Friday, 20 June 2014

Tent Testing!

They say that there is a first time for everything.  Today will be a day of firsts.  We bought a new tent earlier in the year but weather and circumstances prevented us trying it out until today. It is a large one, that requires several people to help put it up, so we have booked a pitch at a local camp site and we are going to see how long it takes to get it up.

We are taking two friends along.  James Marsh has camped under canvas once - in 1954, for one night. Tonight will be his first night under 21st century canvas, in a proper camp bed, in one of the four bedrooms in our enormous tent.  It will be interesting to see how the two experiences compare!

His son James is coming too.  I don't know if he has ever camped before, but it will be the first time with us at any rate.  I have a feeling he is a novice camper, so I wish him luck today.

The reason for all this endeavour?  We are signing copies of our books at the War and Peace Revival Show in July in Folkstone again this year and have bought the tent specially for that event.  It will be big enough to hold us all in comfort, hopefully, along with our books.

I'll let you know how we get on!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Being Organised!

OK, I am the first to admit that I am disorganised.  I don't mean to be but sometimes (yes, I'll admit it, often) things get in the way and I am distracted from my path and don't always remember my way back to it.

Last night I received an email that at first made me think the sender had made a mistake.  My reply politely pointed this out.  His reply, obviously offended by my response, was to point out that it was I who had made the mistake, forgetting an appointment we had had.  I am now mortified!  I had not put it into my diary and thus had missed it.

So, after apologising profusely, no one has time to waste and I had clearly wasted his, I thought about what I could do to be more organised. I do not like to be unprofessional.  This led to my writing a long list of all the things I had been meaning to do but never seemed to find the time to get done and hey, presto! I realised that, actually, I need a bit of help.

Last year, when I was trying to work on a new military history whilst sorting estates, property and emotions out, I employed a lovely lady to give me a bit of part time admin assistance.  She is now working full time elsewhere and so is unable to help me this time. I had several people apply for the position she eventually filled, so have gone back to one of them to see if she is available to give me a few hours a week. Hopefully, this will get me back on to the straight and narrow once again.  Fingers crossed she is free.

Sometimes it takes a mistake to make you realise that you need help, so I am grateful for my colleague's email last night.  Let's hope he forgives me.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Library Friends

It has been my privilege to work with two groups lately.  They are both 'Friends of' local libraries, in a trend that is set to continue as library budgets are squeezed.  Local libraries are hubs of activity and if the council cannot afford to run services from them, friends of the library step in.

On Saturday 14 June I was delighted to be the first guest speaker of the new Friends of Bitterne Library group in Southampton.  They seem to be a lively group, so I hope that things go well for them.

I was invited to speak about my book, Under the Queen's Colours and I showed images and read extracts from the book to bring the characters inside alive.  I was delighted when one of the audience was able to describe how he was 'persuaded' (i.e. tricked into going to a certain point on the ship and then bundled unceremoniously along thereafter) to join in the Crossing The Line ceremony, when King Nepture anoints the sea farer who has not crossed the equator before, in this gentleman's case with condensed milk that took days to wash out of his hair!

I like talking to small groups.  They are usually interested and eager and that is infectious.

I have been also been working with the Friends of Portswood Library, also in Southampton, and have given talks there recently.  I will shortly be speaking there again and, indeed, opening an exhibition for them, on 28 June, to mark Armed Forces Day.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Soldiering On

Crumbs, it's been an age since I last blogged!  Time passes so quickly that before you know it, the year is over and we are half way through another.

What have I been up to?  Well, I suppose the best way to describe it is trying to get over bereavement. If you have ever lost someone dear to you, you will know what I am talking about.  I lost two important people in my life in 2013, following long periods of caring and juggling my personal and working life to accommodate them. Then followed all the usual long-drawn-out sorting out of estates and property.  This year has seen a good friend die suddenly, which was a further shock.  I feel as if I have had the stuffing knocked out of me and I was not in the least surprised recently to find that I am suffering from 'emotional burnout' when I answered a burnout questionnaire online.

Work has been difficult.  The nature of my job as a writer is that I am commissioned to produce work to a deadline and one particular commission has proved to be heartrending.  Death is a natural part of life and so people talk about it, particularly when they are being interviewed for a book about their lives. For me, this has proved traumatic as the least little thing said on the subject has sent me into despair.

So, I am soldiering on, doing the best I can and slowly getting there. Hopefully, there will be more blogging soon.