Zone Doubt, a.k.a. 'Surreal Я Us'...

Joules, trusted by... dozens... to make a drama out of your crisis...

Other sites:

:: 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.

The Poppy Tales

(Transformers fanfiction!)

Transformers mini-comics here.











I'm a Member of 

UK Veg Gardeners!


My IMDb ep summaries

(completed)
Arthur of the Britons
Sky
Star Maidens
The Starlost
Space Rangers
The Sentinel (part: seasons 2 and 3)
Swamp Thing (part: season 3)
Gravedale High
Transformers: Armada
Transformers: Energon
Transformers: Cybertron (part)
Misfits of Science (four eps)
Zoo Gang
Zodiac
Jupiter Moon
Transformers: Beast Wars (part: seasons 2 and 3)
Transformers: Beast Machines (part)
Vampire Princess Miyu
Starhyke
Nathan Barley
No Heroics
Undermind (3 eps)
Will Shakespeare (Tim Curry version)
Nightwalker
12 Kingdoms
Trigun (ep 8)
Rayearth
Hyperdrive (season 2 ep 3)

For later:

Earthian
Dragonball Z (season 2, part)
(Someone else beat me to it!)
Robotech (s2 ep14 Triumvirate)
BBC Lion, witch and wardrobe
BBC Caspian and Dawn Treader
BBC Silver Chair
Beauty and the Beast (part)
(Missing Excel Saga eps)
(Missing Haibane Renme eps)
(And possibly Marine Boy...)


Silver birch at Eastwood 

Farm

"Autumnal - nothing to do with leaves. It is to do with a certain brownness at the edges of the day... Brown is creeping up on us, take my word for it... Russets and tangerine shades of old gold flushing the very outside edge of the senses... deep shining ochres, burnt umber and parchments of baked earth - reflecting on itself and through itself, filtering the light. At such times, perhaps, coincidentally, the leaves might fall, somewhere..."

(Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead Act 2: Tom Stoppard)

Autumn...

I love this time of year. I love the colours, the sharp slant of sunlight on the trees, mosaics of acid-yellow and harts- blood, velvet and darkness and a haze of mist-grey over the hills. I love its immanence, its mellowness, the tang of frost just around the corner of the year...

Watching the little birds in the goat-willow in my garden, I realised something more.

I love this land with a fierce, possessive love, deep-rooted in two thousand years of history. From the frosted beaches and cloud-brushing peaks of the north to the wind-haunted meanderings of the rivers of the east, from the sensuous rolling patchworked hills of the south to the demanding dark moors of the west, this land seeps into bone and blood and synapse, mother of motley nobility, culture, individual freedoms. It can be known. It can be understood. It can be felt deep inside.

I love its effortless eccentricities, its vigour and vibrancy, its flawed perfections, its silent strength and tenacious resilience, its hard-won tolerances and intense and variable beauty, the profound energy in its sacred mythical landscape.

Home and more-than-home, the forces that shape and protect and bind, in me, as I am in the land. Love returning love in the stillness for those who'll only take the time to listen...

(Joules, Autumn 2004)


All photographs taken by Joules unless otherwise specified. All photographs © Joules A Taylor or other specified individual.


In Memoriam

17.03.09 - Argent

25.07.08 - Raptor

18.12.07 - Quyn

02.12.06 - Ryme


Currently enjoying:
Muse
Transformers - IDW, Prime, Animated, Rescue Bots.

Currently reading:
Various Transformers books and graphic novels.



Currently working on:
Heart, The Poppy Tales

Currently chuffed with:
My garden

Currently miffed at:
Nestlé, Nonpres Tinyhands Fart, Toadface Farage

Currently maintaining:
BCHS
BCP


Blog Pics
I've gathered some of my pages of photos together: the page of links is here. I'll be adding more as time goes by!




Evil Squid
A Little Glossary of Taylorspeke
(in no particular order)

plit popints - n. Typo for 'plot points' typed on a keyboard with more than half the characters worn off...

[PING] (alt [ping]) - n. A brainwave. The text equivalent of a lightbulb going on blindingly over someone's head. Usually mine. And usually at the most inconvenient of times. [sigh]

TPTB - The Powers That Be.

wulmet - n. A person of little or no talent who somehow inveigles himself into a position where he is in power over other, far more talented people and uses his position to downplay them in order to try to make himself feel superior.

biteable - referring to an anatomical part vb, tasty.

Flatterfed - vb. 27.02.08: my typo for flattered, but since it's so cutely apt I thought it would fit nicely here. Lutra defined it as "the lovely warm feeling of satisfaction resulting from enthusiastic reviews..." (which I've been getting for my MB fics).

Composted - vb, 'compos mentis', mentally capable of working. Contrast with uncomposted or non- composted, not 'compos mentis', not capable of working, hungover...

Cumbles - n, cucumbers.

Kewp - how Ken says 'thank you'. We rather like Lutra's 'nanx', too...

Musekick - noun, music, without which I cannot work.

'feinne - noun, caffeine, essential for correct mental functioning, especially first thing in the morning. I prefer mine in the form of SodaStream Diet Coke. And on that subject...

Skoosh - verb, noun. To skoosh - to add CO2 to a sodastream bottle filled with water to make it fizzy, prior to adding Diet Coke syrup (or just drinking as sparkling water). A skoosh - a bottle of water that has been skooshed. Skooshy - something that has been skooshed, water, or that whipped cream that comes in tins you have to shake then upend and press the nozzle...

Shoogle - verb. To shake gently, for example, of roast potatoes in a roasting tin to ensure they're covered with oil. I have vague memories of this being a real Scottish colloquialism...

Stegasaurus - n, spider of the genus tegenaria. Why? No idea. I just find it easier, that's all...
Edit 08.09.07: Lutra thinks that Brian is a good name for a mini-stegasaurus. From now on, any 'Brian's in the posts may be assumed to be a tegenaria. Except where otherwise specified.

Viterals - noun, vitamins + minerals. Also a pun on victuals.

Splish - verb. A combination of slosh and splash.

Parrots - noun, paracetemol (from the old joke "Why are there no aspirin tablets in the jungle? Because the parrots eat 'em all...")

Maggles - noun, magpies. As opposed to non-magical people.

Flamewings - noun. Swifts. So called because the first time we became aware of them was an early summer evening when they were flying high, the light from the setting sun seemingly turning their wings to flames. Lovely little birds. We always know summer's arrived when we hear their high-pitched squeeing.

Murfs - noun, moths.

Peasant cut - noun, roughly cut up into big chunks, e.g. vegetables chopped in a hurry for a hearty stew or soup. By extension, anything prepared in a hurry - haircut, material, even a first draft of a story...

Giraffe - noun, a carafe (of wine, coffee or water, for example).

Shrumps - noun, mushrooms.

Splings - noun, Kai's spelling homework: by extension, any spelling.

Tyops - noun, typos. var toyps, typso, psyto, psoyt, etc. Usual result of a dose of the fingerials (see next entry).

Fingerials - (pr. fin GEEE ree yalls) noun, fingers that will not type what you want them to.

Haddock - noun, time, of which I never have enough. (Origin of this term here.)

Sleep - noun? vb? a.k.a. sheeeeeeeeep.... I used to know what this word meant...


The Updates Blog

The place to stay notified of WaveWrights' Fiction updates: Zone, Darkside, DarkRealm, Matrix, Vault, Safehouse 13...




my computer gremlin Butch. click the pic to see the larger image

Butch, my computer gremlin. Click the pic for larger version, and read his adventures here...

Butch by the talented 

Sylverthorne

A gift for me! Butch by the very talented Sylverthorne. Click pic for larger image.

Joules' 

Haddock

This is MY haddock. It was caught exclusively for me by Talon. No, you can't have any. I need all the haddock I can get!!



A'lestrel by 

Valkyrie.

A'lestrel - a gift for me from Valkyrie...



Kood, my new mp3 

player.

Soundwave! (Kood's still moving in...)


Albino Alsatian Benten (c) MEBird 

2004

Another gorgeous Valkyrie gift for me - Benten the Albino Alsatian! Click thumbnail for larger image.

Radittsu, an oekaki for my birthday 04 

by 

Onna

Oekai by Bakayaro Onna - Radittsu at his sexiest...



I now have an Amazon wish list - find it here. But please be warned most of the things on it are yaoi. If you don't like yaoi, or don't know what it is, you probably won't want to take a look.




