Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Coming up Roses

Well, hardly anyone could be bothered to comment on yesterday's post, and I must admit it was a bit of a cheaters post. So here is something of my own and I hope you are all impressed and comment, especially as I am posting from Rambling Woman's kitchen. And I used my new prize camera which arrived last week, and which is fantastic.

When I started gardening, I wouldn't have imagined choosing to grow roses. The roses themselves can be lovely but I associated roses with awkward ugly sharp unyielding stems or unnautural looking standards, fixed and regimented. Municipal flower beds. Vicious pruning.

The very old roses in my first garden in Durham converted me with their lovely natural form, soft green foliage and wonderfully sweet heady perfume.

I have 9 different roses in my garden now, with a 10th which just arrived on my birthday and not yet planted.
Some are very old varieties, some are David Austen roses - bred from ancient plants but continuously flowering and disease resistant, unlike some of the older ones - and some are more modern roses but chosen according to my fussy criteria. No hybrid tea roses for me. (Nor blue roses. NEVER).

Most of them are deliciously scented, all are beautiful as plants, not just sticks which produce flowers, some are single, simple and elegant, some are blowsy and ruffled. Their scent depends on the weather, their colour changes with their age and I love having fragrant bunches of them sprawling untidily or arching gracefully in the house.

So here are the first to flower in my garden this year:

Mme Alfred Carriere

This is a fairly old rose with a soft, full pom-pom type of flower, covered with flowers at the moment. Almost - pale pink, sometimes looks slightly buff/golden too. Gorgeous scent, its climbing and trying to escape in the wind, I must go and tie it back a bit.

Golden Showers - this is a twentieth century climbing rose which I had to move from a large tub outside my back door, because it wasn't getting enough sun.

Its doing better now. Not a lot of scent, but it flowers very generously, pretty yellow/gold flowers, with beautifully shaped buds.

Kazanluk - This is an ancient variety of rose which is used for the production of rose oil. It only flowers once, in the Spring, but is worth the wait not only for the pretty ruffled flowers but particularly for the exquisitely sweet scent.

Napoleon's Josephine commissioned her own spies to smuggle particular varieties of rose from England during the Napoleonic wars - I'm not sure I'd go that far, but I can understand people developing a passion for them.

Monday, May 29, 2006


Here are a couple of things I was emailed recently, which made me laugh.

The first is pertinent, as we approach the busiest time in the academic year for the writing of references.
The second can probably be applied in almost any arena, if you just substitute the right terms and titles.

Performance reviews / References:
What those words REALLY mean

1. OUTGOING PERSONALITY - Always going out of the office
3. GOOD COMMUNICATION SKILLS - Spends a lot of time on the phone
4. WORK IS FIRST PRIORITY - Too ugly to get a date
5. SOCIALLY ACTIVE - Drinks a lot
6. INDEPENDENT WORKER - Nobody knows what he/she does
7. QUICK THINKING - Offers plausible excuses
8. CAREFUL THINKER - Won't make a decision
9. USES LOGIC ON DIFFICULT JOBS - Gets someone else to do it
12. EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD JUDGEMENT - Is tall or has a loud voice
14. KEEN SENSE OF HUMOUR - Knows a lot of dirty jokes
15. CAREER MINDED - Back stabber
16. LOYAL - Can't get a job anywhere else
17. PLANS FOR PROMOTION/ADVANCEMENT - Buys drinks for all the boys
18. OF GREAT VALUE TO THE ORGANISATION - Gets to work on time
19. RELAXED ATTITUDE - Sleeps at desk.

How Decisions Are Made In The Corporate Environment:

In the beginning was the plan
And then came the assumptions
And the assumptions were without form
And the plan was completely without substance
And darkness was upon the face of the PO'S
And they spoke, amongst themselves, saying
‘It's a crock of shit and it stinks.'
And the POs went unto their CHIEFS, saying "It is a pail of dung and none may abide by the odour thereof.'
And the CHIEFS went unto their 1st LIEUTENANT, saying "It is a container of excrement and it is very strong such that none may abide by it.'
And the 1st LIEUTENANT went unto their COMMANDING OFFICERS saying "It is a vessel of fertilizer and none may abide its strength.'
And the COMMANDING OFFICER went unto the ASSISTANT DISTRICT OFFICERS, saying "It contains that which aids plant growth and it is very strong.'
And the ASSISTANT DISTRICT OFFICER went unto the DISTRICT OFFICER, saying, "It promotes growth and is very powerful.'
And the DISTRICT OFFICER went unto the AREA HEADQUARTERS, saying "This new plan will actively promote the growth and efficiency of this organisation and these areas in particular.''
And the AREA HEADQUARTERS looked upon the plan and saw that it was good and the plan became policy.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Full marks

I'm drowning, I'm drowning, I'm drowning, I'm drowning

swamped in a morass of dross.....

