3. Wednesday · Me And Mine

Quick Catch Up

First apologies yet again for going quiet but as you will see have been busy editing videos. Second has anyone else ended up on the blue screen to write a new post I don’t like it and want my normal one back.

This weekend saw our first event with our new work charity partner, this year the Huddersfield Down Syndrome Support Group get our support and a great day was had by all but you don’t have to take my word for it watch the video I shall post at the end of this post.

I also got to collect my T-Shirts that were my reward for pledging as part of a Kickstarter to save one of our local shops, I was guilty of one of the greatest crimes effecting small businesses, apathy, I always assumed the shop would be there, I would see something I liked but put it off for the next payday, luckily our shop was saved and hopefully we have all learnt that very important lesson “Use it or Lose it!” For my Tees I got one Doctor Who one and another which I designed from the Charity Anthology cover…

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And yes I know after a weekend in a bag I should have ironed them before taking the pictures lol

A quiet week this week for me playing catch up with writing and house work before getting excited for the athletics next week!

3. Wednesday · Places that Inspire

500 Posts and An Amazing Stately Home

500 hundred posts I can;t believe I have reached that mile stone already and that so many of you are still here sharing my journey, some of you have been here since the first post, you are such gluttons for torture lol.  I just want to say….thank_you

Now I actually did something a little different while I was at Castle Howard in that I took a note book and scribbled a few thoughts down during my visit to share with you rather than just sharing a few pictures.

The first lines are scrawled as we take our seats on the mini bus…

Before we even set off the whingers are off ‘it is a minibus it’s supposed to be a coach’, ‘it looks like an ambulance’. ‘it smells’  The irony is at their age if they were so concerned with comfort then at their age they should have taken the train, it would actually have probably worked out cheaper for them.

Not a brilliant start to the day but determined not to listen to their moaning I put on the headphones and turn up the music my next entry is as we let the first group off in York centre,

As we pass through York I am reminded just how much I love this place and that I really must bring the monster again now he is older.  I am tempted to try out the new big wheel thought when the time comes am not so sure my resolve will hold though the monster would love it and want to go on so who knows.

image courtesy of Google
image courtesy of Google

We then depart for Castle Howard and I am gutted as we fly past a garage that has Daleks and a Cyberman on top but I couldn’t get my camera out in time (I thought I could snap it coming back but we take a different route) then we turn onto the longest approach to any house i have ever visited the ‘drive’ or road leading up to it is 5 miles long this is what I wrote about it,

We pass beneath two arches about a mile apart, both of them part of spectacular walls built to mirror those of York itself before taking a right at the recreation of Cleopatra’s Needle now sat in the middle of a round about and enter the grounds

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI passed through the courtyard or as it says on the map the stable block paid my money and am now sat on a bench taking a minute by the walled gardens before I plunge in just to savour the total splendour.  You can sense the wealth, the awe which the buildings and grounds must have inspired and to just jot down these few lines before I begin exploring.  The real difficulty is deciding where to begin.

My first glimpse of the house
My first glimpse of the house
One of the entrances to the walled gardens
One of the entrances to the walled gardens
How the hide something this big behind trees is beyond me
How the hide something this big behind trees is beyond me
First real idea of the scale of the house
First real idea of the scale of the house
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Obligatory Wild Boar all good homes should have one

I decided that I would explore the house first so I will post a few pictures from the house then the lines I wrote after I had walked round it.

Selfie just in case you were mad enough to want to see me
Selfie just in case you were mad enough to want to see me
My bed - or it would be if I could fit it in my handbag
My bed – or it would be if I could fit it in my handbag
Perfect writing space, the window next to it looked out onto the lawns and fountain
Perfect writing space, the window next to it looked out onto the lawns and fountain
Time to beautify oneself for dinner?
Time to beautify oneself for dinner?

