About Me

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

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Got to work

I made it to work today.

The main roads are fine here now (for now). However, driving at a not unreasonable 40 mph I was overtaken (!!!- in these conditions) by a moron at a place in the road where the slush was at least 6 inches high in the middle of the road, and my car is now completely covered in filthy slush. I was completely blinded by the muck.

Really dangerous.

On the plus side he didn't get in front of the car in front of me, so he was only 10 yards or so ahead of me all the way to Barry.

Brian has arrived. Hooray!

It started to snow in Pembs and the forecast was bad. As Llandeloy is a long way from a main road, if he got snowed in he would be snowed in for a while, so he decided to travel today. Just as well, because there is lots of snow there now judging by the pictures on the news.

Kate is coming tomorrow. Hooray again.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Yet more snow

It has snowed again!

I set off for work this morning and made it to Barry, driving at a very sedate 25 miles an hour and made it there but the road was really bad and the snow was falling again, the traffic was stationary so I turned round and drove back very slowly. Then went to work in Llantwit library for the day. It was very quiet in there, but I had taken some work home which meant that there were some things I could do while I was there, which was fortunate.

Whether or not I will be there tomorrow is up to the gods of snow - whoever they are. Someone Scandanavian I expect.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Clean up time and more snow

We have - in common with most of the UK - got lots of snow. We have about 6 inches, but thankfully we don't have plans to go anywhere much today, so we aren't too concerned. As my plans for today were to clean the house prior to Christmas bad weather has had no impression at all on my plans for the day.

I have done downstairs today, and will attack upstairs tomorrow.

I have the feeling that my life is lacking a certain amount of excitement just at the moment. I seem to go to work, come home and watch tv, go to work. My new year resolution will be to do something a bit more interesting I think.

Unfortunately the snow has made them cancel our carol concert which was to have taken place tomorrow. But as the church is down a narrow little lane with dreadful parking in good weather, they have decided that it is safer to call it off. That is disappointing as we have worked quite hard at the pieces we were singing in addition to the carols. Here is the church. Ewenny Priory is an early medieval priory, though the parish church we sing in (in the picture) is later. The monastic church is the other side of that glass screen and has the most fantastic acoustic for acapella singing. Anyone would sound fabulous in there. Sadly we won't this year. We have been singing in the ceremony of lessons and carols there for about 15 years now, so it is a shame to have broken the run.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Nic and I went to see 'The Voyage of the Dawn treader' in 3D. I have a corrected squint so have never been able to see things in 3D before. All those puzzle books, and the red/green cardboard glasses things etc were useless for me, just a mess or a blur, so I thought the new version of 3D would be the same.

But no! It works. I bought the glasses for £1 which was cheap because you can keep them and use them again, and was thrilled to bits by the effects. One of the trailers had a bird which flew out of the screen at you, it was really effective. The film titles seem to be floating in mid air with an astonishing amount of depth.

I enjoyed the film too. The changed the plot a bit, but as the book is very linear without much ongoing plot what they did generally added to it, and gave it a greater narrative strength than the original novel had. They used the original Pauline Baynes illustrations during the closing credits which was a nice touch, but also showed how closely they had stuck to many of the concepts in the original - the Dawn Treader herself was great and just like I imagined her. The boy who played Eustace was brilliant - very much a stuck up pain at the beginning, just as he should be, but improved as the film progressed. We both thoroughly enjoyed it.

I will also make a point of seeing future films in 3D if it is available. We only went to this one because the time suited us, and didn't realise it was in 3D till we got there - serendipity strikes.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Feeling festive

I am in Pembs this weekend and am now feeling very Christmassy. We went to Haverfordwest today and visited the new Marks & Spencers. This is very exciting. For M&S to come here, this far west is really putting H'west on the map! They had a brass band playing carols, and lots of nice young people trying to get you to buy half priced champagne (no thanks) and giving away chocolates (yes please). We got a 'dine in for £10' dinner and felt pleased with things.

We then looked round the shops and B got a bargain pair of leather shoes for £10 and I got 2 jumpers for £10, so we both felt we had done well.

We also went to the library. B is doing Welsh classes and feels he would like to try reading a book. We asked about simple books and came away with some children's picture books, which are about the right level. The chap said to look for patterns and particular parts of speech or grammar as he looks at the books.

After lunch we got out all the Christmas decorations and did the trees, spread out the tinsel and put up the crib. It is looking lovely in here now, very festive with the lights on the tree.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It is better to give......

Today at work we had 22 boxes of books delivered.

Then we had a single box delivered from another courier.

Then we had the loo roll, hand towels (lots and lots for 9 libraries) delivered.

Then we had 24 boxes of photocopier paper delivered.

Then we had 3 more large boxes delivered.

Then we had the stray box from the previous delivery but from a different courier (can't work that one out)

Then we had a box of dvds delivered.

Then we had another box of books delivered.

Then we had 2 pallets of dvd and cd cases delivered!!!! (approx 70 boxes) which had to be loaded off the pallets and put into the container in the car park.

I now really, really, really appreciate the phrase that it is better to give than to receive.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Holiday planning

We had long discussions (ie B and I) about holidays for 2011. I had 20 days to plan, and B of course has no fixed dates to plan round these days. It is odd because up till now we have had our holidays very firmly planned by B's job. We had June and July, December, and - if there was a tour with the choir - a week to ten days in March. The rest of the year was not holiday time because of academic timetables.

It is odd to have the whole year to chose from, and is a bit disconcerting.

May was out because one of my colleagues has most of May off already.

We were only looking up to the end of July, because our leave years run from birthday to birthday, and my birthday is in July. If I want to book holidays after the end of July it comes out of next year's holidays.

Money of course is a bit of a limitation, and the long list of possible holidays were somewhat restricted (unless we win the lottery significantly in the near future).

After much discussion we narrowed it down and have gone for a city break in Cordoba in March. We were looking at April, but the flights in March are a lot cheaper, and actually go from our local airport which is really, really unusual. We have found a little flat for the 4 nights which has also come in at a reasonable price, and is very convenient for all the sites we are hoping to see. Originally we thought we would try to see Seville as well, but I think there is going to be enough to see in Cordoba to keep us busy for 3 days. The temperature should be very pleasant, neither cold nor hot, and though we may get rain it should be (I hope) not too wet.

The two weeks we will go to Pembrokeshire in June, and hope to go to the John Clare annual meeting in Helpston at the beginning of July for the rest of the time. We hope to visit family and friends at the same time .

It is lovely now that the weather is so horrible - we have had a permanent freezing fog all day today - to have things to look forward to.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Glad I'm not in Scotland

This is the park in the centre of Forres in North east Scotland during the summer two years ago when we went to visit Louise. This is now under a foot or so of snow. Despite being on the coast all that area is snowed under as well. Brr.

We are lucky that the flurry of snow this morning eased off and we have had no more today. It has gone off to London and other places instead.

We are just not equipped in this country for this weather. If it continues we need to start using snow tyres, have snow ploughs available, and so on.

Instead we keep getting taken by surprise.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Builder has been

Hurray, the builder came this morning. He is repairing the damage to the kitchen ceiling caused by a leaking sink in the bathroom.

Yesterday I cleared all the stuff off the worktops in that part of the kitchen and dumped most of it on the dining table so that they had a clear area to work, and everything wouldn't get covered with dust. It looks very empty in there. I have never mastered minimalism. I often look at these minimalist houses on tv and although I may sometimes admire it in an aesthetic sort of way, it actually baffles me too.

Why do people put everything away after use - including kettles and toasters? What a lot of work it must make.

Of course I do sometimes take it to the other extreme and you have problems finding any surface upon which to put anything.

At the moment it looks a bit like we are moving out.

They are coming back on Wednesday to paint the ceiling, and after that I can put it all back.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Animated adverts

Have you noticed that lots of adverts are now animated instead of using actors?

There are the creepy stuffed things in the Vauxhall adverts, Lloyds bank adverts are all animated, there's a polar bear, a monkey, and lord knows what else.

Is it just cheaper to use the animation than actors?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

We have had snow

We had snow yesterday.

Although only November, when it is usually warm and very wet, the jet stream has decided we should have snow. I left work a bit early and drove home through snowy roads. However home was much less snowy than work and it was easing off, so we decided to be brave and venture out to the concert for which we had bought tickets.

The first piece of music I ever sang in a proper choir was Stravinsky' Mass, which was something of a baptism of fire as the harmonies are not Mozart and require some thought, but I loved it. So when I saw that the BBC choir were performing it we got tickets.

