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, 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!
Saturday, October 05, 2019
Alas, the summer is over, the heating is on, and I'm back in trousers and long sleeved tops. And it was only Wednesday I was out in shorts and a teeshirt (much to the shock and bemusement from the people bundled up in coats in town...)
Well, you can probably guess not much writing got done down in Devon. Prowl didn't actually get taken out of his bag. I had no idea Pomeranians were so demanding! Very cute though. Lots and lots of grooming...
That's Misty on the left, and his mum Poppy on the right. (And yes, her being named Poppy was a mental nag all through the week!)
Mum T went off on Monday at 8.30 in a car provided for her by the hospital. I tried to reassure the dogs that she'd be back in a couple of days, and cleaned the fridge (mum T has macular degeneration that wasn't caught in time, and is mostly blind: her central vision is gone, but she can see around the edges and has a pair of 'binoculars' which correct her sight when absolutely necessary - they're big and bulky and not easy to use. She has a cleaner but I doubt they'd be as picky as me, given Kai's immune system is still compromised), then Kai arrived about 12 midday, and we took the dogs up to St Mary Church village for shopping (there's a Co-op and a Sainsbury's Local there that were more than sufficient).
Pups were a bit fidgety that night, but after a walk along Oddicombe beach on Tuesday they'd calmed down and accepted us as family.
Wednesday was the main walk - bus to Hollicombe Beach then a walk along the front to Paignton and bus back. There are no busses from Paignton seafront, so we had to trek up to the bus station in the middle of town. Yapmeisters slept all afternoon and evening when we finally got back!
Thursday was another jaunt down the cliff railway to Oddicombe beach and another seafront walk, and Friday we walked them along the Downs at the top of the cliff. Happy dogs!
Mum was supposed to arrive back around middday on Friday, but didn't actually get back until 7.30 in the evening: I was just about to send Kai off in a taxi to the train station (he just couldn't sleep properly on the recliners) when the car pulled up. And she's absolutely fine - back to her tough old self! The op went splendidly. I offered to stay another night or two, but she was very firm and said no need, to get home and see how Ken and Tyjer were! So after a hurried exchange of news, Kai and I both boarded the taxi. Ken had looked up the trains for us - phone texting is one of the best things ever, I found that week! - and there was one to Birmingham (via Bristol) without changes at 8.26.
So we got onto the platform with 5 mins to spare - only to find it had been cancelled. (Of course it had. Nothing's ever easy 'round 'ere.)
Due to 'forecast extreme weather'.
What bloody extreme weather? That didn't happen until last week!
Anyway, there was another train at 8.40, with one change at Exeter St David's onto a Bristol Temple Meads service, so we got that. Got home in time to order a Domino's pizza...
The weather had been absolutely glorious - I even got a bit of extra tan! - and it continued over the weekend so I was able to get the washing done.
Then it rained, and has carried on doing so since. Except for Wed, when I nipped into town for a bit of shopping and met Ken for lunch.
It's been busy as usual, but not too bad.The greenhouse has been quite productive the last few weeks, but it's a bit cold now for the last of the tomatoes to ripen, so I'll start settling everything down for the winter over the next few weeks. Need to wash everything down with Jeyes fluid in preparation for next year...
Kai and I finished 24, then we all watched 24: Live Another Day... probably best described as a hurried melange of all the others with an ending that I found unsatisfying, though Kai's idea works quite well - that Jack escaped and became the Designated Survivor instead...
There's a ballet mentioned in Killers of the Flower Moon that presents the Osage history in dance. I found it available to buy and ordered a copy - it's beautiful. Wahzhazhe (an Osage Ballet).
And we all watched The Decoy Bride, which is an absolute delight! Very very funny and touching at the same time. A really lovely film.
Here's my original orchid, looking particularly beautiful right now...
And I finally have a snazzy new light in here. Yay! Spotlit Starscreams at last! And it was fitted by an electrician Kim recommended - who turned out to be a Transformers fan! I mean, seriously... this is why Surreal R Us is the subtitle of this blog...
