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][20/03/2019 - giving up. I don't have enough time to update the blog atm, let alone edit old entries!]
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, March 20, 2020
COVID-19. Interesting times, ne?
We've been advised, by Kai's BMT trials nurse Peter, that as his immune system is still compromised, we should be very careful not to take any unnecessary risks. So Ken is now working from home (with BCC-supplied laptop and phone), and we've had to postpone Wendy's visit. I've shopped at both Sainsbury's (because I can't get a delivery slot for the next three weeks) and Tesco (which did still have delivery slots so I've booked them for the next four weeks - not next week as there were none left - which of course does not guarantee I'll get everything I've ordered!) and I've never seen anything like it. Aisles of loo roll, tissues and kitchen towels completely empty. Ditto nappies, soap, fresh packaged meat, bread, milk (almost), tinned fish, beans and veg, pasta, rice - and tea (how very British!!) We're actually quite well placed, as I always keep at least two weeks worth of groceries in larder and freezer, so we can manage until the rush of panic stockpiling has died down a little. I hope, anyway.
K&K have started going out for a walk when Ken signs off work for the day, for a change of air and some exercise. There are far fewer people around than previously, so it's fairly safe.
Apart from the lurgy, it's been quite a nice few weeks. Last Saturday Ken and I bussed to Midsomer Norton via Bath, where we stopped for half an hour for me to check out the Bath Thermae Spa and ask a few questions about my proposed visit (which I'll now have to postpone until the autumn, but that's OK). Almost as soon as we got out of the bus station I heard this amazing music... it sounded a bit like a harp, and a bit like a guitar, and a bit like a cello... The route to the Spa took us up the pedestrian shopping area, and we found the source - this guy -
He's Amadou Diagne, and the instrument he's playing is a kora: Wiki says "It doesn't fit into any one category of musical instrument, but rather several, and must be classified as a "double-bridge-harp-lute".", so my initial thinking was more or less correct. He was selling Journey CDs, so I bought one. The music is absolutely beautiful...
Now decided I need to explore other countries' music.
(This track is on the album.)
Back on the bus and off to Midsomer Norton. Nice ride through B&NES rolling countryside and down the hill to the centre of town.
I have a particular fondness for Midsomer Norton. Even on a dull day it's pretty...
There are a lot of charity shops, as well as indie shops, like Out of Asia, a gorgeous little gift shop where I spotted this adorable - metal! - little unicorn ring holder with diamond eyes...
We also picked up a set of five Transformers Prime illustrated kids books, which look quite daftly funny, and this for £2.50!! Haven't read it yet but it looks fun. The same charity shop - Sue Ryder I think - also had this little cutie:
All in all it was a great day!
Media... Ken and I watched TC 2000 last week (Kai was busy with friends online so didn't join us). It was dire. Its main feature was a fight every 1.5 to 3 mins all the way through. Dreadful film. -2 out of 10, would not recommend. So we then lightened the mood and had a Three Musketeers Sunday matinée: The Three Musketeers after lunch and The Four Musketeers: Milady's Revenge after dinner. I'd forgotten how funny they are! Kai chuckled all the way through and we all thoroughly enjoyed them.
I picked up Limitless at a charity shop a while back. Can't remember if we'd already seen it: I think we did, a long time ago, but didn't remember any of it and really enjoyed it. We've now all started watching Stan Lee's Lucky Man season 3. It'll be interesting to see how it pans out.
We will most likely be watching a lot more films/TV over the next few weeks/months. We still have quite a backlog of films, Jason King, and I'm now collecting Deep Space 9 boxed sets (found season 6 in St Pete's Hospice shop): it was always my favourite ST series.
TransTech Starscream has arrived!
And he's gorgeous!
He now joins Carscream, Steelscream, ShatteredGlassscream, and Dinobot on the faves shelf!
Thursday, March 12, 2020
So where were we?
GoodTwin and Sue's visit was great fun. I opened my birthday presents early - now have Jason King to enjoy! Also some of the most divine chocolates I've ever tasted...
The maple-and-miso aubergine recipe worked well (the paste itself is delicious and would go easily with chicken or pork too, so that was a very useful discovery) although next time I'll skip the cucumber salad.
On my actual birthday I took myself over to Keynsham for a spell of shopping, which was quite successful - and it was a gloriously sunny day too, for once. All nicely relaxing.
On the Thursday Kai helped me put Optimus Starscream together - ye gods it's a big figure!
Then assembled Furai Starscream for me... Not joking, the pieces were too small for my fingers. And there were hundreds of them...
