31 May 2008

Therapeutic ..

I have just finished sorting out clothes, those which are too poor a condition have been relegated to the rag pile, those which have shrunk ( surely not I hear you cry! ) have been put in a pile to go to the Salvation Army bottle bank and the rest sorted into the various different chest of draws/wardrobes and chests ready for Summer..

There I said it, Summer whilst not actually sunny today, is warm... and all the winter jumpers and everything else has now been officially stored until they will be needed again when it turns cooler towards Autumn..

I don't tend towards Spring Cleaning, as I prefer to do my sorting out in Autumn (ready for my hibernation period); I find it comforting to create a nice warm, comfortable nest as the days grow shorter but needs must as SOH and I are trying to put two houses into one and as everyone knows clothes expand to fit the space available so I am doing it earlier rather than later this year...

Guess that means the weeding will be done tomorrow now, as after this I prescribe a nice relaxing shower and a glass of wine with tonights meal of tinkers casserole which after a long day at work the SOH will enjoy.

30 May 2008

Take Time....

It is important to take time for the following reasons :

1) you also need you time; don't be too generous and give all your you time away.. save some for yourself today
2) take time to look at the world around you, it is a beautiful place
3) take time to enjoy the company of the people that make you happy

So my weekend, will be for these three things.. no work, no travelling, no visiting, no shopping ... just time to enjoy, relax and chill out.. weather permitting I plan to do some weeding (much needed) and finish that book for the book club on monday... and on Sunday pm me and SOH will sit down and watch England vs Barbarians rugby match as we both enjoy watching rugby.

What are your plans for this weekend?

29 May 2008

Cloud 9

I am on cloud nine today.... October the NFL are playing a game at Wembley (San Diego Chargers vs New Orleans Saints) and I have bought SOH and myself tickets to go and see the game. I tried last year to get tickets without success, as you have to enter a lottery to get the early tickets and it is usually way oversubscribed so no chance of last minute tickets.

Well this year, they let me know I was in the early draft, and this morning I got in as soon as the ticket office opened online to get two tickets, I have the cheapest ones and they still cost over £50 each, but it will be worth it to see a real game over here.

I have watched some of the england teams play, notably Northants Storm but these days it seems to be played either at college level or european level and not many local teams exist.

So we are looking forward to watching a 'proper' American Football game this year... and this is part of SOH's birthday present.

Another favourite recipe : roasted vegetable tortilla bake

Ever know what to do with those left overs? I developed this after I had a lot of left over roasted Mediterranean vegetables after a barbeque a year or so back..

Cold roasted vegetables, tortilla wraps, cheese to sprinkle over the top, jar of pasta sauce (or Knorr Spanish Chicken sauce works well).

Warm wraps in the microwave, and fill with the vegetable mixtures (either keep as a roll, or fold them into parcels).. place in an ovenproof dish. Top with the sauce and then grated cheese over the top (I use a nice strong mature cheddar, but parmesan works just as well). Place in a hot oven (200oC) and bake for 20-25 mins or until the cheese and sauce is bubbling.

Serve with a salad for a light evening meal/lunch

If you want to make up the
roasted Mediterranean vegetables then take the following :

1 medium aubergine, 2 medium courgettes, 1 lb (450 g) cherry tomatoes, skinned, 1 small yellow pepper, de-seeded, 1 medium white onion and 1 medium red onion. Cut all the above into 1 inch chunks. Drizzle with olive oil, chopped garlic and sprinkle with salt, pepper and dried herbs (Oregano, Basil and Marjoram) and place on an oven tray and bake for 30 mins at 180oC or until the vegetables are tender to the touch. The roasted garlic will go sweet on you and not too strong.. keep some back for the wraps above.

Perfect to accompany a bbq or roast lamb with new potatoes...

28 May 2008

Four Little-Known Facts

Following on from Dickiebo, a meme again, If you feel like it, do join in, or take it for your own blog... Please!

Four things about me that you may or may not have known.

A) Four jobs I have had.
1) Factory Worker (not cut out for it)
2) Farm Worker
3) Kitchen Maid
4) Computer Operator

B) Four movies I would watch over and over
1) Princess Bride
2) Remo - unarmed and dangerous
3) The Jazz Singer (with Neil Diamond)
4) Ghost - I love Whoopi Goldberg in this

C) Four places I have lived
1) Aborfield, Berkshire
2) Kluang, Malaya (yes I know it is Malaysia now but then it wasn't)
3) Detmold, Germany
4) Buckingham Palace, London (loved the address, and the job - hated living in London)

D) Four TV shows I watch
1) Rugby, WWE
2) House
3) Casualty
4) Traffic Cop programmes (Street Wars, Road Wars etc)

E) Four places I have been
1) Toronto
2) Paris
3) Singapore
4) Ireland

F) Four People who e-mail me (regularly)
1) Saffron (yes, you know who you are)
2) SOH
3) Tartan Anorak
4) Paige Casey