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Freaky sculptures - when I visited Chatsworth I noticed how beautiful and elegant all the sculptures were but here a lot of them gave me the creeps
Freaky sculptures – when I visited Chatsworth I noticed how beautiful and elegant all the sculptures were but here a lot of them gave me the creeps
the cupola in the great hall
the cupola in the great hall
I loved this room all the panels were exquisitely painted
I loved this room all the panels were exquisitely painted
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Not the most impressive dining room I have seen but this one does feel more inviting and not so intimidating in terms of place settings
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Possibly my favourite room I loved this colour although Lord David Prosser may argue about the use of bright colours in confined spaces

So much to see around the house, I took hundred of pictures as always (I will provide a link to the full album on Facebook at the end) it was sad to see the damage done by the fire, so many paintings on the walls still in need of restoring and I cannot help but wonder if Brideshead had not been shot here how little would have been restored at all if anything. There are definitely ideas for a story lurking in my mind now.  The sculptures were very different from Chatsworth Rather than the Classic beauty and elegant lines many appeared sinister, then again lots of story potential there.  Why would someone live in a house of evil statues? 

I then decided to wander down towards the lake knowing there was a coffee there where I could have lunch.

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I also had a slice of Bakewell hidden behind the coffee
Cake porn especially for Vikki xx
Cake porn especially for Vikki xx

At the minute I am sat by a lake and could happily never leave.  The food was pricey but good ( thinking about it later is wasn’t really that expensive the whole lot come to just under a tenner) and worth it for the view alone.

the view from my seat out on the deck where I had lunch
the view from my seat out on the deck where I had lunch

Lunch was shared with several ducks who decided it should be share and share alike, one was also kind enough to ensure there were no crumbs n my bag.

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Duck bag inspector

On the little map it shows boat trips but in reality there is no sign of them, whether that is a holiday time option only I don’t know it would be interesting to find out.  The adventure playground is okay, more like a playground than anything special but the monster would still love it.

I think rather than live in the big house I would build a cabin down here near the water and spend most of my time living here.

There is rain in the air and I have two hours left to explore the grounds and there at least two areas I really want to look at, the Atlas fountain and the walled rose garden.  I fear it will take another visit to find all the hidden gemsand I am sure the monster would love to come and take a look round the woods with me.

I then walked round to the other side of the house exploring an exhibition about the Mistresses and Maids in the house down the years and also the on going building and restoration that continues, I strolled around the fountain, spotted a pyramid on the horizon (no I was not hallucinating there is proff in the full album) then sat by the other lake.

One of my favourite views
One of my favourite views
The spectacular Atlas Fountain
The spectacular Atlas Fountain
Attempted panorama of the lake
Attempted panorama of the lake

I am sat by the other lake now it is so wonderfully peaceful and less ducks as there is no cafe here but you do get an idea of all the other places to explore, structures and statues peep out from amongst the trees in the distance.  I have just seen the biggest dragonfly I have ever seen it must have been at least four inches long.

I am thinking that the views I have seen in the grounds will form the basis for  a Pride and Prejudice fan fiction when I feel brave enough to take that challenge on,

I then moved on to the walled gardens, I have to confess I get very giddy at the thought of a walled garden one of my favourite books as a child was The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA few more lines scribbled from within the walled garden, the smell is astounding Lily and Lavender, and fresh cut grass, though many of the flowers are past their prime the place is still enchanted, I had expected peacocks but not seen any though there is still plenty of gardens to explore.  Every time I go somewhere I seem to fall in love with it and this is no exception, it might be worth me looking into the lakeland accommodation as it also appears dogs are welcome in the grounds, a weekend here with or even without the monster would be lovely and I think very productive creatively.

Well that’s it for my notebook if you wish to see more picture click here to be taken to my Facebook album with hundreds of pictures and I have to say I am really thrilled with some of them.

Please let me know as well if you like this style of post if so I promise to take my notebook on my next day out

Highs and Lows · Thoughts on thursday

Multi Media Nightmare

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I have been reading a lot of articles lately about platform building and how any want to be writer/author needs to work on their on-line presence before they worry about the business side of getting published and I started thinking about all the social media I use and how I use them.

The Blog – I started this as a way of practising my art, I never for one minute thought that people would find their way here and read it.  I also found lots of blogs I love reading though this is very time consuming I do feel I gain valuable advice and support which makes it worth the time sacrifice.  One gripe I do have is with WP at the minute I am not receiving any notifications of any posts you guys make, I have notified them but had no reply in an attempt to remedy this I downloaded the WP app for Windows 8 which actually is brilliant for reading your posts…

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Sadly there is one huge down side to it in that it does not allow me to like or comment on anything so am going back to using the reader here in WP for now until my notifications issue is fixed.  I also started a second blog for my photos which you can find here if you want to take a look, I have to say I do find that the photo blog has gained a following quicker than the writing one and I think that comes down to the ease of looking at a picture rather than reading a post such as this.

