From the end spring new beginnings

Baby Pick is due 1st January 2020! ❤️

It is my pleasure to report that we’re expecting a Baby Pick on 1st January 2020! We’ve been wanting a baby for a while so the blessing of a child is all the more special for us.

Now, in preparation for the oncoming maternity leave I’m trying to decide at least how I’m going to use the time wisely in terms of writing.
It’s been ages since I’ve outlined or attempted to work on scenes that I’ve already written and rewritten, but I’m really eager to get back into it.

And, yes, the time will be up at all hours, tending to a newborn and I’ll probably be too tired to even consider writing. But in case it’s not as awful as all that and I do have some time to be productive, I want to be ready.
Of course I also want to get back to the gym and Weight Watchers and yeah, maybe I’m being way too ambitious on this one.

So my question is how? How do I get prepared for nine months to potentially a year of looking after baby and getting back into writing? So far, the only decent plan I have is, is to get an outline ready. Now, this is probably pretty standard for writing in any situation for most of you, but I am terrible at plots and outlines. I have good ideas for scenes, the beginning, and the end. What happens in the middle? What builds tension? How will the story be structured? Who knows?

I took it upon myself to order a Page One Writer’s Notebook to see if that helped with my characterization, plot, scenes, research, outline, etc. Of course there’s always Scrivener, but in the tradition of using my bullet journal (again), I thought something tactile would be a little refreshing.

I’ve heard on a couple of occasions that social media is our reason for being too impatient and too tired to read and write. I’ve struggled with this for ages now and I couldn’t put my finger on what the problem was. I haven’t read much in a long time but I never equated it to a patience issues, I just thought I was too tired from work. However, when I was commuting on the bus, I read a lot more, so putting the phone away for a while and focusing on a book is possible.

That means my next six months will be not only preparing for an infant, but also having a go-to plan so if I am able to steal some minutes in the day, I will have something to work from. Maybe I’ll even get into a routine of sorts? Is that too much to hope for?

First draft in 2020? Surely this is a possibility.

New Year, new member of the family, and a new outlook on life? Most definitely.

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The Picks in The Wirral, the beginning of summer, and blogging more often

Red Rocks

It’s with a heavy heart that I write this post. We lost my mother-in-law, the head of the Pick family, last week.

We saw her over Easter and she wasn’t well, then soon after, she was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. Luckily, we visited her one last time when she was feeling a bit like herself; this was before Mister Pick went down on his own to see her a final time.

Obviously, I won’t dwell on her illness or the details of the effect it’s had on the family because, unfortunately, most people can imagine from first-hand knowledge, what a tragedy it all is.

But when we were down to The Wirral together the last time, we had a good visit, and Daisy was the star of the show, as always. She had her cousin dog, Tilly, to run about with, and then found some friends at Queen’s Park. This was the first time we took her off the lead, and she didn’t disappoint us. (That dog loved to play with other dogs and is crazy about getting attention from other doggy parents.)

This photo was taken at Red Rocks right after Daisy rolled around in the sand before heading back to the hotel. She got to sleep in the bed with us and made sure that everyone who came and went through the hallways all evening knew of her presence.

Unfortunately, when we go back for the service, Daisy will be staying the night somewhere as we have siblings to help out and a wake to cater for. The Pick Kids were told to “expect a big turn out,” for their mother’s wake because she was a well-liked woman in her town. I expect nothing less.

Other than that, our drive down was filled with rain, as it does in England (why is it all the time?!) but it’s been glorious on the way back home. Here’s hoping that we get to embrace the summer, finally, and can get outside again.

While all of this family business was unfolding, I was still at work, finishing up my first unit for the management apprenticeship I’m doing. It was confusing at first to get the grasp of what evidence I needed to produce in my folder because we only go to workshops once every couple of months. However, the tutor was really good and helped us out, but she’s left the company so now we have a new tutor to meet with next month.

In the meantime, I’m working on an epub book for a story contest at the library. This is something I haven’t looked into for ages because, let’s be honest, I’m severely lacking in my self-publishing productivity anymore. So, it’s good practice for me and gets me thinking about writing, editing, formatting, and publishing again.

Finally, I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I’m hoping to rekindle my blog posting updates more regularly, just to keep myself involved in something I enjoy doing. The 9-5ness and the school work sort of takes over most of my brain and I miss doing to me things that I enjoy. (And I’m so out of practice! Gah!)

And, unfortunately, I had to start my blog posts for the summer off on a sad note, but Mum Pick would want us to “get your head down and get on with it,” as she’d say, so that’s what we do.

