About Me

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

Thursday, December 29, 2011

E Books - hmmm

I got given a Kobo ebook reader for Christmas, which, for those who haven't spent the last year getting very au fait with ereaders and ebooks, is like a Kindle but not tied to Amazon.  I have been reading ebooks on my iPod Touch during the last year and have gotten on very well with it, but the bigger screen of the Kobo does make reading easier, and when I take it outside the eink will be a lot easier to read because there is no glare, which you do get with a phone/iPod.etc

I have downloaded a book from the library website and am reading that, plus I have reserved the new Claire Tomalin biography of Dickens which I want to read.  All this is good.

However I am a library book user and always have been.  I only buy books which I want to keep or reread, I don't buy books which I just want to read once.  The reasons for this are the cost - I couldn't afford to buy all the books I read, and I couldn't find the place to keep them all either.  I do buy books, and have lots of books round the house, but by no means buy all that I read.

I was talking to a friend who was thinking about buying her husband an ereader for Christmas, but he is an even more avid library user than I am and he would be outraged at the thought that he would have to buy ebooks which he can borrow in hard copy for free from the library.

The publishers would undoubtedly stop libraries being developed today if someone suggested creating the library service today (as opposed to massacring it as the current goverenment is doing, but that is a different blog).  They are resisting ebooks with great vigour.  Libraries are being denied access to ebooks by the publishers and some of them are talking absolute twaddle as well.  All the ebook services work on one copy, one loan - exactly like the physical books.  Libraries buy the ebooks.  We also pay a download charge (only 5p, but still).  But publishers seem to think that people will break the digital rights management software which controls the loan period and send dozens of copies off into the big wide world.

They seem to have not noticed that you can't lend an ebook like you can a hard copy book.  If I bought a book dozens of other people can read that copy after me.  Unless I lend my reader, I can't lend the ebooks on it.

They also seem to have not noticed how easy it would be to scan a physical book.  If people really want to make a copy of a book it is easy to do.  In the same way the music industry had piracy problems because they didn't adapt to the new technologies, the publishers are not learning from that, and are making the same mistakes.  Stupid or what?

It is frustrating.    But I am not going to be blackmailed into buying ebooks just because they want me to, I will only buy the ones I want.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Christmas is nearly over, but I have put a picture of the tree on to get a bit more seasonal than a summer photo of the sea.

It has been a slightly odd Christmas as Christmas day was very quiet, Kate and Carl were at his parents, Adam and Nic at work, so B and I didn't do much - actually that isn't true because B had work he has to do by the end of the holidays, so I played with setting up my new Kobo ebook reader.  I am very impressed with it and it is very pleasant to hold and read from, having downloaded a book from the library ebook service.  I also got GHD hair straighteners from the kids which are very nice indeed, plus a necklace, chocs and wine, and some other bits and pieces. 

We have watched Love Actually, and I am now watching the Muppet Christmas Carol so that is two essentials of Xmas fulfilled.  But with everyone going in different directions we have only managed to get together for some meals, so it has been a somewhat disjointed feeling holiday.  Warm and no snow and ice which are a distinct plus!

I'm still off work till 3 Jan which is very relaxing. 

Friday, December 23, 2011


I have finished work for 9 days.


It isn't going to be a very strenuous Christmas as it is only the immediate family here, but I expect we will all eat and drink more than we should although we aren't having turkey this year.  It is ham for the main Christmas meal on Christmas eve, and beef on Christmas day.

So merry christmas to everyone

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Nearly Christmas

I am glad to say I did not have a cold on Sunday and the carol concert went extremely well, and we all enjoyed it very much.  I think the congregation did as well.  It is a real start to the Christmas festivities because we have been singing that concert for many years  now so it is part of the run up to Christmas.

On Saturday we went shopping for
- whisky and vouchers for John's retirement present
- 60th birthday presents for 2 colleagues for which we had collected the money
- the christmas tree
- a holly wreath

We had a very successful shop and here is the tree after we decorated it.

We are now looking very festive.

Today we had our Christmas lunch which we do by everyone bringing food in to the office because we got fed up with going out for not very exciting meals.  I have eaten too much!

With the public sector cuts going on we have 4 people retiring in the next month.  John is retiring next week, Cheryl finished yesterday, Mary and Christine will finish mid January.  It is going to be very strange when we go back after Christmas with so many people gone.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Paranoid about colds

We are singing our Christmas concert this coming Sunday and I was in a meeting yesterday with 2 people who had streaming colds.  I am now completely paranoid and hypochondriacal about getting a cold before Sunday.

I have taken First Defense, I have taken vitamin C......

I am crossing my fingers too.

Tomorrow is our Book Club Christmas dinner, which I am looking forward to, though I'm not sure what sort of entertainment this hotel is supposed to be providing, but I suppose I shall find out tomorrow.

We are getting a lot  of changes happening at work because 2 people are retiring from our office at Christmas - one made redundant, the other deciding to go because her job has been radically changed - so we are giving them little goodbye presents at our Christmas lunch next week. We also have two other members of staff who are turning 60 just before and just after Christmas so we are giving them presents too.  I have to go out and buy three of these presents at the weekend.

We are also  buying the tree.

Brian also has to fix the gate which broke in the wind.

Busy weekend ahead

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Xmas Decorations stage 1

We have put up the Christmas decorations in Brian's cottage and it is all looking very festive now.

We have done more shopping (for him this time) the fire is lit, the lights are on the tree, and we are feeling really quite festive now. 

I drove down here last night with a glorious full moon, which although I couldn't watch much of it  having to do boring things like watch the road, it still surprises me how much light it actually does give.  Once, when working at St Donats, I was coming home about 2am, and I know the road really well so I turned off the headlights to see if it was possible to drive by moonlight and discovered that it was, although probably not a good idea to do in an area with any traffic.

I took my car to get 2 new tyres on Thursday morning, and waited while they were fitted.  The guy came and said could I come and look at something, so I came, and discovered that the twit of a boy who had driven my car out of the bay hadn't looked behind him.  Since it had been driven in there some other twit had put another car behind it, and Twit 1 reversed my car into the car which Twit 2 had left in its path.  I was so startled I couldn't say anything much, and the guy was so busy apologising I didn't get much chance to get a word in anyway.  Actually, they had scratched the bumper, not dented it, and the scratches sort of match the ones I have done on the other side.  The other car however, has the whole of the side of the car caved in - probably up to a thousand pound's worth of damage.  I went back at 4pm to see the manager, and they will take my car to be fixed on Monday morning, drop me at work, pick me up again, and give me a voucher for £50 to use next time I come.  So I'm actually not that unhappy with them as they are doing everything to put it right, and I may get a completely unscratched bumper out of it.  I am impressed by the strength of the bumper on my car though.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas preparations

I have been busy this week.  I have written my Christmas cards, I have wrapped the presents that need to be posted, I have made the cake and this evening I have spent an hour or more looking for house insurance.  Comparison insurance hunting is boring, so I have quit for one night.

We did well with all the fund raising at work last week, and between us all selling cakes, dressing up in Panto costumes in the branches, we have raised nearly £930 for Latch.  We were really pleased because it was far more than we expected.  Our cake selling is done by asking for donations, this way we don't get caught by so many hygiene regulations which necessitate kitchen inspections etc.  We give away the cakes and people stick money into the tins.  This is also way more profitable because we couldn't charge as much as people give.  Lots of people put notes in, though the lady who put a cheque for £100 into one tin was unusually generous.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cake sale

I am baking tonight.

  I have done a batch of chocolate cup cakes, though they have yet to be iced.  We are selling cakes for charity tomorrow.  We work on a small industrial site so we go round with cakes and ask for donations.  Usually we do it for Breast Cancer but we missed the Wear it Pink day this year because of people being off etc.  However the libraries in the Vale are raising money for Latch, a local cancer charity this weekend.  Most of the libraries are having a Panto day, and wearing fancy dress, the Latch collecting tins on the counters for donations.  As we don't work with the public we are doing the cakes round the offices instead.  People are very generous most of the time and put in far more than you would actually ask for the cakes if you sold them.

After dinner I am making scones.  The scones were surprisingly popular last year, with a bit of butter and jam, so I am doing them again. 

We usually raise more than £100 so fingers crossed that all the guys are feeling hungry!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Xmas shopping

I, and lots of other people, went shopping in Cardiff today.  I got in early and got out early, for which I am very grateful.

I then did some more shopping in Bridgend, and came home with most of the things I went out for.