Facebook – one of the most common tools we writers use but one I realised I have been seriously misusing.  Most of the people who end up on the Facebook page find there way there either via the blog or via your friends on your personal Facebook page at least until after you are published.  So why should they bother going to your Facebook page on a regular basis, most of us share our posts everywhere, we share the posts from our author pages to our personal Facebook so why do they need to visit both pages?  I realised I need to include more exclusive content on my Author Facebook page so I have taken the decision to share less to my personal page and to post extra personal content such as photos on there to make it worth visiting (or I hope it will be) so if you would like to see what I have been up to including a pic or two of me from the weekend and photos of my recent day out in Whitby go pop over here and say hi.

Tumblr – this is one of those I joined but do not use anywhere near as much as I should, my blogs get posted here and I pop on occasionally and reblog things I find interesting.  I really should use it more but I am not that keen on how it works which is why I think I dismissed it so easily but if you want to see what I get up to there or leave me a link to your account I can be found here.

Pinterest –  possibly one of the most addictive of the social media sites.  The main problem with Pinterest is you pop on for five minutes and several hours later you look at the clock and wonder where the day went.  Until recently I had decided not to bother with it because of how easy it is to get lost looking at pictures but now I have decided to allow myself one hour a week (I set a timer) to wonder round the boards looking for inspiration and sharing the great images I find on my Author Facebook rather than my personal one (though not sure it always works that way) you can see my boards here and let me know if you use this and I will come look at yours.

Writers Cafe – I have not used this at all I set it up then could not find friends even though I know some of you were there and found it quite difficult to navigate I do intend giving it another go when I get chance to spend some time looking into it more.

Twitter –  in some ways my most used and most poorly managed social media.  All the sites share via my twitter account, occasionally I tweet on route to work and that is sent to both personal and author Facebook pages, sometimes I just use it for what it was designed to chat to friends but I find I do not really spend much time on it.  I know once I have a book to publicise I may tweet a little more but I know I find it annoying when all I see from certain people is tweet after tweet saying the same thing ‘buy my book’ and I get annoyed when I follow someone back only to immediately receive the hard sell in a DM.  I have downloaded Tweetdeck in an attempt to use Twitter more as it is impossible to keep up with the news-feed at times on the phone if you are on Twitter and I don’t already follow you give me a tweet here.

Magic Spreadsheet – this is more of a tool but also has a social side.  with recent events at home I was struggling to get back into writing daily again this is a great tool to encourage you (and eases you in gently) it gives you a support network and shiny badges you can find out more here, and check out the actual spread sheet here.

Which social media do you use? Which do you enjoy which are a chore?

Away Days · Me And Mine · Tuesday Reflections

Whitby

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This weekend we took a day trip to Whitby the birthplace of Bram Stokers creation Dracula, or rather the home of the events which inspired the creation.  I had never been before infact it had been quite a while since I was headed to that coast and I had forgotten how much I love the countryside in that part of the country.  Heading their across the moors reminds me of my roots growing up in a country village but more than that the great expanses of open space remind me of true freedom and total immersion in nature.

But yesterday was also about having a good day and exploring somewhere new, we took the open bus tour round Whitby which was great as it allowed us to see a lot more in the few hours we had there than we would have found on foot, it also ensured we are confident that there will be more than enough to do for us to revisit for a longer period.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe went up to the  ruined Abbey and looked round the church and graveyard next to it.  I loved the ruins but I will say if you are planning a visit that you should consider your visit, I had my daughter and the monster with me, it had started raining and the ruins are exposed to the elements, as my daughter was not really bothered about getting up close to the ruins she offered to stay outside with the monster while I went in and took some pictures.  The reason she waited outside?  At £6.40 for adults And around £5 for children and students it is an expensive choice for anyone who either has children who will not be kept interested by ruins or in our case who will not be happy standing out in the rain.  I was lucky my daughter is grown up and could wait with her brother but it is certainly something I will plan better for another visit.

