Zone Doubt, a.k.a. 'Surreal Я Us'...
Joules, trusted by... dozens... to make a drama out of your crisis...
:: JAT :: WaveWrights :: Publications :: Joules... on writing [on hiatus] ::
I live to write. It's not wise to get in my way.
August 2011: the earlier posts in this blog are a mess, the result of me changing the format some time ago. I'm working to edit the entire blog from the beginning, but with over 4K posts and sodall time for such luxuries it's going to take a while... [02/09/16 - Now reached 09/10/2004]
If you come across any words you don't recognise in this blog, take a look at the Taylorspeke Glossary in the left-hand infopane, you'll usually find a definition there.
First, a recommendation. Dive over to The Jonathan Day Fiction Site and try some of the stories. I love this author's writing - it's funny, bitingly witty, dryly incisive, chilling, and deliciously subversive by turns. Absolutely well worth a look!
Friday, August 17, 2018
Here she is, newly MOTed, insured as of one minute past midnight today, and taxed a couple of hours before she arrived.
Wave hello to Derpy
... don't ask...
Taking her out after the weekend!
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
We haz a car!
Well, we will have on Friday when I've sorted out the insurance and tax, paid the balance and driven it home. Same make as the one I drove for my refresher lessons and it's wonderful.
Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Can I actually remember what's happened this last week?
We've watched Blade Runner 2049... Well, it's good, but soooo sloooooow... I kept falling asleep but Ken assures me I didn't miss anything important.
Went swimming with Kim last week - still managing 36 lengths, though it doesn't give us much time to talk!
Tyjer is much better now, back eating and his stomach is back to normal, which is a relief.
My hibiscus plants have survived being sprayed with paint and replanted during the hottest summer in years: -
And I take a Renault Clio for a test drive tomorrow morning. Wish me luck!
Monday, August 06, 2018
[Peeps over the battlements, sees no-one around, scuttles to update while it's quiet...]
So what's been happening? Well, K&K have carried on moving earth from front to back:
Back (what was the 'rockery')
It's been generally busy, as usual. Kai and Dawn went out for a day to the Kennet and Avon Canal (that was the Bath-wards trip mentioned in the last post) and then last Thurs they went to Chepstow. Lots of walking both days. Ken and Dawn went to a postcard fair yesterday, which I gather was quite successful.
Wed before last I met Kim at the pool: she can get there every other week, so we're seeing if we can make it a regular thing. I found I was having trouble keeping track of the lengths I was swimming (I have to count back crawl strokes (31) so I don't crash into the pool edge, and it throws me off) so have treated myself to a clicky thing that does it for me. Used it last Tues and it's great. Only managed 32 lengths though - not my fault, bus was late then got stuck behind a garbage lorry so I was 10 mins late into the pool.
Kai had venesection Sun 29th: his ferritin is now down to 1,325, which is fine - it's slowly going down, and his energy is slowly going up accordingly.
I've found hedgehog signs in the garden, so we've started putting out a small bowl of water (although I've filled the pools from the main waterbutt after the rains, it would be difficult for a hedgehog to climb out if it fell in any of them) and food tucked among the stones waiting to be used. It's really good news, as they're becoming scarce down here.
And our fox is still haunting the garden, so we're putting a bowl of food out every now and then, just to help. Oh, and we now have a flock of magpies as regular visitors, so I've started putting out the ground feeder with meal worms, sultanas and suet nuggets around lunch time every day (it stops them trying to eat from the hanging bird feeders). Nature reserve, we haz it.
On a slightly more worrying note, Tyjer's not himself at the moment. He's not ill, as far as I can tell, just off his food and his stomach's been upset the last couple of days. Going to see how we do the next few days and if necessary I'll get him up to Pets@Home (they have in-store vets). It may just be age (he's 14 now, and beginning to look old) and the heat: fingers crossed, anyway.
STILL haven't finished painting in the hall. Hoping to get that done this week.
Ken found a copy of the Finnish version of Vampires: used international BACS to buy it (it seems Finland doesn't have Paypal) and they've just confirmed the book is in the post!
