About Me

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

Sunday, January 31, 2010

What to read?

I have finished Dewey the library cat, which was entertaining, especially if you are a librarian. I have a long list of books to read,but am not sure which one to go for. I have a Sebastian Faulks which would be good I expect, though requires a few brain cells. I have the Figes Russian revolution book which I am halfway through, and that definitely needs both brain cells and strong muscles because it is a big fat book.

I have lots of other books lying round the house waiting to be read, but as I have few brain cells which are not devoted to thinking about library management systems at the moment I think I will read the new Janet Evanovitch and enjoy myself in the light but entertaining company of Stephanie Plum.

I am watching a tv programme which is looking at Lindisfarne Island, which we visited last summer. The weather is nicer than the day we were there, but I always find it odd looking at places you know on tv. It is the same but looks somewhat different. Years ago there was a terrible series on Welsh tv which was mostly filmed in my town, so we used to record it, speed through all the indoor bits, and watch the outdoor bits to identify places we knew. One of the charming things about watching Doctor Who and Torchwood is identifying places used for filming, One episode had a significant scene supposedly in Bad Wolf bay in Norway, and everyone from round here went 'no it isn't, it's Southerndown beach'. It adds a certain something.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Broadband jungle

The broadband provider I have had for ages has a download limit of 5gb per month, which I have been exceeding for the last few months and therefore it has been costing lots more per month. So I started looking at other providers.

My god! What a minefield.

I read the Which reports.

I found a good comparison site and have spent hours and hours there trying to compare them. Do I get a bundle with phone and broadband? Do I find out if Sky give a good deal and roll everything up with the tv supply?

You can have different download levels, theoretically different speeds (more about that later), and of course, different prices. Some of the phone and broadband bundles have their own phone lines (a local network arrangement) which may be fine unless you want to go back to BT because they may then charge you a reconnection fee - does that matter or not? Some are not compatible with Playstations - so they are out. Some are less compatible with Macs - so they are out. Some don't supply my area - so they are out. Some get really bad reviews - so they are out. It still leaves you with over a dozen choices.


My phone exchange has a top speed of 6mb download, so the ones saying they can download superfast can't do it here. I am also looking for Brian who needs to put a phone and broadband into the cottage, which is in a different area and has different available providers, and a really slow speed of 0.5 download. So that went into the decision making process.

However my current contract for my phone provision with BT doesn't finish till June, so I can't change to a bundle till then. I contacted waitrose to say that I was exceeding my limit and were they going to increase the 5gb limit, because if not I would have to go, and they sent an email back saying to phone.

I phoned this evening and they are putting me up to 20gb for the same money as I pay now!

Hooray. The long term decision can now wait till the future.

This is good because it means I don't have to actually make a decision. It saves so much brainpower

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Better day

Today was much better than yesterday I am glad to say. Much less stressful.
I am being taken away on holiday by Brian in September. He wants to go to the Scilly Isles and is taking me too (ie he is paying!!) This is to celebrate the (trumpets, drums etc)... Retirement.. (imagine waving flags)There may be balloons.....There will certainly be drinks!

Because Brian is a teacher we have never had a holiday in September, but always in June and July (his holiday months). June and July are very nice months to have holidays, but it will be very exciting to have a holiday in September.

So we will be going to the Scilly Isles for a week in September. We have booked the ferry. We have booked the flat, and the B&B, and (for me) the holidays from work.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Angry person

I have had a rubbish day at work.

The new computer system is not - apparently - capable of doing something really basic, and I got a long email from the helpdesk which made me really lose my temper. A lot of swearing. The tone of the email was so damn condescending, and so bloody superior, that I didn't trust myself to reply till about 4pm, and then got someone else to read it before I sent it.

I am still annoyed, and treated myself to a steak for dinner as compensation.

The steak was nice - correction, lovely. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Jill a dull girl

The new library management system is due to go live on 8 March. This is a short lead in time to do everything, so I am working overtime (from choice, but it is the only possible way to fit it in). So yesterday I did 4 hours and today (Sunday) I have done 3. It was very productive because as I am the only person in the office there are no distractions, no one phones up, no one emails, no one to talk to and I got a lot done.