Of course, I now need to paint over the circle of old blue paint where the old circular light fitting was...
I was planning to write tonight, but I've been caught up in arguing with 123-reg all day. Apparently to have my photos show on the blog I now need an SSL certificate for JAT - at £60 a year (on top of the hosting fee) - which is why some of them are now not showing. Given that FirstHosts charge £25 a year that's a rip off - especially since I do not and never will sell anything either from JAT or this blog. Currently exploring options. The photos for this update are loaded to blogspot's own server, so should be safe...
Saturday, September 14, 2019
Quick update as I'll be offline for a week - I'm off to Babbacombe to babysit mum T's Pomeranians while she goes up to London for her operation (Ken has the week off to get some of his own writing done, and Kai is joining me on Monday for however long he wants to explore South Devon...)
On the household side, the soilpipe is now replaced, the new rooftrim done, and the old ugly unused cables at the side of the house removed. It all looks really good!
The bud I hoped was a flower spike on the rescued orchid is a root, alas - but I do have a second flower spike coming on the alien face orchid. That and my original orchid are looking lovely - photos later.
Wild(life) Summer 6 and 7: Wed night I was kept awake for a while by a fox whinging in the back garden, then at the side, and when I looked out, I realised it was complaining about a badger that came out along the path at the side of the house and bumbled over the gravel to head off down parkwards! I have never seen a live badger before, so that was fun. And as soon as it had gone the fox (which had kept its distance, nagging at badger from atop the wall rather than the ground) went quiet again. I guess badger had been an unwelcome visitor in what they see as their territory....
Sometimes it's really useful having a very bright streetlight directly opposite the house! It certainly makes it easier to see all the goings on...
To my joy our burrowing bees (colletes hederae) are back living at the top of the garden. They're currently swarming, making a moving carpet of sweetly humming goodness. Very happy about that.
Media: watched The Woman in Black in preparation for the sequel. It was better than I remembered. However, the sequel - The Woman in Black: Angel of Death - was disappointing. Only one really scary bit it in.
Finally watched Dr Strangelove... Hm... Quite a frightening little film, I thought.
But The Space Between Us is a joy. Very nicely done indeed.
Dancer in the Dark? Um... It's a very strange and intense film, that made me feel as though I should watch it at least two more times with a notebook and pen and then write a 20 page dissertation on it. Highly unsettling but really very good. Definitely not for everyone and definitely not one to watch for fun.
Bumblebee, on the other hand... I really enjoyed it. A return to G1 iteration but with enough hints to others to make it intriguing. Thoroughly enjoyable, cute and funny and with just the right amount of fight time. More to the point, I watched it in the hope it might kick start my interest in getting Poppy finished. Will see what I can do this coming week. (With no internet connection at mum T's and not much more to do than feed dogs, fish and birds (occasionally) and take the dogs out for one (or two if I feel like it) walks a day, I should have plenty of time. Fingers crossed...)
All for now. I have to leave early tomorrow - my train isn't until 11.55, but it's Sunday, and the Bristol marathon (half-marathon? I forget) is going to disrupt the traffic.
More, with photos, when I get back. Wish me luck!
Saturday, August 24, 2019
Wow, an update!
[growl] I was woken at two minutes to nine this morning by the noise of a very rattly noisy truck reversing outside, then a prolonged clattering of something (scaffolding? It sounded like metal) being unloaded. Took half an hour.
Then everything went quiet again...
I swear, this summer has been like living on a building site. From the people across the road (in that house that had scaffolding around it for a year, and at one point what sounded like Niagara Falls somewhere inside it) who had sash-style double glazed windows installed - took two and a half WEEKS and the installers had an extraordinarily loud angle grinder set up under a tiny marquee in the tiny front garden - to the one on our side further up which now has a small tarmacked drive - said tarmac delivered by a full sized lorry which couldn't turn around in our narrow road so had to upend the stuff into noisy wheelbarrows to have it moved across the road - to the house-next-door-but-one to that one which had scaffolding built around it a week before they also had their sash-style double glazing installed (on my way back from Tesco yesterday I passed the young mother from the house between the two crossing the road with a baby in a stroller and an expression threatening murder to the next person who made any noise in her vicinity). Yes, we could mute it all almost completely by just closing our windows - but in this heat?? Sod that...