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I did have lots of fun as well snapping away with the camera, I know a lot of people don’t like Seagulls and I will admit that the are a little brash, loud and obnoxious but I think they are incredible, they have learnt to adapt and survive as human habitations take up more and more of the coast line.  They have learnt to survive when their natural habitat has been commandeered they have found new food sources and homes and if they steal the odd chip can we really complain when we sit eating their fish?

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Whitby is one of the few laces where the two main industries of tourism and fishing still co exist side by side, evidence of the less glamorous side of life is apparent along the harbour, the rough working boats moored alongside sleek yachts and pleasure boats.

If you are interested in Ruins, Seagulls, boats or just Whitby in general click the Facebook button at the top of the page and it will take you over to my facebook page where you can see all the pictures from our trip, I will leave you with a picture of me and the monster out at sea on his first open air boat trip, he loved it a natural born sailor.

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Blog Challenges · Stories and Lists July Blog Challenge 2013

Stories and Lists July Blog Challenge 2013 – Day 1: Write your own imaginary obituary, can be anything you want

Greetings all am sat here trying to type with very sore arms, yesterday I went to Birmingham to watch the IAAF Diamond League meeting I had a fantastic day but did something silly.  It was raining here in Huddersfield when I left so I did not think to actually stick sun cream in my bag, on arrival in Birmingham the sun came out and guess who got burnt arms and chest? Yup me!  Lesson learnt but I can honestly say I had such a brilliant day I didn’t care.  I took hundreds of pictures which will be going up on my FB page when I finish sorting them out so please pop over later and take a look but before todays challenge question a quick picture of the guy who without doubt got the biggest cheer of the day – yes Mighty Mo was there.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow onto today’s question

Day 1: Write your own imaginary obituary, can be anything you want

Remember this is a fiction lol –

Peacefully at home aged 104 the renowned author Paula Acton was committed to her cyrogenic-chamber surrounded by her family.  The author best known for her Queen of Ages saga which has been serialised in film and her tireless charity work leaves behind two children and 100 dogs whom are now believed to be being cared for by and army of lawyers who are preparing to pursue claims for the animals support from her 50 billion pound estate.

A - Z Challenge 2013 · Blog Challenges

G is for Ghosts

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For those who have been following for a while and know that my WIP is a collection of ghost stories it will come as no surprise I am fascinated with ghosts.  It has been a while since I went on a ghost hunt but it really is a fascinating experience.  I am going to share a few of the things I have caught on camera and I shall leave you to draw you own conclusions.

The first couple were taken at Bolling Hall in Bradford on a brilliant night with Prestige Paranormal – if you live in the UK check them out and see if there is one near you Sam and the team are brilliant.

The first two pictures are taken in sequence the first there is no sign of an orb, in the second one appears after a request is made for a sign.

386559_3128652902428_768800659_nThe orb is just below the celiing beam to the right of the photo.  Another taken in Bolling Hall shows some form of movement above the crib, I spent quite a bit of time trying to recreate this and work out what could have caused it unsuccessfully, one suggestion was made that it could be a hair but I can assure you that my hair was tied back and did not appear on any of the other photos taken from the exact same position at the same time both before and after this shot.

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The next two were taken in a graveyard of a church with history back to the doomsday book, it is also the church I was christened in and where my granddad in buried, the graveyard there has always felt very welcoming but this particular day it felt more atmospheric than normal.

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The final one was taken when I visited Chatsworth, I had just been looking at a gravestone that had no markings but was near to one for beloved dogs owned by the family.  There was no fire in the area, it was 2 pm in the afternoon and though it was November it was not overly cold and no breath was showing and before anyone asks no I was not having a cig as there was no smoking in the grounds.

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So thats a few of my strange encounters now tell me yours….please check out my Fb page for a special ghost related question of the day and video

 

Schedules And Lists · The Muse · Thoughts on thursday · Vlogs

No Vlog Today

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Am having a few technical issues (okay I haven’t worked out how to use the video edit bit on this new computer yet) which I am working on so sadly for today no vlog.  It is not necessarily a bad thing as I have a stonker of a cold and have a nose Rudolph would be proud of.