I did manage to put in his eyes (a minute red plastic C shape that fits behind his faceplate and that I dropped and nearly lost three times) but Kai did the rest. Including the tiny tiny piece of silver foil that fitted behind his eyes so they reflect light. (My main job was finding each piece and snipping them from the plastic thingies they were in as he called for them.) But the end result...
... is rather gorgeous. See those tiny tiny black triangles on his chest and knees? Tiny stickers! I could barely see them, let alone handle them! Kai had to use cocktail sticks to manipulate them, and even they were a bit big! This is a figure for a dedicated modeller, I think.
(Rather amusingly, the inside of his knees make the pilots' seats!)
This is the new display case, by the way. Still not entirely sure I have enough space for them all!
Kim and I went out to Almondsbury last Wed. Picked up a stake and wrap for the pittasporus, which has suffered badly with the storms and was leaning over at an obvious angle. Between myself and K&K, we got the stake in (3.5 foot underground and at a slight opposing angle) and the tree is now looking a lot more stable. I can always get a second, longer stake if we have any further storms.
Also picked up three beautifully bright and contrasting heucheras and a lovely copper coloured pot for them, for mum-in-law's birthday: the tiny bit of patio to the side of her front door gets no sun at all, and heucheras will thrive there. However, now that we have COVID-19 in Bristol (and given that Ken has to get a crowded - standing room only usually - bus to and from work every day) we're delaying our proposed trip down to Babbacombe. We'd never forgive ourselves if we took the blasted thing down there. She is 94, after all, and even tough as old boots as she is, there's still a significant risk.
K&K went out to Stockwood open space on the Saturday - and spotted a small stag!
I do like synchronicity. Wednesday I was meeting Ken for lunch, so decided to get into town a bit earlier than necessary to pick up some back-up chocolates for mum-in-law for her birthday from Hotel Chocolat in Cabot Circus - we'll take down the plants when it's safe - and as I was heading over to Broadmead I met a man with a hawk.
Yes, a hawk. A Harris hawk, to be exact. The handler wore a hi-vis vest and carried official badges and stuff, and said he was taking it up to the roof (I assume to frighten off pigeons/seagulls, as they do occasionally in Bristol) Couple of minutes earlier or later I'd have missed them...
It was a good day, all told. Lunch was nice - I tried the soup, courgette and pepper, for a change as they didn't have my favourite ham and Emmenthal paninis - and my favourite Oriental supermarket (Wah Yan Hong) had everything I needed except the cooking sake. I came home via Sains too, and picked up the three packs of chicken thighs they didn't bring with the delivery.
Media... we finished watching Department S, which actually picked up considerably in the second season, once they stopped taking themselves so seriously. In the end it was really rather enjoyable!
We finished watching Falling Skies last night. Very satisfying ending! On the whole an interesting and thought-provoking series.
On the film side... Finally watched The Revenant. Hm. Slow, very very bloody, not exactly enjoyable, but from my recent reading (and yes, Indigenous People's History was as depressing as expected and left me loathing the human species - again...) pretty accurate in its depiction of life at the time. Then we moved on to The Three Musketeers as a bit of light relief! I now have two versions of the story, this and the Keifer Sutherland 2011 film, so ordered (and now received) the first version I saw, 1973, with Oliver Reed and Michael York, which is in two parts - The Three Musketeers, and The Four Musketeers: Milady's Revenge. Also seen - Alita: Battle Angel, which is fantastic. I really really hope there's a sequel.
Next on the list to watch is the aforementioned Jason King, and Lucky Man season 3. Kai and I have been watching the first two and Ken will join us to watch the last ep of the second season, then we'll all watch the third.
And so to today, that I've had to spend in the house awaiting dr's phone call. Was supposed to be over lunchtime, ended up at 5.30. Bloody nuisance as I could have gone to Wells with Kai and had a bit of sunshine and fresh air... Anyway, BP is too high so she's now prescribing a third BP med, bugger it. This one opens up the veins. The other two protect kidneys and liver, I found out today.
Had a first attempt at making vegan soft cheese. It worked quite well - certainly was nice in my smoked salmon and soft cheese bagel today.
This is the current state of the fence section BND falsely accused us of breaking. It's been like this for several weeks now, getting worse as the winds keep up. Looks like he's not going to ask his minion of the month to pull it back over his side. We shouldn't touch it (he said in writing it's his fence and he'd take legal action if we did, the stupid old fart. Talk about cutting one's own throat!) but I may have to if it gets any worse. At the moment it's perilously close to damaging my very expensive robinia.
And finally, this made me chuckle. According to the 'Can we guess your age' Fb quiz - I am 11 years old. Heh. They're only 50 years out!
Sunday, February 23, 2020
That was the weirdest start to a new year that I can remember experiencing.