There was much less snow in Cardiff - cities are warmer - though I did a graceful slide to land on my backside as we went from the carpark over the grass verge, and I was glad I was wearing a long dark coat. Brian hauled me up both of us laughing, and a chap getting out of a car said 'I won't laugh, it might be me next' to which B replied 'I'm not pulling you up!' as he was a big bloke. We made it to the Millenium Centre without further mishap, and I am really glad we did.

The choir were fabulous and the performance was wonderful. They also sang Britten's song for St Cecelia's day which was lovely. It is appropriate that he was born on the saints day for the patron saint of music, she clearly blessed him at his birth. However as the second half was Bruckner and we weren't too bothered about that we decided to leave at the interval in case the snow got worse.

It also enabled us to come home and have a glass of wine, some cheese and olives and round off the day very pleasantly.

Today was white and snowy, but the main roads were fine. We went to the outskirts of Cardiff to get some presents and things and had a scary moment going down the hill into Cowbridge when the car skidded away from us a bit. The plus points were that M&S was delightfully quiet, as was B&Q (not buying presents there actually). We got most of what we went for and came home to a well deserved cup of tea and a read of the paper.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Postcode lotteries

I am watching a programme about care for victims of a stroke, and how you can be unlucky if you live in the wrong place. Healthcare is one of the things which has been given to the Welsh Assembly to organise so there are marked differences in some things eg we get all prescriptions for free, but get less good service for some things.

There are a growing number of things which are different in Wales (and presumably in Scotland but as the so called national news tends to only report what is happening in England it is hard to tell) some of which are actually very good. The support from the Assembly for libraries is much better in Wales than in England, we have a variety of things ongoing which English libraries would love to have, and going by the signs so far we may well end up with a fairly intact library service after all the cuts, whereas some English areas may well not.

The Foundation schools which are spreading through Welsh primary schools - ie learn through play up till age 7 - is an interesting concept.

Although the Assembly is not a separate government and only has some devolved powers it is fascinating to watch the differences grow.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1

Nic and I went to see HP7 yesterday with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. We had been really disappointed by the 6th film and, having watched it again over the weekend I was even less impressed with it.

It was good.

They did a really good job of deciding what to keep and what to cut this time and generally kept the plot going well. They made a good job of the long boring bits in the tent, which was needed to focus on the difficulty of the job Harry and co had to do. Some of the effects were excellent and we literally jumped in our seats at one point. Despite some annoying girls behind us who kept saying they didn't know what was happening we thought it told the story well and with style.

I am really looking forward to the next one, and have gone back to the book to reread it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Royal engagement

It is interesting the different opinions the engagement of William and Kate creates.

There is a lot of 'ah, that is lovely' feeling - which any engagement can create.

There is the republican grumpy about anything royal feeling.

There is the who cares? feeling (or absence of feeling)

There is the what will that cost feeling

Some of it is daft - the theory that Kate will have to be Catherine instead - why? What is wrong with Kate?

Apparently there has been a run on sapphires for engagement rings since the announcement and they are now in short supply.

On the bright side it will be something cheerful next year, in a year that doesn't promise many major cheerful events. It will be good for tourism, and the people who make commemoration mugs, presents etc.

I was amused that the pottery people have had a problem with the initials - WC - they have had to make pretty patterns with the initials.

Nic loves it and is watching programmes about it on the tv, which I have watched with her when in the room.

I wish them well, and I wouldn't take on the job she is taking on for all the tea in China.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Merry Christmas

We had Christmas today.

Carl is not going to be here for Christmas so we had an early Xmas dinner today. We also had Carl's mum, uncle and aunt with us, so we had a really lovely festive meal.

We had a beautiful piece of Welsh beef.

The we had Christmas pud or Chocolate mousse cake

We drank Prosecco.

I am full.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Oops - wrong saddle

Nic has been selling some of the many saddles which don't fit Five-a-side. He is very difficult to fit so she has been buying and selling saddles on Ebay, though has now got one.

We got a buyer for the dressage saddle and I wrapped up a dressage saddle on Sunday for Nic to post on Monday.

Thursday I got an email from the buyer saying I had sent the wrong saddle.


She is right. I did send the wrong saddle.

I feel remarkably silly.

However I have now sent her the right saddle, along with her postage charge so she can post back the other one.

Expensive mistake this one!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hurray no cold

I'm glad to say I don't have a cold.

I'm also glad to say that I had a really nice meal on Tuesday with bookclub.

I had a wet and rainy drive to Aberystwyth yesterday for a meeting about something to do with work.

Today I had training in how to programme Rfid tags in library books.

Gosh, life is full of events!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I have a tickle in my throat.

I hope I am not getting a cold.

Fingers crossed.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Back from Manchester

I was in Manchester last week at a User Group meeting for the computer system at work, which was interesting. There was supposed to be internet access but it was so slow that it was virtually useless - hence no blogging last week.

For some reason the internet at home is going slow as well - not sure why.

All this makes internet communication somewhat tricky.

The user group was good, I met some nice people and picked up some tips about things to do on the system which is, after all, what the meeting was for.

On Friday B met me off the train, we went and had something to eat, then went to a concert in St Davids Hall. There was a pleasant piece by someone called Roussell, a new piece by Simon Holt which was ok. He is the composer in residence with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and up till now all the works of his we have heard have left us uninspired. However I quite liked this one. The second half was Sibelius symphony no 2 which was fantastic! Astounding piece of music.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Harry Potter soon

Things to look forward to :

Harry Potter film on 19 Nov - though I hope, hope, hope they make a better job of this than the last one, or it will be really disappointing

Sibelius symphony no 2 on Friday night in St Davids Hall

Getting my iPod touch for christmas


Warm weather next summer

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Swimming, shopping etc

I do love weekends.

You have time to do things.

Today we went for a swim in Haverfordwest's very nice Leisure centre pool. After that, feeling refreshed and virtuous we went to have coffee and a tea cake.

Then we bought a few Christmas presents, spent a long time pondering the virtues of various lights for my porch and decided not to buy anything yet, in case it was the wrong thing. B needs to look at how the existing light is wired in.

After lunch we went out because the rain had stopped and it was a glorious afternoon.

The new header picture is one which I took this afternoon with the sun on the sea - it was glorious.

We have had tea. We have dinner to look forward to.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Personal Development Report

I had my annual PDRS today. This is to say what you have done well in the last year, what helped you, what hindered you and what your goals are for the next year. It includes training goals and targets as well.

It is done as a very consultative and productive process - in libraries at any rate - and the goals are taken from the annual team plan. This is all well and good. Most of my targets for last year were met, and the ones I didn't meet were outside my ability to control.

We set out the plans for next year, all of which look realistic and achievable.

The problem is that we have no idea how severe the cuts we face are going to be. Until the Welsh Assembly tell the local councils in Wales how much money they are going to have the council don't know what cuts we face, and we won't know till after November at the earliest. So plans are all well and good, but they could all be pie in the sky. And the sad thing is that all over the country people are doing the same thing. They are all laying sensible service plans to try to give the service they are paid to provide to the public they serve. How many of these plans will come to fruition no one has any idea at the moment.

On one of the library list serves I subscribe to there were arguments today about whether closing libraries in order to preserve the overall service was better than the opposite. Some argued that closing a library is too final and they need to be kept to preserve some sort of service in that locality even if it is a more limited service. I suppose what will happen is that some services will do one and some the other, some will do both.

There are going to be some very,very hard decisions being made over the next year or two. I'm glad I don't have to make them.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Kitchen cleaning

I have been cleaning the kitchen this weekend.

I have sorted cupboards, cleaned them out, scrubbed the floor.

I am absolutely knackered.

But the kitchen is really clean.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cup cakes

Tomorrow is wear it pink day when money is raised for breast cancer research. As 3 out of 7 women in my office have had breast cancer it is something which is close to us. A few years ago we made cakes which we then took round the offices and businesses on the little industrial unit where we are based asking for donations.

People can be extraordinarily generous and extraordinarily mean. 2 of us go out and ask for donations. Some people give five or ten pound notes and take one cup cake, someone once gave a £20 note! Most people give a pound or so. But some places have people who are just rude! Why? All they need to to is to say 'no thank you'. We don't force people.

Anyway, we usually raise about £100 which is pretty good.

I have cooked 2 dozen chocolate cup cakes and 20 scones to take in tomorrow. They smell great. All I have to do now is ice the cup cakes and I am done.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Computer being cranky

Our no longer new computer system is still giving us problems at work. We have now had it for 6 months and the bugs should have been cleared out but no - they are still ever present.

We have lots of meetings, the computer company have done lots of work and it has improved, but it is still giving us problems. It freezes and you can't move so have to use the Task Manager to close that session, we get things called hyper events which mean the computer has its knickers in a twist. Sometimes we can continue, sometimes the system freezes. Yesterday I was waiting up to 15 seconds from clicking the return key to something happening.

