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 ::

I live to write. It's not wise to get in my way.

... I'd write my autobiography, but no-one would believe it....

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.

Adventures in Orchids

Apparently I am now collecting them...

There's room for one - or maybe two, at a pinch - more on that bedroom windowsill (the only one in the house that's ideal for them). Let's see what I find. Well, that didn't last long...

EO - Everlasting orchid. Phalaenopsis. I've had this orchid since 2007 and it just keeps flowering...

AO - Alien face orchid. Phalaenopsis . Bought 2018 - lovely little flowers, all different patterns!

RO - Rescued orchid photo to come when it flowers. Phalaenopsis. Rescued from a bin up the road in 2019. Classic!

TO - Tiny orchid. Phalaenopsis. Bought at Tesco 21.8.20. It just begged to come home with me. How could I say no?

CO - Crimson orchid. Cambria. Another Tesco find. This one may be going to live in Ken's room once we've redecorated and put up the new shelving; it prefers a cooler, less sunny windowsill. If so, I'll need to find another cambrian to keep it company.

GO - Golden orchid. Phalaenopsis. Saw this one when I bought CO and left it behind - then immediately regretted it as soon as I got home. Never seen one like it before. Ken, bless him, went back over to Tesco in the rain and bought it for me...

DO - Dendrobium Orchid. Smells of wisteria, so beautiful...

RO2 - Rescued orchid no 2. Phalaenopsis. This is the one I rescued from the wall along the road middle of 2021.

PO. Pink orchid. Phalaenopsis. This is the one I bought at Cabury Garden Centre on special, late 2021. It's much happier here!

TWO. Teeny weeny orchid, Phalaenopsis. Rescued from Tesco end 2021 (I think).

My IMDb ep summaries

Arthur of the Britons
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
Jupiter Moon
Transformers: Beast Wars (part: seasons 2 and 3)
Transformers: Beast Machines (part)
Vampire Princess Miyu
Nathan Barley
No Heroics
Undermind (3 eps)
Will Shakespeare (Tim Curry version)
12 Kingdoms
Trigun (ep 8)
Hyperdrive (season 2 ep 3)
The Café

For later:

Missing Earthian ep
Missing Haibane Renme eps)
(And possibly Marine Boy...)

Silver birch at Eastwood 


"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)


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:
Transformers - IDW, Prime, Animated, Rescue Bots.

Currently reading:
Various Transformers books and graphic novels.

Currently working on:

Currently chuffed with:
My garden

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

Currently maintaining:

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 


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



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...

Albino Alsatian Benten (c) MEBird 


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

Radittsu, an oekaki for my birthday 04 



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

The Zone Plant from
The Zone 



OrganicHTML (which alas no longer seems to exist...)
[::..My Regular Reads..::]
:: Astronomical Pic of the Day [>]
:: What is Space... [>]
:: Dark Roasted Blend [>]
:: BLDG [>]
:: Watchismo Times [>]
[::..Fun Places..::]
::PALEOMAP Project
Absolutely fascinating.
:: Skymap
Check out the night sky where you are!
[::..Useful Sites..::]
:: GreenNet
First stop for environmental matters
:: The Forest of Avon
Our local community forest and places to visit
:: The Guardian
Online Guardian Newspaper.
:: 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...

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...)

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

   Dj: June Special
   CD: Ambivalence

Cyber City Oedo 808

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

From Eroica with Love

   Manga Vols 1, 9, 11

Mirage of Blaze

   DVD Vol 1 (eps 1-4)

R.G. Veda

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

Twelve Kingdoms

   Anime Vol 1-12: complete

Under the Glass Moon

   Manga Vol 1, 2
Vol 3 needed

Vampire Hunter D - Bloodlust


   Vampire Hunter D Book 1

New Vampire Miyu

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

Yami no Matsuei

   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.

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

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

(Thanks, Lutra, for the quote!)

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
03/01/2003 - 03/31/2003
04/01/2003 - 04/30/2003
05/01/2003 - 05/31/2003
06/01/2003 - 06/30/2003
07/01/2003 - 07/31/2003
08/01/2003 - 08/31/2003
09/01/2003 - 09/30/2003
10/01/2003 - 10/31/2003
11/01/2003 - 11/30/2003
12/01/2003 - 12/31/2003
01/01/2004 - 01/31/2004
02/01/2004 - 02/29/2004
03/01/2004 - 03/31/2004
04/01/2004 - 04/30/2004
05/01/2004 - 05/31/2004
06/01/2004 - 06/30/2004
07/01/2004 - 07/31/2004
08/01/2004 - 08/31/2004
09/01/2004 - 09/30/2004
10/01/2004 - 10/31/2004
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
01/06/2008 - 30/06/2008
01/07/2008 - 31/07/2008
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01/01/2009 - 31/01/2009
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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
01/03/2011 - 31/03/2011
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01/01/2012 - 31/01/2012
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01/12/2012 - 31/12/2012
01/01/2013 - 31/01/2013
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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
01/10/2014 - 31/10/2014
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
01/04/2015 - 30/04/2015
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
01/04/2016 - 31/04/2016
01/05/2016 - 31/05/2016
01/06/2016 - 30/06/2016
01/07/2016 - 31/07/2016
01/08/2016 - 31/08/2016
01/09/2016 - 31/09/2016
01/10/2016 - 31/10/2016
01/11/2016 - 31/11/2016
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 - 30/04/2017
01/05/2017 - 31/05/2017
01/06/2017 - 30/06/2017
01/07/2017 - 31/07/2017
01/08/2017 - 31/08/2017
01/09/2017 - 30/09/2017
01/10/2017 - 31/10/2017
01/11/2017 - 30/11/2017
01/12/2017 - 31/12/2017
01/01/2018 - 31/01/2018
01/02/2018 - 28/02/2018
01/03/2018 - 31/03/2018
01/04/2018 - 30/04/2018
01/05/2018 - 31/05/2018
01/06/2018 - 30/06/2018
01/07/2018 - 31/07/2018
01/08/2018 - 31/08/2018
01/09/2018 - 30/09/2018
01/10/2018 - 31/10/2018
01/11/2018 - 30/11/2018
01/12/2018 - 31/12/2018
01/01/2019 - 31/01/2019
01/02/2019 - 28/02/2019
01/03/2019 - 31/03/2019
01/04/2019 - 30/04/2019
01/05/2019 - 31/05/2019
01/06/2019 - 30/06/2019
01/07/2019 - 31/07/2019
01/08/2019 - 31/08/2019
01/09/2019 - 30/09/2019
01/10/2019 - 31/10/2019
01/11/2019 - 30/11/2019
01/12/2019 - 31/12/2019
01/01/2020 - 31/01/2020
01/02/2020 - 29/02/2020
01/03/2020 - 31/03/2020
01/04/2020 - 31/04/2020
01/05/2020 - 31/05/2020
01/06/2020 - 31/06/2020
01/07/2020 - 31/07/2020
01/08/2020 - 31/08/2020
01/09/2020 - 30/09/2020
01/10/2020 - 31/10/2020
01/11/2020 - 30/11/2020
01/12/2020 - 31/12/2020
01/01/2021 - 31/01/2021
01/02/2021 - 28/02/2021
01/03/2021 - 31/03/2021
01/04/2021 - 30/04/2021
01/05/2021 - 31/05/2021
01/06/2021 - 30/06/2021
01/07/2021 - 31/07/2021
01/08/2021 - 31/08/2021
01/09/2021 - 30/09/2021
01/10/2021 - 31/10/2021
01/11/2021 - 30/11/2021
01/12/2021 - 31/12/2021
01/01/2022 - 31/01/2022
01/02/2022 - 28/02/2022
01/03/2022 - 31/03/2022
01/04/2022 - 30/04/2022
01/05/2022 - 30/05/2022
01/06/2022 - 31/06/2022
01/07/2022 - 31/07/2022
01/08/2022 - 31/08/2022
01/09/2022 - 30/09/2022
01/10/2022 - 31/10/2022
01/11/2021 - 31/11/2021
01/12/2022 - 31/12/2022
01/01/2023 - 31/01/2023
01/02/2023 - 28/02/2023
01/03/2023 - 31/03/2023
01/04/2023 - 30/04/2023
01/08/2023 - 31/08/2023
01/11/2023 - 31/11/2023

