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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04/01/2005 - 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
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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
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10/01/2006 - 10/31/2006
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07/01/2007 - 07/31/2007
08/01/2007 - 08/31/2007
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11/01/2007 - 11/30/2007
12/01/2007 - 12/31/2007
01/01/2008 - 31/01/2008
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01/01/2011 - 31/01/2011
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01/01/2012 - 31/01/2012
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01/01/2013 - 31/01/2013
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01/01/2016 - 31/01/2016
01/022016 - 28/02/2016
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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

Monday, July 31, 2006

road trip!
The A303 from Stonehenge to Winchester (sort of. On the way, anyway...) We drove out of the rain and overcast of Briz into bright sunshine and dramatic clouds to War of the Worlds, Demon Days and Absolution. Wonderful!
Stonehenge is amazing (and I ended up taking 80+ photos and ran the batteries down!) I'll sort out some pages of the best when I get home, but for now...
Stonehenge

Kai's not too sure about the tae kwon do, though we both enjoyed watching. Energetic type of sport, innit?
Otters tomorrow!





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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Fishing villageWell, Kai's all packed, and I'm half-way done: Kim rang to see if we fancied a run down to Portishead this afternoon. We stopped off at a new, exclusive development in the town - The Fishing Village, lots of very expensive flats, some with balconies, hodge-podged together with little winding lanes around and about - close to the Marina. Nice in their own way, but no gardens, and I wouldn't want to be such a very little way above sea level...
The view over to Wales and up the estuary from the Lighthouse - the lighthouse-shaped block of flats over on the far right of the photo - is quite splendid however.


The Bridges
The two Severn Bridges, new one closest, old one behind.
Severn Bridges
And a close-up using the telephoto lens.
The sprogs had a great time in the park at Portishead seafront, while we chatted - it was altogether a lovely afternoon.
Now I'd better finishing getting myself organised...




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Rain! 'ooray!!
In brief... The second episode of Prehistoric Park was excellent. We love this little series!
K&K started sorting out Kai's room, enough that I was able to put away all his new John Cabot uniform. And his den under the cabin bed is a lot tidier too.
I think the piriton is beginning to work - foot isn't as painful today, though it's still so swollen I can't bend my ankle, hence walking hobbling is a bit of a nuisance.
Not long 'til the holiday!





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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Day went as well as could be expected. Woke at 7.30 in pain: Ken went to Tesco (the pharmacy opens at 8.30) and bought piriton. Interesting: piriton and 'prufen come close to knocking me out, and there's not much can do that! So wasn't exactly on sparkling form for folks' visit.
But it was fairly relaxed. And my mother sewed in all of Kai's name tags on his new uniform, which is excellent and much appreciated, as it would have taken me hours.
Now trying to wake up enough to see about starting 2AC 1.5.03...





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Thursday, July 27, 2006

I can't win. Whatever I did to my ankle had just about cleared up, and I was walking normally again, then last night, while photographing the sunset, something bit me - hard enough to draw blood - once on my right foot (instep) and twice on my left foot (above the toes and on the inside of my ankle). Bunged on witch hazel as soon as I realised, but we're out of piriton anti-histamines; the last pack was nearly two years past its use-by date, and I keep forgetting to buy more. The bites itched last night, as they do, but I thought I'd be OK - until I started out for the busstop this morning...
The bite on the inside of my ankle itches and stings like hell at the same time, has swollen up, and sends a searing pain right up my calf when I walk, dammit. Hobbled into town, only to find that the NHS walk-in centre has moved - to the BRI, half a mile away uphill. [growl] I thought the whole point was to have it somewhere outside the hospital, so it was more accessible.
I limped home. I'll have to make an appointment to see the doctor about my hands (and ankle if it's still giving me grief) when I get back from Winchester: don't have time beforehand, the parents are up for the day tomorrow. I'll rest as much as I can over the weekend.
On a lighter note, this blog is four years old today. Not bad given that, according to the BBC, most blogs only last for four months!
Back to the loom. 2AC 1.5.02 is now done. Ten more chapters, plus the three introductory ones, and the first book is finished...





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So Kai and I settled down to watch Howl's Moving Castle...
What a beautiful, beautiful film. Delicately surreal, subtle, emotionally rich, and of course exquisitely drawn and animated (it's Miyazaki, how could it be anything else?), my only quibble would be the slightly hurried feel to the ending. But I can live with it. We watched it in English (the dub wasn't too bad - a lot better than I'd expected) but it's on the list to buy and I'll watch the subtitled Japanese version once we have it. Gorgeous.
Sunset
Tonight's sunset.
Check out/sign the petition at Act for Dolphins. Not that I'm convinced that public opprobrium will prevent any nation from doing what it wants - it hasn't so far, anyway - but it also can't do any harm, and if there's a remote chance it might help, I'm all for it.





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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

St Anne's Junior main entrance
... Tuesday is the new Friday...
Kai's Leaver's Assembly went very well, with various Year 6 sprogs standing up to read aloud their funniest or most embarrassing events at school, or the teachers' most memorable occasions: they sang a medley (well, three, does that constitute a medley?) of Beatles songs... I know the middle one was When I'm 64, and they ended with Yesterday, but the first one escapes me... then the leavers (to the cheers of the school, which was so cute) were each presented with a lovely little compact Geddes and Grosset Dictionary and Thesaurus, dated and signed with their names, courtesy of the Friends of St Anne's!
(The photo is of the main entrance. It's a lovely building, light and airy inside, and the main hall has an incredibly high ceiling with two large fans: I sat under one of them for the assembly and can vouch for their efficiency.)
But it was hot, over 30°: the hill seemed never-ending both there and back (and I had to have a second shower on our return).
Even the girls couldn't bestir themselves out of the gentle breeze on the landing - and poor Quyn is really suffering, even though I've clipped off as much of his fur as he'll allow me to (he's asleep out in the garden right now: I have the doors wide open, much to the kits' puzzlement. They feel obliged to go out, since they can, but it's dark out there...)