To be fair it has been better up to this week. However this week it is driving us insane!!!

I think out IT department did some work on something else over the weekend and maybe something got put back differently.

Very, very frustrating.

However the sun was out and it was a beautiful day so I went down to the beach on my way home and went up the cliff to admire the sea and the sun setting. A very good way to release some of the tensions caused by computers.

Then home.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shoe box collecting

The Council advertises A Roumanian shoe box appeal every year. Someone from the Charity comes with a lorry and they drive all the shoe boxes to deliver them in Roumania. In case you don't know what it is - you put little presents into the shoe box, wrap them up and then someone gets a box as a Christmas present.

It is things like toothpaste, toiletries, little presents and games, paper and pens, gloves, hats and such like. There isn't that much that you can fit into a shoe box anyway.

The Council where I work have in the past done a prize for the best decorated box, which we won for 3 years running. The actual decorating has been done by one of my colleagues, Pam, but as I put my name on the tax form on the box I keep getting the credit which is a bit embarrassing. But we decided not to do very fancy wrapping after the last time.

So far we have soap., a Thomas the tank engine toy, and some other toiletries. However we have another week to go yet.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Touch it is.

I have a lovely new hair cut and feel much better.

Then I went into Cardiff and talked to the nice geeky girl in AT computers. We looked at the iPad and the IPod Touch and discussed their relative merits.

For my purposes I want to have an eReader, and I want all the things I have on my little iPod nano. I was pondering the internet availability because there is wifi on both machines, but most of the places that I spend a lot of time don't have much in the way of wifi availability. Cardiff is fine, but Pembrokeshire has next to nothing so the ability to use the wifi wasn't top of the want list. Both machines are wifi, and both machines (Touch4) can be used with either a G3 connection or with a gizmo whose name I forget which gives you pay-as-you-go phone connectivity. Thus getting round the wifi problem.

I think if you want a more portable computer than a laptop is the iPad is the right gadget, but as I really want an all singing all dancing iPod (with movie camera too) and the computer elements are less important to me than the the iPod features I have decided to put all my Christmas presents into one basket and get the Touch. The iPhone would do a lot of it, but I don't use a phone enough to make it worth paying the contract charges, and the phone is more expensive than the iPad without a contract, so I ruled that out fairly early.

I know there are various other options but £200 for a dedicated ereader that does nothing else when for a little bit more I can get lots of things in one package.

A possible problem for the development of eReaders in the UK came in a statement from the Publishers Association this week.

It is so inspiring that all the top people in the Publishing industry are so in touch with reality that they are acting like Canute trying to hold back the tide. They have declared that downloads of eBooks from libraries cannot be done remotely, that people have to come into the library in future and download from library pcs. There are so many things wrong with this it is breathtaking. Overdrive offer a customised library service for downloads which is extremely well used in the USA and is taking hold here too and the model depends on remote access. Council IT departments won't let people plug things into the library machines because of fears of infection so downloads in libraries are not going to be allowed by the IT departments. People who want to download ebooks probably want to do so because it is more convenient in lots of ways than coming physically to the library.

Apart from all this have they heard of bit torrent? If you look you can find lots of pirated books available now and putting these sort of artificial and unenforceable obstacles in the way won't work. It hasn't worked for recorded music and won't work for books either. Their stupidity is breathtaking.

And depressing.

However there are lots of free books out there that I would like to read anyway.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cooker man is coming

The man is coming to look at the cooker tomorrow. As I am at the hairdresser Adam will have to do the honours. We are hoping that it is just the element which won't cost a lot. Hope hope.

Tomorrow I am getting my hair cut and coloured - not before time.

Then (if Adam has finished with the cooker guy) I am going to Cardiff to begin Christmas shopping. I am also going to talk to the nice geeky young people in the AT Computers (an Apple shop not THE Apple shop) about IPad and IPod Touch and what they are like as ereaders. Having spent a lot of time this week looking at these things I have been quite seduced by the idea of them and want to actually see what they are like. Maybe a joint Xmas present from all my nearest and dearest????

Fun day though.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Now the cooker is kaput!

Now my cooker is kaput!!

I got home last night and B was in a tizz because he wanted to cook his pizza before we went out. No such luck. He grilled it because there is no heat in the cooker.


I thought I was done with this when August finished.

I am off to the local paper to try to find someone to come and look at it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Christmas is coming...

Ad has just been told he will be working on Christmas day, which is a nuisance. We will have to rearrange lunch and have an early dinner I suppose. And we will have to wait till then to open our presents!!!! Can I stand the suspense?

I have started buying stocking fillers and thinking about actual presents, so I am feeling sort of prepared (ish).

I have been told by Kate that I have to get Sky sports on trial over Christmas so that she can watch the cricket. The excitement is almost past bearing!

We have another new thing this Xmas because usually my kids go to their dad on Boxing day, and probably will do that this year. B's kids usually went to his house when he was at College, but as his house is now in Pembrokeshire he will have his Boxing day here with his kids. This is fine and will probably be lovely, but my slob out day with the dog and cold turkey will be a thing of the past. You can't have it all.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lovely weekend

This weekend we have had lovely weather. It has been sunny, clear and even warm.

I was down in Pembrokeshire this weekend and after a leisurely morning of cups of tea in bed we went to Haverfordwest and went for a swim. The leisure centre there is really nice, modern and clean. The changing facilities are excellent and the showers are great, which is not the case with the leisure centres here. We then had a feeling of virtue all day because of taking excercise so early. Then we had a lovely coffee in the sunshine at a cafe before heading back for lunch. In the afternoon we pottered round St Davids and then in the evening we had a social engagement!

Some people we met a couple of weeks ago have the cottage across the road and we went over there for drinks and nibbles in the evening which was really pleasant.

B has been doing lots of work on the revised version of his website and we hit a problem because the version of the operating system on his computer is earlier than the ftp client we were planning on using. So now we need to either find an earlier edition of Cyberduck or another ftp client. Pain in the neck.

Friday, October 8, 2010

CJ Sansom

I have nearly finished Heartstone by C J Sansom, his latest book starring Matthew Shardlake who is a Tudor lawyer. I am a teensy bit disappointed with it, which is sad because I have loved all the previous books. There is much less politics in it than the previous ones when he was a member of Cromwell's staff when Cromwell was at the height of his powers. I felt that Shardlake's motivations were unconvincing which meant that the strength of the narrative was not as great as it should have been, and I have found myself speeding through as I get nearer the end to find out what has happened. I hope it is just a blip and the next one will be better.

There has just been a bit on the news about a dinner lady in a school in Northern Ireland who has been in trouble with the authorities for 2 years. Her crime? She gave a child a biscuit. She was asked by said child if it could have a biscuit. She agreed and asked another dinner lady to give the biscuit. She was then told she could be grooming the child and her behaviour was inappropriate. She had long meetings with the school and education authorities.

What ???

Thankfully common sense has prevailed - eventually - and she is reinstated and people said that it was an overreaction.

Political correctness gone totally mad.

Monday, October 4, 2010

New hat and new neighbours

I got a new hat on Saturday. It is not a pretty hat. It is waterproof with ear flaps, there is elastic on the back to hold it on, and it will be great when going out for walks in the winter. I love it. B says he will walk far enough away from me so he can pretend he doesn't know me. But I will have warm ears. Excellent.

Llandeloy is a very small village, where B lives. There are about 30 houses. A few years ago we met the people who own the cottage across the road. It is a holiday cottage and their main house is about 4 miles from Llantwit Major - what a coincidence! we thought, fancy another couple having houses in both places. Then on Saturday when we got back from Haverfordwest a couple came up to us and said that they knew some other friends of ours (e colleagues of B's), so we invited them in for a cup of tea. They also live near Llantwit, but they have bought a tiny little cottage across the road from B in Llandeloy.!!! Marianne is the oncology social worker for an area which includes the area from Llantwit to St Davids and up to Cardigan, and having the cottage means she can base herself there when doing all her calls in West Wales, so it makes sense. But what are the odd of 3 couples having houses in both places?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Too much to read!

The advantage of working in a library is that there are lots of books.

Lots of these books are published in Sept/oct in time for the Xmas rush.

I have too many books to read at the moment.

I have new fiction books by all of the following
C J Sansom
Philippa Gregory
Kate Atkinson
Janet Evanovich
Terry Pratchett
Dick (Felix actually) Francis
Jill Paton Walsh (doing a Dorothy L Sayers)

I also have The Hare with amber eyes by Edmund de Waal which is lovely
A digital photography book

The ones I might have kept had the pile been less high include
The secrets of Bletchley Park and something else that I can't remember the title of at the moment.