Actually, some of its rather good.

Some not so much.

I marked an exam answer today which finished like this: "I apologise for the brevity and quality of my work. I have no excuse other than my own incompetence and laziness."

S/he is not wrong.
S/he gets no extra points for self-knowledge and honesty.

Having no time to blog properly just at the moment, I thought I'd bring you this.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Boxing pigs

No time to write a "proper" blog, being swamped in marking and other less interesting pursuits.

Trying to make sense of the likes of this: "The concentration on a woman seems to be more apparent as a woman’s gender has more to offer in a reality perspective of understanding what one is supposed to do and not to do." So there.

This is the substitute birthday gift which Mike bought for me today... after the new camera faux pas....

isn't s/he fab?

From a craft/pottery/art shop just off Greenwich Market.

I'll pop in and get details of the artist to add.

Anthony or Antonia? Your vote counts.

So I have this as well as a new camera. What a lucky girl am I!

And here are the boxing pigs:

The box in question is an oat cake box ... not that I think that makes the slightest difference to them ...

Silly pigs! (still silly after all these years)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Its my birthday and I'll cry if I want to

... but I won't cry, its ok, I'm only joking.

Though I don't know so much, looking at some of these these pictures....

I was going to post just one little baby pic for my birthday, but got a bit carried away.
I've had such a good time looking through old family photos. Though its a bit scary how very OLD some of them look.

I love photographs, almost any photos, including photos of people I don't know. I suppose this is the sort of nosiness which is a prerequisite for blogging? I like looking in other peoples' houses too. If they didn't want me to look, they'd put up net curtains!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy these, nosily or otherwise, at least a little bit as much as I enjoyed finding & choosing them.

This is one of the earliest baby pictures I have, I was the youngest of 3 children, my sister and brother were (respectively) 16 months and not quite 3 when I was born in 1959. Blimus double blimus. My poor mother.

I had pneumonia as quite a little baby and there are some very pathetic early photographs of me looking like a Betsy Clark baby, all head and not much body - but I soon fattened up again nicely as you can see.

Making a bid for freedom, by the looks of it (though what a fab perammmmmbulator ) ... I was probably watching my brother and sister. My first words apparently were "Me too".

This is one of my favourite of all baby pics, me with my big sister, somewhere probably on the South Coast of England.

Very chic, ne-suis je?
I remember this towelling beach robe thing very well and the hat was almost certainly my Nan's.

I would guess I was maybe 6-7 here? so, mid 1960's. Don't we look vintage?

I love the colours in this picture, they somehow instantly date it. Did you notice the curtains? I remember them well and wish my Mum still had them.

I don't know what I had done to make my father look at me in that tone of voice. Maybe it was something to do with he vesta curry. My mum is a wonderful cook, but even she was hoodwinked for a while by that 60's yellow curry powder (and raisins) thing.

7/8-ish possibly? I must ask my Mum. In my still-blond days, it sadly didn't last much longer.

Early 70's, I was about 11-12, just beginning secondary school.
Fortunately not too many photos of this stage in my life survive.

I remember the humiliation of being asked by another child in a park - where I was wearing my flares, absolutely fave Ben Sherman shirt and tank top - whether I was a boy or a girl. Admittedly I was pretty gangly in those days. (Back to the short hair again now though)

I have nothing at all to say about this picture. I'm sure some of you may have witty remarks to make. Please feel free. Maybe this should be the caption competition?

Early/mid 70's.