I can see that I will be doing this for the next few weeks, which means doing other things are a bit off the calendar for a bit.

On the plus side is the payment for working overtime. We don't usually have overtime offered, so it is a bit of a luxury.

However as I went shopping and bought some clothes yesterday after work I think I have already spent this weekend's money. Losing weight is wonderful, but I do have to keep shopping for new clothes. It is tough but I just have to cope.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Sharp knives are good at cutting things and very useful in the kitchen.

Unfortunately I did a good job of slicing my finger as well as the spring greens last night, and have cut half way though the nail of my index finger. Ouch.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Going to Spain!

I have booked to go and visit Oreneta in Barcelona in March. Nic, Ad and I were talking about it and we all really fancied it, the Spanish relatives are agreeable, so we have a long weekend at the end of March. Hooray! It has so many good things about it
- we are having a holiday
- we are staying with relatives and get to spend time with them and get to know them all better
- it will be nicer there than here weatherwise in March
- I will have finished the new management system start up and will be in the mood for a holiday
- Nic will have finished a busy time at work and will be in the mood for a holiday
- it'll be nice to have a holiday with Adam and Nic as the last time we did this was years ago

On a totally different subject, Brian and I managed to spend all morning buying 1 pair of curtains. We spent a great deal of time whittering because Ikea no longer sell the ones we were hoping to buy, so had to come to a decision about an alternative. we also spent an age debating on the possible type of corner cupboard for the kitchen and came to no conclusion whatsoever.
Amazing how long it can take to do something so simple!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Selling cars

I hate selling things.

I especially hate selling cars.

It always seems to me that when you want to buy something then they are either
a) very hard to find
b) far more expensive than you thought
c) in the wrong place
d) the most popular thing in the entire world
or any combination of all of these.

So why is that when you want to sell something you always have something which
a) no one seems to want
b) you suddenly seem to be asking far more than it is worth even though you have done your market research
c) when people do come to look at it, then they seem not to have read the description and pick holes in what you are selling.

It is hard with houses because you have so much invested in a house - money and emotion etc, but the system is there to support the sale of houses (sort of)

Cars are a nightmare. Every time we have tried to sell a car we have looked up the price, looked at what else is for sale, pitched the price and advertise. The trouble with online advertising here is that the distance from the house is done by drawing a circle on our postcode and going that distance away. Unfortunately the Severn Estuary is in the way, and the people who phone up to enquire often seem to be in Devon, which may be less than 40 miles as the crow flies, but is about a 3 hour drive on the roads.

Nic has put her Freelander up for sale. A very nice gentleman from Exeter phoned but it is too far to come. A woman came with her brother all the way from Devon (again) to look at it, and the first thing he said was 'It's not an Isuzu.' Well, no, it's a Freelander, Duh! Then he proceeded to be very rude, jammed the rooflight open so she had to go to the garage after they left to get it fixed, and then went away. A man from Ireland phoned, and I must admit I thought it would be a con. However last night he turned up on the doorstep with his brother, and bought the car! For cash!

(by the way, if any burglars are reading this, I zipped to the bank this morning to put it in there as I don't like having thousands of pounds in cash in the house)

I was amazed. She got less than she hoped, but it has gone. You always get less than you hoped, and all cars develop odd noises and quirks as soon as you put them up for sale. But it is gone. Hooray. She has also sold the other horse as the woman who has had him for two months has finally coughed up a cheque and officially bought him.

However I know that if I was buying the car I wouldn't have got such a good deal, so I have never figured out if I am just a really bad salesperson or what. I am heartily relieved that it has gone.

And in case you were wondering why I was dealing with the Irish people, it was because Nic was at a friends in Essex. This is what being a parent is all about - they are grown up and independent and you still end up doing lots of stuff for them. I hope they remember this when I am old and decrepit,

Apparently cars are really expensive in Ireland and people often come to the UK to buy them.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Computer bore

A computer bore is what I am likely to become. With our new management system coming I have been training on web opac set up today. Next week we have circulation user training Mon- wed, then System admin on Thursday and catalogue set up on Friday. By Friday next week I may be brain dead.

