Come on Croatia!

This time next week we should be on the continent heading for Croatia. I have to say, and I know I speak for both of us, I can’t wait. Since we came back from skiing in January it’s been a long slog of ‘stuff’. We’ve done a lot of work on Doris (new awning; upgrade alarm; fix satellite; reseal roof lights [yesterday]; clean and refit boot; secure wing mirror; repaint wheel arch; t-cut exterior; new radio aerial; internal tv aerial [there was one under the dashboard?]; fit small 240 invertor so C can use her angle-poise lamp on 12v; fit light in the ensuite area; refit a couple of interior lights; empty, clean, downscale and reload interior; and, and, and…]. We spent 3 weeks at Jen’s working morning and night sorting out the house, I’ve submitted, reviewed and edited UH’s screenplay, we visited everyone at least once, some people three times. We’ve sorted and sold Jen’s car and helped her buy a new one (a lovely Fiat Panda – I want one). We’ve house sat twice – currently we’re back at P&K’s for the long weekend. And I’ve serviced the bikes. And there’s loads more.

back from a run yesterday

We have also kept up our 10,000 step regime, stopped (pretty much) drinking alcohol and attended a lovely wedding!

someone thinks it’s Spring

So…what we need now is a break where we wake up in the morning and think, ‘what shall we do today?’ C said this morning, ‘what are you going to do when we’re away for 7 weeks?’ Certainly I’m not going to write anything – apart from the blog. I will think through the plot for book 4 (I have the prologue and chapter 1 in my head – I just don’t know where it’s going?). I might pick up my guitar and strum away? Who knows. What I do know is that when we come back I have a couple of day’s of work and then we’re heads down for 4 weeks with the run up to Bex and Steven’s wedding. Hurrah!

Insofar as the last couple of days, it’s been selling Jen’s car and then up to P&K’s for the weekend. Yesterday was a Doris day, but at least today we popped out to a local NT property for a wander around – which was fab. Tomorrow we’re driving all the way to Colchester (back on Tuesday) to see Mum and Dad. And then a day with Jen, two days with Mary and by then Calais will not come quick enough. I keep checking the weather…all you need to know is that it’s sunnier and warmer than it is here.

Finally, I was a fireman yesterday. In a previous life I was responsible for the Northern Ireland Fire Brigade (during the fireman’s strike). So, I’m glad I was at hand when P&K’s bonfire spontaneously combusted at 10pm. It took us 30 minutes to dampen it down, but it was still smouldering this morning. I know, I know…it was a bonfire, so why didn’t we let it burn? Well I wasn’t sure if they were saving it for Guy Fawkes, so we weren’t sure if they wanted to come back to a pile of embers.

That’s it for now.

New car for Jen…

It’s been fairly flat, but busy, since the wedding – not helped by Jack blooming Frost shouting his mouth off down here. I have not put long trousers back on (when I started this I had hoped not to wear long trousers ever again), but that was more in protest than in deference to warm knees. Hopefully it’s going to get hotter from here on in. We’ll see.

It’s mostly been about getting Jen a new car – which we have managed. A lovely blue Fiat Panda (1.1 auto) which, for me, is the perfect car. I do love the shape of the mark 2, and weighing about the same as a Smart Car, it’s huge fun to drive. The good news is that Jen likes it too! Her 207 (that’s the number of faults it’s had since she bought it last year) failed it’s MoT on a broken rear coil. We Fleech Any Car initially offered £635 for it, but having taken it to them they dropped the price to £300 less a further £50 admin fee. Having spent £120 getting it through its MoT (£320 in the past week) I’d rather give the car to a family that needs it than hand it over to them. So and sos…

new car…!

Anyhow, it seems likely to be sold today. My mate Nicky offered it around the school and an old pal looks certain to buy it (for £630 – a snip on a trade-in price of £900 + 12 months MoT), so all might be well in the end.

For the rest of the time we’ve been taking stuff out of Doris – something needed to be done, even before we realised she was a bit on the fat side. The good news is that a company called SVTech has her paperwork and will help me up-plate her by a further 250 kg which will make all the difference. My work on Doris now includes providing a 12/240v plug by the driver’s door so C can plug in her angle light even when we’re off grid. And, and this is a surprise, I found a TV cable under the dash? It must be attached to some form of internal aerial as when I plug the TV into it, we get a picture? I know we have a sat dish, but this allows us to watch terrestrial TV when the dish can’t find a satellite. That is something I’ve been meaning to sort.

Finally, I am going to be The Caravan Club’s pin up in the next couple of months. A nice chap called Stuart phoned me and, after asking a few questions and me sending a load of photos, they are producing a short spread on the life of the itinerant author! Once it’s published I shall direct you to it.