I am not actually complaining but am feeling a little bit daunted.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Winter is a coming in....

The heating got turned off again 2 days ago, and goes on again tonight as it is chilly already and only 6.15. It is on/0ff at this time of year because when the weather changes from summer to winter on almost an hourly basis.

The back is improving, though still a bit stiff, but the end is in sight and I will be back to normal soon. We are thinking of going blackberry picking this weekend - we wanted to last weekend but I was a bit couchbound. The Scilly Isles had more blackberries than anywhere else I have ever seen, but I think we will find enough to put some into the freezer for later in the winter.

B has been building a log store at the cottage so he can now buy logs for the winter, and we can get through the shed (which usually gets full of logs). There is something very pleasant about sitting in front of a fire. The two fires in the cottage are both log burners - we did try an open fire but couldn't get it to draw, and when we got fed up with being smoked like kippers decided on wood burners . Although I deeply appreciate central heating it doesn't have the same hypnotic power as flames - you can't stare at a radiator in the same way.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bad back and opera

Last week my back decided to go on strike which was a nuisance. It wasn't dreadful and when sitting down was not even painful, but very constricting. I felt like Quasimodo as I wasn't standing up straight when standing. It was getting much better on Saturday and then I went to the opera at the Millenium Centre which is a fabulous building but has the most awful seats. So that when I came home I was doubled over again. Sunday I spent reclining like a lady of leisure and today it is improving again.

It is odd how it sometimes goes with no particular reason, though at least it didn't go while I was on holiday.

The Millenium Centre in Cardiff is a beautiful building but why they put in such awful seats just baffles me. The Victorian theatre has comfy seats except in the gods, and St David's Hall had great seats everywhere, so why the new one has such awful seats is a real puzzle.

The opera was Fidelio by the Welsh National Opera. It was beautifully sung and I really wish it had been a concert version instead of a performance because the production was rubbish. The director was trying to get a stylised performance and just failed. There was a hilarious bit when they are down in the dungeon digging a grave for Fidelio's husband with no spades, then give the husband imaginary bread and water and just really lost the mood. Shame.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Past 200!

This is my 201st blog.

I am quite pleased with that and feel a real sense of achievement.

One one of the lists I subscribe to for work I discovered that some Local Authority has decided to ban products from Israel. Although Israels holier than thou attitude is galling, neither party in that dispute is all in the right or all in the wrong so I do think what they are doing is just wrong.

There is lots and lots of discussion about the future (or not) of free public libraries in the UK. As I work in public libraries I clearly have a vested interest (I want to keep my job so I can keep eating) but some of the things people say about having collections of books in supermarkets or pubs run by volunteers as being a viable alternative makes me want to scream. There is lots of support. There are sensible suggestions about how to save money as well as the stupid ones.

I presume the same conversations are happening in all sectors of public service, and health workers, social workers, highways engineers, etc etc etc are all looking at what might come and are hoping that sense will prevail over stupidity, but I don't think any of us are holding our breath.

The real impact of the recession hasn't hit most people in the UK yet, and it won't until the public sector cuts kick in. Then the roads don't get mended, the bins don't get emptied as often, the libraries close, the small schools close, etc etc.

A small instance came up at work this week. Small local papers have, for years now, been put onto microfilm to preserve them by the British Library and the National libraries. That is being cut. So in future we will have to go back to binding them (if we can afford to) with all the problems of missing issues, people cutting bits out, people stealing whole volumes and all this with the knowledge that each volume is unique. A good system used by masses of people is just being scrapped. I don't think it is progress.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Scilly Isles and gardens

Here we are on the beach on day one of the holiday in St Mary's in the Scilly Isles.

We had a really relaxing time.

as you can see from this photo.

We saw lots of gardens even though September isn't the best time of year for flowers.

I recommend the Lost Gardens of Heligan - even in Sept they were lovely. We also went to Tresco and to the eden Project and of the three I least liked Eden, mostly because it felt a bit more like a theme park than a garden. However they had fabulous sculptures as well as wonderful planting. Brian found the rainforest biome a bit too hot so we didn't stay that long in there.

The Scillies were great for a week. We walked, we sat on the beach and didn't get stuck with horrible weather and nowhere to go (thankfully) but a colleague who was there in the rain hated it. For two weeks with nice weather so you could sit on the beach more it would be fine too, but we covered most of the island walking in one week and we are fairly leisurely walkers. If you don't sail I really don't know what you would do with your time.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Painting the porch

While Brian was fixing the garage roof all over the bank holiday weekend I was looking at the rest of the house and concluded that the fascias and guttering were looking awful, and the porch needed repainting.

The guttering and fascias will have to wait till next summer because they are too high to do without scaffolding things, but the porch is stepladder height and I can manage stepladders.

So yesterday I sanded it down - most of it is plastic, only bits of it are wood so it wasn't that big a task. Then I began the undercoat and it began to rain. I stopped and went in for a cup of tea. When it stopped I went out and carried on. Some of the wood is rotting but it will have to do for now.

This is where I am different from Brian because he would have wanted to replace all the rotten wood now, and I am prepared to paint over it and make it last a bit longer. However he is in Pembs and I am here, plus he has spent 2 days climbing all over the garage roof repairing that so is pretty pooped.

I did discover why the guttering looks so awful. It is white and looks dirty. Actually no. It is grey and has been painted white by someone. Now the paint is flaking off. Why paint plastic guttering? What a very odd thing to do. I have repainted the guttering on the porch, and what we do in the long term is a decision for next year.

It has stopped raining at last today, so I think I will head off out to put the gloss paint on. Before it starts raining again.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hooray for the new router

The wireless gave up the ghost completely this week and the ISP have sent me another new router which is now up and running and I am connected while sitting at the laptop again. I hope it will work with my macbook which I am retrieving from the repair shop (where I phoned to tell them not to repair it because it may be the router) tomorrow.


I am hoping that this means September will be better than August. I certainly hope it is cheaper. The heating is now done.

Thank the lord this all happened when Brian was here because I'd have had to take days and days off to meet engineers and builders otherwise.

Brian is now officially retired. It is a bit odd. He got given a blanket as a leaving present. Does anyone else find this an odd present? It is a traditional Welsh blanket but people don't use blankets much these days. No one asked what he might like, it seems everyone is given a blanket. We find it bizarre as a present choice and we have no idea what we are going to do with it.

I had a root dressing on a molar yesterday ,the root cause (!!) of the toothache I have been having and my mouth still tastes of TCP. I propose to drown the taste with some wine because it is Friday. Hooray hooray.

Also I am going to the Scilly Isles on Thursday so I only have 2 more days of work before going away.

I hope the weather we have had this last week comes to the Scillies while we are there.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Cor - that was hard work!

Today is a beautiful Bank Holiday Monday. It should be a pleasant day relaxing.

However ....

One of the chores which has been waiting since last winter is repairing the roof of the garage. Water has been running down the inside wall when it rains heavily, which is not a good thing. Especially as it is leaking down the wall next to the washing machine. So B said he would fix it and today is the day.

Have you any idea how expensive lead is??

The roll of lead flashing is £100. !!!

I am hoping we get something for the lead flashing we have taken off, it must have scrap value otherwise people wouldn't steal it from rooves, so that may offset it a bit.

We have done most of it today. The tiles have been taken off, so have the battens and the felting. He put new membrane on, put insulation in, put the felt and the battens back on and then put the tiles back on. Some of the ridge tiles are so full of cement that we will have to buy some new ones tomorrow and finish them, put on the lead flashing and then we will have a waterproof garage.

Brian is now having a lie down and a rest and deserves it. It was really hot on the roof today. He nearly fell through at one point when he lost his balance which was very scary, but fortunately caught himself on the beam.

Brian is Mr Fixit.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cassandra again!

I am beginning to feel like the woman in Up Pompeii who runs around saying 'Woe, woe and thrice woe!

I took my laptop to the library today and it picked up the internet signal.

I came home and tried here - nothing.

After a while of doing other things I phoned to the ISP to talk to them again and .... I got an internet signal.

I came downstairs and started doing things and 10 mins later lost the internet.

Ho hum.

It is a very intermittent fault, so off it goes back to the shop on Saturday.

I'm trying to think of some brighter news but its all a bit gloomy at the moment.

At least I am not in Pakistan or down a mine in Chile. All pretty trivial by comparison.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New exhaust now!

And today I find out that I need a new bit for the exhaust pipe on the car.

Thank the lord there is only a week of August left because it is proving very expensive.

Today is very wet.

