About Me

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

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hurray for Honda

Honda have agreed to fix my car.

I have to pay nothing.

They give me a courtesy car.

I am feeling lots of love for Honda at the moment.  I am feeling even more love for Honest John's - the website where I found out about the extended warranty.

Wendy, the conductor of our choir, got bitten by a cat with one tooth, and developed a problem with her hand.  When she went to the doctor they sent her straight off to the hospital in Swansea where they specialise in hand surgery because she was losing feeling in her finger.  They were worried about tendon damage and operated last week.  I offered Brian's services to take the rehearsal on Sunday so she can rest her hand, which she has decided is a good idea. 

There is a part of me that is pleased about that because I miss singing with Brian conducting.  It will be very nice to have him conducting on the weekend.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Random thoughts

More and more reports coming in seem to penalise the lower paid in the job evaluation results.  Why?

I have spent all afternoon doing a course on a statistics module and my brain is now exhausted.

There are hot cross buns in all the shops and I find it very hard to say no to them, which is not good for the figure.

There are lots of new writers nominated for the Dagger in the Library and I need to read at least some of a book by all of them.

It has been raining all day, but the sun has now come out.

There is a man in Dorset who is a swan herd.  I wonder if he puts that on his passport?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Family history

I have been watching a programme where someone has been tracking his family history - Matthew Broderick in the US version of Who Do You Think You Are.  He has been tracking his great grandfather through the Civil War and did eventually find the grave.  To get there though he went through the usual census records,  military records and got to a mass grave.

There he met a chap who has spent years doing research on Civil War burials, who cross checked all the known burial with the lists of all the people who were also known to  have died, and ended up with a grave marker which almost certainly  marks the grave of Matthew Broderick's great grandfather.

There are a few interesting things in story.

There is the fascination of knowing one's roots, finding where you came from, which the series explores - very successfully as it has been going for years now.  It's something you don't think about as much when you are young, but as you get older, have children yourself, you can see that you are not only unique, but also part of a pattern.  A thread in a tapestry.  Matthew Broderick was clearly very moved by finding that grave, and I can see him bringing his children back to visit.

The other thing is the amount of time and effort the historian put  into the research.  He must spend his life at it.  In one way that sort of dedication is awesome, but it is also a bit obsessive.  But without people like  him there would be no information on some of these things.  There is a local studies group in the Vale of Glamorgan which has gone round photographing and deciphering all the inscriptions on graves in all the graveyards in the county.  We have bought them as little leaflets as well as on   micofiche because you can look at a lot of memorial inscriptions while sitting comfortably in a library instead of crawling round the gravestones.

It is a fine instance where the single mindedness of a person or group works for the benefit of others. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Lots of Dagger books

I have lots of Dagger in the library books to read.  If you look at the books read list, you will see them.  A whole pile of new authors got added to the list, so the race is on to at least try to read one of each of the authors on the list. 

We are shortlisting in 2 weeks, so we need to get at least a passing acquaintance with all the authors.  Then we will have time before the final judging in May to read more of the long list, which will be good.  Previously we used to do the short listing and final judgement  on the same day, because we need to have a representative from the Crime Writers Association.  The trouble with that was that you didn't have time to go away and think long and hard about the long list and read more of those authors.  We are doing the long listing by email this year - with a CWA representative taking part. 

We already have a few starting to edge out in front, but not all favour the same writers, which is good, because it makes the decision fairer if we have different tastes.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


To cheer me up yesterday we went to Westonbirt Arboretum yesterday.  We have been driving past the sign on the M4 for years, and we kept saying we should go, so yesterday we went.

It is the Forestry Commission's tree collection, and there are lots to look at.  We were probably a few weeks early because even the spring trees were  not as in in bloom as they will be.  Even so there were lots of beautiful trees.  It is a lovely place, having been set up as an arboretum by a  rich family in the nineteenth century and was taken over by the Forestry Commission. 