Happy first week of summer to you all. I hope you take some time to enjoy it.


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An April visit to Fountains Abbey, Chirk Castle, and Lyme Park

Mr. Darcy was here! #pemberley #prideandprejudice

This is, hand’s down, my favourite photograph. I took it last week at Lyme Park, AKA Pemberley. The pond should look familiar to any of you who have swooned when Mr. Darcy emerged from it in the BBC mini series version of Pride and Prejudice.

We spent the last couple of days travelling to The Wirral (or, Liverpool if it’s easier although the Picks aren’t from Liverpool, proper). On our way, we had to leave Daisy at the kennels, which I hated to do because she didn’t know the place or the other dogs. However, it was a chance to have some together time that didn’t include avoiding cafes, museums, or other such establishments because of a giant dog in tow.

On our way from Newcastle, we stopped in Ripon because A. I believe I live at Downtown Abbey and B. There was a cool place to visit through our National Trust membership.

Fountains Abbey was the biggest abbey we had seen that was still intact. As an American, I just cannot get over how old things are and are still sitting about for people to see, touch, experience, etc. There were Water Gardens on the property too, but we only had time for a walk, a quick look at the abbey, lunch, then back on the road. However, this just means that I plan on us going back sometime soon because there was plenty to see there, especially if you have a dog to walk.

We caught up with the Picks later that day, and spent our second day down there travelling to Wales — a place I had never been and a place where Mister Pick went to school and worked for a collective of about 8 years. (Before I graced him with my presence, obviously.) Wales is beautiful and the only equivalent I can give it would be a kind of wandering Virginia countryside drive. It’s very green, the air is fresh, and it was suitably rainy that day. We took our time exploring Chirk Castle which is really impressive. The place has a dungeon, so now I know what that feels like. (Hint: it’s dark and they don’t even have proper windows, so it’s as dyer as you’d imagine.) The other parts of the castle were renovated into a proper estate house, so the rooms were lush and impressive — some of the ceilings had Greek gods and goddesses depicted in the plasterwork. There were portraits of royals and noblemen and women. There was huge fireplaces, and even big, comfy couches that, looked modern in a 1940s, post-war way. I loved the gardens though because you could walk through there and not even realize there was a giant castle behind the trees. It was so relaxing and nice to wander around there, listening to the birds, and looking at all of the flowers and trees that were planted there.

I absolutely loved it.

After our visit with The Picks, we took a little detour to Lyme Park as posted above. Unfortunately, the house was closed the day that we got there and instead of going to the less cool tea rooms. (The brochure showed women in Austen-esque dresses with bonnets, sipping tea. Of course, if that wasn’t an option, I wasn’t as interested.) I did also look through the house’s book sale books, and chose a 1933 edition of Dicken’s Our Mutual Friend.

Upon our return, in order to avoid traffic, we took a long drive through the countryside, which Mister Pick did because I detest driving in unknown places that include roundabouts, mountains, empty fields, steep declines, and anything remotely tricky. However, it was worth it, because we rescued poor Daisy Doodle from her confinement before 6PM. The lad who worked at the kennels was very nice, but he said Daisy was timid with him because she didn’t know any of the staff. Daisy is not timid, so I don’t know if she’ll settle in better on a longer stay. The place is highly recommended and people reuse them often, so it’s not like it’s a bad place to take her — I just hated her being in a cage.

But everyone is back home now and although I worked yesterday, I’m still enjoying the last bits of my holiday today with Mister Pick, Daisy, and the cats who keep staring at me as I type this.

Also, it’s Sunday, which means I’m keeping off social media as best I can. Old habits die hard and I have to stop myself from just picking up my phone and checking Twitter throughout the day. It’s just one of the little things I’m making a habit of just to clear my head, give my eyes a rest, and focus a little more about being at home.

And with that said, I hope everyone has had a nice Easter and a great April, so let’s get on to May 2019.

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Easter bank holiday wind down and catch up

Good afternoon and Happy Easter Sunday!

It’s been a nice break from the daily grind these past few days and we’ve actually taken next week off as well to enjoy some traveling to go along with our rest and relaxation.

On Friday we were going to go to Sunderland Museum and Gardens (and library!) for the da Vinci drawings exhibit. However, once we got onto the highway, we realized that everyone and their mother was out cruising, so we headed to IKEA (why not) and bought patio furniture instead.

Sorted. ☀️ #ikea

Afterwards, we hung out on the back patio and enjoyed the warm weather. It was in the 70s this weekend, and was actually very warm for people like us who are used to wearing quilted coats and woolly hats every day.

