About Me

Llantwit Major, Wales, United Kingdom
I am mother, librarian, avid reader, sf fan, writer (unpubished), singer(amateur), animal lover, needlewoman.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Creaking gate

I am doing rather well on the NHS recently. I am going to see the physio in the hospital about my knee on Wednesday, then to the dentist for a check up on Thursday. In addition to that I have an application in through Access to Work to get a good chair for work.

I have had back problems for years, sacro-iliac problems and have been seeing a variety of chiropracters, osteopaths before finally settling for physiotherapy. There is a private, but very reasonably priced, physio service in Llantwit, and doing the exercises plus Pilates have definitely helped. However I got new chair at work last year sometime which gave me sciatica! I went back to the old chair and recently asked my boss for a new, good-for-the-back chair.

The first step was a consult with the occupational health dept, and the chap who came over set up the application for Access to Work. This is a fund which provides special equipment for people to either stay in work, or get back to work. He wasn't sure I would qualify as I am in work, and trying to stay that way, however I have been accepted by them.

The assessor is coming over on Wednesday and will do a full ergonomic survey of me and my workplace, and then make a report and recommendations. I hope he recommends a new chair, because they will provide a rolls royce chair which should - I hope - really help with the sciatica and the back. The occ health guy did say that a new chair will be provided anyway, but I will get a better one if I can get extra funding through Access to Work. Fingers crossed.

It is encouraging though.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Yesterday we were in London, and went for tea in Fortum and Mason. Before we had tea we had a potter around the shop and the things you can buy in there are amazing. I bought 4 different sorts of cheese to have for our supper that night, and the decision making process took ages.

There are so many different sorts of cheese. Every country has different sorts of cheese, thought there are variations which are similar, because they all start with the same basic ingredients - ie milk from cow or sheep or goat (I suppose you can get camel and things but ....). The ways people found to create cheese from milk have created so many different cheeses. I stood in front of the counter and dithered for a long time, as I ignored the ones I already knew and wondered which ones I should buy from among all the ones I didn't know. Eventually I decided to get a creamy milk one, a blue one with grapes on the outside, some Stinking Bishop, and some pecorrino . There were lots of others which were tempting, but there is a limit to how much cheese any four people can eat in one night.

There is something which is so satisfying about the combination of cheese, red wine and good company which it is hard to beat, so we had a truly lovely evening as well as a really good day.

We went to the Cabinet war rooms and the Churchilll museum which was fascinating. The Cabinet war rooms have been recreated as they were during the war, and it is interesting how small, dark and claustrophobic they rooms are. The corridors are low and narrow, with small rooms and dark furniture, no windows, there are parts which show you the huge concrete slab above the ceiling which was designed to protect the rooms from bomb falls above. The Churchill museum is very well done, with a great deal of information about Churchill all through his life, and some very nifty button pushing things to play with as well. We also had a cup of tea in the canteen which was tea in a pot, and in nice cups as well.

Then we went and had a very posh tea in Fortum and Mason which was very, very good indeed.

It was an excellent day.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Life - like buses

It is odd isn't it, that life can't seem to manage to spread itself out nicely. You go through phases when nothing at all is happening, and some variety would be warmly welcomed, interrupting the routine of work, dinner, tv, chores etc, then you get phases when so much is happening that you hardly seem to be able to fit everything in - let alone enjoy it all.

This weekend is a case in point. Nic and I are going to Kate's tomorrow and will be fed an excellent meal cooked by Carl, and I think we are going to have a go on the Wii fit which should be fun - or at least entertaining. On Saturday we are going up to London, having a potter around Selfridges, then going round the War Cabinet rooms where we will meet, sister, brother in law, both their kids and their significant others. The we go to Fortnum and Mason to have tea. There is a respectful pause at this point. We will have sandwiches, scone with clotted cream and cakes and tea and (if you want) champagne.

Then we were just going to waddle off to the station to go back to Kate's. However Chris is in London so we are squishing in a quick meeting in a pub between tea and the train. It is lovely to get to see her but it would be nicer if we had more time.

