Almost done…

We’re getting to the end of our stay at Jen’s. They’re home on Friday. And we have continued to work. I had a fruitful day at a school in Cheltenham on Tuesday and either side we’ve continued to work on the house. I also spent a fun hour knocking a dent out of the boot of our Focus after C backed into a fountain at P&K’s place last week. I haven’t done a bad job, but it (and a few other places) need a spray which I’ll do when Mrs Sun bothers to show her face.

We’re the house with the white door

The house is pretty much there. If we were to move in we’d change one of the bedroom carpets and put some new lino on the kitchen floor. But, other than that, she’s pretty good. We both hope Jen and James see the difference.

And that’s really about it, I’m afraid. We’re working on Doris tomorrow and Friday as we prepare to move back into her. Have we missed her? I certainly have. It has been great having the space and being able to bath every day and swing the cat, but it’s a constant battle to keep the house clean and, if we were static for a bit, they’d be so much we’d want to do. A bit like the Forth Railway bridge, it would be in a constant state of repair and improvement. And this is a two up, two down. Can you imagine if we lived in anything bigger?

Anyhow, enough from me. Hope all’s well with you lot…

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Pen-y-Fan

Two days with Mrs Sun’s company – whatever next? It has been full on. Either we’ve been decorating or tidying (today in the sunshine it’s been the garden), or I’ve been at work down in Wells … or we drove to Wales and walked up Pen-y-Fan. With Cassie, who then slept all day.

Doing the house hasn’t been a chore, and we have seen real improvement. It’s not been necessary to spend a lot of money, but we have spent a bit on bits and bobs. Jen and James should be v pleased when they come back, and, should we move in in about a year’s time, then we have broken the back of a lot of stuff that needed to be done.

Our hill walk up Pen-y-Fen was fab. It’s not a small mountain (about 4 hours walk and 700 metres of climb). The weather was great except, when we turned back along the horseshoe, the wind blew a gale. At one point I put Cassie on a lead for fear of her being blown off the top! We came back via Daren and Karen’s who live in Chepstow. They’ve just bought themselves a brand new Hymer. Not quite as big as Doris, but big enough. Their plan is to pack up (in 5 year’s time) and drive off into the sunset. It was interesting to see what Hymer have done over the 6 years between theirs and ours. In general, not much has changed – but the new vans have a couple of nice touches. Anyhow, well done them!

We popped over the Peter and Karen’s for supper on Thursday night, the outcome of which was that we will house sit for them the week after next when they go skiing. This works for us, and being static should give us time to give Doris the once over before we head off to Croatia for the Spring. Having been in Daren and Karen’s van yesterday, I really can’t wait to get away.yy

And the books? Well nothing back from the agent who has UH and FtF. I have dropped her a line to see how’s she’s getting on. I spoke to my director chap yesterday. He’s halfway through the screenplay and is very happy with it. He said he’d give me a ring back early next week. My next job is to reread The Innocence of Trust and whilst I’m away in Croatia I will edit UH, to bring it in line with the screenplay.

That’s all from us. Happy Mother’s Day!

Which country?

Phew. We’re getting somewhere. Most of the decorating (and curtain and blind replacement) is almost done. I’m an average DIYer, and normally I hate it. But, I guess because the house is ours and, once Jen and James have moved on we may use the place as a bolt hole (and I’m not working), it’s actually been quite cathartic. And the place is looking really good. We both hope J&J like the improvements. They, and Bex and Steven, are having a fab time. The photos of all the sea life and the colour of the Bahamian water are great. And, what has surprised us, is that they are all getting on.

In between painting and sanding I have had a day at a school doing a 360 degree report for a Deputy Head. It was fun and I hope that my conclusion and recommendations make a difference. I’m back up at the school again next week, so doubtless I will find out. I am purposefully not pressing this leadership business, and, as a result, I’m on about 20 days work a year. I think I could push it harder, but then would we be able to escape to Croatia for 10 weeks next month? Mmmm, not sure.