The Zone Plant from
The Zone 

blog 

plant

OrganicHTML (which alas no longer seems to exist...)
[::..My Regular Reads..::]
:: Astronomical Pic of the Day [>]
:: What is Space... [>]
:: Dark Roasted Blend [>]
:: BLDG [>]
:: Pruned [>]
:: Watchismo Times [>]
:: Fundies say the darnedest things [>]
(Warning. This site is likely to have you screaming with laughter, shaking your head in sheer disbelief, or weeping for the future of your species. Often all three at the same time. I disclaim any responsiblity for any harm suffered by anyone who visits...)
[::..Fun Places..::]
::HubbleSite
Stunning...
::PALEOMAP Project
Absolutely fascinating.
::The Hacker Dictionary
Hackers with Humour!
:: Carol's Place
My GoodTwin's Homepage!
:: Skymap
Check out the night sky where you are!
[::..Useful Sites..::]
:: GreenNet
First stop for environmental matters
:: MailWasher
Excellent anti-spam software
:: About Bristol
The essential guide - and beautifully user-friendly too!
:: The Forest of Avon
Our local community forest and places to visit
:: The Guardian
Online Guardian Newspaper.
:: ZSPC Colour Chart
Check how your text and background colours look together before releasing them on the world!
:: Symbols
Exactly what it says
:: World Timeserver
For checking the current time around this world
:: Universal Currency Converter
Actually it's just a terran-global currency converter, not universal, but it's still useful...
:: Union of Concerned Scientists
Exactly what it says. Fascinating - and worrying...

So what is it with the haddock? Am I some kind of fish freak?

I'll leave that to others to decide.

The tale (or tail if you prefer) harks back to October 2000, when my GoodTwin and I, ably assisted by Sue, ran the first UK Professionals convention...
It's common knowledge that I never have enough time, and I was determined not to bewail the fact that weekend: hence I promised not to use the 'T' word...
Of course, that didn't really work (if nothing else I had to let the trainees know what times things were supposed to be happening!) so we decided a substitute word would be employed instead. There were several suggestions. Banana came very close to being chosen. However, I eventually decided that 'haddock' fitted the bill nicely. Ever since, haddock=time. Hence the title of my forthcoming autobiography,
My Half-Life in the Haddock Space Continuum....


Normally I wouldn't, but these were just irresistible...

How could I resist?

Just too adorable...

and to complete the rainbow...

These Too-Kawaii Kitties
were adopted from
Ghost's Anime Page (which appears to have disappeared, alas...)

[::..Anime/Manga..::]
Useful sites:

Yamato -
Fabulous anime figures

Anime Lyrics
A huge selection... evil popups

Anime still needed to complete series' I'm collecting... Many thanks to everyone who has helped me acquire the collection!
Ai no Kusabi

Owned:
   DVD
   Dj: June Special
   CD: Ambivalence

Cyber City Oedo 808

Owned:
   DVD
   All 3 eps on Video, dubbed
   Dj: Cyberage 1-3
   Illustrated Book 2 (Benten's) in Japanese

From Eroica with Love

Owned:
   Manga Vols 1, 9, 11

Mirage of Blaze

Owned:
   DVD Vol 1 (eps 1-4)

R.G. Veda

Owned:
   English Manga: Vol 1
   Japanese Manga: Vol 1-7 complete
   Tarot Pack
   R.G.Veda video

Twelve Kingdoms

Owned:
   Anime Vol 1-12: complete

Under the Glass Moon

Owned:
   Manga Vol 1, 2
Vol 3 needed

Vampire Hunter D - Bloodlust

Owned:
   DVD

   Vampire Hunter D Book 1



New Vampire Miyu

Owned:
   (Studio Ironcat) Manga Vols 1 -5 (complete)


Yami no Matsuei

Owned:
   Viz Manga: English translation, Vols 1 - 11 (complete: I believe vol 12 is only available online)
   Japanese 3-DVD set
   Central Park Media: Descendants of Darkness Vol. 1, English/Japanese subbed.
   Sketchbook


[::..Joules SPfied..::]


... this is Terra? How the hell'd I end up here...?

(Thanks, Lutra, for the quote!)

[::..archive..::]
07/01/2002 - 07/31/2002
08/01/2002 - 08/31/2002
09/01/2002 - 09/30/2002
10/01/2002 - 10/31/2002
11/01/2002 - 11/30/2002
12/01/2002 - 12/31/2002
01/01/2003 - 01/31/2003
02/01/2003 - 02/28/2003
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02/01/2004 - 02/29/2004
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04/01/2004 - 04/30/2004
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06/01/2004 - 06/30/2004
07/01/2004 - 07/31/2004
08/01/2004 - 08/31/2004
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11/01/2004 - 11/30/2004
12/01/2004 - 12/31/2004
01/01/2005 - 01/31/2005
02/01/2005 - 02/28/2005
03/01/2005 - 03/31/2005
04/01/2005 - 04/30/2005
05/01/2005 - 05/31/2005
06/01/2005 - 06/30/2005
07/01/2005 - 07/31/2005
08/01/2005 - 08/31/2005
09/01/2005 - 09/30/2005
10/01/2005 - 10/31/2005
11/01/2005 - 11/30/2005
12/01/2005 - 12/31/2005
01/01/2006 - 01/31/2006
02/01/2006 - 02/28/2006
03/01/2006 - 03/31/2006
04/01/2006 - 04/30/2006
05/01/2006 - 05/31/2006
06/01/2006 - 06/30/2006
07/01/2006 - 07/31/2006
08/01/2006 - 08/31/2006
09/01/2006 - 09/30/2006
10/01/2006 - 10/31/2006
11/01/2006 - 11/30/2006
12/01/2006 - 12/31/2006
01/01/2007 - 01/31/2007
02/01/2007 - 02/28/2007
03/01/2007 - 03/31/2007
04/01/2007 - 04/30/2007
05/01/2007 - 05/31/2007
06/01/2007 - 06/30/2007
07/01/2007 - 07/31/2007
08/01/2007 - 08/31/2007
09/01/2007 - 09/30/2007
10/01/2007 - 10/31/2007
11/01/2007 - 11/30/2007
12/01/2007 - 12/31/2007
01/01/2008 - 31/01/2008
01/02/2008 - 29/02/2008
03/01/2008 - 31/03/2008
01/04/2008 - 04/30/2008
01/05/2008 - 31/05/2008
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01/10/2008 - 31/10/2008
01/11/2008 - 31/11/2008
01/12/2008 - 31/12/2008
01/12/2008 - 31/12/2008
01/01/2009 - 31/01/2009
01/02/2009 - 28/02/2009
01/03/2009 - 31/03/2009
01/04/2009 - 30/04/2009
01/05/2009 - 31/05/2009
01/06/2009 - 30/06/2009
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01/08/2009 - 31/08/2009
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01/01/2010 - 31/01/2010
01/02/2010 - 28/02/2010
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01/11/2010 - 31/11/2010
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01/01/2011 - 31/01/2011
01/02/2011 - 28/02/2011
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01/01/2012 - 31/01/2012
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01/10/2012 - 31/10/2012
01/11/2012 - 30/11/2012
01/12/2012 - 31/12/2012
01/01/2013 - 31/01/2013
01/02/2013 - 28/02/2013
01/03/2013 - 31/03/2013
01/04/2013 - 30/04/2013
01/05/2013 - 31/05/2013
01/06/2013 - 31/06/2013
01/07/2013 - 31/07/2013
01/08/2013 - 31/08/2013
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01/10/2013 - 31/10/2013
01/11/2013 - 30/11/2013
01/12/2013 - 31/12/2013
01/01/2014 - 31/01/2014
01/02/2014 - 28/02/2014
01/03/2014 - 31/03/2014
01/04/2014 - 30/04/2014
01/05/2014 - 31/05/2014
01/06/2014 - 31/06/2014
01/07/2014 - 31/07/2014
01/08/2014 - 31/08/2014
01/09/2014 - 31/09/2014
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01/11/2014 - 30/11/2014
01/12/2014 - 31/12/2014
01/01/2015 - 31/01/2015
01/02/2015 - 28/02/2015
01/03/2015 - 31/03/2015
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01/05/2015 - 31/05/2015
01/06/2015 - 30/06/2015
01/07/2015 - 31/07/2015
01/08/2015 - 31/08/2015
01/09/2015 - 30/09/2015
01/10/2015 - 31/10/2015
01/11/2015 - 31/11/2015
01/12/2015 - 31/12/2015
01/01/2016 - 31/01/2016
01/022016 - 28/02/2016
01/03/2016 - 31/03/2016
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01/05/2016 - 31/05/2016
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01/07/2016 - 31/07/2016
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01/12/2016 - 31/12/2016
01/01/2017 - 31/01/2017
01/02/2017 - 28/02/2017
01/03/2017 - 31/03/2017
01/04/2017 - 30/03/2017
01/05/2017 - 31/04/2017
01/06/2017 - 30/06/2017