Watching: picked up Pacific Rim: Uprising and had a Sat evening matinee. Thoroughly enjoyed it - great fun, fine acting, wonderful sfx! Fingers crossed for a third one. Kai fancied re-watching Lexx, and since I like the idea too we're now onto season 3 (Fire and Water), one of the eeriest and most effective s-f productions ever, as far as I'm concerned. My favourite, anyway. Last night we saw the first ep of StarHunter... Oh dear. Well, I'll watch a few more and see if it picks up, but K&K aren't keen. Maybe we should have gone with the ReduX version...
We've now settled in to having the main grocery shop delivered from Waitrose: their organic produce is mostly grown on the Duchy of Cornwall estate (I think - pretty local anyway) and delivery is free any day of the week if the order is over £60. The quality is great!
Though BND has apparently taken to moving his car off his drive and parking on the road whenever I latch our gate open for the grocery delivery vans - I assume to make it more difficult for them to park. Half the time they have to stop across his drive in order to make the delivery, so it seems pointless. Unless that's what he wants - another (self-inflicted) reason to whinge. Typical of his pettiness. Tempted to perhaps latch the gate randomly, regardless of whether we have a delivery scheduled or not, to see what happens...
Right. Off to feed the maggles, then make lunch, then I have to trawl through old photographs for an hour or so. Later!
Saturday, July 21, 2018
K&K and Dawn went to Goblin Combe today: Ken's just rung and they're on their way back (invited Dawn to join us for dinner - diced pork in creamy apple and cider sauce on white and wild Basmati rice with beans from the garden, a bit thrown together but should taste nice...) I've had a relaxed day taking a bit of a stab at next!Poppy: haven't got all that far, but I do know where it's going now and will see about getting more done over the next few days. Not much planned this week - well, there'll be nibbling away at painting and gardening, of course - so fingers crossed...
Kai came shopping with me yesterday, and a strange and almost magical thing happened...
50-odd years ago I used to regularly pop into The Blue Boy glass and ceramics shop in Princesshay, Exeter (I believe it was named after the Blue Boy statue. Ken remembers the shop - I expect Wendy will as well. No idea if it's still there but I rather suspect it isn't). The goods in there were hugely expensive, even for the time, and especially to a child. There was beautiful glass paperweight there that I used to metaphorically drool over. It's difficult to describe how I felt about it at the time: now I remember it as looking like a planet above and disappearing into a black hole, but back then I just used to gaze at it and imagine I was falling through it into a different universe. Yes, I was a pretentious little brat, how can you tell? I remember it costing £30 (which was a LOT back then), but me and numbers didn't really get on very well until the last five years, so that's probably wrong. I remember it was FAR too much for me, at any rate.
... I think it may still have been there when I got to college...
Anyway - we popped into St Pete's Hospice shop in Sandy Park Rd on the way from the Library (to pick up more garden waste collection bags) to Sains... and a damn near identical paperweight was there - white and silvery instead of blue and silvery, but otherwise the same.
I bought it.
It still has the same effect even now. Maybe more so. It's beautiful - more so than it looks here, I'll try to get a decent photo at some point.
Synchronicity striking again?
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Quick update before I start the book covers I've been sent to upload to the F&H site, with Madame Butterfly on in the background...
Yesterday Claire (daughter of next door - the girl whose first words to us 27-odd years ago were, "Do you think it's OK for my dad to hit me?") arrived with a colleague (she's in the police now, gawd 'elp us...) to clean the greenhouse. Nothing like keeping it in the family, I suppose. But credit where it's due, although she insisted it wasn't deliberate (believe me, it was), they have done a fantastic job: all the paint has gone from the glass and the metal frame (not the bricks of the base, but they are less important). Took just over an hour. I stayed inside as he was out there, whinging and bitching as usual. I just tune him out these days. He has nothing to say of any interest to anyone with half a brain.
Discovered my Vampires was released in a Finnish version! It's proving difficult to get a copy though - it's now out of print as it's so old, and the seller won't ship secondhand books out of Finland. Currently trying to find some we know who knows someone in Finland to see if we can arrange something. In the meantime will add it to the WW site. That makes books in seven languages for us!
