About Me

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

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


We have booked our holidays for June.

We made the decision not to go abroad because of the Euro and to save money, but I don't think we'll manage much money saving.

We are going to Kieran and Alice's wedding at the end of May, and from there we drive up to Northumberland. I have never been there and it is supposed to be one of the loveliest and unspoilt areas of England. We are definitely going to see Durham Cathedral and Hadrian's wall, and what else we see will depend on the weather. we have a cottage booked for a week near Alnwick, and will go to see the castle where Brian will have to endure Harry Potter references which he doesn't understand as that is one of the castles they use for Hogwarts in the films.

After that we go up to see a friend on the Moray Firth almost all the way up to the north of Scotland, and we stay there till the Wednesday when we move on to a little flat near Fort William. We have whittered for ages about where to go on the West coast of Scotland, and really fancied Skye, but for 3 days it is too far to drive out of our way, so we have decided to opt for Fort William at the bottom of Loch Ness. It is an area we have never been to so any area around there will be good to see and new territory for us.

This is - of course - not cheap, or even economical, however I am really looking forward to it as we have three different areas of the country to see and we aren't driving all the time. They are long drives, but we are staying put for a few days in every place, so the only bad bit will be drive home at the end. I shall go to work on Monday and snooze through my email reading I think.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Lovely Saturday

Having had a depressing post last time , we had a great day on Saturday. Adam and I met Kate in Cardiff and went shopping. We got a suit for Adam to wear to the two family weddings this year, plus a lovely shirt, tie and new shoes

Then he went off and we went looking for an outfit for me for the May wedding, and having tried on lots of different things I have got a lovely skirt and cardigan which is something quite different from my normal choices and I love it. Kate has decided she should have been a personal shopper as a career.

Then we went to look at more wedding dresses, and saw some really lovely ones. Having tried on lots of dresses there were 4 which were front runners and all very different, so how she is going to decide I have no idea.

Lovely day.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Gloom and more gloom

The budget is gloomy, the economy is shrinking, businesses are failing, they are threatening all sorts of cuts all over the place. It is getting more and more depressing to watch the news or read the papers.

Vince Cable, the Lib Dem financial spokesman, who used to work in the city so does know what he is talking about was on yesterday. He was the one who said 5 years ago that the banks were heading for disaster and he was right. Yesterday he was saying that the budget is completely unrealistic, that huge extra cuts will have to be made, that the government can no longer afford to pay public service pensions etc etc.

When I think back to the optimism of the 60s when I was young I do wonder how we have come to this. I know that the cause is the financial idiocy of the world banks, but it still baffles me that things have got so bad so quickly. Last year we were fine, this year it is disaster.

I suppose there is nothing to do but cross your fingers and get on with everyday, but I wonder what our kids will do in the future. Global warming, economic crisis, aids, etc etc.

It is depressing.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dagger in the Library

I may have mentioned that I am on the judging panel for the Dagger in the Library, an award given by the Crime Writers Association, It is getting a bit more demanding now. There were 70 writers nominated who were eligible so I had started dipping into the ones I didn't know. However now we have the longlist of 17 writers and I have to read at least one book by each of them before 27 May. There are a few I have read all their books, others I have read at least 1, but a handful I haven't read at all.

It has been interesting to read so many novels in one genre in succession. There are a lot of similarities in the structure of the novels which is inevitable because police procedure novels will follow the police procedures. In the less interesting books there are great similarities between the protaganists as well which is unfortunate, because there is a limit to how many angst ridden- single/divorced because of the job - workaholics you can maintain an interest in. However there are also lots of differences, even among the modern policemen. Kate Atkinson had a lovely character in Jackson Brodie, but it is hard to compare him with the historical detectives or the non police ones.

It is an award given for a body of work, so it has to be sustained over more than one novel, and some of the authors like Kate Atkinson and Morag Joss write outside the crime genre as well as within it. What is also interesting is the number of authors on the list whom I have never read before, some of whom have been real finds and others I would prefer to have left on a dusty shelf.

The judging lunch is in London in May and then the award dinner - to which I get an invitation - is in mid July, and which will be quite exciting. I've never been to anything so impressive as that is likely to be before, so I am quite thrilled really.

I used to read a lot of science fiction, and write reviews in the British Science Fiction Association magazines, so it is a bit different to focus in a critical way on crime novels instead of sf, and to ponder on the similarities and differences between them.

I do have a lot of reading to do though!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Holiday thoughts

Well we are in our new/old premises and by the end of today I had finished unpacking and had done a lot of sorting of filing etc, though I am well aware that there will be lots of other things which will need to find new homes, or things we can't find at all. However we are in, we like it, and will settle ourselves down over the next few days.

The weather was glorious at the weekend and it has really put me into a holiday mood. We have a week booked in a cottage in Northumberland, near Alnwick for a week at the beginning of June. My nephew is getting married on 30 May in Saffron Walden, so we will have a great start to the holiday then.