Ryme and Raptor
We came back via Phœnix, where Kai decided he wanted to rent National Treasure again (crap film: I left him to it and went up for a nap - of which more in a mo...) and we also picked up Howl's Moving Castle. I'm not sure if it's just in American, or also in Japanese with subtitles, but we'll find out tomorrow.
So... <sleep-deprived curmudgeonliness> Nap? What nap? It's summer, it's hot, all the windows are open. It's predictable really. First there was the drilling. Not entirely sure where it was coming from, but I could swear someone was trying to drill a well in their living room. Then there's the spotty oiks who seem, inexplicably, to think it's sooo kewl to race up and down the road on mammoth-wasp-powered scooters. And a note to those who insist on driving down supposedly quiet suburban roads with their car windows wide open and music blasting out - you are both highly inconsiderate and entirely lacking in musical taste. I do not wish to listen to your ill-chosen cacophony, so either switch it off or close the bloody windows. Save it until you're on busy city roads or the motorway, where no-one will notice.
And someone somewhere has obviously spread their delivery of horse-manure over the rosebeds and left it to ripen in the sun. Smell of the country, noise of the city. Lovely.</sleep-deprived curmudgeonliness>
And yes, I do admit it's unreasonable of me to expect - or even hope - that it's going to be quiet between 7 and 8 pm. And the noise did die right down come 8 - too late for me to sleep though. Very annoying. I mean, think of all the wit and wisdom the world will be missing if I'm too tired to write!</self-mockery>
FrogThis hefty fellow was in Roeg's Pool earlier. I thought he was just relaxing after a hard day's relaxing, but Kai was sure he was dead - and tried to prove it by poking frog with a blade of grass. And when it didn't move, I suggested we lift it out. Whereupon it very grumpily wriggled off Kai's plastic spade and moved to another clump of weed... I'll go with my gut feeling next time.
I've found the time to read the first three chapters of Stormbreaker - and what d'you know, it's a Marty-Stu! A cheerfully self-confessed Marty-Stu, however, which somehow makes it forgivable. Personally I find the choppy sentences irritating, and so far there's precious little depth to any of the characters, but then, I'm hardly the target audience! As a rollicking fantasy for adolescents pubescents prepubescents youngsters it obviously works: Kai ripped through Scorpia and is now gobbling up Ark Angel... I still think it would be a fun film to see, GoodTwin, if you and Adrian fancy it. If not, we'll go here.Sunset
Hm. It's probably time to close up the doors, before the fluttering of the incoming moths hides the light completely. It was supposed to rain tonight/tomorrow morning: it hasn't yet, but I'm still hopeful - it's deliciously cool outside now.
It's Tuesday - but it feels like Friday. We don't have to be up early tomorrow (well, actually we do, because 'our' carpenter is coming again), but there's no school now until the end of August. Then it's all the excitement of John Cabot!
Back to the loom. With a glass of Hock to celebrate making it through Junior School...





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Monday, July 24, 2006

Raptor
Raptor is very fond of me, and not just because I give her prawns. She lies on the floor beside my chair while I'm working, demands cuddles when I take a break, sleeps on my side of the bed until I go up, then insists on sleeping beside me even if that means she has to lie on top of Ken. It's very cute.
I feel as though I'm on holiday - though strictly speaking I am, almost. It's Kai's last day at his current school tomorrow, and next Monday we're off to GoodTwin's for a week. Shopping's done (all three loads, Sainsbug's, butcher and Tesco) and the top drawer of the freezer stocked for Ken, and even my replacement sandals have arrived from Oxendales (the old ones are finally falling to pieces). I've even made a list of things I have to remember to pack - like the USB cable for my digicam, so that (GoodTwin willing) I can update here with photos while I'm away.
...in other news...
Hands still playing up, and the lump isn't going away, so I shall dive into the walk-in NHS centre when I'm next in town (should be sometime this week).
My tablet pen was growing decidely battered, so I emailed Trust to ask about a replacement. It arrived today, and they've changed the design again: this one is plastic and therefore lighter and more comfortable, but the barrel doesn't unscrew like the last two (which was always a weak point as it was easy to damage the area of contact). The new one has a lift-up panel for the battery, and a much improved switch (the right and left clicks now actually work! YAY!). And only £6.25, which given I use it all the time is pretty good value for money. I like Trust. I've always had good service from them, and never any problems. (And that's probably another famous last words...)
Kai's at the all-day school trip to Blaise Castle today: he tells me they'll be doing the nature trail through the gorge. It's lovely there, and I'm sure they'll all have a great time.
We discovered this at the weekend, on sale at Tesco. Even if you disregard half the hype, it sounds great. We're going to try composting the bottle, following their guidelines, and see how we do.
I've made a start on 2AC 1.5.01, and may be able to get a little more done tonight if the hands hold out. For now, it's back to the loom. All the windows and doors are open, there's a lovely breeze blowing through the house, Ken's collecting Kai, and I bought us some very nice and very reasonably priced rump steak at the butcher for a treat for dinner... Nice way to start a holiday!




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Saturday, July 22, 2006

heronheron
K&K went out for a walk this afternoon, and saw this heron (sorry about the quality. It was shady under the trees and I don't think Ken's quite got the hang of the telephoto lens yet).
Prehistoric Park is great fun, and extremely well made. We thoroughly enjoyed it, and will watch the rest of the series (assuming it doesn't nose-dive, but it is British, so I have reasonable hopes for the continuing good quality!)
The same can't be said for Naruto, which failed to engage me - though the usual bad dub didn't help, I'm sure. But it's fairly standard fare: I can live without it.
Hands and forearms painful today. I'm taking it easy.





