Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Writing Course - Week 3

Wow. Down to one person this week.

Just lil'ol me.

I did the homework. But only just.

After such a busy week I really struggled to fit it in. I'd left it too late. I'll do the next assignment as soon as I can to avoid that happening again.

Monday came around and I had to be up early, go to work, take William to the dentist, shop for the big Buddhist meeting (with help from Nat), prepare for the meeting (with help from Cherie), take Nat and his gear to a band practice and then host the meeting.

So no time for writing then? Well, I vomited the words onto a blank page in the twenty minutes it took William to have his dental checkup. People must have thought I was a very odd character sitting in the waiting room frantically tapping at my iPad screen.

Click Click Clickety Click.

I tidied the text up after work today on the iMac. I added a title and a subtitle, broke the text into sections with headings and stuck in a few rapid screenshots.

I felt very guilty at not giving it my best.

I gave it to Mr Steve the Writer and he read it. I'd already apologised for my lack of effort.

But I think it was alright. He gave me the next assignment and said I'd got the narrative style of the magazine off to a tee.

I smiled. Had I achieved the chatty style on purpose or had it just emerged from the rushed approach?

Either way I came out pleased with myself.

I have taken the course tutor's email address and I must send him something. That way he gets my email address and can send me the homework in an electronic form. I'll then forward that to Sam, Kaye and Caroline.

I know at least one of them has dropped out already, but I didn't let on to Steve. I'll forward the stuff and they can do with it what they like.

Another thing, Kaye sent me a message about getting involved with a creative writing group. I need to make that happen.

Looks like PenPals will become a thing.

Big Buddhist Meeting

That's not a meeting for big Buddhists. So please stop imagining a room full of flabby bald smiling folk sitting in the lotus position.

Have you erased said picture from your mind? Sure? Not even a single bloater rolling around in there?


It was a men's meeting, HQ level. A meeting for any SGI men from Lakes and Lancs. there were eleven of us, which is a pretty amazing turnout.

I made pizza. Lots of pizza. And biscuits.

A bit too much really. It wasn't all consumed. I took the rest into work today. The gannets devoured all the leftovers in minutes.

The meeting was vibrant but challenging. One of the guys described it as 'a significant meeting'.

It was fairly heavy, content-wise, and it made me feel a bit, well, inadequate. I'm supposed to be a district leader. I need to do better. After an hour of chanting this morning I realised that I had been leading and that wanting to do better is a vital ingredient in human revolution.

So, win-win then.

We made a unanimous decision to hold HQ level men's division meetings every other month. What a result!

There were also people there who shared the view I had when I started the practice. Why do we have separate men's and women's divisions in the first place. I suppose I'd got so used to having the men's meeting each month I'd lost track of that particular question.

It was worth it. Thanks to everybody who made it their mission to come. Shame John couldn't make it.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Preston Station

Waiting. At Preston station.

Waiting for my love. She's been in London.

Not that far. But it seems further.

When we're apart.

Won't be long and she'll be back. And then we'll be together.

Wow, that just came out. 2 minutes. No rewrites. Almost poetic.


Tested out my wetsuit today. Impressed by how warm and buoyant it is. Lots more wild swimming in the future I think.

Fun day

Hey blog buddies! Wow, been a fun day. A long day.

Got a wetsuit. Literally the last one in the shop. The guy said it had been an incredible day - they'd sold practically all of their Orca wetsuits today. They only had this one left because someone had tried it and ended up upgrading to a top of the range one. It fits well. It's actually a size bigger than the one I tried before. The shop guy saw me and said I'd be better with that size anyway.

It is miles easier to get on and off than the other was. And still really snug.

Spent this evening watching Dr Who and Breaking Bad and describing the plot for my story to William.

I don't hate my story half as much now. In fact, I impressed myself. I think its time to start the actual writing.

Going to try my wetsuit tomorrow at Brungerley Bridge.

See you there.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Working on a Saturday?

It's worrying how much time I spend apologising. It's not right.