Still counting the days to going abroad. Because we need to be here this time next week for Jen, we have agreed to look after ‘the estate’ (P&K’s place) for the weekend. Hopefully Mrs Sun will be with us and we can use the pool… It’s a tough life, but I’m prepared to put up with it for a little longer.

A fabulous time…

Pay attention, I have a lot to get through. First, we’re back at Jen’s after a fabulous couple of days in Dorset/Somerset for R+C’s daughter’s wedding. It was great on so many levels. The church (which we helped decorate with more flowers than a 60’s convention), the venue (a lovely old stately home), the food and drink (doled out very generously) and, of course, the people. Nearly all of our close ex-Army friends were there – and their children – all of whom know Jen (and now James), who were also invited to the wedding. And Mrs Sun was with us throughout, just in her underwear. Well done her!

all of the Army children (Jen in the flowery dress towering over everyone else)

Before that we had a day at VanBitz who updated our tracker system. The alarm, which has been working since we bought Doris over 12 months ago, is the best you can buy. But the tracker needed to be transferred and rebooted with a new SIM card. Now, with a simple SMS, we can interrogate where Doris is at any time. And if she is broken into I get an SMS. And, and I didn’t know this, I can set the speed limit, and should Doris exceed that speed limit I get another SMS. This is fine, except that ceiling was set at 54 km/hr, which meant I was getting an SMS every 20 mins (at 20p a text!). But, a simple text message sorted that, and now I can drive at any speed and nobody phones me. Finally, the system is fitted with an external loop which allows you to alarm stuff outside, like bikes etc. It’s all very sexy.

Doris getting weighed – note new awning

And on Wednesday, Chelstons fitted a 4.5m awning. Which is fab (but not cheap = £1200). Whilst we were there the original owner of Doris saw us and came and said hello. He’s the chap that put over £10k’s worth of extras on Doris (now £11k with the awning). And he had nothing but praise for the van, which was good to hear.

Tomorrow, having now bought a new set of keys, replaced the thermostat, sorted an air block and today replaced the temperature sensor, Jen’s car goes in for an MoT. There are currently no ‘codes’ coming up on the code reader (everyone should have one…). Then, hopefully, we can get a couple of hundred quid for it and she can go and buy a Panda!

Oh, and Doris is fat! We had her weighed when we left Chelstons and, for comfort, she needs to lose a few pounds – we’ve started that process this afternoon. I am also looking to get her up-plated from 4250kg to at least 4500kg, which should give us plenty of spare. That’s another job for next week.

Still waiting on books and screenplays. We’re due on the continent mid-next week and in the mean time I’m going to do a bit of work for a pal of mine: it’s all about home batteries, storing Economy 7 and excess solar panels. Right up my street.

Till Wednesday…


Phew. That’s that done then. I have finished the major edit of UH‘s screenplay and sent it to Frank. It is now a different beast to the book, and, in terms of cinematography, it’s much better. Well done Frank for the suggestions. He tells me he’s going to share it with Keiron Hawkes asp, and maybe there will be a meeting next week? It all sounds too good to be true, which probably means it is… Oh well. What it has made me do is not push the publication of TIOT as my London contact/agent tells me that if I have a firm offer for the TV I’d get a book contract. So, I’m going to let this run for a while.

here it is – soooo excited

We’re down in the West Country. Yesterday we had our tracker alarm rebooted. I can now inquire where Doris is at any point (via SMS), and the tracker tells me – plus a whole load of other stats. I also get an SMS everytime I break the speed limit. I’m going to have to get that turned off – somehow.

Today, Chelstons are fitting an awning (hurrah) and then, after all the work we’ve done on her over the past 3 weeks, she’ll be as good as she can be. I’m not sure there’s much else we can do (I’ve got an internal lamp to fit in the en suite area); so we can now start to enjoy her! I have also sorted out Jen’s car as much as I can (C’s driving it alongside Doris). The ambition is to get her through her MoT next week and then sell it. No good money after bad if I can help it. That’s a big finger’s crossed.

And the now Caravan and Motorhome Club (was Caravan Club) have been in touch today. They want to interview me for one of their summer editions – a sort of special about an itinerant writer. I’m going to be famous – hurrah! I hope I’m allowed to mention the books…

That’s all from us. Another night at Chelstons tonight and then onto the wedding reception in Dorset. Back with Jen on Sunday and a week sorting out her car and hopefully helping her buy a new one. Busy, busy, busy…

Happy Easter!