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It's still only Friday? It feels like Saturday night! Damn...
Oh, no, hang on - that's good, isn't it. It means I still have Saturday to look forward to.
Time. I have such problems with time. And it seems to be getting worse the older I get... where was I? Oh yes...
Actually, today, it's almost understandable. I had very little sleep last night, and Ken woke me early to take Kai down to meet Matt and Tom to walk to school: I shopped on the way back, then got shot of the day's business (a five minute client update), did a little more revision of 2AC, then had to have a nap, as I couldn't keep my eyes open.
<aside> On the subject of naps, I don't know if I mentioned, but Ken has had to get into the habit of telling me whether it's morning or evening when he wakes me up. My time sense is so skewed I can't tell any more, which has on occasion led me to scrambling out of bed and dragging clothes on frantically, only to find that it's 8 pm, not 8 am (and therefore I'm late taking Kai to school).</aside>
Ken collected Kai, and they arrived back early for a Friday (Kai was too tired to walk through Nightingale Valley, which is the usual Friday routine): it was too early to eat, so Ken decided to mow the grass front and back before tonight's forecast shower(s). Throwing caution to the winds I joined him, pruned the wild roses and cut back some of the brambles in the meadow, then did a little (stress on the little) strimming - which was all a bad mistake as now I have no strength in my (extremely painful) hands. So I'm somewhat pissed off at the moment, and now have to take it very easy for a few days. I am very tired of this.
In other news...
The series Lutra's talked about, Dead Like Me, has been showing over here for a few weeks, but I wasn't aware of it because it's on a channel I rarely check, at 3 am. But I've now watched a couple of episodes, and it's definitely - different. I can't see me becoming addicted, but it's well worth catching simply for the oddity factor. And the wonderfully eccentric characters.
I've also caught and enjoyed (though not enough to watch regularly) some Frasier as well. [grin to Marie] I see what you mean by dry wit. It's fun.
And Naruto is on tomorrow! Have to catch some of that to see what all the fuss is about!
Right - that's about as much as the hands will cope with for now. Back to revisions...





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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Ken suggested Venice instead of Paris, saying to take Kai to see it before it disappears, and there's a little two star hotel about ten minutes walk from the piazza St Marco - the Hotel Mignon - that looks quite nice (though the comment about 'booking your love nest' on the index page gives me pause...) Kai's terms at John Cabot are eight weeks long, followed by two weeks off, so a three day, mid-week break in Venice is a distinct possibility, and should be affordable. We'd probably try for spring or autumn rather than the summer - less tourists and the heat should be more bearable.
I loved what I saw of Venice, even though we only spent a day there, and it would be such fun to let the sprog loose to get us lost!
I suppose we'd better get the passports organised...
Back to 2AC - though since the hands are still painful it's mostly re-reading what's already written and making revisions. Back to Haadri next week.





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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

[sigh] 35°. Luckily there's a capricious breeze blowing through the house from front to back helping to keep the heat at bay, otherwise I probably wouldn't be here: the stack feels dangerously warm to me. Perching a bowl with ice-cubes in a freezer bag on the top at the back, given that cold air sinks and should cool things down fractionally, has helped a little, I think, but it's hardly the safest thing to do to an electrical system. At least the fans are still chucking out cold air...
I wonder how much a tower fan costs to run?
sports' day
Sports' Day was... sports' day. The sprogs all did very well: red team won, the blue (Kai's team) came last this year. Year six, bless them, all turned up carrying stackable chairs for the parents, so at least sitting was reasonably relaxing. And although it was around 25° (to start with, it got hotter), there was a very nice breeze blowing (the park is at the top of a rise) which made it almost comfortable. And the Sainsbug sports vouchers we've all been collecting had been used to buy little hurdles (in the photo), soft 'shot putt' balls and foam rubber 'javelins' so the kids could have a couple of new events, which they thoroughly enjoyed!
I videod Kai running in the egg and spoon race - first time I've tried using the video setting on the camera! Kai's given me permission to post the RealVideo file - click here (and let me know if it doesn't work!). He was also in the relay race, but hadn't told me so I didn't realise until he flashed past me. [rolls eyes] Eh well.
The whole thing had finished by 10.45 - earlier than usual, I think, because of the weather, and I paused to take some photos on the way back, from the bridge a few dozen yards from the school... Below is a photo of the sidings at the back of and below the school: this has proved something of a distraction for Kai - he can look down into the sidings from the ICT lab!
sports' day
Right - off to make dinner, pasanda again. One of these days I'll get to have a decent hot curry once more...





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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hm. Well, that was surprisingly painless.
Or perhaps not so surprisingly: after all, all areas of medicine keep developing and improving (something we know intellectually but which I occasionally have a problem remembering). I went in at 12.30, the anaesthetic took effect within seconds, the dentist (who to my absolute delight doesn't feel the need to ask questions or even talk at me when my mouth is full of vacuums and drills and odd assorted bits of metal. If I'd known I'd have asked for a female dentist years ago!) was fast and efficient, and I was out again at 12.45 with the filling done (it was a small new filling, not a replacement, which would probably have taken longer). She says to keep an eye on the cap and she'll check again in six months - at the moment it's not causing me any problems and given the pain when it was first done I'm happy to wait...

Random Maunderings...