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

After last night's kerfuffle I got to bed later than intended, hence also woke up later than intended, and we were later going to the Showcase than I'd intended - in fact, I timed it so awkwardly we ended up missing the 2.15 showing and had to catch the 2.45. Which Kai didn't mind, as it meant he could go and look at trains for twenty minutes. I was less happy though, as it meant we and the other people there to see the film were subjected to a bunch of 5 or 6 young louts of the sort you wish had been drowned at birth. If they'd been mine I'd have banished them to their rooms until they learnt a little consideration for others, but given their appalling behaviour it's a fair bet their parents wouldn't have given a damn anyway.
But I - and Kai - have learned to fade out extraneous sounds when necessary, and therefore were able to focus on the film without much difficulty...
Sooo... X-Men 3: The Last Stand. OK. We're talking about a fantasy continuum here, in which the impossible happens all the time, so it helps to completely suspend disbelief. It's also useful to remember that there are three distinct versions of the X-Men: the comic/graphic novel form, the cartoon Evolutions, and the films. I've loved the first since I read my brother's comic (haven't a clue which one) waaaaaay back when I was a sprog of... oooh, seven? About that. This was the original X-Men, of course - Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Beast. And the Angel. (Ah, Warren Worthington III. Those wings... Yummm...) At Uni I collected the new X-Men comics (and a number of the spin-offs. Remember Kitty Pryde and Wolverine? Illyana Rasputina's Soulsword? Tch - can't remember what that series was called) as far as the Dark Phoenix Saga, at any rate. You could say I grew up with the X-Men (though I managed to miss the cartoon version). Evolutions was effectively an AU (Alternate Universe) version of the original. I thought it was OK - the young version of Kurt Wagner was cute, at any rate - though the animation was somewhat crude and the stories less than engaging for me.
So by the time the films started being made the X-Men continuum already had several versions, several different histories, and a variety of side-universes and crossovers (and that's only to my knowledge. I'm now so far behind with the various stories/characters I'd never catch up, even if I wanted to, and I no longer have the time to make the attempt.)
When it comes to the X-Men I have no particular affiliation with any specific version, and therefore approached the films with no particular expectations, as far as the stories went anyway, as long as the characters were accurately portrayed. Which they are in the main, I think. Where was I? Oh yes - the film...
It's a mess. A beautifully cg-ed mess, but a mess nonetheless. There's far too much in it, far too many characters given the absolute minimum of characterisation and screen-time, and I don't really think mixing the Brotherhood and the Morlocks was a particularly good idea to start with. The plot is forced, with far too many 'wtF??' moments: Magneto may be a bastard, but I can't believe he'd be that much of a bastard! And I really don't like characters being introduced purely as plot devices... heh, that sounds daft in context, but you'll see what I mean: there are two particular instances. (There's more but I'm not going to give spoilers: not everyone's seen the film.) And it's much too short and the action is far too fast - though that's perhaps fortunate given the flaws! And the first ending was just so pat it was cringeworthy, and the second and third endings were predictable, laying the foundations for a potential fourth film.
And you know what? Even after all that, my immediate reaction on leaving the cinema was to want to watch it again. Right now. It could have been that fabulous bridge scene, which had Kai and I laughing aloud with glee and which is almost worth the price of admission itself. It could have been the Beast (always had a soft spot for him), played to absolute perfection by Kelsey Grammer (I have no idea who he is, don't think I've ever seen him in anything, but what a gorgeous voice!). It could have been Storm, now a strong, competent and powerful leader. It could have been the Angel (those wings, those big beautiful wings. But oh, the angst of child-Warren. That hurt) although the tiny amount of screen time he had made me want to spit.
Or it could have been Wolverine, because let's face it, a half-naked Hugh Jackman is bound to please even under those circumstances. Can we say 'fanservice'? Yes, I thought we could. (I'm a little concerned about his being typecast though: cf. Van Helsing...)
It's on the list to buy as soon as it's available. Then I shall sit and savour it.


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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

... it's been a very long time since I've had carpet burns - I'd forgotten how bloody painful they are...
No, it wasn't a 2 am assignation. I completely lost connectivity about an hour ago, and after using dialup to check the BlueYonder service status, which implied there were no problems, I rang technical support...
Spoke to a very nice young man called Chris (I think), who took all the details and then talked me through a whole load of diagnostics: unplug the ethernet connection at the stack, try a 'repair' via XP's control panel network connections folder, try unplugging the ethernet jack at the surfboard end, disable firewall and try rebooting... Nothing worked.
It was rather an odd case, as the four steady green lights on the surfboard were lit, the steady green and blinking amber lights at the stack end were lit, the green light at the surfboard ethernet jack was lit - it was only the blinking amber 'activity' light on the surfboard that wasn't working. Though of course, without broadband activity operating, I can't get online.
Eventually I unplugged the power cord from the surfboard, he 'hit' it, I plugged back in and it was working. The technical explanation is that one of the files that operates the surfboard modem had somehow become corrupted, and the 'hit' replaced it. Thank you, Chris! (I still blame Butch, myself...)
HOWEVER... I've just noticed that the green lights on the surfboard keep going out and coming back on, so there may be a network problem after all.
Heh, if I'm not here later you'll know why.
And just as Transposition 11 was coming along so well, too...
And the carpet burns? On my left elbow from crawling around under the desk with a torch, doing arcane things with plugs and jacks. Ouch.


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Monday, May 29, 2006

Floating harbour
Briz skyline and the floating harbour from the train

on the train For once our timing was just right. We arrived at the Industrial Museum (the starting point of the Bristol Harbour Railway) just as the train was getting ready to leave on its last 'long' (Museum to Create Centre) trip of the day (as opposed to its 'short' trip, two minutes along the harbourside to the SS Great Britain). The open carriages were full, but the guard let us ride in the brake van, to Kai's delight. We chuffed along the New Cut (photo on the right), stopped at the Create Centre, then came back again. on the train
Kai loved it, and I must admit it was fun, if short. The railway is run by volunteers, apparently, and Kai now wants to volunteer to help with the running when he's old enough (the guard had a young lad training with him today). Well, that might change, of course, but if by the time he hits 16 he's still interested we'll check it out. Kai by the engine

The weather was fairly kind to us, too, though the wind was a little cold along the New Cut. It was mostly sunny (we managed to be inside for the small showers, only knew about them from the damp pavements), if not very warm at the moment (and the temperature is supposed to get down to 6° tonight, somewhat unseasonable...)

Off the train, then it was back over the swingbridge and Pero's Bridge and into Millennium Square, which at the moment is hosting WEEEMan...