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Cloudless sunshine all day, said the BBC weather forecast and website, she types as thunder rattles the windows and lightning spooks the kits. Heh. It's pissing down out there. Meteorology seems to be more of an art than a science these days. (Why do Brits always talk about the weather? Because it's like a capricious, wilful mistress - you never know what it's going to do next, kiss you or kill you. An average day out in summer involves taking brolly, warm sweater and sunscreen with you...)
Still, at least Ken and Kai are on their way back from Severn Beach. They opted to go there instead of the Blackberry Hills (I'm told one of the hills there is actually called Blackberry Hill, and the appellation has stuck for all three). And the rain will be good for the garden. And me, I'm enjoying it - I have a great fondness for storms.
But I've not done much. Got up extra early to make tortillas for their day out - and then they didn't leave until midday. Tch'. Maybe I can grab a nap later. Hope so or I'll be useless tonight.
Keep forgetting to say I've ordered the Drawn Together first season DVD (for Yule).
And remember the lioncub silhouette at Cheddar Gorge? This is what I saw (original left, outline traced right) -
   

Off at a tangent - there's an article here I found alarming. It's in the NY Times and I think once the day's past you have to register to read it, but it's called Scientific Savvy? In U.S., Not Much and is the findings of
Dr. Jon D. Miller, 63, a political scientist who directs the Center for Biomedical Communications at the University Medical School in Chicago, [who] studies how much Americans know about science and what they think about it. His findings are not encouraging...
While scientific literacy has doubled over the past two decades, only 20 to 25 percent of Americans are "scientifically savvy and alert," he said in an interview. Most of the rest "don't have a clue." At a time when science permeates debates on everything from global warming to stem cell research, he said, people's inability to understand basic scientific concepts undermines their ability to take part in the democratic process...
Dr. Miller's data reveal some yawning gaps in basic knowledge. American adults in general do not understand what molecules are (other than that they are really small). Fewer than a third can identify DNA as a key to heredity. Only about 10 percent know what radiation is. One adult American in five thinks the Sun revolves around the Earth, an idea science had abandoned by the 17th century.
It would be tragic if it wasn't so bloody terrifying.
I wonder how the UK would compare?





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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

That was fun. If a bit of an early start. Ruth and I sat under a tree: shady there - very hot day, but nice hot, dry rather than the horrible humidity we keep experiencing. We talked (they've had as busy a summer as us) while the sprogs climbed trees. And ate their lunch up a tree - that was amusing...
We're going to try to arrange more visits both here and there, at weekends, in future!
I also managed to find a pair of trainers for Kai that we're both happy with, comfortable and secure but with enough room for a little growth, for £10, which isn't too bad. Keynsham seems to be the place to go for shoes, it's where I buy my flat sandals as well.
And the little café (Taste Buds?) had a new ice cream: orange ripple chocolate chip - yummm!
We're both tired, Kai especially (climbing trees is wearying), and he managed to bang his head, not badly, though he has a graze on his forehead, daft sprog, but it was a very good day...
Ken's planning to take Kai to 'Blackberry Hills' tomorrow - no, no idea where they are or if that's the real name, but it's a fair bus-ride away, I'm told. It'll be pretty much Kai's last day out, but I think he's enjoyed the holiday, even though we've had to work through some of it.
Though we never did manage to go swimming. I'm wondering if there's any way we can organise it during the week: I'll try to find out next week.
Right - let's see what, if anything, I can get done...

Hm. My 'Make Poverty History' banner has disappeared, and there's a 'sorry' message appearing at the bottom of the screen as the blog loads. Wonder what that's all about. Better go find out, may need to delete the banner code...





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Monday, August 29, 2005

OK, so we didn't manage to get to Wyevale...
It suddenly occurred to me Kai's back to school next Monday (ye gods where did the summer go?) and we haven't yet kitted him out, and since he's shot up over the summer - top of his head now reaches my chin, and as we discovered at Brabanto he's into a size 4 shoe (heh, I only take a 7 myself!) - it seemed like a good idea to check what we needed to buy. Not trousers; the ones I bought in last year's sale now fit him, and his uniform polo shirts and sweatshirts will last a little longer. Last year's fleecy long-sleeved zip-up top also still fits him, and I picked up sweatpants earlier in the holidays. But he needed just about everything else - gym shorts and T-shirt, trainers (haven't got those yet, I refuse to pay £20+ for trainers he'll wear once a week for less than a year), new sports-bag, boxers, socks, shoes, lunch-box...
So we went shopping. Didn't do too badly. Still have to buy trainers and shorts (though at a pinch the old shorts would do for a week or two). I'm a little concerned his new shoes won't last very long: there wasn't a lot of choice and the most comfortable ones just aren't as thick-soled and tough as usual. Well, we'll see. He's hard on shoes anyway, I'm resigned to having to buy a couple of pairs a year. Just wish they weren't so expensive.
I taped the last two episodes of House last night while Ken and Kai had the first of the planned two bonfires (the prunings of holly and mahonia, buddleia and bay, very fragrant). We watched them this evening - damn good, especially the penultimate ep: if that doesn't win some sort of special award I don't know what would. It's held my interest right the way through, which is most unusual for a TV series. There's a second series in production: given how season one ended I'm not entirely sure whether I'm looking forward to it or not - it would be so easy for the series to descend into maudlin mundanity, which would be tragic. Heh, suppose I'll have to wait and see...
We're off to Keynsham tomorrow to meet Ruth, Jun and Yumi: will check the shoe-shops for trainers while I'm there. For now, I'm tired. Early start in the morning, going to try for an early night.





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Sunday, August 28, 2005

Gah, the days are blurring into each other like one of those flicky picture books, running away from me ... The haddock are escaping...
What did we do on Friday? I can't remember. I think it was wet, so Kai carried on tidying up his den under the bed - a major job, given he's been using it as a dump for everything since he's had it. Ken would have been working on the Dartmouth book, I'd have been carrying on with Dreams and 2AC. (I've just started the twelfth chapter. The story's already over 40,000 words and I'm having a whale of a time with it, it's great being able to go into so much more background detail.)
I do remember what we did yesterday. It was a sunny garden day: I cut down the buddleia beside the shed at the back (we're leaving the one at the front, it's great cover and the wisteria likes it) and we tried moving the mahonia to the space to replace it. I'm not sure if it'll work, the mahonia roots went too deep for Ken to dig them all up, but it was always in the wrong place - just outside the patio doors - and needed to go anyway. I'm talking to it: we'll keep fingers crossed. It's surprising how much light the buddleia blocked, though. The patio area is quite sunny now.
I also added another few stones around Roeg's Pool. Will be doing more of that later, but first I need to make a start on pruning back the wild roses behind the shed, so I can actually get to the rocks piled there. That's a hell of a job, they haven't been touched in years (I originally planted them there to discourage people climbing over the wall: behind the shed is a blind-spot, security-wise. They've worked very well, but are now almost as high as the house and really need some attention...)
At some point over the next few weeks we're going to try to replace the loo and cistern in the outdoor toilet. Yup, we have one, and it's very useful given how much time the family spends in the garden, but it's as old as the house (1950's) and the high-level cistern leaks badly. A friend of Dave next door was having a new bathroom suite installed and intended dumping the old loo, so Dave grabbed it for us in the hopes that it will fit. Fingers crossed. It would be soooo nice having two working loos here (even if one of them is outdoors!)
I'm planning to take Kai to Wyevale garden centre tomorrow to see about pond and marsh plants: we've had a big green dragonfly investigating the pool over the last three days. It would be wonderful to provide a congenial environment for it!
But for now - back to it...




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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Brief update - Kim came over with her daughter Sarah and Sarah's friend, also Sarah, and took us all to Clevedon.
Clevedon - tide in
For the first time on one of our visits the tide was in! (That's Wales on the horizon. In the foreground, the bluer water, is the bathing pool, the safe place to swim: it's in a state of disrepair and isn't used any more.) The sun was very hot, and there was a wonderful cool gusty wind, choppy sea - perfect weather. Kai took the two Sarahs through the adventure playground and climbing over the rocks: I think they all had a fantastic time, and there was something awfully cute about seeing Kai the centre of attention of two girls (also-Sarah is also 10, but nearly as tall as Kim and very mature for her age...)
I'm very fond of Clevedon. There's a lovely ambience to the place.
On the way back home Kim drove us to Abbot's Pool, apparently the fishing pond for a now-demolished ancient monastery. Lovely place, only one un-signposted way in so fairly safe to let the sprogs run riot. The pool itself is a favourite of local fishermen, and sits at the bottom of a winding, low, wooded valley, all very pretty. (And like a pillock I didn't get a photo...)
Had a great day - wonderful to natter again, and hear all the news.
Right - fingers back to keyboard...




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Watched Cannon Fodder, the last of the Memory stories, and what a bleak, chilling and depressing work it was! The whole anime is a fascinating look into the mind of one of the masters, though, and piqued Kai's interest (he wants to watch Akira now!).
We also watched Bulletproof Monk, a thoroughly enjoyable piece of hokum, another 'park brain at door' film. (I still don't understand the bit with the lasers in the brain and all the water though. Were there some deleted scenes?)
Roeg Gotta have this. Maybe for Yule...