So what to do instead well I thought just a general catch up chat post, I know you all seem to be enjoying my Tasty Tuesdays post and I have another quick tip for you that I will share, unless you are lucky enough to be capable of growing herbs then like me you will end up buying them by the bunch then end up with some left over,  two options for the leftovers is to either dry them out for either use in cooking or a herb pot pourri for the kitchen or my personal favourite…

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Use spare jars rip or bruise the herbs to release the flavour then fill the jar with extra virgin olive oil and hey presto lovely flavoured oils for use when you don’t have any fresh herbs in. I really hate waste and though with the various pets we don’t have much herbs were one thing that did get thrown away now I just need to get a compost bin for the potato peelings and any other peelings the dogs or Guinea Pigs don’t eat.

I took collection of my business cards today as well, I didn’t get as excited about those as I did the book marks don’t get me wrong they look great am just not sure right now who I would actually be handing them to so they will sit on my desk until I figure out what to do with those.

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I had a busy day shopping on Saturday with my daughter I actually managed to spend money just on me without coming home with things for everyone then my daughter and her fiance took us out for tea.  The top I am wearing was one of my bargains for the day that I bought in the sales, don’t you just love sales when you find something you love that you would have felt too guilty to buy at full price.

Hopefully other half is getting us tickets for a 1940’s themed swing evening for Valentines I realised recently that I would far rather go out less and go to different things than just go sit in a pub every weekend, there is a Faerie Ball I fancy in the summer but will save that one until I catch him in a good mood as it will involve an expensive taxi or a night in a hotel.

The final thing I will share with you is sort of a teaser for the ghost stories collection, but only that it explains my love of the paranormal I do not see ghosts nor do I feel them, in fact I am jealous of those who do, what I do seem able to do is capture things on camera, this was taken in the older part of the graveyard where my Grandad is buried.  I felt nothing but my little boy who was with me and aged around two and a half at the time did not like that area at all.  I did not see anything at the time I was just snapping away at the old stones, I was drawn to zoom in on this area during editing the photos and was at first just trying to read the writing on the gravestone in the foreground when I saw this…

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I have been back trying to explain it away or replicate it have failed.  Is it a trick of the light? Is it something more? I know what I think but then again I believe, do you?

Me And Mine · Sometimes Sundays

So It’s Sunday and….My New Hairdo!!!!!!!

The weekend started badly.  Friday I received a call telling me my trip had been cancelled ao headed out to hand the monster over to his sister in a bit of  a foul mood.  I came back only to discover due to unforseen circumstances the hair cut had to be delayed twenty for hours but sometimes fate has twists in store for you that are in your own interests.

Saturday morning I got up to sunshine and was at first even more disappointed my trip had been cancelled I debated going off somewhere else for the day but knew time wise it would be a push so I decided to do something else I love doing but rarely get chance to and headed off to the second-hand market.

Here are the two star buys for the day..

A lovely wooden double inkwell with blotter for a grand total of five pounds, the glass inserts are missing and it needs a little TLC but with a little creative thinking it is ready for use already…

I also treated myself to a couple of new dipper pens that look very pretty sat in the pen dip at the front.

Next was another star find..

This little wooden look box is hand painted and only cost two pounds but it is the perfect size for these…

How cool is that? My inks fit into it perfectly as if it were made for the purpose.

After retail therapy was a little peckish so time for a spot of lunch and a coffee.

These pics aren’t brilliant as I took them on my phone and when my food came was far too ravenous to take a pic before diving in, but it was so relaxing to sit and eat in such lovely surroundings which were completed by the pianist at the grand piano playing classical music as we ate.

Then it was home for a couple of hours before setting off for the big chop!

Now let me say these are rare pics not only am I in front of the camera but I also am baring myself to you without make up.  Anyone easily frightened should look away now.

The pics are courtesy of my hairdressers hubby who is the photographer in their company Box Of Frogs and copyrighted to him.

So here we have before…

Then came the point of no return…

And the final result…

So there we go all that is left to do is send the hair off which I will post pics of once it is ready for the post, if you wish to see more pics from the cut please visit my fb page or Nikki my hairdresser page here

Highs and Lows · Thoughts on thursday

So Much Going On

This week has been chaotic despite the fact that I have actually had a week off work.  First I got ill which took up two days of snivelling and self-pity, the worst has now past and although some coughing and spluttering is still taking place at least my mind has regained function on some level which is just aswell considering yesterday.

