Saturday, 28 August 2010
It's that time again!
For this week's Friday Flash Fiction, our leader, mentor and cracker-of-whips Cormac Brown has set us an interesting conundrum, whereby we weave a tale which begins with a sentence supplied by MRM:
"I heard footsteps on the wet sidewalk and the sound of keys."
Stepping up to the challenge (which came very easily this week....maybe it's just that bad! :-o) here's my take on that opening line.....
HONEY, I'M HOME
I heard footsteps on the wet sidewalk and the sound of keys landing on the paving. Squinting around the net curtains I could just make out Jack’s form bending over and cursing under his breath to retrieve them. I turned away from the window quickly as he made his way up the stoop and heard the impatient rattle of the door as he tried first one key then another in the lock.
Tiptoeing into the darkness I glanced back up the hallway, seeing the shadow of his frame silhouetted on the frosted glass panels of the door. I had, I guessed, just a couple of minutes left and what hadn’t already been accomplished was too bad.
I edged backwards, feeling my way round the open door into the back room. I heard the children shuffling and whispering and cut them a warning glance. Tobias, the eldest, clasped his hands protectively over Maggie’s shoulders. She shivered slightly in her cotton nightgown clutching her ragged, but much loved teddy in a death-grip of anticipation, her eyes wide and her thumb wedged firmly in her mouth for comfort. It was way past their bedtime but I wanted them nearby, I wanted us all to be together no matter the outcome.
I blew her a silent kiss then ushered them to move further back as I tiptoed over to join them. Squeezing over behind the table I motioned them to crouch down safely out of sight and there we waited, counting off the silent seconds, my heart pounding.
First came the creak of the opening door. I was glad I hadn’t oiled the hinges as I’d been meaning to do – it gave us a few precious seconds of warning. Listening to the sounds in the darkness I imagined the scene in the hallway, with Jack dropping his coat on the waiting chair, familiarising himself with the layout. Things had changed while he’d been away but he’d quickly found the light switch and the flood of brightness illuminated the floor, spilling into the backroom.
I turned and looked down at Tobias, crouched beside his sister. I could just make out her face, the bright reflection of her eyes, then the horrified realisation that the thumb had slid from its warm repository leaving her mouth open and ready to cry out. Tobias quickly clamped his hand over her face, stifling her attempted yell. I raised a finger to my lips and shook my head, desperate for her to keep quiet, yet not wanting her to be alarmed.
The footsteps in the hall were coming closer and I took one last glance at the table beside me. In the darkness I could just see the glint of reflected light along the blade of the large knife and moved my fingers to pull it closer.
In those final seconds, I wondered if I shouldn’t have left the children sleeping peacefully and unaware upstairs after all. It had been a long time since I’d seen Jack and there were things that I might have said that would have been better out of their earshot.
Too late now, though. I saw the edge of Jack’s tan loafers as they stepped across the threshold and saw the black shadow of his hand reach up the wall, feeling in the dimness for the light switch. As the room was flooded with brilliance there was movement, chaos and noise and a brief look of bewilderment on Jack’s face.
“Surprise!” shrieked the children, as they scrabbled forwards and wrapped themselves around their Father, home at last after the long weeks of his business trip. He smiled lovingly at them and hugged them as he glanced over towards me with a look of far more than mere affection.
I sighed and picked up the knife, wondering if eating a ‘Welcome Home and Happy Birthday’ cake at 3.20 in the morning was quite such a good idea after all!
Thursday, 26 August 2010
This really made my day ! At first I thought it was a joke, but no - KULULA really exists!
Check out the rest of their fleet at the website.
With a healthy does of hilarity, some of their in-flight info would have the passengers screaming with laughter and rolling in the aisles - even the inflight magazine is written by South African comedians - to enhance the 'travel experience'!
And this must be the BEST pre-flight safety demo ever! (OK, takes a few moments to tune your ear to the dialect, but still a bit of a giggle!)
Thursday, 19 August 2010
How quickly time flies - and Friday Flash Fiction is with us again!(even though this is only Thursday......)
After a brief vacation Cormac Brown has returned and set us the task of creating a story from an opening sentence supplied (way back when!) by one of our FFF cohorts, Randal Graves.
An extra challenge was to write in a different genre from our usual output!
To that end, I've opted for a Sci-fi element - I hope it works for you!