At Lutra's request. This is the only solo photo I have of Roeg. There should have been more, but the film (Boots own brand) broke when rewinding, and by the time I got a new film in the camera she was dead.
She was big and vocal and loving and beautiful, used to claw her way up my jeans and shirt to perch on my shoulder, purring in my ear, when I was kneading dough for bread - and she loved my voice on the answerphone, used to lie on top of it purring loudly and writhing every time it clicked in. She slept on my pillow, wrapped around my head every night. I've never known a cat to purr as much.
I miss her.





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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

adding rocks

The results so far.


I think it's going to look good once it's finished, but there's a way to go yet. Oiking the stones around isn't much fun - I left most of that to Ken!


my juniper


The second photo is my juniper. I'm incredibly fond of this little shrub. When we first started getting the garden organised fifteen years ago, this was planted in the herb-rockery, in the shade of the bay, and it struggled to hold on. It flourished once it was moved to the top of the garden, where it had plenty of sun, and I'm hoping it'll do even better here.
A moment of sadness though - I thought we were well away from the spot, but Ken stopped digging after a few minutes and called me over: there was an orange cat collar and some shreds of towel at the bottom of the hole. We were planting the juniper on Roeg's grave (Roeg was Ryme and Raptor's sister and my familiar: she was killed in 1991 just before Yule, at 9 months old, by a rat-runner. I still miss her). It's an appropriate marker though. I think she'd approve.

tatty acer!
As you can see, my acer really didn't appreciate being neglected. I think it'll recover though: after my watering over the last month there are a lot of new buds opening. It's going to look so pretty by the water!

I need to find small creeping plants to fill up the cracks between the rocks - not sure what at the moment. Planning to get to Wyevale soon to see what's available. We haven't moved the peony or sedum yet: it's pissing down today ('ooray! Happy garden!). Maybe over the next few days...

We watched the first two stories of Memories last night - Magnetic Rose, which is a marvellously dark and powerful piece, and Stinkbomb, which had Kai and I in stitches. Interestingly, the DVD doesn't have a dubbed version, which necessitates watching it in Japanese with English subtitles. Kai thought he'd have problems with the subbing - it's very fast - but actually he's managing very well.
sake set from above

And finally, I photographed the gorgeous sake set LittleSaru sent me! Sorry the images aren't as sharp as they could be but Kai's digicam doesn't do good closeups. Thinking of picking up a bottle of sake (Tesco sells it) and trying the set out! Intriguing shape, ne? Those are cute little fish in the bottoms of the cups.

sake set





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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

It's Tuesday, isn't it? Let's see...
Yesterday was painful as it hurt to move. Took Kai shopping, picked up some attractive clay pots second hand at the cats' charity shop for my new fabric orchids (yes, still buying them. Need more places to put them!), and rented three DVDs - Bulletproof Monk (the trailer looked fun), Katsuhiro Otomo's Memories (I have the manga, be interesting to see how it compares), and the 1953 version of War of the Worlds, which we watched when we got home.
It's been ages since I've seen it - interesting to watch it again. We all enjoyed it, though Kai was a little nonplussed by the abrupt ending. The film did, however, confirm my suspicion that ID4 is little more than a direct lift of War of the Worlds (as Ken said dryly, the parallels are a little too obvious to be pure chance), even to the pun on destruction by the smallest things on the planet (a virus in this case). I wouldn't feel so aggrieved about this if there'd been some kind of credit given somewhere in ID4, but I don't remember there being such a thing. (If there was, fair enough, my mistake. I want proof though!)
On the writing front, the Dreams book is coming along slowly - much more slowly than 2AC, which is now nine chapters into the second sequence. And it's all new material - I've diverged so far from the original that it'll practically be a completely new book. It's such fun to write, too, revising and extending the characters and making them entirely mine.
The publishers are organising publicity for Ken's Dartmouth book: a phone-in radio spot has been suggested, plus news items in local newspapers. Will have to see how it goes.
Right - off to play jigsaw with the rocks that are going around the pool...




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Sunday, August 21, 2005

It's a bit much when I'm too tired to update the blog...
the bit of the garden where the new pool will goKen did take Kai to the open day; they enjoyed it but I think Kai preferred the walk through Nightingale Valley that followed it. I managed to get quite a bit done while they were out, so we were all happy by the end of the day.
Today we sank the new pond.
Took us from 11am to 7pm, but that was everything, from me clearing the ground of lemon balm, soapwort and bindweed (have I mentioned how much I hate bindweed? [growl] A pox upon it!) to Ken infilling round the edges (no, I didn't do any digging - my hands can't take the strain). We're really quite pleased with ourselves: it took a fair bit of fineagling but it's almost completely level. The first photo is very boring and shows the bit of ground where we planned it to sit (the denuded bush in the background, if you can see it, is what's left of my bay tree after I scalped it).pool sitting in the holeThe rest of the photos are fairly self-explanatory, I think. It all looks very rough right now: it'll be much prettier when it's planted up, though that may take a wee while - as you can see from the colour of the grass it's dry here at the moment and it's not sensible to move plants under these conditions. We really need the rain that's forecast for the next few days.pool sitting in the hole 2
I'm planning to plant my acer, juniper, pieris and the peony that's currently in the front garden behind the pond (between it and the fence), interspersed with large flattish rocks - of which we have an abundance - which will also overhang that edge slightly breaking up the outline and providing some cover for the three or five baby dragons (goldfish) I think the pool will be able to support (we sometimes have herons from the heronry at Eastwood Farm check out the garden and I don't want them eating our fish).pool being filled
We want to fill the gaps with low-growing evergreen perennials: I really need to get to a garden centre and see what end-of-season-sale things they have. Maybe in a couple of weeks when the pool water's settled. I know I do want some water hawthorn, and some marsh plants - that square hole at the end of the pond is the bucket that once held the pump for our gurgle-pond: it makes a perfect miniature bog!
The local wildlife will love it. We already have bats, a variety of birds and the occasional dragonfly visiting: we'll have to keep an eye out and see what else arrives.
Manhunter, the first Hannibal Lector film, was on TV Friday night (starring a very young William Peterson - Gil Grissom from CSI). It was OK, I suppose, but what really hit me was the fabulous soundtrack (only available on LP dammit...) Gorgeous gorgeous music. I found a free mp3 of Cry Tomorrow by one of the bands - Reds - on this site and downloaded it; it's fantastic. Now keeping an eye out for their albums.
Lifted directly from Tom Cruise is Nuts, a site I found quite by accident and which had me chortling...
As a law-abiding Earth immigrant or 'alien' (we prefer the term 'differently terrestrial') and a former editor of the American Journal of Psychiatry, I take deep offense at TC's forcing public consumption of his unbalanced religious diet. Not only is psychiatry (despite its current, somewhat primitive form) one of the few Earth sciences in which discoveries and theories are of interest to the Galaxial Council of Arts, Sciences and Synchronized Swimming, but so-called 'Scientologists' and other 'space cults' are little more than clubs for stalkers of universal celebrity races (Martians, Centaurians). We consider members of these so-called religions to be obsessed, chemically imbalanced and clearly in need of professional help. And in the meantime, a little advice - space travel is prohibitively expensive, so don't drink the kool-aid, as we have no intention of taking you anywhere, even if you have cut off your genitals to save on cargo space.
Galaxial Council of Arts, Sciences and Synchronized Swimming? [snerk] Love it...
Tired, and I've burned slightly across my left shoulder, upper arm, face and neck (lost track of haddock and I always forget the sunscreen). It's not bad though, and will go a lovely golden-brown colour in a day or so. It's the aching muscles in the backs of my legs that are going to give me grief tomorrow!





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Saturday, August 20, 2005

It's Saturday already? Where'd the haddock go...?
explore@bristol was entertaining: although the older splores are looking a little tatty and some of them are faulty, there are a whole load of new ones on the first floor which are great fun. The Planetarium is closed for refurbishment for the foreseeable future [sniffle - that's my favourite part] but the corridor outside it has been strung with near-floor-length curtains of fibre-optic cabling with bright white lights at the bottom: beautiful but quite disorientating to walk through them. Another new exhibit is a room that's been built on a slant but with all the fittings straight - most uncomfortable, your sense of balance tells you you're sliding down a slanting floor but your eyes tell you you're standing on a level surface. There's a sturdy railing to hang onto all the way through, which to my dismay I was forced to use. It's the visual evidence that does it. I have no problems with slanting surfaces - don't get seasick and can usually keep my footing in fairly rough seas - but coupled with the rest...
I was glad to leave. Kai wants a room just like it though, please... [sigh]
There was a talk and slide-show on robots for the kids - it was OK, but Kai didn't find it very challenging (though I was bemused when the presenter flashed up a slide of Bush and asked if he was a robot: she got a very growly very unamused response, half 'yes' and half 'no' - from the sprogs as well as their parents! Bush isn't very popular here...) We had fun in the Puzzle Zone though, managed to solve the Hanoi Tower puzzle really quite quickly. (Illustration here though ours had five vinyl-covered foam-rubber discs and stood about three feet high) and I had fun with a topological puzzle - I can't find an illustration but it involved a loop of rope and five interlocking metal hoops. (The object of the puzzle was to get the rope untangled from the hoops - no problem there, but do you think I could get the damn rope back onto the hoops for the next person? Could I hell! Tch... I'm good at stalemating my opponent in chess too, and usually can't work out how I've done that either...)
Hours and hours of wandering around the place, trying everything, and Kai didn't stop talking once. Ouch. Still have a headache. But it was enjoyable, nevertheless. Even surprised myself with some of my mathematical... I hesitate to say knowledge, because it was more a combination of instinct/common sense.
And to round the day off nicely we found a small rocket-shaped lava-lamp, £8.50 reduced from £15, in the explore@ shop. Kai's wanted one of these for a while now, and with his extra pocket money from helping me out all week he had enough to buy it. Happy bratling!
My feet, however, are killing me.
Ken's taking Kai to the Wicklea Summer Fun Day tomorrow, while I crack on with the Dreams book. At least, that's the plan...