Yesterday I saw a new consultant regarding my ongoing spinal problems and there is light now at the end of the tunnel.  He was really nice listened to me patiently and fully accepted that I was not a surgery junkie and had tried living and dealing with this for long enough to actually make an informed decision regarding benefits and risks (it has been four years).  One signature later and I now have an appointment for my pre op and will be waiting for a date for surgery.  I will be having a partial fusion which if everything goes as it should will fix the instability in the bottom of my back and actually allow me to start having a real life again.

As you can see from this image of basically my spine will be given scaffolding in the problem area.

It is major surgery and of course there are risks but I have had plenty of time to weigh these up and believe that despite the pain and the hard work that will come with rehab after it will be worth it.  I haven’t really talked much about my problem here and I don’t want to dwell on it but a brief summary will help you understand why I am having this.

There was no real reason, no fall, no major trauma just a few weeks after my son’s birth a numb patch in the middle of my thigh and my back ache which I put down to birth was getting worse rather than better.  The health visitor told me to mention it to the doctor at my six-week check but by the time I went for it I could barely walk.  She diagnosed a slipped disc and sent me for physio over the next few months things continued getting worse rather than better and after an MRI scan I was sent to see a consultant.  Not one but three discs had slipped and within a week of that first meeting I had emergency spinal surgery.

Four years later although I am in nowhere near the pain that I suffered in those first few months I still have to take painkillers daily to cope with normal life and although most days I do have a fairly normal life without warning a can be struck with a pain which I can only described as having a red-hot poker rammed through my spine which literally drops me to the floor. Not fun for me or for those who have been around when it happens and can only look on helplessly as there is nothing they can do other than wait for the pain to subside then help me back to my feet and get me home.

The fact it can go at anytime without warning means no holidays can be booked, nothing that requires planning in advance can be considered and all travel is based on the consideration of how I would get back again if it went.  I also have to consider carefully taking the monster with me anywhere alone after all if it happened while I was out with just him his safety has to be my first consideration.  the op will not be a magic wand and take away all my back pain but it should stop these incidents and leave me with what I consider normal every day back pain which is far easier to manage.

All that being said I am going off for the day on Saturday to Tatton Park.

As it’s a coach trip for the day I am guaranteed to get back so it’s not too risky plus should I wake up saturday morning unable to move I only lose a tenner so these sorts of days are out are not to bad to book in advance and possibly keep my sanity intact until I can wander further a field once more.

But before then we have the big chop tomorrow…this is the planned cut though my hairdresser is contemplating something a little different with the colours…

Sadly she is not a miracle worker so I won’t look quite this stunning lol but hopefully the hair will.  I will admit I am nervous about chopping it all off now I have never gone this short before but the less hair on my head the more than goes to wig making for cancer suffers so its all good and I know it will grow again.  I have kept my hair tied up this week to get used to having a cold neck lol if anyone wishes to donate to the big chop my just giving page is here http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/locksoflove I shall post pics either tomorrow night or sunday.

My last news this week was the amazing Mel has sent me an image for the ghost stories collection which is amazing I just need to crack on with the writing and I will be previewing it here as soon as it is done.

Okay back to writing will also need some extra posts in drafts before the op as will be in hospital for a few days after the op, must also buy new slippers and pj’s lol

Away Days · Me And Mine · So it's Saturday

Busy Weekend

Hello everyone and greetings from my new workspace, it isn’t quite finished yet but hopefully before tonight it will be and once I get it set up fully pics will follow.

The weather has been lovely here this weekend and I have sadly neglected you but am sure you will forgive me as between work, and tidying up I have been to see daughters new flat, eaten out and been to watch the rugby.  It was also great Olympic gold medalist Ed Clancy was there showing off his medals.

I am tempted to sit here now and play at my new desk but half the bedroom is still piled up across the other side of the room so for now I shall leave you with some photos I took at rugby yesterday my first attempt at catching live sporting action with my camera and given how far back we  were sat am fairly happy with the results although I should point out the final score was Giants 48 – Rhinos 24 but my battery died right at the end of the match.

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