I was just drinking a cup of tea when Nic came back and suggested I go with her to walk a friend's dogs.  It was very pleasant having a nice tramp across the fields with the dogs, a whippet and a Sealyham cross terrier called Buster who feels the need to attack wire fences and worry them furiously, which is very funny. 

Nic was staying to redo the bedding for her horse, so I set off home and halfway down the lane saw a horse in the road, standing by a gate.  I reversed back to ask Nic about it, and she came down with me.  The horse was clearly wanting to get into the field and his friend in the stable was calling to him, but the gate was padlocked.  He had jumped the gate to get out, but didn't have a run at it to get back in.  Nic, being strong, lifted the gate off the hinge, ushered the horse back in, and we propped the gate back because we couldn't get it back onto the hinge, but he was clearly glad to be back in his field.

Then I came home for a cup of tea.

Monday, November 28, 2011


We got out second set of Job Evaluation results today, and much to my surprise I have gone up in salary!!

I am thrilled to bits, because I didn't expect it to have changed from last time. 

The scheme has to be approved by staff but hopefully it will be.

On another matter I am so cheesed off with the media talking so much twaddle about the pensions for public sector workers who are going on strike on Wednesday.  We do pay into the pensions, and have done for years.  Actually the pension schemes are financially healthy and don't need additional funds, and anyway any extra  money is going straight into the treasury not into the pension scheme. 

If the pension fund was underfunded and the additional 3% they want to charge was going into the pension fund then the situation would be different.  As it is, the government are taxing public sector workers an additional 3 or more % with no benefit to them.  If they want to tax everyone - fair enough - but to just tax one sector is not fair.

I have no compunctions about going on strike because I am really annoyed about the lies the government is telling and the bias in the media generally. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunny gardening day

Friday was an eBook meeting in Aberystwyth, at which I was giving a presentation about the ebook pilot which 14 of the library authorities in Wales are running.  Luckily we had done a power point presentation, which was only supposed to be the introduction prior to the online demo, however the National Library firewall wouldn't let us in, so we didn't get to give the talk with a live demo.  It was a bit annoying as they knew the website well beforehand, so should have tested to see if the firewall would let it in.

However the talk went ok, so I was fairly pleased with the day, and did pick up some useful things from some of the other speakers, especially  how much Libraries Northern Ireland gained from social networking, because they got some very high profile publicity through it.  Worth following up.

Then I drove down to B's as I was closer there than home anyway.  Saturday we hit Haverfordwest to do some Xmas shopping, which was followed by a very lazy afternoon reading the paper and potching round the internet.  Today we were more energetic though and transplanted 3 shrubs which have outgrown their location in the back garden and needed to go somewhere which gave them more room and stopped them overpowering their neighbours.  I say 'we' though B actually did all the digging - I supervised and pulled up weeds.  It has been a beautiful day today, sunny, bright and not too cold. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Christmas shopping

I have got 3 main presents this weekend - all three of the kids.  It isn't yet December so I am feeling quite pleased with myself.

I am thinking deep thoughts about what to do on Christmas day with food as we are having our main Christmas dinner on Christmas eve.  Nic will be working till 1ish, and Adam will be working till about 3 so when to eat and what to eat are the questions I am pondering.

Beef and yorkshire puds etc?

Something very alternative from some foreign country?



Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bra sizes

I wondered if I am wearing the right size bra so looked up the instructions on how to measure and one set said I was 36F and another said I was 40B.  Really?????

The Wikipedia article was actually quite good about how difficult it is to get a sensible measurement that really works because, of course, everyone is actually a different shape, and breasts vary in shape a great deal as well as all the rest of one's anatomy.  But the bra manufacturers aren't taking that problem on board.  If you are very well off and can go to Rigby and Peller they don't measure you, they look and you and then get a bra to fit.  I have a friend who did get a bra from them but they cost the earth and they tell you that you should get refitted every 3 months!!!  £100 on a bra is not in my budget.

So for more normal mortals we just have to keep on buying bras that sort of fit.  The one's I have found most comfortable are actually really cheap ones from Tesco, but I suppose if I was prepared to pay £25 or more each I would find other comfy ones, but it goes against the grain.  I have had some expensive (ie £25 plus) bras but they are not appreciably better than the cheaper ones. 

So I went into M&S and tried lots on today, lots of different sizes and shapes, and came out thinking that the size I am wearing is probably the right size actually, and that M&S bras just don't fit me.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Baby evening

I had a lovely evening yesterday.  Kate was here because she is going to the ballet tonight with a friend, and Kelsie came round with baby Joseph.  He is nearly 1 and is a charmer.  He crawled round the floor, patted the dog, who was not at all sure that this was a good thing,  and generally was a perfect guest.

After he had gone home to bed another friend of Nic's came round with her 9 week old, Ellie, who was equally charming.  Although asleep when she arrived she took with great good nature being woken up and handed round everyone.

After all the babies had gone Kate and I watched penguins on Frozen Planet and had a glass of wine.  How civilised!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Computers and wedding

I was in Manchester for 3 days last week at a User Group meeting for the Library Management system last week, much of which was very interesting, but only to people who use Infor Library systems, so I won't say much about it. 

My train journeys ran remarkably to time and mostly to seats as well, though lots of colleagues had far more difficulties with late, cancelled and overcrowded trains.  I'm glad I missed the journey back to Pembrokeshire which should have gone at 2.30, left 50  minutes late, and ended in Cardiff. 

At the weekend we had a lovely lovely time.  B collected Adam, Nic and Kate on the way to Essex while I got the train from Manchester, and then we all had a really good time at my sister's.  On Saturday we went to my niece's wedding which was perfect in a fabulous location, and then back to Essex, and home on Sunday. 

We were pooped by the time we got home, though Nic slept all the way home so was rather more awake than the rest of us.

However back to work today, with discussions about the eBooks system.  CyMal employ a marketing group who are - quite frankly - rubbish.  They still have failed to produce posters etc for us, the business card we asked for is dull, and we are having to push them to do anything.  It is extraordinary that they have apparently been given the contract for another 3 years.  Why???

I am being an ostrich about the Euro crisis on the basis that I can do nothing about it, so why worry?  Is this sensible or idiotic?  I am unsure.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pony loved the library

Hannah loved the library.  I'm sure she will have gone back to the farm telling her donkey friend Geraldine that she should have come.  Geraldine was offered the option but refused to go into the lorry.  However Hannah had a little sheep fold, and a bag of carrots.  A steady stream of small children, and some bigger ones, came along for the whole hour she was there, and fed her carrot after carrot.  She got through about half a sack of carrots - wonderful!

I have lots of photos but can't put many onto the internet because they show the kids who came to see the pony. 

It was really good fun.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pony in the library

Tomorrow Hannah the pony is going to join Llantwit Major library, and hopefully get some people to join with her.  Nicky is borrowing Hannah from her friend Chloe, and we are keeping our fingers crossed that it doesn't rain.  Cloudy is ok, but wet is not good.

I have more or less got the tv room all done, but there are lots of things that we removed from the tv room which have yet to be moved to another  home so after we have been to the library with the pony, I shall have to sort out the rest of the house.

Next week is busy busy.  I have book/dinner club on Tuesday -  I'm not cooking so can completely relax.  Wednesday I am heading  off to Manchester for a conference about our library computer system which lasts from Weds lunch time to Friday lunchtime.  I am actually looking forwards to this because it is nice to meet up with other people and we also have a good time as well.  There is a quiz one evening which the Celtic contingent (Welsh and Scots) won last year, so we have to see if we can do it again.

On Friday I am heading off to Essex to join the rest of the family at my sister's before going to my niece's wedding on the Saturday, and am really looking forward to seeing everyone.  It will be great!

I will be out of touch for most of the week though, as I'm not taking the laptop with me.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Paint pod

A paint pod is a thing Dulux have invented which attaches a tube from the paint to a roller, with a little pump so the paint goes straight into the roller, and it is both much more even, and saves all that bending and stretching.  It is also much neater, as I usually put nearly as much paint on myself as the walls when using a roller but didn't splash at all using the pod thing.  It is only for emulsion, and you have to use a relatively narrow range of Dulux paints, but it was good.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lord, I've been busy

I haven't posted recently because either nothing has been happening or too much has been happening.

Last week was concerts week.

Wednesday we went to what the BBC National Orchestra of Wales call a Composer Portrait.  They focus on contemporary composers, and this one was for Dutch composers.  They had 3 pieces played, one of which was dull, the second I enjoyed and the third one split the Noyes/McNabb vote.  The composer had the percussion players breaking birch twigs (to evoke saunas because the composer was actually Swedish although lives in Holland) which would have been ok in small doses but went on too long.  Brian however really liked it, so we agreed to differ on that one.