Almost as if She was trying to help me cheer up.
First, I had a visit from a carer's rep (I'd forgotten about it over Yule) for a carers' assessment. You might remember a couple of years ago I was given a one-off payment to get something that had to be a treat for myself, and I bought my bike (and helmet). I thought that was, literally, a one-off payment.
I was wrong. If eligible, a carer can have the same one-off payment every year that they're a carer.
So we went through the list of questions, with me answering honestly, and even though Kai is now a lot more independent, I'm still doing enough for him for me to qualify.
So BCC have given me £300 for things to treat myself!
I've already bought three very nice eye masks - one for travel, one for a complete blackout, and one full of lavender buds and flax seeds that can be heated or cooled for tired eyes. I've booked a callus peel and pedicure (and eyelash tint while I'm at it) for 5th of March at Premier Beauty, just around the corner in Sandy Park Rd, and then I shall be organising a thermae trilogy treat at Bath Spa. That'll be one to cross off my bucket list. Actually, that's an ugly way of phrasing it. One to cross off my life ambitions list... Haven't decided what to do with the rest yet, but no doubt something will come to mind!
And THEN I find out from Chelsey that The Wisdom Of Unicorns had won Soul and Spirit magazine's Best Mythological Creatures Book award. (Would have been nice if they'd thought to let me know at the time!) No prize or anything like that, but the kudos are good!
And THEN Kamil got back in touch with me about the Transtech Starscream I tried to commission a year ago. She'd changed emails - and had a baby - and only found my addie when looking through old files. She accepted the commission and has sent me photos of how it's coming along (fantastically!) and I'm hoping he'll be finished soon after my birthday.
And I won a book. The Soil Association had a raffle: all I had to do was enter my addresses. Rebel Recipes, a feast of vegan recipes. Heh. The only other raffle prize I've ever won was a bottle of Hai Karate aftershave back when I was working a Saturday job at Boots the Chemist! I've tried one of the recipes already - this one - which was a qualified success (i.e. a bit bland, if filling and more or less tasty. Considering how to make it a little spicier) - and planning to try miso and maple-glazed aubergines with sticky coconut rice next - possibly Tues or Thurs this week. It's a nice book, although some of the recipes involve 20 or more vegan ingredients...
For instance... there's a recipe for vegan kimcheese on toast which sounds tasty - but the kimchi itself has 13 ingredients...
And my copy of the second edition of The Book of Celtic Symbols arrived. It's gorgeous...
Our local sparrowhawk perched on the fence just outside the patio doors - wasn't there for long enough for me to get a photo, but it was still fantastic to see him.
There are snowdrops blooming along the path to Tesco.
K&K went up to the St Pete's Hospice furniture charity shop down in Brislington Village, and rang me to say there was a display cabinet there for £35 (+ £15 delivery) and silver rather than black - would I like it? Of course I would: I don't have room in the current two for all the figures I already have! When it arrived it was the same make (which cost me £200 each with delivery), just three inches wider - and the glass doors scraped along the base, which I think may have been why it ended up in a charity shop. Luckily the original owner didn't know that you only have to adjust the hinges to make it open properly, which took Kai two minutes...
Of course we've had to move stuff around, and the reorg's still not finished, but it's a very nice problem to have (if a little tiring, carrying piles of books upstairs)!
I found the perfect umbrella stand, and spice rack, on amazon - exactly what I'd been looking for. And at the YMCA charity shop at Broadwalk I saw the most gloriously coloured picture (real paint: an art student's final project I think, a sunset woodland lake with the air filled with dragonflies): only £6. I nearly bought it, but it's very slightly squint - I think, I might be wrong - so left it. Then kept thinking about it. Went back a week later - after all, I can always take it off the wooden frame and make a slightly smaller one to correct the squint if needed - and not only was it still there, it was half price at £3.
Of course I bought it... Photo when I've got it on the wall.
We watched Utopia Seasons 1 & 2... Hm. A difficult one. I couldn't bring myself to like ANY of the characters, and the basic premise is distinctly dodgy, but... it had something. I had to agree with a lot of the content. It's compulsive viewing after the first couple of eps. But not at all a pleasant experience.
(I had much the same response to the recent BBC's version of His Dark Materials, but in that case I didn't enjoy the books in the first place and watched because I hoped I'd enjoy the live action version. I didn't. Will probably still watch the second part, but I'm not looking forward to it.)
We're currently working our way through Falling Skies (just started season 3) which is not at all bad. Very watchable, interesting exploration of characters.
Kai and I have watched the whole of Blood Ties, which is very good, and have now started re-watching Stan Lee's Lucky Man. We've already seen seasons 1 and 2, but I bought season 3 at the end of last year: we decided a reminder might be a good idea before watching that one.
