The Liebster Award

I was very kindly nominated for the Liebster Award by the very lovely ohevie, see the original post here!  Now I’ve heard about Liebster before but only because I’ve seen the logo on other blogs, and I always thought there was no chance I’d ever be nominated for an award! We were on our way back from picking up two half-ton bags of barley for the cattle when I got the notification, so safe to say I was very pleased! Now it has been months and months since I was nominated, but I’ve only been able to do a little bit at a time. But now I’m done!
Continue reading “The Liebster Award”

Don’t give up the daydream

You’ve heard the old saying. Somebody does something stupid, or funny, or badly, and you go, “Don’t give up the day job”. And usually it’s comic effect – haha, we all laugh, how funny, and go about our merry way. Because silly Sandra never really planned on being a professional juggler, or an impressionist, or whatever. She’s quite happy doing whatever it is she’s doing.

But I’m here as the advocate of daydreams – and their bigger, badder cousin, The Dream. Because I have A Dream (a song to sing…) and I’m sure as hell not giving up on it.

Continue reading “Don’t give up the daydream”

A Tale for the Time Being – Review

I do believe that sometimes we read books at a particular point in our lives for a reason – whether it reflects something within us, or something we are looking for. I’m heavily in the re-drafting process of my first book and I think I needed to read something awe-inspiring, just to really inject that spark back into it. This book turned out to be Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being.

Continue reading “A Tale for the Time Being – Review”

Reflections from the farm

A million years ago, I started this blog with the catchy title of notmuchofayoungfarmer. This was a play on words because I was a member of our local Young Farmers’ group, lived on a farm, and knew diddly squat about farming. It’s one of those commonly-known but never spoken of truths that if you join Young Farmers and aren’t an avid tractor man or a shepherd, it’s a way of meeting the opposite sex. I went along to the meetings, got roped into stock judging, and then life caught up with me, and I was doing a Masters and working in Hull, and it just didn’t compute. So I sacked Young Farmers off and embarked on an ill-fated quest to become a teacher. That didn’t last long either.

Hmm. Seeing a trend…

Moving swiftly on!

My blog was to be a support for my writing. However by a stroke of luck or fate or whatever, I find that I’ve boxed up my court shoes and smart skirt suits and have swapped them for wellies and jeans covered in mud. Looks like I’m back to being a Young Farmer, and probably too old to rejoin.

I still don’t know anything about farming, but I now know what a tup is, and what it means when the sheep in the fields have coloured bottoms, and I’m starting to get my head around the different breeds of cows, and when it’s correct to say cow and not something else.

photo-05-11-2016-09-49-32

Personal highlights from the farm include:

  • Getting stuck halfway up Grimston hill in a pickup without diesel, and then being rescued by some kindly gentlemen in a white van – whoever you are, thank you!
  • Also that same week, locking my car keys in the boot and having to bang on doors until a kindly family down the road let me use their phone! It’s a bugger when there’s no phone signal.
  • Seeing our Angus heifer calve to a beautiful baby Hereford x! I think that’s the first thing I’ve seen brought into the world before my very eyes, and by the time we’d got there she’d done most of it herself. She’s a grand little calf with real stunning markings.
  • Bucket-feeding our other three calves and now they’re weaned off and are big strong lads.
  • Getting our tractor! She’s a Case International and is a little nippy four wheel drive thing which suits us just fine, though I do bang my head on every piece of metal in the cab.

photo-05-11-2016-09-25-41-1

It is hard. I’m only little and not particularly strong, and while I am getting a bit stronger, I still struggle to lug 25kg bags of feed about. And before we got the tractor, it was bloody hard work getting bails of straw and hay down off the great piles for the cattle with just us two, a fence post for leverage and the pickup for the most stubborn bails. And let’s be honest, when you’re chopping fodder beet in the pouring rain and Arctic blast, it’s not that fun. I get muddy by just looking at the yard, my car stinks of mucky wellies, and my arms ache for days, but when everything’s fed and watered, and bedded up, and the yard is blissfully quiet, and the little calf is bouncing around her mother, it isn’t a bad place to be at all.

I will update with more of our adventures as they come.

Katy

A new year dawns

It’s that time of year – behold, the New Year, New Me promises! I’ve never been one for New Year’s Resolutions. If I decide I need to sort something out mid-year, I’ll do it then, rather than wait until the next January to do it. But that doesn’t mean to say I never have goals in mind for each year – sometimes they’re so subconscious even I don’t know about them…

In 2015 my goals were to get my own place and change my job for something closer to home. I was commuting to Hull every day and the company I was working for were relocating into the city centre. It was already taking me at least an hour and a half to get to work, and easily more on an evening. And so in August 2015 I started looking for a house, and I got my keys for Casa Katy in December and was halfway through my notice period.

