Gone to Scotland – be back soon

As I write were just off to Scotland, if you don’t mind. Bex and Steven are with us, having attended a wedding and they joined us at Gloucester. It’s going to be fun and test Doris to the limit – four adults and all.

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What have we been up to? Mostly touching up FtF; I have been given a friendly agent to send it to next week, so we’re trying our best to make sure that it’s tip-top. Fingers crossed.

Two other things have been significant in our lives. First, it looks like we sold the original Doris. In the end we employed Motorhome Depot, who, for a fee (we negotiated £2k) takes responsibility for the sale – everything. All we do is hand over the keys. The chap who came on Tuesday to take photos etc was v professional and charming. We got a telephone call on Saturday morning to say he had a prospective buyer. And by lunchtime it was sold. We weren’t there – it’s outside Jens house. The price was reasonable, and certainly we couldn’t have managed a sale over the next five weeks as we’re not in the SW. But, there was a hiccup. The buyer turned up, we agreed a price over the phone and they transferred the money to Motorhome Depot. The intermediary then phoned me and said his company couldn’t transfer the money to me until Tuesday – after the holidays.

Suspicious? Actually, in the end, no. We didn’t allow the buyer to take Doris (Jen kept the keys) and they have agreed to come back on Tuesday. Motorhome Depot gave the buyer a reduction in price – which they took the hit on. Jen was present throughout, and she relayed everything exactly as it was. So, here’s hoping for Tuesday.

And, well, we had a bit of a satellite problem. The main Oyster box is in a cupboard by the front door. There are wires everywhere. I tried to tidy them up and, hey presto, the satellite dish stopped working. D’oh! The long and the short of it, I knew I had fused the box, but couldn’t find a fuse. Anywhere. Oh, I found plenty of fuses, including one which had a satellite dish’s name on it. But none which would provide 12v to the box.

I searched and searched. I even looked for an alternative 12v power source, but couldn’t find anything. Apart from the sat cupboard, everything else is beautifully Hymer done and I couldn’t bring myself to cutting anything. I did provide an alternative power source via a 12v socket – and the everything worked. But not in the locker.

I was just about to give up and plug the box to the 12v socket every time we wanted to use it, and then I had a thought. With my ear on the floor I pulled at the wire. It ran to the chair by the habitation door. I lifted the lid of the seat and, hey presto, in the corner was a 10 Amp fuse. Which was broke. Anyhow, I replaced the fuse, rewired the sat box so it fed through a redundant switch on the side of the locker, tidied the wires and – it’s all done. Phew.

Anyway. I hope your Easter is going well. Sorry about the weather. It’s probably our fault.

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We love Bristol

Things are moving along. I’ve had a couple of half days’ worth of work – and enjoyed both of them. Concurrently both C and I are working through FtF…and really enjoying it too. It’s not perfect, but it’s almost certainly the best I (we) can make it. For those of you who eventually get round to reading it, I really hope you love it. We will see.

In among all of this we have continued to run and on Tuesday we cycled into and out of Bristol (22 miles round trip) to meet up with a parent/school friend of C’s. We ate in a small city-centre market food stall, which had been set out like a Moorish cafe. The food was exceptional – although my stomach isn’t necessarily agreeing with that prognosis today – and the exercise was fun. Well done Bristol, it is a fabulous city. (Check out the colour of the cake!)

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And, today, whilst we were looking over a chapter of FtF I got an email from the agent contact (more details later) who has put me, via a third party, onto one the firm’s agents more suited to my sort of book. It seems likely that I might be able to submit FtF for review next week. At least, I hope, this time I’ll know that somebody who looks over FtF has an interest in this sort of genre and will actually give it a go. It could be time for an hurrah. I just need to know whether or not I should persevere. Or not.

We have nothing planned for the next couple of days. I have some non-contact work to do with my Compassionate Leadership client, and we have more prep for the Scotland trip. So that’ll keep us busy.

And finally, today we popped along to see Seymour and Debbie. It was great to see them both – he and I immediately go into ‘do you remember’ mode about our days together in the Army, and laugh a great deal. Fabulous.

Anyhow…All’s well here. Doris has been passed to Motorhome Depot, a UK-wide sales broker. I’ll tell you how that goes if it’s successful, just in case you find yourself in our position. And big Doris continues to be fabulous. It’ll have four of us in her next week. So that’ll be a test.

Have a great Easter.

Almost sold her…

Back in the West Country…at our usual spot at Hortham Farm. We’re on the late pitch, which is okay, and will be here until the weekend when we up sticks, pick up Rebecca and Steven, and head off to Scotland. Can’t wait.

