Still sunny here…

Whatever next? I’ve just heard on the news that the London marathon is likely to be the hottest ever. My gloomy weather app said it was going to be overcast and colder today, but Mrs Sun – wearing a pretty bright frock – has decided to join us. It is lovely.

What’s new with us? Not a great deal. The MD of the firm that fitted Doris’s awning is coming by today to take her down to Devon to have it refitted. This is after the workshop manager told me that I had to drive it to them (45 miles), leave it with them and then pick it up again. At that point (as a reminder this would the fourth time Doris has been in their workshops for this; and we bought the van from them, for not a small sum) I asked to speak to the MD. I think that C and I delivering the vehicle for the fourth time – without recompense other than some diesel from their bowser – was a bit much. Anyway, that seemed to do the trick. I didn’t get to speak to the MD – but I will do today! We will pick it up when we visit friends in Devon in a couple of weeks time. Hopefully fixed. Grrrr.

Work is OK – there are a couple of issues that I’m dealing with, but it’s all workable. The new good news is that the school where I am providing mentoring support for a deputy has asked me to come in and do some wider work with both students and teachers. So we’ll see how that goes. I think, in retrospect, pursuing the compassionate leadership route is going to be less stressful than teaching. Although, as I’ve said before, I do love being in the classroom.

No news from the BBC and Unsuspecting Hero’s screenplay. They did say they’d get back to me by the end of the month – which is next week. I’m guessing no news is better than a rejection email. Still, I don’t hold out for anything.

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missing Scotland

We have finished decorating the sitting room. I have to say I think it looks fab and well done C as she did most of the painting. We have our bedroom and the stairs/landing to do next. I think we’ll wait for a couple of weeks before we get cracking with those. And we went back to Fowlers yesterday to look for a bike helmet for C (D minus 8 for trike pick up). She likes the Piaggio one I got (in their sale – yippee!), but they didn’t have the right size. We’ll pop out again tomorrow.

That’s it from me. Dull as dishwater (as usual!). Hope Mrs Sun is your accompanist in your Sunday performance.

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Wot – Mrs Sun?

Well it’s almost the end of week 2 out of 14 weeks left at school. It’s all been fine and I do feel much happier with my classes and the students therein. At times it’s almost fun! And that’s the way teaching should be.

I guess the weather has helped. It is a balmy 21 degrees at the moment, which is pretty unheard of at this time of year. C and I have been caught with our summer clothes up in the attic – so that’s my next job. Typical of the topsy turvy nature of the weather, it seems that we are now down to get extremes – it’s due to drop back down to 10 degrees next week. Personally I think Him/Her up there is building up for a catastrophic event to wake us all from our complacency. You have to admit that politics on both sides of The Pond could do with a good shake up – it seems that no-one in power has any time for any of us anymore. What we need is a good flood – so get building that raft (some empty oil barrels, 4 planks of wood and some string should do it). Alternatively, He/She might just push Donald over the edge and we’ll all be ducking under the kitchen table as the bombs rain about us.

Sorry – was that too miserable? Well, I can tell you now that I’m voting for the Green Party next time. They may know nothing about politics, but at least we can expect them to show some compassion for me, my world and you lot. Let’s hope so.

Books are going well – that is almost 20 a week. Nothing from the BBC (yet) but I still have a couple of weeks. And I believe a pal of mine handed the first three over to a literary agent friend yesterday – if nothing happens from that, at least I know someone has done more than glance at the titles.

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and a v special 30th birthday to our lovely Rebecca

And, at last, we’re pretty close to finishing decorating the sitting room – the biggest job of all. Hurrah! It does look so much better now.

That’s it from me. BTW it’s D-11. Where D is ‘pick up the trike’ day. Yippee!

Wasn’t expecting that…

Have you got a cup of coffee, or a glass of red wine? Well, I suggest you pop to the kitchen, sort yourself out and make yourself comfortable, as I’ve got a lot to get through.

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Dad in the sunshine at Walton

First, and most important, Mum and Dad are, as they say in the military, ‘workable’. Mum is tired, Dad’s memory is all but gone (didn’t remember we had Doris – how could anyone forget her?, and he couldn’t remember C’s name), but they are just getting through. In the only decent day since last summer we took them for a picnic at Walton on Naze and sat on a bench and stuffed our faces with sandwiches and tea, accomapnied by Mrs Sun. And then we came home and all of us put a fiver on the National. Dad, who couldn’t remember his horse, won – and then generously split his £55 winnings in four. Bless him. We’re back home now, and will go up again for half term, which is 6 weeks away.

C is now on a strict greens and air diet as her quack has told her that her cholesterol is too high. Of course that means I’m on the same diet as well. There will be a special CountryFile report on how windy it is in north Bristol by the end of the week. Poor old C, though. I’m not a foodie and will eat whatever is in reach of my long arms. C, however, likes her food and the spoil-sports have taken away all of her luxuries.