So in 2016 I had the house and the job. What was missing? Oh yeah, the boyfriend! Considering I had just bought my house and didn’t ever want to leave it because it was Mine, I managed to get a boyfriend just by sitting around doing nothing, as mutual friends were playing Cupid, and so in August I met Scott.

So, it’s 2017. I am sans job, but still running Casa Katy like a sinking ship – just the way I like it. Well, it is a little crowded now, with two people, two cats and a Border Collie. But the big goal for 2017 – beyond helping Scott get the farm built up, and sorting my grandad’s house out so we can move in there, and *cries* renting Casa Katy out – is the writing thing.

From about August to November very little writing was done last year. I submitted barely ghost-edited chapters to my writing group and that was about it. I didn’t do a blog post either. Then over the festive period, I started to look at #MFB. As so much time had elapsed I found I couldn’t get back into it, but then I realised the reason I couldn’t get back into it was that I had lost myself in it. So I sat and redrafted it, giving it a much-needed haircut. The end result was more like lopping a few limbs off than just a trim, but I figured I should be cutting down that approximate 350,000 word count. So now I have begun Draft Three, having aborted Draft Two midway through. Abandon ship, and all that. I’m very lucky because Scott understands how important it is to me, and he is encouraging me (i.e. telling me off when he finds me on Facebook!), even though he isn’t a reader at all (though he got two books for Christmas so that could change – hey, if I got my father reading after not picking up a book (that wasn’t a car manual) since school, anything’s possible!).

I found by chance on Twitter a writing campaign #my500words, started by a chap called Jeff Goins, whose blog is full of lots of useful motivating things for aspiring writers like myself, so please have a look here. So this is something I’m going to follow: 500 words a day for 31 days. This is pure writing, no editing, and while I am redrafting from existing copy, I am still writing fresh, especially in the cases where I’m adapting chapters and making new content based on concepts already clumsily made. So far so good – I’m already halfway through chapter two, having exceeded my 500 words most days.

After the 31 days are up, I might adapt the limit again, depending on how far I am through the story. Another thing to bear in mind is that lambing time is approaching, which might sit as a fat spanner in the works, as I have been led to believe that my life will be split between the sheds and home for a kip. Snatching time to write is so far serving me well: getting up a little earlier to sit in the quiet downstairs, or if on odd days I’m not needed, then I can really hammer it home.

I will keep you updated. Meanwhile, any words of encouragement won’t go amiss!

Katy

Christmas and New Year: just another day

So Christmas has been and gone, and so has New Year. Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year. My mother said when I was little I used to get so excited I would make myself poorly. And when I was a little bit bigger we went to Lapland one Christmas to really ramp up the festive authenticity – which was possibly spoiled when Father Christmas wasn’t at his grotto and then when he visited the hotel he gave me a game of Twister to play with all my non-existent brothers and sisters.

This year you might have thought, what with me leaving my job in November, I would have had all the time in the world to prepare for Christmas and really make it the best Christmas ever. Yet I hardly managed to do any of my traditions, to the point where on Christmas week I made both my roulade and a Yule Log in a bit of a rush. The roulade was a bit of a disaster: one of the eggs cracked so yolk got into the whites and they didn’t fluff up like they should, and then my cooker burnt it down one side yet leaving the other side perfect. All the same, it tasted light and chocolatey, but we didn’t eat it fast enough so the cream went to cheese. But since it got Scott’s approval I think I shall make another.

I left my job to focus on my writing and to get on with the move to my Grandad’s house, but also to support Scott at the farm while he was working full-time. Now that he’s driving on an as-and-when self-employed basis, we’ve been able to really get on with the farm and make some decent progress. I’m still learning and am probably more of a hindrance than a help, but with such short days at this time of year, it’s hard to fit everything in and get all the jobs done.

I still managed to do some Christmas shopping and get for everyone. I went to the Country Living Christmas Fair in Harrogate with my mum and with Scott’s mum as well, and we had a really lovely day. I had saved up for Christmas all year so I didn’t feel too guilty about spending money despite not earning anything at the moment.