They recommended 2 spring walks so we followed those, each took about an hour, but you could take as long or short a walk as you liked.  Dogs are allowed in some areas but not others, so you can avoid dogs if you   want to.  It was busy with lots of people there but not crowded, and we had a lovely, lovely day.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Good news then less good

My salary has stayed the same, and I am at the bottom of an increment scale so I have somewhere to go and will get more money every year for the next few years.  I was quite relieved when I opened the envelope and found out.

However as news trickled in over the course of the day I felt less happy.  I am the only professional librarian who has stayed on the same salary.  All the others have gone up one, two or even three scales - ie jumps of £2, 4, 6 thousand a year.  While I am still relieved at not having gone down, I am feeling upset about the results.

I feel belittled.    I feel that what I do has not been seen as having value, and that my role is much less significant than that of the other professional staff.  I am trying not to take this personally because the job evaluation people have not talked to me, just looked at the job, but it is easier said than done.  It is especially galling that someone who was on the same salary as me before has gone up two scales (ie £4k) and he is really not very good at his job.  I feel that I work beyond my job description while he works below his, and I do find it hard not to take it personally.

It could be much worse.  The scale 1 staff - who we all expected to do well out of this, everyone thought they would go up - have gone down, so they have gone from being badly paid for what they do to being really badly paid.  That is disgraceful.  I am sure we will appeal that, and I hope we will succeed.  It is going to make life in the branches difficult for a while.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Job evaluation

All public sector organisations have had a legal obligation to rationalise their salaries and conditions of employment. This was to even out unfairness which has built up over the decades and makes perfect sense overall.  It was supposed to come into effect in 2007 but it took much longer and the Vale of Glamorgan, where I work, is just now getting to the point of rolling it out.

It has been a mammoth task.  Every post has been looked at, a very long questionnaire filled in which looked at every post with regard to a variety of criteria.  Lots of posts are what are termed generic eg all care workers on the same grade have the same criteria and will end up the same, while others are analysed individually.     It has had to be cost neutral so the pot for salaries has not increased. 

This  morning I went to a meeting describing the details of what the results will be, and how the process will work.  We will all get letters on Friday to tell us if we go up, go down or stay the same.  So everyone is in a state of anxiety.  They say that 80% of staff will be neutral, neither up nor down, so 20% could be up or could be down.  Pay is supported for one year after the new system comes in but after that if your salary has gone down, you will go down to what that drop in salary is.

Needless to say everyone is quite worried about it.  I think we are all hoping to stay the same, but we are all worried about going down.   As we are on a final salary pension scheme this could affect my pension if I go down, so in that case I would have to think about job hunting.  Not a good thought in the public sector in a depression.

I am hoping to stay where I am.  If I do it will actually be a benefit because I will get more increments as the scale is wider than my current salary scale, so I will get increments again.

Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I love the internet

My car is making funny noises.

I took it to the garage and they said that it was the gearbox.


It is only 6 years old.  It has only done 58,000 miles.  The gearbox is not something that should go in a modern car.

That - I realised after the shock had passed - was going to be very expensive.  My car is only worth about £2500, so spending £1000  on a new gearbox made no sense.  So I thought that if it was going to be that expensive I would need to think about changing the car instead.  That wasn't something I wanted to do either. 

Then I looked up gearbox problems with Honda Jazz and found a site which said that it was a recognised fault and that if you met certain criteria then Honda would replace the gearbox under an extended warranty.   I am taking the car to be looked at on Friday and I have my fingers firmly crossed that they say they will fix it.  I love the internet for finding me this.

Honda don't advertise this though.  Some of the entries on the internet had people who had to fight to get their car fixed so .... watch this space.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Last week we had a short holiday in Cordoba.  We wanted to see the Mezquita and wanted some warm sun in March so Cordoba was the place.  We did ponder about whether or not to try to see Seville as well, but decided to have a more leisurely holiday than a frantic one and I am very glad we did.