This sculpture is amazing (that's Kai on the right at the base). It's "made from the amount of waste electrical and electronic products that an average UK citizen... will throw away in [their] lifetime,WEEEMan if [they] carry on disposing of products at the current rate", and it's a very sombre tribute to an appallingly wasteful culture. Ken says it looks sinister, and I suppose it does, yet there's a hauntingly sorrowful feel about it too - especially the face...WEEEMan face close up
... maybe you have to see it in person...
Through Millennium Square with its water features and fountains and into explore@...
Hm. The place is now looking distinctly tired, and several of the exhibits are closed for 'refurbishment' (read, they were battered so hard they had to be taken down): of the handful of new exhibits a couple don't work properly, which is very frustrating (and more so when plagued by truly obnoxious little brats like the one who thought it might be fun to annoy me. Never a wise thing to do). Still, we spent several hours there, and Kai bought himself a critter. Not sure how to describe it: it's supposedly a collector's item, all skinny wire legs and a wind-up motor operated by a Saturn shaped plug on a pull-out string... It skitters frantically around in circles when working. Very odd...
So, home, Ken cooked dinner, and we watched Crocodile Dundee - first time Kai had seen it. Still a firm favourite of mine, so rare to find a film with such feel-good charm and gently bawdy humour...
Transposition part 11 now onto page 3: back to it...

Floating harbour
The train heading off to the SS Gt Britain


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Ken pointed out that the number of my last post - 1666 - uses one of each of the full range of Roman numerals:
M = 1,000 D = 500 C = 100 L = 50 X = 10 V = 5 I = 1
Not something I would have really realised myself (I have enough trouble with Arabic numbers, let alone anything else!) but as an idle curiosity it's - curious. Sort of.
Trip to the Sunday market was successful. Kai and I both have new trainers (leather for once), Kai has his wallet for his new school, and I picked up some citrus fruit for me. Intriguing stuff, ne?
So we have our schedule more or less worked out for this week. The plan tomorrow is a steam train trip from the Industrial Museum to the Create Centre and back, then explore@bristol; Tuesday X-Men 3 at the Showcase; Thursday Jun and Yumi are coming over for the afternoon; Friday Ken has an associate coming over to discuss flint arrowheads and scrapers (I think) which Kai will probably sit in on and I shall probably disappear for; next weekend we may be going swimming with Kim and the sprogs, but that's not definite yet. At some point we have to mow and strim, otherwise it's going to take a machete to get through the grass, and I need to do some serious bindweed battle before the damned stuff gets really out of hand. The winds have blown down a couple of the biggest buddleia branches at the front, and there's one irritatingly upright branch on my cherry tree (which I'm trying to prune into a graceful arching shape) that I haven't found the time to have Ken cut for me yet. It's all going to be a little on the busy side.
But tonight it's back to the loom to see how much of Transposition 11 I can get written...


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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Transposition part 10 now posted. For those Zonefolk who can't remember where the hell I was hosting it, which is probably most of you given it's been three years since I wrote and posted part 9, it's in the (other) Zone, DBZ segment, in the Mini Epics section.
Part 11 to follow as soon as I can write it...
Try not to faint, Sue!

Heh, this is my 1,666th post...


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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Right, where were we?
Yesterday was just exhausting. Then again, trips into town usually are. First there was the two mile walk to and from school with Kai, with shopping on the way back - got to the butchers to find a notice saying they're on holiday from June 6th for two weeks (yes, I actually read it this year: the last two years I've managed not to see it and had to resort to supermarket meat when I found the shop all shut up...) so ended up struggling back with three weeks worth of stuff for the freezer. Dread to think how heavy it was: I could only just close the rucksack, and my shoulders were aching when I got back. Would have made more sense to do it in two trips, but I was there, and so was what I wanted... Eh well.
The reason to get into town was to find a birthday present for my mother from Kai. I know exactly what I want, but the blasted stall for once wasn't at the Friday market - which is a problem as the folks are off on holiday on the 6th for two weeks, and the birthday is the 14th. I still have time to buy it next Friday and post it down: if the stall is back. If not - I'll have to find an alternative. Which is tricky...
Found the other things I wanted - including duck-flavoured ramen and chocolate pocky from the Chinese supermarket, as they'd finally got some in - and made an interesting discovery: Thornton's Sicilian Lemon chocolate bar is probably the closest thing to confectionery heaven on this planet (well, this week anyway!)
And I'm taking a break this weekend. I was being 'nagged' something fierce while on the bus into town, and when I got back... suffice it to say, after a hiatus of three bloody years, I'm finishing Transposition. Er, someone find Sue some smelling salts... Chapter 10 is currently at page 5 and with a little luck could be finished tonight, chapter 11 by Tuesday, and the Epilogue by next Friday. Barring crises of course. And it's Kai's school holiday, so I can only write in the evening for a fair bit of the week. But I'm determined to complete it, even though it might not be quite as long as I'd originally intended (but only by two chapters).
... Kai is having much fun creating trains with his Trainz software - and then crashing them. Into cliffs, into other trains, in derailments, falling off bridges... carriages flying everywhere in 3D, smoke and flames... at least there are no people involved.
He wants to learn animation. I may have to invest in some software...


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Friday, May 26, 2006

solar-powered cat!

Spent most of the day posting bits and pieces of dribs and drabs on client websites. And it's still coming in!
Still, I should be finished soon, then I can get back to something more fun.
There's been a lot of activity in the garden recently (not just Kai bombing around it, that is). Our resident maggles have been visiting daily, occasionally squabbling with our resident blackbird. They're fun to watch: the maggles stalk proudly, while the blackbird bounces as though on springs. And earlier today, Ken tells me, we had a very large fat crow land by Roeg's Pool, walk around it once, then dart its head down and catch - and eat - a tadpole! So that's where they've all disappeared to.
Argent is being surprisingly photogenic and obliging at the moment.
solar-powered cat!
Kai's last day at school tomorrow, then he's on holiday for a week. I don't have anything planned yet: suppose I ought to get myself organised... Luckily I have the Invitation big book with a huge variety of money off/child goes free vouchers: I'm sure we can find something to do. @bristol again, perhaps: they've finished refurbishing the 'Space' section in explore@ now. Or perhaps the IMAX - they're showing Walking on the Moon, which I think we'd both enjoy. The planetarium's still closed though, dammit: that's my favourite part. Ah well...
Back to the rockface.


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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Butch is apparently on a go-slow today...
But I've revised three FL chapters: one more to do and that little bit of inspiration has been utilised.
Kai's 'Meet the Tutor' letter arrived from John Cabot today: there are several visits organised for the new students to spend a day at the College experiencing what it's like to be a student there. I'm thinking the second July day might be best for us. It'll mean Kai taking a day off school, but that's less important now, after the SATs, and it will give him an idea of what to expect.
And finally - Guerilla Gardening! I love it! Eco-friendly vandalism! Green ground graffiti! I've signed up - not that I can actually go and help to dig, but I'm all for the idea...


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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

We were delighted to see Blue Storm win both a Gold and Best in Show in the Chic Gardens category! A difficult choice to have to make, given the gorgeous selection, but well deserved, we thought.
We were both less impressed with the main garden Best in Show choice - the Daily Telegraph garden. Yes, it was OK, very restful, nice if all you wanted was a garden for meditation, but it was hardly innovative. We thought it was boring, to be honest, and couldn't see why it won. It seems unlikely any kind of nepotism was going on - this is Chelsea, after all. Eh well, we aren't particularly traditionalist: it was probably too conservative for us (though the rusty water tanks were a nicely unusual touch...)
voicemoves, Caroline's new site, is now uploaded.
Even managed to dodge the rain for long enough to trim the grass (and bluebell leaves) from behind the tomatoes and around the strawberry planters (should help keep the slugs down).
Back to the loom...