Thursday we went to Swansea to hear a new opera by a composer called Nicola le Fanu.  It started well because we met a couple of friends who we haven't seen for a while, then another couple of friends arrived too, so we had a really nice chat before the concert started.    The first piece was an trio which was ok, not exciting or particularly original but ok.  Then came the second piece.  It didn't start well when the violinist was staring up to heaven when she played, but when the percussion player started growling .... oh dear.  During the 1960's there were lots of these sort of things because people were just trying anything to see what happened.  Had it been the 1960's it would still have been awful, but it would have been less out of place.  We could not fathom why it was performed, because it was absolute crap. Out of date absolute crap.  The opera wasn't up to much either, not as dire as the previous piece, but the libretto was poor and the music dull. 

Friday we went to the Welsh National Orchestra and Chorus in St Davids Hall.  The new conductor has started doing concerts with the WNO orchestra, and we went to one earlier in the year which was really good and he is doing some really  interesting programming.    Friday's concert was stunning.  The theme was Vienna, and started with Mahler's Kindertotenlieder, went on to a short piece by Schoenberg (forgotten the title) about the death of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto, and finished with Brahm's German Requiem. 


It was absolutely fantastic.  It occurred to me that you don't get a professional choir of 40 people, usually choral pieces like the Brahms are sung by amateur choirs, even if they are very good amateur choirs (like all the BBC ones or the Halle), so to have a professional choir, used to singing together under far more demanding circumstances (no score, raked stage, costumes etc) was a treat.  And they were brilliant.  I had shivers during the performance.  Wonderful.

Over the weekend we came down to earth with a big bump and have been painting the tv room and downstairs loo, including all the woodwork, all weekend.  I am now really tired.  We used a paint pod for the walls which was really good, very non messy.  This is the first time I have used a roller and not ended up with almost as much on me as got onto the walls. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

All work .....

I haven't been posting because not much has been happening really.

Brian update his website and lost it in transit, so we ended up having teccy conversations over the phone while we tried to sort it out.  Solving computer problems on the phone is much harder than when you have the thing in front of you.  I have a greater appreciation of the people on helplines now than I did before.  We did get it sorted and it is now up again.

Brian has new windows in the cottage now, so I am glad I missed that as it created the usual chaos that building work involves. 

We went out to dinner with friends last Monday and because I had a 3 course meal put in front of me I ate far more than I am used to eating at the moment, and ended up feeling both uncomfortable and guilty.  The on the Wednesday I was hosting our book/dinner club so another 3 course meal, though as I was cooking 2 courses I could control what and how much I ate so didn't feel so bloated afterwards.  Needless to say I didn't lose any weight last week. 

I have started pruning the things in the garden and hope that I correctly pruned the raspberry canes.  I did what the book said but it looked a bit severe.  fingers crossed because I liked having my own raspberries.  Other things I am fairly confident I have pruned correctly, though the lilac bush which has become very overgrown but never had any flowers seems to have heard me say it was going and has now - in October - thrown out a couple of feeble flowers.  It is still going though.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Opera plots

We went to see Katya Kabanova by Janacek last night by the Welsh National Opera. 

You could not fault the orchestra or the singers who were all fabulous, the new conductor of the WNO Lothar Koenig is really, really good and has given the orchestra a new lease of life I think.  The music is complex and emotional, the singing - especially Amanda Roocroft who played Katya - excellent.


It is such a silly plot, even by opera standards.  The poor heroine is going mad, but really, she goes off to see the lover and spends all her time telling him she is sinning and is going to die.  If that didn't put the man off I can't think what would.  There was a discrepancy between the lack of credibility in the plot which strove for reality and missed, and the power of the music which was trying to carry the plot along with it.

Some of the reason for the credulity gap was - surprise surprise - down to the director, who for some reason had set it all in a fairly grim 50's place, although anything Russian in the 50's would not have had everyone going to church all the time, or had the whole set up of inherited wealth being so crucial to the plot.  She also ignored completely one of the 'characters' in the plot which is the River Volga, which people referred to seing while looking at an institutional green wall in a cafe. 

Had the director picked up more on the actual themes in the opera - unhappy marriage, childhood, the river, - and done something with them instead of imposing her own obsession with 50's Poland (she has used it a few times before apparently) then I think the whole thing would have gelled much better.

Even so, it was really good, and I did enjoy it.

I am also going to see Figaro, La Boheme and Tristan this season.  The first 2 I have seen before, but Tristan is my first Wagner.  I will take sandwiches.

We have also gone mad and booked concerts up to next June as both the BBC and WNO are doing ones we want to see this year, having had a few years when we have looked at the programmes and thought - nah.  Gergiev is coming in April doing Mahler Symphony no 8 which B has never seen live and is apparently stunning, so we are off to that.  Plus lots of other things.  Luckily if you buy enough tickets for the BBC concerts you get to pay over 4 months. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Joining the gym

Well, I have joined the gym - though I think I am having denial type thoughts as so far I have spelled that as gum and gem (hmm) .

Having been trailing in the rear while going up hills  in Malvern I have decided that I really need to get a bit fitter.  The wii fit is fun, but not enough work really.  As a member of the Council I get a reduced rate if I use the gym between 7 and 10 am, so I have managed twice this week.

Lets see if I can keep it up

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fracking in the Vale

There are applications to begin drilling for shale gas in Llandow - just up the road from here.  The company say it's quite safe, gets energy and lots of jobs.

However the fracking drilling has been stopped near Blackpool because of earthquakes, it is banned in lots of other countries, and there is water contamination in the USA.  The planning application has been deferred pending a site visit according to the news.

Good thing too.

Nic is doing a test run to see if the donkey will go easily into the horse box.  It is one thing to manhandle her into the horsebox while at the farm, but not something that you can do with lots of small children watching.  If she doesn't box easily, she may not get to join the library.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Libraries Fortnight

There is a national promotion in Wales for libraries during the first 2 weeks on November which has very boringly been called Libraries Fortnight.  The theme is supposed to be sport related to tie into the cultural Olympiad which is always a bit tricky, so we have been stretching the 'sport' to being any active sort of pastime.

We had a planning meeting about it this afternoon, and we are getting an Indian Dance company as the main event - which if we can find any new borrowers with an Indian ethnic background will tick an Equalities box as well.  There are going to be guided walks from some of the libraries ending back at the library for refreshments which will give us time to try to get people to join.

We have joined the geocaching website and will have geocaches hidden in each library.

We are hoping to invite local fencing and/or rhythmic gymnastics, tai chi groups to demonstrate in a library.

Llantwit is having a pony and a donkey visiting to join the library, courtesy of Nic whose friend Chloe is providing both animals.  The people who come can go into a draw to win a free riding lesson at the local riding school.

We do get involved in some odd things.  We then have to try to get people interested in joining the library by putting out books, advertising on line resources etc while we have people actually in the buildings.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bit of a black eye

I have a bit of a black eye today, though not very visible, and was covered up with make up fairly easily.

This is good as I had a meeting today and really didn't want to go with a shiner.

Hopefully it will go away by Wednesday when I have my next meeting.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


We have been replacing the rotten wood facing on the porch this afternoon.  The 'we' is me doing a lot of finding tools in the garage, holding wood and ladders, and passing things.  Brian does all the rest of the sawing, measuring and hammering.  Fair division of labour generally I think.

However this afternoon the hammering included dropping said hammer and hitting me on the way down.  I spend the next half hour with an ice pack held to my swelling eyebrow, then daubing it with Nic's arnica and taking some of her arnica pills.  As she is very experienced in the matter of bruising I bow to her knowledge and hope the arnica works.  Luckily my fringe is long at the moment and will cover the bruise.

However - back to the fair division of labour - as I made a pair of curtains for the cottage this morning I think we are quits really.

The person who did a lot of the diy before we bought the house was a real bodger.  Brian spent a lot of time tutting about the crap workmanship of the porch roof, and other things he did even I could do a better job, and I am  not one of the world's carpenters.  For instance they converted the garage into a room, which is now our tv room, which is fine, but they didn't take the window out to the front of the house which is what all the other people who have converted the garage have done.  Instead it is set about 3 feet back,  so there is all that wasted space.  Weird.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Techno updating

Brian is thinking about getting an iPad, so he can browse etc when downstairs - as his computer is a big beasty upstairs.  Simple enough you would think.