I have also had an email from a friend in Kent who is going to be over here in July. Unfortunately it is one of the weeks I have booked for holiday, so I am going to have to try to get to see her in the early part of her visit, and then go away on holiday. If she was coming a week earlier then I could have seem much more of her.

Sods law.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Learning from children

Now the kids are adult I find it fascinating how much I end up learning from them. I always have learnt from them of course - they teach you how to rear kids (by practical experience), new maths methods when helping them with homework (how do you do long division??) and so on.

Now though I can find out lots of things from their interests and their activities. I am learning a lot about horse racing these days. Now Nicky is working in racing I am finding out all sorts of things about how the racing world works which I didn't learn by reading Dick Francis novels (though they were quite enlightening too). Yesterday she was in the Racing Post as the Person of the day at Huntingdon races on Sunday (which involves a little paragraph about that person). I now know the difference between a claim race and a selling race, and all sorts of things. I do start with a certain knowledge of horses which is useful, but the depth of information is increasing the longer she works there. I still don't understand betting though. We looked it up on the internet and were none the wiser by the time we finished. I think it is like Mah Jong - you need to learn by being shown, not by reading the book.

Tomorrow however I am pursuing my own interests, and am singing. The choir is singing Palestrina's Misaa Beata Virgine in a service in Ewenny Priory. Thankfully we are not singing the Credo, because we haven't had time to learn it properly since Christmas. Fingers crossed that it all goes ok, though the congregation aren't a very critical audience, and singing a mass as part of a service is a really nice thing to do because it puts it into a proper context. The were written for liturgical purposes, not as concert pieces and I do enjoy putting them back into their context, expecially in a church which is the right age. Actually it is a lot older than Palestrina, being 13th century, but it was around at the same time as he was writing.

However now I must go to listen to a newer piece of music as Brian has written something and wants me to hear it. Even listening on a computer it is still exciting to be the first person to hear something newly written.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The sun has got his hat on

The sun was out again this weekend, and brought lots of people with it. Down at the beach people were walking, playing, windsurfing, and generally making the most of it. The wind was a bit chilly but otherwise you could have thought it was July not March.

Just as well, because the rain is back today, the heating needs to be turned back up, and I was cold at work, so needed an extra layer on. Ho hum.
However here is one of the many palm trees which seem to flourish in Llantwit, which always surprises me, because the temperature is far from tropical.

The good news is that I have passed my first indexing exam. I wasn't actually in a great deal of doubt about passing this one as most of it was stuff I did studying for librarianship. However the feedback they sent back was quite detailed, and I will go through the paper I sent in as they suggested. However it is stage 1, and I will send off for the next one now.

Sunday was Mother's day, and I was sent a blouse by Kate which is lovely. Sunday morning I came down to breakfast to discover a big bouquet of flowers, a scented candle and a card from Adam, and he had also put out a bowl, a spoon and my usual breakfast cereal waiting for me which was very nice indeed. Child no 3 - who was at work on Sunday - has yet to produce a card .... so I am waiting with baited breath.

Friday, March 20, 2009


It is bizarre how ageist the world of classical music is. Competitions for compositions are so frequently age defined, "for the under 30s" or similar restrictions. Why? Is there a presumption that one becomes less able to write well as one gets older? Their own history should tell them otherwise as there are numerous composers who wrote fantastic work during their old age, sometimes revolutionary work, so why? There are areas of performance when age is a hindrance - dance and sport are obvious examples, but other art forms are not limited by age In literature you don't find the same thing, because - unless for kids - the age is not important. You get competitions for crime writing, women's writing, sf etc, but age isn't one of the criteria. Why should it be?

Yet when Brian is looking for competitions to submit pieces to they are frequently limited like that. I find it very odd.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fresh eggs for dinner

I have lovely very fresh eggs for my dinner. One hen egg (it might be a bantam judging by the size) and one duck. The advantages of Nic having friends who keep chickens - thank you Chloe.

You can tell how fresh they are because the whites are much more solid, and don't run across the pan when you crack them.

They were delicious, really, really tasty. I pity you all for not having had them for dinner.

Now I am having some nuts and raisins, and I also had some dates.