We have never been to Northumberland, but it is said to be beautiful so we are really looking forward to it. I want to see Durham Cathedral, Alnwick Castle, Lindisfarne and Hadrian's wall, we want to go for walks in the National Park as well, so we are going to have to balance the urge to see everything with the need to relax.

I tend to save my holidays for the summer because Brian has his holidays in June and July, so we have the 2 weeks at the beginning of June and then another 2 weeks - separate from each other by a week back in work - which we will have in Pembrokeshire at Brian's cottage.

The reason for a split week in July is that I am a judge for the Dagger in the Library. The Crime Writers Association gives awards every year to the best book in a variety of categories eg historical crime etc, and one of the awards is the Dagger in the Library. The award is for an author who is nominated by library readers, and the judges are librarians, and the award dinner is on 15 July - one of the weeks I was due to be in Pembrokeshire, so I have moved that week to the week before because I really want to go to the award dinner.

Lets hope we get some sunshine this year.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Moving at work (part 2)

We spent today packing up all the stuff in our temporary accomodation. The removal men arrived with 55 crates this morning and we have spent the whole day filling them up. Did you know 1 drawer of a filing cabinet fills one crate? Also 1 shelf of books on a standard library bookshelf is enough for 1 crate You can get more books in but then the removal men can't lift it/get a hernia because it is so heavy.

Tomorrow I am going to our temporary building first thing to tell them what is going where. We have put labels onto everything, but as we have things going to 4 separate buildings, plus things coming from other buildings, it is not as straightforward as picking it all up in one place and putting it all down in the other.

We have very fancy new phones too. They are IPC phones which means they work over the internet, and our pcs actually plug into the back of the phone. They have memories, and all sorts of fancy things which our previous phones which were something that Ma Bell would have recognised with little difficulty. it also means we can phone other part of the Council which is on the same network for free, which is good.

I am tired and grubby and a bit dismayed at the sheer quantity of crates which need to be unpacked tomorrow, because there are other crates coming from elsewhere too. I think a bit of serious chucking out of things which have not been used for the last 6 months will be in order.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Despite the weather forecast which said it would rain all over Easer we had a glorious weekend, with lots of sunshine.

This does mean that the garden has to shake of its winter scruffy outlook, so we have been weeding, lawn cutting, and Adam has started scrubbing the algae off the decking.

Here is part of the border

This is my first attempt to grow tomatoes. The plastic is a sort of greenhouse (ish). Fingers crossed.

Here is a pretty plant I got at the garden centre yesterday

Here is the other end of the garden, now looking trimmed and neat

And finally here is the flowering cherry in the front garden. I love spring.

I also managed to get a little bit pink while sitting in the sun on (appropriately) Sunday.

I'm not the only one as the garden centre was really busy yesterday, as lots of people were also clearly bringing their gardens up to scratch so you can sit out in them without being intimidated by the weeds. For a week or two anyway, until they start growing back.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Wedding dresses

Here are some of the dresses Kate tried on at the weekend, I couldn't find pictures of all of them as some of them dont download, but it gives an idea of the differences in styles available. Though a couple of the front runners in style aren't here in the pics.

It was great fun, and Kate thinks she'l look at another couple of places before she narrows the style down.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Wedding dresses

Kate and Carl have booked the venue for the wedding, and th wedding is going to be on 21 November this year.

We went into Cardiff this morning and met Kate's friend Kelsie and went to the first dress trying on appointment. It is fun. The dresses are varied, some big and bouffant, others slim and slinky, all designer dresses. There was more variety than I expected, and some of the dresses were really lovely. Kate is now a size 12 and some of the dresses didn't begin to meet at the back, so you do wonder what they do with the the brides who are plumper, which statistically they are. I wonder how many of the brides end up chosing a strapless, corset with a big skirt because they are the only ones in the shop which they can begin to get into.

Having said that, they are so expensive. I know they are designed and - to an extent - tailored to fit, but evens so over £1000 for the cheap ones is a lot of money for most people.

I don't think Kate has come to a decision though, as they dress styles which we ended up with as favourites are all very different, and to narrow down the style she wants is going to be trick, because all of them were lovely.

It was a lovely day. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Moving at work

We got flooded last September in our office at work. Since then we had one month in a very small room in Barry library, not recieving any of our deliveries because we had nowhere to put them. Then they found a place for us in a big room in a day centre which Social Services weren't using and we have been there since October.

However we are moving back to Printmet on 17th April. We have had the building altered and tarted up so we are quite excited about going back. We have been there since 1996 and in all that time we have not had a kitchen sink or a proper hot water tap, we have been using the small sink in the loo to wash our dishes with a small water heater designed to wash your hands only. In the new revamped building, we are getting a kitchen unit with proper taps and a proper sink! We are very excited.

