Train Blues   Leave a comment

For the third time in a month my train doesn’t get any further south than Lancaster on it’s route to Manchester Airport, its scheduled stop.

Why? Because they don’t have enough train drivers.

Really TransPennine Express? Really?

Lucky for me I only go as far as Lockerbie…



Posted April 1, 2016 by Alan Clark in Business, Commute, Train

Gardening Ouch!   Leave a comment

With the first real glint of spring, we finally got around to putting a couple of slabs down in front of our compost bins, and surrounded them with wood chips.

It’s a huge improvement from the slippery mess we had before. Now, we can look forward to emptying our compost with a much reduced risk of falling on our bums.

And it feels good putting a tick against one of the tasks in our long list of garden to-do’s!

That said, I did manage to strike my eye socket with the handlebar of the sack barrow I was using to move the slabs, and I’ve now got a lovely sore bump under my eyebrow as a reward…



Posted March 21, 2016 by Alan Clark in Accident, Compost, Garden

Quiz Night   Leave a comment

On Friday I co-hosted a quiz night in the local village hall. This was the first time I’ve ever had to do this and came about because our team won the previous month’s competition. It’s quite hard trying to be competitive in a competition that you don’t want to win, and last month we misjudged it slightly. Meaning that this time around it was the turn of our next door neighbour and myself to set the questions.

So, having agreed to divide the quiz between us, I set about conjuring up five sets of ten questions, and a ten question picture round for the break in the middle of the proceedings. Of course, its easy to set this up, right? I mean, you have google, and bing, and all manner of resources at hand to make the process go smoothly. What can possibly go wrong?

Well, my take on it is as follows:

  1. Unless you want to frustrate your contestants with two rounds of Geography questions, take note of what topics your co-host plans to use
  2. Vary the level of difficulty in your questions
  3. Don’t pick words you find hard to pronounce. You don’t want to be stumbling over some tongue twisting word or phrase, especially if you are someone who dreads public speaking, like me
  4. It’s very hard to gauge how long to wait before starting off the next question. I ended up listening to the general noise level in the room which seemed to rise once the teams had written their answers.
  5. It’s meant to be fun!



Posted March 14, 2016 by Alan Clark in Game, Question, Quiz, Village

Dalbeattie Writers’ Group   Leave a comment

I attended my second ever Dalbeattie Writers’ Group at the wonderful Nail Factory  on Tuesday night. This is a lovely venue, and came complete with coffee and cake, so I’m definitely won over.

There were only five of us at the seesion, including the Chair, Mary, and we had a wonderful chat that wandered between recitals of our recent work and discussions on the definition of Fairy Tales.

Email addresses were exchanged – something that hadn’t been done in the group before, for some reason – and a tentative process put in place for distributing work to each other for review before the next session. By doing this we aim to make it easier to offer advice on our work, having had time to consider it before the next get together.

Looking forward to the next meeting in April.


Posted March 11, 2016 by Alan Clark in Dalbeattie, Dalbeattie Writers, Reading, Writer, Writing

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Writing Tools   Leave a comment

I’m reading Writing Tools – 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark, at the moment. What a great book! I reckon my paperback will quickly become dog-eared through re-use.(ISBN: 978-0-316-01499-1)

I’d highly recommend it.

Posted March 4, 2016 by Alan Clark in Book, Reading, Resource, Writer, Writing

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Feb 16 Birds   Leave a comment

February brings all the birds to our yard, so to speak. It’s a good month for spotting some more unusual visitors to our back garden, as well as noting our regular visitors.

This month we have spotted (excluding our neighbour’s hens who had found their way into our driveway!):

  • Chaffinch
  • House sparrow
  • Robin
  • Red kite
  • Siskin
  • Jackdaw
  • Dunnet
  • Thrush
  • Great Tit
  • Coal Tit
  • Blue Tit
  • Collared Dove
  • Goldfinch
  • Blackbird
  • Yellowhammer
  • Woodpecker
  • Greenfinch
  • Starling
  • Long Tailed Tit
  • Nuthatch
  • Redpoll
  • Crow

Not too bad a catch 🙂


Posted February 29, 2016 by Alan Clark in Bird, Garden, Uncategorized

Trains   Leave a comment

At least the trains have started to run again. Storm Frank has a lot to answer for. When it made the viaduct at Lammington unsafe, it also made my commute to the Big City that bit longer, which meant earlier starts in the morning, and later finishes in the evening. It also curtailed my writing a little. I’d found the train journey handy for putting pen to paper, using those moments to be as productive as I could. Having this taken away – albeit only for a short time – wasn’t going mean hours of fruitless driving though. I quickly discovered a bunch of fantastic podcasts to keep me company during my journey. Needless to say I am now a big fan of Writing Excuses, Grammar Girl, and The Geeks Guide To The Galaxy. Keep up the good work folks!

Posted February 22, 2016 by Alan Clark in Commute, Podcast, Train, Writer, Writing