G) Four of my favourite foods
1) Chocolate
2) Chinese
3) Breakfast (the full english)
4) Cheese

H) Four places I would like to be right now
1) Home
2) Cornwall
3) Ireland, just love the laid backedness of the place
4) Scotland...or Wales... anywhere really in this country

I) Four family or friends I think will respond (please)
1) Kathy @ 49
2) MissBliss
3) Hippocrates got lost
4) Annette's Blog

J) Things I am looking forward to this year
1) Meeting up with Friends more regularly
2) Taking the bike to the South of France
3) SOH's Birthday
4) Another trip to Cornwall

Another week, another gadget

I have a contract mobile phone, and occasionally when I remember to check, I get a 'free' upgrade.. well since I have had a mobile phone I have always had a nokia... but no more I now am the proud owner of a Sony Ericsson W960i

For the technically minded it is a walkman with 8GB of storage as well as a 3.2Mb camera and a 2.5 inch screen... which is touch sensitive so you can use a stylus to write text on it, or use an on-screen keyboard; this makes typing text messages a doddle for me and saves my thumbs or using predictive texting which I absolutely hate.

All this for the grand sum of £7.00 ($21.00 US give or take a bit at the current rate of exchange).. yet if you were to buy this phone on a pay as you go basis it would cost you over £400 new.. (tip look on ebay where similar phones were just a bit over £100 if you want to go this route).

My only problem with it has been to learn a new menu structure, if the nokia were like Windows then the Sony is like the Mac, it's there somewhere but not in the place you are looking.. but I think I have got to grips with the basics, I just want to explore the gps and blackberry software downloads I can put on the phone...

Oh, and the best thing... they realigned my contract charges and I am now paying less for more time/text messages.... got to be good.

23 May 2008


Just some randomness because it is Friday... so the following are facts about Friday

In the majority of countries with a five-day work week, Friday is the last workday before the weekend and is, therefore, viewed as a cause for celebration or relief. In some offices, employees are allowed to wear less formal attire on Fridays, known as Casual Friday or Dress-Down Friday.

TGIF = Thank God It's Friday is closely followed by POETS = Push Off Early Tomorrow's Saturday.

The origin of the name Friday comes from two paths, one Frigg (from the Germanic Translation of Venus) the other fron Freyja hence the German name for Friday = Freitag or Freyja's Day.

In some cultures, Friday is considered unlucky, especially Friday the 13th. This is particularly so in maritime circles; perhaps the most enduring sailing superstition is that it is unlucky to begin a voyage on a Friday. In one myth a Royal Navy ship (HMS Friday) was laid down on a Friday, launched on a Friday, captained by a Captain Friday, and was never heard of again. Source : Wikipedia

The use of the Gregorian calendar and its leap year system results in a small statistical anomaly, that the 13th of any month is slightly more likely to fall on a Friday than any of the other seven days.[1] The figures are 688/4800 (43/300) which is .1433333..., being just slightly greater than 1 in 7.

After the United States acquired Alaska from Russia in 1867, Friday October 6 was immediately followed by Friday October 18, adjusting to the adoption of the 1582 Gregorian calendar changes by the British colonies in 1752, and the shifting of the International Date Line.

Fridays in History
  • Black Friday (1869), the Fisk-Gould Scandal (24 Sep), a financial crisis in the United States
  • Haymarket affair (11 November 1887), four Chicago anarchists executed in the pursuit of an 8-hour workday
  • Black Friday (1910), a campaign outside the British House of Commons (18 Nov) of the Women's Social and Political Union the Conciliation Bill which failed
  • Black Friday (1919), the Battle of George Square (31 Jan), a riot stemming from industrial unrest in Glasgow, Scotland
  • Black Friday (1921), the announcement of British transport union leaders (15 Apr) not to call for strike action against wage reductions for miners
  • Black Friday (1939), a day of devastating fires in Australia (13 Jan)
  • Black Friday (1944), a disastrous attack by the Canadian Black Watch (13 Oct) near Woensdrecht during the Battle of the Scheldt
  • Black Friday (1945), an air battle over Sunnfjord (9 Feb), the largest over Norway
  • Hollywood Black Friday (5 October 1945), a riot at the Warner Bros. studios stemming from a Confederation of Studio Unions (CSU) strike leading to the eventual breakup of the CSU
  • Black Friday (1969) May 13th Sino-Malay race riots in Kuala Lumpur
  • Black Friday (1978), a massacre of protesters in Iran (8 Sep)
  • Edmonton Tornado (July 31, 1987), a tornado touching down in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
  • Black Friday (1982), the Argentinian invasion of the Falkland Islands, sparking the Falklands War
  • Black Friday (Maldives) (2004), a crackdown in Maldives, MalĂ© (13 Aug) on peaceful protesters
...And there have been a few others in recent times such as the stock market tumbles, governments crashing due to public opinions... but I didn't want to drag the tone down here.

