Tag Archives: plans

Late Nights and New Plans

I spent last night, and a large part of the early morning, paying the price for poor time management. Having snored my evening away in front of the TV I started preparing submissions a little before midnight. The original plan had been to produce five submissions in the month of March. It ended up as a plan to make two submissions in the last two days of the month. I say “plan” but there wasn’t much planning involved, just a recognition that I was going to have to scurry around and get a couple of submissions done. I did it with hours to spare.

I am at work now, after snatching a few hours sleep, and though I could probably submit something tonight, I don’t think I will. I have very little to send, and submitted a couple of poems last night that had only been written twenty minutes before sending, which is considered bad practice in writing circles. You are supposed to let them mellow before writing the final draft. Larkin, I believe, took years over some of his poems. A book I read last week recommended two weeks, which I don’t really think is enough. However, I’ve been struggling to write, as you may remember me mentioning once or twice, so I didn’t have much to offer and, wanting ten pieces for a magazine, I wrote three to make the numbers up. The proof will be in what happens next.

Later . . .

Back home, sitting at the computer, I have just finalised the shopping delivery for tomorrow. As usual, I have a lot of things to do and the first thing I will do after finishing this will be to start work on submissions for April. As the days grow longer and the trees fill with blossom, it’s probably a good time to start writing poetry. It’s also time to reflect on the fact that I rote the majority of the blog in a fifteen minute gap in my pre-work hour. After dropping Julia at work I usually arrive early at work and just start packing. I really am a model employee. I think, a part of my time management I may start spending 15 minutes preparing the day’s blog. It does make things easier.



The recent arrival of my pension documents through the post were a bit of a shock. Retirement, is becoming real. It was, in my thirties, a far off myth, a bit like Avalon or Narnia. In middle age it became the subject of daydreams, where we would wander off, hand in hand, into some fuzzy place where we would do things we had been putting off. Later, it became a place of dread, as my delinquency in failing to make proper pension arrangements came home to roost. Finally, the time has arrived.

We now have to start putting plans into action, and make some decisions. At one time I would have had no problem with this – I would simply have set a date and done it. Theoretically it’s easier than when i was younger, as there will be no employment to work round when retirement comes.

In practice, there’s a lot of physical and mental clutter to work round. It’s time to declutter on an epic scale, and face the fear about what I will do when i have no job to add form to my life. I also have to face the fact that a lot of my plans aren’t going to happen. I won’t be walking miles across salt marsh looking for Bitterns, and I won’t be writing any best-sellers in a late-blooming writing career, because I’ll be watching Countdown. I may be old, but I’m not senile, and can see the writing on the wall (which is what Countdown is all about). . No matter what I may wish, the habit is set (as discussed in my last post) and despite all my good intention I am likely to go to the grave with the song still in me.

Unfortunately for the construction of this post, Thoreau actually said that most men lead lives of quiet desperation. The good bit, the bit about going to the grave with the song still in them, is a misquote. Isn’t that always the case?

Quotes are never as good as you remember them being, which is a quality they share with much of my life.


Plans, Poetry and Popes

Two days ago, I had plans. Roast veg and gammon for tea (ensuring we had extra roasted veg for soup), a pre-prepared vegetable stew for Tuesday night, soup for tonight and Paste bake for Thursday. The beauty of winter weather is that our fridge always works better. It can chug a bit in summer and things don’t last as long. It was a brilliant idea at the time, and still seems impressive in hindsight. It would, of course, be more impressive if I’d actually done anything about it. The kitchen just seemed a bit nippy and the living room, with the fire, TV and company, seemed so much more attractive. That’s why, as mentioned in yesterday’s post, we had sausages for tea.

I’m a great planner, but I haven’t quite mastered the other bit, the part where I actually do things.

I have also failed in my plan to write three passable tanka a day (I wrote two yesterday and fell asleep in front of the TV), my plan to write my February presentation for the Numismatic Society and . . .

Sadly it’s a long list and the year is only three days old. The motivational book I just read seems to have changed nothing. With it being on Kindle, I can’t even burn it to keep warm. On the other hand, I can’t really blame the book for my lack of application.

Pope Benedict XVI – the other side of the Newman medal

It’s a coincidence that I’ve used a medal showing the late Pope, but also timely. I wanted a decent medallion picture, as I had mentioned medallions in the post. and this was the first suitable one I found. I try to avoid religion and politics as subjects, but if something like this crops up I’m happy to go along with it.

(Sorry about the erratic timing of the posts – this was planned as a second part for yesterday, but time ran away with me so I altered a few things and made it the post for Wednesday, though there may be another.

A Deviation from Perfection

“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.”

It was one of Scotland’s greatest writers who said that. Not Tootlepedal this time, but Burns. As I said in a reply to a comment about the last post, things did not go to plan.

Recently I have started ordering pies from the supermarket because it allows me to do my normal roast veg and throw a pie in the oven at the same time. Adds a bit more variety to the menu and still keeps things quick and easy. Unfortunately, this week, I ordered frozen pies and Julia didn’t notice as she put them in the fridge. I had selected on price and not noticed the blue snowflake that denotes a frozen item. There is a lesson in this.