She knew time was running out, fast, but opening that door was Pandora's Box all over again and Langley’s skin was already turning a peculiar shade. Or maybe it was just the artificial light in the airlock. Either way, she needed to get him out of there.
Veronica ‘Ronnie’ Hope cursed him silently under her breath as she struggled with the manual over-ride. The noise of her laboured breathing rasped through her headset as a welcome distraction from Langley’s slurred rendition of “ten green bottles” which was now almost like listening to a monotonous loop-tape.
“Mullarkey?” she called out.
“Yes, ma’am?” came the reply through her headset.
“How’re the gauges running?”
There was a mild static hiss and the faint noise of Mullarkey’s voice humming an indiscriminate song absent-mindedly. Ronnie closed her eyes as she continued to pump back and forwards on the compression handle, gradually bringing down the atmosphere in the airlock to a viable level as she asked herself why, perhaps for the millionth time, she had agreed to assume control of the station.
After Captain Brakes had called a halt to his own career by deciding to exit the station without his suit it had been a rollercoaster ride. The madness that had prompted his swift and final departure seemed to have spread in varying degrees to the rest of the crew. Now, with the material that Brakes had retrieved from the Primary Quadrant safely isolated, she had to try and preserve what was left of the fourteen-man crew – Langley, Mullarkey and herself.
“Mullarkey?” she called again. Man, it was hard just keeping him on task. “Mullarkey, what are you doing?”
The static popped on and off in her ears.
“Hey, Ronnie, the pressure’s falling in four and five, but six thru nine are looking good.”
“What about one to three? And that’s Captain Ronnie, to you!” She pumped the handle again, back and forwards, waiting for Mullarkey to report.
Curiously, the insanity that infected the original presiding officer-in-charge had spread like wildfire amongst the crew but did not seem to affect the three females. She was now the last surviving woman, courtesy of Lt. Miller taking out Maj.Christa Blake in his bid to blow apart one of the labs.
Sherri LeRoy, her fellow Scientific Investigation Officer, had died when a lower ranking officer, in one of his more psychotic episodes, had mistaken her for his ex-wife. Having waited until her husband was safely out of Earth’s orbit, she’d filed for divorce taking the kids, his car and his dog, along with the proceeds from the sale of the house, and set up home with one of his best friends.
Rage and elevated hysteria had seen him ransack the armoury and let fly with his pent up fantasies after four years of ruminating on those facts; well, maybe only the last six months, since they’d been awake – Ronnie Hope didn’t recall anything, not even dreams, during the long flight of induced sleep that had brought them to the farther reaches of Earth’s new territory within this particular galaxy.
“Mullarkey?” She hissed her impatience. “MULLARKEY!” Her arms were beginning to tire of the constant backwards, forwards, motion but the dial on the airlock was moving closer towards equilibrium.
The crackling static signal announced Mullarkey’s presence.
“Here, boss.” The static was interrupted by sniggers. Soft and slow at first, then louder.
“Cut that out!” she yelled back. The last thing she needed was him going ape-shit on her right now. The effects of the crystals Ray Brakes had brought back to the station seemed to trigger some sort of mental collapse, a number of the affected crew members becoming violent whilst others dissolved into increasingly infantile behaviour.
Ronnie wasn’t entirely sure which end of the spectrum she’d prefer Mullarkey to lodge in but clearly he was on the downward spiral to senility. She needed him to keep sane for just long enough to get Langley out of the airlock.
‘And what then?’ a voice in her mind had questioned. Before she could think up an answer for herself, the airlock slid open with an almost silent ‘phhhhhuttt’.
She reached inwards and grasped the man’s boot and dragged him out of the way. His dead weight told her he was no longer a problem.
“Mullarkey, I need you to blow the outer hatch on Bay 16.”
Silence greeted her request.
Static whispered through her headset and a descant of humming, interspersed with manic laughter.
“MULLARKEY! For the love of all that’s decent, answer me!”
The static hiss grew louder in her ears.
“BLOW – THE – HATCH!!!” she shrieked. “NOW!” A wild panic threatened to break out like the sweat that was dripping down her face. A pause of silence that seemed to last an eternity ended in a blinding flash and she found herself thrown outwards into the debris of boulders and rocks.