The predecessor to explore@bristol was the Bristol Exploratory, housed in what is now the Empire and Commonwealth Museum at Temple Meads train station. The hands-on exhibits were called splores - educational things you could play with and pick up and explore. The name's quirky and I really like it. back





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Friday, August 19, 2005

A quickie before I stumble off to bed...
I took a call from Trading Standards today, advising that the extended warranty on the fridge-freezer is the best we can hope for. So it looks like we're lumbered with it. I'll still never buy anything from Hoover-Candy again.
Kai's been settling down in our bed - on Ken's side - for the last two nights. And it's been intriguing. Tuesday night he was asleep when I went up, but when I woke he'd gone back to his own bed. Last night he went back to his own before I even retired. Curious, I asked him why (given that sleeping in our bed is still considered a treat). His answer - it didn't feel "right". Tonight I asked him if he wanted to sleep on my side (he's said in the past he likes my side, because it smells of me - orchid oil in Lutra's black orchids on the bedside cabinet and the jasmine perfume oil I usually dab on after a shower, which ends up on my pillow. Heh, he's still there as I type this...), and he grinned and said yes. So I asked him why he wasn't too keen on sleeping on Ken's side. His answer? Because Ken's side of the bed feels "too small".
Over the past month or so Kai and I have discussed, amongst other things, our own and others' superpowers and confidential files, Kai's three-gendered alien race (and he came up with that all by himself, telling me one day he had a world in his created solar system where the people had three sexes, but he couldn't work out quite how that would 'work' in practise... Cue a fascinating discussion based around the R'ren'nkh'ia-jin as possibly the easiest solution to the problem. [bemused] And me, later, thinking of the incomprehension, outrage and punishment that would have come my way had I ever even mentioned 'S-E-X' to my parents...), time travel and how to build a T.A.R.D.I.S., how magic could operate, whether the Matrix could be possible, how to work out what your dreams mean, and how to make sure you always know where your towel is.
... Yes, I think I can see why my side of the bed is 'bigger' than Ken's...





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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Ken's arrived back, slightly sunburned, looking tired but healthy. The week's been pretty successful: he found some interesting archived material at Exeter University Library (for the Dartmouth book), and he's spent some time traipsing around carefully-selected fields looking for nymets with Tony (the friend he's been staying with) - but they proved to be elusive. Undaunted, they propose to try again. Check back later for news of the Great Nymet Hunt!
Commissioning editor has come back to me, seems satisfied with the outline and proposed structure of the Dreams book (with one small and easily made revision): now I can really get started on it.
Kai's been wonderful this week, very helpful and co-operative. I'm taking him to explore@bristol tomorrow: he's getting into the mood by watching E=mc2. It's fascinating. Wish I'd thought to tape it.
This had me chuckling...
Somehow brings to mind an acquaintance at Uni, who decided to make a meal with just what he could find in the halls of residence kitchen: ended up with parsnip curry on cornflakes. No, I didn't have any...
Taking tonight off to play!





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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Sometimes it doesn't pay to be too organised...
Woke early (even before Kai!), feeling positive and determined after not having much success in revising both the sample spreads and the Dreams book outline yesterday. Fed the menagerie, got the day's meals organised and settled down to boot up.
CPU fan speed too slow. Auto shut off in 5 seconds
AAARRRGGGHHH!!!
Tried several times, same result. Rang Special Reserve, who said yes, bring it in, they had two techies on today and should be able to look at it fairly quickly. But of course this entailed a taxi, so I had to get to a hole in the wall to get cash first. Had Kai stay home (first time ever alone) while I dived to Tesco (he was fine, of course, despite being nervous about it) to the ATM. Arrived back, got everything together to ring Ace Taxis (our preferred brand, never let us down yet) and thought I'd just try one last time...
Computer booted up just fine.
AAAARRRRGGGHHH!!!
Fingers crossed it was just a temporary glitch (or Butch throwing a tantrum. He does that sometimes when he's feeling unappreciated) because if it's an intermittent fault I really do have problems.
ANYway... Immediately backed up last night's work to CD - and the whole of Eudora: if we can't access the emails... [shudder]. Then got the revised sample spreads done and emailed. Then left Kai home while I went to Sainsbug's to pick up a little shopping (he was fine again. I'm pleased about this, he'll be OK for short spells in future). Watched a little more Cowboy Bebop (neither of us find it as compelling as Trigun, probably because there's far less gradually-unfolding story, and it's more disjointed, but we're still enjoying it. I adore the backgrounds...) - Kai absolutely loved Toys in the Attic (Jupiter Jazz 1 & 2 tomorrow. I never did write that Gren/Vicious ficlet: perhaps I'll be re-inspired).
And now I'm wrestling - again - with the damned outline. It's a matter of structure - how to group the various major themes, sub-themes and topics so they're as user-friendly as possible yet not copy the way the competition has organised theirs. I'll get there. The problem is I don't have that much time.
Lutra has posted (with permission) the Notice to fanfic writers from Prof. Severus Snape that I found and laughed over at AFF. The author has had to take it down because of the flaming.
I'm annoyed. It's a nice piece of writing (not perfect - I can't see Snape saying 'no-go area' or 'sappy', and I'm not wholly convinced by 'get over it'. The examples might be a little beyond the intellect of those wannabe writers at which the piece is aimed, as well...) Lutra says
The only thing that pisses me off more than fanficers who bugger a character concept is fanficers who refuse to improve the standard of their writing.
I'd agree, almost. I can cope with OOC characters, as long as they're done well and there's a reason for it - but there's no excuse for the utter crap that can be found, nor for the attitude of those illiterates writing it. After all, it's hardly difficult to make improvements: use of a spellchecker (or beta) and a little simple reading of the material (to learn how to structure sentences and paragraphs in the first instance: characterisation and dialogue can come later) make all the difference. And to throw a tantrum because someone points out the flaws - in a humorous manner and naming no names - simply displays the ignorance and immaturity of the flamers. They disgust me.
As a sidenote, the inability to distinguish between definite (gods I hate it when that's spelt 'definate'! It's hardly difficult: if you know what 'finish', 'finite' and 'infinite' are there's no excuse for getting 'definite' wrong - they're from the same bloody root! (Latin finire, to limit or end) Where was I? Ah...) and defiant really pisses me off. Completely different meanings, completely different words. [growl]
Enough ranting - back to work: I'd like to get this outline finished tonight, in case Butch decides to play silly buggers in the morning...
Heh, blogger's spellchecker gives 'amœbae' as an alternative to 'wannabe'. Says it all, really...





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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

... oh gods...
Blackprawn Down (title courtesy of Lutra, the Orli fangrrrl, who also suggested Lord of the Prawns) - the story so far: Annelid Prawnski, the Russian ballerina in exile, seeks to be reunited with her lost love Astacus Shrimpton, who has been kidnapped and imprisoned by Gammacus Yabbie the dark magician. But detective Leander Seratus and his sidekick Orlando Prawn are on the case!
[wails] I want my mind back under my control and the haddock at which I want it is yesterday!





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Monday, August 15, 2005

soothing prawns?
Soothing virtual prawns, as suggested by Carol. Thanks. Better than a carrot any day!
... knackered...
Woke early after about three and a half hours sleep (yes, my fault, I should have gone to bed earlier) to see Ken off. Put through three full machine washes. Did a little work while Kai went next door to play with his new friend. Viciously pruned the bay tree. Filled up the paddling pool so Kai and new friend could splash. Brought in washing (dry) in a hurry because new friend had brought round his SuperSoakers ™ and sprogs were charging round the garden shooting each other. Did a little more work. Pulled out some of the soapwort that's going so I can make something more of the rockery/herb garden. Went shopping. Made dinner. Kai wanted to see Cowboy Bebop, so we watched the first four eps and he's hooked, wants more tomorrow...
And I'm wondering about going to bed. Hands and arms and legs aching after the garden work, and I'm tired. Could read a little more of the book I have to review, can still get it done by the deadline if I'm quick.
On the other hand, I could do a little more work. Nothing planned for tomorrow, so we can both lie in (Kai's tired too), then have a fairly easy day. Be nice, that.