August is supposed to be summer which should be warm and dry.

I must go and greet the builder who is coming to give me an estimate for the kitchen ceiling.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Another plumbing problem

Hopefully this is the third and final one.

The fourth gas man found a miswired plug which has now been fixed and the heating is working. Hurray. However we are going ahead with the flushing out of the system as the chemicals are already in there and it will make the system run better when it is all done.

However yesterday B phoned to say that there was a leak under the bathroom sink which had made a lovely mess on the kitchen ceiling. Great! We are insured for plumbing problems so the plumber arrived and sorted out the leak in the afternoon. Looking at the ceiling though we decided we would have to claim on the household insurance to get it fixed as it is beyond a touch of paint to cure. Another £100 bites the dust for the excess.

I got my laptop back this afternoon and although it had been working fine for them, it isn't working at home. I could spit!!!! They replaced the keyboard though because it has a recognised fault so it looks lovely. I shall have to phone them up tomorrow to ask.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bath time for Saffy

Although we are having to use the immersion heater to get hot water to have showers etc, the same is not true for the dog.

When we first got her we tried the warm water in the sink type bath but she is a bit too big, and a lot to agile. So we did the hose in the garden bath instead.

She is visiting us for 2 weeks while Kate and Carl go off to Italy on holiday (nice!), and last night I decided she was too smelly to share the couch with. She was very put out by this, but as I had done my ironing and it was on the couch too I didn't really want smelly dog next to it.

So this evening when I got home she had her bath.



Someone call the RSPCA!

However she is now nice and clean and dry, smelling pleasantly of Herbal Essences instead of dog. She had a jumbone as compensation, so she is reconciled now.

Life is tough when you are a dog.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Oh dear, oh dear.

The third gas man came today.

The second one left us spare fuses. One went yesterday, we replaced it, and then this morning it was off again. Replaced the fuse and half an hour later - it was out.

It is a process of elimination, so he didn't repeat what the previous 2 had done. The problem lies in the pipes being clogged up with something called magnetite (sounds like something from Superman to me) but the magnet stuck to a copper pipe so clear evidence of metal inside there. This causes the system to get clogged up, get too much and too little air, etc etc. The bad news is the cost to fix it.

It has to be flushed out which apparently takes a full day, two weeks after the chemicals are put in. The guy is going to replace the electric thing anyway, but I have decided to go ahead and get the job done by British Gas, because although they will cost more (the engineer said that) they then give you a lifetime guarantee on it. £700.


The laptop went into the repair shop yesterday. The guy in the shop said I had done all the things that he would have done to eliminate possible causes of the machine not connecting to the internet. Needless to say it worked just fine for him. Having not worked all last week - at home and at a wifi spot - Friday night it worked! The threat of going away was clearly sufficient.

However I have sent it away for a diagnostic test. The most obvious cause is a poor connection to the airport chip. Hopefully that isn't expensive to fix. On the plus side there were little chips on the keyboard which is a known fault, so they are going to replace that anyway.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Electrics continued

I bought the wrong replacement switch. The one I should have got (and now have got) was £2.50. The wrong one was £15. I wonder if Focus will take it back????

I had an early start today. Nic was in the Vale of Glamorgan show - the first class and the last class. So to get there in time she got up at 4am, but to get there to take pictures I got up at 6.15. Sadly the judge in the Race Horse to Riding Horse didn't like young horses because he put a rubbish horse who was 15 above Five. Even I could see that the older horse needed a lot of work to make him anything like as good as Five. As we came out a group of people said it was a disgrace because he should have been in the top three. That was nice of them, because they weren't prejudiced in our favour.

I then went to work, and went back to the show late afternoon. Nic and Five were in the Hunt Scurry. This is a race over a twin course, with teams of 4 horses as a relay race. 2 teams go, then another 2, and then the winning 2 go against each other etc. It is always good fun, though annoyingly Five refused a fence and the Vale Hunt came last - oops.

They were lucky with the weather as it has been a beautiful sunny day, a bit windy, but lovely. Which, as it has been raining heavily for the last week, was very very lucky,.

A good day.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Second electric thing wrong

The electrics for the heating went on Sunday.

Yesterday the pull switch for the light went in the bathroom.

We are awaiting the third thing with trepidation.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Hot water - hooray

The gas man came!

The problem was with the electrics and he spent a good hour or two finding where it was shorting and sorting it all out. However it was all done by 11.00.

Then we went to look at Nic's horse box. It is old and the exhaust is going. Actually, once Brian had crawled under it, he discovered it has gone. It is so old that you can't just buy a new exhaust for it, so Brian has bought some zinc and we have to go and buy some other bits to fix it till the MOT in March (not very hopeful on that one)

After that we went to the tip to get rid of the fridge and freezer which were surplus to requirements plus some other stuff.

The I sorted out all the stuff from the airing cupboard on the basis that as I had emptied it for the gas man I might as well sort it out. So we now have a bin bag full of old towels etc for the dogs home.

I went to work today for a bit of a rest!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

No hot water

I came down yesterday morning to find a note from Adam saying 'no hot water'.

Our boiler has been cranky and not always turned itself on by itself when it should, but the new controller which was fitted 6 months or so seemed to have solved that problem. However I went upstairs assuming that was it, and switching the thermostat on the boiler would trip it into action.


There were no lights on the controller at all.

It is a deceased controller.

No hot water in the forseeable future then! Thinking of no shower and no hair wash, this was dismaying. However, phoned British Gas to get them to come and fix it and they said they would come in the afternoon.

The boiler is in the airing cupboard, which is fine, except when you need the gas man to look at it, when you then have to empty the airing cupboard for him.

I did a quick tidy of Nic's room, which hasn't yet got untidy from the major overhaul she gave it before she went on holiday, and put everything from the airing cupboard onto her bed because that is where the door to the airing cupboard is.

During this Brian had a good look and found the plug for the immersion heater ( I wasn't sure if we had one or not) and plugged it in.

Hurray for shower and hair wash.

However the gas man didn't come yesterday afternoon, and the phone call I got said he would come first thing this morning , hence I have been up and dressed since 8.00 waiting for him (hasn't come yet at 8.45).

But there is something a bit strange with the electrics for the immersion heater because when we plugged it in again last night so Nic could get a hot shower it blew the trip switch. Task for Brian today - look at immersion heater. Also she couldn't get at her bed so had to sleep in the spare room.

The unexpected keeps you on your toes doesn't it?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Poorly laptop

I have come to the conclusion that my laptop is poorly because the internet problems go away when I stick the ethernet cable in (like now) so I may have to take it to be looked at. Ouch.

This is a picture I took on Sunday of Nic riding a headless horse. Clever of him to jump the fence with no head, eh?

I took some proper pics which are on Nic's facebook page, but this one made me laugh after I saw it.

B is back in Llantwit and here for August until his official retirement. I have had to make room for him to put piles of shirts etc into the wardrobe, which has been a challenge, but which has been achieved.

One of my colleagues has her daughter's wedding on Saturday and we are going along to the church to see and sing. I am looking forward to it. Everyone is hoping for sunshine for them.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Weekend hurray

It is Friday - Hurray.

I am back on the diet to get rid of the extra holiday weight. Poop.

However roast chicken is in the diet so tonight is roast chicken, courgettes and brocolli. Very nice.

Tomorrow I am getting my hair cut, thank the lord. I always find it odd that your hair is fine, fine, fine and then suddenly it is much too long, the fringe is in your eyes, it looks like crap and it all seems to happen overnight. It is very strange.

We are redoing Brian's website and making it more complete and more up to date. The web host we have already unfortunately only works with Internet Explorer and our computers are Macs so we can't do the upgrade using their own system. As we want Brian to be able to keep it up to date we decided against rewriting it in Kompozer because I think we would find it difficult to do what we want, and for Brian to use it easily. So we have opted for iWeb which is an Apple thing and is quite easy to use.

We found a brilliant website called iWeb for Musicians which tells us loads of useful stuff and what he says works really well, so we are doing well on the design and structure of it.

I am having problems getting the pages loaded - well, no, I can load them using Cyberduck. They are appearing in the list of pages, but they aren't displaying properly or else they have a really long url which is no use. I spent a couple of hours this week fiddling with it all, but haven't got it right yet, so I think I will have a concentrated attack on it tomorrow when I have the time and I'm not tired at the end of the day.

Fingers crossed.

Then once I get that sorted I need to work out how to load pdfs so he can put some sample pages of scores onto the site.

I think I will be keeping pretty busy for the next few weeks.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Happy Birthday

Today is my birthday and a very nice day it has been.

B & I went out for a lovely meal on Saturday because he is in Pembs and I am in Llantwit.