The Hurrans trip on Sunday was successful: hedgehog food bought and crickets ordered from Pets@Home, P plates bought from Halfords, and they were selling orchids for just £6 at the garden centre, so of course I couldn't resist...
Pretty little alien faces...
I'm due £27.05 in reward points on my membership card with them (haven't had them for a while as the letter with the first lot was returned as 'gone away' - i.e. it was put in the wrong letterbox and sent back to the company, but fortunately they don't close the a/c in that instance. Apparently it happens a lot.) so may go buy another one (or two!) once that arrives.
We're getting the first Waitrose delivery this morning. Be good to see how it goes!
Waking Kai. He's off out with Dawn today - Bath-wards I think - giving me the place to myself for a few hours. Will go swimming tomorrow am instead of today.
GoodTwin, sorry, I've had no time to get car stuff organised: will probably need to postpone the visit. Will email with more details later.
Saturday, July 14, 2018
[Insert standard disclaimer about frantic busyness here...]
K&K are off to Midsomer Norton (in Ken's case, to hunt for pink balloons. Long story involving a project where groups of people have 15 seconds on film to produce a story...) so I have a little time to myself...
I've lost track of what happened when, so will just note the things I remember.
Watched Battleship Island by myself. It's a very good, if grim film, not casual viewing at all but compulsive.
Last Fri I was all set to do a little more painting in the hall when Kim arrived. We'd talked about going out that day but not confirmed it... well, Kim had, earlier that morning by text, but I hadn't yet turned Sideswipe on. But it was fine - I hadn't started the painting and it only took me a couple of mins to change.
We had a lovely day out. I asked if we could go the easiest way to Almondsbury Garden Centre (which involved navigating the Cumberland Basin interchange: I paid close attention to the entire route). It takes us past the Riverside Garden Centre, which is also a favourite, so we stopped off for a quick look and for me to ask if they could supply us with large holly trees: they can't, but Chew Valley Trees can, and at a reasonable price too. (It's a 'last resort' contingency plan in case he causes any more damage. One or two of these behind the greenhouse would provide serious protection. That the shade they'd cast when they get bigger only allows moss to grow in their shadow is not my problem: I checked the bye-laws and one is permissible, at least!) I did find a little glass bauble for Ken to put his airplant in though, at £3.99, much cheaper than any others I've found, so picked one up.
The it was off to Almondsbury. The easiest route avoiding town is not that easy to memorise, so will have to give it a go once we have the car. Had a delicious lunch - bacon, Brie and cranberry panini, the best I've ever had there - then a slow wander (because hot) around. Found nice planters for my bamboo, and the washing basket with extendible legs I saw last time - so much easier that having to bend right down, which makes my back hurt (like this but fawn coloured and a lot cheaper!) It was so good to catch up on all the news too - really great day!
Over the weekend we repotted Rosa, shopped, tidied, and watched A Walk in the Clouds... It's nicely made, if very predictable, and Keanu is good in it, but it's hardly compulsive viewing. Pleasant enough to sit with while resting legs.
Phone call on Mon arranging police visit - 10 am on Friday...
Paul the builder came to measure the front to work out a price for the drive we want. It's a bit too pricey for us at the moment, but I reckon we'll have enough in a couple of months. In the meantime K&K have started levelling the raised grassy area to the left of the gate: they've removed the stone steps we had from the patio up to Kai's railway and levelled it into a much gentler slope - much easier for me to manage. Kai's using the turves and the rest of the soil for his project at the top of the garde: he's thinking of extending the railway, which will be fun!
So, yesterday, Friday 13th, usually a lucky day for me. Gareth the police officer arrived at 10.30 - half an hour late (he'd been at another 'incident' but the guy involved hadn't turned up). Was sympathetic and very helpful - but the police won't be able to press charges as, thanks to Kai's shady nook, which hides the greenhouse from the house pov, we didn't see who actually did the spraying (and BND says it was the lad he had helping him as due to his poor health he can't use the sprayer. Yeah, right. Ken took photos of him using it the following day). He couldn't say it wasn't his responsibility though, as even police could see it was deliberate. He has to arrange to have it cleaned.