You know what I'm going to say. I've been busy.

Too busy for us drainers, eh Ash? We're not good enough for you. You just get on with your 'busy' life. Don't worry about us with nothing to read. We'll be fine. There's always the tele-ma-box.

We've been moving offices this week. So there's that. It's a Saturday and I'm going back into work to help finish up.

And we've been trying to import Asda's data into world all week. It's not worked so far. Dave left us last week and we're a bit in the dark with very short notice as to get it working.

Whilst packing and shifting.

And my phone broke. The back is smashed. Don't know how, it's not like I dropped it or anything. It went in my pocket fine and came out smashed.

It's all moan, moan, moan today. So, a look on the bright side.

William and I went for a Mexican last night and went to see Oblivion at the moooovies. I really enjoyed it. The concepts, story and artwork were excellent. But it had glitzy Tom Cruise Hollywood production values.


Vanilla Skies all over again.

I noticed in the end credits it was based on a graphic novel. That explains it.

We might be wild swimming tomorrow. People are trying out their wetsuits. I don't have one yet; but I might get one this afternoon if there's time.

I'm not going for a dear one. I can't.

Cherie is in London to go to Taplow Court. She's staying with Nancy. I hope she's having a great time. Love you, wifey.

I've got to finish my writing course homework this weekend. Must. Be. A. Good. Boy.

We are having a Buddhist men's meeting here on Monday. It is for all the men from the HQ. So that's quite a lot of dudes. I'll make pizza. It was supposed to be at John's house but he thought it was last night. When I reminded him about the day he had double booked so we had to move it here.

Really looking forward to it. But I also have to fit it in with taking William to the dentist. That might be difficult to arrange with work too because it is during the afternoon.

Such is life.

Challenges make us stronger. And happier.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Writing Course - week 2

It was the second day of the writing course today. We had homework. I did most of mine last night and wrote it up just before the lesson with seconds to spare. I think it went quite well. Today's session didn't feel quite as negative as last week's. It was nice to see everybody again although Caroline has dropped out. Shame.

For this week's homework we have to write a short article for our chosen publication. I'm quite looking forward to that.

It has been a quiet day at work today. I got chance to go over to the new premises to check out the IT equipment there. Internet and phones are now in and I was able to use the moo phone to call out. That's a hyper technical term for a very special phone.

Not really; it's just like any other landline handset but decorated in a cow skin motif.

If it worked, any standard telephony device will work. Faxes, modems you name it.

So that's nice.

At the writing session I found out about more software designed for helping writers to manage plots and characters. I was very impressed and I may have to check some of them out. I still love the simplicity of Scrivener though.

One of the other writers read the post I wrote about the Writing Course week one and was inspired to return for week two. I am so happy about that! I spoke to her about the Artists' Hangout and about a few of us maybe putting together a creative writing group in the Civic Arts Centre.

I think it is going to happen. Everybody loves the idea. I just need to keep up the momentum and keep people interested.

The plot for my novel is coming along. I'm very pleased about it. I'm pleased about hating it. Well, parts of it.

In the past I would have stopped right there. It's just crap, move on. But this time it's not the same. It's crap, make it better.

And I am. And it is.

Blog? Fail.

It's Monday. Where, I hear you scream, are the posts for Saturday and Sunday.

Where, Ashley? Where?

Here, I've just taken the top off this bottle of beer. You have it. Sit in that comfy armchair and relax. No, not the one near the door. Don't want you sitting in a draft. No, sit in the big leather one by the fire. That's it. I know, heaven right?

Now that your feeling a little calmer, let me explain.

(Cue flashback...)

William came this weekend. That's not why there was no blog, I'm just setting the scene.

William came. It was cool. Cherie and I went to a Buddhist meeting after a busy morning of stuff and then went to Cath's to collect our newly fired pottery pieces. Cherie's stuff was obviously amazing but surprisingly, mine was quite good too. I gave it to William for his cornflakes. It had pictures of fish inside and I'd written "A shoal in your bowl". William liked it.