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It's almost worth not being able to sleep properly if it produces the extremely odd and intriguing dreams I've been having recently...
It did mean I needed a nap before Caroline came 'round at 3.30 this afternoon to have her website set up, however. Just a small commission, but quite interesting as - not being a webmaster herself - she hadn't realised that in these days of self-care transferring domains around is something you have to set up yourself half the time. Luckily she had all the info we needed (almost) and I was able to shunt her domain name from the provider over to Supanames. It actually looks as though the transfer has gone through tonight (as opposed to the 48 hours it can take) as I can now ftp to it, but I've hived the site off Haadri until she's approved the design. Another small frames site with cute - if I say it myself! - navbar buttons. (Caroline provided the artwork and I played with it in PS.)
hawthorn Our hawthorn, absolutely bowed down under the weight of the flowers this year! ->
I took a couple of hours off to watch the Chelsea Flower Show programmes, first on Beeb 1, then a followup on Beeb2 - and we got a tiny, few-seconds glimpse of Blue Storm (there's a proper photograph of it there now, but it's very dark: I saved then lightened it in Irfanview to see it properly)! Kai sat with me for much of the programmes. There's something truly, quietly wonderful about having your 11 year old son sit and discuss the gardens with you, admiring some, disliking others... (He picked up an Alan Titchmarsh 3D Garden Design software CD at one of the charity shops at Broadwalk at the weekend: I installed it on his computer (not the laptop) yesterday and he's thoroughly enjoying designing his own gardens.) We both loved the Cancer Research show garden (I want an 'infinity' swimming pool like that! It would fit in the garden too!) and the Jurassic Coast one - everything grown down south in Dorset. And as for the New Zealand garden... The programme went to NZ, and Xanthe White, the designer, walked us through her favourite areas explaining where her inspiration came from... Kai would like to visit, please!
Looking forwards to tomorrow's report!
newtsThere were four newts in the frewtnog pool this morning: I think all the rain has brought them out (not easy to see: there's a leaf in the pond, and two of the newts are twined together in the top right, in shadow). There were also dozens and dozens of minute pond-skaters on Roeg's Pool: I reckon they all hatched last night! And more rain to come. Well, it's needed to replenish the aquifers, so it's no bad thing from a wider environmental and human viewpoint, though our patio area is rapidly turning into a marsh, it's putting the dampers on the Flower Show, and causing a lot of inconvenience for a lot of people. I would like it to stop for a week, next week, though, please (school half-term). After that it can continue for a few weeks, though not enough to flood, until the summer holiday. And we'll just have to put up with increased organic root veg prices (again).

Newts are very cute...


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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Having resisted texting for the last couple of years, I finally succumbed when Kai wanted to try it. Well, it's a third the cost of a phone call, and quite useful when you forget the shopping list...
2AC 1.4.12 is now finished and 1.5.01 started. The book currently stands at 122,681 words, so I'm looking at something like 200K by the time it's finished. That does, however, cover the same ground as the first two original AC 'books', though obviously not entirely the same story.
We caught the first RHS Chelsea Flower Show programme this evening, and I've remindered to watch it this week, instead of just the highlights. Some of these show gardens are amazing - the Blue Storm garden is just beautiful... (Heh, just checked again and it's Japanese - but not as I've ever seen it before!)
One day I will actually get to go in person.
Early night. Busy week, and I'm taking Kai in tomorrow.


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Saturday, May 20, 2006

And Finland wins! YAY!!!


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More Kit Pics...
Argent1 Well, we loved Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. So much we're going to get a copy: it's excellent brain-candy. Very stylish, very silly, sod-all plot but wonderful scenery (I was particularly impressed by the luminous effect of the faces amongst all that sepia), and as GoodTwin says, very 'Boys Own'. Fabulously inventive and imaginative! It took so many elements from so many rollicking films I lost count - the Indiana Jones trilogy, Tron, King Kong, War of the Worlds, Flash Gordon... Highly enjoyable. (Except for Polly Perkins - I loathed the character. But there's always one... Interesting how she could run through the jungle and keep falling over without laddering her stockings or scuffing those ridiculously impractical shoes. What do you mean, I'm supposed to suspend disbelief?) I have to agree with the general consensus, Frankie (the Angelina Jolie character) was the most interesting: pity she didn't have more screentime.
Argent2 But Onna, no Nazis that I noticed, and the plot was worldwide, not focussed on the US...
Night Watch is... not an easy film. Mind you, Russian films rarely are. I haven't seen many: Solyaris (the original, of course), and Stalker, which I absolutely adored when I first saw it, and I'm sure there are a couple more whose names escape me. I find the cultural differences between the UK and Russia, in cinema terms at least, greater than those between the UK and just about anywhere else, which gives me no stable common ground for appreciation - which is, I think, a good thing, as I watch the films with the minimum of preconceptions.
Argent3 Night Watch... The comparisons with The Matrix are warranted to some extent - insofar as the film tries to be a supernatural Matrix. But where the Matrix and its imitators are slick and stylish, even to the precise placement of the blood, Night Watch is raw, nasty, grim - and very compelling. Vin is right, it really needs to be watched more than once to get the full effect, and I didn't have time unfortunately. I really liked the basic idea - the 'others' (vampires, shapeshifters, demons etc) policing themselves rather than having humans get involved - and it was handled very effectively (though I could happily have lived without the horrible dragonfly camera - here it looked as though it was used to hide very dodgy special effects, or the lack thereof. friendsActually, come to think of it, it probably was...) Overall - yes, a film I want to see again, and probably eventually own. I'm looking forward to the sequels.
We bought Kai his mobile phone today (a Tesco special, 10% off). He's over the moon, has added our mobile numbers and the house phone to it, and is now playing games, getting used to the functions, deciding on his ringtone, using the calculator. Happy sprog!
Eurovision Song Contest Night. Heh, it seems to have become a custom in this house to watch it, regardless of how bad it always is. This year half the acts seem to have ballerinas as their backing dancers (does no singing artiste ever perform without dancers these days?). Are they trying to add an element of sophistication or something? [grin] We're waiting for the Finnish entry, Lordi...
Having just seen/heard them, I'd rather like them to win, just for being outrageous!

[sigh] We're having fish'n'chips for dinner. We were going to have nuked chicken with couscous and mixed veg, but my brand new, microwave splatterguard melted in the microwave. All over the chicken...


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Friday, May 19, 2006

[blink] It's Friday already? What happened to Thursday...?
Argent As KW says, you can never have too many cat photos...
Mind you, I think she meant cute cat photos. I'm not sure my beastlies really count as cute. Here -> we have Argent on Kai's bedroom floor cushion (no, I know it doesn't match the purple walls, but he likes it anyway) doing a sort of sinister-trying-to-masquerade-as-cute. (Actually, the other one I took looks more sinister. Maybe later...)

<- And Raptor behind (banister) bars, refusing to play. She's taken to lying here recently - it's the best place to attack people going up and down the stairs. And she has claws like the proverbial scythe, so having her snaffle your hand is not fun...

RymeRyme -> very unimpressed at being woken to have her photo taken - as usual snuggled into Kai's pillow (that's Edward Bear behind her, and the white thing is a nearly-life-sized soft toy sealpup we found for 10p in the same second-hand shop we bought the butterfly in Wednesday's post. The seal is supposed to be mine, but it somehow mysteriously gravitated to Kai's bed and won't come back..)
I really must learn how to use the red-eye banishing setting.
K&K have arrived back with two DVDs, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow for Kai and Night Watch for us. But I really need a nap first: I'm planning a long night (2AC 1.4.12 is nearly finished). Maybe after dinner...