However the following week I am going through the circ training again. The way these things work is by cascade training. The new system is taught to a number of people - usually 6 or 8, and they then teach all the rest of the staff. We are lucky in that we have the funds to put 12 people through the train-the-trainer 3 day training We are also lucky that we employ a professional trainer, who isn't a librarian, who is organising the cascade training. However as the project manager I need to do all the training, and also attend a lot of the cascade training to be sure that everyone is comfortable with it,but also to get feedback from them. We have lots of staff who have worked in libraries a long time and have lots of experience in the day to day running (far more than me, because I don't do that). Two of us have done the set up, but we need to be sure that it works in practice so we need to attend the cascade training to find out what doesn't work so well, what needs altering and so on.

In addition to this we have the cataloguing and acquisitions which only three of us need to learn but we do need to learn that too. Basically I am doing training or setting up systems all day every day between now and when we go life in March. I am starting to panic a little bit because there is so much to do and the days are whizzing by.

It is odd how things happen so that you have masses to do at one time, while at others you are able to take things at a much more leisurely pace. It would be helpful if things would even themselves out better.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

More snow (again)

We had rain yesterday and the rain washed away the remains of the snow The it snowed again. We got about 4 inches. It looked lovely but...

Actually we got off lightly because we live by the sea, when you go further up the valleys and gain height they have feet of snow and are stuck again.

I got into work alright, and actually got in quicker today than the previous two days because there was less traffic.

Nic and I spent hours last night on ebay looking for saddles It sounds straightforward but, like most particular sports and activities, it is never that simple. They come in different sizes, measured by length of back and by width eg 16 inch medium fit. Then there are general purpose, jumping, dressage, showing, western saddles. The have different sorts of trees, or half trees, or no trees, they are leather, (different colours, different types), synthetic or a combination . There are different colours, different makers, different qualities, and - of course - different prices. It was very educational and I know lots more about saddles than I did yesterday. We did find one, which is an old Argentinian jumping saddle which we did buy. Old leather which has been well looked after is often much better than buying something new because it becomes supple and soft. Nic used to work for one of the top show riders in the UK and all his tack he had had for year and years. It was well cared for, mended when necessary and had been going for his entire career - some things about40 years. Amazing.

I saw 2 lapwings on the grass at St Donats on Sunday - just hopping around like a thrush. I've never seen one close up, and there were 2.

I am watching a programme about how the wildlife are managing with this weather, and in many cases that is not very well. Sad.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Wolf Hall

I have just finished reading 'Wolf Hall' by Hilary Mantle, which won the Booker this year. I don't habitually read the Booker winner, only if it is a book that appeals to me. Some of them I have loved eg Life of Pi, and some I have thought very undeserving eg Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth.

I would have read 'wolf Hall' anyway, because the subject interests me. Kate is a bit obsessed with Tudor history, and although less obsessed than she is, I like historical novels. Thomas Cromwell as a subject is an unusual choice because normally he is a black crow in the background The man who pushed through the marriage of Anne Boleyn, organised the dissolution of the monastries, and eventually came to grief when he chose the wrong 4th wife for Henry VIII. Hilary Mantle has done two things which are interesting. One is to look at Cromwell as a man, as a person, someone who came from somewhere, had family, friends, motivations, not just a cardboard baddy. The other thing is the way she has written the book. At first the style is a bit offputting because in places it is almost stream of consciousness, which is very unusual in a historical novel. There is no dominant authorial voice filling in the history for you, if you want extra background Mantle is leaving you to go and look it up yourself.

It takes the story through the successful beginnings of Cromwell's story, until the execution of Thomas More, so there is another book to come which will take us through the dissolution of the monastries and then to his fall and execution.

She has succeeded completely in making Cromwell a real, interesting person. It will be intriguing to see how she manages to deal with the dissolution of the monastries. She has set him up as a man who is a believer in the Reformation, that the teachings of Luther and Tyndale are the ones that should be followed, so the destruction of the monastries has been well set up as she has already got him hating the corruption of the clergy etc. I will definitely be reading the next one when it comes out.