Today I got tea and a toasted muffin in bed from Nic. I had 2 presents to open in bed.

I had card and cake and a nice chatty phone call with a friend at work.

I had a sung happy birthday from Kate and a long chat later in the day.

I had lots of cards when I got home.

I had presents from Adam and Nic, Chinese take away and wine and cake for dinner.

I had a nice Skype chat with B.

I am now very mellow

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Art Gallery

The sun has done a bunk round here today and it is grey and drizzling, so no beach.

Instead we went to a really good art gallery where over the last few years B has bought something most years. The Arts Council do an easy payment scheme which means you pay over 10 months and pay no interest, which makes it much easier. Quite a few people may be able to find£50 per month who can't find £500 just like that.

As he is retiring next month we were just supposed to be looking.


The new picture is called Preseli and we have spent the hour or so moving things around to decide where best to put it, and it is now on the wall. B is looking at is so it is behind my head which is a shame.

There were some lovely things there. I would love to buy some of the bronzes they have, there was a beautiful one of a wren standing on a twig - come on lottery win! (more than £10 anyway - one year we should at least get back what we spend on the lottery in work)

We are going out for my birthday dinner tonight, to The Shed in Porthgain, which we haven't been to before for a meal, but has lots of prizes. We had coffee and tea cake there the other day and the tea cake was home made which is very unusual.

Then home tomorrow and work on Monday!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sunny walk in Pembs

We went for a walk around Dinas Head today. We left home and half way there had a wonderful view of the Preseli hills covered in mist, just the direction we were aiming. We dithered a bit but went on anyway.

As it happened the hills did stay covered in mist, but the coast turned lovely by mid morning.

We had taken our camping stove, kettle etc and brewed up a coffee before setting off. It is a nice walk. About 3-4 mile I suppose and took us about 2.5 hours. We are not get-there-quick walkers. We are standing-admiring-the view, look-at-that-bird, what-a-view etc walkers so we tend to take a while to get places, but we have a nice time while doing so.

The beach we started from is one where we had a number of holidays when the children were small and has very happy memories too. In your imagination you can people the beach with the adults as they were when small, gappy teeth and all. Nice sentimental moment.

There was an ice cream van at the other side of the headland so we had a lovely ice cream then finished the walk back to the car.

Then we cooked our lunch in the open on the camping stove, with sausages, bacon and eggs and tea. It was great.

By this time the sun was shining so I spent the rest of the afternoon in the garden with a book.

Last day of actual holiday today, but what a lovely end

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I came across these signs on the post as we were walking along the cliff path the other day.

It is of course meant to say 'go right to follow the path' and 'beware of the cliff subsiding and falling into the sea'

But it looks like it is just giving you a choice of 'go right if you want to walk and live' or 'go left if you want to dive off the cliff and kill yourself, or at any rate get cold and wet'.

It amused me.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Rain and more rain

It is raining and looks like winter outside, even though it is July. However here are some pictures that I took on our walk in the sunshine on Saturday. This is a little bug of some kind that has really pretty red spots on its wings. I have no idea what it is though.

This is a peregrine which was sitting very happily on the cliff and let us take pictures of it, quite unconcerned. The camera does have a long zoom and I have also zoomed into the photos, so we weren't as close as the picture makes out.

This is a natural arch in the cliff made by the sea. If you look at the left part of the cliff it looks like a face with nose and a black eye patch, then the mouth underneath

Nice picture of the choppy seas

Porthgain harbour looking picturesque. we stopped there for coffee and are going there on Saturday for my birthday dinner. The restaurant is called 'The Shed' but is supposed to be very good, it has won various awards, so fingers crossed.

If we get out of the house for some more walks I may get to take some more pictures, but it won't be this afternoon.

Thank the lord we are not in a tent. I do feel very sorry for the campers.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Service with a smile

HereI am in Pembs.

I have had half a glass of wine and olives and sun dried tomatoes and (by mistake - red, thought it a tomato) a chili. Lovely

Brian is cooking dinner and the smell of cooking bacon, chicken and who know what else is tantalising my taste buds nicely.

I love eating food other people have cooked.

I think one of the things about being a parent is that when you go somewhere else - not restaurants because it is expected there - but to someone else's house, and meals arrive like magic, it is just wonderful.

One of the dull chores about parenting is thinking of something to cook for other people every day, week in week out, often in a short time frame. You get home from work and the turn round time to cook, eat and take someone to something is an hour. This taxes stamina and imagination.

I like cooking. I really enjoy cooking when doing something different or entertaining because it becomes a special event, and often a social event too, but do find the day to day turns into a chore.

This may be because I am not a great cook, or it may be that day to day cooking is not that high up my list of priorities.

Be that as it may I love being cooked for.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Holiday again!

I have another week off next week.

I like this.

I had 2 weeks last month.

I have 1 week next week.

I have 10 days in September.

Nothing then till Christmas admittedly, but spacing my hols like this has been lovely. It was because I had no time off other than Easter from Christmas till June, but partly that was because I didn't have time.

Anyway the result is lovely.

I am not doing anything very exciting, going to Pembrokeshire and pottering around. If the weather stays as wet as it is now I may be in wellies instead of sandals but as we had lovely weather for most of the time in France I don't feel I can complain.

Work is busy, so I will be glad to have a week away from it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Race horse to riding horse

Nic owns what one chap I spoke to charmingly described as a 'recycled racehorse'. He was too slow to win races so is being retrained to be a riding horse, learning to trot, canter in a sedate way, and generally do things other than run very fast in pretty straight lines getting over any jumps in the way.

The horse world is keen on this and they have set up a competition which has classes for just that - ex racehorses. However she has been to 2 events in the last week - called 'Search for a Star' and winning the competitions got you a place at the final in the Horse of the Year show. The prize money at the Horse of the year show is about £2000.

This is where the reality sadly parts from the ideal.

The first competition she went into was won by a horse which had once gone half way round a very easy course. It has been produced by a professional show yard so it is like a top winner for Crufts in the horse world. The rider was amateur but the yard is not. In the competition were Nic's horse - Five-a-Side, and another horse which was owned as a racehorse for over 10 years, he ran and won £100,000 during his racing career, and when he retired the owner decided to keep him to ride for herself. Both are ideal candidates but neither were placed. The second one was yesterday and although there were fewer professionally produced horses nevertheless one of the 2 horses that went through was professionally produced and despite being very naughty and not letting the ride judge get on at first was still selected.

Showing depends on the preferences of the person judging because racehorses come in a lot of different shapes and sizes and comparing a small sleek flat racing horse to something 8inches taller and much heavier and they seem to be judging as if the 'show horse' is the shape which is wanted and ignoring almost the racehorse element.

The first class Nic took him into had some jumps to go over, and if you knocked one down you were out, so 14 people were out in the first round. Fair enough.

One person Nic spoke to the first week was absolutely furious at the - as he saw it - bias in the judging.

A good idea which has been taken over a bit and misdirected perhaps.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Busy weekend

I have been away for weeks and busy doing other things for most of this summer, so this weekend I really attacked the garden. I did the tubs, planted bedding plants, did some (but not all) the weeding, tidied up the paths, did the hanging baskets and it is now looking much nicer. I also did some housework, piles of washing, and had another battle with the wireless reception for the computer.

Although it is working at the moment, it is random as to whether it works or not. Last night Nic needed a map printed out and I had to put the pc onto the ethernet cable to get an internet signal. This morning I tried my Macbook and Nic's Vista pc and neither of them worked. I went upstairs to phone the ISP again and the Mac got a signal but the pc didn't. I phoned them up (again) and they asked what operating system I was using. On being told we had a Mac, Vista, Windows 7 and a PS3 in the house I think they gave up the idea that it was an operating system which was creating the problem. He asked to go onto the router set up system but I said I had spent an hour and a half with one of his colleagues resetting that last week, so he came to the same conclusion I had come to which is that the router is kaput. It is really annoying because I've only had it for a couple of years, however needs must, so they are sending me another one.

Oh - I also cleaned the downstairs windows outside. This is an extremely rare event.

I am pooped.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Place of greater safety - Hilary Mantel

I started reading 'A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel while on holiday and was really enjoying it. I absolutely loved 'Wolf Hall' which won the Booker this year so although my sister had said it wasn't as good, and it is a lot earlier, I had fairly high hopes.

The first half was great. The book traces the French Revolution mainly through the characters of Danton, Desmoulins and Robespierre, starting from their childhoods and moving on through their youth to the revolution. It is distanced from the violence of the revolution and there is little real feeling of the horror and savagery of mobs in the streets, and the feeling of social disruption which must have been there. She has a wonderful technique of commenting on the action or the character of the people in her stories, and the tone is always contemporary - she makes no attempt to talk with historical accuracy, which is a relief because all the people at the time were talking in modern idioms to them. Whenever she does this it works brilliantly, and acts as a real comment on the progress of the narrative.