I got it wrong - Kai came second in the school for maths, not third.
We've been on a bit of an economy appraisal over the last few weeks, oddly enough sparked by a geezer from Scottish Power knocking on the door (as they do) to ask who supplied our power. As it happens we're with them for our gas supply (they're the most environmentally friendly of the lot), but have been with GoodEnergy (was Unite), the green electricity providers, for a year or so. More expensive, but they were the first guaranteed green power company. However, there's more choice now, and Scottish Power have a green tariff - and it's cheaper than Unite by about £100 a year for us. So we switched. Not that we wanted to, especially, but we really don't have a choice, because (thanks ultimately to der fuehrer bush and his lackeys, though I'm not for one moment letting Bliar off the hook) our fuel bill is due to increase dramatically this year. Apparently the cost to the suppliers is going up by 300% by Yule: quite where that's going to leave us we don't yet know, though the letter we've had today advises us our fuel bill has already gone up by £60 a year, and is due to rise further (thus effectively wiping out any benefit to us of changing to Scottish Power. Well, not really, since no doubt Unite would also have raised their prices, so we may be better off, relatively speaking, even with the increase. If you see what I mean...) I'm just glad we had the insulation fitted, it really cuts down on the heating bill.
I also rang TeleWest and reduced our cable TV package from the 'supreme' to the 'essential' (the only channels we'll miss are Discovery Science (for Kai) and Discovery Civilisations (for Ken): I can happily live without the Horror Zone) and our broadband from 4 megs to 2. Our download speed for software always decreases to dial-up crawl anyway before we're halfway through, so we're unlikely to notice the difference; I don't download music or films (I make my own mp3s and as far as I'm concerned TVs are for watching films, I have more important things to do with my computer. Well, exceptions made for Ai no Kusabi, that is. And Gravitation). And we don't play games. We simply don't need the faster connection. Overall that'll save us £120 a year, again, not a huge saving, but it all helps.
We've also rearranged the plugs so we can switch off everything except the black box (if that's switched off we lose the programming, and it's a nuisance to get it all downloaded again) in the lounge and Kai's reading lamp in his room: Ken tells me that about 10% of all home electricity usage dribbles away through the transformers that are in everything when they're left on standby. This leaves the difficulty of my setup, but I think with a bit of fineagling I can organise the plugs so that at least some of the peripherals can be fully off when not in use...
And I'm using the microwave more, instead of the cooker.
And we've discovered we can now buy small, screw-in low energy bulbs for the lamps and the light in my room (which takes three bulbs when fully utilised, although I often take out two of them and only use the one facing the computer). I've been so impressed with these: the first one we ever bought cost £20 or thereabouts, if I remember rightly, and lasted us 18 years. It's nice to be able to do something, no matter how small or how late, to both save money and take a little more control of our impact on the environment.
It's been 33.8° here today. Walking up Talbot Hill to the dentist was no fun at all. But I enjoyed my shower when I got back (all 10 minutes of it. I now have the 'quick shower' down to a fine art!) Tomorrow is forecast to be even hotter - possibly as high as 36°. And it's Kai's Sports' Day. I can't say I'm looking forward to it.
And finally - warning for language - for anyone who might possibly still be under the impression that the US is a great country, take a look here...





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Monday, July 17, 2006

Right. I have now sort-of-recovered from the sick shock of finding out, last Thursday, that if, as expected, everything remains the same with our endowment policy company (was Sun Alliance, now renamed to Phoenix. Same people. I wouldn't trust 'em as far as I could spit 'em, having missold us the policy in the first place and then gone to court for authority to not pay out bonuses to more recent policy holders so they can continue to pay out older policies. Or so I understand it from Ken...) by the end of the term, in 10 years time, we're going to be left still owing half the original purchase price of the house - a.k.a. £27,000. That's over and above what we're already paying out in the endowment payments and mortgage interest. Sick shock is putting it mildly, actually - it's more like taking a step forwards and finding yourself falling off a cliff. Yes, we knew we were going to be lumbered with some sort of shortfall and have been trying to organise some way of coping with it, but this?
And before anyone asks, yes, we did contact them when all the endowment kerfuffle came to light, and got the best deal we could under the circumstances - but the same applies now as then. We're freelance writers. Our income is irregular and very variable. Changing mortgage lenders isn't an option. No one wants to know.
We know the house is now worth more than twice what we paid for it. The problem is, even if we sold and paid off this mortgage, we wouldn't have enough to buy anything even remotely comparable. Besides, over and above all its desirable features - the location, the big garden, the nearby amenities - I love this house. It's the first place I was ever really happy. It's a home full of love and happiness, and we want to leave it to Kai when we're gone.
We really need that bestseller...
So - unless things change dramatically in the next six months the Australia holiday is out. It should still be possible for me to take Kai abroad - Paris is a possibility, or perhaps Italy: even with the expected rises in fuel prices the airlines should still be competitive enough that we can manage something. (And yes, we must fly to the destination, Kai's never been on a plane and wants to so much.)
Other news - not much. My hands are swollen and painful, but that's as much stress as heat, I think. Should ease off soon - though I'm a bit concerned by the soft lump that keeps appearing between my index and middle fingers on my right hand. (Yes, I know, go and see a doctor...) Dentist for me tomorrow, and Kai's Sports Day on Wednesday (my turn to go, but at least they say they're providing seats this year). And next Tuesday is Kai's last ever day at his old school: I shall be going to the leavers' assembly.
More later...





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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Arno's Park Action Group Fun Day

Mr Brown's Pig It was fun, but hot. Kai sat in the fire engine, played skittles and won a large balloon (which he promptly burst 30 seconds later), and sat and watched a very funny puppet show by Mr Brown's Pig.
This is the singing banana... I mean, iguana. Who swallowed a fly, then a spider (that wriggled inside her - um, him), then a rabbit (what a terrible habit), then a dog (what a hog!), then a walrus (... um... trying to fool us, I think), then finally a giraffe ('cause he was havin' a laugh. Again, I think. Memory's gone AWOL.) Only then he coughed them all back up. But he re-ate the fly, because lizards eat flies...
There were a number of great stalls, selling succulant plants, gorgeous hand-made cards, chutneys and pickles, makeup, cakes and biscuits, and Sam Morris with his beautiful black and white photographs. All in all a fine time was had by all.
Mr Brown's Pig





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In case you missed it, here's the link to the Giant Microbes site Gary mentions in the comments - I've quite fallen in love with these little guys and would like one of each, I think, since I can't decide which is the cutest...
Auran finally released the Trainz SP1. All 687 megabytes of it! Took me getting on for an hour to download, even with broadband, and we have to uninstall then reinstall everything to get it working. Kai's decided to think about it for a while before trying it.
Peter Pan was on tonight. An odd and interesting film; we all enjoyed it.
Well, what an interesting day that was! And I don't even have the energy to witter right now...