I then went for a naughty night out cruelly leaving poorly wife at home with the babies (one fifteen year old and an eighteen year old). In truth, they probably babysat her - she has been officially diagnosed with a kidney infection.

Whilst Cherie was suffering miserably on the sofa in front of the tellybox I went gallivanting about town with two beautiful laydeez; a Miss Nina and a Miss Franki. I drove us to Manchester and Franki took us to a salsa club.

I have to say the view was good. Very, very good. I didn't know where to look. There were some real beauties bouncing around on the dance floor to a vibrant Latin rhythm.

We had a go. At the salsa I mean. We'd arrived too late to take place in any of the dance classes so Franki did her best to teach Nina and I. I wasn't great, but at least this time we didn't need any medical help.

After we'd been showing off our accrington wild swimming dancing prowess to the obviously insanely jealous Mancunians we left and went to Band on the Wall.

It was reggae night and time to get down.

We did. Until after two.

A brief stop for a pizza and home we went. Got in at about 4am.

How naughty is that?

I'd planned to go wetsuit shopping on Sunday but the shop was closed. Bummer. Went writing instead and completely finished a story plan. Ironed out all the plot wrinkles too.

Sound the trumpets of triumph!

But then I decided it was crap. Some bits of it are, it's not just my hyperactive inner critic this time.

I've decided to write three plans and use the best bits to create a fourth. I've already started number two.

I was really tired after being out so late so I wasn't up to blogging.

I've been bidding on eBay for two wetsuit auctions. Both times the price went too high.

I either have to chose a cheaper wetsuit or stump up more cash. At this point. I don't have more cash.

Or do I? Remember the writing course? Write articles for a computer magazine...

I was thinking maybe fund a wetsuit from articles.

Hmmm..... If I had a Victorian moustache I'd be twiddling it right now.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Poorly Wife

Hi all. It's Friday.

Like I said yesterday, it was Dave's last day at work today. There was cake. Lots of cake. And man hugs.

It's a shame he's gone, but I wish him all the luck in the world with his new career move. He deserves it.

Cherie went to the docs today and she has a kidney infection. She's on antibiotics now. But she's too poorly to go salsa dancing tomorrow. She's going to stay home.

Do I go? We'll see what tomorrow brings.

The Final Dust of Dave

It's been a quiet day at work today. We have practically got to the end of a medium sized strategic software project to provide real-time functions to our fuel island controller and tied up loose ends on a couple of imports into the web service. We're also in the middle of preparations to move offices next week. That, and it's Dave's last day tomorrow. Jonny and I have been extracting all of his "Dust". That's we what we call his particular blend of IT magic. Dave Dust.

If something's not working, just liberally sprinkle it with Dave Dust and it'll be fine.

Not to be confused with Butt Dust. That's something entirely different.

We'll miss Dave. We're already missing Andy and Bryan not to mention Graham. Since they left they've all been showing up every now and again. I think that says a lot for the bond our team once had. Even when folk get made redundant, they still want to come back for a chat.

Cherie has been off work again today but she's feeling better. That's good.

We curled up on the sofa and watched a Netflix marathon. Breaking Bad series 3, Green Wing series 2 and Firefly.

Love Firefly. What a terrific fusion of old and new. The Wild West but in space. It doesn't just work, it seems like that's how it would be. The young terraformed planets at a distance from the galactic centre are lawless and poor and the inhabitants are squabbling over limited resources. Great characters. Great acting. Great dialog. Great stories.


Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Sittin' and Waitin'

I'm in the car right now. Just sitting in a car park, not actually moving at all. I'm waiting for William to finish his guitar lesson. It's good to see him, even though he seems a bit miserable.

I would be to if I had to come back to this weather from fancy France.

I'm hungry. If I'm not home soon I may just eat my iPad. I've got some beef I the back. Think it'll become a pasta dish or something.

In the back with the beef is a wetsuit I've borrowed to try on. It's a size 8 Orca Sonar circa £300. There's one exactly like it on eBay for £77 (last bid). Which is nice.