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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Lounge wall A little nostalgia...
Everything came off the walls before I painted hall/stairwell/landing, of course, and most of it was packed away into storage, since I'm going through a less-cluttered phase at the moment. There were a few decorative items that I wanted to keep on display, however, and today Ken got around to putting them up for me (which required hammering three masonry pins into the extremely hard brick walls of this very-well-built 1950's house. You might remember my hands don't cope well with lifting anything the least bit heavy any more, so I have to leave this sort of thing to Ken. As it was it took two bent pins before he managed to get one in straight for my copper unicorn plate on the window-wall...)
atlas mothThese three things encompass a significant part of my life. The Atlas moth (there's a sticker on the back of the display box stating that no rare or endangered species are used) was a gift for my first wedding back in 1983: unfortunately I can't remember who it was from. I kept very little from first marriage, but this moth has an odd resonance for me - it symbolises my escape from that particular torture.
The larger picture is a cotton batik print, bought at a stall that no longer exists in St Nick's Market, professionally framed behind non-reflective glass, a joint present to each other on my and Ken's first (cotton) anniversary in 1990. Depending on the culture, cranes can symbolise communion and marital happiness, a higher state of consciousness, wisdom, balance, grace, knowledge and longevity. This pair are dancing, but in a stately, controlled manner, under a full moon: their plumage is rainbow coloured, and the branch above them is in flower.atlas moth The pattern has a vaguely Australian feel to it: the figures are outlined in small white dots. It's only ever come off the wall for me to paint, and it's always the first thing to go back up when the paint is dry.
The small case contains a caduga melaneus swinhoei. I haven't been able to find out much about it, but I think it's probably Asian: the text on the mounting card is in Chinese and Japanese (with English in the middle). Kai and I rescued it from the small charity shop in Sandy Park Rd a few weeks ago.
My copper unicorn plate was a present from Ken a good few years back now, when I was actively collecting unicorns (and before I acquired too many to cope with!)atlas moth Ignore the grey smudges on it - that's my reflection: I had to use the flash given the light quality today!

Catching up on a few things I've been meaning to say...
Drawn Together Season 2. [sigh] I watched the first two episodes, then kept forgetting and having to catch the repeats, then around ep seven I forgot completely, which pretty much sums up my opinion of this season - forgettable. Pinning down why it's so inferior to the first season is tricky: the format is much the same (though the creators do seem to have tried to cram too much into most episodes), its record of offending everyone remains intact, it's even more tasteless than ever - so what's gone wrong? Perhaps it's simply that the characters were more fun when they were naïve and relatively innocent: now they're jaded and surprisingly boring.
Ah well. It's a pity, but we've seen it happen time and time again with sequels.
The new Dr Who, on the other hand, has to be my favourite so far, and not just because of Tennant's absolutely enormous eyes (though they help!) This series seems to be trying to explore the sheer loneliness of being the last of your species and essentially immortal, as well as continuing to delve more deeply into the personalities (and jealousies) of the stars. Love it. I'm still sitting down to watch it, rather than just catching a bit here and there while at the computer...

Writing... When it comes to fiction, there is very little new under any sun. It's been said that all human stories can be distilled down into 5 or 6 basic plots (the only one I've ever been able to remember is The Quest. Anyone know the others?) and all novels are variations on these fundamental premises. Which is perfectly understandable and acceptable - it makes sense, when writing for humans, to use elements that have a deep personal and cultural resonance with your audience, otherwise they will a) not understand you or b) not enjoy your writing, and a huge part of the joy of writing is, after all, to share your own visions with others and have them enjoy the tales too.
I'm not a great fan of romance as a genre - well, I thoroughly enjoy Jane Austen, but her writing is as much historical social commentary as romance - but in general I don't mind it (except for Barbara Cartland, who deserves a whole rant to herself). You could even say that part of my own writing - that's the material written to be published, which is superior to that which I post online - is a form of romance, although I deal with alien characters, emotions, courtship and sex (and even so I have to be careful not to go to far and risk alienating - pun intended - my audience). I just don't usually read (or watch) romances.
I write (and read) s-f - 'speculative fiction', as Harlan Ellison once phrased it. It includes science-fiction, fantasy, and things that don't quite fit into any other category. It's one of the hardest of all genres to write well. The world-frame must be believable, and no matter how fanciful the subject matters must be feasible: you can have dragons and aliens and super-intelligent shades of the colour blue as long as you get the context right. Many people fail (trust me, I've read some in my capacity as reviewer for SFCrowsnest) and the results are cringe-worthy. It takes imagination, logic, extrapolation and a hell of a lot of research to get it right. [grins at Sue, GoodTwin and Lutra] Excellent betas help too...
Regular readers may remember that Lutra sent over Ritual of Proof in her last parcel...
The book purports to be a sci-fi romance, something like a Jane Austen novel set in the future [later edit: on a moon - in a distant planetary system I think - that had been colonised by human women a thousand years ago] but with today's gender stereotypes reversed: the women hold all the power, the men are pretty little things bought and sold to provide heirs, warm the beds, and not much else. Hm. Well, OK, I've read this sort of thing before. No, I don't remember titles, or even much of the plots: as I said, I'm not a great fan of romances. Though I do remember finding Ariel's Dance unobjectionable and quite amusing in places...
[shudder] The writer has taken what could have been an interesting premise and gaudily slathered it in the most lurid shades of purple. I'm going to assume the couple of pages in italics at the beginning of the book are relevant to something that happens further in and ignore them for the moment (in fact they irritated me, which is not a good way to start a book...) By the time I'd finished the prologue I was ready to spit - Oh look! Beautiful, sensual, experienced, competent, "exquisite" amber-eyed, auburn haired (of course) Mary Sue - sorry, heroine - having problems with her beautiful but evil (and black-haired) Nemesis. Lovely. Please feel free to shove the entire plot in my face before I've even started the book, it saves so much time later on. And here, in chapter one, the heroine - Green - meets the hero - Jorlan - and they fall in love (well, lust, anyway) immediately.
[blink] Uh, what? These two characters - who have known each other since childhood - have spent most of their lives avoiding romantic entanglements... Where's the subtlety? The tension? The reality of it?
Green decides she wants him. Of course, so does the villain(ess) of the book. Not only is he extravagantly beautiful (as we're told over and over and over again every few paragraphs until I could wish bloody leprosy upon him), he's also a 'sensitive'. Yes, well, no doubt we'll be told in interminable detail exactly what that entails at some point in the book, but quite frankly I couldn't care less. I'm bored already.
If the 'plot' weren't bad enough, the style is intensely irritating. I could - just, if you bribed me - overlook the misuse of the language (Loreena had been passionate and unique, so I very much doubt she flaunted convention: I assume the writer means flouted. Any decent editor would have picked that one up), the abuse of 'manhood' and the overuse of 'incredible' and 'sweet', not to mention the irritating changes of idiom in the characters' speech, but what I can't forgive is the writer's using an unfamiliar term - then breaking the entire flow of the story to tell the reader, in great detail, what it means. AAAARRRGGGHHH!!! Pet hate! The Mark of the Amateur!
Excuse me while I go and lie down and try to bring my blood pressure back to normal...
OK. I'm calm now. Honestly.
I'm unsure whether to admire or boggle at Lutra's tenacity in actually finishing this bilge: I don't think I can, and I'm only on chapter three. So let's see. I predict the villainess will do something nasty to the male - kidnap him? That's fairly standard for this sort of plot - and Green will have to rescue him, aided by his 'sensitive' powers, and there will be much suffering, but there will of course be a happy ending, with peace and equality for the good guys and the bad ones getting their just reward. Lutra, am I right? Does anything at all interesting happen? If not I shall stop reading there and save my blood pressure.
What startled me was my ridiculously strong reaction to the book. I mentioned it on ICQ and Lutra had a response I found interesting:

You write excellent sci-fi. The book is a personal insult.