On Saturday, we headed to our favorite place – Beamish (as seen in the main photo above). Now, I was all gung-ho about the fish and chips and the walking and the sunshine … until I got overheated and sick. Being overheated is just weird. You’re not physically too hot. I wasn’t sweating to death or feeling hot, I just realized how dizzy and nauseous as we trekked around, so I had to cut the exploration short. I mean, we enjoyed the time we spent out, but I was really happy to be back in the car with the air conditioning.

Today is Easter Sunday! We started off with pancakes and a cuppa at our new patio set. Daisy has a pool that she’s still not completely sure about, but it feels nice to paddle around in when you’re wanting to cool down. Right now, Mister Pick is working on mounting our old TV up in the bedroom (we’re still technically moving in). We have the windows open and the cats are hanging out upstairs in the windowsills. All and all, it’s a perfect day.

I’ve been making my list of goals because I’m still working on the question of what I want to do with myself and where I see myself in ten years. (Anyone else who has the Rachel Hollis Start Today Journal knows what I’m talking about.) So, I’m looking up authors I admire and writing down places I’d like to go and really trying to wind down and focus on how I want to propel myself forward into the rest of the year.

Tomorrow is still up in the air, but we’ll make the most of it. After that, it’ll be traveling time and we’ll head to see The Pick family down in The Wirral for a bit.

In the meantime, I hope everyone has a fantastic Easter break!    

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Bullet journals, Wallington, and not being discouraged


Well, this blog certainly isn’t getting updated very often, even if I really want to post something, I never get around to it.

Since last time, I’ve started an apprenticeship for Team Leading and Management at work. That means I have a manager who mentors me and whom I shadow at one of the libraries along with my coursework that I need to do. I really like it so far and I’m happy that I decided to apply for it because I feel mentally challenged and satisfied doing this kind of work. Not that I’m not pleased at how much I help people with my regular IT teaching job in the libraries, I’m just happy that I have something else to add to my list of things I can do.

There were Team Leader jobs as secondments available this year but I do like where I am and I wanted to spend my extra energy in focusing on my apprenticeship. I’m sure the job would have helped me gather evidence for my course, but, again, I’d rather stay doing what I do because I think I help people.

Helping myself is another story. I’ve been trying to do the diet and exercise thing but, man, am I so tired these days. I was okay for a bit when I got my bicycle because I was ready for sun and summertime, but now I’m not doing as well as I hoped.

I’ve been writing a book, I guess, about how these things have caught up with me. I’ve never been so stinking frustrated with trying to write, blog, work, exercise, lose weight, spend time with Mister Pick, enjoy my time at home, and do things outside of the house so I don’t end up being a hermit. (Although, being a hermit isn’t looking so bad these days.) I listened to a podcast yesterday that said if we keep stepping over the crap that’s flung onto us, we’ll eventually get out of the pit. Good advice and I have to take that all to heart when I’m feeling like the me I’m trying to build just isn’t showing up.

I mean, surely everyone feels like there’s just too much we should be doing, don’t they? I had to make Sundays be my non-social media days because I was getting overwhelmed with the comparisons. I should be writing my book. I should be traveling. I should be making a business. I should be starting a podcast. I should be engaging on social media.

The funny thing is, once I stopped using social media as much, I realized how much I don’t need it. It’s a useful tool, don’t get me wrong, but because I’m kind of a special creature – American, in England, still don’t know what I’m doing, the usual stuff – I get really down when I see people appearing to know what they want and doing it.

But, alas, that’s still one to work on this year. 42 is definitely an interesting one, I tell you.

Also, I’m still watching videos about bullet journaling and although I have my Passion Planner (one for daily agendas and one more for academic tasks), I was curious about all the binder planners that people were posting on Instagram. I was going to get one online but I happened to see an A5 agenda binder at Wilko’s after work this week, so I’m going to print some free planner sheets to add to it. I even bought a small 6 ring hole punch to get working on these. I’m wanting habit trackers and while it takes all the artistic design out of making my own for my bullet journal, having ready-made pages may really help me in the long run.

The photo above was from our recent trip to Wallington. We’d been before, years ago, before we had Daisy, so we took her to explore the vast farmland. Of course the sheep weren’t interested in a giant barking goldendoodle but, hey, who can blame them?

I have another week of work before Easter and our break to Liverpool and Hoylake so I’ll be sure to update on that trip to see the Pick family. Until then, grab your eggs and your bunnies and enjoy the upcoming holiday.

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