The imploding vacuum threatened to drag her back into the mausoleum she had created. She wondered briefly how long Mullarkey would survive, the last representative of his species marooned on this distant outpost of Earth’s empire, the madness finally contained and isolated. Pandora’s Box had been breached and now only Ronnie Hope remained.
A few spatters of static noise still filtered through her headset as she forced herself to release the catches on her helmet ready to embrace eternity, preferring a quick death to a slow suffocation.
Just as the final images of the space station presented themselves in her brain she saw the faces at the next airlock; Ray Brakes, Mullarkey and – Christa?
The figures frantically gestured towards her and a voice of clarity broke through the static. In one final, lucid moment she heard Mullarkey’s voice through the receiver in her helmet.
“I tried to stop her sir, but she just seemed to go mad. She’d been in the lab working on those samples you brought back….”
Her fingers clad in their heavy gloves reached for the release clasps and Ronnie began to giggle; a sound that started in her throat and never reached her mouth.
Tuesday, 17 August 2010
Following on from something I read on David Barber's blog I was inspired to come up with a wee story, based on an actual event that took place this morning! Herewith.......
Hushed in their devotions, lips moving silently in their incantations, the faithful make their way up the aisle.
They pause, reflect, close their eyes to remember and then, nodding, continue their journey. All around lies carnage, blood pooling around the eviscerated flesh.
Cold corpses, still whole, their flesh still encased in pale and dapple-hued skin stare blankly back with opened eyes at the dark procession of the old and the young, the babes in arms, the elderly shuffling past.
Hands reach out and hesitate, then move along as they read the precious words and petitions, recorded in their own hand on crumpled paper.
A voice booms out from on high, exhorting the faithful to continue, to enrich their experience. And all around is death, where once was life.
Then, with the coldness leeching heat from all available living flesh, the procession make their way to the end, waiting in turn to reach the exit. A quiet moment of contemplation, looking at all before them, perhaps a pang of regret for what was forgotten, a last look back - but time has run out.
A face turns, mouth open to speak, dressed in uniform, declaring the name of the deity they have all come to worship within the narrow aisles.
“Morning, love. You OK with your packing?”
Sunday, 15 August 2010
A pretty hectic 48 hours!
Down to the south coast to visit rellies and watch the Red Arrows (see pic) amongst other flying combo's at 'Airbourne' airshow, along the beach at Eastbourne. Then a musical show in the evening, followed the morning after by a run back up to London to the Imperial War Museum (for daughter and I - the OH had an appointment at White Hart Lane!) - then, in the evening we drove to Hampstead to the grounds of Kenwood House for an open-air concert by Jamie Cullum (and the weather, despite having been awful earlier, was very kind to us!).
So now we're home again - (arrived home shortly before midnight) and realising that age is catching up with us......;-p
But here's a spooky thing - some of you may know about the crime story I've written called 'DOMINO'? Part of the story is set in a London police station (which I picked out randomly after a wee trawl around the internet).
Yesterday, when daughter and I remerged from the IWM, we realised we didn't know the way to the nearest tube station (having been dropped at the museum by car). Having asked directions from the museum staff we ventured out into the rain and went in the direction we thought was right.
When it looked as though we'd made a mistake, I jokingly said to daughter, "Oh well, when in doubt, always ask a policeman!" and looked up to see we were standing right outside a police station - and not just ANY police station, but the very one I'd written about! I almost half expected to find one of my characters walking down the steps!
Funny old world, isn't it?
Tuesday, 10 August 2010
Or illustious mentor, Cormac Brown, has set us quite a task this week for Friday Flash Fiction !
Using the words: BUBBLE, TOIL, RUBBLE and COIL in any order, we were invited to create a story. So, here's my interpreation of said words. I hope you like it!
DYING FOR A SMOKE
Blood, sweat, toil and tears. That’s all Frank Grady’s life seemed to amount to, he thought wearily, as he lay amid the rubble of his home. He didn’t remember much about the blast except being bodily carried through the air when the gas exploded and ripped the walls apart.
The only saving grace was that the man who’d forced his way into the neat little terraced house in the early hours of the morning and trussed him and his wife Martha up was lying somewhere under what used to be the kitchen. He wouldn’t be going anywhere soon, thought Frank; not with the severed remains of one leg, still complete with intact trainer-shod foot, thrown across the room together with a mixture of loose digits scattered in the general carnage and debris.
At least he’d got to see some sort of justice done before he shuffled off this mortal coil but, curiously, the last four hours had seen him almost thank the intruder in a way.