We are also getting new furniture because the old stuff got soaked and was standing in water for 3 days till the waters went down, so was warped,plus the water was contaminated so not nice anyway. The furniture is arriving tomorrow, so we are excited about that too.

Sadly it takes very little to get a bunch of library staff excited.

We were not excited by news of our pay offer for this year. 0.5%.

MPs have given themselves 2.33% and they offer all Local Government staff 0.5. We are waiting with great cynicism for the Councillors to award themselves 2% or more, as they usually do. Pigs in the trough - all politicians should read Animal Farm every month.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spring in Llandeloy

We went down to Brian's cottage in Pembrokeshire at the weekend, and it was a glorious springlike weekend. We went to St Davids on Saturday morning, pottered around two craft fairs and had a chat with the craftspeople there. Brian bought a pewter bookmark and I got a pewter brooch which will be a present for someone later on in the year. We went into the Art Gallery and had a look at the new art. The Welsh Arts Council run a 0% interest scheme for art purchases. If you buy something from a recognised gallery within Wales you can pay over a year at 0%, which brings something from too expensive to affordable. Brian has bought 3 things so far, and will have paid off the painting from last year by the summer, so has one other year before he retires when he can afford to buy something.

Then we went and had coffee.

The view at the top is the view from the top of Llandeloy looking towards St Davids.
Here are the sheep who found our photo taking fairly interesting. You can see the lamb asking what is going on.
And this is the front garden at the cottage. The rockery is definitely one of our triumphs, as it was made from the rubble and clay dug out from the footings of the cottage extension, so the soil is awful. We started with a couple of primroses, but they have gone mad and are covering all sorts of places, but they look lovely, so all to the good.

We had lunch in the garden on Sunday too which felt very springlike.

Sadly it has gone colder and wetter now, just in time for Easter.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

State of Play

Well, didn't he do well!

I have been in office sweeps and things on th Grand National before, but I would never have sat in the car listening to it for that which is what I did on Saturday. We were down in Pembrokeshire and there is no tv in the cottage, so I found Radio 5 Live (which took some doing as it is on AM and I had to sit in the car as the stereo in the house is too old) and listened to the commentary on the race from there.

It was really exciting, and State of Play came 4th so I actually doubled my money!

I never usually win, so I am extremely impressed.

I have a free £10 bet now because of placing the first one, so I will put that on another horse of Nic's sometime, though I don't expect to double my money again.

As for my football bet, which caused such hilarity to Kate and Carl - I wasn't that far out. I thought Wales would lose 3-0 to germany and they lost 2-0. Pretty close for someone with no interest in football I though.

I can see why people get hooked, though as someone who managed to get 6p in debt when playing cards for 10 matches to 1p I don't think I will be too tempted to bet the family income.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Daughter on tv

The trianer Nic works for has a horse running in the Grand National on Saturday, and the local tv cameras went down to the stables to interview Evan and take some pictures of State of Play. We were just sitting chatting, not looking at the tv last night, when Nic said
'That's me'
and sure enough - there she was on the tv. It's the second time she has been on Wales Today. First time she was riding a horse up the gallops and across the yard, yesterday she was leading a horse across the yard and then got up onto it. The reason we are sure it was her is that she has a bright pink anorak, and none of the lads wear pink to ride out in. She's the only girl riding out, so whether they cameramen like the pink coat or what I don't know, but there she was again.

It makes a mother proud!

Actually when you look at the size of the horse she was mounting it would make me proud.

Fingers crossed that State of Play gets placed on Saturday. He has the hopes of Wales on his back, plus my £10.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pick a dog.. or horse

Anyone wanting to chose a breed of dog - or just wanting to amuse themselves for a bit - could look at this website


You can select a breed by length of hair, how much they bark, size etc, and then they recommend the breed for you. I spent a very amusing half hour chosing breeds yesterday. Though when I actually went to get a dog she was from the rescue and I would probably do that again. However it does give information about health problems for specific breeds, how much grooming they need etc which is useful even when geting a crossbreed because that is still relevant.

You may be able to do it for cats and other animals too. I worked very nicely as a displacement activity.

I placed my first ever bet yesterday.

Nic is working as an exercise rider for a local racehorse trainer, Evan Williams, and he has a horse in the Grand National on Saturday. I have never placed a real bet before, I've only partaken in office sweeps but I thought - try something new. So I signed up with an online bookie and placed a bet on State of Play (which is Evan's horse) which was 14-1 which was good odds. As it was my first ever time I got a free £1 bet on a football game. I know nothing about football, but went onto that part of the website, and saw that Wales are playing Germany tonight, so have bet on Wales to lose 3-0. Patriotic I may be but stupid I'm not, and football is not the Welsh game.

It will add a bit of excitement to the race on Saturday.

However as I will be in Pembrokeshire and we don't have a tv down there I will have to listen on the radio to find out if I win anything. I might even tape the race on the tv.

Oh the perils of gambling. I have place £10 for an each way bet, so I don't think it will have a huge effect win or lose.