But - the old computer he has upstairs doesn't run an operating system compatible with an iPad.  Actually it doesn't work with a few updates for other things either.  So we had a long talk with a helpful young man in the Apple shop and come away with all sorts of alternatives.

Do nothing.

Buy an iPad and don't try to sync it to the computer.

If you want to sync it to a computer it could sync to my laptop and load photos etc from there

Buy a more recent (but still old) version of the Mac operating system which would enable many of the updates to be loaded, but that costs over £80 so seems a bit daft.

Buy a new main computer so that everything talks to everything else and he can load the updated version of the composition software he uses.

Too many choices, all involving lots of money.  So we went away having bought nothing.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Viva Espana

Woe are watching a concert from Madrid by the Berlin Philharmonic performing Rodrigo's Concerto de Aranjez (sp?)  (Chris???) with a flamenco guitarist playing the solo.  The best meets the best really.  I wish I was hearing it live instead of via the inadequate speakers on the tv.

I really feel the need for some sun.  We haven't had much sun since April.  We have had occasional days, even maybe a couple of days together, but the overall impression since May has been wet, grey and windy - also cool.  Now we are officially in autumn, the prospect is more wet, more wind, and cooler.  They keep saying that we are in for a bad winter because there are lots of berries on the trees, which is a depressing thought as well.

We did look at having a little holiday, but various other factors make it either impractical (too much on) or other financial commitments mean it isn't feasible at the moment.  Sigh.

So looking at Madrid before the concert started made me really want to go there.  I have been fleetingly to Madrid, but it was in March, with a student choir in tow, and we had almost no free time.   We did fit in a really good paella in the evening though.  Ho hum - another day.

It is fascinating watching a flamenco guitarist play the Rodrigo with Brian, because he is classically trained and has played the piece so every so often gives a sort of grunt as the guitarist does something which a classical guitarist wouldn't do with a scored piece - bending the notes round much more.  Also the cadenza he just played was all him - really different.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thoughts about work

The job as Librarian in Barry library was advertised a couple of weeks ago.  That is the biggest library in our authority, and the advert is internal only at this stage.  At the moment the post is on the salary scale above mine, so it is more money, and would give me a bigger pension.

So do I apply for it?

It is complicated by the fact that we are undergoing something called Job Evaluation.  The theory behind Job Evaluation is to even out the pay scales across local government, however as all authorities seem to have come to completely different conclusions while using the same system it is very questionable as to how well it  is going to do what it is meant to do.  It has cost umpteen millions across the UK - done at the instructions of Central Government - but our counter staff have been graded at at least £2-4,000 less per annum than those in two of our neighbouring local authorities.    Fairness is a debatable point.  We had the results of our Job Evaluation exercise a few months ago, but it was rejected by the Trade Union vote (largely because the lowest paid have had their pay cut - everyone assumed that they would benefit from this). 

Under those results the post in Barry has gone up more, and I have gone up a little bit in my present job.  However we have no idea what changes may come about as a result of the revised job evaluation process.  So you are applying for a job when you have no idea what the salary is, which is very odd.

I have pondered at length about it, and eventually, as my motives to apply were solely financial, I have decided that it not for me.  The library is currently very badly managed, and has a lot of potentially difficult staff, which is one challenge.  It is also a town with some very stroppy borrowers, and a fair amount of difficulty with misbehaving kids. 

So, after much internal debate I have decided that the extra money is not worth the amount  of stress that I would find doing that particular job.  It may suit someone else but not me. 

I feel better for making the decision.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Foiled !

I found an interesting looking adult education evening class to do this year, called Digital Creator.  It is designed by the British Computing Society (something I didn't realise till tonight) and is the making of films, animations, putting soundtracks and voice overs  and so on.  As I said, it sounds really interesting.

However when I went down to the sign on evening tonight I found out that I was the second person to enquire (they usually need 10-12 to run a course), and - even more critical - the person running the course has had to pull out.  However there is a possibility that he could run it for the two terms after Xmas, so she has taken my name.  I will keep my fingers crossed.

There is another one I am interested in, which is writing for payment, but not as interested, so I will have a think about that one.

I am feeling thwarted. 

Saffy - who is visiting at the moment - is lying on the sofa sound asleep and quite indifferent to my dilemma.  Heartless dog!

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Busy week, which explains the lack of blogging.

The weekend was in Pembs where we had a very sociable weekend with dinner out with some friends on the Saturday night.  Sunday I  was back home and choir started again.  We are singing at a wedding in a couple of weeks so we were practising some madrigals which were pretty good despite the fact that we were very unbalanced with only one bass and five sopranos.  Hopefully we will sound good at the wedding too.

This week has been the Vale of Glamorgan Festival and we went to see the Latvian Radio Choir on Tuesday.  They are a stunningly good choir.  I have heard lots of  choirs over the years and they are in the top few with everything absolutely perfect.  The tone, the voices, the timing, the emotion, everything was wonderful.  The Vale Festival concentrated on contemporary music and the Latvian choir concentrate on Latvian and Eastern European music.  All the pieces were interesting, though a couple were not perhaps as interesting as they might have been - the Arvo Part wasn't up to much really.  Though even that sounded good with that choir singing it.

Thursday we went to see the BBC Nat. Orch of Wales in a very mixed programme.  The featured composer of the orchestra at the moment is a chap called Mark Bowden and he had written what was basically a cello concerto, but sadly it was a bit of a mess so rather disappointing.  You couldn't hear the cello half the time because the orchestration was so dense - you could see that he was playing something really complicated but you couldn't hear any of it.  Sadly it had no real focus and although he had written that there were three strands which were put together, they didn't sound like three strands, they sounded like noise.  The rest of the first half I enjoyed although nothing was spectacular.  The second half was 24 minutes of Steve Reich who I don't  like, so we went for a drink instead. 

The thing about going to contemporary music concerts is that you never know what you are going to get.  Sometimes - like with the choir - it is really enjoyable.  Other times good in parts, and occasionally you get a complete turkey.  A couple of years ago we went to a new music theatre piece in Cardiff and hated it so much we left that half way through.  The next one the same company did was really good though. 

It is a voyage of discovery.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

And still busy

Not content with doing things to the house on Saturday, we continued on Sunday, and painted the bottom half of the front of the house.  It has come out a slightly paler green than perhaps we wanted - in fact if you don't look at it next to white paint it looks pretty white, but I think when the new windows are in with their white frames, and we have repainted the front door it will all look very smart.

So yesterday we had a break from all this hard work and went to the Wetlands trust in Llanelli which we have been saying we would do for about a year now, and really enjoyed it.

Today I have done housework.  Oh joy.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bank holiday

I came down to Pembs on the train because I didn't fancy the drive on the Bank Holiday weekend.  That was SUCH a good idea.  There was torrential rain which slowed the already slow traffic and the M4 ground to a halt.  I watched it on the news and was so pleased I had not been in that jam.

Today we pottered round St Davids in the morning and had a scary afternoon while I held the ladders and Brian went up on the roof. Even second hand I get scared going up ladders.  However I make very good ballast at the bottom of the ladder. 

I have been very disorganised in August, and must get organised next week to get some of the things on my list done.

I must deliver Caroline's birthday present (I am always late)
I must phone the double glazing man about the blown window in Nic's room
I must phone and get quotes for replacing the guttering not at ground level (ie most of it).

Adam is on holiday in a couple of weeks so could be home to let these people in if I get my act together and get them organised to come to do things.

Must, must must!!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

DVD success

I have been playing with the software to put my photos and small movies onto dvd over the last week or so.  After a few abortive efforts I can now edit my films (such as they are) and putting the photos together onto a dvd and successfully burn it.


However my voice overs on all the little bits of video I took on our holiday in Scotland a couple of years ago sound absolutely hilarious when watched in quick succession - I keep calling views a panorama for one thing.  If I am going to continue doing this I will have to put more thought into the voice overs I do - Brian and I were in stitches watching them last night.

I don't think I am likely to put anyone out of business as a film producer any time soon

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

People dying in tents

There are people dying in tents from fumes - using barbqs in the tent, or having gas fires running in the tent with no ventilation apparently.  How very sad, but also - I can't help thinking - stupid.  Surely people should realise that these things aren't for use inside a tent?

One of the kids had some friends visiting and they went to the beach.  Anywhere in the UK is only 80 miles or less from the sea, but one of the friends - not a stupid girl - had to have tides explained to her in some detail.  How can people not know that you have to be careful of tides when swimming in the sea?    Is it because people go on holiday to the Med where there aren't tides?