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Um, where'd the day go?
Everything kind of went oddly-shaped when Ken decided it would be best if he went down to Exeter this week instead of later. There is a genuine reason for this, it's just that in the flurry of trying to get him ready to go early in the morning I've forgotten what it is...
The laptop is all sorted to go with him, though - I rang to activate M$N Office (right bloody performance that was!) and installed all the padlocks and moats, Spybot and Spyware blaster and AVG - not that it'll be used for Inet work very much, at least at the moment, because although setting it up on dial-up was no problem, our broadband doesn't want to know, thank you very much... I'm sure it's something simple but not obvious. We'll worry about it later.
I've also installed dNoter and Irfanview and Winamp and all my musekicks on it for when I come to use it (don't you just love pendrives?). And the HP mouse plugs in and works fine, so no doubt a wee tablet will as well.
Heh, we were even able to buy and print out his coach ticket online (using my machine, not the laptop) - a new service National Express are doing. Nifty because it saves £1.10 if you buy the ticket up to a day in advance - and it means not queuing up at the bus station...
Anyway, that all seemed to take an unconscionable amount of haddock, so I haven't done anything like as much as I'd intended. And with Ken away I won't be able to get much done during the day, so this week is going to be... interesting. I haven't finished the book for review yet either and it's due on the 19th: I don't want to postpone it again, I've done that for the last two months. [growl] Too much to do, no haddock, not even a sardine...
Off to growl at something.





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Sunday, August 14, 2005

Right, where was I?
Oh yes - trying to do too much with too few haddock, as usual.
Intro spread for Frankfurt revised and resent to the publisher, and I've started writing the text: will check with the editor later if I can post info here as I did with the previous book.
Ken's made substantial progress with the wall - it's a long long job though, digging down to the foundations and replacing all the old, crumbling mortar. The wall's the original one from Kensington house, we think, about 8' high, over a foot wide and runs up the side of the garden (so 100' long). There's a lane on the other side that runs up and along the back gardens of the next five houses up the road: according to our original solicitor we're responsible for the inner side of the wall, while the owners of the other houses are responsible for the outer side of it, but since repairing our side involves replacing the mortar right the way through to the outside I guess we're doing everyone a favour. Once he's done this latest section (and joined two previously-finished sections, he's been working on the most dangerous parts first) it'll be more than half-complete!
The proofs for the Brislington Ghosts book have arrived - it looks great! Ken now just has to proof read it.
Quyn is back wearing his lampshade - stupid dog started nibbling again. It's been almost a month, so we took the risk and Frontlined him yesterday: hopefully we can dispense with the collar tomorrow.
The sky was just clear enough on Saturday to catch sight of a couple of meteors, but not enough to make it worthwhile waking Kai. We'll try again next year: perhaps be able to get out into the country to sky-watch properly. Onna has described it perfectly in the comments -
It is one of the incredible experiences of life - watching the heavens dance.
I watched the first two (pilot) episodes of Lost last night - and I do mean watched, I'd intended to have it on in the background but found I couldn't look away. The story is a pretty old and hackneyed one, cobbled together from two basic and familiar plots, but handled believably, and the characterisation is great. The third episode is on tonight: I've remindered to watch it, keeping fingers crossed it lives up to its initial promise...
Back to it. I'm currently alternating between Dreams text and 2AC chapters, which at least is keeping me enthusiastic about both...





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Friday, August 12, 2005

More mortaring of wall by Ken, helped by Kai. I'm trying desperately to get rid of a nasty bout of hayfever (actually had to resort to Piriton anti-histamine tablets to bring the sneezing/streaming eyes under control) so I can get some writing done.
It's Perseid meteor shower time again. Took Kai out into the garden to watch at 12.30 am, and saw about five in total, but it clouded over. Going to try again tonight - assuming the sky is clear. I remember the first time I saw them, in Scotland: I was working the overnight shift at a factory sorting/freezing soft fruit for the food processing industry in my summer vacation from Uni. I was camping out in a borrowed tent at a campsite, in Montrose (I think. It was a long time ago and I hated it so much I've purposefully forgotten most of it, only remember the interesting things. Like the ghost of my long-dead sailor uncle disapproving of the conditions at the factory. And seeing my first puffin, wandering along the beach. And the Perseids...): on that night the shift finished early. I remember lying on the beach at about 3 am, watching what looked like a rain of stars that continued for hours, still going when I finally crawled into my sleeping bag at 5.30...
The event is commemorated in Chorus 5 of Song for the End of the World:
The wind shakes the earth on which I lie with cold dispassionate anger. I cannot sleep. The stars are too bright, calling to me down the centuries in high bright silent voices mingling with the wind... I want to go home now.
Although you'd never guess from the words!
Back to it.





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Thursday, August 11, 2005

[grumble] This week was supposed to be restful. So far it's been as busy as last week...
So what's happened? On Tuesday Ken and Kai worked in the garden while I finished the spread, then I took Kai to the 7.10 pm showing of Fantastic 4, since he didn't get to go on his adventure. (It was just too hot and the sun too blazing for the trip over to Crew's Hole.) But we both thoroughly enjoyed the film - a rollicking adventure I'd compare quite favourably to the X-Men films for its terrific sfx, good characterisation and attention to detail - even if some liberties have been taken with the original plotlines. I was never fond of the comicbook FF (didn't like the artist's style as much as anything) so confessing to hopes that there's a sequel to the film gives some idea of how much I liked it. (But then, I've always liked the superhero genre.) The film is gorgeous to look at, with a lot of rousing action scenes - great fun!
Tuesday afternoon Staples rang to say they'd had their delivery of the special offer laptops, so I bussed into town on Wednesday to pick up the reserved machine. It's a beauty - an Acer TravelMate 2350 - though it comes without Word pre-installed, so just as well I have my old copy of M$S Office, ne? We also both loathe the touchpad, it's far too sensitive and makes my hand ache, so I think we'll be using a mouse (and a small tablet when I can afford one). We're going to customise it all tomorrow... Oh, and its gremlin is Melchior, a shy little thing though with Butch in the same family I can't see that lasting...
Ken and Kai continued in the garden while I was in town - specifically, they took delivery of the sand and cement to continue repairing the garden wall then mixed up a couple of lots and made a start. It's a loooooong job, very labour intensive, but much needed. The forecast is for rain for the rest of the week and weekend though, so not sure how much more Ken can do at the moment.
The new spread went off to the publisher: now I have to start on the bulk of the text.
And I'm very tired, the brain wants a rest please. Going to try for a really easy day tomorrow - er, today...





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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

[growl] Came down tonight after an unusually long nap to find my computer crawling along. Tried to update a client website - took forever. Then windows flashed up a warning - 'virtual memory too low; creating more virtual memory'...
...kin' what?
Took a look at the task manager to find that helpsvc.exe was eating all my memory (literally. Seti@home usually uses everything spare, typically 85%+: it was struggling to hit 2% tonight). Didn't have any idea what it was so googled it. Found an extremely useful page here and used task manager to close down helpsvc.exe - computer now running as smoothly as ever (if you can call a machine with Butch in it smooth-running...) It may be that the application started running because the computer was idle for an extended period, in which case the problem may not resume (not often it's left for longer than 30 minutes), but at least I now know how to disable the M$N Help and Support (hah, a misnomer if ever there was one!) if I need to. Apparently the bug was fixed for SP2 (which I still haven't got), although a reported 40% of users still have problems with it. Great...
I loathe M$N. Linux is looking more and more appealling...
Been a busy day, shopping and washing, deciding on where the new pool is going to go and what's going to be planted around it, a little research for the Dreams book, and made a start on the new spread. Kai and I were going to see Fantastic 4 tomorrow, but the forecast is for the last hot and sunny day this week, so Ken's thinking of taking sprog out for an adventure instead - give me time to get the spread done.
On the subject of dreams, my latest was interesting (to me, anyway). Set in a lawless and savage time/place, where hunting (and maybe eating, not sure about that) people was commonplace. I and another person - a disciple or follower of some kind, I think - were the next victims. But I wasn't worried about it, as I knew, with my intellect, wily nature and skill in disguise I could easily escape the hunters, and was reassuring the other person (who was terrified) in a (regrettably) patronising manner. But I was right - we were always several steps away from the mob and made it to safety without any problems...
It was quite exciting, actually. Though I'd hate it to happen in what passes for RL!
Apologies to everyone to whom I owe emails, will be in touch as soon as I can.





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Sunday, August 07, 2005

Yes, finally, an update!
Well, six actually. Please go here to start with the post for Wednesday then work backwards to this one...
Argent doing cute

Argent, the Vejiita wannabe, trying to look cute.