Hope it fits; if it does I'll place a bid. Apparently it's easily worth over £100.

But I'm so hungry I might just eat that too.

I've just seen something fairly awesome on BookFace. Apparently HBO have made a multi season TV series of American Gods which he is writing. No way man! I NEED to see this.

It could be the single most awesome TV event in history.

What do I have to do to get to see it?

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Writing Course: Week 1

I really enjoy writing. I hope that the pleasure I get documenting my daily stream of consciousness comes out through my words and fills you, dear reader, with something similar. It's not a chore; well, at least not most days.

I attended the first day of a six week writing course today. I feel very positive that I will take away some genuinely useful nuggets of advice about writing in such a way as to directly address a specific target audience.

It was great to meet some new creative people too. I've been reading one or two of their blogs. I was very impressed. We have a lot of hidden talent silently condensed into our small town.

However, the course was not entirely what I expected it to be. I had been told it was a creative writing course. My dad and sister were told that too.

But it wasn't about writing fiction for fun. It was about writing non-fiction for profit; mainly for magazines.

Now I could eat a whole bowl of advice nuggets about writing for magazines with milk and sugar and still have room for toast with technical literature marmalade. Both of which I've already done, probably to a mediocre degree. There's always room for improvement especially in the area of knowing the business side; how much to charge, copyright and other crunchy delights.

Before I go any further, I must ask. The breakfast metaphor. Too much?

Your expression says it all. No more streaky rashers tonight.

The course was not for everyone. Some people were expecting to be writing poems and short stories and marvelling at hearing the unexpected works of other talented people. Others were deflated by the stifling negativity from hearing the organiser's experiences on writing fiction that leeched every last drop of creative mojo. My dad for one. He was, in a nutshell, disappointed.

But I believe that everything happens for a reason. I'm a Buddhist, doncha know. (Before you complain, I know that's not a word).

I believe that you should wring every ounce of positivity from an experience. There'll always be an element of it that will prove to be a benefit in the future. It's not always immediately obvious. Sometimes, it can even seem to be a negative experience at first glance.

But there's always a positive side, even to something that looks negative. As a minimum, you'll learn not to do it again. Which, of course, is positive.

That's just how I see things these days. And so, I believe, did some of the other attendees.

So I'll be there next week with my sister but not my dad. We'll do our homework and research. We'll learn about how best to write an article that appeals to a magazine editor and ultimately to a demographic.

And you, dear drainer, will reap the rewards of my new found penmanship skills.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Painted Pots and Small Potatoes

I hope you don't mind, lovely drainers, but I've had the weekend off. Off blogging, I mean.

I have been writing, but not my blog. Something else. Something bigger.

We went out on Saturday to the Inn at Whitewell for my sister's birthday. As food goes, it was delicious. As portion sizes go, paltry. I was amazed at the intricately chopped yet microscopic potato triangles set with a lump of lamb in a tasty onion jus (that's posh for gravy).

We had a nice evening.

On Sunday I went writing at Costa which is becoming even more of a habit these days. Cherie went to Cath's with the AWS laydeez to do some pottery painting. People had taken food to Cath's, so of course, I had to go when I'd finished at Costa just to try some.

The girls were all trying their best to concentrate on delicately creating wondrous designs on plain white bowls, jugs and cups whilst the children charged madly from room to room screaming and shredding Cath's precious nik-naks. I started thinking maybe I should take them to the park, and whilst still thinking of it I heard Saskia telling the ladies my thoughts.

How did she do that?

Hey ho... So I took Orin, Saskia, Aelwyn, Aiden and Oisin to the park armed with just a pram and a bag of mini eggs.

We were there for ages! I really had lots of fun. Bizarre, I know. You'd have thought that it would have been chaos. Go figure.

But that's what happens when you stimulate the minds of brilliant children. Peel them off the XBox screen and take them into the fresh air with their friends.

Joy happens.

When we returned, I helped myself to the scrumptious food (Kerris's lemon meringue pie and Franki's flapjacks. No they aren't euphemisms). Thanks everybody.