Martha’s dementia had concealed from her the horrors that might have filled her with terror. She remained locked inside a bubble of her own reality, where she’d imagined the young lad to be a long-lost son.
Her incessant questions and total compliance with the thug who had tied her up with the flex from the table lamp he’d smashed, had seen him turn from amused to frustrated, until he’d been obliged to silence her once and for all. As he’d tightened the cord around her neck her face had grown mottled and bloated, but her eyes had never really expressed any sense of fear.
Frank had watched with a sense of desperation tinged with relief that Martha’s living hell was finally extinguished. She had died with a smile on her face and if he had to remember that last sight of her, then it was almost a blessing. She remained slumped in her chair, the colour drained from her face and her head rolled forwards with a soporific grin on her face, as if enjoying an afternoon doze.
Yet justice was seen to be done, thought Frank, as he lay in the ruined debris of his home. Having ransacked their precious belongings, smashing photos and ornaments and found a small amount of cash they had saved up, the intruder had grown angry and had tied Martha up threatening all manner of atrocities, hoping to get Frank to reveal where the rest of the money was hidden.
After the third slap to Martha’s face, Frank had realised neither of them were going to get out alive. There were real tears in his eyes as he had begged for her to be left alone and agreed to get the money together. This had seemed to relax the young man, made him cocky even, so that when Frank persuaded him to untie him he’d rested a hand on Frank’s shoulder.
“You got any beer, old man?” he’d said, a smirk smeared across his vicious face. “ I could kill a beer; thirsty work getting money out of you.”
Frank had felt his chest rise as he’d eased himself from the chair. A sense of hope had renewed his resolve for justice and if he’d have been younger and fitter, maybe he would have taken the young punk on.
Moving into the kitchen he’d rattled around, shuffling drawers, lifting an old coffee pot down from a cupboard as he’d quietly turned all the gas burners on. He’d reached into the larder, almost as an afterthought, and pulled out a bottle of Ringwood Fortyniner; he doubted the young man would appreciate it but he’d been willing to make the sacrifice.
As he’d trekked back into the other room something in Martha’s eyes had suggested she recognised the bottle of beer and began to tease her assailant about how her little boy was all grown up now. After a few swigs he’d grown tired and wrapped the cable tighter round her neck until she was at last quiet.
Frank had mourned silently and swiftly, almost paying lip service to Martha’s passing. In his heart he’d known that the vibrant woman he’d loved all these years, who’d planned for babies that had never arrived, had effectively died months previously, snatched away by the dementia that left him married to a stranger.
With the beer all but consumed, the man had lunged forward and grabbed the coffee pot from Frank’s grasp, sending the contents flying. A few tenners fluttered free and something else. The man pounced and retrieved the half empty packet of cigarettes.
“I was trying to give them up,” Frank had said, shrugging his shoulders.
“Don’t mind if I finish them off, then Pops? Anything I can do to help, y’know!” the man had sniggered back, patting his pockets. “Lighter?” he'd said, looking questioningly at Frank.
Having looked briefly around, a last glance sweeping over his wife’s body, he'd nodded towards the kitchen.
“On the counter,” he'd answered quietly.
As the young man sauntered past, Frank had resisted the temptation to trip him or have a chance of lashing out. There was no need. Justice would be served. Just like he’d planned. He'd counted off the seconds in his head and reached six before the blast sucked away all the familiar reality around him in a maelstrom of colours, shapes and movement.
Now, some minutes later as the ringing in his ears began to subside, he heard a distant wailing sound growing louder. Two-tone sirens. Too late, he thought. Too late for any of them. His world had been taken from him, all he’d worked for in his life. But in the taking, had come what he had silently longed for these past months as he heard a voice quietly in his head.
He closed his eyes.
Did he really hear her voice? He was certain he could smell her favourite perfume, and surely behind those closed eyelids he saw Martha in all her beauty?
He allowed a soft smile to leak onto his lips, the intense pain and pressure in his chest beginning to fade along with everything else.
Sunday, 8 August 2010
Fresh-faced a ne'ery a wrinkle - but thirty years on we're still going strong!
August 9th sees us two old codgers celebrating our Pearl Wedding Anniversary (...and they said it wouldn't last!)
OK, we're a little greyer and a little slower but we're more or less firing on all four cylinders as we wobble off towards the land of senility and zimmer-frames.