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Friday, July 14, 2006

As you may have gathered, I rarely do things by halves...
charm bracelet
This is my charm bracelet. It was a present from Ken waaaaay back after he first moved in with me, in '87, though there was nothing on it to start with. That soon changed, and since I'm feeling self-indulgent, I'm going to list the charms - and their meanings. Please feel free to skip to the end if you're not interested.
From left to right in the photo:
Pallas Athena, complete with snake coiled behind her shield. I think it's a version of this statue. She is, of course, the goddess of wisdom, weaving, crafts, and war, and an excellent rôle model.
The lower charms:
The MENSA symbol, from when I was a member. (I lapsed, as it were, when I decided I didn't want to belong to any organisation that would have me as a member. Plus it was expensive and I was getting nothing from it...)
The original feminist symbol - a clenched fist inside the symbol for female/Venus. Obvious meaning, that one, I'd have thought. I've had that charm since Uni and it was the first on the chain.
A cat in a basket (the cat turns). This is Tharg, my first own cat. (He went missing while I was living in Scotland. I still miss him.)
A working abacus! A charm to increase my ability with numbers. Obviously it didn't work, but it's a gorgeous charm.
(On top of abacus) A simple pentagram, from the time I was studying the Qabalah. (Yes, I know it should be six-pointed: it's the association in my mind that counts!)
A witch on a broomstick!
(Under witch) A bee, to symbolise work and busy-ness. Also to symbolise a character in one of Ken's stories.
A unicorn. Below the unicorn is a mermaid riding a seahorse, though you can't see it here.
A mediæval charm, puff-cheeked sun on one side, crescent moon and two stars on the other. For a love of astronomy.
The Ace of Hearts playing card - in memory of seeing Simon Drake live at the Bristol Hippodrome. Fabulous night - and Drake partly inspired a character in Haadri...
(On top of card) A leaping antelope - symbolising an African character in my unfinished novel Gateway.
A gypsy caravan - the top opens to reveal a table with a crystal ball.
A faun playing a syrinx. A memory of the Narnian Chronicles.
A cuckoo clock. A tiny lever at the back makes the hands turn, and the cuckoo pops out. A charm to help me with my haddock problems. Never worked...
A seahorse. Because they're beautiful. And because the males look after the babies.
A bird on a nest. The bird lifts up, and there are three eggs underneath. To commemorate buying the house!
A dormouse climbing an ear of corn. A perpetual celebration of Summer.
The wolf feeding Romulus and Remus. Through a somewhat torturous chain of what could pass for reasoning in a dim light, this symbolises Orion for me...
A surfing dood! For surfing the Internet, obviously.
A treasure chest. Top opens, and I put some tiny crystals inside. This represents our first published book.
A stork with a swinging baby hanging from its beak. For Kai, of course.
The Hunter's Moon pub (that's what it says on the side!). Bottom opens and there's a tiny bar, with barman pulling a pint, and a customer drinking. I proposed to Ken in the Hop and Grapes Tavern (or the Hope and Grope as is was popularly known!) in Exeter...
A hippocamp with a broken tail. I'm considering taking this one off.
The upper charms, still left to right:
A rocking horse, because I never had one as a child...
A silver thru'penny bit dated 1885, given to me to slip inside my shoe for my first wedding, for luck (traditional custom, I was told). That one didn't work either, but I kept the coin anyway, as a reminder to be more careful next time...
An old-fashioned portable record player (the top opens to reveal a turntable with attendant record). Because I can't live without musekick and never could...
(Unclear) A dustbin with a tippable cat perched on the edge. For Raptor the Curious, who still rootles about in wastepaper baskets for balls of paper...
A Viking longship, in honour of Ken's genealogy (Icelandic on his mum's side).
A goblet - the Ace of Cups, from when I learned the Tarot.
A dolphin - in honour of Douglas Adams.
Another unicorn.
An owl - to symbolise the other main character in Ken's story.
A swan. The bottom opens to reveal a ballet dancer in a tutu. Yes, I used to dance, a very long time ago...
A horse leaping a fence through a lucky horseshoe (the horse moves). For general good luck - and because I loved riding.
A wishing well. The bottom opens to reveal a cat. This one's for Argent, always getting himself into awkward situations.
A cat with a ball. For Roeg, who loved playing with them.
A mother cat with a kitten beside her. For Ryme, who mothered Argent - and Quyn - when he was tiny.
The symbol for Pisces.
I have a number of other charms that haven't been added, mainly because I'm not entirely sure if the bracelet will take them (or in some cases if they're that meaningful): a lion, a squirrel, a robin on a hollow branch, a cactus, a gondola (I rode in one in Venice), a spinning wheel, a totem pole, and a set of bagpipes (opens to reveal a tiny Scottish dancer. Symbolises my years living/studying/working in Scotland). My main problem these days is the weight of the thing: it doesn't have a safety chain (and it would need a strong one anyway), and it makes my hand hurt if I wear it for any great length of time. But I don't really want to take any of the charms off (except the broken one). Oh, decisions...
In other news, Kai went bowling with the school yesterday, and thoroughly enjoyed himself, wants to go again...





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Thursday, July 13, 2006

cute squid
This is the cute little squid water squirter Lutra sent me in her last parcel. He makes a nice balance to the evil squid she sent last year. He's even cuter from the side but the camera's upstairs and I can't be arsed to go up and get it - it's too hot tonight for climbing. Maybe tomorrow...
Decided I want to collect squids for a while. And maybe octopi too. Not real ones, of course - I don't think they'd fit in the pools, and I don't have the time or energy for an indoor tank. But other sorts... Cushions, maybe jewellery (can you get silver squid charms? I think I could just about squeeze one more onto my charm bracelet). And a soft toy one. And maybe a Cthulhu - I've seen a Cthulhu plushie at Forbidden Planet...
The Red Arrows flew over the house today, noisily reminding me that it's the Fairford Air Show this weekend. I'd so love to take Kai, but you have to have a car, and it's not exactly cheap (£36 per adult, though sprogs under 16 go free). We'll manage it one year though, I'm determined.
In the meantime, I'll see if I can get some photos of anything flying overhead this weekend! (Even squid, if I happen to see any.)