Also it is spring and the really nice fruit season will be starting soon.

When I was younger I loved Autumn the best of the seasons, in the teenage melancholy way, but now I am older it is Spring which is the best for me. I love the tiny snowdrops pushing through in the winter, sometimes in the snow. The lambs being born in the cold of February, again sometimes in the snow, then the daffodils which are all over the place in Wales. When we went abroad in March with the Choir one of the things I loved was coming back into Wales in the coach because when you come over the bridge out of England and into Wales the banks on the motorway are covered with daffodils, and there are more in the fields, in gardens, everywhere. The after that come the crocuses, the purple and the yellow ones, and then we head on into summer when all the flowers come out and it is colour everywhere. I love it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Llantwit for a year

I have decided, having taken lots of pictures of Llantwit Major last weekend, that I am going to take pictures of Llantwit for a year. Not in a very structured way - not the same place at the same time every day, I'm not organised enough for that. However I think I will just take pictures when I go out for walks etc, and record my Llantwit Major for a year.

And anyone who reads the blog can follow it with me because the photos will undoubtedly appear on here, though I think I will do something more constructive on Picassa as well.

It will also give me a structure when I go out for walks as well, so it is a win/win situation.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Throwing out books

Part of being a librarian is throwing out books as well as buying books. My job is to run the small department which buys the stock for the public libraries. However as well as buying all the new stock, which does take up most of our time, I also do a certain amount of sorting out of older stock All libraries have to throw out the old and tatty books, decide which to replace if possible, but we also have to throw out the ones which don't work.

There are books which are bought which for some reason no one takes out, and which are therefore taking up valuable shelf space and need to be evicted to make room for something which people do want to borrow. We are there to provide books for people which they want to read, not to provide shelf room for those which people don't want to read.

Sometimes you get a book which has been on the shelves for maybe a couple of years, maybe moved from branch to branch, and no one has ever taken it out. I sometimes feel so sorry for the book, for the writer. Some of the books would have required years of research in order to write them, and then no one reads them. Someone has slaved away, got their manuscript accepted to their great delight, especially as they probably spent years trying to get it accepted, and then no one reads it.

I do sometimes wonder what criteria the publishers use for some of these books. Some of the ones which aren't read in the Vale of Glamorgan will find keen readers elsewhere. We are a county of little ethnic variety, and so there are lots of books which don't issue well here which may well work their socks off elsewhere, but even so I do wonder why some of them ever get published.

Nevertheless it still goes against the grain to throw out books in almost mint condition. The branches will try to sell withdrawn stock, but if no one is going to take the books out for free, then no one is going to pay for them, even 50pence.

Sad books, going to the recycling bin.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pruning today

Today has been another beautiful spring day. Today I have been out in the garden, and have been pruning things so we now have a huge pile of prunings from various bushes and plants which my son will take up to the tip next week.

So having been just doing stuff like that, plus cleaning out the drains and doing washing I have nothing much to talk about , so here are another few pictures from yesterday's walk.

Here is curious sheep.Here is a wall painting from the church They were covered by whitewash during the Reformation but were uncovered and restored a few years ago, and they still are remarkably vibrant.
Here is a toad carved in wood above the church door like the bird in my header.
Hope you are having spring where you are too

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Llantwit Major

I live in an old town. There was a Roman villa outside the town, but the history, and the name, come from the Celtic Saint Illtyd. In 400 something he set up a University in my town, one of the first in northern Europe, and people came a long way to study here. St David was a student here, and St Patrick was supposed to have been before he went to Ireland, as well as many other Celtic saints whose names are only known in Wales nowadays. The church was wood and nothing of it now survives, but there are Celtic crosses in the church which date back to pre 1000 AD.