ANYway. Apart from that, it's been busy and productive.
The Sat after Tyjer's vet visit I drove Kai and I out to the Whitchurch Whitehall Garden Centre. Haven't been there in years so it was wonderful to have a good look around. Came back with a very pretty gaura Walburton's Gold Fountain and a festuca Intense Blue for the front garden, and an oak leaf garden spinner for the back. Had coffee (and cake for Kai) before driving back. Lovely relaxed trip, and I now feel I'm perfectly happy driving Derpy around (she handles hills really well!)
Sunday's driving lesson went really well too, with Kai driving two and a half times around the estate, nice and smoothly. He enjoyed it too! However, on the way back the exclamation mark symbol on the dash flashed and an alarm sounded - only for a few seconds - which was the handbrake mechanism alert, according to the Clio instruction book. I mentioned it when I took her down to Renatec for her MOT on the 13th Aug: they checked it, found a couple of faults, and refitted everything for me, so now it's all safe. (MOT was surprisingly cheap too, including the work done to the handbrake, only £102.) They couldn't do anything about the very tiny chip in the windscreen (driver's side, about a foot up from the edge): advised me to contact my insurer and ask about a resin fill. Which I did, and yesterday had Autoglass here to fix it for me (only a tenner through Aviva!) It may have been small, but was beginning to develop a hairline crack to one side, so it was important to get it done. (I think it may have been caused by driving over the very loosely gravelled 'additional parking' area at Whitehall, alas, as it was very recent. Will try not to do that again!)
Wendy visited on the 7th - wonderful day! Much hilarity and it was great to catch up on the news.
Oh - and I finally put in the legal claim against Fixit. They have 'til the 2nd of September to respond: after that I believe they get a CCJ. Was surprised but happy to find we could add interest to the amount - along with the cost of the claim they owe us £920. That would come in useful...
Kim and I had to swim on Fri morning for a couple of weeks, as her work (The Brandon Trust - she left the PO) had training on Tues pms. We were back to normal last week though - which was a relief, the pool is very busy on Friday with people whose swimming practices we didn't know (for anyone who doesn't have a regular swimming time, when you swim at the same time each week you get to know the people and how they swim, so you can adapt your own swimming accordingly.) For example, I swim sets of four lengths: one breaststroke, two sidecrawl (one each side) and one back crawl, which is my fastest stroke and I always leave a good length between me and the next person so I don't hit them. The Tues crowd know that now, and don't try to cut in front of me while I'm waiting for the gap to widen - not so on Friday.
My orchids are coming along splendidly...
The rescued one (in the middle) is thriving and has a tiny spike starting low down on the stem. I think it's a flower spike: won't be able to tell until it's a little larger, but fingers crossed!
On the 21st we drove Tyjer up to the vet again for his second lot of injections, more of the flea treatment, and to pick up some more Metacam, which helped enormously this last few weeks. He was very good, made no fuss at all, so I gave him a tiny bowl of skooshy cream and a Metacam dose mixed in a little tinned salmon when we got back. VERY happy cat.
On Thursday GoodTwin and Sue came over to visit! As usual, much hilarity ensued, as did board games and quizzes. I had a fantastic day [GLOMPS to both]!
And that's about up to date. There's been the usual house-stuff and much picking, cooking, or blanching and freezing of runner and dwarf French beans, which have both been plentiful this year (great big bags of everything in the bottom of the freezer, will keep us going for months over winter).
Next week it's going to be our turn to be noisy: Anglian are replacing our soffits, faschia and guttering (supposed to have it done two weeks back but the weather's been so horrible they're all behind) on Wed, then on Thurs the horrible old asbestos soilpipe is being replaced. It's all going to be lovely and clean, hygenic and smart when finished.