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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

So, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (pt 1).
... wow... Just - wow.
It's darker than the first film - in parts, at any rate. Other parts had us laughing aloud, either because of the sheer bizarreness of the action or because of the character interaction. Or the jokes, which were great. Personally I really like ongoing jokes - the rum, here. (And the scene with Ragetti's "The dichotomy between good and evil?" had me spluttering!) The sfx are wonderful, and the cg seamless. And flawless, as far as I could see (to the extent that I'm not entirely sure whether some of the scenes are stunts or cg-ed. If they're stunts then the film has some fabulous stuntspeople! Wheels and swords, oh yes. Such brilliant silliness.)
The Flying Dutchman made me shudder - partly because of the sinister aspect, yes, but partly because of the sliminess. Ick. Dirt I can cope with (I have an 11 year old son, after all) but I don't like slime. Wanted to get out the bucket and brush and scrub it down with bleach. Which has to be the oddest reaction I think I've ever had to a film... [shakes head] Especially since I can't stand housework...
Anyway, Nighy's Davy Jones is deliciously nasty and oddly believable for a character with an octopus for a head, Naomie Harris is just delectable as Tia Dalma, and as for Elizabeth - go Lizzie!
Kai and I loved it - though at two and a half hours it's not that easy to sit right through in an air-conditioned cinema after you've been drinking a lot of cold water because it's so hot outside. Just saying... Oh, and for anyone that hasn't seen it yet: make sure you stay to the very end - not that that's a trial, the soundtrack is terrific - and catch the final scene. If you've been paying attention to the film it's predictable, but fun all the same!
And we can't wait for the next film - effectively Dead Man's Chest part 2, since what we saw today was only half a film. A very satisfying, rollicking, occasionally breathtaking half, admittedly, but still only half the story (and Kai and I want to know the significance of that little music box/locket thing...) And on the list to buy as soon as it comes out.
Pintel: You don't even know how to read! Ragetti: It's the bible. You get credit for trying!
I had an interesting email earlier:
Dear MidAmerica Bank customer, This is your official notification from MidAmerica Bank that the service(s) listed below will be deactivated and deleted if not renewed immediately. Previous notifications have been sent to the Billing Contact assigned to this account. As the Primary Contact, you must renew the service(s) listed below or it will be deactivated and deleted.
Renew Now your MidAmerica Bank Bill Pay and Services.
If you are not enrolled at Web Banking, please enter your username, and your account password and follow the steps.
SERVICE : MidAmerica Bank with Bill Pay.
Thank you, sincerely, Customer Service.
The usual sort of thing, normally immediately deletable, but what particularly amused me about this one is that up in the left hand top corner was a little image that stated clearly:
This Email Is A Fraud
[bemused] Well I never did - an honest phisher!





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Monday, July 10, 2006

Well, I'm knackered, but everything's done. And I picked up Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials (the full trilogy for £1.95 each) on Sue and Ruth's recommendations, and (for the same price) Garth Nix' Sabriel, on spec after KW said how much she was enjoying his books - again from the book and second-hand DVD place. Quite when I'm going to catch enough haddock to be able to read them I don't know...
Kai found out today he came third out of the whole of his school year for the Maths SAT. [proud]
I'm sure there was more, but my brain's gone AWOL. It's been a long day after not enough sleep again. If it was important it'll come back to me... ... remembered, but I can't quickly find the details. GoodTwin, I'm sure I saw a sign from the bus saying something about the A4 being closed between Bath and Briz for roadworks for several weeks from this month. I'll try to find out more, but it might be wise to take that into account for August!





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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Kim rang to ask if we'd like to go to Blaise Castle Park - Blaise Castle as mentioned by Jane Austen: it's now a museum and the estate a public park with an adventure playground for the sprogs.
It's a nice run up the Portway along the Avon Gorge, and this time I remembered to carry my camera!






Avon Gorge
Cumberland Basin, heading for the Portway. (Photo taken from inside moving car.)
Avon Gorge
Brunel's Suspension Bridge. (Photo taken from inside moving car.)
Avon Gorge
The city-side tower from below. (Photo taken from inside moving car.)
Avon Gorge
The Portway through the gorge. Lovely road, this! (Photo taken from inside moving car.)
Blaise Castle Park
The park's been refurbished since we were last there. This is the external wall of the new café: I don't know who wrote the text, but there's a fine film of water running down the whole of the wall, making it glitter in the sun. Really beautiful!
park entrance climbing frame
The entrance to the older sprogs' adventure playground. There are two of these forts with enclosed slides, two 'commando sliders', and a a spider's web climbing frame, on the right with Kai and Sarah. Kai is the one in camouflage!
Blaise Estate
Part of the Blaise Castle Estate.
Avon Gorge
On the way back, the Portway from the other direction. (Photo taken from inside moving car.)

It was a fantastic afternoon - the haddock just seemed to vanish, and we didn't get home until nearly 7.
Busy day tomorrow: I have to get back to John Cabot to change Kai's tracksuit (it's too big), so I plan to do the usual, grab a FirstDay ticket and get the town jobs done (banking, crickets for Rosa, ramen and Pocky at the Chinese supermarket, and I'll check out the shops at Kingswood again) before I hit the college. So it's an early night for me.





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Saturday, July 08, 2006

gibbous moonDr Who... [sniffle]...
This is the first series I have had to sit down and watch. Wonderful. Extremely enjoyable.
As was, to our surprise, Æon Flux. From the trailers I was pretty sure it was going to be stylish, predictable and not exactly demanding, but it's intriguing, and a compelling watch once you get past the first few minutes. The tech is mostly unexplained, on the far edge of bizarre but just potentially feasible, the setting and costumes beautifully futuristic, and the acting not at all bad - but then, I've never seen the original and have nothing to compare it to. It probably won't be to everyone's taste, though.
Garden work today. Bay tree pruned, as is the grass around and under my new shrubs, the strawberry planters and the growbag, the next stage of the ongoing battle against the bindweed completed, and decisions taken about extending the stones around Roeg's Pool and planting honeysuckle to disguise the wire fence at the top. And Ken managed to get several more mortaring loads done to the wall. At this rate he'll be able to finish this year's chosen stretch by the end of the summer: he estimates he could have the whole thing completed in two years' time (given it can only be done when the weather is fine and dry, and that it's hard work on the back, that's pretty good!)