Here it will be the bank holiday this weekend, and as ever the weather has changed to rain and cooler... sigh... never mind at least people don't go rusty :-) but gardening is likely to be curtailed in favour of dryer activities.

22 May 2008

Cell Dogs

I watched a bit of a tv programme last night, about cell dogs, prisoners being rehabilitated by rehabilitating stray and unwanted dogs in the US

The dogs had been rescued off the streets by the Humane Society but in their current state (scared, wary and untrusting) cannot be adopted by families. Instead prisoners in a local correctional facility (I didn't catch the name so it might well have been Red Rock) took the dogs in and spent time with them showing them that humans aren't all bad, and socialising them with the other dogs.. preparing them for life outside with a family at the end of it is the aim.

The alternative is to put the dogs to sleep, which would have been the only option if this programme didn't exist.

I wish we had something like that in this country, as I prefer that only sick and injured animals beyond saving would have to be euthanized.. something that the RSPCA and I tend to disagree on, but it would also give prisoners something to focus their energies on and that has to be a good thing, doesn't it?

Trouble is that I saw some lovely 10 day old puppies on the programme, being intensively cared for by a prisoner and I immediately wanted to have another dog... sadly my lifestyle doesn't permit me to take a puppy at the moment.. doesn't stop them tugging at my heartstrings.

21 May 2008

If you haven't already seen this

Baldy's Blog; This is worth a visit and a moment of your time.

Adrian Sudbury is dying, he has leukaemia and had a bone marrow transplant in 2007 but sadly developed graft vs host disease which means that his body saw the donated bone marrow as being foreign matter and started to attack it; and now the leukaemia is back and he officially has a relapse. The outcome is bleak, and he is making the most of what time he has by highlighting the need for more volunteers to come forward and donate bone marrow.

I have been lucky enough to have donated bone marrow, eleven years ago I was contacted by the National blood service see here, and went through comprehensive testing to ensure I was the closest match (needs to be good in unrelated donors). Lots of meetings, tests later I was informed I was the closest match and after a brief sojourn in a hospital in Bristol with a general anaesthetic +, and a couple of plasters over my back I was home again and no ill effects. I chose not to know anything about the recipient, whether they made it or not as I saw the donation as no more than the giving of a pint of blood, albeit under different circumstances; just another chance for someone to live a bit longer.

+ there are more choices about how it is done these days, it doesn't always involve an anaesthetic.

The more publicity this has the better, so please consider putting something on your blog and raise the awareness of this one small thing.

Do you remember ....?

What it was like before the advent of digital cameras.. taking reels and reels of films without knowing what the results were like because you needed to get them developed before you can see the pictures you took - and then cursing because sometimes the film just wasn't what you hoped for...

The last time I took pictures with a 'film' camera was in 2002, Dad and I had gone down to Cornwall for a week's holiday, and we took both the cameras (SLR and compact) with us... We did have some good pictures taken, but I didn't actually get them developed until 2003 when I finally managed to use the film up and by then I had forgotten where some of the locations were.

Why am I reminiscing, well it has become such a 'normal' part of our everyday lives to live with this sort of technology.. yet 28 years ago we were just in the infancy of Personal Computers, we hadn't heard of Blackberry (except the fruit that is), Bluetooth, Blogs and laptops were a figment of someone's imagination. What will be the future? will we become so tied up in the technology that we will forget how to talk to someone face to face? What do you think?

MMMmmmmmmmm .... best ever brownies

(The Best ever) Chocolate Brownies*
* Health advisory notice, this produce is high in enjoyment and pleasure content... please take care when operating machinery

5 Large Organic Eggs
1 teaspoon real vanilla essence
625g Caster Sugar
405g Unsalted Butter
Carton/Tin Green & Blacks Organic Cocoa 150g
200g Pecans—Chopped medium/small
315g Self Raising Flour
For nut allergy avoidance change Pecans for Marshmallows, small ones or chopped large ones (Warning—this is seriously gooey)
When you pour the mixture into the tin, shake a bag of Maltesers over the top of the mix and bake as normal

Baking Instructions
Preheat oven to 150oC/gas 2.
Beat the eggs and Sugar together and add the vanilla essence to the mixture and periodically keep beating it until smooth and creamy.
Measure the flour, and add the tin of cocoa, sift into a separate bowl and add the chopped nuts at this stage; put to one side.
Gently melt the butter in a pan until it is liquid, but not too hot.
Add the dry mixture to the eggs/sugar mix, and then pour on the melted butter, keep stirring until the mix is fully liquid with no flour visible. The texture will thicken slightly, but remains ‘sloppy’ (like liquid fudge).
Pour into a baking tray, 16inches long and 12 inches wide and bake in the over for 45 mins.