Instead of being 20 minutes or so, this meant that pie took nearly an hour to cook, despite being thawed. We ate late and we had a pie with floppy pastry. Not my finest hour and yet another lesson in links between price, convenience and not reading the details.

Tomorrow will be pasta bake (prepared this afternoon) then pie and veg again on Tuesday (will try to think of a way to cook the pie properly this time) then vegetable soup for Wednesday lunch using leftover roasted veg. Wednesday night we will have vegetable stew then on Thursday night I’m not sure. Number One Son will be home that night and I have run out of ideas at that point. Then we have a delivery on Wednesday night (I missed all the good Christmas delivery slots and we should be good for the holidays – just need a bit of bread and milk, and thanks to part baked baguettes, long life milk and the freezer we can probably stay indoors until 2022 if we are careful. A nice low maintenance Christmas.

Day 99

We had an email waiting this morning. It had several blurred screen shots, several paragraphs of broken English and a declaration that the would be purchaser would only pay £30 for postage and packing. We deciphered the note, calculated the cost of the parcel and found that it was going to cost a lot more than £30.

The trouble is that some people fixate on the P&P, ignore the fact that eBay charge us commission and fees on our postage costs and don’t appreciate that if we are sending a parcel with £400 of goods in it we want to insure it.

On top of that, this is now the ninth message we have had from him this week and the 22nd we have had this year. Not one of them has actually resulted in a sale. The problem is that as soon as you say yes to one of his irksome suggestions/demands he starts with another.

It’s £400, some of the stuff has been hanging around for a while, and the idea of making the sale is quite attractive. However, the sale is only good if you actually get the money. If anything goes wrong, eBay will undoubtedly side with the buyer and we will end up losing £400 plus postage fees. It’s easier, as I pointed out, to save postage and the labour of packaging and arguing, and just flush £400 down the toilet.

Some deals, as was pointed out to me as a young man working in sales, are simply not worth the effort. It seems counter-intuitive but I made one or two of those sales, including one where I lost the company £7,000 (which was a lot of money 30 years ago) and that always comes back to haunt me.

In summary – today was a day of frustration, annoyance and ghosts from the past.

We had veggie burgers (which we ended up buying from the shop rather than making) for tea, in nice fresh cobs, and I enjoyed them. We also had chocolate brownies as Julia saw them whilst shopping. Then we slept in front of the TV. Is this, I ask myself, where all that hope and ambition ended up?

I suspect there may be a poem concealed within that thought.

For some reason, whilst snoozing, I dreamed of cream teas.

Day 43

I’ve just finished the first phase of planning my submissions for next year. So far I have 53 submissions in the planner, and I haven’t quite finished. I will have about 75 by the time I have finished. No doubt I’ll miss a few, but you need some sort of target, and it should always be slightly more than you think you can achieve.

Set a target too low and it’s not worth having. Set it too high and you risk demotivating yourself. Last year I made 48 submissions, though I was ill for a couple of months and would have managed around 55 if i’d been fit. Seventy five for this year seems fair as a target. I still need to add a couple of magazines that always reject me (I need a challenge) and some ordinary poetry magazines too. Life isn’t all about Japanese forms of poetry.

It feels good to have the plan done, even if it is incomplete. At last I have something to compare myself to, and it’s always easier to work when you have  a framework in place. Without one, it’s easy to drift.

When I look at the actual figures, I see that I met or slightly exceeded the targets for numbers of acceptances last year, being on target for haibun and a few over for haiku. I also wrote a few tanka, which weren’t included in the targets, as I hadn’t even thought of writing tanka when I set the targets. Then there were the six “normal” poems. There is no target for them as I just fit them in when I have time and they aren’t a particularly high priority.




Plans and Haiku

Despite the first part of the day consisting of a mathematically implausible three halves, I did have a plan for the next bit of the day, which I’m going to describe as “bit” because it saves me having to be accurate.

The plan was to go home, write, wash up and make stew for tea. It also included, after my talk with the doctor, eating eggs for lunch and not sleeping in front of daytime TV whilst watching quiz with my lunch. Next time, I’m going to eat lunch at the computer.

It’s has all come to pass, apart from the not sleeping bit, but instead of being 5 o’clock, as planned, it is seven o’clock. As days off go, it has been OK, but not hugely productive. However, I have had another acceptance, this time from Wales Haiku Journal. It will be published in the next two weeks and is a haiku of eleven words. It almost feels like cheating to claim I’m having a poem published when it’s only 11 words long, but as Mark Twain said:

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

Brevity can be tricky.

I now have a nine rejected haiku which can be sent out again. Just because they have been rejected doesn’t mean they are bad. I’ve shown that before, with many pieces. As it is, I have ten ready to go to another magazine and if everything goes as it normally does, and they take one, as they often do, I will have 18 haiku looking for a home. It’s amazing how they mount up. That’s how it goes – one day you have nothing, next day you have too many. It’s a shame that the same doesn’t apply to £10 notes.