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Gift horse and shed

 This is Nicky's gift horse.  His stable name is Ben and he is better qualified than she is for shows.  She took him to the Vale of Glamorgan show and he did very well.
 He makes the jumps look easy - there is a really good picture as Nic's facebook picture at the moment
This is me as assistant shed erector person.  We recently built a shed in B's garden - and here we are in the middle of it.  It is now nearly completed, just waiting for the windows.

We really know how to have fun!!

Famous grandsons...

I have just watched a really good programme about Lucien Freud (grandson of Sigmund) which was both an excellent tv programme and very interesting  as well.  There was no intrusive music, no jiggly camerawork, no stupid commentary - it was called 'Sitting for Lucien Freud' and it was people - mostly friends and family - who had sat for him talking about what it was like, what he was like, and about the portraits.

Numerous offspring were there - Wikipedia lists 13, many of whom were on the programme - and although a distant and unconventional father, his paintings and his obvious commitment to them was apparent throughout.   

The portraits show how much of the person can be shown by a painting in the way a photo can't.  Especially interesting were portraits of one of the daughters done at different times in her life, and which showed how life was treating her and how she was reacting to it.  The Duchess of Devonshire had one done when she was in her 30s and said - very perceptively I thought - that she thought she looked more like it now, in her 80s.

He was clearly a genius, as was his grandfather, and numerous offspring are creative being painters, writers, broadcasters etc.  His brother (Clement) was famous as well.  Something very strong in the genes in that family.  The other odd thing was how alike the daughters on the programme looked even  though they had different mothers.  A bit weird actually

Now the Prom from last Saturday is on and Gabriel Prokofiev is having a piece performed for turntables and orchestra which Brian has put the sound mute on because he can't stand it.  The rest of the concert will be his grandfather Sergei who was a brilliant composer. 

Nature versus nurture?  Who can tell?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Early night

I fell asleep at 9.15 last night on the sofa, so went to bed.

Still tired today, but not ridiculously so.

I saw one famous person at the show, but as it is local there are lots of familiar faces, so only put her face to a name later - Eve Myles from Torchwood was there with her baby in a buggy. 

Today has been wet and horrible so we were lucky with the weather. 

I shall now go and sort out my bills for the rest of the evening.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


It didn't rain.

The dongle worked (mostly) so we had internet and could show people the websites we wanted to show them, and had quite a few people who were genuinely interested.

Ben came 5th and was very good in the working hunter class.

Very good day.

I am really tired.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Off to the show

I am off to the Vale of Glamorgan Show tomorrow.  The Vale Council has a marquee and we have a stand where we are demonstrating some of our online systems.  We are concentrating on 3 of them, the new eBook web site, a language learning system, and a driving theory system -  interactive hazard tests and such  like.  I have my fingers crossed that the system is going to be working tomorrow because the whole server crashed this afternoon and put the whole library system out of action.  I have spent the last week chasing our IT officer to make sure I have a working 3G system for the show site, and I will be really peeved if the main system crashes. 

Also Nic is riding her gift horse in the working hunter class and I am skiving off from library duties to be a groom for half an hour.

I am hoping for dry weather. 

But I am taking wellies.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


I went to sleep last night with no aching arms.

I woke up today with a really sore left arm.  Washing my hair was a real challenge, as is changing gear in the car.  WHAT did I do in my sleep to hurt my arm???

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Birthday weekend

I had a very pleasant weekend.  On Saturday B and I went to see an exhibition of paintings by Sally Moore.  B used to teach her brother the guitar many years ago and got very friendly with the family.  He has a painting by Sally's father Leslie which was given to him by the artist, and stayed in touch with Sally's mother until she died recently.  Simon is still playing the guitar too, so the teaching seems to have stuck.  It was a really interesting exhibition and you can see some of the pictures on the gallery website.  They are self portraits, some reworkings on her favourite classical paintings, but although hyper realistic they are also surreal. I really like them.  Out of our price range though.

We had lunch out, and later on dined in very  pleasantly. 

Sunday we had a visit from an ex student from AC who we have kept in touch with.  Beverly was back for her 20 year reunion (!).  She has some exciting news because is changing career completely and going to go back to college to train as a vicar - in Cambridge as it happens.  We will have to make sure to see more of them while they are there over the next two years, because they could go anywhere after that.

I am having less luck with creating dvds.  The bug I put into my computer when I downloaded something intended to clean it up has  mostly gone because I have reloaded the operating system and lots of the software, but the one that is still behaving very oddly is the one I am trying to use at the moment, which is the dvd burning software.   It is really annoying.  I shall continue to struggle with it this week, and if I can't sort it out I shall have to make an appointment with the Genius bar at the Apple shop and go and see one of the nice geeky young people to find out how to fix it. 

Our ebooks website for the libraries is now live, though not advertised yet.  We have training scheduled for the staff this week and next week, though as it is something people will do at home the library staff don't actually have to do anything, but they will get asked questions so need to know the answers.  Not least of those questions is - what can I download onto?  We knew from the start that Kindles don't work, but there are actually quite a few other things that don't because they can't read the Digital Rights Management software eg Blackberries and Nokia devices.  Lots of emails flying back and forward as we try to sort this out. 

We are also hoping to demonstrate this and two other online sites the library pays for at the Vale of Glamorgan Show next Wednesday, though getting dongles to run laptops is proving rather more complicated than I had forseen.  We have fingers and toes crossed at the moment.  Work is being busy.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

More cheerful

The news is full of the Olympics.  I am not sporty and have no real enthusiasm for them, but I do appreciate that lots of people feel very differently.  However spending so much money  during financial crises seems lacking in balance.  I would personally prefer to see more useful things done with the  money, like reducing the public sector cuts, improving the rail network across the country, improving sports facilities at grass roots level, and so on and so on.

I said I would be more cheerful, but that all sound a bit glum - well, negative at least.

It is hard to be positive while watching the news though.  Doom and gloom everywhere.

However L'Oreal have had their wrists slapped for airbrushing photos of Julia Roberts in magazines - hurray.

The weatherman is now saying that  it is going to be warm and sunny.  Hurray again.

Tomorrow is my birthday - double hurray.

Shame I have to go to work, but there will be cake.  (we won't think about the diet starting next week)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Another funeral

I went to another funeral today.  A friend who was in in the same choir as me lost her fight with breast cancer and the church was full.  She sang in three choirs, was active in church, a keen golfer and people from all those places were in the church, as well as friends and family.  it was a fitting tribute to a lovely woman who died far too young, only 68.

We have had a lot of funerals recently.  My cousin died last week, though sadly I'm not going to get to that funeral.  B went to the funeral of an older friend last week.  It does focus the mind and make you appreciate things more I find, the impact of a funeral is to bring home to you that life can be fragile and we need to make the most of it. 

There are things I would like to change - I would prefer B to be living nearby instead of 2 hours away.  I would prefer some friends to be a lot nearer than they are too, but I suppose that is the rough that comes with the smooth.  At least they are they are there.  For which I am heartily glad.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Good wildlife walk

 We went for a walk near St Davids on Saturday and did very well on the wildlife front.  Here is a grey seal who was lazing around in the sea on a lovely sunny afternoon.
 This kestrel was having a dust bath.  He continued having his bath even when we got fairly close (not this close - I have zoom on my camera) and then he started walking down the path towards us before he took off.
Here is  a gannet. I got lots of pictures of sky while trying to get a decent picture of the gannets but did get the picture in the end.

What I didn't get a picture of was the most exciting bit.  I have been trying to see dolphins or porpoises off this coast for years and never have, though B has seen them a few times.  However I saw one on Saturday.  Not a lot of one - all you see is when they surface to blow so it is just a small little bit, but I did at least see one.


We had a lovely day on Saturday, then Sunday the clouds sat on top of us so that though it wasn't actually raining it was very wet, so we stayed in and read the papers instead.

The Guardian is being a little bit smug about the phone hacking/News International scandal as they have been going on about it for years, which is understandable.  It adds a bit of humour to reading the reports though.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Back in Blogland

First I was on  holiday.

We had a week in East Anglia, went on the Broads, visited lots of people and did lots of things (of which  more later)  We were busy and didn't have internet in  most places, so no blogging then.

Then when we got home we discovered that the phone line was dead.  My line is provided by Primus, who are very cheap, but.....

To contact them you need to use a mobile because - the landline is not working - and Primus took nearly 20 minutes to get me to a person to talk to, all the while playing the most godawful version of 'Love Story' which in itself is enough to put you in a bad mood.  The mobile obligingly ticks up the seconds so you can see how much the call is costing which is also annoying.