Leave in the tin until cold, preferably overnight and then cut into pieces 2 by 2 inches or in a size appropriate to your requirements.

I make these a couple of times a year, for the superbowl, my birthday and on request for friends... they are nice served cold or warm with good quality vanilla ice-cream but however you eat them.. enjoy

20 May 2008


Here we are nearly into June and it is cold enough for frosts overnight... yet not long ago we were basking in the (almost) too hot sunshine and thinking about how to conserve water for a long hot summer.. then we had days of heavy rain, the water butts refilled to the brim and were used to refill the other spare butts and now we have cooler weather with overnight frosts.

Luckily the plants in the garden are fairly hardy, and those tender beans are in the polytunnel growing happily away and will soon need to be provided with bean poles to grow up; the carrots and onions are blossoming well in the artificial warmth and we hope to be able to thin them out soon and taste some of the produce soon.

This year the californian lilac has flowered, obviously last year it went in too late to produce any flowers and I was wondering if I had made a mistake but no, this year it has come on and I now have these pale blue flowers on a variagated variety of the lilac and opposite that, the dwarf lilac has also flowered and we have the delicate flowers showing themselves; I like this bush as when I brought it, I was told it doesn't need any pruning or other work.. and that suited me down to the ground as I am very much an amateur in the garden.

In the greenhouse, the mesembryanthemum's are now sturdy seedlings as as the pansies and nicotiana's and I look forward to planting them out once the frost danger passes.. though the forecast for the next 10 days doesn't seem to show much improvement.

Slugs ate all my marigolds last year, and I don't want a repeat as I want to make some more of that healing hand cream.. any ideas on how to prevent them without using slug pellets.. I tried beer last year and egg shells but to no avail.. all offers of help appreciated.

19 May 2008

Battered and Bruised.. but made it through

We had a great weekend at Peterborough with the BMF, loaded up the van with the supplies and our sleeping bags and headed up the A1 on Friday accompanied by the rain and cold wind.. typical BMF weather; but I was optimistic.

Set up the club tent, well marquee really, and had a bit of a wander which is where I picked up my most spectacular bruises as I tried to navigate my way past a trailer and tripped landing fair and square on to the other side of it... at this point in time the logical side of my brain quietly said to me, "you could have walked around it", embarrasedly I picked myself up and carried past a crowd of laughing onlookers.. Oh well these things happen, only a little more frequently now.

Had a look at the bikes on the BMW stand, nice to have some money, but I can only ride one bike at a time and I am happy with mine so until I need to I satisfy myself with the browsing.

The club tents were a bit out of the way from the show which severely dented our ability to attract visitors and Saturday being damp and cold, as well as the cup final day was always going to be quiet. Sunday dawned fair and bright, and very cold as well, but warmed up later in the day and we did get a fair number of visitors.

Ended up buying a new helmet, the colour of which matches the bike, and a new pair of gloves...and some cheese from Snowdonia.. you get all sorts of stands at the show, but we did think it was smaller, considerably so, than previous years.

Next year we are considering taking a look at the south-west show, having never been to that one before and as someone else has now taken charge of the peterborough one I can relax and leave it all to them.

16 May 2008

5 things I could live without (and 5 I couldn't)

I was thinking about this during the early hours of the morning, when I couldn't sleep. 5 Things I could live without (and then went on to 5 I couldn't or wouldn't want to)

5 things I could live Without
  1. Swearing - is it me or becoming more commonplace everyday speech - why?
  2. Cigarettes - don't like the smell, hate it when they get thrown out of car windows onto unsuspecting passers by.
  3. Litterbugs - if it's your rubbish, take it home.. easy
  4. Chewing gum - banned by the dentist but costs so much to clean up
  5. Speeding drivers - doh speed limits are there for a purpose, we might not like it so there...
5 Things I couldn' t live without (or wouldn't want to)
  1. Chocolate - white, milk, plain - just addictive
  2. Tea - what would I drink otherwise?
  3. Marmite - well someone has to like it
  4. Cheese - another addiction, any and all cheese including goat's which can be an acquired taste.
  5. SOH - what can I say... ::blushes::
What are your five, either or both categories...

15 May 2008

Keep your fingers crossed

This weekend I am in charge of the BMW Club tent at the BMF (british motorcycling federation) show at Peterborough.. this is the 3rd year I have done it and my last as a new organiser is taking it over as of next year.

It is a lot of hard work, organising a display, getting all the supplies, booking the marquee/furniture, liaising with the management company, arranging for willing victims sorry volunteers to help out at the weekend - but the greatest fun when it is on.. I love doing it and have had a great deal of fun being responsible but it is time to hand over to someone who will bring a fresh eye to the club tent and give me a chance to just be a helper again (or even have a year off - what a radical thought!) SOH will be jointly running it with me, and will be good to have someone else to lean on.