Other bits and pieces that happened this week:
Simon Haynes new version of the first Hal Spacejock novel will soon be available to buy on Amazon. Have I said how much I love the Hal Spacejock books? I'm sure I've mentioned it somewhere!
Got a call on my mobile as we were walking to Cheddar Gorge (Friday): the publishers want another spread for the Dreams book for the Frankfurt Bookfair: aiming to have that done by Wednesday.
Got a letter back from Hoover-Candy offering us a free additional 6 months warranty on the fridge-freezer, taking us to March next year. I think we need some professional advice: aiming to check that out this week.
We received a Final Reminder from the 'debt collection agency' re: the fraudulent phone bill. Ken rang the phone company - TBS Ltd - then tried to ring the collection agency using the phone number on the back of the envelope. Which to his absolute horror connected him to the Speakeasy chatline... He reported this to Pedro at TBS as a genuine error (the excuse was that the envelopes had been reprinted with the wrong telephone number! Believe that you'll believe anything.)
Then Ken did a little further checking, and found this...
Can I urge everyone (well, the UK visitors anyway) who reads this blog to tell everyone they know about these bastards - post the link if you can, the more people who know and complain loudly about this the more likely it is that the law can be changed. Me, I'm fuming. Pedro promised he'd get something in the post to us on Monday confirming that no further action will be taken: if it hasn't arrived by the following Monday I shall ring him. And he won't enjoy that at all.
Apart from these little hiccups, this has been a fabulous holiday (I can tell because I need a holiday to recover!) [GLOMPS Carol] Thanks so much - and for the gorgeous photos!

... living life at the gallop...





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... and got up early, as there were a few more things I wanted to take a look at before we went to the Great Western Maze...
Hit the on-button, got the HP screen - then a black screen that read
CPU fan speed too low. Auto shut down in 5 seconds
Which it did. And kept on doing. [cue minor panic attack...] So we switched it off and opened it up to look, gave it a good clean, took off the loose heat sink (you might remember that - it fell off about 2 years ago and my stack has been lying on its side ever since) and re-gunged it with the thermal conductor stuff, then tried again.
No joy. Dead computer.
But the CPU fan seemed to be working just fine, so we had another look - same thing.
Rang Maplins, who sell replacement fans/fans with heatsinks. Drove up there, explained the situation, rang Ken for the computer specs for the very helpful assistant, was sold a fan+heatsink and advised how to replace it, assuring us it would work. Carol wasn't convinced as a bracket was mentioned and she didn't remember seeing one in my machine, although it's not easy to see what's happening in the guts of the thing. But she was right: there was no bracket on the CPU heatsink. More than that, we couldn't get the heatsink out.
Back to Maplins, with the stack this time. Assistant took a look and said no, Carol was quite right, there was no bracket, and furthermore the CPU heatsink is bolted onto the motherboard and there's no way to get the bloody thing off without dismantling the entire machine. Don't you just love computer companies that try to screw more money out of you by trying to force you to use them for repairs by using non-standard components? I don't.
So we did what I usually do in these circumstances, and Carol drove us up to Special Reserve...
I really cannot properly express how great these guys are. I mean, it's Sunday, they only had a couple of staff on, and were closing at 5 pm. We got there at about 2 (I think, correct me if I'm wrong Carol!), explained what had happened, and also that it was pretty urgent - I can't work without it and I have another spread to do for the Dreams book by Wednesday, plus of course we have no transport once Carol goes home. The assistants there are amazingly laid back and laconic: he waved his hand in a kind of dismissive way and said he couldn't be sure they could fix it today, it might have to wait 'til tomorrow...
[blink] I thought I'd misheard, but no, he said to ring them at 4 and they'd be able to say when I could collect it. In fact, they rang me at 3.30 and said it was ready...
[happy grin] So not only do I now have a computer with a wonderful red fan - in the power-unit, not the CPU, so much for M$N self-diagnostics - but it's also sitting upright again as they fixed the loose heatsink for me as well (it's wired in, not stuck on, so fingers crossed it'll be fine). The whole lot took an hour and a half and cost the princely sum of £37.98.
As I said, I love these guys...
And while we were over that side of the city we took a look in Staples. Yes, I know I said I'd never use them again after the fiasco with my chair, but they are, alas, the most convenient place for CD-R and CD-RW and business envelopes, which was what I was after.
Heh. They also have a special offer on at the moment, a very nice Acer laptop, 2.51Kgs in weight and very comfortable to use, for £399. We were planning to get one anyway with part of the advance for Dreams: Ken needs it for Dartmouth and I'd love to be able to work in the garden (especially once I've got the new pond sunk and working) - so I've reserved one for when they get their next delivery (which could be Wednesday this week).
Synchronicity is a wonderful thing: had we not had to go to Special Reserve I wouldn't have got to Staples until after the special offer ends.
Dinner was pizza and chips - far too frazzled to cook after all that stress and panic! - and we watched the other DVD. Which is fun, another 'park brain at door' production, in the vein of Steven Seagal films (though The Rock is much prettier than Seagal, and is actually not that bad in this, certainly more emotive than Seagal). Another one I'd be happy to pick up cheap.
Then Carol had to leave. It's never long enough!





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Saturday, August 06, 2005

... ouchouchouch...
Aching everywhere, and the weather was drizzly. We ummed and ahhed over where to go: finally Carol and I had a day to ourselves in Trowbridge, a lovely little historic market town with a wonderful range of second hand and specialist shops. I managed to find several Yule presents - very happy about that! The weather cheered up too. I don't really like shopping, but it was lovely to be able to wander without Kai; he's very good, but I know he doesn't like shopping so I tend to hurry when he's with me.
We picked up Constantine and Welcome to the Jungle (which for some reason is listed as The Rundown on the IMDb...) at Phoenix on the way back, and watched the former after dinner. Hm. Well, I was expecting wooden acting from Keanu Reeves and some nifty sfx, both of which I got, and not very much else. It was OK, and quite pretty, and I'd probably pick up a copy if I could get one very cheap just for the angels' wings...
Then we settled down to tackle my computer... Oh, that was fun! I ended up having to update my MSN Updates software (that'll show you how long it's been since I updated XP!) - though I can't actually get in to check what I'm missing at the moment, soddit. I now have RealPlayer and QuickTime, neither of which I want but Kai can't play his clock, Lego and spider mpegs without them. [grumble] But I've blocked them accessing the Inet without asking me first via the firewall, which hopefully will kill any nasties they might try to foist upon me. I also have Ewido installed (it's a nifty little Trojan killer).
Carol suggested I use the disk cleanup function (since [wince] I've never actually defragged this machine since I bought it... Well, it'll take a whole day and I can't spare the time!) It was useful: I had nearly 9 megs of temp files that needed deleting and over 6 gigs of old files to compress. Took several hours, and it was 5 am before I got to bed...





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Friday, August 05, 2005

Cheddar Gorge
the south-western side of the Gorge

Friday started off a little gloomy, but brightened up on the way to Cheddar and by the time we got there was very hot and sunny indeed.
It was busy! All the nearer car parks were full - we ended up at Budgens supermarket car park, a bit of a walk but that was OK (until we had to walk back, anyway). The Explorer Tickets are still the best value: an open-top bus ride, up the Gorge (given the weather they were only using the top of the bus, doubling the wait time but it was nevertheless the best idea) with a guide explaining the history of the Gorge. the Three Sisters
The first photo is of the south-western side of the Gorge (the left-hand side as you head up): the second is of the rock formations called the Three Sisters. They're high and precipitous: Carol did a great job with the pic but it's one of those places you have to be there, head back and looking straight up, to really appreciate it.
The bus drops everyone off at Gough's Cave, the main attraction. As you probably remember, I really do not like being underground - I'm always far too aware of the vast weight of rock over my head when I'm in caves - but I can handle Gough's, there's so much there to distract me.
Gough's Cave - the Cathedral
The third photo is of the cave Gough called the Cathedral (not St Paul's Cathedral, that's an earlier chamber). He described it as where three underground rivers met and over millions of years created a 'frozen river' effect. It's very beautiful, and very colourful, and the chamber itself is really lofty. The whole cave complex was cool - pleasantly so given the heat outside - but humid, not as comfortable as it could have been.

calcite - and lioncub outline

Can anyone else see the lioncub in this photo (the fourth in this post) of sparkling calcite deposits on the rock wall?

We checked out the Cheddar Man and the Cannibals exhibition (it was OK) then went to Cox's Cave, a much smaller and much more claustrophobic place, but possibly prettier - this beautiful 'grotto' is one of its joys.
in Cox's Cave At the end of Cox's Cave is the Crystal Quest (Elves, Dragons and Goblins) which Kai enjoyed last time we were here but this year pronounced was lame. No surprise there - he's growing up and become a lot more fussy.
We skipped the steps and Gorge walk (tired by this time, legs aching from yesterday, and time was trundling onwards) so meandered our way back to the car via the gift shops (me looking in vain for the grumpy fairy figurine I should have bought last time we visited) and a cafe that sold unusual flavoured scoop ice-cream - I had Turkish Delight in a sugar cone, bliss.....
Watched the last of Ultimate Force season 3 - great stuff!