I'd like to think that the colour in this picture is to do with its age, but I have to admit, I think I really did look that sort of colour. And yes, my hair was that lank and greasy. (aggravated, sometimes, by using that Schwarzkopf dry shampoo - or talc if I was desperate)

Mid-late 70's, the pic. on the right is the earlier, I think. And in it I am wearing a pale green lambswool and angora jumper which I remember loving and wearing to bits (which was also the fate of the aforementioned Ben Sherman). And a coat which I made myself. It was made from quite thick green woollen fabric, God knows what it looked like - well, home-made probably! I think it was easier to get away with home-made clothes in the 70's.

En (Adams) famille - Halloween 2002 (I think - is that right, Tat?)

I'm sure you'll agree that I've seldom looked better. Never a better colour at any rate.

I must admit though that its not all my own
hair .....

Today I will be mostly marking essays and exams. ptb. But I have been hugely cheered by birthday wishes from all you bloggers, thankyou all for joining me on my little show here tonight, Good Night and I love you all. Esp. check out this and this.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


How strange - and enjoyable - when the blogverse intersects with the "real" world.

Trac, Molly and RW were here last night for G&Ts: RW who would probably have been here anyway, Trac who I'd met a few times (at Tats) but might never have seen again or got to know any better without blogger, and Molly who I probably would never have met at all were it not for my initiation into the blogosphere.

You've got to love that CyberReality.

Molly and Trac were able to claim their prizes for a blog meme-quiz earlier this year, by conferring names on their favourite armadillos : Mollydillo
(notice Molly's fab. vintage bag)
(sorry the picture is a bit fuzzy, this was the 3rd large G&T)

and Tracadillo (or HippyRockDilloFlower,
if you prefer):

and Kingadillo who unfortunately looks rather small and insignificant in this picture.

Molly and Trac were both surprised that the dillos are smaller in real life than they thought. What did you expect? a house full of life-sized armadillos? What can you have imagined my house to be like!!!! hahaha

So here the King Dillo is in supersize glory, also fully accessorized:

I must go and find something to do, before I get maudlin because they've all gone now....

Off to download some Zombies from iTunes.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Return of the prodigal

LG returned safely from her 5 days school journey in Swanage (Dorset, south England) - very happy and tired, having had a wonderful ( if rather wet) time.

We were called into school early because the head wanted to talk to all the parents about an "incident" before the class got back. We were reassured that all the children were okay, but arrived at school extremely intrigued.

LG's letter home had mentioned that the other school using the centre were
" !?!(little skull drawing)!!?! " - so we wondered if there had been a barney of some kind. RW envisaged a West Side Story rumble haha.

We walked to school not anxiously, but discussing possible explanations: the above-mentioned inter-school ruckus; a theft of some kind; serious bullying (not likely, its a nice if riotous and demanding class); some teacherly indiscretion (hee hee); temporary loss of children during their mapping and orienteering; a police raid; alien abductions ... the mind boggles.

Apparently 7 of the girlier girls (so not including LG then) had returned to their rooms for the night, and saw - or thought they saw - an unknown adult and child in their rooms. They were instantly hysterical, and their hysteria spread like quickfire. The centre has very good security and its unlikely there were intruders, but the centre and the school had to treat this as a serious possibility. The children themselves were (and in fact are) quite sure that these were ghosts. One of the staff member seems to have been somewhat spooked as well.

The head stressed that children of this age do not generally lie, and that counselling would be available for any child who seemed significantly traumatized. On the other hand, children of this age may also be very suggestible, easily hysterical (especially when tired) (they'd had a 7 1/2 mile walk that day) and often really quite enjoy being scared.

The long and the short of it was that the children were in such a state that they all ended up moving bedding out of their (3/4 person) rooms and sleeping in the corridor with the teachers. Once the boys realised this was happening, their levels of fear increased till (or so that?) they were allowed to do the same. The class teacher thinks he got off to sleep at about 4.00am.

Mind still boggling.

I can't help thinking maybe it serves the teacher right for putting too much pressure on them in the previous few weeks, about SATS tests. Maybe they just needed to let off steam even more than usual?

Their coach got seriously held up by traffic, and their return journey took 6 hours. Blimus double blimus.

LG came off the coach delighted with their trip, full of stories about ghosts and how scared they all were, but able already to look back and laugh about it. She said it was really quite fun sleeping in the corridor (I can imagine!) once they began to calm down a bit. I don't think she'll be needing counselling.

She is just now stirring upstairs, by the sound of it. She has slept for nearly 17 hours.