So, keep your fingers crossed for a dry year, don't mind it being a little cooler than of late but please no torrential downpours over Peterborough way

14 May 2008

Healing Hand Cream

I am not going to claim any credit for the following recipe (is a handcream recipe a recipe?) it came from the bbc gardener's world program on the healing garden; luckily I had written it down as the website has since been removed... such a shame as it is a great recipe.

100g chopped Calendula officinalis flowerheads (Marigolds)
150g emulsifying ointment
70ml glycerin
80ml water

Mix your chopped flowerheads, emulsifying ointment, glycerin and water. Stir well then simmer gently in a bain marie for 2 to 3 three hours. Add a few drops of lavender oil to preserve. Strain the mixture into sterilized glass jars. Label and date, and store in fridge for up to a year.

Applied externally this cream is said to help with many minor skin problems including nappy rash, cuts and grazes, chilblains and even insect bites.

Nb 100gm = approx 70 flower heads

I have had friends who have tried it and loved it, as it is natural with no preservatives or artifical ingredients; my supplies have dwindled and this year's marigolds are yet to grow big enough to produce flowers for this year's supplies.

NB - I did also try it with rosemary and lavender - equally nice, but then I might be biased.

Interesting link to another home-made recipe for lip-balm here : Kathy

Places I would like to visit (sometimes again) in no particular order

1. Canada - I have a hankering to do a transCanada trail, by car, rail and motorbike. Rail across the rockies, something both Dad and I wanted to do, something I can do for him. To visit Toronto again and enjoy the Canadian hospitality. To ride into Alaska on the bikes is something I have wanted to do ever since the Long Way Round when Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman did it on their BMW 1150GS Adventure Motorcycles.
2. Australia - I have cousins out there, as well as friends who I would like to see - Sydney and Adelaide.
3. New Zealand - don't know why I have such a draw to this place, I would love to have had the opportunity to live there but it is less likely as the years go by.
4. Scotland - I worked at Balmoral every Summer/Autumn for 8 weeks, loved the place and the wildness; would like to visit the islands of Skye and Iona.
5. Ireland - have been to Dublin, and had a holiday in the West of the country stretching from Cork to Galway, but want to visit Donegal and take the motorbikes.
6. Africa - have never been but would love to visit, Morocco, Kenya, South Africa - I watched Ewan and Charlie on their BMW's and wanted to see more than their programme offered.
7. Italy - had a brief trip to Lake Garda and Venice as a child, but instantly fell in love with the country - can your soul be older than your body?
8. America - I want to visit with a friend who lives in New Jersey, to see some of the Pacific Highway, to visit Boston and the New England area to see where the settlers landed and colonised the country.
9. Singapore and Malaysia - I want to see the new version, and see if my memories were correct - particularly CK Tang's - like Harrod's it could get you anything you needed but at a price.
10. Cornwall - SOH's home county, I have also a lot of happy memories of this place and that means it is also special for me.

13 May 2008

It was a beautiful evening...

After a long hot day in the office, I was in early (7.30am) as SOH dropped me off on the way to Cambridge for his induction into the new job, and even then the office felt dry and stuffy probably because of the hot weather over the weekend and the office being closed up.

A nice fresh blast of cool morning air was circulating around after I had opened up the windows to their widest, but as the morning went on the wind dropped and it got hotter and stuffier. So by 5pm I was cooked, slowly roasted in the heat of the day and was ready to get out and go home.. but then outside I found it was cooler, and pleasant so suggested an early evening walk before having our evening meal [Savoury rice and chicken breast]

SOH is new to the area, so walks are generally where I know the paths and I know a couple of nice walks about 2-5 miles in length straight from the house.. the only thing was that we didn't take a drink with us and none of these walks go anywhere near a pub :-( The walk we did was to a s wood, near where I live, the circuit was going to be about 3.5 miles long and though not flat it didn't call for walking boots, so trainers and in my case walking shoes was the order of the day. It was a nice relaxing walk, all you could hear at one point in time was the sound of birds singing as the traffic, both road and air, just seemed to disappear. Coming back, we spotted a young fox running down beside the wheat crop at a lope, presumably after some supper; we have a number of foxes around here, that may be due to the landfill site (now closed) having been an easy source of food for them. I like to see them, but I know the damage they can do - as they are wanton killers, killing for the pleasure. I was sorry not to see any hares or deer as we have plenty of those, having escaped from a stately home nearby, both roe and muntjac deer roam across the farmland around home. We arrived back home at about 7.45pm, it was nice and cool, so while we had the opportunity to, we watered the plants in the polytunnel and garden and then had our evening meal; I prefer to eat a bit sooner than we did, but the walk was good for us.

It was a great end to the day though it shortens the time we have to relax and wind down before bedtime... perhaps next time we will grab some sandwiches and have an impromtu picnic whilst waiting for the bats to come out after the evening moths and insects.

