height. Turning into her house (backwards) was a squeeze, but no damage done – nor none when we left this morning.

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We went to Dita’s as she asked me to present to the Exeter Flotilla – a sort of retired naval officers’ club. After supper in the mess at Lympstone, I gave them my best Sierra Leone tale…which seemed to go down well enough.

And today we’re with Joy and Malcolm, C’s middle sister in southern Dorset (does it have a northern half?). Until Friday – which is great. And then we have three days of nothing, before we’re back with Jen for Tuesday. No plans yet…

As for the books. Well, I had my fourth very polite refusal today. But, I have also had a personal recommendation from another thriller writer (thanks Richard C!) to his agent. I have yet to chase that up. And the screenplay is motoring on. I’m now 4/9 of the way through and should definitely be finished by 31 March, if not sooner. My director pal has said he will come down to Bristol for a couple of days once it’s done. Hurrah!.

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So it’s all go. My last 3 reviews on Amazon for FtF have been 5 star and I’m still selling a couple of books a day. Not quite the 100 a week (up to 450 in one week) that we had in the Autumn.  But it’s better than not selling anything.

I hope the weather is kind to you…

Keep writing!

Brrr. It’s been cold. Doris has held up womanfully, and we’ve had Cassie for the weekend – which has been great. She’s a darling and, apart from walking (more of which in a second), she requires no effort whatsoever.

Walking…ahhh! Out fitbits (mine is a Garmin) provide an extraordinary push for both of us to get out and walk. 10,000 steps is about 6km and whilst walking round the shops will add 2,000 steps to your daily effort, you really do have to go the extra mile to complete the distance. What with no alcohol (yes, you heard it here first – other than when we go out), we’re really working hard to get and stay fit. Both of us have dropped the running a bit – mostly because with everything else once you’ve been out on your feet for an hour and a bit there isn’t always time to fit it in. But, I reckon we’re still running twice a week. It’s all good.

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I’m 75 pages into the screenplay – and my director pal phoned me about the first 35 pages I sent him. He was really happy with them, so I just need to crack on. I’m determined to get it completed by mid-March and then he has said he will come down to Bristol and talk it through. I have to say I’m really enjoying the experience and like what I’ve done  – it does seem exciting and I can see it on celluloid, if you know what I mean.

Book sales are down to about 2/3 a day, but I’m still relatively high in the rankings in the US – and still getting 5-star reviews (thanks). I think this is because FtF is still being offered under ‘Prime Lending’, which means that a few people must ‘borrowing’ the book as well as the ones I am selling. Of course, all of this is a minor issue, as the most important thing is to get The Innocence of Trust out there. I’ve had nothing back from 8/11 agents, and nothing from Kindle. I’ll start getting excited about it in a couple of weeks time, I think.

We’re in Bristol, although we’re off to Devon tomorrow as I’ve been asked to present about the United Nations to a bunch of old navy chaps. And then we’re heading to C’s sister in Poole for a couple of days. In all of this I must remember to keep writing!

That’s all from us at the moment.

 

Work, work, work…

It’s been work-work-w jkork for me over the past three days. Monday was a series of one-to-ones. Tuesday was a 2-hour seminar session (lecture, seminar, activity) for a bunch of houseparents. And Wednesday was some more one-to-ones. Is it fun?

Well, I think so. I really do feel as though I’m making a difference, and as I keep getting asked back, I’m guessing that the individuals feel as though I’m making a contribution. But, I am cheap; that helps. My one-to-ones are cheaper than a plumber. My seminar sessions are much more equivalent to what others may charge. Although I spoke to a pal of mine on Saturday. He provides consultancy for a major conglomerate and charges £1000 a day. Mmm, I’m not sure that would sit easily with the schools I deal with. Anyhow, that’s it for work until March, where I have another 4 days of stuff going on.

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Between now and then it’s all about the screenplay. I’ve sent the first 36 pages to my director friend, who is (today) reading it so as to give me big hints as to whether I’m heading in the right direction. We’ll see. And, at the same time, I’m sitting around waiting for the agent/publishers to turn me down for The Innocence of Trust.

On that note yesterday we stopped and had tea with Seymour and Debbie – he loves the books. And then overnight with old Army pals of ours, John and Lou (thanks for having us!). John said that over Christmas he and two of his grown-up children had a conversation about the books…like a post-read book club. How’s that? And my last two reviews on Amazon have been 5-star. It keeps me going.

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With all that in mind, I can’t tell you how excited/impatient I am to get TIOT out there…but I’m not going to do anything for at least a month.

It’s cold here. But we’re both fine (both keeping an eye on our fitness bands…). Hurrah!

Missing the snow…

We’re sat watching Ski Sunday – which is no longer about skiing  as they’re mostly tumbling through the air on a snowboard, with trick names like ‘backside 1440 melon’. There are more neon lights and advertising babes than at an F1 night race. Interestingly there were 2 UK men in the final 8, and 1 woman in the same event. Fabulous. I do really miss it – I really do. It’s the snow, the cold, the crispness, the mountains and everything else. Sigh…

We had a great evening with James and Sheron (who we haven’t seen for over 2 years). They live in deepest Devon and Doris had to breath in a couple of times as the roads narrowed and the hedges widened. It was great to see them – and we shall do our best to pop down more often.