New and chuckle-worthy feature - the Random Surrealism Generator. Found via Lolaphilologist, via Kitchen Witch. Permanent link at the top of the page, by my photo. I'm a concrete pterodactyl, you know. On my saying I had to have this on my blog, Lutra called me a 'shiny-on-the-inside pixie'. At least, I think it was Lutra, not the Random Surrealism Generator. Anyway, I'm adding that to my description. Not that there's anything remotely pixie-ish about me. Ogre, Troll or Orc, maybe - Pixie, nope. Not even the blue-skinned nasty ones. But the idea is delightfully surreal...
Quyn

Just to prove that Quyn actually does have eyes. Well, one, anyway.
Back to the loom. Well, after a steak sandwich perhaps...





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Friday, July 07, 2006

So, Kai's end of term/year/school results... [beaming grin]
English:
Effort:Good; Achievement: Excellent.
"... a pleasure to hear him read aloud... expresses opinions/preferences clearly and can always back up answers... has begun to identify different layers of meaning in a text... He is a talented writer who can write in a range of styles; he approaches tasks in a uniquely personal way which makes his work infinitely more interesting..."
Maths:
Effort: Good; Achievement: Good.
"... particularly enjoys constructing shapes and angles and is able to make links between different aspects of maths... organised approach... good understanding of data presented in a variety of ways and is able to analyse information and make informed observations."
Science:
Effort: Excellent; Achievement: Excellent.
"... demonstrated a superb level of understanding in all topics... understanding of how sounds are created and travel was particularly in depth... plans investigations carefully..."
History:
Effort: Excellent; Achievement: Excellent.
Geography:
Effort: Excellent; Achievement: Excellent.
RE:
Effort: Excellent; Achievement: Good.
Music:
Effort: Excellent; Achievement: Good.
Art:
Effort: Excellent; Achievement: Excellent.
PE:
Effort: Good; Achievement: Good.
DT:
Effort: Good; Achievement: Good.
And overall - "... an extremely valuable member of the class who brings a wealth of knowledge and interesting perspective... learned much about being a valuable friend and understanding the need to gauge the mood of his peers... depth of knowledge is outstanding..."
And as for his SATs - he scored 5 for everything. See here for the national results. The overall level 5 school results were: English - 30%, Maths - 19%, Science - 46%.
We are very proud.

Much credit and many thanks go to Mrs Pike, the Headmistress, who took Maths, and especially to Kai's class teacher Miss Stanger, who has worked wonders. Those children who will be in her class next year are getting a special treasure!




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WAII!

Had a little package from Wendy in the post today - 50 Ways to Kill a Slug!
slug book It's great, and absolutely stuffed with info. Like the chapter Gather Your Weapons, including such items as:
Beer: for getting slugs drunk and drowning them, and for a celebratory drink after you've defeated them. (Don't drink the same beer in which you've drowned the slug!)
Sweets and money: Necessary to bribe your children and their friends.
Then there's the Barrier Method:
1. Sprinkle a mixture of the barrier ingredients [eggshells, grit, sand, diatomaceous earth, crushed nuts, crushed seashells, hair trimmings, etc] around the base of your plants and watch the slugs as they look longingly up at a plant they'll never get to nibble.
2. Hang signs around your plants saying, 'Come and get me if you think you're hard enough!' Guaranteed to increase the slugs' frustration...
There are suggestions for what to do after you've caught them - see how far your captive will go when catapulted off the edge of a cliff. Mean-spirited individuals may want to aim them at next door's hostas. Or invite your friends around for a Slug-Slaying Party (fancy dress optional). Or run over them a few times in the car... Or what about a Last Breakfast?
1. Scatter oat bran around your plants and wait for the slugs to eat it for breakfast.
2. Oat bran is a favourite with slugs, but once eaten it expands inside them and their end is nigh - they've been known to literally explode.
3. If all the bran has been used up killing slugs, treat yourself to a blueberry muffin for breakfast instead.
Or there's the seriously-disturbed Hang them Out to Dry:
A slightly time-consuming but amusing way to dry out slugs.
1. Collect a bucketful of slugs.
2. Wearing rubber gloves, peg each one to your washing line.
3. Watch as they wiggle and sway gently in the breeze and dry out and die in the sun.
On the serious side, there are some good and useful tips here. We know some of them don't work for us (our SuperSlugs blithely crawl over crushed eggshell, and avoid the beer traps - teetotal slugs, who'd have guessed?), but the half grapefruit skin sounds worth a go, and the vinegar and water spray. Interestingly, the one method the book doesn't mention is my own, no-nonsense, cut-the-buggers-in-half-with-a-pair-of-sharp-scissors, but perhaps that's just too shudder-worthy for most people.
[GLOMPS] Thank you, Wendy! Had me chortling aloud!





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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Blimey. The Bath Road was flooded at the Wyevale Garden Centre (halfway between here and Keynsham) this morning. But the rain did finally stop for the afternoon; Roeg's Pool is now fuller than at any time since we first put the water in, and the frewtnog pool is also refreshed, and the garden very happy...
Unfortunately so are the slugs. There was one hideous 7 inch long monster out there during evening slug patrol.
[frown] Things are a little humdrum at the moment - most unusual. Still, Kai's supposed to get his SATs results tomorrow, so we'll be either celebrating or commiserating. I'm planning to take us both to see PotC2 next Tuesday after school anyway, as a treat, one way or the other.
MicrowaveSainsbug's are currently selling Hitachi microwaves. Kai took one look at the picture on the box and exclaimed, "It's cooking an elephant!" And if you squint it does look a little like a skinned elephant's head, with the trunk raised over the head and the ear close to the side. Today I asked them if I could take a photo: this is the best I could do with the result, but you can just about make it out. It may be a coincidence, but it's fun to think it a kind of subliminal advertising:
Hey look! This microwave oven is HUGE! Nuke your elephant in just 60 minutes!
Yes, well, that's put me right off buying one...
Back to the loom.