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Thursday, August 04, 2005

Becky Falls, DevonBecky Falls 1


The first time I visited Becky Falls was with my first boyfriend, William (whose surname was Roberts, the same as mine, which led to some confusion...)
It's still incredibly beautiful, though more people visit these days (read: it was busy). There are three trails, Blue, a gentle ramble for children, with a stampable card (find all the stamps on the walk, fill the card, and get a small free gift at the end: Kai chose a superbounce rubber ball), Red, the one we took, (and that was bad enough, my legs were aching when we got home), and Purple, a more demanding walk/climb for the fit and determined.
the hillside at Becky Falls
The medium-difficult route was all steep woodland slopes, rocks, tree roots and very high rough steps - a considerable climb (I'm writing this on Sunday and my legs are still hurting - though the following day's visit to Cheddar Gorge didn't help!) All very LotR-ish. Carol suggested I was thinking hobbits again: I was forced to point out it was Elves, not hobbits... Though doing a Gandalf on a little bit of broken path was amusing. The sloping log bridge after the boulder scramble

This bridge at the bottom of the boulder scramble was quite something. You can't see it from here, but it sloped sideways, making walking across it rather interesting.
There were small caves (very small and shallow, child-sized) at the top of the slope, which Kai explored with considerable enthusiasm while I watched the pet dogs: they're welcome at the falls as long as they stay on leads. I have to confess I find it funny that all dog owners know dogs love water and insist on shaking themselves when they come out, but still squeak and jump back when they're sprayed with cold water!

Main falls
The main falls are beautiful, not terribly high nor overly spectacular, but lovely. They form part of the boulder scramble (exactly what it says, lots of large mossy boulders scattered all down the falls and along the riverbed that visitors can scramble over) that joins the main falls to the log bridge. Kai had a wonderful time, and made his way up to the top all along the boulders: Carol and I were a little more restrained (Carol particularly as she was carrying the camera) and finished the scramble along the path!
There are other 'attractions' - rescued owls, a pets' corner, café, pony rides, picnic areas and a puppet show - to keep the whole family entertained.
Afterwards we dropped into the House of Marbles, a great place! There are some marvellous marble 'perpetual motion' machines (here, top image) which Kai naturally fell in love with and is now working on his own design. A quick trip to visit Carol's friends and their two gorgeous sprogs, and we got back about 9.30 pm, so tired we had a quick dinner and then an early night!




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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

And a second parcel (because the contents wouldn't fit in the first one) arrived from LittleSaru! A sake set in Okinawan pottery - two cups (with fish on the bottoms) and a crescent shaped jug - gorgeous chunky pottery in blues and browns (will try to get a photo later, too tired right now). Thank you, 'Saru!!
Clevedon seafront
Clevedon seafront, pier in the distance.

It was cloudy and the wind was very cold (when it was cloudy, anyway - when it was sunny it was refreshing). So we didn't stay all that long. But we enjoyed it anyway!
More Ultimate Force - this series is compulsive and damn good...




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WAIIII!!
A parcel arrived today, from LittleSaru... gods, where do I start? Two scarves, one fine silk in pastel blues and greens, the other a loose-knit much heavier one in dark purple and pale gold; four keyring charms, one each for me, Ken, Kai and Lutra (which I'll post asap!) - mine's the most exquisite charm for increasing knowledge from Todaiji, while Ken's was one for good luck from the Kono Shrine; a woman's bento box with chopsticks in the top (all I can say is it's no wonder Japanese women are so slender if that's the size of portion they eat! .... Hm.... perhaps I should try it!); a pack of four skewers with decorated tops; the complete RG Veda manga (7 volumes) - in Japanese! It's gorgeous...; the Minami Ozaki (Bronze, Zetsuai) artbook God - amazing artwork, very disturbing in place; the fabulous Tactics Illustration Works (in a plastic sleeve with a white dragon curling down the edge) - this book is so beautiful. And the anime/mange sounds interesting too, will have to check it out: and lastly Yume no Ishibumi volume 2, an incredibly beautiful shoujo manga (yaoi and yuri, but nothing too heavy) by Toshie Kihara, whose skill in drawing costumes and fabrics is amazing (though her characters are pretty gorgeous too...) [sigh] It's no good, I have to learn to read Japanese...
[GLOMPS LittleSaru] I'm overwhelmed. Not sure what to say except thank you!
The only thing that was sad is that the gorgeous earthenware pot arrived in pieces. The top is fine, not even cracked, but the base looks as though something heavy was put on top of the parcel and broke the pot from the centre outwards (like pie slices). I'll check to see if I have any comeback from the postal service - there were enough 'fragile' warnings all over the parcel.
The rest of the day was relaxed and fun - took Quyn around to the vet (who is very pleased, his skin is just about completely healed), then went to Revolution for a meal...
It was wonderful! (As was our very cute waiter - lovely cheeky grin.) Chicken wings with a viciously hot peri-peri sauce (Carol skipped the sauce) then chicken topped with bacon and cheese in the best smoky BBQ sauce we've ever had.
Then we had a cocktail, Sea Breeze for Carol (cranberry vodka and cranberry juice floated on grapefruit juice) while I risked a Bison Grass Mojito. Which looked a bit like a seaside rock-pool from above, vodka and rum in pressed apple juice with mint leaves. (I didn't know and didn't think to ask when I ordered it but the vodka was aniseed flavoured. But the rum hid most of the aniseed taste, and the sheer oddness of the drink made up for it.) Just miffed we forgot to take a camera!
Banoffee waffle followed (drool) and honey vodka for Carol - and rose vodka for me. Described as liquid Turkish Delight. Got to get a bottle, it was fabulous. Really tasted of roses with a fiery vodka kick - amazing stuff.
We laughed our way home (the cocktails are really rather potent) and watched some more Ultimate Force.
Oh, and the - ninth? tenth? - engineer came to look at the fridge-freezer, and added some gas, which seems to have done the trick, at least for now. So I can buy some skooshy cream to go on my mother's raspberry tart for pudding tomorrow.
Beach tomorrow, hopefully...





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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

We set off in the rain, but by the time we got to Avon Valley Park (Kai's choice: the link takes you to a page of Carol's photos of the trip) it was dry and sunny.
maize maze

Kai wanted to navigate the maize maze. There were a series of 18 questions scattered through the maze, each with three sections: if you reached the middle with most of the questions correct you got a prize! Well, a lollypop, but Kai enjoyed them. Not that we got anything like all the answers - I think we found about 7 before we found the maze centre - but the guys on duty were generous...
Shade - owl with attitude! After we'd finished playing hobbits, we tackled the rest of the park: bratling had fun in the adventure playgorund for an hour or so, and we arrived down at the falconry display in time to see Shade - the owl with attitude...
Gorgeous wee thing, very vocal. Very vocal. Wouldn't shut up. (Must be a teenager...)
We had a great day, arrived back knackered, and spent the evening/early morning watching Ultimate Force season 2 (SAS action series - great fun).




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Monday, August 01, 2005

So we went to the Cadbury Garden Centre at Congresbury.
We went to the Cadbury Garden Centre at Congresbury to buy two terracotta pots with matching saucers and a 4-foot moss pole for the sweetheart vine that Carol gave me some years ago and which is currently trying very hard to take over the bathroom.
[bemused] We came back with three terracotta pots with matching saucers, a 4-foot moss pole, a pet-food fork/spoon, two bags of cat-nip treats - and a (roughly) 5-foot(long)x2.5-foot(wide)x2.5-foot(deep), roughly bone-shaped pond with matching double waterfall.
Well, OK, so maybe it's not that convincing a bone-shape. But it's still probably my best bargain yet. Should have been £94.98: got it for £19.99. A saving of £74.99. It shouldn't really even have still been on special offer, that was supposed to run out July 5th, but they still had some left and were trying to get rid of them - which suited us perfectly. And there I was thinking that the pool for the front garden was going to be the most expensive feature! (Looks as though the gravel is going to be dearest: bags of 'beach' shingle in 25kilo bags at £3.99 per bag or £10 for three. And we'd need a lot. But it's feasible.) I like shopping with Carol - she's awfully good luck.
Actually I want to put the new pond in the back garden and float a solar-powered fountain in it, and move the little newt and frog pond currently at the bottom of the rockery/herb-patch to the front garden. Ken's not keen as it's an awful lot of digging and we both need to be careful of backs/hands, but we may be able to persuade someone to help out on LETS - will have to see.
It was fun getting everything into the car. But we managed.
Falconry centre or maize maze or something else tomorrow, will see what we fancy and what the weather's like!





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