However we managed to get through and made an appointment for Wednesday  morning - when I thought Nic was going to be here.  However it turned out she wasn't so I asked Ad to take the  morning off because I couldn't get out of a meeting I had.  He got permission.  Fine.

But the engineer didn't come.  Wednesday afternoon I spent another 15 minutes waiting to get through to Primus and asked where the engineer was and was told the appointment was for Thursday afternoon.  We then had a very heated conversation, during which I suggested that they played over the phone call I had made on  Monday when the Weds appointment had been made because they kept telling me that the appointment was for Thursday.  They told me they had phoned.  I did have a missed call at about 6pm on Tuesday evening but I didn't know who that was from and even if they had left a message the evening before is not a reasonable time to change the appointment.  I was fuming and asked to speak to a supervisor  - after 10  minutes the operator came back to tell me the supervisor was busy and couldn't talk to me!  Why did that take 10  minutes????

I was so so so cross!!!!!

I shall be looking at alternative providers I think, even though Primus are cheap.

However the engineer came this afternoon (I took time off this time) and has fixed it.  Hurray.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Child care

It is odd the way attitudes to child care change over time.

We have tended to be appalled by the upper classes in earlier centuries who entrusted the care of the children to nannies, and seldom saw the children when they were young.

However is that so very different from what is happening in the Western world now?  Many women go out to work when the children are very young, still babies and 6-9 months.  Sometimes it is choice and sometimes necessity.  Some careers won't permit a career break eg medicine (though doctors in general practice can earn more part time than most women working full  time for a couple of years, but still).  Some women need the fulfillment of going out to work with adults and are not cut out to be a full time carer.  I initially said 'parent' but they are always full time parents whether they are the ones doing the full time child care or not.  For others it is just money - we have created a society where it is necessary for most families to have both parents working in order to make ends meet. 

There are choices of childcare, but it must be really hard to leave a very young baby to go to work.  Whether you have a child minder, a grandparent or a nursery it must still be do heartbreaking.

My youngest was 3 when I went back to work, and I didn't want to go.  We needed the money, so it was necessary.  I was lucky in many ways because we had a combination of a childminder/babysitter (unqualified) who came to the house.  She picked the kids up from school and looked after them till either I or their father got home.  We had backup with my mother  nearby who could step in sometimes for emergencies, so they were in their own home, and had continuity of 4 principal carers.  It was also cheaper as it happens.  But although they seemed fine about it, I would have preferred to stay at home till they were older.

But are we doing what we criticised the upper classes for doing - rearing our children at a distance?  The reasons are different, but are the results the same?  Or are they worse?  At least a nanny gave one person in the home, whereas nurseries give a variety of carers.  Are we creating a generation of kids distanced from their parents and in the process altering the relationships between them? 

Or is it something that has happened in a variety of ways over the centuries, and this is just the latest version? 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hurray we have internet that works

Yesterday BT finally sent some engineers to see why the broadband was so rubbish.  We had already worked out that the broadband had been a problem since Easter when the landline for the phone went off for 5 days and had to be fixed - half the road was off.  BT must have known this too, after all they are the ones who fixed it.

When the engineers turned up yesterday we told them this.  They tested the line and said that the speed coming in was about 3mb, and concluded that the reason we only received 98kb was because it had been reset very low.  Apparently after a line fault BT will set the incoming level very low ( in our case 135kb) and it should adjust itself but it hadn't.  However all this information was online on the BT site that the people we have been talking to on the phone are able to see, so why didn't they reset the incoming level (which took the engineer about 5 minutes) and saved the cost of the engineer visit?  Who can tell?

It was supposed to rain all day today, but actually has been pleasant most of the day.  We got a walk in this   morning and have spent the afternoon putting up a shed.  We are about a third of the way through it. The sparrows were very happy when we finally stopped and went in, because we were working by the bird table, and they were waiting for dinner.  5 minutes after we went in it was sparrow central out there, with lots of young being fed by parents.  Very entertaining.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Goat trails

I think the Pembrokeshire National Park needs to classify its paths with goat symbols.

No goats would mean something you can take a baby buggy along - flatish, no serious inclines etc

2 goats would mean that it was more hilly, with some bumpy and rocky bits

And so on up to the path we did today which was 5 goats.  It started at 1 goat, but by the end, as we got to Strumble Head we were clambering over rocky outcrops, it was definitely 5 goats.  It was enlivened by me asking how fell runners managed to run over this sort of terrain without breaking anything and Brian demonstrating.  He was, admittedly, wearing boots, but his demonstration of a fell runner running lightly (which involved tripping and nearly falling over) was very entertaining.

We found a great place for our picnic lunch which was a little hut built up to about waist height, on the cliff edge.

Why is it there?

Dry stone walling practice?

Wind shelter for the sheep?

It was a great wind shelter for us eating our lunch anyway.

The knee has been behaving and the back managed with a couple of rests today, over about 5-6 miles so I am pleased.  As it is forecast to be rain, rain and more rain over the weekend I can't see us getting much walking done.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

ooh the internet is working.....

I tried to blog the other day but the internet was so slow I gave up.

I am at Brian's and the exchange here should have a broadband speed of 1.5 mb which isn't fast but ok for text and things.  However it has been 97kbps, 99, 128 etc.  Brian is in fairly regular communication with BT who phone up - always Irish we have noticed - tell us they are looking at it, and nothing changes.

If we got speeds of 1.5mg then you can do most things that don't need lots  of pictures but it is a bit random. 

BT Infinity - the time it takes to use the broadband.

More to the point he is paying for broadband and half the time is getting something slower than dialup.

However the sun shone today and we went out for a walk.

We have worked out the gaps in our walking of the Pembrokshire Coast path between Newgale and Strumble Head, and are aiming to fill them in this summer.  We have ticked 2 stretches off so far, and today was about 5 miles according to my pedometer. 

I have a back problem and have been doing my exercises and using by back support corset thing, but the problem has been my right knee instead!  It has decided to complain and on the first walk got really sore - however it was ok today so maybe I just need to be firm with it.

I won't attempt to attach photos till I get to broader broadband (ie home).  Life is too short to try it here.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Forgotten my list

I have just realised that I have totally forgotten to add the books I have read to my list for the last couple of months.


I shall have to try to remember what I have read.

I have just booked tickets to go and see Sound of Music (on stage) which I missed the last time it came to Cardiff.  The other tickets are for Swan Lake done by a Chinese company which will   not - I feel - be traditional.  Unfortunately we are seeing them only 1 week apart but.....

I am off out with Louise again tonight before I go off to Pembs on holiday.  One day and then freedom for 2 weeks.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Empty Property Officers

There is a programme on tv at the moment about people finding and then doing up and moving in to empty homes.  There is also an actual job called empty property officer.  They find them, find the owners, and arrange for them to be done up/sold/whatever.

Where do people find these jobs?  That would be fun.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Lovely weekend

What a good weekend!

Friday evening was so warm that I got a barbq and we had a barby, out in the garden till late in the evening and it was fab.  

I got my hair cut and coloured on Saturday  morning which is a great relief as it had got to haystack (with grey) proportions.  I now will look more respectable in the holiday photos.

I got lots of boring things done - housework stuff, because the lovely weather vanished in the afternoon and I had to run out and save the washing and the saddle Nic had oiled and left on the fence.  B was writing a piece using the words of the last sermon which St David wrote, so he was attached to the piano for a lot of the weekend.

Today Louise came over. She is staying with her daughter who lives nearby and has just had a baby. I went in to meet baby Amelia Kate who is lovely with lots of hair, a very dainty pretty baby, then Louise came back to my house for lunch and a lovely long talk.


Friday, June 3, 2011

First barbq of summer

The weather has woken up to the fact that it is now June and it has been lovely today.  As B was coming up this weekend I got a one off barbq and we had a barbq supper.  It was a bit (!) smoky so we had - as B pointed out - smoked salmon, and burgers, and more wine than we should have.

It was lovely.

Tomorrow is due to be fine and then the weather plummets down again for the following week.

However Louise is visiting her daughter so I will be seeing her on Sunday and then on Monday with other friends for an evening catching up- it will be great!

Having one of your best friends moving to the north of Scotland is a pain, but it is lovely when you see her again!!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Funeral blues

Today was the funeral of a friend who died of cancer.

She was 48 and the youngest child is 8. 

What can you say?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bank holiday

The bank holiday has been a lovely break from work and I feel rested and relaxed. 