It's not the outcome I'd hoped for, but it's a lot better than nothing, and at least proves I WILL NOT be bullied. I headed off to meet Ken from work to get a little shopping (hadn't decided on Fri and Sun dinners), and Ken suggested dinner at the Lodekka to save me having to cook. Between the stress and the heat I've had buggerall sleep this week. Rang Kai at home to let him know and get him to lock everywhere up, then Ken took the shopping back home while I went to reserve a table.
It was just after 4.30 pm, and not at all busy, so finding a nice seat in their 'conservatory' was easy: normally we'd avoid it in summer as it gets very hot, but we had clouds and rain - and thunder and lightning while we were shopping: wonderful! - and it was the coolest place in the building. And while waiting I scoured the menu and discovered a couple of new things: Friday is BOGOF day on burgers, (and I was fancying a burger too), and they have an informal 'over 60's club' (Mon-Fri Golden Years), with smaller portions (which I need as I just can't eat that much any more - between that and swimming I've lost half a stone in the last couple of months) at two courses for £4.99 (additional course for £1.50) which is really really good value! Shall give that a try next year...
They make up for it with their drinks though - £2.19 for a large diet Coke (and they only do large these days). I suppose that with less people drinking alcohol these days they have to recoup costs somehow.
K&K arrived - Kai had a double burger, I ordered a southern fried chicken, one of the tastiest burgers I've ever had, on BOGOF, and Ken had his usual fish and chips - and Kai told me that while I was gone, a woman came to the door and asked if it would be OK for 'them' to come round on Mon, 10.30 - 11, to clean the greenhouse. With hot soapy water.
Yeah, good luck with that. The first time he did this to my old greenhouse, it took me two hours of careful dabbing with nail varnish remover - the only thing I found that would remove it. It's not paint, it's coloured wood preservative, a completely different substance. So unless they've changed the formula, nothing else will work.
Will let you know what happens.
Dinner was very nice, most enjoyable. When we got back we watched Green Zone, which was interesting but a little too cerebral for me, knackered as I was. Will have to watch again when I'm more awake.
And so to today. I'm currently trying to get next!Poppy sorted, working on a small series of Animal Avatar articles that Soul and Spirit might be interested in (I've written for them before), and wrestling with a synopsis for a wip, Freedom of Flying Horses (not at all keen on title but it'll do for now), as a companion book to Wisdom of Unicorns. Not likely to ever be as popular, but I want to write it for my own satisfaction, so if a publisher is interested... we'll see.
And that's about it. Ken and I are planning to go to Hurrans tomorrow, via Pet@Home for crickets for Rosa and Halford for P plates. The hunt for the car is proceeding slowly: at the moment my instinct is to go with Motorzone (Tiley have some dreadful reviews), or see about another seller elsewhere in the city. But I liked Motorzone. Like the feel of the place and their attitude was great. Again, we'll see!
Time to put a DVD on - Wimbledon is about to start - again. Have had Lord of the Rings on in the background last couple of days: time for Return of the King!
Saturday, June 30, 2018
A day (well, a few hours at least) to myself! K&K have gone to Goblin Combe, to take a day out in the summer air without burning in this abominable heatwave thing we seem to be suffering. Honestly, a week and a half of 26 - 29 degree heat. I'm melting. And sleeping is almost impossible - especially when you're woken up at 4 am by caterwauling right outside the wide-open-because-HOT bedroom window. Well, obviously not right outside, the local cats haven't quite learned to levitate yet. But give it time, give it time...
So let's try a catch up.
First up, Kai passed all his exams, well enough, we think, that he can go on to take his M.Eng. Big relief.
The Summer Solstice came and went but we didn't do anything much. Hope everyone had a happy day anyway!