Then it's a matter of getting the indoor projects done, bit by bit. No hurry there, though.
SO! Onto the media...
Kai wanted to see Salyut 7: found it on ebay I think and we all watched it. Apart from the occasionally hysterically bad subtitles (it was in Russian) it's actually a very good film. Made in 2017, but set in 1985, and made to look authentic. I was quite impressed!
Mortal Engines: very disappointing. Wonderful cg but the story... Irritatingly gappy.
Some Like It hot. We're catching some classics in amongst the rest. Great fun, and much enjoyed (although Curtis's manipulative behaviour left a bad taste, even though it all worked out OK in the end.)
Ken and I watched Walking Tall, which was fine. A typical Dwayne Johnson movie. Then last Thurs he and I finally watched the complete Schindler's List, which is harrowing and heartbreaking and I think everyone should see it. But that's just me... Last night we saw Shiner... It's an interesting film, vaguely Shakespearian in flavour. Not our usual fare, but I'm glad I watched it.
Then there was Π. Very odd indeed. Quite fascinating.
Last Sat Ken and I nipped over to Keynsham to check the charity shops again. I've recently had the IMDb recommend Drunken Master as a possible good choice: after reading about it I thought it sounded fun so started searching. It's not easily available online, and as it's a 1978 film it's not that easy to find anywhere. I did find the Revenge of the Drunken Master (nothing to do with the original film, on a double disc with TC2000 - both look dreadful but that's half the fun!) in one of the charity shops so picked it up anyway, only £1. THEN, in the last of the shops, I found Drunken Master! (We watched it on Monday night, it's an absolute hoot!)
(Bugger it. There's a Drunken Master 2 that I now have to look for!!)
That's about it for now. The third lot of washing is going through (It's VERY hot out there, the towels dried in an hour): I'm going for my prescribed lie-down, then in an hour or so I fancy a walk over to Dunelm. It's just far enough to count as a walk for exercise, and I always find something very useful there - often in the cookery line, but today I'm looking for a bronze hare statuette, as ours blew off the landing windowsill in the high winds and shattered. I miss him, he was very cute.
Thursday, July 25, 2019
... 'cause it's been too hot and I've been too busy to update...
Wild(life) Summer 2 - the night after the hedgehogs, this murf -
- flew into the bathroom then out onto the landing (Ken took the photo). It's a Common Emerald (take a look at the caterpillar!!) which, despite its name, I have never seen before.
Wild(life) Summer 3 - A couple of days after that I found a dead, just-hatched baby bird outside the greenhouse - an odd place for it, but the following day, as I was returning to the house after watering, I heard a frantic rustling and distressed cheeping coming from the medlar, and seconds later our sparrowhawk zoomed off about three feet from my nose, with a tiny bird in its beak. We may have a sparrow's nest in the medlar? I believe this is the second (or maybe third) batch of eggs this year, the weather, and the fact we feed them all the time, has made it a good year for our birds...
Wild Summer 4 - oh, the thunderstorms! The most immense rumbling roll of thunder right over the house woke me just as I was falling asleep around midnight on Monday, the sort that would have shaken the windows to bits if we hadn't had them replaced, and I spent the next half an hour or so transfixed, watching out the window the most extraordinary light show of constant, continuous sheet lightning over to the south of us, accompanied by non-stop thunder. I love thunderstorms, always have, but in sixty years I've never seen ANYTHING like that. Wonderful! Taranis having a disco!
Wild(life) Summer 5 - Looks like after digging exploratory holes all over the garden, the foxes have decided where to build their lair...
In other news...
Tyjer has been having a bit of trouble jumping up recently - we think he might have a touch of arthritis in his hips. So I registered him with the vet service at Pets@Home, and got him an appt for yesterday...