I have broken the back of the screenplay rewrite. It’s not been easy. It took me two months to write the original, and whilst there’s little wrong with my writing, nor my structure, it’s the subtle changes in plot which Frank suggested (and I wholeheartedly agreed) that are taking their time. It’s a bit like patching up a wall that’s magnolia. It doesn’t work – it will always be a different colour. You have to paint the whole thing. Once you’ve changed the plot at the beginning of the screenplay, you have see it through. And when you make five or six changes then the whole thing needs real concentration to keep on track. It doesn’t require much literary genius, it just requires the ability to juggle. I am managing, and hope to have it finished by Thursday. I have, of note, written 9 news scenes in the process…

It’s been a fun time at P&K’s, but we leave today. Jen and James came on Friday and Saturday. Yesterday we went for a walk/run up on the barrow – Jen and I ran together, which is a first (for a very long while), and a lovely one. Then James showed off his new drone (which comes with camera) and we took an overhead of P’s estate, and then the pool opened! At 27 degrees it was workable, although chilly outside. C knocked up a fab roast lamb lunch and, as Jen and James left, P&K and family came back. C produced a chilli (well done her) for everyone and we had a v convivial evening.

What now? This week is about finishing the screenplay and getting Doris to two doctors (she is looking fab after all the work we’ve being doing on her): first to get her alarm rebooted – it’s a tracker that hasn’t been tracking; and second a full length awning, which we are v excited about.

Happy Easter from Doris!

And then the first of two weddings this year. Our mates R&C’s daughter is getting married in Dorset on Saturday and there’s a great crew gathering. It could get messy…

Croatia has been delayed by a week due to Jen needing our help and support for a bit longer. She’s going through her final 6 months of therapy and we need to be around for a couple of days, the week after next. But I still make it 7 weeks on the continent. Hopefully it should give a bit more time for the Euro to rebalance!

Am screenwriter…

So, what do you want first – the good news, or the bad news?

Well, bad news first. My agent opportunity in London has come to nothing. The woman asked to read UH and FtF, and after 3 weeks this is the reply I got this morning: Thank you so much for sending me your books. I really enjoyed them and love the Sam Green character but sadly do not think I help – the market is really tough at the moment especially for fiction and I just wouldn’t be confident that I could place them.

I also read that agents/publishers are disinclined to take on authors mid-series… Oh well. I am at my wit’s end with the traditional publishing route and now hope that Kindle offer to publish. That would be a red-letter moment and remove some of the pressure to get TIOT out there.

me and Frank

The good news is that I spent today with my director friend. I drove all the way down to Kent yesterday and made it back this evening. Frank (Harper – he’s happy that I use his name), is v positive. We spent most of the time looking at ways to make the plot more TV friendly – he seemed v happy with my ability to write, which was a plus. And, as a result, I have a good slice of work to do. He seems v excited by the whole thing and spent an hour last night talking to Kieron Hawkes (Ripper Street and Fortitude). Frank is looking to take the screenplay to him in the next couple of weeks. So that is going somewhere, but there’s so much water and bridges etc. I shall give it my best shot.

What with some more sorting out the van and further work on the screenplay, that’s going to keep me busy for the next week or so. And then we have the daughter of a friends wedding to go to – and then Croatia here we come! Hurrah!

Jen’s car is still messing about, but it got me to Kent and back. It destined for the scrapyard I feel.

So, all good here, even if I can’t find a library agent for love nor money!

Doris maintenance

We have been busy. Accompanied by near-on Mediterranean weather we have taken Doris apart and cleaned and polished. I have resprayed the front right wheel arch which had an altercation with a German bollard last year, cleaned the roof and resealed the sat dish, checked the kitchen taps for drips (= none), started the grand t-cut and polish, and checked a myriad of other things. C has been in and out of Doris, cleaning anything and everything. We’ve walked Pico, P&K’s black lab around the estate, and exercised some more – finishing off for a swim in their quite lovely (and quite big) outdoor heated pool. Fabulous.

Walking with Pico

I’ve got an appointment with Timpsons tomorrow to reprogrammed Jen’s car keys – I hope that sorts the sporadic starting. And, after much investigation about the car running cold, I took the thermostat off yesterday and (I think) it’s stuck open. I shall get a new one tomorrow, fit it and then bleed the system. I am learning a lot about cars – some of which I knew, but had forgotten. I am really enjoying the ‘fixing things’ (Doris’s sat dish, wobbly front coach wing mirror, car aerial etc) and it bodes well for wanting to build our own house. When we find the right country…

Doris maintenance

Nothing on the books. I’m meeting with my director chap on Wednesday to look over UH screenplay. And I have just re-edited The Innocence of Trust – which I love, I really do. I’m so excited by it. I just need to come to a conclusion on how it’s going to be published. By the end of April – I have promised myself…

Anyhow, that’s us. We’re fine. Really looking forward to heading off over the channel for a bit of P&Q. Only two and a half weeks to go!