Had blood taken and saw the dr for my annual checkup over the last two weeks. Most everything is fine, but my BP is too high - again - so I have to take it over the next couple of weeks and let her know the five or six lowest readings when she rings for a phone consult. I mentioned the persistent low, and she suggested taking St John's Wort, so I added a pack to my last Tesco delivery and have been taking it since last Thurs (had to check with the pharmacy that it was OK to take with amitriptyline and omeprazole, as the booklet included advised. Seems to be OK so far...)
That's about it for now. GoodTwin and Sue are coming for a visit tomorrow, which should be as much fun as usual.
Will try to update sooner next time.
Tuesday, December 31, 2019
So the bug turned into a very nasty cold, which I am now right in the middle of. Great way to start a new year...
Forgot to mention the Babbacombe trip. I'm wondering if the weather wants me to a) not go down to the sea or b) not want me to return if I do go. The beast from the East narrowly missed marooning me in Cornwall in 2018, when Kai and I visited Babbacombe in September this year our train was cancelled due to 'severe weather', and on this trip I caught the tail end of Storm Atiyah (freezing lashing rain and winds that destroyed two umbrellas). I ended up taking the taxi to Newton Abbot on the way back to be sure of getting a train back to Bristol...
But it went OK. There was a couple of hours break in the rain on Thurs morning, when I was able to get into Torquay to find the shopping arcade I'd seen from the bus (it was a lot less interesting than I'd hoped). The town itself was quiet and grim - surprising for a Tory-voting place - with very little xmas cheer. However, I did find a kitchen shop (right on the quay) which had two excellent small and very sharp knives (I need them for boning chicken thighs). So the trip was worth it for that. The old and really fantastic kitchen shop in Briz has now become a Go Cook shop, only selling hugely expensive saucepans and cutlery. I miss the wonderful old place already - it was the perfect shop to find otherwise almost impossible to find kitchen ware...
Mum-in-law with two adoring yapmeisters (she said it was OK to post it here.) I sorted out her orchids as best I could: hopefully the spray's got rid of the mealeybugs.
Got back safely and Tyjer was pleased to see me (immediately started trying to overwrite the dog smell with his own, bless 'im)
Also forgot to say we borrowed Department S from GoodTwin. I had it on my amazon wish list and she suggested we watch a bit first to make sure I really wanted to own it. I'm glad she did as it's... hm. Ever found yourself watching a less-than-enthralling film and dozing off for a few seconds every now and then, and when you wake up again the dialogue and action has moved on and it doesn't make any sense? It's a bit like that - but without the dozing off bit. Kai's intrigued by the clothes, cars and acting, Ken's bemused, and I'm watching it wondering how much worse it can get. Needless to say it's no longer on my wish list!
So, it's the end of a decade, and nearly the new year. Kai is taking a break from uni (and I'm now arguing uni fees with Student Finance), and Fixit now have a CCJ against them, and I'm exploring what options are available next. Australia's on fire, the US is controlled by a malignant, lying excuse for a human being and - possibly even worse - that walking pile of excrement McConnell, and we have as our PM a thing that makes a pustulent boil on the arse seem attractive. The planet is going to hell, and those who could do something about it are too busy counting their wealth and patting themselves on the back to care. For the first time in a very long time I can find absolutely nothing to look forward to.
Saturday, December 28, 2019
... 'cause the season isn't over until Jan 3rd.
It's been mostly fun so far. Mostly as in, none of us were ill for the 25th, but on 26th I somehow managed to go down with a most unpleasant bug which has left me coughing and my throat raw. But that's all. I suppose it's some sort of cold bug, prevented from getting any worse by the 'flu jab I had a couple months back. Eh, whatever, it could be a lot worse. We've had to postpone our Tudor Day though, as I'm not up to a lot of cooking right now. We'll reorg for a week or so into the New Year.
Our (30th) wedding anniversary was lovely: beautifully relaxed and the meal at the Black Castle was very tasty and very filling. Afterwards we watched The Odd Life of Timothy Green, a quite delightful film, sweet without being mushy. Nice film for a rainy afternoon.
Yuletide's been mostly relaxing. We've watched a lot of films, the ones I'd been saving up. 24th Ken and I started watching the BBC production of A Christmas Carol - an interesting take on the story. It was grim but good. Our presents were terrific - Grave of the Fireflies and In This Corner of the World, along with a beautiful glass coaster, from Sue, and Utopia seasons 1 and 2 - along with biscuits and chocolates, ale for Ken and a limited edition fox print for Kai - from Goodtwin. I had three new Starscreams and a Skyfire, and a gorgeous genuine Bristol blue glass paperweight from Kai -
He bought it from a charity shop - but when I turned it over, it's a limited edition - 463 of 1,000! Dead chuffed.