In other news, our bread machine has packed up. PTB

It still tries to function but makes highly alarming crunching, grinding, clattering noises, so we've had to take it out of service.

This is a serious blow. I used to make all our bread myself when we were first married. I have a fabulous bread book written by a monk/priest from a Californian zen buddhist monastery, the Tassajara Bread Book. I used to use a great recipe for wholemeal bread which begins with a yeast batter, adding more flour later, and giving the dough multiple provings which results in a delicious and not-at-all-dense-heavy-and home-made looking texture.

As well as great recipes and very helpful advice and information, this book has delightful comments about caring for the baby dough, and about the "deep, hearty, honest spirit" of unyeasted bread. The recommendation in his general cookery book is that all cooking is really best done naked. "Cooking is not simply in the tongue, in the palate. It is in the whole body flowing out of the groin and chest through arms and hands."

"Bread makes itself, by your kindness, with your help, and with imagination running through you, with dough under hand, you are breadmaking itself, which is why breadmaking is so fulfilling and rewarding."

What a betrayal, then, to use a bread machine! And I can't claim to find it fulfilling and rewarding.
BUT I don't often have/make time for making my own bread from scratch, and it does mean that we eat mostly home made bread, and (using the timer) we can come home or wake up in the morning to the smell of newly-baking bread. (Its good for pizza dough too)

However - this may be kind of serendipitous given the camera/birthday gift situation (see my previous post), because Mike can buy a new bread machine for me instead. He doesn't see household appliances as appropriate birthday gifts (and he does have a point) but he can always buy me something else next week.

This blog has been brought to you courtesy of RW.
The family are visiting this weekend and had anticipated being en route and arriving for lunch within the next hour or less, but they are running late.....No surprise to those of you who know RW. Time for blogging tho'.

(sorry, RW don't mean to be rude...)
( can't wait for your arrival!)
(you're very good for me, you slow me down)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

funny old day, funny old night

Well, its been a funny couple of days.

Its always rather strange when timetabled teaching ends (so early in the year too) and I'm mostly working at home. Especially as I'm not invigilating because of the pay dispute [which the media have finally noticed, but they're giving us quite a hard time, and quoting figures which certainly don't fit either with union information or with my personal experience of 16 years in higher education] {16 years, blimey}. I went in to start an exam yesterday, but after checking the exam paper was ok, left the invigilating to other people - that was strange. I'm fervently hoping that the whole thing is resolved in the next couple of weeks, it will be extremely hard to hold the line if it does come to the point where students' graduation is at stake.

A day of strike action has been mentioned for next Tuesday. My first (and only) PhD student has her viva on that day, so I certainly wouldn't want to strike then and might have to cross a picket line. Scab is such an ugly word!!

After my exam-check I went for a hair cut. As always, I came out thinking it is too short (yes, too short even for me) but in a day or two I'll be used to it, and it needed the trim. Gordon (who is still not a moron)(not at all) gave me further advice on LG's hair - if we peroxide just the very ends of her hair, and dye again (possibly blue?) for the last day of term, we can get a really bright colour. hee hee

I then went to weaving for some extra catch-up time in a different class, to finish threading up my loom for the tea cosy I'm making (too much at the last minute really) (details in my other blog). I felt sort of naughty weaving (as I'm going again today) when I should/could have been marking.

I'll be weaving today in my usual class, but having a sore throat, and a good weekend coming up to NOT BE SICK for, I might be on the Sharon-you-slag-bus again today.

My bike is back though, I'm very happy. Except that I'm having trouble with the gears already - usually halfway up the hill in Greenwich Park. So I'll have to take it back in.....

I got a phone call in the afternoon whilst weaving. I've won a new canon digital camera !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've never won anything. Well thats not true, strictly speaking. But I never win this kind of thing. I did a very quick on-line competition which was in the Observer a few months ago, it was just a give-your-details first-out-of-the-bag competition. And I won !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I told Mike - of course - as soon as he got home. And guess what ???????????????????????????????????????????

He's bought me a new digital camera for my birthday next week.

Oh No !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can't remember the specs. or anything for the canon camera, and we couldn't find anything on the Observer archive/web to tell us. So we don't know which camera will be "better", and which we'll need to flog on eBay.

Mike had been obviously rather pleased with himself having such a good idea (because i'm taking so many more photos now I'm blogging) and with spending too much money on me.