We finished at Annie’s with the garden good and done – plus lots of running, walking and watching the West Wing. Yesterday we were a gnat’s whisker from selling Doris. The couple who looked at, her agreed to come back today to have a second look, having agreed a price overnight. But, alas, having slept on it they decided against. Oh well. Tomorrow we’re handing her over to Motorhome Depot, who are brokers for private sales. They take a cut, but do all the work. As we’re heading off to Scotland followed by two weeks house-sitting in Dover, it makes sense to pass the buck. Hopefully they’ll pull something off.

Me – I’ve been working hard on FtF, with C supporting me on earlier chapters. Via a good friend I met with a senior chap in the publishing business – non-fiction. He’s given me some more advice and is hoping to put me onto a senior fiction agent. It would be good if someone could tell me whether or not UH and FtF are worth that extra effort, or whether or not I’m just writing for a large handful of pals who enjoy the read. We’ll see.

Today we popped out down to Weston S-M. We did a bit of shopping and then both ran down the beach. The photo below is from the back of a van that was parked behind us when we were having our picnic. It reminded me of how lucky we are. Doing this full time, without many cares in the world. Okay, so I’m off working in Cheltenham tomorrow afternoon, but on my terms, working for myself. That’s pretty fab.

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Anyhow, Jen’s coming round for supper and then we have the last episode of The Night Manager – which three or four people have said resonated with my books. John Le Carre and Roland Ladley… Probably not.

Oh, and things are looking firm for me lecturing on leadership in the summer on Oxford for two weeks.  I can’t imagine any of you are interested, but the link is here: Oxbridge Future Leaders

Have a great week.

Green fingers

It’s been a gardening time. One of the reason for coming to Annie’s is to help her with her garden. It’s not quite been Ground Force (certainly C doesn’t have Charlie Dimmock’s assets), but we have got a lot done. And the place does look so much better. Below are a couple of photos that paint a bit of the story.

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Whilst this has been going on, both C and I have been working hard on FtF. I’ve no idea how the professionals do it, but let me tell you how much editing FtF has been through. Last autumn I wrote a chapter and then edited it. Then I write another. At the end of the book C read it in brief and gave me some pointers as to where it needed further amplification. (She liked it, by the way). Then Mikki edited it in full, and I reviewed her edits. C’s sister Annie read it whilst we were skiing in January so that I could submit the first three chapters to the agents (still two refusals and nothing from three others). Then Annie W, an old friend, edited it, and I then reviewed her edits. Currently I am going through it again. Just behind me, and on top of that, C and I are collectively editing again – it’s amazing how many sentences we feel we have to change. And to finish, Mikki is proof reading the final product and I am reviewing her comments.

That’s a lot of work. I reckon each full edit is about forty hours work. It took me at least six hours a chapter – so the current man hours spent on FtF is well on the way to 300 hours of work, although I reckon that’s an underestimate. Thankfully the front cover took less than an hour!

Of course, I’ll have to bring the book together – it’s currently in chapter form. And when I get the chance to put it onto a Word platform, the v competent spell check will inevitably pick up some more issues.

Anyhow. Off to Wells tomorrow for some more work. And then back to Bristol on Saturday for a week. Someone’s coming to look at Doris on Saturday, so hopefully we might have a buyer.

All’s well here – oh, by the way, did you watch the Obama programme on the Beeb last night? Fabulous. If you’re a West Wing fan (currently watching that with Annie – for us the fourth time), then you’d struggle to work out which is fiction and which is fact. It’s on again next Tuesday. Watch it!

Doesn’t the weather make a difference?

You wouldn’t believe I have a half-decent camera. For those of you who have been with me for some tIme, you’ll know that, at times, I did work hard to take some decent photos. Since Christmas, the camera has seen little of the light of day. But, with weather that tempts you outdoors as we’ve had over the past couple of days, I have had it in my hand. Actually the results were not great, but I go at least one decent photo of C with Cassie on the Lambourn Downs yesterday.

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What’s been up? I had a full day at work on Thursday – it’s still great fun. I am learning a great deal as I go along, making some mistakes, and picking some things up. It looks like I’ve picked up another client and I have another couple of avenues that I am gently pursuing. Along with this we are close to making FtF ready for publication. I guess it’s going to take a couple of weeks, and then I might look at Kindle Scout as a publication option. In short, you hand your book over to Amazon. You market a snapshot of it, and if you get enough decent reviews, they then take responsibility for the book and off you go. If you don’t, after 45 days, you get ownership back and you can then do what you want. It’s a thought. (BTW every time I proof read it, I get be excited by what’s down on paper – I really hope it works for you!)

I’ve also been fixing things in Doris Too. The water pump broke… It’s complicated, but we left the pump on whilst we were out and it burnt out. I have a spare, and the beauty about the Hymer is access to the pump is easy. Anyhow, I replaced it, but it took me sometime to realise that the pump needed a no-return valve; the hot water tank was emptying once you turned the pump off. So, I cut off the valve from the old pump (it was in-built), and bodged it together. Job done! You’ll be pleased to hear that I’ve ordered another spare pump and a proper no-return valve. The photo might tell some of the story.