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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

[bemused] So there I was, working on another requested overhaul of the voicemoves site, when I get this phone call...
Hello? This is Kai Taylor. I have instructions for Dr Ken... Let him know Emergency Operation Prickly Pear is on...
[shakes head] He's in Alex Rider mode, apparently.
(The message, by the way, means Tom and Matt have something on after school so he won't be walking home with them, and could Ken go and collect him please...)





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sunsetK&K arrived back just ahead of the rain: we did a little better than you, GoodTwin, it lasted about 45 minutes and soaked the garden. And happily it's not too humid, so all in all it was a good thing.
Picked up Kai's new school uniform successfully - he's looking forwards to trying it on tomorrow - and managed to catch the first bus back OK. Problems arose, however, when we reached the stop where the drivers changed over... The replacement fuss-arsed around, and we were late leaving, and as a result late getting to Broadmead, which would have given me just enough time to tank to the Bus Station to catch the 8 pm X39 - had I not wrenched my ankle again (I kept forgetting to say but I did something to it about a month ago, not sure what, think it's the Achilles tendon; hurts like hell and has caused not a few problems just recently). Nevertheless I managed to limp into the station just as the doors to the bus bay closed and the X39 (well, the 339, same thing just goes to Bath via Keynsham) started his engine. He saw me standing at the door waving frantically - and the bastard smirked smugly, waved back and drove off.
There's only one Bath bus an hour after 8.
This forced me to limp to the stop for the No. 1 bus, about a quarter of a mile uphill, to find that I'd missed the 8.06 and the next wasn't until 8.26 (complete with grubby little girl (3 I'd guess) whose young pregnant mother didn't even try to restrain her from running around - and climbing the stairs of - the moving bus. Does that constitute neglect?). So you can understand why I'm not overly happy tonight. It would be very satisfying to have said Bath bus driver develop the same complaint and see how he manages to walk/drive/work when putting any pressure on the heel is agony.
But the sunset tonight was beautiful. (Ken took the photos, I was limping back from Sandy Park Rd...)
sunset






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Monday, July 03, 2006

Quyn doing hearthrug[sigh] 30° today, but the humidity was way down, making the heat easier to cope with, and we've opened the trapdoor to the loft, in the hope some of the heat upstairs will escape that way (it's wonderful having a well insulated house, but we could do with fans everywhere as well). Still, we've now had an official heat-wave warning for the next few days. And Ken tells me the forecast for tonight is either we'll have a thunderstorm, or we won't. Yes, I know, that made me blink too. It's supposed to rain tomorrow evening though, and I have to go out to John Cabot to collect Kai's new school uniform. Eh well. We need the rain.
This was Quyn earlier, doing his hearthrug impersonation. (I opened all the windows and both patio doors, and he's actually lying in the breeze that was wafting through the house.)
[BIG glomps thank you] to GoodTwin, who sent over Scorpia (the Alex Rider book we were missing) and Alex Rider the Gadgets, which is enormous fun. Kai's over the moon and has started reading Scorpia already.
I've managed a little writing (2AC mostly), but am still dogged by this ridiculous weariness. Strongly tempted to try for an early night. Heh, assuming it's not too hot to sleep up there...





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Sunday, July 02, 2006

4.45 pm. Ahhah! The thunder has finally reached us. Now if the storm would only break it might provide some relief from this horribly oppressive humid heat. I swear it topped 30° this afternoon...
Though rain probably wouldn't make all the barbecuers very happy.
Kai's bought himself another Trainz plugin - wagons this time. This installation went fairly smoothly, though: we remembered what we did last time. So very happy sprog again.
... very pleasant breeze picking up. The clouds aren't very heavy, so whether it will rain or not is difficult to say. The thunder's great though!
And it bucketed down. Only for half an hour, but you can almost hear the garden sighing with relief.
Just wondering - is it wrong of me to find the new Pot Noodle ads thoroughly chuckle-worthy?
Oh - looks like it is...
(Not that I'd ever eat the stuff, you understand: when it comes to Pot Noodle I'm with Lister.)
Hm. Muse's new album, Black Holes and Revelations, is out tomorrow. The blurb on Amazon.co.uk says:
The follow up 2003's smash 'Absolution' looks to merge Matt Bellamy's trademark powerful riffs with dance beats to produce an upbeat album with influences moving towards Prince and Franz Ferdinand.
Franz Ferdinand, I like what I've heard (which actually isn't that much) but I absolutely cannot abide Prince. As it happens we're watching Top of the Pops at the moment (the last show ever, isn't it?) and Muse have just been on performing Starlight from the new album. And I'm not impressed. It sounds uninspired, lacking in the glorious and occasionally manic intensity I expect - nay, demand! - of *my* Muse. Still, it was just the one track - I'll have to see if I can catch others on the music channels. I shall be very disappointed if the rest are like this, though.





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Saturday, July 01, 2006

One good thing about this football stuff is how nicely peaceful everywhere is while a match is on. The Bath Rd was practically deserted: no need to use the crossing this afternoon. And Sainsbug's had a total of perhaps eight people shopping, unheard of for a Saturday.
I could do without the bloody fireworks out there tonight, though.
I could also do without this blasted dragging tiredness. Doesn't seem to matter how much sleep I get, I'm still knackered. Although the heat and humidity isn't helping, I have to admit. Still, Dedication is finished and onsite now, and I'm wondering what to tackle next (of the unfinished funstuff, I mean, in between the serious works) - Dare? Leander Pryne? Greynvoald? The followup to Seven - or another Haadri short?
So many tales, so few haddock, so little energy...





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