Here are 2 of the crosses , and below is some of the writing on the cross on the right, though I don't know what it says.This is a little mouse carved above the door into the church which I think is lovely, and he would have been really brightly coloured when he was new.
This is the memorial cross in the centre of the old part of the town. It has pubs on 3 sides of it, and the road leads down to the church, while the town hall is on the left. The pub behind me when I took the photo was the mint in 1300s, and the local coins were minted here.
This is the town hall, and the hall is up the stairs on the first floor. Until about 30 years ago bodies were kept in a room underneath before burial, and the lane to the left of the town hall is called Burial Lane.
However we aren't all ancient, and here are some of the modern shops. We have 2 supermarkets (small ones) , 2 chemists, and most of the things you need for daily living are available locally.
Today was a beautiful spring day, the daffodils were in flower all over the town, the sun was shining and I just thought I would take the time to appreciate the place where I live. I am lucky to live here in a small enough town to be friendly, but large enough to have what you need. It is a town with an interesting past, and a pleasant present, and I like it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Busy week at work

This week has been very busy at work. Monday we had our first inset day. All the libraries in the County were closed and we all met up at Barry Library - 85 members of staff - for a day. Part of the point of the day was to enable staff to meet each other Most library staff work only in their own branch library, or possibly help out on relief at a neighbour branch. The staff from opposite ends of the County don't tend to meet up, so it was good to meet people who you only ever talk to on the phone, or hear about from others. We were allocated to different groups so that people did mix, and it was a really good day from that point of view. The actual training was a bit too simple and most of us already knew it all, but the day was good, and we are hoping to do it again.

Today I spent all day doing computer training. Our main book supplier is changing as of 1 April, so we had a day learning about the new website, so that we will all be able to use it when we change. This was the opposite to Monday in that there were only 20 of us and I didn't actually get to meet all the people there. However the training itself was very good, well paced and very informative, which was good as we will need to use the website soon. Also the computer link behaved well and didn't crash once which made things much easier for everyone.

Tomorrow morning I have a guy coming to make sure a particular piece of software is working properly in the morning and a meeting in the afternoon. Tuesday afternoon I was off having my knee looked at, and yesterday afternoon I was off with daughter and future son in law at the venue for their wedding in November.

All this means that I feel as though I have done hardly any work this week. Most of the week has been work - apart from the 2 afternoons - but it feels as though chunks haven't been 'real work' Why is that do you suppose? Is there a sort of puritanical feeling that unless I am at the desk and in front of the computer I'm not really working? It is odd and I have never quite fathomed it out.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sore knee

I tripped and fell early in December and my knee was very sore for some time afterwards, so in January I went to the Doctor. She sent me for an xray but there was no bone chipped, so sent me to the physio. I got the appointment, and thought I would go even though it only hurts now when I actually kneel on it.

Just as well really because while the physio was moving the knee around he found one position that REALLY hurt. Under the patella there is some inflammation which clearly is taking a long time to subside, so he tried taping it(though that fell off before I got home - very nonsticky tape), but has given me some exercises and I have another appointment in April.

So it is just as well I went really. He has also told me to rest it, so I will do that, do my exercises and see if it is better in April. You really wouldn't think that a trip and a fall, which only seemed to wind me a bit at the time, and the worst part was that I had got my front muddy before going into a meeting, would keep being a problem months later.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Pets and things

We went to Crufts yesterday and saw lots of very well turned out and very well behaved dogs. The BBC has not broadcast Crufts this year because of the problems with inbreeding and also some of the breed standards being cruel to the dogs. This is true, and we did have a qualm about going, but it wasn't a very big qualm, although I do really agree with the people protesting outside the NEC.

I have owned pedigree dogs and a pedigree cat, and I have owned muts and moggies. We have had rabbits, hamsters and goldfish, which were mostly identified as a particular breed. We have had horses with excellent breeding and horses with unidentified breeding, and it is sometimes hard to say which is better.

I definitely believe that the extremes of breeding to a standard which is unnatural is wrong. what has been done to bulldogs so that they can't breathe and can barely walk cannot be justified by anyone. Inbred diseases and weaknesses - hip dysplacia, skin disorders etc, should be bred out by not allowing the animals with those weaknesses to have progeny registered. My one pedigree cat was Burmese and the reason I got him was that he had a defect in his ribcage so he was given away as a pet cat on the agreement that he would be neutered and his pedigree said no progeny to be registered. As we had him as a pet this was fine, and it was a very responsible attitude on the part of the breeder I think.