I could have done with less wind and more warmth - actually seeing the sun a bit more often would have been nice too, but it didn't rain a lot so it could have been worse.

Our systematic survey of cafes in St Davids was continued.  Saturday was extraordinarily quiet in St Davids, we were wondering where everyone was because even in winter it is busy.  Most odd.  It got much busier later in the weekend.  The Grove hotel was pleasant enough but the cake was a bit dry and the coffee a bit weak, so it only got a 7. 

We found an advert for a guided walk based on Waldo Williams.  He is a  Welsh poet who has had very little translated into English, so isn't well known outside Wales, but Brian really likes him, so we booked up and went off to Llandissilio on Monday.  It was charming.  Llandissilio is a small and unremarkable town and its only claim to fame is really that Waldo Williams was born and lived there, but the chap leading the walk loves his town, and was so enthusiastic that it rubbed off on all the rest of us.  The walk was good too, and my new boots were fine. 

Today the sun has come out, tomorrow I have to go to a funeral and then back to work. 

Life is just full of contrasts, which is probably a good thing, otherwise we might get bored.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

People on tv

People you know always look different on tv.

We have yet to see Boo and Jill on tv (soon I hope) so I don't know what that will be like, but one of the presenters on the local news programme has a house across the road from Brian, and it is odd when I watch John on the tv.  He is much smarter dressed - suit and tie instead of jeans etc - but he does look very different.

I have a video of Brian conducting on tv many moons ago and he looks very different from how he does in real life.

One of my colleagues in Barry library was on a local news slot about a big day they had in the library on Saturday, and a local writer who I also know was there as well and they both looked different too.

Why is that?  It isn't like watching people on home videos, there is a sort of glass wall between the viewer and them.  It is odd.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Superstitious - me?

I would claim that I am not superstitious.   I don't really believe that walking under ladders is a bad fate (unless someone drops something on you), have no problems with umbrellas indoors ......


I am a bit.

Yesterday my right hand was itching - sign of someone coming into money.

Today at lunchtime I got all 3 types of patience out - which is very unusual for me because I seldom get them out, but took that as a good sign so...

I bought a lottery ticket, and then decided to get a scratch card too.

I don't know if I have anything on the lottery ticket , but I have won £100 on the scratchcard.  Up till now the most I have ever won is £10 (and I only did that once).  Our lottery at work almost never breaks even - actually I don't think we have ever broken even.

I am extremely pleased about the money (who wouldn't be?) but is it superstition?  Did fate have it in store for  me??

Who can tell?

Monday, May 23, 2011

More bad news

To add to the blows of last week we have learnt that the granddaughter of one of our colleagues at work has been taken into hospital.  She is about 7 and has a tumor on her liver.  We don't know any more than that.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dull weeks have their bright side

The trouble with trying to write a blog is when nothing of interest has happened.

The last week I have been to work, I have come home, I have watched tv, and done nothing much - hence not much activity on the blog this week.

Then on Friday morning I heard that a friend has lost the battle with cancer.  There a group of us who have been in a book club for many years now, we have been away for a few weekends, and the bookclub morphed into a dinner club a few years ago - though we still do the books.  I don't see the others between meetings much, so they are friends but not close friends, but losing someone you have known for a long time is dreadful even if not someone very close. 

Judy has 5 children, the older two have finished university but the youngest is only about 8, so they younger ones are losing their mother at a terribly young age, and Judy herself was only in her forties.  There is no rhyme or reason in these things.  It is unfair, it is cruel to the family and her close friends.  I have another friend who I have been in choirs with for over 20 years - again not close friends, we chat in choir and have known each other a long time, but I look on her as a friend - and she is not responding to the chemo she has been given, and the prognosis isn't good.

It makes you count the blessings of even a dull week of going to work and chatting to colleagues, having a laugh, then coming home to talk to the kids, have dinner, watch tv etc etc.  But these are things I can do this week and next week.  These are things Judy can't do any more.  These are things Judy's family can't do with her anymore.

It is so very, very sad.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Concerts and dinners

Last week was very busy.  I had lots of meetings for work, and lots of extra work as one of my colleagues is on holiday.

Wednesday was the judging day for the Dagger in the library.  I got the train to London and then the bus to get to where we were meeting for lunch.  Oxford St has roadworks so the bus got diverted.  It was so slow that I decided to get out and walk because it would be quicker!

We met in a restaurant with a wonderful basement and had a wonderful  lunch.  It was great talking about books and getting quite heated about who should get into the short list - actually getting very heated about who should be on the short list.  It was easier to decide who actually would be the winner but that is secret until July.  We finished in plenty of time for my train, so I walked back to the station which was lovely. 

Friday we were singing in a concert  in Monmouth which went very well.  There was a pretty good audience and (apart from one piece where we went very out of tune) the rest was good.

 We seemed to spend most of the weekend either deciding on paint colours for Brian's house or trying to find a name for the piece he is writing at the moment.  We decided on he first, but the second is still up in the air.  It is so difficult to find really good names for things.

Then yesterday I very uncleverly had arranged to have a staff lunch out with work colleagues (it was a delayed Xmas dinner which had been delayed by the snow) and have friends round to dinner.  I was so so so full!

Tonight I am doing nothing and very welcome it is too!

Thursday, May 12, 2011


I am tired!

London yesterday was a long day - enjoyable but 6 hours on a train is just tiring.

At work it has been busy too, for some reason I had 2 meetings out of the office this week which takes time out of the usual work flow in the office.  However on top of that Pam is on holiday so I have to pick up a large chunk of her work while she is away.  That means that I am in the work for half of the week, but have work for one and half people which is  making Helen a busy girl!

Tomorrow we are singing in a concert in Monmouth.  We are doing part of a Bach motet - Jesu meine freude - which (to be completely frank) we don't know as well as we should, so it is a little bit nerve wracking.  There are  only me and Patsy on the top soprano line so that is a bit nerve wracking too.  Luckily neither of us have colds.    I am picking Patsy up and we will sing all the way to  Monmouth to warm ourselves up. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dagger judging

I went to London to join the other judges for the Dagger in the Library judging.  There are 6 judges and we have an observer from the Crime Writers Association, who run the Daggers, who sees fair play.

We had 16 people on the long list, and they were a very varied  list, quite a few of whom I hadn't read before.    Actually quite a few that all of us haven't read so we have all been reading masses recently to try to get a good feel for all of the writers. 

We has some who we agreed to take off the list fairly quickly, but then got into deep debate about some of the others which took us through 3 courses and a 3 hours very happily.  Eventually we got down to the short list of 6 (which will be published soon).

It is so agreeable to sit and talk with people who have knowledge and passion about books, and a  good lunch is an added bonus

Plus - all my trains were on time!

Though I gave up on the bus I took to Picadilly and got out and walked  because it was quicker.  And as I had lots of time to get back to Paddington I walked there too.  Some of the houses and streets in that part of London are so lovely! A gazillion pounds each of course, but still.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Incommunicado weekend

Down in Pembs this weekend.  Friday night B noticed that the little blue light on the BT internet hub was off, but we were going to be so we left it.  In the morning B reset it but nothing happened, and then we tried the phone. Dead.  No sound at all.

In order to use the mobile at Brian's house you have to
a) go outside - the walls are stone and there is no signal indoors
b) depending on the weather  you have to go up to the high spot  in the garden up the stairs and above the rockery or
c) stand on the bench which is on the common next to the house.
This is with Orange which has the best signal in Llandeloy - the others get no signal at all.

So we stood on the top of the garden (option b) and phoned BT.  After a few minutes of pressing 1  or 2 repeatedly I got into a queue - hadn't spoken to a person of course.  They said they would phone back in an hour so we didn't have to wait, so we left the mobile number and went into Haverfordwest to do some shopping.

3 hours later -  no call - we called BT again after lunch and B got through to a person (!) and we go told it would be 3 working days - ie 5 days from Saturday afternoon.  B asked for a refund on the line rental and the internet but the person in India didn't seem to understand that.  He is going to write to complain.  I did eventually get a text message to tell us the same thing an hour or so later. 

What rubbish service.

To add insult to injury we discovered that if B wanted to change his phone and broadband service to Orange instead of BT it would cost £29 per month.  If I wanted to do it I would pay £19 per month.  This is because BT own all the lines in Pembs and charge the line rental on top.  Despite the fact that the internet service has a maximum capacity of 1.5 meg and in the evenings sometimes get so slow it is   useless.  So B would then pay £10 more per month for a rubbish service.  There is something wrong with this.