Walking Cassie on Sandy Bay, by W-S-M

One thing we have been talking about is building a house. Leaving aside the question ‘in which country’, we have a clear plan on what the place would look like. It’s much more a £100k house than a Grand Design, but it should do us. We both now know what it will look like. As a bit of fun I’m going to buy some balsa wood this weekend and put it together. And I’ve checked out computer aided design programmes – that produce professional diagrams, and they are affordable. I have a degree in civil engineering, so I might be able to pull something off. Certainly I would aim to project manage the whole thing, and put my back into helping out. But first we will need to chose a country…

Wasn’t it just two months ago that we said we were definitely buying a ski chalet in France, living on the top floor and renting out the bottom! What are we like? What is great is having the time to think these things through.

For the record we had a lovely supper with Annie and Al on Tuesday night and were out again tomorrow night at Peter and Karen’s. We lucky to have such friends.

And into Wales in Saturday with Cassie. I think we aim to climb Pen-y-Fan and then have a cuppa with Daren and Karen in Chepstow. They’ve just bought a brand new Doris (a big Hymer). Well done them! Can’t wait to look around…

If it doesn’t move, paint it…

It’s still work, work, work, whilst I continue to follow a couple in a Hymer driving down the east coast of Italy. You can guess who has Mrs Sun as an accompanist. Ho hum. But, we have both agreed that having the space to move about in a house (albeit a two-up, two-down), has been a real boon. So much so that when Jen and James move out we might not let the house out, but use it as a bolt-hole. Financially this would squeeze us a little, but we have a year or so to think about it.

Jen and James are having a fab time in The Bahamas. It is quite magical to see them with Bex and Steven having a splendid time. They’re spending the weekend on an island (I know, they’re all islands), in a rented house – and driving about on a golf buggy. I think the furthest C and I got at their age was camping in Austria. But by then we had at least one child, with a second on the way. The luck of the youth!

We’re getting close to finishing the major decorating bits here. The gloss has been painted, the walls touched up, miles of cabling that previous owners hammered to skirting has been ripped up, sanded down and what’s left has been painted. C has cleaned the kitchen as if we were moving out from an Army quarter, and she has washed everything that isn’t tied down. We have some small works to do in the house, and then the garden next.

On the book front Kindle Press have come back to me and told me they will have an answer on The Innocence of Trust by the end of this month. I am not pressing the agent in London, nor my director about the screenplay. I’m tempted to wait until Kindle come back to me, so I know where I stand. The waiting game is a pain…but on the positive side, a woman I don’t know stopped me in Wells on Friday and said, are you Mr Ladley (that used to be a precursor to ‘you teach my son/daughter and you do that well/badly)? Yes? I’ve read both your books and love them! When’s the third one coming out?

Can you ask for anything better?

Working Monday and Friday this week, and doubtless cleaning and painting in between. Work, work, work…

Work, work, work…

Phew. It’s been work, work, work. We have ‘our house’, that is the house where Jen and James live (for a bit more than a peppercorn rent), for just under three weeks. And there’s a lot to do!

First we cleared out the garage where all of our worldly possessions reside with a view to chucking some stuff out, tidying and moving all the clothes into the attic. The garage is supremely dry, but with Jen and James’ stuff it was in danger of spilling out into the street. Next was sorting out the attic. And then we started on cleaning and prep for painting. I think I can speak for both of us when I say that whilst the house is just two up and two down, it’s in a nice area and in good nick, we have already enjoyed having a bit more space. Doris fits on the drive (just) and when J&J move out in about a year’s time, we might not rent it out and use it as a UK base. We’ll see.

all our worldly possessions!

We’ve both been doing our 10,000 steps. An early morning walk with Cassie and then all the moving about is making that easy. I am also running every day (3 on the trot now) with the aim of getting running fit again. And I feel good with it.

I’m working in Wells on Friday and Gloucester on Monday, and spent an hour and a half doing some prep this afternoon. I’ll have to do some more tomorrow. It’s not without effort, but worth it.

Oh, and we’re halfway through a Netflix series called Stranger Things. A sort of Poltergeist meets ET concoction. If you ignore the 1980s feel, it’s rather good. I can’t watch one of these now without thinking about its screenplay! Fade to black there then!