Was horrified to find, when I dug out his records, that he hasn't had his inoculations since 2012. Though in my defence we've been a bit fraught over the last few years. And if I was worried about his health I'd have had him looked at before... Anyway, I bought a cheap pillow from Tesco, customised it to fit the carrier, popped him in and drove him (and Kai) up to the vet yesterday.
Bless 'im, he was more curious about the room than worried about the treatment. Vet gave him the first course of his injections (second and last in four weeks), a worming tablet (didn't much like that), syringed and cleared his ears (Kai had said they seemed to be bothering him, he was rubbing and scratching and shaking his head more than normal - and they were rather gungy) and gave him a dose of a different (not over the counter) flea killer, as the Front Line Spot On (the strongest you can buy here) didn't seem to be working any more. Apparently fleas do develop immunity to such things, a bit like bugs and antibiotics... She weighed him - 5.4 kg - checked his heart and lungs - all absolutely fine - and gave me a bottle of Metacam pain killer and a syringe to ease the pain in his hips. I mixed it with a little tinned salmon the last two evenings and he wolfed it down no problem. She did say, though, that prolonged or over use can cause kidney problems, so I'll do four days then stop for a bit and see how we go. There's nothing permanent can be done, it's just age. (Heh, know a song about that...)
I forgot to buy orchid supports when we were at Cheddar, but I've had a go at turning my original orchid a little bit every day to see if I could make the flower spike grow more upright - it seems to have worked, I have a graceful curve now with buds slowly appearing...
I also have a third plant: hobbling back from Tesco on Monday I saw one of those sad dyed orchids in the bin from the shop up the road. You know the ones, they're dyed with blue for display purposes (there is no true blue orchid) and then discarded when the flowers die. I rescued it, cut off the empty blue flower spikes and let it soak in rain water and liquid compost feed for a couple of hours, and it's perked up nicely. These are often originally white, as white takes the blue dye better, so I'm hoping for a white orchid to join the other two. Photos as things happen!
The kitchen is a little tidier: K&K fitted the new panel to hide where the hot water pipe was mended...
While waiting for the next crop of blockbusters to be available to buy we've been picking up 'classics', and the other evening Ken and I watched Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (or, Bruce Cassington and the Sunday Centre Kids, as my phone's auto-correct auto-corrected...) Apparently it got 4 Oscars, though gawds know why, I found it stupidly tedious and boring. But then, I'm not overly fond of Westerns. And maybe it's a generational thing...
Kai and I are now onto 24: Season 4, which I like much more than Season 3.
I'm sure there was something else... will edit later if I remember!
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Tiny little update... last night was magical. I heard faint scramblings against the gravel of the drive, and when I looked out, a hedgehog, legs twinkling, scuttled over the road from our garden and continued on up the road. While I stood there, a second hedgehog also meandered over the gravel and headed up the road (on the pavement on this side). And THEN, a minute later, a third hedgehog scuttled over the gravel and headed down the road in the direction of the park... THREE hedgehogs. never seen more than one at a time in the garden (and that was about a decade ago) so not sure if they were youngsters leaving to search out their own territory or all inhabitants of our garden (which is, after all, big enough and rich enough in insect life it can support more than one! We have two blackbird families, after all) just out for a midnight stroll, but it was fantastic to see them. I did watch a little longer but there were no more 'hogs, just a fox leaping over the wall and heading off on its own business...
I do love living here.
Friday, July 12, 2019
Later edit: And then I forgot to say I had an email from CICO books, who are bringing out a second edition of The Book of Celtic Symbols! (email arrived last Tues, when everything else was happening...) Heh. You know you must be doing something right when publishers start reprinting your books!
Well, what a weekannahalf it's been...!
Swimming went well last Tues: seeing if we can gradually increase the number of lengths now we can do 20 in half an hour.