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We also descaled the hot water tank with 5 litres of white wine vinegar (£10; apparently it’s a lot cheaper in France). We’ve struggled to get two consecutive showers out of the tank, but some of that is because the pump is stronger than what we use to in Doris.

We’re at Annies now (C’s sister). We’re here all week – helping in the garden and stuff. I’ve got a hospital check up in Bath tomorrow morning and more work at Wells on Thursday. So we have the Focus with us as well. Big Doris continues to be a blessing, as we count our own. And, if the weather stays like this, things are on the up. The last photo is something Annie showed us. The two girls are ours; the two boys are Annie’s. A splodge of cousins!

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Have a great week.

It’s rain again

So, the weather’s rubbish again. We did have a cold, clear day (probably two, but I’m not going to spoil a great story with the truth) and then it rained again – this time on the back of a bitter northwest wind which makes you think twice about going outside. Following Ju and Jay (Our Tour – check them out if you want to see how this full-timing is done properly), it seems that the weather’s not much better in northern Italy. I’m secretly quite pleased about that.

Big Doris continues to impress. Driving no longer holds any fears (although I must watch for complacency) and, once pitched, we have everything we need. The more I think about it, the more her layout suits us. The large lounge area and separate shower are both real boons. And not having to fight to get things out of the garage is, again, a plus. Doris One has not gone yet, but it’s early days. I have dropped the price on Autotrader, but I must hold out. Somebody will want her, we just need to be patient.

The book, FtF, has finished its last-but-one edit. C and I are now going through it for the last time. If I get nothing from the final agents, I’m considering Kindle Scout. This allows you to post extracts of your book on Kindle and, should there be enough interest, Amazon take control of the whole thing, pay you $1500 and then give you 50% royalties. The drawbacks are that you lose control of it for 45 days as the process runs its course, you have to market the book whilst it’s being ‘advertised’ to catch the selectors’ eyes, and you lose royalties in the long run. Good news is that, if your book is selected by their panel, then you get the might of Amazon’s marketing behind you.

If I select this route, it’s does mean FtF won’t hit the market for at least 8 weeks – but then it would be a summer book, like UH – whIch is no bad thing.

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Less than four months ago…wish we were here!

My other work is ongoing. I’m back down in Wells on Friday and again for a day next week. I’m pressing other avenues for some work, and maybe publishing my paper on compassionate leadership, so that’s keeping me busy.

All-in-all, if you excuse the weather, we’re okay. Off to Annie’s, C’s sister, at the weekend to help her with her garden. Really hoping for some decent weather! Have a great rest of your week.

In or out?

imageAfter my Trumping episode on Wednesday I thought I’d have a go at Brexit. I know how much you all value my opinion…

Well, let me tell you that you shouldn’t believe anything you hear or read. But you knew that. Both sides will be elaborating on what they know and plenty of things they don’t. The scare stories of whacky laws enforced by Brussels, will all be sensible things we should all be doing – but if you tell it in an incredulous and inflammatory way they come out as mad. Nobody knows whether or not we’re going to be better off financially, in or out (nobody knows – they don’t). Nor does anyone know whether or not we will be more secure in or out, although it does seem to me that if we leave, the European intelligence conduits which are open now, may well be closed if we leave the club. And yes, we will probably have less Polish plumbers and decorators. Who then, is going to fix our pipes and paint our walls – efficiently and with a smile?

That’s the analysis over with. For me, as none of us know which outcome would best suit us, above the spin and rhetoric this has got to be a gut-feeling decision. Do you want to be considered European. Or not? Do you want to be part of a larger family of people – pluralistic and liberal? Or do you want to be an island – nationalistic and, dare I say it, jingoistic?

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The CL near Chelmsford

I’m a European. You won’t be surprised by that. I love the Poles, the French, the Italians, the Greeks and even the Germans. They are just as nice as our nice people. And their rascals are just as rascally as ours. And they add a dimension to our lives which will not be there should we pull up the drawbridge and throw away the key (who’s being inflammatory now?). So there.

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C and I walked at Walton – on – the -Nase

We left Marys, stopped overnight at a CL just beside Chelmsford, and are now at Mum and Dad’s, where things continue to slow down, and conversations are repeated fourteen times. But, with Doris squeezed onto their drive, at least we have a haven to retreat to. We’ve both run a lot, we had M&D round for supper last night and, currently, we’re cooking a roast dinner for Mothers’ Day. And I can feel a beer coming on.

Hurrah! Back to Bristol tomorrow (Doris returned 29 mpg on the drive here – not sure what the ensuing convoy felt about that…).

Have a great week.