Well, I wouldn't call it excellent, but it's better than this, and better than a lot I review, so I suppose that could explain why I'm so... affronted...
Right. </rant> Let's get back to something far more amenable. 2AC 1.4.11 finished and 1.4.12 started - another pivotal chapter.


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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

"...dogs and cats, living together - mass hysteria!"
Ryme and Quyn
I just managed to miss a really cute shot of Ryme reaching towards Quyn's leg...
caterpillar hanging
The caterpillar is now hanging off the garlic leaf...
I don't know whether this is supposed to happen, whether it's getting ready to spin a cocoon or is dead - although it didn't fall off when I touched it. I'll check again tomorrow.

(The quote is from Ghostbusters, in case you didn't recognise it.)


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Monday, May 15, 2006

Wildlife Watch Chez Joules

The jungle, looking right from the patio: sumac framing the mahonia, behind it is greengage, hawthorn (in flower) and to the left the goat-willow.
It was raining this morning when I got up to take Kai in to school, so I sallied forth to wreak death and destruction and total slaughter on the garden's mollusc population.
Just as well I did - one of the little buggers was just finishing eating through the stem of one of my newly planted tomatoes, dammit! But I had my revenge - it was first under the scissors...
On a more pleasant note, up near the apple tree an Eyed Hawk Moth had pulled itself from its cocoon and was drying its wings on the underside of a horizontal fence beam:
Moth1 Moth2 Moth3
8 a.m.
Dropped Kai off with his friends, shopped at butcher and Sainsbug's, checked on the moth when I got back: it had moved down to a bluebell stalk at the base of the fence:
Moth4 Moth5
10 a.m.
Trudged over to Tesco for shopping round 2 (and found that they've now mixed all their organic fruit and veg in with the non-organic,Moth1 and on the top bloody shelf, no less, a bit of a stretch even for me) and checked the moth on my return around 11.15 a.m. ->
I think it's pretty much finished now, just gaining strength before it flies away. Unfortunately you can't see the eyes - at rest, it only flashes those when threatened, and I don't want to alarm it, it has enough to do recovering from the metamorphosis - but there's a gorgeous photo here... We seem to get one of these moths hatching in the garden every other year: I can remember four going back over the last nine years (one year Argent caught it before I could stop him, unfortunately).
caterpillar I'm hoping for an Elephant Hawk Moth too: we grow rosebay willow herb behind the shed to encourage them, and have had a couple hatch in previous years. Their caterpillars are amazing, especially in threat-posture.
And I still have a ragwort, for the cinnabar moth caterpillars!
<- There's a large caterpillar on Kai's garlic - haven't had time to check what it is yet.
newts1Newts in the frewtnog pool ->
Not terrible clear - they're very skittish creatures and easily startled, but there are two of them in the photo.
In other news: 2AC 1.4.11 is nearly finished. I'm now undecided as to whether to leave the first book there or continue onto Section 5. I'd prefer the latter, I think...

(Have I mentioned recently how much I love my digicam...?)


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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Heartsease flower

The tomatoes are planted - well, seven of them anyway - as are the lupins. And the heartsease are spreading, as I hoped.
Hoping for a more relaxed time this week. Apparently Kai's class will be practising being at secondary school for some of the time between now and the summer holidays, in preparation for the autumn, and having more art, DT, PE and citizenship classes. I think he'll enjoy it all.

Heartsease plant
Paler purple heartsease
Onna, I finally found a yumyum, at Greggs in Keynsham.Yumyum It was very sweet and like a doughnut inside, which isn't how I remember them, but at least the shape and glaze is right.
Early night tonight, after Sleepwalkers. I might make more sense tomorrow!


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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Keynsham was fun: a couple of hours of sprogs climbing trees and playing hide and seek in the long grass up the bridge bank, and a good natter with Ruth.
We also picked up a couple of books - and I found something I've been after for a while, a neatly-sized games set, chess, draughts and backgammon, all made of glass. Nicely made too, with clear and frosted glass chess pieces, and clear and amber-coloured glass nuggets for the counters. Kai likes draughts, and I like chess, even though I have an annoying talent for the accidental stalemate (seriously, I don't try to stalemate my opponent, and half the time I have no idea how I manage it...), and Ken and I used to enjoy backgammon. Kai however had never played it, so I sugested a game.
He picked it up in no time, and even though it was a trial/learning game, it ended up being quite closely fought: I won, but not by much. I can see us playing it fairly often!


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Friday, May 12, 2006

[sigh] And then the storm rolled in and we had to retreat inside while thunder roared and it bucketed down outside.
Eh well. Next time...


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Free! Free from the tyranny of SATs! The sprogs are running riot in the garden...
Wisteria flowers The early night was a washout: I couldn't sleep anyway. And the nap after taking Kai in/struggling back with too much shopping didn't help, as one of the houses across the road is having work done, and the ringing of scaffolding and clattering of gods-know-what ensured I woke with a jerk every time I was on the verge of dropping off. [sigh] The joys of suburban living. It's just not geared up to shift work...
Eh well. I'm sure I'll survive.
My wisteria is gorgeous this year, and smells amazing. Did I mention we've commissioned 'our' carpenter to make an overhead trellis, to match the side-path gate, for us to train the plant up and over the gateway? Oh well, I have now! It'll look lovely when it's done.
On the subject of rechargable batteries, you'd think, wouldn't you, that if you have a Kodak digicam, Kodak batteries would be ideal for use in same. Well, that's what I thought anyway, so we ordered two packs with the battery charger. They weren't cheap. They are, however, bloody useless. We can take about 20 photos before they run out. In contrast, the Duracell batteries currently in the camera have so far taken just over 200 and still seem to be going strong (though that's probably another 'Famous Last Words' mistake...) We won't be buying Kodak again.
Feeding Frenzy

<- Ken took this photo this morning. Yes, that's Argent underneath the other two, shoving his muzzle in the food bowl.

Update on the Dreams book: Godsfield have come back to say they don't want me to post any details until about a month before it's published (which is, according to, around the 15th of November). So sorry folks, it'll have to be later.
Lutra's now caught up with the SFSG betas: need to get some more of her chapters done before starting my own tonight - which will be enjoyable, I've written all of half a page this week.
Lutra wanted to see al fresco's haunt, so here's the setup for this afternoon. Al himself isn't in the photo, obviously.
Al fresco
Off to make make chili con carne (for Ken and I) and barbecue chicken tortillas (for the sprogs)...


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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Well, we now have a new fryingpan. Heavy, deep-sided, 28cm, non-stick with a clear lid: Red Rose make, with a 10 year guarantee. Apparently Red Rose are a British company, based in Bournemouth. I'm hoping (possibly vainly) that the quality is as high as 'Made in Britain' used to be. If so, we'll gradually replace the saucepans, which are also now getting well past it, with the same make.
Kai thinks he's done quite well in today's SATs, and is fairly confident about tomorrow's.
We had spagbol al today - most enjoyable.
Tired. Having an early night. I shall be very glad when this week is over.


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So we ate al fresco again, cannibals that we are, and it was very good. But the grass was too long, and with thunderstorms forecast I suggested we might like to mow it. I'll rephrase that. I suggested it would be much less work for Ken if he mowed it now, rather than after it had rained and the grass had grown another three inches...
Storm frontIt was almost surreal, watching Ken mow at about 6.30 pm while the second-longest rolls of thunder I've ever heard (one day I'll dig out the photos and tell the story of the loudest and longest) growled across the sky, and Kai gave a running commentary of the approach of the storm front -> from up a tree.
It was quite magnificent: I wish I could predict where lightning will flash so I could photograph it! Unfortunately the rain wasn't heavy enough, or long-lasting enough, to do any real good. But it feels pleasantly cool and fresh now, which will make sleeping more comfortable.
Most of the mowing was accomplished, though, so that's a good thing.
This evening I suggested we watch Blow Dry after Kai was in bed. Ken really liked it, and it had me sniffling at the end again. Wonderful film.
Kai managed to joke about today's SATs, saying wryly he thinks he might have managed to attain enough marks to scrape through - which makes me think he's probably done fairly well. Hopefully we'll know early next month: we need to return his personal details form to John Cabot and they want the SATs score included.
Two more days - both maths, his second favourite subject - and the pressure will be off. I think I've been more stressed than he has!