No, this isn't a picture of Reynold's wood, but another great evening at Port Stewart, Scotland. A couple of friends and I took the motor bikes up to Scotland to see a bit of the West Coast, and on this day we had ridden around the coast road from Newton Stewart, to the Mull of Galloway and ended at the end of the day at Port Stewart for an evening meal. As the sun came down, the sky lit up like fire and I took a fair amount of pictures, this one I think is the best and I have a copy framed on the wall at home.

Blog #1414 - Million Blog List

It is said that there are over 70,000,000 blogs in existence. This site is an experiment to see how long it will take to get 1,000,000 blogs to list themselves on the site. Will it work? The experiment is to see how long will it take. It was started April 10th, 2008.

They are already up to 1500+ and growing by the day... it's also a good way of finding new blogs to read... not that I don't have quite a collection already, but I found a great one about Herbs and cooking written by a lovely Italian lady Graziana (I think that is her name) she has a few ideas that I haven't heard of before and am looking forward to trying.. particularly the potato balls with herbs that sounds great for a bbq one day.

Take a look, add your blog to the ever growing list..

update : today I noticed that the series 1399 to 1499 has disappeared and rather than recover it people have to re-enter their details so I have claimed 1414 as my number and changed it on their list and my blog.

12 May 2008

Long Sunny Sundays

Yesterday was a busy day, SOH and I were due up at Rutland as one of our friends passed away recently and a group of us got together for lunch and a chat - kind of a wake I suppose, but it was a glorious day and many bikes arrived at the destination.

I have a policy, ATGATT (all the gear, all the time) but it wasn't surprising that there was a fair number of people out on bikes yesterday without the protective gear because of the weather - doh! - it doesn't take a genius to realise that sunshine doesn't do anything to protect your skin if you come off!

Someone told me once when I was training to ride Motorbikes, that if you slide on a road without the gear you could lose an inch of skin depth for every metre of road.. a sobering thought and stuck in my mind - no matter how hot I am when standing still, when I am riding I want every bit of protection for my skin and I put up with not looking stupid.

Mousethinks had a post on her blog about the perils of motorcycling, I have to agree with some of the comments about how selfish some bikers are, but (and its a big but) please don't colour us all black. I would like to think I am a reasonably careful and considerate rider (as is SOH), I don't cut car drivers up and I obey the speed limits (unlike some riders) and I get equally annoyed with the inconsiderate riders I do have occasion to meet; like some of the riders on the B660 where the speed limit is set to 40 but they were quite clearly doing more than the set limit. Not only were they being irresponsible, but it is a rural area with tractors, horses and slower vehicles often present.

I don't want to end up under the care of Mousethinks, however nice it might be to meet her I would rather not under those circumstances, but my thanks go to people like her who have to pick up the pieces after any accident.

09 May 2008

Composting - what's it all about?

I have these two compost bins at the bottom of the garden, and as Dad was the principal gardener rather than me, they have been ignored for the past few years. However, as rightfully pointed out, there is a lot of waste (tea bags etc) that could be recycled by composting and I have no idea of how to go about it.

Is there a site that has an idiot's guide to learn how to make compost?

Answers please, anyone...

08 May 2008

Beautiful day

Today has been absolutely glorious wall to wall sunshine and so warm that people are remarking on a mini-heatwave.. it almost feels as though spring got bypassed straight into Summer... but the vagaries of British weather can mean that next week we might just have 6 inches of snow - you never know.

Today I spent most of it staring at the screen of my computer, watching and listening to the outline of what today's technologists think will be tomorrows must haves for the IT. What I wanted to be doing was catching up on some gardening chores, like finishing weeding the borders, the grass could do with another cut and instead I had to wait until I finished work before I could even water the plants in the polytunnel.

The onions and carrots are growing apace, the garlic - well it's funny it doesn't look much different to when they went in, other than they seem a little taller - is that normal? I have never grown garlic before so I have no idea of what I am doing.

It's a heavenly evening, and I am now relaxing finally at the end of a long day, though my mind is still buzzing from the thoughts of the conference, who would have thought that 20 years ago we could have attended such things on-line.. but then again if they had thought things were impossible we would not be flying, or sailing beneath the ocean.

How Web 2.0 has changed things at the Guardian

Bobbie Johnson, Guardian Newspapers

The Guardian is free on the internet, whilst consumers are paying for a paper copy...

"This is a fundamental change in outlook caused by web technologies, but has been identified as a crucial move for the long-term survival of the publication. How has it happened? Why has it happened? And what are the challenges of doing this?"

Does this mean the end of the printed paper as we know it, what comes next, downloadable copies of the paper to an e-reader so it can be read on screen?

More to follow..


A topic I deal with every day is how to communicate information when it is just a computer screen in front of you, but another person or group of persons is reading what you have written.