We caught the train from Llantwit to get the plane from Cardiff airport which was so easy!  The travelling went fine, though finding the actual hotel when we got to Cordoba was a bit of a challenge as it is narrow lanes, one way streets and not car friendly at all.  The flat we had rented was fine and brilliantly positioned, though it had the worst equipped kitchen ever and it took them 2 days to find us a corkscrew.  We saw the Mezquita which cannot be done justice with photos because it is so huge, and so varied.  The history of the city is fascinating because I don't know much about the history of the Arabic empires.  It was lovely to see a very different architecure from that in northern Europe.  We also saw the Alcazar, went out to see Madinat al Zahra (a ruined city just outside Cordoba), the Jewish area and a beautiful little synagogue.  Here are a few pics

Friday, March 11, 2011


See the effects of the earthquake in Japan, and the fighting in Libya does put things into perspective.  The kitchen floor isn't really very significant. 

Having said that,  I find the prospect of Cameron saying we have to go and help Libyans when he is in the process of making life hellish for so many Brits.  He can't afford to give support to live to the disabled in the UK but he can help India (not a struggling economy). 

There is another legal challenge being made against  library cuts.  There are now 4 that I know of, so there are probably lots more, which is encouraging.

I found it amusing that they decided not to mothball 2 spyplanes just yet.  They were due out of service at the end of March but have been kept going till June because we want to see what is happening in Libya.  If they are the only planes that we have that can do so, shouldn't they be kept after June too?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Eileen Younghusband

Eileen Younghusband is a local author who is getting her second book published in May.  Her first book was published a year ago, and her second one is with a different publisher who are doing much more to promote it.  She will be 90 in July.

She is an astonishing person.  During the war she was in charge of a filter room - which is where they plotted the planes flying to attack, and as little has been written about it, she wrote her biography - her first book.   There was so much interest in the war parts that she has written much more about it in the second book.  She had done it on computer, she has a website, uses email and is more with it than many people 40 years younger than she is.  She is on the radio, will be on local tv next month.

She is also great to talk to.  She brought me round a proof copy of the book today and we had a lovely chat for nearly an hour.  Apart from needing a stick to help her walk she is fit as a fiddle, and looks 20 years younger than her age.  She is inspirational.

We had another local, Cathy Farr, delivering  some books last week.  Younger this time, she is probably  in mid thirties to forties, and has written a teen novel based in a fantasy world, with one of the characters being her Irish wolfhound.  She too is doing well, Waterstones in Cardiff are having a promotion for her in April. 

Both of them have been asked by Barry library to take part in Adult Learners week in May, along with some well known people. 

It is encouraging that people are achieving like this, and achieving at different periods of their lives.  Great stuff.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Nearly holiday time

I will be in Spain this time next week.

I am hoping it will be warm, though the forcast for Cordoba is rainy for tomorrow, so I  hope that gets it out of its system. 

It is only a 5 day break but I am getting very excited about it. 
I was packing at the weekend and resisting the urge to put jumpers in.  Last year we went to Barcelona and I didn't take sandals or light clothes and I was way too hot.  So I have packed sandals and light clothes. 

I have lost my EHIC card somehow, though where it is is anyone's guess, so I have phoned  up to order a new one, and they helpfully also gave me an emergency phone number to use if it hadn't come through before I left.  Hopefully I won't need it!

I was very organised last week and plotted out things to do in my diary at work for this week. 

Have I done any of them?

No.  Instead I discovered that I had a huge chunk of money to spend which noone had told me about, and of course it has to be invoiced by the end of March.  Spending other people's money is hard work.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Busy, busy

I had a meeting in Port Talbot on Friday, and got out of it about 2.30.  I decided not to go back to the office but to take the time as flex and finish early, so phoned the office to say so.  A text message came up on my phone from one of the members of Bookclub.  It was Chris apologising for not being able to come that night as she was unwell.

That night?????

I was  hosting it and I thought it was next Friday, not that Friday. I phoned Margy to check, then headed to Sainsbury's to get some food in!

It was a bit flung together, but it was fine and we had a good evening.  Just as well Chris sent the message because it would have been beans on toast otherwise.