I even had a go at painting myself. When I looked at the results I remembered why I tend to avoid things which require dexterity and patience. I should stick to male Neanderthal pursuits like bashing down walls and growling.

We then went to Franki's to have a go at sorting her computer. I didn't have the gear with me, so we ended up chatting until stupid o'clock. I really enjoyed it.

I went back to Franki's this evening with the right bits and showed that darn machine who was the boss.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Going Out

Hello, you lovely lot. It's Friday. Woo hoo! Work is done for the week.

I've just woken up after a lazy afternoon nap. Finished work, came home and started blowing Z's on the bed. Cherie woke me up with a telephone call.

I'm going out tonight. Lads night out, I reckon. Me and my pal Adrian. Watch out, somewhere, he we come! Because I'm not sure where we're going to be.

I fancy having a curry, but I don't think that will happen. I fancy having one jar too many. But that won't be happening either. So, I don't know where we're going and I don't know what we're doing.

Hmmm... No very well organised is it, genius?

What does it matter? It'll be what it is and will happen where it is. Bring it on.

Thursday, 11 April 2013


I went swimming after work today and pulled almost 70 lengths out of my hat. I say almost, I'd aimed for 70 lengths and managed 68 before the pool closed.

I could have managed the full 70 but probably no more. It really tired me out unlike the last time I'd swum that far.

I'm going to be swimming a lot more in preparation for the Great North Swim in June.  I'll be disappointed if I don't manage it on the day. More open water swimming. Wetsuit swimming. Wetsuit buying.

I'm quite eager to get a wetsuit - I don't just want to rent one either. I'm keen to practice some open water swims with one on; to get the feel of it, don't you know. I'd rather know what it's going to be like than be surprised during the GNS.

So, I'm reasonably impressed with myself. Only twelve months ago I would never have imagined I'd be able to swim as far as I can.

On a different issue, I'm being a naughty evil download pirate. Arrrrrr!

I'm curently downloading Game of Thrones Season 3. How much spanking do I need!

Answers on a post card....

The way I see it, I bought Season One, pirated Season Two, then bought Season Two. I plan to download Season Three and then buy it when it is finally released on DVD.

So, am I that naughty?

Wednesday, 10 April 2013


It's Cherie's birthday today. I made soup for tea. Not really a terrific birthday treat, but Cherie insisted she didn't want to go out. Anyway, it wasn't ordinary soup.

It was delicious Ashley soup made with vegetables and kisses.

I found a program for writers today called Scrivener and I think it will be really helpful to use for my latest project. I tried writing with it today outside of the coffee shop environment and...

FAILED! Where has by brain gone? I just didn't work properly.

I need to try again, another day.

Hugs :-)

Happy Birthday

Nothing earth shattering to write about today. Sorry.

Just been to work and done stuff. Still waxed melancholy after having such a tremendous weekend followed by a very sad funeral.

Still, feeling that way is just a state of mind. So I didn't let it make me unhappy.

And tomorrow is another day.

Cherie's birthday in actual fact.

Monday, 8 April 2013

We Did It Part 2

Yesterday's ceilidh was brilliant. Thanks again to everyone who took part. Now all of the AWS events we had planned have happened, it feels a bit boring. We need to plan something else; I'm starting to miss everybody.

We went to David's sons funeral today. David seemed to be a pillar of strength for his family.

Not been a great day today.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

We Did It

We did it! The performance went without a hitch.

Well, almost.

There kinda was one minor hitch. We forgot to bring the audience!

The only people watching were a three walkers and a dog!

Not really, I'm exaggerating. There were a few more than that. But it doesn't matter. We enjoyed it.

We had an after party and I'm a naughty drunkard. And of course, there's another party today!

Wey hey! I have an active social life at the moment.

Love you all. :-)

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Today is the Day

The day has arrived. The one you've all been waiting for. Saturday, April 6th.