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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

... oops...
The goat-willow is shedding. Thousands and thousands of tiny fluffy seeds filling the air, floating joyfully o'er fence and lawn and computer stack. Remember that early scene in Legend, with the flittery things and the bubbles? Kind of like that except without the unicorns...
We really must prune it this year...
woodruff and strawberriesThe fence side of the rockery is a carpet of woodruff and native wild strawberries at the moment. (Kai can't wait - he loves the strawberries. I think they taste like bubblegum, which I don't like, so he gets to eat the lot, which makes him very happy.) The meadowsweet patch has doubled in size from last year (photos when it's flowering). And I fancy getting another planter and potting it up with some herbs: Ken likes parsley (which I don't), I like dill (which Kai doesn't) and tarragon (which he's never tried), and it would be very good to have some sage, marjoram and oregano again. We already have thyme and rosemary, and Kai is growing garlic in his little manhole-cover planter. Heh, it's all KW's fault! [grin] I'll have to see if Focus still have any (planters, that is). And with a bit of luck they'll be reduced, since most people will have bought theirs by now.
Better get ready to collect Kai. If the weather stays like this we'll be eating outdoors again.


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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Apple blossom!
Kai just wants to forget about today's SATs, thanks. But Ken tells me one of the parts was OK, more or less: it's the other section, the writing of a diary entry, that he thinks he mucked up. Then again, as Ken says, he has high personal standards, so it might not be as bad as he thinks.
He's worried about tomorrow's as well. It's the reading SATs: reading, summarising, answering questions on what he's read, as far as I can gather. We've told him just to do the best he can.
I've organised for Matt and Tom to come over on Friday after school, for tea and charging around the garden if it's dry, and we're off to Keynsham on Saturday, on a Frying Pan Hunt (there's a real cookery shop in the main street) and to meet up with Ruth, Jun and Yumi in the park for the sprogs to run around. And for Kai to give back Yumi's book: he's absolutely loved discovering Alex Rider and wants to collect the books.
I may not be a whole-hearted supporter of animal experimentation, but I'm too disgusted by the antics of the so-called animal liberation extremists (read, terrorists) to comment.
Back to the loom.


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Kai's verdict on the Science SATs? Fun and easy!
So that's all good. I'm glad he started with his favourite subject, it's given him confidence. Literacy tomorrow, which is probably his worst subject. Oh, not his vocabulary, grammar or creativity - those are well beyond his actual age: it's his spelling, which is awful.
No, I must be fair - his spelling is a great deal better than a lot of fanfic I've read. He just gets so carried away with what he's trying to say he becomes careless... Doesn't help that I cannot abide sloppy spelling, so my perspective is somewhat biased.
Eh well. I'm sure he'll be alright.
Finished listening to The Psychedelic Avengers and the Dectarian Blood Empire and really enjoyed the experience (although the second CD is more 'experimental' than the first, and definitely won't be everyone's flagon of Dectarian plasma). The tracks are sufficiently distinct in style and content to not become tedious or repetitive, and have a many-layered texture that I found rich and rewarding. (Heh, I'll use that in the review!) I'm almost tempted to search out other PA albums...
Tonight's BCP meeting went well - only I can't update the site as it's in the process (finally) of being transferred. Have updated the ClaraNET version though, so that's all ready to go live as soon as the domain name has been transferred. With a bit of luck no-one will even notice the transition (though I somehow doubt I'd be that lucky...)
Back to the loom.


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Monday, May 08, 2006

Woke at midday from a positively vertiginous dream involving three individuals, all of them in training for some obscure physical endurance test (or something of the ilk): the one I vividly remember was a guy with a shaved head (who resembled Ross Kemp now I come to think of it) who was parkouring on an enormous ferris wheel (or possibly the London Eye, it was that high...) Now I don't mind heights in the least, but I prefer to have something sturdy to hang onto, and this madman was dropping and swinging and flinging himself through space over the metal struts and seats like the proverbial baboon...
My latest batch of books to review arrived on Saturday, and included with them was something a little unusual - a double CD: The Psychedelic Avengers and the Dectarian Blood Empire - "the soundtrack to your very own imaginary science-fiction movie"... It contains tracks such as 'The floyterian mindexpander is still working', 'Xentru Quinturrs and his Wobbling Hulloo Buulus - for the freedom of our galaxy' and '"Welcome" said the slubberian slubber gooze as it smashed Mantilies head to pieces'. Er, riiiight... But it's actually not too bad - a bit Hawkwindish, a bit Mike Brooks-ish, a bit jazzy, distinctly spacey, an interesting mix that manages to hang together well. (The floyterian mindexpander, incidentally, is track 11, and extremely pretty.) It's very long though - 20 tracks on each CD: I've been playing it for 50 minutes so far and I'm only on CD1 track 14.
Off to collect Kai from school shortly. He's had his Science SATs today...
More later.


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Sunday, May 07, 2006

Bloody typical. Faced with a week of SATs exams, what happens to Kai?
He gets a cold.
Poor sprog. But at least the sore throat (with swollen tonsils) he had on Friday has eased: now he's just snuffling and coughing a little. Keeping fingers crossed it goes quickly and doesn't affect his performance too much.
Cloud Strife
I tried taking some photos of FFVII: AC before we took the DVD back, to see how the digicam coped. This is Cloud Strife ->
Vincent Valentine <- and Vincent Valentine. See what I mean about the prettiness?
Curiously, the pics I tried to take of Sephiroth all came out very badly - possibly due to the very light, bright backgrounds. Eh well. I'll try again when I have my own copy.
Ken spotted the Sleepwalkers pilot episode on ITV4 tonight. I remembered watching a handful of eps on Sci-Fi Channel way back when we first got cable, and liking them, but I never saw the pilot. So we both watched, and enjoyed, and have remindered for the rest of the (sadly very short) series.
The Fly II is now on in the background. Not a particularly good film, but the section with the dog still has me bawling my eyes out, just like the first time I saw it over a decade ago.
Eh well - back to the loom...

[sigh] Is it just me or are phishers are becoming more and more stupid? My latest one had LabWFpIHByb3N0=aWxvciBtYpetc.etc.etc for another 137 characters as the 'click here' login address. Yeah, right, like a addie is a genuine PayPal link!


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Next time I let Ken rent the DVDs.
FFVII: Advent's Children... Probably the most gorgeous CG I've ever seen (though I have to disagree with Onna: at no point did I forget I was watching animation). Phenomenally pretty bishies (fabulous hair). OK soundtrack. Extraordinarily luminous backgrounds. Nice bikes. Nifty 'slot together' sword.
The rest? Pointless. I must of course add that I'm not a gamer (and on this showing never likely to be), I don't like endless fights and chases, or completely ludicrous monsters, and I do like a little bit of plot wrapped around my prettiness. I also prefer not to be subjected to the sort of ghastly dragonfly 'camerawork' that made today's headache worse. I'll probably still buy it when I can find it cheap, just for the sheer prettiness of it all, but then watch it in Japanese with the subtitles off, it'll make just as much sense as the incredibly irritating American dubbing...
And as for The Exorcism of Emily Rose - utter, utter bilge. I want my two hours back!
I shall now grump off snarling back to my own far more interesting, exciting and fulfilling continua and get 2AC 1.4.10 finished before turning back to Haadri.