Finally, nothing back from my agent or director. I shall press a few buttons next week. I did have a further, very nice rejection from one of the agencies I emailed in January, so I’m now 5/12 rejections. Oh well.

That’s all from us. More work tomorrow – paintbrushes will be out!

Should we be chasing the sun?

It’s been a reflective couple of days. Having finished the screenplay and dispatched it (my director says he’s going to start reading it this weekend) and with some leadership work coming up at the end of next week, I feel disinclined to write anything in a literary sense (rewrite of Unsuspecting Hero and a new comedy screenplay ‘Mr Smith’ are two projects I have in mind). So, as well as doing some deep-cleaning of Doris and checking on Jen, I’ve been reading the recent blogs of fellow travellers – two of whom helped start us on this process in the first place.

Ju and Jay (Our Tour) have been in Morocco for a couple of months and are deep in the desert at the moment. Transformational stuff for them I think; what stories. Eric and Shazza, who did two years of European touring before they settled down to looking after Caravan Club sites during the summer and wintering in a bolt-hole in the south of Spain, are currently on their way back home to a campsite in the north of the UK for the next 8 months. It would be accurate to say that neither of them wanted to leave Spain, and they are always recalculating their decision as to what to do next. Finally, I found a new couple ‘A Life in the Slow Lane’. They’re in a newer version of our van and, like us at the beginning, have headed off to Italy for winter/spring, having both retired early (our age). They are currently in a campsite in south east Italy which we stayed in about two years ago. The weather there looks fab, and there are very few people on the site with them. It does make me a bit envious… As I have said before, one of the reasons we did this was to chase the sun and the snow. Ok, so we found the snow early this year, but wouldn’t it be great if we were in Italy now?

It’s all a thought. Having said that at least it is warmer here now and I have put my shorts on!

We have a busy three weeks coming up. Jen and James are off to the Bahamas tomorrow to see Bex and Steven. We’re dog and house sitting – which is good as we have a lot of work to do on the house. I also have four days leadership work and, I hope at some point, I may get to meet up with my director pal.

Finally what of The Innocence of Trust? Well, Kindle, who have the manuscript, have yet to come back to me – but I’m not yet pushing them. As, from about 2 weeks ago a literary agent asked to see copies of both UH and FtF, with a view to then reading the manuscript if they like the books. I have not heard back from them yet, but it is the first time that I have actually had a one-to-one with an agent. We’ll see…

So, all good here! Croatia for 10 weeks is the plan from late April. That’s going to be fab.

Still waiting…

Phew! It’s been a busy couple of days. The first two of them were with Mum and Dad. Things are as things have always been, although Dad’s memory continues to deteriorate. I have to constantly explain what we’ve been up to. Only to be asked again half a day later.

image

We spent Tuesday with old Regimental friends, Peter and Penny. They live in a lovely cottage in darkest Suffolk where web feet are common and pointy heads a much-have accessory. It was great to catch up with all their news and, frankly, be royally looked after. Brill.

And today we stopped for lunch with Phil and Denise, also ex-Regimental pals and also in deepest Suffolk. Phil has just finished as a v senior officer with the Army and is now using all his expertise working with other v senior folk exporting their expertise abroad at governmental level. It all sounds incredibly interesting and, for the first time in two and a bit years on the road, I was a little envious of what he does. Other than the fact that I got nowhere near his rank in my time in the Army and as such would be unemployable, if I did get a job I would have to cut my hair, wear a suit and get up early. Hmmmm. I’m not sure that’s something my body could cope with.

For me, now it’s a waiting game. Nothing from my director friend, and still nothing on the agent/publishing front. And nothing from Kindle Press – and they’ve had The Innocence of Trust manuscript for over a month. They don’t talk much…

Back to the West Country tomorrow. Dog sitting form Monday for almost three weeks. And I have 4 days leadership work in that time. Plus we have a number of things we need to get down whilst we’re at Jen’s house. Hurrah!