Oh No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sod's bloody Law, or what?

Finally, I had a lot of strange dreams last night. In particular, this: we were in some unfamiliar town (a bit like Ottery St. Mary, near my parents old house in Devon). M was around, but mostly somewhere else. LG went missing. I didn't notice her go because I had some kind of funny turn, or possibly even dozed off. We couldn't find her. It was a nightmare. Literally.

However - we knew that she was okay, even though she was missing overnight (!!) - because she had been seen by someone. She'd clearly taken herself off for some reason, making some kind of point - so we knew she was safe and all right and nearby. She'd been seen all "made-up", so I was going to check Boots and the Body Shop to see if she was there trying on make up.

The significance of this is clearly related to the fact that LG is off on school journey, in Swanage all week.

And how strange. I am not consciously worried at all by her going. I know she's fine and that she'll have a fantastic time. LG herself was very excited and eager to go, except for a bit of a wobbler on Sunday night when she woke in a night-fear-panic - but Monday morning she was back to normal, couldn't wait to go, left in fine spirits. I'm missing her and will be absolutely delighted to see her on Friday and hear all about it, but actually its quite nice sitting here peacefully blogging, instead of trying to get her out of bed and making her packed lunch. I wouldn't have said I was anxious in the slightest really.

So this was a nightmare which came entirely from my sub-conscious - snuck out and bit me painfully in the arse.

To overcome its memory, here are pics. of my gorgeous baby wisteria, flowering wonderfully and fragrantly even though its only a few years old

and this is one of my favourite trees, I wait for its flowering (in Greenwich Park) every Spring. Its a cornus of some kind and its spectacular.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


**ADDITIONAL at the bottom**

Just a quickie.
Up to my eyes in essays and exam papers.
Must get through them so that I can go and visit RW over half-term.

LG's hair, a statement of individuality and subversion for her school journey this week:

Dillo of the day:

And finally this:
The ancient armadillo
is as simple as the rain,
He’s an armour plated pillow
with a microscopic brain,
He’s thoroughly disinterested
in what the world has wrought,
But spends his time in contemplative
Armadyllic thought.



Blimus, I have to get away from undergraduate scrawlings for a while.

I went to the cinema last night with a very very good friend - also a very very old friend (good enough for you, K?) who I have known since I was about 15. At a number of points I started talking about som
ething of which she seemed to display uncanny pre-knowledge - I'd forgotten that she's been reading my blog! Fortunately this didn't leave us short of things to talk about. I have been trying to persuade her not only to leave some comments, but to start a blog of her own.... (go on K, just do it!)

We went to see
Brick - which I would highly recommend.

It has the feel and st
yle very much of classic film noir, but in a contemporary American high school setting and with almost exclusively teenage/young actors. It was reminiscent of Raymond Chandler, Hammett, Bogart and at times also - disconcertingly - Bugsy Malone. Disconcertingly because the events which unfold are deadly serious, and this is evident from the very start of the film. This makes the mundane and suburban setting of the film - which takes place largely at school and in the homes of teenagers - quite surreal at times. There was particularly enjoyable juxtaposition of tense and threatening encounters alongside the provision (by a suburban mum) of cookies and juice from a bizarre chicken-jug. Tense, interestingly shot, gripping, darkly funny, tragic and very styish. It takes a fair bit of concentration to follow what is going on, but well worth the effort.

I've seen references to the film as this year's Donnie Darko and its a good comparison. Not least because, like Donnie Darko, the film left me wanting to watching it again immediately.

Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt - the kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun, he's has certainly grown up! - who is exceedingly excellent - I'd suggest you catch this at the cinema while you can.

Well, back to the undergraduate ramblings.....

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Ground Force

No sign of Charlie or Alan yet, but the champagne is on ice.

I have unexpected time for blogging because my sister and BIL had to leave for a few hours today. They are very involved in their local church. They will be there now, staying on for lunch because there they have been invited to a talk about gender roles and Genesis. Hmmm.

Given the ideology of their vicar, they are fully expecting not to agree much or at all with the views to which they will be subjected. However, as fair-minded if rather frustrated people, they are willing to listen. Whether or not they will get a chance to discuss, who knows? Their vicar, at least, doesn't seem much interested in considering ideas or interpretations which differ from his own. I am looking forward to their report when they return this afternoon.