We watched Moana - which I really must buy, it's wonderful - after xmas dinner (steak, roast spuds, Brussel's sprouts with chestnuts and honey-glazed peas and carrots, diddy pigs in a blanket and delicious pork, stuffing and cranberry star shapes, with xmas pud (Ken), salted caramel pud (me) and thick brandy cream, and double choc pud with ice-cream for Kai. An altogether lovely day.
Yesterday it was me spending most of the day coughing, and we watched
Race to Witch Mountain, which I have seen bits of for the last umpteen Yules but never watched completely. Thoroughly enjoyed it!
And that's about it. It's been a strange year - got a lot done, to the house certainly, maybe not so much personally. Aiming to get started on the next project in the new year.
In the meantime, I hope everyone has had a good and peaceful Yuletide.
Monday, December 16, 2019
I'm heading down to St Marychurch on Wed to see Mum T, repot - and try to get rid of the mealybugs on - her orchids, and take a bus to Torquay and Babbacombe to actually have a look around the shops, which after umpteen years of visits I still haven't managed. I'll be back on Fri pm, in plenty of time for the chaos that is xmas (not so much here as I'm very organised). So, a quick update before I head off.
It's been a flurry of shopping (all gifts now bought and cards posted), tidying, and a good look through my old 700 Years of English Cooking recipe book, as we've invited Dawn over for Tudor day on the 28th (last year was Japanese, year before was Indian, so we thought we'd go native this year.) I bought Doctor Faustus (Globe Production with the wonderful Arthur Darvill as Mephistopheles) a year or so ago but we haven't managed to watch it yet, so that will be the main feature. Later is either Warlock, or some Blackadder II (Ken and I picked up the complete Blackadder in Wells, of which more in a moment), depending on what we fancy at the time. I'm planning on making braised chicken thighs, and gingerbread, for lunch, and a pork casserole, with split green peas, and lemon and orange basted cauliflower, as veg, an apple and orange pie for dessert, and marchpane (mine will NOT be highly decorated! My recipe uses rosewater icing...) Going to try the recipes on K&K before the actual day, and there will be photos! (And the recipes if I can find the time to type them up/anyone is interested...)
GoodTwin and Sue came to visit last Thursday, and a rollicking good time was had by all! As usual my stomach ached from laughing, and it's never long enough!
I was at a bit of a loss as to what to make for lunch for Tudor day - we wanted something relatively easy that doesn't involve too much work, as the main recipes do. Ken suggested pies - and of course the Sat market at Wells has one of the best pie stalls we've ever found, chunky traditional ones with venison, duck, pork, or beef which while not strictly historically accurate, would be close enough. So off we went to Wells on Saturday...
We were later than planned leaving, and by the time we got there all the pies were gone (hence the chicken thigh recipe, which I found online, though if I can find similar pies somewhere else I'll happily buy them, as the thought of boning 8 chicken thighs is not appealing...) BUT! There was a jewellery stall there, Eyres Jewellery, and a ring caught my eye. I've said here that a good few years ago I developed an allergy to the platinum of my original wedding ring: bought a couple of cheapie silver (I thought at the time) and opal rings as a temp fix. Heh. Remind me to never buy cheap Chinese jewellery again. The edges have gone ragged, not quite enough to cut, but most uncomfortable, and it's not like I wore it all the time, only when going out. It's obviously not silver as it's gone a dull shade of greyish-brown. Anyway, I've been looking for something else suitable for a little while - and I found this on the stall. (The review there is mine.) It's absolutely beautiful, and so comfortable, and I just love the description on the site. I do take it off for washing up or using chemicals, as the colours are enamel rather than stones, but that's OK, I did that with my original ring too, so it's an easy habit to get back into. Delighted with it!
We took a wander into the charity shops, where I found a fantastic jacket at a ridiculously low price, along with a knitted cap that almost matches my new gloves (don't know if it's a side effect of getting older or just me, but I'm feeling the cold now a lot more than I used to, so having to dress accordingly. Bloody annoying but no use ignoring it!) So overall it was a great success, and a really enjoyable day out for the two of us! Ken suggested doing it more often next year, which I would very much like to do. We haven't managed to much over the last few years, with Kai being ill, but he's a lot better now, so we'll see how we go.
