It’s still January, but at least yesterday was payday. Trust me, it didn’t come a moment too soon and at least it was a reasonable amount. Bizarrely, because of the way they figure out overtime and commission, my pay at the end of February will be the big one, because that’s when I get paid for my overtime and receive most of the commission for all my sales during peak. I’m back to work tomorrow, Sunday, for six hours, and must sell at least £700 to hit my monthly target. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it all depends on how busy we are and who walks through the doors. I’d like to manage to reach my target. Although I have sold an incredible amount this month which, of course, I’ll be paid for, it would be satisfying to hit the ridiculously high target they set. Course, that means next year they’ll set me an even higher one, but ho hum, I’ll worry about that next year. Who knows what will have happened and where I’ll be by then? If there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s that life can turn on a tuppence.
So, what have I been up to since we last chatted? Answer, not a lot, so this will probably be a shorter blog. Not only do I not have a lot to tell you but I’m desperate to get back to my work in progress. Yep, that’s one thing to report. I’m writing again and it’s bloody marvellous.
Writing is one of those things that it’s not until I go back to it I realise how much I love it and how much I’ve missed it. I’m currently writing book two of the Erinsmore Chronicles and managed to get a measly 5000 words down last June. Then life proceeded to kick my butt and continued to do so until last week, so I never seemed to have the time, energy, or inclination to get my backside down in that chair and my fingers on the keyboard.
It’s so wonderful to be back in my magical land of Erinsmore. All your favourite characters from book one are here – older and a little wiser maybe – plus some exciting new ones. As the dragons came back at the end of book one, more of Erinsmore can be explored from their backs so there are lots of descriptions of the characters flying about the land. There are going to be mermaids, pirates, and seers, oh my, and even … oops, nearly gave away a massive spoiler, but trust me, it’s going to be epic. If you haven’t read book one yet, then the purchase link is on the books page so why not click and buy so you’re ready to continue the adventure in the summer when hopefully book two is going to be released?
Now then, how did the visit by Franki and her three friends go? Very well, is the answer. I was at work on Sunday the 15th when they arrived, so came home to find a house showing signs of their arrival, but as they’d gone out for an early dinner I didn’t meet them until they got home. Everyone seemed happy with the sleeping arrangements, so that was all right, and they had a reasonably early night as they were tired from the early start and the long drive.
Monday they were up and off quite early. The original plan was to go to Linton Zoo in the morning then Franki and I would visit her grandma in the hospital in the afternoon. Dinner was whatever Franki was planning to cook, and I was also invited, which was nice.
Linton Zoo is tiny, more of an animal park, so I knew they wouldn’t be there long and would get back with plenty of time for Franki and me to walk to the hospital – parking is an expensive nightmare – and even call on her grandfather on the way back, then come home via the shop to pick up anything else she might need.
But, as you all know, the best-laid plans of mice and Julia are all filed away somewhere under the heading “it seemed like a good idea at the time”. Going up to my room, Franki beckoned me into hers and explained in an excited whisper that as one of her friends loved aquariums they weren’t going to Linton Zoo but were really going to the Sealife Centre in Southend. Southend?! That’s blinking miles away down on the south coast. What about our plans to visit the hospital in the afternoon? And Grandad? And go shopping. Don’t worry, she airily dismissed my concerns, we’ll be back in time.
Reader, you know exactly what I’m going to say, don’t you? They left, and I settled down in the quiet house, turned on my laptop, and dived back into Erinsmore. By two, the time they should have been back, I dropped Franki a text. Still here, came the reply, don’t worry, leaving soon. Hmm, it’s quite a long drive back from Southend, at least two hours. Even leaving straight away they still wouldn’t be back until gone four.
There was nothing I could do though but watch the time tick away until finally, Franki messaged that they would be back soon. By now it was gone five, far too late and dark to walk to the hospital, I would have to take the car and pray we found a space and had enough change on us to pay the parking fee if the car park didn’t accept cards. And forget visiting Grandad on the way back, that would have to wait.
Franki then sent explicit instructions on things I needed to get out ready for dinner as the revised plan was her friends would prep it and warm the oven whilst we were at the hospital, then pop the pasta bake in when we let them know we were on our way back. Hmm, I was hungry so had a quick slice of bread and butter to stave off starvation.
They arrived back. Franki jumped in the car, and we were off. It’s only a five-minute drive to the hospital and luckily we found a space I could squeeze into. We went to the ward my ex-sis had told me Grandma had been moved to. She wasn’t there. She’d been moved again. We trudged back downstairs and found her. She was awake this time, which was a relief. I had been afraid she might sleep through the whole visit and not see Franki. She was a little confused, to begin with, but was calm and friendly – we had been warned she might be aggressive and bad-tempered, but no, she was fine. She’d just had dinner but hadn’t eaten much of it. To be honest, it didn’t look very appealing, so she’d only eaten the dessert. I guess at that age, no one is going to tell you not to.
We chatted for a while, small talk, as she smiled and nodded and made random comments that did make me wonder how much she was understanding. Her eyelids drooped and it was clear she was about to fall asleep, so we said our farewells and dashed back to the car park. To my relief, the first twenty minutes of parking were free and as we’d only been nineteen we got away without having to pay anything.
Franki phoned her friends to let them know we were on our way and to enquire which flavour of ice cream they liked. Vanilla, chocolate, mint choc chip. Okay. We made a brief pitstop at Waitrose where Franki picked up the dessert and I grabbed a bottle of wine for myself.