I’m off to eat stew now, I’ll see you all tomorrow.

The haiku features a robin, so that’s the reason for the picture.


I had it in mind to write two posts today, but when I looked for my camera to download the photos, I found I’d left it at work yesterday.  Not that it matters, they aren’t topical posts and they can wait.

Apart from that I’ve frittered my day away.

A goatlet, or whatever they call them. Never could stand the things, always escaping and looking at you with peculiar eyes…

I have submitted some work today, but apart from that haven’t made much progress in my plans to be one of the towering literary figures of the 21st century. This is a shame, as I woke up with such ambitious plans. I ended up washing dishes. cooking and watching quizzes. I think I may start telling myself that quizzes are coded messages from the devil. That way I might be able to  stop watching them. On the other hand, you may read a post in a month’s time about how I made a pentagram in salt and sat in the middle of it to watch Pointless. In that case you will know that my addiction to quiz shows is becoming serious…

It’s strange. When I gave up smoking I had one packet of cigarettes in use and one unopened. I threw the partly used pack away and put the unopened pack by the front door. It was there for five or six years. It meant that I could have one if I wanted, and that seemed to make giving up a lot easier. I haven’t really given up smoking, even now, and still feel like a cigarette as I write this paragraph. People who give up smoking and bang on about their willpower and stuff, are really boring, and I don’t want to be one of them. I merely decided one day that I was going to delay my next cigarette. That was twenty years ago. I might have one tomorrow, but I might not.

If only I could do that with food and quiz shows. Unfortunately I can rarely pass a fridge or a TV set without checking what is in there.

Soda bread

Shots from the archives – March 2016.





A Day That Failed to Deliver

Having made a plan for the day I awoke with energy and determination, dressed swiftly and went downstairs with high hopes.

At that point the plan failed to survive first contact with the enemy, hit the buffers and the wheels came off, as the mixed metaphors fell thick and fast, along with the cliches. The ‘enemy’ was, of course, my dear wife, who was already up to her ears in phone calls and had a list of things for me to do.

As a result I am now typing close to midnight and have only managed to tick three jobs off my list, though I have managed to do quite a few jobs that weren’t on the list.You have to wonder why I bother having Wednesdays off, as they have become just another working day for Julia during lockdown.


Red Tailed Bumble Bee Mencap Garden Wilford

This is the third attempt I have made at today’s blog post as the previous two have degenerated into a whining complaint about the unfairness of life, the unfairness of wife and the perils of working from home. When we are all back at work I bet her clients, who know no boundaries, will continue to ring in the evenings and at weekends and we (along with many other people) will be worse off in terms of relaxation and work/life balance, than we were before lockdown.

This, along with masks and governmental ineptitude, seems to be one of the big stories of the day.

I have just spent the last hour wrestling with the shopping list for tomorrow. I started it in good time but stopped to eat, fell asleep in front of the TV and woke, stiff and grumpy, to find that I had two hours to shop and blog.

There is half an hour to go, so I will add a few photos from the gardens on Monday and sign off for the day. I pursued a red tailed bumble bee around the cranesbill and lilies but these two poor shots were the only decent ones.The cranesbill drooped under it’s weight and didn’t provide enough pollen to keep it, while the lilies provided pollen, but the bee was hidden deep in the flower as it collected.

Tomorrow I hope to be more positive, more productive and a much nicer person. I suspect I am only going to managed two out of the three as a major personality change is unlikely.

Teasel - Mencap Garden Wilford Nottingham

Teasel – Mencap Garden Wilford Nottingham


Plans, plans, plans

The plan for the morning was to rise early, sneak downstairs as Julia slept and get writing. I have haibun to write, submissions to make and a new ambition to fulfil.

I want to hit my sixth WordPress anniversary with an average of 365 posts per year. I’m currently on 333 a year. I think that means I have to write 365 next year, and a further 160 to catch up. That’s 1.5 posts per day.

So, I need to examine the reasons for my deficiencies in posting.

One, obviously, is idleness, indolence, sloth or laziness. There are some nice words for it, but it all boils down to one of my defining character flaws. I don’t like hard work.

Two, which is a similar thing, my talent for procrastination, time-wasting, loafing and wandering off on the internet, either to play games or browse Wikipedia. Recently I found a new games page and I am now a dab hand at Nine Men’s Morris and, thanks to Wiki, can also discuss its history and variations.

Three, memory. I sometimes forget to post. You’d think one a day would be simple enough to remember but I have a lot to remember, such as my name, computer passwords and what Julia just said to me. Some days it’s hard just remembering how to walk and breathe at the same time.

Four. Sometimes I just fall asleep at the keyboard, leading to fifty five lines saying ggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg etc

Or, worse, with the pattern of a keyboard impressed in my face, like one of Dr Who’s more low-budget adversaries.

Today I will attempt multiple posts.

Watch this space.

Today’s picture is the recycled Robin from the Garden Centre in Scone Chronicles 3.