Despite M's extremely doom-ridden demeanour yesterday morning, the day go off to a pretty good start and went well. This is despite (or perhaps because?) he and BIL went (after some clearing and measuring) to buy fence panels.

They missed the closing time of the local timber merchant by about 10 minutes.

En route to B&Q they got stuck in a complete gridlock, due to a lorry on fire.

Sod's law, or what??? So, they spent at least an hour and a half in the car and came back with no fence panels. (they did, however, bring beer and cake, so that was a good result).

Meanwhile my sister and I did mammoth clearing (mammoth as an adjective here, not a noun), hacking, ruthlessly cutting back - almost but not quite slashing and burning. I think the men got off pretty lightly really, as they returned in time for lunch, and then in the afternoon did 2 trips to the dump. And that was about it. After cups of tea, showers, G&Ts, we enjoyed Dr. Who (except my sister - its one of the things we don't have in common)(unlike our sensibleness)(but she really is much more sensible than I am) and today's re-scheduled Sunday lunch in the evening.

Here is the result, so far.

What a transformation from yesterday!
Its almost like having a new garden to plan for and enjoy.
(Sorry Rambling Woman ... your time and your garden WILL come)

And here is the frog we sadly had to evict in the process. We wish it happiness (and continued consumption of slugs and snails) in its new home, wherever that may be. Hopefully still in my garden. I love frogs.

A pretty excellent day, all in all. I knew it would be okay when my sister appeared early in the morning wanting to go to the car boot fair (which I'd thought I would probably forgo). We got some great bargains, she found just what she was looking for, and M was greatly reassured that we weren't obsessed with work to the exclusion of everything else. My sister wasn't too sure initially about the haggling. There was a nice symmetry about it, as I remembered - while haggling for her yesterday - that I used to make her ask for things in shops for me when we were children. She soon got the hang of it though, and before long was getting prices knocked down from 50p to 20p.

I must go now as we are dying the bottom half of LG's hair red, ready for her departure tomorrow on school journey to Swanage for 5 days.

Before I go, this is what we bought at the boot fair:
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to identify what I bought, what my sister bought, and in each case - WHY????

Friday, May 12, 2006

going down the garden to eat worms....

Think of me this weekend.

My sister and brother-in-law are coming to stay, with one of their (lovely) daughters.

Thats the good news.

The bad news is that they are coming specifically to help us sort out the bottom of our garden.

Which has no fairies living in it. They have long since fled.

There is no room for fairies because its full of junk, rubble, broken fence, slugs, buckets, rampant ivy, snails, weeds, worms, old broken cold frame, discarded garden table, sacks of compost, tubs of pelleted chicken manure (yumm), long thin slimy ones, broken flower pots, an old, slime-covered, snail encrusted paddling pool, short fat fuzzy ones, cat shit most probably, more weeds, more slugs, more of the above.....

This is what it currently looks like:

There are positive and negative things about this plan and this weekend:

positive: this is a job which needs doing, which I've been putting off for too long, which will get more difficult and unpleasant the longer it is left; we need help; sister and BIL are v.v.nice (and fun) and will work hard, be organised, give moral support, take junk to the tip, bring beer; we can't afford to pay someone to do this for us; we all get on very well with them and with L, our niece, and are very fond of them; we don't see them often enough; many hands make light work; a burden shared etc. etc.

negative: not how I would choose to spend a weekend if it could be done for us (by the fairies, maybe?); I hate slugs and snails; we could be doing lots of other things with my family which would be much more fun; above all - M.

He hates DIY of any kind. Hates with a vengeance. Really.
He will spend some time on jobs that need doing, but miserably, and needs regular and extensive breaks to restore himself with more fun activities. He doesn't believe it is possible to (or that he can) make the best of things. He will be expecting to be organised, dragooned, marshalled, over-worked, judged for working less hard than everyone else - in short he will be expecting it to be a miserable weekend.

The positives will make the negatives bearable, I hope. The weekend has been carefully negotiated with all those involved. There will be some sense of treading carefully, and I don't mean for the sake of the slugs and snails. I don't mind the worms.


Life surely shouldn't be this complicated? Its just a day or two's work for goodness sake, mixed with a fair amount of fun hopefully.