Back in May I had a letter from Wyevale with my last loyalty vouchers - £5. Only problem is, the nearest Wyvale garden centre is at Cheddar, which is a bit of a way to go, although there is a bus that goes to the centre of the village. Mentioned this to Kim, who said she'd be happy to drive us there - so last Thurs, it being a lovely day, she picked me up at 10.30. Great drive, out along the new road below Dundry, over to airport road, then down the narrow (and somewhat hair-raising) country lanes past Stanton Drew (useful, that, as there's a stone circle there that K&K will probably want to revisit at some point, and it's near impossible to get to except by car. Unless you don't mind walking through fields of grumpy bullocks, which I do. Or using the once-a-week bus! Now I know the route...) The garden centre is a fair way outside the village, although by the looks of it there is a local bus, but we found it and parked up. And discovered it had become the Hillier Garden Centre the week before... [sigh] BUT they accepted the vouchers, so that was OK. And the centre itself is lovely, really big, and had LOADS of specials. Picked up a heritage raspberry and a thornless blackberry (because the mystery fruit bush I bought from Hurrans turned out to be a loganberry, which is great!), both at £3 reduced from £9.50: a skimmia (my old one died, alas) and a beautiful convolvulus cneorum (photo later if I remember, the flowers only open in the sun) - both at £2, and a gorgeous petunia, 'Lightening Sky' -
Never grown petunias before - you're supposed to lift them and keep them in the greenhouse over winter - but at £1 and with those colours I couldn't resist...
Bought a beautiful little handpainted glass table (blossom and humming bird: now in bedroom with jar of lights on it) and some useful kitchen stuff at half price, too. Fun and very successful day out!
Fri was supposed to be a writing day, but ended up shopping instead, and planting the front garden flowers. Then on Sat Ken and I took our long promised trip to Keynsham. Very successful for me: found an interesting light coat/top thing, and a pure cashmere pashmina in peacock colours for £2.50 (think that may have been wrongly labelled!) Also some peacock feathers in the flower shop (I ended up buying a second lot of butterflies-on-bleached-twigs lights at Dunelm in the sale: ten in the jar were too many, so Kai and I rejigged the collection so there are now seven, three with extra lights and butterflies. Looks gorgeous!) which I planned to add to the jar, but it was too cluttered, so they're now in another jar on my bedside table.
Heh, that was a bit rambling - sorry!
Sun was a driving lesson - Kai is doing very well - and we dropped in to Benson's for Beds on the way back for me to buy a new Igel pillow (mine was guaranteed for two years, it did three, which is very good, but recently it's stopped being comfy and wouldn't return to shape, so time for a new one.) They're Igel Side-Sleeper pillows now, instead of Igel Bliss, but it works just the same. Peaceful, incredibly comfortable sleep...
Monday was the usual, business-busy day. Tues is delivery day: Sains (booked for 10 - 11) arrived at 10.01: had just finished putting that away when the Tesco deliverer rang to ask if we minded an early delivery as he was just a few minutes away - absolutely fine by me. So he arrived and unloaded by 10.30 (was booked for 11 - 12). Turned out that was just as well, as around 10.40 the Council workmen arrived in a van to put my 'disabled' line across the drive! Only took them 20 mins - it's not paint, it a sort of plastic with ground glass mixed in, which they melt to the road using a very powerful sort of blowtorch. I though it would be neat, small lettering, but nooo, you can see mine from orbit! Still, hopefully it'll stop people from trying to park there. It has very little legal power: it's more the moral shame of making a disabled person's life more difficult that should work.
Kim had to miss swimming this week: her work had scheduled meetings, much to her annoyance. I nipped down to Sains to have a look at their new clothing - Ken needs new shorts - but didn't find anything that interesting. Nor shorts. Went swimming (by myself) Wed am instead, via Wilko to pick up birdseed, then back via Tesco for tonics the delivery had missed off. Absolutely knackered by the time I got back, so had lunch, watched another ep of 24 (we're on season 3 now, my least favourite. I just can't bring myself to like or care about any of the characters in this one) then took the rest of the day off.