There were interesting things in some critical comments over the fact that there were so many historical novels in the short list this year. The very sniffy remarks about genre fiction as though the fact that it was a historical novel made it inherently less worthwhile. You would have thought that by now people would have got past this and realise that there are excellent books written in all genres and dreadful books as well, plus dreadful books written as 'mainstream' fiction. You need to take the book on its own merits surely, and not say that because it is either crime or historical or SF it must be bad. It may be bad, it may be good but being part of that genre doesn't make it either.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Back into the office

I made it back into the office today, which was a good thing. It wasn't as cold today because the wind had dropped a lot. The pavements were very icy though which is making the A&E departments expect lots of people with broken bones I gather.

It is a bit odd still though. I was setting up a meeting today which should have taken place yesterday, and we cancelled that. One of the people is coming from Bristol so hopefully we will be able to have it tomorrow, but we are phoning at 9 to confirm that the transport will work. We were thinking about having the meeting on Monday, but there is more snow forecast over the weekend so we thought we had better get it in before then if we can.

The Christmas present for my middle brother's family has been a big hamper of lovely foods which I send to my brother and they divide up on Christmas day. However because we didn't get to my sister's house to deliver it, it is still sitting in my house. So tonight I am going to divide it up into smaller postable parcels and get them sent off. Otherwise it may be Easter before they get them!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Llantwit in snow

This is Saffy during our walk before work this morning. It was, as you can see, snowy this morning. Saffy loved it.
This is the street outside the house.
And this was a tree in the park in the morning. So pretty.

It looks lovely, but in a country as ill prepared for it as we are it does create chaos.

I was going to go to work in Barry, about 13 miles away, but it started snowing again so I decided to not drive. That means going to Llantwit library. Our snow instructions are to go to our nearest library when we can't get to our place of work. As well as me there were 3 other people who should have been elsewhere who turned up to Llantwit, however some of the other people who should have been in Llantwit were elsewhere. Overall it evened out, and all but 1 small branch library opened and was staffed, so that was ok. The mobile libraries didn't go out though as they drive round the small lanes and those were not at all passable unless you were in a 4x4 or a tractor.

Tomorrow I do hope to get to my office because I have loads of work to do and I can't do it from Llantwit library.

Fingers crossed.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Cold, colds and work

Back to work today. It was cold in the office because we have problems with the water pressure in the building so turn the heating down when we are away for longer than overnight, and in the general return to work we didn't actually remember to turn it back up till about 10.30. We were saying how cold it was, and putting extra layers on, but after we turned the temp up it did get warmer.

Pam had a cold before Xmas which she gave to me, and I gave to Kate and then Brian. Dene has a different and nastier cold and is coughing a lot today. Bugs and more bugs going round and round. Ugh.

One of the mobile libraries is having problems with its heaters - ie they aren't working, which is a real handicap for the drivers.

The forecast is more snow and still cold. Oh dear oh dear.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Staying at home

We tried to go to Pembrokeshire on Friday so we packed up and set off after lunch. We got over half way, past Carmarthen, when we met a blizzard - a small blizzard, but it was still very snowy, so after a bit of whittering we decided to turn round and come back home. The main reason was that we didn't really want to get stuck down there. But the journey back took over twice as long as it should as we were on one lane only, and very sensibly, everyone was driving slowly.

So yesterday we went into the National Museum in Cardiff to look at a Rembrandt painting and some of his etchings in a small exhibition they had on. The painting is a portrait which you can see here and has all the wonderful detail of light and shade, depth and reality which you expect from him. They also have an exhibition of Gwen John and Rodin with some glorious bronzes there, though the one I would have taken home (given a choice) would actually have been a little Degas bronze rather than the Rondin's. One of our new year resolutions is to go there regularly. They have great things there and we just don't go often. Partly that is because years ago you had to pay to get in, so we only went on special occasions, and are therefore not in the habit. There were loads of families and kids there too, partly because they have a Lauren Child exhibition on as well, which we didn't get to see. It was a good afternoon.

Today is the last day of the holidays, and it is back to work tomorrow. I have successfully not thought about work much over the 11 days I have had off over Christmas, but the new computer system will be all systems go from next week on.