(Perhaps the secret of our 'success' is that we're never in the same place together for too long - daughter thinks we shall probably kill each other when we both give up work. ;-p)
Thursday, 5 August 2010
What does a tube train and 60 kilo's of kitty litter have in common?
In this instance - CAMRA's Great British Beer Festival at Earls Court.
This week I am a beer-widow. (Ok,every working day for Mr H means I am a beer-widow, given his job!) What I mean is - he's off at Earls Court all week and I've been abandoned/left-to-my-own-devices back in the Shires.
Anyway, it all seems to be a thundering success - apart from one small hitch (well,I suppose size is relative....)
This is where the kitty litter comes in.
60 kilos of the stuff! (can you visualise that....?)
Apparently kitty litter is useful for dealing with spillages - beer from leaking barrels and ......other stuff which, in the interests of good taste we won't mention here (but too much ale can have an effect on the constitution - you get the picture?)
The problem arises when said kitty litter is delivered to the wrong address. My address, in fact. Yup, this morning I actually took delivery of half a lorry load of large boxes of kitty litter. And we don't even have a cat!
The delivery address had got mixed up with our home address - so the kitty litter was in fact 91.8 miles away from where it should be!
So, 'white van man' (in this instance aka my OH) had to drive all the way up from Earls Court and pick up all the boxes and depart southwards again.
The fact that I nearly did myself a mischief helping first to unload one lorry and then re-load another is neither here nor there (I think that's good for a few treats in the future!!! Hmmmmm -I foresee prolific amounts of 'plastic'-assisted shopping expeditions!) So hubby dear, when you read this - you have been warned!
Anyway, the problem was solved and apparently the GBBF is going very well. Do drop in if you're in the vicinity.....those who know Mr H will probably be able to scrounge a pint off him! ;-p
Tuesday, 3 August 2010
Wow!I have to say a big 'thankyou' to Dave Barber - he's nominated me as a recipient of the Versatile Blogger Award. This is a very unexpected pleasure!
I also have to thank this young man for introducing me to the delights(?!) of Cormac Brown's Friday Flash Fiction ( er, isn't that a bit like thanking a drug-pusher for introducing them to addiction....?) Meanwhile, he acts like a truss - an ever-present source of help and support. ;-p
So, as I understand it, I have to list seven or so things about myself (this could be really interesting (not?) - OK , here goes:
1. I was born in the days of black and white TV, pirate radio, and before the term 'software' was invented.
2. I have a family tree that stretches back over 400 years (so far), made up of sheep stealers and cattle thieves and one brave soul who stood up to Bonnie Prince Charlie.
3. I worked on a Hammer Horror film, starring Vincent Price. ('Theatre of Blood')
4. I am maried to someone who is PAID to go to beer festivals! (and sometimes he takes me too! :-) )
5. I was a true 'Promenade-er' at the Last Night of the Proms, 1981
6. I recently completed a six part Stunt Driving challenge to raise money for our local Air Ambulance charity. How's about this for my first hand-brake turn!
7. Some people (Mr Glasnost, Col Bury, Dave Barber etc.) were a bit bemused when I was sinking pints after a recent book launch (shame, I think they must lead very sheltered lives...)
I think that'll be enough to keep you going - don't want to share ALL my secrets!
I also undertand that I am now required to pass on this award to other blogsters - hard for me to do as most of you seem to have already received it!
But, here goes:
To my daughter, R, for getting me started on blogging in the first place, and her cheerleading from the sidelines as I attmept to get my work published!
To Matt Hilton for being a brilliant writer, bringing Joe Hunter to life and being general all-round good-egg and one of the best things to hail from Carlisle (as well as my own family!)
To Roger Ellory for being so generous with his time and writing brilliant novels. (just another little award to add to your recent Theakstons' success, then, Roger? ;-) )
To Don Miller and his sometime blogging dog, Lucy, for being a daily inspiration and a thought provoking look at life!
To Doc because his blog is just an all-round interesting read and always entertaining.
To Jarrett Rush, for his infectious enthusiam for writing and tenacious spirit!
Last, but by no means least, to fellow aspiring authorPaul G. for his enthusiasm and encouragement, and also for allowing me to spend a few very pleasant hours in the company of his characters, John Blake and Gareth Bell. I look forward to meeting them in print in the not-too-distant future!