Decorating: the hall is half finished (took me three coats of gloss to cover the hall cupboard door, dammit, and I've yet to tackle the radiator, which means stripping off the old gloss first...) Problem is, I can't hold a paintbrush for more than about 10 minutes before the carpel tunnel starts making my hand go numb, and then it takes another fifteen minutes for me to exercise feeling back into it, so everything is slowed down to a snail's pace. Bloody frustrating. But I should have it all done by Yule - hopefully including the kitchen, which I'm dreading.
Garden: having to use hosepipe to water the fruit and veg - main waterbutt now only half full so I'm using that water for the greenhouse. Extra work, but it's quite fun. Everything is doing well in the beds - we're already eating fresh-picked mini munch cucumbers, blueberries, mange tout, sugarsnap peas and dwarf beans, which is all going down very nicely. And it looks like I'm going to have a wonderful plum harvest this year. Thursday afternoon Kai and I spent a bit of time cutting down and chopping the old (dead) ivy tree - I have a compost bag collection Tuesday so it can all go out then. Still have the 'trunk' to tackle (it's just a lattice of branches around what was a tree trunk before it rotted away) but some of them are quite thick: will need Ken or Kai to cut them.
Watching: Definitely, Maybe, which is a delight. Touch season 2, which is, as expected, a bit disappointing after the excellent season 1. GoodTwin found me Millennium (complete, all three seasons, 18 discs...) which I remember loving when we first saw it (ye gods, was that really 27 years ago? Ouch...) We've saving that for the autumn, I want to watch Starhunter next. I've also picked up Soylent Green and The Handmaid's Tale (the original film, not the current series, although I am considering getting the latter...) Both s-f classics at silly prices at Sains: seemed like a good idea at the time. And La La Land was half price at Tesco yesterday: picked it up to watch tomorrow afternoon, after Kai's venesection.
Swimming: 36 lengths once a week is now my norm - though limping home afterwards in this heat is no fun. Still, it's all downhill I suppose.
Criminal Damage/Harassment: had a phone call from the police on Monday evening, apologising for taking so long to get back to me. The case has been handed to the senior officer for this area, who is on leave atm, "because of who he [Wilson] is". Not entirely sure what that means, although we know he's used his 'position' as ex-police to bully and abuse other people too. Hope they aren't too long though, it's stressful going into the greenhouse every day and seeing the horrible mess he's made of the glass.
Last Friday: Lesson went very well indeed, even the infamous Hick's Gate roundabout - the cause of so many local learners failing their first test - twice. The second time from the Bath side, where there are currently no road markings... GoodTwin and Adrian arrived soon after I got back. After toasted sammijes for lunch we headed off to Bedminster on a car hunt. Checked out Tiley and Motorzone, sat in quite a lot of cars (and were able to dismiss ones that simply weren't comfy for both Kai and I) and came away with a shortlist of models we liked - Ford Fiesta, Suzuki Alto, Nissan Note and the Skoda Roomster, although I don't think we'll be going for that one, despite all the room. Have checked out insurance too, and our cheapest is with Aviva (where our pensions are) so will probably go for that (half the price of the next cheapest at confused.com). So it's all coming together, although we still need to go back and test drive a car or two. The ones we've seen so far have only been between 1 and 1.3 litre engines, and I think we need a 1.4 at least.
Oh, that reminds me! Finally found out what I've been taking refresher lessons in - a Renault Clio 1.5. Very nice car - may see if we can find one second hand...
And so to yesterday's lesson...
I asked if we could go tackle the Cumberland Basin, which is a confusing interchange down where Bedminster and the New Cut meets the River Avon.
Stitched together from google maps - hope it's clear enough!
Traffic moves pretty fast here, and unless you know exactly where you're going it's very easy to take the wrong lane/exit. I've only ever been on it as a passenger, but it's the main route out of the city for half the places we want to get to, without going through the city centre, so I do need to learn it.
So off we set. Nice driver let me turn out of the crossroads at the top of our road into the Bath Rd. Traffic was crawling along by Totterdown Bridge and the Fingerpost: one lane of the roundabout over the first bridge was closed but that was OK: easy run along Coronation Rd, past the Riverside garden Centre: and then...