Yesterday Kai helped me plant up the fruit bushes and move things around. I've repotted the acacia, and all the soft fruit is now in pots in a 'hedge' along the line of the dip Kai dug out when he was going to build a wall there (we don't think there'll be enough rocks left over once he's finished the patio to complete the job). It looks fine, and is very convenient for cropping. And my blueberry bushes now have more room between the two raised beds.
Had to spend half an hour putting stakes in the lower bed and tying twine around them, as the foxes (we have a vixen with three cubs that visit) had dug up my pumpkin plant. (They don't like running into the twine so tend to leave the bed alone.) The pumpkin plant has recovered, and today I planted the two marrow seedlings - that bed is now complete.
We have a LARGE bag of mange tout in the freezer ready for winter, and I'm thinking I'll lift all the plants - they're mostly finished now - and see if I can get a second crop to grow. It's fantastic having fresh homegrown mange tout and sugarsnaps. The cucumbers have finished too, so will try for a second crop of those.
This on the left is the clock Kai's been working on. The mechanism came from ebay and is over 100 years old, and he's built the wooden stand and pendulum covering himself - he's getting quite into carpentry. It still needs work, then he's going to make space for it in his room. Somehow.
Media... Bounty Killer, which is an absolute riot! Completely bonkers and huge fun. We all loved it! Stranger Things (seasons 1 and 2) which is fabulous. I wasn't sure I was going to like it - it's taken bits from every horror/scifi/thriller genre and mashed them together - but the more I watched the more addictive it became. It's bloody good!! We liked it so much we ordered the soundtrack CDs (Season 2 has arrived and is simply gloriously beautiful... and the first soundtrack arrived today - not quite as polished but still amazing.) Really looking forward to season 3 now. Finally watched The Owl Service... it's not aged well, and the acting isn't great, but it's still very unnerving. And there's an amazing interview with Alan Garner in the bonus features, which explains a lot! Then yesterday Ken and I watched Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (bought because I'm collecting Matthew Marsden films). It's a pretty standard creature feature, but fun, and silly, and a perfectly fine way to relax after another busy, and very hot, day.
And that's us up to date. There's a SpringFest event in Sandy Park Rd tomorrow that I want to go to, then we plan a driving lesson Sun with a possible diversion to Whitehall Garden Centre - I need some plant supports for the fruit bushes. Ken has a week off next week, so we may be doing things - will see what we all fancy!
Tuesday, July 02, 2019
After the monsoon, it's now become hot again, so Kai and I have put up the shading I bought last year for the greenhouse. And ye gods, does it make a difference! Suddenly everything is fruiting instead of curling up and dying in the heat! Home grown cucumbers and tomatoes, and I currently have mizuna and rocket, mixed spicy salad leaves, and watercress (a hybrid variety that grows beautifully in soil in a pot as long as you keep it very wet - deliciously tasty) sprouting ready to come in on the kitchen windowshelves. And fruit! Ken filled the raspberry pots with wonderful rich compost from the large bin, and they suddenly exploded. Three times the size they were, and we've had raspberries for dessert (warmed waffles, crème fraïche and fruit, topped with Tesco's own raspberry coulis, which is the tastiest I've found) three times so far. My blueberries are already producing too - having to pick them as they ripen or our blackbirds will nick them!
Next year I'll get my strawberry pots sorted out...
We're nearly in a position to get the horrible asbestos soilpipe, that's as old as the house, replaced. It leaks - Ken's patched it up over the years but it's now well past saving and a health risk (not to mention smelly!) I should be able to get that booked at the end of the week (it's already priced up and provisionally booked). Then we're also having the soffits, fascias and guttering replaced - Anglian confirmed this a.m. that the soffit's aren't asbestos, so we don't have to pay extra to have them removed. There's black mould growing on the ones outside the bathroom and our room, which is making its way inside, and that's a definite health risk, especially for Kai. It'll be good to have everything done!
Third gastroscopy... Well, the ulcers have all gone, but have left scars, and my stomach lining is still inflamed - so it looks like I'm on omeprazole for life. Oh joy...
Off to get ready for swimming!