It is too easy to be quick to write something down, as the author of the piece you know what you mean to say and the rational behind it, but as the reader can only go on the written word there is the potential for a disparity about what was said and what was meant.

Certainly on discussion boards, it is sometimes necessary to have rules in place for the fellow team members to privately question what is in a response to ensure that 'flame wars' do not break out.. and adults are as easily riled as their younger counterparts.

So how best to manage the use of new technologies, and this includes blogs and wikis as well as discussion boards? There is no right or wrong way, only that care needs to be taken, and rules defined (preferably by the group using it) to ensure that any problems are minimised.

With the advent of Web 2.0 technologies such as Second Life, facebook, bebo, IRC etc the problem can and will be an issue as we are only human after all.

Education Event

I am going to be attending a symposium on-line.. which will provide a video stream /live chat to the 4th Annual Eduserv Foundation event on 8th May 2008.

It is going to cover 'Inside Out: What do current Web trends tell us about the future of ICT provision for learners and researchers?'

With the growth of IT in use in Education it is part of my job to see the possibilities of how it can be used, how it is perceived by the students/academics, and to support that... so will update it here.. had I known earlier I might well have booked a place as I have always wanted to visit the British Library.

07 May 2008

What can I do?

one of the local neighbourhood cats has decided that my front border is it's toilet area and it isn't something that I like... perhaps that is why I am more of a dog lover as I feel responsible for their waste while cats are free to roam and do it anywhere.

So my border isn't something I can fence off, and I have tried bark chippings (the cats seem to love this and often I find it scattered on the driveway) - have even tried the spray repellant though that seems to have little or no effect.

My plants don't seem to mind, thankfully, but I do as I have to check what I am touching before I do any work on the border and as for the smell; less said the better.

So any bright ideas, preferably ones that are not illegal or harmful to any animals?

On a brighter note, my carrots are at last poking through the ground and we can now remove the unwanted seedlings that surround them.. can't wait to be able to pick them... I love carrots just washed and still with the warmth of the earth in them.

06 May 2008

an unashamed plug..The Greenwood Bears

This is an unashamed plug as two of my friends and neighbours, and who are really talented both as writers and illustrators, have written a book for children called Edwards Story a tale of the Greenwood bears.

This is going to be well loved classic book for children in years to come and because of Lauren and Michael's strong environmental beliefs mean they have less impact on the environment than many of the books around today.

So if you want to get hold of this beautiful book, then go to this link and fill out the form and it will wing it's way back to you within a short period of time.

No, I don't get anything for plugging this except for the pleasure in doing so...

Something from my past

I keep alluding to my past, and being an army brat... well one of Dad's postings was to Malaya (pre independence name as strictly speaking now it is Malaysia and a very different country to what I remember)

Dad left before us to take up his posting in 1966, missing England winning the World Cup (not that I remember), to fly out to Malaya via Changi airport, Singapore.

The flight was in a plane called a Vickers Viscount and took a little over 36 hours to get to Singapore with stops for refuelling in Kuwait and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). We did the same route about 3 months after him, arriving in March 1966 to the monsoon season.

It was a culture shock to a 7 year old, my brother was two years older, to take off one day in England and land in sultry Singapore - we were so glad to have air-conditioning in the hotel, staying 3 days to see a bit of the island before catching a train to a little town called Kluang.

What I remembered most about the initial experience, was the smell of dried fish and spices and the first few months seemed to drag by and then it was as if you didn't notice it any more and the next 3 years passed by so quickly before it was time to leave.

Some of my favourite memories are :
  • The swimming pool, where I learnt to swim and still have all my swimming badges I gained during the tour
  • The flour had to be sifted for weevils, it wasn't possible to get all the insects out so I have swallowed a fair few of them though it seems to have done me no harm.
  • Having a shower in the monsoon season, please I was only a child, warm rain and in minutes afterwards you would be dry again.
  • Having the laundry coming back so starched you had to crack open a shirt to wear - trust me it wasn't pleasant wearing it.
  • Having the most tremendous thunderstorms, it felt as though you were at the centre of hell
  • Not having cold days, it was always hot or hotter or occasionally very wet and hot at the same time.
  • Getting stung by Jelly fish - ouch!
  • Having a too close encounter with a Cobra; which still gives me nightmares even now
  • Visiting the Cameron Highlands for a break in the middle of Dad's tour
  • Going to stay with my Amah, and her family while my parents visited my brother; they treated me as though I were one of the family - and I still love eating chinese cuisine with chopsticks.
  • The smell of the Durian Fruit - yeuchhhh
  • Walking through the rubber plantations which surrounded the houses
  • The taste of fresh ripe pineapple, nothing like the ones which travel half way round the world to you, like heaven on earth.
  • The smell of the marketplace, and the sounds of the malay language
  • The friendliness of the people, who only a few years before were impacted by the communist activity.
We left Malaya, on my part with deep regret, in 1969 after 3 years and I haven't been back to visit. Half of me would like to, but is afraid that my memories will be reduced and too much will have changed for me to find where we lived.

on a Happy note

Boss, my SOH (significant other half), applied for a job a couple of weeks ago with a local water company. One of the main reasons for doing so was the better employee care programme and also they are going to pay for him to do the HGV 1 licence which provides him with a transferable skill. He loves his current job, but at 26+ miles each way to work, and some very long days has meant that it was time to take a hard long look at life/work balance.