We got lost. Four times. Instructor didn't know the area either!
First we missed the Long Ashton turning, and ended up going around the turning near Barrow Gurney, back up on the dual carriageway, then over the basin and up along the Portway. To turn around to go back and try again he had me drive up the insanely steep and bendy road up the side of the Gorge, out through Clifton, and then around the horrible junction where Whiteladies Rd meets Clifton Down. Bloody Bristol drivers, no-one would pause for a second to let me out - instructor had to wave at one to get him to be courteous. Then it was back down the gorge road, back across the bridge, around to the right and then... not quite the road I was after but it worked out OK as we ended up heading to Long Ashton. Halfway through the village we turned to retrace our path - by creeping down a country lane so narrow the bushes on either side brushed the car...
My exclamation of "Ah! Pavement! Civilisation!!" when we reached the bottom made him chuckle.
Then it was a hill start on a steep hill at a give way sign on a blind corner - with a large VW van far too close behind me. Didn't quite stall, but the car rolled back, only a couple of inches but it was enough for the driver behind to move smartly back a few feet, which made it a tad less stressful.
So - out of Long Ashton and back to the interchange. Managed the one way nearly circular turn there - then took the wrong exit again, so we ended up going back over the bridge and up the Portway a second time. This time we drove further: it's a 50mph limit along there so I was able to get into 5th gear. (Heh. Never had a fifth gear on the old car and I nearly went into reverse - recovered quickly but I won't be doing that again!).
It's actually a nice stretch of road, along the river, fairly straight, not too much traffic. A bit before Shirehampton I was thirsty, so we turned right at the junction that leads to the Almondsbury Garden Centre, then right again into a residential area and pulled up correctly between driveways and with nothing parked opposite - which was just as well as I'd no sooner opened my coke when a bus came trundling by!
Couple of mins later we headed off again, took a right turn that we found, seconds later, was a dead end. So that was me reversing into someone's drive to turn round and retrace our steps...
Back on the Portway, over the bridge again, and I finally managed to get onto the road I wanted, that leads past the Ashton Gate Football Stadium and through the Bedminster industrial estate, round several mini-roundabouts, up the hill (where the traffic lights turned red before I reached the junction, another fun hill start), down past where Kim Lives - and then I missed the turning into St John's Lane...
[headdesk] So we drove on a few yards and turned left into a tiny narrow street with cars parked both sides and I'd guess about two foot clearance on either side. Oh joy. The idiot stepping out without looking didn't help either. But then it was a right turn back onto familiar territory, navigating past cars pulling out unexpectedly, a school just turning out for lunch, and the Malago Brook junction, which isn't difficult but I was a bit frazzled by then.
And then I missed the turn off to Talbot Hill that I had planned to take, and ended up at the bottom of the Wells Rd instead. More hill starts at traffic lights, more cars parked on the road, and I had to pull into a bus stop to get out of the way of a fire engine racing down the road, all sirens blazing. After that, coming down the other side of Talbot Hill and along to home was a doddle.
That was pretty much every driving situation you can get into in the UK, all packed into 2 hours (well, OK, barring getting stuck behind a tractor for miles, ending up stuck in the middle of a stream, or navigating the city centre), and the instructor was very pleased indeed. Said yes, I really am a good driver, did incredibly well, and am now absolutely fine to be let loose on the roads. (I was from two lessons back but Friday definitively confirmed it.)
And the daft thing is, I thoroughly enjoyed it! I think it was the challenge. We all know I like a challenge. Wonderful boost to the self-confidence too. Now itching to get the car and start taking everyone out.
Which reminds me - must ring Paul the builder and get a quote for the planned drive...
Sunday, June 17, 2018
Quickest of all possible updates: GoodTwin and Adrian are coming over from Winchester next week to take us on the first stage of The Quest for the Car!
It's all getting quite exciting!
[GLOMPS] GoodTwin. Be fantastic to see you again.
Oh, and we watched The Nines, which is just amazing. Wonderful, complex film. My respect for Reynolds' range grows with every film I see.