Today he perform the debut of the Accrington Wild Swimmers Outdoor Victorian Synchronised Swim. It was one of the cats in bags from a post a few weeks ago.

I can reveal it will be tonight at 6pm in Rhyddings Park. Please, everyone come and support us. It going to be great.

I guarantee you'll never see anything quite like it again!

We have made the costumes, the props and the bathing machine. We have designed it, choreographed it and practised it until we know every little move.

We still have a few snags. The bathing machine broke in rehearsal yesterday. We'll have to fix it this morning. We still haven't actually got our hands on the PA system yet, but that should be he this afternoon.

And today is the day.

There's a big parade afterwards and after that, we'll be in the pub.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Intrigue in the Heart of Blackburn

Cherie and I visited Cath and Eoin today and we had some lovely tea. Cherie was finishing Eoin's costume.

On the way back... Seriously, this is true.

On the way back we became caught up in a full on Sweeney style cop chase.

I heard a faint siren and could see approaching blue flashing lights in the rear view mirror. Another car, a large sedan type, maybe a BMW, came tearing around the corner behind me. The police car followed. The pair turned right into a connecting street and I lost sight of them.

I excitedly turned to Cherie and said I thought we were in the middle of a police chase. It was to get more intense.

I was trying to get back to Preston New Road and I turned down the next right. Cars were parked on either side leaving a very narrow strip of road down the middle just wide enough for a single car. Half way down, the same car sped around the corner at the other end of the street still pursued by the police and raced directly towards me. I thought they were going to ram my car.

They didn't. Instead the driver directed the car into a small space between two others, leaped out and ran off with two other guys. The police car stopped directly facing my car and inches away. The driver jumped out and chased them leaving me dumbfounded in the middle of the road.

I had to reverse the car out the way I came in.

What WAS all that about?

A few minutes later I was almost back in Oswaldtwistle and I saw the police helicopter pass above me on its way towards Blackburn. I couldn't help but wonder if it was going to help find the bad guys.

I came home and started doing a bit of preparation for the writing I've been talking about. I took Annie's advice and went mental with the PostIt notes. I'm writing this on the bed surrounded by green and purple squares of sticky paper, each with its own snippet of information.

You see, I've had a good idea for a story. I must not let this one get away.

I bet that's what the policeman thought, too.

Get Set for the Weekend!

Woo hoo! Day of tomorrow.

Marvellous! No work.

So what should I do instead? Oh yes, sweep up leaves at Rhyddings park.


But all in a good cause! We're doing something very, very special on Saturday.

Very special indeed. And slightly insane.

Honestly, I can't wait for this weekend. It's going to be an AWS action weekend! A party-a-thon.

Come and see...

Wednesday, 3 April 2013




Didn't want to be there. Wanted to be writing.

Watching a movie with Cherie.


Oh Dear!

I forgot to post yesterday. I did enough writing for one day.

I wrote absolutely tons of great stuff. Coffee shops are the key.

It didn't turn out exactly how I wanted, but better in some ways worse in others. I did too much detail to get it finished.

In the evening we had a rehearsal for the Victorian swimming. The music was still not done! Annie had told me that earlier because I dumped into her at Costa and we had a very long chat.

Anyway, I finally received the music files last night and was up until stupid o'clock editing them together into 2 very long parts.

I think people will be asking me to cut them down, or maybe Annie will do her own versions and they'll be more like we expect.

Still no PA though!

Bit of a show stopper in the most literal sense.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Curry and Roses

Busy day. Yes, another one.

I made a terrific curry tonight. From scratch. Just thought I would share that.

Before that I was helping to create the bathing machine for the outside synchronised swim on Saturday.

Kerris announced the Accrington Wild Swimmers on Radio Lancashire today. We're famous!

I got Cherie some beautiful red roses. I knew they were hers as soon as I saw them, so I bought them.

We all helped to build and paint the bathing machine today. It was supposed to take from one until 4, but we ended up stopping at 830 and still we didn't finish the wheels.

There's a full rehearsal tomorrow.

Kerris took some brilliant photos of us in costume.