He heard last week that he has got the job, and today will be handing in his notice at his current employment; and though sad to leave the team it is for a happy reason and not because he isn't enjoying his job any more.

So all change at the back of beyond, and still more to come as we are implementing our future strategy which will be to sell up here and move to Cornwall, downsizing and hopefully destressing financial constraints.

He is lucky to have somewhere that is his spiritual home, I have lived in the back of beyond now for 16 years and it is the longest I have stayed anywhere. Comes of being an army brat, Dad was posted every 3-4 years and so you don't tend to put down firm roots knowing as you did that you would simply be uprooted to a new location in years to come.

I am treating this all as one big adventure, planning what we want, when we want and just have to come up with the ideal date sometime in the future; current estimates are that this will take anything up to five years to pull off, as Boss has to stay for a minimum of 2 years with the new company after qualifying and then there will be a period of job and house hunting/selling so conservatively we don't anticipate moving until about 2013 at this rate... of course that is unless our numbers come up on the lottery in which case we might go sooner :-)

Life is definitely exciting at the moment.

05 May 2008


I admit it, I love gadgets... must be an inherited gene as my Dad liked gadgets too.

My latest acquisition is a multi-purpose charger... I have a bluetooth headpiece for my mobile phone, an MP3 player (or two) and a GPS system, my other half has a similar set up and of course none of them are the same type of charger so when we go away we end up with at least 4 different chargers for the relevant hardware.

Not since yesterday, a trip out past Maplins ended up with a new charger unit called an Igo which has different tips for it for the different pieces of electronics we both own and as a bonus includes a continental plug end for when we travel.. so now we are going to have one charger and that has definitely got to be good for our packing arrangements.

Isn't it amazing how the smallest things in life can make your day? :-)

02 May 2008

What are shoes to you?

Shoes to me are functional objects, I wear them to stop my feet a) being cold, and b) being hurt by hard surfaces (note to self, stop kicking objects when no shoes are on feet); but to some they are an object of beauty, to be loved and adored, kept in boxes and stored... expensive and stylish they can be glimpsed occasionally and admired for their sheer extravagence.

When I go shopping for shoes, it is because I have a need for a pair and generally I end up buy two pairs so that I don't have to go through the experience again in a short period of time, I have even resorted to buying them in two different colours so that I can ring the changes for work. Nowadays, since I had my ankle operated on for damaging my tendons, my ability to wear heels is strictly limited as I cannot risk damaging the ankle again so making my choice of shoes harder.

In 2000 I visited Toronto with some friends and throughout a hard morning touring the city, which by the way is wonderful (I love Canada and the Canadians - so friendly) the aforementioned friends expressed an interest in viewing the Bata shoe museum which was going to be on our way back to the hotel.

I feverishly tried to come up with an excuse as to my inability to sigh blissfully over old shoes (I really don't see the point - honestly) that would be acceptable without being considered hostile and making them feel they couldn't visit it because of me. In the end, one bright idea later, we arrived at the museum and I said rather than them carrying their shopping around the museum that they could leave it with me in the reception area and I would look after them.

Problem solved, with relief I watched them wander off to immerse themselves in the history of the shoe of the past 4500 years or so (well according to their information sheet), while I sat and watched the world go by and just enjoyed a few hours of peace and quiet.

The girls enjoyed their trip around the museum, and came back at intervals to see if I was ok, and afterwards joyously recounted the shoes that they had see and how they would love to have owned some of them...at which point I sagely nodded my mute agreement of their pleasure.

We all ended up happy, they because they had seen the shoes and enjoyed the experience, me because I had some time alone without trying to pretend that I was enjoying it.. so we all were winners in the end.

I've got that Friday Feeling

Today is Friday, which means for the next three days I will be free from work.. well paid work that is... as I am busy trying to organise our club tent display for the bmf show which is ummm only 14 days away ::panic::

I have the helpers, I have the show booked, just need to confirm a couple of people to attend and work on what the display will be... so much for my words last year "Not going to do it again next year" .. famous last words; actually I had my arm twisted to do it one more time.

I have done it before, so I am confident on being able to pull it off, but it does mean instead of relaxing at the weekend or catching up on jobs around the house, I am going to be working on my unpaid job :-( and it means that the Boss and I will be working very hard that weekend, which will be our first official event together :-)