Techy bit now. You will all know that we’ve had continuous problems with Doris’s electricity. It’s been small beer stuff and infinitely manageable, but I noticed the other day that the VanBitz battery master (it’s a small box that allows the habitation batteries to charge the starter battery – I’m not aware of any manufacturer that fits one as standard) wasn’t working. Well it did when I smashed it against one of the leisure batteries, but as a solid state device it shouldn’t need that sort of encouragement. A replacement is £70, except Voltronic (German company – tick), make one which delivers a higher trickle charge (2A rather than 1.1A) make one for £29. I ordered one from Amazon, it arrived over the weekend, it took me 20 minutes to fit it and, hey presto – all is well.

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However, the awning… You might remember that we had a full-length awning fitted by a company in the southwest, who I will name if they don’t sort this out. The awning leaked whilst we were heading to Croatia last year and eventually they fixed it, and then it leaked again, and then they fixed it again. However, I popped up on the roof just now and noticed that the front of the bracket was lifting and the mstic was split. Grrrrrrrr. It is still within warranty, so I guess they’ll fix it again? But I really don’t want the hassle of all the travel and overnighting to get this sorted. It just isn’t good enough (it’s a million-£ company – a huge affair, so it’s not as though they can’t afford to get it sorted).

Work is better. That’s all I really need to say. I do feel as though I am on top of most of the classes now. And I am doing some extra work with my Year 9s after school to help them catch up after a long period with multiple teachers.

Oh….

…. and did I tell you we bought a new toy? Having got back late last night from M&D’s we woke to poor weather and three rooms to decorate. So C said ‘come on, let’s go and have a look at a trike.’ Again, you might remember – we’ve been thinking of buying a Piaggio MP3 300 which I can drive on a car licence. It means that when we’re away with Doris, as well as the e-bikes, we can pick some far distant places, leave Doris and travel – even staying overnight if necessary. Anyhow, Fowlers of Bristol (huge m/c place – we arrived at 11.00 am, opening time, and we among 50 bikers already waiting to go in) had an 8-month old MP3 with 350 miles on the clock for a price we couldn’t really refuse. I’d done my research over the last 6 months and had a target price. Anyhow, we pick it up at the end of the month. It’s all v exciting.

Phew – that’s me I think. Have a great week!

Back to work

The title’s enough to put you off, isn’t it? Well, if you follow Our Tour (and if you don’t and are thinking of full-timing or extended travel in Europe, then this site is the bible), you will have read their latest blog about the balance between work and travel. It’s fair to say that me and Jay are in the same place. We both struggle with not working when based at home. It’s a man-thing, I think. Doubtless that comment will have set my female reader alight, but I don’t – on behalf of my generation – take it back. If you’re travelling your mind’s on other things. Once I’m back in suburbia, then there’s an issue of ‘place in society’ and ‘self-worth’.

Having worked for some months last year, Jay was recently offered a further work contract. His wife, Ju, knows when he’s at work. He’s miserable, tired and irritable. Me too (although today was the very first day at school where I have actually enjoyed every lesson – success!). So, have been offered a new contract they spent three days working out what is important. And the answer was a non-exchangeable one-way ticket to Europe in Dave, their van. Jay turned down the extra work. Health and happiness prevailed.

I absolutely get that. We had such a fab time in Doris over Easter. I could have stayed in her (with Cassie, Jen’s cockapoo) for ever. The good news is that, as you know, I am not staying at the school. If I get many more days like today, it will be a struggle to leave. When it’s working I love being in the classroom. I really do. But not as much as the free-spiritness of pottering around in Doris. So, there’s no turning back now. The plan is to hit Spain at the end of the year, but back to see everyone for Christmas. Can’t wait…

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new sofa and ‘bloody things’ chaser…

We’re off to see my Mum and Dad this weekend. Bless them. I’m not looking forward to it. I just know we’re close to having to take action – get someone in. Or, dare I say it, start looking for homes. Mum always sounds tired and Dad is out of it. Anyhow, we’ll get a snapshot this weekend.

That’s it from me. Parent’s evening tomorrow. Hurrah!

Back home

We made it back. We had a lovely couple of days with Bex and Steven in Penkridge. We went to the pub and, for the second night, we watched Wolverhampton beat Cardiff (on Sky). It was initially wasted on me, but with Steven, his best man, his dad and Bex all Wolves supporters it didn’t take long before I was shouting at the screen with the best of them. Bex and Steven are now mid-Atlantic. They have just 10 weeks teaching left (me, 14) before the fly home again for 6 weeks – and then fly out to Seoul for their new adventure. We hope to pop out to see them next May.

And back home. It’s good to be back and we’ve already sorted some more things out. Our new sofa and foot stool arrive tomorrow. I wanted one of those corner sofas so I could watch TV in a horizontal position whilst C fed me grapes. Unfortunately our lounge is a tadge too small for such luxuries. So C will have to feed me grapes whilst I’m sat up. Oh well; needs must.

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someone else’s farmyard…

Books continue to happen. I’m three-quarters of the way through edit 5 of For Good Men To Do Nothing. I think I have a bit of work to do on the plot. As always the book is quite complicated and whilst I know exactly what’s happening, I’m not completely sure that my reader will pick up the strands of intelligence that come flying in from all angles in order to bring plausibility to the plot. I’ll do some more on that tonight. And I’ve had a holding email from (I’ll tell you now) the BBC reference Unsuspecting Hero’s screenplay. It, or more accurately me as a screenwriter, is/am being reviewed as part of their Writer’s Room process. I have already been short-listed and they’ve now told me I’ll know by the end of the month. I think I’m up against hundreds of other writers, so the answer will almost certainly be ‘no thanks’.