We were going to get the Bristol bus back - but the Bath bus arrived first, and Ken suggested getting it (buses from Bath to Bristol/Bristol to Bath are very frequent) as it goes all around the villages and is a really nice ride. It was getting dark, too, so we saw all the lights. Not as many as there might have been, perhaps: Ken thinks that the disaster that was the election (not going to talk about that as it won't do my blood pressure any good) meant that a lot of people felt they had very little to celebrate this year and were too depressed to put up decorations. But those that did went completely to town (maybe to make up for it?) and the houses and gardens looked amazing.
It was a lovely, lovely day.
Kai and I took Derpy for a quick spin around the block this morning, to check she was still running OK as it's been two months since we drove her last. Everything's fine, so I parked up (a little more tidily than last time) and we put her little xmas tree and tinsel in the front. Not as decorated as at Hallowe'en, but enough for her to join in the season.
Media... I found The Brand new Testament pretty much by accident, and was intrigued enough to buy a copy. And WOW! It's gloriously heretical while staying absolutely true to the old testament god, deliciously subversive and very very funny. Loved it, absolutely loved it. I'd recommend it for everyone but it's likely to give even moderate Jews and xtians apoplexy, so perhaps not. Pity...
Picked up American Gods season 2, and started watching it, but then had to go back and rewatch season 1 as it has been such a long time between them. Season 1 is great, but season 2? I can't say too much as Sue hasn't watched it yet, but (as I told her) I kept dozing off, and finding I hadn't missed anything much when I woke up again...
That's about it for now. Will report back when I get back from Devon. There may be photos...
Saturday, November 30, 2019
Finally. The Poppy Tales is finished. I know, four days later than I originally planned but hey, that's not too bad considering I'd almost despaired of ever feeling like finishing it...
You can find it here - An Ending - and a Beginning...
I am very sorry it's taken so long - and that I've now ended it. I had planned to make it longer, but no longer have the time, energy, or desire to continue. I just hope everyone who's read it has enjoyed the journey. (I have!)
Ken says he's now going to read it from start to finish.
In other news... Kai and I have cleared the two raised veg beds and covered them with tough weed-suppressing material - good strong stuff pegged down hard with large metal U-shaped pins this time, to stop cats and foxes tearing through it. Instead, the foxes pulled up the edge of it... Still, they obviously thought it wasn't worth carrying on, as no real harm was done. If it happens again we can always put bricks or rocks down, but they usually give up after one go, so fingers crossed.
Additional flower spike on OO (original orchid) -
and on AO (alien face orchid) -
Recently watched... Broadchurch season two and three were great - maybe not quite as good as season one, but that's most likely because we had more of an idea what to expect by then. As a follow up we saw The Escape Artist which is very good, if very chilling. The Quiet Place does NOT deserve it's high rating: it's full of the most ridiculous plot holes you can imagine. At the end I saw Michael bloody Bay had a hand in it, so that's not really surprising...
Neat monsters though.
Venom is rollicking good fun - predictable, yes, but a great rainy Saturday movie. I'd bought The Shanghai Job because it stars Orlando Bloom, and while not a great actor he's always fun to watch - and it turned out to be a lot better than we were expecting. Beautiful cinematography too, always a bonus.
And that's about it for now. Have a pic of the cauliflower bake! (The red things are sweet organic cherry tomatoes...)
Friday, November 15, 2019
Oh, this is getting silly. Can someone please donate me some spare time?
Let's try to catch up.
I had a rather nasty cold for part of the last month - had to miss swimming two weeks in a row. However, Wendy came up to visit, which was great fun and left me feeling much better. [GLOMPS] Wendy...
The best news of the past month has been the results of Kai's last BMT clinic: his ferritin is now down to 220.5, and he doesn't need any more venesections! Apparently the normal range is between 30 and 400, so he's firmly in the middle. Of course we're all delighted with that. He can also reduce his clinic appts from every six months to once a year.
My case against Fixit has now been served and they have a CCJ against them. I've been sent a whole load of stuff I have to read and respond to for the next step - will get that organised next Monday. Then decide if I'm going to post their photograph and details all over the cowboy builders and community groups Facebook pages I've joined...
Samhain fell during the half term holidays this year, so I decided to do a proper Trick or Treaters thing for the neighbourhood kids.
So... hung purple spider and eyeball light chains and a dancing ghost in the lounge window (I tried taking photos but they didn't come out very well: maybe next year...) - and decorated Derpy..
The skeleton (Wilson) is just a cardboard one from Tesco, but it looked great in the dimmer evening and with the streetlight opposite lighting him up! The kids loved him, their adult carers were in hysterics (I got asked if he had his licence: I pointed out that's what the L plates are for!) And the screams when they spotted the skull in the back must have annoyed BND no end! We must have had at least 75 kids visit (I had bought 13 bags of mini-bars and sweets and very nearly ran out!), and all in all it was a great success.