However once the revolution gets going the book stalls.

It has got very dull and I find I have little interest in the characters at this point because they have all got stuck into a rut. It is strange because the political situation at that time was extremely dynamic but she hasn't managed to convey that. I feel that the characters are more interested in their love lives than in the politics which were ruling their lives at that time. Her narrow focus also loses its effect because - apart from Marat - none of the other significant characters in the Revolution get much of a look in, and don't become individuals, only names.

I am over three quarters of the way through the book, and have no real urge to complete it, which is disappointing.

I have, instead, picked up the new Michael Morpurgo book - 'An Elephant in the Garden' which I read this morning in bed and loved. He is such a gifted writer.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Back on line


My laptop is now talking to the router and my wireless is back. Maybe it just needed a rest. I am very relieved because otherwise I would have had to go to the computer doctor on Saturday.

I have planted my front tubs tonight with some pretty begonias, and have put some bizzie lizzies in the hanging baskets so the front of the house now looks nice, and will attack the back garden this weekend.

I now have an exciting evening paying bills and doing the ironing. Sometimes life is just so full of thrills.

Monday, June 28, 2010


The wireless part of our internet connection seems to have given up the ghost. it wasn't working last night, and it isn't working tonight. I spent about an hour talking to the man at the help desk and he said he would phone me back in 15 minutes. That was an hour an a half ago. I am now on hold.

He tried telling me the airport part of my laptop wasn't working, so I got Adam's laptop on and - surprise - that doesn't connect either!!! There is nothing wrong with the laptops, it does seem to my technical ignorance that there is something wrong with the router. This is working on the ethernet cable at the moment, so the internet is working, but the wireless isn't.

I am driving to Aberystwyth tomorrow so wanted to go to bed early. I have not done any of my post holiday ironing mountain (boy is it big!) because of talking to computer man and waiting for him to phone back, so I am cheesed off in a big way at the moment.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Gardening in the sunshine

B and I spent an industrious afternoon attacking the garden in Pembs yesterday. The grass in the flowerbeds was so long in places that the rose was growing ever upwards in an attempt to find the sun. We pulled out masses and masses of grass and put in some bedding plants so there will be pretty flowers there instead. We also did tubs with trailing begonias and bizzy lizzies which will be lovely as well in a week or so when they settle in.

We were both filthy when we were finished.

Friday, June 25, 2010

No to buying a gite

We have been doing sums on the subject of the gite hunt.

The area we like (and could afford) is Western Brittany. That means sailing to St Malo or Roscoff with Brittany Ferries who are the most expensive. That means each trip would be £300-£500 depending on how far in advanced you booked etc. Doing that 3-5 times a year starts getting very expensive. Plus we would have to drive from Cardiff to either Portsmouth or Plymouth (both 3.5 hours) with all that petrol/diesel which is also expensive.

Apart from anything else the travelling costs are a major hurdle, and as this was supposed to make a certain amount of money by doing the gite up, it would seem that to use it would spend all the profit before you make it. Maybe that is why so many French properties are going cheap.

We saw one near Domfront which the owner is apparently desperate to sell, and we could probably have bought a 2/3 bed house, 1/2 bed gite next door, barn (falling down) garage and acre of land for between £40-50,000. They needed work and we did a rough estimate of about £15k needed to bring the house and the gite up to a reasonable standard, but what would it then be worth? If someone can't sell it at that price.....

The seller selects the price in France which leads to some bizarre prices. For instance in Finistere you can buy a 3 bed cottage with all furniture, nicely done up, ready to move into, for the same price as a barn with no roof, no plumbing, no electricity. Where is the sense in that?

Reason has prevailed over the -somewhat romantic - idea of a cottage in France. We had a lovely picture of family and friends joining us there, using the place for their own holidays etc while at the same time making the money B has saved work harder and earn more than it can do sitting in savings in the UK. But the cold economic facts of getting there and back are making it too expensive to undertake, which is a shame in a way, but you do have to listen to cold reason most of the time.

Unless we have won the lottery tonight of course, in which case.........

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Back from France

We have been in France looking at old houses, and here are some of the ones we looked at. We didn't find anything to buy, but we were really looking at areas, and liked Brittany better than Normandy - Normandy is too far inland for us, we like the sea.

There are a lot of old houses that are up for sale, though the prices are set by the vendor so they ranges are a bit bizarre, and you can get a small house/cottage with is fairly habitable for the same sort of price as something with no roof. We are better informed, which was the aim of the holiday, and had a good time as well (which was the other half of the aim of the holiday).

For some reason Blogger has put these in a bizarre order and placement. Here is a beautiful roof beam in an old cottage in normandy

Cottage which could be really nice, but someone has put an awful dormer window onto it, and made a really bad job of the external pointing

Huge renovation project which would get you a 4 bed house, but needs a lot doing - the stairs are free floating at the bottom there

Weird modern bungalow thing on a nice plot but the "bedroom" is up the ladder and you have to a) climb over a roof truss to get to the bed and b) can only stand up if 4ft tall or less.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Getting ready for holidays

We have decided - rather last minute = to go to France on holiday next week, so I am again very busy getting everything ready. Not so exciting things like getting the car serviced, the insurance sorted for abroad etc, all need to be done.

However I had a very pleasant day out on Saturday.

The BBC National Orchestra of Wales had a singing day for local choirs doing a scratch Mozart Requiem, which was great fun. It must be about 13 years since I sang it so bits of it were 'oh, have I ever sung this before?' but other bits were very familiar. You did need to either know it or to be a very good sight reader to enjoy the day, because you didn't get to learn it, there wasn't time. It was a matter of polishing and improving.

we had soloists from the BBC Singers who are some of the best singers in the UK, and the part rehearsal was taken by one of the BBC Singers. She was very good, it was great fun.

Unfortunately the conductor took it a bit fast when we did the 'performance' but still, it was good.

Tonight I am off out to Bookclub, which has sort of morphed into a dining club with added books. The good thing is that I did the meal last time, so tonight I only have to bring wine. It is also just across the road, so I don't have to drive and can have more than 1 glass of wine.

I am also trying to pack all the work I need to do in the office before Friday - proving a problem

Friday, June 4, 2010

Busy week 2

Another busy week.

We unpacked B's house last weekend. More or less got everything in, so that was good.

I came home on Tuesday.

Wednesday afternoon I had to take the car to the garage to get a main wiper switch fixed (!)

Thursday I had to go to Birmingham to a meeting about the acquisitions module of the library management system which was well worth while. I got a lot of information and made good contacts. However it was a 3 hour drive each way.

Today I had a meeting in mid Wales which was a 2-3 hour drive each way. Going this morning was lovely. The route I took goes over the top of the Brecon Beacons. There were hardly any other cars, but there was lots of sunshine, sheep and lambs, mares and foals and the view was fantastic!

That is a twisty road so I took the main route home because I was tired, which is also lovely as it goes through the Wye valley and over the Beacons. The route across Wales was so beautiful especially compared to the motorway journeys to Birmingham.

Tomorrow is going to be great. The BBC are having a singing day for amateur choirs to do the Mozart Requiem for a day with a scratch performance in the afternoon.

It has been years since I sang the Mozart Requiem but hopefully I will remember enough of it to get by.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Busy week

The past week has been fairly busy.

There was work - takes up the days and doesn't leave a lot of time over.

Tuesday night was B's leaver's dinner. AC have a dinner for the second year students and staff who are leaving which was in the dining hall. The food however was pretty dull, but the speeches were mostly duller. The best two was one of B's students who gave a good 'for he's a jolly good teacher and all round person' speech about B which was very nice. The other member of staff who has been there for decades gave much the best speech of the evening, but even so we were pleased to escape at the end.

Wednesday we moved furniture and things from B's house into my garage to store for a bit.

Thursday I was singing in a concert in Ewenny Priory with St Donat's Chamber Choir. We have been tackling Bruckner's motets this year which are a challenge for a small, amateur choir. We did the concert two weeks previously in a church in Monmouth and it had gone very well. However second concerts are notoriously difficult so we were a bit worried about it. Though it went well. A few mistakes, but nothing serious. We had trombones and organ playing which was fun.

Friday we came to Pembs, and got stuck in bank holiday traffic for over an hour!!!!!!!!

This weekend we are unpacking B's stuff as he has now completely left the College house and is resident in Pembs. It is going to be odd with him there and me at home.