And finally just a nice word about Doris. Scottish roads are easily as bad as those we encountered 8 years ago in Poland. Doris is fitted with tough suspension and we feel every bump – a sort of automotive equivalent of the princess and the pea. It’s not surprising then that things have fallen off over the past two weeks. All of which have been eminently fixable. Indeed, I have also fixed a long-term leak to the driver’s side window (which I didn’t realise I had). So – she is brilliant and I am already missing waking up in someone elses farmyard. She has kept us dry, warm and comfortable in such glorious settings. It is difficult not to think of her as part of the family.

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Cassie looking for ‘bloody things’

Oh, and work? I’m looking forward to it. I guess it helps knowing that I will not work at the school beyond the summer, but I’m also looking forward to teaching – making a difference where I can. I have planned an extra hour after school for my year 9s, to revisit the whole year 9 syllabus in prep for their entry into year 10 in September. It will be voluntary, but already I’m getting a few parents tell me that child will attend. That’ll be fun.

That’s it from me. Have a good week.

A white wedding?

We made it past the snow. Just think if that had happened a couple of days earlier? It would have brought a whole new meaning to the expression ‘a white wedding’. We were close to t-shirts one moment, and just as close to digging ourselves out of a snow drift the next. Thankfully we made it through Glen Coe before we had to dig out Doris’s snow socks.

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We’ve meandered down south, stopping first loch-side north of Ben Nevis (beautiful views of the summit – the northwest is the only vista where you can clearly see the top without climbing it – not the photo!). And then to our usual lowland spot a few miles off the M74. It’s a grand lay-by in the middle of nowhere; bogs on both sides of the road and hardly any traffic. And, after a long, wet walk on Southport beach, tonight we’ve stopped close to Liverpool. We’re meeting up with C’s Godmum tomorrow before we hit Penkridge and say cheerio to Bex and Steven as they head back to The Bahamas for the last time.

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We’ve had Cassie with us – Jen’s dog. We hand her back on Saturday. She is fabulous, but I worry that we’ve been close to breaking her. She a gorgeous cockapoo with the kindest temperament. She likes to sniff out ‘bloody things’ (my terminology) and will run herself ragged for a ball. So today’s long walk on the Southport marshes almost did for her. She ran and ran, sniffed and sniffed and then found a tennis ball. That was it. She wouldn’t let it go – even as we traipsed through bogs and marsh. By the time we got back to the van she was exhausted. Three showers later (yes, three), she was just about clean. She is, of course, asleep now.

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And the books? Well sales continue. Three today so far. And, although I’ve not explained it in any detail, my Unsuspecting Hero screenplay is still being looked at by a name you will recognise – I got a holding email today. It is with many others, so I’m not expecting anything, but at least it’s not been dismissed out of hand. Hurrah!

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Oh – and I’m two-thirds the way through edit 5 of For Good Men To Do Nothing. And, I think it’s fab. I’m loving it. It’s still a couple of months off publication, but I think you’ll enjoy it.

 

That’s it from me. A long day. More driving tomorrow!

Just fabulous

Phew. That’s that then. Two daughters married off and now in the hands of more competent men than me. Oh, and what about the wedding?

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Well, what a couple of days. First there was the unpredictability of the weather on Skye. Not just day-to-day, but hour-by-hour. We needn’t have worried. Mrs Sun was with us most of the time and whilst cousin, Biting Wind, was a companion, when we needed calm we had it. The hotel, Eilean Larmain – just a 20 minute drive from Broadford, was just fabulous. The staff were perfect, the food exquisite and the location fab. We didn’t want for anything, and they were always on hand to deal with our every need. (And we never felt as though we were being taken for a ride – food we didn’t eat, and drink we didn’t drink, appeared in the evening and even the following day.) The photographer, Dougie, a guy C and I met a couple of years ago on the west coast, was fabulous. We’ve only had a glimpse at his output, but there is a wonderful photo of Jen standing in the water – wedding dress ‘n all. Can’t wait to see it when it’s ready.

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The company (small – just 19 of us) was also perfect. The evening entertainment, a small folk group with accordion and pipes, was mesmerising. The flowers, hair and make-up were also top-notch. And the bride and groom? Ecstatic and beautiful. It was a great day – and today, the day after, the weather has been perfect and all of us, in our own ways, have been for long walks in the hills and on the beaches. Just perfect.

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Oh … and the ceremony: outside, in the cold; led by a Humanist lady who turned up in a campervan? As far as we could see she didn’t mix up a potion in a vat behind the hotel, nor were there any signs of snails or frogs. I’m not a committed Christian, so it all worked for me. And she was lovely.

 

I don’t have many photos as we don’t yet have Douggie’s output – as my mind was on other things. I’ll post some when they’re through.

 

We both hope you’re having as wonderful Easter.