Yesterday I attacked the garden and got the pruning done, though a few things were already in bud so fingers crossed they recover.  Some things I have left to see if they come back to life after the cold winter.  It was a pleasant day in the garden.

There was an interlibraries quiz for world book day in Caerphilly which I went to and which was fun except for the fact the heating was off in the hall and it was more than a bit chilly.  I warmed up nicely in Debbie's car coming home, then discovered I had been locked out and had to wait in the garage for Adam to get back from Bridgend where he was dropping Nic off.  I was   NOT amused.

I have The Mikado on tv at the moment. It was the first G&S operetta I ever sang when I went to college and I have worked out that it was 39 years ago.  Good lord.  I can still sing most of it though, probably better than some of the things I have learnt more recently.  certainly better than the Bach I am supposed to singing.  It is version which was done by ENO some years ago with Eric Idle playing Koko and which we actually went to see in London, and has survived the transition to tv from stage well, though the did just film the stage production.

I still love G&S.  It gives me a sort of rosy feeling of amusement and enjoyment, as well as lots and lots of memories associated with the ones I have sung in.  They are just such fun.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

New phone

I have a new mobile phone. 

It looks very much like the old one, but is a bit fancier.

I am pleased with it.

It was not expensive, so I am pleased about that too.

I have downloaded a bit of real music off the radio and altered the ringtone, so I am pleased about that as well.

We did get leftover cakes, so I had 2 and was pleased about that as well. 

All in all a fairly pleasing day

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ebooks and mobile phone

My mobile phone went kaput this morning. I set it on to charge, which it declined to do. 

This is sad because the phone did everything I wanted it to, and I was perfectly happy with it.

However as it only cost me £14 a good few years ago, I don't think it really owes me anything, and as I don't know what is wrong with him, it will be cheaper to buy a new one than try to fix the old one.  Orange have a phone fund which puts £1 in every time you top up by £10 (though it has a life span of 1 year so  it doesn't keep building forever) so I have £20 sitting there which I will use. 

For the moment I am using the emergency phone, which is donkeys years old and has few functions - old an clunky - but it works.

Harper Collins have been a hot topic on the lis-lib emails today.  They have decided that they will only let libraries have 26 issues from an ebook, and then the ebook will self destruct.  The providers for libraries have a digital rights management package which dictates the length of time the item is on loan from a library, and Harper Collins have now decided that they will only let libraries have 26 issues from any book they 'buy'.  The consensus seems to be that libraries will now merely be renting the books, rather than buying them.  I would consider any book that issued less than 26 times in its shelf life to be very underworked.  Some of our books issue more than 150 times.  Overdrive - the company which provides the service to loads of libraries - have said they will put Harper Collins books onto a sub site which will enable librarians to avoid buying them.  Some people are saying that they won't buy the physical  copies either.

We have the tender assessment for the ebooks pilot on Friday, which was going to be interesting before all this blew up, but will be even more interesting now.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Oops - too much cake

Today is St David's day so one of my colleagues brought in welsh cakes.

Another colleague brought in cup cakes because she has been making cakes for an event which is happening at St Athan library tomorrow, and these were the rejects.  As Christine makes wonderful cakes, her rejects were a lot better than lots of peoples best ones.

 So I ate cake. 

Happy St David's day.

I do like the BBC year of the book.

I am watching My Life in Books  most nights, and am fascinated by the selections which people make for the 5 books they get to chose on the programme.  It is also great having a prime time tv programme, admittedly on BBC2, which is people being passionate about books.  I love it.

One of my colleages is doing the World Book Day give away on Saturday.  She chose 'The Spy who came in from the Cold'.  Very amusingly she has a meeting with her naturist society on Saturday, so is going to give them away to people who must frequently feel the need to come in from the cold. 

We have a South East libraries quiz on Saturday.  We came a respectable second last year, which is the best thing because you do well, but don't have to host the next quiz.  We need to try to come second again on Saturday.