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Saturday, May 06, 2006

Not too uncomfortably hot, not as hot as it's going to be, but hot all the same.
So I assembled the new garden table, spelunked through the garden shed to find the parasol, put the seat covers on the garden chairs, and served dinner al fresco (only he didn't know about it as I forgot to invite him.) Nuked chicken, mixed leaf salad with cucumber, spring onions and vine cherry tomatoes, and tiny baby potatoes with butter. And glasses of sparkling elderflower pressé to drink.
It was very nice indeed. I've promised Kai we'll do it as often as we can through the summer - and that later we'll dig out the barbecue as well, and give that another go. My home-made burgers taste great cooked outdoors!
We dropped into Phoenix on the way back from school and rented Final Fantasy VII: Ken said he fancied something horrible so I've risked The Exorcism of Emily Rose, as well. Kai grabbed LWW off the shelf, but Ken and I had already agreed we were going to splash out for it at some point, so instead of renting I bought the two disc special with the shopping at Sainsbury's: we watched it after dinner. I hadn't really noticed, first watching it at the Showcase, how beautiful the music is.
And it's summer - the flamewings have returned...


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Friday, May 05, 2006

Well that was all reasonably successful.
Kai's uniform is ordered - £140. [wince] Ouch. And that's the bare minimum, and without rugby boots, plimsolls, and school shoes, which I'll have to buy near the end of the summer holiday. Wendy and my mother have my heartfelt thanks for the help! On the plus side - sort of - they no longer wear shirts and ties for two terms, so at least I'm spared having to re-learn how to iron. And buy an ironing board - the last one rusted through with disuse... Though Ken said it was a pity, how could he have an old school tie if they didn't have school ties any more? Sprog didn't really enjoy the experience very much, he's not keen on clothes shopping anyway, and he was able to get a first sight of some of his future schoolmates, which made it all that much more real and scary for him I think. I pick everything up on July 4th. Then I have to sew name tags in everything, what fun!
I had planned to work when we arrived back, but couldn't keep my eyes open come 1 a.m. Still, I managed eight hours sleep (ye gods it's a record!) so it wasn't all bad. And today Ken held Quyn while I cut out the matted fur in his pads and tidied up the trimming of his leg and belly fur, dog complaining and whinging the whole time (it's nice I have such a vocal 2 and 4 legged family but sometimes I'm glad Rosa can't do anything but hiss, and even that only when threatened...) We voted in the local elections. It was an inset day for Kai, so he finished his SATs revision and helped Ken start dismantling the old wooden compost bin: they found four hefty adult slowworms at the top alone, so how many are in the whole heap I can't imagine. Chuffed though - they're such gorgeous creatures. And I finished 2AC 1.4.09 and started 1.4.10, which I'm very happy about.
A friend sent me this, saying it was probably the most fun you can have with a US president. If he gets stuck, drag him with the mouse: you can make him squeeze through the tiniest cracks with a bit of effort. Oddly soothing, I found...
No news back yet from Godsfield about posting the Dreams book cover art and info. But Valkyrie has revised the picture for the cover of the first Haadri book for me. It's absolutely beautiful and I've printed out a copy to frame for my wall. No, sorry, you can't see it until the book is published!
Back to 1.4.10. 2AC is coming together nicely, though I say it myself!


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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

To paraphrase Windlily, it's suddenly 9-hives busy...
What happened yesterday? I've forgotten... Probably because I wasn't feeling very well - combination of the tail-end of this blasted cold, a touch of hayfever, and simple tiredness. Still, I managed to write some more 2AC 1.4.09, which isn't bad. And Kai had a good day: got 19/20 for his mental arithmetic test. Bodes well for his SATs.
He asked for a treat on the way home. He normally has something from the paper shop half way up Bloomfield Road on Monday and Friday, but since it was his first day back I said yes. Last week he'd been telling about something one of his friends had said about a new sweet - a mallow burger. I only half took in what he was saying as I was working on a tricky bit of coding (bad mum that I am, not listening to my child!) but it sounded pretty horrible to me. Well, the paper shop had them in stock.
They're made of marshmallow. And they look exactly like a cheeseburger in a sesame roll.
The operative word is ICK. Talk about sickly sweet! The damned thing's about the same size as a small hamburger too. And after buying it, a Turkish Delight for me and a handful of Cadbury cream egg bars [shudder] for Lutra I suddenly realised how much it cost. 99-bloody-p! He's not having them very often!
Mind you, I'm not sure he'll want one too often - he had a bit of difficulty finishing it...
Tonight I take him out to John Cabot to order his uniform, so I did the usual, took him to school then bought a FirstDay ticket and went into town to throw money at the bank, buy crickets for Rosa (the stall had medium brown ones this time, not the horrible singing black ones) and see if I could buy a new frying pan - ours has finally had to be thrown out. It was twenty years old, though, so it's done well. We have £15 in M&S vouchers kicking around at the moment (not sure why - free gift for some consumer survey thing I did probably), so I popped in to see if they sold kitchen stuff.
The kitchenware section comprised precisely one small square island on the edge of the bedding section. No frying pans. And a salt and pepper set alone was £15.
You can tell I never use M&S, can't you? Perhaps Ken can put them towards a pair of jeans. Unless anyone wants to buy the vouchers?
I did, however, manage to get terracotta feet for my strawberry planters in Wilkinson's, and, best of all, a new set of headphones for Kood (Sony in-ear, £3.99 from HMV) and they're absolutely wonderful! The sound quality is amazing, and really cuts down on the amount of external noise I can hear. Dead chuffed!
Arrived back to find the cover art for the Dreams book has arrived - it looks lovely. I'm now waiting for permission to scan and post - and to go into more detail about the contents!
Right - should have time to get 1.4.09 finished before the trip out to John Cabot. Back to the loom!


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Monday, May 01, 2006

Happy Beltain!

garden latest

... I had a day off today. It was most enjoyable. I think. Not that I could actually do nothing, of course - couple of machine loads of washing (now there's a recycling idea: I wonder how easy it would be to cut through the outlet pipe?), Ken cleared a patch of garden by the fence for my lupins (just two to start with, to see how they cope with the slugs and snails), and Kai did several hours SATs revision - but I spent much of the day away from the computer. Felt very strange.
My suggestion of putting up the new table and eating out of doors next week when Kai comes home from school was met with a loud "YAY!" from sprog. The weather's supposed to be warm. And I have some jasmine scented garden 'torches' (the insect repellant type, a Yule present from some years ago) that we haven't tried yet which might be interesting. Or at least nice-smelling.
garden latest

I do like the way the garden is coming along! Although sadly, all our goldfish appear to have disappeared. Ken thinks the heron revisited and ate them. It's not actually possible to see very far down because the water is so murky, but they aren't coming up for their food, so I think he may be right. So do we buy some more? I really don't want to cover the pool: would one of those ceramic 'fish hides' work? At the moment the pool is heaving with very healthy and rapidly-growing tadpoles, and I have a sneaking suspicion we may need to hoik out a bucket-full and take them down to Nightingale Valley...
Argent Argent's lookout spot, on top of the shed roof (taken using the telephoto option). I'm not sure how he gets there: he used to jump down from Kai's bedroom window, but it's a long drop and he's a bit old for that now. Perhaps he climbs the buddleia at the front... Argent
Taken from Kai's bedroom window, again using the telephoto option. Argent the Camouflage Kit! ->
Now to get something creative done.


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