However today the sun has shone, we have been to walk round lovely gardens and I am drinking vintage cava so life is generally pretty rosy

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Walk on the beach

We went for a walk along the beach in glorious sunshine and heat today. The coast along this part of Wales has very stratified rock structures. This is part of the cliff face and you can see how it is layered. That does make it very unstable and it is dangerous to walk too close to it as it may come down on top of you.
There are lots of fossils in the stones and here is one of them, just taken as we walked along. We saw lots, but this is one of the best.
This is the beach. The rock looks like big uneven stone tiles in a way. The big blocks are harder rock which hasn't eroded at the same rate as the rest, and have been left like a lot of tables standing on the beach.
Here is a rock pool full of limpets. There are lots of cockles too. It was a beautiful walk on a beautiful day.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

All sorted

we have got rid of out old piano now, and I have moved the hi-fi and tv etc round so that the sitting room is now fully sorted.


We had a very nice meal out with friends who are ex-Atlantic College staff (now retired) and there was much praise for the retired life. After next week I will be the only one of the 6 of us working. This is going to be a real pain, but needing the money means working. Ho hum.

Nic got a call out to a friend of hers at 10pm last night because her mare was having fits and Chloe needed someone to stay in the house with the kids when the vet came. Sadly the mare had to be put down as there was nothing the vet could do for her. She had only had a foal two days before, so there is a risk to the foal now. They drove over to the Hunt stables and got some multimilk suitable for foals, but the teat on the bottle was too big because the foal is tiny, her mother being a very small pony. They got a lamb bottle (Chloe is a farmer's wife) and the foal took a little bit of milk. They wrapped her in a blanket because she was cold and moved her into the barn. This morning she took a pint of milk which is a good sign Chloe has another mare with a foal born about a month ago so they were going to try to see if they could get her to accept the orphan foal as well. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Piano moving

We moved pianos last night.

The guy who is buying our piano didn't turn up so we have put our piano into the garage until wednesday when he is supposed to collect it.

We then went to B's house at College to move the boudoir grand This is a very small grand piano which is a bit contradictory as a definition, but still. It is about 4ft square. Moving a grand piano is much more complicated than an upright. The upright - if you have a piano trolley - is fairly straightforward because you tilt up one end, shove the piano trolley under it and move it around on the trolley. The piano trolley is a steel trolley about 1 meter long by 33cm wide on 4 very strong and bouncy wheels, designed to move pianos it cost over £400. The grand involves taking off the lid, taking off the music rest, taking off the pedals, then you have to take one leg off. We propped it up on a stool, and then on two metal boxes so it was tilted towards the floor. The you have to put it onto the trolley on its side, making sure you don't put too much strain on the other legs because you don't want to break them.

That done, we wheeled it out of the house, using makeshift ramps on the step, and then loaded it into Nic's horsebox. It was surprisingly easy. There were 4 of us doing it, but only 3 doing most of it as Nic was bringing the box. Adam, Brian and I were doing most of it. We tied it up to the inside of the box and Brian went with it - getting the horse experience of being in the box.

When we got home we got it off the van and into the house, then had to put the legs back on!

After that we had the -where are we going to put it - game. We tried one place, then another, then moved the sofas to see what they looked like there, then moved it again, moved the sofas, and so on until we finally decided on the best location. The piano does have castors but they aren't much use on carpet so Brian, Adam and I were taking a chunk of the weight every time we moved it so the legs didn't fall off.

We have now put the sofas and piano in place, but need to relocate the tv and the hi-fi. Both of which involve playing with wires.

However I won't be doing that tonight because we are going out for dinner. Very nice indeed.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

London Day out and horse show

This is Nic on her horse Five-A-Side at his first show. He won the best turned out class at the local riding club show, and behaved very well. I was commissioned to come and take pictures of her and him, and other horses as well, which was fine. I took my tripod which I got given but have not used until today and it was brilliant! However in the glorious spring we are having, today was cold and wet so I only stayed out for an hour for the first class. he is looking good though.
We went to London yesterday to see a concert version of a new opera my Dutch composer Michel van der Aa. However we had lots of time to spare so we went for a wander. The concert was in the Barbican, so we were in the City. This is a stray leftover Tudor building in the midst of the monstrous 60s tower cubes near St Bartholomew's Abbey.
However you can see that architectural vandelism is not confined to the present day. The Tudor builders had no qualms about plonking their building on top of the gothic gate to St Barts Abbey, chopping the top of the arch off completely
This is the Abbey church taken from the little park beside it, with absolutely lovely wisteria on the fence nearby. We didn't get in because someone came and shut the door just as we approached.

We then thought we would go to St Pauls as B has never been in it, but they closed that as we got there too. So we went to the City of London Museum which was open. The history of London finishes at 1666 until June because they are redoing some of the galleries, but we only got to the end of the middle ages before we had to go.

We had gone up to hear the opera which was being done in a semi staged production. It is interesting because he has used film and opera, fact and fiction, live and taped music all together. He was inspired by the Japanese film 'Afterlife' which poses the question 'if you had to select one memory from all your life, to be the only memory for the afterlife, which would you chose?'

He had fiction with the singers on the stage who were in a limbo where they had time to select their memory, which was then filmed and which they took with them when they moved on. He had real people filmed talking about their real choices. I really enjoyed it, and thought the concept was intriguing, but not fully successful as an opera. The spoken factual memories were so strong they were the single most powerful element in the whole production, and those will be the memories which I will take away with me. The vocal lines from the singers were sometimes lovely, but were not particularly operatic, and the music from the orchestra was supportive but had no real life of its own, so it seemed to be more theatre music than opera.

Sadly none of the relatives we were hoping to stay with were there, so we had to drive all the way back home after the performance which was tiring. So today we have had a lazy day!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bits and pieces

Doctor Who was fun with lots of bits of the castle in there - the dining room and some other places. The trailer showed my home town in next week's episode so that will be fun too!

It is so cold! It is May and the weather is still frosty. The heating is on. I would like some sunshine please.

Having tidied the garage on Saturday we had a concerted effort at doing something about Nic's pigsty (aka bedroom) and had a trip to Ikea to get a new chest of drawers. Hopefully that will help.

The political drama is continuing to unfold - the happiest people in the world must be all the political commentators, as it is like all their Christmas and birthdays at once.

I hope the LibDems do have a coalition with the Conservatives because they would hopefully curtail the worst of the public service cuts which the Tories would otherwise inflict on us, and perhaps with Vince Cable having a real say in what happens to the economy, which is the thing that I really would like, we might claw our way out of the financial trough better that way.

I had a bookclub meeting last night which was, as always, very pleasant. Nice food, drink and conversation.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Garage tidy day

B and I attacked the garage today and did a major tidy up. The main reason we had to do it today is that we are busy the next 2 weekends and we need it cleared by the end of the month when B has to empty the Lodge at College. We then need to store furniture for his daughter till she moves into her new house in June - hence the need to clear the garage. It is now a joy to behold (within the 'clean garage' meaning of those words.)

Doctor Who has St Donats Castle in tonight so we can do more than the usual amount of location spotting Instead of just -'southerndown beach' we can get really specific. It does add another dimension to watching the programme

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Election day

Today is election day (in case anyone in the UK hadn't noticed) and it is really the most interesting election even for someone like me who is not very political. The result is so open, so unknown that it has been a fairly constant discussion topic at work.

Two members of our staff are poll clerks so we have had fewer people at work today as well. Andy will be staying up all night at the count so she wont be in tomorrow either. We also had new ballot boxes in the polling station - very snazzy compared to the old tin ones we used to have.

I am watching the news at the moment and they are so agog - they are dying to get on with the election broadcasting which of course they can't do until the polls close at 10pm. Bless.

This time tomorrow we may know who the new PM is, but we may have to wait till Monday if it is close and they end up haggling.

Interesting times indeed.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dagger lunch

Today was the judging lunch for the Dagger in the Library award.

It started badly.

I had my train ticket booked from her all the way to London I went to the station to get my train, and there were very few people there which I thought was odd, until I saw the sign saying the train was cancelled.


Hasty walk back home and get into the car. Hurtle into Cardiff and luckily there was very little traffic so I actually made it in good time and did get my train. Everything else went very smoothly.

We had a really good lunch ( goat cheese salad, then fish dish with scallops and prawns, then chocolate) and really good discussions on the longlisted authors. Last year, which was my first year, there was a really strong front runner - we all really loved Colin Cotterill and the vote for winner was really easy. This year was less obvious and there was a lot of discussion before we agreed on the shortlist and the winner.

The announcement will be made later in the year.

It is really pleasant to sit with like minded people, eating good food and discuss books and authors. I love it.