Across the festive break, Scott’s favourite phrase has been “it’s just another day to me” – be it in relation to Christmas, New Year’s, or whatever. And for farming, and a lot of other industries, that’s absolutely true. There are still animals to feed, water troughs to top up, calves to feed twice a day, and to bed up if necessary. But I spent years working on Christmas anyway when I worked at the pub in our village, so I am well aware that the world doesn’t stop for one day.

And now we’re here, in 2017. How time has flown! Despite it not being the Christmas I might have known – waking up in my own little house instead of at my mum and dad’s, not going to Midnight Mass, not going on our Boxing Day walk with the doggies – it has still been a wonderful Christmas I’ve spent with those that I love and cherish, all the while missing those whose chairs were absent at our table.

#MyStyleWednesday – Summer baby

As it was my birthday, I of course got lots of lovely things from my wonderful family and friends. Thank you all so very much for your gifts and kind words! Now I was planning on taking loads of cool arty pictures, but instead my DSLR decided it would flash up an error message, so instead we get dodgy iPhone photos. Hurrah!

How do you guys get your photos off your phones? For some reason my Photostream won’t sync to my phone, and so I have to save them to my Dropbox, and then decide if I can be bothered to edit them or not.

We had a lovely BBQ at my house with lots of food, and were very lucky because a couple of days later my patio table broke!

I know people say birthdays mean less and less the older you get, but I still look forward to mine, even if I don’t do anything big or special. For our eighteenth birthdays, Steffi and I had a big party at the pub in my village, the Middleton Arms, and really we should have maybe gone back there for a meal to reminiscence. Continue reading “#MyStyleWednesday – Summer baby”

Celebrating 26 years of my little life

Can you believe I’ll be 26 this weekend? I can’t! It feels like two minutes ago I turned 25. I still feel like I’m a wee little teenager, and judging by the amount of times I get ID’d, I must look it, too! I don’t know whether to be insulted or overjoyed when the cashiers in Morrisons question as to whether I am old enough to purchase a bottle of rose. It seems to be happening less and less, though, which is a little worrying. Either that, or they know me as a regular – still, the worry remains. Continue reading “Celebrating 26 years of my little life”

Half a Year Gone Already

Can you believe it’s July 2016 already?

No 71

I’ve been living in my little house for over six months now! Simultaneously it feels like time has flown by yet like I’ve lived here for a long time. I’ve had quite a few big changes, including starting a new job, and moving into my little house. Both of those things were arranged last year, and they ticked off the two main things on my list of aspirations for the year. Coming out of a time when the media (here’s looking at you, Mailonline) and the general voice of the public seemed to have a downer on young people in general, with a difficult job market and a nigh-unscaleable property ladder, I very quietly set my mind to those two things, and I’m so pleased that I achieved both.

My favourite flowers
My favourite flowers

For 2016 I have the one main goal: to get writing, properly. It’s been easy to get distracted with new house, new job, new kittens, and the new Game of Thrones, but I set my mind to finishing off “My First Book”, shall we vaguely call it. This is a book I’ve had in mind since I was in first year of university, and have dibbed in and out of over the past few years. From about September time last year, I embarked on the not-inconsequential task of pulling together all the random vague chapters and drafting in the remainder, pulling together a sketchy first draft. That came to a close in February of this year, at which point I began the great editing process. As it stands, I’m about halfway through, having cut down on about ten chapters so far, and rejigging a lot of the pacing, action and some of the relationships. So far I am still really enjoying it.

It’s been quite an intense half a year so far, from a horrible start into a gloomy, dark sort of non-summer.

Bursts of colour
Bursts of colour

Things I’ve enjoyed so far

  • Wheel of Time – I finally finished this mega series! I actually cried at the end, and was pleased with its final execution, especially when you consider its original author and instigator, Robert Jordan, died before the last few volumes were to see the light of day. I’ve got the prequel to read yet, so it’s not quite over for me.
  • Game of Thrones – obviously! I got Sky TV just in time for series 6, which has gone beyond the books now. The past couple of years have seen me get back into a fantasy zone, which is great, considering MFB is definitely in the fantasy genre, though quite a different take to WoT, which is straight-up epic fantasy on a far-reaching, dazzling magical scale, and GoT, which is a much more human, visceral approach on it, with a smattering of zombies and soaring dragons flitting here and there.
  • Living in Casa Katy! While paying for everything is a bit annoying, I really like my little house. I have a lovely little corner set up for writing, and my front room is coming together nicely, as is my little garden, which I’m looking forward to working on a bit more once this summer *hopefully* gets underway… will it… ever? Who knows!