Um, I think there must be more but alas, a long and tedious evening shift at the library followed by a glass (or ##) of red wine has sent me sliding into ultra-relaxed mode and is hammering the braincells......
Anyway, thankyou, Mr Barber, sir, for my nomination. Anyone who hasn't read his blog (there might just be the odd one or two of you kicking about ;-p) needs to get over there and sample his wares, pronto.
Just to prove I do other things than noodle about on the internet!
The theraputic rewards of knitting are well known - I find it a great stress-buster and a valuable way of letting my brain wander whilst keeping my hands occupied, especially if it's something I don't need a pattern for.
I went along to a new knitting group last week and was going to take along my sock knitting, I'd finished one of the pair but now I seem to have lost the wool....
...so last night I started another instead. (The reason I like knitting socks on four needles is you don't have any seams to worry about - you just get to the end, cast off and 'voila'! Straight onto your feet!)
Anyway, while I was knitting yesterday I found my mind wandering to the literary WIP - I wonder if it's that with your 'body' occupied, your mind is free to explore new plot twists...
BTW - this new knitting group? Not to be confused with this!
At least, I don't think so....... :-o
Monday, 2 August 2010
You know how it is when a book you've been after eventually finds its way into your hands - you're suddenly faced with a dilemma.
Do you cast aside the story you've been reading in favour of the new arrival?
Or, do you keep reading the current novel but all the while trying (but not succeeding!) to ignore the little devil on your shoulder who's whispering enticements in your ear about the new book sitting patiently and invitingly awaiting your attention....?
To my shame, I have to confess I chose the former option, compounding it several times as more new books arrived on the scene. Thus, The Pawn, by Steven James, has become a frequent casualty of late.
That is not to say that it is in anyway poor, rather it's the little devil's enticements eating away at my resolve! The redeeming factor is that within a page or so's re-reading I have fallen straight back into the fast moving plot and engaged with the central character, Special Agent Patrick Bowers and his quest for a villain called The Illusionist.
Set in North Carolina, Bowers is called in to consult on a case centred on a serial killer. Battling demons of his own as he has to come to terms with being a single-parent to his wayward and unforgiving stepdaughter, he finds The Illusionist always one step ahead of the game - with the death count rising, a chess piece is found at the scene of each murder.
As a shady past begins to catch up with the present, suspicion falls on the involvement of the state Governor in a cover-up tied into a massacre that happened years ago. But was there one survivor?
The Pawn is an excellent read, so partly to apologise to the author for my tardiness in reading his book, I'm happy to recommend The Pawn to other readers - and I promise that when I get hold of the others in the series ('The Knight', 'The Rook' and 'The Bishop') nothing will get in the way of me reading straight through!
Sunday, 1 August 2010
It's Sunday and I have the rest of the day very much to myself. OH has deserted me for a week so I have planned to set aside plenty of reading/thinking/writing time, esp. as I will not have to please anyone else or fit around their schedules.
But, just when I could do with the weather being bad and thus 'forcing' me to abandon the gardening, it stays nice and dry so I feel guilty putting my feet up and reading, or writing up new chapters of the WIP.
There's a dilemma over whether to just cut the grass or actually rip up the turf. This has been on a back burner for a few weeks but now the grass has reached 'critical mass' stage and something has got to be done!
Ripping up the grass will involve more energy than I have (or feel inclined to exert!) Anyway, I don't have the gravel and paving ready to replace it yet and a whole pile of weeds would grow in it's place.
So, it looks like I'll be mowing the 'lawn' (ha! that's a bit of an oxymoron to describe the patch of greeny, browny, yellowy, vaguely rectangular vegitation that lies beyond the conservatory!) which will be interesting, given the length of the grass and the number of ominous ant's nests rising like the foothills of the Himalayas
(mental note to wear elastic bands over the hems of my jeans to prevent the little blighters running up me legs! :-o )
And while the rain's at bay I suppose I ought to finish painting the bench I started last week - (hmmm....still not sure about the colour.....) - have a tin of Hammerite to touch up the rusty ironwork and 'posh' it up a bit.
But, then, just think how virtuous I'd feel when it's all done and I can 'reward' myself with a little indulgence - assuming I'm not too knackered to enjoy it after all that!
....ah,wait - is that the spatter of raindrops I hear...? ;-p