We were thus  internet free for the weekend which was odd, and actually a bit inconvenient as there was something we wanted to do.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


We had 3 votes today.

There were referendum votes on Alternative Voting which is a big thing but I think a lot of people have probably found it dull and I wonder what the turnout will be.   I have voted in favour of AV because the first past the post system is clearly unfair.  The AV is a compromise but a step towards a fairer system.

Then we had the Welsh Assembly votes.  One vote is for a person, the other vote is for a party.  There was a lot of choice for the persons, but only 4 parties listed.

I am so fed up with politicians I found it difficult to decide, but came to a reasonable conclusion, and I feel very strongly that everyone should vote. 

I'm curious what the results will be.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sun is going

It has been colder the last couple of days. 

It is probably getting to about the usual temperature for this time of year, but it has been so warm we have got used to feeling like being warm is normal.  Sigh

I shall have to get the socks back out.

And the cagoul because the weathermen say rain is  coming.  Think positive thoughts about how the farmers need the rain.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Highgate Cemetry

We had a family get together in London and went round Highgate cemetry last Saturday.It is in two halves and the West half, which has the more impressive architecture, is only viewable via a guided tour.  However although they don't accept bookings on the weekends and we were under the 10 people who need to book in advance, the grumpy lady who did the guided tours wouldn't let us in -because we should have booked.   ???  Despite that the East half is probably better to wander round.  It is full of all sorts of different memorials including a very subtle one of Karl Marx which brings the Pharoahs to mind.  Here are some of them

Here is the pic of Brian not quite falling into the stream

Walk round Strumble Head

 Here is a chough - a rare crow family bird with red beak and feet

Brian nearly falling off the stepping stones

We had a lovely walk - though longer than expected.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Holy Friday

We are in Pembrokeshire for Easter.  This is probably the first time because usually the kids are all home over Easter so we are in Llantwit, however as Kate has been home the previous 2 weeks, and both Adam and Nic are working over the weekend I have come to Pembs.

St Davids is a very small town/large village which is a city because it has a cathedral.  However the cathedral plays a huge part in the activity of the city and means that unlike lots of small towns in Pembrokeshire it is open all year, not just in the summer when the tourists are here. 

We looked up the website to see what was happening over the Easter weekend and found out that they were doing a sort of processional stations of the cross today, as well as singing Tallis Lamentations at evensong.  We went into town and pottered around, looked in the art gallery and then joined the stations of the cross.

It was very well done.  They had done a script with a reporter who saw the story of the crucifixion as her path to a good spread, but wanted the truth and went on to interview people about what had happened.  They had a press conference with a chap with a bowler hat, talked to women who had seen the crucifixion, the Roman centurion, some children who had seen the crucifixion and so on.  We all walked through town in a long crocodile,  and holding up the traffic.  There were about 50 plus people aged from under one to elderly, with dogs, so it covered a fair cross section of people.

This evening we went to evensong where the choir sang the first section of the Tallis Lamentations which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Brian found it lacking in expression, but in the context of the service I thought it worked well.

We also gardened(Brian) and sat and read Dagger books (me).  We didn't do the long walk we had discussed while in bed in the morning but - well tomorrow maybe!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Some photos

 This is a kestrel which arrived on the garden fence, quite calmly sitting there for some time on Saturday.
 This is the part burnt pampas grass - one side done before I chickened out and put the fire out
 Here are 2 of the 5 bags of rubbish I got from the pampas grass
This is the replacement for the pond, with a new flower bed and lots of new flowers.

One more day at work and then off for 11 days!  Whoop!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Busy afternoon

The tv engineer came this afternoon because one of our new tvs isn't working properly.  We have been sent a new remote control but it isn't that, so the man came this afternoon and has taken it away.  As is always the way, the darn thing worked perfectly while he was here, which is why he took it away.

It meant that I had to take the afternoon off work, which I used to attack the front garden.  We have a pampas grass which is getting out of control, so I went for it.  It has lots and lots of dead leaves which made huge piles as I pulled them off.  One of the neighbours said that what you are meant to do is set fire to them to get rid of the dead leaves, so I did set it on fire - with the hose to hand.  However it really started to burn a bit much, and we have had so little rain, that I chickened out and put the fire out.  It looks a bit of a mess now, and I have 5 bags full of leaves etc to go up to the tip.  And a stiff back.

I also went to get a picture taken for my photo driving licence.  I had pictures done on Saturday but I looked like a serial killer they were so awful, so this afternoon after I had finished in the garden, I showered and put the make up on and practiced not smiling while still looking like a human being (and not a serial killer).  Which worked. 

The weather is so lovely at the moment, it is just fantastic.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A garden is a lovesome thing....

We have had such a busy weekend.

Saturday Brian went to Cardiff to get a score bound while I did housework (boring).  In the afternoon we went to the garden centre and - as usual - spent way more money than planned on plants.  Then we went to buy a straight pipe connector to replace the one which is leaking very slightly from the washing machine pipe.

In the afternoon we republished Brian's website.  He has been working on this for a while, and we put it onto the server amidst great trepidation.  Would it work properly?  We were overwriting the home page of the existing website so.........

It works.  Great sighs of relief all round.  There are things wrong with it.  Some of the alignments are wrong, one of the colours needs to be changed, and the pick list was about a page long of things to alter and fix.  However it does work, and it has a brilliant thing which allows you to open a pdf of the score and see the programme notes and sample pages of the score. 

Today we did gardening.  I had replaced the non functioning water feature with a flower bed, we have used the compost from the compost bin to fill the hole and planted the plants in it.  We are feeling very organic now.  We chopped down ivy and a dead ceanothus which didn't survive the frost ( I didn't like it much anyway).  It looks fabulous out there now.

Then we lay in the sun. 

I felt guilty after a bit and went and got a Dagger book to read, which I am enjoying.

We are now showered and changed and going out to dinner with friends in half an hour.

What a great weekend!!!!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Social weekend

I have a surprisingly social weekend.

Last night was bookclub which was the usual good chat over a meal with friends.

Tonight we are going round to some friends for a drink and a chat.

Tomorrow  night is a surprise birthday for our neighbour, and we have been invited, so we shall head off to join the party.

Then Sunday we are going round to see another couple of friends.

This is my  whole month's social networking in one weekend.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dagger long list

We have now got a longlist for the Dagger in the library.

I have read something by everyone on the list, but some of them a year or two ago, so need to revisit those authors urgently.  I have read all the crime novels by Susan Hill, C J Sansom and William Broderick, but some of the others are new to me and I have only read one book by them.

We have the shortlisting meeting in mid May when we meet and have a looong lunch discussing the books and authors.  It is good because we have a range of preferences within the different judges, so it makes for a fairly balanced result.

Sansom writes Tudor historical novels, Susan Hill has a policeman as her main character, William Broderick has a modern monk as his main character, Goodwin has a 19th century Turkish eunuch as his.  There are police procedure ones from Harvey and James, and a variety of others as well.  It makes it all very interesting,

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Washing machine and car fixed

Brian and I spent a lovely Saturday.  While the kids went off for the day to Chepstow races - with the Grand National on the big screen - for their dad's 60th birthday, we spent the day dealing with plumbing.


Actually it has worked out  much better than it  might have.  We were able to put in a new run of outlet pipe which goes halfway round the house to get to the drain by the kitchen which will then take the water into the drain properly.  This means we don't have to dig up the garden to dig a new drain - which is good.   The hardest part was getting a hole in the garage wall to take the pipe outside and round to the drain.  We tried (this is the royal we ie I stood around making supportive noises, holding and handing things while B does all the work) two different fancy drills but they wouldn't go through the concrete blocks.  So B borrowed a heavier drill than mine with long and fat masonry bits to drill lots of small holes which he then chiselled into a big hole.

We had gone to the plumbing supplier who delivered all the pipes etc for us, and once we had the hole we then attached all the pipes together, making sure there was enough fall for the water to actually go out of the garage and into the drain.  We  finished at 6pm and were shattered.  I put a load of washing on, and it started spinning while we were in the  middle of dinner so we both leapt up and dashed out into the garage to see if there were any leaks.  Thankfully there were no leaks, and I  now have a functioning washing machine again. 

My car went into the garage yesterday and I picked it up today - it is so quiet!!

Saturday we did break to watch the Grand National - one of the horses from the yard where Nicky works was running.  State of Play came 4th last year, and was saved for the National this year, so he hasn't run for a whole year.  However we all had a little flutter and he came 4th again, coming in from way behind which was very exciting.  He paid for about a third of my pipework.