Things I’m looking forward to

  • Finishing MFB’s second draft. It’s picking up a bit of momentum in the middle section now, and I’m excited to charge on through, and see how things go. I’m adding structural pieces and frames to tighten things up, and I’m getting a definite buzz.
  • Winds of Winter – who isn’t? And is it ever coming? 2016 might be over and we might not be anywhere. One can dream.
  • My birthday! The mid-point of the year of course brings my little birthday, and without the summer school to distract me, I can look forward to it, though July as a whole is a busy little month anyway. I haven’t any special plans for my birthday as such, though I’m going to the Great Yorkshire Show so that will be exciting.
  • Summer in Casa Katy – I’ve bought some nice cushions for my patio furniture and it’s done nothing but rain since I got them. I would like to get them out of the plastic wrapping sometime, please.
Come back, Mr Sunshine!
Come back, Mr Sunshine!

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Nurburgring 2016 (May)

our rides

 

So, I think since I last posted anything car-related we’ve gone on a couple of Nurburgring trips! The most recent was in May of this year, and it was different, for quite a few reasons – some sad, and some joyous.

me and steffi

One wonderful reason was for this lady who was my co-driver, passenger, wingwoman, shotgun and general all-round splendid beauty and now honorary member of the “Jallanby” clan, Miss Scatty Jallanby herself, Stephanie Glaves!! (cue rapturous applause) Steffi came, despite (at the time) being a non-car-driver on a car holiday. She very valiantly put up with my driving, my music, and the general specific oddness of the Nurburgring, and I love her ever so much for it, and we had the best time ever, and I am proud to say that now she has got her provisional driving licence and has had at least one driving lesson. Go Steffi go!!

Us in Germany

A sadder reason was that we lost Grandad earlier in this year. For many years Grandad was my Dad’s passenger and co-driver – long before I rekindled my interest in cars, Grandad always went with Dad for the biannual pilgrimage to the Nurburgring, and I think he proudly held the mantle of oldest and fastest man around the Ring. I know there will definitely be some photographs on computers somewhere out in the world of this old chap snoring his head off in a Subaru Impreza. Grandad loved going to Germany and definitely was one of the “boys”; the trip felt very strange without him being there, whether it was him laughing at all the stupid shenanigans we get up to, or else muttering about the rock-hard bread or the steak he couldn’t chew, or even for pinching Dad’s glasses for an entire trip. It was a sad occasion but John (or “JC” as I think he is globally known) made these fantastic stickers for us and so Dad and I had our cars wear them with pride.

Grandad in Germany

Another big change was… Dad didn’t go in the Spec C. Nooo! He went in something else… we call it “Redzilla” – yep, Dad has gone and bought a Nissan GTR!

"Oui oui KK"
“Oui oui KK”

It’s been something he’s dreamt of I think for a good long while. And boy, was it rapido! Bear in mind that Dad knows the Nurburgring inside and out, but the GTR is a very different car to a Subaru – I think my advice to Dad of “take it easy” was fairly sensible! And I’m usually the one going, “go on Dad go on faster do the Ring Taxi do the Ring Taxi!” (actual dialogue). I think judging by the massive grin on Dad’s face he kind of liked his new car (never fear, he still has the Spec C of “fuck me, that was lucky” fame!), and we had some pretty epic laps, including of course chasing the Ring Taxi. Funny how keeping pace with the Ring Taxi was always the big thing to do, and now it’s like see yaaaa. Now I couldn’t find a gif of this scene from The Fast and The Furious, but I found a clip of it:

This has got to be the most quoteable movie ever, and I think Dad and I could just quip it back and forth for the whole film.

We had a great big group of us going – we took up the whole hotel, and I think we all had an ace time.

The obligatory Pinocchio photo op
The obligatory Pinocchio photo op

I think I was getting better, and I even got a couple of “very good”s and “perfect”s off Dad, which is high praise indeed! Even though it was very strange having one member of our group missing, we all enjoyed ourselves, and I especially enjoyed having Steffi with us. It was scorching hot and we got interested sunburns. We weren’t especially impressed with the new car park politics going on – particularly when the Ring Taxi Porsche nearly reversed into the car waiting to exit the car park directly behind it. But no near misses happened and we all got back home in one piece, which is, as always, the most important thing. I’m still chasing that 10 minute lap, and now I think Dad’s chasing that sub-8 minute lap. Preparations are being made for the next trip, so watch this space!

Until next time, petrolheads!

Wall of Fame