My daughter works in a racing yard where breeding of thoroughbreds is clearly of critical importance. Thoroughbreds are all in the stud book and they can all be traced back to 3 Arab sires in the early 19th century. However you can get a mare who is fast and wins a few races when young, but basically is short of bone and would have leg problems if she was worked extensively, so she is put in foal because she is fast, but the lightness of bone, which is a defect, is being passed on.

It varies of course, you have responsible and irrisponsible breeders, but I got a cross bred dog because I wanted a pet and I wanted what is called cross bred vigour - ie fewer bred in defects. That said, even with a cross breed dog, you have to think what the dog was bred for. Terriers are bright, individual thinkers, and will chase anything that runs away from them, and if they catch something may kill it. Retrievers will retriever, collies will herd, guard dogs will guard, and even with a crossbreed you need to think what their origins might be when you get one.

Crufts will probably have representatives of all types. We were very taken with the corgis, especially the ones with tails, as they don't dock the tails any more, but the breeder we spoke to would clearly prefer the dogs to have their tails docked if he was still allowed to. However that is one instance where a change in the rules has meant a change to the breed standard and makes it better for the dogs. There needs to be more of this sort of thing. At the top is a corgi with a tail - and you can see how long it is when left fo grow.

Friday, March 6, 2009


I had an exciting dinner time yesterday. I grilled burgers for myself and Ad, my son, but as he wasn't in from work when it was done, I put his back under the grill, and (I thought) turned the grill off. Only I hadn't. Instead of keeping Ad's burger nicely warm it - after a bit - set it alight. Smell of burning - what is that? So I opened the grill door and flames shot out, and caught my hair. I put the hair out very quickly and then looked at the flames coming out of the grill.

Hmm, now what?

Now what was leave it. As it was only the fat in the bottom of the grill pan I left it to burn out which it did quite quickly thankfully.

However my hair was a bit burnt, so I had to chop some bits off the side, and then go off to my Pilates class smelling like a bad bonfire because I didn't have time to wash it until afterwards.

Luckily I already have a hair appointment booked for tomorrow, because my hair is a bit lopsided at the moment.

Ad didn't get his burger for dinner though, as it had been GBH as Brian, my partner pointed out - Grilled by Helen.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Winter is back

The weather has turned back to winter and it is pouring with rain. Love spring. We are in temporary accomodation at work, in the Bibliographical services dept of the Vale of Glamorgan library services because we got flooded out last September. The temporary accomodation is good, but we went to look at our own offices being done up today, with walls knocked down to get rid of narrow corridors and small rooms it looks much better. We are going to have a much improved working environment, hopefully by the end of the month.

I am watching the Dog Whisperer in sunny California - sun, heat, people in t shirts. That man is a miracle worker though, the things he gets dogs to do is remarkable. Even making allowances for the stupidity of some of the dog owners the control he exerts over vicious dogs is like magic.
We are going to Crufts on Sunday, so I will put some dog pictures onto the blog next week.

I also need to decide why I am writing a blog and what I am doing it for.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Why start a blog? Lots of others do, so, why not?

Hello out there. I have spare time at the moment because I have just finished Part 1 of the exams to become a recognised indexer and member of the Society of Indexers. This is part of my long term plan to supplement my income when I retire. After a long number of years working in local government, when I do retire in 5 to 10 years time my gilt edged, luxury pension - the rolls royce of pensions, will be way less than the minimum needed to take me to the poverty line of £10,000 per annum. If I retire at 60 I get £7000 a year, if I work till 65 I get £9000 pa. Hey - the luxury of a pension. It is true that civil service and local government pensions - being final salary pensions - are good, however the final salary pension is only ever really as good as the actual salary and the vast majority of local government salaries are crap. The majority of local government employees are on a low salary so after 40 years paying into a pension half of a little is still only a little.

That being so, as my partner B retires next year, I want to be able to retire before 65 so we can have some quality time together, and I am hoping that indexing will give me a freelance job which will earn me some money to plug the gap between being able to survive and not.

That is the plan anyway.

However as I have just sent off my first exam I have some spare time and hence the blog. We shall have to see how it goes.