Going to do the same next year, but will try to get another skeleton to sit in the passenger seat as Wilson's partner. Have already picked up a giant spider with 10 ft long legs to hang up in the porch...
Generally speaking we're all carnivores here, but Ken asked to start having egg mayonnaise, and cheese - preferably vegan cheese if possible - in his lunch time sammijs. This, along with Saturday Morning Kitchen now focussing on vegetarian meals part of the time, and the recent push for reducing plastic, started me exploring options. After all, we've eaten organically wherever possible for nearly 40 years, and we recycle everything we can - even more now our local Tesco is collecting additional stuff:
It's always full with bags piled up around and behind it. I take ours over once or twice a week.
Found a vegetarian cookbook in Babbacombe while we were there, and the Teco magazine had a recipe for Carl's All Change Casserole, which looked eminently doable. Tweaked a little - Sains sweet potato and butternut squash pack adds more flavour (and saves chopping the veg, because I'm lazy)
- and using Cauldron Foods absolutely delicious Lincolnshire vegan sossijs, it's become a family favourite and I make it once a week. Wonderfully tasty and filling for winter dinners. The book had a nice recipe for a baked cauliflower and potato dish - layered cooked cauliflower, cherry tomatoes and cooked cubed potatoes with a rich cheese sauce (half and half organic Leicester and Cheddar is tastiest) baked in the oven for 30 mins or so: I've found it's even better with a layer of Vivera bacon bits under the tomatoes. Vivera's pulled pork, by the way, is tastier than the real thing, as are their chicken goujons, and their mince, though not as good as meat for cottage pie, works very well in chilli sans carne. Yes, OK, it's substituting rather than a radical dietary change, but it's a most excellent start.
Trying the book's vegetable hotpot tomorrow. Saturdays tend to be my cooking experiment days...
My orchids are doing splendidly. Original now has another little flower spike coming off the larger spike, -
and the alien-face orchid is fine (and may have it's own secondary spike coming off the main one - not quite big enough to be sure yet)
Rescued orchid very healthy but not producing flowers yet. Will give it time...
The saga of the SSLs...
Eventually decided to cut through the crap and just move everything to Fasthost - including joulestaylor.com, which is now jatarchive in wavewrights, so until I find a way around the original URL links for all the old photographs, they won't be showing on the blog pages. You may notice that the broken padlock symbol has vanished from the bar at the top of the screen. I've manually changed the link for all the entries on this page, but trying to see if there's a quicker and less labour intensive way of doing it for the rest of the 6K posts on this blog...
Not sure if I've mentioned it before, but the (xtian) Brislington Oasis Academy - opened 2015 - has persistently and continually given out [name]@brislington.org as their email address, and of course all emails to this address (which is the Brislington Virtual Museum and has been mine since 2001) come to me. I've been complaining about this to them for the last nearly five years, to absolutely no avail: my inbox is still being spammed by emails for staff and students at the Academy. So I emailed the Academy last week, saying if I got one more erroneous email I would complain to the DoE. Which I did (about 6 staff members applying for learning application courses, which I promptly unsubscribed) so I made out an online complaint at the gov.uk portal.
Yesterday I got a reply from DoE - addressed to a complete stranger, with their complaint, but sent to my email address. Ironic or what? I forwarded the email on to the correct person and sent a complaint to DoE. Last night I got a reply from DoE, addressed to me with the correct details. And then this morning I got three more emails from DoE, with my details and my email address but addressed to another complete stranger... When I say nothing's ever easy 'round 'ere I'm not joking.
The upshot was I haven't followed all the steps outlined in DoE's complaint procedure guide so they've closed the case and won't take it any further - so I've started from scratch, and sent a detailed complaint to the Academy Principal, advising him that if I haven't had a reply by next Thurs I will take the complaint to the Governors - and if they can't help I will get back to DoE. Not only does this show the incompetence of the Academy staff and admin, and amount to cyber harassment (I'd had hundreds of these bloody emails with everything from highly confidential info about students - no I didn't read it - to Pinterest applications), but they're also serious data breaches. Will let you all know what happens.
Bloody hell, I'm becoming the neighbourhood expert in legal hassles!
So - media...
We finally watched One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. It's a good film, if a little dated now. I bought Men in Black: International, which is great fun. Perfect for a rainy Saturday afternoon! Daft and very funny.
And we bought Good Omens... Actually rang up Tesco to check they had it on the 21st Oct and then Kai went over to pick it up.