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Doris got mostly an all clear from the doctors. There’s a high damp reading on the back garage wall. She’s covered by Hymer’s 10-year cover, as well as Chelston’s warranty. It’s funny but Hymer only built with single pre-fabricated sheets: aluminium outer, decent insulation and breathable plywood inner. The 5 sides are bonded and there is no wood in the process. Chelstons are checking again in 3 months, and if there’s still a concern, then they’ll sort it. I have to say it’s difficult to spot and damage as all of the sides look strong. But the boot has been very damp and cold, so, even though there’s a heater outlet ion the boot, I’ve put a heater in there and I have my own damp metre coming. So, we’ll see.

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We’re now back in Bristol and, thankfully, the weather has cheered up a bit. I’m 25/200 pages into the screenplay for Unsuspecting Hero. And I’m working Monday to Wednesday next week in Cheltenham, Chepstow and Wells. All’s well.

 

Reflection time

It’s been a slice of time for reflection as we sit waiting for Doris to have her 1 year service. It is exactly one year since we picked up Doris Too from Chelstons, so it’s not a bad time to reflect.

In the past year we have: spent 2 weeks skiing in Chatel; dog sat for 3 friends (4 days, a week and two weeks); had 5 days in Istanbul; 2 weeks in Scotland (a week with Steven and Rebecca); 6 weeks in southern Germany (fab); 10 days walking in the Peak District; climbed Scafell; 6 weeks on the French Mediterranean coast writing Book 3; seen a good deal of Jen (and Bex, when she was in the UK); seen more of my ailing Mum and Dad than I could ever have imagined; the same with Mary – and all our friends and family.

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On top of that, with Kindle Press, I have published my second novel and completed a third. And I have started the screenplay for Unsuspecting Hero (loving it already). I reckon in profit terms for both published books we’re talking about £2,500 – I have had a lot of expense; which won’t happen for Book 3. Also, I have set up a very small school leaders (the size of the business, not the height of the leaders) consultancy where I have spent two weeks in Oxford helping run a summer school, and I now have one-to-ones with 2 headteachers, 3 deputies and a few others. I also ran a 8-session leadership course over 3 months for 3 middle-leaders. All fun. Profit? About £3,500 – and I am certainly not pushing it.

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And? Well, I’m loving it. It’s not without down days, but there is no way I want to go back and work for someone else (although my mate Peter did forward me a job offer today for a retired officer to work in Bermuda for 3 years. Salary $132,000 and accommodation is provided!). Whilst I’ve no intention of applying, our itinerant lifestyle allows us to stop and think about opportunities that come along at a moment’s notice. Hurrah.

And this year? Well in work terms, I’ve got an afternoon session with a group of houseparents next week, a 360 on a deputy to complete in March and the one-to-ones to continue. I’ve given myself till 31 march to complete the screenplay (5 pages a day (= 5 minutes of screen time), for 6 weeks = 200 minutes of TV)and book 4 to complete by Christmas. Ahh, and then there’s publishing book 3 if no one picks it up (3/11 rejections so far). In terms of travel (in some sort of order): 10 days walking in the Peak District; 10 weeks in Croatia; Bex’s wedding; Scotland for 2 weeks; 4 weeks in the Bahamas; 6 weeks in the south of France finishing book 4! Sounds like a lot of fun if you ask me. Why would we do anything differently?

And on that note, leaving aside any travel bans that Donald may put on writers and novelists, we consider ourselves to be extremely fortunate.

Oh…and C has a fitbit – which means she constantly checking that she’s done enough walking. Has hit over 10,000 steps a day for the past 4 days. Well done her!

Bedding in…

We picked Doris up from P&K’s on Friday and made our way to our fave campsite (CL) just by the M48 bridge. It’s now £12 a night, but still in easy reach of Jen’s and best placed for me to work in Cheltenham and Wells (which I am doing the week after next).

As we started to unpack the car – full from all the stuff we took to Chatel –  I discovered a gas leak. After some investigations it became clear that the feed connection/gauge’s nut that joins the two Gaslow cylinders to the main entry pipe had split and gas was pouring out.  I have no idea how long it’s been like that, but I was able to disconnect everything and just attach one cylinder. Thankfully Doris is going in for a service on Wednesday (still under warranty) and Chelstons will fix it for us.

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You may have noticed that it has been raining a lot. This hasn’t stopped us getting ourselves bedded back in to Doris, being taken out for supper by Jen and James, buying C a Fitbit exercise band, ordering me a Garmin equivalent (down to just £54), and looking after Cassie today, taking her for a long walk to make sure C completes her 10,000 steps – now at 13,000 today. Hurrah!

And, by way of prep before I start the screenplay for Unsuspecting Hero (I got my ‘director’ friend to send me through a copy of an original screenplay so I can see what one looks like), we watched Endeavour tonight – which has got to be some of the best filmed TV in the business. It certainly gave me a lot to think about as I start to pen a fairly dark spy thriller…I’m so excited by the whole process.

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The rest of the week is sorted. We have 2 nights in Chelstons so they can give Doris the once over, and I have 3 days work the following next week, including a 2-hour leadership session with a bunch of houseparents. Should be fun!