Dinner was nice. They are a lovely, funny, and interesting group of girls. Afterwards, we all played Cards Against Humanity, which I won. I’m never sure if I should be proud I usually win this game, or ashamed of my filthy and inventive imagination.
I was working Tuesday and the girls were visiting Banham Zoo. Not so far as Southend – only 45 minutes – they set off in high spirits. I wouldn’t see them until late that evening as I was working until six and they had a table booked at a local pub for 5:30, so I wished them a great day and went to work.
I was working the same long shift the next day as well, and the girls planned an easier day staying close to home. Franki took them into town, it was market day, so they walked about, explored the Abbey Gardens and the ruins, and went to Moyses Hall which is a small local museum. Franki even managed to fit in a visit to Grandad in the afternoon, when her friends came home to chill out. Again, they cooked at home, and I was invited. It was nice not to have to cook for myself when I got home from work.
Thursday I had the day off and the girls went to Colchester Zoo which is over an hour’s drive away. It’s a large zoo and would take them all day to wander about, so they’d booked a table at a restaurant there to have dinner before coming home.
I had a nice treat planned myself as my old boss and his wife were taking me to lunch in a fancy Mediterranean restaurant in town. Our booking was for 12:30 and as the restaurant was only a ten-minute walk away, I set out at 12:15 to be on time. They were a little late getting there due to trouble parking, but I looked at the menu, gulped at the prices, and was very relieved I wasn’t paying.
It was a lovely lunch, and it was so great to see them again. I worked for Mr G for over thirty years, and he knows me probably better than anyone else. I hadn’t seen him since the previous Christmas and hadn’t seen his wife since I stopped working for him six years ago. I filled them in on everything that has happened to me, and they gave me all the news about their grown-up children and their exploits all around the world.
I walked home at three feeling full and a little bit squiffy, but at least I didn’t have to worry about cooking for myself or anyone else that evening. The girls came back, happy from a great day, and bundled down the basement to watch a film. They had an early start and a long drive the next day, so I think an early night was planned for everyone.
The next day, they were up and off by eight. It was lovely to have them for a visit, but also nice to have a quiet and empty house again. I set to stripping off all the beds, staggered by how much laundry their visit had created. In total, my washing machine and dryer went on six times that day. Six!! I shudder to think what that’s done to my energy bill. All the laundry and other housework chores meant I barely wrote at all on Friday only managing 800 words.
I was itching to get back to Erinsmore, so Saturday I was up early and plunged in, managing 3000 words before I stopped to cook dinner.
I worked the next three days and when I’m at work I can’t write. I know some authors can burn the midnight oil and hammer away at the manuscript in the wee small hours. I am not one of those authors. By the time I’ve done a full day at work, cooked, eaten, and cleared away dinner, I’m done for. All I want to do is relax on the sofa and binge-watch something on TV or read.
As I’d worked three days in a row, it meant I had my four days off together which is great – love it when the shift pattern works out like that. Wednesday, I wrote 4000 words. Thursday I wrote another 3500. Friday I only managed 1000. I had chores I couldn’t put off, plus had a book review to write, and it was the fortnightly zoom chat with my local author group at 1pm, so I knew I wouldn’t have much time to write and was pleased I even managed 1000 words.
In the evening, the whole street had been invited to a neighbour’s house for a little celebration of the Chinese New Year. She is Malaysian and a fabulous cook, so the food was gorgeous. Homemade prawn crackers, spring rolls, spicy meat rolls, prawn toast, soy sauce chicken, and a lovely cheeseboard. I stuffed my face and was so full when I got home that I was able to put the dinner I had planned back in the fridge for Saturday night. I’ve been trying to spend as little money as possible so I’ve been eating up all the weird and sometimes unidentifiable leftovers in the bottom of the freezer. It can result in some strange dinner combinations. Tonight, I have a tiny portion of homemade veggie lasagne left over from our Christmas party, cauliflower cheese left over from my grand cooking session last September and homemade chilli fries made with the single large potato in the fridge. It’s fine. It’s food.
I estimate I have about another three meals left in the freezer before I’m down to the rogue peas in the bottom and the remains of a bag of ice. Once it’s empty, I plan to defrost and clean it, then go shopping for food and start again.
And now it’s Saturday morning. It’s eleven and I haven’t had breakfast yet. I desperately wanted to dive straight into my work in progress but knew if I did, I would probably look up when it got dark and realise I still needed to write my blog. So, I’ve written it first, with the reward of big fat bacon and egg baps and a pot of coffee for brunch to spur me on. I can hear my tummy making little growly noises, but the blog is written, so yay, it worked.
A nice brunch, then I can settle down and write with a clear conscience knowing the blog is done and dinner is in the fridge. Bliss.
I’m back to work tomorrow for one day then have the following week off. I plan to write, but there’s the freezer to defrost, I need to do a big shop, the house needs a thorough clean, I want to shampoo the carpets, plus I have a book to beta read for one of the authors in my local group. Hmm. A week off sounds like a long time and surely I could practically write the whole book in that time but looking at all the other things on my to-do list I can see that week slipping by way too fast.
Oh well, I’ve started writing, that is the main thing, and if I’m clever with my time management I will surely find the odd hour here and there to write. I will tell you next time how it goes.
Have a great two weeks everyone.