It's WONDERFUL. Wow. Just wow. Sticks beautifully to the book while bringing it subtly up to date. Loved it, all of us. Going to rewatch it soon to pick up all the bits we missed first time around (there are plenty as the whole thing is absolutely saturated with little details and Easter Eggs). Sheen and Tennant are simply perfect in the roles. I can't praise it enough. It's superb.
And being on a Tennant kick (pretty much permanently in my case) I picked up Broadchurch series 1 in a charity shop. For 49p. We watched it in thee evenings and I immediately ordered season 2 and 3 (started season 2 yesterday). Another fabulous drama, real breathless edge of seat stuff. Although it had a curious effect on us. We have Doctor Who (Tennant and Foster), Torchwood (Eve Myles - Gwen), Hot Fuzz (Olivia Colman), Legends of Tomorrow (Rik Hunter - Arthur Darvill, also Rory in Dr Who), Agent Carter/Iron Man/Avengers (James D'Arcy - Jarvis/Vision), Birds of a Feather (Pauline Quirke), The Cafe/Fleabag (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), and Casualty (Adjoa Andoh) all thrown in together - and that's just the ones I immediately recognised. It's like a who's who of great UK dramatic talent!
Very well worth watching - certainly series 1. Not far enough into series 2 yet to say if it's as good.
On a less amusing note, I don't know how many others watch Strictly Come Dancing, but I was annoyed the week before last when Mike Bushell won the dance off over Emma Weymouth. It was blindingly obvious she was the better dancer, but the judges ruled for Mike. That was bad enough - but the following evening Craig bloody Revel Horwood was on the One show. He sat on the sofa, smug, self-satisfied and arrogant, and dismissed the entire UK viewing public as stupid and ignorant. I was so angry I emailed the BBC to complain (heh, seems all I'm doing at the moment is making complaints!) and simply couldn't bear to watch the following week, as the sight of him just raises my BP. This Saturday it's the Blackpool episode. We may continue watching Broadchurch instead.
OK, apart from the usual busyness that's about it. I'm getting ready for Yule, and it's all coming together very nicely!
Hopefully I can post the next update before
Friday, October 18, 2019
Later edit... I've just chatted on tumblr to a small Seeker who has a copy of The Wisdom of Unicorns... it feels quite odd, but absolutely delightful, chatting with a person on another continent who has read (and liked, I think) one of my books. Chuffed I am!
Well, looks like there's no getting away from the SSL problem. There are some people who will provide free SSLs, but I'd need root access to our site servers in order to make that work, which I know I don't have. So still investigating.
Kai and I have made a start on tidying up the garden a little, ready for the winter. Be easier if the rain would stop for a bit...
Kai and I had our flu jabs last Thurs and I felt a little iffy for a few days after - better now - so took it easy.
I know I've been busy, but I can't remember what I've been doing, so assume the usual household things. Oh, and getting ready for Samhain. I've bought a jointed cardboard skeleton I plan to sit in Derpy's driving seat - propped up on a box as it's child sized - and some flickering tealights to sit on the dash. Will hang some cobwebs and spiders inside too! I'd really like to put a hand or other limb hanging out of the boot, but haven't been able to find anything (cheap, at any rate) so may think about that for next year. We'll dress up the doorway too with the usual bats and cobwebs - I will put out treats this year, but only a small amount at a time to stop a repeat of two years back (the first lot of trick or treaters was a bunch of boys who emptied the whole (BIG) pot of sweets, little buggers...)
Kai's last driving lesson went really well - six or seven circuits of the roads we're using, smooth gear changes and pretty good road sense. We'd have carried on a bit longer but a pair of boy racers were tearing around in what I assume was a stolen car, so we stopped at that. But it was great. He's not quite ready to try driving us back home yet, but it's getting closer.
Felt horribly guilty when I checked the date on the last Poppy chapter - 26th November 2016 - so am now determined to finish the saga on the 26th Nov this year. It's not quite the longest gap I've done, but it's close...
Ken and I watched Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back earlier this week - more to get it out of the way than anything. I think, if it had been made without the Jay character (who I absolutely loathe: Kai says he thinks we're meant to...) it would be rather fun and funny. But he spoiled it for me. However, it did remind me that we have Dogma and not watched it for years, so tonight we settled in. It's really a fantastic movie (mind you, Alan Rickman's in it so I really wouldn't expect anything else) - thoroughly enjoyable (even with Jay).
I should mention that I've had so many problems with Skype over the last few months I'm no longer using it. I've switched to Discord, which, while mainly a gamers server, is faster, lighter on the memory and altogether easier to use.
That's about it for now. Wendy's coming up to visit later in the month, which will be fun, and GoodTwin and Sue will be over closer to Yule... guess I'd better start looking for presents!