M does have a point, I must admit, that my family (including me) are too driven by the damned protestant work ethic. His perspective is far far away, at the other end of the spectrum (away with the fairies? I've never got the impression fairies much like work.)

From being with M, I will readily admit that I am learning important things about relaxing, letting things go, working less, relaxing more. But I wish the learning process wasn't such a conflictual (is there such a word?) struggle.

I'd get on with this particular job by myself if I could but there are some things - like putting in new fence panels - which really need more than one pair of hands.

What if it rains? I hear you thinking. M would be very pleased of course.
However, we have a second-back-up weekend booked ahead next month. [At my sister's suggestion - she is an even more organised person than I am.] {and very very sensible}

Just down the garden from the pile of old crap is a fairly large climbing frame. LG has finally agreed to part with this. It gets scarcely any use these days, though she and her friends do like to perch on the top of it while they chat. I think its a feline-power thing. (

Although its been fantastic to have it, and its seen A LOT of use ...
...and some great memories - fab pics of LG and Tat's and RW's girls clambering and sliding, and one of LG's birthday parties when there had been a lot of rain and the climbing frame - under the weight of 14+ little bodies - began to tilt and sink into the ground...
... I am so looking forward to getting rid of it. It will go to someone else, hopefully, through Freecycle, freeing up a large area of garden. I have visions of deck chairs, a little table with home-made lemonade in a crystal jug, maybe a gurgling water feature. LG has visions of dens, tents, canopies, brick walls, keep out signs (weapons no doubt) and me having to ask her permission to get past to the washing line or compost bin.

But that is a future negotiation to embark upon.

So think of me. I'll be absent from blogland for a while this weekend, down the garden eating worms.

Maybe when it all looks better, the fairies will move back in.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

No Bike

I've got a bike you can ride it if you like
its got a basket and bell that rings
and things to make it look good

I'm missing my bike.

Sad smiley face
(if I could get them for my Mac, which I've not been able to do so far)
[further sad smiley face]

Its is still at the bike shop, having a service and some repairs... brake cables and other stuff, I don't know, M. took the phone message. Its going to cost more than I thought. Serves me right for being too hard on the poor thing and cycling home with far too much shopping in the panniers. I should learn how to service it myself. I feel a bit incompetent not being able to fix my own transport.

I walked to my weaving class today, partly through Greenwich Park which is lovely (click here for pics if you've not already seen them) which compensated to some extent.

But I'd sooner have cycled.

And I got a bus part of the way back so as not to be too late for LG
(not that she minds, she had a door key to let herself in, which she loves to do, and she's on her father's computer now and too busy to talk to me anyway).

I got the "hey Sharon you slag!" bus (as its known in our house):
3.30 and full to bursting with teenagers on their way home from school, pushing and shoving and swearing and chucking water at each other, loud and lairy.

I want to ride my biCYCLE
I want to ride my BIKE
I want to ride my biCYCLE
I want to ride it WHERE I LIKE

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

160+ and counting...

Through the keyhold. Part 3.

(Click here for Parts 1 and 2)

This was actually the first stage in the purge of LG's bedroom - last in my chronicles here of the process, because I've only just got around to sorting out the photos.

A good proportion of the TOO MUCH STUFF which my daughter (LG) possesses is her soft animals. Maybe our great relief that she was keen on animals rather than barbies led us to over-indulge her.

I had hoped that she might be willing to relinquish some of them as part of our Easter spring-clean, to put them up for adoption at the school fair - but it was not to be. Last year she parted with quite a number, but came back with more from the toy tombola. Grrrr!

2 : she was willing to part with, to go to said toy tombola.

1 : I managed to extract because it is actually M's (a long ago joke from a friend) (a parrot which was once dressed as Batman) (yes, we have some strange friends).

12 : went into sort

She wouldn't countenance putting them up in the loft, that was a ladder too far (she knows them all by name) but in a storage bag on the top of the shelves was a reasonable compromise.

59 or more little ones went into a small toy cot (which was mine when I was little) which can be pushed under the bed. Good job. Out of sight....
She carefully arranged about 35 in here, I managed to force in find room for at least 20 more.

40++ into the big purple bin.

(Similar sequence of careful arrangement by her and additional stuffing in by me)

These large storage containers seem so deceptively like a good idea in the shop, don't they?

30++ are now precariously suspended above her bed. They'll be fine, so long as no-one rocks the boat hammock. And so long as her night time cavortings around don't include standing suddenly upright in her sleep (which is always possible).

This leaves only about 15 on/in/falling-off-and-ending-up-under the bed. Mostly penguins and pooches.

Well, its a small step in relative terms, a reasonably substantial step for LG.
This does looks much better than it did, believe it or not, honest, cross my heart, take my word for it.

Lets hope they don't start creeping out of their assigned locations too soon.....

Monday, May 08, 2006

Patio Pigs

Sorry for the absence. We've had a good friend staying this weekend, a friend of the just-like-family easy-to-be-with wouldn't-mind-if-I-did-blog-all weekend type, with whom - of course - I wanted to spend time. So, not much blogging.

She's just finished 4 years training in Ayurvedic health and medicine (in London and India), and is in the process of setting up her own business in Jersey, Channel Islands. This is a big life-change for her, she's worked so hard at it - I'm sure she will be very successful and wish her every luck. I hope to be adding a link to her website soon. She's a lovely lovely person and it was a joy to have some time with her.

We spent time together eating, (not much drinking, she is mostly teetotal (though thats not an ayurvedic thing) [but she did bring me some duty-free gin, {a double-pack!!!} what a good friend!]) (losing track of my brackets here) shopping , finding bargains at the car-boot sale, gardening a bit, fixing the guinea-pig run {they escaped again on Saturday - no more, they now have a Fort Knox Run}, chatting a lot, doing a jigsaw puzzle. A woman after my own heart. Apart from the not-drinking thing, obviously.

On Sunday we all went into Greenwich for lunch, the weather (contrary to my weather-pixie's information) (she's been lying again today) was gorgeous, so here are some pics.

Greenwich Park is beautiful, very green now Spring is finally here, quiet and restful even when full of people:

A bunch of pigeons (I'm sure thats not the correct collective noun) (a squawk of pigeons?)(a pie of pigeons?) roosting, bizarrely, in a bank of heather:

Wonderful trees:

The building in the foreground (below) is the Queens House and the Maritime museum.
Behind that, with little domes, is the Royal Naval College - where I work! Yes, I do feel privileged to work in such wonderful surroundings.

LG spent much of Sunday morning customizing this T-shirt.

We ate at a favourite and particularly excellent all-you-can-eat Vietnamese restaurant (didn't think to take any pics, sorry, not very blog-mindful) and then wandered around Greenwich market (re which, see this) eating too many pick'n'mix sweets bought from the traditional sweet shop which is located too close for comfort to where we work. They have so many sweets there from my childhood, which I'd forgotten all about. Not the very same sweets, from my childhood, you understand. (i hope you understand). That would be pretty unpalateable.

They have not only Victory V's - but also rosie rosy apples, those necklaces made of sweets, rhuarb and custard sweets - and Sweet Tobacco - do you remember that? I'd forgotten all about it. It tasted of coconut if I remember rightly. The jar was almost empty, so there is clearly still a market for it! They should sell rice-paper Rizlas to go with it. Then Trac and Le Chat could switch from whatever they smoke, to those.
I don't think/supppose you can buy those sweetie cigarettes any more, not at all p.c.

We then returned home and discovered that the guinea pigs had escaped.

There are a number of gripping, tension-filled stories lurking behind that "Again".

Fortunately they don't usually go far, we've only once or twice had to clamber over neighbours' fences (usually in twilight) in search of the little blighters. These days they seem to stay in our own garden and are fairly easily retrieved. Tho' they can move surprisingly fast when they want to.

So, whilst we fixed their run, LG DC entertained them - actually no, was entertained by them - on the patio. They are such funny, and really quite endearing, little creatures. They make gentle, warbling, burbling little chirrupy noises to each other and do little bunny hops when happy. They spent the first 10 minutes or so darting between pots and finding corners to hide in.

Aren't they a handsome couple?

They then began to explore more widely....

They love this little house, which was bought for us them by a friend who, I think, didn't realise how big they are. There really is not room for both of them inside...

but that doesn't stop them trying.

Silly pigs!

If they manage to escape from their newly-reinforced run, we will have to think about installing searchlights and barbed-wire. Stalag Cavey ? or PigDitz? or BelGuineaMarsh?